Saturday, October 30, 2010

Somewhat Scary Story

Since Hallooweeeen is upon us, and since another guy has dubbed October as "International Write Horrror-ish Stories Month", and since I haven't posted in awhile, I thought I'd put up my "horror-ish" story. I was going to do an illustration for it, but just ran outta steam.

It’s in the Bag

She lay there listening. Having been asleep for awhile, she was still foggy, but that faint scratching sound had started again. Her husband always asserted that it was a roach in the paper shopping bag where she kept the old pictures. The ones that she never got around to scrapbooking for her mom. This had happened before, and she dreaded waking him up only to have him grumble, complain, turn on all the lights and rummage around in the corner. Then he would announce that the sneaky little roach had moved along. In exasperation, he would scratch lightly on the side of the bag to show her how little it took to amplify the sound. He would flop back in the bed and make her get up and turn off the lights.

Every time she thought about moving, it would stop. Every time she thought about going back to sleep, it would start back up. Should she wake him? No, not for the same old thing. There it was again, softly scratching. Ugh, would the night never end? It would be so easy for her to get up, retrieve the spray, flick on every light in the house and fumigate the whole room with him lying there like a worthless lump. That would show him. A smile grew on her lips and smoothed the furrows from her forehead.

As she started to relinquish her grip on consciousness, there was a louder thump and scrape that seemed to come from inside the wall. Like someone had dropped a claw hammer from ten feet up. She started up off of the pillow, her heart racing. That was no roach. Not even a mouse. That was something else. She lay this time, not out of frustration, but petrified with fear. Then the sound of the scraping the inside of sheetrock began slowly, very slowly, as if it were trying to be quiet, but deliberate at the same time. Chills ran up her spine and down her arms. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing straight. Waves of goosebumps covered her entire body in growing tension. The sound stopped, but the feeling of terror didn't. She strained her ears for any other telltale signs that would allay her fears. Deafening silence was all that met her and the only sounds that registered were the high-pitched squeal of nothing in her ears. The thumping of her heart threatened to wake the neighbors. Or her husband. Which, on a second of reflection, should have been wide-awake now even without her knee in his backside. The reason he was not awake was that he was on a quail hunt, she remembered. This was Friday morning and he had left last night. He had packed his hunting clothes and two of the shotguns that he had in the gun safe. Of course that left the entire arsenal that he had amassed since he was about ten.

Handguns, shotguns, rifles and assorted knives and pointed sticks hidden in various places throughout the house, so he could, as he put it, protect their castle no matter where the threat came from or when it chose to arrive. That was the price of living with a gun nut. And although he had offered many times to instruct and train her in the location and use of any and all of the weapons, she declined every time. "I'll never need those things", she told herself. Well, who was the nut, now? Dangit, why had she never listened? He even took his dog, Albert, which she was sure would be barking like mad right now. Dumb, hairy, licking beast; she missed even him at the moment.

The seconds that had elapsed in silence came to an abrupt halt with the sound of sheetrock being ground to powder. Her breathing stopped for what seemed like minutes as the sound grew bolder and louder and more determined. Her skin was now so tight that the moisture in her body was being squeezed out to the surface. When the sound quit with a thud, it offered no comfort. It was the very next instant when she felt the presence behind her. It was the feeling of hot breath and a cold draft together that paralyzed her where she lay. Eyes wide, she could not move, breathe or even cry out. The sense of utter helplessness mixed with the sick feeling of total despair broke over her like a wave. She felt herself detach from her body and got the sense of being lifted up the face of a huge tsunami with only a child's pool toy around her waist.

With the growing feeling of being swept to the crest of a gigantic wave of terror about to break, there came a sudden, steely grasp on her left ankle. She let out a tiny gasp, and the biting, crushing grip began pulling her to the foot of the bed. Only able to inhale, which was fortunate since she hadn’t drawn a breath in what seemed like hours, she gasped louder and louder as the traction increased her voyage to the end of the bed and the end of what would surely be her life.

The certainty that she felt of impending doom flipped a switch in her gut. If she was to meet her demise tonight, this way, by whatever this was dragging her the length of the mattress, she would do it with a fight. She began to flail and grab at anything, first the pillow, then the blanket, the fitted sheet and finally a heavy form to her right. It felt like a big bag full of warm sand, and as she clawed for it, it reached out and took her by her shoulders with a firm grip. She heard her name, “Melinda, MELINDA, WHAT IS IT? WHAT’S WRONG!

The sound of her name was like a trumpet from heaven coming from down a long, cold tunnel. The grip on her ankle was loosed and the cold desperation turned to hope again. It was her husband, and he was gathering her trembling form into his arms. She was sweating and he was blinking the sleep from his head. All he knew was that she had given a little shriek and began to grasp and flail at him with a desperation that he had never witnessed. His right hand was already reaching for his tactical pistol with the laser sight and bright flashlight to repel the threat that had terrorized his wife so badly. As he scanned the room, he saw that all the doors were still closed, and that the sanctity of their space had not been disturbed. A dream. Heck, a nightmare from the way she was thrashing around.

Her ragged breath and tremors gradually subsided and she relaxed into his chest. He could feel her heart pounding against his ribs and her breath was fogging up his collarbone.

“Melinda, what the heck was that?” he asked.

“I don’t really know, a nightmare I guess. But I am so glad you’re here! I thought you went to Uvalde to hunt.”

“Tomorrow night”, he grinned. “And for the record, your bad dream was so bad, it scared the puddin’ out of me!”

She finally allowed herself the luxury of a giggle and a deep breath. At that moment, a huge dark form leapt up on the bed between them and came right for her face. With a shriek, she threw her arms out in front of her in defense. She was met with a solid, furry, tongue-slinging Albert. When she cracked him on the side of the skull in the fray, he let out a little yelp, and she realized that she was not about to die. She and Jeff broke into nervous laughter.

After a while, they settled back into the bed to try to finish the next few hours of sleep that they were allotted. As she heard Jeff sigh, she echoed the punctuation to the crazy episode.

As she drifted off to sleep, she heard a soft scratching sound. “Jeff, what’s that?” she said coming wide-awake.

“Aah, just a roach in that bag of pictures, go to sleep.”


innominatus said...

I like this. Creepy in a real-life way trumps creepy in a monster/bloody/gory way every time.

>>>Like someone had dropped a claw hammer from ten feet up.

In my case more like a 100 lb. object falling about 24 inches. As in my dog falling off the bed in the middle of the night and scaring the stuffing out of both wife and myself.

aA said...

Ha! I'll bet the dog was none to pleased with the action, too.

Yeah, roaches are creepy, dreams are scary and stuff jumping on/off the bed in the dead of night is never funny, unless you're hearing about from someone else!