For those of you unfamiliar with the series: A Story from 10 Words, please check my about page for details.
This weeks submission gave me these words to work from:
10 words: unknowingly, sailor, night, trinkets, sapphire, drastic, luminescent, loon, velocity, circular / Genre: slasher / Song: I Was Young When I Left Home by Bob Dylan
And this is the story I produced from it. This week does not have an accent, but I would like to pay homage to the Silent Hill video game series for my inspiration on the setting. I hope you enjoy it!
*Images are not owned by the author and are used without permission. Any and all lyrics contained within that reference the song submitted were not done so with intent to plagiarise*
She awoke to a nightmare.
Blood ran from the walls of her room like sap down the tree of death and all around the smell of murder began to accost her. A sudden and unrelenting need to flee took hold of her and she bolted from the room without a second thought. Her bare feet slipped and slid through a mucus like substance she could guess at, but refused to look down to confirm. Putting one hand to her nose and mouth to shut out the smell of putrefaction while also keeping her desire to vomit down, she grasped at the door handle that led from her room only to have it shoot out of her grasp.
Momentum carried her forward and she collided with the door, causing it to burst into a cloud of rot and filth. She landed on her side just beyond the frame of the door and slid nearly ten feet through what she now knew for a fact was a mixture of blood, entrails and excrement.
Cursing and in a state of wild panic she leapt back to her feet. She could feel the filth she had fell into coating her arm and her back, but she could not afford to focus on that. She had to escape. That was the only thought that continued to repeat in her mind like it was being beaten from a drum.
Run. Escape. Run. Escape.
She blinked back the fear and started to look around. She was outside. How had she gotten outside? She turned back to the doorway and saw that her room was now a cube floating in space. Above it hovered a large bowl that was overflowing with gore, and a large skull hung just above the bowl with bright sapphire eyes and a savage grin. The blood that spilled over the edges of the bowl and coated her room was pouring forth from the skull’s gaping mouth. She could not fight back the feeling in her stomach any longer and she added to the stench with her own vomit.
This was hell.
Just then a tinkling sound reached her ears and she spun back the other direction. She was faced with an impossibly large, luminescent moon. It shined down from the night sky like a diamond lying on a sheet of onyx, lighting up everything about her. She took in her surroundings and her heart began to pound. Sweat ran down her face in streams and all the muscles in her fingers began to twitch.
This can’t be real. This has to be a dream
She was staring at a run down carnival. The lights blinked on an off and the rides moved slowly about their business as if they had been waiting just for her. Strange music tinkled from music boxes but they had the sound of being hundreds of years out of repair. All the notes were off, either too high or too low, and a scratching sound ran underneath it all, almost like a record player that was being jostled. The lights were wrong too, some had burnt out and others were impossibly bright. Rust caked everything and the smell of caramel and sugar blended in with the ferric scents that had filled her nose previously. All of this did nothing to help her fight off her nausea.
Going forward meant walking into the carnival. Going back meant going into a pool of blood. Where the hell does one go when one has nothing but death to choose from? She chose the carnival. She would come to regret that decision rather soon.
Stepping onto the midway she looked to her left and right. There were games and attractions offering prizes. Many were just the usual shiny trinkets that one takes home from the carnival but others were not. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw a dart throwing game. It offered a large teddy bear dressed in a sailor’s uniform as a prize. That was not what shocked her. In place of balloons were human hearts. Human hearts that were still pumping blood all over the board they were pinned to.
Wake up. Please, God, wake up.
“Ah, you want to go home so soon? But you just got here!”
The manic voice comes from behind her and she knows better than to look. Everyone with half a mind would know what is back there. Trapped in a nightmare like this, could it be anything other than a clown? Is there any place more fitting than this for one such as he to exist. Still, she spins and comes face to face with the loon.
He is tall and lanky, face covered in paint, but it is the drastic contrast between his head and the rest of his body that leaves her in stunned silence. He is naked save for a lace neckpiece and all his parts are mismatched, purple, bloated, and stitched together with puss leaking out of him from a hundred different places. His face is pristinely painted and a huge smile spreads across it but the haphazardly stitched together body is what truly terrifies her.
Why? Why am I seeing this? Why… why… why….WHY!?
“Now, now,” he says with a smile that only the truly insane can muster, “you are hurting my feelings!” He laughs, forcing yellow fluid to ooze out of the stitches covering his body, and she fights off the desire to soil herself.
Run, damn you! Run!
She runs. Turning her back on the clown, she heads deeper into the nightmare. She bolts past a ferris wheel that looks like a roasting spit with a fire blazing beneath it and carousels with flayed human beings bobbing up and down with horses sitting on their backs. She goes past a whack-a-mole game that features real live moles and actual hammers and finds herself unknowingly headed toward the house of mirrors.
No, no, no. That is a terrible idea.
She slows to think and then hears a circular saw fire up behind her and she knows who wields it.
No choice. No fucking choice.
She enters the house of mirrors and knows she has been corralled here, led like cattle, and that the butcher is only a few steps behind. She twists and turns, hearing his sick laughter behind her and a new thought comes cascading into her brain.
You can’t outrun him. He’ll catch you. You have to fight him. Kill him.
She stops and faces a million versions of herself reflected in the mirrors – some short, some tall, some thin, and some fat. The question is, is there a killer amongst them? Of all the versions of her, can she find one strong enough to face this nightmare? She hears him coming and a calm comes over her. I have to face it.
“The itsy bitsy Popet ran in a frantic fit,” the clown sang, his voice high and impossibly happy. “Down came the happy man to slice her all to bits. Out came the hack saw to make her into mince meat, and the itsy bitsy Popet was gobbled up hands and feet.”
