The Short Stories

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Horror Stories


A young man finds a strange book in his attic.

Submitted: June 04, 2018

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Submitted: June 04, 2018

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Salem's Short Stories is a book I found while cleaning out my attic. When I originally saw it I just assumed it was an old childrens book, probably about history, so I stuck it in the Goodwill bin. After that, I finished sorting the stuff to get rid of, and went downstairs for dinner.


After a rather quiet dinner, my wife looked up from her plate and told me not to expect her home tonight, because she had been stuck with the night shift again at work. I offered to clean up while she got ready, and she happily accepted, so I began to clear the table. Soon after that, we kissed goodbye and she left

.
I sat down and watched tv for a while, until, remembering about all the junk in the hallway, I decided to get up. I forgot to mention that we had just moved into our house recently, so we had a crap-load of boxes. Loading the stuff into the back of my red Toyota, I got a strange feeling picking up one of the boxes. It was like a vibrating feeling coursing through my arm as though from a speaker, and a low muffled sound. Confused, I stuck my hand into the box, and the vibrating stopped, though I could still feel the sound ringing in my ears. I shook my head trying to get rid of the strange mumering and wondered what it could be. I suddenly reminded myself there had been some kids toys in one of the boxes, so it was probably just one of those battery powered ones. Convinced by this, but still a little unnerved, I pushed the sound to the back of my mind, and shoved the box in the back of the van, a little harder than necessary.


Within fifteen minutes I was pulling up to the side of the building to drop off the stuff. The lady that helped me unload the things from the van gave me a cheeriy smile and I gladly handed the stuff to her and her partner. Feeling better, I got in my car and turned the key in the ignition; I turned on the radio as I did so, to that night's sports game. Reaching my driveway, I turned off the car and stepped out, the cold night breeze on my face. I could hear all the wonderful sounds of the night: The crickets,the frogs, and... What was that? Was that talking? I looked around, there was no one there. It was kinda creepy, but it seemed harmless enough, it was probably just the wind or.... But isn't that how every horror story goes, They say "oh it's just the wind" but it's never the wind is it? I shook the thought out of my head, scolding myself on my childishness. My wife is right, I do read too many horror novels. Walking with more confidence than I felt, I went up to the door.Then somthing happened that put the mysterious sound right out of my mind. Humming softly, I sifted through my keys to find the right one. I couldn't find it, so I looked again, and then remembered that I had not yet put the new key on my key ring. I groaned realizing that I must have forgotten it on the hook next to the door. And then I realzed that my wife's phone would not be on while she was on duty. I pondered driving an hour and a half to my wife's work and back, but I decided not to, as she was sure to get upset with me, for disturbing her while she was working, and I figured, I'd just let her get her work done, and call a lock smith instead. Anyway, I called the locksmith, and he informed me it'd probably take him about a half an hour to get there.  He told me to he'd meet me out front, so I hung up and sat down on the stoop.
I decided it'd be nice to sit out here and look at the stars, which was somthing I did all the time with my dad when I was little; so I got up, unlocking the trunk to get the blanket I always kept there. As I picked up the blanket, I noticed somthing small and dark green half under the seat. Reaching under, I pulled out that book! It felt kinda, strange, in my hand, almost like, it was too heavy. I should have just thrown that book in the garbage, but of course, since I had a cheap as hell phone, with no internet, I sat on the steps and started to page through it. Just as I thought, just a stupid kids book. Still, with mild curiosity, I opened it up to the table of contents, and chose a random story.


It was chapter 9, and it was called simply, "Swim". I began to read. It was pretty normal at first, talking about a puritin girl going to the market to buy a loaf of bread. While she is shopping, she finds a stand and buys a few loaves. She pays for the loaves and leaves. But the baker wants more money, so he stops the girl and says she didn't pay for the bread. She denies it and begins to argue and pushes the man, who lunges for the bread, misses her, and lands in a mud pile. The man, publicly humilated, decides to get revenge, and tells the town that she is a witch. The town, turns into an angry mob and takes the girl, ties her up, and throws her into the river. And it ends.
I sat there for a couple seconds, confused as hell as to what I had just read. I thought it was rather morbid for a kids book. I read another one, this was about another girl accused of witchcraft that also died, this time being burned at the stake. I looked through the pages, dead...dead...Dead! I threw the book down on the steps and stared at it. I'd have to burn it, I thought randomly. I reached in my pocket and groped around for my cigarette lighter. I took it out, and bent down to the book and began to click it. Then before I was about to light it up, I stopped. A murmuring sound seemed to be here with me, and it was slowly getting louder. I looked around and called, "Hello?" No answer. I looked down at the book, and could suddenly hear myself thinking: What the heck are you doing? This is stupid, no less a big fire hazard. It's just a book. I reached into my pocket and brought out a stale cigerate, and lit it.


