It’s the new year and I wanted to share one of my favourite short story (I have written). Dim the lights and enjoy.
The door unlocked and I walked into a world I had almost forgotten. Dust covered furniture standing still, childhood memories running around them. The realisation of coming back a failure making those memories all the more bitter, the dreams of childhood crushed by the realities of adulthood. I walked through my grandfather’s house, the only thing in the world I now owned. The weight of the past two years forcing me to the ground.
I came straight from the airport, no welcome home. Not that I let anyone know of my arrival. I had gone off into the world to seek out a music career. I had stars in my eyes and two hundred dollars in my wallet, both of which I had lost. I had come back home to plan for my future, however bleak that may be.
Brushing the dust off the frames that hung on the walls as I made my way down the hallway. I opened the door at the end and walked into the kitchen. This was the centre of the house, all the joys I can remember happened here. I remembered as a little boy sitting on the counter watching my grandfather cook; I would watch him stir the pasta sauce tipping a little over the edge. A flame would shoot from under the pot and I would burst into laughter. He would continue stirring it and every now and then tip a little. I ran my fingers over the stove top and I felt the flame jump up and a smile came to me.
I sat at the table and pulled my phone out; I scrolled through the numbers and landed on Mum. I had to tell her I was back, even though I wasn’t sure she wanted to know. Not sure if she would want to see her son, the one she screamed obscenities at as he left. I stared at it, hoping that the phone would make the decision for me. The march of technology could not solve for this. I dialled the number.
It rang and I heard an all too familiar voice on the other line, I froze and just sat there silently. Why was it so hard for me to talk, I attempted once more to speak before a fear gripped my stomach.
The next morning it was clear that I would need a job to survive. I rolled over and stared out the window taking in the yard that seemed so big. Out of the corner of my eye there was a blur. I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window finding only rubbish and neglected shrubs.
The one thing you pick up in a town where dreams are made, is a way to cope with failure. In my head I repeated my affirmation phrase ‘today I will get a job’. It may not have helped with my music career but I did get a job. Tony’s pizza restaurant, my new place of employment, the modest pay and free pizza would keep me from starving.
Life started to look up and I began to feel apart of a community. The isolation one feels searching for their dreams tempered with this new-found inclusion.
Even with a positive outlook something shadowed me. Every night when I walked home I would see a blur, sometimes more than once in a night. It would always be behind me or off to the side, it didn’t leave until I was home.
A blur by a window or in the back yard, but always just a blur. My concern was less that I was being stalked by an unknown and more that I was loosing my marbles. It was a true statement that my life, the failure and the drugs that allowed me to cope could have an effect. My psychological health was something I was not well equipped to deal with.
The blur faded away to my unconscious mind, convincing myself they were not real. That was until I began to find strange things around the house. Saliva, or what looked and smelt like it, at the doors and mud on the handles. It would appear at the front and back of the house.
Then one afternoon I found what appeared to be the source of this strangeness. It was raining tremendously, I heard a whimper at the back door and saw a wet dog. I brought him inside, wiping him down with an old towel. He shivered from the cold, looking at me so lovingly. It was strange but I felt as if we had some connection.
The dog looked so much like an old puppy my grandfather had when I was a boy. That dog and I featured in so many of my memories. When dried he sat to my side and slept, he warmth a great comfort.
As it began to go dark he became restless, pacing up and down the hallway. I walked over to pick him up and he turned around growled at me. I stepped back in shock and he advanced on me. The frightened growl turned aggressive. The skin around his mouth shrank back and he bared his teeth.
I stepped back against the wall and he leapt at me. I caught him by the shoulder in mid-air as he snapped at me. I threw him to the ground tripping over the telephone table. Before I could regain my balance he jumped once more, this time I could not defend myself. I felt his teeth sink into my shoulder and I let out a scream. I grabbed him by the throat and threw him as hard as I could into the wall. He jumped again but this time I was ready for him. I caught him and twisted his head around until I could feel no more movement.
The lifeless body fell to the floor and I ran into the bathroom. I took my shirt off and stared at the wound in the mirror. I dabbed at the bleeding with a cloth, my hands shaking with fear and sadness. The pain was so excruciating that I screamed with every touch of the cloth. I bandaged it up the best I could and took myself to the hospital.
After many hours of waiting, the wound was stitched up. I came back home and opened the door and saw the body still laying there. I dragged it outside and with my one functioning arm, dug it a hole and buried it. I fell back into my chair and welcomed the drowsiness of the painkillers to kick in. I closed my eyes to sleep and the last thing I saw was a blur once more. This time it was so close that I could feel the breeze across my face.
A week later, on my first day back at work my world change. A friend that I had all but forgotten walked into the shop. Her name was Kathryn; I had been so in love with her in the past that the sight of her sent a shiver down my spine. She spotted me and came over to talk. I took my break, we reminisced and she agreed to come over for dinner.
I cooked pasta and picked out the perfect wine, flowers on the table shared their fragrance with the room. As we sat and ate, I looked at her as she did me. Everything was going perfect until she asked, “What’s the mound out the back for.”
My shoulder began to ache, “my dog died recently.”
We had desert and I carried her to my bedroom. I lay her on the bed and kissed her gently, feeling the warmth of her skin against mine. We moved from the bed and I held her against the wall. The blood pumped through my body and I held her tighter. My shoulder began to ache but it was easy to ignore.
