Phantom Limbs VII

Sunday August 19th 2116

Oh hell…I just woke up, recording this at quarter past 3 in the morning. I just had the worst nightmare. So much for the hypnocil. Gonna need to go to the doctor tomorrow, I need something stronger, Or an update to the system, or something, I just can’t have that dream again. How I didn’t wake Joanna up I don’t know, I swear I was shouting in my sleep but then again she always could sleep like a rock. This dream though, I was walking down a corridor. It was dark but every so often there would be a blinding flash of white light from down the end and around a corner which would take a few seconds to fade. I keep on walking down the corridor but the closer I get to the corner the heavier my feet felt until I am literally dragging them across this cold, smooth floor. I get to the corner and I turn to see a big open room. The walls are covered in what looks like factory machinery and there are hundreds of these mechanical hands descending from the ceiling. In the centre of the room Mily is lying on an operating table, completely bound to it by huge metal clamps. She was crying.

Every now and then one of the arms would swing down with some wicked looking tool in it’s claws and it would come to rest on her skin. Then there would be the flash of white light, though Mily would suddenly be shadowed, her body twisting as her face was pulled into a silent scream of pain before the arm would move away and she would go limp again. I tried to run, I tried to do anything to get to her but for some reason all I did was stand there. Stand there and watch the torture of my daughter before me. Even when I did start moving I was slow, slower than ever. My legs seemed to be welded to the floor and every step seemed to stretch on four hours. Mily’s screaming face never seeming to be getting any closer and all I could think was that I needed to be faster. Why can’t I go faster?

Finally I woke up. There was one last flash and I was lying in bed. I need…I need to do something, get a shower…maybe. But I can’t go back to bed…not after that.

James Dylan logged out.

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The Factory

So after a long time of working on a submission for  publisher and after some work on a personal project of mine that I’m not sharing yet, I finally got down to some horror story work. This is an attempt of mine to try and write something a bit longer and I’m not sure about it but I guess we shall see. Also for once i edited my work!

 

The factory loomed ominously high into the air, the grey tower of the smokestack highlighted by the clear sky. Ryan stared up at the tall building, looking through the broken windows, fancying that he could see shapes moving beyond the shards of glass that still sat in their frames. At eight years old Ryan had always been told by his mother to stay away from the factory even though the chain link fence that surrounded it was completely locked and there was no way through. Ryan had always thought that he would be able to climb the fence easily enough if he had a chance, but he knew he wouldn’t even get half way up before he was seen.

Ryan was about to turn away and continue on his way back home when he felt something pat him on the back. Ryan jumped and wheeled around to see another child, probably slightly older than himself, his features contorted into a smirk.

“You like the factory kid?”

Ryan didn’t reply, he was still slightly shaken and he didn’t recall having ever seen this kid before.

“What’s wrong? Didn’t scare you did I?”

Ryan shook his head but still didn’t say anything.

“You ever been in there? It’s really cool inside.”

“You can’t get in, the gate is locked” Ryan finally replied.

“Don’t be stupid, you don’t get in through the gate; there’s a hole in the fence, me and all my friends have been in there.”

“There’s a hole? Where?” asked Ryan excitedly, despite knowing that he probably shouldn’t know or else he would be even more tempted to go exploring it.

“It’s round the back, follow me” and with that the kid walked off, turning round once to wave Ryan after him as he hadn’t moved. Ryan hesitated for another moment and then followed.

As they walked round the back of the factory the kid turned round again.

“What’s your name?”

“Ryan”

“Mine’s Tommy” he replied and continued walking.

The pair reached the back of the factory by slipping through a narrow back alley, little more than a few feet gap between two other houses. When they got around to the back Tommy knelt down by the fence and started to pull at a corner by a support pole, revealing a gap that was small but still large enough to crawl through. Tommy stood again and gestured for Ryan to crawl go on through.

“Go on” he said, but Ryan didn’t move.

“My mum tells me I’m not supposed to go in there, it’s dangerous.”

