The Artifact

This was an early attempt for me to write a horror story from a phrase I heard people use a lot. I even used it with my girlfriends too. The structure is bad and it needs work but I am publishing it as a way to show how far I’ve come. I hope you enjoy.

The damp smell of dirt filled Jen’s nostrils. It was a smell that Jen enjoyed while standing on the porch with her dad before a storm. A smell that Jen knew would no longer have a pleasant memory, but would come with a sharp sting. That is if Jen ever made it out alive.
   The tape around Jen’s wrist was no longer gripping to her skin but it’s hold on itself was well cemented. Jen spun the tape around her wrists trying to feel for the edge but with no luck.
   She swore at times she could hear breathing but Jen had been unable to calm herself enough to be sure. The small strips of light under her blindfold didn’t help Jen with that, nor did it help her know where she was.
   She had tried her hardest not to fight the restraints around her ankles. Jen figured if she got out an injured ankle wouldn’t be helpful. So Jen just kept trying the tape around her wrists.
   
   The lasting thing Jen remembered is being at a party. Bobby Crider, was following her around at a distance. Bobby had always seemed weird to Jen, but this was weird even for Bobby. She dismissed this and continued to party with her friends.
   Mark Nathaniel, was among the group Jen was partying with. Mark was an athlete, he had just been announced valedictorian, was the state wrestling champion and seemed to never notice Jen. Tonight however was different. Mark had been bringing Jen drinks all night, he had talked to her a couple of times and when the party was winding down he made sure to take Bobby with him. Jen was on cloud 9 and nothing was going to bring her down.

   Jen had been concentrating when the hand touched her face. It was a soft stroke with the back of the hand, yet it startled Jen enough to cause her to almost fall backwards in the chair.
   “Who is there?” Jen asked. No one answered. “What do you want?” again silence. “Is it money? Are you going to have your way with me?” Jen realized that her questions where making her upset. Jen had so many possibilities running through her mind on why he wanted her.
   A loud crash followed by a few angry murmurs startled Jen again. The sound produced by the artifact reminded Jen of something but she couldn’t picture it. The murmurs seemed familiar. Jen wondered if this was someone she knew. Maybe this would be a way for her to talk them out of whatever it was they were planning. The only problem was, how would she figure out who it was?

After the party Jen and her friends decided to go hang out at the lake. James van Horn, Jen’s old boyfriend, tagged along. In Jen’s opinion there was a good reason he was an ex. James loved to smother Jen all the time. Jen had no escape from him. James would always write her love letters and buy her little things. It wasn’t that Jen hated the attention. She just felt like James was too obsessive about her. He bought her stuff even if it meant he wouldn’t have money to buy lunch. The thing that made it worse was when Jen would tell him that “he didn’t have to” James would automatically say “well if I had to do it, it wouldn’t be as fun”. All Jen could think now was “since he’s here this won’t be as fun”.

   Jen sat in silence wondering how long they had been watching her mess with the tape around her wrists. Jen needed to rethink her plan, now that she knew someone was in the room watching her.
   “Do I know you?” Jen asked. Yet again no-one answered. Jen didn’t want to annoy them to the point that they would do something. So she just sat there thinking. Not noticing that she had started subconsciously messing with the tape again.

Daniel kept his distance from Jen from the moment he got to the lake. Daniel hated Jen.  Daniel had planned to propose to Ashley after graduation He loved her in every form of the word. He was convinced that Jen had broken Ashley and him up. When he caught Jen talking to Ashley before they broke up. What Daniel didn’t know was that Jen was only returning the notes she borrowed from Ashley for biology. No matter how much everyone tried to explain the situation to Daniel. He still blamed Jen. Jen eventually accepted that Daniel needed someone to blame about the break up.  

It was at the lake that Jen would have what she would later find out was her last drink of the night.


   The hand touched her face again, this time continuing down Jen’s neck and stopping just short of her breast.

   “What do you want? Please just say anything.” Jen said. Still no respond. “You don’t have to do this.”

   “Huh.” The mysterious man said.

   “Huh? Why huh? Please talk to me.” It went silent again. “Please, you don’t have…” Jen was cut off this time by a mocking voice.

“to do this.” The voice continued. “Just shut your mouth.”

