Sunday, October 23, 2011

THE FOG IS ALIVE by L.J. Holmes

THE FOG IS ALIVE
by
L.J. Holmes

The sun had long since dipped beneath the horizon. Swirls of fog from the low lying clouds masked the events taking place just beyond one's hearing. Someone, Krista L., said something about the graveyard springing to life tonight. With the fog obscuring everything, she'd be mightily worried if her sense of smell wasn't so highly tuned. Decaying ghouls stink, right?

Off in the distance, which direction, she could not be sure, a wail echoed off the damp wall of undulating mist. Her hackles rose proportionately, along with her fear level. She'd meant to be home long before night overtook day, but work got in the way. Work, she snorted. Work always got in the way. She needed a vacation, a month long vacation sounded about right.

Slowly she inched her way forward. What good did it do to have perfect vision in a rolling fog? If she stretched out her hand, she could scarcely see her own fingertips. Seeing what might be awaiting her around the next bend? Not happening. In spite of herself, she shivered, then scolded her shakes.

"Get a grip," she said, letting the sound of her voice beat back the ghostly images her fanciful mind brought to life. "There's nothing out there. The wail is probably the call of a boat's funnel launching from the nearby harbor."

Certain she'd solved the mystery of the ghoulish howl, she moved on.

She turned right at what she was sure placed her on Marrowborrow Lane. It had to be Marrowborrow Lane. If she'd gotten herself turned around in the fog, the only other way to go led to the cemetery...the same cemetery everyone said would come alive tonight.

She didn't really know what that might mean. Cemeteries are filled with dead carcasses turning to the dust they speak of when they say "Dust to dust." Dust cannot take form and live. It just can't!

Given all the ridiculous things science gets grant money to study, she felt certain someone would have investigated the remote possibility of skeletal dust rising to walk again. Since she'd never heard about such a finding, nor come across it in any of her voracious readings, she didn't think the cemetery could really rise.

A deep, guttural moan made her jump. As moans went, it was louder than any she'd ever want to hear, but hear it she did, and it seemed to come from right ahead of her.

"Okay!" she once more admonished, "you are making yourself crazy! You have walked this way every day for the past three years. Tonight is no different. Cemeteries don't waken, and fog diffuses all sound. The moan is probably the squeal of some foraging mouse way in the distance scattering on the multi-droplets from the fog-curtain!"

That made sense...a lot of sense.

Lifting her wrist she checked her glow-in-the-dark wristwatch. Twenty-five minutes since she'd left work. It seemed longer. She hated foggy nights. They didn't quite make her skin crawl...no, not true. The do make her skin crawl. Whether from all the drops of moisture clinging to her as she plodded on, she never quite felt sure. What she did know with unquestioned clarity, she longed to be home, soaking in a tub of hot, non-dew like water.

She jumped clear out of her skin and did a one-eighty. Behind her, too close for comfort a screech wrenched a matching squeal from her wobbly vocal cords.

"Who's there?" she demanded.

No one answered.

"Who's there? Go away. I've got a knife," she lied through her chattering teeth, shakily diving into her purse for her metal nail file. Where is it? her mind screamed, her heart thundered, and her blood turned cold.

Her fingers scrabbled for what seemed like forever. No file, but there, in the little pocket, she found her cell phone. Yeah, like that would so not help.

Approaching footfalls.

Did she really hear approaching footfalls? "I don't have any money," she yelped.

No response, but she could swear she heard heavy, bone chilling breathing.

Time to run! Turning, she pumped her legs and ran like all the demons from hell were upon her. Darting this way and that, she had no idea where she headed, just wanted to find somewhere with people.

People?

People? Shouldn't she have heard people all along? Oh God, had whatever now chasing her already eaten all the people?

'Oh yeah, I've so lost it. Eating all the people...indeed? What kind of a creature could do that?'

She frowned in mid pump...one she so did not want to meet.

