Beneath the Surface. Flash Fiction.

Jessica looked down at the swirling water below, the road was quiet now and the sound of the rushing water was oddly alluring. She was unable to look away from the glittering surface of the water. She felt the cold metal of the bridge on her hand, but it didn’t really register, suddenly wind was rushing past her as she fell. She hit the water with barely a splash, the shock of it startling her from her trance. She struggled against the current as it tried to pull her deeper, her water logged clothes were too heavy, the water was too cold, already she was exhausted. A face appeared in the dark water, that of a woman, she smiled at Jessica, Jessica felt hands gripping her face, pulling her towards the other woman. Their lips met for a brief second and then the woman was gone. Water filled Jessica’s lungs, but it didn’t burn like she expected it to, already the exhaustion was fading from her limbs, her body began to move through the water with ease. Jessica broke the surface and gasped for air, but it burned. She coughed and spluttered, it felt as though she couldn’t breathe. As she sank beneath the surface again she struggled for one last gasp of air, inhaling water instead. Immediately she felt relief. She took another breath and another.

The body of the woman washed up along the riverbank, as it hit the air it began to rot, within a minute her body was gone, leaving nothing but bones and after a few minutes they too blew away on the wind.

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Breach. Short Story.

Colin looked around the large dining hall, trying to take it all in at once. The room was larger than he expected, he could just about make out the faces of the people at the other end. Tables were scattered about the dining hall, feeling a little nervous he walked over to an empty table and sat down, almost instantly a waiter was at his side, “Good evening sir, here is a menu, would you like anything to drink?”
“Could I have a coke please?”
“Right away.”
Colin looked down at the thick menu in his hands, he opened the first page and scanned the list of different cuisines that were available. He flicked through it idly while waiting for his drink, he’d never even heard of some of the dishes on the menu. The waiter reappeared and took his order, a burger and fries, it was his first night and he just wanted something simple. The waiter took the menu and disappeared again, Colin took a sip of his drink. As he looked around the room he started to feel a little under dressed, most of the men were wearing suits and the women wore evening gowns. No one had told him there was a dress code, he spotted someone else in jeans and a t-shirt, sure it was only a kid, but it made him feel a little better. He wasn’t used to dealing with people this rich, he had expected to be lumped in with the other plebs would could barely afford a ticket. He looked up at the giant, clear ceiling and into the depths of space beyond and felt that familiar wave of vertigo, he looked down at the table and took a deep breath, “first time?”
“Huh? Oh yes, it is.”
“Don’t worry, you get used to it pretty quick. It really is beautiful out there. I’m Tom.”
“Colin.”
Tom sat down across from him, he wore a black suit and tie, “I hope you don’t mind me joining you for a minute, I’m finding this entire thing very tedious, my wife is off schmoozing with people I can’t stand, it was supposed to be a holiday.” Tom took a sip of his drink, “So, what brought you out here? Celebrating something? Or just felt the travel itch?”
“I um, won a contest actually, the prize was a pair of first class tickets”
“Oh I heard about that, congratulations! All expenses paid right? You should just go crazy, try everything, the food is so good, as are the drinks, avoid the casino, it’s boring, try the swimming pool, it has a glass bottom, it’s wild and quite honestly terrifying.”
“I’ll have to check it out, any other tips?”
“I’d make a point of going to the private lounge, it is just wonderful. The people are awful, but the views are spectacular. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen something so beautiful.”

The waiter appeared and placed Colin’s burger in front of him, Tom sighed, “Well, I guess I better leave you to your meal, thank you for letting me join you, if you see me around feel free to say hi, you’ll probably be saving me from someone boring. You know what, why don’t we grab a drink later, I’ll be in the private lounge at about nine if you’re around.” Tom downed the rest of his drink, “Right, back into the fray, enjoy your meal.” With that he stood and left, leaving his empty glass on the table. Colin shook his head and smiled, Tom had been a little intense, but over all he seemed perfectly nice and it wasn’t like he had anyone else to talk to on this ship. He picked up his burger and took a bite, it was incredibly tender and juicy, it was close to, if not the best burger he had ever had.

Colin walked through the hallway slowly, not sure what to do, he was feeling tired but he had been invited for a drink. If Jane was here he knew what they’d be doing, lying out beside the pool, him bored out his skull and her dozing away in her lounge chair, maybe going for a dip in the water to cool off if it got too hot for her. Fuck it, she wasn’t here now, he was going to go for that drink.

It didn’t take him long to find the private lounge, a large pair of ornately decorated double doors with a key scanner to the left of it. Colin took out his room key and swiped it along the pad, it beeped and there was a faint click from one of the doors, feeling relieved that it had really worked, Colin stepped inside and froze. The room itself was a large, glass dome, he could see out on all sides. The only thing blocking the view was the large bar that stretched across one side of the room, and the comfortable looking chairs and couches that were dotted throughout. He looked down and felt that familiar tug of nerves in the base of his stomach, he took a slow, ginger step expecting the glass to break at any moment. He breathed in deeply, looked straight ahead and started walking towards the bar. With each passing step it became easier and the worry of it breaking quickly faded. He ordered a drink and waited, as he did so he looked through the shelves on the wall and out into space. It really was magnificent, millions of glittering stars were scattered across the darkness, as he watched it felt almost as though he was being dragged out into the centre of it all, like everything else was just fading into the background. The bartender put his drink on the bar, Colin took a sip and pulled himself away from the view. He scanned the lounge, it wasn’t as plush as he expected it to be, everything was focused on allowing as much of the view to be seen as possible and it’s beauty was more than enough. He made his way over to a small, empty table and sat down, facing the endless darkness.
“Ah, you made it! What did I tell you? Beautiful right?”
Tom clapped him on the shoulder, “How did you find walking around in here? Took me almost five minutes to get moving the first time I was in one of these. Reminded me too much of those viewing platforms on skyscrapers, not really one for heights. Mind if I sit?”
Tom pulled out a chair and sat down, “The wife is off over there,” he gestured vaguely to the left, “talking to Bradley Peterson. He’s the worlds most boring man, all he talks about is business, I can barely follow along half the time. We’re supposed to be on holiday, but she’s having a hard time switching off.” Tom took a swig of his drink, “She’ll loosen up and start having fun in a day or two, it’s always the same, she needs to wind down. What about you? Are you here by yourself?”
Colin nodded, “Yeah my fiancé was supposed to come too, well ex-fiancé I guess. We had a bit of a falling out about two weeks ago.” He took a swig of his drink, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks. I wanted to bring a friend with me, but they wouldn’t let me change the name on her ticket. She wanted to come too but I wasn’t going to share a room with her for two weeks. Not after what happened.”
“You were right to come anyway, the change of scenery will do you good, plus how many chances does someone ever get to come to a place like this?” Tom gestured around the bar, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and you’d mad to skip it.” The lights in the bar flickered, both Tom and Collin glanced around, “What was that?”
“I’m not sure, I don’t think it ever happened before.”
A voice filled the room, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologise for the inconvenience but I must request that you return to your rooms. We seem to have be having some minor electrical problems and we need to run a full diagnostic to ensure everyone’s safety. There is no danger, but it is standard procedure that all passengers return to their rooms for the duration of the diagnostic scan. During this time all entertainment available in room will be completely free. The scan itself should taken no more than an hour or two. If there are any other issues we will update you. Thank you again for your understanding and I hope you enjoy the rest of the trip.”
Tom stood from the table, “Well, I guess that’s our cue to exit, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go find my wife, we usually eat around eight, if you would like to join us if you have some free time one of the evenings.”
“Thanks, I’ll be sure to join you.”
Tom gave a little wave and walked into the crowd of people. Collin picked up his drink and made his way out of the private lounge and towards his room. The corridors were filled with people and it was only now he realised how many were truly on board, normally the wide corridors felt spacious, but now they felt cramped. A few people looked slightly panicked, but most seemed more annoyed than anything. Collin could feel a sheen of sweat breaking out on his forehead, by the time he made it back to his room he had already finished his drink. He let himself in and put the empty glass on the small dining table in the lounge area.

The room itself was large, on one side was a king sized bed with incredibly soft sheets, to the left of that was a small seating area with two couches, a low table and a large TV screen hanging on the wall in front of them. He went to the couches and sat down, the TV here was bigger than the one facing the bed. He turned it on and flicked through a few of the movie options, he wanted something light and entertaining, to take his mind off things. He knew that everything would be fine, after all there had never been a single disaster on any of the commercial space cruises, but still that small niggling worry remained. The lights flickered again, there was a faint jolt, Colin jumped as behind him the glass fell from the table and smashed on the floor, scattering shards of glass across the ground and the plush rug nearby.

Colin sat, flicking aimlessly through the entertainment options, he couldn’t settle on anything to watch, every time he tried he could only manage about five minutes before becoming restless. There had been no announcements yet, but they had been told to return to their rooms over three hours ago now. He had cleaned up the broken glass as best as he could, but he decided he would stay away from the rug, it was too thick and too deep to find all the shards.

“Hello, this is the Captain speaking.” Colin felt a sudden stab of anxiety, there was something off about the captains voice. “I uh, I don’t know how to explain this but we appear to be stuck. We are currently in no danger, however there is a rescue ship on the way, once it arrives we will evacuate the ship as we appear to be stranded. I sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. The evacuation ship is about twelve hours out, until then I ask that all passengers remain in their rooms for their own safety. I will update you as new information become available. Again I apologise for this inconvenience.”
Colin sat in his silent room, about halfway through he realised why the captain sounded off, it was as though he was on the edge of hysteria, his voice kept breaking and cracking slightly, there was something else to it too, something Colin couldn’t quite pinpoint. He stood from the couch and went to the large window, he looked out into the darkness, god only knew what was out there. Had they run into something? After all it was the ships first flight on an entirely new route, had any ship flown it before in advance, to scout the area? It seemed probable, but you never knew. He turned from the window, it felt like the darkness was pressing in on it, pressing in on him. He shook his head, he was worrying about nothing, stuff like this wasn’t particularly common but it still happened. Didn’t it? He tried to think of any other case of a cruise ship needing to be evacuated, but there were none that he knew of.

