A Darkness Within
Fiction by Alexander Z. Kautz
Having cleaned up the fragments of my broken tea glass and made another, I once more seated myself, tending to my notes and organizing my thoughts.
It was now my firm belief that evil as we knew it, was not so much that which existed within a single act, but that which through the illusion of time committed numerous crimes again humanity.
In this sense, the house on Crowley Street like so many others like it, were guilty of unspeakable evils, going almost unnoticed through the facade of time.
Who, having only lived a single lifetime would suspect, or by any other means, even take notice of these events, unless accidentally falling upon recorded incidents?
These thoughts and many others did I include within my notes, careful to change names, dates and details in order to avoid others stumbling upon the old place.
Maybe this had all been within my sister's design of things? She had always known that I had a passion for Victorian homes and an endless love of folklore and the occult.
Perhaps, in some way, unable to do much more than safe-guard the place and making all the information readily available through her own records. Knowing fully that I would inquire, she had left the responsibility upon me?
So many questions, doubts, fears of the unknown. Maybe this place, this sepulcher of suffering, sadness and death. Also held secrets, answers?
If nothing else, it would become the story that I had always dreamed of writing. A tale as within the autumn of my years, all the pain, loss and suffering of a lifetime would open a portal into the past. A revelation of evil and finally, redemption within doing so.
It was while doing the final editing, that I glanced up, noticing the dawn's gray arrival through the large kitchen windows. My head swam and eyes burned. A dizzying haze of nausea over-coming me as I moved from my seat, wandering into the living room. And remember, nothing more...
I awoke on the couch from a morning of dark and disturbing dreams, feeling as though I had not slept in days. It was day five within the old place and I was beginning to feel as though I had already been there a lieftime.
It was another rainy and dark afternoon as groaning and rubbing at a stiff neck, I crawled from off the sofa and clambering to my feet, stumbled into the kitchen.
Washing my face in the sink and filling a glass with water, I fumbled through a cupboard, half blindly, finding and taking my heart medication.
It was later than usual, but at least I had remembered. Making tea and taking a seat at the table, my attention soon returned to the notes of the previous evening.
"Okay, first thing's first." I thought aloud, sniffing at myself and wincing, said,
"But right now? You need a shower and some clean clothes."
Without having realized it, this had been the first time since taking over the house that I had actually showered?
I had been using the main floor facilities for quick wash up's, but somehow and over the course of events, failed to attend to even the most basic of needs?
The shower on the second floor was beautiful. A large tub with lion's feet. The brass faucet’s rising from out of a swan's body, the pipe forming the neck and the open mouthed head becoming the shower spout.
The hot water had done me a world of good and as the steam wrose all about me, I felt as though I could remain in there forever.
For a few brief moments I had been carried away, becoming part of a dream in some other reality.
The warm mist enveloping me as held within the shower curtain, the world blurred into a flowing and pleasant, soap scented fog.
Closing my eyes I leaned into the gentle, warm spray, my every sense relaxing.
A sudden and nauseating stench caused me to step back, retching and throwing a hand before my face. It was not uncommon for old plumbing to harbor some nasty little clog of one kind or another.
And so, opening my eyes, I intended to lean down to have a look? The blackened and rotting thing stood before me in the tub, Pale, thick worms and maggots wriggling from out of its rotting flesh!
Caught within the sheer horror I gawked as it moved toward me, putrid, green, decaying filth pouring from its every orifice into the tub at my feet!
The very breath caught within my lungs as gasping and drawing nothing, I choked! Before I could even raise an arm within defense, the shower spigot plugged, then suddenly began vomiting black, rotting, filth all over me!
Shrieking, I fell backwards, ripping down the shower curtain and screaming like I had never done before!
A moment later it had all vanished and I lay within the tub, shivering uncontrollably!
Covered by the torn shower curtain, I struggled to one side, staring wildly into the late afternoon shadow's! It had happened again... Caught somewhere between that state between waking and dreaming, something had found me in the cold twilight....
The late afternoon rain came down in little more than a drizzle as tightly gripping my umbrella in the chill gust, I paused to glance up into the dismal, cloud filled heavens.
Halting only momentarily, I pulled up my collar and slipping into black leather gloves, slowly made my way across the grounds of the old house.
The lot was listed as having been just under four acres. Though my sister had maintained the forward landscaping and lawns, the rear of the property was densely brushed. Much of which had been claimed by long thorny, blackberry bushes, becoming almost entirely inaccessible.
