Voices

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I had always know my son, Caleb was different. How often had I stood at the kitchen window watching him talking and playing with someone who wasn’t there? I had blamed it on imagination. He was an adventurous child, forever wanting to do things and chatting away.

He had a normal up bring. Yes, he was an only child but his father and I were happily married. We did lots of family things together and with both of us being teachers, we had Caleb embrace education. He was perfectly fine in school too, always getting high grades and having lots of friends. He was healthy and loved sports.

Under that though, there had always just been something…

When he was twelve he still had imaginary friends. He could be playing in his bedroom, the garden or at the park and you could hear him talking aloud. It would seem at first he was talking to someone, an adult or another child, but then you just knew he was talking to himself.

‘Who is it you are talking too?’ I asked him one summer’s day.

Caleb was sitting on the lawn, a few toys scattered around him and I was hanging out the washing. It was the summer holidays and though we normally send him to a summer school or camp to be with other children, he had refused to go this year.

He turned to me, a toy tank in his hand and looked up through his choppy fringe which needed cutting.

‘No one,’ he replied.

‘You’re too old for imaginary friends now,’ I pointed out.

‘They’re not imaginary,’ he muttered and went back to playing.

‘Oh, then who are they? Are you on the phone?’ I asked.

‘No. I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink please, mum?’

‘Okay,’ I said slowly.

Pegging the last sock on the line, I walked back into the house. From behind me, I heard Caleb whisper, ‘she’s going now. Tell me more about the War.’

I almost turned around but I didn’t. I made him a glass of orange squash and took it outside. He was playing like a normal child, rolling his tank over the grass and making gun like noises as he reacted a battle with his toy soldiers.

Of course, I then spoke to his father, his teachers, the parents of his friends and they had for years noticed the same thing that I had; Caleb was seemingly talking to someone all the time. The idea that he should’ve grown out of that by now stuck with me and I became determined to figure out what was wrong with him.

Finally two years later, I got him in to see someone from the mental health, but Caleb wouldn’t talk. We had maybe four sessions then that was it. For awhile after, I thought it had worked, he was quiet and sullen, a typical fourteen year old most would say. It wasn’t the truth though.

Instead of finding hidden adult materiel in his room, I began finding notebooks filled with what seemed to be stories and conversations. There was no title or dates, just a run on of writing. The stories covered lots of different time periods. There was one about a WW2 fighter pilot, who was blown out of his plane over Germany spent the rest of the War as a POW. Another, told of a little boy who was tricked into going down into a well and died there when he became trapped.

I put the notebooks back every time and I tried to bring them up in conventions without reveling I knew about them. Caleb shrugged it off, ignoring my suggests that he was interested in writing and journalism.  I had to let it go in the end.

Caleb made it through high school and college. He got top of the class grades and he went on to a good university to study to be a teacher. We were both proud of him. When he moved out though, the house became empty, almost sad like. We got by though. Work kept us both busy and we were looking into fostering and maybe adoption.

The news hit out of no where, almost three years after that, just as Caleb was doing his finals. I was sat in my headmistress’ office, reading emails when the phone rang. I picked it up like normal, thinking it a call from a parent or teacher etc, but it was Caleb’s university tutor telling me that Caleb had been found dead in his student room. He had hung himself three days ago.

A strange feeling went though me, it was like sand slipping through my fingers in slow motion. The tutor’s voice sounded dim and everything around me had begun to fade. I couldn’t think clearly. I dropped the phone and just sat there.

We had to go and pack up his student room. I was running on automatic and so we just moved his stuff back into his bedroom. I just kept thinking that Caleb had moved back in and he was out with his friends. It was months, maybe close to a year before we actually went through all of his things.

Sitting on Caleb’s bedroom floor, sorting things out into piles, my husband and I worked in silence. It was raining heavily outside and the wind was rattling the windows. A storm was on its’ way. I dug through a cardboard box and began pulling things out.

In a handful of notebooks and even in between his uni notes, he had written strange stories and conversations which so reminded me of the notebooks I had found when he was younger. These were not like any stories he had written before though. They were horrible, filled with violence and death.

I found a diary. It was a fake black leather covered A5 size with lined pages for each date. I had never known him to keep one before and as I flipped through the pages, I saw he had written about hearing voices in his head. Some days were blank or he’d simple put;

I didn’t hear any voices today. 