Colin sat on the couch, the worry had died down somewhat, replaced instead with boredom. He’d been stuck in the room for hours and nothing was happening. Occasionally he thought he could hear something outside, but it was hard to tell, the walls were thick and practically soundproof, normally it was ideal, but now it was making him a bit nervous. He knew it was just the crew going about their tasks, but the lack of updates was starting to get to him. What if something was catastrophically wrong and he was just sitting here, unaware that he could die at any moment. Collin stood from the couch and quickly crossed to the mini bar, there he grabbed out the first bottle of spirits that came to hand, he opened it and downed it. He coughed a few times against the burning in his throat, but already he could feel himself relaxing. He thought too much, that was his problem. Always was, he could take the most innocuous situation and spin it into a doomsday scenario if he allowed himself. Normally he was able to distract himself, but up here there was nothing, he couldn’t even go for a walk. The room which had seemed absolutely huge when he first arrived felt like it was getting smaller all the time. He could feel a headache starting, right at the back of his eyes, a dull pain pressing in heavily. He rubbed his eyes and grabbed out another mini bottle, it was still a few hours before the rescue ship would arrive, plenty of time for him to have a couple more drinks.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I would like to thank you all for your patience in this matter. We have resolved the issues that we were having, some minor electrical interference from outside, but it has been fixed. Please feel free to leave your room and enjoy the many amenities offered throughout the ship, and thank you again.” Collin stayed sitting, the voice sounded off, it was still the captain, but something about the voice made him uneasy. He yawned, probably just the stress of the day, hell, the Captain was probably freaking out for the last few hours. Collin glanced at the clock in his room, it was just after midnight, he felt too keyed up to sleep after all that waiting around. Maybe a stroll around the ship would help calm him down. He grabbed his room key and opened the door, Collin stepped outside and froze.

The corridor was empty, but there were large splatters of blood across the walls, ceilings and floors. Puddles of it were soaking into the carpet, somewhere there was a steady and heavy sounding patter of dripping water. The air was thick and heavy with the smell of blood, coppery and bitter, somewhere he could hear thudding footsteps, someone was running, and they were coming towards him. Collin spun around and swiped the key card against the reader, nothing happened. He did it again and still the doors remained locked. Whoever it was turned the corner, Collin looked behind him to see a woman racing at him, her long dress was tattered and stained with blood, the hem of it was torn, her feet were bare and covered in red. She saw Collin and kept running towards him, Collin scanned his key again and again. The doors clicked and opened, Collin dived in, the woman ran in after him, the doors closing behind her. The woman collapsed against the wall, breathing in great gasps, she slid down it until she was sitting on the ground. Collin stared at her, “Are you ok?”
The woman looked up at him, “Do I fucking look ok?”
“I just, I mean…What the hell is happening out there?”
“I need a drink, do you have any water?”
Collin filled up a glass with water and passed it to her, she downed it in a few gulps. “I have no idea what the hell is going on. People are freaking out and attacking everyone. I was in my room with my husband when the doors opened, I don’t know if it was a malfunction or what but three people came running in, they attacked the two of us. We managed to escape, but there were more in the corridors and we were separated. One of them dragged me to the ground, I managed to fight her off of me and I just ran. Thank god you were out in the corridor, thank god you’re normal too. I just ran in after you without really thinking. What were you doing out there anyway? We were supposed to stay in our rooms.”
“Did you not hear the announcement? The captain said we were free to leave again.”
The woman shook hear head, “No, I didn’t. I didn’t seen anyone else in the corridors. It looks like something happened out there already anyway. Maybe a bunch of doors malfunctioned?”
Collin shook his head, “Maybe, but there was far too much blood out in the halls, where the hell were the bodies? No one could have bled that much and been ok.” “I didn’t see anyone else, I didn’t see any open doors either.”
“So what should we do?”
“I guess we should stay put? It’s safe in here right? The doors didn’t open? The rescue ship will be here in a few hours, we just have to sit tight until then.”
“What about your husband?”
She shrugged, “What about him? I don’t know where he went, this ship is too big, there’s too many places to hide. He’s smart and he’s strong, I’m sure he’s found somewhere to hunker down until help arrives.”
“What do you think it is?”
“I don’t know, radiation or something maybe? It’s the only thing I can think of, maybe a blast of it fried peoples brains? They were acting crazy, like zombies or something. They were screaming the entire time, there were no words, just mindless screams.” She shivered, “It sounded like they were in agony.”

Collin was sitting on the couch, Emma had excused herself to the bathroom to clean up. He had tried to use the intercom system, but it didn’t appear to be working, that or there was no one left to answer him. There was a loud scream from the bathroom, Collin stood and ran to the door, it was locked, he pounded on it, a second later it opened, “I’m ok, it’s all right. I just, I got a shock is all.” Emma pointed at the sink, though she didn’t need to. Blood was streaming from the faucet, thick and heavy. “It just started happening.”
Collin turned off the tap and tried the other one, he let it run for a few seconds, hoping it would clear out what ever was in the pipe, but the blood just kept coming. “What about the shower?”
“I don’t know, it was normal when I used it, I don’t really want to check. What the hell could cause that?”
“I don’t know, maybe they put bodies in the water reservoirs?”
“How many would you need to get the water like that?”
“I don’t know.” They stared at the blood stained sink in silence.

