The Black Spot. Short Story.

Steven moved closer to the black gunk, he reached out with a gloved hand a scooped a glob of it onto his finger. He squished it between this thumb and forefinger, feeling out the consistency, long thin strands of it stretched between his fingers, it was like a thick, sticky syrup. He sniffed at it, still that same smell of new electronics, that chemical, plasticky smell he always hated. Steven stood and went into the ensuite bathroom, there he turned on the water and tried to wash the gunk from the gloves. After a moment he gave up, the hot water seemed to make it melt a little allowing it to easily spread across the gloves, soap was doing nothing to remove it and the cold water seemed to only harden the gunk. He stripped off the gloves and threw them into the bin. So this wasn’t something that couldn’t be resolved with soap and water, he was hesitant to use cleaning fluids on it until he knew exactly what it was. The cold however did seem to affect it, maybe he could freeze it somehow and chip it off the wall. He shook his head, no that was a stupid idea, what was he supposed to do? Hold ice packs against the damn thing? Whatever it was didn’t seem to be particularly dangerous, it definitely wasn’t mould, so he wasn’t worried about spores, but that still didn’t answer any questions. He went back into his room and stared at the small spot, it had definitely gotten bigger over the last week, it had been the size of a penny when he first noticed it, now it was about half that size again. He sighed, it would need to be sorted sooner rather than later but who do you call for mysterious oozing stuff? He didn’t think it had anything to do with the plumbing as there were, or should have been, no pipes behind that wall. He had tried looking it up online but there seemed to be no one else having the same problem.

Steven sat on his bed, maybe he could just gouge out around it and re-plaster the wall, though if it was seeping through that wouldn’t help. He didn’t want to accidentally break open some kind of reservoir of the stuff. He stood from his bed, he wanted to get rid of the syrup today, if soap wouldn’t work maybe bleach would. He went into the bathroom and grabbed the bottle of bleach, then he headed to the kitchen to get fresh gloves and a rag. In his room he opened the window as wide as it would go, then he donned the gloves and put a bit of bleach on the rag. He scrubbed and scrubbed but it didn’t have any effect, if anything it was just smearing the syrup further around the wall. He dabbed the bleach onto it thickly and left it for ten minutes, but again it had no effect. He cleaned off the bleach with cold water, after cleaning it off he moved onto a multipurpose stain remover, which also had no effect. After his third attempt he gave up, whatever it was cleaning supplies just weren’t going to cut it. Maybe it would be best to try and freeze it off after all?

He held a frozen bag of peas against the wall, pressing it against the stain. A towel protected his hand but it was still cold, after ten minutes he pulled the bag away, the substance seemed shinier than before, at least he was having some effect. He grabbed a thin metal spatula and started scraping at it. After a few minutes his arms were getting tired and he had made absolutely no progress, he dropped the spatula onto the floor and and cursed in frustration. Maybe he could just buy a bedside locker and cover the stain that way? Out of sight out of mind after all. He sighed, if he did that it would only get worse until one day the locker wouldn’t hide it anymore. Better to get it sorted now, while it was still small.

Steven sat, staring at the syrup, he had tried everything he could think of and still it was there, it even seemed like it had gotten a little bigger, impossible as that seemed. A sudden thought occurred to him, what would happen if he touched it? Would it stick to his skin like it had stuck to the gloves? He felt a strange urge to reach out and touch it, to feel the sticky thickness of it between his fingers. He moved back from the stain a little, he whatever it was it wouldn’t be good to get onto his skin, god only knew what it was made of. Maybe he could scrape a bit off and send it somewhere for analysing? Surely there had to be somewhere that would be willing to do it, though he’d have to say something better than it was just gunk on his wall. He grabbed his phone from his pocket, that really did seem like the best option now, if he knew what it was he might have some chance of getting rid of it. A quick internet search brought up a few places and after deciding to give it a shot he went into the kitchen, there he grabbed an empty jar and a toothpick. In his room he carefully used the toothpick to scrape at the substance until there was a reasonable amount on the end of it, he put the toothpick in the jar and sealed it. At least he had a sample now, even if something happened to it, he brought up the list of places on his phone again and started looking through them.

Steven looked at the spot again, it looked like it had changed slightly, but he couldn’t quite tell how. There was just something different about it. He moved closer, hoping he’d spot whatever it was. Was it bigger? Without thinking he reached out and gently pressed his finger against it, it was cold. He pulled his hand back with a gasp, shaking it. It felt like the damn stuff had frozen the tip of his finger. He looked down at his hand, there was a tiny black smudge at the end of his finger, barely noticeable. He quickly stood and went to the bathroom, shaking his head as he went. Stupid, stupid stupid. How could he have forgotten he’d taken off the gloves? Why the hell had he touched it? He turned on the cold tap and started washing his hands.  At first it seemed like nothing was happening but the longer he scrubbed the smaller the smudge seemed to get until finally it was gone. He breathed a sigh of relief, Steven stood up straight, stretching as he did so, his back was sore from hunching over all day. He was done for the day, whatever it was he didn’t care, he could worry about it tomorrow. His stomach grumbled, it was getting dark out and he had skipped lunch. He reached down to turn the tap off, he looked at the sink and froze. Red fluid was flowing from the tap, the metallic smell of blood was thick and heavy in the air. He quickly turned off the tap, he could feel heat radiating form the sink. He turned from the sink, feeling nauseous. It was just rust or something, that was all. He took a few deep breaths then turned and tried the other tap, it was the same, a thick, red liquid spluttered from the faucet. He turned that one off too. Steven stumbled from the bathroom and sat down heavily on his bed. He hated the sight of blood, always had. He breathed slowly until the room stopped spinning. He kept repeating it was just rust, it seemed to help a little.

When he felt under control again he stood, he glanced at the wall then let out a shriek, there was an eye staring at him. Right where the black spot had been, the eye itself was completely black, it bulged slightly from the wall and moved to follow him. He stepped closer and moved his hand towards it, the eye blinked. Steven shrieked again and ran from the room. He reached the kitchen and froze. The eyes where everywhere, on everything, each one staring at him. The walls started to shift and warp, bulging outwards like something was trying to push through. Steven was frozen in place, he couldn’t move. There was a thick, wet ripping sound from behind him followed by a small thud. He could hear something moving. His heart thudded heavily in his chest, he felt light headed, a thin sheen of perspiration coated his face. It was all in his head, that was it, whatever that stuff was it created hallucinations. He was high off fumes or maybe it had been absorbed through his skin. Whatever it was, it couldn’t hurt him, it was all in his head. He slowly turned and saw a human shape lying on the floor, it was coated in that syrup and wriggling against the wood, after a few seconds it stopped and began to stand. The creature took a lurching step forward, then another and with one more it was standing right in front of Steven. The creatures arm shot out and sunk into Stevens chest. Steven moaned in pain as he felt the thing squeeze his heart. Steven fell backwards, the creature falling with him. He was too weak to move, to fight, his breathing came in low, shallow gasps. It was just a hallucination, the thing couldn’t hurt him, it was all in his head. His breathing stopped and he lay still, the creature pulled its arm from inside Stevens chest and with slow, jerky movements it got to its feet. It walked back to the wall it had fallen from and stepped through the ragged tear it had created.  The tear closed itself, the wall becoming smooth. One by one the eyes began to close, as they did they faded from the wall until there were none left. Stevens body lay on the floor, in his room the small, black spot faded away.



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.
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