Under the Skin

And so it continues! Quick now, while Nightmarish Evil Ogre is spell-bound, read the next of the horrible horror stories!

‘Ssshhhh!’ His hands gripped the wall, his fingers slipping in the gaps as he heard a yell nearby. He peered tentatively around the corner and saw a lone figure out in the street, looking around frantically. ‘What’s going on?’ asked a hushed voice behind him. He turned to answer but the sound of footsteps cut him short. Lots of footsteps. He looked back to the street and saw the figure turn tail and run, a few seconds later followed by around a dozen masked figures. More yells, more shouts, and the footsteps died away. ‘I think they’ve gone,’ he said turning to the woman and child behind him. ‘Look, I don’t think we can stay here. We need to move.’

The child gripped his mother, the woman looking up at her husband, her panicked eyes searching his face. Blood was
gently falling from a large gash at the side of his face and his shirt was partially ripped and covered in what looked like dust. His wife and child were physically unhurt but their fear was evident. He gripped his wife’s hand and looking once more around the corner said, ‘come on, let’s move.’ The child grasped his mother’s hand, his mother grabbed her husband by the hand and he led them away from the police building they had hidden behind. As they approached the street, a small fire smouldering in a bin, he looked up at the building they were just hiding behind. Its main doors were hanging off, the windows were either cracked or completely smashed and small fires licked the night air through some of the open windows. Various messages and warnings had been graffitied on the brick, some a call to arms, others political or organisational logos. There was no one around but he could hear the echo of a megaphone in the distance and the roars that greeted each pronouncement which, from this distance, was a low murmur in the breeze. ‘It sounds like a good way away,’ said the man, turning to his wife. ‘Probably still back home.’ She gripped his hand tighter as he whispered, ‘come on, let’s go.’

He led them onto the street and headed towards a group of buildings from which, he knew, was only half a mile from their destination – his in-laws, who owned a large house just outside the suburbs. It was neatly tucked away from the main roads, their own private getaway, and, most importantly, safe from the violence that was occurring on the main streets. They moved quickly but quietly, not wanting to draw attention, but they had to be careful; the streets were littered with rubbish, cars were burnt out – though fires were still crackling away in some – and the dark of the night felt more oppressive than ever, especially since many of the street lights had been damaged and the lights that would usually have come from closed shop windows had been destroyed. He’d have led them around the back of some of the buildings but the silence had been deafening and the sharp cries that split the night reduced his son to tears and his wife to a nervous wreck which forced him to change tack. He just had to hope that the trouble remained where it was and there were no splinter groups wreaking their own havoc elsewhere.

Every step felt like an age. Any sound, whether it was the crackling of a fire or the occasional shout cracked the night air like a bullet, forcing them to stop, take stock and listen before continuing. On one occasion, a crowd of people, wailing and yelling, ran through a nearby alleyway, forcing them to duck behind a shelter and wait. While his wife and son crouched lower down behind him, he took a furtive glance to see what was going on and, with a fire reflecting the shadows on a huge wall a few hundred yards from him, he saw a ghoulish zoetrope flash up and disappear in an instance, the yells vanishing with them. He turned back to his wife and son. ‘They’ve gone. Let’s keep going, we’re nearly there.’ His wife pulled him back before he could take a step. ‘Jerry? What about Brian? We should find somewhere safe and wait for him?’

Jerry looked down at his wife and though he was hoping, praying that his brother was in one piece, his only thought at the moment was getting his wife and son to safety. ‘We can’t, Susan..’ and seeing she was about to interrupt him,
‘Look, I’m sure he got out safely. If he’s got any sense, he’ll be looking to find somewhere safe himself…Maybe, he’ll be heading this way.’ As a scream rent the air, she acquiesced silently and gripped his hand, allowing him to lead them on. They kept low but moved quickly and in no time at all, they reached safety behind the town’s hardware store. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that the journey from here to his in-laws would be largely interrupted; the violence was mainly concentrated around the towns. He looked towards Susan and his son.

