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Latest Stories

May 19, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jo Carroll

The Curl and Vampire

She was a pretty thing to be sure, the little girl with the curl. Her cheeks were as red as blood and her skin as smooth as porcelain. And yet there was something odd about her clear blue eyes—something empty and soulless. She sat atop her throne of building…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Nicole Robb

New Frontier

Still groggy from her hibernation chamber, Stacey checked the readings once again on the ship's control panel.She had read them right. "Tom! Something's wrong." "What is it?" Tom emerged from the back where he had been checking on the twelve hundred sleeping…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Laura Ellison

Remedy

The smell of death hung heavy and pungent in the air. Sickness touched the skin and covered it in a dewy glow that in any other situation could have been attractive. Castellan held a scented handkerchief over her nose as she walked through the village to the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Dylan Thomas Nichol

Forged in Shadows

Screaming was all that could be heard through the bone chilling halls of the dungeon. This was what the supposedly great nation of Hace really was. An ugly abomination lay underneath the stunning Admor Keep, and Caelin made the long journey through it, his…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Isabel Schwaak

Something Stronger

A thick grey stone wall separated the village of Telly Fenn from the wilderness. A narrow path led the way out of the village and melted into a crossroad, from which a crooked path strayed far into the dark forest. The inhabitants of Telly Fenn were content…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jade De-Terville

A Light Bulb Called Tink

“This is more than just a bloody mid life crisis,” Karen said clutching a tattered red book, until her knuckles started going white. She savagely threw the book onto the chequered dining cloth, and ran her hands through her untamed hair. “Oi, mind the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories April Winters

Area Twenty Four and a Half

I, Jim Roberts, got fired today. I didn’t realize Mr. Kerr, my boss, was standing behind me when I referred to him as Kerr-mitt. He failed to see the humor, and now I have no source of income. Looks like my journalistic aspirations are out the window. I…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jeremy Szal

Crimson Snow

16th Day of Regon, Year 455 of the First Dawn I could feel the cold as we climbed higher, the chill reaching into my bones. The wind whispered across the grassland, flapping my black hair over my face. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories B.J.Neblett

Forever

“Segue the next couple of records with a jingle then go into a stop set. I’m gonna get some air.” Hy Lit flashed his agreeable smile, adjusted his trade mark tinted glasses and winked. “You’re a natural, kid.” Then he disappeared out the studio door. The…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories BJ Neblett

Pockets Full Of Wishes

“Don’t put your hands in the pockets!” Jimmy looked at his sister. It was just a winter coat, a used one. It was all his parents could afford. But it was his. He picked it out. Now he stood proudly before the store mirror admiring the blue denim coat with the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Laura Ellison

Consumed

Arlia knelt down on a silk cushion in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath and centred herself. Gramps always told her to do this, sometimes he jabbed her in the sides with his walking stick if he thought she rushed meditation. In front of her the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Paul Magnan

Scorned

I grasped the rough edges of the tombstone and pulled it from the strands of thick, yellowed grass upon which it lay. I set it in an upright position. The words “Dear Love” were carved along the top of the stone. I had carved those words. For a few seconds…

 

 

Carlo left his office around eight-thiry in the evening. His wife had told him that she'd be late home because of a work dinner, so he stopped off for a pizza at the Chinese takeaway just downstairs from his flat. As soon as he opened the flat door, he smelt a strange odour like something had gone off- not too strong, but annoying. He turned on the lights, put his pizza down on the kitchen table and checked the fridge. Apart from a carton of milk that went off yesterday which didn't smell yet, he couldn't find anything worthy of emitting such a sharp stink. He threw open the windows to let in some fresh air and went into his bedroom to change clothes. He couldn't bear the shirt and tie that he'd had on since this morning any longer, and couldn't wait to chuck on a t-shirt and some track pants.

He was taking his tie off when his gaze fell onto his wife's side of the bed. He noticed that the covers were rumpled, as if someone had been lying on them. He and Giada had made the bed that morning and had left for work together. His wife was obsessed with pulling the sheets so tightly they left not so much as a single crease. Maybe she'd stopped off at home before going out to dinner and had lain down for a moments rest. While he was contemplating this, his mobile rang. It was Giada.

«Hello?»

«Hi, honey! Are you at home?»

«Heya baby. Yeah, I've just got here. I was just about to have pizza. You?»

