Tag Archives: horror

The Murk

Obadiah had forty different words for fog. From his fishing shack on the waterfront, he watched various fogs come and go, ebbing and flowing around the town. He needed every one of the words to describe the varied types that ran their blurry touch over the island.

There was the mist, the slight tendrils of cloud just barely wrapping around the houses. That one was so omnipresent that folks rarely even bothered to note it. Most of the town was mist-touched at any given time. The moments where you could see clearly end-to-end were the real rarities. Obadiah had no word for that kind of weather. It had never seemed worth it.

There were the pea-soupers, the thick deep fogs that ate the sound and blocked out all sight more than an arm’s length away. They rolled in on the regular, removing the rest of the town from view and giving Obadiah the impression that he lived on an island the size of his three rooms. If the windows weren’t sealed it was even less than that, as the fog seeped in through cracks and hid even the corners of his own house from him.

In between the two extremes were the mousters, the corrywinders, the bell-smiths and dozens more. Obadiah knew every sort of fog the sea could cough up and had names for them all. Seventy years of waterfront living would do that to a man.

Which made this fog all the more unusual. It wasn’t like any other he’d ever seen. It crawled along the ground in slow waves, gently rolling along paths and around corners like it was looking for something. It didn’t spread out evenly, either, but clumped together in great dense folds. Parts of it were nearly transparent, while others seemed almost solid.

Despite its intermittent thinness, it muffled sound as well as the thickest fog Obadiah had ever seen. The whole house felt wrapped in cotton batting. The lapping of the sea, the creaking of the dock, the mournful calls of the birds—all of these, the background of Obadiah’s life, were gone. It was this sepulchral silence that kept him staring out the window. He told himself he was just casually watching, but the truth was that he needed to keep an eye on the world to reassure himself that it was still there.

A booming knock sounded at the front door. Obadiah startled from his chair, the sudden sound no less concerning than the silence that had preceded it. He craned his neck to try to see along his front porch, but the drifting fog and awkward angle kept him from getting a good view.

The knock came again. Obadiah headed for the front door, taking up his stout oaken stick as he did so. If it was a neighbor who needed help outside, he’d be happy to have the extra support to keep his footing in the thick fog. And if it turned out to be someone who meant him ill, he could still hand out a pretty good wallop.

A third time: the knock. “I’m coming!” called Obadiah, his voice abnormally loud in the silent house. “Who is it, anyway?”

“Me, Obie,” came the muffled reply. He cocked his head. Sounded a bit like Isabel, the neighbor woman. Nice woman, lovely young mother, but not the sort to just drop by randomly. Especially not in weather such as this.

“What do you need?” he asked, opening the door. To his surprise, the battered wooden porch stood empty. The rocking chair creaked gently next to the door, but only the wind was stirring it.

“Your help.” Isabel’s voice drifted up from the bottom of the steps. Obadiah squinted into the fog. It was swirling thickly here, obscuring even the railing posts beside the stairs. He could make out a humanoid figure, but no more.

“What is it, Isabel?” Maybe she needed his help finding a lost animal. Maybe she’d gotten lost herself. “You need to come in?”

He took a step back, holding the door open, but the fog-shrouded figure shook her head. “No. I need your help. Can you come down here?”

Obadiah hesitated. Something was off about her voice, though he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was. Still, if she needed help, he wasn’t about to turn her down.

“Let me get my coat,” he said.

“You don’t need it. Please, hurry.”

The air was chillier than he liked, but if Isabel was that desperate, he could handle the discomfort. Surely she only needed him for a short time if she was encouraging him to go out coatless. With a sigh and a shrug, he stepped onto the porch and closed the door behind him.

The fog had thickened again. Everything was a uniform shade of grey. Even the bottom step was hidden from view now. Obadiah gripped the railing with his left hand and his walking stick with his right, stepping carefully down the weathered steps.

“Isabel?” he called, unable to see her through the fog.

“Right here,” came the reply. He took a few tentative steps toward the sound.

“No, over this way.” Her voice was to the left of him now. He edged forward again, but still saw nothing.

