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He steps into the hallway; the door behind him shuts with a slam, but he doesn’t remember it opening so it could slam in the first place. Behind him is an endless ocean of darkness, visible through the glass portals of the mahogany door. He turns back and looks around; there is nothing here now. It doesn’t hurt him, or worry him as he turns back once more to the stairs, and walks near them, until the cold fingers of the cold squeeze at his neck, and the sound of paper, struggling, fluttering against the wind fills his ears. He feels things move behind him, yet his shoes click on the floor and echo as he stares towards the wall of the wooden staircase.


Drawings are on tacked on the wall; they flutter wildly as he stares. He steps to the first. He looks at the picture, crudely drawn with crayons; a man and a woman holding hands; myself and Abigail, together, smiling. Her hair is bright, his dark, and they stand in front of a priest. The next picture is dangling, half torn; us two again, against the backdrop of a house, green lawns, and a smiling sun. This is the happy family, of a place long gone, of a life gone by, he thinks. The next paper is soggy, with dripping ink and the smashed bottle of scotch drawn to specific, artistic mastery against a tiny, crying woman, the same as before—her hair bright, her cheeks red, her eyes dripping ink; she’s mortified and who can blame her? Who can blame him? Next, the angry man with his eyebrows a solid downwards arrow and a frown, with bunched fists, a stick body, and scruffy brown hair standing tall against a small cowering frame, with trailing ink tears that stretch down off the page, onto the wood beneath.


Paper five: a tall, dark-skinned man. A name I’ve forgotten, a friend, somebody, anybody. Hot anger flushes through the man, he bunches his fists and stares at the three of them on the paper, standing, happy, smiling; friends for life, and with a tight fist he slams it against the paper! BUMPH! He keeps it there and lowers his head for a moment but brings it up and stares at the final page. No, a missing page has been torn away, leaving only a bloodied handprint and fragments of paper that claw to the wall desperately; shaking frantically. There’s something missing, everything is missing really, as he rubs his eyes and steps away from the papers, he sees movement from the kitchen window, like something running by in the darkness, silently, with a speed that could match no man or beast.


The living room is dead, full of settled ash that covers all of the furniture with a soft, greyish shield. The area is thick with cold, and welcomes him with the smell of burnt chicken and copper, filling his nose with the ghastly reminder of something he cannot put his mind to. Static screeches, filling the air loudly, and he is illuminated with flickering white as he stares at the widescreen TV which suddenly goes quiet, and suddenly the black and white static flicks to something clear; He sees a man, is it him? Is it somebody else? He doesn’t know who he is anymore, or did he ever? The man kisses the soft lips of a blond-haired girl, her wedding dress shimmers brightly. With wide eyes a smile spreads on his face and he watches with a sort of happiness in that moment, like a balloon swelling inside him, he feels suffocation at the images but watches on.


Two girls are on the screen, one is thin, pale, and the other is large, smiling with a microphone. “I remember when she first told me about you, Mister Fischer—she—“ the girl wipes away some tears; her voice cracks, “She said you looked at her in a way that made her feel like as long as you did, nothin’ could go wrong in the world.


She said so many things but you know what the biggest thing was, Matthew?” “What?” he whispered to himself. “She said you were the one and she’d give up the world for you.” He smiled then, not remembering why, with only her name to remember her by. The two girls on the screen cried together.


“You two are the fairytale,” says the pale girl and then suddenly a dark-skinned face breaks in-between them, smiling with model-straight teeth and yelling loudly “CONGRATS ON TYING THE KNOT YOU TWO!” The larger woman swats him away playfully and he moves back to defend himself.


The large woman comes back. “I know-- I know you’re gonna make her the happiest woman in the world, Matthew, and we all love you—don’t you forget that.”


Suddenly--something presses against the patio door. The TV flicks off with a screech and silence, and from outside move things of inhuman nature; blurs of brown and red, with muffled screams that come and go with a muffled fierceness. He walks forward, and suddenly steps in something; red and sticky. He looks down at the pool which surrounds the coffee table. There’s so much blood, but nothing else. He’s surrounded by it, looking frantically for a source. Nothing is here, no body, no nothing. Who is bleeding? Who’s injured?! Another bang on the glass this time and the source is visible, staring at him from the patio; tall, gangly, red, covered in a sort of brownish robe that seems to be suffocating the frame beneath.