“Why did you bring me here?”

“You brought yourself here.”

“What?”

“You don’t know who I am? You still haven’t figured it out?”

“Just let me go!” Somehow the idea that Jen knew who it was made her feel, more fearful of the situation.

“Why don’t you make me?”

“You’re a coward!”

“If you say so.”

“Show me your face you stupid coward!”

“You’ve seen my face not my fault you can’t remember.”

“Show it to me!”

“Why don’t you take that blindfold off and look for yourself.” The voice said laughing.

“Please let me go.” Jen had stopped talking loud, she was now talking in a low calm voice.

“Why don’t you yell again sweetheart maybe yell for help.” The voice egged Jen on. “I like it when you get frantic.”

“No use, you didn’t gag me so I’m sure we are somewhere where no one will ever hear me.” Jen continued talking in a low voice.

“You are a smart girl aren’t you.”

 

“Wanna see my new outfit for the formal?” Samantha asked Jen.

“Sure, mine comes in Thursday I can’t wait.”

“Here it is, what do you think?”

“Wow, where did you find a dress like that?”

“My aunt lives in California, she works at a department store, my mom told her about the form and she asked for measurements and sent me this dress.”

“Your so lucky! My dress is casual wear compared to yours.” Jen said with a giggle.

“Nah I’m sure yours looks great. What time do you need to be-” Samantha was interrupted by a voice coming up the stairs.

“Sam you home?” Sam’s dad came into view in the doorway. “Oh, Jen I didn’t know you were here.”

“Guess what dad, Jen’s dress for the formal is coming in on Thursday!” Sam said.

“That’s great. I bet your excited! I know Sam won’t shut up about it.” He started to walk away and stopped. “Oh. Um, Jen will you be joining us for dinner?

“I- I wish I could Mister Logan but my mom wants me home so i can do my chores. Thank you though.” Jen replied.

“Okay have fun you two.”

    “You don’t do chores, what’s that about?” Sam asked.

    “Nothing I just need to be home early today.”

    “Jen, we have been friends since the 4th grade, homies since the fourth of course remember? I know when something is up.”

    “Nothing is up.”

    “Bull crap!”

 

    Jen had quit talking to the voice altogether.

“Now why are you being so quiet? Just cause we are out in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean you have to quit being sociable.” Jen still didn’t respond. All Jen could think about was the sound the artifact made when it hit the ground. She knew that sound but from where?

“Can I have some water?” Jen asked.

“Oh, trust me you won’t need any water, you won’t be here long enough to die of dehydration.”

“Can we get whatever it is over with?”

“Well we can sure get started but i’m going to do this as slow as possible, going to enjoy it, savor it.”

“What are you going to do to me?”

“Hush up now.” There it was again. The clank of the artifact hitting the floor. Jen’s brain started running through a mental rolodex of objects to noises.

“Damn thing always falling.” The voice grumbled. The next thing that touched Jen was cold and flat, It touched her where the hand had stopped. She felt a hand grab her shirt collar at the the side of her neck. Then a rip sound. The same thing was done to the opposite side. It was a knife. The hands of the voice cut Jen’s shirts from collar to the end of the sleeves.

 

“Okay, I will see you tomorrow at school.” Sam Said as she walked Jen to the garage.

“Okay, you should come over Thursday and see my dress.”

“Oh you bet your sweet ass I will.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Love you too.” Sam said opening the door. If Jen ever told Sam why she didn’t like staying over with her and her single dad it would tear them apart there is no way Sam would believe that her dad had anything to do with that.

“Later.”Sam said as she walked back upstairs.”

“Jen, are you leaving so soon.?” Sam’s dad asked from the garage.

“Yes mister Logan.”

“Do you want me to give you a ride? I’m heading to the store.” He said fishing his keys from his pocket, when he finally pulled them out he snagged the knife he kept clipped to his pocket. It fell towards the ground.

“No, thank you mister Logan.” Jen ran, she never once looked back. She wished for the chance to be able to tell Sam without ruining their friendship. There wasn’t a way to though. She was alone. No one would believe her if she told them. God only knew what mister Logan would do to Jen if she told.

 

The next rip came from Jens undershirt.