«We've just got to the restaurant...I don't really feel like this at all. I hope it won't last too long...Will you wait up for me?»

«Depends when you're getting back. I'm bloody tired and I don't know if I can stay up.»

«Well, if you fall asleep maybe I'll try and wake you.» That second, the landline rang.

«Giada, wait a sec, the other phone is ringing.»

Carlo looked around for the cordless -which was never in its place- following the ringing, he found it in the bathroom perched on the basin.

«Hello?”

The voice at the other end made his blood run cold. It sounded like his wife, but trembling and slightly more penetrating. Often, Giada enjoyed playing the part of a little old grandma; or rather a “dopey” old woman, as she used to call it, and the voice on the phone sounded just like that. But what struck him more were her words: “Hellooo looove! Are you at hooome?”

Carlo looked at his cellphone in his other hand. The display showed the current call, “Giada mob – 1 min. and 6 seconds”. He heard his wife shouting in another direction:

«Hang on! I'm coming! Carlo? Carlo? Are you there? I've got to go!»

He quickly answered his mobile.

«Wait a minute Giada. Wait!» He put the house phone back to his ear.

«Hello, who is this? I believe you've got the wrong num...» The trembling voice interrupted him:

«Waaiiit fooor meee. I'm cooming...»

Then, he heard the caller hang up. Picking up his mobile, he quickly tried, «Giada, you still there?»

«Yeah, but not for long. They're calling me. Who was it?»

«No idea. Sounded like an old lady's voice. Like you when you do the voice of a dopey granny.»

«Like thiiiiissss vooooiiice? Loook, I'm nooot seeniiiillle.»

«Yeah, like that. Really similar.»

«Caaaarloooo...»

«Quit it, Giada!»

«Ok. I gotta go now. They're calling me over.»

«Giada?»

«Yeah?»

«Did you come back home today?»

«No. Why?»

«Nothing. Thought not. G'night.»

«Enjoy your pizza! Night.»

«Night. See you later, if you can wake me.»

«I'll manage, I know how!»

Having ended the call he pulled off the bedcovers to fold them and could smell the strange odour once more. He put his nose down to the bed and a dry retch came upon him. The covers stank of rot.

“What the hell happened here?” he thought. He took the cover off and chucked it in the washing machine. Even the sheet had a strange smell, so he decided to change that, too. Finally, he sat down in front of the television with a couple of beers to eat his pizza.

 

He was watching the sports channel on pay TV: one of those channels that manages to talk about football 24 hours a day even if there weren't any matches, when the television suddenly turned itself off. Sometimes the remote got stuck between the couch cushions and some of the buttons got pushed by accident when someone moved, but the remote was right in front of him on the beanbag he used as a foot stool. He reached out to grab the remote when the stereo came on full blast tuned in to a rock station. Carlo's heart skipped a beat or two, and he spilled some beer onto the couch as he jumped.

«What the..?»

He heard 'The Call Of Ktulu' (a Metallica instrumental inspired by Lovecraft) ripping through the air from his surround-sound Dolby speakers. At that volume, the bass made the windows in the living room vibrate. Carlo raced to the off switch. Less than two minutes later, the doorbell rang. Before opening it, he peered through the peephole. It was his neighbour, and he knew straight away that he had come to complain about the noise. Opening the door, Carlo forced a jolly smile onto his face.

«I'm sorry, Mr Pezzetti. The stereo turned on by mistake full blast.»

«By mistake? How can it turn itself on by mistake? You know we're not young anymore and we go to bed early! Put some headphones on, why don't you?»

«I'm really sorry, I said. You’ll be able to get to sleep, I promise”. Carlo shut the door and wiped the smile off his face. “What a pain in the arse!»

By 10, he was already in bed, and he fell asleep straight away. In his dream he relived everything that had just happened: the TV that had turned itself off, the radio that had switched itself on all of a sudden, the doorbell ringing… But when he looked through the peephole in the dream he saw nothing. The light on the landing was off, but he could feel a presence, the voice from the phone.

“IIIIIII've arriiiiived! I'm heeeere for youuu, Caarloo! Caaarlooo!”. In the dream Carlo started screaming.