On other days he had written things like;

A voice told me a new story today. I wrote it down, like I do with all of them. These voices are more then just those of fiction characters. They are so real. Maybe they are ghosts? I’ve never believed in that though. But how else can they be explained? 

Then about four months before his death, I found this;

The voices were bad today. I have one at the moment that keeps telling me to kill myself. I’m fighting it like I do with all the others but it’s so strong. It doesn’t seem to have a story or talk to me like the others. It questions if I’m good enough and what’s the point and that every will be better if I just pick up the knife and bleed.

I shall try to contain it. I know what the voice is saying is wrong.

Two months later, Caleb had wrote;

The “suicidal voice” has gotten worse. I can’t sleep and I’m not eating much. The voice has taken over and it’s constantly whispering to me. It tells me over and over to kill myself. It says pain is good and so is blood. My life is pointless, I’m useless, nobody loves me or wants me. I can’t think of anything else but that voice.

All the other voices have gone now. They have vanished and even if I try to think about them and speak to them, I can’t. The “suicidal voice” blocks them all. I don’t know what to do. I need to tell someone. I need help. But what can I say? I’ve been hearing voices all my life, Doctor and now I’ve got this voice repeatedly telling me to kill myself. No one will believe me!

I felt tears running down my face. My husband was saying my name but I ignored him and turned to the last page my son had written on. He had put;

I can’t cope any more! Everything I’ve tried hasn’t worked! Listening to the voice is the only choice I’ve got now. I’m going to do it tonight. 

I pressed the pages to my face and burst into tears. My son had been a schizophrenic and no one had ever known about it.

(Story inspired by local research into hearing voices at Manchester University  https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/projectdetails/?ID=3083)

Toxic Thunder

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It had been raining forever. At least it felt that way. I liked the rain, but I wanted to feel the sun on my face as I had done as a child. I remembered the yellow warmth, just about. The rain was always cold and wet, sometimes it would be a different colour too. When that happened people stayed inside for fear they might become contaminated. Though really, all water was toxic.

They claimed there was nothing they could do about it. It was a world wide disaster and the predicated death levels were higher then the War. That was the price we were paying for chemical warfare, the government said. Still, scientists and others were working around the clock for solutions whilst there was hope left. Everywhere warning signs stated not to drink unfiltered water, to stay inside as much as possible and report all health problems to a doctor.

Today, the rain was a lime green colour which was why I wasn’t allowed outside. Sitting in the window seat of the second floor landing, I watched a few brave people walking the street below me. They held their umbrellas up high and huddled in thick coats, as if that would protect them.

The book I had picked from our small library lay opened but unread in my lap. Since there was no going to school today, father had insisted we self-educate. My two brothers had taken over the library with their historical debates. Father was in the study and Mother had gone to lay down as as the lime rain had given her a headache, or so she had claimed. I could have gone to my day room, the family lounge or the parlour, instead I went to the best spot in the house to see the outside world.

I pressed the side of my head to the wet glass, knowing I’d be told off for getting my curled blonde hair damp. I didn’t care. I watched guards in red uniforms appear and began clearing people from the street. They must have been told that the toxic level had reached a high. A siren began to wail, confirming that. The street quickly cleared and just in time too as the lime rain picked up and started to change colour.

Black rain began falling and in the distance came a rumble of thunder. I tightened my grip on the book. The page corners curling under my fingers. I had always feared storms, but they were worse now. They said sometime toxic rain conducted lightening and exploded. Fires were common during storms and deaths.

I tried to relax my hands, the hard corners of the cover were digging into me. The thunder growled louder, sounding so close. The street before me went dark with only a few dots of light peering out. The lightening flashed, yellow red, capturing the street in that moment. I heard a popping sound and the lights around me all started to flicker.

The smell of gas and burning electricity filled the air. An emergency bell rang though the house, backed by the siren’s call. There was a rush of footsteps and voices. The clatter of things being dropped and doors moving echoed throughout the house.

‘To the shelter, quickly!’ my father bellowed.

‘I’ll get Madam,’ a maid spoke.

‘Where is Miss Victoria?’ another voice asked.

