Prompt Short Story: Nelson

Note before we begin this installment, if you’re unfamiliar with the use of the singular ‘they’ as a pronoun replacement for he/she, please check out these links:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/singular-nonbinary-they
https://nonbinary.wiki/wiki/Singular_they

Nelson

(WIP, Untitled supernatural murder mystery)

by

Lee Hulme

[All stories in this series:
1: Drew     2: Vicky     3: Egs     4: Danson     5: Egs & Danson     6: Nelle     7: Elliot     8: Emmeline    9: Josie     10: Nelson     ]

Drew’s head pounded as they woke, nausea cramping their stomach. They tried to curl up into a ball, but their arms and legs wouldn’t move. Awareness began to return and Drew realised they were in a chair—tied to a chair, in fact.

Dread crowding out all other thoughts, they opened their eyes, wincing as their eyelashes unpeeled from each other. Their whole face seemed to throb as the single grimy window picked out a room more shadow than light.

The walls were too far away to see, only the odd humped silhouette came into view as Drew squinted, grunting in pain as their face scrunched up.

They pulled against the ropes with all their might, but they wouldn’t give.

“Don’t bother,” a voice croaked.

They looked up to discover a thin girl bound with the same rope. Although it was dark, they were close enough to see her bruised eyes and bloody wrists.

“I already tried.”

Drew tried to respond, but could only produce a strangled sound. They summoned and swallowed a tiny amount of saliva and tried again, throat hoarse with dryness, “What happened?”

She shook her head, hair falling limply over her face, “Dunno. I was high, fuckers knocked me out, woke up here.”

As Drew’s vision sharpened in the darkness they saw the blood that had dried, matted to her hair, and it brought back a memory of their own. Walking home from the pub—sober, as they had been since the night of the blackout—a group had set on them from an alley. What happened was mostly a blur, but presumably explained why their face hurt.

“Same here, I think”, Drew rumbled. “I’m Drew, I don’t think we’ve met?”

“Vicky,” the thin girl said, shivering. “I know you, you got arrested for that murder, but it wasn’t you.”

“Yeah on both counts,” Drew agreed, “Are you cold?” They felt their voice returning somewhat to normal, the effort it took to speak lessening.

Vicky shook her head, “Not cold, well not really, starting withdrawal. Sorry.”

Drew shrugged, “Sorry I can’t help. I don’t even know where we are, or why.”

“Gotta be about the murder. Or it’s a super big coincidence,” Vicky grimaced as another shudder gripped her.

Before Drew could reply, a metal door squealed open ahead of them and the outline of a person entered, not bothering to close it behind them. A little more light filtered through, and Drew frowned as they made out some drawing on the floor.

“Well done on figuring out why you’re both here—some of it, anyway,” the voice was smiling.

Drew’s head shot up, and they groaned at the lightning snap of pain that caused, “Nelson??” they asked, incredulously, after the flashing lights had eased slightly.

Nelson walked to one side and turned on an electric standing lamp, properly illuminating the room, and himself.

The room was smaller than it had seemed when the walls had been invisible, only a little bigger than Drew’s bedroom at the house he and Nelson both lived in. Along some of the walls were metal shelving, and one stack of something covered in an ancient sheet. On the floor, still shining with wetness, was a symbol Drew had never seen before but mentally recoiled from anyway.

Their quick glance taking in all of this they returned their attention to their housemate.

“What the fuck man?!” Drew exploded. “What the actual blue fuck is wrong with you? It’s fucking been you, hasn’t it? That poor woman, framing me, now fucking this? What! The Fuck!”

Nelson waited patiently for Drew to finish, the serene smile on his face betrayed only by a small tic in the corner of his mouth.

“You done for a bit? Alright. You might as well know what’s going on. The girl was a mistake, as it turned out. We—you’ll meet the rest soon—were trying to summon something to do our bidding, only the ritual didn’t work properly, and this thing got stuck, half here half not. It was really fucking pissed, and it wouldn’t let us alone, so we asked it what it needed and it said a sacrifice would give it strength.

“So we grabbed her from the bar—not her specifically, she just happened along alone at the right time—and we drew the symbols the thing gave us, and it properly came through, all solid. It told me putting you in the picture would take heat off the rest of us, so I did that. I wasn’t there laughing about it or anything, I just did as it said, you understand?”

