Monday, July 09, 2012

Night Is Near.

I've been writing a daily story over on my facebook page the last few days, quite enjoying making it up day to day. No idea where it's going, which is part of the fun. People seem to be enjoying it, so thought I'd throw it up here for those who aren't friends on FB. Each day is a new part. As a blog bonus I've included Part 5 here first! 

See what you think:

Night is near. There is a storm coming. A dull muffled crack sounds above the clouds. The power is out. Prayer is all that's left. In the distance he stands. Waiting for dark. 

Night is near. And there is a storm coming.

Part 2:

John stands outside his house. Watching the fading light over the distant hills. The street lights are out. With the cloud darkness comes all too quickly. The warm light from candles and a fire calls him in. Church bells ring out. Father Landy? What is he doing? No one's going to mass tonight. Everyone knows what's coming. Still the church bells ring. Jack gets his coat.

"I'm going out." His wife steps into the hallway from the kitchen.
"You can't."
"Just to the church, see what Father Landy is up to."
"John, don't. Wait till morning. Please."
"I'll be back in 20 minutes, don't worry. Keep the door closed, OK?"
"Be careful."

John takes a gun from inside his coat and checks the clip. Puts it back.

"I always am. Look, I wont be long. I promise."
"I'll watch for you."

They kiss. He leaves.

John reaches the crest of the hill. Cautious. Slow. Watching. Thunder rumbles miles away. Where the sea is. The storm hasn't reached land yet. He stands for moment. Staring into the distance. Stop. Move. To the church. Night is too close to be standing around watching shadows.

He passes a shop. A post office. A pub. A town hall. Enough for the 500 people of Tallan. A church. Where Father Pat Landy says mass late on Saturday night and four times on Sunday morning. He tends his flock door to door weekdays. An ever decreasing flock. Some fled these passed late summer days. Others - - something else happen to the others.

John walks down the centre of the road down toward the church. The village is quiet. Still. The bells have stopped ringing and a hush presses down. He reaches the church and steps inside the empty church as Father Landy exits the rectory and walks to the alter. He kneels before it. Bows his head. He is dressed for mass.

"Father?" John's voice echos around the grey stone walls. Father Landy blesses himself and turns.
"John, you came, good man."
"What are you doing?"
"Performing mass son, will you join?"
"I can't, I have to get back before dark, before... you know I do. You didn't think anyone would come tonight?"
"You came."
"To see what you were doing. You think ringing bells is wise?"
"I wont let anyone... or anything stand in the way of the Lord's good word."
"But he'll be here soon. You have to close the doors."
"Soon? He's already here my son. And as for the doors."

The doors slam shut. John spins around to see them bolt themselves.

"Now, why not sit for mass. Seeing as you're here."

Part 3: Brother Joseph.

Beth knew it would be more than 20 minutes. But it has been an hour. It is dark now and she is worried.

Beth's brother Joseph stansd in the darkened living room of his farmhouse a mile outside of the village. He can see the dull shapes of buildings in the valley below. Shadows seem to move. He pays no attention. He knows when it comes there will be no trick of the light. It will be here. In front of him. He will see it.

Then a loud crack breaks the silence and the windows of the church explode. Bright pale green light shines out and lights up the entire village. Joseph covers his eyes. The light goes out. Everything seem much darker than before. But it is no longer silent. There is a sound. A low resonating hum. Almost inaudible. But there. Under everything. A tremor. It makes him feel sick to his stomach.

The phone rings. Joseph answers.

"John's not back."
"Where is he?"
"The church, he went to see Father Landy over an hour ago."
"Dammit... stay in the house. I'll try to find him."
"What was that noise? That light?"
"You know what."
"Find John. Bring him home. Please."

Joseph puts down the phone and walks to the window. Now he can see something move. Now he is sure of it. The darkness. The black. Spilling from the church windows. Creeping toward the houses. A living shadow. Come to paint the town in death.

He moves fast. Coat. Rifle. Knife. Colt. What good would they be against a shadow he didn't know but they made him feel more prepared. He climbs into his Ford pick-up. What did it matter? This thing, whatever it was, would know he was coming. His spies had been amongst them for weeks, months. He turns the key. The engine growls. The tape sounds out Rory Gallagher - Cradle Rock. If there was song to die to he couldn't think of a better. He takes a cigar from his pocket. Chomps off the end. Spits it. Wipes the spit from his beard. Chews on the cigar. Lights it. Sucks it into life. The amber glow lights his eyes under the brim of his ragged baseball cap.