“Oh you big baby, do you do everything your mum tells you? I told you everyone I know has been in there, it’s not dangerous.”

Ryan stood and considered it for a moment, before stooping and staring to crawl under the fence. When he got to the other side he turned back to Tommy but he had made no inclination that he was going to follow him.

“Are you not coming?”

“Not yet, there’s a game. If it’s your first time going into the factory, you have to go alone.”

Ryan was shocked at this.

“Go in alone? For how long?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll come in and find you when you’ve been in there long enough.”

Ryan turned and looked at the factory. As enticing as it had looked before it now had an air of foreboding that didn’t seem to settle quite right.

“Go on, go in, or are you just a chicken?” Tommy taunted from the other side of the fence.

Ryan gave one last half glance backwards before setting off resolutely towards the ominous building that stood in front of him.

As Ryan approached the factory he started to wonder how he was supposed to get inside. He had always thought that the large iron doors had been sealed when it had closed and he knew he had no chance of being able to pull them open. His trainers crunched in the gravel that covered what had once been the car park of the factory but now was empty asides from an old rusty shopping trolley that lay on its side in the middle of the car park.

Starting to consider the possibility that there was maybe a widow somewhere on the ground level somewhere he could climb through Ryan wondered if that was how Tommy had gotten

before. Or maybe Tommy had been lying and he had never been in the factory and had just been teasing him. But then how would know about the hole in the fence. But as Ryan grew closer to the big factory front doors he saw that instead of being closed they were in fact standing slightly ajar, just enough for him to be able to slip through in fact.

Pausing just before the doors Ryan peered into the darkness of the factory but he couldn’t see much through the small gap between the doors. Taking a deep breath Ryan started to slip through the opening. As he slithered through he started to see more of the factory’s insides which got his excitement going and he struggled harder, desperate to get inside. Suddenly something caught Ryan’s jacket. He pulled desperately at it but he could not get it free. Suddenly the horrible thought that while he was stuck there circled his head, still halfway between the doors, something could happen and the doors would slam shut on him! He started to pull more frantically at the jacket but still couldn’t budge it. Finally he managed to get the zipper open and he slipped out of it tripping as he forced his way through the doors, landing hard on the ground.

Getting up from the floor Ryan tried again to pull his jacket from the door but was still unable to. He thought it must be stuck from the other side and was about to squeeze through again to try and retrieve it but then he remembered what Tommy had said, he had to stay in there until Tommy came and got him before he leave. He stood there for a moment, considering what to do, then decided that he would have to get his jacket on the way out. Turning away from this now he faced the rest of the factory.

Ryan found himself in a massive room full of old machinery such as conveyor belts which stretched the majority of the room. There was a staircase that lead up a back wall, ending in a door that lead off to another part of the factory. The factory had used to be used to make car engines a couple of which were still sitting on the conveyor belts as well as several small piles of parts littered around the place, almost like they had been abandoned in a hurry. There was also a chain hanging from the ceiling that ended in a vicious looking hook the purpose of which Ryan could not fathom.

The edges of the room were lined with huge metal supports that ran up the walls and across the ceiling connecting together in the middle of the roof, giving Ryan the image of some bizarre metal ribcage. On the back wall of the factory there was a massive machine that all the conveyor belts lead out from. This machine was probably about the size of Ryan’s bedroom back home and he was amazed at the complexity. With several panels on the side with controls that Ryan could not understand. Given its positioning and sheer size Ryan thought instantly of it as the heart of the factory, hidden behind its steel ribs.

But Ryan’s attention was distracted mostly with the way that the light filtered in through the windows, many of which were broken or boarded up so that the light only managed to enter in slivers, becoming a glowing razor blade that cut through the darkness. The dust particles floated down and rose through the trails of light, reflecting off it and giving the appearance that they were sparkling. The small movements they made, caused by the light breeze wafting in, made them look like they were dancing through the beams of light, pirouetting through the air.

