Happy Halloween everyone! In honour of Halloween, I have written (or tried to, at least) a short story. What I tried to do is use a bit of suspense to make it seem more scary, instead of getting a parade of horrors to traipse in. One of my inspirations was Edgar Allan Poe, because he does suspense so well. And what better way to learn than from a master? Anyway, without further ado, here it is:
Hanging by a Thread
The cross legged children squealed with peals of laughter. The marionettes danced on the miniature stage, as a tinny melody played from a worn out old phonograph, behind the manipulator. He worked tirelessly, but there was a sort of deadness behind his eyes. His audience wasn’t able to see it, due to the curtain masking everything. As the strains from the song faded, the marionettes dropped into a bow, and the manipulator stepped out to the applause of his audience. He smiled, but it seemed forced and brittle, like a cracked mask.
After putting some money into the shabby top hat in front, the audience left, for it was dinner time, and they were out to find it. Only one lady stayed behind, along with what he assumed to be her spouse. She hobbled forward, and leaning towards him she croaked, “Young man, that was a splendid show you put on. I enjoyed it immensely.”
“Thank you, ma’am. Although, I’m not that young anymore, I’m five and twenty. I’d also prefer to be called Mr. Thomas.” He replied drily.
“Well, you’re certainly talented, Mr. Thomas. That must’ve taken years for you to master. Anyway, please excuse me. It was a pleasure.” The old lady shuffled away, but Mr. Thomas’ eyes stayed on her. She wore large, heavy jewelry, and expensive looking clothes, and suddenly he had a flashback of his mother, dressed similarly, but pleading with his father…
He snapped out of it, and angrily he packed up his marionettes, carried the stage, and went home.
Rain poured and pattered against the windows as Mr. Thomas entered his apartment. He slammed the door, and threw away all the marionettes and the stage into one corner of the room. Picking up the money, he counted it, and realized that he was one step closer to getting the amount of money his father told him to come back with after he kicked him out ten years ago.
Just thinking of his horrid father threw him into a fiery rage. He frantically looked around, and threw the first things he could get his hands on; his marionettes. They crashed against the wall, and slid down eerily, as if they were people. Gathering the two of them, he saw that one had a hole through his head, as if he’d been shot point blank.
That should happen to Father, he thought darkly. He couldn’t stop himself. He let out all of his pent up fury on the puppets, thrashing and ruining them. He soon realized that he damaged his marionettes beyond repair, and thrashed his apartment, anyways. With another glance at the puppets, he almost felt a pang of regret, but nevertheless, Mr. Thomas threw them out on his front step like his father did to him so many years ago. As he turned away he swore he saw them turn to face him; something he’d swear to his dying day. But that was impossible; they were just marionettes.
The storm still raged on outside as he turned down the lights went to bed, and fell asleep.
Even more people turned up at the spot where Mr. Thomas usually held his marionette plays. All were perplexed, and asked each other “Where’s the puppet man? So and so told me he’d be here by now.” Nannies consoled upset children by giving them candy, and all the rest walked away. It seemed that Mr. Thomas had never existed.
Mr. Thomas kept to his apartment that whole day. He wallowed in quieter fury and despair, but by no means was it any less that yesterday’s. He now had no means to earn a living. Puppetry was the only thing he knew how to do. Old puppet shows at his father’s mansion streaked through his mind, the ones that he’d enjoyed as a young boy and had taken for granted. Back when he was cared for, loved, and before he became an embarrassment to his family. Memories flooded back to him, threatening to drown him with pain.
At night, when quiet was supposed to reign undisturbed, a knock on the door jolted Mr. Thomas awake. “Who the blazes is awake now?” he muttered to himself. He dragged himself up, and peeping through the door’s eyehole, he was shocked breathless. Standing on the opposite side, out in the rain, only shielded by a frilly parasol, was his mother. She looked exactly like she did years ago, gorgeous and demurely smiling. With fumbling hands, he opened the door, only to see that nobody was there. He stepped forward, only to hear a sickening crunch that sent what felt like cold hands playing piano on his spine. He realized with a jolt that he stepped through a corpse’s skull. His mother’s head lay crushed and rotten, as if it’d been dead and lying there for years. Strings led from her wrists and legs, leading off into the shadows, from where emerged two ruined marionettes, holding them. Their faces were smashed in, the clothes tattered, and the girl hobbled with one leg. In unison, they lifted the strings, and then his corpse mother rose back up.
Mr. Thomas’ blood ran cold. “What are you?” he whispered. They only sneered, and began to walk away into the shadows, with the Corpse Mother in the lead. Against his will, he trailed them. It felt like he was being controlled by strings. What’s going on? He thought worriedly. A high pitched voice one would imagine to belong to a child echoed.
Your worst nightmare, Daddy, it said.
Daddy? Since when was I Daddy? He thought.
Since you made us…
The marionettes’ heads turned backwards to face him. He winced, and realized that he was being led to the cemetery. He struggled against the ropes and tried to run away, only to be pulled closer. His wrists were burning, and skin was scorched where rope would have been if he’d been a marionette.
As soon as they were in the cemetery, they headed directly for a hill with a towering tree. Two headstones were nearly visible in the dark night. Mr. Thomas’ vision grew even blurrier as a shower promptly started and drenched everything beyond comprehension. He was dragged closer and closer still. He stumbled forward, and saw that one of the plots still had to be covered. His Corpse Mother stopped at the foot of the plot, and like a marionette whose strings were severed; she dropped into the hole with a sickening crack.
A rope came out, dancing like a snake listening to charmer music. It wrapped itself around Mr. Thomas’ neck. Like a dog being led by its owner, he was yanked to the tree. Flailing and struggling, he was dragged up, branches pounding him everywhere. He wasn’t able to see or breathe, but managed to grab a branch and pull himself up to find himself at the edge. The noose made him stand, and there was a strong gust of wind. All he could hear was the roar of the air, and he knew that the ground would hit him and his legs would probably be broken.
The ground never came.
Mourners visiting the grave of old Mr. Thomas, whose son he kicked out some ten years before, were alarmed to see a figure dangling from a tree. It looked exactly like his son.
What do you think? Good? Bad? I’ve tried making suspense stories before, but they were absolutely horrid; however, those were ages ago, and I hope I’ve improved since then. But don’t we all?