Drew curled their lip despite the crackle of pain it sent through a barely clotted cut, their sneer saying everything they needed to say.

“Well, whatever,” Nelson shrugged in a sharp, jittery movement. “Now it’s here, and it wants us to do all sorts of stuff, like more sacrifices and giving our firstborn and shit, and the protection rituals we’ve done are hiding us alright for now, but it’s not going anywhere. So we found this other ritual that’ll send it away, but it needs more sacrifices and they gotta be people who’ve been touched by it. So you, Drew, cos we framed you, and you, Vicky, cos you found that girl after we killed her. I guess some people will notice you gone Drew, but not many, and I’ll help them figure you just skipped out, too much stress, or whatever. And nobody’ll notice you, Vicky—one more junkie gone—we’re really doing you and everyone else a favour if you think about it. And nobody’ll put both of you together, so that’s that. It’s not personal, we just gotta get rid of this thing before it gets past the protections and hurts us.”

Nelson’s speech had grown increasingly fast and frantic as he hopped from foot to foot, staring earnestly into the faces of his captives as if hoping for their understanding. Drew could see the fear behind his projected bravado, but it wasn’t going to matter, after they were dead, if he felt bad about it.

“Nelson, man, come on, there’s gotta be another way to deal with whatever shit you conjured up,” Drew pleaded, allowing fear to enter their voice.

Nelson flinched, half-turned away, turned back, and opened his mouth to speak—but was interrupted by the appearance of a handful of others.

Drew recognised none of the newcomers, but studied their faces anyway. Mostly they saw fear, but on one face there was just sheer excitement. That face was looking forward to another sacrifice.

Drew turned cold as the hollow eyes in that face turned to fix on theirs.

Nelson hurried around the room, seating everyone around the symbol drawn on the floor, giving each a candle, a sheet of paper, and a knife, then joining them himself, sitting cross-legged and pulling his hood down over his face.

The only one left standing was the one who was looking forward to this.

As Nelson began to lead a chant in some language Drew didn’t recognise, the hollow-eyed killer approached him, smiling an equally hollow smile, and Drew saw something the others had missed. Whoever this had once been, it was now whatever thing they had summoned. Whatever this ritual was, it wasn’t going to banish it anywhere. It was only going to make it stronger, and then they were all going to die.

Drew tried to shout, to warn them, to at least try and get their attention, but the smile widened, filling their vision entirely, and their shout was cut off, strangled beneath a dark pressure that filled their body, before it could even begin.

The thing grinned, teeth gleaming and sharp, and turned back to the chanting circle.

Writing Prompt Used:

6

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Prompt Short Story: Josie

Josie

(WIP, Untitled supernatural murder mystery)

by

Lee Hulme

[All stories in this series:
1: Drew     2: Vicky     3: Egs     4: Danson     5: Egs & Danson     6: Nelle     7: Elliot     8: Emmeline    9: Josie     10: Nelson     ]

Relishing the time spent on someone’s studies but her own, Josie had been eager to help the stranger find and take notes on occult rituals. Emmeline was a trifle odd – jumpy, vague on exactly what she studied or with whom – but she was far from the oddest student here and given the things she and Ronald got up to, Josie wasn’t about to judge. In fact, given the subject matter she could help all the better, she only hoped she didn’t give away the fact that these were not wholly new things to her.

By the time the library closed, Emmeline seemed to be satisfied, and Josie left, smiling to herself in pleasure at being able to help. She ignored a stab of unease at some of the rituals they had found— Emmeline couldn’t possibly know they worked, it was just for an essay. And besides, the creature the group of them had summoned had done no harm to them when they called it up and asked it to stop the fellow that kept following her around asking for a date—they hadn’t seen him since and nothing else had happened.

Tote bag swinging against her leg, humming softly to herself, Josie rounded the corner by her dorm and stopped, a cry strangling in her throat as she saw the glistening remains of…well, something she didn’t want to piece together.

Her eyes focussed atop the remains and saw a hooded creature with feral eyes looking at her, and she took a step back, crashing into the wall, bag dropping to the floor.