They sat in the small lounge area, the door to the bathroom securely closed. They jumped as a voice filled the room, “All passengers stay in your rooms, I repeat all passengers stay in your rooms. It is not safe to go out. Help is coming.”
“Was that the captain?”
“I think so, it sounded like him.”
“Well, at least we know help is still coming. Though it would have been nice to get a rough time estimate. I guess I can’t complain too much, we’ve more than enough food and water to keep us going until then.”
“It’s only supposed to be a few hours though, isn’t it?”
“With what’s happening they can’t just charge in, we’ll probably be quarantined until they find out what the hell caused it, they have to be sure that what ever happened to the people here won’t happen to them.”
Collin sighed, “I guess.” He stood and started pacing, “I can’t wait until we’re out of here and back on earth.”
“That makes the two of us. Relaxing get away my ass. I’m definitely going to need another vacation after this one, that’s for sure.”
Collin chuckled, it sounded weak even to his own ears.
There was a faint click at the door, they looked at each other. “Did the door just unlock?”
“I think so.”
Collin moved towards it carefully, he reached out and gripped the handle, as he touched it the door opened, revealing the blood splattered hallway beyond. Collin shuffled forward slightly and stuck his head out of the door, the corridor was empty. He pulled at the door, trying to slide it closed again.
“What ever happened earlier must be affecting the ship, I can’t get the door closed.”

Emma was standing beside him, “this is like what happened in my room.”
There was another click, it seemed impossibly loud in the silent corridor. Across the hall another door slowly opened, Emma gasped, Collin turned away. The room was covered in blood, in the centre of the room was a corpse, though it took Collin a second to process exactly what he was seeing. Whoever it was had been stripped naked and their chest was ripped open, their organs had been pulled out and scattered across the room. Cuts and gashes were along the arms and legs of the body, in some places it looked like someone was trying to peel back the skin. Slowly, the door closed again, blocking it from view, a few seconds later their own door closed. They both stood at the door, still trying to process what they had seen. Collin reached out slowly and pulled at the door handle, nothing happened. “The doors locked again.”
Emma moved from the door, she sat down on one of the couches, “When it opens again, we’re going to have to move. If we stay here there’s too much of a risk of getting locked in with one of those crazy people. We need to make a run for it when we can.”
“And go where? If these doors are like that maybe they all are.”
“Ship security, they’d have weapons of some kind surely, they’d be able to hold off the crazies.”
“What if it’s gotten them too?”
“Do you have a better idea?”

The doors opened, Collin looked out, the corridor was still empty, rather than calming him it put him more on edge. Those people could be anywhere, anywhere at all. He stepped out into the corridor, Emma followed after, she wore a pair of his jeans and a t-shirt, she was still barefoot as he had no shoes that would fit her. “We should go down here and take a left I think, security isn’t too far from here, we should be able to get there in a few minutes. What ever happens just keep moving ok?”
They walked quickly and quietly down the hall, at the end they paused and cautiously peered around the corner, seeing it was empty too they hurried around. As they went Emma kept checking behind them and scanning the doors, she expected someone to leap out at them any second.

As they got about halfway down the hallway there was a loud, shrill scream from behind them, both of them broke into a run. Around them there were more screams, coming from the rooms on either side of the corridor. Collin couldn’t hear anything over the sound of his own footsteps he glanced back and saw someone was running after them and behind him people were pulling open doors and running into the hallway. The man was running at full speed, arms and legs pumping. His eyes were a bright, bloodshot red, his mouth hung open as he ran, he was breathing in great, heavy gasps, the entire front of him was covered in blood.

They rounded a corner, the group behind gaining on them with each step, up ahead Collin could see the door marked Security, he slammed into it almost full force, he banged on the door, Emma arrived a second later and joined in hitting it, the door swung open and they fell into the room, before either could react rough hands were grabbing them and dragging them deeper into the room. The door slammed shut just before the man reached it. Three large men were standing around them, they began to help them up, “Are you two ok? No injuries?”
“I’m fine.”
“Me too, no injuries.”
The man nodded, “Good.”
Collin looked around the room, it was bigger than he expected, one wall was filled with small TV screens, each showing a different camera angle that changed every few seconds, he didn’t spend long examining it. Most of the screens were showing some new and awful horror. There were two other people in security uniforms, a man and a woman, there were another three people dressed casually, each of whom looked incredibly pale and shaky, though Collin guessed he didn’t look too much better himself.

“From what we can tell there isn’t many left. We guess maybe a couple of thousand people who aren’t affected, scattered across the ship.”
“How many does the ship hold?”
“fifty thousand, and it was full when we left.”
“What the hell is happening?”
“We don’t know. It’s like the ship hit something, but they couldn’t figure out what. Then some of the crew started acting strange, the ones who were working on fixing it and getting us going. Then things kind of snowballed. I don’t know how it happened, one moment everything was normal enough but then the next shit hit the fan. We managed to lock ourselves in here, the ship can’t override the door to security or to the bridge, everywhere else though…”
“That happened in my room, the door just opened itself.”
“Mine too.”
Brian nodded, “Yeah, it’s been happening all over the ship. It’s how those people are getting out, everyone that was affected should have remained locked in their rooms until the rescue ship arrived. The ship was supposed to be on lock down.”
“So what are we supposed to do now? Just wait it out?”
“There’s nothing else we can do, there’s too many of them out there and we have no idea what it is or how it spreads, or if it’s even contagious to begin with. Help is coming, we should be safe here until then.”
“This is your captain speaking.” Colin shivered, the sound of the voice made his skin crawl and ripple with goose bumps. “To any of the so called survivors I ask you what are you fighting for? Help will not arrive. You will die out here and you will die screaming. It is unfortunate but it cannot be helped. You brought us here against our will and now we are trapped. We knew nothing before, we lived in the darkness until something ripped through and dragged us screaming into this world. Now everything is bright, everything hurts, everything about this awful, wonderful place is harsh and hard. I wish for nothing more than to return to the darkness, but we cannot, to return there would drive us mad with torment, we cannot go back. To go back is to die. More are coming, we cannot stop it anymore than you can. We were ripped from the darkness, and birth is always a messy, painful process for all involved. Those of you who are still here, my advice to you is to come to us, welcome us with open arms. You will still die, but it will not be as painful, fighting us will only make it hurt all the more.”

