Bells Will Be Ringing

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A father recants his experience with a long forgotten holiday in the form of a bedtime story.

Submitted: December 24, 2014

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Submitted: December 24, 2014

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Bells Will Be Ringing

 

 

“Ah, that's what you want, is it? A story before bed?” The man said to his young son, draping thick red blankets over his small form.

 

The child gave a small nod.

 

“Then a story it is!” The father declared.

 

He stood, still clad in his white work shirt and tie, taking quick steps over to his son's bookshelf, “Now, which would you like?”

 

“No, not one of those, one you make up,” the boy pleaded.

 

The father chuckled, stepping back to the bed, passing the window, and feeling the grim chill that seeped through its sill. It was enough to stop him dead in his tracks, as he pondered at the blackness that was infinite through that thin barrier of glass. He shook his tortuous thoughts and returned to his son's side.

 

“One I make up, huh? How about one that's real? A cautionary tale of sorts.”

 

“What's 'Cashenary' mean?” The child asked quizzically.

 

“It means that you want to avoid the events of the story happening to you as they did me,” he made sure his child was snugly encased from that terrible chill still clawing its way in. With a deep breath drawn and released, he began the story.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Years before you were born, before daddy had met mummy, I was just a young boy like you, in a bed like the one you are in now. My mummy and daddy loved me more than anything in the world, and they would tell me everyday. But things were different back then, there were days of the year that all parents would mark on their calenders, a day that came once a year.

 

You see, this day was one that many before me had celebrated, way back in my own father's day, but when I was a boy there was ne’er a soul who praised this day. We all were afraid of it. For on that day mummies and daddies everywhere were scared of losing their little boys and girls to the chimes in the sky.

 

I was about eight, exactly two years older than you when this terrible day was just waiting for the sun to rise on it. The eve before, when all through the house there was nothing but silence and the cold breeze whistling against the windows, was when it happened. Every lock, every brace, every alarm was set and in place. My mother was sleeping in her bed, and my father was at my side. The hours had passed slowly by, and he couldn't keep his watchful eyes open. I should have been the one to sleep, but my baser urges had stepped in to stop my safe slumber.

 

I had to pee, and couldn't hold it in anymore, so without thinking, without letting my father know, I quietly crept out of my bed, and into the black hall. The darkness was too much for my young eyes, and I could see nothing, not anything two-feet from my face. Out of sheer muscle memory I was able to navigate my way to the bathroom. I was getting to be a big boy, and could easily reach the light switch, so I flicked it on and did my business. When it came time to flush I stopped to contemplate its sound, which I thought would wake my parents. That's when I heard the chiming of bells.

 

The sound was magnificent, music to my ears, a symphony that put on me an inescapable awe. I was drawn to the bathroom window by their beautiful rings. My eyes focused from the trance, in that moment I had seen what drew me in.

 

Just outside the sill on that snowy and cold night was the cherry face of an old man. He had hair and a beard as white as the streets were that winter, perfect pearly teeth that stretched into a kind smile, surrounded by strawberry red cheeks that hung under brilliant blue eyes that stared into me with a remarkable gentleness.

 

The jolly man silently laughed on the other side of the glass, then blew into his hands and rubbed them together to mime how cold it must have been outside. I felt only sympathy and weightlessness as I reached for what he pointed to. That golden latch that sealed the window, my only barrier from that gleeful old man.

 

It flicked open, and slowly, patiently, that old man slid his thin-gloved branch-like fingers under the window's ledge. I watched in disembodied paralysis as the man inched that window open and stuck that joyful face in ever closer to my own. With one of those stick fingers he reached for my nose, and just as I saw the horror that hid behind that clever guise, he tapped my nose, and I fell into a deep sleep.

 

When my eyes finally opened again after what felt like a century of being closed, they adjusted to the sight of macabre paradise. Bright red resilient walls that shined in compliments to their gold trim, green tendrils of plastic pine wrapped around pillars of white striped crimson, and along with their sedative jingles the silver bells adorned the walls all around. It wasn't the building alone that scared me, but those that filled it, and gave its grand architecture irony. I found my foot shackled to an even longer chain connected its entire length to the countless children as young as I. All of us were dressed in green outfits with pointy shoes and hats, makeup pasted to our face making each child seem more like a rosy cheeked doll than a boy or girl. Tables as long as the chain's length were placed in between us, and upon them were trays of assorted treats and delicacies that the child across from me with his sad but dolled up face had busily placed on its shiny silver surface.

 

One of the treats had been a cupcake of masterpiece quality, white frosted with red sprinkles speckled in, a cherry dotting its peak. With one hand guided by my ever hungry stomach I reached for that splendid pastry, but my wrist was swiftly caught by my neighbour to the right. A young girl, maybe a year older than me, which I could only tell by the look in her eyes that said she had been here long enough to know better, to know all the horrors that transpired here. The shake of her head and those glazed eyes were more than needed to tell me not to touch. Instead, she showed me that my duty along with her's and all the children of my line were to carry the trays steadily down the line. To where I could not tell at the time, and there were so many other lines, so many other chains that I could not tell if my destination was better than the rest.

 

After all the boys and girls on my row carefully picked up their trays we marched forward to my left. One foot always in front of the other. The chain gang next to us were all heading in a different direction, carrying nothing in their hands, I assumed it was towards the kitchen, but I didn't want to assume that they would never return.

 

Our line marched like a single file army of toy soldiers until we entered into a boisterously mad room filled with a massive and rambunctious crowd of pointy-eared men and women much taller in stature than any of us. They cheered, twisted, and sang, some getting involved in very grownup activities, it was not a sight for children such as ourselves.

 

The crowd suddenly flew into a ravenous disarray at the loud ring of a bell that marked our arrival. The sharp eared party-goers began to clamour and shove us around, plucking entire trays from our hands. The girl who warned me, now behind me was torn into the crowd for her treats. It was then that I noticed the shackles around our ankles were no longer locked in place.

 

I began sprinting through the uproarious crowd, avoiding all the hands that would pull me into their sea of twisted and grasping fingers. It was pure adrenaline that carried my small form, and that prevented me from dropping the tray still clutched in my hands. Deeper and deeper into the crowd I ran ducking and diving, shooting past other children who were too slow, or fallow in reaction to something they had suffered time again. I passed all that I could see, and found myself to now be alone in that crowd, but still in very real danger. My heel was caught on a foot and I fell backwards, but landed softly against something warm. My first instinct was strangely to check my tray and make sure everything had been as it was, it was.

 

I felt the warm surface under me shake and screech with nerve-wracking rage as I flew to my feet. I turned to face a beast out of a madman's nightmare. A creature of black fur, slender legs that came to sharp points, sickly green orbs for eyes, and razor horns that resembled the limbs of a dead tree in winter. It was a whole pile of these creatures lazily clumped together with their big round bellies, but only one seemed particularly phased by me. It stood, taller than any of party-goers, its long neck craned down at me, drool seeped from its lips, and its still squirming, still screaming stomach sagged down in full view showing me the fate of those that disturbed this creature. Its jaws began widening inches from my face, and I could smell a most sickening stench drift up through its wet throat carried with cries of pain and anguish. My feet felt heavy and unmovable, but it was my luck that saved me ultimately.

 

The creature closed its immense maw and turned its attention to a direction I dare not turn myself, and with an unappeased growl the beast slouched back down onto the pile of its brethren, resting that unsettling stomach I had been spared from.

 

My feet were frozen in place, the treats still held firmly at my waist, eyes still watering from the stench of the animal's breath. Soon the time came to pass my vision upon my saviour, and dread pooled at the back of my mouth.

 

The one who forbade the razor-horned beast from making its meal more plentiful was the same who plastered that jovial bearded face over the abomination underneath. He who sat atop a mighty golden thrown higher than any in the spacious hall. Dapper in crimson red robes and midnight black boots. Two older girls seated at his feet, much older than any of the children I had seen, with the lifeless expressions I had saw on the girl from earlier, only much more aged and defeated. That old man- that Old King it seemed, still kept his calm and happy demeanour amongst this hellish debauchery.

 

His spindly stick fingers stretched out and drew me towards him. Without even looking back at my other options I pressed on, almost in a trance once more. I began to climb those long golden steps, towards the King of crimson red. It was like climbing a mountain, each step brought me further from the muggy warmth of the floor and closer to the emanating chill of his presence.

 

When I finally stood at his boots he motioned for the tray. I struggled in lifting it, feeling as if the tray once light now had been increasing greatly in weight. His slender stick fingers reached out, intent on plucking that masterpiece I had desired not twenty minutes previous. My eyes fell to one of the older girls who had silently been plying for my attention. The short but clear shake of her head made me sure of what I thought next. Her dull listless expression wasn't only reminiscent of the one who I had seen pulled into the crowd, but an exact match to her makeup encrusted face, only a few years more mature. I realized then that that young woman was the same girl only aged, and that in my trance-like state I had lost track of time. In an instant I felt as if I had been at the boots of this red king a hundred times over, and at this epiphany I fled from his heels.

 

A frantic rush carried my now seemingly longer and limber legs down the steps. That large rotund king bellowing out in rage, and giving quick and nimble chase for such a large man. Treats and pastries tossed from the tray in my shaky descent, cascading sprinkles, crumbs, and frosting down onto the steps. I could feel those fingers nearing my neck, and at the base of the steps the pointy-eared attendants and the scorned beast awaited me, the latter had begun stretching its jaws out. I prepared myself for a fight.

 

At the base, the old man drawing closer, I shoved the party-goers aside, smashing the tray into one or more sneering faces, and turned to the beast's maw. I gripped that silver platter in my hands tightly, and with the vigour of an adolescent lad I jammed it into the creature's throat at its widest and most suffocating angle. The creature recoiled, choking violently just as the bearded man reached the floor, I dashed into the crowd.

 

I shoved my way closer towards the warmth, with the chill nearing at greater pace. It was there in the middle of the hall that I found a mountain of fire. What seemed to be a massive pile of children's toys was ablaze in an effigy fashion. There was nowhere to proceed but the blaze. I turned to face my captor with hopeless courage.

 

He now stood but feet from me, his gelatinous gut swivelling with every movement, his face still pleasantly smiling, unchanging like a true mask. His eyes drifted to my hand, and to my own surprise out of some subconscious action I had still retained the masterful confection through my retreat. With no way out my mind tasked for any mercy it could achieve, and I held the cherry topped treasure out for his hands. Those thin branch-like fingers reached for it once more, but before they could finally have the wondrous frosted cake my hand fumbled.

 

Forever how long I had been there, be it hours or years, I had carried the silver tray with sure grip, but in that instance, with just the one delicacy in my hand, it felt like I carried all the weight that held me here. It hit the bright lit floor with a soft 'plop' and the entire hall, uproar and all, fell deathly silent.

 

The man's face began to sag, not in a frown, but a literal sagging of his skin, like the mask had finally begun to fall off. He charged with those stick fingers, ready to tear me apart, but in one sudden misplaced footing he slipped on the now squished pastry, and took uncontrollable flight. I fell to my heels and braced to be crushed, but for how thick he was, they bearded man was weightless in the air, and threw himself straight into the inferno.

 

His skin was pierced by the burnt plastic and wooden embers of the raging fire, he writhed and became more consumed by the flames. All around me the children began following my example and used their trays against their oppressors. It was a long due rebellion, but instead of aiding the others in their uprising, I only wanted to escape this place. I sprinted in the direction of my random choosing and ran until my feet gave out at the base of two large redwood doors. I prayed for them to open, and as they did to my command I looked out into the snow, which spread out to the black abyss of a starless night.

 

I slept until the light finally broke the darkness.

 

 

* * *

 

 

“What happened next?” His son asked, eyes still wide with intrigue.

 

“I woke up warmly in bed,” he assured, “You see, no matter what happens in this life, no matter how terrifying, there will come a morning in which you will wake up in your warm bed.”

 

“But what about the other children? And the old man, the monsters?”

 

“Well, I'm sure that like me, the other children woke up in their beds as well. As for the old man and monsters, they're all gone. It has been years since anyone bothered marking that date down on their calenders, in fact, I haven't even thought of it in quite some time,” he brushed his son's hair back, gave him a kiss, and stepped over to the doorway.

 

“Goodnight, daddy.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

The father flicked the switch and left the room in darkness save for his son's nightlight. He glanced over in the direction of the window, but the draft was no longer there. This made him smile. The door stayed closed behind him, and he adjourned to his own bedroom, where him and mummy enjoyed their own alone time before sleep.

 

In the morning he woke with his wife's bare bottom still pressed into his pelvis. Minutes passed and they laid there giggling too afraid to leave the warmth of each other, but eventually left that warm blanketed embrace most struggled to leave every morning.

 

He started breakfast for them all while his wife showered, the news was turned on for background noise, he paid no attention to whatever tragedy befell people today, but he should have, and he would for some time. The hurried call of his wife finally alarmed him, and he rushed upstairs, leaving bacon to crackle on the stove alone.

 

His wife knelt in the doorway of their son's bedroom, her face was petrified in shock, and tears began to streak her face. The father rushed to her side and stared into the empty room as she began to shriek and whimper. The sheets were a mess, the window wide open, and on the dresser sat blood speckled bells of silver.

 

The date that the world had forgotten, not out of neglect but out of need for all the misery it caused, was that cold and somber morning.


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