Horror Vacui - a horror short story

in fiction •  10 days ago

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Original artwork by @f3nix

Horror Vacui





The moonlight rested on the east side of the Wagner Tower like ancient bone dust. An ectoplasm of frayed awareness crossed a tenant’s mind in search of oblivion: the dull thuds coming from God knows what remote corner of the building had ended and he could finally sleep. Somewhere between the seventy-fifth and seventy-fourth floor, a keen ear could at times have captured a muffled conversation.

"... I could not do anything but regurgitate my music on them."

"Soon they'll rescue us, will you keep writing that song you were talking to me about?" Dr. Wallace cautiously tried, receiving nothing but a hostile silence.

The psychologist opened her eyes wide as a cold tongue seemed to viscously violate her skin between her shoulder blades. She suddenly noticed that she’d backed up against the elevator’s control panel and her light silk shirt was dripping with acrid sweat.

"How did you feel in that moment during the concert, Mendo?" She continued with her most professional cadence.

"Imprisoned. A parched frame on which lumps of black film simmer under the light of the projector. The howl of the crowd brought back to my ears my own distorted notes and words. I could not stop feeding their lust for entertainment, but there was no pleasure in the obsessive coitus between me and that ocean of obscenely lit bodies. That pulsing ooze was bubbling under the stage, ready to pounce violently against me ...”

"..Like waves in a stormy sea against a lighthouse. I understand." Screened by the encouraging inflections of her own voice, trained over the years, Dr. Wallace lucidly recorded the increasingly frequent hesitations in the patient's flow. Silences were, perhaps, more important than words.

"Then it happened. Slowly." The patient continued. "I became the spectator of a dream in which everything was emptied and flattened. Looking at me from outside, I realized that the crowd, the stage, I myself were made of only two dimensions ".

"It is possible that this unusual situation is helping us to bring out aspects that we have not yet duly evaluated, Mendo.” She stared off into the distance as if talking to someone else and the observation remained suspended in the air like an insect in amber.

"We have to dig deeper." Hidden by the short suit jacket, Dr. Wallace's fingers now played mechanically with a shining obsidian bracelet.

He resumed. "There was something else. Horror vacui. "

"The fear of emptiness, as defined in the Middle Ages," answered Dr. Wallace.

She wondered what he could hide behind that story of two-dimensional perception. Ever since the elevator had stopped, Mendoza had squeezed himself more and more into the opposite corner. His left leg had begun to dance grotesquely, its twitching animated in comparison to the rest of his motionless body.
Now, the drenched shirt of the doctor was gradually ungluing from the elevator’s wall and her body converged towards him.

She thought of when she had asked Mr. Anatoliy "Mendoza" Volkov, her long-time patient, to go downstairs with her, after having granted him that extraordinary emergency therapy-session at her office.
Stuck between two floors, between space and time in nobody's dimension, she felt she had to maintain the primacy on the game’s conduct. Until everything, perhaps a matter of moments, would be over.

A sharp glass wool whisper emerged from the patient's mouth. "On that stage, I suddenly realized why the ancients called it horror vacui. Once flayed the entertainment, before my eyes just remained the glabrous worm of the drive. I, then, pushed myself beyond the language of pleasure and death, beyond the illusion of will, and finally I encountered the true horror. In that moment, I understood the ancient obsession with filling empty spaces. For this reason, even now, the masses are demanding more and more entertainment: they must be sure that they never look in that direction, where he awaits us patiently ".

"Bravo Mendo, talk to me about emptiness." An almost sweet encouragement while, perhaps due to the progressive lack of oxygen, the psychologist seemed that the space between her and that shocked pile of bones and skin began to throb.

"Because the void is crawling. They knew it! And they did everything to not observe it but… it does not always work and once you see it, you just want to keep looking. Then, he looks at you." He continued his diaphanous, piercing whisper. Now his eyes were on the doctor, hollowed out and wide open at the same time.

"Like the black sea of bodies beneath you, while you were feeding them with your music". She was drawn, unknowingly across the Möbius strip of her patient’s delirium. Her fading consciousness failing to differentiate between the perception of roles and the social scaffolding between doctor and patient. "Continue, Mendo".

