First Drafts, Short Story, writing

She Always Looked Good In Red (rough draft)

She always look good in red. I remember the first time I saw her, leaning on a bar, curled amber hair framing her face perfectly. The red velvet of the dress she wore clung to the smooth curves of her waist. It cascaded down from her hips and pooled at her feet. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, I was lost in her. I remember our eyes met across that bar, her eyes shining in the lights, rose painted lips parting in a smirk over her white teeth. The man she was talking to fought to keep her interest, but her eyes kept finding mine and she excused herself from him. She made her way over to me, a perfect and elegant series of movements, her bare hand caressed mine as she slid onto the seat next to me. I felt the sweat bead on my forehead and she laughed at my nervousness. When she laughed she threw her head back, exposing the ivory of her throat; the pearls on her neck rising and falling. She took a sip of her whiskey, running a hand along my face.

I never thought much of myself until her. I still don’t, but I was willing to pretend to make her happy. I would do anything to make her happy. And she knew that. Money spent, parties thrown, expensive dinners eaten; all for her. All to see her shine. At first I couldn’t believe she’d want to be seen with me. A balding man in his late thirties such as myself didn’t deserve a spot in her life. But there I was. Illuminated in the brilliance that was her.

I didn’t think she would say yes, when I asked. I figured she was just with me until she grew bored but I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I asked, she said yes. We said our vows in an ice chapel and honeymooned around the world. Anything for her.

When she found out she was pregnant, I noticed a change in her. Not the normal change I had seen my friends and their wives go through. She became withdrawn, gaunt, almost never eating. Her amber hair dulled and began to fall out. She refused a doctor, telling me a doctor could not help her. The visitors she kept during the pregnancy were strange and quiet. Much older women, dressed in blue, would come and pray with her for hours at a time. I wasn’t allowed in the house when they were there. My wife would beg me to leave, she said they were to only ones who could help her now. I was soon sleeping in the spare room of my own house and then, after a time, I found a new place to stay until she was better. Until, until the day…

She called me, asking me to come home. I hadn’t heard her voice in weeks, only the women in the house communicating with my via phone called. I was so happy to hear her voice, so happy I cried. A baby cooed on the other end of the line, somewhere in the distance. She asked me to come home and I did, and I wish I hadn’t.

When the elevator reached my floor, a sudden wave of dread surrounded me. I tried to shake it off as nerves. The most beautiful woman in the world was waiting for me with our child. Our lovely new child. Something we had created together. Anyone would have been nervous. I slid my key into the lock, turning the knob, and entering the living room. But it didn’t look like a living room anymore. The ground was covered in newspapers and old containers of food. The curtains were drawn and when I reached for the lights, nothing turned on.

I called out for her and when I didn’t get a reply I called again. A soft moaning came from the back of the apartment. Turning on the flashlight on my cell phone, I navigated my way through the accumulated filth, gawking at the awfulness that filled my abode. I couldn’t understand how this had happened. I called for her again, only receiving moans in response. The door to our bedroom was closed, it took so much for me to open it.

What happened next seemed to move in slow motion. My hand grasped the crusted knob, stomach turning as I did. My nose protested the wall of smell that hit me as the door swung open. What I saw next will forever be burned into my mind.

A black creature stood on the heap of mattress that used to be our marital bed, crouched over a small bundle. It was sinewy and thin, each of it’s limbs caked in black dirt. It’s eyes darted to me as the door opened, reflecting like mirrors in the dark. It gathered the bundle in its clawed hands and shrieked at me. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t find my feet or my courage. This thing, this thing just stared at me. It made a clicking noise in it’s throat. It cautiously stepped toward me, it’s toenails grinding on the wood. As it drew closer, I realized the impossible. It was her. Under the filth, I could see her. The creature’s face was inches from mine, No, her face was inches from mine. I stumbled through saying her name. The creature pulled back and clicked again, returning to the bed, holding the bundle to it’s chest. The bundle gurgled.

I took a meager step into the room, doing my best to avoid startling her as she brought the bundle to her breast. The mirror was broken, a shard of it was within my reach. Whatever this creature was, it wasn’t my wife anymore. I winced as my hand closed around the glass, I felt it penetrate.

