[CCHWC] Oh, For Someone To Play With

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posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 06:51 PM
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Isabel probably spent far too much time alone, especially for someone who, to put it kindly, was rather sensitive.

Of all the people to live isolated in a large country house she was probably the least suited.

The problem wasn't entirely the house, although it loomed large at the top of a steep hill and the windows held a sort of ‘promise’. Isabel guessed that the larger part of her problem lurked in the deeper recesses of her mind - aided and abetted by her persistent, attention-seeking dog. Caught between him and her own uneasiness she felt her grip on her sanity being slowly prised away.

She had gone over the house many times, looking for signs of a haunting, but the house always came up clean. Although she suspected that it was a sort of guilty innocence. That dark corner only housed a spider, that creeping black thing seen out of the corner of her eye would inevitably be just her own shadow. And yet, she always felt that there must be something else.

The months of being alone had seen her befriending the strangest of creatures. The damp, cold kitchen was a regular haunt for large slugs who shrivelled when she came near to them. Gently she'd pick them up intending to put them outside where they could find some leaves to eat. Shyly, the slugs would unshrivel, first one little horn popping out, then the other. She started to look forward to this, sometimes her only contact with another living creature besides the highly strung mutt. She'd got into the habit of saying 'Hello' to the slugs and wishing them well as they feasted on the plants in her overgrown and unkempt garden.

This would all happen in the early hours of the morning when it was dark outside. Sometimes there'd be a full moon hiding behind the clouds, sometimes only starlight. It never occurred to Isabel that the sight of her hooded form lurching around in the garden might scare the living daylights out of unwary neighbours happening to look out of their bedroom windows at the inopportune moment..

The garden’s ever-present shadows hid creatures within their depths. Creatures that Isabel knew only too well: rats, probably waiting in hope of a little more supper, who rustled in the undergrowth keeping out of the way of the many owls and foxes who hooted and yipped and drove the dog to distraction.

Many a time, on a dark and lonely evening the dog would rouse himself from his prized position on the battered sofa and sniff the air. Then run about excitedly scaring Isabel half to death. Much as she told herself that he had been disturbed by an animal out in the garden or perhaps a spider scuttling under the sofa, she couldn’t always ignore the fact that sometimes he seemed to be looking just past her. Making those little motions that he always made when he wanted to play.

She had her nerves jangled during the day too, when he would be on look out duty, snug on the large window sill. The last time he had nearly given her a heart attack Isabel had caught what it was that he was barking at. A large black rook swooping down into the garden and its mate hopping along the path. How hideous they looked, flapping about there among the dead and withered leaves, then disappearing into the Autumn mists.

*

If there was anything that Isabel prized above all else it was peace and quiet. Her nerves weren't up to coping with the rowdy modern world. Tucked away in the country she was peacefully and quietly slipping into her inner world where eventually she hoped to remain forever.

Often there were odd noises in the house that Isabel tried to interpret in as rational a way as possible. But still, they were there. Made all the more noticeable against the calm and quiet of the rural surroundings.

How they disturbed her. One night, when she had retired late as usual due to her chronic insomnia, just on the edge of sleep she heard it - a rustling sound. Coming from inside the mattress. She froze and listened until she heard it again. Sure enough, an unmistakable rustle coming from underneath her. She was too tired to investigate, telling herself it was probably only a rat as she tried to sleep. Trying not to think of what might be living in the foundations of her four-poster bed. It was bad enough that the spiders used to hide up in the corners where the posts joined the beams but what could have lived underneath in the hollow base was something she didn't like to dwell on.

She remembered back to a time when she lived in the city. Stupid enough to break her rule one night and drop off to sleep with her arm flung over the side of the bed. Something had squeezed her hand. And another night she had woken up to find an old lady standing beside the bed. Now here she was, all alone and with things rustling in the mattress. Well, she hoped they were living furry things and not spooky or invisible things. She was lucky to be so tired and managed to drift off to sleep hoping nothing would escape.

How she hated that summer bedroom. It had fitted cupboards on two walls with doors that she had to remember to keep closed. She couldn't sleep in a room with open cupboard doors, fearing what might creep out of them. One terrible night she had come into the darkened room and noticed a door that was slightly ajar and had gone to close it. As she grasped its edge to push it into place she was sure she had felt a bony arm in its place. Just as she had persuaded herself that really it was only the edge of the door, she heard a frantic scurrying coming from the attic. Or was it under the floorboards or the eaves where she kept her most potent spell books? Or did the ‘thing’ in the cupboard have pets?

