The Vessel

ambulance2“What wrong with me?” June’s whispered as the ambulance sped along the road to the hospital. Leslie, the WPC, squeezed her hand. “It’ll be okay love, we’re almost at the hospital, you’re in good hands. There’s all sorts of weird bugs going around, you probably have stomach flu or something.”

The first responder looked at Leslie and shook her head. June didn’t see!

The ambulance barely stopped before the door burst open and a team of nurses and doctors swooped on the barely conscious passenger.

“She’s fading fast. Something is sucking the life right out of her. Her stomach is swollen and……”

“And what?”

“Well it looks bruised, but the bruises seem to be coming from the inside. Hard to explain.”

“Come on folks, lets see what we have here.” The doctor spoke urgently!

Within seconds they had her in a room in the hospital, talking vitals looking into her eyes, talking to her. Before fading into oblivion June spoke once. In a weak voice that was barely distinguishable she whispered, “It’s crawling around in my stomach.”

The doctor pulled up her sweater. Everyone froze! June’s abdomen had taken a life of its own. It was swollen to four times its normal size, but even with the swelling you could see a shape in there, almost like it was vacuum packed.

“Is she pregnant?” The doctor asked. The nurse looked at the notes taken in the ambulance.
“Says here she had stomach pains, maybe a bug or stomach flu. Vomiting, dizziness, nothing about being pregnant. She’s only a kid!”

“Are her parents here?”

“Yes, in the ER waiting room.”

The doctor took off his gloves and went to find them.

“Don’t do anything until I come back.”

Hidden in the clouds, the whole scene was being observed.

“Our vessel looks strong. She’s doing well. You all know what to do don’t you. We’ll soon have a new queen among us.”

 

EYES ON ME!

one-sunday-morning

She tossed and turned, but sleep wouldn’t come. The bedroom was cold! She could see her breath, the bed was cold too!

The furnace must have broken!

Pulling the covers tightly around her, Lou burrowed into them. They felt damp and icy!

Dammit whats wrong. 

Reluctantly she got out of bed and grabbed her robe. Her fingers touched something gelatinous. She screamed and recoiled! Fumbling in the dark, she looked for the light switch.

Found it. 

Frantically she switched it on. Nothing. She reached for the bedside lamp, it didn’t work either. Pulling back the drapes, she looked out of the window. The world was engulfed in fog. Heavy, dark and thick. Swirling like clouds.

I feel eyes on me!

Carefully, slowly and trying not to panic, Lou made her way downstairs and into the kitchen. Pitch black, hard to move, hard to breath.

She found the flashlight in the cupboard next to the sink.

Thank god!

She switched it on, it worked. Shining it into the darkness of her home gave her some relief, there was nothing to see.

I need to get some heat in here.

Lou made her way down to the basement and the furnace.

Somethings wrong!

She opened the basement door, letting out a cold stench. It came from something unfamiliar, something terrifying. She didn’t want to look, but couldn’t help it. A dozen distorted, decaying faces looked back at her, their mouths open in a silent scream.

Oh dear God in Heaven!

She fainted!

Halloween – The Scent of a Woman

halloweenCome on, think, come up with an idea! You have to write, if you don’t write you don’t eat! Funds a are low!

Jane sat at her desk tired, frustrated and brain-dead. Writer’s block had set in and it looked like it was here to stay. It’s Halloween for Christ’s sake, I write horror stories for a living. Why can’t I come up with a single idea?

*************

A couple of miles away, in a derelict house on the edge of the lake, sat a man, the word man is used loosely. He was more mutant than human. Born from an inbred cult who’d been dead for a decade, he was the only survivor of the mass suicide of the Lake clan. For days he crawled across their limp bodies, looking for nourishment, which he’d eventually found. I don’t think I need to tell you what he ate. He was five years old when he was left to fend for himself, and already damaged. More to the point, dangerous! His now dead family were the only people he’d ever known, a loveless breed who lived in caves and tree houses deep in the forests of the Appalachians. Preying on lonely hikers, stray dogs, and anything else they could eat. Their language was a serious of grunts, mixed with the occasional word. They were long gone now, except for one, and he was hungry!

