The Darkness AIKO M.
Rougarou KYLE CLIMANS
The Cellars SAMMI COX
Followed KYLE CLIMANS
FREE LIT MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief Ashley Newton firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyle Climans, Sammi Cox, Aiko M., Ashley Newton
We see it all the time in horror movies. Itâ€™s manifested in our minds through nightmares. And more often than weâ€™d like to believe, it influences many of our life choices. Terror is characterized by the thing(s) we are most unwilling to face, and hope we never have to. What terrifies you? Are your biggest fears centralized on imaginary figures? Or are they rooted in very real likelihoods? All terror is valid. And no visions of terror will ever be understood by anyone but ourselves. The mind is capable of playing tricks - it can convince anyone that their greatest fear might be realized at any given moment.
Free Lit Magazine is a nonprofit literary magazine committed to the accessibility of digital literature for all readers. Our mission is to form an online creative community by encouraging writers, artists, and photographers to practice their passion in a medium that anyone can access and appreciate.
The cover of this issue was intended to represent one of my greatest fears - though you might see your own within it. Terror has many layers and elements to it, and at times it may feel as though nothing can ease the feeling of blood pulsing through your veins at an uncontrollable speed. With terror, the image of safety pairs as its opposite... But for how long?
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Ashley Newton Editor-in-Chief
The Family Issue December 2015
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The Darkness AIKO M.
Today should be like any of the normal days. This time was different, as I woke up, noticing my arms were made out of clay. I tried to scream, and shout, But not a single word could come out. My mouth was sewn shut, and my body felt heavy. I managed to sit up, only to see a pair of red eyes staring back at me. I froze in fear, couldn’t move an inch, fearing those red eyes would try to attack. The red eyes came closer, and my eyes went wide, when I realized what monster I faced. It was a huge, black blob full of people’s emotions of sadness, anger, and bitterness, and using its two red eyes to find its next victim. I was the next victim, and it swallows me whole. Down, down I go, falling into an endless tunnel of darkness, Trying to scream, as my fear swallows me whole. I land on a blood pit where black hands try to grab me down, Still trying to scream for help, but to no avail. Consumed by the terror, the screams of peoples’ fears, I fall into the blood pit, swallowing the blood from the people who have died of fear. I gurgle, and tried to spit, but what comes out, terrifies me beyond words. I twist, and turn, as my fear tries to break me apart. Then I awaken, with sweat streaming down my face, Only to look down to see a hole in my body with black hands reaching out. I scream again, but I have lost my voice, And I looked in the mirror, to only realize that I am just a mannequin.
“’E’s a comin’ fo’ you! E’s a comin’ fo’ all us twisted minds!”
Sullivan sat where he was, listening to Hilarion’s rambling. At least he was somewhat understandable today. That thick Cajun accent made it hard to figure out what he was saying half the time. “Rougarou!” Hilarion wailed suddenly, waving his arms in the air loudly, shrieking with an emotion Sullivan couldn’t place. Was he screaming in fear, or laughing hysterically? Sullivan had given up trying to gauge Hilarion’s madness. The sick bastard did this all day, every day. He would spew whatever demented thoughts came into his mind. Or whatever he had instead of a mind. “Shut up, shut up, you fucking swamp monkey!” A voice to the left of Sullivan snarled hoarsely. Sullivan didn’t even bother to look at Conan to know the filthy Texan man was trying to get himself off again, and Hilarion’s raving wasn’t helping at all. The watchers didn’t care if Conan touched himself, or if Hilarion screamed all day and all night. They also didn’t look after the flickering lights, the leaky faucets. This madhouse was just that, a madhouse, and nobody wanted to lift a finger for the residents to feel more comfortable. Sullivan looked around at his meagre surroundings. For at least three hours per day, the residents were put into a small community room together for what they called “necessary interaction”. Sullivan wanted to find the man who thought of that phrase and stuff his own severed fingers down his throat. As it was, Sullivan shuddered, a feeling of unease growing with every passing minute that he spent in here with these degenerates. Nobody liked looking at Sullivan. His eyes were almost black, and smaller than usual. His hard, unblinking stare unsettled even the complete lunatics like Hilarion. Most had left him alone in the two months that he’d been here. Except one, and that man suddenly emerged from the shadows to sit across from Sullivan. “How is my friend doing today?” Isha asked, as though the two of them were old friends meeting up in a city park. Sullivan hated Isha. He would cheerfully like to smash that brown, bearded face into pulp, prying his disgusting yellow teeth out one by one. But he hated Isha least of all the people around him. 5
The reason was that Isha seemed the most normal. He was reserved, polite, and endlessly patient, albeit with a tinge of mockery to everything he said. But a shred of normalcy meant a lot more here than anywhere else, so Sullivan would take what he could get.