Two white wide eyes, razor teeth, and a bony face seem frozen; its three fingered hand, the size of a tennis racket presses against the door, and the demonic beast continues to stare, but makes no notion of moving. What are you? “Who...who are—“ he stops and looks down again, the blood is drying, and in it there’s a knife, a kitchen knife, and something flickers in his mind—a scream, shrill and bloodcurdling down a pipe. Somebody was hurt here? Or injured, he thinks and suddenly feels the urge to look on the coffee table.


There’s a pistol laying on it, and he remembers the model; a Colt M1911—his father used to have one, he was given it as a gift. BANG. BANG—BANG—THUD! The red beast is surrounded by things, all of them smashing against the glass! They’re deformed, as if covered sacks of skin that suffocate them, they smash and scream wildly as bones splinter from their bulbous bodies.


They swarm and flood, attempting to get in, to get him, he thinks, and he steps away then, quickly. Images flicker in his mind as he looks down at his hands. Something goes off in his head, like a scream.


“YOU DID THIS TO ME!” the voice screams, tearing its vocal chords in a shrill, accusing voice. He stumbles away down the hall, his hands drag across the wall, yanking off the crudely drawn pictures that fall to the floor and he suddenly feels compelled to run up the stairs. Get away from them, whatever they are, run. Stumbling up the stairs, he passes pictures, they don’t remind him of anything. He hears the muffled screams of whatever wants him but as he hits the landing, he takes a deep breath, and smells the ashes.


The room ahead of him had a sign: NURSERY BUILDING IN PROGRESS. He stops, and silence fills his mind, his ears, and then slowly he pushes the door open; it creaks loudly, and shovels away a pile of ash from the ground. It’s like stepping in snow. As he enters, he looks around at the room—the crib, burnt to cinders, a skeleton of ash remains, as does the rocking horse, the chair where a mother once sat, and the mobile. He looks around and lets tears fall, unsure of what this all means at this point. He goes to touch the crib but it suddenly caves in, falling onto the ground, becoming another pile of ash to be built up. It’s snowing in here. Ash falls from an apocalyptic ceiling and he kneels down and grabs at the remains of the crib. What happened here? Did I burn this place down? He takes clumps of ashes and holds them, tightening his grip and blackening his hands.


Poor little baby. He feels overwrought, the similar suffocation and confusion which plagues him overtakes him and he holds the ashes tightly and lets tears fall. He doesn’t understand why he’s feeling like this, nothing makes sense but he weeps, and his tears fall onto the ash. He doesn’t know how long he’s been here, but the only thing that knocks him out of his pain is the sound of a muffled screech close-by. They’re still coming, he thinks, those demons, those beasts want me. Suddenly a thought flashes in his head;


“I wish I could have a drink right about now.” Does he drink? Did he drink? The screech is muffled, but it’s a woman. He lets go of the ash and climbs to his feet; the room is down the hallway. He eyes it and slowly approaches it, rubbing ash on his jeans. His fingers touch the wooden door, and he feels heat. Light seeps through the cracks and he pushes it open slowly, stepping into the humidity. The walls are webbed, as if to be made from branches, going forever on like a forest of twigs and lines, but his attention goes towards the furthermost corner where a shape springs to life; something embedded into the wall, the upper portion of a woman; flesh pokes through the rib cage of an elongated body, and suddenly from above comes the face, elongated, blood-stained stalagmites glint in the unnaturally bright light, and her long, white eyes flare up as she stares at him.


He steps back, until a gargling, whiny cry comes from between her hands, and he notices that she’s shielding a bundle that cries wildly, yet she holds onto it tightly. He looks at it, and it stares back, but no fear seems to go through him, only unconquerable anger that builds in him. “That’s not your baby.” A deafening, shrill screech comes from her mouth; her snake tongue thrashing wildly. She spits at him and a glob of saliva slaps him on the face. He recoils, wipes his face, and points an ash-covered finger at her.


“THATS—NOT—YOURS.” It screams at him again but he remains rooted to the spot; he feels scared for the child, caught in this demon’s grip. As she holds it tight, he steps forward. As he reaches out for the bundle, the demon yells and spits. You already did enough damage. He hears a voice, and stops—something flickers to his left, a red, gangly shape that disappears as the light goes out in the room, changing to a bright red that blares on and off. Against the ruffled, soiled blankets of the king-size bed is a rectangular shape. He reaches for it and grabs it as she swipes for him with her gargantuan claws.