A flash of lighting hit the sky making me jump as it crackled away. I stood up, clutching my book and hurried two flights of downstairs. In the grand hallway, everyone was rushing into the kitchen, shouting at each other. I joined them hurrying into the cellars. My shoulders and skirts brushing maids and kitchen staff.

I tripped down the stone steps, losing a shoe, and my one of my brothers caught me at the bottom. He had to move me out of the way as the last people flew down and the metal door slammed shut. My brother rushed me down the corridors, through the wine and food cellars. My legs and feet hurt as we went further down. Finally, we arrived with everyone else in the last and deepest cellar. My brother hushed me into a corner and left me breathing in the damp air.

Huddling in the dim light with my family and servants, I caught my breath. My mother looking dazed was sitting on a small bed, half hidden by  a curtain. My father was sat comforting her and my brothers were giving orders to some of the servants. I tucked myself into a alcove, hugging my book and praying we would survived.

Untimely Death

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We had been gathered around the new grave in silence for sometime when granny spoke out, ‘well it was a stupid thing to do.’

We all looked over at her, a few of us even gasping.

‘Granny!’ Isabella scolded and squeezed the old woman’s hand.

Great grandmother and great granddaughter looked at it each other then joined us in silence once more.

Slowly, people began to drift away as they do when a funeral is over. Their whispering voices commenting on the flowers and service drifting across the cemetery.

I looked down at my older sister’s grave. It was but a hole in the ground with the edges of a pink coffin peeking through the dirt and no headstone to name her yet.

Granny had been right though. My sister should never have trusted that flashy magician or his Amazing Invisible Sword trick.

The Repeating Dark

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Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

The Reaper Cometh

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Going out in a hail of bullets and under the wheels of the ten ton lorry was the only way to go. Well, I didn’t have any other choices really because there was no way I was going to jail. The murders they had pinned to me would have meant total life imprisonment and that wasn’t an option.

Committing suicide had also not been an option up until that point, to be honest. I don’t know, maybe, I was thinking I’d dodge the bullets or they’d hit non-important places and that I’d just avoid the lorry’s wheels like they do in the movies. But nope, my number was up.

Once the heavy crushing pain had faded and blackness had come I knew it was the end. When I next opened my eyes, I was standing at the side of the motorway, looking across at the scene. There were flashing red and blue lights everywhere and the sirens were so loud that they blocked the rushing traffic. Though of course, most of the cars were stopping now and people were taking in what had happened.

Police swarmed the scene; searching my fancy BMW, whilst others blocked the view of my body wedged under the lorry. The driver of which was hushed off to one side into a police car like a sleeping baby. The police officers’ whispered voices came to me; is he really dead? The serial killer? The one the papers nicknamed The Red Shadow? He killed ten people we know of, but there maybe hundreds more. Yes, he’s dead. You can see that, can’t you?

I turned away, wondering what to do. Surely a pit to Hell would open up underneath me? I’d be sucked down and spend all eternity being tortured by demons. But I didn’t believe in that.

To the left of me, I saw a black shape peeling itself away from the trees. Ah, the grim reaper coming to claim my soul!

‘Wait….What are you?’ I spoke, the words tumbling from my mouth before I could stop them.

‘I am your reaper, deary,’ replied a sweet old granny’s voice.

Stunned, I just stared. There before me was a small old woman- eighty or ninety odd-she had a hunched back and skin was as wrinkly and folded as one of those weird dogs. She was dressed in a long flowery pink dress, pink handmade cardie and was holding a large blue handbag. Her hair was dyed a strange blue color and she had large glasses perched on the end of her nose.

‘When you are ready, if you’d like to follow me, sweetie,’ she spoke out, ‘you just take as long as you need, okay? No rush.’

I glanced back at the scene behind me. Cars were parked up now and an ambulance had just pulled off the hard shoulder and was trying to get in close so they could collect my body without the public seeing. Police were all ready trying to stop people from coming over.

‘Oh, I think I got some peppermints here. Somewhere,’ the granny said and began searching in her handbag.

‘No, it’s fine,’ I said, ‘who are you really?’

She looked up at me, hand still in her bag, ‘I’m your reaper, deary, come to take you to the other side.’

‘But…I was expecting demons! Devils! A black cloaked skeleton! Black, fire wings!’ I cried.

