A short story I created for class;
With it’s decrepit exterior and unwelcoming hallways, most people entering the Connelly house wondered how it’s sole occupant Jack could live there alone. On the outskirts of a small village, a solid five minute walk to the nearest home, the house didn’t receive many passer-bys, save the few dog owners on route to the woods. With his preference for solitude, this lifestyle suited Jack well, up keeping the home and occasionally performing DIY tasks for the villagers.
Until the shadows started to move.
The onset was gradually at first. Seeing something out of the corner of his eye only to turn and see nothing but dry plaster, brushing it off as his exhaustion manifesting in imagined sights. But, his insomnia wasn’t due to pressing thoughts or any medical condition, but the relatively consistent noise from the wall behind his bed. He had delayed his investigation of the screeching noise, convincing himself it was naught but the friction caused by the pipes, but after the fifth consecutive night of only being able to snatch an hour’s worth of sleep, he decided it was high time to investigate.
Calling a carpenter from the next town who had broken down a section of the wall, only to discover there was another room situated within the wall. It was spacious for a group of six to fit comfortably, though as intriguing as the discovery of the room was, there was still a question that begged answering.
Where was the noise coming from?
He half expected upon discovery of the room that there would be someone taking residence there, perhaps someone destitute and wanting to avoid the unforgiving streets, but, as though the room repelled intruders, there was not even a rat or spider claiming the space.
So the carpenter had departed, and Jack had given no more thought to the room, besides the odd occasion he wondered if he could use it as some sort of storage space. But since he had first urged the carpenter to strike the wall with his hammer, the visions of the shadow from the corner of his eye had accelerated, the screeching amplifying in volume so that, no matter what room he occupied, the sound resonated through his mind.
With this his paranoia had also taken an upturn, and it had soon became obvious to whoever visited Jack that something was disturbing the man, that he seemed haunted by something none but himself could hear. The worst occurred when his brother had visited, and Jack had acted so erratically, a sweat breaking out upon his brow and his entire body shaking as though in fit, his brother had carefully hinted at bringing in some sort of ecclesiastical figure; perhaps a priest? Jack had only stared at him, his silence spanning a lifetime before he had rose to his feet, shouting and screaming, spittle flying from his lips as he demanded that his brother left.
His brother hadn’t made contact since.
That had been three weeks ago, and now Jack had stocked the room with a variety of weapons; a sledgehammer, a shovel, a barely functioning chainsaw and even an aged pistol, one passed down the Connelly line.
It was the next day when everything had descended into anarchy.
Sprawled at the foot of his bed having fallen asleep to remedy his fatigue, Jack bolted upright to the sound of his name tearing through the house in a high-pitched scream, sourcing from the room. Fear coiled in his abdomen, causing his breath to exhale raggedly as he picked up a small figurine to hold aloft as a makeshift weapon.
Entering the room with trepidation, his fear was metallic taste in his mouth, his heart thrumming harshly against his ribcage as though wishing to break free of it’s confines. Beside himself, the room seemed devoid of life, though there was a tear on the wall, about three feet deep and shaped as though a claw had tore through the dry plaster. Tracing his fingertips across the gash, his vision was too concentrated to realize there was something cold against the back of his neck, raising the baby hairs there. When he did realize, he started to turn, only to find himself thrown forward against the wall, he had been examining, feeling a searing pain as he landed on his back. Raising a hand, he felt the sticky wetness of his temple, eyes casting around with a wild furtiveness as he attempted to scramble backwards, only for his back to collide with another wall.
Reaching upwards to grab a weapon from the shelf, he instigated another otherworldly screech, so high-pitched in volume he felt his eardrums shatter, drawing a yell tumbling from his own lips. The shelf above him shook with vigour, before tumbling downwards, crashing not an inch from where he was cowered against the wall, ears straining to attempt to hear anything. He hadn’t heard the velocity of the crash, nor could he hear his experimental babbling, his whimpered please.
But he did hear the screeching again, but although he registered himself emitting a sharp yelp of fear, he couldn’t hear the sound of his own productions.
One hand attempting to stem the flow of blood from his temple, which was still freely gushing blood from a shallow wound, he directed himself onto fours, leveraging himself to carry his weight on his free arm, awkwardly shuffling towards the door. Again, he felt the icy cold, as though Jack Frost was breathing harshly against the back of his neck, and he removed his bloodstained hand to lash out, feeling a pulsation of fear rush through him when his hand connected with something, and he heard the screech again.
Slamming the door shut behind him, his exhausted form collapsed against it, pressuring it shut with his back as he attempted to recover his breath, which was forced out from over-exerted lungs. But mere seconds after he had escaped the room, he felt, but didn’t hear, something pounding against it, before the ethereal shrieking commenced once more.
One hand still clutched to his temple, fingertips cemented in blood, he forced his worn legs to run, fleeing the house as swiftly as his shattered form would allow. Onwards he pushed himself down the road towards the village, through the burning of his lungs and the feeling that his legs would buckle beneath him at any moment. He caught sight of the first house, the lights seeming to burn his irises, but it was his brother he sought, who lived in the third house down with his fiancé.
Expelling breath in short heaves, his knuckles assaulted the doorframe, though it felt as though he were merely mouthing the words that came out in broken, panted wheezing. Moments later, the door opened to reveal his brother, wearing a bedhead and looking rather like he wanted to send his brother six feet under.
“You better have a damn good reason for waking me up at this time, Jack.”
As Jack stumbled forward a step to the porch, the light highlighting his countence, drained of colour, and the blood pooled around his forehead, his brother retreated a step, jaw slackening as his eyes widened. “Jack? Jack. Jack, what happened?”
Jack’s lips moved rapidly, forming an incoherent stream of words as his head shook erratically with such force it surprised him his spine didn’t sever.
“Danny…You…It’s in the room Danny, you have to…I can’t…Why can’t I hear?”
Danny rested a hand on Jack’s upper arm, calling something to his fiancé that Jack didn’t catch, though he did re-enter the house momentarily, before returning with a hilted blade.
“Come on Jackie,” He said with some attempt of reassurance by using his brother’s loathed childhood nickname, “Everything’s gonna be alright, yeah? Probably just a cat or something, yeah? We gotta take you to the doctor’s though man, you got some nasty cut on your head.”
Jack had been gazing blankly at Daniel’s lips to judge what he was saying, but making out the word doctor he jerked from his grip with a rough exclamation, chest heaving as he pointed vaguely in the direction of the house, jabbing repeatedly in the air for emphasis.
“No! We…get rid of it. It’s gonna leave the room, and it’s gonna…-”
“Nothing’s gonna hurt you, not while I’m around.” He spoke with the know-it-all assurance of an elder sibling, though he did concede that perhaps they should check the house, in case there was an intruder that escaped whilst they were going to hospital. So he called back to his fiancé, telling her to phone an ambulance to Jack’s house, before leading Jack with gentle encouragement, back towards the house.
Entering the bedroom in weighted silence, the only sound being their stilted breathing, Danny wondered if this entire ordeal had been a figment of Jack’s imagination. A realistic nightmare, perhaps? Maybe he had obtained the wound sleepwalking, though he did seem to have some measure of difficulty hearing, like now, when Danny asked where the room was, he didn’t turn until Danny had clapped his shoulder.
Nodding repeatedly, Jack mutely travelled to the side of his bed, fingertips tapping against the expanse of the wall, before locating the door. Pushing it open, he glanced over his shoulder at Danny, who nodded his encouragement, thinking of how he’d never let his brother forget this if they discovered a cat or mouse inside the room.
But when Jack entered, and Danny stepped forward, the door to the room slammed shut behind him.
Hearing the guttural screams from his brother stimulated a wave of panic to crest over Danny, who, seized by a paralytic sort of terror, began to pound his fists against the wall with enough force to potentially shatter his knuckles.
“Jack! This isn’t funny, I swear to God!”
The only response he garnered was more frequent screaming, then, and suddenly as it had begun, the screaming ended.
Fear saturating his every atom, Danny’s hand trembled fiercely, his heart leaping into his mouth and causing a wave of fear and nausea to rise in his chest as he opened the door to the room.
He had only taken one step inside, when he caught sight of his brother. Jack, the younger brother who had jested with him, fooled their mother with his puppy-dog eyes and blamed Danny for breaking the window with the football even though Danny had been out of the house and had confided in Danny about his first crush. His head was snapped to the side, like his spine, hand outstretched towards Danny as he stared at him with his blank gaze. A gaze that no longer held his baby brother behind hazel irises. Grief held him in it’s clutches, beating on him mercilessly as he felt the burning of salt behind his irises, water escaping in a droplet down his features.
Then the lights dipped, before transporting them into a suffocating, blinding darkness.
And he heard someone, or something, screeching.