Die Writing

Alabaster Permanent Assurance

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on July 19, 2017

Boy has it been a while. I have done some writing, though not a lot. I’m participating in NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition again this year, and this is my first round entry. The prompts were horror, company picnic, and an inflatable raft.


“Come on, Brian, don’t you want to be a valuable part of the team?” The gurgling, retching voice seeps through the walls, stalks along the dilapidated corridors. It is directionless and omnipresent. It is coming from every side of the mansion; it is right beside me; it is burrowing and spewing rot inside my brain.
“Be a team player, Brian!”
The voice edges into such shrillness, I want to claw out my eardrums.
Lungs wheeze and burn, legs buckle, blood mixes with sweat. Mind gone almost fully blank with fear. Words and screams tangle. My mouth is wide open, vocal cords raw and straining, but nothing comes out. Throat feels like it’s closing up. Running is the only thing left.
“We could use a self-motivated go-getter like you, Brian!”
The hallway turns sharply, terminating with a door at the far end. The small glass panel at the top of the door is dark. Could it lead outside? I ball up and charge. The rotten wood shatters under my weight and I break through in a burst of splinters and shattered glass. Pain and shock momentarily blind me.
Disoriented, I stumbled and trip over the debris densely covering the floor. There is something hanging in midair, a whole lot of things – long, rounded, firm, and quite cold. They sway gently away from me as I fall down.
I crawl on hands and knees along the floor, slipping and sliding on the binders and manila folders strewn everywhere. My eyes begin to adjust to the frail silver light coming in through the tall windows. I begin to discern long, vertical shadows suspended throughout the large room.
“I see you decided to join the team-building icebreaker!”
Bodies, bare and blue, dozens of them, hang by their necks from the rafter beams. The rope nooses creak under the weight. In the dim light, their eyes glow. Shelly, whose cubicle is across the aisle from mine, speaks to me in a hoarse, muffled voice.
“We are sharing awkward first date stories. Now it’s your turn.”
Her hand moves in a slow, pained arc, rising until it points at an empty noose in the middle of the room.
I dash for the nearest window, pushing and swatting the dangling feet out of my way, smash it with the base of an office chair, and hurl myself outside.
Something immediately wraps itself around me, cutting off all sight. It clings to my skin as I thrash to free myself. I struggle to my feet, and it falls away ¬– the welcome banner. “Alabaster Permanent Assurance Annual Summer Picnic: A Night To Remember Under The Stars.”
I sprint down the slope toward the island’s dock. The tiny yellow light by the boathouse is my only guide. The path is winding and covered in slippery gravel. The tall grass is heavy with the dew, grabbing and slashing at me as I cut through it.
“Brian, do not miss your chance to join a true market disruptor team at the ground floor!”
This time the voice has a specific origin. The shambling mass appears in the shattered window, bellowing. It is composed of suits and dresses, all layered one on top of another, all moving, shifting, rippling. In the center of it is the crumpled, emaciated corpse of Gary, our division chief.
The creature lunges, arching through the night air, and then launches into a gallop down the hill on all four limbs. Gary’s head jounces madly from side to side. His mouth, wide and unhinged, continues to holler. He bounds in grotesque leaps, closing the distance in a blink.
Inside the boathouse, wooden rowboats are stacked along the walls. Gary appears at the door. His revolting stench makes bile rise up in my throat. I grab at the nearest boat and pull. It budges, just barely. I plant a foot against an upright beam, dig my nails into the rotting wood, and heave desperately.
“Have you proactively envisioneered the ROI, Brian?”
Just as he reaches for me, the boat comes loose and slides off the rack, crashing onto him. He struggles wildly under its weight, shrieking. Bands of fabric shoot out from under the boat and wrap around my foot. I rip and tear at the dirt floor and pull away, leaving behind my shoe. By the door at the other end of boathouse, I notice a large plastic bundle with the words “LIFE RAFT” stenciled on a side. I grab it as I run out. Its weight nearly topples me as I scramble the last few steps toward the water.
“Together, we can architect some truly out-of-the-box innovations, Brian!”
I stick my hand inside the bundle, find the ripcord, and pull. The bundle explodes into a large raft, the rapid expansion almost knocks me away. It bounces uncertainly as it lands edgewise on the water. I jump into the raft. The tarp bottom rolls and swells unsteadily under my weight. I crawl and reach for the emergency supplies box. My fingers, covered in blood and mud, keep slipping off the smooth, hard plastic as I struggle with the snaps.
Gary appears on the dock, leaping and tearing about the narrow wooden planks. The cloth tentacles weave and stream above him, probing, striking, and reaching in all directions in a lurid dance.
The lock of the box gives, revealing the flare gun.
“I quit!” The flare jolts in a tight, furious line.
Flames engulf the jumbled corpse. It bucks and wails and flails. Layers of fabric shrink and curl, bleeding thick black smoke. Large blossoms of glowing ash float up from the unholy conflagration as it begins to collapse and disintegrate. The creature stumbles backwards and falls off the narrow dock. The black water swallows the flames. Screeches change into gurgles and then into nothing. The monster vanishes into the obsidian abyss.
And I… I float away into the solitary darkness.