Fiction: Damp (From "Of Priests and Mermaids")
She woke up with wide eyes, sweating in the darkness of her room. Then she realized that it was the sound of what appeared to be running water that had woken her up, and the nightmare she had been having quickly faded away. Lying in the gloom of her room, the first thought that came to Lara’s mind was that she had left the tap on after brushing last night. At the thought, a slight frown creased her face as she dismissed that possibility. That was unlikely; she would have caught the sound afterward when she was cleaning her face before going off to bed.
The sound was definitely coming from the bathroom of the studio apartment where she lived. Alone. A quick glance at the large clock on the wall facing her bed revealed it was 2am. There was another low splashing sound which tapered off and then a moment of silence which, for reasons she could not explain, made Lara very tense. Suddenly, there was a loud smacking sound of what appeared to be someone, or something, hitting water. In the still darkness of the room, the sound was deafening. And at that moment, a strange sense of deja vu swept over Lara and she abruptly sat up in her bed, slightly curious. And now, slightly afraid.
She lived alone in this apartment, had lived here for about two months. She liked it because it was close to her workplace and also because it was quite cheap, which was understandable. Basically, the building had been abandoned for a while and no one wanted it, thanks to the lore about creepy happenings in the past. The morbid tales were never really the same, however. First, it was stuff about the land being a former burial site. Then there was the story of the property being initially owned by a rich politician who was heavily involved in the dark arts - whatever the “dark arts” were.
The other popular story was of workers going mad as they worked on the grounds where Lara’s apartment had been built. Hers was one of many studio flats that were purpose-built for working singles or small families. The apartments themselves were not luxury apartments, but they were also not shabby at all; there was hot water, electricity, WiFi, people who came around to do the cleaning, even an amusement arcade in the basement. Yes, a few of the people working on the place had died, interestingly, from a strange sickness that started with little bite marks that were often ignored, but that festered and became something quite bad. Boils with greenish pus and blood infections. That sort of thing. However, of the five who had been infected, two were now okay because they got treatment early.
The splashing sound began again.
Aha, she thought, the former owner of her current apartment had also lost his mind. And now, Lara also began to wonder why she was thinking about all of that now, at 2am, in the still darkness of her room. And all because of a splashing sound. She slowly pulled the blanket away from her nude frame and got off the bed, staring at the bathroom door that was to the right of the bed. The door suddenly looked larger, darker and foreboding. And suddenly, the fact that it was red seemed a bit odd. A bit too red. A bit too bloody. She swallowed as she got off the bed and right as her feet touched the floor, she noticed the sound abruptly stopped as well. It was almost as though the thing behind the door, the thing that was somewhere in the bathroom, the thing that was splashing about actually knew that she had gotten off the bed.
And was content to wait.
The window slammed suddenly and Lara jumped! She lived on the fourth floor of the high-rise apartment building and left the window open sometimes. Her particular apartment had no cross ventilation, so she would open the window from time to time if the room started to feel stuffy. The window opened and shut again with a slightly lower clang, the wind toying with it. Quickly, she walked towards the window and latched it. The wind had begun to pick up and thunder rumbled softly in the distance. It was going to rain tonight, she thought as she moved towards the cloth rack that was next to the window. In the darkness of the room, she felt something cool and soft slide across her arm. She was about to scream again when she realized it was just the silky belt of her robe that had flittered across her arm. It had felt so leathery. God, why am I so jumpy tonight? she thought.
The splashing sound began again, but this time, it was a bit more subdued. Despite the initial sense of foreboding, that strange curiosity began to latch on harder on Lara’s mind and she turned to the bathroom door, absentmindedly putting on her robe as she walked towards the door. Something told her it was nothing; there was probably a rat or something stuck in the toilet. Another part of her mind kept telling her that going into the bathroom, at this time, was a very very bad idea - but her mind was already made up by now. She was going to find out what was in there making the splashing sound. She switched on the light in the room and then the light of the bathroom, happy that the switch of the bathroom was outside the bathroom. At least, she would not have to step into the darkness to have a go at the light switch. She was at the door of the bathroom now, and she gingerly opened the door, just a crack, to take peek into the room. The shower area was on the left side and the toilet was right next to it. Behind the door was the sink which she could not see at this time.
