Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dark Destiny: A Halloween Short Horror Story

I watched as the blood drip, drip, dripped from the ceiling onto the bare mattress. It landed with a plop just inches from the tip of my toes. I hugged my knees closer to my chest as my stomach roiled in disgust.
I swallowed back the bile from the cafeteria gruel I had choked down during dinner hour as I peeked up at the source of the dripping blood. Above my head the girl with the hideously grotesque smile, that looked as if someone had grabbed the corners of her mouth and ripped the skin wide open, rested against the ceiling. She stared back at me with her dull lifeless eyes.
Apart from the grotesque smile and the gaping wound in the girl’s forehead she might have been considered pretty; like a strong Viking maiden woman. If she weren’t a figment of my imagination or whatever my psychologist insisted she was. Nobody every believed me and nobody else had the ability to see her. No, sadly my grim friend was what had landed me in Harpbrooke Asylum in the first place.
Harpbrooke Asylum sat atop a massive cliff on the Washington coastline overlooking the cold, dark, dismal Pacific Ocean. At night you could hear the ghostly cries of widows that had lost their husbands to the tumultuous, churning waters. If you looked close enough you could make out their shapes standing on the shoreline in the dark.
I liked to spend hours staring out my window on the third floor of the stone asylum’s C Ward. They kept the men and women separated in Wards A and B while lunatic juveniles like me were locked away in Ward C. I was the oldest in the ward after being locked up just before my eighteenth birthday.
My day was an endless supply of pills, sessions with my psychologist, and group sessions. The terms “schizophrenic” and “bipolar” were thrown in my direction frequently. I played along and pretended to take their pills; just waiting for lights out.
After the orderlies called lights out and locked down the floor my grim friend slid to the floor, landing on her feet with a catlike grace. I jumped off the bed and slipped on a pair of lace-less gray tennis shoes. Since arriving at Harpbrooke my world was filled with shades of gray. Gray patient issued t-shirt, gray sweatpants, gray walls. Hell, the cafeteria mush was gray too. They took the laces out of my shoes in case ‘the voices’ told me to hang myself.
I snorted at the thought. Tonight was the night I was getting out of here. I, Jessica Cooper, was finally going to be free!
My friend reached her bloody hand through the heavy metal door and jimmied the lock as blood trickled down her chin and dripped onto the floor to pool under her bare feet.
She bared her sharp teeth and grinned triumphantly and together we pulled the heavy door open. She raced me down the ward hallway, my feet slapping angrily against the tile floor as I raced to catch up. The other patient rooms whizzed past as shadows danced along the walls.
She stopped and turned when she reached the end of the hall. For a minute her eyes glowed red. I blinked and her pupils were back to normal.
Her smile seemed to challenge, “Hurry up slowpoke.”
I slid across the floor to meet her in front of the barred floor-to-ceiling window that gave a panoramic view of the cliffs and the ocean.
My grim friend held out her hand and together we walked straight out the window and dropped to the ground three stories below.
When we landed I checked myself for injuries. Finding none I exclaim, “Oh my god we really did it! I’m free!”
My friend grinned back at me with her eerie smile.
“Let’s get out of here before the guards come,” I suggest as I start picking my way down the rocks to the beach below. When my friend doesn’t join me I turn around. “Are you coming?”
She just stares at me with that crazy grin on her face. Finally she shakes her head, no.
“Are you sure?” I ask.
Wordlessly she nods and urges me to be on my way.
“Thank you for everything,” I tell her as I scramble down the cliff. Every few seconds I glance back over my shoulder until my grim friend, the only companion I’ve had for so long, is nothing but a dot on the bluff beside the asylum.
When my feet hit the sand beach I yank my shoes off and let the cool sand squish between my toes as I breathe in the fresh ocean air.
Carrying my shoes in one hand I walk on and on, along the coastline in the dark. The bright full moon shines down on me and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore fills my ears.
            A few miles from the asylum the rocky cliffs along the beach give way to a rich, deep forest. An owl screeches overhead as it dives for its prey, its sharp talons capturing some small creature.
I follow a broken path unsure yet mysteriously aware of where I’m going. I no longer see the bright moonlight overhead as dark shadows press in on me from all sides.
I walk until I begin to see a light flickering up ahead. As I get nearer the light becomes a raging bonfire within the thicket of trees. A lone dark figure sits beside the bonfire with its knees pulled up to its chest.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t come,” the figure, a young guy, says as I step out of the tree cover. His voice stirs something within me.
“It’s you,” I breathe in awe.
“Here I am, on Halloween night, as I promised I would be. Did you doubt me?” He asks as he stands and lets the bonfire cast light on his features. I drink up the sight of him. His pale skin shines iridescent in the firelight as the flames reflect off the metal zippers that run all over his otherwise perfect body holding his skin together. His long blond hair covers the old scar on his forehead. He straightens to his full six-foot-five height and smiles at me; my gothic prince.
