The Sallow Man - short story.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
WARNING- DON'T READ THIS STORY!!!!!

Submitted: July 26, 2015

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Submitted: July 26, 2015

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~~THE SALLOW MAN.

The Sallow Man loves screams and wails and voices begging for mercy like other men love music or good food or fine wine. He is a very lucky man. He has his own dungeon. The dungeon has no windows. No sunlight ever comes in, which is why The Sallow Man is sallow. His skin is very bad and it comes off in flakes where it rubs the collar and cuffs of his raincoat.
The Sallow Man loves his dungeon. He lives there with his ninety three victims. They are displayed around his dungeon in chains, in ropes or on hooks. They spend all day, every day, in terror and in agony. The Sallow Man doesn’t talk much but he does giggle. He has a rather high pitched, girlish giggle and he tends to put his hand bashfully over his mouth when he does it. The sound of people, whether men, women or children, in pain always sets him off to giggling so when he is in his dungeon he giggles a lot.
He loves it that his dungeon is his place alone. No-one can ever come here except the victims that he drags there. A lot of the time, when his victims scream, they scream for someone to come and save them. But no-one can ever save them. The Sallow Man isn’t like ordinary men. He exists in a different way. He was never young and will never get old. He was never born and will never die. His dungeon exists in a different world from where his victims came from. No-one who would rescue them can ever reach them. All their cries for help are futile. The Sallow Man likes that. It makes him giggle.
As the Sallow Man tours his dungeon he likes to savour the delicious memories of how he took each victim. He finds one woman who hangs, chained, to the wall. She hears his slithery footsteps close by and begins to beg for mercy. She can’t see him because The Sallow Man long ago gouged out her eyes. Sometimes he thinks to himself that he shouldn’t blind all of his victims. He thinks that maybe it would be fun for them to be able to see him when he is torturing them. But he just can’t help himself. There is just something so lovely about watching that soft jelly pop.
He reminisces about how he took the woman. He thinks about the first signals from outside his dungeon that he could take a new victim. The signals are the first inkling that someone outside of his dungeon knows about his existence. This is how he connects with the world of his victims. He reaches them through words and whispers, rumours and scare stories, pulp pages, grafitti, sick poems and scribbled drawings. That great swirl of words are his bridge to his victims reality. He will use any means and any media. When he first learned he could take this woman the information came to him in the tiniest fragments; the date- 1985, his gateway to reach her - flimsy black tape, Betamax. And finally the means by which she new his name- ‘Revenge of The Sallow Man- The Ultimate Horror’…
####
‘Oh no it can’t be true- The Sallow Man isn’t real’ cried Brad the movie’s handsome hero.
“I’m afraid he’s very real,” said Professor Von Helding. ‘The Sallow Man has come for Tessa. Quickly or we’ll be too late.”
The movie cut to the old dark house where Tessa was in danger.
She was running up stairs in terror. Her short dress fluttered, showing a lot of thigh. She ran down along, long corridor. At the end of the corridor the door was locked. She whimpered in terror as she pulled at the handle.
Cut to the face of The Sallow Man as he bared down on her. He was leering as he produced a sharp hook from the pocket of his coat and then a rusty razor from the other pocket.
‘You’re not real. You’re not real,’ said Tessa.
‘Oh yes, I am,” said The Sallow Man…

