pneuma Leo Köhler

The twins Keil and Neil meet a devastating fate in their pursuit of fame and wealth when they run into the director of a freak show, Mr. Albert Murris. He has big plans for the two, but never would they have guessed that achieving what they had wished for would require such gruesome tactics. A spiral into madness and despair. Reader's discretion is highly advised. This story deals with body horror and psychological aspects of the genre.


Horreur Horreur gothique Déconseillé aux moins de 13 ans. © Leo Köhler

#horror #thriller #bodyhorror #psychological
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- one -


It was an unlawful night with the weather just as unforgiving as the actions that happened by nightfall. The wind was howling and threatening to burst any window and door. The buildings and street lamps rattling under the heavy force of the storm that was raging through the streets almost made one think the entirety of the city was about to be blown off of earth's surface. It was dimly lit in the wealthy parts of town and as dark as a raven's feathers in the ones populated by less fortunate folks. Ironic that such a night of blindness would chime in the devastation of two humans, whose destiny was to be seen. Always looked at. Ridiculed by unjust gazes, even in moments of complete darkness.


The church bells announced the beginning of a next day, the noise barely audible over the howling of the wind and the beating of wood on wood and metal on metal.

In the middle of the suburbs with most people either asleep or too miserable to be allowed to be, only one window shone warm light onto the street, puddles of abyssal darkness barely reflecting it back onto the other houses. Suddenly the light vanished as a curtain was drawn close in eccentric manner, as though inspired by a panic to hide something. Albert Murris, a tall man with golden locks framing his face and brown eyes so piercing it felt like they could look into one's soul, was pacing around the room, muttering seemingly gibberish. He did so regularly, as this was his typical behaviour when brooding over something. Even the neighbours occasionally joked about it at dinner. However, now he seemed more frantic than ever, his hands grasping at his worn out vest and his eyes pinning back and forth between his watch and the room.


The door was opened by two approaching men. Even in darkness with only the frail light source illuminating their frames and faces their resemblance was shocking. Only their haircolour differed, one being darker and the other bright blonde. Murris' anxious behaviour finally came to an end as he threw himself onto a chair, positioned by a messy table. He stared at the two men once he heard the door open, eyeing them up and down, a slurred grin sneaking onto his thin lips. The expression made his face seem monstrous, but his overall demeanour overshadowed the distorted features and made them fall into place in such a unique way that he appeared quite charismatic.

"My dear boys", his voice rang through the room, the tone dripping with overplayed sweetness, "I'm glad you could make it. Even though, I must admit I was moments away from thinking you had run off without informing me." His words were reproachful and so was the look in his eyes, now locked onto the two males who had gone ahead and taken off their jackets. They looked frail, as it was common in this part of town. However, both were strangely cheerful.

"Don't worry about it, Mr. Murris. Our arrival was delayed, most unfortunately, as we got held up by one of the police men. You know the reputation of the homeless around here. Not to mention the sparking curiosity invoked by the sight of us walking around at this ungodly hour. And the weather. The weather truly is terrible", one of the twins, Keil, answered, bowing his head in an apologetic gesture. His brother followed the other's example and lowered his head. Their hair was dripping, leaving small droplets on their rosy cheeks and the wooden floor.

A sigh escaped the host and he pointed his finger to a clothing rack by the entrance, prompting the two to hang up their moist jackets.

"I take it you two thought thoroughly about my proposal, then?", the man asked, but it sounded more like a statement. Or an expectation. Synchronised nods were the reply and Murris' expression lit up in delight, before he continued: "And I take it you two have come to agree with it as well? The conditions and terms I've given you?" Again it sounded like a statement, rather than an inquiry. Perhaps not to surprise. Albert Murris knew his way around people, charming them wherever he could and luring them in with unrefusable promises. That is what he had done with the two boys as well and after all, no one had ever dismissed him. He was quite young for such a popular person, not a day over thirty at best. He was also strangely good looking for someone with such a hideous mind. Normally, people's actions and ill will was reflected in their faces.