**********************

Pouring herself a glass of wine, Jane stood by the window and looked across the lake. She’d used money she couldn’t afford to rent this place, hoping to get away from worldly distractions and write. She had no cell phone signal, no television, and was miles from the nearest town. Her only living contact was Penny, her elderly mutt, who lay sleeping on the rug by the fire. Have I wasted the last of my savings? She walked out onto the porch. It was a beautiful clear night. The lake reflected the full moon. It looked like mercury. Other than the rustling of the trees, and the sound of the night creatures, all was still peaceful.

************************

At the other side of the lake one of the silent night creatures felt Jane’s presence. He sat still and sniffed. His animal instincts smelled human. It smelled woman. Instantly aroused he silently rose and looked towards the scent. He’d located his prey and moved stealthily towards the cabin.

Revelation Tin

christmas-cookie-tin-vintage-green-fruit-bells-nutcracker-wreath-on-gold-lid-8a91ef866b8eb3bbe6a19b6dd17f3778We waited in silence for the cab to arrive. Silence wasn’t a good thing in a motel like that. The noises from the rooms on either side didn’t leave much to the imagination. I tried hard not to put Janie’s face in one of those rooms. Although we’d waited no more than five minutes, it seemed like an eternity and when the cab finally arrived I fled. As I left the room I looked behind me. Larry was rumpling the bed covers. “we have to make it look like we slept here at least”

I shivered, “whatever!” The thought of sleeping in that bed gave me the creeps. “Where to?” the driver asked as Larry slid in the back seat beside me.”

“Stagecoach Salon, Franktown.” Larry replied.

The cab pulled out onto the main road. “Thats a long way man, you good for the money?” Larry reached over and waved a hundred dollar bill in the guys face. “That should cover it. Keep the change.”

The city lights disappeared in the rearview mirror and the soft darkness of Douglas County swallowed us. “I hope Jacks OK”

Larry was silent. I looked at him. “He will be OK won’t he?” I asked.

“I don’t know, he’s an old guy, may have had a heart attack.

It seemed to take an eternity to get to the bar, and when we arrived, it was in darkness. I looked at Larry, he pointed to a dark shape in the gloom by the fence. It was the van. “You sure you want to be dropped off here?” the cab driver said. “Looks like its closed.”

“Yea, we’re good, thanks man.”

We watched the cabs tail lights disappear in the distance. “OK, let’s go.” Larry said. We turned to the van and the lights came on, temporarily blinding me.

“Everyone OK,”Larry asked as we slid into the front seat.

“The old guy’s a bit shook up, but I think he’ll survive.”

“How about Janie?” I asked.

“She ran, don’t know where she went!”

“What, when?”

“When we got back here, she took off!”

Larry looked at me. “Great, we went through all of this for nothing.”

In two minutes we were at Jack’s house. He sat at the kitchen table, his face ashen. Larry’s three friends were drinking whiskey. Jack was drinking tea. I pulled a chair alongside him. “Jack are you alright?”

“Yes, I will be, got a weak heart, too much excitement for an old man.”

“You’re not that old!”

“I feel it!”

“Where’s Janie?” I asked, trying not to stress him any further.

“I’m here!”

She stood in the doorway, the passage light framing her slight figure. She held a bundle wrapped in a blanket. At first I thought she was carrying a child, my heart missed a beat. Jack made to get up, but I put my hand on his should and made him sit.

“Where’d you go?” he asked.

“Back to the barn, I wanted to grab this stuff before anyone else found it. Those guys came searching for me down here once. They might come back!”

She dropped the bundle on the floor, but held onto a small tin, the sort you got cookies in at Christmas. She placed it on the table in front of Jack. He looked up at her.

“Open it!”

Gunfire and Hookers

We heard three shots, bang-bang bang, one after another! It was terrifying. The closest I’d ever been to live gunfire was watching my neighbors at their back yard shooting range. This was America, everyone had a gun, but I’d never been in the line of fire. Our driver reversed speedily back to where Larry and Jack were. “Get Down!” he yelled. We didn’t need to be told twice. Janie and I dropped to the floor. The back door of the van opened, and even before it closed again, our tires screeched and we sped down the road. More gunfire. The back window of the van exploded! Janie screamed. A sharp right turn threw us across the floor. Finally, after a few more turns, we stopped.

