I’ve been reading Esther’s blog for a while now, and love the weekly writing challenge she posts. I try to take part when I can, usually in the comments (for the short challenges), but this week I wanted to create a story in response to one of the themes – horror.
The Flip Side
“Why do we have to split up?” Michael asked his two friends. He already regretted coming to the house. He hated the place.
“Aww…Mickey’s scared. Did you pack you blanket, Mickey? Did mommy pack-”
Michael clocked him on the jaw. “Shut the hell up, Dave. “You’re the one with the glow worm night light.”
“Cut it out, both of you.” Joe stepped between them. “We made the bet, so we have to deal with it.” He grabbed his backpack from the dust covered floorboards. “I’ll see you on the flip-side.”
“Try not to wet the bed,” David called after him.
“You’re such a jerk, you know that?” Michael sighed, running his gaze around the filthy bedroom. He wasn’t going anywhere near the bed; the bugs were having a party in the mattress.
“You have no sense of humour, Mike. That’s your problem.” David was already at the door. “Holler if you need anything.”
Like my head testing?
Michael grimaced as he lay his sleeping bag out on the floor. He was going to burn the thing as soon as he could. Crazy shit always happened in their little town, and he didn’t need to spend the night in an abandoned house to prove the thing was haunted. He could practically feel the ghosts breathing down his neck.
He shuddered, and climbed into his sleeping bag. It was going to be a long night.
“Stupid,” Michael muttered as he positioned himself with his back against the wall, facing the door. “This is so stupid.”
His voice sounded too loud in the dusty room; the house throwing his words back at him, taunting him. Had it been this quiet before? He could have been alone, so intense was his isolation. Michael was tempted to call out to his friends, if only to reassure himself they were still with him. If the rumours were true, it wouldn’t be the first time people had vanished in this house.
It was almost a relief when he heard the sounds coming from the bedroom across the hall. Almost. Something was off about the guttural, quality of the noise.
Get a grip, Mike. It’s just Dave fooling around.
He listened intently, squinting at the door as though he might somehow see through it. A beam of moonlight filtered through the grimy window, drawing his gaze. Michael saw the twisted branches of a tree reflected across the ground, like bony fingers reaching toward him.
His pulse skittered when he heard a floorboard creek in the hall, and his eyes swung back to the door. Something was out there.
Michael stared at the doorknob for so long his eyes began to ache. Tears blurred his vision, but were quickly blinked away. He was just beginning to relax when the knob turned abruptly, and the door swung open with enough force to slam against the wall. He felt the vibration all the way to his toes.
Relief flooded him when he glimpsed David’s outline. “Dave, you scared the shit out of me.” The raspy sound of his friend’s breathing sent a shiver of alarm through him. “Seriously, Dave. You’re not funny.”
But David didn’t reply. He only stared at him, his chest heaving and the hostility coming off him in waves.
Michael scrambled out of his sleeping bag. He almost stumbled when David stalked towards him. As David passed through the beam of moonlight, Michael saw his eyes for the first time. They were dead, vacant, and so cold Michael shivered. He scrambled back, bumping up against something hard; probably the cabinet he’d noticed earlier.
His friend roared, leaping at him like a cat. He wrapped his skinny hands around Michael’s neck and squeezed. David’s breath hit him like a slap. It smelled like decay, so rotten Michael’s stomach heaved.
As the air began to back up in his lungs, his survival instinct took over. Michael floundered, his hands trying to push his friend back. It was no use. David’s arms were like a steel trap. There was no getting out of it. In his desperation he forgot all the self-defence moves his father had taught him, and instead felt blindly behind him, not sure what he was looking for until his hand settled around something hard and heavy.
Without thinking Michael grabbed hold of the object, raising his arm quickly and decisively and bringing it down on David’s head. At first the blow had no affect, so he hit him again. And again. Michael couldn’t stop hitting him. Even when his friend was on the ground, he couldn’t stop.
When the frenzy passed he looked down in horror at the blood, at the face which was now unrecognisable. Michael sank to his knees and vomited beside the body of his friend.
“No. No. No.”
Pain ripped across Michael’s chest. He had killed David. How could he have killed his best friend? The thought had him retching again. The smell of blood, of decay, or lost friendship consumed him, and he heaved until he had nothing left.
“Mike!” Joe shot into the room. “Mickey? We need to get out of here. Now. We have to leave.”
“I can’t leave him.” Michael was rocking now. His thoughts shattered, his guilt like a noose around his neck.
“Snap out of it, Mike. We have to help Dave. He’s hurt.”
Michael looked up, horror in his eyes. “He’s dead.”
“What?” Joe glanced down at the body for the first time. “No. He’s not.” He turned to the door. “Dave. You okay, buddy?”
“Just get me the hell out of here, man. No bet is worth this shit.”
The sound of his friend’s voice almost sent Michael over the edge. Until he realised the sound was coming from the room across the hall. He looked down, seeing for the first time the yellowed skin of the body beside him. It wasn’t David. It wasn’t his friend. He was on his feet a heartbeat later, and following Joe across the room.
Thanks for stopping by.