This time, nothing but a growing moan came from the other side of the elevator. Something was wrong. The walls pulsed, throbbed rhythmically.

"..mmmMMM .."

The doctor instinctively reminisced about that sound, one night when the wind had hit the fixtures of their old house in the mountains so intensely that it produced a long banshee howl. Her daughter had emitted a similar crushed lament.

"Mendo..." Dr Wallace’s voice sputtered out. Her vocal cords frozen as his psychic poison filtered through her mental barricades. Suddenly her eyes had stopped staring and they had been fastened up behind her back, where an inexplicable sound of backwash now gushed.

The last whisper of Mendo: "The Yellow King has arrived."

The doctor began to gasp desperately trying to pull out any sound: she had to go back to take the initiative otherwise Mendo's thoughts - the thoughts of them both - would self-power as the Larsen effect of one of his amplifiers.
Then, as in one of those nightmares too intense to be borne, she felt a cold electricity of awareness running through her synapses.

In the sudden darkness, an inhuman scream profaned every cell of her body.

The doctor could not tell if those were her own screams. Running over Mendoza, away from something in the corner above the elevator’s door, for an eternal instant she saw herself from the outside. She tasted the primordial horror; slick, acrid bile blossoming inside her. The exciting warmth of a voluptuous, beautiful alien cancer inundating her guts.

A wicked smile spread in rampant ecstasy. It comes.

Closer...

Clooseeer...



"Ding!"

The elevator’s doors opened softly and a silly mall version of Take me Home, Country Roads flowed out.
In front of the night watchman’s half-mast eyelids, a more than ordinary scene. Perhaps too much ordinary. Just a few minutes ago, a frantic malfunction alarm had been repeatedly sounding from elevator five

"Are you all right, doctor?"

"I think I leaned against the alarm button by mistake. I’ll give my patient a lift back home, he's not feeling that well". A showy stretch on her stockings ran along her left leg like a zebra strip. She held her patients hand, guiding that empty shell of a human being.

He knew that patient, a regular visitor of her Studio. The watchman remained dangling for a moment in front of the psychologist. She threw him a forced smile of exhortation, hurrying to fill that uncomfortable questioning space.
He would have said that there was something wry and mechanical about Dr. Wallace's behaviour but, after all, it was none of his business what the building's tenants do at 2am.

While the strange couple walked away along the deserted corridor of the hall, the guard seemed to intercept a particular sentence, from the doctor pointing to that empty chrysalis: "Tonight we will end up writing the music." It didn’t matter. He decided he had too many messages still to be checked, it was time to go back and dive into his smartphone.


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Once in a while, I managed to finish the story. I hope you enjoyed it. One last thing, next time you take the lift..if I were you I would not turn to that corner.


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It's a beautiful story, it's definitely horror but it's difficult to see the horror because of your narrative and descriptive devices that you employ.
The truth is, I've never seen any piece more figurative and filled with imagery. The way your use of language coruscated with the the upset of flair in your prose work shows the work of a master piece.
This is by far one of the best prose fiction I've read in a while, I also like the dialogues in between the prose as well, beautifully written and amazing as well

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Hello @josediccus, I read your comments sometimes and I came to form an opinion about you of a clever and fine mind. That's why your comment has a great value to my eyes and it means a push for me to keep writing.. The dialogues have been calibrated in an almost alchemic process. Thank you.

Finally you posted the complete version of the story! It's a creepy pleasure to read it!
You should write horror more, it seems a genre in which you are very crafted! And, like in the best horror stories, it's what isn't described that is more frightening...
"Horror Vacui" becomes "Horror in Vacua" ;)

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Thanks for the support my deranged friend! I feel so glad that I could offer you a cup of fresh shrimps' salad.. talking about horror in vacua 😂

Well I sure do pity any keen ear that happend to capture that particular conversation. Some poor chap could have has nightmares for years to come.
Elevator corners have just become a source of unease. Thanks very much.

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You're welcome @headchange 🙂 Now I'd suggest you to brush up the elevator scene in Shining and the picture is complete!