She waits, knowing the demon will not make this easy. She has nothing to fight with, but this is her nightmare. She will think of something or die trying.
The clown comes smashing through the mirrors in a shower of glass, his perfectly painted face smiling for all the world like death was a pleasant afternoon stroll. The circular saw spits out smoke from behind it as he swings it down toward her head. She dives forward, just under his arching swing and rolls toward the other side. Her shoulders and back are cut up from the broken glass and an idea strikes her. She glances around and finds what she needs, waiting for her attacker to come back.
“Now, Popet, it isn’t nice to run from your Uncle Smiley. Come on over and give us a kiss, bitch,” he says, his voice high and bright.
He raises the circular saw over his head and she lunges right at him, driving a large piece of glass right under his chin and into the back of his throat. Blood cakes her hand and she knows she has cut herself deep, but the velocity of the blood now gushing from the clown’s neck tells her he is hurt much worse.
She leaps back and watches as the clown falls to his back. His body twitches and blood continues to sputter from his wound for several moments. She draws breath in heavy, shaking gasps as her fingers continue to twitch. She can feel blood running down the fingers of her right hand and knows she will need to dress the wound if she does not want to get an infection. This thought alone drives her to a manic laughter. This entire nightmare is one never-ending infection.
A slow clicking sound begins to register in her ears and she turns to face a man in a brown suit with a bowler hat and a half smoked cigar hanging from his mouth. His amber skin and golden eyes tells her this man is far more dangerous than the clown could ever have hoped to be. She begins looking around for another piece of glass when bowler hat shook his head slowly.
“I ain’t your enemy, girlie. So don’t bother. I come to send you home.”
She looks at him in disbelief. How could he send her out of her own nightmare? The man steps closer and she realises that she cannot raise her arms. She is paralysed.
“It’s time to pawn that watch and chain, little missy.” He places a warm hand over her eyes. “Now, go on home.”
Sitting up bolt right in her bed she looks left and right for signs of blood and finds only the room she has always known. She takes a deep breath and steadies herself. A laugh escapes her lips, sad and relieved at the same time, and she wipes a cold sweat from her brow.
It was just a dream
Then she holds her right hand in front of her face and finds a long scar running down her palm.
In the distance she can hear Bob Dylan singing as a shiver runs down her spine.
“I don’t like it in the wind
Wanna go back home again
But I can’t go home thisaway
Thisaway, Lord Lord Lord
And I can’t go home thisaway”
The voice of the bronze man fills her ears and she begins to tremble.
“You done well, Popet, but you ain’t done yet. No, no. You ain’t done yet.”
She lets out a scream known only to the damned. The nightmare was not over.
It had only just begun.
If you would like your own story, please feel free to contact me with 10 words, a theme (it can be a genre, favourite movie or book) and a song and I will write you a story as well. They are posted every Sunday.
Next Sunday (7th February) will be Lauren’s Story. Look forward to it please!
Love you’re pacing in this story, as it draws me in and pulls me back to keep me slightly off balance in wondering whether it is real or nightmare…
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I’m glad you liked it. It is a bit of both and it might have a sequel coming. I had a lot of fun writing it.
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First off, well done on an expertly crafted story! As the first commenter noted, the pacing is exceptional. Also, the descriptions were successful at portraying the people, the places, the smells, everything, which I think can be harder when what’s being described is paranormal.
Also, I am abso-freaking-lutely terrified of clowns. And — this is a compliment and a testament to your writing — but even in the light of day sitting here sipping my morning coffee I found myself literally shivering in fear. Like, I actually curled up into a ball in the computer chair reading this and covered my mouth in horror. While I can’t say I enjoy ever encountering clowns, I have to applaud your excellent storytelling here for making the words describing a clown just as scary as a clown in the flesh.
*shiver* Thank God it’s not bedtime…
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Thank you so much for always taking the time to read through my stuff! I am glad it got the chill factor across. It’s the first time I have ever taken a crack at writing horror so I wasn’t sure how well it would come out. I’m glad it did it’s job well.
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YES. This was fantastic! You’re really able to write in any genre! So impressive. I think it’s really interesting: at first, I wanted an explanation of her situation, and now I don’t know that I need one. It’s a good exercise in overanalyzing vs. immersing oneself in the beautiful, gory milieu. Very nice job – it’s definitely a fitting homage to our late night terror sessions in Silent Hill. =)
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I am glad you liked it. Seriously, the only reason I could half pull this off was thanks to all our Silent Hill days. All I did was close my eyes and think back to Harry and what his world looked like and then, bam, off it went. That is the only ‘slasher’ / horror thing I think I could write with any conviction because I loved Silent Hill.
Heee! (how do you shriek in written english?)
Bravo! Absolute slasher! The clown is deliciously disgusting, it was so odd reading my story on a sunday morning when it really is a late saturday night slasher.
The carnival scene also made me think of the movie “Carnival of souls” which is an old black and white chiller. Well done Mr Oliver!
“Time to pawn that watch and chain missy” could become a quote with a completely different ring to it!! Sequel? Yes please!
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I am so glad you liked it! This was my first attempt at writing horror so I wasn’t sure how well it would work. I know what scares me, or what I consider creepy, but I wasn’t totally confident I could make it come to life. I am glad to see that it worked for you!
I have a few other things to write for now, but I am sure I will get back to writing some of this. It was really fun!
That is the beauty of some of Dylan’s lyrics, put in a different context they can take on a totally different meaning.
Gina refuses to read your story or let me read it to her after I gave her a brief summary. You can consider that a compliment. ; )
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Muhaha! I think I may have to write a sequel to this. It was really fun! It actually got me thinking of trying to find a Silent Hill emulator on the computer and playing through 1 and 2 again. It could refresh my memory of all the random creepy shit from that game. (…Daddy?….)
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