by Blizzy Fox
Horror Short Story (Five Chapters; 10k words)
Jacob stood unflinchingly in the middle of an empty street, head raised in the blistering cold, fist clenched. His eyes were fixed on the colossal brown wooden door barring him from the patient host, who skulked inside what was ostensibly a derelict house. His feet sank deeper into the snow, touching the slick asphalt, his body teetering in the chill wind. For a fleeting second, Jacob was mesmerized by the silence, transfixed by the stark colors in a world of immaculate white. The strings that tethered this stricken body to the puppeteer were pulled terse, and the transient thoughts that coursed through his turbulent mind were no more than his final will, his dying wish.
It was a scene he saw a long time ago, the cursed memories of which had since been the progenitor of innumerable nightmares, not to mention a multitude of sleepless nights. To live in such constant agony, and to be hemmed in by the unwavering fears of a stricken past, had taken a great toll on both his corporeal body and his mental state. Such attrition had its silver lining, however, for all he could feel at that very moment was indifference. He was face to face with what he had been exposed to for so long, and his consternation was all but subdued. No living soul, if cursed with the secrets Jacob was privy to, could stay sane upon this lurid sight.
Houses lined both sides of the street. He stood before one that was no different from the rest, flaunting its fancy gothic design as it huddled tightly in the frigid cold, tucked away in the quietude of the forlorn expanse. There was a dearth of human warmth in the surroundings. After all, this was the place shunned from human civilization, eschewed by the bustling prosperity of the northern cities. The dilapidated town was a far cry from the busy metropolis he knew from his childhood. On his way to his destination, he could recognize a few vague features of his former hometown from the harrowing sights; they did not invoke any sense of familiarity, nor a tinge of nostalgia, but rather the wistful melancholy of a shattered visage.
His final destination nestled submissively before his very eyes. The toils and travails that brought him here were irrelevant, for he was only moments away from realizing the stuff of dreams. Finally, he could take solace in the peace, where all his yearning comes to rest. Finally, he could patch up the holes of his past, to speak to her, and to join the ranks of his people. Finally, he could return home, to put a line to all those conflicting thoughts and mixed emotions that crushed his soul.
Jacob took a deep breath and walked up the stately stairs. The contours of the house were writhing and squirming, its walls melting and cracks melding. It was resplendent. The unassuming edifice slowly aligned itself to the images he envisioned in his wildest reveries, a colossal brute with flashing teeth and flying claws, eager to break away from its foundation and lash towards him with its mesomorphic build of ancient concrete. They were the old horrors that haunted him, and yet in such pristine beauty it presented itself, in such glamorous tangible form it was manifested, he was slowly infatuated. The affability of the host defied his expectations. He was eager to go, knowing full well that he was helplessly ensnared, at the mercy of his very own nightmares.
Jacob fell deeper into the maelstrom of ethereal images. The warmth that effused through the door cracks took the load off his haggard legs, along with his doubts and reluctance. His body was an empty shell housing only scant memories of the detour that he took – ten years’ worth of life. Flashbacks played in his head, reminding him of the good days, now a lifetime away.
The door opened its gaping mouth, unleashing the all-encompassing darkness that roiled in its bowels. He could see the caricature of a familiar figure, the sight of which was chiefly carried away by the torrents of time, the rest he actively strived to forget. There she stood in the waiting. She did not age at all, her splendid beauty still breathtaking to behold. It was like the ten years never happened. His affections endured through time, along with the scanty vestiges of their time together, soon to engender more in the future.
His eyes welled up. He spoke her name as he strained to curb his emotions.
The words stroked his tongue and caressed his lips. He whispered them when he left his apartment. He whispered them when he drove down south. He whispered them when he entered the town. As the labored breathing subsided, the echoes of which traveled the length of the barren landscape, raising somnolent spirits from the snow, calling slumbering sentinels to their feet; still it articulated the word, loud and clear, as if there was an enduring quality, a timeless beauty that touches the callous heart and conquers death itself. It was the mark of a man, his destiny, his last words, manifested in the form of a most euphonious melody.
The door closed upon itself, restoring tranquility to the terrene town. The nightmare that accosted him for a decade kissed him on his cheeks, confessing of her love.