Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Unexpected Letter

Good morning, Veillee readers, Em here!

Before we jump into today's post, which I assure you is very exciting, I'd like to send out a big thank you to yesterday's authors for sharing their Poe-inspired work! It's not always easy to put your poetry out there for the world to read, but they did and we're proud of them!

Now, as you may or may not know, today is Mr. Poe's birthday. In honor of the occasion, Blake Walker has agreed to share with us this fantastic little thriller. Though not intentionally written as a tribute to Poe, this story's use of the uncanny achieves great effect, and serves as a fine nod to Poe's style. Please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think!


Here is:

An Unexpected Letter
By Blake Walker

Marcus Grant stood outside of 8411 Ellison Ave., a spacious three bedroom house on the outskirts of Cincinnati. The sun was high in a cloudless sky, and the weather man predicted temperatures in the upper 90’s. But with the humidity, and no breeze, it felt more like 100 degrees.
     “Jesus,” Marcus said, as he reached into his back pocket to pull out a handkerchief. He wiped the sweat from his brow and glanced down at something that had caught his eye. There was dried blood, stained, on the handkerchief. He puzzled over what he saw and mumbled, “I thought I got rid of it all.” This disturbed him greatly. If he forgot to clean the handkerchief, what else might he have forgotten?
     He didn’t have time to worry about that right now, there were far more pressing matters at hand. He thought to himself, I need to finish my mail route before it gets too late, and I need to stop at the grocery store…
“You don’t need to do SHIT!” a voice in the back of his mind told him. The voice was something dark. It had a grating texture to it; as if someone had wrapped sandpaper around a set of vocal cords. “You need to find out where that damn letter came from. You need to find out who knows. You need to quit being sloppy or you’re going to get caught! You want that?”
“No,” he muttered to himself.
     Marcus climbed back into his mail truck, wincing at the pain in his right leg. He took one more look at 8411, and felt a cold chill run through his body. The house belonged to an elderly woman named Louise Bateman. Louise had lived alone for nearly fifteen years. She had no family and few friends — and five days ago Marcus murdered her.
Before driving off Marcus picked up the letter that was causing him so much turmoil. “I will come for you.” That’s what the letter had said – a letter post-marked two days ago from Louise.

.  .  .

     As Marcus pulled in to his apartment complex later that night, he began to feel an itch in the back of his mind. The kind of feeling you get when you know someone is around the corner and they’re about to jump out at you. As he put the old mail truck into park, he looked around expecting a sight to validate this feeling of his. The apartments he lived in were old and dilapidated. The dirty yellow paint was peeling in several places and the stench of something decaying was hanging in the air. He saw a little boy playing with something on the far side of the parking lot and the sight struck him as odd. Not many families lived in this area because it was run down and prone to violence and drug trafficking.
     He stepped out of the mail truck, and was surprised at the amount of humidity still left in the day. The sun was a deep orange as it began to finalize its descent — it cast a strange hue over everything in sight. Marcus tried not to think about the heat as he made his way over to the child. The voice in the back of his mind rose up again; the one that made him do bad things to people. It was the voice that guided him throughout his life and made the decisions that he, alone, couldn’t.
“What are you doing,” the voice echoed?
“I just want to see something,” he said softly to no one.
“We don’t have time for this. You need to figure out who sent that letter. You need to figure out who knows!”
“I will, I’m just curious about something.”
“Screw your curiosity! I said to get…”
“NO DAMMIT, YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME!”
     The voice grew silent, and Marcus noticed that even though he just yelled at the top of his lungs, the small boy hadn’t seemed to notice. As he got closer, he saw what the child was playing with, a stuffed toy of some kind. No, not a toy, this looked too heavy. There was weight to the thing the boy had. He could see the (limbs?) as they hit the pavement, and could hear a wet smack followed by a slight suction when the boy lifted the thing up. He also noticed that the smell of decay was getting stronger. There was something familiar about the (Animal?) the boy had. This thing had a grey line running from one end to the other.
     “Not unlike my…” Marcus’s voice trailed off as he began to realize what he was seeing.
     “No, it can’t be mine; my cat is white with a grey stripe. This one is …“. Marcus never finished his thought, because as he drew closer to the boy and the animal he could see patches of white standing out against the deep red.
When he finally reached the boy, he discovered that it was in fact his pet cat. To his horror, the cat was clearly dead, with most of its insides heaped upon the pavement and smeared all over the small boy sitting on the ground. Blood covered the child; and the face of Big Bird was barely visible on the t-shirt he wore.
     “Oh God,” Marcus said as he looked down at the carcass of his cat, shock and anger slowly taking their hold on him. He now understood what was causing the suction noises. The cat’s limbs where caked in congealed blood, and every time the boy pulled them off the pavement the blood would stick, causing a sound that made Marcus believe he would soon lose control over his bladder.
“What have you done?”
But the boy paid no attention, and continued to play with the dead cat as if it were a toy. Marcus bent down and grabbed the boy on the shoulder, lifted him up, and smacked his face. The boy slowly raised his head and now he and Marcus were face to face. But Marcus didn’t like the face he looked into. The boy’s face was a contorted, grotesque version of Louise Bateman’s. The eyes were rolled back in their sockets leaving only the milky whites showing, and the mouth began to open, the bottom half stretching impossibly far revealing rotten teeth and the stench of death.
     Marcus jumped, dropping the boy. The child stood up and started towards him. Marcus began inching away, but fell backwards, his head striking the pavement causing his vision to blur. The boy with Louise Bateman’s face stood over him; wounds began opening all over the boy’s exposed flesh. As he stared down at Marcus, blood began seeping from these wounds. A low growl was emitting from within that dark place in the boy’s oversized mouth. There was no voice in Marcus’s mind to tell him what to do now, and this terrified him even more.
“Please, go away,” Marcus said.
But the boy with Louise Bateman’s face didn’t go away, and now that growl was growing. Slowly, the boy lowered his face so that it was inches away from Marcus’s. Then the boy used the oversize mouth to swallow Marcus’s head. Marcus screamed as the mouth closed around him and he began to feel the rotten teeth press against his skin. His screams became muffled—and then he screamed no more.

Blake Walker is a Data Management Specialist with the state of Tennessee. He lives in Nashville with his wife Sarah and their six month old son Aidan. Blake enjoys reading, comic books, writing, going to the movies and, most importantly, spending time with his family.

To learn more about Blake, check out his Q&A in The Matchbox section of this blog! 

1 comment:

  1. Ooooh...that gave me a lovely shiver. Excellent imagery!!

    ReplyDelete

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