Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event with Eric R Asher
For most people, Halloween is a mix of fun and spooky. With today’s two flash fictions, we cover both. (No, I’m not telling which one this is, lol!) Interestingly enough, this story from Eric R Asher could have easily been inspired by either the image below, or the one that was the focus of today’s other story!
The Shadow Place
Eric R. Asher
There were dark spaces where even the shadows feared to tread. The man in the old trench coat at the bar had told me of an ancient home that once stood nearby; a place scarred by memories and violence. He’d been polite as he sipped a glass of whiskey and cradled his white umbrella, every word carrying the sour tinge of stale cigar. There were legends; he’d said, stories of darkness without purpose, where the veil thins between one world and the next. The last thing he’d said to me was “Run when you see the cat. It doesn’t belong here.”
I found myself in the vacant lot later, amid overgrown dandelion patches and sticker bushes in the muggy night. Clouds obscured the high moon, and dead streetlamps let darkness permeate the air. I stumbled more than once before almost falling onto the rusted iron door set into the earth near the back corner of the lot. I reached out to the old metal handle. The hinges squealed as I pulled the door open wide.
The stones waiting within didn’t look like anything that belonged to this century. The stairs were ancient, hewn things. Footsteps had worn a dip into the center of the stones. How long would that take? Decades? Centuries?
I had walked down three steps before my hand brushed the nearest wall. The cold bit at my flesh. I knew I should run. I should scream at the pain, look away from the bodies as they wrap themselves around me.
“What the hell?” I hissed. Those weren’t my thoughts. What bodies?
A whisper sounded from right behind me, the old man from the bar. “The dead here are my friends. We all come home in the darkness.”
I spun, ready to lay him out flat no matter how old he was. Nothing waited there.
My heart tripped over itself. I knew I should leave, but still my body turned and carried me into the shadows. A small shelf sat at the curve of the stairs. I frowned at the flashlight for a moment before picking it up.
A warm relief flashed through me when the yellow beam cut the darkness. The cold didn’t recede. I wrote it off to being underground. I’d been in caves before, and there was always a chill under the earth.
My feet landed on a dirt floor. A long straight hallway waited there. I swept the beam from the floor to the ceiling. Nothing but plain stone until something glinted in the corner of my vision. Were there two? Was that the cat?
I almost screamed at myself to leave, to get the hell out of that place, but I had to see. I had to know. My boots fell heavy. I stomped down the hall, staring ahead, unblinking, as though the sound of footsteps would chase my fears away. The yellow beam swayed with my stride.
Perhaps a wiser explorer than I would have turned back. They would have let the fear guide them away when whispers echoed from the darkness, and something thumped wetly in the shadows. It only drove me forward until my feet crossed out of the hall.
The cat’s eyes caught the light, and then the beast was gone. It was when I reached that dreary corner that I remembered the old man’s words. I blinked, and the eyes returned for a split second before vanishing.
Run you fool.
Still I stepped forward, eyes fixed on the moldered door on the opposite wall.
The nailed door rattled in its frame. Below it laid the trench coat. I only recognized it from the red patch on the sleeve and the dusty white umbrella beneath the skeleton’s hand. Something moved in the shadows, only a flicker, but that was enough. The door quaked on its hinges. The distant groan became an ear-splitting cry.
Shades and specks and shadows oozed from the tiny crack at the edge of the doorframe. The wood itself bowed forward, and the spell finally shattered.
I ran from that place, hearing the crack and cries behind me, knowing that what had been imprisoned here was now free to ravage the world once more.
Horrible wet thumps echoed up the stairs behind me. I ground my teeth and ran as hard as I could, the flashlight splashing mad shadows and shapes onto the stone. I didn’t want to see the thing behind me. I didn’t want to know what it was.
The cat waited at the top of the spiral stairs. I froze, meeting its all too alien eyes. I screamed when the iron doors crashed shut above, and the darkness grabbed me from behind.
Ahhhhhhhhh… ok, so now you know which one this is. Definitely the creepy one! So… what do you think? Would curiosity drive you down the stairwell, or would you have given up and left when the voices in your head stopped being YOUR voice? (Or, like me, would you not have ever gone there to START with, lol!) Let me know in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win a signed paperback copy of any one book in Eric’s Vesik series.
All giveaways this week last from their posting date, through November 1st. Winners will be chosen and notified by email on Monday, November 2nd. All giveaways will be fulfilled by the author. You can find the kickoff post for this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event HERE, for a listing of all of this week’s participating authors, many including giveaways. Good Luck, everyone!!