Scary Story 1

Scary Story 1

A Story by John
"

I'm going to go with suggestions from readers as to what the title should be.

"
"Ray," Laura called from the kitchen.
No reply.
She called again.  
"Ray?"  
Silence.  
Laura looked up from the soapy sink she was working at and wiped her hands on a nearby dish-towel.  She walked across the cramped apartment kitchen/living room, complete with its own tinted linoleum flooring and three constant, unrepairable leaks which dripped arrhythmically throughout the day and night.  Two tin pails and a brown plastic rectangular bucket stood guarding the drips, filled almost to the brim.
"Hey, Ray, I need you to empty these buckets out again, they're getting full."
Laura looked at one of the pails, farthest from her in the room.  A single, bare bulb hung from the ceiling, still.  The room was built with a single 2x2 foot window, which, between the muck on the outside and the discolored blinds and moth-eaten curtains on the inside, shed little light into the bleak room.
As Laura set down the dish-towel onto the counter,littered with dirty plates, silverware crumbs of leftover delivery pizza and chinese takeout, she bumped into the coffee machine her parents had given her and Ray as a wedding gift two years ago.  She hated that coffee machine.  Out of all of the unwanted kitchen appliances her parents could have given them, it had to be a coffee maker.  Laura hated the smell of coffee.  She wouldn't drink the stuff unless she had to, and had never been given reason to since her first sample.
Ray loved it.  He was ecstatic over it when they unwrapped it at the wedding.  He had hugged her parents and then hugged her, grinning like a buffoon.  The very next day, after waking up from an eventful evening in a hotel in Baja California, the aroma of beans and and the passive bubbling of water heating up made her sit up in bed to find her new husband standing naked in front of her, making a pot of coffee.  He had used one of those little dispensable packets of instant coffee to fill the machine, and the smell invaded her nostrils, molesting her sense of smell and making her gag.  But she didn't say anything about it then, and it had brewed in her mind, her hate for that coffee machine, just as Ray had brewed his pot of coffee every day since.  For two years, no matter where they were sleeping, she would wake up to that same awful stench and little bubbling sound, promising a piping-hot mess of mud was on its way.  She told herself it wouldn't bother her, but it did.  She didn't say anything about it, she didn't want an argument.  Her and Ray had never had an argument.  Newlyweds weren't supposed to argue about anything.  They just lived happily ever after and smiled the same toothy smiles each year when they took family photos, sending their relatives and close friends copies each year at christmas.  
Ray would slurp his coffee at the breakfast table every day, cheery as a puppy in the morning.  Laura would slouch and stare at him disbelievingly as he tried to fold the newspaper in a business-y manner, while looking down at it inquisitively as if to say "Hmmmm...." 
And he would slurp.  He'd fold the paper, pretending to read it, and would slurp away at his coffee.  Then he would look up, smile, and say "Well, I'm off," peck her on the cheek like a hen hunting for kernels, and walk out the door with his mug in one hand and that goddamn newspaper folded underneath one arm.
Laura realized she was unhappy with her marriage about a year after she saw her husband making his first pot of coffee with their brand-new coffee machine.  That's when she stopped taking care of things.  She thought Ray would notice, say something, maybe yell at her for not taking care of the house when he was at work, but no.  He woke up every morning, brewed his coffee, read his newspaper, left for work, then came back, brewed another pot, read another newspaper, then went to sleep.
They never talked.  They never talked about not talking.  They sat quietly together, drones working tirelessly in each others' company, or watching the television screen together, well, while she watched and he read his newspaper.  With a cup of coffee.  And she would scream.
Not out loud, oh no, never out loud, but in her head.  
In her head she, she broke down onto her knees, screaming to a dark, unflinchingly uncaring sky, ripping her hair out and tearing her clothes off and writhing in her own sobs, all because of that goddamn coffee machine and that goddamn newspaper he read every goddamn morning.  Slurping away, oh lord, yes, slurping away.  Every.  God.  Damn.  Day.
She started dreading mornings.  She would stare at the ceiling as Ray snored quietly, slurping at his drool that tried creeping out of his mouth just as he slurped at his coffee every morning, thinking about how she could approach him about his coffee.  She didn't imagine it going well.  She saw that, if, yes if, she ever got the courage to say something, it would escalate with such a tremendous velocity that one of them would be packing their bags within a week.  And she didn't want that.  Newlyweds didn't walk out on each other.  They didn't argue.
So she dealt with it.  While he was gone, she went around the house, walking aimlessly like a Zombie b-movie extra, groaning and crookedly dragging her feet about from her bedroom, back to the kitchen/living room, to the bathroom, and back again.  She didn't do anything, she just screamed in her head and waited for Ray to come home.
"Ray!"
She had had enough.  She woke up this morning, and realized the house was a mess.  Realized that there was something wrong with her marriage.  Realized that if she was going to salvage their love for each other it was going to need to be done immediately.  So she wiped her hands on the dish-towel, and began to march across the room, when she bumped into that goddamn coffee machine.  She watched as it fell tumbling from the tiled counter to the linoleum floor, unswept and dirtied with dirt and crumbs and other ungodliness.  Because cleanliness was godliness.  And their apartment hadn't been cleaned in over a year.  But Ray hadn't said a single thing.  Not one thing about it.  This infuriated Laura.  And as she watched the cheaply-made plastic and steel machine tumble, end over end, onto the floor, her rage began to build.  The pot was the first to hit, it shattered, sloshing the leftover coffee up and, of course, all over Laura.  The burn wasn't too bad, it was an old pot, but the sticky, murky liquid she was now covered in, like ink from a squid, made her scream.
Not in her head, but out loud.
Coffee was everywhere.  It was in her hair, it was all over the floor, and it was black.  Like the blood of one of Tolkien's evil orcs, it was black.  Like Halloween night, it was black.  Like a vampire's lair, it was black.  And it was all over her.  Invading her.  Devouring her.  And she screamed.
Ray came running from the bedroom, wearing his buttoned-up work shirt with a loose tie, untucked, and started screaming too.
"What did you do?"  He screamed, louder than Laura."
"It fell!  The stupid thing was on the edge of the counter and it fell when I bumped into it!"
Ray dropped to his knees, hands out, and looked at the machine like a medic kneeling before a fellow soldier on the battlefield, knowing that there was nothing he could do for him but be there for him.
His hands clenched into fists.
"This wouldn't have happened if you cleaned this f*****g place up once in a while!"  He reeled, standing, inches away from Laura's face.  Her sobs turned as the anger rose even more inside her, turning from helplessness into fury.
"Oh, is that so," she replied, her voice a rapid crescendo from piano to forte.  
"Well, maybe if you put that thing somewhere else, like, I don't know, maybe the coffee table, it wouldn't be in the way all the time!"  She challenged him, rising to her tippy-toes, hands transforming into talons, ready to strike at her attacker.
"Oh really, because there's room on the coffee table, isn't there?"
She knew he was being sarcastic.  Where World War III had taken place on the counter, Mad Max's post-apocalypse had taken place on the coffee table.  
"You just have all the answers don't you," he taunted, gritting his teeth against her.
"Well, you sure s hell don't!"
"Maybe I do!  You wouldn't know, because you've never asked me for anything a single f*****g time!"
"Well maybe if you weren't so goddamn busy slurping away at your f*****g coffee all the time I would!"
They both paused.  There it was, out in the open, the elephant in the room was finally acknowledged.  The drip of the leaks continued steadily, out of sync with each other, but constant.
Ray's face was a twisted scowl, and he was sweating profusely.  He glanced at a kitchen knife on the counter, blade in towards the counter, the handle halfway off the tiles, hanging desperately on to stay off the mucky floor.  Laura followed his eyes to the hilt of the blade, and tensed.  She was faster than him, they both knew it, and if he reached for it, she would beat him to it.  But would she be able to fend him off long enough to strike?   She didn't know.  She could feel the tension in the air, like a bridge straining not to collapse under the weight of a heavy load.
Then the bare bulb in the middle of the room flickered, and they both broke their gaze from the hilt of the knife.  Like two volunteers for a magician's hypnosis trick, they snapped out of it.  They both looked up.
"I need you to replace that bulb," she said.
They both stared at each other, still scowling, and then simultaneously burst out laughing.  They wore both standing in wet coffee in a dimly-lit kitchen/living room in one of the shittiest apartments known to mankind, arguing over a broken coffee machine their entire marriage had revolved around, and they laughed.  Ray reached up to grab it.
Over the course of the next 1/2 second, three things occurred:
1) Ray grabbed the lightbulb to unscrew it.
2) Laura reached out to grab the towel she had been previously holding.
3) The coffee, which had been silently creeping towards the back of the refrigerator, contacted with its tiny conductor, surging electricity throughout the entire building, which caused a massive blackout for 15 minutes, 10 blocks in all directions.