"Devil better pray."

Thunder overhead. Rain falls.

Part 4: Lullaby.

John leaves the house. The front door closes. Beth stands in the hall. Tries not to imagine anything bad happening to him. But she can't help it. Seventeen of her friends and neighbours had died in the last two week. Terrible deaths. Found torn apart. Beheaded. Strange inscriptions carved on their torsos in a markings no one could understand.

They called for help. But all lines of communication were broken. They found themselves trapped. Cut off. Those who tried to leave met the same death. Something in the hills, the forrest, surrounded them. Everyone in the village was frozen with fear. Four of the deaths had been suicides. Some tried to fight back. But they had no idea what they were fighting. A shadow. Only those who faced it really knew what it was and they didn't live to tell anyone.

A baby cries. Beth shakes her self back into the world and walks up stairs to her young daughter. Emma is 6 months old. She cries a hungry cry reaching up for her mother. Beth picks her up and rocks and shushes her. She sits in the rocking chair and nurses her daughter, who quietly sups her fill. Beth sings a gentle lullaby.

Beth wakes from a nightmare. Sweating. She looks around the room. Frantic. Emma sleeps soundly in her arms. Beth places her in her bed. Covers her. Kisses her forehead. She step into the landing and closes the door. A hand print in dried blood on it. Her own. The bandage around her hand shows an old blood stain. They don't know if it helps. But in these times it doesn't hurt. Not much anyway. And so far, the children have been spared.

How long was she asleep? She looks at the clock. 10pm. It's dark. John left at 9, said he'd be back in 20 minutes. She knew it wouldn't be 20. But he would never have been gone an hour. And not after dark. No matter what... unless...

Beth runs to the window and looks out. All is quiet. Then a loud crack and a flash of bright pale green light. Where is coming from? She stares out. There is no sign of John. The light goes out. She picks up the phone and dials. Joseph answers.

"John's not back."
"Where is he?"
"The church, he went to see Father Landy over an hour ago."
"Dammit... stay in the house. I'll try to find him."
"What was that noise? That light?"
"You know what."
"Find John. Bring him home. Please."

The phone goes dead. She knows her brother will find him. But will he save him? All she can do is wait.

Part 5: Born.

The doors of the church slam shut. John spins around. He runs toward them. Tries to open them. He can't.

"Now, why not sit for mass, seeing as you're here." There is something different in Father Landy's voice. John can't understand why he didn't notice it before. He curses himself for not picking up on it. For not running the moment he felt something was wrong. For coming out in the first place. His daughter's sweet face flashes in his mind. He chases it away. He needs to focus. No time for sentimentality. He turns.

"Who are you?"
"Son? What are you talking about?"
"What have you done with him?"
"Shush now. Kneel before God and pray."

Father Landy holds out his hand. John's knees buckle. He falls to the floor.

"He is coming."

Something shimmers in the centre of the room. Something hovering above the ground. John looks at it. It looks like a rip in a pice of fabric. But there is no fabric. The church shudders and groans. The rafters creak and moan.  The rip in the air grows larger until finally one of the rafters gives way and cracks. Splinters fly and part of the roof falls in. John covers his head. He looks at the rip again. It begins to glow, brighter and brighter until a vibrant blinding green light bursts free with such force that all the windows are blown out. He is knocked against the door. Father Landy is blown back against the alter and knocked unconscious. 

The light in sucked back into the rip. But now the rip is gone and in it's place it a floating ball of swirling black smoke. An orb. Crackling with electricity. Rotating above the ground. It is the size of a fist, but growing slowing. John watches it. There is something beneath the smoke. It emits a low hum causing the room to slightly vibrate and making it hard to focus clearly.

Something belches free from the orb. A thick stream of black tar spills out of it and with it a terrible stench. Sulphur. Burnt flesh. Vomit. The sickening pungent smell of rotting meat. John gags. He tries to fight it but cannot. He vomits. The tar spills onto the floor and begins to spread out across the floor toward the windows and up the walls. As it gets closer to him he realises it is not tar, not wet, but a shadow of sorts. John backs away form it. He finds he can move again. He gets to his feet and tries the door. Still bolted. But the windows are open. High. But open.

He watches the orb. Tendrils of smoke reach out. Testing the air. Grabbing at what is near. One finds Father Landy and lifts him up by his head. Another engulfs his face. Feeling his features. Then the two grab him hard, spin his body and tear his head off. On the tendrils sucks the head back inside the orb. Another vomitous strand of stinking tar spills out. 

The orb swirls faster and begins to grow. Now amid the smoke flesh can be seen. Grey flesh. Covered is black slim. Growing. Before his eyes John watches something being born out of the smoke. A figure of a man begins to take shape. Curled up. His eyes closed. Moving and growing. Floating above the ground. Surrounded in smoke and cover in tar. Vile and horrid. 

John is transfixed. He cannot move. Emma. He shakes his head. Emma's face. He gets to his feet and runs as fast as he can. He steps onto a pew and launches himself out the window. A smoke tendril grabs at him. But misses.

John lands on gravel outside. He scrambles to his feet and runs. In the distance the lights of a truck move toward him. He can hear music. He knows who it is. He runs to stop Joseph. To warn him. He's here. The Devil is here.

Part 6: Drive.

The rain pours down. John runs into the street. Waving at Joseph. Inside the truck amid the smoke loud music and pouring rain Joseph can barely see the road. It's not until he is right on top of John does he see him. He slams on the breaks. John dives out of the way. Joseph steps out of the car. Music still blaring.


He hears a groan coming from the ditch. He walks toward it. John is climb out. Soaked and covered in mud.

"Did I hit you?"
"What are you doing down there then?"
"Just help me out."

John holds up his hand. Joseph takes it and pulls him up.

"What happened?"
"Take me home. Quickly."

They both climb in the truck. Joseph looks John up and down.

"Always said praying was bad for you."
"Take the back road."
"What did you see in there?"

John doesn't answer. Joseph swings the truck around and drives toward a narrow lane. Away from the village. He glances at John from time to time. John is quiet. Still. He stares out the window. Unblinking. Makes no effort to wipe the mud from his face or dry himself. He is oblivious to the music and the smoke. Something he normally hates. Joseph reaches over and turns off the music. John doesn't notice.

"Somethin must have made that noise? That light?"

John finally blinks. A tear escapes his eye and marks a clean trail down his filthy face. 

"I just want to make sure Beth and Emma are OK."

Joseph drives toward the house. Checking the rearview mirror. Watching the church. A dark figure steps into the doorway. Filling it entirely. The doorway is nine foot high.

"Never mind. I think I know."

John looks at Joseph. Then back at the church. He sees the figure standing there. Naked. Black veined grey skin. Eyes glow a pale icy blue. Like a man but huge. In his hand is Father Landy's decapitated body. The creature lifts it to his mouth and sucks his blood from the neck. Then tosses the corpse away like a chicken bone picked clean.


Part 7: Get Out.

John and Joseph enter the house through the back door. Met by Beth.  

John hugs her.
"Thank God you're alright?"
She kisses him.
"What happened?"
"We have to go."
"Just away from here."
"We can't John, you know what happened the others."
"Just get Emma. We have to try."
"He's right. See to your daughter. John, gather what food you can. Do you have any weapons?"

He takes out his gun.

"That it?"
"An old compound bow, some hunting knives."
"Bring everything. Load up the back of the truck."

"What's going on? Tell me."
"Beth, sis, get Emma, let's go, we'll explain on the way."
"On the way where?"
"Just go."

Beth looks at her husband and brother. She sees the fear on their faces. She decides not to push it and goes upstairs to get her daughter. Joseph pulls John back into the kitchen. They speak in a whisper.

"What was that thing?"
"I guess the same thing that's been attacking everyone."
"And we only see something that size now? I don't buy it. There would have been tracks or something."
"I don't have an answer."
"Where did it come from?"
"I don't know."
"You were there."
"I know... No where."
"Had to be from somewhere?"
"No where. Mid air. It just appeared. Started growing in front of me. Pulled Father Landy's head off... at least, I think it was Father Landy."
"What do you mean?"
"He was acting strange. Not himself. I think something had gotten to him. Messed with his head."

Joseph takes his hat off. Runs his figures through his hair.

"This shit isn't real, it can't be."
"It's plenty real. And we have try and survive it."

Beth returns. Emma is bundled and still sleeping. Suddenly there is a piercing screech. It rips the night silence. John and Joseph cover their ears. Beth holds Emma close. But she wakes and starts crying. 

"What was that?"
"Wait here."

John and Joseph go to front door. Across the street a neighbour opens his door. He sees them and calls over in a loud whispered voice.

"John. It's that thing? Did you see it."

Joseph runs across the street. He talks to the man for a moment. The man looks down the street toward the church then disappears inside. Joseph runs back over. 

"Tony's going to take you three." Beth steps forward.
"He's got a bigger car. It'll be better for Emma than the truck."
"Then come with us."
"I'll be right behind you."
"I'm not going anywhere. Go with Tony. I'll load up the truck with food and blankets. I told him to drive you to the harbour. I don't trust the roads or the woods. Maybe we can get out of here be boat."

The screech sounds again.

"Go. Quickly."

Beth kisses him on the cheek.

"Please come."
"I'll be right behind you. Now go."

They run across the street to Tony. Joseph watches them. They climb into Tony's car and drive away. Toward the sea. Joseph closes the door and begins to gather what he can. Blankets. Food. He finds a stuffed toy of Emma's. A fluffy rabbit. He stuffs it into his coat. In a cupboard above the sink is a box of shell casings. Joseph moves to the shed. Finds the compound bow and arrows. In fishing tackle box are two hunting knives and a pair of binoculars. He takes them. 

Outside he loads the truck. Before climbing in he takes the binoculars and climbs on top of the shed. He looks back toward the church. He can only see the steeple. Then. The creature appears. It climbs the steeple. Bricks crumble as it digs his hands in for grip. It dressed now. In a long black cape. It reaches the top of the steeple. Slaps the cross away. It screeches it's deafening call again. And then, unfurls it's giant wings.

"It's not a cape."

The words fall out of Joseph's mouth. The black wings span thirty feet or more. They are enormous. Feathered, like a bird. But not soft. Harsh. Jagged. Tattered. The creature's eyes glow a cold flame. Again it screeches. And again the words falls from Joseph's mouth.

"It's calling."

Thunder cracks over head. He looks up. The clouds are moving fast. Lighting flashed above them. Like bombs going off. As if a war has started in the sky. Out of sight. Joseph finds himself hoping it stays out of sight. But knowing - it's coming. Soon.

Part 8

The creature beats it's heavy wide wings and lifts up into the air above the church. The steeple crumbles and cave it as it lets go. Joseph lowers the binoculars and looks up into the sky. The creature is clear and in view. He moves slowly off the shed. Hoping not to be seen. The creature turns and flies toward the mountains. Joseph falls back against the shed and catches his breath. But doesn't stand for long.

He drives toward the harbour at speed. Checking the rearview mirror every few seconds. Nothing in the sky but the storm. It offers little relief. he reaches the harbour. High waves crash against the peer. He sees John and Tony standing below. He drives toward them. John meets him.

"We can't go out in this."

Joseph gets out of the car. He looks at the sea.

"We have to try."
"No. This isn't natural. I'm not risking it."
"We have no choice."
"I'm not taking Emma out in that. We'll be killed."
"That thing was calling something. There are probably more coming. The last two weeks was probably just a taster of what's coming."
"I know that. But we wont survive that sea. This way, there might be a chance. We'll head for the mountains."
"It flew to the mountains."
"What do you mean Flew?"
"It has wings, big bastard wings. Don't even mention the woods, you know what happened there."
"I'm not going out on that sea. We find another way. Come with us or stay. Up to you." John walks back to the car.
"But we're leaving."

Tony looks at Joseph. Unsure. Joseph looks at the sea again. John's right.

"Drive to my house."

John turns and looks at him.

"It's out of town. On high ground. And I have more guns. For all the good they might be."

John nods. Climbs in the car. Tony gets in the driver seat and starts the engine. Joseph takes another look at the sea. He takes a last drag of his cigar and tosses it away. Climbs in his truck and turns it around. 

As the pull up to the house Joseph notices the beam of a flash light moving inside.

"You have to be shitting me."

Tony pulls up beside him.

"You have someone staying with you?"
"I didn't when I left earlier tonight."

Joseph takes his rifle.

"Wait here."

He creeps around back. The door is open. He's inside. Someone is in the bedroom. Knocking things over. Joseph moves down the hall. Gun at the ready. In reaches the door. Takes a breath. Steps inside.


The flashlight flies up in the air and smashes on the floor. The light goes out.

"Jesus Joe! It's me It's me. Don't shoot!"
"Alex Alex!"

Joseph lowers his gun. Looks at the man cowering against the wall.

"Alex! What the hell are playing at? I nearly shot your head off!"
"I'm sorry. I was looking for you! You did answer when I knocked..."
"So you thought you'd crawl into my bed for a cuddle, was it?"
"No... I was looking for a gun... I saw you weren't here... I just... I saw that thing. Flew near my house. Headed for the hills..."
"I know."
"What the hell is it Joe?"
"I don't know."
"What are we going to do?"
"Come into the living room. John and Beth are outside."

The four men are gathered in the living room. Beth joins them. John looks up at her.

"She asleep?"
"Yes, finally."

Beth sits beside John. He puts his arm around her and hugs her. Tony sits in a chair near the empty fireplace. Alex paces. Joseph is standing at the window peering through the binoculars. Tony stands and goes to the window.

"No. Quiet."
"Do you mind..."
"All yours."

Joseph hands Tony the binoculars and joins the others. He watches Alex pacing for a moment.

"Alex. Sit down."
"I can't Joe, I'm jumping out of my skin here."
"Just sit will you? You doing my brain in."
"Alright, yeah. Sorry Joe. Sorry."

Alex sits. His knee still jumping. Joseph gets up. Walks to him slowly. Puts his finger on Alex's knee and pushes it down. 

"Aye, right Joe. Sorry Joe."

Joseph sits again. But Alex can't help himself.

"So what do we do? Just sit here?"

"It's worked for the last two weeks. Only those who tried to leave were killed. Maybe if we just stay indoors?" Beth answers.

Joseph is not convinced.

"Being inside isn't going to make a blind bit of difference when the rest come. They've been here for weeks, months maybe, watching us." He says.
"We don't know if there's more coming." Says Beth.
"Some of those that died, remember, the one's that died alone, Kathy Phelan, the shop owner, whats his name? The deliver man..."
"Pat O'Brien." Says Tony.
"Yeah, the ones with the carvings on them? Remember how they were acting before? We thought nothing of it at the time. Just that they weren't themselves."
"So?" Says Beth.
"John, you said it tonight, Father Landy wasn't acting himself. He knew something was coming. He said something..."
" 'Kneel before God. He is coming.' Then that thing appeared, it was as if he was expecting it. Maybe that's why he rang the bells, it wasn't for us, it was for that creature." Says John.

"I see it." Tony becomes fixed on a point out the window. They all stand. Joseph steps up beside him. 
"What is it?" Tony hands him the binoculars and point.
"There on the ridge. At the old abbey ruins."
Joseph looks. 
"Where did it come from?"
John shakes his head. 
Many miles away the creature sits crouched on the ruined walls of an ancient abbey. It's black wing folded down around itself. Joseph notices that it's eyes are no longer glowing blue, but black.

"It's waiting for something." He hands the binoculars to John.
"How do you know?" says Beth.
"The ones that came earlier, the ones we didn't see, they were scouts. Those carvings were markers, signals. Sent to see who or what was here. They found us. So tonight this guy appears, and he's just hanging out, no reason to hide in the trees. He knows we're weak and afraid, hiding in our houses. Easy prey."
"What are we going to do if we can't stay here? If we can't run?" says Beth.
"Were going to make them realise we're not the frightened push overs they think we are. We're going to fight."
"Fight?! - look at that thing!"
"I am looking. We're going to start with him"


last_swashbuckler said...

Deadly! I'm diggin' the story my man. I've always had a soft spot for well written Horror/Suspense. Can't wait to read more. I enjoy writting free form like this. It grows organically and causes you to trust your instincts as you write, which is a good thing. Please more!

Frank Kelly said...

It's usually how I write anyway, I have sort of a vague idea of what I want to write, at least, I know it's going to be horror at the start, and I usually have a tone, mood and some scenes. Then I just enjoy the process. I've just never published it straight from my head to the public before. I'd usually draft and draft and draft before letting anyone read it... some might say that's more advisable! But, to hell with them.