“Razor,” I whisper his name. It sounds foreign to my ears from years of non-use.
“Jess,” he murmurs as he studies me for changes since the last time we came face to face.
Unable to wait any longer I launch myself into his burley arms. “Oh Razor I missed you so much. Why didn’t you come visit me?”
            Razor breathes me in, as unable to get enough of me as I am of him. “You know I couldn’t. There are rules you know. It doesn’t mean I haven’t spent every second of the past eighteen months thinking about you.”
“Have you come to take me home?” I ask.
“Yes, it’s time.” Razor’s reply is muffled by my thick hair, “but won’t you miss all this?”
He looks down at me questioningly as he sweeps his arm around us all-inclusively.
I snort, “Being locked away in a looney bin with only a mutilated ghost for company? No way.”
“Oh right, her,” Razor mutters flatly, looking away.
“Do you know her?” I ask. Razor gulps and plays with the zipper holding his right cheek together; zipping and unzipping it anxiously. “You do know her,” I whisper.
Razor nods slowly, “She’s one of the Keres, personification of violent death. She’s working as an agent of the Greek death goddess, Melinoë, bringer of nightmares and madness. Melinoë sends her to hunt and retrieve teens with certain… gifts.”
“What kind of gifts?” I ask nervously. A log on the bonfire crackles and burns.
“Don’t you realize it Jess?” Razor shakes me. “You’re straddling the veil between our two worlds. You can see and communicate with those that have crossed over. It’s why you can see me. And the Keres sent to pluck your soul out of your body.”
“But – but what does this goddess want with me?” I ask as the hair at the nape of my neck prickles.
“Melinoë will use you as a messenger to spread the madness that swirls around her. She’ll turn you into a monster,” Razor hangs his head and adds, “like me.”
Horrifying realization dawns on me, “is that why you’re covered in zippers?”
Razor’s eyes snap to mine, “You’re the only person who never ran away screaming after seeing a glimpse of me. I won’t let her hurt you; I’ll get you to safety.”
The flames from the bonfire flicker and rise, distracting us. My grim friend, the Keres, emerges from the flames stepping over the logs like wobbly steps. Razor steps in front of me to protect me as I see the Keres’ true color for the first time. She’s unbelievably beautiful with flowing golden hair and sharp bloody fangs. Her hands that appeared bloody earlier in the night are clearly visible talons in the firelight. Her long white shift is now more ripped and blood stained than before.
“No, get away! You can’t have her,” Razor announces angrily.
“Silly boy, that’s not your decision,” the Keres replies, speaking for the first time in my presence.
Razor clenches his teeth, “I said leave. Her. Be!”
The ground begins to shake violently as the Keres begins to laugh manically. “You’ve stepped in it now silly boy.”
A hand shoots out of the ground followed quickly by another. At first I think zombies are rising to attack us but the skin is smooth and fully intact.
“Run,” Razor commands as the hands start to push further out of the ground revealing elbows and the start of a shoulder. I freeze like a deer in the headlights propelling Razor to grab for my hand and drag me away from the bonfire as fast as our legs will carry us. Mine feel like Jell-O as I try to keep pace.
Something drops from a tree onto the path ahead of us, blocking our passage. The figure, a woman, straightens to her full height. A black Grecian style dress covers her olive colored skin. A pair of bronze gladiator sandals peek out from under the hem of a gray underskirt. A crown of skulls sits atop her flowing hair; a few shades lighter than my midnight strands. Her face is breathtaking; wide eyes sit above a strong Roman nose and full, plush lips.
Razor gasps and backpedals but the Keres appears out of thin air behind us. We’re trapped.
“Join us little girl,” the woman, Melinoë, says. Her tone is musical, hypnotizing. “It’s an honor really.”
“You’ll be immortal,” the Keres hisses in my ear. I shiver at her icy breath on my skin.
Melinoë raises her hand and rips Razor from my side. “Come with us or I will destroy the boy.”
“Don’t listen to her,” Razor yells. “Run as far and fast as you can.”
“Shut up,” Melinoë snarls at Razor. Electricity pulses across her skin as she grips him by the neck.
“Let him go!” I demand as I raise my hand defiantly. I feel the anger flowing through my veins and into my outstretched hand. A force strong enough to stir up the leaves on the forest floor kicks up and crackles splitting up into two directions; it hits Melinoë and the Keres simultaneously making them burst into a million pieces like confetti.
Free from Melinoë’s grip Razor drops to the ground and gasps for air. “What did you do?” Razor pants.
“I don’t know,” I reply, shaking my head.
Razor pushes to his feet, “We have to get out of here.”
I clasp his hand and follow him into the night. I don’t know for sure where we are going or where we’ll be safe. We race away, further from the asylum on the cliff, and I know I will never return.

A sickening feeling tells me this won’t be our last run-in with the dark goddess or the Keres.
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Happy Halloween Everyone! Tomorrow is November 1st, the beginning of NaNoWriMo, so I'm enjoying my favorite holiday before immersing myself in non-stop writing.  

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