A collection of short stories, mostly written for 'Screams!'
| A Room Without...
The door to my room has vanished.
I know that this is not possible, that I am being irrational and perhaps a bit hysterical as I stumble around. I know exactly where it should be, but when I reach that part of the wall there is no frame, no gap, not even the slightest trace of a crack.
Doors can't just vanish. I know that, but there is no other way to explain what has happened inside my room. If someone had locked me in, boarded it up, I might not have been able to use it but I would still be able to see the thing. And, of course, with no door I have no way of getting out.
I love my room, but the thought of it becoming a prison is heightening my sense of claustrophobia. I need to breathe deeply, fresh cool air, to reduce the panic that is beginning to take hold.
The two windows that my bedroom has are still, thankfully there. Being ten floors above ground level the landlord has fitted safety features, meaning they do not open wide enough for me to get out of. Frankly, even if they did it would do me no good, for the ledge is so narrow I could not have balanced myself on it.
Gasping in the fresh air, or as near as I can get to that in the middle of a city, I make myself calm down. What I need to do is to apply some logic to the situation. In other words I need to think rather than panic.
There is really only one rational explanation for the disappearance of my door, and that is that I am not awake, but am in some kind of dream state. If I climb back into bed and settle down, the next time I open my eyes everything will be back to normal. Deciding to leave the window slightly open, I head back to bed and force myself to close my eyes.
I can't sleep; I'm just too wound up. I screw my eyes up tight and listen to the tick, tock of the clock, the drone of engines from the street below. There's a draft from the open window, but even so I find that my skin is beaded with sweat.
I don't know how long passes before I dare to open my eyes again, but it must have been a while for there is a lot less light inside the room. I go to where the door should be, but there is still no sign of it. If I call from the open window maybe someone will hear and come to my rescue.
The window that I had left open is not there. Just like my door, it seems to have vanished. No wonder it seemed so much darker.
Biting my lip to try to stop myself from falling apart, I examine the wall inch by inch. Although the outside ledge is very narrow, the inside window ledges had been wide enough for me to put things on. This ledge has vanished. The book that I have been reading is on the floor against the wall. The marker is still in position, as though I had placed the book where it now lies.
I hadn't done that. I know I hadn't. I'm not going crazy; that window had been there when I went back to bed and now it has gone. I turn quickly back to where the door should be. Something is playing a trick on me and if I can catch it out I'll be able to make a grab for the door and escape.
No door. No window. But the other window is still there.
I fling myself towards it and wrestle with the catch. This one has always been difficult to open, and today it is proving just as hard. While I tug and twist at the catch I notice that the wall is starting to spread across it.
I bang on the window with my fists, trying to attract someone's attention. I'll break the glass! That will stop it. It's got to, because otherwise I'm going to be trapped inside, with no possible way of getting out.
It's not easy to thump glass with your fists with enough force to break it. There's a natural caution that takes over, but my survival instinct is over-riding it now. I thump hard and am rewarded by the sight of a crack in the window pane. Just one more hit should see it broken. Except during the time it takes me to pull my arm back ready to strike again the glass disappears.
My room, my safe place, has become like a mausoleum, and I, still very much alive, am trapped inside.
Claustrophobia envelops me and I fling myself at the walls, hitting, kicking and screaming until I am completely out of breath. It doesn't do me any good. All of the walls are made of concrete or brick and I cannot so much as put a dent in them.
What the hell am I going to do?
I stand there, head in my hands, thoughts frantically racing around inside my mind until I find one possibility to focus on. The floor! It is made of wooden boards. If I pull up the carpet, expose them, maybe I could find a way to prize one up. If I can lift one, then there should be no reason why I could not lift two, and if I kick hard enough with my feet, I should break through the ceiling of the apartment below.
Crawling on my hands and knees I try to find the edge of the carpet. With both of my windows gone it is almost dark inside my room now and I am having to rely more and more on my sense of touch. Perhaps that is why I sense it, something touching the back of my head. A spider? I don't know, but I shake my head anyway, and bang it on something hard.
No! Please, please, no!
Gasping for breath, I lift my arm upwards. As it reaches just above the level of my head it comes to a complete stop. There is some kind of solid barrier above me. Lifting my leg in a backward curl I find that it is there too.
I can't help it. I scream. And I scream and I scream. Even though I know that I am using up precious oxygen I cannot help myself because... unbelievable as it might be, my room is burying me alive.