Halloween Flash Fiction Event: Alex R Kahler
Thank you for joining us for this Halloween Flash Fiction Event story from Alex R Kahler. Alex’s very vivid tale put some serious “creepy” in this feature. Prepare yourself for some heebie jeebies! The image is a stock photo from a DeviantART artist who specifically allows it to be used on outside websites, with credit and links posted. Big thanks, to both the author and the artist, for sharing. Now… on to the story…
by Alex R Kahler
Lauren wasn’t interested in playing games any longer.
She’d been waiting there, on the sidewalk, for at least twenty minutes. It’s too damn cold out here she thought, glaring down at her costume. She was dressed as a pirate. And no, not one of those slutty pirates, she was an all-out badass, complete with a handmade velour coat and tricorn hat and genuine steel (albeit dull) scimitar. If only she’d been thinking ahead and worn breeches, rather than a skirt—the coat could only do so much.
She glanced at her antique pocketwatch and groaned. The movie would be starting soon, and if her friends didn’t get out here in the next two minutes, she was going to leave without them.
Someone screamed from inside the overly-decorated manor. It sounded like Abby. She bit the inside of her lip and looked up and down the street. No trick-or-treaters, not at 9pm. The sidewalk was empty. No one else to go with her to investigate what was quickly becoming known as the scariest haunted house in Easthampton. The place her friends just had to drop in and experience before going to the late-night horror marathon at the 99cent cinema.
She wasn’t a fan of horror, but she was a fan of cheap old movies and even cheaper popcorn.
If only her friends would hurry up.
Another scream. Definitely Abby—the girl had a pitch that not many could reach—but it didn’t sound like the usual screams of terror/delight. This sounded real.
She considered calling the cops but knew they’d laugh at her. It was a haunted house; of course there were screams. She also knew that going inside on her own was stupid. But not doing so meant going to the cinema alone or, at worst, explaining to the cops tomorrow morning why she left the scene of the crime.
Her stomach turned over at the thought. She needed to stop reading the news; stories had been coming in from New York and LA. All hoaxes, she was certain. People swearing there were monsters roaming the streets. Drinking human blood or eating flesh. Or, in some strange cases, turning entire residences into ice-cold corpses. Someone in the media was having a fun Halloween prank. It was like War of the Worlds. Only a little more grisly.
Two minutes passed. The lawn remained empty.
“Fine,” she muttered to no one. With one last glance down the street, Lauren trudged up the cobwebbed sidewalk, her fingers shivering over her scimitar.
She rang the doorbell after a few seconds, as her friends had done. But this time, no cloaked figure answered the door to let her in; she stood there alone with a cheesy plastic skeleton as company. No other sounds from inside. That wasn’t right. Surely there had to be, like, scary noises or something?
The door wasn’t locked when she tried it. This is stupid, she thought. Abby was probably playing a trick on her, doing the only thing she could think of doing to get Lauren into the house—make Lauren believe her friends were in trouble.
She stepped inside.
The hallway was exactly what she expected—over-the-top and gaudy, but still creepy in its silence. Giant cobwebs draped over coffins and skeletons and fake mummies. Strobe lights flickered in the corners and smoke curled along the floor. In all honesty, she was kind of impressed at how much money the owners had put into this place. She glanced into one of the rooms she passed. It was clearly the dining room, though the table was draped in dark fabric and covered with candelabras in the shape of human hands, large bowls of some unknown liquid resting inside. Ugh. Probably fake eyeballs floating in there amongst the ice. Still, she needed to start looking somewhere, and it looked like there was another room off of this one. She stepped inside and walked over to the table, wondering where the hell everyone was and why no one was trying to scare her. Yet.
That’s when she heard the dripping.
At first she thought it was her imagination—probably just a malfunctioning smoke machine—but the noise coming from the other room was hypnotic and uneven. And accompanied by an even fainter rustling. Whatever was in there was only lit by a strobe. Which meant she really didn’t want to go in.
“Abby?” she asked. Her voice probably couldn’t have been heard across the room, even in the silence. No answer.
Her fingers now tight on the scimitar, she stepped inside.
She saw the two sawhorses first. Like someone was remodeling and just left them up with a plank of wood stretched between them. Only it wasn’t just a plank; there was a lump there. Probably a mummy or animatronic something to scare the crap out of her. She was seriously going to consider dropping Abby as a friend when this was over. And there was no way she was going to the movie, either. Abby owed her ice cream and a comedy.
The lump on the sawhorses moved, just barely, the whole scene flickering like a bad movie reel. The dripping got louder. She kept walking forward. Below the makeshift table, she saw a series of tubes, each filled with a dark, viscous liquid. They dripped into a series of bowls and, in one instance, a large glass vial.
“Abby?” she whispered again. This time her words were met with a moan.
She stepped forward and nearly screamed. Dropping the scimitar was response enough.
Because there, strapped to the wood, was Abby. Her clothes were torn, the skin beneath sliced in clean lines, tubes dug into the flesh. Tubes slowly pulling the blood from her body.
Lauren felt the tears burn in her eyes as she started to undo the straps and belts. She felt the bile trying to rise at the back of her throat. And, too late, she felt the hand snaking around her jaw, forcing a piece of vile-smelling cloth into her mouth.
Two panicked breaths. Darkness seeped in.
About The Author
Alex is many things, but first and foremost, he’s a Sagittarius.
In the past few years he’s taught circus in Amsterdam and Madrid, gotten madly lost in the Scottish wilderness, drummed with Norse shamans, and received his Masters in creative writing from Glasgow University. And that’s the abbreviated list.
He is the author of the tantalizing CIRQUE DES IMMORTELS trilogy, which debuted in 12/12 from 47North.
MARTYR, the first book in his post-apocalyptic YA fantasy series, THE HUNTED, was published 10/14 by Spencer Hill Press.
When he’s not writing or climbing in the rafters, he’s probably outside, staring at the clouds. And seeing as he now resides in Seattle, there are clouds aplenty.
He is represented by Laurie McLean of Foreword Literary.
Personal Site : http://www.arkahler.com
About The Artist
Image: Blood Drop Potion
Artist Page: FugueStock http://www.deviantart.com/art/Blood-Drop-Potion-285982527