Of Late I Think Of Clayton

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Another strange tale from the collection about Chadam.

Enjoy.

Submitted: June 03, 2008

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Submitted: June 03, 2008

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Of my old friend Clayton Phillips I do not speak oft of anymore. It is not because relations between us became sour or even because we simply just fell out of contact. It was because he changed; metamorphosed into something which I cannot readily sit and discuss. Most would say that he never even lived. He was always a nebulous sort of fellow but I always found that that was his charm. Maybe it was pity that led me to introduce myself to him when we attended Gregham College in our younger years. I had seen him throughout my upbringing in our small town of Chadam but I never said much to him. Our town was small, stuck in a time warp if you will. Most of the buildings were of late civil war era but still remarkably well up kept. Several other small communities and towns dotted the landscape but Clayton always liked to stay at home. He was a remarkably intelligent man as I would learn. When I first met him we both were attending the same English class. It was only by chance that we made an introduction. We were assigned a group project in the class and he and I were both absent the day it was given so the Professor deiced to pair us together. He was bashful, timid, and when he spoke it was with such meekness that even a deaf mute was more personable. He was warmer to me than most though. Perhaps it was because I felt sorry for him as I said before. I never knew if he caught on to that or not.

Our friendship grew slowly over the course of our college years. We never had another class together but we still kept in touch. It was really more of a concerted effort on his part. I never had even considered him a friend until his disappearance. It is odd how that which is right under our noses we never notice until it is gone. As I said earlier, Clayton liked to stay at home and I did not mean Chadam. He was very secluded. The house he resided in was at the edge of town and was surrounded by the woods. It was a wonder that the postman could even find it because it was so far tucked back behind even more trees in the front. Clayton never openly invited me to his home but I knew where it was. I don’t think he knew that however. Even still, I do not believe he would’ve ever invited me over anyway and I am not one to invite myself.

I refer to the house as an ‘it’ because Clayton’s house was not like the other houses in Chadam. It hardly seemed like a house at all. If it were not for the windows and mailbox at the foot of the pathway I would’ve guessed more an abandoned farmhouse. It was an enormous house, far too large far a young man and his mother only to live in (Clayton’s father was killed in The War. A touchy subject that I regret ever bringing up with him). The lot was always kept tidy spare the debris that would fall from the towering oaks and weeping willows that gave the front yard a most befuddling look. A wrought iron fence stretched the length of the lot as well but only in the front. The back of the yard had its own natural fence, the Chadam forest. The wood which was used to build the house was dreadfully old. Older than the buildings in town even. It was faded and black from time. The porch was covered in dust spare a lone rocking chair which Clayton said his mother would sit in during her more healthful years. As for the few windows the house had, many seemed they would shatter if one were to breathe on them the wrong way. How they survived the harsh winters of Chadam I do not know. But what was the most eerie thing about the house is what made me, and many others, refer to it as an ‘it’ rather than home. Anybody who walked the long pathway to its front steps would be overcome by fear or just a feeling of immense foreboding. To this day I feel as if the house is watching me as I pass it by, regardless if its view is blocked by trees or not. Clayton told me once that he never had that feeling when he came home. He told me he had had it since he can remember living in that house.

After college he went to work at the local hardware store. Why he took so many classes in science I never understood. He never left that hardware store. Even after its owner died he took over and ran it himself. We talked occasionally post-graduation. I started my own newspaper in town: The Chadam Herald. Clayton would drop by once a month or so just to have lunch with me. We wouldn’t talk much at all. We never did say much at all. I believe that Clayton thought our awkward silences brought us closer together because there was always someone trying to bombard him with conversation. I thought nothing of it. I humored him I think because I pitied him and really the company was not all that bad. When we did speak it was never of his home or his family. Most of the little conversations we had revolved around myself and the paper. I answered all of his questions when he had them. I never asked him anything except about the hardware store. I do not know if I was too afraid to ask him or I was unsure if my questions would offend him.

I had taken up residence not too far away from Clayton and his house. My business operation also happened to be my house. The town complained of the printing presses and the noise they made so I had to find someplace else to do my work. I find it odd though that those same people never complained of the myriad of noises coming from Clayton’s home late at night. The noises occurred in the hours of the night when everything, even the air, seems completely dead. Perhaps that was only because of the house itself. Another thing that I will never be sure of. The noises wouldn’t have been so bad had they been somewhat natural. But as it was, they were not. They were minor-keyed choruses of drones that weren’t loud enough to make one scream to hear themselves but they were loud enough to make one’s insides ache like the bowels of hell.

