Stories

The Passage, by Tom J. Perrin

Terrence brought his bike to a halt right at the start of the passage, and looked anxiously down into the morning gloom that had settled. The sporadic overhead lights were flickering and illuminating sections of the path, but the end was still shrouded in mist. He was also late for work. He sighed deeply and blew into his hands, hot breath escaping through his fingertips, fighting against the December cold that had settled around him.

A factory worker nearing forty-five, Terrence knew that once he had navigated the gauntlet that was this passage, the aptly named Hollywood Fields lay beyond and offered a shorter path to the factory and hopefully the avoidance of another bollocking from his line manager, who’d been a real arsehole lately. This alone should have made Terrence swallow his fear and head down the shortcut towards the grassy fields, but still he stood peering into the depths, his mind casting back to two weeks previous.

“Oi, you old prick.” The voice snapped him out of his thoughts. It belonged to a hooded youth with an acne riddled face. Despite the late hour, his face seemed to stand out in the murky night. It looked familiar, one of the faces from the estate potentially? His thoughts were shrouded.

Terrence had just finished a night shift and had risked the fields on the off chance there wouldn’t be the usual lurkers hanging around that had plagued the fields over the past few months. His luck was out. Terrence’s path was blocked by the youth; he yearned for a cup of tea and his bed, knowing he had to do it all over again in twelve hours. He made to head past the youth without engaging with him.

“Oi, I’m talking to you, you knob. Don’t ignore me.” The menace in his voice was there. Terrence picked up his pace and climbed onto his bike, heading down the passage. He could hear the boy following him; his footsteps reverberated in the morning silence.

“Mate, seriously, I’m trying to fucking help you. Come down here in the dark on your own and you’ll die, get me? The trees are mysterious man; they’ll close in on you and swallow you. You’re lucky I’m here, pal!” The youth was jogging alongside now, they were nearing the end. Terrence sped up and the youth stopped at the end of the passage, shouting after Terrence. “BE CAREFUL, this passage is funny. Stay out of the dark.” The youth’s words stayed with him until he got home.

Every day since he took the longer route; it took him through the industrial estate and down the main route in an unnecessary loop. Terrence hadn’t given it a second thought. He hadn’t seen the youth lurking around, not until the teenager’s picture was on the front of the paper a few weeks after their encounter, the headline staring back at him, the eyes familiar and his own disbelieving..

**

The paper seemed to stare back at Terrence. The youth’s name was Marvin Edwards, he was sixteen. His body had been found at the entrance to Hollywood Fields the night before. The officers on the scene had immediately opened a murder investigation down to the strangulation marks on his neck. Terrence looked in stunned silence at the paper. The youth’s voice filled his ears again.

“This passage is funny…”

He still stood with his bike, peering down the passage. The cold permeated around him, he was layered up but to no effect. The gloomy stretch of the pavement stared back at him, seeming more and more eerie under the flickering fluorescent light. The sun showed no sign of coming up anytime soon, but the minutes ticked by slowly.

“Fuck it,” Terrence said aloud, his breath floating in front of his face. He couldn’t afford to be late.

He was halfway down the passage when he heard the dead kid’s voice in his head. “Turn back. Get the fuck out of here, man. They’re coming. I fucking warned you.”

He peddled faster and faster, seeing the end of the passage and the train tracks that would take him to the fields, and safety. It was to no avail, ahead he spied a limb of a tree reaching out, and wrapping itself around his front tyre. Terrence went flying onto the pavement and felt his nose explode as his face hit the floor, the warm trickle of blood down his face felt oddly relieving against his cold face. He rolled over onto his back and saw the limbs of the trees flailing in all directions. They all seemed to be coming for him.

“Told you,” the voice said… they were the last words he heard before it all went black.


The trees now overhang the passage, creating a roof for coverage from the pounding rain that was falling. In Summer and Autumn the colours of the leaves make for an eclectic wash of colour, a picture of vibrancy. In the wintery rain it just looked fucking depressing; a pothole ridden obstacle course of puddles, mud and dogshit. The passage had gone long neglected by the council after the spate of incidents had called for an enquiry which never materialised and fell victim to more important issues. The trees had been left to grow out of control, plunging the passage into an almost permanent gloom. The potholes widened with the seasons and the graffiti at one end only seemed to grow, he stand out piece reads “Don’t come down here after dark. Enter at your own risk” the words were lazily scrawled and semi prominent amongst the bed of graffiti.


