Friday, November 15, 2013

Some Sign of Life

Dorothy and Nora had been driving the deserted countryside lost for hours. They had made a lovely picnic on the shore, but had missed a turn somewhere on the way home. They had ridden in silence for the last half hour when Dorothy spoke. 

 "I really have to use the john." 

“Do you want me to pull over so that you can go by the road? We haven’t seen anyone else for a while.”

“I can’t do it in the woods beside the road!”

That was when Dorothy finally saw some sign of human life. There were tire tracks off the side of the road. The tracks lead up a hill and on top of the hill, she saw a house.

"Nora, turn right here."

Nora turned the car and they were jostled by the bumpy hill.

"Slow down Nora!"

"I thought you liked bumpy rides," Nora said, but she downshifted anyway and eased the car over the hills and the holes of the yard up to the house.

Dorothy looked at the dark house and  hoped for someone friendly and some sort of facilities.  Almost before Nora had stopped the car Dorothy had jumped out and hurried to the door. She looked around as she went to see if she could get a glimpse of an outhouse.

"You can stop dancing, I'm sure they will let you in." Nora joined Dorothy at the door and was adjusting her hat. Dorothy knocked on the door and it opened a bit. She stuck her head inside and choked on the smell of decay. It reminded her of the summer she had lived above the butcher’s shop.

"Hello?" Nora called out from behind her. She pushed the door open further and then wrapped her arm around Dorothy and guided her in. 

"Is anyone here? We're lost and my friend here needs to use your powder room."

There were no lights on inside the house, only the dim light that streamed in from the windows.  Nora crinkled her nose.

"It smells like a barrel of rotten apples in here."

Dorothy knew that smell was not rotten apples. Her eyes adjusted to the gloom. Past Nora, she saw the old woman staring at them from the corner.

"Nora..." Dorothy nodded her head towards the old woman. Nora looked over and saw her.

"Oh, I am sorry. I have forgotten my manners, but you see, we have been driving a long time and we are lost and tired. My name is Nora, and this is my friend Dorothy. I hope you don't mind, but the door was open..."

The old woman just stared at them. Her chin was almost touching her chest and she was looking up at them. She clutched a dirty rag doll to her breast and her mouth was moving slightly like she was muttering, but there was no noise.

"Nora, let's just go." 

Dorothy no longer had to go to the bathroom, and if the urge came back she would gladly pee on the side of the road in front of God and everybody, but she suddenly needed to leave this house.

"Are you ill?" Nora let go of Dorothy and started to walk towards the old woman. "Do you need some help?"

"Nora, I think she's okay like she is, please, I think we need to just leave."

Nora reached out and touched the old woman's hand, "Can I..."

"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!" The old woman leaned up and screamed in Nora's face. Nora stumbled back and her body twisted as she fell on a small table breaking it. The old woman and ran out of the room laughing a high, shrieking laughter.

Dorothy ran over to Nora and tried to help her up. "Oh Nora, are you okay? Please let's go now."

"Okay, I ...oh! Ouch!" Nora could not stand up. Glistening, dark blood ran through her torn stocking and down her leg. Dorothy removed her scarf and wiped at the blood. There was a long scrape down Nora's leg with a large splinter of wood embedded in her calf.

"Nora, you're hurt and I can't stay here. I'm going to wrap this up and help you to the car and then we are leaving. When we are away from here, I will stop and get that wood out, but we are leaving first." As she talked, Dorothy wrapped the wound with her scarf. Nora winced as she tied it tight. A door opened near them.

A soft, frail light fell into the room. There was the old woman again, watching, holding a candle. Behind her there was a wet smooshing sound and a muffled moaning.

"This crazy old bird is going to kill us," Dorothy muttered as she locked her gaze with the old woman. Then the old woman stepped to the side, and Dorothy saw what was on the floor next to the door.  Her brain could not make sense of what she saw. It was man-shaped, but it was a mushy, bloody, undulating mess. The darkness of the house seemed to swirl behind him. There were what looked like pockets of meat on the floor next to him, attached by slimy stands.

"Oh, those as his insides. What happened to his skin? How..." Dorothy peed. She never noticed. She cried and never noticed. Nora yelled at her, and she never noticed. She just saw him as he began to make sense. She stood there staring at this man as a long, bloody limb reached out to her. It was his hand. A blood bubble formed where his mouth should be and then died.

At the sound of laughter, Dorothy looked over at the old woman. She was looking down at the mess that had once been a man, shaking the doll at him, and laughing. The laughter turned to screaming and then laughing again. The swirling darkness seemed to move from him to her. It whirled around her hand holding the doll. It crept up her arm. Screaming now, she shook her arm and tried to move. The darkness wrapped around her greedily.  Dorothy saw her hold the doll close to her and then the old woman was turned inside out, like a stocking. It sounded like someone slurping the last bits of an egg cream from a glass. 

She felt a sharp pain and her head rocked to the side.

"Get out of here!" Nora was standing on one leg yelling in her face. Dorothy wrapped her arm around Nora's side and started to move towards the door. She felt a chill around her ankles and she tried to run. The feeling was sticky like taffy and cold like ice. It pulsed up her body and she was suddenly face to face with Nora. They were bound tightly together by the sticky cold. They no longer looked like two separate people.

A sound echoed through the house, a wet, slurping sound. It did sound very much like the remnants of an egg cream resisting the suction of the straw. The slurping was wet and somewhat drowned out by the sounds of two women in pain. Then there was one soft, moist thump. It was a sound similar to dropping raw ground beef, reserved for this evening's supper, on the hard, cold floor.  Finally, there was a muffled whimper and a muffled sob, then silence.

There were no signs of human life.

completed 11/15/13

I have an earlier version of this story called Bubbles Popping in response to a prompt by The Mag. This story is a re-telling of the story The Dark from the radio drama, Lights Out. If you would like to listen to the original, you can find a streaming source by clicking this link Lights Out: The Dark (This link will take you to the Old Time Radio Internet Archive. The episode I am using is #19 on the play list.) 

I updated the story because that first post was mostly a rough draft and because I wanted to post it to the subreddit Dark Tales. Click on Reddit Dark Tales to view the story and read other dark offerings. 


  1. bwahahaha....smiles...i love stories like this....the wet slurpy sounds...made me think of the black stuff in the lake on creepshow too....

    1. Oooh, a Stephen King comparison! I'm all a'flutter! Thanks Brian!

  2. This is scary wow I was glued to the screen amazing!

    1. Thank you, Yves! This story has been a challenge for me and I think it's because I am purposely trying to retell a story that someone else wrote first and have it also be mine. It's a cool exercise, but more work than I was expecting. I am glad that you enjoyed it. The original radio story had the grossest sound of the people being turned inside out. The idea to rewrite the radio story came from a cool prompt from The Mag.

  3. Ewww! This had a bit of a Psycho feel to it at first with the old woman. You're very good at this genre.

    1. Thanks Bone! This story has been compared to Stephen King and now Alfred Hitchcock. I'm on my way to getting conceited. I've missed writing short stories, and especially scary ones. I like the Dark Tales SubReddit because it is open to different lengths of stories and poetry.


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