A Halloween Story From Wild Beasts: The Cottage
, October 27th, 2009 13:21
We kick off our Domino Records Halloween Fiction week with a story of rural misadventure by Wild Beasts' Tom Fleming
"Oh, it's beautiful, look." Karen signalled the view from the kitchen window. The little bald man smiled, "Yes. God's own country. That's the bay down there".
"I had no idea we were so close to the sea!" she answers, with polite enthusiasm.
It is a beautifully clear day, the sun shining off the distant water, the trees flecked with frost. We deserve this break, we've been working hard. What a place. Surrounded by woods, no sign of any towns for miles.
"So, this is the key for the outhouse, and round the back..."
I drifted off from listening to him and cast my eye around the kitchen. They have Le Creuset pans, and one of those calendars with people herding sheep on them. She loves all this shit, this is going to be just the thing.
"So, here is our number if you have any problems..."
"Thank you, we'll call if we do".
"Enjoy your stay".
There's something about the way he looked at her a bit too long that I didn't like, a twist in his face that I didn't like, no. Ah, no worse than on the train, no worse than some office no-account when I‘m not there.
We watch his car disappear down the lane, waving.
"What a lovely man."
I bristle slightly. "This is beautiful", I say, looking around ostentatiously.
"Let's have a walk around", says Karen.
It's the dead of winter and the trees are black skeletons covered in moss. We tread across damp frozen earth and through dead leaves. The sun shines but there is no warmth in it. The views stretch on for miles, we are in the middle of nowhere. We walk arm in arm. I notice the pinkness of her ears and nose in the cold, the delicate sweep of her throat.
We eat and we make love like hibernating animals. We huddle each other against the cold in the small bed and drift into a blissful sleep.
I am still holding Karen when something stirs me.
Tap. Tap tap tap. Tap taptaptap. Taptaptaptap. BANG. BANG BANG BANG. I'm awake now, wide awake. I rush to my feet , completely naked. I go to the door and the knocking stops. I crack the door, slowly, slowly. Nothing but silence and darkness. It's cold.
I'd better go and check.
I look back at the relief of Karen on the bed. I can barely see her, but there is no movement. She must be sound asleep. Let's make this quick, it's fucking freezing. I'll shut the door on her, I won't be a minute.
I put on a dressing gown.
Don't be so stupid, it's an old building, it could be the wind, fucking bats for all I know. But I won't sleep unless I look. Anyway, I'm thirsty. Just going to get a glass of water, just a drink. I bet they have lovely water round here. Icy cold. Perhaps the noise is because the pipes have frozen?
I can't see a thing. Ok, I'm sure if I just get round this corner, and.. OW! my head. Shit, am I bleeding? Owwwww. Aah, shtsss. Pitch black. What am I doing? It's freezing and I can't see anything. Midgets back then, when the house was built. Unbelievable. The kitchen door is ahead of me.
(where did that knocking come from?)
Jesus, where's the lightswitch? Close, close, is that it? Fuck, fucking tiling. How'm I supposed, oh, yes...
The light flashes on.
There's someone here.
The light flashes off.
The light flashes on.
I'm looking in someone's eyes.
The light flashes off.
The light flashes on and stays on. I felt the blood drain from my face, my heart was in my mouth. Fuck, whatthefuckohmygod.
Whatwasthat Whatwasthat? Where did he go?
The kitchen is entirely undisturbed. The crumbs are still on the bread board, the knife is next to it. There is still stuff in the pan.
The door is locked, the windows are closed.
He saw me, he looked at me, a little bald man, he looked in my eyes...
Jesus, get hold of yourself. Seeing things. Wine. Wine and painkillers. Fuck, I'm sweating. I'm shivering, it's freezing.
Water. Jesus, you need to go back to bed. What if Karen wakes up and finds me gone?
("Just getting a drink of water hon, I‘ll be up in a sec".)
Go the tap. He was right here. I'm sure he was right here.
Creee-eeeakkk. Bump. Tap taptaptaptap tap.
Ha, oh, JESUS! It's the water. Idiot. Of course, we've had the heating on, it must make such a racket. God, what a child. Ridiculous. Imagining things.
Nothing but my own eyes in the window ahead of me, and absolute blackness beyond. God, we're miles from anywhere, what a place. No street lights or anything, no headlights, no planes going over. I'm not used to it is all. I should drink less. Stupid. Ooh, that water's so COLD. Really nice, sweet even. What a place. Ok, come one, let's go, bloody fool.
God, that's dark. Ok, creak, creak, creee-eeeakkk. Aha, I remember you ledge, I've got your measure this time. No sore head for me, no siree. Ok, creak, creee-eeak, Creepy old place, no wonder I'm telling myself stories. Ok, the landing. A few more steps. Reaching for the doorknob.
Oh, did I leave the door open? Poor Karen, she'll be freezing here arse off. Thoughtless. Ok, let's just slip through. Creak. Creak. Jesus, sorry, don't wake up, don't wake up.
I'll slip under the covers. It's as cold as the grave in here. Jesus. Hello darling.
Something moves across my hand.
Something slithers across my hand.
I hold Karen's breast and my fingers sink in like grabbing rancid butter. Metallic legs cling onto my skin and slimy creatures suck at my knuckles. My ears are filled with buzzing and my lungs fill with a cadaverous scent. The room is filled with flies. The floor is a writhing mass of insect life. Karen's body is swollen and Karen's eyes are filled with damp earth. I feel them gnawing at my entrails. I leap up from the bed and with every step I feel the crunch of beetles, there is a cloud of flies in my face. They are getting into my mouth, into my lungs. I try to shout and no sound comes, my mouth fills with wings, I swing at the night. I can't see.
I am running, running into the empty air. Someone is laughing.
It's morning. The sun rises and Karen stirs in her bed.
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