The wind that blew through the factory made a quiet whistling sound as it passed through some of the piles of pipes that littered the ground and the occasional squeak from a mouse made a quiet symphony to play for the dust. Ryan was amazed at how, despite the initial impression of stillness, that the factory gave off it was in fact in constant state of movement. From the dust dancing around and the mice scurrying back and forth under the machinery to the fluttering of the ivy leaves of a creeper that had grown up through a crack in the concrete floor and was now constricting it’s way round one of the steel ribs.

Ryan also noticed the smell that the breeze brought in with it. While he had been expecting the smell in the factory to be damp and mouldy it was quite the opposite. It smelt earthy, like walking through a wood and smelling the damp soil and the wet grass. It was a smell that reminded Ryan of going to see his grandparents, who lived in the country, playing hide and seek with his cousins. The smell made Ryan happy. It washed away all the fear that he had had just moments earlier and started his excitement running again. He was eager to go exploring the rest of the factory.

After looking around at the several doors that lead off the main factory floor Ryan decided to take a passage closer to the back wall, partly because he wanted to get a closer look at the heart and also because it seemed to him that that was where the breeze was coming from. Wandering down the corridor Ryan saw that there were several wires and pipes attached to the ceiling running from the heart and down into the next room. This seemed slightly weird to Ryan as he had would have thought that wires like that would have been somewhere that they were less likely to be damaged. His mother had always told him that a damaged wire was exceedingly dangerous and that he should stay away from one should he see it. But these wires weren’t damaged as far as Ryan could see so he continued to wander along the corridor. He should be ok.

The corridor was long and bland to look at but finally Ryan entered another room. This one was a lot smaller, filled by another large machine that the wires led into. He assumed that it must be some sort of engine to drive the other machine as there was the smell of petrol about it and several

empty cans lying in a corner that Ryan had seen before when his mother had stopped to fill the car up. Ryan found this room to be less interesting than the main factory floor and after a quick look around, returned the way he had come with the intention of seeing where the stairs lead.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs he looked them up and down, they looked secure enough though there was a worrying amount of rust on some of them and the handrail was broken in several places. Ryan hesitated, starting to worry about the wisdom of climbing them, but as he looked up towards the room at the top he could see that the door was slightly open and there was a golden glow coming from inside. Taking a deep breath Ryan put his foot on the bottom stair and started his ascent. He was small for his age and quite light so he reckoned that he shouldn’t have any problems. Though they were rusty the stairs stood firm as he climbed them and even the worst looking section showed no signs of stress as he traversed them. Reaching the door at the top he pushed it all the way open and stepped inside, still slightly relieved to be off the stairs.

Turning to look at the rest of the room he had entered he saw he was in a small office, about half as long as the main factory floor and thinner, he was surprised to see that the divisions that separated the cubicles were still in place and a few of the desks were still sat there, worn and starting to be eaten away by woodworm but still where they had been left.

Ryan walked around some of the cubicles examining them; opening desk draws gripped by the desire to see if anything had been left in them. He jumping out of his skin when he opened one to see a small rat sat inside chewing on a rotting piece of paper. The rat leered up at him and squealed before leaping from the draw and speeding off out of sight. Ryan let out a small yell as it darted past him and stumbled backwards, hitting the wall. He waited a moment to let his heart settle down again before looking around the room again, trying to find the source of the light he had seen, his desire to examine the draws no longer as strong. Finally saw it. There was a door at the opposite end of the room that stood ajar, and the glow he had seen was emanating from under and around the cracks where it was slightly open. Creeping forward cautiously he pushed the door open a bit more and peered round it to see what was inside.

Ryan saw a single office, not too large in size but with a big window opposite the door that looked out onto the street below and gave a nice view of the sky. The sun was starting it’s decent in the sky, painting it shade of burnished bronze as it hung just above the skyline of the city. In the middle of the room was another old desk and behind that there was a tall office chair bound in brown leather. Despite the fact that the chair must have been quite old the leather had only started

to crack in a few places and apart from a bit of wear in another couple of spots was clean and still perfectly useable.

