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Old 10-22-2012, 03:23 AM   #1
Erebus Dirge
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Default 2012 BD Fall Write-Off - Story 1 ...

A Bedtime Story

It began in darkness, so Dad believed it was the cause of Danny’s bedwetting and reluctance to sleep in his own room. The darkness was a vast, blank slate for his fertile imagination. Mom was convinced the old, black-and-white, horror movies he loved so much were at fault. Danny was pretty sure it was the monster living in the attic.

Dad, Mom, and Danny had moved into the old farmhouse when Mom lost her job and Dad couldn’t make the rent on his own. Aside from the isolation of it’s location, there was nothing ominous about it. Considering the space the house offered, the rent was mercifully low. Dad could scarcely contain his excitement and signed the lease without further question. The outside was well maintained by the landlord, and with a “little elbow grease”, the inside became cozy and inviting. Shortly thereafter, his baby sister Cory was born. Enamored with the tiny infant, Mom stopped looking for employment, and the farmhouse was officially declared home.

Danny’s room was not large, but far from confining. Upon his bed were blankets featuring his favorite professional wrestlers and a large, stuffed bunny his grandmother had bought him long before he had any knowledge or understanding of Easter. Mom had found an old desk and chair that was still a little too tall for him at a second hand store; the desk was buried under piles of drawings he made of animals, real and imaginary. His walls were covered with posters of alligators and dinosaurs. Mom had installed shelves in the room for him to keep his toys on, but they were seldom full. His toys were scattered about on the floor in a disarray that made sense only in his numerous, fantastic scenarios. He was a quiet and pleasant lad, who would contentedly occupy himself for hours with little else than toys and books about wild animals and wilder locales.

The attic was directly above his bedroom and accessible only through a staircase that emptied into the right corner of it. Little Cory was nearing her first birthday when Danny began hearing the odd noises up there late at night.

At first, he just hid under his covers and waited for them to fade. Two weeks later, the expected series of rustlings was suddenly punctuated with a loud THUMP followed by the sound of something being dragged across the rafters toward the stairs. A hot wetness soaked his sheets. Unwilling to be a bother to his exhausted parents, and too ashamed to solicit their help, he gingerly removed the soiled bedding and placed it in his hamper. He put fresh sheets on his bed and changed into clean bedclothes before taking his beloved bunny downstairs to use as a pillow as he slept under the kitchen table. He successfully completed this routine several times before he was discovered by his dad. He confided in them about the disturbing sounds and received concerned looks from Mom and a reassuring head rub from Dad.

A day later, Dad returned home from the hardware store with an arsenal of mousetraps. He carefully baited each one with a mixture of stale bread and peanut butter. Dad explained that grandpa swore by this recipe and it had never failed to produce results. He placed the traps throughout the attic and encouraged Danny to be patient and try his best to sleep in his room. The traps were often sprung, but bore nothing but an occasional, faint smear of blood. Danny remained hopeful and in his room, though secretly sleeping in his closet, with the vented door kept tightly shut.

Resorting to more desperate measures, Dad adopted a cat. Boots was a tiger-striped tommy with a scar across the middle of his nose. He was more often found dozing on Danny’s frequently unmade bed than terrorizing the resident vermin. Nonetheless, Danny loved his soft, warm, reassuring presence at night when the terrible rhythm of thumps and sliding resumed. He would watch Boots track the noise back and forth across the ceiling. The cat occasionally growled, but often remained silent during his vigilant watches. One day, Boots went missing. Mom feared it might have been the coyotes rumored to be stalking the tree line. Dad figured he just up and left as cats were given to do at times. Danny noticed the attic door was cracked open.

