Long story short, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to write more*, so a couple of nights ago – unable to sleep thanks to the heat and mosquitoes – I wrote the following short horror story.
It’s pretty rough, but I’m going to post it before I can talk myself out of it. Comments and constructive feedback are, as always, absolutely welcome.
*actually, it was to get off my butt and actually write a book, like I’ve been wanting to do for years; but, baby steps.
He lay in the dark, his eyes straining to pin down the universe of faint stars and swirling patches of darkness that lay between him and the ceiling above.
Despite the late hour, and the tiredness that weighed down on him, sleep eluded him. So, he stared as his ceiling fan rattled its way through each rotation, somehow failing to produce enough of a breeze to cool his sweat-slicked skin, even as it irritated his unblinking eyes and worked its way down into his increasingly dry throat.
Unmoving, but for the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed steadily in and out, his full concentration was directed above him. The trick of his eyes that produced the effect upon which he’d become fixated reminded him of a grainy photo; and, as if he could push through the obscuring noise that lay before him in order to see the truth of what lay beyond this visual static by sheer force of will, he continued to strain his eyes.
As seconds ticked by and blurred into minutes, then what felt – against all logic – like hours, he began to feel almost like he was pushing beyond his physical self, reaching out with a part of his mind that could grasp at the intangible. He just needed to stretch a bit further, and –
The sound of the mosquito buzzing past his ear was shocking in the violence of its intrusion into his thoughts. His body convulsed as he involuntarily jerked away from the source of the sound, his hands flailing impotently around his head even as he knew his quarry was long gone, undoubtedly planning its next strike.
Perhaps it was the heat, or his sleep deprivation finally coming to the fore, but the absurdity of his overreaction to the small creature’s aerial attack bubbled forth in the form of a tired sounding chuckle, which was quickly consumed by the surrounding silence.
The questioning thought came to him slowly, almost as if it were afraid that even a sudden movement inside his own head would be too startling a contrast to the stillness – and, yes, absolute silence – that now filled his room. Gone were the sounds of his ceiling fan; the occasional car that drove by in the distance, even at this late hour; and the pervasive background noise of countless chirping crickets. In their absence, silence reigned.
Now his eyes tried to pierce the darkness around him, but it was as if an unnatural fog had stolen in through his open window. An indistinct haze of darkness had closed in around him.
His breathing grew ragged with his growing sense of unease – a feeling that was only intensified by how alien the sound of his own breathing now sounded in this increasingly unfamiliar space.
A growing sense of movement above him dragged his eyes back up to the ceiling, where the visual snow created by his own vision had been replaced by a roiling cloud of impenetrable darkness. It seemed caught in a storm of its own making, violently thrashing in a wind that he could neither hear nor feel.
Terror gripped him, freezing him in place. His breath now came in shallow gasps, and he began to feel lightheaded. All he could do was stare with wide eyes at the undulating darkness above him, helpless.
Suddenly, the darkness stilled. Although he could see no difference, it seemed to intensify somehow, as if taking on a presence of its own.
Then it looked at him.
Again, there was no movement – in fact, the room had become preternaturally still once more. But he could feel the attention of that presence fall upon him as if it were a physical weight pressing down on him, pushing down on his heart as it tried valiantly to escape his chest.
He could barely breathe; couldn’t move, not even to wipe away the tears that had started falling from his eyes.
YOU CALLED FOR US.
The words came to him as a cacophony of discordant sounds that could only be called a voice insofar as they delivered an interpretable message. Yet it would be more appropriate to call it an assault, which his now twitching body understood in the same way that it would know the meaning of a physical beating.
Pain raced along every nerve, and his tears flowed more heavily.
The darkness seemed to consider him for a moment. It pulled in on itself, becoming more concentrated – sending a jolt of fear down his still rigid spine.
This time a moan rumbled up from his chest before escaping from between his chattering teeth. This set the darkness to swirling again, like a swarm of agitated bugs.
Like mosquitoes, his addled brain offered up uselessly, before once again sinking into its own fog of pain.
The bestial scream that ripped itself from his throat as the darkness spoke next –
YOU WILL COME WITH US
– echoed off the walls of his now empty room, frightening the crickets outside into a momentary silence, and causing dogs in the distance to start barking in sympathetic anguish.
And the ceiling fan continued to spin steadily, filling the otherwise silence room with its own tik, tik, tik.