Caroline Dawson paused the video. Her hand was a little shaky. A close-up of The Sallow Man’s face was frozen on the screen. She hated looking at it and wanted to switch it off but she would feel foolish if she did that. She wouldn’t admit to herself that he scared her, even though the hairs on her neck were all standing up. Her cat, Marmalade. Climbed into her lap and Tessa cuddled her for comfort.
“What the hell did I rent this crap out for, Marmalade?” she asked.
The answer was that Caroline had made the wrong choice when the home video revolution happened. A salesman had convinced her that Betamax was better quality. This was true but, unfortunately, very few films were released on it compared to VHS. The section for the, coffin sized, Betamax casetttes of her video rental was getting smaller and smaller all the time. None of them were major releases. Caroline was always stuck with stuff that she had never heard of. She had picked up ‘Revenge of The Sallow Man’ on a complete whim.
“Marmalade it wouldn’t surprise me if we were the only people in the entire world who have ever actually watched this rubbish.”
It was a terrible film. It looked like it had been made on a budget of fifty cents. The acting was wooden. The script was dreadful. The cinematography so murky she could barely see half of what was on screen. Sometimes Caroline could enjoy a crap film. She could sit back with a glass of wine and some chocolates and laugh at it. She couldn’t laugh at this film though, because of The Sallow Man. 
The Sallow Man was truly horrible. He stood out completely from all the other elements of this bad film. Every time his yellow face appeared on screen she felt a shiver of revulsion. She didn’t want to look at him but couldn’t look away. She had watched him through fingers and over the top of clutched cushions. Often, he had seemed to stare at her out of the screen. She looked at his face on the paused screen, now, and tried to see the make-up that made him look so awful but her eyes couldn’t find it. The Sallow Man’s sallow-ness looked very real.
“Maybe we should watch ET again.” Caroline got up and walked over to the coffee table where she had left the video case, as she walked with her back to the TV, The Sallow Man’s head slowly turned on screen, to follow her movements. Marmalade saw him and hissed.
“Marmalade calm down.” Caroline picked up the video case and read: “DON”T WATCH THIS MOVIE. If you do you will be drawn into the terrifying, sadistic world of The Sallow Man, an entity so evil that even to hear of his existence could you in immortal peril.
Brad and Tessa stumble upon the legend of The Sallow Man when they buy a book…’
Caroline stopped reading and put the case down. “I need a coffee. Do you want some milk?”
As she walked from the room, The Sallow Man’s face on the screen turned to watch her go. Marmalade hissed again.
“Will you calm down? What’s the matter with you tonight?” Caroline shouted from the kitchen.
The Sallow Man began to stretch himself forward. He reached and reached as far as he could until his yellow fingers were touching a ledge – the edges of the TV screen. With great effort he pulled and he pulled until he was lifting himself up through a barrier. His upper body was wrenching out of the lines and MHz and fuzzy colours of the analogue television image like a diver emerging from water. He slithered out of the rectangular screen and landed on hands and knees on the floral patterned carpet. Marmalade leapt forward and scratched his hand. The Sallow Man stared for a moment at the tear in the yellow skin of his hand. Then he grasped Marmalade by the throat. With his free hand, he reached into his coat pocket and brought out a rusty razor blade.
A few minutes later, Caroline returned to the living room with her cup of coffee and a bowl of milk. “Here – where are you darling?” her cat was nowhere to be seen “Oh, suit yourself then.”
She sat down and frowned at the TV in confusion. She was sure she had paused it with The Sallow Man’s face on screen. Now the picture was of an empty backround. She hit- Play.
The movie cut to Brad and the Professor in a speeding car (or rather a car in a studio with bad back projection) rushing to save Tessa.
‘I only hope we’re not too late,’ said the Professor.
‘How is..erm..i mean.. it ..how is it possible that this evil thing exists professor?’
Hunky Brad kept pausing in the middle of his dialogue. He was obviously having trouble remembering his lines. Caroline
thought maybe she should have got some wine rather than a coffee to get through this crap.
  “Where does he even come from?” asked Brad.
The professor threw up his hands. “Where does any evil come from? Where does any rumour or legend begin? Don’t they always seem to come out of nowhere? The Sallow Man exists in that space between fact and fantasy but when he gets hold of you better believe he’s real. He enters our world through those things that make fantasy into reality, in fact MORE real than reality stories, songs, books, paintings and photographs anything with The Sallow Man in it is a gateway to a new victim for him. Even movies…”

Caroline felt a shiver run through her. She would have sworn the actor looked right out of the screen, right at her as he spoke the last two words.
  “Movies professor?” asked Brad.
“Yes, it would be a very foolish thing for anyone to watch a movie about The Sallow Man,” sighed the Professor “just as it is dangerous to read a story about him.”
“But why Professor?”
“Because he can step out of the screen and claim you if you do,” the Professor turned and stared straight out of the screen “ As Caroline Dawson is about to find out.”

