Tag Archives: house

The Right Turn

This is a story prompt by my good friend, Sharmishtha Basu. Read the original post and her story here, and many others on her great blogs. This story is a bit darker than some of my other work, just as a note of caution.

The lightning crashed again, blinding him for a few seconds. It lit up the old building behind the trees. He noted that the road has forked to two obscure paths a few feet away from him, the right turn led him to an old, dilapidated mansion, which perhaps had some intact rooms and a caretaker. The left one disappeared in the shrubs and bushes.

Someone has been stalking him ever since his car broke down. He could hear him or it but had not been able to catch a single glimpse even after turning back dozens of times…

artwork by Sharmishtha Basu

Philip took the turn on the right. He wanted to get to the house before the rain started. He came out onto an overgrown lawn and saw a small door partially open on the first floor. Welcoming light was spilling out from the crack. With a final glance behind him, he hurried across the lawn and through the door.

He found himself in a corridor of whitewashed stone that immediately made him feel uneasy. There was a faint, chemical smell in the air that reminded him of morgues and taxidermists. The door creaked behind him. He leapt for it, but it was too late: the door slammed and a lock clicked.

Philip ran back and pushed on the door but it did not budge. With a sense of apprehension, he turned and continued along the corridor. It ran for fifty feet until it turned a corner and opened into a glass-walled room that looked out onto a stark-white laboratory lined with machines and microscopes. The glass room he was in occupied a quarter of the room. In the center of the room were two large, clear cylinders that reached from floor to ceiling. The further one was empty. Inside the nearer one, curled and immobile, stood a nightmare.

Imp was the word that came to Philip’s mind when he saw it, then hag. It was humanoid, with spindly limbs and a face that was pulled forward with a long protuberant jaw and exposed fangs. It was female, he saw, with withered breasts that hung limply down on its stomach. Long claws grew out of its hands and feet.

A metal door slid down across the entrance to the corridor, jerking Philip’s attention away from the monstrosity in the cylinder. A moment later, a man walked into lab from another door. He was dressed in all black so that in the purely white lab, he seemed like a hole in space, a negative of reality.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” Philip said. “Who followed me from my car? What do you want with me?”

“You can undress and pile your clothes in the corner,” the man said. “You’ll have no need of them anymore. If you don’t, I’ll have to gas you and do it myself, but I’d rather not. Don’t think about trying to call for help—cell phones don’t work in here.”

“What are you going to do with me?” Philip, as a feeling of dread went through him.

“I’m sure you have noticed Hecate,” the man said, indicating the cylinder. “This is the crowning achievement of my work. I developed her with specific goals: to be ruthless, agile, cunning, and fertile. She is almost ready now, just a little more and she will be ready to wait for someone—for you, in fact.”

Philip started to ask a question and then decided he did not want to know the answer. The man saw and laughed.

“Hecate was once like you or me, just a normal girl that got lost on her way home from a party. She came to the fork in the road and turned right, ending up where you are now. It will take more than a year, I warn you, but someday, you will be like her. Then the two of you will come together, the mother and father of a new race. Now please, remove your clothing.”

“I’m more comfortable this way,” Philip said.

The man sighed. “Have it your way.” He turned away and turned on a machine on the side table. As soon as his back was turned, Philip drew the pistol that was tucked in the back of his pants and pointed it at the man’s head.

The glass was thick, but no match for a .44 bullet. The shot shattered one of the panels of glass that made up the containing room, missing the man’s head by inches. He threw himself to the floor as Philip shot again, smashing another panel of the wall.

Philip climbed out the glass room, sending more bullets smashing through lab equipment and glass partitions. The man in black kept dodging and weaving, trying to get to the door. Philip’s last bullet smashed through the nearest glass cylinder and light blue fluid poured out onto the floor.

“No! She’s not ready yet!” the man screamed. He ran to a computer terminal and started typing in commands. Behind him, the thing in the cylinder moved.

It started with a slow unfolding of its limbs, as if it were just waking up. Then it lifted its head and Philip caught a glance of its watery yellow eyes before it turned them on the back of the man in black. It took one long, delicate step out of the shattered tube and then a flying leap, silently and with claws extended.

The man screamed and the two figures fell to the floor, locked together in a frenzy of limbs and fangs and blood. Philip ran for the door that the man had entered by and ran up the stairs. He came out into a dark, musty main hall and found the front door. Just before he left, he opened his Zippo lighter, lit it and dropped it on the carpet. Then he fled out into the night.

The next day, Philip read how the old mansion on the edge of town had mysterious burned down. The damage was further increased by the explosion of several large tanks of chemicals that had been stored in the basement. The eminent but reclusive Dr. Hasgrove was found in the basement, dead from unspecified wounds. No other people or creatures were found.

Philip moved to another city a month later. He kept his eyes open for news of strange attacks or disappearances. There were none that he could find, but still, when he was out at night, he thought he could feel something behind him, stalking him.

Waiting.


Saturday, 4am

This is the second story in the Open Prompts series. Because of the length constraint, it is not a full story, on the beginning. More will come, I promise. Here were the story elements suggested:

1. Title: “Saturday, 4am” (suggested by me)
2. Length: about 700 words (suggested by Reality of Christ)
3. vinyl records (suggested by Alastair)
4. A character named Edward “the Squid” Morrison (suggested by Christopher De Voss)
5. Genre: post-apocalyptic sci-fi (suggested by jomiddleton)
6. an android sidekick (suggested by Exit Fresh)

Edward Morrison was the unofficial king of the decaying residential area known as Free Frall. He worked alone, by night, collecting and gathering and making his influence felt among the ragged collection of survivors that haunted the rotting suburb. They would pay him a share of what they found by virtue of what he called “personality”. They called him the Squid, and he liked it.