I said her name as I approached her, slowly and gently. The babe suckling at her breast, I heard her humming softly. I told her I was going to sit down with her, I told her I was going to touch her hair. Fighting repulsion, I laid her head on my chest. I stroked her hair, tears streaming down my face. I told her I loved her, my lips pressed against her forehead, the shards of glass cutting deep into her neck. I heard her choke and she pulled away from me, thrashing and screaming. The bundle was dropped as she writhed on the floor. The blood spurt from her throat, but soon she was still, and silent. The red washed over her, removing a layer of grime. I stood, shaking, and walked out of the apartment. I was on auto pilot. I don’t know how I got to my apartment without someone noticing the blood on me. I’ve called the police to tell them what I’ve done. But I won’t be here when they find out. Whatever that creature was, I can’t live on with the knowledge of it.

I see her face now, her reflective green eyes staring into my soul as I backed out of that room. It was true even then. She always looked good in red.

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First Drafts, Short Story

Knock Three Times (Part Three)

 

She woke up on the floor of her apartment, but she almost didn’t believe it. She was warm, the sun was shining into her apartment. Yonkers meowed from in front of his bowl. Everything seemed normal. Not at all how the world had been last night. Matilda sat up quickly, smacking her head on the knob.

“Ah.” She cried, holding her head in her hands. She cursed softly under her breath and stood, shakily. She felt like she had been hit by a truck; sick to her stomach, head pounding, and every joint in her body ached. She continued to look for anything out of place, anything at all. The house was silent and still; it was rather off putting. Yonkers cried again, this time from her ankle, pawing at her leg. The noise he made echoed strangely in her head, like someone yelling down an empty can.

As she poured food into his bowl, she swore she could each each granule hit the porcelain bottom. It was like a hangover, although the source had been the nightmare scourge that has chased her into her apartment. The brief and fuzzy image of the beast surfaced in her memory again and her head throbbed in protest.

She slowly sat on the floor, her back against the fridge. She rested her head on her knees. Yonkers swished his tail over her toes as he happily ate, his soft fur felt harsh on her skin. She moaned into her lap and tried to remember what had chased her. Before she could even summon it in her mind, her brain throbbed again.

She moaned again, her breath hot against her thighs. The pressure was intense and unforgiving. Steadying herself again, she leaned up against the fridge and used the opposite wall for balance. She decided that she didn’t know and she didn’t want to know what had chased her down the hallway, at least for right now. She made it to her couch before collapsing, each fiber of the couch stabbing into her. There was no comfort to be had, but her eyes closed and her mind drifted into a dark void of nothing.

Matilda woke up to the song playing. It wasn’t a quiet start, as it had been the passed two days. It was loud and near, no longer sourced through the vent; it played fully through her apartment now.

If you look out your window tonight.

Matilda shot up on the couch, her muscles and joints screaming in pain. Frost had began to form on the windows and she could see her breath. A loud thumping came from the upstairs apartment, interrupting the music. She looked around for the source of the sound. She stood, her body trembling, and stared up at the ceiling. Bits of plaster fell with every thud that made the house shake.

Read how many times I saw and how in my silence I adore you.

Matilda leaned up against the fridge, unable to locate the source. She glanced at the clock, it read seven. She touched the wall across from her to steady herself and quickly pulled her hand away. The wall buzzed with the vibration on the bass of the song. The blue paint moved in time and felt alive under her fingers.

Matilda belted out a outrageous laugh. The overwhelming tumult of the last few days escaping her in a crazed and maniacal cackling. She slid down the appliance, and bashed her fists into the floor. She hit the wall in front of her, her laughter turning into tears. She picked up Yonkers’ bowl and threw it against the door. The thumping above her stopped for a moment. The music skipped, and began repeating the same phrase.

you want me…you want me…you want me…you want me…

The pounding gained direction and she heard it move towards the door of Mrs. Flintman’s apartment. Bits of plaster continued to fall as the mass moved faster. She heard it hit the door above and clamored to her feet. Clenching her fists, she opened her door and stared out into the dark hallway. The record began to skip again.

meet me in the hallway….meet me in the hallway…

She heard the wood of the door start to break and took her chance on the front door of the building. She rushed to it, the doorknob was slick and the glass was covered in frost. The knob wouldn’t turn and when she pounded on the door it barely made a sound. The door was frozen in place.

Matilda felt a chill up her spine, the cold was setting in faster. She held her breath as she heard the door upstairs give way and the creature begin to move through the trash. Staring at the upstairs landing, a mound began to push its way forward. The music jumped again.