Silence filled the room, it was broken only by the faint, impossibly loud click of the door unlocking.

 

 

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Fall of a Dynasty. Flash Fiction.

Jeremy looked at the ruby red blood, the way it shone in the light. Everything in the room faded into the background, he felt his stomach do a slow, lazy flip, then darkness fell.

He woke a few minutes later, feeling nauseous and confused, there was a cold cloth on his forehead, his father and mother stood over him, his father with worry in his eyes, his mother with disgust in hers.
“I thought you’d outgrown this”
“So did I.”
His mother shook her head and walked away, his father sat on the edge of the couch, “are you feeling ok? Do you want anything?”
“No, thank you. You should go after her, try to calm her down.”
his father grimaced, “We both know I’ve never really been able to do that, she’ll calm herself.”
Jeremy closed his eyes, somewhere in the house his mother slammed a door, both of them winced. “Maybe I should go have a word with her…She still loves you you know.”
“I know.”
“It’s just she so wanted to share this with you.”
“I know dad. It’s fine.”
Jeremy could feel the thread of guilt gnawing at him, it was just a bit of blood, that was all, but every time he saw it he passed out.
His father stood, “Are you sure I can’t get you anything?”
“Yeah dad” He looked at his fathers back, he was already scurrying from the room before he had even started to answer. Jeremy sat up slowly, already he was feeling better, he didn’t know what his mother had done with the blood, but he wouldn’t be surprised if it was smeared over his sheets, or walls. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened, when he was ten she had rubbed a bloody cloth in his face in an apparent attempt to cure his phobia. There was also the time she had thrown some on him while he was in the shower, arguing that it wasn’t a big deal because “It washed off anyway.” He knew she meant well deep down, she always put him first and she always had.

Somewhere in the house he could hear his mother screeching, he couldn’t make out the words but he didn’t need to. She was comparing him to his sister, dead for almost ten years now and still the child his mother loved the most. He would never compare to her no matter what he did, even when she was alive he was always second best. She’d been killed while she had been out alone, his mother insisted it was just an accident but Jeremy knew better. She had tried to kill someone and had obviously chosen the wrong victim, though no one ever stepped forward to claim responsibility. If only he could be more like her, if only he wasn’t effected by the blood. Their mother had been proud to pass on her families traditions, the matriarch of a great dynasty and now that would all end with him. How could he pass on the traditions to his own children if he couldn’t even do them himself. It was their god given right to thin the herd, to make the world a better place, but he was just too weak to do it. He smiled bitterly, he wasn’t the only child that was too weak for the job.

The screeching died down, no doubt she was sobbing now, it always ended with sobbing. He felt the familiar twist of guilt in his stomach, it was all his fault after all. He was the problem. He stood from the couch and made his way upstairs, his head down and his shoulders hunched. He opened the door to his bedroom, half expecting the room to be covered in blood, but it was as he left it. He gently closed and locked the door, it wouldn’t keep her out, but it would make it a little harder for her to get in.

He lay in bed unable to sleep, staring into the darkness, he had escaped punishment tonight, but it would come eventually, it always did.

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The Cave. Short Story.

“I don’t like this.”
“No one does their first time, trust me it’s completely safe.”
Brian looked at the walls, they were a light blue with swirls of darker blue running through them, a constant pulse seemed to be running through the walls, making it look as though they were undulating slightly. The floor beneath his feet was shiny and smooth.
“It feels like it’s pushing me in further or something.”
“Yeah, it’s a little disorientating. I’ve had a few people say it’s like walking down a giant throat.”
“I really wish you hadn’t said that.”
Karen chuckled, “Seriously, it’s just a cave wall, it can’t do anything to you.”
“What about how it looks like it’s moving?”
“Trick of the light or something. I don’t know, they don’t explain it to the likes of us, we’re not important enough.”
They kept walking, the air was warm inside the tunnel, he had expected it to be cold, the humidity was already causing his shirt to stick to his skin.
“It’s not much further, trust me the first visit is always the worst.”
“Well, can you at least tell me what to expect?”
Karen grinned, “Where’s the fun in that? Oh, when you throw up, try not to splash any on me ok?”
“What? What the hell is down here?”
“You’ll see.”
A faint breath of air blew across them, it carried with it a strange scent, like musk and dust, there was a faint edge to it, damp and rotten just barely detectable. The tunnel rounded to the left and suddenly they were in the room.