Caroline’s coffee cup tumbled from her hand. ‘What did he..WHAT..what did you say?” She glared at the screen in surreal bewilderment. The Professor glared back.
Caroline felt dizzy and faint. Her head drooped. It was then that she saw the blood stain on the carpet.
  Brad and the Professor were both now staring from the screen. They both pointed there fingers at Caroline, just past her shoulder, and in unison they hissed “He’s – behind – you!!”
The Sallow Man stood in a shadowy corner of her living room. Caroline screamed. The Sallow Man giggled.
“You’re not real. You’re not real.”
“Oh, yes I am.”
He brought out a sharp hook from his coat. She leapt to her feet and ran but not fast enough. He swiped and his hook cut into her buttock, fastening on the flesh. He dragged her back. She screamed again fell face down on the floor. She saw the gutted corpse of her cat under the couch. The Sallow Man’s yellow hand had a grip on her ankle and the hook had a sharp hold  into her muscle. He drank up her cries of fear and pain like they were delicious nectar.
He dragged her back toward the TV screen, towards his reality. Once he had her in there, she would be his forever with no escape. Her finger clutched at the carpet and she screamed over and over: “This isn’t real. This isn’t happening.” They always said that. But they always learned the truth, He was real. He was true. Soon he would be her only truth and only reality. It would take time but eventually she would learn. Once he had her in his dungeon, she would have all eternity too learn……
The Sallow Man looks at the woman in his dungeon now; blinded, burned and mutilated. Her agony would never lessen and neither would his enjoyment of it. She had been with him for thirty years now but thirty years now wasn’t even a speck of the total she would stay with him. She was his forever. He giggled at the thought.
To The Sallow Man, his dungeon was a treasure trove of delights; the screams a sweet symphony. Touring its dark vaults never bores him. One of the victim’s who had been with him longest was a novice monk who he had found in an mountain monastery eight centuries ago. The Sallow Man – or “Ludris Homos’ as he had appeared in the victims book- had clambered from the beautifully illustrated borders of the huge folio. He had been warned by the senior monks never to read that book but his curiousity wouldn’t let him not turn the pages. As soon as he read, the signals that a gateway was opening reached The Sallow Man – year 1274, Oneeirocriticia Hihil Mortoe, Monserat.  He still savoured the look of horror and regret on the novices face when he had appeared before him. After a century, The Sallow Man noticed that repeating his prayers seemed to give the monk some comfort so he tore his tongue out with his rusty razor.
The youngest, most high pitched screams are from two children who hadn’t listened when their grandmother told them never to play the special record in her jazz collection. As soon as the needle hit the vinyl, The Sallow Man felt the signals – year 1927, Harlem, record- ‘The Ballad of the Yellow Skinned Man’. As the record spun on the turntable, The Sallow Man came swirling out with the music like an evil typhoon, amoungst the crackles and the mournful trombones. 
He had stepped, dripping paint, from the frames of watercolours; a yellow figure in the backround one moment, a real figure with hook in hand in a gallery the next. In monochrome, he had walked out, down the aisle of silent movie theatres. His victims had found him in second hand bookshops, heavy metal videos, porn films or sometimes just old fashioned stories around the campfire. When old routes closed to him others opened. The age of Latin folios, vinyl and video were over but technology had found him a whole new generation of victims.
As he sits in his dungeon listening to the delicious wails of his victims, he feels the twitches of new signals, from a new victim. Some poor fool is opening themselves up right now, presenting themselves to him to become the newest addition to his dungeon. He feels the signal – date 2015, www.booksie,com, ‘The Sallow Man’. He’s delighted as he realizes that someone is reading his story right now, even though they have been warned not to. How very, very foolish of them! He can feel his new victim’s sensations. He knows the hairs are standing up on their neck and a shiver runs down their spine. The Sallow Man can hear their thoughts as they say to themselves ‘Oh come on. This isn’t real. It’s just a stupid story. Nothing is going to happen.”
The Sallow Man tingles with sadistic pleasure. He decides he is going to savour this one. He won’t appear to them right away. Not even when they finish reading the story. He’ll wait until that night. Or maybe the next night. He’ll wait until a moment when his victim is caught alone somewhere, in the dark. The victim will find themselves thinking of The Sallow Man and feel a shiver of dread. But then they will reassure themselves and say to themselves – ‘Don’t be ridiculous. It was only a stupid story. He isn’t real.’
It’s at that moment that The Sallow Man will step from the shadows. There will be a leer on his yellow face and a rusty razor in his hand and he’ll say: “Oh yes I am.”
And he’ll giggle.




 



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