There was also an old filing cabinet in the corner of the room and despite the instant temptation to sit in the chair Ryan headed over to this first, opening each draw too see what, if anything, was inside, certain that it at least couldn’t be another rat, though that didn’t stop him being slightly more cautious. Finding each draw to be empty he turned and looked out the window, admiring the view and the way the sky had changed colour since he entered the factory. He thought to himself that when he got home he might try and paint it. Art was his favourite class in school and his teachers had all said he was good at it. And then his heart skipped a beat. Home. He was meant to be back before it got dark. He had forgotten with all the fun he had been having exploring the factory. He hurried to the door of the office and pulled it open, about to run out and leave the factory when he stopped in the doorway, turning slowly to look back at the chair. Surely he could just quickly sit in it and see what it was like to sit there in the big chair. He could spare just a quick few minutes.

Ryan walked over to the desk and settled himself into the chair; it was soft and seemed to settle to his weight perfectly making it extremely comfortable. The leather also seemed to be strangely warm despite the cool air wafting through the factory. Ryan span around in the chair a few times before pretending he was shouting orders to his imaginary workers. He was loudly telling them that they weren’t working fast enough, shouting at them and telling them they needed to do better. He stood up on the chair and shouted across the offices at an imaginary man in the back, pleased to hear the way his voice echoed around the empty air.

Then from behind him came the screech of metal on metal, loud and chilling, it came from where the filling cabinet was sitting. Ryan span around, still stood on the chair with a chill crawling up his spine. The chair rocked as he moved, making him lose his balance. He stumbled, flailing his arms about trying to find something to steady himself on, found nothing and fell backwards. The world slowed for a second as he fell but then a sharp pain split the side of his head, a crack resonated around him and the world went black.

When Ryan awoke his head hurt worse than it had ever hurt before and when he reached up to feel the spot where it had hit the table he felt a huge lump under his hair as well as something sticky. Looking at his fingers he saw red clinging to them and realised he had been bleeding. He started to panic his breath coming hard and fast, catching in his lungs at points. He sat there almost in tears for a few minutes before he managed to calm himself and regain some sense.

When he finally regained some control he got to his feel and looked around and thought he was going to have another panic attack. The room was dark, the window that had previously let in all the light of the outside was now broken, shards of smashed glass sticking up from the frame and a few boards had been nailed across the frame to cover it, though by the look of them they had been there for a while. The desk was now leaning diagonally as one side of it had rotted away to the point where it had broken and the chair Ryan had stood on was not a tattered mess. The leather, which had been almost pristine, was now all but peeled away. The stuffing was damp and grey, spilling out of several holes and onto the floor. Ryan also noticed the filing cabinet, now battered, missing all its draws and lying on its side. Ryan felt his breath catching in his throat. How could it all have changed he thought? It wasn’t like this before, it wasn’t.

He hurried from the room as quickly as he could and out into the office that had been filled with cubicles. Just like the first office this one now seemed completely different. The few dividers that remained were toppled over and broken; the fabric on them was worn and rotten away with age. The desks were all missing now, with nothing but marks on the filthy floor to show where they had been. There were also stains on the walls, long, greasy looking marks that ran down from skirting board to skirting board. Where they had before been a clean white in colour they were now a dirty grey, covered in marks and peeling where water had leaked in.

Ryan again rushed through this room and out onto the staircase, planning on rushing down it and out the door but he had to grab onto the hand rail as he reached the first stair to avoid falling down the hole that had appeared. The staircase was now completely covered in rust, the missing piece of it lay on the floor of the factory, fifteen feet below fractured upwards like a spiked pit. Ryan stared out over the factory floor and gasped.