In any event, I cautiously followed the property line back, scrutinizing the earth for any evidence of possible burial or markers.
The trees had grown close together as the creeping vines, though having lost most of their leaves, still bore long, wicked thorns.
The earth was damp, moss having crept into some of the darker places. And as I walked, weaving and stepping over and around obstacles. I had the growing sense that from somewhere within that deep thicket, someone or some thing was now watching...
Pausing to nervously look back, I became aware that I had traveled deep enough into the dense brush that I could no longer see the pathway out. Or would anyone from outside be able to see me...
Squinting in the bitter cold, I turned once more while slowly making my way further inward and ever deeper.
The air was heavy with the scent of both cedar and decaying vegetation as struggling through a particularly dense area, my leg became ensnared within those damned blackberry vines!
Helpless, I fell to the ground. Cursing and muddied, I slowly moved to get up. Becoming absolutely still as laying there, caught a glimpse of an old and moldering piece of wood resting just beneath the bush?
Reaching outward, I clutched it tightly and after a brief struggle, managed to pull if free from beneath the vines where it had been concealed!
"My God...." I held what was most certainly the decaying remnants of an old grave marker. The inscriptions of which, had long rotted, fading away into little more than a white smear.
Placing it down, I retrieved a long stick and poking through the thicket, soon discovered the moss covered remains of several others, cursing while saying,
"Sweet Jesus--Linda. It's true. They're all still buried back here..."
After having showered once again, much more quickly than before, I was soon dressed and back downstairs just in time to catch the phone!
It was Keiko, our conversation brief, I explained that I had been resting and that all was well.
I told her with some slight amusement, that I had begun doing some writing. Having taken advantage of that silly nightmare to create something worth maybe a laugh or two?
She seemed relieved, even pleased to know that I was safely preoccupied. I had not lied to her but simply refrained from disclosing any upsetting detail's.
I had full intention of telling her everything once we were together again.
After saying good night, she once more offered to return home on the next available flight. I had explained that it was unnecessary and that I would see her shortly, regardless.
We had parted on better terms as hanging up, I hurried back to my writing.
Still unnerved about having my back to that hallway, I moved into the kitchen. Preparing a pot of Jasmine tea and using the notes, committed both events, thoughts and nightmares into their proper perspective.
It had all come together so quickly, easily falling into place far faster than I would ever have imagined? My thoughts raced, heart sank as writing within memory of my dear sister's final passing.
Though I had regretted not having been there. The doctor's had assured me that what had remained of her at the end, would have been unaware of my presence or that of any other.
Still, the thought of her alone in that hospital room tore at my heart. Tears filled my eyes as I wrote and wondered if, through some merciful act, she had found peace and forgiven me?
As the words fell so did the tears, staining both pad and heart within those last moments. Thunder boomed in the distance and the lights flickered within the old house. A lump forming in my throat as I now considered the possibility of the power failing and being trapped there, within utter blackness...
"That storm is getting a little too close for comfort." I sipped at my tea, looking out the window and into the pouring rain, thought aloud as I often did when alone, saying,
"You’d better be ready old boy, or you'll be sitting here alone--in the dark..."
Hurriedly retrieving candles from a kitchen drawer, I prepared a large ten stem candelabra that I had found on an end table in the living room. Placing it upon the kitchen table, I wasted no time within lighting them!
There was a sudden, brilliant flash of lightning that seemed to engulf the house! A moment later and the power had failed as all fell into utter darkness.
"Oh no...." The words came in a whisper from my now dry and parched throat as within memory, I said.
"The breaker box is in the basement... And, there is no damn way, that I am setting foot down there, especially right now..."
Moving from the table, I took the candelabra while making my way back to the safety of my chair before the hearth. Tossing several logs upon the fire, I trembled while gazing into the blackness all around me.
The place now took on a sinister life all of it's own. The trees being swept in a strong wind, scraped and clawed at the roof and window's.
Cold gusts moaned down the chimney as long shadows crept from all corners!
I would be lying if I claimed to have not been terrified at that moment. For no sooner had I turned the chair, dreading having my back to that dark opening in the corridor, than did I sense a movement within that blackness?
Ever so slowly did I turn, holding the candelabrum high while looking back over my shoulder into that pitch black hallway.
As I did this my eyes froze as did my entire body! The breath catching in my lungs and stopping dead. For there, standing in the entranceway was the tall figure of a woman dressed in blood soaked, streaming veils of white!