Only in my dreams the wall between us was apart.

The slapping wet sound started to emanate from the landing and Matilda felt the familiar fear set into her mind. The world began to bend at the edges and her vision started to blur. Her heart rattled against her ribs, her breathing was sharp and shallow in her chest. The music began to echo around her and a growling started to grow from the landing.

I love you, I love you, I love you…

The mound of trash began to cascade down the stairs, the beast descending behind it. The light from her apartment only illuminated so much, but it was enough to renew the terror. Matilda scrambled toward her door, slipping on the ice growing on the floor. She could see the head of the beast, the light glinting off it’s greyish green flesh. A white viscous slime dripped from it’s jowls, and it’s large white fangs glimmers. She noticed that it walked on two legs, and had multiple tendrils. Matilda flew through her door and a large tendril wrapped itself around her ankle. She fell, adrenaline shooting through her. She cried out as she hit the floor, her head smacking into the hardwood. The beast began to pull her out of the doorway.

Oh my darlin’…

Matilda screamed and thrashed, her opposing foot made contact with the beast’s head and it shrieked in pain. The tendril ripped from her ankle, small punctures dotted her skin. For a moment she was freed and she pulled herself along the floor, tears running down her face. She grabbed the door and tried to close it, but the tendril shot back around the door. The head of it flexed open and exposed rows of sharp teeth. Matilda flung the door closed on the tendril, the entity shrieked again and seized. It tried to latch onto her again, this time it found her wrist. Matilda screamed again as it dug its teeth in, ripping at her flesh. She slammed the door again, piercing the skin of the beast. It left go of her and returned to the beast itself. Matilda finally had the door closed. She started to weep as the beast threw itself again the door. It shrieked again and Matilda heard walk away from her door. She stood up and limped to her bathroom. The light of the bathroom was dim, but she could see that the damage to her wrist and ankle were vast. She did her best to wrap them tight, hoping the pressure would stop the bleeding. The light in the bathroom flickered, and the bulb went out. The creature’s crying returned in full volume. She grabbed a blanket to keep out the cold and collapsed against her front door. The door was her last line of defense.

The room was dark. The windows were covered in a solid sheet of frost and snow covered the floor. Matilda shivered and wrapped herself tighter in her blanket. She held her back to her door, as the creature pushed against it.

Hey girl, whatcha doin’ down there?

The song had started over again. There was nothing to block it out anymore, it was if the song itself had consumed her thoughts. The clock on the wall still read seven, it hadn’t moved since she had taken cover in her apartment.

One floor below me, you don’t even know me, I love you.

The wood was cracking behind her, the creature was gaining purchase. She was exhausted. The gauze on her wrist and ankle had soaked through before they froze. All the light bulbs in her apartment were dead, popped one by one as she listened to the beast pace the house.

She had faded in and out of consciousness as time had gone on. Her original plan had been to wait for morning, but at this point, it seemed morning no longer existed for her.

A rather hard swing to the door splintered the wood over her right shoulder. She cried out again.

“Stop. Please stop.” She croaked, crying into the door. When the blow didn’t come again, she opened her eyes.

“No.” A gargled growl came from the other side. “, You knocked.”

The final blow broke through the door and a thick arm ripped through the wood. The smell of the grey flesh riddled Matilda’s nostrils with the smell of death, the mucus of the beast covered her. Matilda struggled meagerly against the arm. Failing, she disappeared into the darkness of the hallway. The music cut out. The house fell silent.

~

A car pulled up outside of the freshly painted building. A well dressed man stood outside the door, waving at the passenger of the vehicle. The driver got out of the car.

“Hey, sorry we’re late. Traffic is terrible this time of day. I’m Derrick, this is Melanie.”

“That is alright, I’m Jason. I think you will love this apartment. Small, but cozy.” The man shook hands with them and waved them ahead. Derrick and Jason continued to talk about the traffic, but Melanie had stopped and stared into the window of an empty apartment. A white cat stared back, licking its jowls.

 

Picture Courtesy of google images
First Drafts, Short Story, writing

Knock Three Times (Part Two)

Matilda woke up a few hours later, her apartment quiet and cold. Stuffing her feet into her slippers, she shuffled to the thermostat. It was still set at the seventy mark from earlier, but the room temperature read about thirty-eight degrees. Matilda tapped on the thermostat and selected the outside temperate. It read sixty degrees.