The creature rose from the chaos it had wrought, giving Josie a much clearer view of the disassembled human before her, though identifying it was going to take rather more than a simple glance. Josie fought back the urge to add vomit to the stinking pile and looked up at the hooded thing.

“You asked,” it told her, “I delivered. You did not think to tell me not to play with him first. I have had fun, thank you. But now you see him, proof I have fulfilled your request. He will not bother you again, and your firstborn will belong to me. Make me a strong one.”

It floated away, and Josie began to scream.

***

Later, in her dorm, having answered seemingly endless questions over and over again at the police station, having shivered in Ronald’s arms as he stroked her hair and spoke comforting nothings into her ear, having finally found the strength to speak, she had called the rest of the circle of friends who had summoned the thing.

In her dorm room they made a circle again and followed the banishing ritual. To their relief, the creature didn’t appear, and the ritual seemed to work – at least, Josie felt the weight of the thing’s presence lift from her shoulders. She thanked them for their help, and allowed Ronald to help her to bed. Their relationship until then had been casual, but the horror of knowing what they had done bound them unhappily together.

They completed their studies and wed, bought a house, worked hard at their jobs, never discussing having children. Their sex life was limited – the risk of certain acts too great. They moved around each other, at opposite ends of whatever room they were in, their precariously balanced relationship unable to cope with anything beyond a surface glance. They had forgotten how to love, held together by the knowledge of what they had done—and what they must never do.

Their status quo held until the night Josie found a news piece about the mysterious and gruesome death of Emmeline, and the child she left behind. Showing it to Ronald, they both wept, in sadness, shame, fear, and the knowledge of what they had lost in their rashness and arrogance. They came together for a single night, and it was enough, some dark magic worked inside them to ensure the child would be conceived, and so it was: Tamara Egerton entered the world.

After the first child, Josie and Ronald hoped that a second would give them something else to hold onto, and a son, Jasper, joined the family.

On the night before young Egs’ 5th birthday, the whole family sat up until midnight, waiting, hoping the creature would not come.

The creature did come. Emerging from shadow, it spoke each of their names in a hiss and reached out for Egs.

Josie and Ronald stood in the way as Egs and Jasper backed off, scared, holding hands.

The parents had done their research over the years, and each held a vial in their hands and a banishing spell in their heads. Doubling up for good measure, they threw and chanted at the same time.

The hooded creature laughed in their faces as its shadow began to pull apart. The spells were working, but not fast enough, as it flowed forwards and tendrils laced themselves around Josie and Ronald, snapping their necks and dropping them to the floor.

The creature howled as it was forced to leave empty-handed, but its eyes glowed at Egs, “I will have you!” it screamed as the shadows took it, then cleared, now empty.

Egs and Jasper dropped hands and ran to their parents, but they were already dead.

Writing prompt used:

7

If you enjoy the stories and blogs on my site, please share them, every one of those helps.
And if you really enjoy them, please check out my Patreon, or the tip jar on the sidebar to the right, and consider helping me do more and better things!
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Prompt Story: Emmeline

Emmeline

(WIP, Untitled supernatural murder mystery)

by

Lee Hulme

[All stories in this series:
1: Drew     2: Vicky     3: Egs     4: Danson     5: Egs & Danson     6: Nelle     7: Elliot     8: Emmeline    9: Josie     10: Nelson     ]

 

Emmeline brushed back a lock of auburn hair, her hazel eyes anxious where they scanned the text in front of her. Pale skin growing paler as the librarian announced closing time, she hurriedly added some scribbles to her notes and closed the book, adding it to the pile on the table as she grabbed her bag and left through the side exit. She scanned the street as she walked swiftly to her car, seeing nothing—or more specifically, nobody—out of the ordinary.

Today’s notes should be the last pieces of the ritual. Half translated scraps, scattered around other books and scrolls, each piece pointing her to the next—but not today’s piece, this one was the last she needed. Tomorrow she would go shopping for supplies, and then she would be free—she would make herself free.

Arriving at the motel—a dingy-looking pace that was surprisingly pleasant on the inside—Emmeline parked and climbed the stairs to her room, her mind flashing back—as it often did—to the time before she was forced into this life of running and searching.