“What are you doing?” Jen shouted.

“Now you hold still or I might slip and cut you on accident.” The voice said putting his knife up to Jen’s throat. Jen was almost sure the voice belong to mister Logan.

“I won’t tell. Please. If you let me go, I promise I won’t say a word.”

“Don’t care.” By this point Jen still had her pants and bra on.

“Please I won’t tell anyone what you did. Please.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.” Jen started to panic. fear was starting to take control.

“Stop! Let me go!” Jen started to thrash in the chair catching the chin of the voice with her head.

“Ahh, you stupid bitch! If you don’t quit being dumb Imma bust your teeth out first. So behave!”

“Just let me go! Mister Logan you don’t have to do this!” Now the voice started laughing hysterically. The hands grabbed the blindfold and pulled it up. Now the voice had a face an identity.

“If I had to do it, it wouldn’t be as fun.”

The Pit: Short Story (rough draft)

“It seemed that I heard low, chanting voices, full of hideous yet eager fear -and below that sound, another, filling the bowels of the earth. An hallucination, I doubt it not – but at the same moment, the church was filled with a very real sound, which I can only describe as a huge and macabre turning beneath my feet.

-Stephen King, Jerusalem’s Lot

    My Name seems like as good a place to start as any. I’m Roger ‘Rabbit’ Thompson (I doubt an explanation of the nickname is really required). I’m 66 years old. I am retired and a widower. I never had kids. My parents only had me and even then I was, as they say ‘the product of not pulling out’. I live on a quiet street, in the suburbs of a shit splat town that no one will ever remember. Where I had and still do plan to live out the rest of my life, minding my own business.

I have only a few hours at most to live. It’s not because I’m terminally ill. I am not suicidal. I’m not grieving, my wife died a year before I retired. It’s July, I was born January 6th. I retired that same month from being a postman. So my wife has been gone for two and a half years. I’m not mental. The only reason I know when I will die is because that’s when they told me my house would be swallowed by the earth. I am writing this so people know why Rabbit Thompson chose to go down the Rabbit Hole.

Ever since I retired I’ve started my day in the same monotonous way. At six a.m. with a cup of coffee, black two sugars. Sitting on my porch watching the neighborhood come to life. It’s like a sunflower slowly turning to face the sun. I always felt that everyone’s vibes would affect the people around them. Like the day my neighbors on the right ran over a stray cat backing out of their driveway. I remember the sound it made perfectly, akin to the sound of a lizard eating a mouse. While I’m not sure if my neighbor made it to work on time after spending 10 minutes running around trying to get rid of the cat before anyone saw it. It reminded me of one of those Benny Hill montages where they run around chasing after someone. What I do know is that on that day I dropped a can of soup on my toe, my slipper did nothing to soften the blow. Yet when everything on the block runs smoothly, everything harmonizes. The winds are on time with the percussion who are in tempo with the brass, and the director is almost dancing as he conducts. Although all it takes is one instrument to get out of tune, one overzealous drummer, on conceited trumpet and the rhythm is off for everyone. That’s why I watch every morning, every day. If everything is smooth I could re-shingle the house if I wanted. If something is off I know to avoid anything that could be detrimental to me. It’s a symbiotic ecosystem of vibes and aura. A cosmic milk that at any given moment could spoil. I’m not a hippy but I can’t argue with something I’ve witnessed personally.

The Pit started as just a crack. A crack in the pavement on Tenth street. The crack had been filled multiple times, yet it always came back. I may have been the only one who ever noticed the damned thing, I watched people walk and drive, run and bike, and yet no one seemed to notice. Even the workers that paved over the thing multiple time didn’t seem to notice. I noticed though. It would grow and then shrink. It almost felt like something was growing underneath. The crack had no choice on being something was forcing it. Something willed it to grow. Whatever it was, seemed to be growing too. It seemed like the earth was giving birth. The crack was a stretch mark upon the pavement. Every time the city workers would come fill it, it was like a woman putting some kind of miracle cream on her stretch marks. No matter how hard they tried it wouldn’t work.

