This fortnight’s theme: Horror
The darkness engulfed as she switched off the light. She had never had a fear of the dark, nor fathomed the number of people who fell victim to it. The darkness was her haven, in which she could relieve her senses of the traffic of everyday life. She reached out her arm and walked forward slowly, feeling for the edge of her desk that would signify her close proximity to her bed. Her eyelids dropped downwards, feeling heavy as tiredness seeped through her body. With her eyes closed, she was no blinder than she was before.
Suddenly the air around her felt cold. Her silk nightgown did nothing to stop the chill that sent a shiver down her spine. Suddenly she didn’t feel so safe.
Just as she was about to climb into the comfort of her bed, she froze as she felt a cold breath on the back of her neck. The blood rushed out of her face. She waited for a second to see if more would come. But nothing did. I imagined it. I imagined it. These were the last thoughts in her head before she drifted off into a slumber. That slumber – it did not last long.
Scrape. The sound of nails on a blackboard. The hour was past midnight. Her eyes fluttered open and she sat upright in bed, trying to locate the sound’s origins. Slowly, she climbed out of bed and advanced towards her bedroom door, reaching out her arm and turning the door knob. The door creaked as she pushed it open. She fumbled for the light switch and when she turned it on, the hall didn’t flood with light like she’d hoped. She assumed it needed a new bulb, because the light above was dim and flickering, making the hallway feel uncomfortable. She paused, silent, and the quiet scratching noise was audible once more. The fact that it didn’t sound mechanical, but rather, imperfect and human scared her. But curiosity compelled her. And she had always been told to never stand down to fear.
She followed the noise to the next hallway and suddenly, all was silent except for the sound of her quiet breathing. Today the hallway looked different. She turned her head to gaze at the familiar family portraits that lined its walls and her breath hitched in her throat at the sight before her. A cloud of confusion filled her eyes and they turned dark with fear. Slowing lifting up a hand, she brushed the oil work on the canvas with the nameplate ‘George’ beneath it. It no longer formed the shape of her little brother’s smiling face, but instead, formed the outline of the large oak tree in her backyard. Upon one of the tree’s branches, a rope. And hanging from the rope, eyes wide and lifeless, was an image of herself. The corpse stared at her and she stared back. It was like she was looking in a mirror, only her reflection was limp. Dead.
She tore her frightened gaze from the painting and looked at the next one, her heart beating furiously out of her chest. The next was no better than the first.
Dark blood. A lifeless body. Her lifeless body.
Hyperventilating, hands shaking, she continued like this, staring at each portrait along the wall. Altogether, there were six. Six different paintings, six different deaths, all in which she was the victim.
The last was the most haunting. For unlike the others, she was not yet dead in this one. Instead, her face pale, eyes wide, mouth screaming, she was facing the viewer. Around her neck, a pair of hands. Inhuman. Dark, long, fingers. Protruding bones. Unlike the others, this painting depicted her last moments before death.
The grandfather clock in the hallway suddenly chimed, sounding hauntingly different than usual. It snapped her out of her frightened gaze she jumped away from it.
From down the hall, a vase shattered on the floor. The campaign of fear inside of her could no longer be contained and she let out a blood-curdling shriek, taking off down the hallway. Another bang. A crash metres behind her. A frame falling off the wall. The distant sound of the closet in her bedroom slamming shut.
She ran so fast that her legs screamed at her to stop. The horrible faint sound of a woman’s wails came from somewhere behind her.
Just as she turned into the hallway that lead to the back door, she stopped dead in her tracks. In the middle of the hallway stood a dark figure. The image before her was from the darkest of nightmares. A woman whose age was indistinguishable beneath the peeling skin of her face, hollowness of her eyes and ripped white dress upon her body. Her hair draped upon her shoulders, dark, very dark, and greasy. Tangled. Blood seeped from the dark voids that were her eyes. Her nose was non-existent, with only the protruding bone of her skeleton visible. In the place of her lips were threads of stitches, adorned with gaping holes the skin around them rotting. She stared forward lifelessly. And her hands. Dark. Long fingers. Protruding bone.
No longer could the girl bare to look. She let out another scream, letting it out at such a volume and force that her eyes squeezed shut in the process. When she stopped screaming, she kept her eyes closed. Suddenly she felt a searing pain around her neck. She began to struggle for air, and her eyes flew open as a reaction. The nightmarish woman was suddenly so close to her face that the blood seeping out of her eyes dripped onto the tip of the girl’s nose. Loose shreds of skin exposed the tender flesh of the woman’s face, dark and rotting. Her dark, long fingers wrapped around the girl’s neck possessively. Her face turning purple and unable to scream, the last sound that the girl would hear were the words airily whispered in her ear. “12:10”.
The world went dark just as the grandfather clock made its last chime.