The old woman chuckled, ‘everyone believes that, but no. We take a different form every time. Everyone is different you know and often they need to be handled differently too.’

‘Do you know who I am?’ I spit.

‘Were. Sweetheart. Who were you?’ she asked then, ‘oh, here are the mints. Care for one? Go on take a handful.’

‘No,’ I stated as I waved my hands and stepped back, when she held out a pink and white stripped paper bag towards me.

‘Not a fan of mints, huh?’ she added with a wink, ‘I got something else in here for you then…’

‘I don’t want anything! Just, let’s go!’ I yelled.

‘Now, now, don’t get upset. I’ll fix it. There now,’ she said and held up a tube of my favorite childhood sweets; lemon sherbet.

She pressed it into my hand, a large smile on her face.

I looked at it in shock then opening the lid, I tossed the white power into my mouth. It tasted just as I remembered; sour and sweet, fizzy and lemony.

‘All better? I knew that would help, petal,’ she said.

I nodded, feeling for the first time in years the sensation of tears in the corner of my eyes.

‘Are you ready to go?’ granny asked.

‘Yes,’ I mumbled out.

She held out a hand which was more like the gnarled, dry root of a dead oak tree.

I took it, feeling no heat or coldness against my own hand.

With her other hand, she patted the top of mine, ‘there, there, deary. It’s all okay now.’

‘So…no demons? No Hell?’

‘Stories!’ she laughed, ‘to scare people. There is no Hell or Heaven. Just the sky.’

I looked up and saw above me the darkening sky.

We started raising towards it. Leaving everything behind. The air rushed around me and as we met the sky, I savored the last taste of sherbet on my tongue.

 

Flames

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The flames grew, becoming brighter and warmer. Shepard shivered and huddled closer to the fire. Outside, the rain was really coming down now and the wind was hitting the countryside with force. The old, abandoned farmhouse rattled and creaked around him. Strangely though, he found comfort in all the noise.

Finally, shedding out of his soaking clothes, Shepard hung his things on the drying rack. Despite everything, most of the furniture had survived and the house appeared close enough to his memories. He hated that though as it made everything come into sharper focus.

Sitting in his underpants, he feed the fire some more wood and watched the flames. Even though he tried hard not to think about it, the memories swelled like an incoming sea. How many times had he sit by this fireplace as a boy? Too many.

Shepard shivered again, but not because he was cold. The flood gates had opened and for a few moments he was transported into the past.

Shadows danced across the wall in the farmhouse’s living room. The flames of the fire, the only light source in the room was unable to fight the shadows off. However, nothing seemed to be bothering the little boy and smaller girl who were playing with a hand carved Noah’s Arc set. They laughed as they lined the animals up two by two and made them all enter the big wooden boat.

Then though from the kitchen came sounds of raised voices. The children stopped, falling silent to listen. The voices grew, though they couldn’t make the muffled words out. A thumping as skin connected with skin rang out and the voices stopped.

The girl began to cry. Her older brother held her close but not to comfort her. It was to quieten her sobs, so they would avoid getting beaten too.

Shepard shook his head and brought himself out of his past. Grumbling, the urge to leave again grew, but he fought it away.

‘It’s only an old house,’ he uttered, ‘nothing here now.’

He felt his drying clothes. They were too wet still to put back on. He tossed more wood onto the fire, not caring that the stack was getting low. If needed there were other things he could burn.

He glanced around and spotted a knitted patchwork blanket draped on the sofa. Getting up, he shuffled across the floor and tugged it off. Wrapping the blanket over his shoulders, he took a deep breath and smelt dust. Pushing the edge of the blanket into his nose, he sniffed the wool, but couldn’t smell anything else.

Shepard saw a flash of his mother. She was sit on the sofa, knitting a blanket which humped over her big belly containing his then unborn sister. Her hair was dark and she was wearing a brown dress and slippers. Her face and arms were covered in old and new bruises. She was humming something as her needles clacked together then she was gone, back into the shadows of the past.

‘Don’t think about,’ Shepard whispered.

He stared hard into the flames, hoping they would burn the memories away.

It was too late though and just like the opening of Pandora’s box everything escaped.