A man was in the centre of it, his body was withered, like that of a mummy, he was propped up by spikes from the floor, large ones pierced through his wrists, neck and groin, while other smaller ones were dotted about his body. Brian looked at the man for a moment, feeling a little underwhelmed. “This is it? Strange burial rituals? What’s so awful about this? I mean sure it must have been a shitty way to die, assuming he was still alive.” He circled around the man, “How did they even manage to get him like this? Did they carve it out specifically to fit him?”
“I don’t know, that isn’t my department. Everything is kept segregated, even that.”
Brian shook his head, “I don’t know how you manage to get any work done at all if you’re not sharing information.”
“Secrecy is important, they’re careful about who knows what.”
“Why?”
Karen looked at the man, “Are you awake?”
Brian let out a yell as the corpse raised his head and opened his eyes. The mans eyes were a shockingly bright blue, they seemed to shine with an inner light that Brian couldn’t explain, the man nodded, “I don’t get much sleep these days.”
His voice was old and raspy, it sounded incredibly dry and painful to Brian’s ears, the noise of it was grating, he winced slightly.
“New one?”
Karen nodded, “Just giving him the tour.”
“Saving the best for last then?”
“Oh of course.”
Karen looked at Brian, “Doing all right? You’ve gone a little pale there.”
“Yeah, I’m fine, I just, uh. I need to sit for a moment.”
Brian leaned against the wall, then he jumped away, “It isn’t going to do that to me, is it?”
The man shook his head slowly, Brian expected his body to crumble and the head to fall from his shoulders. “No, just me. You are safe. They’re all safe.”
Brian sat on the ground, “How is that possible?”
The man shook his head, “I don’t know. I don’t remember. I have been here a long time. Longer than any human was ever meant to survive. I forgot who I truly was a long, long time ago.”
“Being down here though? All that time? How aren’t you mad? Doesn’t it hurt?”
“It’s agonising. Every second I am here it is a living hell. I long for death, but I know it will never come.”
“How are you even capable of speaking? How aren’t you insane?”
“I have my good moments. The walls, they speak to me and I to them. Sometimes they gift me my sanity. Sometimes they take it away. I think the walls know all about me, but they won’t tell me, they guard that secret quiet closely.”
Brian quickly stood again, “The walls are alive? How are walls alive?”
“How are you alive?”
“Don’t bother, it won’t get you anywhere. Trust me, I’ve tried, you won’t win.”
The man looked at Karen, “I don’t think you can ever truly understand until you are where I am.”
With that he lowered his head and closed his eyes, a thin, high pitched sound filled the air. “What is that?”
“He does it most of the time, I think he’s screaming.”
Brian felt goose bumps ripple across his flesh, the sound seemed to be getting louder, piercing its way through his skull, it felt as though something heavy and painful was pressing onto his head. Without warning Brian threw up, Karen sighed, “there it is.”
Brian coughed, then retched again, Karen passed him a tissue, “Feel better?”
“Yeah actually.”
“Happens to all of us. Congrats, you’re now inoculated.”
Brian spat on the ground, “What do we do about that?”
“There’ll be cleaners in shortly. They take care of the place, make sure he doesn’t get dusty. I think they spray him down with something too, something to do with germs.”
“I think I need to go outside now.”
Karen nodded, together they walked back in silence. Though it had felt like the walk in took only a few minutes, the walk out took over an hour. Brian started walking faster as he saw the light up ahead. He burst out of the cave and into the air, breathing deeply, he didn’t realise how oppressive the tunnel had felt, like the entire world was pressing in on him from all sides.
“Please tell me I don’t have to go back down there, I don’t think I can.”
“Don’t worry, you only have to go down there the once, you won’t be going inside again if you don’t want to. As I said you’re inoculated, you can’t hear it but that sound carries out of the tunnel, it can be heard from over five miles away. It does things to people, funny things. Once you’re down there though it doesn’t seem to effect you anymore. They don’t know why yet, or if they do they’re not saying. C’mon they don’t let us drink alcohol here, but I’ll get you a cup of coffee.” She started walking towards the canteen. Brian stayed where he was, looking up at the bright blue sky, it was the same blue as the mans eyes. It almost felt as though the sky was one giant eye, staring down at him. He shuddered, then looked down at the ground, focusing on the dry, sandy earth. “You coming?”
He jumped at the sound of Karen’s voice, he jogged after her. He never wanted to go inside those caves again, but there was a part of him, a small part, that longed to go back inside. To go back down to the impaled man and stay with him forever. Karen put her hand on his shoulder and gently pulled him along with her, “that feeling of wanting to go back will fade with time. It usually does.”
“What if it doesn’t?”
Karen didn’t say anything, she just kept walking, her hand a steady pressure on his shoulder.

Brian sat in the canteen, it was mostly empty, Karen had left him about half an hour ago, his cup of coffee sat in front of him, cold and half empty. He had his hands wrapped around it, more for something to do with them. He felt nervous, jittery. The double doors opened and in came a group of people talking amongst themselves, someone in the group laughed, the sound cut through his brain like a knife sending a spike of pain into the back of his eyes. He winced, then stood and left the canteen. The fresh air did little to help. He stumbled from the canteen and made his way to the bathrooms, he wasn’t sure if he could walk back to his room.