The darkness had filled in where before the light had streamed in from outside. Shadows now covered the walls and where before there had been beams of light that had played with the dust that hung in the air and made it dance now the shadows that hung thick from the ceiling and covered the floor. The dust still circled in the air but now it only gave the illusion that the shadows were moving, slowly crawling across the machinery and the conveyor belts, shying away from the light like some demented jungle creature. Where the ivy that had crept through the windows had glowed and emerald in the sunlight it now seemed thicker and looked slimy as the low light reflected off the damp than clung to it, giving the vines the look of tendrils forcing themselves through the cracks, gripping the walls as if a sea serpent had slipped from the ocean like some horror movie and now gripped to the side of the factory, hauling it back to the sea.

The smell of earth had gone and had been replaced by a stench of mould and rot but it was also tinted with something bitter and foul that lingered at the back of his throat and almost made him gag as it filled his lungs. The sound of the wind not seemed like a distant scream as floated round the factory, chilling Ryan to the bone and making his breath mist in front of his face. The supports of the factory, which Ryan had before thought looked like ribs, now seemed to curve inwards in the darkness, making the entire factory feel like the chest of some mighty monster.

Ryan felt cold sweat trickle down his back and realised he had to escape the factory and now. Looking down the staircase Ryan could only see one way down the stairs, he would have to grip the rail, carefully placing his feet on the side of the stairs where it hadn’t broken away.it would be dangerous but it was the only way. Slowly Ryan started to edge his way down the side of the stairs. The metal groaned loudly under his weight and dust started to drift out of the wall where the supports strained to pull themselves free. Occasionally small chips of metal would fall out from the stairs as the rust and strain finally defeated them. The wind that flowed through the factory felt like it had suddenly turned against Ryan, pushing him backwards towards the holes in the stairs. The sound of the wind changed from a scream to a cheer, urging itself to push Ryan down and to his death.

Ryan pulled himself onwards however and neared the bottom of the stairs when finally the stairs seemed to give way and the supports pulled themselves from the wall. Creaking and moaning the structure slowly started to collapse on itself. Panicking Ryan did the first thing that came to his mind and leapt from his positions on the stairs and down onto the floor, his legs giving way under the impact. The stairs smashed loudly to the floor, snapping and bending under the weight of the rest of the metal. The shadows on the wall seemed to swirl in the rising cloud of dust forming evil faces for split seconds, menacing in their visage and wafting away before Ryan could be sure he had seen it. A few stray bolts clattered across the floor, bouncing off the metal and making a sound that resembled that of a high pitched laugh.

Ryan lay on the cold, filthy ground trying to catch his breath and calm his heart again. Ryan could only look at the tumbled staircase and think how close he had been to going down with it and being crushed. Even if that hadn’t killed him he would be stuck there without help. The realisation suddenly dawned on him that he was lying in in the shadows, covered in the muck of the factory; his knee had taken a hard knock when he hit the ground and his shoulder was aching to match the throb that had been in his head since his fall. The shadows around him had suddenly seemed to grow very still since his fall and Ryan grew chill, they were watching him, waiting to see what he would do. Like animals circling wounded prey.

Ryan knew that he had to run; he had to get away from here as fast as he could. He would slip through the door, dive through the hole in the fence and wouldn’t stop running till he was home and safe in his bed. He pulled himself up from the ground, feeling himself sticking to something, in his panic he thought that the floor itself was holding on to him, trying to pin him down. Ryan wrenched himself free and ran. Dodging round the conveyor belts and other machinery piled on the ground. The shadows seemed to curl and move around him trying to hold out wispy arms to grab hold of him but Ryan burst past them. Reaching the front of the factory he looked up, expecting to see his jacket still hanging between the doors, stuck on something outside, but what he saw made his heart sinking in his chest.