“I don’t want anyone to move. Stay down!”12648704893_0f2dcc7aab

The tattooed passenger (I wish I knew his name) got out and disappeared into the darkness. Although I’d been told to stay down, I raised my head slightly and peeped over the back seat. Larry was sprawled on the floor cradling Jack in front of him. He saw the look of alarm on my face and put his finger to his lips. Jack turned his head and looked at me.

Thank God, he’s alive.

He’ll be OK, stay down pet, this isn’t over yet. I think my gran was with me. Car headlights appeared behind us. Filled with adrenalin, I was ready to run. The car pulled along side us. “It’s OK,” Larry whispered, “It’s our boys.”

I moved towards the door, wanting to put all of this behind me. “No, not you, this is for the old man and the other girl,” he said, “We need to split up.”

Janie clung to me “It’s OK go!” I said and pushed her gently towards the door wishing desperately I was going with her.

“What about me?”

“We’re going to get a cab!”

“Dressed like this?” I asked.

“Yes!” We need to be seen.

Larry helped me out of the van and caught me when my legs gave way beneath me.

“Come on, you can do this.”

We walked along the back streets just south of Colfax. It was a cold night and the streets were deserted. I wasn’t familiar with the area and completely lost. Cold and afraid I clung to Larry’s arm.

“What if they come after us?”

“Don’t think about it. Pretend it never happened.”

I looked at him with tears streaming down my face, “And what about Janie, do you think they’ll just let her go?”

“OK dry your eyes we’re almost there. It would help if you acted like a hooker!”

I looked down at my short skirt and ridiculous shoes. I certainly looked the part.

We reached a major intersection. It was Colorado Boulevard and Colfax. A line of taxis parked by the curb outside a club.

Thank God!

Several police cars and an ambulance raced past us, sirens blaring. They turned left onto Colfax. I knew where they were headed.

Larry helped me into a cab.

“Where to?” The driver asked.

“Can you recommend a cheap hotel near here?” Larry asked, “I’m from out-of-town.”

I saw the expression on the drivers face as he looked at me in the mirror.

Dear Lord, I hope I never see him again. 

I glared at Larry. He was enjoying this way too much!

“I know just the place.”

 

Just an old fashioned brothel!

BrotherlThe creep who’s propositioned me made himself comfortable on a chair next to Janie. Without taking his eyes off me he draped his arm around her and pulled her close. Tears streamed down her face. Push him off Janie, push him away. I knew she couldn’t. He kissed her on her neck, then her lips. He stood her up and pinning her against the wall with his body, he slid down and nuzzled his head between her breasts. She was terrified. I looked at Jack’s face, worried about his reaction. Larry spoke!

“Hey man, leave her alone, I can’t concentrate on the cards while you’re doing that.”

Tom turned around and faced him. “Can’t have that can we!”

He took hold of Janie’s arm and dragged her across the floor. She fell to her knees but he didn’t stop, he continued to walk, dragging her behind him. She managed to get to her feet again when they reached the door, her knees were scraped and her blouse torn.

“You want to come too darling? I can handle two of you.”

Go Sheila go, it’ll be OK! He’s strong, but drunk. Go help her. The voices in my head belonged to someone I’d come to know. It was Jacks daughter. Go, we’re here with you. This time it was my gran.

“Sure, let’s have a party.”

The look on Janie’s face was horrific. “No, leave her alone, leave her out of this.”

“Shhh, honey, you can’t keep a mal like this all to yourself” I said, trying to take on the role.

I didn’t look behind me, daren’t see the look on Jack’s face.