Puffing slowly, I looked down at the book. Just a stupid book. I sat there for about 10 minutes, reflecting that the locksmith would be here soon. Then, as if in response to my thoughts, I saw a man hurrying up the driveway. I sat up expectantly and called out a relieved, "Hey". But when the man looked up, he didn't look anything like a locksmith. For one thing, he had no tools with him, for another, he was staring at me with a devilish grin. He held out his hand, revealing a chunk of moldy bread.


"Ya want some bread, darling?"


I screamed bloody murder, and surely woke all the neighbors as I ran, the man sprinting behind me. I sprinted into my backyard and nearly tripped on a protruding root as I ran inbetween trees, searching for a getaway through the woods. I could feel my heart pound uncomfortably in my chest as I stumbled through the pitch black forest, all the time hearing the man steadily behind me. I could hear his weezy panting slowly coming closer and closer until, I felt a horrible, slipping, sliding sensation under my feet and I fell face first into the swampy marsh made by that day's rain. I tried to scramble up, fearing for my life, but froze when I saw the large, thick boots of the man. I could feel my heart stop as my hands once again slipped in the muddy ooze. It was dead silent.


Then with a jerk I felt whatever, this......this thing was drag me by my collar to my feet. Through my dripping bangs, I could barely make out his face, but what was visble was terrifing enough. A long, deep gash of a mouth, a large bulbous patch that must've once been a nose,and the eyes, oh the eyes. I had not been able to see anything from the steps, it had been much too dark, but now, the eyes were large and sunken, with pinpoint pupils and a milky white iris. I couldn't breathe, I could feel my heart hammering against my ribs, struggling to get free. For what felt like an eternity, we looked at each other, hazel eyes into white, then he began to laugh a cold, inhuman laugh that made my skin crawl. I could feel gooseflesh cover me as he suddenly plunged my body into the swampy water. I was sinking!I could see his white demon eyes, slowly shrinking, as I plungedbinto the icey depths. I could no longer feel the mans claw like grip, but i still couldn't move, somthing was pulling me down down down. I could feel the water enter my lungs and squeeze them tight, feel my body tempature dropping like a falling dumbell. How was this possible? I thought to myself. This marsh was just a few inches deep, at most!!! How was my body being sumerged in the frigid cold murky water? I could hear a scream. A blood curdling screech of a young girl, screaming for her father, and more screams came, one by one, richocheting across the water, inside my head!


"Buddy, ya ok?!?!?"


I had been yanked back out of the water, which had once again became a swampy puddle, I could feel myself coughing, gasping fo air, water dripping from my face and hair, burning my eyes and nose, could hear my heart beating against my eardrums like a war chant. Kuh thump Kuh thump kuh thump.


"Y-yeah," I finally stuttered out, finding my voice. I finally looked up into my savior's face, half fearful it'd be the man, but it was a stranger. "W-who..." I started, but trailed off not really caring at that moment.
"I'm Gearld, remeber? We talked on the phone, I've come to picked your locks?"


" G-G-gearld, oh, ya, I remember."


Gearld looked at me as if I had two heads. "Why were you lying in that puddle?"


"S-Slipped, I slipped," I said, regaing my composure.


"You were doin all that screamin' because you slipped?" he said, looking skeptical.


"Yes." I mumered in a flat voice, my ears going red. The man looked like he wanted to say somthing, but then seemed to shrug it off.


"You need a hospital?"


"What? Oh, no I'm fine." Fine? I wasn't fine at all! I had almost been murdered by a dead man!!!!! I wasn't gonna tell that to this guy though, or anybody for that matter. They'd all think I'm crazy!


Gearld looked at me for one more minute, then seemed to feel awkward, because he said, "Uh, I'll be out front. You still want me to pick those locks?"


"Oh, ya, ya, I'll come with you." I stood up quickly, hearing an awful squelching sound, as the mud slid off my jeans, like minature bombs onto the leaf covered ground. There goes another pair of jeans. I followed Gerald out front and tried to scrape more mud off my now ruined clothes as he picked the lock.


Finally, he said cheerily, "Alrighty. That'll be $65.50."


"Uh, do you take checks? I'm a little light on cash at the moment, I didn't expect to get locked out," I said with a nervous laugh.


"Fine." Gerald said in a tired voice. It was obvious he wanted to get home. He stood there, rather impaintly why I grabbed my checkbook from the glove compartment, and hastily wrote him a check. Then with a grunt thank you, he got in his truck and drove away.


As soon as he was gone, I felt uncomfortably alone, and I quickly jogged to the stairs.


