New Short Story
The Deadly Fear
The tapping of the water hitting the sink in the kitchen had lulled him into a peaceful trance, but the terror still gripped his heart like a vise. The cold breeze forcing its way into the room had frozen the ground like ice. Even in his trance-like state, he could feel his feet numbing from the icy hard ground as it clung to his toes. Bright fluorescent lighting illuminated his surroundings into clear contrast from the other rooms in the house which were bathed in oily black shadows. The darkness clung to the rest of the house like a living breathing creature.
As the slicing sting of the chill started up his pale hairy leg, he quickly regained conscious thought. He should have remembered socks. He knew the kitchen became cold at night. But, in his haste to emerge from the gloom about the house, he’d forgotten all reason. His gaze wandered to the dark living room, and he felt the panicky fear lace his heart once again. It was there both his father and his older brother died. His father was over six feet, muscled with broad shoulders, dark hair, and he was always serious. He’d never entertain silliness or any ridiculous notions of the supernatural. Perhaps that is why his death was so terrifying.
As he thought back to that day, he sat down with his feet under him to relieve the freezing wet feeling in his feet and legs. The kitchen faded from his mind as Jake was lost to the past.
The last day of Herbert Soleme’s life was filled with the sun and warm breezes and fighting. The living room across a hall from the kitchen was illuminated thoroughly by the bright sunny day. Pictures of the family hung artfully upon the walls of white and blue. The cream colored carpet always looked new when his mother Marge was home. The family portrait cast an intimidating stance upon the fireplace. Herbert stood a few inches from his wife Marge as the three boys sat in front of them. Marge’s blonde hair covered her shoulders while her purple blouse and tan skirt displayed her hourglass figure. Mark, the eldest, was on the right while Jake, the middle child, sat next to him in between his parents. Alton younger than Jake, and he sat under his father. Jake had the dark hair of his father, but he was short like his mother. Though he looked more like her with his deep green eyes and rounded face, at fifteen he was slightly portly. The beige shirt he wore barely covered his torso, and his khaki pants almost didn’t fit. Alton was the spitting image of his father when he was ten. His short dark hair and brown eyes gazed at the photographer with interest.
Jake went to the living room when he heard his parents fighting again. They’d both gotten off early from work, and each had business attire upon their frames. Marge was shouting at Herbert about being scared at night being left alone to go to bed as he worked late into the evening.
“I have this scary feeling! I don’t like you working so late. You were just promoted; you should be able to come home at a decent hour! I told you before, this house, it haunts me!”
“Marge, how many times do I have to tell you? There are no such things as ghosts!” he screamed this last part.
As her husband opened his large mouth to continue his lecture in heated tones, he closed it suddenly. Pain etched his entire face as his eyes widened and his hands trembled. He then gripped his chest and fell heavily to the floor. As Marge raced over to him screaming, Jake saw a shadow flit across the room slithering up the stairs. Mark was already on the phone for an ambulance.
Jake came back to the present slowly. He remembered the doctors could find no discernible cause of death. The description appeared to be some form of heart attack, but no physician could find damage inside his body. During his autopsy, no one could find any issues with his heart. Shaking his head of the dark memories, Jake jumped. A feminine scream left his lips when the phone rang unceremoniously from the darkness of the living room.
Getting up slowly, he moved to the edge of the kitchen and its safe illumination. In a mad dash, he leapt into the living room flicking all the lights on at once. With ragged breath, he picked up the phone. His parents didn’t allow them cell phones, so the landline was the only means of communication the boys had with their parents. As he lifted the receiver to his ear, he looked about the room. The family portrait was taken down after Mark died the same way his father did. The cream color of the carpet was exchanged for a mottled gray as dust and other substances covered it. When his mother returned to work full-time and no longer took care of the house in the same manner, nothing was ever as clean or kempt as before. The burgundy couch and loveseat had been moved from the window and door to the middle of the room. That left a large space in between the end of the carpeting to the wood paneled flooring of the small dining area. A layer of dust had settled over the dining table and dishware long ago.
“Jake, it’s mom. Alton is fine; he’s just down with the flu. It’s nothing like what happened to the others. Thank God for small favors. We’ll be home soon.”
“Ok, mom. I’m glad he’s ok.”
“Alright, honey. I’ll pick up something for dinner, and we’ll be there shortly.” The line went dead before he could hang up.
As Jake replaced the receiver, he felt something in the room move. His eyes darted around the room looking for anything to alleviate his dread. Just as he started relaxing, he moved to leave the living room for the comfort of the lit kitchen. His right bare foot left the ground, but his left one was grabbed by a hard slimy hand with sharp piercing nails that dug into his soft flesh.
As his fears were confirmed, he screamed and fell face first into the dingy carpet. Scrambling to get away, his nails dug into the tiled floor of the hall between the rooms. Two of his fingers came back bloody as his panic caused him to slam his hands into the ground. The blood did not faze him; however, the one hand at his foot became two and started climbing up his body.
With bravery he didn’t know he had, he flipped over to confront his tormentor. His green eyes beheld an unimaginable horror: A humanoid figure made from smoke and shadows which had ahold of his legs. Where its head should be, he only saw two red lights gleaming at him. The hands crept up his legs quickly, and where they touched, Jake was left feeling as if he’d been burned. The heat started so subtly, he’s not noticed it until it felt like his flesh was crackling in the heart of a bonfire.
Horror at the site had frozen him momentarily. But, when he’d grasped his current situation, a calmness settled over his mind. It shielded his conscious thinking from the bone chilling monstrosity before him. He wiggled his legs until the hands fell off him. Sitting up, he pushed his hands into the creature. Unfortunately, they went right through its form and he fell back to the ground with a thud. Just as he’s managed to sit up again, a claw scraped his chest ripping open both his shirt and his skin. Blood started oozing down his stomach in rivulets. Paling at the site of his gashed torso, Jake leapt to his feet and raced to the kitchen.
Feeling the safe confines of the room he’d always lingered in, he saw the demonic form slowly crawl towards him. As it progressed from the edge of the living room to the hall and then finally to the beginning of the kitchen, its shape became more solid. Fewer vapors occupied its outline, and it finally stood. A robe covered most of its limbs, but its face was still indistinguishable other than those red glowing eyes.
“Be gone foul creature, this is a safe space!” he uttered with as much bravado as he could muster.
As the robes touched the checkered green and white speckled tile, they ignited and began to smoke. White light erupted from the ground and seared the creature. The robes lit on fire with white light and blue flames. A terrifying moan poured through the night. Dread once again lashed Jake’s heart, and he knew this could not be the end. It had taken both his father and older brother.
Sprinting to the back door in the kitchen, Jake tore the door open. He exited the house in triumph, and he both felt and saw the harbinger’s ashes scatter through the house. His heart calmed and his thoughts slowed down. The excitement and horrible experience were over. Even though barefoot, he started down the walk. He’d stay with his friend for the night and call his mother from there.
As the gritty sidewalk dug into his feet, he heard an ominous laugh echo in his mind. And just as he reached his friend’s house, a hard slimy hand landed upon his back under his shirt.