My Friend at Fingers to Sky is taking part in a challenge competition and has thrown out the gauntlet for people to play along with her Prompt.
Object: A Map.
Well this was my attempt. Like my friend says about herself, I am not at all familiar with the genre. I never read horror books and I never watch horror films. I am scared stiff of them. I am therefore not a very good judge on whether this story I have written actually meets the requirements of being a Horror Story. Please let me know if you think it works.
I found the map among my Aunts things. Mad Aunt Alice, she’d been cruelly called by my Father. Growing up it had just been my Father, Aunt Alice and me. Aunt Alice had looked after me tenderly, but she never spoke. My Father would order her about, shout at her and even hit her, but she never spoke.
My father always called her Mad. Said that she wasn’t ‘all there’. She’d been like that since a childhood game with an Ouija board had gone wrong. The Devil’s got her tongue and he won’t give it back. That was what my Father said. I never paid no mind to what he said though. He was drunk most of the time. Aunt Alice was always kind to me. She made me dinner and breakfast. Washed my clothes and made sure I went to school. Father went to work then came home and drank. His exercise usually involved smashing something or punching Aunt Alice. She never said a word.
Then one day Father grabbed me by the skirt and pulled me towards him. I screamed at him to let me go. Before I knew it, the Knife had appeared in Aunt Alice’s hand and my father’s head had rolled across the floor. I will never forget his eyes. They put Aunt Alice into one kind of institution and me into another.
Sometimes, rather than head back to the foster home from school I would head the other way, to the asylum on its hill, and visit my Aunt Alice. They allowed me to see her but she was always kept restrained. A wide leather belt wrapped around her chest and held her to the chair. I would hold her hand and say “Thank You” knowing that she had saved me from a fate worse than death. I couldn’t stay long; the foster home didn’t like me wandering free. I was supposed to go straight home. I would run down that hill.
“Abigail Darrow, where have you been?” The warden would ask, that sadistic glint in her eye.
“Nowhere Mrs Eddowes. I just walk slowly.” I would reply. Not that that saved me from a whacking. Mrs Eddowes loved to give the children in her care a whacking whenever she could find an excuse for it. Discipline was important to her. The whacking was followed by a stint in the coal space. Down in the cellar, the Coal space was the small room into which the coal used to be kept before the institution had been converted to electricity. The coal space became the place disobedient children were kept, sometimes for an hour or two, sometimes overnight. It was so dark, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, or the rats crawling over your feet. At first, I used to scream and scream. I had been terrified of the dark. No one could hear you scream in that coal space. No one cared if they did. Eventually, you come to terms with fear, become numb to it. Numb to the world. That is when I started to feel someone else in that empty room with me. I suppose it was always there, inside me, but I hadn’t been so aware of it before. I began to like being in that space. Alone with my own thoughts, with my friend who came to keep me company. I didn’t know if it was a he or a she.
I reached into my sock and pulled out the map.
The night they took my Aunt away to the asylum, before they came for me, I went through her things. I found notes she had written in her strange spiky handwriting and I found this map.
It was labelled “The Way Out” and having read, and burned the notes, I knew how to interpret those lines and squiggles on that page. I closed my eyes and followed those instructions. I chanted the words that my Aunt could not say. I felt my prison opening up. I could feel everything in the building. The four other children, ranging from eleven down to just six years old, asleep in the narrow beds. The Cook asleep in her room above, next to the kitchen. Then Three floors above in her comfortable bed, I could sense the sleeping form of Mrs Eddowes. I could even feel my dear Aunt in her cell, in the Asylum on the hill. She could sense me too. She opened her mouth to scream. Even though sound could not enter of leave that coal space, I could hear the screams, not just of my Aunt but also of Mrs Eddowes as she tried but failed to escape her nightmare. Her body slowly, and so enjoyably, being ripped limb from limb by invisible hands. I savoured every moment.
It was the next day when someone unlocked and opened the door and let me out into the dim light of the cellar. I was free from suspicion from what had happened, having been locked in by Mrs Eddowes the night before. The late Mrs Eddowes. I wanted to go and see what was left of her, but they wouldn’t let me. They were still removing the parts and cleaning the space.
Yes, I was free from suspicion, I was free from the coal space and I was free from all my fears. I had nothing to fear from the world.
Quite the reverse.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 14/July/2018