Shepard sucked in a deep breath as imagines, thoughts and feelings tumbled by. Thankfully, he soon arrived at the last memory he had of the farmhouse. He saw himself, a young teenager sat in his mother’s bedroom. She was gone, fled in the night just as she had often threatened under her breath.

He looked out of the window and saw the little cross that marked his sister’s grave in the back garden. She had only been seven. He had dug that small hole himself only a few days ago whilst his sobbing mother had clung to the dirty sheet wrapped body. He had wanted to kill his father then but his mother held him back. Now though, there was nothing stopping him…

Shepard let it all go with a shaky exhale. Just the thought of all that blood again made him feel sick. He reached for his clothes and even though they were damp, he put them on. Gathering his things, he got up and after a few moments of debate tossed the knitted blanket away.

Holding onto the warm of the fire, he walked out of the farmhouse and back into the storm. It was better, he decided, to be out here then inside with all those ghosts.

 

(Inspired by a prompt at; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/09/thursday-photo-prompt-flame-writephoto/)

Something In The Night (Part 5)

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Abe reached the top of the stairs then feeling too tried, he sat down. The coldness of the stone sink into his all ready cold and wet skin, he needed to get out of here and into the warmth again. The torch shook in his hand which felt gnarled as a wizard tree trunk. The light beam shone wobbly over the stairs and walls.

Shutting his eyes and taking deep breaths, Abe took a few minutes out. The abandoned asylum creaked and groaned in the background as the wind whistled and howled though any gaps it could get in. Rain pattered against the window, a relaxing note bringing the other sounds together. Then though new noises started; footsteps on a stone staircase, a whispering voice calling, the rolling wheels of a trolley.

The candle on the window sill came to life again. The flame flicking yellow and orange before coming a steady glow. Slowly, other candles above and on the walls came to life. Lighting  up as if by a magic hand that could cast flames. Shadows faded, fleeing into the deep corners were the candles couldn’t reach.

The voices grew louder, becoming a constant sound like the rain.  Footsteps running or pacing echoed off the hallways and rooms. The stink of candle wax, cleaning fluids and long unwashed human bodies swept away what had become the normal scents of mould, damp and rot. A woman’s scream rose and fell.

Abe snapped open his eyes and looked around. The sudden many candle flames burnt his eyes and he blinked away quickly. He dropped his head then rose it again and trying to convince himself he was only seeing things. The candles were still there and now he could here the voices more clearly. Abe caught snatches of words;

‘It’s not true. It’s not true!’ a male voice was mumbling.

‘I have seen the Devil! He’s coming for us all!’ a woman was shouting.

‘I don’t want it! Nurse! Nurse! Get ‘im away from me!’ a man’s voice rose above everything else.

Abe turned his head around and tried to see if anyone was there.

‘What an earth is going on?’ he muttered.

Abe looked down at his hands but instead of the torch and ring of keys that he had been clutching, there was nothing. He gasped and felt around for them, thinking he had put them down next to him. All he felt was cold stone.

‘Mr Fletcher? Did you fall?’ a female voice spoke from close behind him.

Abe turned and saw a young woman wearing a full black dress with puffy sleeves and a long white apron. She was carrying an empty grey tray. Her face was pretty with a small nose and eyes, her cheeks flushed with running about and her hair was hidden under a white cap.

‘I…’ Abe began.

‘Here,’ the nurse said.

She put the tray down and went to help him up.

‘What happened? Where am I?’ Abe questioned as she got him to his feet.

‘You are at the hospital,’ the nurse said.

‘The asylum?’ Abe gasped.

He looked around taking it all in and seeing everything so different to what he had known these last few years.

‘Let me help you to your room. The Doctor should be along to see you shortly,’ the nurse said softly.

‘Doctor Denty?’ Abe asked.

‘Yes. He’s such a good Doctor. He’s helped so many poor people.’

‘No!’ Abe shouted and snatched his arm back, ‘he removed their brains! He killed them!’

The nurse looked at him in shock. She stepped away from him, the tray she had left balanced against the banister clattered to the floor as he heels caught it. She turned to it but didn’t bend down to get it.

‘Stay away from me!’ Abe screamed, ‘Got to get out…got to…’

Abe turned and hobbled down the stairs. Behind him, he heard the nurse shouting for a porter and a doctor. He reached the top of the main staircase and cursed the coldness that had stiffed his bones. Going as fast as he could, Abe went down the stairs. Around him, he could hear people crying, screaming and saying words he could not make out.

