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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2186621
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2186621
A budding author struggles to write an ending for his book
The scent of cheap coffee wafted through the messy apartment, perking up the man seated before an outdated laptop. After pouring a cup, Ray returned to the glowing screen with an exasperated look. Whatever virus or malfunction the clunky computer suffered from; it had a habit of not saving his work or deleting sections by itself.

But today, something new happened.

Ray squinted at the screen with growing suspicion. He was careful to back up any edits to the cloud, but he didn’t remember making an additional copy. On the home screen, a second document had appeared beside the first draft. It was possible he created a new file instead of overwriting the current one.

Taking a sip, the bitter liquid slowly eased the fog from his mind. “Let’s see what I have to fix today,” Ray muttered as he clicked on the icon.

A whirring sound came from the ancient laptop. Sighing, Ray sat back and held the warm mug while he waited for the sluggish machine to process his request. It was time to buy a new one. If only he could afford investing in a sleek tablet with a wireless keyboard…

Ray dreamed of what he would do once his new book was published. The previous novel he wrote received a lukewarm reception, yet was praised for having some unique ideas. He recalled the words of an esteemed critic: The Book of Shadows is a modest attempt from a promising new author, but unfortunately falls into the same tropes that plague much of the horror genre. One can only hope his next work will have more three-dimensional characters.

“I’ll show you all the dimensions,” Ray grumbled over the steaming mug. The novel he was currently working on was a collection of thirteen scary stories, each with a memorable protagonist. He’d spent hours crafting life-like personas, spending every bit of his free time scribbling notes and doing exhaustive research.

If only the damn thing would load.

Ray was so close to completing his manuscript, it just needed one more story. The online writing community was extremely helpful, constantly sparking ideas with creative prompts.

But when he started making edits to his existing stories, the dreaded blank wall appeared. Writer’s Block reared its ugly head, sapping the once endless well of imagination.

“Thank God for the wonders of alcohol,” Ray chuckled as he poured some Southern Comfort into the warm cup. The liquor removed the fear holding him back, loosening tension and granting the courage to type without second guessing. Just when the soothing buzz took hold, the document finally opened on the dingy screen.

‘LIBRARY OF NIGHTMARES’ the title proclaimed in a spidery font. Ray scrolled down and skimmed through the first story, eyes narrowing as he searched for any discrepancies.

This tale was about a horrible medical condition, tumors that grew body parts with no logic or reason. Nothing seemed to have changed here; the unfortunate protagonist discovered that he was doomed to a horrible existence.

Ray smirked to himself at the ending.

It was delightfully wicked, both gruesome and hauntingly sad. He had a penchant for somber conclusions; a fault of his pessimistic outlook on life. Or perhaps Ray just secretly enjoyed torturing his characters.

The next chapter was about a world ruled by vampires. A corporation managed the remnants of humanity, rationing their blood to ensure demand would not exceed the supply. This was a problem for the undead who couldn’t afford to feed, consumed by thirst they morphed into a primal bat-like creature that would attack anything that moved.

Ray blinked as he read something strange. It appeared that this story had a different ending: Unable to bear his un-life, the newly turned vampire chose to break curfew and greet the rising sun.

The final paragraph had a curious tone. Bittersweet and oddly peaceful, the conclusion stood in stark contrast to the bleak tone preceding it.

Grimacing, Ray deleted the text and modified the entry to its original finale. Now the vampire was forced to suffer an eternity of torment from his cruel master. That was far more satisfying.

He really had to stop drinking to excess; he could scarcely recall making these additions. More and more he found himself re-writing entire paragraphs that were fine the night before.

The next story was about a couple spending a weekend in a remote cabin. Things go south when a wendigo attacks the lovers in a blinding snow storm. Ray grinned as he remembered how this one wrapped up; the girlfriend got infected by the creature and ate the poor man’s heart.

His smile faded and became a frown. What the hell was going on? Like the previous chapter, this one had some alterations as well.

Instead of succumbing to his darling, the main character opted to fight off the monsters and flee the cabin. Ray’s expression became incredulous as he read an entirely new sequence where the boyfriend drove into the blizzard and got stuck in the snow. Discarding the vehicle, he managed to make it to town on foot and escaped being eaten alive.

“What the fuck is this?” Ray snarled, furious his nihilistic work was tainted with a happy ending. Somebody must be messing him. It didn’t make any sense though, who would gain anything from changing these stories?

Rapidly glancing at the following pages revealed that every chapter had something new added. When Ray reached the final story, a cold shiver of dread ran down his neck.

This one was about him.

