A Darkness There Too

Short Story: Horror

“Are you sure you want to go through with this, Richard?” Despite her words, there is no worry in Cora’s face. She’s fighting to keep her excitement down, but it sparkles in her eyes. The question is only a matter of politeness.

“Perfectly sure,” I say. “Who better to be hypnotized for this than a hypnotist?”
Two others are with us: Dr Sandy Barrett, who is now plastering me with sticky electrodes and checking my blood pressure; and Samson, one of Cora’s students, and the one who found the study that brought us here.

Barrett looks up from the pressure cuff on my arm. “You know what supposedly happened to the others who went this deep.”

“Oh I know. I know Cora will pull me out in time.” I tip Cora a wink, and she flushes. But the flush is more likely from giddiness for the experiment than for me. Ah well, I can dream anyway.

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How Does She Breathe?

How does she breathe?

Her words run one into the next, over and under each other, never giving me a chance to respond. She never pauses. Never takes a breath. Never pulls in air.

I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t get a single word in. I have to listen to her every second of the day and I can say nothing.

I’ll get a word in now.

I’ll place my hands around her neck

and I’ll squeeze hard enough to stop the words

and with the words she never let me say I’ll ask her

How do you breathe.

The Apothecary, excerpt IV

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette:

He stands, and turns his back to me and the fire. He walks over to the spinning wheel, and begins unraveling the threads. “There’s nothing to say about my father,” he says.

I stand too. “But I’ve been wondering––”

“You need to go home. It’s getting dark.” The words are harsh, but he speaks them softly. They hurt more than way. With his back to me, with the mask out of sight, I want to run to him, tell him I don’t want to go home. Not tonight. Not ever.

But if I do that, he’ll turn to me, with that mask.

I put down the cup, and put my cloak around my shoulders. The spinning wheel starts circling, squeaking slightly. I catch a glimpse of mask slithering where a cheek ought to be, and again I shiver, though not from cold. He says nothing as I slip out the door.

Box

Such a pretty box. Wrapped up in gold, bound with a striped ribbon. So pretty I almost don’t want to unwrap it. It’s so big, but I can still hold it up and shake it gently. There’s a pleasing rattle. Something inside.

You tell me to open it.

I tear off the ribbon, rip the gold paper. Slice apart the bit of tape holding the lid shut with your knife. I open the box, look in.

But it’s so dark in there. I can’t see. I only see shadows. Black shadows and… something white.

You tell me to get inside.

The Apothecary, excerpt III

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette:

He gave me calming tea that tasted of flowers. He apologized for having no cake or biscuits to serve along with it, as he wasn’t used to having visitors. That was fine though; as much as I liked him, it would have been hard to eat with that mask watching me, crawling like maggots.

In my childhood innocence, and with my da not around to shush me, I asked him what was under it.

“Nothing interesting,” he said. He voice always seemed to come from far away. “I think you’d much rather see something like this.”

He swept a powder into the candle on the table between us and the flame danced gold and silver.

I laughed and he gave me some of the powder so that I could throw it into the fireplace, and the whole room danced gold and silver, including his mask. But that didn’t distract me entirely from questioning him. I ran to his side and said “Where’d you learn all this?”

 

The Apothecary, excerpt II

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette:

That first time I met him, he towered above me, encased in a black cloak. At first glance I thought he had no face, until I saw the mask wavering in the shadows.

I was terrified. I hid behind my da as the frightening figure knelt before me and opened a little paper packet. He blew on it – though how he did so with the mask there I couldn’t tell – and fairies and unicorns danced in all the colors of the rainbow in the air between us.

The mask would continue to induce repulsion in me every time I saw it quiver, but I found other emotions were placed beside this repulsion – expectation, wonderment, joy. He gave me sugary candies better than any candy I had ever tasted, and something he called chocolate, which was better than anything at all I had ever tasted. He set off miniature fireworks in the rafters of his workspace. He sprinkled a powder over his sheep in their pen that turned them blue and pink. It was something new every time I got the opportunity to visit.

The Apothecary, excerpt I

An excerpt from The Apothecary, a romantic horror novelette.  It might seem familiar, ’cause I based it off a drabble I’ve previously posted.

“Alisandra?”

I’m jerked out of my daydream by the sound of his voice. I’ve been staring.

“Are you all right?” the apothecary asks. The firelight plays over his mask in blacks and oranges. It’s always so dim here in his home, the windows shuttered tight against the sun, leaving only the hearth fire and the candlelight to illuminate the jars of liquids and powders and plants.

But I always study his mask.

“Yes!” I say, too forcefully. “I’m fine.”

“Then, here is the poultice for midwife Bera.” He holds the tiny paper packet out to me. Though his hands are gloved, I still shiver when my fingers brush his.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asks. His mask roils and wavers as if insects crawl under it. “Your face is flushed. I can fix you something, whatever’s the matter.”

I clutch the packet to my chest as if that can slow my heart. “It’s nothing. I just… ran all the way here. Well, goodbye. Ms. Bera’s waiting.”

I dart out the door before he can say anything else. I run down the path all the way to the road before I stop to collect myself.

Stupid, I tell myself. Stupid. Stupid. How can you love a man that won’t show you his face?

Pen

He gave me a pen. I thought it would give me stories and pictures. But not these kinds of stories or pictures. I don’t mean to write these things. I don’t mean to draw these things. These are not mine.

They are the pen’s.

Don’t look at me like that. This isn’t me. These words, these creatures. I try to use the pen and it does this. It comes from the pen, seeping out from the tip in red ink. He put these things in the pen.

This ink and his blood, it’s one and the same.

I’ll show you.

The Snow

MERRY CHRISTMAS.

:\

Drabble

Don’t go out in the snow. It’s crimson and viscous. Not at all like it used to be. Once it was pure white and like dust, like sugar coating the landscape.

Don’t go out in the snow. It’s thick and it grips feet and legs. Once it was calm. Once we used to walk through it.

We used to throw it and kick it in the air.

We used to never care that it might fall on our heads.

Don’t turn your face to the snow. Don’t let it settle in your eyes.

It isn’t like it used to be.

United

I’m ready.

The mask is drawn over my face and head, as it’s drawn over yours.

Soon we’ll be one mind, united. I’ve been waiting for this day ever since the day I first met you. I’ll be every part of you from this moment on, and you’ll be every part of me, one mind in two bodies.

It begins, and I see your inner thoughts. They are… Ugly. Hideous. Spiteful. Hateful. You don’t even love me; you just saw this as a means to an end.

Oh God.

I can see all of you.

And you’re in me now.