His jacket was lying on the floor, torn to tatters. It lay a few feet from the door as if it had been pulled loose from where it had stuck and been hurled away by someone, or something. The door itself stood tall and solid and clearly closed. Ryan rushed to it, screaming to himself in his head that it couldn’t be true and he was just seeing things. He pushed at it with all his might, tried pulling on it, hammered on it with his fists and kicked at it but there was no way that he could move it. Ryan felt tears starting to flow freely from his eyes and he screamed loudly in as much frustration as fear. How could the door have closed? But now he felt he was trapped. He thought of trying the windows but they were boarded up as the window in the office had been and that at least was how they had always been. Even if he could pull a board away he would cut himself to pieces on the shards of glass as he climbed through.

Ryan whipped the tears from his eyes and looked around watching the shadows circling around him, their sleek forms seeming to creep down the walls and across the floor. Even the ivy now seemed to be bending his way. Then he saw it, something that gave him hope. There was a shadow down the end of the corridor he had walked down earlier. No it wasn’t a shadow. It was a silhouette. A human silhouette. Ryan realised in an instant, it must be Tommy come to get him out!

Ryan ran towards him, why hadn’t Tommy found him earlier? It didn’t matter he would know a way out of here and then he could go home. Ryan ran down the corridor but as he got closer Tommy turned and ran away from him. Ryan called after him and started to run harder but Tommy easily outpaced him. Ryan chased him back into the room with the engine. The room was not very large and Ryan could see that there was nowhere for Tommy to hide. But he was not there

Ryan was confused now, he was scared and he was alone. He turned and was about to start walking back down the corridor, getting desperate enough to try one of the windows, see if he could knock some glass out of one and make it safe to escape through, when suddenly the engine behind

him started to rumble. At first it only growled quietly but it grew louder and louder, reaching a roar that filled the room and echoed down the corridor. The engine started to shake with the force of the mechanism inside and the stench of petrol filled Ryan’s nostrils. Ryan stood terrified of what was happening. He needed to run but he was rooted to the spot. Finally he managed to force himself to turn away, running headlong down the corridor chased by the roar of the machine behind him. The further down the corridor he got the more the sound of the engine was replaced by a new sound. A rhythmic thumping that was, if possible, even louder. He finally reached the main floor of the factory, terrified of what he might see. Of what could be making that noise.

The heart of the factory had started to beat. The pounding filled his ears, so loud it rattled his teeth. It sounded like fireworks being set off right beside his head, a monotonous thump-thump thump-thump. The sound echoed around the entire room, from the ribcage ceiling to the slick murky floors. Ryan glanced up and saw to his horror that the ribs of the factory were not just ribs but they had now become claws that were visibly bending in towards him, long skeletal fingers that lead the shadows down from the ceiling to grasp at him.

Desperately Ryan ran for the only way out he could see. He wrenched urged himself into motion, almost tripping as he dashed to the closest window. The window was boarded up but the glass behind the boards was broken, if only he could get the boards away then Ryan could clamber out and be free. He didn’t even care if he got cut by the glass as long as he was out. He grabbed a hold of the bottom board and pulled with all the strength he had left, desperately trying to wrench the board free. But the wood held firm. The nails keeping it on the frame didn’t move and inch and despite the rotten, worn look of the wood the plank didn’t so much as bend. Almost hysterical Ryan tried again and again to pull the board free but it still refused to move. Warm tears flooded his eyes as he looked through the gaps in the window, straining his eyes in the dark to see if there was anyone out there. His heart skipped a beat as he saw there was a figure standing in the street and as they moved under a street light he saw that it was his mother! She must have gotten worried and come looking for him. Pushing his mouth between the gaps in the boards he screamed for her, straining his voice over the thumping of the heart. From the distance between them his mother should have been able to hear his hysterical cry for help. Ryan called again and again but to his dismay, when he looked his mother was looking up and down the street, clearly having not heard him. He called again and his mother looked up briefly, she turned and gave the factory a glance before she turned and walked on down the street.

