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Saturday, October 30, 2010

An hour to midnight, here's a story for Halloween

Hey, it's Ratty! Thought I would finally get off my ass and set up a new blog, as once again I have decided to write as often as possible and in various forms.Just an hour from Halloween now, so I thought I would share this story I wrote recently, but only shared with a bunch of you. It's the first one I've written in quite a while, I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to tell me how much you liked it, what you didn't like or rewrite the whole thing for me to include some sex scenes and a part for Martin Lawrence. As good old dyslexic zombie would say, ApHpY HlAWoELnE!






                                                        A Visitor



Sleep paralysis is an unnerving condition, and one that I suffer from after a particularly deep or stressful slumber. It's always the same routine. My mind is snapped into consciousness, becoming aware of sounds in the room: the ticking hum of my broken fan heater (it runs constantly to support my preferred cocoon-like environment), drops of rain assaulting the tin roof of the garage, or perhaps Dexter, my rat, digging about in his nests of shredded paper for a leftover scrap of carrot. A groan of protest escaping my mouth will confirm that I am indeed awake. But my body simply will not relinquish motor function to me, the only thing I am allowed for an agonising period of up to an hour is the limited use of one eyelid. Enough for me to see a blurry version of my surroundings as I commence the fight to regain control of my head and limbs. If I strain with all of my will, the first thing I manage is a sudden jerking spasm at the base of my neck. Several more attempts and i can move my head around a little, open my eye enough to make out the glowing display of the clock radio and hope that I am not far from my alarm time. Sometimes I manage to force myself awake before the cacophonous buzz strikes every neuron in my sleep-addled skull, but not often. 

On the morning he came I woke groggy, hung over but ultimately relieved that I hadn't slept well, more a shallow trance than real sleep, but this was a fair trade for the opportunity to spring straight out of bed and into the therapeutic massage of a steaming shower. Once dressed, I sat back in my throne (the bright blue reclining computer chair from which I one day hoped to rule the world) and contemplated the arrival of a new edition to our household, the mysterious cousin Keith who would be staying with the family for an indefinite period while he found suitable accommodation for himself in town. Keith had come from London to complete his medical degree at Sydney University after the death of his parents, my uncle Charles and aunt Beth. They had been found in shallow graves in a small park a week or so after attending a dinner party and not returning home. There were ten burial sites in total, each holding a limb or torso. The heads had not been found, the bodies identified by clothing, scars and uncle Charles' wallet which still contained 400 pounds. Aunt Beth's Cartier diamond wedding ring was still on her finger.

My father wasn't close with his brother, he used to joke that Charles was the "milkman's child" - an egotistical, materialistic extrovert spawned from a family of simple farm folk. While dad stayed on through most of his twenties to help my Gramps and Granny keep their small poultry farm afloat, Charles had left as soon as he was able to pursue his career as an orthodontist, quickly forging his way to owning a fine practice, but never sending a penny or coming to visit the farm, even after all the birds were wiped out in an epidemic and the family was forced to sell everything just to keep their small patch of land from bloodthirsty financiers. Dad, in his good natured way, often joked about these times without a noticeable trace of resentment for Charles, and even took the time to record a mostly fabricated (and therefore touching) speech on video to be played at his recent funeral. Aunt Diane reported via email that there "simply wasn't time" for it to be shown. The bagpipe serenade had run long. "He's passed on, and he still ignores me", dad jibed at the breakfast table.

Keith was more of a mystery than his father. Studious and shy from all limited accounts we had received over the years, he had begun his Bachelor's degree at the tender age of sixteen. Now just twenty, he was close to completing his studies and start practicing. When Charles and Beth were murdered, Dad received a letter from Keith asking if he could count on us to house him while his money, tied up in trusts, was released to him. He also stated in the letter that he sought the "comfort of family" in this difficult time. All of us found this queer, as we had only met him once long ago, when Gramps had died and we returned home to England briefly. He was ten years old at the time, and said not a word. The way I saw it, it was Charles all over again. Upholding a family unit which did not exist, in a time of need. Nonetheless, dad insisted that he come right away and take the time needed before starting his Doctorate in the new year. He had been given the option to defer his studies, and declined. When he arrived early on a Sunday morning, he called ahead to inform us that he would make his own way from the airport. We were finishing up breakfast when the knock came at the back door. I was so startled I knocked my glass of orange juice clean off the table, decorating mum's only nice outfit, which she had worn for the occasion. She stopped me mid apology with a sparkling grin.
"I felt like a bloody puffy poodle in that thing anyway," she laughed. "Cover for me while I go slip into me house dress."

"Such a lovely little garden you keep" came the soft but somehow steely voice as dad opened up the back screen door. Keith stood perfectly still, he looked almost frozen in time in the frame of the door, the glare of sunlight behind him preventing me from having a good look at him right away. I had not seen so much as a photograph due to Charles' lacklustre history of communication with our family. He was tall, and looked slight, the broad shouldered suit jacket failing to boost his slender frame. He stepped inside, looking as though he was on his way to a business conference. I could have used the surface of his shoes as a shaving mirror. Mum appeared looking much more comfortable, and came forward to greet Keith.