“Where are you?”

“I’m here.” Her soft tones came from the right of him now. “I can see you. Just walk toward me.”

Two more steps, and there was still nothing there. “Girl, are you playing games with me?”

“Never, Obie.” But there was laughter in her voice, and not the kind sort, either.

“All right, enough of this. Nothing better to do than taunt an old man? I’m going back inside,” he grumbled.

“How do you plan to do that?”

Obadiah took several steps forward, expecting to see his house swim into view. It did not. There was nothing but an endless grey wall. He stopped, befuddled. “Musta gotten turned around in this.”

He turned back and tried the other direction, but found nothing there either. The fog swirled hungrily at his legs, hiding his feet from view. Isabel’s voice rang out from all around him, laughing gaily, shifting positions with every sentence.

“This way.”
“No, over here.”
“You’re close.”
“Right here.”

“Obie.” This one practically a breath in his ear.

“Enough!” He whirled, striking out with his walking stick, but the heavy wood swooshed uselessly through the air. Obadiah staggered and nearly fell as the momentum tugged him to the side. The fog fluttered in its wake, forming curlicues that winked and smiled before vanishing into the main mass.

“Try again,” whispered Isabel’s voice. Clearly mocking though she was, Obadiah settled his grip on the cudgel and took her advice. He struck out blindly, swinging from shoulder to hip in a repeated X-shape. The laughter rose around him, mocking as he hit nothing but air over and over again, but Obadiah gritted his teeth and continued.

With every strike, he took a small step and made a quarter-turn. Swoosh, swoosh went the stick, and the circle Obadiah walked in grew steadily larger. He might not know which way his house was, but he knew it had to be close. If he just maintained the pattern….

Suddenly, the stick collided with something solid with a resounding crack. The impact jarred the walking stick from his hands, sending it spinning off into the fog. Obadiah reached out with desperate fingers and grasped the wooden ball that topped his porch’s newel post. He wrapped his arms around it, grabbing it like a drowning man seizing hold of a piece of floating wreckage.

“Wait!” called Isabel as Obadiah hauled himself up the three stairs to his porch, one hand always maintaining a strong grip on the railing. “I’m still out here, Obie. I still need your help.”

He shook his head. “No, you aren’t.”

“Look.” And then, in a voice quieter and more tremulous than before, “Obie? Is that you?”

He looked over his shoulder. Behind him, a path had cleared in the fog, the mists shifting aside to make a brief corridor. At the end of it, fifty yards away or more, stood Isabel. She looked confused and afraid. She appeared to have been crying.

“Obie, help!” She took a running step toward him and then the mists fell over her again, consuming her.

“See?” Isabel’s voice again, though Obadiah knew well it was not her. “She needs your help.”

Obadiah shook his head once more. “All I can do if I go out there is give you another voice to play with. And I don’t even have my coat.”

“Wait!” called the voice once more, but Obadiah was already at his front door, opening it to step into the safety of his house. Fog swirled in with him, but it dissipated quickly when the solid wood slammed shut behind it, tiny wisps of cloud vanishing against his carpet runner.

The knocking started again, loud and insistent. Obadiah, ignoring it, walked slowly around the house, checking the latch on each window and then pulling thick curtains to block out the view and muffle the sound. He turned on the record player, settled into his chair and let the scratchy sounds of a trumpet flow over him. He could still hear the knocking in the background, but he figured it would give up soon enough when it realized he couldn’t be lured back out.

Soft cries could be heard behind the trumpet now, the sounds of a young woman in distress.

“You can still save her,” whispered a voice clustered outside his windows.

Obadiah dragged his chair over closer to the record player and increased the volume. He’d seen too many men swept overboard in storms to wonder if Isabel could really be rescued. All you could do by jumping after them was add another death to the tally.

“A murk,” he said out loud. “That’s a good name for it. A murk.”

The fog would pass. They all did, eventually. He’d go find Isabel after that. If there was anything left of her to find.

By Micah Edwards, with art by Tom Brown.

Micah and Tom have collaborrated before and it is likely that they will do so again.