The two nodded again. They couldn't dare to miss an opportunity like this. They were short on money and had been promised just that. On top of that, Murris had insisted they would rise to fame. At this point no one would have thunk it would turn into infamy rather than the cheers and appreciation they were expecting. No one, perhaps, except for Albert Murris himself. The exact way that Murris would ensure his promises was to be explained and happened to be the sole reason they met that fateful night. He pointed to two more chairs at the small table, gesturing to the men to seat themselves. Once done, he rose his voice again.

"As you both know, I am director and founder of the freakshow. Quite the cruel word, though undeniable in meaning. I've been looking for a set of twins. You'd think they would be easy to find, but sadly they all die way too early." An unsuiting laugh left his throat, as though he had just told a joke. "So you must imagine the joy I felt when I came across you two. At such a good age as well. Twenty, you mentioned? Since I am a respectable man, not like those other twats, I'll pay you two a fair share. I bet people will be amazed!"

Smiles snuck onto the others' faces. They seemed like perfect replicas of each other, changing expression and acting so alike it looked like they were actors perfecting a scene.

"Thank you, Mr. Murris. We are flattered to hear you think of us like that", the twin who had remained silent said. The brother's name was Neil. Strangely fitting that even the siblings' names were similar. His voice was a bit rougher than the other's, but their tone was identical.

They sat there uptight while Murris was leaning back against the backrest of his chair, eyeing the two.

"Oh yes, I have a show in mind for you. The perfect show. Something no one has ever seen! I know exactly what you two will be already. I tell you, people will be head over heels for it!" The enthusiasm was unnerving, especially for the subjects of the talk. But it was immediately replaced by excitement. Of course, no one's dream was to be part of a freakshow. But it was their dream to live a life where they wouldn't have to be concerned about their own survival. And for reaching that goal nothing was out of bounds.

Albert Murris jumped up onto his feet and made his way to a shelf with all kinds of books, herbs and trinkets, all of them emitting a soft smell that filled the room. He scanned through it for a moment, before returning with an old book and a pouch, that's odor was sickly now that it was right in front of them. Keil rose his hand to his mouth and nose, covering it to block off the sweet smell.

"You don't mind a cup of tea, do you? It's the finest herbs, imported from India. Got it from one of my regular visitors, he's quite keen on seeing the world and enamoured with the unfamiliar."

The two hesitated, the smell alone was enough to make them both feel sick. However, refusing it would be impolite, especially in this situation. They wanted something from Murris and all those years on the street toughened up their stomachs. It wouldn't kill them. The brothers exchanged a telling look, Neil pulling a grimace, before returning his attention to the director.

"Of course not, we would be delighted to try it."

Satisfied with the answer, the man made his way to a stove on the corner of the room, setting up a kettle to boil the water for the tea. No one spoke a word for that time. Merely the wind and rain whipping against the glass window and the pinching screech of the kettle penetrated their eardrums.

Two cups were filled to the brim with the liquid and placed in front of either one of the men. The stench made their stomachs turn and they smiled at each other one last time before sipping the hot drink. Little did they know this would be the last time they would look at each other like this, before the world fell into black.

As the light and warmth from the fireplace and sounds from outside slowly began to come back and the hard floor under their back began to hurt, the twins' eyes shot open. Pain struck through every muscle and bone and loud groaning filled the room. As Keil wound himself in agony and the light burned in his newly opened eyes, he tried to focus his attention on his surroundings.

"Neil?", his broken voice whispered into the air. His stomach turned as the sudden smell of iron filled his nostrils and crawled down his airways.

"Where are you?" Neil's voice. It didn't come from far away. In fact, it sounded very close by. As the man's eyes adjusted to the brightness, his heart stopped in horror. A bloodbath spread across the room's floor. Never in his life had he seen this much blood, the entire floorboards were stained deep red. He guessed this at least explained the gut wrenching smell. The view, stench and shock were making his head spin and body cramp up. After a few seconds the man found himself desperately gasping for air, panicked eyes still searching for his brother.

"Keil, I can't see you... I can't see you!", the horrified voice became louder and louder until erupting into a chilling scream. His eyes darted around and around, his head spinning just like his body was. Sobbing started to fill the room and Keil felt tears on his cheek, tracing down from his eyes in a burning sensation. Yet, he didn't feel like he was the one crying. He touched his face. Something felt terribly off.

"Why can't I see you?", his brother's frustrated yell filled the room again and Keil felt his jaw moving at the tip of his fingers. Their fingers.

"No, no, no..." The repeating words were but a choked mutter, only interrupted by the vomit that had etched its way up, seemingly dissolving his body like strong acid from within.

All of a sudden the door swung open and the owner of the house stepped inside, before quickly pulling it shut again to shield curious passer-bys from the scene. His face displayed but disgust and with long fingers Murris pinched the bridge of his nose, his lips pressed together tightly into a thin line. The man made his way towards the body in the middle of the room, prowling like a predator circling its prey. Although appalled, the director appeared pleased.

"My creation. My creature. Yes, the people will love you, they will. Nowadays, humans find gruesome monsters like you so intriguing", Murris chuckled and hunkered down once he had reached his destination, his cold hand grabbing their face, turning it and inspecting it thoroughly.

"I thought you needed twins", Neil pressed out through his teeth, clearly strained. The disbelief over the reality of this situation had not fully disappeared yet. A naïve hope still told him this could be fixed, could be undone. Perhaps had never even happened. It was foolish, Keil knew that and tried to interrupt his sibling, but to no avail. It was impossible to control a body with two minds who had been separated for all their life. Even twins so alike could not share a body, it seemed.

"I'll kill you", the twin finally cut off his brother, but the threat was directed at the man next to them. Glaring at Murris, his eyes began to burn and his pulse quickened. The two of them had always been compared by their similarities, but what had often been overlooked was the fact that Keil was much more hot headed and quick to turn aggressive. The room around them turned into a blur as he threw himself forward as best as possible, pinning Albert Murris under his body after knocking him down onto the ground. Bloodied skin pressed against the clean man and left evidence for his attack so apparent, for the moment he believed it to be permanent. For everyone who ever had the misfortune of meeting Albert Murris to see the attempt of his murder, the culprit's everything imprinted into him. Fusing into his DNA. The stains on the older man's clothes and face, the stench of vomit that was still attached to his own skin and hands that were now grasping around the other's throat in hopes to block off his airways. The rage fueled Keil, it seemed to complete him. It was everything he needed right now and the man was convinced it was everything he could rely on in this particular moment. His mind flooded with the most horrid fantasies. He wanted to see the man who had done this ungodly thing to his brother and him to suffer infinitely. But his body was still too weak, his arms were shaky and his breathing rapid, his vision darkened by the edges and everything turned black again.

Murris hoisted the unconscious body off himself and back onto the floor, sitting himself up and caressing his throat with his fingers to calm it and his nerves. It wasn't like he hadn't expected anything like this. Quite the contrary. He enjoyed the feisty ones. They put on the best shows and therefore brought in the most money.



7 Octobre 2023 22:57 3 Rapport Incorporer Suivre l’histoire
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Tyler B Tyler B
Your writing is beautiful and very well structured! Not to mention it’s very interesting. While I don’t think you need very much help at all, it’s always good to get critiques like what I’m going to do soon with my story Fallen Star with the critique match website.
October 08, 2023, 00:41

  • Tyler B Tyler B
    I just saw your main language isn’t even English… dude. That’s crazy. October 08, 2023, 00:42
  • Leo Köhler Leo Köhler
    Thank you so much! Perhaps I'll try the critique website, it sounds like a good idea. I'm glad you enjoy my writing, by the way! This is the first time I've seriously sat down to write horror myself after only even reading it, so I'm glad that someone likes it. And frankly, that this story is written in good English is partially thanks to my use of the thesaurus and dictionary. Although I try to abstain from those and actually use my own knowledge to try to figure out phrasing. :> October 08, 2023, 07:13
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