Monday, 22 June 2015

Horror Bites #19: "Occultus" (a story in the Shadow Fabric mythos)

Before you read this flash fiction for the Horror Bites challenge, I'd like to announce that a new story in the Shadow Fabric mythos is to feature in Rayne Hall's upcoming anthology, Fiends: Ten Tales of Demons. Titled "Disturbed", the tale was conceived while around a campfire with my photographer buddy, Christopher Shoebridge, and is about a camping trip that turns sour as a deep-rooted evil awakens.

Now, back to the Horror Bites challenge...

Without intention, when I began this particular Horror Bites story inspired by the image above, it became yet another piece in the mythos of my novel, The Shadow Fabric. These extra stories, whether shorts or flashes, are helping shape the sequel.

Please let me know what you think.


(A story in the Shadow Fabric mythos)

By Mark Cassell
(350 words)

When a photographer falls he’s going to protect his camera, and when gravity snatches my clumsy arse that’s precisely what I do. Birdshit and moss, tiles and rotted wood fall with me. The jagged shape of daylight shrinks. I hug my camera and plunge into the darkness, and...
        Pain explodes.
        My lungs burn and my vision morphs into lightning flashes that betray the black void. I squirm, cradling my SLR. I try to breathe but the agony rages. I clench my teeth as air rattles my lungs and I taste a metallic stickiness. My legs, my arms; I feel them, thankfully. The pain subsides, marginally, so I guess I’m okay.
        With a free hand, I reach out to claw wooden boards, dragging grit and filth. I sit up and squint into this nothingness. The stink of damp, of cold stone and decay, strangles me. I cough and pain stabs me in the chest.
        Something moves nearby; a wet sound, a slurp like something dislodging.
        Silence squeezes me. Had I actually heard it?
        The SLR lurches in my hand. A clamminess brushes my arm and grips the camera. I pull it closer, muscles straining.
        It’s wrenched away in a spray of slime.
        “Hey!” I shout. Somehow the darkness swallows the word.
        More slurping, wet and heavy.
        I shuffle backwards and kick out. My flailing arms slap the curved brickwork. No exit. Mortar scratches my skin. No. Exit. The cold wall presses against my spine.
        The darkness thickens, tightens.
        My heart crashes against my ribcage, stealing the silence.
        The camera’s flash pulses for a moment, and an oval whiteness fills my vision; a face, blank, featureless with only dark veins beneath glistening skin. The flash goes off fully, lighting the surrounding brickwork and that faceless monstrosity attached to a bulbous sweaty body, squat and seething atop splintered floorboards.
        The bare curved walls—no exit!—prevent any further retreat. I claw at the filth I sit in.
        Black. Cold.
        Again, that wet shuffling sound. Something flops. More slurping as before, yet this time frantic. Eager perhaps?
        Silence, once again. Just my heartbeat punching the seconds that pass…

Mark Cassell's dark fantasy novel, The Shadow Fabric, is available everywhere.
In paperback and digital: AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsScribdKoboInktera, etc.


Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from all bookshops and online, including Amazon.