Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Challenge! The Wardrobe Monster

From Chuck Wendig’s Flash fiction challenge:
In which Mozette’s story from the previous challenge was begun:
and continued by the delightful John Freeter:
Which I present to you, in its entirety, now concluded:
The Wardrobe Monster
Part 1 (by Mozette):
The power had gone out soon after the storm started up, and pretty soon after, her e-reader died too.  She looked outside and noticed the whole neighborhood was in darkness. Sighing, Savannah showered by torchlight and went off to bed.
But not for long… only a few minutes after she switched off her torch, she started hearing noises coming from her wardrobe – noises she had never heard before.

Unnatural noises.

Her folks had told her there was no such thing as monsters when she was a kid.

That was crap.

She knew it.

But then, she had seen this thing destroy people’s lives in a split second, and now she was sitting up in her bed terrified of it.
Savannah knew it was crap, and closed her eyes, “It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real…” she kept chanting to herself to see if it would make the noise in her wardrobe stop.

To make her mind from going crazy…

To make her nerves from being on edge…

…to make her relax again.

She pulled the covers of her bed up to her chin and watched the door handle of the wardrobe as the shadow of the trees moved across it, “Crap, I’m in my twenties and …” she swallowed dryly, “I’m too fucking old for this shit!” kicking off her covers, she pulled on her Ugg boots, dressing gown and grabbed the waterproof torch she kept by her bed when storms like this hit and switched it back on.  Walking toward the wardrobe, she followed the large circle of light.

Five feet out, the noise started to sound like a grunting pig.  She thought it was cute – but weird – seeing it came from where her clothes were stored.

Three feet out, her gut cooled as she heard scratching coming from inside… along with screams.  The grunting was gone.

One foot, and Savannah noticed smoke was seeping from underneath the doors as she reached forward to open the door…

The door handle suddenly rattled loudly… clearly… and…
The whole door shuddered as though somebody bashed against it!

Savannah shuffled back, tripped over her glory box at the end of her bed, and sat on the end of her bed as the two wardrobe doors opened…

Part 2 (by John Freeter):
A large gray hoof emerged from inside, and landed on the carpet with a heavy thud. Two large hands—a man’s hairy hands—grasped the edges of the open wardrobe as the monster poked its head into the room. The monster turned towards Savannah, still frozen at the end of her bed.
It stood upon its back hoofs, staring her down. It had Savannah’s favorite green dress draped upon its vaguely human shoulders. Two long yellow tusks stuck from the sides of its thick snout. Its small black eye gleamed as the flash of distant thunder flooded into Savannah’s bedroom.
A beat later, the blast of the thunderbolt crashing to the ground reached them. Savannah dove towards her glory box, flipped the lid open and grasped the plastic handle of the machete stored inside. She swung the heavy blade at the monster, but only slashed the hem of her green dress as the monster leapt towards the window. Shards of broken glass sailed into the night as the noise of the storm outside entered Savannah’s bedroom.
She raced down the stairs and bolted out of the front door. She picked up her bicycle, left carelessly on the lawn, and chased the monster through her neighborhood.
The freezing rain pelted her body as she pedaled through the empty streets. With the lights out, she couldn’t see beyond a few feet in front of her, but the strident clacking of the monster’s hoofs as it raced down the street led her way. She chased after it one block after the other for almost ten minutes, steering the bike with one hand while gripping the machete with the other, when the road ahead of her fell silent. She braked. The bike’s tires skidded over the wet pavement. Savannah squinted, trying to spot the monster through the thick rain. Nothing.
Just as she had given up and turned to go back home, a massive thunderbolt tore through the sky, illuminating her surroundings. She spotted a broken window on one of the suburban houses lining the road, its wooden frame shattered. She knew it must’ve been the monster, and ran towards the house, letting her bike fall on the pavement with a muted clang.
She twisted the entrance’s golden doorknob. It twisted without difficulty. People rarely locked their doors in that peaceful bit of the world. Savannah tiptoed into the living room. Her soaked Ugg boots squished with every step, so she tossed them aside. As the boots landed on the floor, she heard grunting coming from upstairs. She followed the noise.
Savannah’s nightgown clung to her body, soaked in cold rainwater which dripped on the stairs—tap, tap, tap—as she slowly made her way towards the monster. Her heart raced and her lips trembled from the cold, but the machete’s long blade remained steady in her hand.
She finally reached the end of the stairs. Everything seemed undisturbed. Only the grunting coming from one of the upstairs bedrooms gave the monster’s presence away. Savannah gripped the doorknob, holding her machete over her head. She burst inside.
“Oh my god…”
Blood. Blood everywhere. Soaked into the carpet, dripping from the ceilings, splashed on the walls. A boy’s tiny foot poked from under the bed. It wasn’t attached to the rest of the body. In fact, the rest of the body was nowhere to be seen.
Savannah entered the room, the warm blood on the carpet sticking to her bare soles. The boy’s wardrobe was open. A faint smoky haze rose from inside, smelling of rotten eggs. A thick blood trail led from the boy’s bed to the wardrobe. Savannah peeked inside. Instead of the boy’s clothes, she found a long rock tunnel stretching from the wardrobe’s entrance—some kind of portal. She took her torch from her nightgown’s pocket and switched it on as she went inside.
Savannah knew it was too late to save the boy, but not to stop that monster.