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Well aren't you just ever so helpful. You are right of course that will make things oh so much better I am sure. 👀

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I'm always helpful, I learnt from Dr. Wallace.

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Well you better watch your back then. Learning from the good Dr. Wallace could lead to all sorts of interesting ins and outs.

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"I should finish these stories some time." - f3nix.

congrats

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Thanks my friend, very much appreciated.

This horror short story is an excellent example of how to build a creepy sense of the macabre. The descriptive passages are beautifully crafted and the story is subtle and horrific. I particularly like the ending which leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions about the psychic domination of the protagonist. Great job! :-)

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Thanks @raj808 for your unique help and constant encouragement! Your stories and your observations are always an occasion for growth as a writer. Yes, I try to work a lot in that effect of progression and inner contamination. I wrote, let it rest and rewrote again a bunch of times.. Thanks for being part of the @bananafish and please update us about your writcoin and the recent awesome news in the post promotion BFR area!

It's a great story for the fact that you set the scene so well. Your use of language and descriptions to set the scene gives it the feeling that there is always something more in the background. Some unspeakable horror that we haven't seen yet and it's that which makes it a great story for me.

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Thank you @niallon11! That's exactely what I wanted to obtain. In my Finish the Story contest, week 26, the first half of the story was way more naive but then I changed/polished the characters quite a lot.

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It needs to be done. I think that all authors change and smooth out the stories as they go. Every time you start a story it grows and develops it's own personality so the writer needs to adapt to that.

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Ditto, man.

That was amazing, your use of language was spot on. It even felt like it was building a cadence as I was reading(yay not possible), I will have to re-read to see how you did that. Brilliant climax build though, It was almost as if you wanted the reader just as confused as the characters seemed to be.
Dang, my comment's too long to bring you haiku buddy...
Great post, most deserving of that curie vote.

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Thank you! I put down a script and worked on it reviewing it in several occasions, polishing adding and subtracting.. in the end I was almost sick and poisoned as dr. Wallace.. so I have to say that you made quite a point with your comment.

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Thank you, I like to at least add something halfway useful to a conversation. I see a lot of people just saying the same thing over and over, where every comment starts in the same way.

You run a couple of communities on here don't you? I've seen the finish the story, and something about bananafish a couple of times.

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You're right. Steemit has a problem with real human interaction. I run the Finish the Story contest, which I put in a separate account, @bananafish, for the reason to make it become a more shared initiative. We have our discord community and we added a poetry contest. You're very much welcome to try your pen with us.

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lol, it would be a bloodbath and not the good kind. I'm not much of a writer, I do some technical writing/documentation and some legal crap like policies and procedures. I sit down to do a free-write or something and end up with a blank page.

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That's exactely why you should try this

It is a scary story that keeps you in suspense from start to finish, very very interesting indeed, although I insist on this: some other image to make "breathe" the text, I definitely would not have fallen badly, but I loved the use your language, words and wording, everything is perfect, and I applaud you standing up for that and for the great ability to create stories!

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Thanks for your constructive critic. I worked a lot over that progression and "the breathe" .. my intention was to not let the story breathe too much, convey some concepts but at the same time keep rythm and climax. Besides, I like the short story format. But I'll keep in mind your observation. You could be a good participant of my Finish the Story contest, by the way.

Hello @f3nix, this is extremely funny. I want to participate in @curie's positive feedback contest, and this was the first post I found.

And more than for the contest, I'm delighted to have come across this content. I'm a Spanish-speaking user, and it's very difficult for our paths to cross sinceI don't consume many posts in other languages. But this is undoubtedly what I was looking for, I've spent weeks with a kind of novel written in a draft and could not find the way to publish, since I did not know how hard to read could be for users. If a Spanish speaker can read in English without difficulty, I think it won't be so difficult. You certainly helped alleviate my fear, thank you very much.

Comment Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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Thanks so much for your appreciation! I'd suggest you @cervantes if you are Spanish. I'm not sure that I understand how I alleviated your fears but I'm glad I did. I'm Italian btw but I strive daily to learn and work on my English lexicon and style.. learning is a life time process!

