A collection of pieces written for competitions
| A Crack In The Wall
I noticed it two days ago. Then it had been nothing more than a tiny thin crack right in the middle of my bedroom wall. To be honest I don't think I'd have even noticed it if it hadn't been for the fact that I'd recently had all the walls re-plastered. So much for their workmanship!
I walked around the house, inspecting all of the other walls. If they'd made a bad job of my bedroom there was a good chance that cracks would be appearing elsewhere too. No matter how hard I looked though, I couldn't find any more. Sure, I could complain, but wouldn't it seem petty to make a fuss about a hairline crack no more than two inches long.
I'd decided to cover it up. A picture would have looked a bit stupid, mounted in the middle of a wall, so I removed the drawers from a chest and lifted that in front of it. I didn't like it; the whole... balance of the room had been thrown out, but at least I no longer had to look at the crack.
The following morning, it seems hard to think that it was only yesterday, I woke to find that the crack had spread. No longer was it covered up, but it fractured the plaster in a zigzag line above to the left and down to the right.
Was it subsidence? I had to consider that as a possibility for even a defect in the plastering would not account for such an increase in the size of it. The floor seems stable enough, I decide, as I gingerly tread on it, increasing the amount of my weight only slowly... just in case. It's still as thin as a hair, but is jagged in its journey across my wall. There was no way that I'd be able to cover it up so there had been no point in my trying.
Once again I'd inspected the other walls, both upstairs and down. I thought I might have spotted another, but it turned out to be a cobweb strand. It all seemed strange enough but I simply did not have the time to worry about it.
Work had been pretty hectic, and I had not got home until late. I had been exhausted, but even so, when I had climbed into bed my eyes had been drawn to the cracks. 'Definitely bigger,' I remembered thinking, until my eyes had closed and I had fallen into a deep and dreamless sleep.
I don't know what it is that woke me up, but something did. The crack is much wider. I climb out of bed and tiptoe across the room towards it. Don't ask me why, because I know I could make as much noise as I wanted. It's a crack in the plaster, not something alive.
I study the crack from all angles. I hold my hand above it to see if I can feel any air movement. There is, of course, nothing to feel, but I'm sure there's a noise. Very faint, it is, otherwise I might have thought of mice. I hold my breath and put all my attention into listening. I'm just about to exhale when I hear it again; the sound of minute granules slipping down.
It is quite wide in places now, and I feel this odd desire to try to scrape around in it. If I make it wider, I'll see how deep it goes, at least. At first I can only just push in a fingernail, but as I scrape away, the plaster turns to dust. There! A little black speck of a thing. It's not much bigger than a dot but it seems to be burrowing through the wall at a quite remarkable speed considering its tiny size. I stretch my finger, intending to squash it, but then I notice more of them.
I'll have to call in pest control, I guess. I pull back my finger, noticing some of the black things had climbed on top of it. Did they fall off? There's no sign of them now.
My finger itches intensely. I try to pay it no heed, but that irritating feeling is all over my hand now, going up my arm. The blood tells me there is something wrong. I look down at my arm and the skin has cracked apart. I have been scratching at sinew, at muscle and bone.
Racing into the bathroom and filling the sink with hot water, I glance in the mirror. The crack has extended across my shoulder, up my neck. I clutch at the side of my neck with my other hand and thousands of those things crawl out of the opening gash and begin to burrow their way inside my other hand.
A moan escapes my lips, and the gash spreads inexorably up my face. I want to scream but I can't open my mouth now; if I do my face will fall apart. Is it the mirror? There is a big fissure in the glass... no, not the glass but my entire face is splitting open.
There is no doubt left in my mind. I am cracking up and there is nothing that I can do to halt the process.