Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trying My Hand at CREEPY for Halloween Contest!

This was my short story submitted to a Halloween contest hosted by Jolly Fish Press:


By Elsie Park

The taxi sped away, kicking up gravel behind it. Nelly sputtered and waved a hand in front of her face in an ill attempt to keep dust from her eyes and mouth. Turning from the road, she viewed the small farm house. She recalled the creepy story her late father told her of Great-Uncle James Patterson who'd lived here. No one had entered the place since James brutally murdered his wife, Matilda, 50 years before. Upon arrest he was dragged away yelling, "I didn't kill her! It was THEM! It was THEM! Why won't you believe me? We must destroy them or they'll run wild!" No one heeded his ranting, though for thirty years on death row he never changed his story about demons in his cellar. He was executed by lethal injection.

Stories emerged between then and now from children sneaking about the property. Eerie sounds and scurrying footsteps could be heard from inside the house at night. Most townsfolk chalked it up to wild animals inhabiting the vacant building.

Ridiculous, Nelly thought as she ran a hand through her short brown hair, people getting spooked over a dilapidated home with a less than perfect history.

Nelly picked up her luggage and squared her shoulders before turning to face the infamous two-story house. Peeling paint exposed the weathered, gray boards beneath. Window shutters barely hung on or were missing completely. She could see how peoples' superstitions were fed by such a sight, but she wouldn't call the place haunted. If fact, she now called it home since the house was handed down to her from a line of relatives who wanted nothing to do with it.

She stepped to the door, unlocked it and swung it wide. 

Entering the dark interior, the putrid smell of dead animal immediately hit her. She gagged and stepped back. Rummaging in her luggage for a bandana, she tied it around her mouth and nose. It helped to dull the stench. She reached for the light switch inside the door and flipped it. Only a hollow click met her ears. Darn it! No electric hook up yet. She'd get with the electric company tomorrow. Luckily, it was only ten o'clock in the morning. She'd have the entire day of sunlight before needing her flashlight.

Dust, cobwebs . . . and BONES? . . . covered every inch of the place. The old furniture was torn apart and broken, as if wild dogs had used them as scratching posts. An animal must have been living here. She hoped by now it was long gone. She needed to clean the house before her own furniture arrived tomorrow. For tonight's stay, she'd brought a foam pad, sleeping bag, pillow and something to eat in addition to some extra clothes. 

She walked to the kitchen and turned the faucet on. She was rewarded with water, albeit brown, but it was something. Searching the cabinet below, she found an old rag, stiff and crusty from its last use, and set to work cleaning her abode.

Nelly worked until the sun began to set, starting from the second floor and making her way to the first. She'd gathered and dumped so many bones into the yard that the white skeletal fragments covered most of the dead lawn surrounding the house. She never found the animal responsible for the assault on the home. She hopefully never would. 
With only the living room and kitchen pantry left to clean, she eyed the wood burning stove in the living room corner. The setting sun shined red light into the room, illuminating something beneath the stove. Lying between its four squatty legs was a black book, the word "JOURNAL" written on the cover. She pulled it from its 50 year-old bed and blew it off. Opening the old binding to the first page she read the yellowed title. "Journal of James Patterson, 1962." That was the year James was arrested for murder. Her curiosity peaked, she flipped to the last entries:
October 29, 1962—Had a 6.5 earthquake today. No damage to the house as far as I know. Before bed, Matilda said she heard scratching sounds somewhere in the kitchen. I didn't hear anything, but as Matilda is blind, her hearing is more acute than mine. Probably a stray animal spooked from the quake. Matilda has a soft spot for homeless animals, much to the strain of our finances as she gives them more meat than we see on our table. Just a week ago, I tried to put my foot down on her charity, saying she couldn't feed the strays our good meat anymore. I don't know if she'll heed my words, however, her having such a big heart.

October 30, 1962—A tragic day! As I passed the pantry, I heard Matilda's muffled voice. Who was she talking to? I peeked in. The cellar door at the back of the pantry was open. I crept down the stairs. Matilda's voice grew louder with each step. At the bottom, I stood by the door frame that enters the cellar room, just out of sight, and I finally made out her words.

"There you go, sweeties, there's some food. That's it, eat your fill."