A pale blue mist traveling all about her, she drifted from without a dream! Arms extended, grasping fingers! From the face of death did she now smile, staring through blackened and empty sockets!
I wailed in horror as she flew across the room at me! In a moment of mindless, sheer terror, I flung the candelabrum at the shape!
The heavy brass candle holder passing through the ghastly phantom before crashing heavily to the floor! The candles breaking and extinguished through the violent effort!
Left alone with only the light of the hearth between myself and the blackness, I dared not go into the kitchen to look for a flash light! Instead, huddled near the hearth, I stared, silent and wide eyed into the surrounding blackness!
Though I could not see anything, I could feel them.... Those things, waiting somewhere in that blackness, waiting for the fire to slowly fade!
Dear God! I had forgotten to stock more wood for the hearth!
Panicking, I desperately searched, fumbling around the hearth for something to burn! Finally pulling the small end table closer and smashing it against the floor, immediately shoved the broken peices into the fire!
Not enough! That's not going to last! I needed light! More light! But no, it was too dangerous to try to reach out for anything else! All the furniture was too far from the fire's protective glow! The light, I had to stay in the light! They could come no closer, dared not!
Then I heard it, that familiar clicking, grinding, creeping, crawling, coming from somewhere within the darkness of that corridor...
Oh dear God! They were coming! They knew I was there! Knew that I was trapped and helpless! The fire, it was slowly going down and would soon be little more than embers... Oh God, it would not be light yet for hours!
Slowly, that cold blue mist crept from out of the corridor just as it had within the nightmare! The sounds of groaning, whispering, growing louder as the shadows moved just beyond sight!
I could make out the shapes, yes, the shapes of that shambling, crawling, seething mass of death and decay!
The children, dear God have mercy they were coming for me!
Shrieking loud and long I fought against that blackness! The ice cold touch of eternity, chilling, freezing the flesh from my bones!
I struggled, crashing heavily to the floor from where I had fallen asleep in my chair by the now cold and dark hearth.
Gawking, gasping as I crawled around in the pitch black house, the storm having caused a power outage as I had slept.
I scrambled blindly into the kitchen, fumbling through a drawer and finding a flashlight, switched it on!
"Oh my God..." Clutching a hand to my breast and feeling the pounding of my racing heart, I fought to catch my breath. Speaking quietly while attempting to calm myself, said,
"Calm down it was just a nightmare. Whoaaaa. The last thing that we need right now is another heart attack.”
Breathing slowly and deeply a new fear wrose within me. As feeling that familiar pressure within my chest and shortness of breath. A sharp pain began biting from somewhere in my left arm.
I knew that somehow, I had to calm down or possibly become the next victim of the old place. And then I suddenly realized it!
"My medication. Oh, dear God! I fell asleep and forgot about it again?" The words left my lips as turning, I stumbled while making my way into the kitchen. Hurriedly filling a glass with water and struggling, choked back the pills.
Time seemed to stand still as waiting there within the blackness, I leaned against the counter while listening to the fearful pounding of my heart.
"Easy old boy--you're going to be fine, just breathe." I spoke in little more than a whisper, closing my eyes and attempting to force all other things from my mind, said,
"Everything is just fine now..."
Thunder cracked, booming from high above the house as shaking the very foundations, the lighting flashed, shattering the darkness and blinding me within it's force!
The sound of torrential rains battered against the old structure, creating stream's that covered window's, rivers flowing from out the drains!
It was as though nature's full fury now rained down upon that dark and sinister place! And yet, as it had once stood for so many years did it now stand oblivious against natures force!
With it's jutting peaks cutting like dagger's into the night! Strong, dark and defiant unto all things stood the house on Crowley Street!
Was I housed safely within it's blackened walls? Or merely as Jonah had been trapped within the belly of the beast!
Stop this! Stop it! You’re driving yourself over the edge! It was just a few bad dreams and stories of the unfortunates who had once occupied the place! Andrew, get a grip man! Your heart--can't you feel it flutter, choke, becoming feint under the pressure? You must-- stop it now!
"No more! Stop it--stop it-stop it!" I cried out! Falling to my knees as I threw my hands over my ears, squeezing my eyes tightly closed and attempting to block out both senses and all thoughts!
I have no idea of just how long I had remained in that manner, but when finally I had removed my hands from upon my ears and opened my eyes, the storm had passed.
Only the darkness, the stillness of the night and nothing more... With my heart having calmed, I crawled across the floor upon hands and knees climbing into the soft cushion's of the couch as the silence took me....