a sporadic rook, 23. In stunning black and white and muted color.
My horror writing blog here.
Charlie ran down the street, bare feet pounding the sidewalk. She’d stepped on so many sharp rocks and fragments of glass that she couldn’t feel anything but the pain any longer. Her feet felt slick and she was sure she was leaving pairs of crimson footsteps in her wake, bright as runway lights.
Every house she passed was deserted—no lights, boarded up and hollow inside. Empty carapace, the guts and blood having moved onto bigger and better things. She would find no help here.
A howling in the distance. They were gaining on her. Panicking, she turned towards one of the houses. A tall three-story thing, very dark and very inviting. She sprinted towards its rotten porch, a quick check to make sure she wasn’t, in fact, trailing any blood. She ran her feet through the grass just be sure. Up the wooden stairs. The door was locked and boarded up tight. She rattled the knob just in case. No luck. She tried the front windows—also locked.
Amanda had never been terribly fond of her grandmother, but with the funeral more than a week behind her, she found her thoughts turning to her periodically. Little thoughts and long forgotten memories. The smell of her grandmother’s apartment and of her hair, the corduroy texture of her recliner and matching couch, the smoothness of the varnished coffee table—rising up to her out of the fog, seemingly from nowhere.
Before the funeral, she’d been allowed to go through her grandmother’s apartment and pick through her personal affects—assuming her mother, snobby aunt or piggish uncle hadn’t claimed them first. She hadn’t been in the apartment in years, so it’d felt surreal to walk through it then. Like stepping through a tear in the fabric of space and time. She’d felt like a little girl again. The same brownish hue that covered everything, like the walls and furniture were rotting away and crumbling to dust. Her eyes traveled across the ancient clock hanging above the sagging television set—that TV was at least a decade older than she was—across the endless shelves of novelty plates and ceramic elephant figurines. She’d swept the house at least twice and yet, guiltily, she’d found nothing worth taking. Nothing that hadn’t made her stomach churn a little, anyway. She’d gagged trying to imagine any of these things sitting on the shelves in her apartment. How could anyone, let alone someone in her family, have such awful taste in decorations?
“Kerry! Where you going, man?”
Kerry turned around. Josh was standing on the bottom of the hill, waving up at him. Kerry blinked. “What?”
He jogged up the hill to meet him. “I said, where you going, man?”
Kerry blinked again. “Into the woods.”
Josh sighed. “Listen, if this is about Sarah, you need to let that shit go. Forget her, man. Fuck it. She’s gone and that’s that.” He gave him a sympathetic look. “Come back to the fire with us.”
Allee woke at dawn, startled out of a vivid nightmare she’d been having. By the time she sat up, hand at her chest, the dream was all but forgotten. Sweat-drenched she threw back her covers and glanced at her clock: 5:55 am.
She got up to grab a glass of water.
On the way back to her bed, she was overcome with a strange, vulnerable feeling. She felt like she was being watched. Paranoid, she glanced out her window, peering between the blinds at the dim, blue-washed landscape outside.
You ever have one of those dreams that’s so strong it colors your whole day after you wake up? You know what I mean. There’s just this atmosphere that hangs around you like a veil and you can’t help but see everything through its cloth. It’s indefinable, inescapable. It’s like you pull a piece of your dream out with you and it doesn’t go away until you go back to sleep the next night. Put the piece back where it belongs.
I’m sure you’ve felt this many times in your life. That’s normal, right? Well. Me, I’ve only felt it once.
Every day after work, I had to walk past the cemetery to get home. This could get pretty nerve-wracking at night. Fenced-in and lightless. Black hills dotted with stone teeth, stretching on forever, washing into the horizon. Silent.
Walking alone one night, I caught sight of three people strolling along the opposite side of the road. I watched as they crossed the deserted street, gathered around the cemetery fence and, one-by-one, climbed over it. By the time I reached them, the last one was coming over the top of the fence. She landed on the opposite side with a soft thud, boots muted by the damp grass.
Got some weirdness right here for ya.