‘That’s the hard bit out of the way. If we get onto Martha’s neighbour’s field, we can blow right through, as easy as….
aaAAAAHHHH!’ He leapt around as a hand crushed his shoulder and found himself facing his brother, a wild look on his bruised and dusty face. ‘Brian!’ he yelled, gripping his brother in a tight bear hug. He let go after a few seconds and looked him in the face. ‘What happened? Where did you…how…were you there?’ His brother looked back at him, sweat mingled with dirt slightly glistening on his forehead. ‘I got there when the first floor collapsed.’ He looked towards his sister-in-law and nephew. ‘I’d hoped you’d got out before then…I think I was knocked out by the garden door.’ He glanced back up at his brother. ‘Jez, what happened? Why did they go for yours and how did you get out?’
Jerry looked down at his wife and grimaced. ‘I don’t know. We heard the shouting on the streets at the same time we felt the heat on the floor. The alarm was blaring and before we knew it, we felt the floor move.’ He looked to his wife, who continued. ‘I think…I think we might have been targeted.’ A curious expression crossed her face, fear mixed with anger, as she looked from Brian to her husband. ‘As we were leaving, we saw Barry from Tellers in the street.’ She moved slightly away from her son, as she whispered, ‘…they were killing him.’ Jerry and Brian exchanged worried looks before Susan continued.

‘Look, we need to do what Jez says…we need to get to my parents, we’ve got to get off the streets before they or their allies find us.’ She lifted her son to his feet and the two men nodded. ‘Keep quiet, keep low,’ muttered Jerry and once again, they swept into the night, following a route they knew all too well, from the car park behind the hardware store to an alleyway which led into the countryside. They scampered into a field, hunched closely together, and ran through the rapeseed, hands in front to stop it flicking back into their faces. After ten minutes or so, a large house came into view, behind a high walled garden and wrought iron fence. It was lit by spotlights under the large, mullioned front windows, its sandstone walls reflecting the shadow of a fountain that stood at its entrance.

When the small group reached the edge of the field, they looked out onto the driveway, making sure it was clear before stepping into the moonlight and heading towards the house. As they moved towards it, they noticed that the gate was open and the sound of music whispering into the night. Figures moved on the lawn in front of the house and around the fountain and the edge of a large banner could be seen just above a statue of a gargoyle, one of two, positioned on either side of the gate. Brian put his arm out and Jerry walked into it.‘What are you doing?’ he said looking into his brother’s face, as Brian allowed Susan and his nephew to pass.

‘I’m sorry, Jerry,’ said Susan, as she took hold of her son and fled towards the house. He watched her go and there was a short lull in the night before Brian broke it. ‘Yeah, I’m sorry too, Jez.’ ‘For what?’ Jez said, turning to his brother.

It was a few hours later. The horizon glowed a muted pink and smoke from the overnight fires continued to rise into the air, dissipating as it reached the heavens, which was slowly turning from purple to blue, the last of the stars flickering into the ether. A crow flew through one of the plumes and glided over the town while below, a lone figure ran through a gate towards a large house, leaving another lying in the grass behind them.

5 Responses to Under the Skin

  1. audremyers says:

    Whoa! What a read! Not everything that’s scary has a frightening face; sometimes, it’s a familiar face. Excellent story! Atmosphere, action, and a surprise ending. It goes a long way to answering the question, “What scares you?”. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

    • 39 Pontiac Dream says:

      Thanks, Audre. There are a few too many holes in it than I’d like but that’s what happens when you rush things. Apologies but I’m my own worst critic.

      In this world of mistrust, paranoia and anger, we tend to point to what’s under the skin as important but it can also be a negative – certainly from the perspective of the suspicious. In essence, despite being shaped by our characteristics and our actions, we can never fully know or understand what occurs under the skin; hence the title.

      As for what scares me most, I couldn’t possibly write that down. All I will say is that hell, to me, is not having things done to me but watching those I love in pain. I’ve seen it in my nightmares and I can tell you, it’s a very unpleasant experience.

      Liked by 2 people

      • the unit says:

        Yeah, sweet dreams. 🙂
        I know of those nightmares.
        Can count on a few fingers (two actually as I remember)a repeat of the nap I had in about ’50. Woke up from a Sunday afternoon nap about dusk. Couldn’t figure out for sure if it was morning or not. Didn’t until I went outside to find dad and older brother still working to build a garage building in the late afternoon/evening.
        That was good sleep. Hoping for more with my Zolpideum Rx. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. JessicaHof says:

    Wow, that was scary … well done xx

    Liked by 2 people

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