Finally, after a few months of the noises at night, I mustered the courage to ask Clayton about his house. It was a simple question. I just asked him what those low pitched drones were that came from his house at night. He never gave me a response. He just gave me the most quizzically innocent look a man could produce. I shrugged and told him that perhaps it was just me. He agreed. It was the last he and I spoke of such matters aloud.

The noises stopped for a good while. At least a couple of months if not longer but at last when they returned one cool fall evening they were louder than ever. And different. Instead of the minor-keyed chorus of drones it was a deep gurgling sound. The sound that a man dying of phenomena makes, when the lungs are so full of fluid that he can no longer continue breathing and begins to choke. It was a sickening sound and as much I tried to ignore it and put it off as nothing I could not. After several more nights of the same noise I decided to venture outside to listen to it. It was even louder still out there. Surely the town’s people must’ve heard it! And so the next morning I asked the people who received my paper if they heard any unnatural noises in the night. All of them gave me a puzzled look and a resounding no.

More months passed and life went on as usual. Or as usual as it could in a small town. The most puzzling and ultimately terrifying thing in my strange acquaintanceship with Clayton Phillips happened in Mid-July of 1926. The noises had returned yet again that night and I waited for them. For the past few months I had sat awake and waited for the hour when they would start. I was beginning to frighten myself for still no one else had heard them. Not even Clayton! On a miserably hot Mid-July night I was sitting in my makeshift kitchen where I had dozed off with a half-eaten sandwich in front of me when all of a sudden the earth began to quake and a combination of the minor-keyed chorus drone and the gurgling began. I fell from chair and landed with a thud upon my floor. I do not know if my reaction was from sheer shock or the trembling of the earth was that great. I ran outside to see what was happening and I noticed something eerily peculiar. The earth was shaking but my house and all of the buildings in town were not moving. The only one shaking violently as if it was having a seizure was Clayton’s house.

Its blackened wood frame seemed to be coming apart from the inside out and I as I stood at the foot of the pathway that led to its horrid porch I saw Clayton emerge with a sullen and calm look I shall not soon forget. I think he saw me but if he did he made no movement towards me and said no words to me. No sooner had he stepped out of the house did I see its door swing wide open and a swirl of blackness more dark than the darkest depths of hell could conjure wrap its evil grasp around Clayton’s waist. He made no noise. His mouth may have opened to say something but whatever it might’ve been the house was too loud to decipher it and it was too dark for me to read his lips. The blackness pulled him back into the house and the door slam shut. The ground was still trembling but now it began to quiver even more than before. I could stand no longer and collapses from the shaking. The house began to gurgle louder still and I was forced to cover my ears because the sound was so sickening and loud I thought that they would begin to pour blood. The house began to shake even more violently than the earth was and before my eyes the brightest flash of light I have ever seen and probably will ever see encompassed the house. From what I can recall it emitted from the earth and wrapped itself around the posts of the porch first and began to swallow the house whole. And with no sound whatsoever (it was as if the whole world went deaf for that singular moment) the blinding light became a blinding explosion and I the sheer force the blast knocked me over and rendered me unconscious.

When I awoke I was still lying in the dirt road and in front of the path way to Clayton’s house. However now, there was no house at all. It was an empty lot. No wrought iron fence lined the front of it. It was as bare as it was before the house had been built. To my amazement and horror there were no scorch marks or any signs at all that there was once a house on the lot. There was no trace that anything had ever been there at all.

When I asked the people of Chadam if they saw anything, again they gave me a puzzled look and a resounding no. What’s more is that upon asking them of Clayton Phillips the response was and is always the same: ‘Who is Clayton Phillips?’

Of late I think of Clayton Phillips and his odd daemonic house that once resided next to mine in the small town of Chadam. I think of what he might or might have not said when he stepped onto the porch that one hot night Mid-July of 1926 and I think of what that blackness and that blinding light could’ve been. Perhaps the devil was collecting and overdue rent. Perhaps, but at any rate, of late I think of Clayton.


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