Category Archives: Dark

Shades in the Dark

As you may know, I am an English teacher. This last month, our university was host to a group of students and professional from Mexico, as part of the Proyecta 100,000 program. They are gone back home now, I am very sad to say, but while they were here, I was their writing teacher. Among the projects we did were short stories. I asked if I could post them on my blog and they agreed. So here is the first one, Shades in the Dark, written by Frank Soria and Jorge Montesinos.

Shades in the Dark

by Frank Soria and Jorge Montesinos

It was an October night full of stars, and the moon shone in the high clear sky. There was nobody but the wind blowing outside. Deserted streets seemed to be aware that something unexpected was coming up. Everything was quiet, warm, and cozy. Emily and Kevin had just gotten to their grandpa’s home. He was an old fashioned man, rough of character, but lovely deep in his heart.

The first days passed harmoniously, soft, and warm. One night after having dinner, Kevin heard a slight creaking noise coming from the corridor. Without notice he stood up and went through it to realize no one was there. He felt how the temperature in the room dropped drastically. His legs trembled as he walked away. He was almost voiceless, nobody seemed to be there, but the whisper of a strange entity surrounded his little body, taking him to his deepest scary feelings. The lamp in the corridor flickered, announcing the inevitable encounter with the paranormal event. His heart beat as fast as a horse in the wild field. Suddenly, he felt a hand grabbing his shoulder. His breath stopped for a moment. He turned around to realize that it was his grandpa looking at him. He told his grandpa about the noise, but he said nothing about it.

The following day his sister teased him about the ghost story, laughing at him. Kevin cried for her madness. Night came back. A storm was announced in the papers. The lights went off. It was windy and cold outside. Grandpa took some candles from an old drawer and met the boys for dinner. Kevin was afraid and asked grandpa to take him to bed. Emily stayed for a while in the kitchen. Suddenly, she heard somebody coming to her. She turned around. No one was there, but an empty room in the shadows. She never had felt so lonely and frightened. A gust of wind opened the window blowing the candle out, pulling everything in its path towards Kevin’s room. She ran to rescue her little brother, but she couldn’t open the door. She yelled at him desperately. There was no answer. Lightning lit her frightened face when her grandpa hugged her and calmed her down. They heard a horrible roar coming from the inside of the room, but the door remained sealed. After a few minutes they could open it and Kevin was not there. The room smelled like a rare fragrance. They had a terrible feeling, but they could do nothing.

The little boy had disappeared. Not a single roar, strange sound or shadow was seen from that day on. No one mentioned a word about that event. Emily grew up there with her grandfather and sometimes she woke up thinking that was a weird nightmare and looked for Kevin but he had gone.


Monster in the Closet

Belfry Rating - Dark

Monster in the Closet

 

 

There is a monster in my closet, waiting to rip my throat out.

I wake up, exhausted. I don’t want to do this again. I just want to get up and leave the room. I look towards the closet and in the deep gloom of the nighttime room, I can barely see that it is open a crack. The monster inside is quiet: you never hear anything until that snort of discharged steamy breath when it charges and it is too late. I close my eyes. I don’t want to die again.

Eight feet from the bed to the door; six to the closet. I should be able to make it but that thing is always too quick for me. I have tried it fast and I have tried it slow but it never matters. Once I even had my hand on the doorknob before I felt pincer-like jaws clamp down on my calves, crushing my tibias and fibulas and pulling me backwards towards its lair underneath my dress shirts. I even remember the hem of that red sweater tickling my face as the creature slashed my stomach and I felt my vital organs tumbling out like sausages from a slit shopping bag. I woke up in bed, thinking of that sweater. It was always too big for me, but I couldn’t give it away since my grandma had given it to me.

I have even tried just waiting. Once, I waited for what seemed like hours, biding my time until the sun rose and burned away the mists of this unending nightmare. But the sun never rose and I waited until my bladder was bursting. I wet the bed and waited some more until I was cold and stinking and frantic. I screamed, “Come get me, you bastard!” and ran for the door.

It came. It got me.

After that, I woke up in bed, in that same eternal half-darkness. I thought I could smell a faint aroma of urine, which scared me almost as much as the monster, but I didn’t know why.

Now, I sit up in bed. No reaction. Slowly, I take one pillow and hold it to my back. I prop the other in front of me and pulling out the thinnest blanket, I tie them to me. I cinch it so tight that I can barely breathe. Slowly, oh so slowly like a sloth on tranquilizers, I lower my foot to the ground.

As soon as I touch carpet, I’m off. There is a roar and a shriek of angry, Stygian breath. My hand is on the handle when I am yanked back. I scream and pull hard. There is a ripping sound and the pillow is torn away. I yank the door open and then I am out, in the dark hallway, running hard for the front door. The monster crashes through the bedroom door behind me and I can hear the wood of the frame splintering. I can’t make it to the door in time. It will be on me in a second. Then, it feels like time slows and just before those ravenous fangs sink into my flesh one more time, I flick on the light switch.

I wake up in bed to my cell phone buzzing angrily. It is my co-worker Larry.