The bedroom that Tom led us into wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It was clean and sumptuous, reminded me of a saloon brothel from some Western, where the madame would be called Kitty and her girls would wear frilly bloomers and basques. He saw the look on my face. “Like what you see, you’re gonna like what you get too.” He unbuckled his belt and started to unzip his jeans. “Lets play around a little first shall we?”He walked toward me, his belt hanging loose, the top button of his jeans undone and his zipper halfway down. Janie stepped in front of me, trembling, but trying to protect me. She moved towards Tom and draped her arms around his neck. He put his hands on her shoulders, dropped his head and kissed her breasts, then he pushed her to one side and laughed.

“I’ve had you before, its her I want. She’s new, fresh and I don’t think she’s done this before.”

Oh dear god please help me. 

I looked across at the speckled mirror in the old-fashioned dresser and saw four faces looking back at me. My own terrified face was in the forefront, but the faded, determined faces of my gran, and the two souls she’d befriended hovered behind, like fading holograms.

Everything moved very fast. Janie lurched forward and grabbed Tom’s jeans, she yanked them down to his knees and pushed as hard as she could. His legs tangled in his jeans and he went down hard, banging his head on the corner of the dresser as he fell. It knocked him out cold.

Run, run, run, run, run, run, ruuuuuuunnnnnnn! Get away, flee!

The faces in the mirror had disappeared, but the room echoed with their words. I grabbed Janie’s hand and we ran for the door. It opened as we approached and on of Larry’s boys appeared. He looked behind us and saw Tom on the floor, a pool of blood spreading around him.

“This way!”

We fled down the hallway and out of the back door. The old van stood outside, its engine running. We fell inside and the van took off, even before the door was closed.

“You girls OK?”

Janie and I didn’t speak, we just hugged each other!

“What about Jack,” Janie said, “What if they hurt him?”

I put my arm around her, feeling her wet tears on my shoulder. “He’s in good company, I think he’ll be OK!” I replied and hoped I was right.

 

Help ME!

131286-aaa-tests-shine-high-beam-headlight-limitations.2As I walked home, my temples began to throb. Goddam this day! Why don’t I feel good about helping this girl? 

“Give it time!”

It was my Gran’s voice. I was comforted to hear it. Gran who is this girl.? There was no reply. The phone rang as I walked through the front door. I ignored it. After taking a couple of aspirin, I lay down on the sofa and slept. My dreams were a troubled mess of sirens and anxiety. When I finally woke up it was dark and cold. I was disoriented. Where am I?

Looking around, I focused my eyes and thoughts. At home of course. I’d slept for six hours. It was almost time to meet up with Jack and Janie again. Was that really her name? I doubted it. More likely she’d done her research on a poor lonely old man and chosen the name to take advantage him. But why do I feel the presence of his dead wife and daughter?

I washed my face and changed my rumpled clothes. The phone came to life again.

It was Les, “where have you been? I’ve been calling you at work and at home.”

“I stayed home, had an awful nights sleep and just couldn’t face work. I heard the phone ring once here, but I didn’t answer because I was trying to sleep.”

“Once, I rang about six times.”

Maybe the sirens I heard in my dreams was the phone ringing. 

“Well I never heard it.”

“Good news, I will be home this weekend after all. The system isn’t going live until next week.”

“Great,” I said, not sounding the least bit enthusiastic. “Look I’m not feeling well, I’ll call you later.”

I was becoming more agitated by the second. My heart was beating fifty to the dozen. I grabbed my coat, and jumped in the car, almost forgetting to open the garage door before I drove out. Something felt wrong!

Jack’s house was lit up like a beacon, porch light, bedroom lights, and the door stood wide open. As my car crunched along the driveway Jack appeared.

“She’s gone!” he said

“Is anything missing?” I asked without thinking.

He looked hurt. “I didn’t check and I don’t need to. We have to find her.”

“OK, jump in, we’ll go to the barn first.”

“No need, I already checked there, no sign of her.”

I closed my eyes and tried to collect my thoughts. Had she ever really existed? Was she something I’d conjured up? No, Jack has seen her too.

I started to speak, but my words were drowned by the noise of a truck passing by, music blaring from the windows.

“Help me!”

Icy fingers closed around my heart. I looked at Jack.

“Did I imagine that?”

He shook his head and jumped in the passenger seat.

“Go!” He yelled.