Too much - it was probably just the rats again, but why was their timing always just so to frighten her?

And it wasn’t only the rats who conspired to push her over the edge.

One dark winter morning in her winter bedroom - the one with the warm comforting stove - she’d been woken by the noise of scratching as something trapped inside the stove tried to rescue itself. She'd lain in bed listening to the frantic tap, tap, tapping. What courage it took to investigate. How relieved she was to find it was only a bird who had fallen down the chimney.

Later, in the springtime, when she was still sleeping there she had gone to bed late again. At nearly five o' clock in the morning as she was dropping off to sleep, she heard an awful groaning and moaning. She'd slowly opened her eyes and noticed the daylight streaming through the _ The night creatures couldn't get her now, it was morning. If they launched an attack, it would be cheating. Holding the thought she'd slept for a few hours before facing the day.

How interesting it was for her later on, when she'd been playing fetch with the dog in the garden and heard the same baleful noises - coming from the field down the road where a bull was calling to a herd of cows. She laughed then, trying to forget how she'd gone to sleep thinking that creatures from Hell had been lurking outside of her bedroom door.

She’d finally given up on the winter bedroom after waking up one morning to feel a presence on the bed. Opening an eye she was rewarded by the sight of a large and spectacularly malicious spider vaulting towards her on its hideous knobbly legs, only inches away from her face. How much bolder the downstairs spiders were.

And how grateful the dog was to find her rising early that day. No dozing through the morning for him, longing for the time she’d take him to the forest where he could play.

Oh yes, the forest. Where Isabel often found small, dead animals. Sadly, she’d bury them under a pile of leaves and wish them well on their journey into the next world. In her black clothes, she always looked ready for a funeral. She’d judged her look to be precisely that of a modern Goth crossed with a Medieval angel. Seeing her walking about, long red hair and long black clothes whisked about her by the wind, the neighbours thought of something more along the lines of a Medieval gargoyle.

*

Having company didn't always work in Isabel’s favour either. Kindly, she'd invited a sick friend to stay with her, thinking that convalescence in the country would do him good.

It probably did, but it did nothing to help her. She had a habit of looking in on him when he was sleeping to make sure he was still breathing and didn't need anything fetched. She didn't have to go the entire way into the room. She could stand in the doorway with the light from the hall behind her and watch her sleeping friend.

Until the night she opened the door to see the Grim Reaper hovering beside his bed. Heart in her mouth she entered the room, prepared to plead for his life. Closer shewent, feeling terribly brave. Only to find that the cretinous guest had hung his black clothes on a hook beside the bed in such a way as they formed the shape of Death himself. Even the way he had positioned his belt made it look as if it was the lower part of the handle of the scythe.

Not surprisingly, Isabel started to appreciate her own company even more having found what a liability a friend could be. She didn’t realize that he had left her home grateful to no longer have the worry of waking to find her lurking in his doorway, a terrible sight for a drowsy man with heart problems.

*

Loneliness crept up on her more efficiently than any of her night-creatures or small guests could hope to do. She started to notice her reflection in the mirror, hoping to see a friendly face. Except, she never smiled. Always the cold, pale face would stare back at her devoid of any expression.

She tried smiling, just from the eyes. She'd have felt stupid grinning at herself. And so her eyes shone, but looked more manic than friendly.

Still she hoped - after all her reflection was she herself. It would know how she felt, supposing, oh just supposing that one day it would smile back all by itself. Maybe reflecting a warmth that she found so hard to discover in herself.

Now Isabel was one of those people who were actually afraid to look at their reflection in the dark. She was also very frugal and would walk around the house at night with only the dim hall light on to prevent her from tripping and breaking her neck. She would pass the large mirror in the hall without looking. She'd go into the bathroom to wash her hands, keeping her head down to avoid seeing herself staring back from the bathroom mirrors in the dark.

Gradually though, she started to look. Fleeting little glances, fearing what she'd see. It had started in the winter bedroom. There were two huge mirrors in there and she'd been able to see herself in the firelight during the winter. True to form, she wouldn't waste electricity by switching on the light when there was a warm glow coming from the fire.