“Hello?”

“Where are you?” Larry asks. “Are you coming to work today?”

“What time is it? How long have I been gone?” I ask. I must sound like a wild man because Larry suddenly sounds disconcerted.

“Settle down. You’re only fifteen minutes late. Are you sick?”

“No, I’ll be there,” I say. I hang up. Daylight is streaming into the room through the slits in the blinds. I look at the closet.

The door is open, just a crack.

There is no sound, but of course, there never is before it charges. But now it’s day. There has never been a cell phone call before. The nightmare must be over.

But I can’t explain why my heart is pounding so hard or why I can’t make myself step onto the carpet. Because as long as I stay on the bed, there is a chance that everything is fine and my closet is empty.

I find myself straining to hear breathing.

I don’t want to die again.

I don’t want to die again.

I don’t want to die—


The Sleepwalker

This is a bit different from some of the stories I’ve written lately, darker for one thing, but it’s been rattling around inside my head for some time, so I finally let it out.

The Sleepwalker

The first thing Dillon saw when he came into consciousness was his hand, moving spasmodically in the muck by the lakeside, his fingers moving like five fat maggots. He took a shuddering breath, coughed out some water and stood up.

Sleepwalking. It must have been that again. The medicine seemed to have stopped working. He had the feeling he had done this before, walked outside in his sleep and right into the lake. It was lucky he hadn’t drowned.

Dillon staggered back up to the split-log cabin that sat on the bluff overlooking the teacup lake. Tiffany never liked going there, but he loved it, this tiny outpost beyond the grasp of civilization. No Internet, no TV, and just enough electricity to run the lights and his used Dell laptop where he forged his bizarre, surreal stories, one keystroke at a time.

So tired. His head ached and he walked with his head down and eyes half-closed until he reached the door. It was locked. That puzzled him. How had he locked the door when he was sleepwalking? Sure, it had a button lock on the inside that he could have pushed, but he had never known himself to do that before. He fished the keys out of his sodden pocket and stepped into the sparse kitchen. All the appliance were at least 30 years old, the old-fashioned, hard to use kind that drove Tiffany nuts. He liked them though. Or perhaps it was just that they guaranteed she would let him come here alone. Antique appliances were a fair trade for total solitude.

The coffee maker, the one modern concession besides the laptop, was set to turn on by itself in 10 minutes, as it always did. He pushed the button and as it gurgled and hissed, he pulled out his pill bottles from the drawer above it. Three blues, two whites: he popped them into his mouth and ducked to get a mouthful of tepid water from the faucet. He felt the meds kick in almost immediately and by the time the coffee was ready, he was a man reborn. They did not keep his mind from spinning; on the contrary, his mind was turning like a flywheel now, generating the necessary creative juices.

He looked out the window and a shock like electricity went through him. Next to his silver pickup truck sat a blue Jaguar, one that he knew very well. Tiffany was here? Since when? Dillon opened the bedroom door, expecting to see her, but it was empty. It was a tiny cabin, but he searched it again and again for ten minutes.

She must be swimming. Ha, not likely. His wife didn’t go near water without adequate chlorination and a handsome, college-aged lifeguard to watch over her. Hiking? Even less likely. If Tiffany couldn’t walk there in high heels, she did not walk there at all.

Finally, Dillon went outside to see if she was sitting behind the wheel. It was empty and locked. It didn’t make sense. He went inside, poured the coffee and took another white pill with it, just to calm his nerves, along with one of the tiny red ones, just because he felt he deserved it after all this confusion.

He turned on the laptop and it sprang to life with an electronic trill. There were no games on it or other distractions and he had set it up to open the file of his current work in progress automatically. Up came the title page, The Woods of Trillium. He scrolled to the bottom. When he had left off, the main character Turner Belasco had just left the witch’s house and was staggering through the forest, trying to get the cursed dagger out of his hand.

Dillon stared at the screen. There was text he didn’t remember writing. It didn’t fit with the story.

“Where is she, you dumb bastard?” the witch cried, tearing at Turner’s clothes with her claws. “You think I don’t know why you are wandering these woods all the time? You’re not looking for the Fountain of Light, you’re screwing some wench!”

          “You are surely mad, woman!” Turner shouted. He shook the cursed dagger to loose it from his hand, but it was stuck fast.

          “You must prove your loyalty to me,” the witch said. “Burn down this hovel you have constructed. Burn it to the ground and you will be free of the curse.”

          “But the house is the key to finding the Fountain of Light,” Turner said. “I carved the map on the floor myself, with hard labor. I will never give it up.”

          “You will or you will suffer!” The crone flew at him and Turner held up his hands to defend himself. But the cursed dagger, which was frozen to his hand, stabbed her in the throat and she dropped to the floor, dead.

          Turner cleaned up the witch’s blood and then carried her and her garments out to the Pool of Trillium, that sparkled with diamonds in the moonlight. He saw her body sink into the inky depths and with that, the cursed dagger fell from his hand and disappeared with her from sight. Then Turner went back to his hut, arranged his traveling garments and potions, set the coffee aright and set out to search for the Fountain of Light.

Dillon staggered up so fast, the table almost overturned. He made his way to the medicine drawer and shook out some pills, not bothering to check the colors or even how many he was taking. All he could think of, the thought that pounded in his head like a gong was: They don’t have coffee in The Woods of Trillium. It doesn’t exist there.

It was just a story. It was not real. Turner Belasco wasn’t a real person. He tried to tell himself this, but his mind was spinning out of control. He got down on the kitchen floor to look for blood. The lines on the flooring ran together and seemed to drip away into nothingness, but when he ran his hand over them, it came away dry.

What seemed like hours later, he found himself in the forest, yelling Tiffany’s name.

Dillon went back to the cabin and tried to think. It took two more cups of coffee. It might be only a story, but the Jaguar was real and he could not have driven them both there. If he had really killed her, it was all over for him. He had to at least look for her body, to make sure for himself. He had to find her or die trying.

It was early afternoon by now. He shut down the computer, put coffee in the filter and set the timer, out of habit more than anything. Then he went out and locked the door and walked to the lake. The water sucked greedily at the hems of his pants, pulling him in further. Finally, he ducked his head under and dived, down into that green-black world of weeds and shifting light, where everything looked like something that it was not. He continued to go down, looking here and there until the blackness seeped into his mind and his last thought was extinguished.

*        *        *

The first thing Dillon felt was a burning in his lungs. He hacked and coughed, spitting weeds, and when he finally opened his eyes, he was lying on the edge of the lake, his clothes and hair muddy and sopping wet. How had he gotten there? He must have been sleepwalking again.


I think something is stalking me

It’s out there somewhere, I know it. It knows where I am and I feel it getting nearer, little by little. I haven’t told anyone before this—I’m too afraid of people thinking I’m crazy. Afraid it’ll hurt my career if anyone finds out at the office. And so I go along day by day, trying to ignore the fear, like the man who avoids the doctor because he is terrified of confirmation more than the cancer itself. The truth is, I know something is after me.

If I only knew what it was.

I say “it” and not “he” since I can’t tell if it’s even human. Sometimes it looks like it, but then it moves wrong, or just disappears. I can see it across from my house sometimes, if it moves into the streetlight. I saw it once out my office window, just a flash of something dark moving between two cars. I can’t prove it but I know it wasn’t a person or an animal.

I finally got a picture of it. It was standing there in the streetlight across from the house, almost taunting me with its presence. I turned off the lights and took a picture. It turned out horribly, of course. I shouldn’t have taken it through the screen, for one thing.

I’ll have to use video next time. I’ll let you know if I get anything more.

I thought it looked human, but now I'm not sure.

I thought it looked human, but now I’m not sure.


Waxy Wolly – Friday Fictioneers

Well, I’m back from the hospital and back into my routine. My apologies for not being able to read many stories last week, but I’ll make up for it this week, I promise. Also, although my Monday post, Drowning Day, was supposed to be humor, it was rather dark, so I’m sorry (to those who prefer my lighter stories) for another dark story today. I have a funny one coming up on Friday this week.

Also, since this is a horror story, I will dedicate it to my friend, K.Z. Morano, whose book 100 Nightmares just came out.

copyright Renee Heath

copyright Renee Heath

Waxy Wolly

Do you know Waxy Wolly, that goblin with the soft, melty face, drooping eyes flickering like malevolent candles? May he never come to your house.

Many a mother has looked into a cradle to see her baby staring up, a living effigy of that happy, laughing soul of only an hour before. And then when she washes it in hot water or puts it near the fire . . .

No one believes me. They all think I killed them. But there are no bodies to convict me. Just a waxy stain in front of the hearth, like someone spilled a large candle.

 


Fog Tweets

Fog Tweets

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All Wrung Out

This story deals with somewhat disturbing material. Just a heads up. It’s a story for Al Forbes’ Sunday Photo Fiction. A bit over the word limit, but please forgive me this time.

All Wrung Out

I feel wrung out, with a soul like an old dishrag, flapping in the burning wind. But you gotta keep on, so I flip a smile, crack a joke and pretend. We all do.

“We got a drill hole on 10th Avenue,” Marc calls. “A real slip-n-slide.”

“And here I forgot my bathing suit,” I say, climbing into the truck.

There are no survivors, of course. The laser beam drilled a perfect hole down through the 20-story building, gutting it and disintegrating everything in its path. Nobody calls us when there are survivors, only when there is “organic material” to clean up. I don’t mind the “organic material”; it’s picking up the body parts I can recognize that gets to me. Nobody said war was pretty.

“Do you ever wish one of those lasers would get us?” Marc asks that evening. “Just erase the memories and nightmares forever.”

“What, and leave this dream job?” I say, laughing and taking a swig of beer.

He looks at me with pain in his eyes, pleading silently for me to be serious, just once. But I can’t do it, because I feel so thin inside that if I stop smiling, I’ll shatter.

I’m just all wrung out.


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