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Fiction Bedtime Horror

"Heck, we would break down in the middle of some crazy forest !" Jonesy struggled to keep up with Hollins. He blinked through his spectacles struggling to see through the freezing fog let alone the trees and foliage.

  Hollins shrugged, parting a thorny bush aside before scratching his beard. " I see what you mean... Well uhm, let's keep movin'."

"Place gives me the creeps," Jonesy tightened his scarf to keep the night air from biting his neck. "Isn't this where they spotted strange stuff hovering about..."

"That's what they say."

"Reckon it's true ?"

"Dunno," Hollins soldiered on, side stepping a branch. " Uhm, now let's see... This Cabin's Lodge. Another half mile there's a mansion."

"You mean people live here ? " 

"Uh, huh," Hollins flicked on the torch, its ray steadily diffusing through the gloom, giving the illusion of warmth. "Prob'ly some old fella." He shifted his hefty frame and scratched another welt under his beard. " Guess you can't blast people 'cos they want solitude. "

"Yeah, guess not."

  They continued for perhaps another few hundred yards before spotting the aforesaid mansion. Big and imposing, a foliage ridden path lead to a monumental door that sported studded bars.. 

"Heck, meet Norman Bates."

"Ha," Hollins gave a rye grin then frowned. "Say, that's weird... There ain't no fog patches where the house is ?"

"What..," Jonesy shivered, squinting to where Hollins was looking. 

They knocked on the door almost apologetically. Three not very confident knocks. Strange shapes danced around in the gloom until one of the lights came on, diffusing through a set of French windows.

" Man, I hate this..." Jonesy whispered. 

"Now remember, smile politely."

They heard the sound of a lock unbolt: the door swung open and a boy in his early teens glanced at them expressionlessly. 

"Uhm, howdy," Hollins beamed. "Say, would you know if there is a garage nearby. Our chevy broke down ?"

There was a pause. "We're not alone."

"Beg pardon..."

" Where have you broken down ?"

"About a mile that way," Hollins gestured. 

"There aren't any garages around here," the boy's gaze became intense as if drinking them in. From both his grey clothes and demeanour, he seemed to belong to another era. And somewhat impoverished.

"No phone around either ?"

"No." There was an awkward silence before he spoke again. "But you are welcome to come in." 

"Erm, " Jonesy was about to interrupt before Hollins stepped in with a big smile."This guys talks strange." Jonesy whispered. "I say we get outta here."

"It's either this or we freeze our ass off in the chevy."

"But this ain't normal...."

"Neither are we" Hollins said in a hushed tone before the boy glanced at them.

In side, the place seemed to be carved from stone with a huge staircase that led to other rooms. With their feet tapping against the uncarpeted floor, they made their their way into the guest room. It too was ridiculously big but well furnished with a solid oak dining table that could have seated ten people. A stone built mantel piece exuded warmth from a fire stacked with logs. Red, velvety cushions laced the wooden chairs.

"Say this is grand," Hollins looked around. The heat from the fire was soothing but the boy's pallor seemed to grow paler. As before, he seemed emotionless, except for the intense stare. "The master instructed to welcome guests."

"The Master... ?" Jonesy piped in, suspicious.

The boy nodded.

"Is he in now ?" 

"No. "

"Erm, " Hollins filled the awkward silence. "I guess there's nothin' like country folk to welcome people."

The boy bade them sit down only Jonesy found he could not return his gaze. Still, he smiled  - until he placed his hand on a chair. A knot tightened in his stomach, giving him a feeling of dread. Or as if he'd touched a thorny bush. The boy interrupted, watching. "My master is a collector of antiques. It's not to everyone's  taste."

"Erm, it's fine " Jonesy stalled though it was not convincing. Still, he had to admit this was better than freezing in the cold and elected to ignore the feeling of revulsion as he sat on the chair, though not really settling into it. The weight was mostly on his thighs and something sharp twinged in his ankle.

"Excuse me," the boy vanished before bringing in a platter of roast duck and pheasant, a hefty loaf of bread and cooked vegetables. Deftly, he laid down the plates and cutlery. Hollins was about to break the silence again but frowned:  a pungent odour came from the boy. Jonesy spotted scars on the boy's wrists tracing to his elbow. "I must fetch the wine," he vanished again, leaving them alone.

"Let's get outta here !"

"Relax," Hollins interjected, tucking into the food. " Okay, so he's a bit weird. Y' never know, he probably thinks we're wierd. We ain't exactly dressed for a shoot."

"What the heck's he doin' here by himself ?"

"He has a Master."

"....Which we haven't seen." 

"Look, we're outta the cold. Relax Jonesy."

