Downstairs in the Darkness. Short Story.

I got my first blood test yesterday, it wasn’t that bad at all, didn’t take nearly as much blood as I thought they would, it was quite quick too, in and out in less than 10 minutes. There were people there with appointments who were waiting when I got there and still waiting when I left. Didn’t even get a chance to start the book I brought.

I’m scaling down on the steroids which is a good thing, but the meds I’ve started can take up to three months to start so I’m kinda worried there will be a gap between the two there I’ll start getting stronger symptoms but, hopefully it will start working quickly, no side effects yet, but I don’t really know how soon they might show.

I saw The Shining, the ending is so different from the book! overall though I didn’t really enjoy it. It was quite long and not nearly as scary as I expected, so it was kinda dissapointing, but I suppose there is a lot of hype about it being a scary movie.

I’m still reading the wasp factory and it is a very strange book, I have to concur with that statement, about halfway through, but I’ve been sidetracked with some other things. It is good though, despite the strangeness (or because of it?) I’m enjoying the book. Don’t really know where it’s going really, or what the ending will be, there is no kind of overall reaching goal that most books have, there is most likely a large event coming, but what exactly will happen is a mystery.

I’ve also gotten into the discworld novels lately, reading Mort at the moment and about halfway through that. They’re strange but enjoyable. Have a few writing things that I’m working on at the moment, other than the short stories, hope to have something big done/announced in the next few weeks, and speaking of announcements there will be one of those tomorrow, or perhaps later today.
Anyway, on with the show!

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Downstairs in the Darkness

It was so dark, inside the room, so very dark, she was alone. Completely alone or at least, that’s what she hoped. There were noises, in the darkness, noises that her mind changed to great hulking beasts and terrible slithering creatures. Nothing had touched her and though she had begun believing that they were only noises and nothing more, the longer she stayed in the darkness the more plausible it was that there was something in there, toying with her.

She didn’t know how long she was in the darkness. She was thirsty and hungry, but the hunger faded. The thirst remained but it became less and less. There was no food or water in here. She had looked, groping blindly along the ground and walls hoping to feel a bottle or a jug. She knew it could be drugged but she was beyond caring, yet there was nothing. She had gone into her memories, with nothing else to do and reality and fantasy began to blend together in one heady blur. Did she really slap Manny in the face when he tried to kiss her? Or was that just what she wished she did. All her memories seemed to be warping and shifting. That witty response, was it always there? Didn’t she storm out, humiliated and covered in tomato sauce only to realise exactly what she should have told him when she was driving home, trying not to cry and failing miserably. She knew the rest of the night she had spend having a shower and then sitting, feeling sorry for herself, with a glass of wine and some trashy television.

She missed showers. It was a strange thing to miss she knew, when she had no food or water, but she was feeling grimy, her hair greasy. She loved showers before, the hot, cleaning water was so soothing, no matter what was wrong, she had always felt better after a shower, the water washing away her worries and fears, drying off with a big soft towel and finally changing into warm pyjamas and nice, soft socks.

It was strange, the things you can miss. It wasn’t her friends and family, oh, at first, she had missed them too, but now they were fading; all she wanted was a nice warm meal, a cold glass of water and a long, hot shower.

Something was moving, she could hear it skittering away and there, that noise there, was that it, gnashing its teeth together. What if it was going to attack her? Obviously it had some skill of hunting in the dark, otherwise she would have encountered it before. Maybe there was a small hole somewhere that allowed it to crawl through. A direct line for this room that rats could crawl through. She moved slowly along the wall, waiting until she reached a corner, then wedged her back against it. There, now it couldn’t attack her from behind, unless of course, it could climb walls.

Her fear was beginning to abate and now she was just tired. So very, very tired. Slowly, she bent forward and rested her head on her knees and began to drift off to sleep. She woke with a start, a loud screeching noise was bouncing off the walls, growing louder and louder and suddenly, she was blinded by a thin shaft of bright, white-hot light. She squinted and gasped, trying to see something, anything without it hurting. She thought she saw someone, a man maybe, standing there when the door opened. The shriek turned to a deep grinding as the door slowed its opening, she could hear him moving. God what could she do? Talking to him wouldn’t do any good and he was probably going to kill her anyway. She took a deep breath, getting ready. Her eyes flashed open briefly, trying to see as much as possible. She knew where the door was, she hoped. Launching herself from the corner, she ran as fast as she could, pushing out at where she thought the man was.
Her hands connected with something heavy and soft, there was a short, sharp gasp as he doubled over in pain. He hadn’t expected her to run, good, it gave her more of a chance.

Her vision was starting to clear, she could see things now without the dull throbbing pain. Trying to move quickly, she closed the door on him, pushing and straining, almost begging it to close faster as it scraped across the concrete floor before it finally closed, locking him in. behind the door she could hear vague shouts, so the bastard must have heard her screaming. She turned the lock, then realised he might have a key himself. There could be a keyhole on the other side of the door. She didn’t remember one, but she might have missed it. There was a bar leaning against the wall and, seeing its slot, she inserted it, barring the door. He might be able to unlock it, but he wouldn’t be able to open the door with that bar.

