I wrote this story for “Mean Shadows” some time last year, but with the recent reworking that I’ve done it was cut from the final edit. There is much more to this tale than this one piece, but I wanted to share something other than poetry this week, just to switch it up a bit and give you guys some more flavor. Sooner rather than later, I’ll be working on another compilation with a collection of stories much like this one, but I’ll have more news about that in the future. Until then, please enjoy this little snippet of “Elaine Court” that I have written up. Don’t forget to share with your friends. Every click helps me tremendously.
I stopped smoking outside. I used to like sitting on my porch in the night time, listening to music and enjoying a cigarette. But not anymore. When I go outside at night now, I hear talking. Quiet whispers over the sound of my music. Menacing, evil whispers. Telling the secrets about life. I see those things telling the secrets out of the corners of my eyes. I don’t smoke outside anymore.
Maybe it started the night I left my house and heard those eerie church bells. That was the last time I saw the shadows in the road. That was the first time I heard their maniacal whispering in the darkness around my house. I’ve seen them staring. They don’t know I know they are there, at least. I don’t think so. I know they watch me. Silently. Just out of sight. I watch them sometimes. Tall, blurry shadows standing a few feet away from me. It started with just one or two, but now they are everywhere. I don’t let my daughter go outside at night any more either. They are always there. Watching us. Waiting for something. Whispering.
One night, I was unlucky enough to set my sights upon one. I saw it in full. In the thick, dark shadows it watched me. Sometimes I catch more than just a glimpse, sometimes I see their whole being in its disfigurement. Their bodies don’t stand on solid ground. Instead, they stand just above it, when the wind picks up in our neighborhood, they flow in the breeze. Their bodies quiver in the most inhuman fashion. They float like bloodied ribbons in the wind. They stand there, flickering in the night time, yet they don’t move. Their limbs just hang, bent backwards. Humanoid, but like their joints are dislocated. In the night time winds, they flicker. They watch. They are so dark that they even stand out in the darkness. It’s black around them. Black like I have never seen before. They have been there for a long time, following me. I felt them getting close, and so I stopped smoking outside. I got scared and started to smoke in my garage.
I don’t think it makes a difference. They get inside my house. I know they do. I have heard them whispering to each other from beyond my metal garage door at night. They speak in a language I can’t understand. I think that they don’t want me to listen, and maybe I shouldn’t. I think they know that I’m paying attention to them now, too. That’s why they follow me.
Every night, I hear the bells from the Catholic Church ring every hour. A hollow sound, repetitive. Months ago the sound brought me comfort and joy, but that has since changed. I used to be a priest. Used to. Months before when I was preaching the word to my flock, I would still hear them. They whispered to me when I was preaching and when I prayed. When I was counseling people. They would be there, just out of sight in the shadows of my office. I asked God to help me, but I don’t know if He did. It’s gotten so bad now I wonder if He even pays attention to me anymore. The shadows are still here. They still whisper. I quit preaching because of it. The other clergy men told me that I was imagining it. But I’m not. I can’t be imagining their demonic tongues twisting around the foreign passages that they speak. I can’t preach when they are around. Their faces stare at me, blank and emotionless. I can feel them now. When I’m alone, I know that someone is watching me and I’m sure that it’s them. Their teeth sharp, lipless mouths grinning from ear to ear. Pale faces, with thin unblinking eyes. Their teeth gnash when they speak.
They came to me shortly after my neighbor’s house burnt down. The people who lived there all died in the fire. The father of the family once told me that black figures followed him at night. Watched him. Whispered to him. I thought he was out of his mind. Still, to ease his heart I laid a blessing on their home. I think that I brought these creatures to myself. I gained their attention when I set in to protect this man. Now I fear, they have set their sights on me.
They stand outside my windows, sometimes. I’ve grown afraid to open my blinds at night now. I have constrained myself to sitting inside my study and writing. When I write, they don’t talk. When I am at my computer inside with all of the lights on, they don’t whisper. They don’t knock on my windows, there is no teasing me, no taunting me to go outside and entertain their devilish delights. If I ignore them for more than a day though, they come inside my house. They will stand in the shadows, pulling the darkness into their bodies. I’ve seen them in the darkest, loudest nights standing over my wife. Thin, bony fingers gliding along the surface of her gentle skin. She was a treasure that had found me when I was at my lowest. We have only been married four months, but she is the shining jewel of my life. She and her baby girl have become my world and these spirits know that. They are after me.
There is an aura around them. I have tried to rationalize it. Stress from no longer being a priest. The tense air that has grown around my family. I tried telling myself that they are figments of my imagination. As much as I have tried to trick myself, I know they are here. Whether they are real in my world doesn’t matter. I know they are here. They aren’t real in appearance, they are blurry. Real things are solid, defined. These wisps aren’t. They stand out of reality, they stand outside and watch. When they get angry, they come inside. I think they want to kill me next.
The police said that the house burnt down because of a lit cigarette that had fallen onto the carpet. I didn’t know any one of the members of their family smoked. Then again, I don’t remember when I started smoking, either. They gather together sometimes and whisper in unison. Their pale, dark faces smiling all the time. Gaping black hole eyes stare right at me. I fear that if I were to open my blinds right now, they would be there. Whispering with unmoving mouths. Cryptic smiles carved onto their flat, oval faces. They would be right outside the glass. Smiling. Staring with their horrible, unblinking eyes.
I don’t go outside at night anymore, and if you live near me, you shouldn’t either. I don’t want to smoke cigarettes anymore, but I can only see them clearly through the floating ash. The smoke that burns from the tip of the tobacco illuminates them. It brings them out. It attracts them. I don’t know when I started smoking, but I know that I’m going to stop soon. I know, because they are here. Waiting. Every night. Outside my bedroom window, on the second floor, they float. Their bodies snapping back and forth, their faces, carved like masks that were turned to watch me. Everywhere I go. They’ve been inside my home before. They come close when I’m alone, when I’m in the dark, some of them follow right behind me. I can smell them. Their putrid odor wraps itself around my body like a rope around a neck. Their bodies smell old, like aged fabric. Moldy, and crusted with filth. They stay right behind me as I move. I’ve begun moving faster as the sun sets and I don’t stand in the darkness for any longer than I have to, if I can avoid it. I can feel their fingers wrapping around me like smoke tendrils. Preparing to choke me. Preparing to take me. In one way or another, they will get me.
My name is David. I’m telling you this in case I don’t make it. My wife is Sherry, my daughter is Jane. I don’t know when I started smoking, but I did. I live on Elaine Court with my wife and daughter, and I don’t feel safe anymore.