The Wall

A while ago I posted a short story I wrote for a horror writers group  I attended in Toronto. This inspired me to start a similar group, where we write stories each month in random genres. I have a couple backed up to post on this blog, but here’s one I wrote a few months back when the genre was horror. Enjoy!

I tried to calm down — breathe in, breathe out. Simple. I tried to shut out the moaning noises coming from my left, and the soft dripping of slime and who knows what onto my shoulder. I tried — unsuccessfully — to reach that place inside me where there was only tranquility, where I could forget about everything that had happened.

The moaning grew closer, breaking through my attempted calm. Reflexively I looked towards the noise, though experience had taught me they were still a ways off. Though not so far off that I could afford to dawdle. I forced my aching legs to move, forced them to carry me forward, through the long, dark tunnel that was covered in oozing liquids that seeped into the strange carvings in an unknown language that lined the walls.

Where the tunnel lead, I had no idea. To death, most likely. But certain death lay behind me, so there was little choice but to go on. The path took me deeper into the earth, into air stale and stagnant. Cobwebs brushed my hair softly as I marched on, and each step I took sent creatures scuttling away from me, away from me and the light that must be so abhorrent to such entities of the dark.

It seemed like I walked for hours, but it could have been minutes, or days. Time did not exist in that tunnel. The only things that existed were the constant moans, the sound of my laboured breaths, and the soft padding of my feet against the damp ground. I focused on these things, these tangible sounds, to assure myself that I did indeed, still exist. To convince myself I wasn’t already dead, and wandering some endless purgatorial labyrinth on the road to salvation or damnation.

My world shattered in a terrible, but not wholly unexpected, way. The tunnel ended. A dark stone wall blocked my advance, and I distracted myself from panic by holding the lantern up and inspecting it carefully. It was covered in a thin, greenish slime, in which I could see small worms wriggling about. My light reflected wildly off the mass of moving semi-liquid, but I could still make out the carvings on the wall.

Again there was that strange language, one I neither knew nor recognized. But this wall also had pictures — depictions of great monstrous beasts, of a type I’d never seen before. They resembled no animal, real or mythical, that I knew of. The creatures seemed too perfect, too detailed, and too horrible to have been conjured by human imagination. My light wavered; the eyes of one particular beast flashed and my body convulsed in terror.

Every instinct I possessed yowled at me to run, run as far and as fast as I could, away from the wall. But still the moaning went on, creeping ever closer, inching its way to this terrible ending. I giggled slightly, the sound reverberating along the cold stone. Trapped between a rock and a hard place, isn’t that what they say? Behind me only death, and here, madness. I chose madness.

THIRD BODY FOUND IN CATACOMBS

Friday, Feb 23rd, 2002

Investigations are ongoing as a third body was found in the catacombs under Portside City Thursday morning. Cons. Donald Baker, the officer in charge of the scene, reported that foul play was not suspected. ‘We’re still waiting for the official autopsy report,’ Baker said in a statement to the press, ‘but every indication is that the victim starved to death.’

This is the third person found in the catacombs this month. The first victim was brutally murdered, the body mutilated and strewn about the stone labyrinth. The second body was covered in a mess of boils and appeared to have died from a high fever, sparking smallpox scares. Tests later revealed the man had died of a strangely mutated chicken pox virus. No further cases were reported.

Portside Mayor Agatha Burnsey has pledged to place additional security at each entrance to the catacombs. While there is no evidence that the three deaths are related, Burnsey emphasized caution: ‘We must remain vigilant, and protect the citizens of Portside.’ It is not known how the victims entered the catacombs, which have been boarded up since 1998. Story Continued on Page 4.

‘One more left.’ The old man said, fingering his long, scraggly beard.

‘One more, and then we’re freeee!’ The boy to his left repeated, in a sing-song voice. He giggled mischievously and repeated:

One more, and then we’re free,                                                                     One more, for you and me,                                                                              One more, and then we’re free,                                                                    One more, hee hee hee!

The last line sent the boy into a fit of high pitched laughter, which ended as he fell off his chair and smacked his head on the ground.

‘That’s what you get for being so careless. Carelessness has no excuse!’ A fierce looking woman with blazing red hair told him.

‘No excuse for carelessness,’ The boy muttered to himself. He put a thin, bony arm to his head and rocked back and forth.

‘Quiet, all of you,’ A voice said from a bed at the back of the room. ‘My fever’s spiking; your noise is giving me a headache.’

‘You always have a headache.’ The woman replied. She turned to the old man. ‘When will it happen?’

‘Tonight,’ he whispered.

‘Tonight, tonight!’ The boy said excitedly. He clasped his arms around his emaciated frame and rocked back and forth. ‘Tonight we eat!’

‘Yes,’ The old man said. ‘Tonight we eat.’

It was time now. My life had been long, filled with people, filled with objects, filled with work and sometimes play, and more sadness than joy, but that didn’t seem to matter much anymore. I was alone now, the people in my life faded away, melted into the plague of humans that infested the world. Whether they had died or not didn’t make a difference; everyone was dead to me.

This night would be my last. I felt it with a certainty I had scarcely known. All that was left to me was to choose the place of my death, my final resting spot. But even this seemed to be dictated: as I wandered with no purpose, my footsteps quietly took me to the western entrance of the old catacombs.  It would be a fitting place to die.

Two police officers stood by the dark, gaping hole that lead to death. They spoke to one another, words that  no longer had meaning to me. I paused for a moment at the entrance, a flicker of memory passing through my mind; this path had been boarded shut, once. The thought danced away into the night, and I resumed my shambling walk into the darkness. The officers paid me no mind, and I too, ignored them.

It was a long walk to my destination, my dying place. I did not know where that place was, but I knew where it was not. My feet kept me moving forward, through the long labyrinth of death. Nothing else mattered to me but my end. In years past my body had begun to fail me; walking to the grocer had become too much these last few months. But now I walked without tiring, without aching in my feet, or knees, or back. It struck me as strange, and then that feeling passed and once again calm settled in my mind. And I kept walking.

Time passed, presumably, and then I was there. A wall stood in front of me, with carvings of creatures clearly visible, though I carried no light. Looking at them, I felt only peace. As I stared, the beings began to move, first on the wall, and then into the world, this world, the world that I would soon leave. The world that was no longer mine. I gave them a small smile and lay on the floor. ‘Show them hell,’ I said.

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