So in between scripts I’ve been trying to do some of the smaller odds and ends I had floating around. Tiny little projects that would take a day or two to get done before I launch into another feature script which may take another year off my life.
One of them was the fact I reckon I should probably write more short stories as I’m way out of practice with the idea. I had the idea of ‘The Exorcist but by a kid’ for ages and the result is a bit messy. The ending just kind of fizzles out, it’s a horror that isn’t really that scary and…
…oh how about I just let you read the bloody thing?
It’s very first draft but then I won’t be going back to it to sharpen it up anytime soon so it would have just sat on a hard drive all this time. Read it, rip it apart, let me know what you think, share it as an example of how not to be Stephen King.
The Spirit Box
It was a thin cardboard box, black with a yellow line around the outside. The price label still clung to the top half peeling off. Kevin looked at it, turned it over in his hands and placed it back down on the table. It didn’t look like the sort of thing that would be able to hold a ghost but he lacked anything else. The shoe box would have to do.
The house had seemed welcoming at first. Kevin’s parents had taken him to look at it after school one evening. They had driven for ten minutes in a downpour up the hill on the outskirts of town. The driveway seemed to snake up the side of the hill, taking numerous twists and turns until they had reached the front door. Even with the rain water battering the windows it had seemed comforting. Kevin’s Dad had spent a while walking around the place, putting his hand on almost every surface and pushing it. ‘Plenty work to be done’ he had muttered as some chunk of wall had come away. They had moved in regardless and his parent’s had spent the time whilst Kevin was at school to redecorate the place. Each time he arrived home there would be something different, usually accompanied by instructions not to touch or be careful of his step.
“We’re getting there” his Mum would say “It’ll look brilliant once it’s done”.
Kevin had been given the room at the back. It was smaller then the rest but the window was large. In the mornings the light would stream in from the surrounding woods and glow around the room. It wasn’t the mornings Kevin had become concerned with, the nights are what had become difficult.
There had been a black figure in the mirror, late in the evening. It had been fleeting, visible only for a few seconds and then gone in a moment. Kevin had often quietly crept towards the mirror to get a better look but there had been nothing there. A few nights later he was reading in bed and the figure had returned. Kevin slipped out from under the duvet and slid across the floor to see. The figure had not moved, it had stood like a cloud of smoke within the mirror slowly shifting. He did not know why but Kevin has felt the urge to hold out his hand and touch the reflective surface, to see if this was real. As his hand touched the cold of the mirror the figure had let out a scream unlike anything else. It was a drawn out rasp, a cat vomiting up a rattlesnake. Kevin screamed and jolted backwards, landing against his bookshelf to see the smoke grow. In a few short seconds it had taken up the mirror’s surface, covering it completely in an ink like darkness. Kevin’s father had burst into the room and the cloud had gone. When his Dad had looked he saw only his own reflection. The mirror was removed the next morning.
The sound returned that night. From inside the wall and the floorboards below the hissing has started again. Undeterred the smoke began to drift underneath the door, coming in from the hallway. It filled the floor around Kevin’s bed before building upwards towards the ceiling. It began to fashion arms, wiry taloned twigs, out of each side before developing a gaping maw. Kevin had ran full force across the room nearly knocking the door off the hinges making his escape.
“It’s an old house” his Mum had said by way of explanation “Perhaps it was just a shadow from the window”. Shadows do not scream, they certainly do not change shape and they cannot fill entire floors before rising upwards.
Kevin looked again at the box as it sat on the kitchen table. His Dad was out, probably going to buy even more wallpaper, his Mum was busy dealing with the old paper as she peeled the faded yellow flowers off the walls. Grabbing the box off the table Kevin dashed down the hall holding the makeshift spirit confinement unit under his arm. His pace slowed as he navigated his way through the slalom of ladders in the hall.
“Where are you going?” asked his Mum from the top rung.
Kevin tried best to ignore her.
“I asked where you were going and why does the box need to be there too?”
“I just need to keep something in it”
Her face turned to curiosity, never quite crossing into suspicion.
“Okay, as long as you’re not going to say you’re bored in ten minutes”.
Kevin shook his head.
The mirror had been placed in the basement. At the time Kevin had insisted upon such a thing, to be as far away from his room as possible. At this moment however it was a source of regret. He slowly opened the door and fixed his gaze on the flight of stairs that led downwards. He placed his foot forwards, a loud wooden crack rang out through the walls as a cloud of dust fell downwards. Kevin stopped to check for any signs of movement downstairs. He saw nothing. After gently closing the door behind him he carried on downwards.
The walls were covered with old shelving units holding pots of paint with the remnants of colour dried around the sides, wooden ladders stacked fence like on hooks and a pile of old newspapers with the dates worn away. A large dust sheet covered what was stood in the furthest corner. Kevin could see the stands at the bottom edge, his Dad had been careful to keep the mirror out of sight. Kevin carefully placed the box on the stone floor and stalked his way towards the mirror. His hand began to grip the cover, as he did the familiar scraping rasp filled the room. Kevin retained his grip but backed away quickly. The cover soared through the air before landing in a crumpled heap.
The mirror’s surface was soon consumed by the black void. Kevin found himself gripping the box in his cold, sweating hands as the dark escaped the mirror and flowed out onto the floor. Once again this mass formed a tall figure, not drawn by pen more by knife slashes. The room now had a haze, as if plunged into a dream of which there was no waking up from. The mass fixed its wound like eyes at Kevin.
“What are you?” he asked.
The head of the thing tilted, considering this. Then came the voice like nails hammered into an ice block.
“The one who was left”.
There was no follow up. Kevin gathered himself together, heaving together the pieces of bravery he had into one pile. Before he could ask another question it emitted one of its own.
“What are you?”.
“Have you been left here?”
Kevin thought for a few seconds. He’d expected this to be a battle, a struggle to contain this apparition. He had not looked into the possibility of it having questions.
“I was brought here by my parents” replied Kevin.
“The rest have not yet returned”.
“Not unless you’ve been down here all the time and I’ve met something else”
The silence after this Kevin accepted as a ‘No’. The form seemed to shrink and withdraw, there was a sudden despondency.
“They said to stay here”.
“Will they be back for you?”.
Kevin made a dart across the floor with the box. If he was going to use it it would have to be now. He placed it on the floor.
“You could go somewhere to find them”.
The swirls still filled the room.
“I brought this box, can you get in here?”. Kevin made a feeble pointing motion towards the open cardboard. Within seconds what looked like a miniature tornado appeared inside the box, the fog twisted and spun, getting smaller and smaller as it reached the centre. The box vibrated and moved along the floor but never left contact with the narrow point of the storm.
Seconds later the fog in the room had lifted and all was still. Kevin reached out a foot and gave the box a light tap with his toes. Everything seemed normal. He picked the box up, holding the lid firmly on with both thumbs and resisting the temptation to look inside before running back up the stairs and out of the back door.
He had wanted to bury the box, to dig a hole in the ground deep and leave it there with the Earth over it so he could forget it ever existed. If they did return however, how would they ever find it? He couldn’t stay in the house, of that Kevin was certain. Instead he walked down towards the tree which sat in the very bottom of the garden. It was a good distance from the house, good enough so Kevin was satisfied that the ghost wouldn’t return easily. The tree had formed into a snarled hand on the horizon over the years. Kevin placed the box gently, out of sight of the windows, before walking slowly back towards the house.
If they came back, they’d find him there.