Danny ventured into the attic. He quietly crept up the stairs, gliding the beam of his flashlight right and left like a metronome. The attic was thickly cobwebbed . The thick covering of dust on the floor was plowed halfway back by boxes Mom and Dad had shoved up there during the breakneck pace of moving day. Beyond the boxes, little should have been disturbed for decades, but instead he found a chaotic network of snake-like drag marks through the inches of detritus. As he panned the shredded carpet of dirt with his flashlight, he caught sight of a small shape poking up. Nervously he snuck closer and froze in fear when he recognized the small triangle was one of Boot’s ears. The air became thick with a damp, musty smell and vibrated with a growl almost too low to be heard. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement. The back wall of the attic shifted back and forth as if the wall itself was alive. The thing’s camouflage shimmered into a dull gray. Danny stumbled backwards, nearly tripping over boxes trying to get to the stairwell. He descended the steps with jumps as wide as he was able to muster. As his feet hit his bedroom floor, he spun and slammed the door shut.

“Daniel Alexander”, Mom yelled, “ you’d better not be in that attic; it’s not safe up there!” Danny sat down on his bed. He pulled his knees up to his chest and looked at the crumpled spot of sheets where he often found Boots and wept.

After dinner, Danny set a row of toys up on a stair only a few steps up from the door separating the attic and his room. He hoped it would give him an early alert if the thing tried to come down. Lying on his bunny in his closet, he wondered if the thing killed Boots because it was hungry or because it enjoyed eating. He hadn’t surrendered to sleep long before the toys on the stair tumbled to the landing and glanced off the adjoining door. He remained quiet and still as he heard the door slowly creak open and the toys trapped within skitter across the floor. With painstaking slowness, Danny rolled to his side so he could peer under the door at whatever went past. The stench he encountered in the attic filled his throat and threatened to gag him.He bit his lip so hard he tasted blood. In the glow of his nightlight, he saw it. It was a knot of slimy, gray ropes; it reminded him a giant, filthy mop head. It had no features or extremities, just a tangled mess of wriggling cords. The random writhing of each individual tentacle propeled the thing forward with terrifying ease. It entered the hallway and headed into the darkness. Danny fought to breathe as the beast disappeared from view. He purposed to continue his watch but succumbed to exhaustion. He dreamed he was still watching under the door when he was awakened by his mom’s shrieks.

According to the doctors, Cory had died of SIDS and the family was cleared of any wrongdoing. Mom and Dad explained to Danny that sometimes babies fell asleep and never woke up again. It was nobody’s fault. Without arguing with his grief-stricken parents, Danny considered that his sister had been near her first birthday. He also recalled the look frozen onto Cory’s cherubic face had been far from peaceful. Though he knew the monster had killed her, he didn’t tell his parents. He knew they wouldn’t believe him and he feared risking to speak what he knew in case the thing could hear. It was intelligent, he sensed that.
For months afterward, the house became quiet at night. Life returned to a hollow mockery of the routine they had once shared with Cory. Mom and Dad toyed with the idea of moving, but neither ever would. Dad had too much pride in his economical find, and every space of the house prompted a memory of Cory Mom was terrified she'd forget. Quietly, Danny began to plot his own revenge against the creature that had taken his sister. In his closet, Danny had concealed a small can of lighter fluid he had found in the tool shed ; he also secreted away an old matchbook he had found forgotten in the back of the kitchen junk drawer. He planned to set fire to the attic, trapping the abomination up there and forcing his parents to leave. Even if they found out about his deliberate setting of the blaze, he would much rather bear their anger alive than die a model son.

Without warning, the noises resumed. He barely made it into the closet before a toy bounced off the closed attic door. The doorknob rattled and clicked open. Hot tears blurred his vision as the shadowy mass of sinister coils flexed and pulsed the hideous nightmare before the closet door where it paused. Danny held his breath and watched it back away from the door. Danny pinched his eyes shut hard, bracing himself for a rushed, frontal assault on the door. Instead he heard a sound of wood dragging along wood. He opened his eyes and watched in disbelief as his chair was wedged under the closet’s doorknob. The thing proceeded almost casually into the hallway and turned toward his parents’ bedroom. He began to kick at the wooden slats at the bottom of the door as hard as he could; he no longer cared if it heard him. Perhaps the commotion would distract it from it’s malevolent purposes or even better, awaken and summon his parents. The small planks, already weakened by innumerable years began to crack and shatter. He pulled the fragments out of the way until he made a hole big enough to climb through. He pulled himself through and headed to his parents’ bedroom.

