Well, it’s almost Halloween. That gives us time for one more scary story before I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This one is a bit long to be considered flash, but I like how it turned out.
Anyway, on to the story. I simply call this one…
Jake’s eyes snapped open.
What a weird dream. Jake thought as he lay there in bed.
In his mind’s eye, he could still see the cave, the strange symbols on the stone floor, and the figures in black robes dancing around the room as they performed their ritual. He could even still hear their haunting chants.
Jake sat bolt-upright in bed as he realized that this wasn’t a dream. He could actually hear the chanting. It seemed as if it were coming from directly under his bed. After listening for a few more minutes, he was convinced that’s exactly where it was coming from. He jumped out of bed and pushed his worn mattress out of the way. The spot where the mattress had lain on the floor for so long was marked by an absence of the filth that littered the rest of the floor.
Jake’s hands began feeling around the hardwood floor, pressing here and there, looking for a loose board or something so he could see where the sound was coming from. He just wanted a peek, that was all. Then he would gather up his few possessions and leave the house for good. It had been a good house and he’d enjoyed his time there, especially since nobody bothered him, but he knew when it was time to move on.
Jake’s left hand jerked as if it had a mind of its own. When it came back down, the board it landed on gave just a little. Jake pressed harder and he heard a click. Suddenly, the panel of flooring beneath him began to rise. Jake jumped off and stood back as a section almost the size of his old twin mattress opened in the floor. The chanting grew louder as it did.
As Jake peered down into the black hole in the floor, he could see a set of wooden stairs leading down into the dark. They looked like basement stairs, but as far as Jake had been able to tell, the house didn’t have a basement.
“Don’t do it, Jake.” He said to himself even as his right foot touched the first step.
“Seriously. Who cares where the chanting is coming from?” He said as his left foot followed his right.
Jake continued to try to talk himself out of proceeding even as he went further down the stairs, but he couldn’t stop his feet.
“Come on, Jake.” He pleaded with himself. “You know this place is supposed to be haunted. That’s why nobody ever bothered us. Let’s just turn back and go find a new place to live.”
Still, Jake’s feet continued to take step after step down the rickety old staircase. He didn’t even realize how dark it was getting until he heard the click of the latch above his head as the hole in the floor closed behind him. He continued down, now navigating by feel. With the click of the latch, he’d stopped arguing with himself.
“The only way out is through.” Jake said to the darkness. Who had said that? He wondered, hoping to take his mind off the mortal peril he was now sure he was in. He couldn’t remember.
Jake felt a thick spiderweb on his face and panicked. It felt thick enough to bind the largest man. Jake’s panicked brain wondered if there were some sort of breed of giant spider that had learned to mimic chanting to lure unsuspecting humans into its web. He swatted at his face and grasped the tendril of web, jerking it as he tried to rip it off.
The light went on.
It was just the pull-cord for a bare bulb. Jake thought with a sigh of relief.
As Jake stood there on the stairs, trying to calm his racing heart, he looked around and found that he was indeed in a large basement filled with all the usual suspects. Broken furniture, moldering cardboard boxes leaking decades old clothing, rotted books, discarded toys, and the like.
The only thing was, the basement was impossibly huge. He estimated that he’d already descended about ten feet and was only halfway to the bottom and in the dim light of the single bare bulb, Jake couldn’t even see the far wall. He looked back up at the top of the stairs, hoping against hope that he would see some sort of latch to reopen the hole in the floor, but it looked like the underside of any other floor. He wanted to look for some way to reopen it, but his feet were still moving down the stairs.
When he reached the dirt floor of the basement, his feet continued on even faster, as if guided by the chants echoing through the basement chamber. He easily navigated through the labyrinth of detritus in the basement. Or, more accurately, the chamber made to look like a basement, as he was now sure this room was.
Finally, he found himself facing another hole in the floor. Instead of being dark, the hole flickered with candlelight. The stairs were cut into the bedrock itself. Jake didn’t even try to argue as his right foot took the first step, followed by the left. The chanting was deafening now. Jake felt the fear and panic oozing out of his body. He felt fascinated by the intricate carvings adorning the walls. He felt, if he’d had enough time, he might have been able to actually read some of the strange writing, but still his feet pressed on.
Finally, the stairwell opened up onto a familiar cavern. It was exactly as he’d dream’t it, right down to the drawings on the floor and the black-robed figures. Except they weren’t dancing now. They were staring directly at him. The chanting stopped, and he felt control of his body return to him. Something deep down told him to run, but he still felt logy.
Probably from being woken out of a dead sleep, now that the adrenaline has worn off. He thought.
“Welcome, Jake.” The one who appeared to be the leader said.
“Welcome, Jake.” The rest of them repeated.
“Who are you?” Jake asked.
“I am Tarquin, and this is my flock.” the leader said, removing his cowl. “Please, there’s no reason to stand in the doorway. Come. Join us.”
Jake didn’t know what he’d expected to see under the hood, but found himself looking at a man. Perhaps a bit gaunt and pale, but a man nonetheless. Not wanting to appear rude, he did as Tarquin asked and walked toward him. As he did so, the others moved silently around the room.
As his head began to clear, Jake felt the first tendrils of fear creeping back into his brain. Even though he was smiling, there was something about that smile that Jake didn’t like. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Why are you guys living under my house?” Jake asked.
“Your house?” Tarquin smiled. “I believe you’re mistaken. That house belongs to me and my flock. We call it our little web.”
Jake chuckled at the comparison. “Your web? That would make you…”
He looked at Tarquin, who was now grinning broadly, revealing an oversized set of dagger-like canine teeth.
“Spiders.” Tarquin finished for him, and began to laugh.
Jake looked around. The rest of the spiders had formed a circle around the two of them and it was quickly shrinking.
Jake tried to run, but was quickly caught in the powerful clutches of one of the vampires. Jake tensed, expecting to feel fangs pierce his skin. Instead, the vampire dragged him back to Tarquin, grabbing his hair and exposing his neck.
“Thank you Octavius.” Tarquin said. “Tell me something, Jake. Are you afraid?”
Jake did his best to nod while at the same time feeling a slight surge of relief. Could this have been some elaborate hidden-camera prank all along?
“Good. Fear gives the blood so much more flavor.” Tarquin said as he plunged his fangs into Jake’s carotid artery.
Even as he felt his life draining out of his neck, he felt pinpricks all over his body as the rest of the spiders took their share.
. . .
So that’s it for this year’s Hallowen stories. I hope you liked it.
I’m going to try to post every week in November, but I’m also going to be doing NaNoWriMo to try to finish one of my novels which means I have to write at least 1667 words every day of the month just for that so I’m not sure I’ll also be able to do a piece of flash every week on top of it, but I’ll do my best.
As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.
Check me out on Facebook
On Twitter @JustinMKelly1
My Amazon page, in case you want to read more
And on YouTube
I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr
And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon