By David Tubb
I made my way down the old wooden steps — each half flight succeeded by a small landing and then another half flight before the next floor. I knew not how fast I needed to move in order to avoid a crushing fate with that unmentionable thing behind me, so I continued as fast as it was possible for my shock-stricken legs to proceed. I could of course hear it behind me, but I was entirely reluctant to look back; its strange sounding locomotion made me totally unsure of just how closely it was approaching.
Down one floor, the walls were lined with wooden doors, and I could see more of them further down in the darkness; each stood on all north, east, south and west faces which has only latterly struck me with an unthinkable queerness, for there is nothing beyond the westward wall of the house save for the outside street. It is not possible that those westward doors can open onto anything, and what use do they serve being as many as three or four in a row? Their closed frames call to me even now from that silent single image I saw of them — no more than a second did my eyes catch their aged forms, and yet somehow I can see them in this waking dream: the sound of the hinges against the wind, the rot of the wood — and beyond them! — the black stain of an endless night oozing and protruding into my mind with seeping, grasping tendrils; something heavy — dragging tentacles — pulling at my sanity until I shall inevitably fall into that starless, lightless realm.
I realised that I was descending past street level; the presence of the surrounding doors persisted, but I did not think to try any of them, I aimed only to move down and down, as if the increasing blanket of darkness would somehow mask me from the ever-present pursuer. Even if I had thought to try the doors, I worry that I may not have opened one in time, or that they may have been locked altogether and I would be enveloped in whatever foul demise that tumbling, chasing shape had for me. No — those silent wooden frames stood, to me, as welcoming as any wall.
When I finally reached the very bottom of the stairwell, it opened onto a damp brick basement; the only light came from that high moon-brushed window far above — its fresh moonlight seemed aeons away to me and I received only the barest ribbon of light, long ago stifled by the foetid air and the weighted fear in my eyes.
Only one door remained — I did not waste time hoping for it to be unlocked. I pulled at its handle as the heavy footsteps from above pressed nearer and nearer — their sound thundered within my head and chest in unison with the increased beating of my heart. The door hardly gave any movement — the damp had set deep into the wood so it slipped only fractionally away from the frame. I dared not look behind me as I pulled repeatedly, desperately at that door. The lurking, nameless thing had, from the sound of it, only a mere few steps to go before it reached the very bottom of the stairwell. Harder I pulled until, with a shaking reverberation of both wood and muscle, the door finally swung open. I wasted no time hastening through to the oncoming gloom in what I supposed to be the last second I had — for just one fraction of a moment before then, I felt the repugnant, rasping of hot, nightmarish breath on the back of my neck.
There came no noise from behind the shut door — I had pressed my back against it in some attempt at fortification. I thought it odd, because the stumbling momentum of my pursuer would surely have granted him no evasion of the heavy door that I had slammed in place of my presence. In fact, I had been bracing myself for it — hoping my back against the door was enough to keep it out, and yet here again was that haunted silence, tugging invisibly at my soul as if we were all long ago tied to it. It had not struck me until now that this new pitch-dark sanctity I had located for myself could in fact place me in far more peril than that of the previous rooms. A terrible thought struck me then as I stood, breathless, in the pure darkness, for whatever horror it was that had chased me could be limiting itself in fear, as it knew of a greater terror awaiting in the room where I now stood.
Text Copyright (C) - David Tubb, 2014
Image Copyright (C) - Laura Tubb, 2013