He hesitated only briefly before entering the unlit hallway. Danny regretted not grabbing his flashlight but was as terrified of returning to his room as he was of proceeding forward. He wouldn’t let the monster hurt his mom and dad. Running along in almost total darkness, he accidentally bumped into their bedroom door. He backed up a step and opened the door , turning on the lights to a scene of unforgettable horror.

His parents were still in their bed, lying side by side. Their dead eyes focused on the ceiling , mouths opened unnaturally wide in silent protest of the violence being visited on their bodies. It was the same look his sister had when her cold, limp form had been tenderly lifted from her crib by an emergency worker. But Mom and Dad’s deaths had not satisfied it; it was occupying itself with savaging their remains. Oblivious to the lights and to Danny, it plunged pointed tentacles into his mom and dad with hateful deliberation, ripping them out and stabbing them back in over and over. Blood and small fragments of flesh arced across the ceiling and walls with wet, slapping sounds. It hummed to itself as it shredded the corpses. Danny slowly backed out of the room and ran to his closet. He fought his urge to cry and forced himself into action.

The atrocity had succeeded in taking everyone he loved away from him without any reason or mercy. He shoved himself back through the hole in the bottom of the door and fumbled about in the dark for the matches and lighter fluid. He ran back to their room feeling a rage he had never experienced before in his young life. He opened the can and pointed it at the monster’s back; he squeezed it as hard as he could. A steady stream of volatile fluid coated and dripped from countless vile cords. It slowed in its assault of the corpses and ceased its contented sounds. It began to move toward him with wicked singularity. Frantically, Danny struck a match on the back of the book, but he pressed it too hard and it ripped in half. The matchbook fell to the ground; he fell to his knees and grabbed it. The beast snarled, but Danny refused to freeze. He removed another match and struck it. The match sparked to life and he threw it. Flames covered the miscreation in an instant. Thick, black, noxious smoke shrouded its form as flaming feelers whipped out in wrath at the boy. Screeching in pain and anger, it unbelievably pursued him.

Danny ran out of the house into the cool grass where he slipped and fell. He rolled onto his back, too delirious and weary to run anymore. He watched the orange glow exponentially swell inside his home. It grew as the inhuman screams faded, then it all faded to nothing.

That was over ten years ago, and his story has never changed.

The nurses at the state hospital claim he’s the most agreeable and gentle patient on the floor. You’d never know anything was wrong with him, that is, until he tells you “the story”. Something about the heightened tension in his voice, the way his eyes dart about the ceiling and the hallway as he speaks makes you want to believe him, but then you’d be as crazy as he is.

The doctors believe the “monster” is the way Daniel distances himself from the unfathomably heinous acts he committed as a youth. If the counselors at his school would have been aware of the bed wetting, the disappearance of the family pet, and his obsession with fire, perhaps the tragedy could have been averted. Perhaps his sister, in whose death he was always suspect, would have lived a full life, but who could suspect such brutality dwelled in one so young? Even with the absence of any violent behavior in the past decade, Daniel would never be moved to a floor with lighter security and he would never be released. Risking a relapse in someone as violent as Daniel was inconceivable. He’d live out his life among criminally insane individuals in a sterile, unfurnished room.
It began when Cory was born, so the psychologists believed it was the cause of the impassioned slaughter. His baby sister garnered the majority of his mother and father’s affections and attentions. The moral majority was convinced the old, black-and-white horror movies he loved so much were at fault.

Danny knew it was the monster that lived in the attic.
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Last edited by Erebus Dirge; 10-23-2012 at 03:38 AM.
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:25 AM   #2
Erebus Dirge
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Okay that's the first story up , reading and voting begins today. I will post them in the order which they were received.
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Old 10-23-2012, 12:25 PM   #3
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Atompshere - I thought it had great atmosphere. It was dark and haunting the description of the monster was unique, but completely appropriate. I think the subtle title really added to the atmosphere
- 3.5

Concept - Cool take on the creature in the dark concept. One issue I thought that was i wish some of the scenes...especially the death of Cory should have been a little it more fleshed out for sake of showing - not telling.
- 3

Readability - The story flowed great i didnt notice anything to glaring. However, the first 3 paragraphs seemed like a exposition dump sort of like a - heres what the kids likes and what his room looks like get use to it because hes ganna be in it for most of the story. I would have liked to see that info integrated more evenly.
-2.5

Overall - You had me at "It was a knot of slimy, gray ropes; it reminded him a giant, filthy mop head. It had no features or extremities, just a tangled mess of wriggling cords." Im a sucker for monster stories and this one delivered.
-3
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Old 10-25-2012, 11:09 AM   #4
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Atmosphere - Old farmhouses out in the middle of nowhere. They always have creep value and noises! -3.0

Concept - Fun use of darkness. The house at night is always a scary adventure to a kid.
-3.0

Readabilty- Flowed well, have to agree with Rob, it would have been fun to see more of his room than just in the beginning.-2.5

Overall- Fun story, Enjoyed the way it was left open at the end! - 3.0
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:55 AM   #5
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First of all, l've always loved stories of fantastic horrors seen through the eyes of a child. A scenario such as this begs the reader to question certain things: is there really something there, or is it all a part of Danny's fertile imagination? ls everything alright with Mom and Dad? Has Danny been eating too much sugar before bedtime? Some of these and other questions are answered, while others l'm left hanging on.

l liked Danny's character, but l wish there had been a definite age given, as l first pictured him as being very young, maybe about five years old...until he went all Heather Langencamp on the creature at the end! Then l began to see him a little older, like twelve. Either way he kicked ass, but all too his detriment in the end.

Nice downbeat ending, by the way. lt leaves us knowing there always was something to fear in the dark after all, whether it ever grabbed your foot from under the bed or not.


Atmosphere- The old farmhouse is a character in itself, with it's cobwebs and rickety floorboards. This location has stories of it's own to tell, and l would like to know more. 3.5

Concept- l like this sort of scenario, but l'm not really sure it added anything fresh or inventive beyond the old "thing in the dark" twists. Mom and Dad were a bit wooden. lf they were fleshed out more it might add more impact to their final scene. 2.5

Readability- The prose had a nice flow to it. There were a couple of hiccups but overall it seems a well crafted story, with good descriptions of antique horrors and backwoods decay. 3

Overall- 3- Pretty solid monster story. l feel all slimy after reading it. ls that supposed to happen?

Last edited by yoxodo; 10-26-2012 at 02:03 AM.
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:35 AM   #6
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Atmosphere - Location wise, it didn't really grab me, but I got the isolation such as it was, that is, a place apart. I could feel Daniel's lone-ness. 3.5

Concept - Nice and simple, maybe a little something more about creature, not a lot, but just a sense of where it came from. 3.0

Readability- Riveting and easy to read. 4.0

Overall - 3.5
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:02 PM   #7
Erebus Dirge
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Atomsphere - A traditional " monster" story no matter what way you look at it whether a creature existed or was a psychotic projection. Decent pacing , kept interest.- 3.5

Concept - Straight forward, no frills monster story with some great descriptions of the monster it's self, even it's background is shrouded in mystery - 3.0

Readability - A burst reader, meaning that it flowed really well and practically read it's self. 3.5

Overall - A great if simplistic effort. 3.5
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:02 AM   #8
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A Bedtime Story by PrettyScary
R: 3.10 C: 2.90 A: 3.40 Total: 3.13
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