Returning Home

So I haven’t posted as much as I planned to recently because I have been working on a submission for a publisher that I would kill to work for so i have been working mostly on that. Added to that it’s Wrestlemania season…or it was, and as such I have been pretty much just solidly writing fight scenes. But here is another old short story I wrote ages ago, probably one of my more complete stories. enjoy.

 

The sun sits high in the sky as you drive slowly down the street of your childhood. The trees of the park to the left of the car sway gently in the light breeze and happy couples walk down the pavement hand in hand, smiles on their faces. As you drive you think how crazy it is that after fifteen years away from your old home the street still looks the same to you. The old railing that separated that one house from the one next to it was rusted now but still looked as strong as it ever had. The bed and breakfast still stuck out as mile with its white washed walls and black windowsills and the pub on the corner was still full of old men even at this time of day, maybe not the same old men but still bent and grumpy looking.

Finally pulling into the drive of your old house you leave your car and take a moment to enjoy the warm air on your skin. The breeze is refreshing and there is a sweet scent on the wind. Finally turning you attention to the house you are taken aback at how little it has changed since the last time you saw it, all that time ago when you moved out. You had thought then that it would be the last time you ever saw it but your brother had changed that. You pull out your phone find some small amusement in the fact that you have lost signal, this place hadn’t changed at all. You open the text and read it again to yourself.

You had rarely kept in contact with your brother, with any of your family if you were being truthful to yourself and to get a request to meet was unusual. At first you had thought that he might be in trouble or needing money but when he mentioned the old home you knew it was something else, why would he want to meet here? Why else but to discuss your parents. You remember how hard your brother had taken their deaths, very hard and after the way you had left home, well you were never there for him. That was part of the reason you had decided to come, hoping in some way to make amends for the years that you missed.

With no other car in the drive you have to assume that your brother has yet to arrive and thinking that it would be nice to see the house again on your own first you decide to head in. The windows are boarded and the for sale sign lays abandoned in the front garden but otherwise your childhood home is intact. You were surprised when no one stepped up to buy it after your parents death, a desirable place like this would have been ideal for a new family but for some reason it went untouched. You reach the large front door and stand before it feeling like a child again with it still looming over you as it always had, it’s black gloss finish had chipped and flaked until now it was all but grey a few streaks of the wood underneath visible. You reach into your pocket and withdraw the old house key that you had refused to return to your parents out of spite and that, for reasons you could never explain even to yourself, you had kept it. It slides easily into the door lock and with the slightest pressure the mechanism clunks and the door slides open letting light stream in and illuminate a scene you almost forgotten.

You step into the hallway and onto carpet the colour of which you had forgotten till now, the sunlight streamed into the darkened room and filled it with light, the small dust particles that float up with every footfall glittering in the beams of the sun and dancing a merry dance in the gust of wind that floats in behind you. You gently push the door closed and the light fades, in the warmth and darkness you feel a sense of serenity wash over you, your memories flooding back to you, you feel like you never left this house, like you could still find your way around it in the dark. The gaps between the boarded windows let in some light and you use this to find your way over to the hallway light switch giving it a curious flip but not expecting much.

To your surprise the lights in the hall quietly flicker then come on strong, illuminating the surrounding area and revealing the room to you again. The walls, once a bright red colour had faded to a pale pink with the white skirting boards had become a grey cream in colour but they were still largely unchanged. The pictures on the walls were still there, family portraits from years past showing you and your brother at a very young age, your parents when they were in their prime and their family dog, long since gone, caught mid bark by the cameraman, his expression seemed to be one of playful surprise.

You are just about to turn and head into your old lounge, see what has changed there when you think you hear something behind you. You turn to see the door that lead down to your old basement. Memories fill your head of being scared of that place. It had always seemed dark and full of monsters to you when you were younger, and who could blame you for thinking that, you were a child when you had first moved in and children’s imaginations do tend to run away with them. When you had grown up you had just forgotten about the basement, forgotten or simply didn’t care. A sudden sense of excitement rushes over you and you open the door and flick the light switch, again surprised when the basement light up with little difficulty, thought the lights were never very bright down there. Seeing the steps again remind you of a time that you and your brother had stood atop the steps looking down and he had dared you to go down but you had been too scared to even go to the first step.

Now you descend the steps, slowly, carefully, the wood straining with every movement but they are stronger than they let on and you make it to the bottom of the stairs with no problem. Your eyes slowly adjust to the darkness and you can make out a pile of boxes pressed into a corner of the room, as well as a broken vacuum cleaner a few piles of old clothes and various other bits and pieces that seem of little interest. You head over to the boxes and open one but it is too dark to really see what is inside so you carry it over so it is directly under the light where you can get a better view. When you look inside the box your heart skips a beat. Inside are what seem to be hundreds of you and your brother’s old toys. Everything from Action men to Polly Pocket, My Little Ponies and Mighty Max, you feel a rush of all the games you used to play with each and every one you see rushing back to you. You pick up one of your old dolls, a rag doll with red hair and a big dopey grin across her face that you could never help but smile back at, her little checked dress was frayed at the edges and more than a little faded but you remembered taking great care of this one even as a child.