The small, stunted man leaned forward, “Are you going to speak with me today?”
Sullivan grimaced at the bad breath stemming from his mouth. Isha never cleaned his teeth. Nobody would permit him a toothbrush. He once explained that he’d used his last one to stab a prison guard’s eye out. That act, along with his past offences, had led him to being transferred here.
“Go away, Isha. I don’t wanna talk.”
Isha chuckled, shaking his head back and forth.
“Thinking of your girl again?”
“Shut up or I’ll punch your face in.”
“Her name is Hana, right?”
Sullivan said nothing. But Isha was right; he had been thinking of Hana just before recreation time. How had Isha found out about her? Sullivan didn’t discuss them with these people. Some guard must have left a newspaper lying around.
Of course, the papers were careful to stay vague. For obvious reasons.
Once again, Sullivan thought of Hana’s small, oriental eyes. Her silky black hair, hanging loosely all the way down to her shoulders. She’d been so pretty, and he’d only known her for such a maddeningly short time. Why couldn’t it have lasted longer? Conan suddenly began to curse aloud again. Sullivan knew he was close to climax. Hilarion was still ranting and raving. Isha continued staring at him with those twinkling eyes, as though they could read his mind. Shudders almost caused Sullivan to tremble, and he fought an urge to scream with rage. Or was it fear?
“Was she scared when you found her?”
Isha’s question brought him back to reality.
“Not at first,’ Sullivan admitted.
Isha nodded sagely, “They never are, I imagine.”
Who the flying fuck cares what you imagine, Sullivan wanted to yell into Isha’s face.
The bastards were watching, though. They wanted any excuse to come in swinging. They would beat up everyone involved and send them into solitary. Sullivan had spent his first days here in solitary. It had been after they’d decided he was beyond help or worth to society. They had left him there with his memories of Hana. Sullivan trembled at the mere thought of those long hours in the darkness. “It’s the fear which we love, eh?” Isha seemed to get off on playing with fire. Maybe he’s the craziest one of us all, Sullivan thought darkly. What had this miserable little creature done to get himself locked up in the first place? Sullivan looked around at the others, wondering what they had done. Hilarion was curled in the fetal position, sobbing aloud, begging his god for the strength to serve him again. Whatever that meant. Conan, meanwhile, had sated himself, and was giggling with satisfied triumph.
Resigned, Sullivan turned back to Isha, “Yes.”
Isha nodded again, “What do you prefer? The terror, or the horror?”
“What’s the difference?”
Isha smiled again, “Terror is what they feel before you do something. They can only imagine what will happen, but they have no idea what it will be.” Sullivan knew what Isha was talking about, and the thought of it made him feel even more uneasy. Living in this madhouse was enough to terrify him each waking hour. The guards would torture them any number of ways, and they secretly enjoyed it when the residents turned on each other. Of course, they couldn’t allow anything too serious to happen. That would be going too far.
But that did little to assuage Sullivan’s unease and disgust for the people around him.
