Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 8

The Horrorphiles, Part 8 
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,708 words

Chapter 11 (in case you're wondering), continued

“I think the kettle is ready.”

He finished off his drink and took her empty glass from her. She didn’t hear any whistling or any other indication of a kettle but that didn’t bother her or seem eerie. She relaxed further into the coziness of her surroundings. Why was she questioning so much of everything when she should just enjoy such a rare experience? Even amongst the people here this weekend, who else would get a moment like this?

She sunk back into her chair, finally felt the warmth of the fire, and felt as if she’d taken her first lungfuls of air in days. Adam was right, it was about time she enjoyed herself.

He was back with the next drink. “Be careful, it’s hot.”

She was and she took a drink right a way, in a hurry to speed up the warming process down into her toes.

“So,” he resumed after sitting down. “What were you like when you were younger? Were you always into the scary and gruesome?”

“Not really,” she didn’t want to speak on this topic either but she knew she would have to, sooner or later, sometime over the weekend. She can’t become queen of horror fandom without explaining her origin story at some point. “I was always what you could call, generously, very imaginative. I’d send away for see monkeys or amazing x-ray specs. I believed in Santa Clause for longer than I should, more than I even believed in God. I thought magicians were really magical, every movie plot was plausible, if I could just stay awake late enough and look in the right places, I could see fairies, elves or ghosts.”

She held her mug between her two hands to keep them warm, and stared deep into the golden liquid. She wished there was a way she could keep talking without saying the next part, or that Adam would be satisfied with her answer, even though it didn’t explain anything.

“And then?” he said.

She looked up at him now, risking the trap of his caramel eyes, to be serious with him now. Genuine. The most genuine she’d been all day (ugh, garbage, dumb gross).

“When did you stop believing?” he asked.

“When my parents were killed in car accident (or…house fire? Like her dad or mom saves her then dies trying to save mom or dad?). I was 12. It was like the world came clear to me. If there was a Santa Claus, why didn’t he save them? If there was magic, where was it that night? Then even mundane things like firemen and medical science seemed less imbued with their special powers, heroism and life saving measures did no good. IF there were ghosts, how come my parents never came back to visit me? Wasn’t I unfinished business enough?” She was getting too emotional now, too sentimental, too mushy. She broke eye contact with Adam, looking back to the hot toddy.

“Anyway, I was sent to live with my Great Aunt, who was eccentric to say the least.  She taught me all the different ways people had of remembering their loved ones and as a side effect I got into occult films, anything with psychics, ghosts, summonings, hauntings and the like and eventually all things horror. They fit in better with my new world view back then.”

 “Your world view?”

She was sleepy now. Warmth seeped through her body and all around her like she was in warm bath. Her tongue was thick and heavy and so were her thoughts. Her eyelids were closing even as she was talking. Her mug was empty, resting on the chair arm, held in place with the barely there touch of her hand.

Adam leaned forward in his chair, his eyes wide with interest, like he was feeding off her story and the closer he could get the better it tasted. Her eyes snapped open for an instant but she felt no more awake. What a weird thing to think. What movie had she seen heard that from?

“Veronica? Are you okay?”

“What was I saying?”

She hadn’t spoken in a while. She didn’t know how long awhile but she got the sense that it was longer than it should have been.

“You said horror movies fit in better with your world view, after your parents died. I wondered what kind of world view.”

“Oh, right.” She nodded her head, still struggling to keep her eyes open. “I use to imagine the planet or life like it was surrounded by a giant gold net. That was the good magic, God and Santa Claus or whatever. It was there making sure that good people were saved, little girl wishes came true, and nothing too bad happened without some kind of balance. When my parents died, the net turned to black. It wasn’t good anymore, it was death. Death was always there, unstoppable and constant. And the only thing it protected was bad.”

She was talking with her eyes 90% closed. Her head rested on the edge of the chair back, she sat on one leg. Her socked foot rubbed against the back of her thigh. When had she taken her shoe off, or shoes? She wanted to open her eyes and look for them but she couldn’t.
She could barely see Adam now. He was just a shadowy blurry man like shape in front of her.

“And like Jason, Mike Meyers, and Freddy, it didn’t matter where you ran, where you hid, how many times you killed it, the bad, the evil, Death always wins.”

Finally she stopped fighting the heaviness in her eyelids, in her mouth, in her brain. She was too tired to fight it. She had a fleeting thought that she had something important to do but she couldn’t remember what that was.  She had another thought that she was being rude that she should still be talking to Adam, who’d said she had beautiful laugh or he meant it, at least, she thought.

“I did mean that,” he said.

“Mmm-hmm,” she said in response even though she didn’t know what he was talking about. And shortly after that she wasn’t sure he’d spoken at all.

She was very nearly asleep when she heard him speak or maybe speak again.

“Maybe we cannot vanquish death but what if we could cheat her?”

She assumed it was Adam but what she heard sounded like a whisper coming from all around her. Soft hands or a wind went through her hair and across her face.

“What if we could live damn near forever?”

“Then all our problems would be solved for good,” she answered, or thought she answered, with a small smile. 

Chapter 12 (as it happens)

She woke up later in an empty and cold room. Both fires had burned down to embers and Adam was nowhere to be seen, all that remained of his company was his hot toddy mug left on his chair arm. She moved and half expected her neck to  feel stiff or the leg that she was sitting on to be asleep but she moved fine. Her shoes, which she still didn’t remember moving, were beneath her chair. She took them in her hand and slowly left the room.

How long had she been asleep? Long enough for giant fires to burnout, she answered herself.
In the hallway, it was quiet. The entire house was silent and motionless. At first, it was too dark to see. Her eyes adjusted everything was in shadow. The hall looked different than it had before, full of what one would expect to find in an old mansion like Greyson Manor. Dusty, thin hall tables, cobwebbed portraits of long dead family ancestors, strange artifacts, weapons, and what-not hung on the wall, threadbare holes in the runners on the hall floor. Nothing like the fresh, clean, empty house of earlier that day.

She went in the direction she thought the stairs were in, she would’ve have sworn the stairs were to the right. Instead she walked longer than she should have down a straight hall, past many doors, until she reached a “t” intersection. She thought for a moment whether she should go left or right but she couldn’t see far either direction and decided it was safer to go back the other way in search for stairs to her room.

She turned around and once again the hall was different. Still quiet, still dark. Still cluttered with antiques no one cleaned but different antiques. The runner was red now when it was a faded blue a moment ago. She kept walking though because she had the increasing feeling that someone was behind her. Not right behind her but behind her somewhere, possibly getting closer. She didn’t look back because if she looked behind her and saw something, the vague undefined terror could become real, tactile horror. As long as she didn’t look back, she kept the possibility alive that there was nothing behind. Those weren’t soft, padded footfalls behind her. There wasn’t a low growl. There weren’t boney clawed fingers brushing against the end of her ponytail, almost able to grab it now. All of that was just her imagination.

Was it still her imagination that she was running and running as fast as she could but not moving forward? Was it her imagination that what she thought was her shoes was now a crying baby in her arms? She looked down, it was definitely her shoes but she was cradling them like she would a baby, and yet there was still a baby crying some where. And she definitely was running but everything around her stayed the same. She wasn’t moving at all.

Then it happened. A skeleton hand on her shoulder, digging painful with his powerful grip. And burning but cold. Like ice for too long on bare skin. She still didn’t look behind her to see what had got her. She just closed her eyes, pulled her shoes into her chest just in case it was really a baby she was holding because she still didn’t know where the crying was from, and let whatever the thing was close in around her, swallowing her in freezing oblivion.

Keep Reading with Part 9

Thanks for Reading!