He steps away and looks at it, but the demon thrashes wildly, screeching at him. He looks at the picture, the face is so familiar; Abigail, he thinks. He remembers her face, his feelings, but everything else is lost in his mind as the demon thrashes and reaches out for him. Suddenly, the gangly thing from downstairs is in here with him. He’s quiet, but he approaches and look towards him. Matthew swings wildly, launching the picture which smashes against the branches of the walls.


“WHAT ARE YOU!? WHAT AM I DOING HERE?! STOP TORMENTING ME!” He stares at the demon, breathing heavily with fervent eyes as it steps backwards and out of the room, dipping under the frame.


“NO. DON’T YOU RUN!” He sprints out of the door, leaving the baby and the demonic woman, and stepping out into the landing. A noise goes off downstairs like crashing pots and he jumps down three steps wildly, with a creaking thud of pressured wood. The frames on the stairs have changed, as he slowly moves past them, he sees the shadow over the body, a knife silhouetted against the sunlight of an early Monday morning—Abigail’s frame on the floor, and as he steps away, he hears the static of the TV behind him, screeching, making him shoot back round to face it through the bars of the banister. Static explodes.


“Matthew Fischer was a man of choices. Alcohol was a big choice, so was murder, so was depression, so was living.” The voice is strained, rough, and barely able to take in air. “We’re all put here and we can make all these choices; some bad, some good.” The static-filled voice takes in another laboured inhale. He steps down the stairs and stares at the screen, listening intently, transfixed towards the voice.


“Take you for instance. You chose to come home from work, take off your coat; step into the kitchen,” another deep inhalation. “--see what mess you had caused from there, and then proceeded to walk upstairs to find what you were looking for. CCRRRSSSHHHH. Then it was all about the timing, and you made that by stepping in her juices and”—a laboured inhalation, a hacking cough.


“--you sat at the table, hummed to yourself, and then you put daddy’s gun down, up, in your mouth and blew your brain matter all over the rug. Life wasn’t a fun ride for you," he painfully inhales again. "but it lasts, oh boy, does it last. The ride never ends, unless you want it too—CRSSSH." The thoughts came rushing back, through the sound of a gunshot, and a screeching, wild refusal of acceptance, the past came screaming towards him. He put his hands to his head and knelt down at the TV.


“You didn’t trust her. So in the early Monday morning you came home, and you decided to do what was necessary—you put a gun in your mouth—“ CRRRSSSSHHH “And he pulled the trigger on her.”


This was where it began. It was true. The memories crawled back, and he remained on the floor as thousands of demonic, mutilated creatures began to bash themselves against the windows, towards the silent rhythm of a distant beat. As ash fell from unknown places, Matthew remained still and looked towards the pool of blood.


“I murdered Abigail. I had to...I had to? Did I? I know she died. I know I did something...” “Is the –crrssshhh—is the world you see the world that really exists? Ask yourself those questions before you make the choice.” Images flickered in his mind; he came home, he saw her. He shot himself. Paranoia, the threat of a baby, the stench of alcohol on his breath and the pain of mistrust on his shoulders, he did something horrific—the blood and the knife, the TV continues to talk to him: “Matthew Fischer was married to Abigail Fischer—On October Fourth, Nineteen-ninety-eight, at approximately eight-forty six, Abigail Fischer, a doting wife, was murdere—CRRRRSSSSHHHBRRRR.”


The TV cut to black, flickered with the images of his wife, and cut to pure blue, with a screeching drone filling his ears. Matthew looks around at the demonic hordes smashing the windows, and he stares at the coffee table. This is his torment, he thinks. He knows now why he is here. He understands his actions, and he climbs to his feet. The Colt M1911 was his father’s service pistol—the demonic woman in his bedroom was holding his child, and his wife, she was gone, by his hand. He reached for the pistol, gripped it tightly and stared at it with tear-stained, red eyes. I’m a monster. He slowly put the barrel towards his mouth.


“Think about this before you make the choice, Mister Fischer,” said the gangly, tall beast in the hallway. It approached him slowly and stopped, speaking with an articulate, American accent that seemed to not fit its monstrous visage. The beast remains still, and in his sudden lucidity, Matthew is not sure how to comprehend anything. He feels something like horror, but is overtaken by something else. Without eyeing the beast, he talks.