They were perhaps halfway through dinner when the boy came in to stir the fire before seating himself at the other end of the table, watching them. There was something brazen about it despite the same expressionless demeanour. Except for the stare.

"The meal's grand," Hollins interjected. "Say, you made it ?"

A nod.

"That's fast. "

"I knew you were coming."

There was a thick silence. Jonesy gave Hollins a glance. 

"I mean," their host seemed to catch himself :" strangers come in quite often." 

Perhaps it was the curious tone but it made Jonesy  swing around as if something icy had touched him. He stared into mid air, thought he saw something but detected nothing  "Erm, I think there is a draft coming from somewhere," he muttered, embarrassed.

"That's the prob with old houses," Hollins helped himself to another mouthful. "Drafts everywhere." He laughed again but except for the fire crackling, it was the only sound in the room. As the boy watched Hollins eat, Jonesy noticed his thumbnails were grown into edges that curled. And whilst the latter thought neither of them were watching, he scratched the other wrist with one of those sharp thumb nails untill it bled. As if he was scoring some kind of tally. Jonsey looked away, feigning he hadn't seen it. Meanwhile Hollins happily tucked in before slurping a whole quart of wine. "Erm, excuse me," he stifled a burp.

For a split second, the boy's expression seemed to soften before a frown darkend his gaze. The words he spoke seemed to belong to someone much older. " If I could show you to your chambers. Tomorrow, the Master can see you to the garage." 

"I thought you said there wasn't one around," Jonsey interjected. He didn't mean to sound confronting.

" There is one, but it's shut for now."

Well, if we could..." Hollins gestured as the boy led them up the huge staircase and opened the first room. It was well furnished with twin beds, a mini library section and solid, oak chairs. A tatty whicker chair was by the window, as if it were an after thought.

"The guest bedroom," the boy motioned, the smell about him becoming stronger. "You'll find the beds are comfortable." 

He was about to turn and leave when Jonesy interrupted " Erm say, what about the key ?"

"Key..."

"Well, to lock the door."

"I keep it, should you require anything." His gaze seemed to darken again and if Jonesy hadn't known better, he could have sworn the boy was glaring at him. 

"I wonder what that was about ?" he said when the door shut. "He seemed offended."

"Not enough for him to refuse," Hollins hadn't seemed bothered. " A bed each and for free. I think we ought to give him a few dollars tomorrow. What's that about country folk not bein' nice..."

"You notice those scars on his wrist ?"

"Uh huh," Hollins peeled his jacket away. "Say, it's cold in here," he dived into the nearest bed and began settling in. 

"Oh, heck ..."

"Jonesy," Hollins yawned. "I been in dives that would 'ake a goat puke. Now get some kip too." 

It came to be whilst Hollins was snoring away, Jonesy found that same knot tighten in his stomach. The boy's strangeness, the scars on his wrist, the Master he kept mentioning but nowhere to be seen made him feel on edge. Listening to Hollins snoring, he sat on the other bed, fully clothed and thought something grabbed at him. Immediately he jolted away, feeling a revulsion. There was no way he was getting into that bed ! His gut wouldn't let him. It occurred to him about the door and he tilted a chair against he handle. Perhaps it wouldn't keep anything from coming in but it made him feel better. Hesitantly, he settled into the tatty whicker chair, half expecting something to happen. Only the chair felt normal, but then he reasoned, it wasn't oak wood. Had he developed an aversion to that ?  

Inevitably, fatigue settled into his muscles making them heavy and leaden only he couldn't tell if he was in a strange trance. He felt the furniture moving towards him with myriad hands out stretched. The same feeling he'd had when something icy had touched him in the guest room during dinner. Faces, with contorted expressions, damning him. 

He now knew he was awake and spotted Hollins not slumbering on a bed but on bodies that became animated. Waxy, myriad hands stretched to pull him. To become one of them. 

Hollins was sinking, sinking.... Except Jonesy managed to jolt himself free. Before he knew it, he was pullng Hollins from the hands. Only they wanted their prey, dragging him deeper into the waxy clump of a bed until Jonesy gave a huge heave, rendering him free. Hollins staggered, pale and with a look of sheer panic. "What the frig ...Where am I ?" he slurred. The waxy hands seemed to scream, as if they had been robbed.

"There's ghouls in the furniture... In the furniture," Jonesy's voice was shaky. "In the wood.We gotta get outta here !"

" Wh, where... in the whaaaat ?"

"We gotta escape !" Jonesy cried, before solid footsteps came to the door and the chair stacked against it began to rattle. It was something powerful, something not human. The Master.

August 08, 2023 02:57

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