Isha was still talking, “The horror is what they feel after you’ve done something. The monster is out of the shadows. Terror gives way to horror.” Sullivan nodded. He thought of Hana again. He’d worried that she would be heard before he was done with her. She’d been found much later, when he’d willingly shown the police where he’d hidden her. When they’d arrested him, thoughts of simply killing him clear as day in their eyes, he had simply shuddered and asked “Why couldn’t you ever stop me before?” That question had been used by the defence and prosecution alike as proof of their arguments. 7
In the end, he’d been placed here, doped up on medication half the time, and driven crazy the other half of the time. Or maybe just crazier. Just as Sullivan forced himself to stop thinking back and focus on Isha in front of him, he saw the older man suddenly frown and look up, “What’s this?” Sullivan began to turn around, but before he could, two hands gripped his shoulders, and an ugly, dark face with its demonic leer filled his vision. “Rougarou!” a high pitched shriek sounded just before Hilarion’s sharpened teeth sink into Sullivan’s throat, savagely jerking it up and down, like he was biting into a thick steak. Sullivan’s mouth opened louder to scream for help, but he couldn’t even draw breath. All strength had left his arms. Hilarion was taking his time now, making sure that Sullivan would die. Somewhere, faintly, a siren went off. “De time ‘as come! Rougarou! Take dis filthy soul!” Hilarion howled like a rabid wolf, his mouth red. He spat a mouthful of blood back in Sullivan’s face before leaping away from a burly guard. With shaking hands, Sullivan felt the blood pour down his front. All the more faster because he was filled with horror, driving his heart crazy. It seemed to pump all the more quickly to push blood up to his brain, but it only served to drain out of the severed channels under his chin. Hands gripped him, a doctor leaned his fat face into Sullivan’s own and began shouting at him. Sullivan couldn’t make anything out anymore. No words came through. No sounds either. Except one. The high pitched, muffled sobs of a sweet girl who had never made it to school that Friday.
And then, for the second time, her sobs faded into silence.
The Cellars SAMMI COX
Tammy had the good fortune of working for one of the most prestigious law firms in the county, Clarke, Hawkins and Richardson. She was only a secretary to one of the minor partners, but she allowed herself to feel pride at rising this far when she had barely left school with any qualifications to her name. The law firm was based in one of the oldest buildings in town, the floors below street level dating back all the way to the fifteenth century. Not that anyone went down there, unless they were searching through the firm’s archives, but most of them had been computerised by now. Tammy had only once ventured down to the “cellars”, as they were called, and that was on the day of her induction. It was part of a tour of the building. She had been in a group of five other new employees, and even in company, she hated it down there. More than once, a cold shiver had run up her spine as she got the distinct feeling that someone or something was watching her from the shadows. Since that day, she had refused point blank to go down the stairs. One Halloween, however, that was set to change. James, a man from accounting, spent the day playing pranks on nearly everyone who had come in to work. As the day drew to a close, Tammy thought, by some miracle, she must have gone unnoticed by him. That was until it was time to leave. She had been forced to stay late to rectify a clerical error a temp had made, so by the time she was ready to go home there couldn’t have been more than a handful of people left in the building. She went to grab her bag from her desk, only to find that it was missing. She needed her bag; it not only had her house key in it, but also the key to her car. She searched everywhere she could think of, but no bag materialised. Without her bag, she couldn’t go home. Without it she couldn’t get home. As she patted down the pockets of her jacket, hoping against hope that for some reason that morning she had put her keys there instead of where they belonged, she found a note. Her heart sank. She had seen others receive the same missives from James all day. Her heart sank further when she read what it said: If you want to go home, first your will need to make a little detour. Your handbag is awaiting collection in the cellars. It’s sitting atop the main desk in Archives. Of course, if you are too scared to go down there, give me a call and you can come home with me. James. “Like hell I will,” Tammy said, sounding much more confident than she felt. It was no secret that she hated the cellars, but neither could she give in to James. She would never 9
live it down. Tammy switched off her computer, closed the door to her office and then made her way towards the lifts. Once inside, she pressed the button for the ground floor. It was the lowest floor the lift had access to. After that she was going to have to take the stairs. The stairs that led to Archives were dark and narrow. As she descended, the slight musky smell of damp from the old walls rose up to meet her. Her stomach felt the first stirrings of nerves before she even reached the bottom of the staircase, but she forced herself to go on. No doubt James would check first thing in the morning whether she had managed to get her bag back, and she simply couldn’t face the humiliation of being teased. It would be like high school all over again. That thought alone drove her onwards. She moved across the half a dozen paces between the final step and the door to the corridor beyond as fast as she could. Her heart was racing. She felt sick. As she touched the door handle, and