He woke up in darkness drenched in sweat. The only thing giving off any light in the room was the LED of the alarm clock which read 12:30. His breathing came heavily, and in his mind he could still hear the voice calling his name. He was lying on his side, facing the wall, petrified by the terror of the dream he'd just had. Luckily he could hear his wife behind him. Her arm was wrapped around his chest. He hadn't heard her get into bed. He heard her exhaling somewhere between a snore and a deep breath. He took her hand between his and it felt icy. Giada always had cold hands and feet.

He was about to slip back into sleep when he heard a noise coming from the corridor. Their bedroom was next to the bathroom and had two long, thin windows on the top of the dividing wall. They had these two windows put in to get some light from the bedroom, since the bathroom had no window. From those very windows Carlo saw the bathroom light turning on. He was still in a state of semi-consciousness, having been abruptly woken by the nightmare.

 

“Am I still dreaming?”, Carlo thought. “Perhaps, I'm dreaming of having woken up, but instead I'm still in the middle of my nightmare, and now I'll hear that voice calling me from the bathroom”.  He realised he was shivering. “But, if I'm not dreaming and I'm awake, it means there is someone in the house...I forgot, I left the living room window open! Maybe someone has broken in from there”.

His torpor had almost completely vanished, and he realised he was fully awake.

«Giada, Giada! wake up. There's someone here», he whispered to his wife.

But he could hear her still breathing deeply behind him, her cold hand still lying on his belly. He had to do something. He couldn't lay still anymore. He had to act. In certain situations, one is not able to reason, but acts instinctively.

“Perhaps if they hear me, they'll get scared and run away”, he thought, and then, gathering some courage he shouted: «Who's there? who's in the bathroom?»

When the answer arrived, Carlo fully grasped the difference between fear and terror. To see the bathroom light turning on made him feel fear. Fear of some burglar being in the next room. To hear the reply to his question made him burst into a state of pure terror. A terror of something that he didn't know who or what it was, apart from the fact that it was lying down next to him, holding his hand.

The reply which came from the next room was his wife's:

«Darling! It's me. Sorry, did I wake you?»

That was Giada's voice, without a doubt. She was in the bathroom. Who was lying next to him, then? The bathroom windows let some light into the bedroom. The heavy breathing had not ceased, and Carlo could not free his hands from the grip of the gelid hand. He slowly started to turn around, and as he was doing so, he recalled in his mind the voice he had heard on the phone: “Waiiit. I'm coooomiiing”, and the voice he had heard in the nightmare just a moment ago: “IIIIIII've arriiiiived! I'm heeeere for youuu, Caarloo! Caaarlooo!”

Suddenly, he understood. That voice was not the same as his wife's mimic of an old woman. It was like the voice of an old woman who was trying to mimic his wife's.

Time seemed to have stopped. It seemed to him to take an eternity to turn around. He recognised that rotten smell he had smelt when he first came home. The deep breathing behind him stopped, so did his heart, when he heard that voice next to him whispering his name:  ”Caarloooo... Caaarloooo! I'm here for youuu...”

Even before seeing her face, he knew who was in his bed: the oldest woman in the world, The Crone. She has been given different names by different cultures around the world: Morta, Yama, Enma, Thanatos, Giltinè, Memitim, Azrael, but for us she has always been the woman whose takes living beings to the Kingdom of the Dead.

Giada was brushing her teeth, when she heard a dreadful scream coming from the bedroom. Her hair stood on end. She never heard Carlo scream like that. She had never heard anyone scream like that.  She ran to the bedroom, and when she entered, she saw her husband lying on the bed, immobile, towards the middle, with an expression of sheer terror on his face that she would never forget. His eyes were wide open, fixed on her pillow. One hand was stretched, as if he was trying to push something or someone away.

She started crying; then called an ambulance, but she already knew there was nothing they could do.

Heart attack, the doctors said.

Giada could never explain two things: her side of the bed was creased, as if someone had slept there.

And Carlo's hair was completely white.

 

Bio: Aaron Scott, the pen name of Attilio Abbiezzi, was born in Milan in 1971. Educated in economics and business, he has always been an enthusiastic reader of horror books. In his free time, he delights in writing short stories in this genre.

"Dark Legends" (originally “Racconti Oscuri”), published in Italy in 2012 by Runde Taarn, is his first collection of short stories. A short film based on the story “La Vincitrice” (The Winner), produced by Argumental Productions and directed by Alessandro Concas, received a special mention for best actress (Sabrina Bissirri) at Dino De Laurentiis’ CortoDino Festival in 2012.

 

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