Hopeless, Maine is leaking (part 1)

Hello people! (and others)

I was looking at some photos a friend had taken recently not far from where we live in the UK and they were very…Hopeless, Maine-ish.  This lead me to wonder if in fact our strange island (Hopeless, not the UK. Erm) was not perhaps leaking out into the rest of the world. I logged onto my social media accounts and asked for evidence if that was indeed the case, and apparently, I was not wrong.

Our first evidence came from not far away (from us) These photos from Gary Lea establish the theme for this first installment, which is to say, trees.

Look at this tree. This tree is clearly surrounded by spirits and fed on unwholesome things.

Then we move closer… what are these strange danging obscenities?

Let us be brave (or foolish) and move closer still. Are those…eyes? Yes, undoubtedly hundreds of tiny eyes. *shudders*Hopeless, Maine has come to Gloucestershire.  There can be no doubt.

 

While we are on the subject of trees, Cliff Cumber (artist extraordinaire and all around excellent chap)  Bravely stood still long enough to capture this image of an eye in the trees in Maryland.

I am pleased to say that he lived to pass this along to us and tell the tale.

 

So, if you have you seen the hideous evidence of Hopeless, Maine leaking out into the rest of the world, comment here. This will no doubt be an ongoing exploration…

 

Horrorscope guidance for Citizens of Hopeless

Scorpio: If you’ve made your peace with what’s haunting you, this month will be only slightly depressing. Things look grim all the way to midwinter. Expect your shoes to let you down repeatedly.

Sagittarius: Your good luck in beachcombing may lead to horror and dismay.

Capricorn: For the next two weeks, you are at great risk of being struck by lightning and/or falling into your own privy.

Aquarius: Those of you who survived last month can expect things to be mercifully quiet until the gibbous moon, after which it’s just going to be one disaster after another.

Pisces: Being generous will only get you taken advantage of. Say not to everything until at least next week, and make sure all the locks on your doors are sound.

Aries: A small injury will fester and you’ll have to decide whether to trust to witchcraft or take your life into your hands with a visit to Doc Willoughby – it will be kill or cure.

Taurus: Nothing has gone well for you recently. The next new moon offers chances to shine, but they could so easily turn into dreadful humiliations.

Gemini: You can’t hide under the bed forever. You will eventually have to face up to your ghastly misjudgements and deal with the consequences.

Cancer:  Watch out for aerial bombardments, ill-considered axe use, and goats falling off roofs.

Leo: You’ve finally hit on a brilliant plan, but no one will believe you, or take it seriously.

Virgo: those aren’t mice making noise in your attic. Get help.

Libra: The stars have aligned to give you excellent prospects this month for any acts of revenge or score settling you have in mind.

What the Camera Sees

As several people pointed out to me, last week’s picture was odd. There is something growing on my camera. This week I can only offer you an image of that. I have no idea what it is, or how it got there, much less how to remove it without damaging the delicate equipment. Viewed from the outside, my camera appears perfectly normal, however, pictures taken with it look like this. Sometimes the fauna (or is it flora) moves when I look through the lens at it.

I assume they must be very small, and inside the camera. Peering in creates an impression of vastness, as though the imagine shows another place or time. It is most unsettling. If I watch for too long, it seems as though they become aware of me, and able to see me. I feel I should not look, but morbid fascination draws me back repeatedly.

Freak Storm Hits Hopeless!

rain of blood 

I can’t imagine anyone missed the major event of last week, but as nothing else of note happened, I’m reporting it anyway as there may be more to this than meets the eye.

On Tuesday night, a bloodstorm swept the island, covering people, buildings and streets. We were lucky in that the rain on Wednesday washed away the worst of it. I consulted Doc Willoughby who confirmed that the red rain was definitely blood, but he could not say if it was animal or human. Where did all the blood come from? Does it represent some unimaginable horror that has happened beyond the boundaries of our beloved island? How could so much blood have become airborn, with no trace of any bodyparts? I fear this latest mystery may go unsolved, but if you have possible answers, do share them.