Replacing the ragdoll you are hit with a memory of a time when you had been playing with it and your brother had stolen it and been throwing it around until he accidentally got it stuck in a tree. You had cried and cried until your mother had come out to the garden and taken you inside without letting you explain what had happened. That night you lay in bed crying quietly at the loss of your doll until your brother had crept into your room, covered in mud and with a tree branch in his hair and given the doll back to you. He had crept out in the middle of the night to get it back for you.

This memory suddenly made you tear up. You felt awful, after your brother had done that for you and after a hundred other times when he had been there look after you, he had been willing to do so much for you. He had once been willing to fight a guy simply because you had said you didn’t like him and he probably would have if you hadn’t stopped him. And after all that you hadn’t been there for him when you needed him, you had left him to mourn the loss of your parents alone while you sought it from others. Resigned you stood up to from the box when you heard a sound upstairs, you were going to find a way to make up with your brother for what you did. You turn back towards the stairs just in time to see the shadows in the far corner leap up and engulf you.

When you awaken you don’t know where you are, you slowly drag yourself into a sitting position and wearily and shakily, glance around at your surroundings. Your head is throbbing painfully and the room you find yourself sitting in is almost pitch black. As you slowly look around you start to remember what you were doing. You were in your old childhood house and you had gone down into the basement for some reason. You had been looking through a box of old toys and then you got up when you heard a noise, then you blacked out. Why? It could have been a head rush but you doubt it, you remember something moving in the corner, something in the shadows, no, no it was the shadows, the shadows had attacked you. but that was crazy, you must have hit your head hard.

You reach up and feel where most of the pain in your head is coming from and sure enough there is a sizeable lump there. You try to get to your feet and with some unsteadiness you make it, you look around again now that your night vision has started to return to you and you see you are in the basement as you had thought. The light had gone out and when you reach up to feel where it is, you find that the bulb hadn’t just gone but it had shattered, leaving only ragged chips of glass behind. As you wonder how the bulb had burst without showering you with glass you, you notice something moving in your peripheral vision and spin towards it. You strain to see anything against the darkness but you can’t make out anything. You gaze harder and note that there is defiantly something moving, slowly and delicately but moving. Starting to feel panic rising you take a step back as whatever it is starts to move slightly closer. Whatever it is it is big and you know that you want to get away from it. You take another step back and feel something hit the back of your legs; you stumble and desperately try to retain your balance but to no avail and you collide with the ground again.

Pulling yourself back to your feet you see it was the box of toys that you stumbled over, the contents strewn across the floor you notice the ragdoll and a crazy sensation makes you want to grab it, to hold it for comfort but in the darkness the goofy grin has become a smirk and the blank eyes seem to be staring at you. You turn and run, your shoes hammering off the stairs you take them two at a time until you are almost at the top when the stair you are on gives way under you. Hitting the ground once again you sprawl, one leg stuck in the hole where the step had been, the other trailing down the stairs. You pull hard with your arms, dragging yourself up through the doorway, the chips of wood snagging your clothing and cutting scratches down your thigh. You turn to just to examine the damage and see that the shadows have moved right to the bottom of the stairs, the thing seeming to be swathed in them as it advanced methodically, everything behind it being reduced to pitch black.

You haul yourself to your feet and thunder down the corridor to the front door. Hardly even noting that night had fallen, causing what had once been a bright scene filled with memories to become a darkened tunnel of fear. You slam into the door, twisting the latch and pulling with all your might but even with all your strength it doesn’t budge an inch. Dragging your nails against it you cry out for help, slamming your fists into the hard wooden surface and pulling again and again at the door but it refuses to move. Tears filling your eyes you scream again before turning, almost out of instinct back to the door to the basement.

Shadows had already started to seep out of the doorway and as you watch the thing in the darkness stepped into the hallway and turn towards you. In a snap decision you hurl yourself to your left and sprint into the upstairs you your house. As you pass the pictures on the walls the eyes follow your flight accusingly and the happy bark of the dog turns into a snarl of anger. Reaching the top of the stairs you instantly head to the room at the end of the hall. Your old room. You barely notice that it has been completely stripped of anything that you had in there and left barren as you throw yourself into the corner, completely devoid of anywhere else to go. You curl into a ball and hug your knees to your chest sobbing as you sit there in silence waiting for the thing to find you. Time seems to drag on, becoming aeons as you whimper on the floor until the door suddenly bangs open and shadows slowly flood the room. The thing advances slowly crossing the room at a leisurely pace, taking its time before it reaches you. You fill a chill sensation as it draws nearer, your insides twist in fear and your screams catch in your throat.

When the thing finally does reach you it seems to take a hold of your foot. Your whole leg feels as if it has just been plunged into ice water and any attempt you make to move it is futile and the thing slowly works its way up your body, the ice sensation spreading until it becomes fingers clutching at your throat. You gag for breath but the grasp is so tight that you can’t even gag, nothing is passing through your windpipe and as you gaze ahead the thing moves in front of you, staring you right in the eyes and you feel yourself become light headed and you attempts to breathe become more and more feeble.

Fin

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