Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Merciless (Fiction for Halloween)

(Although it's early, I wanted to write a little story in the spirit of Halloween. This story is my gift to you for the spooky season.)

by Jason Evans

     I forgot everything in the morning.
     The days lulled me like moving dreams. I showered, drove, and stumbled through my work. But late at night, when the roads hushed and silence slid from the walls, I clawed my pillow into howling shapes. I would lie awake, and she was there.

     The air shifted outside and pushed against the glass in the windowpanes. Cold was worming in, and dry leaves skittered across the patio. As always, my two hours of sleep shattered in a crystalline fear. The faraway fog of daylight exploded, and miles of darkness weighed with perfect focus.
     From the bathroom, the nightlight glowed in the polish of the wood floors. It fanned across walls and died in the corners.
     Minutes passed, and my throat withered. My tongue made the motions of swallowing, but nothing pushed through. Too much time was passing.
     A fly tapped along the ceiling. It bumped in long, droning arcs. The frayed ends of my brain snapped to the sound. In a slow, lazy dive, it hummed past my head and glided over the bed to open air.
     Wood on wood creaked. The groan of a chair shifting.
     The buzz sliced off mid-flight. My face pulled into a silent scream.
     But a real scream did slash the silence, only not from my lungs. I cowered and every angle of the room shook.
     My wife thrashed upright in the bed. She howled and screeched, but I couldn't help her. Iron clamped me to the mattress. The bed pitched as she pulled her hair and pounded fists into the sides of her head.
     Then, talons sank into my back. Skin split under the grip of her nails. She peeled me off my stomach. The pain rolled me. When she let go, her hands slapped onto my face and neck and forced me to look at her. Her eyes lolled white as they flew around the room.
     "Make her stop! Make her stop!"
     But I couldn't hear the voice my wife heard. I only heard the chair wobbling on one short leg.
     I could see her, though. Oh yes, I could see her.
     "Make her stop!"
     She shoved my face in the direction I never looked. There the girl sat with her dead eyes bent sideways. Her face was twisted by the position death took her. The caverns of her cheeks wallowed in shadows.
     I stared at the hideous vision, and the gnawing voice stopped. My wife collapsed into the bed weeping. Her hands rubbed at her skull to push away the senseless things the horrible child whispered to her.
     Sleep returned quickly for her, but I was left to lock into those dead eyes. My sanity dripped away with the cold sweat sheeting me.
     So many hours until dawn. But nonetheless, I stared. I stared until my heart threatened to explode. When I finally clamped my eyes closed against the rush of hot tears, I knew the airy voice would come.
     My wife groaned and shifted. One of us had to suffer.
     I forgot how long we lived there or why the dead girl tortured us. I only knew she was merciless. In the brief silence, I pressed the barrel of the gun to my head.
     In my mind, I didn't hear a shot. I heard my wife's building screams. And nothing would stop them.
     I released the trigger and laid the gun aside. I turned toward the chair, and once again I opened my eyes.


Susan Abraham said...

Descriptive with vivid images & suspenseful. A smooth slick combination. I so enjoyed it.
I'm scared now.
I'll have to give you a spooky gift back.
By the way Jason, has your wife read this story?

anne said...

Now now... What did you do to the poor wee girl?

Anonymous said...

memo to self: stop visiting Jason's blog at 3 am in the morning!

Memo to Kash(dog): If you ever nuzzle up to me while I am reading something like this in the middle of the night again it will be nothing but KIBBLE for you for now on!

Nice Job Jason as usual


Saaleha said...

Goodness Jason, that was thoroughly creepy. Haunted, haunting. Awfully good.

normiekins said...

EXCELLENT!!!!!.....great imagery...

...clawed my pillow into howling shapes sanity dripped away...

i love suspense!!!!

beadinggalinMS said...

I love it Jason!! I am glad it is daylight when I read this.

Sam said...

Great! You had me hooked with, "I clawed my pillow into howling shapes."

Anonymous said...

Super, is all that I can say. I will move the chairs out of the bedroom tonight.

Wilf said...

Thanks for the spooky gift, Jason - terrific stuff! Have you read MR James?

mermaid said...

So many realities within this reality. Eyes, like windows, open and close. Sucked in by this story, I’m still not sure where or who I am!

anne frasier said...

ooh, very nice, jason!!!! i agree with sam about the pillow line. loved it!

happy halloween!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, glad you liked it! Yes, my wife always gets the first critique. I think her first words were something like, "wow, that's bizarre."

Anne, whatever it was, it must not have been good. ;)

BD, thanks! That's too funny about the dog! Yeah, a jolt during a suspenseful moment is not good for the heart.

Saaleha, thanks for saying so! :) Great to see you over for a visit.

Normiekins, it was definitely fun writing another suspense story. Thanks for kind words! =)

Beady, a creaky, dark house would be the perfect time to read it, I think. ;)

Sam, I liked that line too. It got a lot across in a few words.

Steve, definitely do that! We don't want to encourage anyone from the netherworld to take a seat.

Addy, I LOVE ghost/Gothic stories from that period. I'm sure I must have read M.R. James in an anthology or two, but I'm not certain. I will have to scare up a couple and read them now!

Mermaid, your comment is perfect! This story was difficult to write, because I wanted to get across that these people are almost like prisoners in a trance. Their lives are a recurring nightmare. You seemed to get a sense of that confusion.

Anne, thanks, my friend. :D Happy Halloween!

writerwoman said...

That was spooky. The uneasy feeling starts off slow and build on itself in this story. You had my attention from the start and it never wavered. Though now I will have to try and get the images out of my mind so I can sleep tonight.

Good job.


Marcail said...

Evokative use of imagery. Leaves me tripping on the bonds of reality.

Wilf said...

Victorian ghost stories are the best and bear loads of rereading. For M. R. James try, 'Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad' and 'Casting the Runes'.
I'm just reading, 'The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories' for the nth time - a terrific anthology.

Wilf said...

Jason, here is a site with a few stories as an intro to the master. Read during daylight hours.
I'll be quiet now.

Anonymous said...

Sara, thanks so much for the feedback! I hope you got to sleep alright. ;)

Marcail, that's quite a compliment! Thanks. :)

Addy, I just read "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad." Thanks for the link!! I've never read that one before, but man did that bring back memories of curling up on a dark night with ghost stories. Wonderful! I definitely see motifs from that story reflected in scary movies today.

Jeff said...

Very nice, Jason! I like the building tension and the vivid imagery.

Bernita said...

"It fanned across the walls and died in the corners." is particularly fine, Jason.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thanks! This was a fun little story to write. :)

Bernita, great to see your internet is back up!! Thanks for the feedback, as always. :)