They were all pissed out of their trees. A concoction of cheap, watered down lager and jaeger bombs on an empty stomach had left them all feeling merry as they walked across Hollywood Fields in the direction of the estate that lay opposite. Joe couldn’t help but need a piss. The four of them all moaned when he decided to stop. Eventually they carried on towards the tracks, leaving him behind. As he pissed up the tree, he felt the relief washing over him. In the distance he could hear them laughing down the passage. Jake, Jacko, Jim and Joe had grown up together and their friendship thus far looked like it was surviving the post school transition. Despite this, Joe still thought of himself as the least popular and always but of their jokes.

“Fuckers,” Joe whispered to himself, not wanting to feel scared by the darkness around him. He felt a little uneasy being alone with the fields stretching behind him.

He jogged over the tracks and peered down the passage. Into the darkness, he heard the voices but they seemed so far in the distance. The passage seemed to be narrower; Joe looked down at the low hanging trees, in the night they looked menacing. As he started to walk down the passage slowly and hesitantly he felt something squidgy underfoot. He searched for his phone frantically, eventually grabbing his phone. He shined the light on his shoes. He’d trodden in dog shit. His brand new white trainers were ruined.

“Fuck sake!” Joe cursed.

A shout came from the other end of the passage. “Joe, hurry up you melon. It’s arctic monkeys out here!” It was Jake shouting from the other end.

If he’d been more aware of his surroundings, he would’ve seen the trees, the limbs, the branches all coming to life. He was almost free and within reach of the group when something swept him off his feet. A tree branch tightened around his neck and he felt the life being squeezed out of him, it was harsh and bare and the splinters pierced into his neck, he heard what sounded like the breaking of bones and knew they were his own. He tried to scream but a bunch of leaves found their way into his mouth, choking out any noise he was trying to make.

After a few minutes Jake took a slow walk back down the passage. Joe was nowhere to be seen, he stood pirouetting on the spot for a second calling for his buddy without response. He wrinkled his nose against the smell of shit as he walked back along the passage towards home, calling Joe as he went. His phone went directly to voicemail.
“Joe, where are you buddy? Call me ASAP! I am going to wait outside my Uncle’s house.” He said, walking out into the dim streetlights. If he’d looked down he’d have seen the specs of blood that were dotted around his white Converse.

**

The Have You Seen Our Dog posters were stapled to the trees along Park Lane, along with a lazy promise of a reward if found. The line above read ‘last seen heading towards Hollywood Fields on the evening of March 19th around 10pm’.
As Winter changed into a pleasant Spring the council finally took action after a string of complaints and a petition from the locals, nervous about the disappearances that were linked to the passage. The trees were pruned and the passage repaved, all of the graffiti washed away. Footfall through the passage grew and the fields were in bloom.

After the sun had gone down people would wander down the passage alone, blissfully unaware of the sensation of the trees closing in and round.

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Stories

Sueños, by Tom J. Perrin

#horror

In my dream she went hurtling up into the air after the car hit her, throwing her into a spasmic somersault which served as a prelude to a sickening thud as her body hit the ground. The screech of the tyres filled my head and made me hold fast to my ears, trying to drown out the sound that pierced my skull and sent splinters of pain shooting into my brain. My eyes went wide as the cars white reversal lights came on and the car flung backwards at speed, trampling over the body as if it were nothing more. As it screeched again to a halt, I clamped down harder on my ears and bit back the scream that filled my throat, as the engine revved and the car shot forward, the body jerking with the force and being thrown under the body of the car. This time it didn’t stop again, this time it kept its speed and tore down the street. It was a good few minutes before I let my hands fall down from my ears.
I blinked twice, sure that I was seeing things. I held the second blink long enough for little floaters to take over the inside of my eyelids. It was no use; the body still lay there motionless in the middle of the road. I swallowed hard, unsure of what to do next.
My mind is a wonderful place, but at that precise moment in time it panned back to a tea stain on the kitchen counter. I had just witnessed an atrocious incident mere feet from my front door and my mind was screaming out for me to go and wipe down the counter. I obeyed the screams of my mind, and was wiping down the counter with a damp cloth when the door knocked.
I jumped; the damp cloth fell to the floor with a moist slap which seemed to echo throughout the dark and quiet house, reverberating off of the walls.
I rushed to the door, relieved by the fact that I wasn’t the only one who’d seen it happen; the cramped structure of the row of houses I called home meant that privacy was at minimum thanks to the close proximity of the town homes.
I thought nothing of it when I didn’t see a hulking figure through the frosted glass window. They’d be in the middle of the road now attending to the body and had knocked on my door as a call to help.
I opened the door and looked straight out to the middle of the road.
There was no body.
There was nothing, minus a trail of blood leading to my front door.
I screamed when it grabbed my ankle.
“Help me,” it croaked
I looked down at the body, its neck hung off of the shoulders at an impossible and blood seeped from a head wound and decorated the face. One of the legs shot out to the left, clearly broken. A shoulder bone stuck through the cloth material of the jumper the body wore.
“Help me,” It whimpered again.
This time I couldn’t hold back the scream.
That was when I woke up.

