Posted on October 24, 2008 by davidahilljr
Freelance author David Hill and artist James Lannan bring us a new monster for the Halloween Horror collection today. These little creatures may seem harmless, but they can certainly become vicious from time-to-time.
Just be careful next time you go exploring in the junkyard…
Created by David Hill
With Art By James Lannan
Skulkers-in-the-Piles, sometimes called “The Refuse,” are vaguely humanoid marsupials that live in and around human trash. They occupy areas where trash accumulates, particularly when finding solid waste in bulk. In recent years, experts suspect that Skulker populations have dwindled, but that is a difficult assertion, as the creatures are remarkably good at hiding in their junk pile empires.
Skulkers have fascinated humans for many years. They have appeared in the folklore and art of urban people, often mistaken for large reptiles or rodents. Children tell stories and draw these pictures, as the creatures have a mysterious way of veiling themselves from the minds and memories of adults.
Skulkers are diminutive, bipedal creatures, with a sharp and angled bone structure. The average adult reaches no more than two feet. They are rarely seen from up close, and reports widely vary as to their details. Many have small bony spikes, irrelevant of their genetic source. Most have between twenty and fifty teeth of random shapes and sizes. Most Skulkers have four fingers and toes on each limb, but this number varies from a low end of two digits, to an upper end of eight in rare cases.
Skulkers have terrible vision, but are able to navigate effortlessly with an unknown sense. Their vision seems to be based on movement and size, they regularly mistake creatures of similar sizes, often treating human children as their own kin.
Types of Skulkers
Cryptozoologists identify four types of Skulkers, primarily separated by flesh color and toughness. Moss Skulkers and Wood Skulkers are the most common, named for their green and brown appearances, respectively. Ash Skulkers are a dead gray tone, and are typically regarded as the most violent. Mustard Skulkers are the least common; additionally, they are the smallest.
All Skulkers are shy, nervous, and easily frightened. Most will run before attacking, however the Ash Skulker breed will attack in any instance where they outnumber their assailants, ambushing and stripping bones for use as strong building materials. Urban folklore has them as terrible, human-eating monsters. This rumor is largely unfounded, as their diet is centered almost exclusively on molds and fungi. They do not speak, and its unknown if their chittering and hissing are rudimentary forms of communication.
Often, Skulkers build makeshift idols and thrones to exalt their leaders. Communities choose leaders simply for their ability to keep hold of the central idol, and are temporary in nature. They practice a sort of religion, but it is indiscernible as anything more than a possible imitation of human practice. All activities center on the leader, they bow, chant, and leave excessive offerings of food at his junk pile.
They live in families in makeshift hovels of solid waste, prizing above all things that are already suitable shelters, such as automobiles and barrels.
Mating is a very violent process, communities have far more males than females and contests for mates result in many male fatalities. Most mating rituals revolve around being able to climb to the tallest piles of garbage possible, defending their positions while others fight their ways up.
Females are no different in size and body weight, with the addition of a pouch on their torsos. Newborn Skulkers spend about four weeks in the pouch with roughly one to eight other littermates. Unlike most marsupials, newborns look almost identical to adults without fingers and toes until about four week, at which time digits break loose of the limbs, similar to the growth of amphibian limbs.
Relations with Humans
In almost every situation, Skulkers run from humans. They are experts at hiding and are often mysteriously forgotten by adult witnesses. Sometimes colonies take in wandering toddlers or baby rats, raising them as their own. The rats usually spend their entire lives with the colonies, sharing similar diets. The children usually die of infections, but sometimes reach maturity and take up roles as leaders amongst the creatures, universally accepted as the superior creatures due to their sizes and the Skulkers’ lack of racial judgment.
In these rare cases, the Skulkers are universally vicious. The colonies will go so far as to fight with and absorb other colonies, hording food and stealing prime building materials from fallen enemies. The human children rule by brute force, maintaining loyalty through terror. In some cases, the humans eventually attempt mating with the Skulkers, but no evidence exists that this has ever successfully produced offspring.
About David Hill
A freelance writer based out of the Philadelphia area. His particular poison is down-to-earth, socially-aware fiction and gritty horror, with a quiet love of cyberpunk and whatever catches his attention. Currently, he’s working on an upcoming Werewolf: The Forsaken supplement. He hates writing biographical pieces about himself, and would likely describe himself as a egomaniacal jerk with socialist tendencies. Observant as he is, he’s probably right. You can find information about him at davidhill.wetpaint.com.
About James Lannon
James C. Lannan is a graphic designer, web designer and part-time doodler. His graphics and designs have been used for countless advertisements and web pages. He excels at photo manipulation, spacial arrangements, contrasts in color and subject as well as creating balance and harmony in his compositions. His works have been included in small local shows and has taken first and second place in art competitions for his abstract and cubism inspired paintings. James is an all around well rounded artist who has formal art training as well as some unconventional artistic experiences. He is currently open for any freelance work. More can be learned about James at www.jlannan.com.