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18 June 2012 @ 03:51 pm
The Real LJ Idol: "In The Dark"  
In The Dark
real lj idol | week 30 (prompt 5) | 807 words


I woke up in a dark room that could have been anywhere, but wasn't. I didn't know where I was or how I got there, only that my head was killing me and I was handcuffed. That could not be good.

I couldn't remember a single thing about myself, including my name. What the hell had happened to me?

Nightmare? For a second, I hoped that was the answer and that I'd wake up soon. But time dragged on, long, boring, and slightly damp-smelling. Nightmares were never, ever boring, so it wasn't that. Well, crap. The dark, the danger, and the splitting headache had to be real. It seemed like they ought to add up to something, but I couldn't figure out what.

Think… think… I sat up, and slowly worked my way to my feet. That dusty-damp odor was familiar. Like a garage smell, or a gutter, or no—a basement. God, why was I in a basement, in the dark?

"Hello?" I yelled, which made my head feel like a spike had been shoved right down the middle. Ow, damnit! It hurt like a sonofabitch, like a migraine or something. Maybe that's what this was, and why the lights were off…

No, wait. Handcuffs. Who handcuffs himself? Especially with his arms trapped behind his back?

I tried walking forward slowly, testing the area in front of me with my feet. My left knee felt like it had been wrenched or beaten, and something trickled down the side of my face. Blood?

Why couldn't I remember anything?

My right foot bumped into something solid. I stretched my leg out and moved my foot side-to-side. Flat. Maybe a wall? I shuffled to the left, leading with my hip, and ran into something almost immediately. I turned, and tested the surface with my foot again. Another wall.

I kept moving, slowly mapping out the space around me. It was much smaller than I'd expected, maybe only 8-by-8 or 10-by-10 with a single door. It was a room, in a basement, and I was handcuffed and probably had a head injury. My heart sped up and I breathed faster and faster as the words John Wayne Gacy surfaced, a name that was somehow familiar to me even though my own was lost. But I couldn't possibly have been stupid enough to—

My stomach lurched. The highway…

My car had broken down in the middle of nowhere (silver sedan lost in the onslaught of rain, my mind whispered) and I'd tried to get a ride to the closest town. Finally, a car slowed down as it got near me. I remembered hurrying over to meet it, and then a flash of blinding pain—


I had to get out of this basement now.

I strained against the handcuffs, pulling and twisting, but they wouldn't budge. Worse, with my hands bound behind me I couldn't even use the cuffs as some kind of weapon. I worked my way over to the door again, but it still wouldn't open—it was like it was stuck. Locked.

I kept turning in circles, trying to see something inside that darkness, anything.

The movement kicked off a wave of pain and nausea. Fuck. I stumbled toward the center of the room and vomited, and still all I could think about was that I was running out of time. How in the hell was I going to get out?

I heard a thumping noise overhead, like the sound of someone walking around above me. I backed up quickly, searching for a wall. There. I pushed the handcuff chain out against the gritty, concrete surface and tried to rub the metal raw. Come on, come on…

Footsteps thudded slowly down the stairs, coming closer. I found myself breathing so fast, the darkness sparked before my eyes.

I heard a click and the door flew open. Against a blinding backdrop of light, I saw the shadowed outline of a man holding an enormous knife.

Christ, I thought, scuttling backwards—no sideways, anywhere—just to get away.

The man raised his arm next to the door, and tugged on something I couldn't see.

Light filled the room then, from a cluster of overhead bulbs. I choked at the sight of chain-mounted hooks dangling from the ceiling, and the series of huge, dark-red stains on the floor. My heart slammed to a halt.

I couldn't breathe, couldn't move, couldn't do anything to save myself from what was coming.

I tried to make myself run but all I could do was stand there, knowing that this was it—this was the end. I was going to die at the hands of this crazy-eyed monster and whatever sick torture he had planned for me.

My only hope was that my own panic would kill me before he made it across the floor…

LJ Idol voting for this round is open to all current season participants. Details here.

whipchickwhipchick on June 20th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Augh! So scary! So creepy! So glad I read this in daylight!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on June 20th, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)

Which is to say, that's exactly the reaction I hope for in a horror story. Especially since it's only my second one.

Thank you!
Kristenpixiebelle on June 20th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
Holy heck that was creepy. I couldn't even imagine what it must be like to go through something like this. I never want to know.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on June 20th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)

Sometimes, I like to use the prompt very literally. This idea seemed to work so well with the literal meaning, and since someone suggested another horror story, I thought I'd go for it!

But god, just randomly reviewing John Wayne Gacy stuff online was SO depressing. I'd hate to be in the position of being a victim like this too.
Kristenpixiebelle on June 20th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
I'm a tad bit obsessed with true crime stories, and serial killers too. I wrote about the Museum of Death... but just seeing and reading some of the stuff on them. Yeah, very creepy indeed. Not the way I'd want to go.
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on June 20th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
Oh, creepy!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on June 20th, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
The thought of waking up inside a nightmare that's actually real has always fascinated me, and not knowing anything from "before" would make the experience all the more baffling-- and harder to see any serious danger that might be coming. :0
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on June 20th, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
A lot of my nightmares feel so real already that I have trouble disentangling myself from them; but it is pretty confusing waking up when you're not expecting to see your bedroom, because you remember going to sleep somewhere else. O.o
m_malcontentm_malcontent on June 21st, 2012 04:56 am (UTC)
Very potent....It seems like you really have taken to the genre if this is only your second attempt at horror.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on June 21st, 2012 05:57 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I didn't ever expect to write horror, except that it suggested itself so perfectly for that "Eggshells" prompt. If someone hadn't mentioned wanting to see another horror story, I'm not sure I would even have thought of it!

But with this prompt, and that request... the idea of doing the literal interpretation of 'Gobsmacked' in a really scary context rose up all on its own.

Maybe I should worry. :0
java_fiendjava_fiend on June 21st, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
Oh I love this. How could I not? I love the tension you create in this piece... love how it ratchets up as we take the ride. Very dark, very tense, very creepy and very well done. This is fun to read. Nice work here.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on June 24th, 2012 04:10 am (UTC)
It's very nice to hear that from someone who writes this genre so well!

Despite my less-than-welcoming opinion of clowns, I never thought of John Wayne Gacy as being "The Clown Killer." I heard radio reports of police discovering bodies in his basement, back when this happened. Because there wasn't much detail (other than that he'd killed SO many poor boys), I actually imagined the aftermath of his work to be worse than it was. If that's possible. I thought he was dismembering his victims and mixing them into the concrete. The truth is bad enough, but that additional idea struck me as so much sicker and wrong.