Free Frall was in the wrong place for revival. It was too close to the bomb-blasted epicenter that had been London, but too far from the enclave of Cambridge, where a determined remnant tried to piece a civilization back together.

Edward checked his device screen. It was Saturday, 4 am. It was funny—five billion people dead and most of the rest living like trolls, but they still knew the day and the time, thanks to Cambridge. Technology galore, but no food.

He was in an area he rarely went to—the rusted sign named the cul-de-sac Brighton Circle. The last stop of the night. There was a house he had his eye on.

***

It was 4am and Joseph Watson was just getting ready to go to bed when he heard a creak from the stairs leading down to his cellar home. Droog, a dwarf-sized robot, whirred over to the door and did a scan. The light on his shoulder went red. Joseph was just reaching for his gun when the door flew open and Edward “the Squid” Morrison stepped in.

“What do you want, Squid?” Joseph said, trying to sound unconcerned.

“Joseph, so this is where you’ve been hiding!” Edward said, with a big smile. “I heard you were dead, but then I kept hearing rumors. I’m glad to see you.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet you are. You always took whatever you wanted from me,” Joseph said. “What—what can I get for you?” he added quickly, as Edward started to walk around the cluttered room with an appraising eye.

“Just seeing what you’ve found—you always did get the best junk. Where did you find this thing?” He toed Droog, who was following him around, still scanning him.

“It’s a ‘Munculus Bot. A guy in Cambridge found a bunch and is fixing them up and trading them. His name is Droog. He doesn’t know English.”

“I wouldn’t think you’d be too attached to it then,” Edward said. “Hey, what do you got here?” He picked up a thin, black disc and was rewarded when Joseph jumped up, fear plain on his face.

“You don’t want that, Squid. Here, take Droog if you’d like. Please, just—put it down.” Edward raised his eyebrows and started to twirl the disc in his fingers.

“Okay, I’ll tell you,” Joseph said. “Just—be careful. It’s music.”

“Music? Like hum-tunes? Why would I want that?”

“This is music from Before. There are tiny grooves that hold the music. No, not like that,” he said quickly as Edward held up the vinyl record to his ear. “I wrote an instruct for the scanner on my device to read them. Here.”

Joseph set the record down on the desk and placed his E-device in a wire frame that suspended it above the record. Then he turned it on and a tiny laser flashed rapidly around the black disc.

A sound unlike anything Edward had ever heard started to pour from the device’s speaker. It was a woman singing strong and clear in a strange language. It had such tragic and haunting tones that Edward involuntarily closed his eyes. It was as if a window had been opened out onto another world, but it was too dark to see more than an inch beyond the frame. And he so desperately wanted to see. The music soared and dipped and finally, faded away.

“What is she saying, in the music?” Edward asked.

“It’s another language,” Joseph said, with a shrug. “They say there were hundreds of them, Before. Maybe there still are, somewhere.”

“Where did you get this?” Edward asked. “Tell me, please.”

“I traded the four I have from a wanderer named Ryan. He makes runs from here to Cambridge and around. I’ve asked for more, but he hasn’t gotten me any. Please, take Droog if you want, but not the discs.”

“Fine, I’ll take Droog instead, but only if you give me the instruct for playing the music.”

“Okay, I guess. You’re going to go find more?”

Edward was, but that wasn’t all. Hearing that song at 4 am on Saturday was like uncovering a pearl in a mound of filth. It was something that for years had remained unsullied by the decay around it. There must be more, and he was going to find it.

(Mireille Mathieu – “Exodus”)


The Book of Time

A man built a house on a plot of land. He lived through good and bad and when he died, his house stood empty. People soon forgot him, but the house remembered.

It remembered his first night there, when he woke, alone, in the middle of the night and almost cried from loneliness. It remembered the joy of his wedding, the trials and worries, the accumulated pain and blood of scraped knees and new babies. The faces that came, and changed, and passed on through its rooms, it remembered.

The house was sold, and sold again, and then finally abandoned, until its windows were empty and vacant and its roof settled slowly into the floor. The years passed until the house was gone but its memories passed to the land. Even when that was built over and paved and excavated for basements and sewers, the land remembered the stories of those that had lived on it.

It remembered until the land sank into the oceans and water covered the area where the man had built his house and lived through good and bad. Its history was eventually forgotten by everyone, but it still remains, written forever in the book of time that only One can read.


Dead Switch

“I think my house is haunted,” Frederick said. He shifted nervously, glancing up at the hall chandelier.

“Yes, so you said on the phone,” the psychic investigator said, frowning slightly. This was just a preliminary visit. No point in rolling out the TV cameras just yet.

“You see, the chandelier flickers on and off sometimes, just on its own. Usually at night.”

“I see. Like a short in the wires?”

“No, I’ve had it checked out three times by electricians. They say everything is normal.”

At that moment, the chandelier flickered on and then immediately went off. It flickered on and off a few more times, then nothing.

“You see?” Frederick cried. “It’s haunted.”

“I see,” the psychic investigator said. His demeanor had changed completely. “You may be right. In my expert opinion, I would say this is strong evidence of poltergeist activity.”

*         *         *

At that moment, eight hundred miles away, Jon Tagg stood in his brother-in-law’s bathroom, flicking the useless switch up and down.

“Hey, Dave, I think your light’s broken,” he called.

“You gotta use the one on the right,” Dave called from the kitchen. “Don’t use the switch on the left. I don’t know what it’s for.”


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