There’s Something in the Cellar

cellar

5 months since my last post. Apologies for the delay and hope to bring you something worth the wait.

There’s something in the cellar. Dane knows it’s down there. He hears it move, groan and howl in the night. It stops him sleeping. All he wants is to rest his eyes, clear his mind and dream.

Dreams. Sleep. And the moaning thing in the cellar.

Dane lives alone in the woods. Cold dark woods which stretch for miles, a sea of trees cast in black shadows. Night comes on and the moon sleeps behind the clouds, but Dane can’t sleep. He hears the rattle of chains at the bottom of the stairs. He wouldn’t mind if the thing lived outside in the dark and cold. If the beasts were all outside then he would fear the night, but the famine of sleepless, dreamless half-life wouldn’t be cutting through him like a slow, cold blade. But the beast sleeps below. It sleeps in the day. At night it howls for the slumbering moon.

His house is old, cobbled together from thick timbers with nails and saws. Rough walls. Splinters. Soot staining a black shroud around the fireplace.

Rough wood gives comfort, knowing the hands which carved each beam held him as a babe. The same arms which plied the saw rocked him in his crib. But rough wood frays rope over time as it runs across its abrasive surface. Dane’s rope was already thin as it was. Calloused hands held him as a babe. Rough arms swung his crib. Maybe they were too firm. Maybe baby Dane won a bruise, caught a fracture. His own fault. Too frail.

The rope frays and then it snaps.

Dane reels out of his narrow bed, drunk on rage and fear. The thing in the cellar groans and rattles its chains, tempting him down.

‘Come on then!’ he answers it. ‘Come on!’

But it’s Dane who comes. He doesn’t so much charge down the stairs as he attacks them. He attacks the whole house. A final protest against its rough fostering. His shoulder collides with the doorframe hard enough to make him bite his tongue. He tastes blood and spits it out with a harsh snarl. The banister gives a crack as he rams into it. Then he’s crashing down the stairs, his bare feet pound on the steps and the whole house seems to shake around him. In the cellar, the thing screams a scream to put ice in the blood.

Dane is scared. He’s sweating and close to wetting himself with fear, if he hasn’t already, but he carries on. He’s committed now. His hand is closing round the cellar door, ready to rip it open and confront the cobwebbed darkness below. If he turns back and creeps away to his bed, he’ll never sleep in the house again.

He moves slower now, cautious of pale corpse fingers reaching over the steps to trip him on his way down. A short tumble, a broken neck and an eternity with the thing. He’s careful in spite of his fear.

An hour later, the smell of gasoline heavy in his dilated nostrils and its taste thick on his tongue, he throws a match onto the porch and watches the flames sate their hunger on the rough old timbers. There’s a sweet catharsis in it, but he feels sick to the pit of his stomach. He tries not to think about the thing he saw in the cellar. The memory wanders uninvited across his tear-soaked eyes.

A woman, no more than a girl if his memory paints an honest picture, kneels on a stained mattress in the middle of the dank cellar. Chains rattle around her scabbed, bleeding wrists. ‘No more,’ she begs. Does he listen?

He descends the stairs, shivering in a euphoria of terror. He’s never seen her like this. A little red pill dissolved in a rusty can of water keeps her asleep through the day. He fears her at night. But tonight it ends and he’ll never need to fear her again. Soon he’ll sleep and she’ll never wake.

Scarlet Seduction

Passion

Parody crime fiction

Scarlet Seduction

Scarlet’s life was dull as hell and she knew it. What was she doing working herself to the bone to keep her business running? What would she get out of it in the end? Dark circles under her eyes and sore joints. The measures of success for any modern professional.

She envied men. They got the added bonus of going bald. Showing off their gleaming pates for everyone to gasp at in wonder.

‘He must have worked himself like a slave!’ they would say. The lucky bastards.

What she needed was a strong male authority figure to inject some purpose into her dilapidated life. Little did she know, the author was about to do just that. He found her at the airport bar, sipping a glass of tonic water and ice. No gin, he noticed. Perfect.

