Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Night Shift

I work the night shift. I've always worked the night shift.
The night is a different world, hidden behind bedroom curtains for most.
But not for me.

In the middle of a very warm October, and in the middle of a long stretch of empty street, I left the broken-down bus behind, and figured I'd walk the rest of the way. That's when I saw the house, up on an overgrown hill, at the top of a broken and cracked driveway. My bus had passed that house every night for as long as I can remember. And every night I'd see a faint steady glow from a low window closest the driveway. The glow of a television I had assumed. The house hadn't looked so abandoned and desolate from the inside of my bus as we shot past every night. But now, standing at the bottom of that long driveway, the pale greenish light seemed very out-of-place among all that ruin. And I was a little surprised when I caught myself halfway up the driveway walking towards it. It was steady, not fluttering or pulsating like the light from a TV. Just steady.

I crouched down by a basement window well which had been mostly filled with leaves, with only the upper portion of the window visible. I couldn't see the source of the light at first. It seemed to be coming from deep inside the basement. The bushes around the house were too thick and overgrown to look for another window with a better view, so I lowered my feet into the window well and slowly knelt down onto the leaves. With most of my body crammed into the well, I found a missing window pane among the filthy cloudy glass and peeked inside. I felt the moist coolness of the basement air on my face

The basement was filled with the light. So bright and still. There was a large wide rectangular box in the center of the basement floor. More like a wooden frame, it was lidless, and each side only a few inches high. And it was overgrowing with tiny mushrooms. Hundreds and hundreds of bulbous growths. Glowing. Luminescent mushrooms. One side of the wooden frame had rotted away and even the loose spilled dirt was loaded with the glowing mushrooms.

I stared at them for a very long time. Before I saw her. Sitting in a chair. An old woman, hands folded on her lap, her old rocker facing the mushrooms. As my eyes adjusted to the strange light, I could see that her mouth was open - very wide. But it wasn't that at all. Her lower jaw was missing. And I could see the texture of her skin, flakes upon flakes, like a dry crust. Her eyes were shut tight. I could see more and more detail of her cracked pained face...

Then she slowly turned to look at me.

I froze. My face still pressed through the missing pane. And the only noise my shallow breathing. But her head hadn't turned. She hadn't moved. It was the light. The odd green light was shifting. Slowly shifting, crawling, across the basement walls. The light grew brighter, more intense. The old woman was now in total darkness. And the light - it was directing itself...focusing....on the broken basement window, and on me.

I could see tiny particles in the light, floating slowly in tiny waves. I inhaled a moist fungus scent. Putrid and foreign. A night scent. Spores. I could taste them. I could feel them.

I pushed away from the window. Pushed myself out of the window well. Stumbling. Then running. Trying to clear the taste. To outrun it.

I ran. Hating the night air. Hating the darkness. And just wanting the sun to rise.

23 comments:

Dio said...

Perfect!

I got such a chill!

crudedoodle.com said...

Man, this is great. I read this the way I read The October Country...smiling and loving every word of it and not wanting it to end. Well done!

Pam Morris said...

yikes! did you write that? really excellent--I was racing to finish reading the story!

Marrow said...

Creepy.
Love this.

I can't help feeling that this was a teensy bit inspired by you basement-burnt-spore-tasting experience. Yes?

HalloweeNut said...

OK, I'm gonna be up tonight, thanks. ;)

Very well writen, creepy as hell. I thought you were telling the truth for a bit there, and this was going to be a story about your co-workers.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy said: Great story! Creeepy...

Rot said...

Thanks, all!

Jay's Shadow said...

That was really cool. I to agree think that this story was insipired by your own basement experience.

And the description of the old lady was your reaction when your wall caught on fire....

JD said...

I'm now scared of fungus, thanks rot...

ShellHawk said...

*happy sigh*

RebelShade said...

Okay maybe you need to write two books. One on Haunt theory, and one Ray Bradbary style short story Halloween. That would do nicely.

Old Hag said...

Well done! Makes my mind race with possibilites.....

crudedoodle.com said...

what music would accompany this if it were a short???

Rot said...

http://youtu.be/CjC5F0pkV9U

???

Rot said...

any ideas?

Rot said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op40TrfA2CE

this would be cool too.

crudedoodle.com said...

ha. yes. the Greinke track would be perfect...weird and atomospheric.

bean said...

Ack! I like both tracks so much...

Mr Black said...

Creepy, I could see it all in my minds eye. It would be a blast to film this as a short subject.

K.O. said...

Super well-written--with especially nice details (e.g., particles in the air; skin like flakes upon flakes). Plus it's an unusual idea for a story, and very well-executed. You achieved a super eerie tone with this one, and the creeping sense of dread was well-paced. Intriguing and nicely done!

Rot said...

hey, thanks so much!

James Colton said...

Wow...not sure how I missed this when you posted it, but it was fantastic! If you published a book, I would buy it, based on this story alone.

Rot said...

Thanks, man!