As it’s nearly Halloween, I thought I would try a scary story. This is actually based on a poem I wrote about a recurring nightmare. I hope you like it. It’s 1691 words – which, if you turn upside down is – 1691! Hope you’re Halloween is ‘spooktacular’ (so sorry, I really couldn’t resist that one! – I’ll get my coat :0))
It’s midnight, on All Hallows Eve and I am already in bed.
It had been a disaster of a Halloween party. Chase had turned up already very drunk and preceded to puke up over the finger buffet and kind of killed the party mood in one fell swoop.
I threw Chase out and Jake offered to take him home to keep him out of trouble. Chase shouting back to me as I slammed the door ‘Sorry Ginny, really sorry. GINNY!‘
The others sloped off to Murphy’s Bar for a ‘lock in’, but I really didn’t feel like going. So I cleared up the mess (swearing under my breath ‘Chase you will pay for this, you jerk’) and went to bed early.
The red neon numbers of the digital clock showed -11.59 – then ‘blinked’ and changed to -00.00-.
Sleepily, I registered the change – two pairs if red hollow eyes stare from the black clock face at me for exactly a minute and then they ‘blinked’ to show -00.01-. I rolled over on to my side.
The weather outside had taken a turn for the worst. I could hear the rain batter the windows with its hundreds of tiny fists, demanding entry out of the cold outside.
The wind kicked over the pumpkin lanterns and trashed the plastic bat decorations from around the front door onto the porch floor. It grabbed huge handfuls of the larger icy droplets and lashed them against the sides and roof of the house.
They clattered like tiny bits of gravel or shale thrown against a wooden shack. It growled down the chimney like a disgruntled ex – trying to demand my attention with his ‘listen to me, listen to me’ moans and shrieks!
The wind, angry at being unable to rouse me from my bed, turned on the lonely weeping willow that still stands in the garden at the front of the house, whipping him around and twisting his branches like a pretzel before allowing him to uncoil and return back to his normal hunched state.
The willow threw his wind-beaten arms downwards as if trying to grab the earth to hold himself to the ground.
I am lying folded up inside the duvet of my bed, like the lemon filling in a meringue. To my sleepy eyes, the shadows of the room billowed and waved like dark muslin voiles in a breeze.
I suddenly realise in my semiconscious state that a dark shape is emerging on my right – someone is leaning over me – looming in the darkness.
It flits through my befuddled mind not to be silly – that no-one is here.
I close my eyes and think ‘I’m in my bed cosy and warm. It’s the trick of the shadows and my imagination is running wild because of the date and a few drinks’.
I chuckle and whisper ‘Stupid’ to myself and pull the duvet further up and over my nose.
Again, I feel a presence loom over me again – leaning to stare? No, it feels like it’s studying me.
It has an aloofness about it – a bug collector pinning their new find to the pegboard for the curious to look at.
The light suddenly brightens in the room and I realise I am NOT in my bed.
A thick box-shaped glass case surrounds me on all sides and above me as well. A soft glow ceiling light shines down, straight in my face, as if to highlight my features.
I am still me, I think, curled up in my usual foetal sleeping position – No longer snuggled up in my bed, but lying on a large beanbag cushion, draped in candy-stripe blankets. I also appear to be surrounded by paraphernalia from across the decades of the 20th Century, like grave offerings.
For some reason, my hair has been pulled into a high ponytail and I appear to be dressed in a pink jogging suit and matching sneakers that I wouldn’t be seen dead in normally!
Seen dead in…
I find that I can’t move any part of my body. My head is resting on the crook of my right arm – my face positioned so it’s looking up through the right hand side of the glass case.
Another figure looms over me again, then fades.
Suddenly, my senses return to me and in my shock and complete creeping, skin crawling horror, I realise that I’m an exhibit in a local museum!
On display like a gassed butterfly or formaldehyde-soaked fish.
Panic takes over my mind, I try again to move, but I can’t, not a single inch.
I try to shout, but I can feel years of dust coating the back of my desiccated throat and not even a death rattle can be raised.
I try to move my fingers, but see that they are withered and the colour of old leather. The tips of the finger bones, finger nails still intact, showing through the shrivelled-back skin.
I want to cry, but there is nothing there, apart from maybe a residue of salt in the tear ducts.
Trapped – my spirit alive and well, but residing in my seemingly very long-dead carcass. The panic rolls into despair and grinding horror. Is this a room in Hell perhaps?
A pile of dusty bones and skin, preserved like beef jerky and dressed as people of the future might think ‘we’ in the ‘past’ dressed.
To be put on display, gawped at and prodded in the name of science from ‘9 to 5’ every weekday except weekends and high holidays.
Another shadowy figure materializes in my short field of vision and finally comes in to focus.
She is a beautiful middle aged woman with long, straight silver-grey hair, parted in the middle. A proud, strong face, full of character – of First People decent maybe.
She is wearing a plain straight buckskin coloured dress with a black beaded belt with little flecks of Lapis Lazuli and a black owl pendant hung around her neck, resting on her chest.
She looks me straight in the eyes with such pity and ‘knowing’ as if she can see that I am still here, even in this mummified state.
She is holding a large, hard-backed book which has faded, red leather triangular corners and spine, with a mottled front. It looks like books from centuries ago, but oddly it has no ‘title’ or author’s name anywhere on it.
She opens the book and is trying to show me some of the pages, trying to communicate something to me – a way back perhaps, an escape from this dried meat and fabric prison, a way to release my soul from this entrapment and purgatory.
But she is suddenly and unceremoniously shoved aside by a large meat fisted troglodyte and his brood– who really should be under this glass case instead of me.
She tries again to position herself next to me, still holding the book open.
I am using what little there is of my sight to claw any information from the open page as I can, frustratingly, it’s not in a language I can understand but the illustrations look like depictions from the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ I had studied whilst at college.
To my total and utter soul crushing shock, she is moved on by a museum official and advised that her ‘time is up’ and to move along to the next exhibit. She fades away from my sight, her sorrowful face blending back into the darkness out of the reach of my poor vison.
The troglodyte takes a quick glance at the flotsam and jetsam in the case with me, not even glancing in my direction and then moves on, shouting for his brood to follow him.
But one of his charges, a young teenage girl, stops to take a closer look at the ‘funny mummy’
She stares into my face – she the ‘observer’, expecting me to be the ‘observed’.
A moment flits by – she frowns in disbelief at what she sees as we stare straight into each other’s eyes.
She sees the observed is now the observer and she stands, silently agog for a moment.
Comprehension dawns across her face – she becomes wide eyed with terror and dreadful surprise.
Backing away from the glass case, she puts one hand over her mouth, the other hand pointing towards me. The rest of the brood crowds around her wondering what the problem is.
Their faces follow to where her outstretched hand is pointing and turn towards me – quickly moving from denial to open mouthed horror of the fact that they can all see two very much alive eyes staring out and looking directly at them from the dried out cadaver in front of them.
I see their ‘about to scream’ faces as they all point towards me ‘AAARRRGGHHH…………
And that’s when I found myself sitting bolt upright and shivering in my bed. The meringue duvet in lumpy submission on the bedroom floor. I grab it back and swathe myself in it like a life jacket. My ears catching the last remnant of the scream and with shock I realise – that it’s me screaming.
God knows what they saw – For I feel they were real people, and that it wasn’t a dream, but a vision maybe? Or even some sort of ‘time slip’? Did they see a mummified skull screaming back at them, eyes bulging in abject horror?
Or just the skin shredding terror of realising they were being observed by a preserved corpse at a local museum.
Who was the grey lady and what was she trying to tell me?
Is this a glimpse of a possible future for me?
To end up as dusty bones in a glass cabinet, kept in a gloomy annex of some obscure provincial museum.
No ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’ for me, but an unnamed relic with just a sticker on the side of the glass box stating:
‘White, Female, Homo Sapien Sapien – 21st Century’
A mouldy exhibit, never allowed to finally rest.
Screaming silently again and again….
For all eternity
© Kate McClelland 2015