Prose Header

An Empty Place

by Harry Louis Mora

Blood was everywhere. The coppery smell of spilt life permeated the room and left a metallic taste in his mouth. He felt the syrupy wetness under his feet. He took careful steps so as not to slip. He could not see the floors in the darkness, but he had an idea of what he was walking in.

Shane felt the presence of someone in the room with him. A wretched fear came over him. Tears welled in his eyes and his throat tightened and threatened to let out a whimper. The atmosphere of the room became heavy, like the air before a tornado, quiet and foreboding. A slow, sickening movement like something pulled from mud reached his ear.

His calm façade completely dissolved into horror. Eyes darting around the room, he looked for any sign of a way out. Begging for anything that would lead him from this room and away from whatever it was he felt and heard.

Shane rushed towards a thin line of light. The desire to get away from the presence moved his feet faster than his balance would allow and gravity brought him down with a wet thud. Scrambling to get back up, his limbs flailed as they kept slipping out from under him like a man on ice.

Regaining his footing, he moved towards the thin beam again. Finding nothing but a solid wall, his eyes followed the line back to a small flashlight on a key chain. As he reached for the light, his hand met something cold and stiff.

Shane bit his lip to keep from letting out a sound that might let the thing in the room know where he was. He was convinced now it wasn’t someone but some thing, and he knew he didn’t want to meet it. He touched the hand that held the keychain. The fear of it coming to life and holding him in place became overwhelming and he pulled the small ring free with a hard tug.

He swept the light across the dark in front of him, imagining what waited behind. He did not want to see that. Everything in this room, everything that gave it the smell of a slaughterhouse revealed itself. The small, cold, blue light he held in his hand illuminated the poor fool on the floor by his feet who had probably thought that this small light could keep him safe.

A tangle of tentacles below the gaping hole in the body’s chest caused him to gag. The split corpse of a small child hung on the wall. A spasm of nausea passed through him as he realized that he had been holding onto those tiny exposed ribs while pulling himself up from the floor. A small, stuffed blue dog lay underneath it. He had imagined he was walking in a thick layer of gore. Actually seeing the human remains and filth was too much.

This wasn’t like the horror movies he so loved. Being able to watch and laugh as he caught mistakes in the effects or plot. It wasn’t corn syrup splattered on the walls and making the floors slick and sticky. Seeing the bodies took his will from him. Whatever the presence was in the room wasn’t the bogeyman from his childhood. It wasn’t going to be kept at bay by night lights and daddy. This was evil and real.

Feeling the presence, he knew he’d surveyed the carnage in front of him too long. He stood observing the shocking scene before him and the presence was on him now, too close for him to do anything but die. This last thought gave him one final bit of courage. I’m not gonna die with my back to this thing! He turned to face his death. What he saw was unimaginable.

The pretty, relaxed features of a woman in her twenties coalesced in front of his sleepy eyes. Dazed, Shane shook his head. He had expected horror, a sight so ghastly it would take his last breath from him. Shane had not expected to be staring at his sleeping girlfriend.

Eyes adjusting to the dim light, he scanned the room. An old Gibson Studio guitar leaned against a waist-high Marshall amplifier, collecting dust, his dreams silenced long ago, the way he hoped this nightmare would stay. Various sports pennants hung from the walls. On the furthest wall, a 24” x 18” window slowly became a poster of five teenage misfits running around a stage. He let himself relax. This was home and he was safe.

Suddenly something at his desk drew his attention. It noticed him looking and began to move from the chair. Shane sat straight up with his back against the wall facing the thing that slowly slunk towards him. Every muscle in him tightened. He had prepared himself to die a few moments ago. Prepared himself to give one last defiant stare into his killer’s eyes before giving up the ghost, but he wasn’t about to let Reese die in her sleep.

The creature hurled itself on the bed and began licking Shane’s face.

The black Labrador left long wet kisses on his face and hands. Midnight whimpered happily, as she always did at her owners’ affections. No Japanese ghost movies for me before bed. Damn. A sharp pain exploded in his chest. Midnight buried her nose into his sternum.

Pain and fear gripped him. His dog’s features began to melt away into the dark. She was a formless shadow feeding on him. Blood began pouring from Shane’s nose. He looked at Reese, hoping to somehow implant the thought to run in her sleeping brain.

Reese let out a small whimper as she shifted closer to Shane and cuddled up to him in the warm stain that grew out from under him. She let out another, primordial sound. Reese opened her eyes to reveal empty sockets and dipped her face into the gaping hole in his chest.

Midnight and Reese ate hungrily, in slurps and gulps. Shane couldn’t help but think they sounded like his parents’ dogs when they started in on a fresh bowl of wet food. Everything went black. There was nothing but darkness before him. I’m dead. This is what being dead is like. I’ve been killed and I’ll be alone in the dark forever. Mommy, I’m still scared of the dark. Shane held himself and cried.

Copyright © 2007 by Harry Louis Mora

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