That fact that only I noticed it. Made it clear that the crack was here for me. It was biding its time. Patiently waiting for the day it could grow big enough to reach out and swallow me. Devour me along with everything around me. My memories, my hopes, my dreams, my good deeds, my sins, my accomplishments, my failures, my everything. For this reason alone I knew, I belonged to the crack. The crack that would later become the Pit.

The day the crack became more than a crack was a strange day. It was one of those days that had the makings of a beautiful day. Sunshine, a cooling breeze, smiles on the faces of everyone around me. Weather-wise, that day was a wonderful day. A few people on the street, however, would find this day to range from mildly annoying to downright fatal. When I finally got around to grabbing my coffee it was already 30 past six. Which was a bad omen in itself. The day counted on everyone harmonizing, yet I had already started the day late. That was strike one. When I went to the porch and sat down to watch as I always did, everything felt slow. I looked at the crack which now seemed different. I picked the coffee mug up and took a sip, instantly realizing I had forgotten to put sugar in it. That was strike two. That’s when I noticed it. The crack had no dirt. It was hollow underneath. Usually, the crack would form and you could see the dirt that the pavement sat upon. But today for some reason it wasn’t there. At the same time, all of this was running through my mind my neighbors to the right were pulling out of their driveway. It wasn’t until I started setting my mug down that everything clicked. I slammed my mug down, jumping up immediately to yell and wave and find some way to stop my neighbors. By the time I got to my feet, It had all happened. It took my mind what seemed like hours to process what had just happened.

When the neighbors got their front wheels over the crack, everything crumbled underneath them. The pavement gave way under the weight of their luxury car. The pavement crumbled like the pages of an old book. There was no time to do anything, yell or signal nothing. Almost as soon as the car was on the pavement it was gone. The thing that stands out, in the time it took me to comprehend what had just happened. Was that the car never made a sound. There was no impact, no thud or crash. It just fell.

After a few minutes, I finally recovered enough to walk closer to the edge of the newly formed pit. When I looked down all I could see was black. Even with the sunlight directly shining in the hole. The darkness still looked like a pool of swimming black ichor. So dark that nothing could penetrate it. Yet the car didn’t even make a splash. Anyone else would probably look into the pit and think it was filled with oil. I knew all it could be was ichor, black ichor, the blood of the cosmos. At that point, I was sure there was no bottom to this pit. Where it ended or went was beyond me. At that moment though I knew that I would be going there myself. The pit looked similar to a wormhole. It strongly reminded me of the Stephen King book Jerusalem’s Lot. When Charles Boone and Calvin McCann saw the giant worm come up from the hole leaving a pit in the middle of the church surrounded by black slime like ichor. At that point, I could hear in my had a chanting but whether it came from the Pit or my imagination was anyone’s guess. It was calling beckoning. Gyyagin! Gyyagin! Gyyagin! They were calling forth the servant of ‘The Nameless One’. I recalled this from the story. Why I was either imagining this or hearing it for real was beyond me.

From that point on I would sit on my porch and watch as all form of officials investigated the Pit. The Pit at this point stretched from the curb on my front door neighbors side all the way to my mailbox. My mailbox, which I hadn’t noticed in all the commotion the first day was open. That was strike three. The harmony was so off that we didn’t even stand a chance. Once the cosmos stepped up to pitch, we had no idea what hit us. The FBI, Homeland, Geographical personal all of them came and went. They all tried but they never found the bodies. Out of ideas on how to recover the people in the car, they decide to send a crew of spelunkers down. The three guy were suppose to go down and see if they could figure out a way to save the people in the car. I was beside myself at the idea that anyone would willingly descend into the miasma that the pit gave off. A chilling feel surrounded the pit. I was right to feel uneasy about the three spelunkers going down. They only ended up adding to the death toll. Three became six, which would become nine in a matter of hours. That’s when it became all to clear the pit wanted me and it wouldn’t stop till it got me, The pit hadn’t even existed a full 48 hours. Yet it had already devoured nine people. Eight adults and one infant. They chose to create a perimeter around the pit six feet away from it all the way around.