BAM! I fell face first on the steps. I could fell my jaw slam shut against the top of my mouth and tasted blood. I stood uneasily, shaking stars out of my eyes and rubbing my jaw, gently, wincing at the searing pain my feeble touch caused, but I didn't think it was broken. I looked dazily down, try to see what I had tripped on, and stopped, eyes wide and staring, at that awful book. I could suddenly feel a hatred unlike any I had felt before. My thoughts were too loud, sounds and ideas bouncing around like tennis balls. But through all that haze I could only think one thing: Get rid of that godawful book. I bent down, and felt a wave of vertigo, but I didn't care. The book. Too heavy and much too cold seemed limp in my hand. As though in response to my plan, new murmers seemed to be coming, like an annoying buzzing of a bee, which only continued to fuel my rage. With all my might, I chucked the book as far as I could, hearing a loud splash as it landed in the dirty gutter, and was carried away from me. Satisfied, I turned to go inside.


I sat down at the tv and flipped through the channels, not really caring where I stopped. Finally I stopped at a cheesy, old movie, I think it was a western. I burrowed into the couch, still shivering from my time in the puddle, but too tired to get changed. The hum from the tv was slightly annoying and I tried turning down the the tv but it only got louder. Finally giving up I shut it off, making a mental note to bring it to the shop tomorrow to get look at. I waited patiently for the sound to dissipate for the lulling peace of night to carry me uneasily off to sleep. The memory of that thing, real or not, still sent shivers down my spine, Makingme glad of my irksome habit of always locking and shutting every door, window, and cupboard which had many times led to others (and sometimes even me) getting locked out.


The quiet would not come. I could still hear the darn murmuring  getiing louder and angrier than before, shouting in mad, demented voices, both male and female, young and old. I could barely make out what they were saying, so loud and garbld the din, but I made out one word clear as day: "Kill". This mob wanted somebody dead, and they wouldn't stop until that somebody was. And then, as though changing the channel on a tv, the mumbling stopped, and the screaming began. There was one voice at first, but more soon joined, like a chorus of banshees. It was like some unknown being was screaming in my ear, though the noise seemed to come from the inside, reverburating off my skull, beating against my brain. I fell off the couch onto the floor though I hardly noticed, the old scruffy carpet like sand paper as I rolled around, grasping my aching head and crying softly. It seemed to go on for days, though it must've been just a few hours. At some point I must've thrown up, but I can't remember when. All I could remember, barely, my wife finding me in the morning and rushing to call an ambulunce.


I woke up some hours later in a room I'd never seen before. The walls, floor and curtains were all a bleach white, and sun trickled in through the window like a golden ribbon of silk. I couldn't move. I was just too tired. The screaming and the cry of the mob were still there, but seemed to be muffled and more distant, like a radio picking up a far-off signal. I felt a numb feeling in my right arm, it had no doubt fallen asleep. I tried to move it into a more comfortable position, but felt something long and rubbery brushed against it. I looked down and was confused for a second until my sluggish, doped up mind finally realized it was an IV, of course I must be in a hospital. That explained a lot. I heard  the sound of a brisk tap on the door and opened my eyes, seeing a nurse wheeling in a tray.


"Oh good, you're awake. Dr. Mavis will be up shortly."


I just stared at her, looking like a dope, not knowing what to say. Wheeling the tray into the cornor, she picked up an orange plasic cup and walked briskly over to me.


"Open please," she said with her sharp, grey eyes fixed on me. I lay there confused, my brain still slow.


"Open your mouth!" she demanded, a little less patient this time.


Finally understanding, I felt the woman shove the pills into my mouth, a little more rough than I would've liked, especially for a nurse, and pour water down after them. I began to choke but the woman slapped me on the back and I was able to swallow it.


"Stay still and let the medicine do it's work. The doctor will be in shortly." And with that she left the room.


I sat perfectly still, not wanting to annoy the nurse further. She was obviously grumpy. I shut my eyes, feeling the warm sun on my face, and trying to ignore the screaming, which had been muffled still further by the medicine, only a slight hum now,and with that I fell asleep.
****

It has been a week since I found that book and It's still here. The book physically may be gone, but I'm starting to fear this curse will never leave me. The screaming still hinders me so much I had to quit my job. I just couldn't concentrate. I have been taking asprin everyday and it seems to muffle it somewhat, though not entirely. The ghost of the man is still here, too, though only visible to me. He has not attacked me since that night, but I am still fearful. I don't know where the book is now, it seems to have disapperead. I searched the gutter for it to prove to my wife that it does exist, but It was just...gone. It was too big to have fit down the sewer drain, so that leaves the dreadful possibility that someone might've taken it. If someone did take it, then it is my responsibilty to give this warning: If you find Salem's Short Stories burn it. Do not look at it, do not touch it, and whatever you do, never ever read it.


Fin


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