He reached out for the banister but it was too far away. Forgetting that, he hurried on. His mind whirling as he tried to figure out what was going on. This was more then someone playing tricks and breaking into the asylum. This was real. But how could it be?

Abe felt hands touching his back. He let out a cry, lost his balance an fell down the last few steps. Tumbling to the floor, he lay there winded and hurting all over. Slowly, he rose his head and got up. The candle light was still flicking against the wall. Voices pressed through the darkness and running feet echoed off the stone.

He got up, ignoring the flaring pain in his leg and arm. He went to the front door and pushed against the wood. It was locked. He turned, shuffled away and towards a handful of doors lining the far wall. He made it to the side door and slipped though. Slamming it shut behind him, he weaved down the short hallway like a drunk old homeless man.

Reaching the side door, he opened it with easy and stepped out into a tall figure. Screaming, Abe stumbled back, throwing his arms up to his face. A voice was saying something, but he could hardly here above the wind and his scream. Hands grabbed him and stopped him from falling backwards. Then the spoken words began to make sense.

‘Police. You’re all right now.’

Abe blinked away the rain and looked up. Cutting though the night were flashing lights and torch beams.

‘I’m the night guard,’ Abe mumbled, ‘there’s something not natural going on in there…’

‘Come with us, sir,’ the policeman said and led him away, a female officer tailed them.

Looking back as they walked to the security cabin, Abe saw police officers enter the asylum. Torches lit up the darkened windows. Above the asylum, thunder rumbled and lightening forked across the sky.

The police took Abe inside and he sat down into his chair. He looked down and saw his torch and ring of keys in his hands. Puzzled he held them up and placed them on the desk.

”Did you see the intrudes?’ the officer asked.

‘Yes…but they weren’t…it was like back then…a nurse…’ Abe mumbled.

‘Your head and arm are bleeding. Did you fall?’ the female officer asked.

Abe touched his head, ‘the stairs. They were chasing me…they were going to take my brain! he shouted suddenly.

‘It’s all right, sir, you are safe now,’ the policewoman said, ‘you need to go to the hospital. That cut looks big.’

Abe looked at her and took her fully in. Her face was pretty, her nose and eyes small, her cheeks flushed with the cold and her hair was tied back under her police cap.

‘It’s you….’ Abe gasped, ‘I’m not going to any hospital! I need to go home!’

‘Yes, of course you can. I shall take you,’ the policewoman spoke out.

‘No. I can take myself!’ Abe rose then fell back into his chair, dizziness hitting him hard.

‘You could be seriously injured,’ she snapped back.

‘I’m fine. Keep away from me,’ Abe spoke loudly and waved his hands at her.

‘Please leave us,’ the policeman said.

She nodded and left, closing the door firmly behind her.

‘Now, sir. Let me take a look at you,’ the policeman commanded.

Abe looked at him. There was something familiar about that face but he could not place it.

‘The cut does look very bad. It might be affecting you…How does your head feel?’

‘It’s okay. I’ll be fine,’ Abe said, ‘do I know you?’

‘I don’t think so…Can you tell me what happened?’ the policeman asked.

Abe turned, looked out of his window and up at the asylum. Torch beams were still flashing past the windows. He tried to piece everything together in his mind but nothing seemed to make sense.

‘There was someone in the main building. They started a fire. I chased them but they came after me and I fell downstairs,’ Abe spoke softly.

‘Anything else?’

‘No. I’m sorry for all the trouble,’ Abe said, ‘I still would like to go home now.’

‘Of course, sir. I shall get someone to take you.’

Something In The Night (Part 4)

abandoned, architecture, building

Abe swore under his breath and reached for the landline phone again. He dialled the emergency services. The second a voice answered, Abe barked into the phone ‘Fire! At the old Asylum!’ Then he threw the phone down and grabbed the mini fire extinguisher off the wall.

Scooping up the ring of keys and torch with his other hand, Abe dashed outside. The wind howled around him, threatening to throw him back inside. Rain lashed against his face, blinding him and soaking straight through his shirt and trousers. The idea of going back for his coat flashed in his mind but then Abe looked upwards and saw the fire flicking in the middle left window.