I pushed her harder against the wall and I heard her say something. I ignored it and threw her to the bed. I jumped on top of her and my shoulder ached. The pain seemed to spur me on, making me hold her all the tighter. I heard her ask for me to stop but something took over and it just excited me.
My shoulder felt like it was going to explode; I was in a feverish state. I kissed her hard and I felt her chest heave as she cried. My passion peaked and I sank my teeth into her breast. She cried out and kicked me off; I rolled against the wall and turned to see the blood trickle down her chest.
I moved against the wall in shock, she put her clothes on and ran to the door. I grabbed her and turned her around apologising. She slapped me and ran out the door. Blood trickled down my face as she pulled out of the driveway, the pain in my shoulder settled as I felt my tears mingle with the blood.
The next day I woke with the blood dried to my face, still in shock from the night before. I walked around cleaning the mess in the house. I heard the phone ring but I ignored it, it couldn’t be anything good. I cleaned myself up and sat in the dark. I rubbed my shoulder, wondering what had happened the night before.
In my self-pity I lay in bed, ignoring the world till I heard a noise in the next room. I walked to the door and peered through the opening. I could see nothing but the shadow of a large do………then it stepped into the light.
When I caught sight of it I stepped back in horror, it was human I think. On all fours, its legs bent the opposite way that yours and mine does at the knee. It walked like a dog except it’s back arched between steps. The webbing of its hands and feet had grown over and looked more like paws. Hair sprouted out of it in tuffs here and there.
Its ears were spiked and pointed back. Its eyes were completely consumed in black, the only way you could tell they were moving was by the reflections that passed across them. The bottom half of its face had grown into a short snout and the skin around its mouth looked as if it had been chewed off, showing its teeth. It’s long jagged teeth that cut into its own gums as it closed and opened its mouth. Blood and saliva intertwined hanging out of its mouth.
It sniffed in my direction; it saw me and charged. I closed the door and it collided with it. I heard the window break as it leapt out. I got to my feet and ran to the door. Only in boxer shorts and week old stubble, I ran down the street. I kept running even when the road cut into my feet. I got to the trees at the end of the street, where civilisation appeared to intersect with nature.
There was quiet for some time then twigs began to be broken, slowly at first then the pace increased. Faster and faster I heard them break. Then twigs breaking became crunches as this things speed increased. I ran towards my house, I could hear this thing behind me getting closer and closer. I came out through the bushes onto the road and in front of a car.
It screeched to a stop and I fell to the road scrapping the skin from my exposed body. I jumped back to my feet and continued running, blood dripping from the grazes.
I looked back and saw the creature emerge from the bushes and onto the bonnet of the car. Our eyes locked and it was clear that it meant me harm. I ran as fast as I could with my body aching as bad as it did. I could feel its breath on my back, I picked up a stick and swung around hitting this thing across its snout. It tripped up and fell to the floor, once again I ran. I reached my house and slammed the door behind me leaning on it, in hopes that this thing could be stopped.
I felt a banging on the door; I took off running down the hallway. Two more bangs and it was through. I got half way up the hallway when I felt it hit my back. I was on the floor looking up at this beast that slobbered over the top of me. It stared at me in such a strange way. I reached for the phone table and smashed it over its head. I ran into the kitchen and slammed the door behind me; I faced the door leaning on it.
This door was the divider between my life and death. There was nowhere else to run, I turned around to the kitchen and my heart went from being in my throat to exploding in my mouth.
In my once empty kitchen all my dead relatives appeared; my grandfather and grandmother, uncles, aunties and cousins. I looked at them, tears flooded my eyes as I opened my mouth, ‘you’re all dead, how can this be?’
My grandfather stood from his chair, ‘you don’t have to worry anymore; we have brought you back to the family. You are safe with us.’
I just stared at him as he spoke, amazed and horrified. He walked towards me and I stepped back hitting the door. He kept walking towards me and my legs gave way beneath me. I fell hitting my head on the floor. My vision went black and I saw my dead relatives turn into those things of which nightmares are made. As they walked towards me I fell into unconsciousness.
I opened my eyes and was lying on my bed, I looked around to a dark room. I was alone, no dead relative to haunt me. I stood out of bed and my legs gave way like the night before. I tried to crawl across the floor but my arms began to spasm. Then I looked down and saw them, the bite mark on my chest and body.
They began to pulsate and the ripples consumed me. With each ripple there was pain and I cried out. My knees exploded with pain. My legs moving in unnatural ways. They swung violently back and forward, each time breaking the bone and cartilage a little more. Then they swung and bent in opposition to what nature intended. The webbing of my hands and feet began to grow over and claws grew out of were my nails should be.
I lay there in the dark and began to cry, hair started to grow into tuffs all over my body. Then pain engulfed my head, I felt my ears grow longer. My eyes bulged in my head and then my teeth began to grow out. My old teeth lay on the floor and new jagged teeth grew through cutting my gums. I could taste blood as it spilt out of my mouth. As the blood ran down my chin the bottom of my face began to grow. I could hear and feel it break and re-align itself. It grew out allowing more teeth to cut through my gums. My face, with the rest of my body, ached. I lay there afraid to move, afraid to breath or even cry.
For an hour or two I lay there in pain, then I got up on all fours. I walked over to the mirror and stared at the creature that looked back. A cry in me echoed, and then rumbled out as a howl. I felt my brain change and I howled again, with each howl I lost more of what made me human and gained more of what this creature is. My family joined me in the room and changed so that they looked just as I did. We howled together, I looked into the mirror and no longer saw humans; I just saw the creatures.
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