She started to get comfortable with her reflection. She noticed how her dark eye-shadow gave her eyes a sunken look. Her red hair, which she rarely combed, would hang limply at either side of her face. She had a slight stoop due to back-ache and one leg being noticeably shorter than the other. She'd see that pale-faced creature staring back at her from the mirror and try to smile again with her eyes.

An uncomfortable intimacy started to form between her and her reflection. She started to look forward to walking along the hall and having someone else besides the odd slug or spider to greet.

Slowly, she became aware of what an eerie presence she had. She noticed the air of gloom and decay that clung to her. She began to understand why so many people had been ill at ease in her presence. The thought started to amuse her and now she'd look at herself and laugh.

Her in her big spooky house with spiders and slugs for company, with rats running over the roof and small birds falling down her chimney. Not to mention the rooks frequenting the garden and the bats flitting about at dusk.

How it amused her that her life had become a horror-writer's cliche. She'd even had things that went bump in the night.

*

She would often recall the time when, just as she was dropping off to sleep, she'd heard two loud thuds downstairs. Gathering all her courage she'd gone to investigate, hoping to find that the dog was up and about. No, he wasn't. He was still tucked up on the sofa where she'd left him. She never did find out what had caused the two bumps.

Even using her computer, a modern activity that should have been safe, was fraught with disturbances.

More than once she'd had a spider descend from the ceiling right in front of her face, dangling from its thread and then creeping away over her desk before she had time to gather herself and catch it.

Sometimes, as she was writing the bright screen would attract flies. They'd sit there presumably enjoying the warmth then move about making a nuisance of themselves as only flies can. Why did they have to be the same shape as her cursor? Seeing them whiz across the screen made her fear that her computer was going mad, too.

And sometimes, when the computer was off and she approached it to start it up she'd see her reflection. Looming up on the dark screen, stooped as usual and utterly deadpan.

She started to wonder if she had been a warmer and friendlier person, maybe she would have had more of a rapport with her reflection by now. How unfortunate that she couldn't 'do' warm and friendly.

She did her best with cold and indifferent.

*

And so it went for many months. Isabel getting more and more nervous as the dog found more and more things to bark at and became more and more intent on watching, almost expectantly, just over her shoulder. The dark, dank old house creaked and groaned in the quiet of the night. Even the fridge made a noise outside of her normal experience with fridges. A low grumbling sound that used to make her wonder if it was her tummy telling her it was hungry.

How frightened she became. However mundane the events of her life, however the noises could be put down to small creatures, still she feared the presence she was sure must be attracting or creating these experiences.

That presence would be in her own mind, she told herself. Over and over until she believed it.

Which was a sad mistake. One evening, as she passed the large mirror in the hall, she stopped to nod at her reflection. Only to see it looking back at her with a horrified expression on its face. She peered closer and noticed it was screaming. With great trepidation she looked around to see what it was screaming at. What she saw was the last thing she would ever see. As she fell, her reflection sank down with her, a tear escaping from the one good eye that was left to reflect.

The dog, ever the opportunist, came scampering out, tail wagging, to meet his new best friend who had finally found a ball for him to play with. A beautiful white orb with a strangely sad green iris.




posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 07:36 PM
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This is a fantastic story. I was with it all the way, and adored it. Felt her loneliness, her anxiety, apprehension, and her intelligence. I wish I knew why she died.

This is a great entry, and I hope you do well in the contest!



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 07:48 PM
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reply to post by ladyinwaiting
 


Thank you. I was going end the story with the the 'thing' she'd felt in the house just 'getting' her. But then that last thought of the 'thing' needing a toy for the dog came to mind.

Possibly because my little mutt had slid off the sofa and shook himself as I was halfway through writing the paragraph describing Isabel's demise. His ears made a heck of a noise flapping about - I nearly went through the ceiling


[edit on 12-10-2009 by berenike]



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 08:10 PM
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Sounds very familiar. Sounds coming out from the inside of furniture were very frequent in my last house. I can very much identify with this character.
I wonder if she has a BF.



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 08:19 PM
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reply to post by DayKnightmare
 


All the things I've described in this story have actually happened to me, with the exception of making friends with my reflection, having my eyeball ripped out and the dog watching a 'thing'.


I've tried to think what could have made me hear rustlings coming from inside my mattress and the only explanation I have is the possibility of birds pecking for insects between the tiles on a low roof underneath my bedroom _ It was the early hours of the morning, so they would have been up and about. Possibly, in my very tired state I mistook their scratching about for rustling.

