Thursday, August 19, 2010

Out of the Box

This story is rated R for language and the disturbing element of annihilating happy childhood memories. Enjoy. UPDATE: Published 9/27/10 in Oh! The Horror anthology

He woke up in the dark, tried to scream and couldn't. 
He was standing, that much he knew because his legs were sore. He was in a tiny closet. No, that wasn't right. He was encased: tomb-like, in a wooden crate like a coffin, but with the lid at the top over his head. 

Someone had put him in here while he had been passed out from the party. And how long ago had that been? A couple of hours? More? He did not know. He felt something hot and wet trickling down his face. He wriggled his arm up in the small space and tentatively touched the spot that was sore. His nose. It was bleeding. Did someone hit him in the face? He couldn't remember. He hoped it wasn't broken. 

He heard a scritching sound. In the faint light that entered the box through small cracks where the boards were nailed, he could see something small moving in the box with him. He hoped to God whatever it was, it wasn't poisonous and that it would not crawl up his leg. He tried to move his feet away from the thing, and found they would not budge. Maybe the soles of his shoes were nailed or superglued to the bottom of the box. Or maybe the psycho who put him here nailed his feet down. He was so numb from standing he didn't think he'd be able to tell. 

His head ached. His stomach felt empty and raw, like he might have thrown up earlier. Hungover, maybe. He couldn't remember anything.

The scratching noise ceased and, looking down, he saw the other occupant of the box perched on his shoe. It looked like a large, furry cockroach.  

It was then he started to cry. 

He lifted his hand again and pushed against the lid at the top of the box. No give, but he thought he heard a sound like the ping of a tightly coiled spring. Maybe the lid was hinged?

He was starting to feel for hinges around the edge of the lid when the voice spoke. 

"Boy?" it said. 

He gasped. He KNEW that voice! 

"Let me out," he pleaded. "Please!"

"You lied to me. You ran away again."

"I'm sorry. Please...let me out of here." He looked down again and thought he could see the hairy roach (OR WAS IT A SPIDER?) climbing up his pants leg. "There's something in here with me!"

The voice outside the box chuckled. It sounded coarse and evil. "You've met the little friend I put in with you, then."

"PLEASE!" he yelled. 

"Relax, boy. I'll let you out...eventually. But first, you must sing." The voice sounded close now, like it's owner was standing right next to the box. 

"Sing?" The boy in the box shuddered. It was then he knew the man who had once loved him had gone mad. 

"Yes. Sing,. And make it good. Something peculiar to your situation, perhaps."

Something peculiar to his situation? Well, his situation was pretty much fucked. He shut his eyes and tried to remember some of the music he'd heard at the party with the older kids.

"Come on!" shouted the man on the outside of the box. "SING! SING OR DIE, DAMN YOU!" 

Then there was a loud BANG and the box tilted slightly, causing his head to crash painfully into one of the corners. He winced and felt fresh blood trickling down his temple. He looked down and saw that the hairy roach/spider/thing had crawled up to the crotch of his pants. He looked away quickly, praying that he wouldn't piss himself. Or worse. Then he remembered a song he'd heard and threw back his head in both defiance and fear and sobbed out the first verse of "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains. 

The voice laughed. "You're no man...but you will be buried in shit. That's for sure." 

He didn't want to die in here, not like this, with some foul thing crawling slowly toward his head. He looked down. It was on his stomach now. It no longer looked like a cockroach, but he wasn't sure what the hell it might be. It was big. He closed his eyes and shivered. 

"Please. Let me out. I promise I'll be good." The pain in the center of his face flared up briefly.  

"No, you little liar! Not until you sing the right song!" 

The boy felt a tingling on his hand and did not dare to look at it. He knew the bug thing was now climbing onto his hand. 

He ran through every prison song he could think of, from Folsom Prison Blues to He's in the Jailhouse, Now. Every song that had to do with being caught, captured, locked up. After each one, the voice only laughed. He was on the fifth chapter of R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet when:

"ENOUGH!" The voice of the man who once had loved him bellowed. "Stop trying to buy time. You're going to die in there if you don't hurry it up, boy." 

Cheee-reep! The sound was sudden and close, startling him.
He flinched and looked down at his hand. What the—?

On his hand sat the world's ugliest mole cricket: huge, brown, and hairy, with one of it's wings torn off. The boy flinched and tried to move his feet again and felt a stabbing pain through the soles. Looking down, he saw that he was indeed nailed. Blood pooled at the bottom of the box. Whenever he moved his feet there came the sound of metallic pinging, like his feet were attached to coils...? The light switched on in his mind. 

Suddenly he knew what his father wanted to hear...he closed his eyes, trying to remember the words. He sang:

"All around the mulberry bush 
The monkey chased the weasel..."

On the other side of the box, Geppetto turned the crank. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Telescope Moment

This story is rated PG-13 by my standards, for sexual references and the suggestion of violence.

Breathe. Turn and adjust focus. Nothing. 

Breathe. Pan across. Ah, there! The blond with her kid at the kitchen table. Doing homework. 

A worthless pursuit, watching them. A tall chest of drawers sat by the side of the entrance, obscuring from view the bottom two-thirds of the door. Who places a wardrobe next to the front door? Nothing worthwhile to see here. If she were to move the wardrobe, however—but he thought of the child and shook his head. No. Kids complicated things.

Breathe. Pan down. First floor. The slats of his blinds rustled as he panned the scope across the windows of the first floor apartments of the building opposite his. 

His hands trembled and his breath caught in his throat. 

That one. 

The careless brunette was getting ready for work. He could see in through her open bedroom window, her curtains parted just enough for the view. Her hair was sopping wet (fresh from the shower). Her naked back was turned to him. He felt a warmth begin in his stomach and spread to his groin. 

Breathe. He struggled to get his breathing back to normal as he watched her dress. She turned slightly when she put on her bra and he caught a glimpse of her breasts. He shuddered. He grunted angrily when she moved away from the window. He wanted to see if she would turn around when she put on her panties. So far, he'd yet to have a glimpse of that treasure. 

His frustration was made complete when she stepped back in viewing range a short while later, fully dressed. His erection subsided. He sighed, and contemplated how much she looked like that other one, the girl from that complex he'd lived in across town...he couldn't remember the name, that was so long ago and he moved around a lot. The frequent moves were necessary, of course. He couldn't take a chance on being caught. He'd nearly screwed up with that nurse who had worked at the hospital. But she'd been a lowly candy-striper. Far below the notice of a top-gun surgeon. He was one of few people the police never bothered to question. He'd been very lucky that time.

His excitement increased again as she disappeared in the direction of the living room. Trembling, he panned the telescope in that direction, following her movements to the door. She opened the door and began to exit, then stopped, locking the door from inside before closing it

He cursed under his breath and turned away from the telescope. He thought for sure she was going to slip again.

She'd been careless once before and he'd not caught it. He'd caught her reaction, though, coming from her bedroom one morning to discover she hadn't even chained the door, let alone locked it. He cursed himself time and again for not being more observant with that one. He could have completed his work and moved on. 

Still, she'd been careless once. She might be again. And so he watched. And waited. He kept a small bag of tools ready: rolls of duct tape, several pairs of latex gloves, a sharp knife, a sharper scalpel, a syringe, and a bottle of a certain tranquilizer to knock out and, eventually...after an indeterminate amount of kill. If only she would make the same mistake twice. Until then, he would bide his time. He had become very good at that over the years. 

Yes, the brunette from 610 might very well be The One, thought the man sitting in front of his window in unit 524. 

He turned his attention back to the telescope. 

If not her, then—

Breathe. Pan across. Adjust focus.