Tag: horror

Hidden Doors

I picked up a book and dusted it off. It smelled just like an old book should. I took it to the counter, swiped my membership card and heard a satisfying beep. There used to be someone who’d stamp books with the return date, but it’s all done electronically now. I don’t mind the new system, it suits me and it suits this place. Nobody who frequents libraries objects to having an element of human interaction removed from their visit. We come here to read, not talk.

I put the book in my rucksack and zipped it up.

It was raining when I stepped outside- not heavy rain, but the kind of light drizzle that you have to squint through to stop it from going in your eyes. The kind of drizzle you can’t really feel on your skin, but that gets your clothes wet inexplicably quickly. A van in the car park reversed towards me. I backed away and took cover in a small alley that ran between the side of the library and a high stone wall.

A gust of wind came from nowhere. A cat was startled from her position on the wall, leapt down and darted past. I turned to watch her run down the alley behind me, to cower beside the library bins, when I saw a door I’d never seen before.

It looked like it had seen better days- it was grubby, weather beaten, and the paint was flaking off in several places. Above it there was a panel of glass with faded gold lettering that spelled, ‘Come, sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts’.

Was this a part of the library? I’d walked past this place so many times. How had I missed it? What was this mysterious door tucked away behind a library, hidden from sight by a few pungent bins? Where did it lead? And why was it slightly open?

I made my way over to it and pushed on the wood. It didn’t budge. I pushed harder and there was an almighty creak as it scraped against the floor. It opened wide enough for me to slip through.

I found myself standing in a once- grand foyer. My footsteps echoed and I wondered why this place was a secret. A white marble statue of a woman reading a book sat in the middle of a chipped mosaic floor. Behind her rose a staircase that reached a small landing. I started climbing, cautiously at first and then a little quicker until I reached that little landing. I chose the stairs on the right, but it didn’t matter- they both lead to the same place. Another landing, but this time there were a set of double doors in front me.

I hesitated. Surely this would be the point where my luck ran out. Nobody would leave these unlocked too. I pushed. They sprang open with no resistance.

Music filled my ears and I was hit by the smell of freshly made biscuits. Rows of worn and threadbare seats filled with people that looked too vibrant for their surroundings looked out over a stage where performers were beginning to take their places. An usher took my arm. “You’re just in time,” he said and smiled like he had been waiting for me.

He lead me to the only remaining empty seat in the Upper Circle and handed me a red and white striped paper bag filled with biscuits. They were light and sweet and still warm.

The lights dimmed and a performance began on stage unlike any other I have ever seen. For a moment I forgot where I was.

Actors became characters who then became my friends. They sang songs that brought me to tears and a lullaby that relaxed me more than a good night’s sleep ever could. There was fire and thunderstorm on stage that was so realistic I jumped with every crash of thunder. Things moved and people flew with no visible wires attached. A man turned in to a flock of doves before my eyes and a woman vanished from the middle of the stage to appear in one of the boxes seconds later. They battled daemons with flames and flew like angels. The applause when they took their final bow was deafening.

And then the curtain came down and the lights went up and I was alone. The stage was empty, the seats were threadbare and falling apart and my lonesome applause echoed in an empty space.

I ran from the theatre, back down the stairs and in to the Foyer. ‘Our revels now are ended’, the words glinted at me in gold from the back of the door. I pushed it open and stepped outside.

Back in the car park, drenched in sunlight.

And the door was gone.

Via Daily Prompt: Hidden

The Smell of Death

 

Death smells differently depending on which side of it you are on.

To those left behind it is stagnant, rotting and somehow… cold? It slows down the air until it is thick like soup. It makes people around it still, but uncomfortable.

For those who walk with the Grim Reaper, death carries another fragrance as it will peacefully shroud you in your favourite scent. It won’t be anything generic like freshly baked bread or cut grass. It will be something you thought couldn’t be recreated. Your childhood home. An old pet. Your favourite person.

Follow that smell into the Night.

via Daily Prompt: Fragrance

 

An Experiment

The room is set up like always, just the Professor and I and a few empty chairs. He attaches electrodes to my head and we begin.

When we are done for the day The Professor shows me the readings that the various machines had been taking- graphs and charts that I pretend to understand. I’m too tired to listen to what he is saying, but nod as he shows what my brain had looked like during the whole ordeal. It looks a lot less frightening when it’s reduced to bright colours on a sheet of paper.