And I really did hope it was just a rat or a mouse



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 08:33 PM
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reply to post by berenike
 


I like the ending the way it is. How about this? I read your story, then went to eat. As I was finishing up, I thought "oh my God, she was dead all along, she was dead all along and I missed it". lol. So I just came back to re-read to make sure I had not made a mistake.

See? Pretty good when you can effect somebody like that!



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 09:16 PM
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Excellent story! I only wish I could have seen what the dog saw!



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 09:20 PM
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reply to post by ladyinwaiting
 


No, she wasn't dead all along, but as this year's Hallowe'en stories have to have a monster of some sort in them, I hoped to make the reader suspect that she might be it until the real monster was revealed at the end.

I exaggerated a few of my own characteristics and sent myself up a bit to try and make Isabel sort of sinister, but unaware of how disturbing she was to other people.



posted on Oct, 12 2009 @ 09:26 PM
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reply to post by Cameoii
 


Thank you. As to what the dog saw - since he was based on my cherished little darling (note sarcasm as he's anybody's if they'll play with him) I think we can be assured that he saw nothing but the 'ball' at the end.


And prior to that, just another 'victim' with nothing better to do than play fetch with him.

[edit on 12-10-2009 by berenike]



posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 08:51 AM
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reply to post by berenike
 


Great story berenike. I like how you can describe a dog's musings so easily. The main character's descent into madness was described extremely well too. Whether it was just the house or her imagination. Or something as mundane as a fly. All leading up to the realization of her worst fears. Awesome.



posted on Oct, 13 2009 @ 08:56 AM
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Originally posted by jackflap

Great story berenike. I like how you can describe a dog's musings so easily.


Yes, my dog's a strange little muse (pun intended)


Thank you for your comments, very much appreciated.



posted on Oct, 14 2009 @ 10:02 PM
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Creepy story berenike! It certainly held my attention all the way through. Very descriptive and I like the way you ended it with the dog having a new "toy".



posted on Oct, 15 2009 @ 02:35 PM
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reply to post by elaine
 


Thank you. The house can get a little creepy, it gave me the ammunition for my story.

I was speaking to someone a few days ago (after I'd posted my story) who knew or knew of previous occupants. I mentioned the odd noises here and how one evening I thought I'd heard a couple of footsteps overhead.

'Oh' he said 'that would be Angelica'. I looked him right in the eye and said 'You're kidding, right?'

From the look on his face it was obvious that he wasn't. Obvious, too, that he wished he'd never told me


Apparently she was a Dutch lady who lived here with her husband 20 or 30 years ago.



posted on Oct, 17 2009 @ 10:59 PM
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reply to post by berenike
 


The two words that stuck with me were, "guilty innocence."

Nice story.



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 12:08 PM
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Really great.

What I take away from this story, more than anything else, is a vivid (and I would bet, quite accurate) portrayal of a poor lonely soul slowly going insane from isolation. I am sure that was your intention, and it hit one of my nerves. I think we have all been there, at one time or another.

Your imagery is quite unique and darkly beautiful.



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 12:08 PM
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Sorry. Double post. (I think I need a new mouse for my computer.)


[edit on 18-10-2009 by Axial Leader]



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 06:46 PM
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mikerussellus and Axial Leader

Thank you both very much for your comments.

I hit few of my own nerves when I wrote the story. I spent over a month alone with just my dog for company this summer.

I tried not to be too much of a girl about it, but some of the noises in the house were driving me nuts.

Most of them could be easily explained, but there were the odd one or two......



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 06:24 PM
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The dog, ever the opportunist, came scampering out, tail wagging, to meet his new best friend who had finally found a ball for him to play with. A beautiful white orb with a strangely sad green iris.


You are such a dog lover!!!
I loved that last line



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 07:36 PM
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reply to post by zazzafrazz
 


Hi Zazz,

My dog will play with anyone. I could just see him doing what I described.

Anyone who visits gets a toy dropped at their feet and he stands and looks at them, all bright eyes and anticipation. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to throw it for him


Here he is looking out of the window waiting for something to bark at:



[edit on 19-10-2009 by berenike]



posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 11:14 AM
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Ah, . . the dog became a true "seeing-eye" dog, didn't it ?

The loneliness in the house was quite eerie.

Well done.





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