The sheets stuck to my body, the cold sweat gripping the material to me as if it were a veil, suffocating me as I clambered out of bed. It was like they were trying to hold me back. I wasn’t sure why I shot out of bed, the dream seemingly snapping me from my drowsy state. I stood in the middle of the bedroom, shivering, and completely shrouded by the darkness. Not a glimmer of light found its way into the night. My deep breaths were amplified by the silence. My heartbeat increased to the point where my whole body seemingly shook.
The details of the dream came rushing back at me with a sudden whoosh…the body, the crawling, the slow rasp on the door, the impossible nature of it all. I needed light, I virtually yanked the blind off of the wall as I pulled it up; my bedroom window overlooked the back garden I’d laboured in all summer long. Tiny glimmers of light came from houses in the distance, and they had a soothing effect on and calmed my innate fear of the dark, which had plagued me since childhood.
The next sensation that came at me was my dry mouth, so I went through the house towards the kitchen. I illuminated every possible light as I went.
It was when I was in the kitchen, illuminated by the light above the cooker, when I decided to go and peek through the front blinds, just to soothe the voice inside my head. Maybe then I could go back to bed and get some sleep. The clock on the cooker read 02.11am.
The carpet was soft and fluffy underfoot, the rug very deep and comforting. The carpet right under the window was cooler, as was the cord for the blind. I pulled the blind upwards and looked out onto the dark street. The body in the street wasn’t in a starfish, but face down. I gasped and clamped my hand over my mouth and shook my head, convinced that I was still dreaming.
Without realising I’d moved, I was outside, my breath illuminated in front of my face by the coldness of the night. There were tyre marks on the road, and they spoke of a quick and frantic getaway. Without thinking I was gripping both wrists together and dragging the body towards my modest two up two down. There was a think trail of the blood coming from the body as I dragged it into the house, still face down.
Taking care just inside the threshold, I mopped the blood from the face. My stomach churned at the bruising on the face, the nose smashed inward as it had took the full impact of the fall. I put fresh towels down on the sofa before moving the body onto it, resting it in the missionary position. As best I could I attended to the wounds and dressed them. The body was dark and strong, the shoulders and biceps firm and bulging out of the shirt.
When I turned back to the body with a damp cloth, the eyes snapped back open, his strong grip evident as he grasped my neck in both his hands and began to squeeze.

I woke up curled atop the sheets. I was being spooned by the late summer chill that was around the room. I blinked hard against the morning light coming through window, why hadn’t I drawn the blind last night? I must have been super tired, and forgot. It had been a long week.
I made my way slowly downstairs, yawning and stretching as I went.
I stopped dead on the stairs when I saw the think veil of blood leading from the threshold and into the living room, it stuck out on the laminate flooring. I dared to peek around the living room door and saw him lying there, on the sofa underneath a makeshift blanket of coats. His arm lay limply by his side, as if he were a drunk sleeping off a hangover.
I was standing over him, my own hand over my mouth, startled by what I saw before me. He’d bled out in the night, from all possible avenues. It had started to not only pool but dry and crust over on the surface of the sofa, as well as the laminate flooring. The nose had shrunk back into the face, creating a hollow cove. The eyes were open and the brightest possible blue, but there was no sign of life within them.
If I weren’t so transfixed with the face, I’d have seen the left hand curl up into a ball and then relax again. The eyes suddenly snapped shut and then opened again, this time the bright green pupils stared back at me, startling me. Then closed and opened again, the pupils a deep, dark red this time. The body pulsed, and then he vomited all over the floor, a distinct mix of bile and blood. When finally the eyes sought and found me, they were black and soulless.
The hands reached for my neck and took hold. The scream got wedged somewhere between them.

I jerked awake, unaware of my surroundings in the pitch black. The only source of light came from my phone as I tapped the screen to wake it up. It glowed 02.11am, my conscience screamed at me.
Someone was knocking my front door.


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