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Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Webpictures 002*Recording starts*

Harris: This is Inspector Steve Harris of the National Crime Unit, with me is John Graves, a researcher for the National Computer Crimes Unit. It is… four thirty two PM, on the twelfth of July, two-thousand and fifteen. Mister Graves is here voluntarily to discuss the disappearance of his fellow researcher Andrew Norton.

Graves: Just one thing Inspector, I resigned. So I’m no longer with the NCCU.

Harris: You’ve tendered your resignation but you’re serving your notice and still being paid at present. So far as this investigation is concerned you’re still part of the NCCU until your resignation is accepted and processed.

Graves: Figures. So where do you want to start?

Harris: For the record could you describe the nature of your work and your relationship with Mister Norton.

Graves: Our group is a small team that investigates reports about online… nastiness of various kinds. We try to identify people in supposed snuff pictures and videos, children from child porn pictures, and trace creepy people. It’s a tough job in a lot of ways and nobody really expects us to make too much of a difference. I mostly work on the sexual depravity and Norton on the grotesque stuff. Our relationship, such as it is, is that of co-workers.

Harris: Why did you resign?

Graves: I’d rather not talk about that. I’d already tendered my resignation before Norton disappeared.

Harris: I’m afraid I have to insist. I’m sure you understand that you may be a suspect.

Graves: As you can imagine, staring at this grim fucking shit all day, every day, seeing it in your dreams and so rarely being able to make a difference wears on you. I began to disturb myself, so I decided to get out.

Harris: So you admit to a disturbed state of mind?

Graves: Not exactly. Norton was a lot twitchier than me it’s just like… well, you ever talked to firemen?

Harris: Can’t say I have. Can you get to the point?

Graves: The point is that burnt human flesh smells a lot like cooking bacon and one of the most horrible things about dealing with a fire is salivating and feeling hunger around disfigured and burnt human remains.

Harris: I don’t follow.

Graves: For God’s sake. I spend all day looking at images of sexually abused men, women, teenagers and children. Drugged, abused and subjected to all manner of fucking depravity. After a while it stops making you vomit and you start looking forward to the less bad ones. Do I have to spell it out?

Harris: Please say calm Mister Graves, I believe I follow your point. So what about Norton? You said he was more twitchy than you were?

Graves: He has a lot more experience than I do. He’s been looking at scenes of torture and death for a couple of years now. I don’t think he’s ever managed to get really callous to it. We used to talk about work, who else are you going to talk to, right? He was still trying to make sense of it all. To understand the why and the how of it.

Harris: That seems healthy to me, but I’m no psychologist.

Graves: I don’t think you can make sense of it. Maybe that was gnawing at him. Maybe if you could understand, really understand, the mind of a killer you’d be one. I try not to think about it. I try to concentrate on the job.

Harris: When do you think he started to go off the rails?

Graves: Maybe a fortnight ago? Things started to change around then I think.

Harris: Do you think anything triggered it?

Graves: Video 19121314.

Harris: What’s that?

Graves: I never watched it, but it’s the latest ‘hot thing’ around the fora we keep an eye on. A supposed real snuff video, though most of them turn out to be fake.

Harris: I don’t know it, can you tell me what you do know?

Graves: It’s a short, grainy low-resolution video of what seems to be a couple of kids, wearing big suits, maybe belonging to their fathers, stabbing another kid, slowly, to death with kitchen knives.

Harris: Jesus…

Graves: That’s a Thursday afternoon for us.

Harris: Was it real?

Graves: Norton thought so. I didn’t. He gave me some stills so I could try and find the kids involved.

Harris: And did you?

Graves: No, not enough to go on. It was too low resolution and there were a lot of image artefacts.

Harris: Artefacts?

Graves: I mean… like when a bird flies in front of your satellite dish, yeah? Interrupts the signal and makes it break up? All those little squares and lines?

Harris: Right, got you. Norton thought it was real though?

Graves: Right, he was convinced. Obsessed even I’d say. He kept working on it.

Harris: He ever get like that about a case before?

Graves: Not a case, exactly.

Harris: Can you explain?

Graves: Norton used to take breaks by looking into urban myths and scary stories people used to share. He got especially obsessed with the Waukesha stabbing.

Harris: I don’t know that either.

Graves: Couple of kids got obsessed with a made up supernatural character and attacked another girl. Stabbed her a dozen times.

Harris: That’s nuts.

Graves: Like I said, that’s a Thursday to us. Anyway, that wasn’t the only case like it. There were others, all in America though. Ohio, Florida, Pine Ridge. He wouldn’t shut up about them.

Harris: And this related to that?

Graves: He thought so.

Harris: So this video came across your desk, and that’s when he started acting up?

Graves: Started acting up more. He was always a bit jumpy and grim. I think he was drinking, but he did his work so I didn’t begrudge him or report him.

Harris: You should have.

Graves: I know, I’m trying to be honest here.

Harris: How did he act up?

Graves: Little things at first. He gave up smoking and started vaping. Looking back, I think it was so he didn’t have to leave his desk.

Harris: So he was working non-stop?

Graves: Yeah, and taking his work home. It’s a rule, generally, that we don’t do that. Psychologist says it’s a bad idea to stay stuck in that stuff. We all break the rules sometimes, if we’re on to a lead, but he was taking stuff in and out of work on a USB drive, I’m sure of it.

Harris: What else?

Graves: He turned off his nightlight.

Harris: Can you explain that?

Graves: We’re working on screens all day, so we want to keep the daylight off the screens so we can see. Keeping it dark also helps us pick up details in the pictures that we might miss. Even the slightest difference can provide a location or an ID. We keep little nightlights or LED lamps so we can find stuff on our desks. He turned his off.

Harris: Anything more that struck you as odd?

Graves: Yeah. We don’t face the public, so we wear mufti most of the time. Save when the brass or a politician is coming around. Even then we don’t usually see them. They’re there to see the glamorous stuff like the organised crime data. They don’t bother with us. He started wearing a suit though, every day. Suit and tie. Said it made him feel more professional and better able to concentrate. Told me some bullshit story about Magritte.

Harris: Who?

Graves: Some surrealist painter. I don’t know. Didn’t make him really look more professional though. After a couple of days it looked like he was sleeping in it, and he stank.

Harris: The drink?

Graves: No, stale sweat and piss and… like ozone. I thought a computer was burning out for a while, but it was him.

Harris: And you still didn’t report anything?

Graves: No, he told me he was closet to figuring it out. I assumed he meant cracking the case.

Harris: But you did report him, the same day he disappeared.

Graves: Yeah.

Harris: Why?

Graves: I was worried about him. I tried to get him to come out for lunch and he wouldn’t. I hadn’t seen him eat for a few days. I brought him back a sandwich and tried to sit with him for lunch, but he wouldn’t eat and I couldn’t stomach it around his smell. Not that close. So we just ended up talking.

Harris: What did he talk to you about?

Graves: Nonsense.

Harris: Anything you can remember, no matter how stupid, might help.

Graves: He’d been pursuing those same leads. He had this crazy idea that it didn’t matter if monsters were real or not, so long as they could inspire people to do horrible things. He said they were just as real as they needed to be when that happened. There was some other nonsense as well, things he’d read on conspiracy sites and had gotten from crazy people on Youtube. Things about this Tibetan idea of a ‘tulpa’.

Harris: What’s that?

Graves: The idea that ideas and thoughts can become real. He said it was a metaphor for how things shape people’s behaviour. Religions, memes, that sort of thing.

Harris: Cat pictures?

Graves: No, well yes, but memes are any idea that can be transmitted. At least in theory. It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s nuts.

Harris: And that’s when you decided to report him?

Graves: That was the final straw, yes. He sounded insane. Smelt insane. Looked insane. I couldn’t cover for him any more. He wasn’t on the verge of a break, he was on the verge of a breakdown.

Harris: I think that’s about it. Thank you for your cooperation Mr Graves. You’ll remain on the payroll until your resignation is complete, but you’re not expected to work.

Graves: I can go then?

Harris: Yes, just one thing though. [Interference] He didn’t just disappear. He did have a breakdown.

Graves: Shit [interference].

Harris: I’m afraid [interference] stabbed his wife and daughter [interference] times, before disappearing.

Graves: If I can [interference] help. Please do let me know.

Harris: Interview ending, the time is [interference].

 

 

 

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london_fogNight security jobs are unmitigated shitness. You sit – alone in a little room in a huge building, all alone, and stare at flat-screen monitors upon which nothing happens for hours and hours and hours.

A smart phone and a solitary television with the sound turned off the only respite from black and white pictures of an empty building. Twitter and scrolling headlines across the bottom of twenty-four hour news a welcome distraction from mind-numbing monotony.

These people online and the newsreaders become your next-door neighbours after the world’s gone to sleep.

It’s easy to imagine you’re all alone up here, tucked away in your little room. Once it hits three in the morning even London goes quiet. There’s nobody out there on the streets. The ones who are still awake are street sweepers or tucked away in the clubs and pubs far away from the business districts.

This is the time it’s hardest to stay awake, eyes drooping. Your body knows its not supposed to be awake and everything is at its lowest ebb. If it weren’t for the unceasing news and internet chatter – bless you time-zones – it would be easy to think you were the only person in the world.

Even that blurs into one though. An endless parade of far off disasters that lose their impact. What’s one more atrocity or war when they happen every day? Sometimes something makes you prick up your ears though, or your eyes. Maybe you hear something about a place or a person you give a damn about. Not some ambassador from a failed or failing state, but a celebrity or something you have a personal connection to.

That doesn’t happen often though. Most of the time you sit and stare, drinking cup after cup of coffee, fiddling with your phone, staring at the screens and wishing you were home in bed.

Sometimes something weird happens though. It has tonight. So I’m writing it down and printing it out. Even if I am on camera, even if I’m going mad. I just need to have a record.

I handle the night security for London’s latest, greatest, newest skyscraper. The Prism. Eighty floors of empty glass and steel. It’s still being fitted out so there’s nobody there at all, save the workers during the day. Everything works, there’s just no offices yet and the bathrooms are all bare bones.

It was a bit past three and I was nodding half asleep over the monitors, not paying too much attention to them. The air conditioning in the building was on but it felt a bit close and humid despite that. If you don’t have it on the buildings get weird, internal micro-climates, some of the big ones even form ‘clouds’ in the atrium. They didn’t want that here, so the moment the building was sealed, on went the air conditioning.

It wasn’t like I could open a window, but I had a desk fan. That helped a bit, fresh air blowing across my face. It woke me up a little, a start and jump like when your chin hits your chest when you’ve fallen asleep sitting up.

That’s when I noticed a scrolling headline across the bottom of the television, for some reason it caught my eye amongst everything else.

“London threatened with thickest fog since 1952.”

Meteorology wasn’t a big news item and its not like fog was unusual, even today, but I hadn’t seen even a hint of it on my way to work. The main news item was some update about some economic conference, nothing of interest to me. There’s a little camera watching me all the time, quis custodiet ipsos custodes indeed, but I decided I’d risk it and go for a look out of the window.

I had to cup my hands against the window to see through the light glare, but it was true. There was a thick fog running down the Thames against the current like a cheap smoke machine and starting to flow over the sides into the streets. Why they thought it was so bad I don’t know, it was thick, but nothing worse than I’d ever seen before, so I just went back to my desk.

In the five or ten minutes I’d been away from the monitors nothing much seemed to have changed, but there was a picture of London Bridge in the box-out. I tried to turn the sound on, but I realised it didn’t have any speakers. I’d never tried to turn the sound on before so I’d had no idea.

I was too cheap to get mobile broadband, so streaming the news to my phone wasn’t going to work out. Not with a flaky 3G connection in the bowels of a giant Faraday cage. I was stuck with the scrolling text, I couldn’t even turn on the subtitles, I had no idea where the remote control was.

I switched to the internet on my phone, even though it loaded at a crawl I could get a couple of pages up. There was only a small update and a few pictures from the unlucky sods up as late as I was. It looked like it was spreading rapidly, even just in the short time I’d been away from the window. That or it was much thicker elsewhere, downriver from me.

The page didn’t tell you much, just that the met office were mystified as to the cause, it was the wrong weather, there was no pollution to account for it, though it had a sickly stink apparently, and they were trying to work it out and asking for more pictures from people around the city. It was local news really. There was some early speculation that it was down to algae or something else, but nobody really had a clue. This late at night the news and the met office – and everything else – was running on the ‘B’ teams.

Twitter wasn’t that much help either. Only people outside my time-zone were awake aside from a few people out late clubbing and they were wasted. I sent them a couple of feelers. Something was making me feel really uncomfortable about the whole thing though I couldn’t really put my finger on it.

I didn’t want to get up from the desk again, that would mean a reprimand if it got noticed. I started flicking through the cameras trying to get a view of outside through the glass, but the only one that worked was a view of the entrance and I couldn’t make out much from there, just a few wisps of mist.

Back to Twitter, there was a tag now #FogDoom – typical nonsense like #snowpocalypse and all the rest. It wasn’t that busy yet but one thing stood out in the slowly scrolling messages.

Woolwich Witch : Got off Skype with my BF. Bunch of sirens and lights on the road and river.

That seemed strange so I thumbed out a quick message back.

Night Wotcha: What’s going on there? Stuck in central London and can’t get the news.

I flicked through the cameras again while I waited, trying to see anything else, even a speck of outside through the window. Still nothing, but the mist was thicker out the door, even through the camera.

Woolwich Witch: No idea, but the river’s high. I can barely see outside. The noise stopped though. Don’t see the lights.

Night Wotcha: Can you get a better view anywhere? Sounds freaky! 🙂

Woolwich Witch: Yeah, I’ll step out and have a look. See if there’s anyone around.

Police aren’t unusual, but a whole lot of them charging through the night down there? Close to the Thames Barrier? That seemed weird. Was it a terrorist attack? Gas or something? It didn’t make much sense to me but it would explain the police. If the river was coming up that could be bad for the city as a whole. Grandad had used to run one of the river taxis. I thought high tide would hit sometime after four in the morning. There was a while yet before that happened.

It was no good, I had to go for another look.

This time the river seemed higher, even from all the way up in the building. It was hard to tell of course, the fog was even thicker now and it was flowing up over the banks and spilling into the streets beyond. It was weird looking, moving in all directions at once, almost like it was alive, questing for a path between the soulless, empty, lifeless buildings.

The BBC news scroller was now talking about a flood warning now, but being not very specific as to why. My desk phone went off with an automated warning, but I didn’t really have to worry here. It was all automated and the building should be well able to resist any sort of flooding. All I’d have to do would be to wait it out until low tide – a matter of hours.

The Woolwich Witch hadn’t gotten back to me again, but I didn’t know her and she didn’t owe me any sort of explanation.

I started thumbing through the hashtag and its all weird nonsense. Drunk and stoned people talking nonsense. More pictures but a lot of them were weird looking. Artefacts and stray pixels, like when it rains hard or a pigeon decides to have a nap on your Sky dish. Some of them were half uploaded, like the image had been cut off halfway through my download, but it wasn’t me.

After the mangled images there were no more posts by that person. Any of them.

I don’t scare easily and I try not to get panicked over nothing but I was scared now. The signal quality on my phone was dropping every ten minutes or so, bar by bar, ‘3G’ to ‘H’ to ‘E’ and even that kept dropping out. The last few tweets I saw on the tag before the data connection completely cut out were even weirder, people who’d gone out to check out the fog and going missing. People not able to get the police.

The TV was all about the fog now. The presenter, someone you wouldn’t see unless you kept my hours, was clearly out of his depth, trying to cope with it. They were calling it a chemical spill, telling people to stay inside because of the fumes, even if it flooded.

Even the TV signal was breaking up now. Weather can do that, but fog was too low on the ground to disrupt any signals. Maybe I was imagining it, but there was a sickly scent, even behind sealed glass and storeys into the sky.

I took the lift down to the great void of a lobby, so empty. Here the smell seemed, paradoxically, less bad. It didn’t make sense to me. Beyond the doors I couldn’t see a bloody thing, it was all thick fog faintly yellow in the dim night lighting.

I about jumped out of my skin when there was a loud bang against the doors. There was a shape there, banging against the glass. The knock loud, but whatever screaming sound was out there dimmed by the thick glass so it sounded distant.

As I got my breath back from the fright I stepped towards the door, and then jogged, fumbling for my keys. Even pressed against the glass I could barely make out who it was, but it was a man. Maybe a policeman, I thought I saw a cap. Just in the seconds it took me to get to the door the banging got quieter and quieter though the shadow looked just as manic and violent as ever.

As I got there it was abruptly silent, a shape in the mist that could have been a man or just dappled shadow, blown away. I fumbled the keys and yanked the door open, shouting out into the fog but there was no answer and the stink made me gag on the words even as I tried to give them voice.

It was hard to breathe, to think, so I got back inside and shut and locked the door again. Back up the lift to my little nest, the only place I might feel safe. The lift seemed slow and the lights kept flickering all the way up, coming on again as I got back. Everything still seemed to be working but the TV was black now, on every channel I could get and the phone was useless.

From the window everything was dark now. I couldn’t even see street lights now. The light from the building made it nearly impossible to see beyond the glass and the moon was dim, a sliver behind grey cloud. I couldn’t see anything.

The smell was getting stronger. I was sensitive to it now, noticing it – or imagining it – behind every smell in the building. New paint, plastic, epoxy, all of it seemed to carry a hint of that stinking fog in it that made me queasy.

It was the air conditioning. It was sucking in the air from outside and the fog with it. It was seeming to rise, shorter buildings disappearing beneath it, the fog seeming higher around the taller buildings as if it were trying to climb them.

I don’t know the first thing about air conditioning. I went as high as I could in the building and cut cables, jammed pipes and stuffed ducts with whatever I could find. Tarp, sacks of cement, plastic, silicon gel from the builders. I think I sealed the building and its only me here. I’m not going to suffocate.

There’s a little computer in my nook. Turns out the tower’s running on generator power now, so I turned off all the lights I didn’t need, and the pumps. Sat and wrote this. I don’t know what’s going on but I’ll save it. I’ve print it out. I’ve put texts to everyone I know into my phone so they’ll send when the signal comes back. I don’t know what else to do but sit and wait.

I’ll go and seal the air conditioning better I suppose, but if there’s nobody out there, what’s the point?

I’m alone.

***

fog-448188Mr Morgan is still missing and has not been seen since the night he caused millions of pounds worth of damage to the Prism Tower, setting back the opening of the tower for at least two months, flooding two basement levels and all but destroying the air conditioning system.

These writings, apparently left by Mr Morgan – though there’s no way to prove that – seem to suggest an impaired state of mind which may have insurance implications. With Mr Morgan missing it is likely that a settlement can be garnered from his estate, though it is unlikely to make much of a dent in the costs.

Without finding Mr Morgan it is hard to know how to proceed further, though it’s clear from his confession that he caused the criminal damage. Given the long term importance of the account I believe the claim is genuine and that we should pay out.

Sincerely,

H Arnold,

Claims Department
Xebi Insurance Co.

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tumblr_m4e9nhnZSE1r7dlj2o1_500

I think my next project, once my brain sorts itself out, will be a collection of short genre-erotica. The idea’s been teasing at me and I intend to do the same sort of format that I did for the pulp stories. That is, approximately 6k stories with approximately 1.5k word ‘episodes’ in four parts forming the story as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll post the pre-edited versions here as I did before, but I might.

The current plan, subject to change, would be:

  1. The Other Woman – An espionage story about a female agent of particular talent and deadly ability.
  2. Tiger Bone – An adventure story about tourists running afoul of tiger poachers.
  3. The Lady in the Castle – A fantasy story about a spoiled brat of a maid waiting in her tower for her prince to come.
  4. Cold Hands – A horror story or ‘paranormal romance’ in which a woman takes a vampire for her lover but things don’t turn out sparkles and rainbows.
  5. No Refuge – A ‘grande guignol’ mystery in which an adulterous lover is betrayed by his unconscious mind.
  6. Heart of Glass – A detective story in which our detective tries to track down a gang of jewel thieves known for using sex as a weapon.
  7. Have a Heart – A science fiction story about a jealous robot.
  8. Conqueror of the Clouds – A steampunk story of an amazing airship and its unconventional captain.
  9. Iron in the Fire – A western story about an ambitious saloon girl dealing with her competition.
  10. Debt before Dishonour – A fantasy story in which a sell-sword finds himself on the slave blocks of Khem.
  11. The Ambassador – A science fiction story about the obsequiousness of humanity in serving a more advanced race.
  12. The Suitor – A horror story about a very persistent suitor.

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Genealogy is a fascinating subject.

What, though, if it takes you back to the ‘old country’ and to a town that no longer exists. What can you learn from a crumbling cliff and a village sunk beneath the waves?

Smashwords

Lulu

Drivethrufiction

Amazon

Also available in a bundle with my other ‘neo-pulp’ stories.

Soon available on iBookstore etc. Just search for my name or the title.

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I’m published in this with a nice, dark little tale of hidden justice.

LINKY-POOH

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Four weeks since we took shelter in the Observatory Golf Club. One month is all it took for the greens to turn yellow and dry, for the water to stop pumping and the power to turn off.

Almost everyone in here, almost everyone still alive is white. The dead outside are almost all black.

The comfort of the hotel rooms quickly faded. The whole place stinks of rot and ruin, of the shit that is piled in the corners of the bathrooms, nowhere else to put it. People don’t know how to take care of themselves, many of them are ill.

I’ve spent my time staring out of the window at the dead beyond. Listening to their moaning, seeing them claw hopelessly at the fences, the wall and the doors.

Bloemstein shot them, the first week we were in here until the bullets started to get low. He decided to keep what he had left: ‘In case the kaffir try to break in’. He seems to think the gangs are a worse threat than the dead – and I have to agree.

The constant moaning and scratching drove Miss Grobler to suicide and she wasn’t the only one. Because I watched I saw things differently than the rest.

Day by day I saw the dead turn purple and swell. Saw them get weaker and weaker, saw their tongues swell and stifle their moans. Then the flesh began to fall from their bones, their clothes soaked in fluids. One by one they fell and could no longer move. They were replaced by those that could still move but even they began to thin as the flies, the vultures and even the dogs took their toll.

Six weeks and even they stopped coming. They’re just a pile of rotting meat, settling into muck now.

Eight weeks and the others came. Men in masks and armour. Men with guns and American accents. They’re picking off the few remaining strays and they’re coming this way. What will come after?

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