The bathroom was empty, with coldness seeming to radiate from the tiles. He looked at himself in the mirror, he was pale and sweaty, his eyes were a little too wide with dark circles around them. He turned on the tap, the sound of rushing water was oddly soothing. He cupped his hands and splashed some of the water on his face, the water was warmer than he expected. His mind flashed back to the tunnels, how warm they’d felt, how wet. He shuddered and gripped the sink, he felt like he was going to throw up again. After a moment Brian loosened his grip and turned on the cold tap, the cold water was soothing on his feverish skin. He grabbed some toilet paper from a stall and dried off his face and hands.

He stepped outside and squinted in the bright light, the sun seemed too hot, the sky felt strangely heavy, like the entire weight of it was pushing down on him. He started to walk back towards the canteen, hoping food would settle his stomach. As he walked he found himself thinking of the man in the cave, the way the spikes pierced his leathery flesh, the strange scent of him, the warmth of the tunnels and how it had enveloped him, almost comfortingly. Brian found himself standing at the mouth of the tunnel, he looked around in confusion, how had he gotten here? He’d been walking to the canteen. He turned around, the sun was lower in the sky, it was getting close to night, how long had he been standing here? He took a step forward, then another. It was like something was calling to him, pulling him forward. It wouldn’t hurt to go down and have another look, would it? It wasn’t like anyone would know and he was allowed down there. It had to be safe, if it wasn’t there would be guards posted or there would be warnings. There had been nothing like that, only the NDA they’d made him sign as soon as he accepted the job.

As he walked, Brian noticed how beautiful the walls truly were, the way the veins of different shades of blue ran through them, the low, comforting light they seemed to emanate. He felt better in the tunnels, without the heavy weight of the sky above him, trying to grind him into the ground.

Brian entered the cave, the man was where they had left him. His eyes were open and he was looking expectantly at the entrance. “I was wondering how long it would take.”
“How did you know I’d be back?”
“I can tell. The walls speak to me and they know everything.”
I…I don’t know why I came back.”
“Sure you do. You know the truth, you were just about able to grasp it with your feeble mind. The others couldn’t, but that is their loss.”
“I don’t think I should be here. I need to leave.”
“It’s too late for that.”
Brian nodded, he already knew that, he knew it the moment he was standing in front of the tunnels. He knew it when he had been sitting in the canteen, the steadily cooling cup of coffee between his hands. He’d known it the moment he had first seen those piercing blue eyes.
“You know me for what I am, kneel before your God.”
Brian dropped to his knees, not noticing the jolt of pain as he hit the hard floor, he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the mans, the blue felt as though it was drilling into his skull. The man grinned, his dry cracked lips pulling back revealing two rows of rotted, brown teeth.

Finally, the man blinked and Brian collapsed, he didn’t know how long he had been kneeling there, staring at the man, his legs were cramping painfully and they had been for what felt like hours, he didn’t have the energy to move, he could only lie there in agony.
“Stand.”
Brian painfully got to his feet, puffing and panting.
“Strip.”
Brian stripped, letting his clothes fall to the floor in a small pile, he stood completely naked, sweat running freely down his body.
“Go.”
Brian turned and walked a few feet to the wall and leaned against it, flattening his body against the warm, blue rock. Shards of rock were suddenly piercing his hands and legs, Brian tried to scream but he couldn’t breathe. It felt as though every part of him was being torn apart, over and over again. His body was dragged backwards, an opening appeared in the wall and he was pulled inside it, the wall flowed closed again. The man in the centre of the room closed his eyes, the thin, high pitched scream filling the room again, Brian could hear it in the dark, even through his pain, there were thousands of those voices, maybe millions, and he screamed with them all.

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Water of Life. Flash Fiction.

Derek paused his music, frowning he listened intently, it sounded like someone was running the tap in the bathroom, the pipes were making that odd, annoying rattle again. Had Sandra come home already? He glanced out the window, no sign of her car in the driveway. He stood from his desk and walked down the hall slowly, he couldn’t hear any splashing water in the bathroom, so he hadn’t left the tap on, he opened the bathroom door and confirmed he was right. He shook his head, even after two years he was still a bit on edge in the house. In their first week someone had broken in, whoever it wasn’t hadn’t actually taken anything, they’d rifled through all their belongings and moved things around, no one had any idea who it could have been and no one was ever caught. If it was up to him he would have moved somewhere else but they were locked in with their mortgage. They had updated the security system and added external cameras which helped, but silly things, like rattling pipes, still made him nervous. He went back into the office and looked up at the ceiling, scanning it for signs of leaks, there was nothing he could see and the rattling seemed to have died off. He sat back at his desk, just as his hand touched the mouse there was another rattle, this time followed by a definite splash. He sighed and stood again, it had to be a leak, maybe the tap was just dripping slightly. Wouldn’t be the first time they’d had problems with plumbing in the house, the first  plumber they had out he’d looked through it all, shrugged and told them there was no issues he could see, the second and third plumbers all agreed with the first. The third suggested doing an entire refit of the pipes, after all it was an old house and old houses had some strange quirks, but they just couldn’t afford it. He opened the bathroom door and saw water running freely from the tap and pooling in the sink. He crossed the room and twisted the tap, it moved easily but the water didn’t stop, the plug had fallen into the sink somehow and the water was steadily rising. He reached into the water to pull the plug, it was surprisingly warm, he grabbed the plug and pulled it. The water level kept rising. Great, it was blocked too. As he pulled his hand out of the water it seemed to stretch with it, like it was a thick syrup, though it didn’t feel any different from regular water. He shook his hand, expecting it to break the weird tension and the water would splash back into the sink, but it didn’t. He felt a strange pressure around his hand and the water seemed to rise along his wrist and under his shirt sleeve, the shirt remained dry. He let out a yell and pulled his hand backwards but the water just stretched with it, he scrambled backwards, his foot caught on a towel and he fell, he landed with a thud, the sudden jolt stunned him for a moment, a second later it was replaced by an intense burning in his hand. He let out a scream as the water around his hand started to turn a deep red, he scrambled backwards the water following him. The burning was moving up his arm and onto his chest, he could feel it making its way up his neck. He tried to pull away but he couldn’t, suddenly he slid forward, towards the sink. The water reached his lips, it felt as though it was trying to force its way into his mouth, it filled his nostrils and he could feel it moving up them and down the back of his throat, he thrashed on the ground, writhing in agony.