“Do you see that, right there?” he points to a spike in the data that I’d have to be blind to miss.

“Yes.”

“That’s where you almost did it, that’s where you almost made contact with the Other Side.” His eyes are glistening with excitement. The paper trembles in his hand. “Ah well,” he smiles at me. “There’s always tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” I nod. I don’t tell him that I didn’t almost get to the Other Side. I don’t tell him that the empty chairs are now occupied.

via Daily Prompt: Spike

Light on the Mountainside

wintry-2068298_960_720He’d been climbing for about four days when bad weather struck- a violent and sudden snowstorm that threatened to push him off the craggy mountain. The blizzard circled him, making it difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. Snow clung to his glasses, the cold bit at his neck and nibbled on his ears.

In less than an hour everything looked the same. It was too windy to pitch his tent or pull out a map. He couldn’t navigate without any landmarks. Several times he wandered dangerously close to the edge of a cliff before seeing the sheer drop and turning back in the nick of time. Night began to fall and he could feel the cold worming its way in to his damp gloves. The snow was relentless.

And then he saw a light so bright it pierced through the snowstorm. A small stone hut emerged from the mass of white surrounding him. None of the lights were on inside, but outside hung a small, powerful lantern.

He pushed hard on the door and it opened. He brought some snow in with him and slammed the door shut against the howling wind. Inside he found a modest, comfortably furnished room. A note on the table read:

‘Welcome lonesome traveller, please rest your weary head.’

At the heart of the room was a well-stocked fireplace and everything he needed to light it. Above it hung a large pan that was already filled with some kind of broth. His stomach grumbled. He sat in a comfortable chair as the fire warmed both him and the pot. The snow melted from his boots and he pulled out his map to work out where this bothy was. He hadn’t heard this one and all of the other mountain shelters were much further down. He couldn’t find it on anywhere, but he was determined to work it out and return in better weather to thank the owner for their kindness.

When the broth was ready he helped himself to a large bowlful and that warmed him even more. It was thick and packed with potatoes and vegetables and a meat more succulent than any he had tried before. He helped himself to seconds and fell asleep by the fire.

He slept so deeply that he did not hear the door open or feel the icy wind blow the fire out as something else came in from the cold.

He did not stir when something held his head still and slit his throat with its claw.

In the morning there was very little of him left- just a few bones and scraps of flesh that were stirred up in to a broth to await the next weary traveller.

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

For Sale: One Nearly Empty House

For Sale:

A spacious, four bedroom house in a quiet neighbourhood. 10 minute drive from the beach and 15 from the City centre. Bedrooms are all large with stunning sea views. Newly refurbished kitchen and dining area.  Ideal family home.

Property also comes with an attic ghost. Not creepy, just extremely cranky (especially around holidays). He moans and wails and rattles his chains a lot and there seems to be very little any of us can do to calm him down. He refuses to leave, which seems fair enough as he was technically here first.

Will accept offers under the asking price.

via Daily Prompt: Cranky

The Alchemist’s Secret

The Alchemist moved from town to town to sell his lotions and potions. A few posters and flyers would announce his arrival a exactly a week before he was due. Nobody knew how they got there, but for exactly a week he was the talk of the town. The townsfolk would list every ailment they had to anyone who would listen and they would start to notice ones they hadn’t realised before.

When he arrived they would form lengthy queues and he would give them ointments for sores and boils, rubbing salts for bad skin and a sharp tasting drink for even worse breath. They would go to bed and sleep- happy and optimistic that in the morning all of their woes would have gone.

The Alchemist did not sleep. The Alchemist unzipped his skin and climbed out of it, discarding it on the first fire he could find. He would creep around the town and watch the townsfolk as they slept. Then he would pick one- whichever one he most liked the look of- and skin them while they were dreaming. He kept them alive, kept them feeling, but gave them something so they could not move or cry or scream. Then he would grind up their heart and put it in a sweet elixir- the only potion he carried that truly worked. He would climb inside his new skin and drink it. The drink bonded him with his new skin, but only for a week. When this was done he would cook the rest of the remains in a large pot and then he would leave, taking a new face to a new town.

When the townfolk awoke they would find a delicious stew left behind by the Alchemist, which they would devour before realising that one of their own was missing.

Daily Prompt: Elixir