She didn’t know where he’d spotted her first, but she suddenly started seeing him everywhere she went, feeling someone following her, watching her. Then the cards started, little greeting cards proclaiming his devotion. Then small gifts. Then increasingly angry messages as she not only didn’t respond, but made her apartment more secure, ensured she was never out alone, left when she saw him show up, found places he didn’t know she would be.

When the first death threat came—complete with a sketch—she went to the police, who shrugged. They couldn’t do anything, maybe she shouldn’t have done whatever she did to encourage him, he’d probably go away soon enough if he didn’t get a rise out of her. In short, she was dismissed. When the threats increased, the same happened. By then she could tell them who he was, having done the legwork, but the response was the same: they didn’t take her seriously, and somehow it was her fault.

After the evening she had returned home to find a rat nailed to her door, with a note indicating that nails would also feature in her own future, she had packed a bag and moved to a currently empty apartment rented out by a friend in another county. At first it seemed the distance and the speed of the move had foiled him and things were quiet. Emmeline had even begun a new job, giving up her old apartment entirely and working in the archives at a nearby museum. Long days and late evenings looking through and organising old texts brought a calm back into her life and her mind, until she began to settle once more, making new friends and allowing her guard to drop the tiniest bit.

Then one night, after a few drinks with colleagues, she opened her apartment door to the sight and scent of hundreds of roses. She knew they were from him; he had found her. Reading the card attached to the closest batch confirmed what she knew—he was coming, and soon.

But she had prepared for this—even whilst pretending she was being silly, that she’d never need them, she had made plans. If he refused to let her be, and the police refused to help, she would turn to an authority outside of this world. Stumbling across an arcane text during her job in the archives, a little extra research had given her the information she needed to put together a ritual—all she needed was to track down the rest of it.

And so she had. Piece by piece, slowly eating through her savings, she had found the ritual. Now, supplies purchased, she sat in her living room and lit the candles, burned the herbs, chanted the words, and focused on the being she was trying to summon. A problem-solver, the texts had called it—though they had been a little vague on how the problems were solved and what it might want in return. Still, Emmeline had reasoned, her desperation overcoming her usual common sense, summoning it couldn’t hurt—she could always send it away again if it’s terms were unsatisfactory.

It had appeared, the shadows coalescing to reveal a tall cloaked and hooded figure, hovering just off the ground. Its eyes flickered green in the candlelight as it spoke, voice echoing around the small room.

“I am here. What is your desire?”

Mouth suddenly dry, Emmeline gaped for a few moments. The figure hovered patiently while she regained her voice.

“Someone’s stalking me, threatening me,wherever I go he finds me. I want him to stop.”

“I will kill this man for you,” the figure’s hood made a nodding motion.

“No, no, you don’t need to kill him, just make him stop this.”

The figure shook its hood, “I cannot change the will of this man, I can only remove him. This I will do. In exchange, I ask-“

Emmeline interrupted, voice trembling slightly, “No, hey, no, you know what? Never mind, you can go I’ll figure something else out. I don’t want to be responsible for murder. Not even of him.”

The hooded figure laughed, “Oh child, I cannot be called off once summoned. You should have known that or never called me. I will kill this man. And in the future, when you have a child of your own, you will dedicate it to me. It will be my servant in this world and many others, and I will reward it greatly.”

Emmeline shook her head, this had gotten far out of her control and she looked around desperately, trying to think of anything in the texts that might help, “No. No!”

“This is no longer your choice. You will have a child, and when it turns 5, you will summon me again. Do not fail me, or your fate will be far worse than the man I go to kill.”

Emmeline tried to shout another denial, but her vocal cords locked and the room began to spin. She vomited on the rug and tipped over sideways on the sofa, laying her head on the pillows. Sleep took her, and she watched the hooded figure appear in the motel room of her stalker. He slept peacefully, his dark hair spread across the pillow, skin sickly green in the light from the Motel sign.

The shadowy figure hovered over him and its sleeve rose. But instead of revealing a hand, the shadows simply moved, chasing around each other before locking around his mouth and nose, pinning him as he suffocated.

His struggles lasted only a few minutes, but Emmeline’s memory of his open, staring, red-blotched eyes lasted her a lifetime.