By the next day, my mailbox had fallen into the pit. The perimeter became less of a circle. and more of a horseshoe shape. A man in a suit came to my house and said that I should evacuate my house. I asked if everyone else was being evacuated. To which he said yes, but that I was in more danger than them. According to the suit. The readings they could get of the pit showed a cavern under my house. The cavern was about 60 feet deep and crumbling fast. In less than a week, it would swallow my house whole. I said that I wouldn’t leave. I had no reason to. What he didn’t know was that I was ready to go, to be taken by the pit. He said the pit was growing towards my house at a rate of four feet a day and that if I stayed my house would be gone in less than six days.

From that point on I locked my door, with no intent to ever answer it. They knocked and tried everything to get me out but I refused any advances. I knew that I belonged to ‘Gyyagin!’ and that he would take me to ‘The Nameless One’. I had two dreams over the next four days. The first dream was a first-person view of everything that happened the first few days when the pit first opened up. I could see the crack and my front door neighbors house. I was unable to move and all I could do was watch. I saw the pit swallow the car. I watched as it took the crew of three, saw the other three workers get sucked in, there was no reason they should have died but some force pulled them in, like a vacuum it just drew them into the mouth of the worm. ‘Gyyagin!’. No one had told me how the last three deaths happened yet there they were in my dream clear as day. My view started to get lower and lower till I was looking directly down the pit. I could see the darkness. The pool of ichor. That’s when I realized I was the mailbox, all those years I spent delivering mail and opening everyone’s mailbox and here I was in a dream as a mailbox. Something was swimming in the black ichor. It looked like a worm. A white shadow among the black ichor. Small for now yet it was big enough that it could devour a small infant or even a mailbox with ease. When I finally fell in I was jolted awake at the sight of the worm launching up to eat me. The last sound was the sound of chanting again. It was one quick chant ‘Gyyagin!’. I was awake, covered in sweat with my heart racing.

The next dream was of me eating dinner. The dining room in my house was at the end of the hall my back faced the back wall of the house. Through the doorway, I could see the front of the house, including the porch (even the mailbox had it still been there). The table was set with a candle in the middle, which was the only light source in the house. The light produced by the candle was a sickly yellow, adding to the tenebrous feel of the room. The plate in front of me had held a steak. Next to my plate was a book bound in leather. Engraved on the leather cover was the name ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’. The name, which I knew the translation only from having read the story Jerusalem’s Lot, was Latin for ‘The Mysteries of the Worm’. As I began to eat I noticed the porch had detached from the house and fell into the pit. In my mind, I knew that the pit still had to be patient it would enjoy my house in bite-size chunks before it could ever actually consume me. The front of the house started to develop cracks as the foundation began to be stressed. Boards from the hardwood floors started to snap and splinter. I ate my steak without a word, waiting, enjoy just as ‘Gyyagin’ was doing with my house. The entire front wall came down next. My house now sat at an angle towards the pit. The plate that my steak was on slid down the table. I grabbed the goblet sitting in front of my plate before it had a chance to slide away. It was the wine from my wedding day. I hated wine but for some reason, this wine was sweet, with a slight coppery aftertaste. I drank it till it was gone and then threw the goblet behind me. The table was now gone. Sliding into the void eaten by the Worm. I braced myself as the chair began to slid just as everything else had before it. I slid to the end and the worm, this time bigger, lurched up to meet me. The worm was the size of a school bus. The white color of the worm was almost vibrant among the blackness of the pit.

Those were my dreams. I now only have about three hours before I will be consumed by ‘Gyyagin’. I went into my basement to grab the bottle of wine. When I did the back wall of the basement crumbled and fell. Leaving only a void into the pit. I laughed at the thought that this was the worm trying to consume me earlier then it should. Almost like the cosmos was impatient, unable to control the urge to jump the gun. Waiting for that lapse in rhythm, so it could correct the only way it knew how to. I walked up the stars put the bottle on the table. I got a steak out and turned on the burner. Thinking maybe I should cook the steak before my gas line gets cut by the crumbling foundation. I will stop here so I can finish my dinner. I will leave this story in one of the work vehicles they have left here. No one is around at night, so no one will try to convince me not to stay.

I leave you with this, my last testament, so you know how I went out. I plan to call out to the worm, quoting Stephen King’s Jerusalem’s Lot. I will say to the worm as it opens it’s mouth to consume me ‘Now comes the Hour of Filling, the Time of Rending! Verminis! Alyah! Alyah! Gyyagin!’.