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An Agent of Principle #8

Minnewaukan ND

Chapter 8

‘What the Hell was that?’ Jessie asked, her voice sounding dead and hollow in her own ears.

They had scrambled down the library’s narrow staircase, covering their faces against the red spores which swarmed after them. The memory made her feel sick to her stomach. Those things had been inside Melcom. Inside his rotting corpse.

How did he get up there if he was dead? What the Hell is going on?

‘You shot him, sheriff,’ Deputy West said, sitting in the back of Tom’s car with the librarian sobbing in his arms as they shot down the high street, the hint of a question in his voice.

Tom gave Jessie an uncertain look. ‘Did I?’

‘You missed.’ Speaking made Jessie want to vomit again and she clapped a hand over her mouth.

‘What happened then?’ West asked. ‘A bomb?’

‘He was already dead,’ the sheriff replied, looking at Jessie again for confirmation. ‘A dead man can’t detonate a bomb.’

‘Then what was it?’

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An Agent of Principle #7

Minnewaukan ND

Chapter 7

For the first time in her life, Jessie felt like a real FBI agent. It was like being in a cop movie.

Ripping down the high street in convoy. Sirens blaring and lights flashing as their wheels roared over cold tarmac. The sheriff’s truck in front, Deputy West’s squad car behind, Jessie’s pickup bringing up the rear and the other deputies riding shotgun. Radios chattering and weapons loaded.

I’m a special agent with a whole team of law enforcement officers at my back. Melcom doesn’t stand a damned chance this time.

She gave a grim smile and pressed her foot down harder on the gas pedal, her teeth gritting together as the engine’s hum rose to a throbbing growl. Another thought interrupted her determined yet bitter ecstasy.

Melcom’s dead. Doc said there’s no way he could’ve survived. And the look on his face when I told him what I saw at the funeral home. But Tom said he’s alive… What the Hell is happening here?

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An Agent of Principle #6

Minnewaukan ND

Chapter 6

The gas station six miles out of town was like a fuelling stop on Mars. All around were empty horizons of flat grassland, a crisp ashen green under the morning frost. Winter was rearing its head, ready to bury Jessie’s backwoods town under a deluge of sleet and heavy snow.

She didn’t bother to give the road more than a cursory glance every few minutes. No one was driving out that way. The road led to nowhere, dissolving into dirt tracks and scrubland after twenty-or-so miles before it met the hostile wilderness which hedged the US-Canadian border.

Like Hell he’s going to drive out here. Dead men don’t drive.

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An Agent of Principle #5

Minnewaukan ND

To say it had been a long day was an understatement. The morning jog up and down the stairs seemed like a distant memory to Jessie.

Hell, it’s nearly morning again.

Jessie had been back at her apartment for hours, but bed still hadn’t tempted her. She was wide awake. Staring out at the starlit sky through her murky window. Sleep as distant to her as the bright pinpoints of light in the black sky.

The doorbell rang.

Who the Hell is that?

She moved to the window and lifted the curtain a few inches, peering down into the street below. It was darker than she was used to, the streetlights spread out more than they were in Washington. But Jessie could easily make out the white pickup with its red and blue bulbs on top. The sheriff’s car.

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An Agent Of Principle #4

Minnewaukan ND

They parked outside the station house and Tom led Jessie along the high street. People nodded to them in greeting. Innocent enough, but Jessie saw them cluster together after they passed, whispering behind her back.

‘The agent who got shot.’

‘What’s she doing up and about?’

She was glad when Tom said they were nearly at the morgue. Less so when he led her through the local grocery store’s side door. They stepped into the back cold storage room, where two men were standing over a stretcher set up in the middle of the floor.

The doctor was in his late thirties. White coat, clean-shaven and cropped dark hair. The other Jessie guessed was the grocer. Cut-off jeans shorts, tie-dye t-shirt, white beard trailing down over his bony chest and a pair of thin spectacles propped on top of his smooth, bald head.

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