"Hello aunt" he almost whispered, taking her hand gently and kissing the air six inches from it. I wasn't sure whether he was nervous, socially awkward or just plain strange. Perhaps a combination of the three. I had been avoiding coming forward to shake hands. Dad knifed me with a quick look, and I swallowed a golf ball in my throat and stepped forward. Finally I brought myself to look up from the shiny shoes I had been almost hypnotised by, and into his face. Into his eyes. Those eyes, grey and cold like brushed metal, with tiny pupils piercing through me, through dad, through the house and the trees outside and the whole world. It was the most unsettling moment of my life, and I had no idea why. I felt my hand trembling wildly as I raised it to meet his, but he did not offer to shake. He simply looked at me for what seemed like eons, and then said "Hello, cousin" before stepping past me into the living room, where he sat on the very edge of an armchair, as though it were covered in manure.

"Would you like some tea? We've just finished eating, but I can fix you some ham and eggs" mum offered from the kitchen. Keith continued his comfort and gravity defying position on the chair, and provided no response to the offer of breakfast. He was staring at something on the mantelpiece. Dad was preoccupied with sorting the mail which had just spilled through the slot, leaving me to absorb the tension in the room. I tried to follow the line of those dead eyes to the mantle, it was then I noticed the photograph of uncle Charles, resplendent in his white jacket, posing next to his first patient in a dentist's chair. I had to say something to try and guise my discomfort.

"When do you start your first semester at Uni?" I croaked. I wasn't even sure if my voice was registrable by human ears. Keith didn't help to solve the mystery, he kept staring at the photo of his now dead father, as though he were taking an eye exam. 

"He never let me have pets" he said, without averting his gaze from the picture frame. "You have a mouse, I hear"
"Uh, a rat actually. D-Dexter...." I had rid myself of a childhood stutter when I was eight years old. Keith had undone a decade of speech therapy in just a few minutes. Fortunately, dad sat down in his recliner with a heavy plop. He was still examining two envelopes which he had separated from the rest of the mail.

"There's a couple of letters here addressed to me, one's from your old university, and this one's marked with a police stamp." Dad looked up toward Keith, who in a seemingly impossible flash had risen from his chair and whisked the letters away from dad, he didn't snatch, it was almost as though he had conjured this acquisition. Mum stood in the kitchen doorway, looking as nervous as I felt.

"Probably just......official documents." He neatly folded the envelopes without opening them and placed them in his pocket. "It's been a long morning. I'd like to retire." He was already making his way upstairs, not looking back.

"The guest bedroom's the first on the left," she offered. "The linen's been changed this morning."
By the time she got the words out he was already upstairs and out of sight.

I sat on my bed in a mess of blankets, my thoughts ticking away with the same jittery pace as my broken heater.
"What's his deal, Dex?" I asked my rodent pal. Dexter was busying himself with a wooden clothes peg attached to one of the bars on his cage. The slow grinding rhythm of his gnawing invaded my brain like a worm. Obviously I had no idea as to what it would be like to experience the sudden and grisly death of my parents, combined with the pressure of completing a medical degree, but it seemed so much more than that. Keith had not said anything particularly disturbing, but his behaviour frightened me. I didn't want him in our house. I wished for a moment that he had been hacked to pieces and buried in the park with my uncle and aunt, and that would be the end of it. I felt ashamed of myself for this thought. With Keith likely asleep and mum and dad off to church, I decided to have a lie down myself. I looked at the key in my door, and for a moment felt I wanted to lock it. I laughed out loud for being so ridiculous, and put on a suitably distracting horror film to help me forget about the whole bizarre experience the morning had provided. Soon I was dozing off, somehow drained though I had only been up a few hours. Occasionally a scream from the television caught my attention, but I was already heavy lidded. It was 10.30. I managed to set an alarm for 1pm so I wouldn't oversleep, and let myself drift off.

A thud. A muffled shriek. A snarling sound, like an angry dog. A tearing sound. Still in a state of trance, I cursed myself for leaving the movie running. If I flicked it off now, I could still manage an hour or so before my alarm. At that moment, I realised that turning off the TV would be impossible. My mind was now fully awake, but my body was completely frozen. I was in the throes of a heavy paralysis. I could still hear some muffled sounds, like something heavy being dragged. No screams. No spooky synth music. No dialogue. I strained with every ounce of mental energy I could muster, trying to convince my right eyelid to open for a moment. As the blurry shapes began to take form, the first thing I noticed was the blue shape bouncing around the TV screen in a familiar pattern. The dvd screensaver. The movie was already over. The clock was at the very edge of my peripheral vision. I concentrated hard. After a small spasm, I managed to make out the digits glowing green. 12.31. 29 minutes until I was free of my physical prison. I heard the creak of my door opening slowly. It was probably mum, come in to wake me up. But mum always knocks and coos my name. 

Three footsteps, from hard shoes. A scrabbling sound. A squeak. A sickening crunch. A wet chewing noise. Footsteps closer now. I felt a shiver of terror clawing down my spine. I managed a small groan. Something wet and warm touched my cheek. It had been placed there. I felt the warm dripping liquid becoming cold on my face, and the object slipped down and landed on the bed dead in front of my half open eye. It was Dexter's head. I rolled my eye toward the floor and saw a pair of legs, the shine of the light reflecting off the finish of the polished leather shoes. 

"Hello, cousin."

1 comment:

  1. beautiful,, that was a great read,, though id like to here some more of the gore that was lurking from behind the door,, ma the next installment can be the from the mind of Keith and his view on things?? that would be interesting,, but well done superman :-)

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