Taking a sip, the bitter liquid slowly eased the fog from his mind. “Let’s see what I have to fix today,” Ray muttered as he clicked on the icon.

Everything Ray did moments before was meticulously narrated on the smudged screen. There was a lump he couldn’t swallow, a horrible twisting knot that snaked into his stomach. He didn’t want to read any more, but horrified fascination drove him on.

He had a penchant for somber conclusions; a fault of his pessimistic outlook on life. Or perhaps Ray just secretly enjoyed torturing his characters.

Pessimistic…? This had to be a prank, written by one of his friends. Who else would add those snide remarks? And he didn’t take some sort of twisted pleasure in murdering his creations… did he?

Reaching the part where he discovered the final story, Ray continued to find a bizarre loop. Excerpts began to repeat themselves, until the words became lines of gibberish. The word processer froze and then the computer began to whir loudly until the inevitable blue screen of death appeared.

Ray rubbed his face as the laptop rebooted. This was just a peculiar dream. Or perhaps he was hallucinating from being cooped up in the apartment for months.

There was a faint whine as the machine shut down. Nothing happened when he pressed the power button. It was good and dead.

Pouring more whiskey in his coffee, Ray sighed and toasted the once faithful laptop. “You served me well, old friend.” He took a gulp of the burning liquid and stared at his reflection.

The filthy screen was covered in fingerprints. Some even looked like faces.

Blinking, he leaned forward and peered at the shapes. They shifted slightly. One turned to look at him with dozens of eyes.

Yelping, Ray slammed the laptop shut. He shuddered and took another drink. It was time to get out of this dingy place; maybe some fresh air would calm his nerves.

A hand grasped his shoulder. Ray slowly looked down at it. A tooth sprouted from a bloody knuckle, while a malformed eye grew beside a hairy thumb.

They started to surround him, people striding from behind his chair. Ray knew every face. He created each of them.

A Frenchman finished chewing on Ray’s cellphone, wiping his lips. Next to him, a decorated military official stood with crossed arms. He was nodding as a smartly dressed woman whispered in his ear. “No Delphinia, that’s too good for him.” Major Anderson grunted and gestured to the mad scientist.

The researcher nodded with a grin and helped Cassius out of his straitjacket.

“What… is this?” Ray asked. The shock of seeing his characters come to life put him in a daze.

“Oh, just giving you a proper ending.” Santa Claus chuckled, his stomach quivering like a bowl full of jelly. Frema’s father spat at his creator as the straitjacket slipped over the disoriented man. “You didn’t even bother giving me a name.” He snarled, eyes glittering below his fur hat.

"But you aren't real... Just figments of my imagination!" Ray exclaimed as the bindings tightened, denying what his eyes saw.

Everyone laughed at this.

Marlow wiped tears of mirth away as he answered. "You made us, but we are all part of you. All those nights of drinking, pouring your soul into words? This is the result."

An assassin spoke up, toying with a knife thoughtfully. "We aren't happy with how you treated us. Most of us agree that we deserve better."

Ray turned away as a horrible creature stepped before him. It was a unrecognizable lump of flesh, vaguely human in appearance. Eyes glared from every surface, mouths gnashing teeth, noses flaring.

"Look what you've done to me!" It howled with hundreds of voices, forming a harmony of agony.

"I'm sorry..." Ray whimpered, refusing to meet the accusing stare.

Another voice spoke. "Not yet, but you will be." Ray's eyes widened as recognition set in. "YOU?! But- but I didn't even write your story yet!"

The speaker smiled unpleasantly. "No, but I wrote yours. How shall we end this?" It directed the question at the small crowd.

"Peel his skin off," The assassin suggested. "Destroy his body from the inside," Moaned the fleshy creature. "Let the Delvers feast on his entrails." Marlow grinned.

"Interesting," The entity mused. "But I have something a little more... creative in mind."

Ray jumped as the computer flashed on and began to write with incredible speed. Pages spun around the room, slicing his skin with a thousand cuts. Ink poured from the wounds, dripping onto the floor while the crowd witnessed his grand finale with glee.

The tornado of paper intensified until he was lost in the white maelstrom. He could feel himself being shredded into tiny bits. Ray shrieked as his fingers were struck off by a razor edge. Cheeks split open, ears fell into pieces. The howling cries were silenced once his vocal cords were severed. All he could see was a white expanse, carving up what remained of himself.

And then, it stopped.

Ink splattered pages began to drift to the floor, piling neatly in a stack. Ray had vanished, leaving only a few black stains.

The entity picked up the new manuscript and smiled. "I think we have a best-seller on our hands."
© Copyright 2019 Ray Scrivener (rig0rm0rtis at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2186621