Part 3 (me!):

She walked down the tunnel with great trepidation, casting the beam of light about using quick, nervous gestures, the cold stone floor rough beneath her toes.
The passage culminated in a portal: a pure black oval that swallowed the light from her torch as if she had pointed it up into the night sky. It hung in midair, thin as a pane of glass, not quite touching the wall behind it. Unsure what to do, and not willing to touch it, she probed the darkness with the tip of the machete. From the other side a great force pulled on the blade, and before she could let go she was pulled into the void entirely.
She found herself lying flat on her back, squinting up into bright sun hanging overhead, a great headache surging in her temples and setting her ears to ringing. Pulling herself to her feet, she was surprised to see she was no longer in the hallway or even the house; she stood in an open field, verdant grass speckled with the bright purples and yellows of wildflowers growing waist-high.
A trail of gore was here, however, matting down the grass; something heavy had been dragged along, and she followed the bloody path to the edge of a thin, trickling stream. On the far side sat a panther, crouched over a great hunk of flesh, worrying it with it’s great jaws. It raised its head up and looked her in the eye as she approached, gore dripping from its fangs. She stepped back, afraid.
"You must not come here," the Panther said. "Go back, now. Go back the way you came."
"Where am I?" she said.
He shook his head, disdain tinging his deep baritone. "No; nevermind, you’re too late. Poor Savannah. Poor, poor, girl.”
He bent his head back over his meal.
Her hesitation vanished when he threw his head back and roared; she turned and ran. Something hit her upper back, hard, and she stumbled and fell, striking her head against a rock hidden in the tall grass.
Faces swum before her eyes: the panther, the evil creature as it emerged from her wardrobe, her father's disapproving scowl; she recognized that look, the one he'd wear when she'd done something wrong, the one that preceded him sending her to her room in terror to await the lash of his belt across her backside. His face transformed back into the monster, and he was biting down into her shoulder, hard, crunching her bones with his teeth. She screamed.
She came to in the boy's bedroom, lying halfway out of his wardrobe closet. Paramedics lifted her up onto a stretcher as a Police officer, seeing her awake, began to read her her Miranda rights. She started to thrash, panicked.
"Don't move," said the Paramedic. "You've been shot, you need to lie still."
"I don't understand."
"Let me clear it up for you," said the Cop. "You broke into this poor family's house and chopped their kid up into pieces with a machete. The Dad found you and shot you before you could murder anyone else in their sleep."
"No! There was a monster! I was following a monster..."
"Get this lunatic out of here," the Cop said to the Paramedic, and they wheeled her out into the waiting ambulance.
"Wake up," she said, fighting against the restraints. "Wake up! None of this is real.”
The doors to the ambulance slammed shut and the Cop sat in the corner watching her, arms folded, wearing the deep, disapproving scowl of her father.
“It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real,” she chanted to herself as the ambulance pulled away, siren wailing.


Mozette said...

I really love what you've done with this; harking back to her chant in the first part too.

Thank you for finishing off my story... I was looking out for somebody to finish what I started - I don't normally see it happen. :D

Thank you so much for jumping in and taking it into the wardrobe and back again!

... why did that sound like a really short story of a very modern version of 'The Hobbit'? :P

@tryte said...

Thank you very, very much for the kind words!

Having been a kid with an overactive imagination, I've always enjoyed reading 'monster under the bed' tales, and I thought your take on an adult version of one was really fun.

Thanks for posting!

Also, I think you're onto something for an alternate title-- There and Back Again: The Panther, The Hobbit, and the Wardrobe --perhaps?

Mozette said...

Actually, I based the bedroom on my actual bedroom here at home - thus the glory/hope box/chest. And I wasn't one of those kids who had wardrobe monsters in my childhood, but plenty of spiders and cockroaches in my folk's old 1970's house.

So, when I moved into a place of my own, I found the massive wardrobe took on a life of its own when the shadows were different, the light in the daytime was different and the shelf up the top wasn't completely visible - and the damned wardrobe was bloody dark in the corners no matter what time of the day it was!

And so there was my over-active imagination.... then I had to go and read Stephen King's 'The Boogeyman' which took place in - of all places - a damned wardrobe! I got the idea from that... and let anyone take it from the doors opening...

...and yeah, I'm a huge 'Supernatural' fan - so really, anything can happen in my stories :P