Afterwards, Ray and Laura laid in the coffee, broken machinery and glass all around them. They both stared with glossy, unmoving eyes at the ceiling, which had three leaks in it that dripped.  Their hair stood on end, sizzling in the quiet apartment.  Their skin was a barbecued black, crispy and cooked.  They laid their, the tips of their fingers touching in the near-silence.  Since neither of them had been wearing shoes, their toes were burnt completely black, the rest of their feet singed.  They laid there together, as a newly-wed couple should, brought together over something that had been tearing them apart their entire marriage.
And the ceiling kept dripping.

© 2013 John


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Featured Review

Omit adverbs. As the master of horror, Stephen King, himself said, "The adverb is not your friend."

And no offense, but you describe placement too much.. It's hard to follow, but I get it. One of my teachers in high school was an author and he told me some of the best advice I've ever received, he told me how I tried describing placements in rooms far too much and it showed a complete lack of confidence.
Your reader doesn't need to know where everything is, let their imagination create the room. Give simple, yet powerful details through context. Don't tell them the window was "2x2" tell them the window was cracked and let their mind make up how big the window is. Let their minds come up with that type of detail. But give them details like what type of wood the pane was made up of, whether or not it had splintered with long hard years, or if it was freshly painted.

Definitely some quality writing though. Good choice of characterization.



Keep at it,
Casper.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

John

11 Years Ago

This is probably the best advice I've been given on this site so far. Thank you for taking the time.. read more



Reviews

unrepairable leaks which dripped arrhythmically throughout the day and night-------rhythmically arrhythimcally isnt a word but I understand what youre trying to say

As Laura set down the dish-towel onto the counter,littered with dirty plates-----space between , and littered

close friends copies each year at christmas.----Christmas

I completely agree with casper about the adverbs but I also want to add, try not to tell us so much. Show us instead. Instead of saying ray got scared say ray felt his heart speed in fear. Stuff like that. Great story. Very scary.

Posted 10 Years Ago


The ending was unexpected! I thought the knife would end it. It was a well-written story. The end is so detailed, and I can visualize it in my mind, which is pretty awesome.

Posted 11 Years Ago


Omit adverbs. As the master of horror, Stephen King, himself said, "The adverb is not your friend."

And no offense, but you describe placement too much.. It's hard to follow, but I get it. One of my teachers in high school was an author and he told me some of the best advice I've ever received, he told me how I tried describing placements in rooms far too much and it showed a complete lack of confidence.
Your reader doesn't need to know where everything is, let their imagination create the room. Give simple, yet powerful details through context. Don't tell them the window was "2x2" tell them the window was cracked and let their mind make up how big the window is. Let their minds come up with that type of detail. But give them details like what type of wood the pane was made up of, whether or not it had splintered with long hard years, or if it was freshly painted.

Definitely some quality writing though. Good choice of characterization.



Keep at it,
Casper.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

John

11 Years Ago

This is probably the best advice I've been given on this site so far. Thank you for taking the time.. read more
A good story although there are a few easily fixed mistakes...

Posted 11 Years Ago


John

11 Years Ago

Yeah, it was a quick write. I'll edit it later.
Procrastination. :D
Harley Rose

11 Years Ago

Procrastination is the best isn't it

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Added on May 27, 2013
Last Updated on May 28, 2013

Author

John
John

Richmond, VA



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