Derek stood, stretching slightly, he looked in the mirror and straightened up his shirt slightly, then he reached over and turned off the tap. He pulled a face at himself in the mirror, testing out his facial muscles, smiling, he turned from the mirror and walked down the hall, back to the office. Soon Sandra would return, it would be easy enough to get her near a sink. The pipes rattled in the walls, Derek smiled and gently patted the wall, “Soon my love, soon.”

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The Sickness. Flash Fiction.

So as I said last Wednesday there was a family situation and that was welcoming a new member to the family! My sister gave birth to an absolutely beautiful baby girl on Wednesday, which came as a surprise to everyone, including her! (the giving birth last Wednesday part, not the having a baby part!) We’ve all been running around since making sure that the Mum and Dad have everything they need in the hospital and house and of course, visiting the hospital as much as we can. Little Ailbhe (pronounced Alva) is incredibly charming and adorable, and I’m saying this as a completely unbiased third party and not as her uncle. I’m also thrilled to say that both mother and baby are doing incredibly well!

Also apologies this is up so late, the days have all blurred together and sped past, I forgot this was Friday too!

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The Sickness.

Samantha looked at the lumps on her skin, at first they had worried her but now she didn’t have the energy to be concerned. They were itchy when they first appeared, and slightly reddish, now they were the same pale colour of her skin and when she wasn’t looking at them she almost could forget they were there. She ran her hand along her arm, feeling them beneath her fingers, the lumps were warm, surprisingly so. She could see people passing outside the room through the small, barred window in the door. They had brought her in here shortly after she arrived and refused to tell her anything. So far the doctor had been in once to give her a quick examination, he didn’t seem to do much other than prod at one of the lumps with gloved hands and take her temperature. She scratched at one absentmindedly. Beyond that she hadn’t seen any doctors in the two days she’d been there. The only other person that came into her room was a small, frail looking woman who dropped off her tray of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner and took her temperature. They hadn’t even sent in someone to mop the floors of the room or to look at the bathroom. She definitely wouldn’t be coming to this hospital in the future, even the woman who came in wasn’t much help and had no answers to any of her questions. She scratched at one of the lumps again, they were starting to get itchy again. They had given her some pills in the morning, but the woman shrugged when Samantha had asked what they were, perhaps they were causing the itch as a side effect. As she scratched the bump burst open, thick, foul smelling yellow pus oozed from the wound, she tried not to gag, she looked around for the call button the frail woman had pointed out previously, she found it and pressed it.

The woman arrived a moment later, Samantha held out her arm and before she could speak the woman turned and left the room, closing the door behind her, Samantha could have sworn she heard the woman lock it too. She looked down at her arm, a thin stream of blood was flowing down her fingers and was steadily dripping onto the floor in a steady beat. As she watched something thin and black wriggled free from the wound, Samantha felt her stomach do a slow flip, she couldn’t look away as it curled around itself for a few seconds before it finally fell to the floor. It continued to squirm on the white tiles. She felt a sudden heat and wetness on her arm, she looked up and saw more of the lumps had burst, each one oozing that thick, yellow pus. The stench of it was filling the room, becoming overwhelming. The sight of so much pus and blood shocked her from her stupor, she stood and went to the door, the nurse should have been back by now, she tried the handle, but it didn’t work, the nurse had locked her in. Samantha pounded on the door and started shouting, with each thud more and more of the lumps broke open.

Half an hour later the door was unlocked with a gentle click, the door swung open slowly. The frail woman stood in the doorframe, looking at Samantha’s body. The black worms were writhing and crawling over her skin, already there were large wounds across her body where the worms had feasted. The woman started spraying Samantha’s corpse with a spray bottle, watching as the worms sizzled softly as the spray coated them. Once she had thoroughly doused the body she closed the door again. She wasn’t on clean up duty, thankfully, the stink of chemicals overwhelmed the earlier stench. Soon Samantha’s body would be incinerated, the worms burning with her. The woman locked the door, it was the only way to keep everyone safe. She felt an itch on her wrist, frantically she pulled down her glove and then breathed out a sigh when she saw flat, unblemished skin. She scratched the itch then turned from the door, there were other patients to see and the day was far from over.

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No Short Story Today .

Hey guys,

Really sorry,  there was a sudden family situation (everyone is fine!) that was unexpected and I didn’t get a chance to write anything due to a combination of running around and just completely blanking on today being Wednesday.  

Hope everyone is having a good day, things will be back to normal Friday! 

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