She exhaled sharply, her breath steaming. She walked to the window and tried opening it, but the window was stuck. She pulled up on it with more force which only made the wood groan.

Fuck.” She smacked the window sill with an open palm and winced; grumbling in pain. Her breath fogged up the window. It was dark outside, the clock in the kitchen read seven. It was strange for it to be dark this early in the summer. A frozen gust traveled passed her ankles and she stepped back from the window. Kneeling down, she held a hand next to the vent on the floor. Cold air blew up from the vent; glancing back at the thermostat, she noted that the blue light for the air conditioner wasn’t on.

Matilda grimaced. With Mrs. Flintman gone she wasn’t sure who she should call to fix the air system. What about her son, a tiny voice in the back of her mind spoke. She dug through her desk, looking for any scrap of paper. Under a notebook she found a scrap of paper with the words ‘Flintman, son’ written on it. She grabbed her phone and dialed the number.

She got a busy signal. Frustrated, she hung up the phone and tossed it to the floor. She plugged in the kettle and while it warmed up, she dug out a hat and scarf from a wicker basket by the door. The kettle whistled and she switched it off. She began to pour the water into a mug when something stopped her in mid movement. Something that was almost familiar.

The beat was almost not there at all. For a moment she suspected that it was in her head, until it grew louder and she could hear the lyrics.

Knock three times, one the ceiling if you want me. Twice on the pipe, if the answer is no. Oh my sweetness. Means you’ll meet me in the hallway, twice on the pipe mean you ain’t gonna show.

She turned and looked into the rest of her apartment, scrutinizingly, as if blaming the room for the noise. Her eyes found the grate on the wall. It was louder than it had been the night before, cutting eerily through the frozen air. She knew then where the noise was coming from, although fixing the problem made her feel sick. The noise was coming from the basement.

Matilda paced her apartment, her slippered feet sliding across the hardwood. It had only been a dream after all, but just something about it had stayed with her. It was only Jason down there, maybe he didn’t realize how loud the music was, maybe she should just go knock and ask him to turn it down. The vision of the door to the basement stairs surfaced in her thoughts and she felt her breath catch in her throat.

Get a hold of yourself, for christsake you’re an adult. It’s a basement. We aren’t freezing to death listening to seventies music because you’re scared. Angrily, she stomped her feet, balled up her fists, and faced her front door. In a jolt of angry courage she pulled open her front door and stepped into the hallway. The hallway was colder than her apartment, but it didn’t deter her from walking toward the back of the hall, where the door to the basement would be. The music was in the hall too, up through the same grates in the walls. A low rumbling gurgle joined the music the closer that Matilda got. Her paced slowed as it got louder and changed into something more recognizable. It was a growling noise and it was moving on the other side of the wall. She shuddered and put her weight against the wall, her legs betraying her.

Only in my dreams did that wall between us come apart.

Her moment of courage was gone and she felt her knees start to buckle. The hallway began to rotate and twist. The growling continued ahead of her, she trembled. The music was blaring through the building, but she could hear something moving up the stairs. It was a soft and sludge-like sound, it made a slapping noise with every movement. The lights flickered and Matilda suffered with the music. The lyrics forced themselves into her brain scrambling all of her thoughts. She felt more dizzy and disorientated than she ever had. She heard the door to the basement swing open with incredible force.

I can feel your body swayin, one floor below me you don’t even know me.

The lights in the hall started to pop, going out one by one away from the basement stairs and sprinkling glass shards into the carpet. She felt a stone drop in her stomach and turned back to her apartment. She struggled to walk to the door, her entire body fighting her on moving; terror seizing her limbs. Tears were freely flowing down her face as she grabbed at the door knob. Whatever was in the basement was close behind her, she could hear it moving across the carpet. She could feel heat from it on her calves and the smell of rotting flesh filled her nose. She pounded on and forced her weight against the door, as it became harder and harder to breath. She screamed into the darkness as her door burst open.

Matilda fell inside and pushed the door shut with her foot. But not before she caught a glimpse of what was behind her. Green eyes that glinted in the darkness. She scrambled to lock the doors and sat with her back pressed it to, sobbing into her hands. The last thing she remembered before passing out was the music cutting out almost instantly, the growling stopping, and a soft, wet tap on her door.