“This is what I deserve.” “You have a choice—you have had the choice nine million times.” The hallway lights up with red, giving way to the darkness. The red beast moves aside and points towards it. “A choice, one or the other—make it, Mister Fischer.” He looks at the gun, the door, and looks around at the blood. The words scream out in his mind. “YOU DID THIS TO US.”


The sound of a distant gunshot rings out in his head, against the sound of a child screaming, and the smell of burning, as ash continues to fall in the living room which slowly seeps away with color. The demons bash all around, screaming, smashing the glass and cutting themselves, bleeding their innards for the ninth million time. They whine and hum, screeching together in a crescendo of demonic harmony as Matthew puts the pistol in his mouth and remembers the words of Abigail a final time, her last words echoing out. I love you. His fingers pull the trigger, and his head is flung back as the bullet flies out from the back of his skull. Blood and brain sprays against the wall, and with rolling, white eyes blood seeps from his nose and mouth as his face droops, and finally all life escapes him as he slides down the sofa, to his final resting place, again and again. All goes quiet; the demons go, and the red beast remains still, staring at the body for a moment until the TV flickers to life.


Crrrssshhh. “Humans...boy, such a mess—and stubbornness is the burden of all. Maybe that’s why he’s coming back. Choosing punishment.” The TV screen goes back to blue; a number appears on the screen: 9,987,644. 9,987,645. The red beast remains quiet for a moment.


“He can only make the choice, not us. Sometimes souls are lost like that—they cannot make the conscious choice. They’re entrapped in the guilt of things...even when it isn’t their own. Their stubbornness is somewhat commendable, to a belief as strong love, or hate...” The red beast reaches down to the TV and yanks at something under the unit. He pulls it out and examines it; it’s a torn piece of paper, with claw marks down the sides. The red beast stares at it for a little longer and then drops it, disappearing suddenly, leaving the TV to fade away and the ash its own domain. The paper drops to the floor; the crudely drawn sketch is easily visible: A dark-skinned man is stabbing a bright-haired woman on a living room floor; love hearts fluttering around his head.


“They punish themselves willingly.”

Edited by Ziggy455

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Mokrie Dela

I feel your first few sentences could be broken up a bit, start things with a bit of tension; short sentences. Some superfluous words too, like saying he didn't remember it opening so it could slam in the first place.


Interesting choice in tense too - present tense can make it feel like you're there more than past sometimes.


I tell you what; this feels like you've been absent for a while, perhaps not writing much. There's still glimmers and flashes of brilliance, but it could do with some tightening up; some really good parts but also some sloppy ones. Pretty much the case with me and Run; indeed, sometimes you need a live project to regain your ability.


There are many cases of commas being used when perhaps a new sentence or a flatter sentence would be more beneficial.

next paper is soggy, with dripping ink and the smashed bottle of scotch drawn to specific, artistic mastery against a tiny, crying woman, the same as beforeher hair bright, her cheeks red, her eyes dripping ink; shes mortified and who can blame her? Who can blame him? Next, the angry man with his eyebrows a solid downwards arrow and a frown, with bunched fists, a stick body, and scruffy brown hair standing tall against a small cowering frame, with trailing ink tears that stretch down off the page, onto the wood beneath.

Not as tight as it could be but I really liked this string of description.


Where you say about static screeching I wonder if it'd be better to say 'loudly filling the air' - the other way round sounds a bit passive, a bit flat.


Ditch the dashes after 'suddenly' when there's activity at the patio door - use a comma instead.


Then the beast is surrounded by 'things' - a cop out here. Body-less creatures, unshapely entities in the fog, cloudy figures obscured by grimy glass - you could do so much better while still saying little.


My feedback changes here because I got lost. Completely lost in the details, the scene was painted so well, I was deep in it. I feel like we're walking through Matthew's own house, through insanity, and there's a omnipresent darkness present, a real gritty ride. This was broken by the break down of tense - lapsing into past tense - a problem I have a lot.


Little bit of confusion following with the speech - is it all one person? If not, why isn't it on new lines? If so, why the separation?

Then are you showing thought in quotation marks? I usually use italics for thought - but you should make it clear.


Nice snappy ending, though. A real dark ride. Very much enjoyed that. Hell I might even nominate it. Needs some work, but show me something on here that doesn't. Nice to see you back (How many times do I say that?), nice to see your writing again, and hope you stick around more :)

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