Hellraiser

Weirdonymous, aka D.F. Lewis, has had 1500 short stories published since 1986. In 1998, he was recipient of the British Fantasy Society Karl Edward Wagner Award. He currently edits the Megazanthus known as Nemonymous. Below you can find not one, but two offerings from his unique imagination.

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BETWEEN THE FLOORS

 

The house was two rooms up, two rooms down - and none, needless to say, between.

Yet, of course, there was at least some need to say it - if only because, when I was trying to get to sleep upstairs, I heard things moving around beneath me and, upon pottering about with daytime chores downstairs, I heard the same things from up above.

I describe them as "things" for the simple reason that people (or, even, animals, come to that) do not move around in such jolts, shuffles, hops and dragging of weights. It was a real sound-shambles, a potpourri of false manoeuvres - purely gratuitous shifts from space to space which no creatures with feet or paws (not even those who slither on their backs or fronts) could possibly summon in such apparent combinations of false-starts, slip-sliding, head-to-toeing together with a relentless progress from wall to wall and back again.

When I told Grace, she said I must be hearing things.

'Yes, yes, Grace, that's exactly it!'

She looked quizzical. She had long since learned to take anything I said with a pinch of salt. A nice girl at heart, a homely lady, with cosy breasts, and a roaring open hearth. We had been courting for at least five years without any sign of marriage in the wings. I think she must have found it hard to make the big jump from a casual affair to one that demanded a little more commitment. I often sensed her teetering on the brink of making overtures along these lines. But, no, she always pulled back at the last minute. As for me, I couldn't do it for her, could I? She had to come up with the idea quite independently of me or, otherwise, there would be no substance nor consistency behind any such proposal for formal union between what were after all two autonomous entities.

'Well, why is it I can't hear them now, then?' She looked towards the ceiling. Needless to say, we were in the lounge, not upstairs in my bedroom. Couches were seemly vehicles for unrubberstamped love. But, as for beds, well, need I continue?

'They know when there's someone else in the house.' I spoke in all seriousness.

'And so they don't move about? Are they afraid of people other than you, then? And, by the way, Jeremy, how many other someone-elses do you have visiting you here? I thought I was the only one.' She had donned her stern air, tailed off with a cold smile.

'Only mother. She comes on Wednesdays.' I knew I lied or, at least, was economical with the truth.

'You told me she was dead yonks ago!'

'Well, she is - sort of.' Now I was more confident of the facts of the case. Mother was dead, but she visited me on Thursdays.

'Now I know you're completely barmy. How can I believe anything you say, when you make such cock-eyed statements? You live in a dream world, Jeremy. It's about time you snapped out of it. We've got no future if you carry on like this.'

'Future? We have a future, then? After five years, this is the very first time you've spoken of a future.'

'Yes ... well, it's about time one of us spoke of the future. We can't go on like this forever.'

'Why not, Grace?'

'Because ... because ... well, just because.'

'Because?'

'All this talk of your dead mother visiting you and hearing things upstairs when you're down here and things downstairs when you're up there, it's crazy talk, Jeremy. And I can't see any future with a man like that.'

'There you go again. You've mentioned the future again. We're alive now. We see each other only in the present. Not in the future. The future can very well take care of itself. Like the past. It's either gone or will never be.' I knew what I meant but seeing Grace's bemused look, it was obvious that she was not only adrift but sinking fast. Her bemusement soon turned to pleading. She needed to reschedule our relationship's agenda. Not in those words, exactly. But I could see her meaning in her eyes better than she could.

'I always wanted us to be together.' Her words belied anything she really wanted to say.

'Well, here we are - together.' How many more cue lines did she need? Surely, today was the day we'd become engaged. If only...

Then, things were on the move.

She looked startled, flagrante delicto. She had already taken off her nylons, with the tantalising twin pop of each leg's suspender-belt catches. This was the furthest we had ever got in five years of conscientious courting and her hesitation was tantamount to coitus interruptus as far as I was concerned.

'Shhh, what's that noise upstairs?'

'It's nothing, Grace. Your imagination.' I had lied again: I simply knew it was my imagination that was the culprit.

'No, I definitely heard something ... there it goes again!'

This time I had heard it for real. To put no finer point on it, I was shit-scared. All my talk of hearing things had set my nerves a-twanging. Wish-fulfilment. No, dread-fulfilment, rather. All my worse dreams were fast in the process of becoming true.

'They sound so HORRIBLE!' Her voice quavered on the edge of something that neither of us could put our finger on. And, of course, the sounds were just as I had described them. Stuttering. Slop-slapping. Muck-raking. Loofahing. And so forth.

One even seemed to be spilling downwards in short sharp jolts from tread to tread, scattering stair-rods in its wake. Its screeching hid Grace's own mouthful of terror. I was not exactly as quiet as a mouseful of pins, either. I suffered my own breakdown with a queer set of mewing plaints from each bodily innard in turn. Or so it seemed at the time.

Yet, in hindsight, everything was quite natural. Only an instantaneous diary entry could possibly have got it so wrong. Now, in a relatively quiet interlude, Grace and I cuddle each other, listening for further encroachments of our privacy. The thing that actually ventured down the stairs still snuffles on the other side of the lounge door, no doubt bemused at the various sounds of our fitful grappling in front of the roaring fire. More fun than on the couch.

Perhaps I'll ask Mother tomorrow how she and Father did it.

(First published Scaremongers TANJEN 1997)

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BETWEEN WHITE LINES

He was excited with himself, I could tell. As we touched wings, I told him to calm down, but he shook free before I had the chance of capturing his attention with my bright eyes.

The rain was slanting across the allotment on a wind that had suddenly blown up from nothing. The drops splashed on us like eggs. Only just a few moments before, the stars had been scattered across the night sky, together with a cheese wedge that, if I had not known better, was mocking its own identity by dashing in and out of the dark unplayful clouds.

I drove on, my wind-glasses beginning to be more of an hindrance than a help. I then touched his undertail which furred up even as I felt the shudder of his chassis.

He squealed like crude iron in labour. He wrenched his front round so that my stare was frozen in his, but the dread I saw down there was greater even than that I felt myself: two monsters scaring the shitpump out of each other.

The rain eased in the growing hours; the stars began to shepherd the mocking moon into its rightful place at the top of the sky, but they were hindered by the stationary clouds that were reluctant to leave the stage; they thought they were the real stars, if more diffuse, or apparently so.

I had fallen into a purring doze with my jagged jawbone embedded in his tangled sump of a belly, automatically sucking out the oily blood as if I were a new-born baby at its mother's dug. He the werewolf, me the vampire, no doubt: I had dreaded him awaking before he was too weak to attack back with his own splayed silver fangs, but the cross-over point between defeat and victory was still uncertain, and would the bloating of my own body work slow ME down?

Our hearts beat together, like twins in one cot, as the sun arrived and shook itself in a spray of orange mist, an animal fresh from a night swim. It would seem a lifetime before what I called the moon would dare return, like a shy child on its first day at school.

I stretched and yawned as the healing process went into mock reverse at the same time as extricating myself from him I'd partnered through the night. The other parked cars glinted like dewbacks, as I towed yet another to its final resting place.

My owner would soon arrive for me, and I relished the thought of human feet moving up and down within me. I wondered if she realised how the pain was almost too exquisite when she drove hard with sharp stilletoes upon my tender parts.

Still, she'd never know that cars shunt, as well as trains, particularly at the dead of night.

(First published 'Dementia 13' 1992)

 

 

(C) Des Lewis 2004

 

 

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