Ryan fell to his knees, tears now running freely down his face. He had nothing left he could try, he was trapped. Why had he not listened to his mother? Why had he allowed himself to enter

the factory? And where was Tommy? Had he entered after him? Had he already been caught by whatever it was that was that pursued him. As these thoughts swirled around Ryan’s head another shadow rose up the wall, taller and darker than the others. The shadow swirled and formed into a very familiar face. Tommy’s face. It looked down at Ryan and sneered, a familiar expression to the one he had worn when he first startled Ryan, but now it was cruel and full of malice and Ryan realised how he had been lured into the factory. How whatever was in the factory had waited for someone like him to lure into its lair.

The shadows moved around him, surrounding him and slowly advancing towards their prey. They closed the gap and started to creep up Ryan’s legs, twisting themselves around him like the ivy that had slithered up the walls. Ryan finally found his voice and let out a scream.

Outside the factory was as it had ever been. The street was deserted and silent. No thumping heart. No screams. Nothing.

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

Another Short Story

Been feeling under the weather lately and so my drive to write anything new has been lacking so here is another short story of mine. as before this is a first draft and needs a lot of work but feel free to give opinions on what you think.

 

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

What affect does the setting have?

I have written before about how a setting is important for a story and how I usually like to open a story with a description of a setting because it sets a scene and makes a background for your characters to exist in. I like to think of it like the backdrop in a stage performance, it’s not always crucial to the story being told but it is important that it is there to help the audience enjoyment. There are various parts of the setting that can be described to help the reader make a picture in their head of the world the story takes place in, if any of these things sound obvious then it is because what can be described is the same things most of us experience every day.

Starting with the most obvious, what does the setting look like? It can be easy as a writer to say something simple like ‘The characters found themselves in a forest…’ but just saying that does not help the scene come to life, there are hundreds of different types of forest and while I doubt there is a writer out there who describes their character to be in an ‘evergreen non-coniferous forest’ any description can help. My go to point of description is usually the lighting, I find that a description of lighting can make a scene sound calming, relaxing and enjoyable or horrifying, dreary, intimidating, that sort of thing. In one of my short stories I have used the lighting in just that way, a character enters a house and…

‘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.’

While this is far from my best descriptive work ever I think it paints a rather nice and calm image of the setting which I later describe. Later in the story a character examines the same house at night and notices with the lower light levels that what was previously charming is now shadowy and creepy and ‘possibly hiding anything in the recesses.’ it is not just the light levels though that can be described, going back to the forest idea how tall are the trees? Are they straight? Are there leaves on the ground? Is there evidence of any animals around or it is barren, are there leaves on the trees. It is the same for a room in a house, what are the walls like? Is there carpet? It sounds obvious but how the area looks might be the most important thing.

Something else I like to describe is the wind, if there is any in the scene. How fast or slow is it blowing and is it cold or warm? This can be used to help with the description of how our theoretical forest looks, is the wind blowing the trees about? The wind is important for a lot of other describable points, if the wind is cold then the characters are probably cold, is the wind whistling? Is the sound ominous? Is there anything to smell? That can be carried to the characters by the wind. If you add all these aspects together you could end with a very promising setting…

‘The forest was old, the trees stood tall, reaching towards the gods with branches barren of leaves. The wind blew softly through between trunks, thicker and stronger than any i had encountered before, and brought with it an uncomfortable warmth and the smell of fire and burning, though not of burning wood. In the distance the dark night sky had turned a murky orange and the longer I stood there the brighter the glow seemed to get…’

when it all comes together I think that makes a rather compelling opening paragraph that i hope would intrigue the reader to want to know more and all I did was describe the sights and smells of the forest the character finds themselves in. From that opening I could take a potential story anywhere, the most obvious idea would be to have the character find out what is burning, I made it clear that it wasn’t the woods though at the same time i think if i was stuck in that situation i might just as likely head away from the probably fire, it could go either way, the light doesn’t even have to be a plot point (though it has to be by the rule of Chekov’s gun.)

Another short post again I guess but as always I’m tired and if I feel I am just going over obvious points of writing really. Tomorrow I might post one of my own stories in whole for people to read though I’ll say now that they are all in first draft form and the spelling and grammar is likely terrible.