There was nothing in the shower area. She also realized, right at that moment, that the splashing sound had stopped. Lara decided that whatever was in the bathroom had to be in the toilet. She would have to lift the lid because it was shut at this time. She looked around at the sink. The sink was also out of the question because there was no water in the bowl. That left just the closed toilet bowl. All of a sudden, it all seemed so wrong. Why did the toilet bowl have to be closed right now, she thought. Images came to her mind of some creature lying in wait for her, coiled up, ready to spring out like a jack-in-the-box, something ugly and quick, something leathery and... Damp. Finally mustering courage, she placed her hand on the toilet lid, took one last look at the door to ensure it was still open. Then she took a deep breath, flung the lid open and jumped back to the safety of the doorway. And waited.
But there were no sounds. There was no splash. Nothing wet and evil flew out of the toilet onto her face, latching on it and depositing vile cocoon into her mouth that would spawn some evil offspring in her. A mucus-covered thrashing fetus that would forcefully tear its way out of her womb, like a scene from the movie, Alien. There was no movement at all. Lara stepped cautiously towards the bowl and looked in, but there was really nothing in there. Or had she seen something dart into the darkness below the waterline?
It was at that point that she burst into laughter as realization hit her. The splashing sound began again, but this time she could see the tap in the shower area spurt out water and stop. There was another slow drip before it stopped, almost completely. That was her “vile creature”, a faulty tap. Relief washed over her and her loud laughter echoed through the darkness of the still night. She walked over to the tap, opened it, then shut it tight a few times but the problematic drip did not go away. It would have to be fixed later today, she thought to herself as she sat down on the toilet bowl to ease herself. A plumber would fix the tap and rid her of the problematic dripping that had scared the...
There was a loud splashing sound from right behind her head and her eyes went wide with fright. It was right at that moment, she realized that she had not thought about the cistern. Her cracked cistern with the partly broken lid that had a hole just large enough for a small fist to pass through. Something thumped against the cracked lid of the cistern, hitting the water inside it with loud splashes that were deafening in the confines of the narrow bathroom. Everything started to happen really fast from that point on.
When Lara had heard the loud splash behind her, panic had taken over and she had instinctively turned to look at the lid. The thing inside had thumped twice against the lid, obviously struggling to get out of its wet dark confines. But Lara had already decided she was not going to find out what it was and she jumped to her feet - but not fast enough. There was a final splash and then a brushing scratchy sound as something forced its way through the crack on the lid of the cistern. It was something hairy, dark and damp - and that something landed right on the nape of Lara’s exposed neck. She screamed, her hand going instinctively to grab at the thing, whatever it was. Her fingers connected with something that was bristly, slimy wet and hairy - and without looking, she knew this thing was no rat because it had too many limbs to be a rat.
The thing slid out from her grasp as she jumped towards the door, lost her footing, and they both, her and the damp hairy thing, toppled to the floor. She fell with a thud; it fell with a sickening splat. She screamed again and began to crawl towards the door. Behind her, she heard the rustling pitter-patter of limbs, many limbs, as the critter thing eagerly rushed towards her. From the scratching sound coming from the thing, it was either moving very quickly, or it had very many limbs as the rustling charged towards her, not away from her like a rodent would.
Panic overwhelmed her now and she crawled towards the door, which was now shut, fingers flailing to get to the handle. Oh God, oh God, she heard herself saying over and over - and then she felt the thing jump right on her leg. She screamed and brushed at it, her fingers connecting solidly with the damp hairy thing. It fell off her body and hit the ground with another dull splat. Her fingers had connected firmly to the handle now and she yanked at it with all her might, mind in overdrive. She had to get the door open. She had to get out. She could hear the scurrying rustling sound of the many-limbed thing as it came rushing towards her again - and she pulled hard at the door handled. But she yanked too hard because her hand came away with the handle.
It was precisely at that moment that the power went out - and it was precisely at that moment that the thing latched onto her thigh. She slapped at the thing but missed because it was running up her naked thigh, right between her legs and jumped onto her tummy. She was screaming frantically now as she brushed away at the hairy many-legged thing and it fell off her body, but quickly latched onto the insides of her robe and then she felt the thing running up her back. She was slapping everywhere now, shaking her robe, screaming at the top of her lungs in the closed room, alone in the darkness, alone with this thing that came from god-knows-where. And then, it was at the base of her neck and grabbing hard and tight. Her hand grabbed at the thing, but now, it felt bigger and she felt pincer-like things digging into her neck - and that was when the awful realization hit home.
The thing had not been trying to bite her; it had been trying to enter into her.
(From the novel, Of Priests and Mermaids. Click to get the full book here)
By J.C. Nova. Enjoyed this post? Like and SHARE!
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