I could hear loud chewing, like dogs eating raw meat. Were these the strays she'd heard last night? Was she hiding them, knowing I'd be mad she was feeding them our good meat again? I rolled my eyes before peeking around the doorless frame into the earthen room. I expected to see dogs, or cats, or at least something ordinary. Instead, what I saw horrified me to the core. Matilda sat on the dirt floor feeding raw beef to five hideous creatures, the type of which I still don't know! Though light from the bulb dimly lit the room, it was the luminescent green emitted from their eyes that shed an eerie glow over the area. They reminded me of the black-skinned demons portrayed in ancient drawings, with large pointed ears and razor-sharp teeth. The fangs dripped dark green saliva. The beings were vile. Evil. My skin crawled and my heart pounded. What were these monstrosities? And where did they come from? Matilda's compassion for homeless animals was admirable, but this was ludicrous. With her lack of sight, she didn't seem to know they were frightening creatures clearly not of this world, the world above ground, anyway. Though they seemed only interested in eating, I wanted to jump in and grab Matilda away. But I hesitated. If I startled them, who knows what they might do.

A jagged hole in the dirt floor, about 3 by 4-feet, loomed in the far corner. It hadn't been there before. The quake must have torn the ground apart, opening the way for these monsters to surface. In support of my conclusion, another revolting beast pulled itself up from the depths with skinny, black arms. It skittered across the floor on all fours to join the feeding frenzy.

"Yes, little one," Matilda cooed, "come and eat what I have left, for I'm nearly out."

As she gave the last chunks to the newcomer, the others sniffed around for more. When they found none, they hissed and advanced on Matilda. Before I could react, they had her in their saliva-laden mouths. They tore and pulled at her flesh with such brutality that it was only seconds before she was gone. There was nothing I could do, and if they found me, my fate would be the same.

I scrambled back up the stairs while they were occupied with feeding, but before I reached the pantry, two of them came around the corner and hissed. They bounded up the stairs and I threw myself into the pantry. Risking a glance back I found that my pursuers had stopped advancing and instead, slunk away, shielding their eyes from the light of day. They shrank back to the dark cellar and I slammed the door, locking it tight.

I was safe for the moment, but oh, my poor, poor Matilda. I had to find a way to close up the hole and kill the unholy fiends before more people became victims. I could only think of one warning to others: Beware the scurrying feet; they search for flesh to eat. I've taken the time to write this in case I, too, fall victim to the demons, and no one will know the truth without my journal entry.

October 31, 1962—Had a sleepless night thinking about destroying the monsters. Since I didn't know how deep the hole was, the only thing I could think of was dynamite to collapse it. I gathered ten sticks from the shed, left over from my war years, and tied them together, before stashing them in the chimney. Until I know if the police will believe my story, I won't expose my plan. I told the police something terrible happened to Matilda and to come at once. I didn't think they'd come if I told them the truth out right, probably thinking it was a practical joke.

Oh, here they come now. When they see the creatures for themselves, they'll help me destroy them.

James wrote no more, but Nelly knew the rest from old police records. The authorities had followed James to the cellar, but the only things found were bits of Matilda's torn body. The creatures were nowhere in sight. The police thought James made up the "demon" tale to cover his crime, and they immediately arrested him.
Shivers raced up Nelly's spine. She felt in her heart that James' words were true. Something demonic took place in the cellar. She opened the wood burning stove and reached up inside the chimney. Sure enough, ten sticks of dynamite were wedged into the cylindrical metal shaft. She pulled them out and stared at the letters reading TNT. The sticks were tied together and had one long fuse for the entire group. A pack of matches was taped to the bottom. 

The sun finished its decent and the room darkened. Dusk.

Nelly's breathing quickened at the thought of being in this place now. The creatures could still be alive and venturing out each night to feed. If she stuck around, she'd be their next meal for sure. Should she run from this nightmare house and never look back, or use the dynamite to finish what James had started 50 years ago? Yes, she knew she must try to destroy the evil gateway. It was just barely dark. Was there still time to do the deed before creatures began climbing out of the wide fissure? 

Though fear gripped her heart, she illuminated her flashlight, grabbed the dynamite pack, and crept her way to the pantry.