Her vision began to spin, she felt dizzy, taking great whooping breaths, she leaned against the wall and slowly slid down it, trying not to pass out as her vision faded again, bright sparks of black and red shooting across her eyes. She rested for a few moments, then shakily stood. First thing she would need to do was get the hell out of here.

She was in what appeared to be a basement, a long metal table was in the centre of the room, four heavy cuffs lined the corners and a large strap was draped across the middle. The table had thousands of tiny little holes and, beneath the table, the floor slanted downwards, towards a drain. That must be where the bastard was going to kill her.

She moved past the table, trying not to look at it or the table of knives that was nearby, the stairs were steep and made from old wood, she climbed them slowly, out of breath by the fifth step. She was weaker than she had thought. At the door she paused. What if he wasn’t alone? What if he had someone else he did this with? She didn’t know where she was, she got lucky once but maybe they were playing with her, maybe it was part of their game and someone was waiting, just behind the door to grab her from behind. Her hand rested on the knob while she tried to decide what to do. She couldn’t stay in the basement forever, taking a deep breath, she twisted the knob violently and exploded through the door, intending to startle anyone waiting. She didn’t have strength, but she could get lucky again.

The large kitchen was empty, she spun around, looking for anyone. The kitchen was warm and bright, painted in neutral tones. She didn’t know how long she would have, he could still have a partner who wasn’t in the house. She could hear the faint dripping of water coming from the tap and her dry mouth ached with each noise. Looking around furtively, she went to the tap and turned it on, cool, clear water rushed forward and bending over the sink, she put her mouth onto the stream, drinking greedily.

The cramps hit her quickly, clenching her stomach and forcing her to grip the counter, the sound of the rushing water covered the noise of her vomiting. She heaved until there was nothing left and groaning, wiped at her mouth with the back of her hand. She looked around the kitchen, through the cupboards before finding a mug and carefully, she filled it. After rinsing her mouth she took a slow, experimental sip. When her body accepted it, she drank some more until the cup was empty, as she was drinking her second, her stomach remembered it was hungry and she checked the fridge. She needed something, anything. Reaching in, she moved things around, taking bits here and there, a slice of ham, a chunk of chicken. Each one tasted so amazingly fresh, she tried to eat slowly and choose soft foods, but her hands and mouth moved separate to her mind, grabbing anything that looked good and taking a bite out of it.

It didn’t take long for her to feel full, though she ate little, she felt like she had just eaten the largest meal of her life, and, taking a small bowl of grapes, she closed the fridge and popped one in her mouth. It‘s cold juices tasting so sweet, she ate them as she explored.

Feeling a little calmer, she looked around the kitchen, then stepped into the living room. There were a few pictures of people she assumed were friends and family, she looked at them for a few moments, trying to figure out which one he was. He seemed to live alone, there were no pictures of a wife and husband, or children. Good. That meant she had time to think. At first, she was going to call the police but, she paused as she was going to dial. What would happen if she called them? He could get arrested but then what? Spend the rest of his life in prison? There were worse things that could happen, maybe she could think of them.

Something was bothering her about the pictures. She had seen them somewhere before, but she couldn’t’ quite figure out where. Back in the sitting room she looked at them for a while, trying to figure it out. Picking up the frame, she looked at the back, then opened it carefully. The picture fell out and floated to the ground. It was the picture that came with the frame, they must all be for show. She smiled as her plan started to form.

She had been missing for three days, she had tried to think of something to tell everyone and eventually just decided that she was really sick, delirious with fever, that’s why she didn’t call or answer the phone, it was the best thing she could think of. Really, what else could she say, anything else wouldn‘t be that believable, she considered saying she went on an impromptu trip, but she wouldn‘t have gone without telling people and it would have made them suspicious. People looked a little unsure, but they accepted it eventually and soon it was completely forgotten.

It had taken her a few weeks to complete her plan, but it was worth it. She had sold her apartment, which wasn’t that difficult, it was an easy sell, in a good area and had slowly moved her things into his house, visiting her new neighbours and telling them how she just moved in and was renting. She emptied the house, she didn’t want any of his things still there, at least not where she could see it.

Transferring his bills into her name had been a bit more difficult, but she managed, she couldn’t allow him to use the phone of course, just in case, but he gave her all the details she needed, and any he didn’t know were easy to find, he was quite organised, keeping all his bills and records in a large filing cabinet. The lock was more for show than any security, easily broken. Now that she didn’t have to pay the mortgage on the apartment, she could easily afford the bills coming in, she was lucky he had paid off his house quickly. Of course he wouldn’t want the bank repossessing the house and finding his little playroom downstairs.

The house was big, and very well sound proofed, she couldn’t hear any of the noise he was making and of course, he eventually settled down.

She found out that he had installed video cameras into the room, so he could watch the people he had down there. He told her she was the first, but she didn’t believe him.

Sometimes she watched him when she was stressed out, or needed to unwind after a long day. It was satisfying, seeing him down there in the dark. She visited him once a day, giving him a small amount of food and water, just enough to survive, and nothing more. She didn’t speak with him after their first chat, she had learned a lot about him then. Almost too much, sometimes she worried he might escape, but he had built the room well. Sometimes she wondered if she should have called the police but it was too late now, so instead, she just left him alone down there, alone in the darkness.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
This entry was posted in Horror, Short Stories, Suspense. Bookmark the permalink.

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