pulled it towards her, she felt like she could pass out at any moment, but she stepped through all the same. As the door swung closed behind her, a high-pitched squeaking suggested the hinges hadn’t been oiled for some time. The sound set her even further on edge, if such a thing were possible, before she registered something far worse, something familiar: it was the same feeling she had recognised on her induction. Someone or something was watching her. She tried to strike the realisation from her mind, worried that she might become paralysed with fear, but it was an almost insurmountable task. Almost. The main desk was only twenty feet in front of her. She could see her handbag sitting on it. At that moment it represented so much more than simply a purse; it symbolised safety. She wanted to run over, grab it and then run all the way out of the building, never stopping until she was safely locked in her car, but her feet were heavy like lead and didn’t want to move. She swallowed hard, and tried to convince herself to go on. Twenty steps, she silently chanted. That’s all it is. Twenty steps. With all the strength she could muster she took one step forward. Tammy trained her eyes on the ground, terrified that if she should look up she might see something that she really didn’t want to. A noise, sounding like one of the boxes moving on a shelf just out of her sight, stopped her in her tracks. “Hello?” she called out. ‘Is there anyone down here?’ But the echo of her words only served to increase the tension. 10
“James, if that’s you...” she said, trying to hold back the tears that were forming in her
eyes, but the words slowly trailed off into the suffocating silence. She knew it wasn’t James down there with her, however, she desperately wished it was. All of a sudden she felt a cold breath on the back of her neck, and she couldn’t help but let out a gasp. It was all the motivation she needed to move. She charged across the room and snatched at her bag with both hands. Then turning as fast as she could, she attempted to make good her escape. Only when she tried the door, it wouldn’t open. She pulled at it with all her strength, and when that failed to do anything she smacked her palms against the wood...in frustration...in fear...in anger at James. When she ceased her banging, silence smothered the cellars like a heavy, dense blanket. With her back to the room, she rested her forehead on the door, trying to calm down, attempting to think. She knew there was no other way out. A noise that sounded like a hiss or perhaps an indecipherable whisper came from somewhere deeper in the room, causing her to spin around. Something moved in the shadows. Tammy started screaming. A moment, no more, passed and the lights overhead began flickering. Then they went out altogether, and Tammy was plunged into darkness. Fighting to control her breathing, something brushed against her arm and instinctively she stepped away, hating the fact that she was moving further and further from the door. And the only exit. Again she felt something move in the space before her, as if someone she couldn’t see was there. She could sense their presence only a couple of steps away.
“Leave me alone!” she called out, but her voice sounded hollow.
With an exclamation of fright, she backed into a desk. She had nowhere else to go. Whatever was down there with her prevented her from moving. The presence was unrelenting. It came closer. She felt a breath on her face, and whimpered. Turning her head aside, she squeezed her eyes shut and bit her lip to stop her from crying. A box fell off a shelf to her left, and she jumped as it hit the floor. Then another crashed down and another. It was too much for Tammy; tears were falling freely down her cheeks now and she was sobbing.
“Please...” she whimpered. “Why are you doing this?”
As more objects starting flying across the room, some of them striking Tammy, she fell to her knees. Then, crouching low on the ground, she buried her face in her hands. 11
Through the gaps in her fingers she could see the light overhead was flickering off and on again. And still papers, books and stationary came hurtling towards her.
“Please, stop this. Please!” she continued to cry though it had no effect.
After what felt like an eternity, she realised two things: the first was that it had been a while since anything had hit her, and second, the lights were no longer flashing but on. The room was different now. Something had changed, though she didn’t want to think about what it meant. When she finally built up the courage to look up, she glanced around nervously and then her eyes saw the door.
It was standing wide open.
In a matter of seconds, Tammy was up and across the room, through the open doorway and then climbing the stairs, holding her handbag to her as if it was the most precious thing in the world. Not once did she dare to look back.
KYLE CLIMANS He’s following you. Can’t you hear him? Right there, behind you, No, don’t look now! It’s a busy city night, Why follow me? I’m not special, Why follow me home? Is he still there? Are those footsteps his own? Maybe he’s gone and it’s someone else, This city’s big enough for that. He’s been watching you, He saw you leave the club. A lonely girl on a city street, Nobody will miss her. He’ll follow you to your house, And take you for his own, You’ll beg and scream and cry, Nobody will know. No, he only wanted to dance, I’m just another girl, He wanted me, maybe, But that’s not new. So many leering eyes, So many dark whispers, Calls from cowards in a crowd, All of them terrifying. Always this walk home at night, Always this fear of what might be, Why can’t I just go out and have fun? Why must I feel this urge to scream? Almost home, just another half hour, Why do those footsteps sound louder?
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