A Short Horror

I'm currently in my senior year at Penn State Altoona working on my communications degree. I don't have major plans for life in general, but am willing to go where ever the breeze takes me.

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Late into the night you finally return home. You open the door and step into the unlit blackness of what should have been your home. Instinctively you reach out to flick on the lights, but the light switch isn't there.

A door slams behind you. The room is dark. The silence stirs in your mind. Unexpectedly, a candle flickers to life. It reveals itself on a table in the middle of the room. Around it sit four bearded men. The fire’s wavering glow illuminates their gaunt bearded faces, devoid of emotion, jaws hung open, cheeks sunken, and eyes that hollowly gazed ahead.

This isn't your home.

You don't know these people.

You turn around, searching for the door with your hands but finding nothing. Your hands only fall against damp and musty wood. You press your ear against the wall. You only hear crickets chirping away in the night. You pound and kick at the wall but it does not give, the air around you vibrates. A soft thump comes from behind. You suddenly remember the men. Slowly, you turn around. The candle has tipped over, its wax pooling out onto the table. You look back to the men, and they are looking back at you. Straight-faced. Pupils dilated.

They gaze through you.

You take a step back. A deep and gargled groan emits from one of them, you look for an exit. Another starts seizing. You rummage through your pockets for something, anything. The last one begins to stand and you see in his hand a weathered and rusty knife. With each of your movements he comes closer and closer. Lurching his way towards you. Filled with fright, like a deer in headlights, you brace for death and freeze. Just like you he freezes too, you stare each other down. You see a subtle hint in the glint of his stare, horror transfixed and bare.

Your heart beats unbearably loud, every beat emphasized with the sound of whooshing blood in your ears. And with each uncomfortable, deafening beat comes the sense of impending madness. You summon the courage to move. You bolt forward sprinting to the opposite end of the room. He follows you, quicker than before. Your palms slam against the wall, halting your movement. When you turn around, he is a foot away, knife pointing towards you.

He is standing perfectly still, not advancing towards you. But his mere closeness exudes a disturbing aura so thick it is agitating. You can see more details than before. His beard and hair are matted and dirty. Under all the stains and grime he is dressed in business attire. The scent of spoiled cologne and decay now wafts towards you.

Your gaze drifts over the man's shoulder to the other men at the table. You find slight relief that they haven't moved, still there motionless. However, they are no longer staring distantly ahead. Now their eyes rested in the direction of the empty chair. The chair your attacker had previously sat in.

Hours, minutes, maybe seconds pass in motionless silence. And as each increment of immeasurable time passes you feel a growing gravitation towards the chair. More and more it feels like you should sit there. That you were meant to sit there. But do you dare to move?

it doesn't matter. Your feet begin to move on their own. Slowly stepping towards the chair. And for once the man doesn't follow you.
You take a seat next to the bearded man in a rank blue mechanic’s suit, and facing a professor and a janitor. The moment you sit down at the table, wax flows back into the candle before it abruptly snaps back upright. You glue your gaze to the creepy candle, favoring its sights over the disturbed men around you.

From behind you can hear him move. The soft thump of dress shoes approaching the table. Slowly he creeps his way into your peripheral vision. His blurry figure lingering next to the mechanic. A sharp sound of metal hitting the table makes you jump, prompting you to look over. It was the knife. The old rusty metal hissed as it was being slid over to the mechanic.

The mechanic only spares the knife a glance before once again donning a blank stare that stares through the professor in front of him. Having relinquished the knife, the office worker turns his back to you and begins to walk away. ‘This could be my chance!’ you think. Maybe you could take the knife! But the mechanic might stop you. You could check the other walls for an exit! It's a long shot but it's something. You look again to the knife. You slowly reach for it. Matching your speed, the mechanic shifts and slowly reaches for the knife too. Each inch he moves produces a sickening click and pop. As if he hadn't moved in ages. Your arm, his hovering, half extended over the table. His hand hovering over the knife. Then suddenly the room shakes. You look up and a door manifests on the wall you entered from.

In awe you watch as the man turns the doorknob with a welcoming, soft click. He pushes the door open revealing an expansive, clean New York apartment. One that overlooks the shining lights of the New York skyline. He steps through the door, and closes it behind him. The room shakes again as the door vanishes before your eyes. If there was any chance of escaping, you missed it.

You are now left with these foul strangers. Sitting motionless in the silence. The candle snuffs out and everything goes black. You can't move without the mechanic reaching for the knife. You can't look around without the professor and janitor producing shrieks and groans that silence you to the core. You have no choice but to sit still and stare lifelessly ahead.

The room is now just as it was when you entered. And you sit. Waiting in time that seems frozen and indefinite.

One day a door will appear again. A stranger will walk in. A perfectly innocent, unsuspecting person. Regardless of age, regardless of class, no matter their gender or creed, the room will come for them.

And when it does, you know what to do.