Abe battled on and went to the side door. Doing everything by feel then sight, Abe put the extinguisher between his knees and wrestled with the keys. He found the right on and slotted it in. Going in, the wind tried to tear the door off it’s hinges, but Abe managed to close it behind him. Leaving the door unlocked, Abe turned the torch on before racing though the small corridor and out into the main hall.

The scent of smoke drifted down the staircase and stuck in Abe’s nose. He went up the stairs. The keys jingling loudly and the extinguisher letting off a metallic din every once in a while. Rain water dripped off Abe and dotted the steps with droplets. He ignored everything and focused solely on getting to the fire. At the top of the staircase, he turned left and rushed up.

Skidding to a stop, he tried to catch his breath as his eyes took in what was before him. There was no fire on the hallway. He walked slowly over, his hands and legs feeling numb. He shone the torch around and saw nothing had been disturbed and there were no markings on the floor. The torch began to shake in his hand and Abe wondered if his mind had finally gone.

He shut his eyes and took deep lungfuls of mould, rot and dust contaminated air. A linger of smoke still seemed to be there. Feeling calm and in control again, Abe opened his eyes and really used the torch to look. He flashed the light over the floor, walls and stairs then he swept back to the window. The torch beam came to a pause.

There was a white candle in a Victorian bronze holder slightly smoking on the window sill.

Abe shuffled forward and looked hard. His eyes were not tricking him. The candle was there and had recently been blown out. Maybe by his own movements. Abe looked out of the window and could see the lights of the security cabin in the grounds below. Water clung to the window back dropped by the dark night. The wind tapped more rain against the glass is it whistled passed.

With his mind slotting things into place, Abe realised the fire he had seen had actually been the flame of the candle pressed against the window. He sigh and felt all the energy drain out of him.

It’s a kid playing tricks or some photographer getting an artist shot, Abe thought, that’s all. No real fire…Where are they now? They’d heard me for sure and taken to hiding again.

Abe turned and took in the view of the main stairs as well as the hallway stretching into the blackness before him. Abe tightened his grip on the torch, keys and fire extinguisher then walked back the way he had come. Carrying everything was making his arms ache and the coldness that had sank into his skin was making it worse.

‘The police are coming! You won’t get away!’ Abe yelled.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something In The Night (Part 3)

abandoned, architecture, building

Abe made his way up the staircase to the second floor feeling apprehensive. He had no idea who he might find up there, but he hoped it was only an urban explorer or two teenagers having private time. Reaching the top, he shone his torch down the hallway which looked the same as the one below it.

‘Hello?’ he called out, deciding to break his silence, ‘security! You’re trespassing!’

Abe listened to his voice fading. From somewhere close by a floorboard cracked and bare running footsteps sounded.

‘I know you are here!’ he shouted.

Hurrying towards the sound of the footsteps, he stopped before a closed door. Abe liked all the inside doors to be unlocked and opened throughout all the buildings, so that if anyone got in he would be able to find them more easily. Without waiting, Abe flung the door open and shone his torch in.

The light flashed around the empty room. Showing the bare floorboards and cream paint peeling walls. There was no one there.

‘Don’t play games with me!’ Abe yelled.

He was getting tried of this now.

A soft giggle, like a child’s, broke out from the dark corner at the end of the hall. Abe turned and fixed the torch light towards the sound. The beam cut through the blackness and showed him there was nothing there. Grumbling, Abe move to the corner and looked around it. Another hallway stretched before him, twice as long as the one he’d just been standing in.

‘Show yourself! I’ll call the police!’ Abe called out.

His voice faded. He listened hard, but could hear nothing other then the rain and the wind outside. He walked down the corridor, feeling duty bound more then anything else. He began checking random rooms, hoping to flush someone out. However, when he reached the end of the hallway he had found nothing and no other sounds had come to him.

Turning the corner, he walked down the west wing. This side on the old blueprints had been the rooms of the male patients. He sniffed and smelt something more acidic then mould and rot. Urine? That would make sense, but he’d never smelt it up here before. Maybe an animal had gotten in or else….

‘You’re defacing private property!’ Abe yelled, ‘I’ve had enough of this,’ he added quietly.

From his pocket he dug out his mobile phone and turned it on. The screen lit up and and a little message said he had no signal.

Swearing under his breath, Abe made his way out of the asylum. Going through the small door and into the side corridor, he heard the wind and rain louder then before. He unlocked the door, braced himself and opened it. Gale force wind drove the rain into his face and caused Abe to wonder why he’d bothered carrying on with this job. He stepped out, locked the door and walked to the security cabin.

He was drenched through and freezing when he finally walked in. Peeling off his gloves, hat and coat, he went to the landline phone that was on the desk. He called the police, explained the situation then hung up to wait for them.

Slumping into his chair, he felt his knees aching and the cold clinging to him. He moved closer to the large electric heater. Warming his hands and legs. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of light. He turned his head and looked out of the rain splattered window. Lightening?

No. It’s torch light again, he thought. Then he saw the yellow, orange glow growing stronger and realised it was in fact a fire.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Something In The Night (Part 2)

abandoned, architecture, building

Abe reached the top of the staircase, his old legs feeling shaky after the climb. He stopped and caught his breath. The light from his torch spotlighted on the wall before him and the edge of a large picture frame.

Rising the light up, Abe saw the huge portrait of a middle-aged man wearing an early 1800’s black jacket, white shirt and red cravat. The man had long black hair which was tied back with a black ribbon. The man’s head was slightly turned to the right, so the dark brown eyes were staring off into the distance and not looking down at you as many other portraits did. Underneath the painting, a worn out bronze sign read Jacob Oscars.  

Abe had looked the man up after his first exploration of the asylum and found that Oscars had been the original owner and designer. Though only a few years later, he had sold the place to Doctor Charles Denty who many people had believed was the founding father. Abe had researched Denty too and uncovered some chilling stories about the scientist and his brain experiments.

Turning to look behind him, Abe saw the window above the front door which looked down upon the stairs at this level. It was where he had first seen the light. Now though he could see the dark stormy night pressing against the glass.

Clearing his throat as quietly as he could, Abe turned left and went up a few steps that led onto the first floor and the east wing. The light he had seen from the security cabin had come from this side and past by the window he was now approaching. Not stopping he pressed on to the end where a large, but less grand staircase led to the second floor.

His feet slowed but instead of going up he turned right and followed the corridor around and into a long hallway. The wall on the left was lined with doorways and the wall on the right was broken up by a few windows which Abe knew looked down onto the asylum’s center courtyard.

Silence and dust hung heavy in the air as Abe shone his torch along the doors. Nothing looked undisturbed and still there were no fresh footprints. All of a sudden the weight of the search got to him. Abe’s thoughts tumbled and the thrill of the chase began to fade.

Where do I start? he asked.

Casting his mind back he thought about the few times over the last five years when he had caught trespassers. There had been three different gangs of teenagers who had made a lot of noise destroying things and one gang had started a fire in one of the ground floor rooms. They had been easy to track because of the noise and they had brought a lot of lights with them too.

Other trespassers had been small groups of work men  who had come to rob the place of any valuable; lead, copper, expensive wooden fits and anything else they could remove. Abe had easily heard them at work too. It was no quiet job ripping through walls and flooring.

The last lot of trespasser were the ones Abe didn’t mind and actually allowed in. They were the abandoned places lovers. They came with cameras and recorders to take photos and film the asylum. Sometimes there was only one of them but most of the time they came in pairs or threes. Their whispering voices and flashing cameras drawing Abe after them.

It had been awhile through, close to a year now since the last known trespassers had been in. Security had been tightened at that point, but Abe was sure people had found ways to escape his notice. Plus, old age had caught up with him and Abe’s hearing, eyes and fast movements had slowed.

Abe moved carefully down the hallway, listening hard for any sounds. At the first door which was half open, he shone his torch into the large room. The empty floor and walls met his eyes. It had been the night nurses’ room once, Abe had read on an 1852 blueprint of the asylum that were framed on a wall in the security cabin.

A creaking of a loose floorboard or door vibrated downwards. Abe rose his torch and looked up at the ceiling. He held his breath and waited for more. A whispering voice tickled his ear. He couldn’t make at the words. Another creak came, longer then before. Someone was opening a door on the second floor.

To Be Continued…