The door stood ajar, though only a few inches. She pushed it wide and the strong odor of rotting flesh escaped into the kitchen. She pointed the flashlight to the rear of the pantry. A dark entry to the stairs awaited her. 

Listening for sounds, but hearing nothing, she took a deep breath and moved forward into what might be her tome. 

Step by agonizing step, she stole down the stairs, hearing the crunch of bones beneath her feet and forcing herself not to turn and run away. She paused every few seconds to listen, but other than the bones, no other sound met her. She came to the doorless frame and peeked into the earthen chamber. Bones littered the floor in such mass that she couldn't see the dirt beneath. 

She swept her flashlight side to side, wondering if she'd catch a green-eye looking at her, but nothing appeared. Were all these bones from years ago and by some strange fate, the creatures were now gone?
She stepped into the room, her heart's rapid beat pounding in her ears, and crunched her way to the far corner where the ominous hole sat. Pointing the beam of light into the chasm, she couldn't see its bottom. It was dark. Everything was dark. Though no creatures were present, she couldn't take the chance they were just late coming. She dug a hole in the bones with the end of her flashlight and stood it up so the light struck the ceiling. She took the matches from the TNT pack before setting the sticks near the edge of the hole.
Taking a deep breath and holding it, she made to strike a match when she heard scuffling sounds deep inside the hole. She recalled James' warning words, "Beware the scurrying feet; they search for flesh to eat." Gazing into the fissure, she distinguished a faint greenish glow rising from the darkness. 

They were coming.

Her trembling hands dropped the match and she fumbled for another. Before Nelly could light it, a hissing 50-pound monster launched itself from the hole, its boney hands gripping her leg in a crushing grip. Barbed teeth viciously bit into her thigh. Nelly screamed and kicked with all her might, flinging the beast off and back into the hole. It screeched as it fell down, but Nelly heard more fiends scrambling up the tunnel. 
Ignoring the searing pain and blood oozing from her accosted leg, she kicked and sent hundreds of bones pouring into the shaft, hoping to slow their assent. She struck the match and lit the fuse before limping backing to the doorway. All at once, four black skeletal forms sprang from the hole and scrambled after her. She kicked and punched as they bit into her flesh. She somehow shook them off and shambled up the stairs. She fell into the pantry and kicked the door shut, as black fingers reached through. She smashed them between door and door jam. Piercing screeches echoed on the other side as Nelly stood and pushed at the door with her shoulder. The fingers retreated and she turned the lock. Though nearly out of breath, she sprinted from the house.

Five steps off the porch her body was thrown forward from the power of the explosion. She landed sprawled on her stomach several yards into the forest edge, pieces of house and soil raining down around her. Pulling herself up with effort, she looked where the house no longer stood. A crater took its place. The dry grass and trees around it burned red against the night. She limped to the crater and peered into it.

No fissure. 

Success. All was safe again. 

She sighed and sat down on the ground. She examined her torn flesh. The bites on her legs, arms and torso felt tingly, but didn't hurt much anymore. A strange sticky substance, like dark green sludge, oozed from every bite. Looking closer, she noticed the skin around her wounds turning black. Grabbing a mirror shard beside her, she glanced at her face in the reflection and gasped.

Her former brown-eyes had turned an incandescent green. They glowed back at her and she suddenly had the irresistible craving for raw meat.
Beware! Beware the Scurrying Feet

Beware! Beware the scurrying feet,
They hunt and search for flesh to eat,
Ensure it's not you, so hide from their view,
Don't make a sound, or they'll come around!

Beware! Beware the fissure wide,
Its gaping mouth is tough to hide,
Take heed of the lure, where darkness is sure,
'Tis demons' abode, where evil is sowed!

Beware! Beware the bright green eye,
The glow will draw you as a fly,
Though fear of sun's ray, may keep them at bay,
Night makes them bold, can no longer hold!

Beware! Beware the poisoned drip,
It hies from tooth designed to rip,
Absorb this phlegm, you'll be one of them,
Spurn if you might even one tiny bite!

Beware! Beware the scurrying feet,
They hunt and search for flesh to eat,
Ensure it's not you, so hide from their view,
Don't make a sound, or they'll come around!

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