 

Dead of July  is my first novel and its available on Amazon for $0.99. It’s set in 1982 in Dortmund, Germany. If you’re enjoying my short blog stories, give it a try.

 

Confusion!

image0012I watched, hypnotized, as Janie and Jack warmed to each other. Janie didn’t say much, but her fear melted away. I became suddenly drowsy, all I wanted to do was sleep. My eyelids were so heavy I could hardly keep them open.

“Are you alright?” Jack asked. “You look exhausted. You can go upstairs and lie down if you want.”

I thought of the voices I’d heard in the bedroom, voices from the past, from the long dead. I wasn’t afraid of them, but I didn’t want to share a room with them. I wanted to be alone. I was tired and confused and I wanted to rest and think. Who was this girl? What was happening. “I’ll go home if it’s all the same to you. I’m tired, didn’t sleep well last night.”

My voice sounded unnatural and distant. It echoed around the room and seemed to hang in the air. Jack wasn’t paying attention anyway. He was focused on his new guest. Did he think she was his daughter? Surely not! His daughter was dead. “Janie do you want to come home with me?” I asked. “You’re more than welcome. You can take a shower and I can find  you some fresh clothes.

She shook her head.

“OK then I’m going.”

Jack walked me to the door. “You know this isn’t your daughter right!” I said, “This is some poor kid living rough, you need to be careful.”

“I know that, but this girl has been sent to me. She’s here to give me a second chance. I know we’re connected somehow. I have to help her. When she’s here I feel Janie, my Janie. I feel Miriam too.”

“Do you hear them or see them?” I asked.

“No I don’t, but I know you do, I’ve seen you looking upstairs. I’ve seen you listening. My family is here and you know it. I wish I could see them too, but I can’t. They are reaching out to me through this girl instead.”

Jack looked unsure of himself, vulnerable. “I don’t know your family Jack, but there is certainly a presence in your home. They’re here for you not me. What if they’re here to warn you about her? Just be careful OK! You know nothing about this girl.”

“I know nothing about you either,” he said, “but I trust you.”

I looked over Jack’s shoulder and saw Janie stand up. She she stood alone in the empty kitchen. A couple of the stairs creaked from the weight of unseen footsteps. A chill passed though my body. Footsteps crunched on the gravel behind me. I turned around, no one was there.

“I’m going home to take a nap, I’ll be back later though, maybe we can grab dinner in the Stagecoach, I’ll drive!”

“Sounds good,” he said, “Stop by around six.”

I walked along the drive way, my legs barely supporting me.

Who is this girl? 

Where did she come from?

What comes next?

 

Janie’s Home

JOY1690.0LJack and I stood still, holding our breath, thinking she’d turn and run at any moment. She kept coming though. When she was a few paces away from us she stopped and looked around frantically as though she’d suddenly remembered something.

“Walk, I’ll follow you,” she whispered.

“Your house or mine?” I asked Jack.

“Mine,” he replied, “It’s closer.”

I wanted to hurry. I wanted to get her inside to safety. She was afraid of something or someone and looked like she could turn and run.

“Do you think she’s in danger?” I asked Jack.

“Not sure, but somethings wrong.”

The footsteps behind us stopped, Jack and I continued walking slowly, hoping we’d hear them again. We did! When we approached Jack’s front door I was smothered with emotion. Not sure what was causing it, but it was overpowering. Maybe it came from Jack’s wife and daughter. Their presence was all around us. It felt good. I stepped onto the porch and turned to gesture Janie into the house ahead of me. She was smiling, her face was glowing. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “Mama!” she said.

Jack was already inside and didn’t hear her, but I did.

The wind chimes hanging from the porch, whispered  gently in the breeze. The sound comforted Janie. She looked like a different person as she stepped inside the house. I stood on the porch and watched her walk into the kitchen. She pulled out a chair and sat down as though she’d lived there her whole life.

Jack beckoned me to join them, he was smiling too. “Come on in Sheila. Janie’s home.”

I joined them, greeted by the smell of coffee and fresh bread.

“Mama brought me here,” Janie said, “She brought me home.”

Janie clutched the locket to her heart. “Mama and Granmama.”