Hi f3nix,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

Visit curiesteem.com or join the Curie Discord community to learn more.

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Thank you so much. What would be steemit without @curie?

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

I love short story and yours was great. The story flow nicely and i have to finish it in "one breath" Are you a writer or just write short story. If not, you can consider to write a novel, I bet you can sell a lot.

next time you take the lift..if I were you I would not turn to that corner.

Opps.. You caught me :) I think i have to avoid that corner for a while.

Keep up this amazing talent @f3nix

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Hahah thanks so much @oliviackl .. I wish I could write a book one day. Let's say that I'm warming up with steemit! You're a cool one, come playing at the Finish the Story contest when you feel 😉

Congratulations--it must be frustrating every week to stop mid inspiration and see others spirit away your story. This was a great take--best part was

Take me Home, Country Roads

Great mundane contrast---absurd message, in light of what transpired in the elevator. And then the unknowing, unsuspecting watchman. Nicely played.

Is this where you always intended the story to go?

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Is this where you always intended the story to go?

More or less yes 🙂 I'm in favor of a crawling horror.
Country roads! Hahah you know that is me blinking to Felix when he talked about that music being coupled with disasters.. I wanted to create that effect so I picked that song as a joke 😜 Thank you, I'm so glad that you liked it!

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Felix...keeps you on your toes, doesn't he :)

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Hahah indeed

I was actually listening the audio version of your post @f3nix through @tts. Quite interesting and thrilling to hear than to read I guess, especially that its a horror story.
I love it!
You've done it very well.
Do you focus on horror fiction in your blogs?

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Hello @ronel, thanks for your words! Actually I created the Finish the Fiction Contest and the @bananafish community.. running them takes time but when I can (rarely) I like haiku poetry and horror/sci-fi/surreal fiction. If you want to join the contest you're welcome, today I'll publish week #28.

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Oh! That's fantastic!
You've done your community service very well here on Steemit.
I salute you to that!

I don't know if I could join the contest if I could have time.
But thanks anyway buddy!

Keep up the great work!

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How cool, thanks bud 👍😎

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You're very much welcome!
Thank you as well!
How's your day today?

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Ohh it's Friday.. God bless the weekend 😎

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Its Saturday now here!
God bless all days! Its hot in here. But some part of the country are raining and flooding because today is the day the super typhoon 'Ompong' is landing.
Where are you now?

Oh man, what a finish! Nice. Dude you should also be participating along with us in your contests. We won't mind you know :)

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I would like it. I just need to find a way to create a slave-clone and send him to work in my place! Thanks for your appreciation, bud 😉

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As a follower of @followforupvotes this post has been randomly selected and upvoted! Enjoy your upvote and have a great day!

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“And that kids is why Cthulhu and Hasturr are still fighting each other, because one of Cthulhu’s acolyte left Country Roads playing which tipped off Hasturr” chuckled Nyarlathetop to the recent offspring. Resteem’d.
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Hahah I hope you enjoyed my Country Road hommage.. It's the perfect song for a city erased by a tsunami or a volcanic eruption of shit.. but it's also ideal in a horror story!

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Haha! Yes.

This definitely reminds me of stories pertaining to the Cthulhu mythos. The style of delivery and the enigmatic conflict the presents in the story. No resolution but more trivial questions that come and make no sense. It is one of the best depictions of writing horror and you did a good job portraying horror for the unknown on this one.

Not exactly happy that there is no clear answer to what and why of the story but that's also something that makes this story great as it is. If the horror was resolved, it wouldn't be memorable anyway? Congratulations and job well done.

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Thank you @adamada and apologies for the late reply. Yes you made quite a point as the story could be intended as a prologue.. there's still a certain music to be written, and played.

Your post had been curated by the @buildawhale team and mentioned here:

https://steemit.com/curation/@buildawhale/buildawhale-curation-digest-09-13-18

Keep up the good work and original content, everyone appreciates it!

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Oh thank you! :-D running to check..

This post has received a 3.13 % upvote from @drotto thanks to: @sbi-booster.