She remained celibate for a number of years, careful not to fulfill the prediction of the monster she had summoned – he surely couldn’t make her pregnant without she engage in sexual acts, she reasoned, so she would simply…not.

But, the 70s came, and with it drink, drugs, and a sexual revolution. She avoided all three as much as she could, but—whether through the monster’s power or not—at a party in a part of town she knew very little, abandoned by her drunk or tripping friends, there was nobody to remind her which food was drug free and she guessed wrongly.

Waking the next day, the rest of the previous night was something of a blur. The colours, the emotional release, the feeling of connectedness to everyone around her, the touch of a hopeful young suitor, and the longing she had suppressed for so long. She gave in. Just that one time, she gave in, and she led the young man to a private place where she took control, then left him behind, both sated.

It was enough. Even with her vague memory of rolling a condom onto him with her—out of practice but still skilled—mouth, clearly it had been enough.

She quit her job, left her apartment, moved away She cut all ties and ensured nobody could connect her to the baby’s father. When he was born, she left the father’s box blank and gave her child her own last name. Taking him home with her for the first time, she swore to his crying, red face that she would find a way to protect him from the monster that wanted to claim him. He would remain his own person—Christoper Danson would never be a slave to a murderous beast of shadows.

Emmeline searched. Mindful daily of the five year deadline drawing closer, she searched every text she could find. Deal breaking, binding spells, hiding them from view—whatever she could find, she tried, with no idea if any of them would work. The young boy became used to sitting quietly through rituals—wearings markings, holding candles or other objects, joining in chants, and more. He learned quickly not to ask about these things—all his mother would say was that they were for his protection.

On his 5th birthday, Danson had no party to look forward to. No presents, no cake. He and his mother simply waited until the clock hit midnight, bringing the fated day around.

The monster solidified in the shadows, as it had all those years earlier when Emmeline was young. She looked different now. Aged with worry, her auburn hair turned to steel grey, eyes watery and filled with the fear and stress of so many years fearing the figure now appearing before her.

“You have been busy, child, trying to keep from me that which I created in you, that which is my payment for services rendered.”

“You can’t take him,” Emmeline stood in front of Danson, her child sitting frightened but calm on her bed.

“I cannot,” the hooded figure agreed, “You have bound him so tightly not even I can break his hold. He cannot serve me now.”

“Then why are you here? Leave!” In her victory Emmeline was immediately more forceful.

The hooded figure chuckled, “I will leave. But your transgressions cannot be overlooked. You denied me my payment, for now. Oh, I will collect him, some day, be sure of that. But you. You will not be there to see.”

Emmeline jerked as her body rose into the air, arms and legs twitching. Her eyes flicked from side to side, throat working as she tried to scream through paralysed vocal cords. This couldn’t be how it ended, she screamed inside, not after everything. Her boy, her baby boy, he must be safe!

The hooded figure chuckled as lines of blood began to appear across her flesh, sticking her clothes to her as the flow sped up, dripping to the floor, forming a puddle that grew until it touched the bed that Danson sat on, the youngster watching in horror as his mother bled out in front of him.

Holding off the pain that wanted to make her reel, faint, vomit, Emmeline intoned a chant in her head, one she had held in reserve, just in case, summoning something else, another desperate hope, that she might be able to protect him.

Five years old, taught from birth to sit still and not interfere, to accept the strange things that happened during and after rituals, Danson’s love for his mother finally broke through and he leapt off the bed, diving at the hooded figure with a cry. Passing right through a wave of cold, clinging shadow, he hit the wall behind headfirst, knocking himself out for a few moments. It was long enough for the figure to finish and drop his mother to the floor in a pale, crumpled, heap.

The figure turned to Danson as the child fought not to wail.

“I will get you, child.”

The figure dissolved back into shadows and vanished.

For a moment there was silence in the room, before Danson’s control dropped and his cries, for his mother, for his own pain, for his terror, rose until they woke the neighours. Help was coming—but it was too late.

Writing prompt used:

5

If you enjoy the stories and blogs on my site, please share them, every one of those helps.
And if you really enjoy them, please check out my Patreon, or the tip jar on the sidebar to the right, and consider helping me do more and better things!
Thanks for reading!

Posted in LGBT, LGBTQ, Short Stories, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment