A REFUGE FROM THE STORM a short story by Howard Casner


If you like this one check out my other story, a sci fi short story, The Starving Artists http://ow.ly/ietQ30jF7ov

 

 

A REFUGE FROM THE STORM
               He woke up. No, he jerked up, like someone drowning who finally got some air.
               What the fuck? Where, what…he looked around, but his body sent a bolt to his brain and he frowned from the intense pain he felt and he thrust his arms against his eyes because it was so bright, why was it so fucking bright? Why is there so much fucking…
               And he took a moment, just a moment, just give me a fucking minute here, and then he gently opened his eyes and squinted and looked around…okay, I’m in the car, that’s good, I’ve woken up in my car before, so no, no problem…and he leaned back against the seat and sighed and relaxed and closed his eyes again.
               And then he jerked up again, what was that, five minutes, ten, shit, don’t fall asleep again, you can’t fall…and he again looked around him and, oh, man, not again, I didn’t fucking… and he saw his windshield and it was cracked, okay, that’s not so bad, I can replace that easy, peasy, lemon…and he looked around for more clues, but everything felt a little distorted, I still…I can’t still be drunk, but as his vision focused and he looked ahead of…oh, shit, you’ve got to be joking…

The front of the car had smashed into a tree, Jesus, how many did I have last, I only had a couple though he knew he could never really remember exactly how many he had after a  couple…Shit, fuck, fuck, fuck, he said out loud hitting the steering wheel again and again and again, fuck…

And then there it was, he felt it coming, and he managed, barely, just barely to get the car door open in time to lean out and let it go.

 

After a moment he got out of the car and lit a cigarette. Then, oh, fuck me, what time is…I’m supposed to be somewhere, I think, and he started searching his pockets and the car, I mean, I think, what’s today, Sunday, last night was Saturday so today has to be, and he found the phone on the car floor…of course the battery’s fucking dead, and he threw it onto the seat.

Might as well get this over with and he went to the front of the car. It was bashed in pretty badly this time, a lot worse than last time, Christ the insurance guys are going to rip me a big one over…but he got back in the car and tried to start it, but it wouldn’t turn over.

He got out again, where am I, where the fuck am…and he looked up and down a road that ran between heavy, coagulated wooded areas on both sides, a straight road, no turn offs, nothing, how did I end up here, it doesn’t look, I must have taken a wrong turn, but there really aren’t any wrong turns I can take going…but this place, I certainly don’t remember ever seeing…and then it hit him again, out of nowhere, and he bent over, but this time nothing happened, nothing, Jesus, there’s nothing worse than dry heaves…

And as he stood up he saw the door on the passenger’s side was open and he saw, is that, and he went around the car to the other side and then he saw, he saw, no, oh, god, no, no, no, no, no…

She was blonde, of course she was, what else, and she wasn’t moving. He ran to her and started patting her cheeks, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, don’t do this to…but her neck was broken and her eyes stared at nothing…

Oh, god, Jesus wept, Jesus wept, he kept saying to…I need a drink, I need a fucking…and he reached in the car and opened the glove compartment, no, where, and he started rummaging through the take out cartons, the trash, the junk and empty cans of, fuck, man, just…and he went through the back and there it was, but there wasn’t much left and he drank it down and he stopped trembling a bit and after a moment he took it and threw it into the woods and heard it break against some trees.

Okay, okay, time to make a plan, time to…and he found the blonde’s purse and dumped it out on the road and, there it is, okay, and he picked it up and started tapping some numbers and then he stopped and looked at the blonde again and then yelled Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, loud enough to startle some birds, and he slid down to the road against the car and started to cry. Then everything became quiet again.

 

He walked out into the road again, what am I going to fucking do, what…and then he saw it. He squinted his eyes and looked again, confused, puzzled, I don’t, where did that come from, it wasn’t…and there was a road, a dirt road leading off the main one, leading into the woods. Am I still that…He walked up to it and looked down it and there in the distance was the top of a house or something, all he could see was the very top, a single windowless room like a belfry with no bells.

And then he heard a distant rumbling and he looked up to see huge black clouds coming in his direction, yeah, just what I…and he looked at the new road and the sky and the…and then in a split second he made it, he made the decision, he decided to, he shouldn’t, but what else can I…and he ran to the body and pulled it into the bushes where it couldn’t be seen. He looked down at it, the eyes looking at nothing and he said, look, I’m sorry, okay, I’m sorry, I mean, Christ, why weren’t you wearing your fucking seatbelt, I’m not your mother, I don’t even remember who the fuck you are…

And then he went to the car, looking at the clouds, and he got in and reached for the ignition, please, please, please and he held his breath and turned the key and it started, the fucking piece of shit started, finally, one for the good guys and he pulled away from the tree and drove to the dirt road and entered and then after a few feet the engine died again.

Fine, be that way, and he got out, leaving the car in neutral and he managed to push it off the road where no one could see it and then headed down the road to the house, or mansion, or whatever the fuck it is and when he reached a bend in the road he looked back…what the…where’s the opening to the main…and there was no entrance, just trees and bushes, God, I must be fucked up ten times worse than I…and he looked at the sky and hurried on, pulling his jacket around him as it got colder and windier.

 

The house was old, a couple of hundred years old, American Gothic old, old movie old…

It was three stories with that one single room at the top, and big, Christ is this house big, one of the biggest, Jesus, do they even make them this…there was a front door and windows here and there, a basement entry to the side, the doors latched shut, and a porch, Jesus, a huge porch that seemed to surround the whole house with grounds that were overgrown and weedy and dying, the paint peeling, what was left of it, and there was no sign of life.

He went onto the porch and knocked, Hey, anyone there, Hey…but there was no response, so he looked through the dirty and grimy windows and saw some worn down furniture, some broken, a sheet covering something here and there and through one window a grand piano, of course, a place like this has to have…

He tried the door, but couldn’t open it, shit, so he walked around the place on the porch having no more luck and when he almost made a full circle and was at the back, he suddenly stopped…the basement door…no, wasn’t that closed when I, maybe, Jesus, I’m sure it was except he couldn’t really be sure of anything he saw anymore his head was still pounding and his hands still shaking, but he felt a few drops and then it came down heavier and heavier, so he pulled his jacket over his head, ran to the opening and took a step in and…

 

He found himself on the ground, having fallen, I think, I must have, and he felt his head and, was that blood, gees, yeah, that’s blood, fuck, well it doesn’t seem all that bad, and he breathed in and looked around, but it was dark and he could hear the angry rain pounding against the house, but his eyes adjusted somewhat and he could barely make the place out…it’s a cellar, okay, good, I can deal with that, and he could smell the mildew and dampness and he could make out a staircase leasing up to the kitchen, probably, but then he heard and he listened and there it was again and…okay, okay, take it easy, it’s only a mouse, okay, it’s only a…and then he saw it, a rat, or is it a huge mouse or, what is the difference between…but it moved and he screamed and ran back to the way he came in and…

What the fuck, man, I know this was the…but there was no door, just a single piece of solid wood, no handle, no crack, just solid, and then he turned around and there at the top of the stairs the door to the rest of the house was open when it wasn’t before, he was sure of that, really sure, and he just stood there, confused, until he heard the mouse or rat or mouserat and he hurried up the steps.

He came out into the kitchen, dirty, of course, and dusty, my god, a lot of dust and a dish or two, a chair at a table and on the…no way, is that, I don’t fucking believe it and he grabbed it and opened it and drank and he drank and he drank again, and the he got dizzy and…

 

He woke up, head on the table, cradling the bottle, holding onto it like a life preserve, a dinghy, something, and he looked around.

And then he looked again, and again, but, and he looked and got up and he couldn’t see the cellar door…no, no, now I know it was, it was…

He stepped away from the table and behind him he saw a door into a dining room, and he went through and there was an old mahogany table still standing on its own four legs, God, they knew how to make them back then, didn’t they, and there was still dust, so much dust, just ever…but then he felt his hands trembling and he remembered the bottle and went back in the kitchen and…no, okay, just no, this is so fuck…there was no outside, no outside door or, or, windows or nothing, no openings, just…

Jesus, what the fuck is going, Jesus, that crash really fucked up my, a contusion, I must have a, a contusion, that’s what it, I’ve got to be careful, I shouldn’t go to sleep again, or the DTs, maybe I’ve got them, and I’m hallucinating, but I’ve had DTs before and they haven’t…the only way out of the living room was a door to, what is that, a living room, yeah, a…and he left the dining room and then stopped, don’t do it, don’t fucking do it, but he did, he had to, and he looked back behind him and he saw what he expected to see, or didn’t see because it was no longer there.

He ran through the living room, through open doors leading to an entranceway with the front door and a staircase leading to a landing and other doors, and another opening on the other side leading to another room, but the front door wouldn’t open, he tried and tried and it just wouldn’t, and he heard…what the fuck is that, music, piano… and he slowly went through the other doorway into the room where he saw the grand piano, and the room had windows and a door at the end, but when he went in there was no music, it stopped, it just stopped, it just fucking…and he ran back into the entranceway and the living room door was gone and he went back to the piano room and the windows and farther door were now solid walls and when he went back Into the entranceway he heard some creaking and up at the top of the stairs he could see some light coming in and the shadow of a door opening.

Okay, you assholes, he found himself yelling, I don’t know what your game is or how you douchebags are doing this and he looked at the bottle, is that it, did you motherfuckers put something in this, but there was only silence and the opened door and he went up the stairs, If I catch you guys I’m going to ram this bottle up your fucking…

At the top he tried some doors, but they didn’t open, and he peered down the hallway which lead to an opening with the door whose shadow he saw, and it lead to some more stairs and when he looked back downstairs, the front door was now just a smooth solid wall.

He made his way down the hallway grabbing the bottle by the neck to use it if he needed to and when he got to the stairs he looked up and there was an opening and when he made it to the top he saw another set of stairs and the opening at the bottom of the stairs he just came up was…

He went to the new stairs and climbed up and came to a short landing, this must be that room I saw outside, the single one with no windows in it, and at the end he saw a door that was open and on the other side he could see nothing, black and impenetrable nothing, and he knew there was nothing he could do and he went down the hall and through the door and it closed behind him.

And after a moment of nothing but silence, he screamed, and then he screamed and screamed again, and kept on screaming and screaming until…his screams were heard no more.

 

Sometime later the body of the young woman was found by a hiker in the woods. They never found the man or his car and they looked everywhere they could, all over the place, but if he was hiding there wasn’t any place for miles to hide so he probably fled the state and they put out an APB, but nothing ever came of it. And that, as far as they were concerned, was that.

 

It felt like he had been running for days but it was only hours and he could hear the dogs yelping after him, and he had hurt his ankle along the way and was limping, but he had to keep going, he had killed a guard escaping and he knew what would happen if..

He ran down a road, desperate, and he looked behind him and could see black clouds coming which was good, they might get rid of my scent and they might call off the hunt until after, but he needed shelter himself and he looked again and there was a dirt road he hadn’t seen before and when he looked down it he could see the top of a house or something, a room with no windows, so he ran for it and he came to the house, thank god, it’s deserted, he could tell, but he needed a way in, but the cellar door was closed and the doors wouldn’t open and then he ran around the porch, all the way around and stopped…the cellar, that wasn’t open when…but then the storm came and he didn’t much care and he ran for the opening.

A refuge, he said to himself, a refuge.

Advertisements

So tell me what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s