Home home, there's no place like home.

The litany made her almost laugh. She'd become Dorothy and the fog the Wizard of Oz? Oh where oh where has my Glinda gone? Oh where oh where can she be?

"Geeze! Come on, Stace. Get a grip!" she wailed, repeating her earlier command.

But dammit, she needed a good witch. Correction, any witch with zapping power, like zapping all the fog away.

A mirage.

The fog density lightened for the briefest of seconds, and hallelujah! Her apartment...if she ran like the hounds of hell were on her heels in a straight line, she'd reach her front steps in no time.

Pouring on the steam, she lifted her arms like a fleshy metronome, keeping time with the pound of her feet. Unhitching her keys from her purse handle, she inserted it with almost pinpoint accuracy into the keyhole, twisted it at the same time she turned the knob, bustled inside, slamming the door behind her. Leaning back she gave one huge sigh of relief.

Home.

She'd reached it and safely. Just beginning to enjoy her glory, she jumped like a cat prodded by a taser when the sound of the knocking on that same door was hard enough to make it rattle behind her.

Leaping away and spinning around she glared at it, expecting horns and a forked tail to suddenly appear before her eyes.

The ghoulies from the cemetery followed her home! Hide?

The knocking repeated.

"Come on Lady, Open up. We saw you come in. Trick or Treat!"

Her eyes widened and flew to the calendar by her coat rack. October Thirty-first? Halloween?

All the bizarre sounds suddenly made sense. Halloween!

Cracking the door, she peeped out at a sea of tiny gremlins, witches, princesses, and yes ghouls. Just beyond the queue of grinning children, two young mothers, chaperone's, smiled back at her.

Halloween! Krista Lefarge's story in the locker room made sense, evil sense, but sense nonetheless, and tomorrow she was dead meat.

"Give me a second to get your candy," she gushed out on one breath, turned scurried to the kitchen digging out her hidden stash of Snickers. 

By the time she closed the door on the last child, a little elf with the cutest eyes, she locked it, flipped off the hall light, the Snickers being all she had to give the stream of potential Trick and Treaters,and headed back to the kitchen, tossing the empty bag into the trash. Stretching to reach the very top shelf of her cupboards her fingers found and snared her five year old barely touched, bottle of whiskey. 

Twisting it open, she lifted the bottle's lip to her own lips and gulped, glorying in the fire warming a path down her frightened throat into her churning belly.

With the bottle clenched in her hand, she made her way to the bathroom and the shower she desperately needed while plotting Krista's well deserved demise.

Halloween! Bah Humbug!

10 comments:

Wendy said...

lol Lyn,
You had me :) I was so caught up in that fog with Stace, I forgot that this was the month of Halloween. Well Done!

Lin said...

Thank you Wendy. I wrote this so fast I wasn't sure if I did okay or not. Plus Kat wasn't able to check it over, so I just tossed it out here and hoped.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Great story, Lin. I forgot the same thing. Never put the connection together. You had me on the edge of my seat.

gail roughton branan said...

The fog comes on little cat feet.... great job, honey!

N.J.Walters said...

Love the imagery. Great job, Lin!

Karen Cote said...

This exemplifies why you are at Muse dear Lin. Fabulous detail and yes...gripping and surprising. I think you caught your readers off guard darling.

Great job. Love you.

Pat McDermott said...

Wonderfully entertaining story for a dreary New Hampshire afternoon, Lin!

BarbaraB said...

Hi Lin,
Thanks for the reminder to get some bags of candy before next weekend.

lionmother said...

I loved the line, "In spite of herself she shivered, then scolded her shakes." I was there with Stacie all the way and had no idea who might be following her. Great writing and you got me really scared.

Kaye Manro said...

Great Halloween story, Lin! It has that scare tactics quality for sure!

(Sorry Kat isn't feeling well-- she is amazing with all the writing she does-- I admire her so much and hope she feels better soon.)
Kaye