Do Not Disturb

Posted: July 17, 2014 in Fiction, horror
Tags: , , , ,

My response to the Chuck Wendig challenge this week. My words were a pile of napkins, a blue punch card, a dark potion, a broom, a small machine, a hardhat, a flashlight, a diploma. It’s a weird sci-fi/fantasy/mashup. Probably wouldn’t be too bad with a bit more polish.

“Hey, what do you think is behind this door?” Harold called out. He shone his flashlight at the object in question, the thick caked-on dust mute testament to the number of years that had passed since anyone had been down here. The door he pointed to was a solid metal construction, probably steel, with a lock set next to it.

“How should I know?” Laurence replied. He shuddered as he played his own light around the hall. The long abandoned structure had reared up out of the mists as they crossed the barren landscape. The entire planet was cold, empty and desolate with only the occasional man-made structure punching into the sky. There weren’t even any trees to break up the monotony. “Remind me again why we’re here?”

Harold turned back to look at him, a smile breaking out from under his hardhat. “An untouched world? How many other people can ever say they found something like that? The prospect rights are worth millions, easy. Any word from the ship?”

Laurence shook his head, tapping his helmet. “Nothing but static. Flo is probably taking a nap.”

“Yeah, probably.” Harold pulled a small machine from the satchel bag he carried. “Let’s see what we’ve got here, shall we?” He held the device up to the lock, watched as a beam of light shot out, bathing the locking mechanism in cathode green. The lock emitted a series of whistles and clicks, the door then opening on silent hinges.

As it opened, Harold saw a bit of yellowed bone. Easing through the gap in the door, he saw the skeleton, still clutching a broom in one hand.

“Looks like he was trying to get out.” Laurence pointed his flashlight at a matching locking mechanism on the inside of the door. Sticking part way out was a blue punch card.

“Or trying to keep something out.” Harold shone his light around the inside of the hall. Closed wooden doors concealed their contents as dour portraits glowered down at the intruders. Something was scrawled along the wall in a dark reddish brown. “Any idea what this says?”

Laurence shook his head. “Not any language I’m familiar with. Flo would know, but I’m still getting static.” He held up a camera and took a picture. “Once we’re back at the ship I’ll have her analyze it.”

Harold tried one of the doors, and finding it unlocked, pushed it open. The room behind it was sparsely decorated. A framed piece of paper, a diploma perhaps, hanging on one wall. Whoever had been in here seemed to have left in a hurry.  A stained pile of napkins lay on the desk, a remainder of a stain on the carpet. A dark potion, partially tipped over, was the most likely culprit.

“Do you hear that?” Laurence asked.


“That. Like a scratching in the walls. There it was again.”

“You’re hearing things again.” Harold pushed past Laurence. “Come on, there has to be something else down here.”

As they proceeded down the hallway, the noticed more and more signs of a disturbance. Gouges were dug into walls, and blood spattered the carpets. Harold and Laurence flicked their flashlights from one concealing shadow to the next, worried as to what might be concealed in the darkness.

Whispers could be heard now, the sound faint like distant nails on a chalkboard. The two prospectors halted their advance.

“Time to head back, don’t you think?” Harold drew his pistol from its holster, thumbing the safety off.

“Nothing down here anyway.” Laurence confirmed, placing one step in back of the other, his flashlight trained into the darkness, willing something, anything to show itself.

The doors on either side of the hallway began to bang, as if large fists on the other side were slamming against them. The whispers grew louder, harsher. Laurence fumbled his pistol from its holster, dropped it on the ground. He started to go back for it but Harold yelled at him to run.

Laurence got to the door first right as Harold started firing, the boom of his pistol filling the hallway, the flash from the muzzle dazzling them both, making it impossible to tell if the bullets hit anything. Laurence pushed on the door, but it didn’t budge. He slammed his shoulder into it again and again, but it wasn’t moving. He tried to remember if it opened in, instead.

“Hurry up,” Harold yelled. “Get the door open!” The voices were laughing now, a low dark chortling at the plight of the two men.

Laurence yanked on the door, then remembered the punch card. He  reached for it, pushed it the rest of the way into the door where it gave an audible click.

“Hey Harold, I got it!” Laurence turned to see Harold gone, nothing left but a fresh blood stain.

“Hey Harold, I got it,” the voices whispered at him, over and over. He stumbled, nearly fell, but dropped his flashlight in the process. The light skittered across the walls, illuminating dark figures clinging to the walls.

“I got it,” a voice shouted from his right, so he stumbled left. He felt an excruciating pain in his shoulder, stared down to see a talon at the end of a long tendril having pierced him.

“Harold,” the voice said. “I got Harold.”


“Harold? Laurence?” Flo tried to raise them on their communicators for what felt like the twentieth time in the past hour. She was used to radio silence from them, not all the worlds they ended up on were conducive to radio frequencies, and sometimes when they went into a building the transmissions were blocked. Something about this particular place though made her more nervous than usual.

“Harold? Laurence? Come on guys, this isn’t funny.” She peered out of the viewscreen into the mist shrouded landscape. She hoped they found something to make this trip worthwhile.

“I got Harold,” a voice came over her radio.

“Laurence? Is that you? I was starting to get worried.”

“They got Harold,” Laurence’s voice said. She couldn’t see him in her field of vision, but the voice was there, though it sounded off, weaker than she remembered.

“Let me get the doors open for you.” She slipped toward the back of the ship, punched the big red button that opened the bay doors.

“Wait, you’re not-”

The writhing shifting mass of tendrils erupted from a center mass, a beak like an octopus’ clacking obscenely as it grabbed Florence, dragged her closer.

“I got Harold,” it said. “I got Harold.”


  1. Cameron says:

    Ooh, I like this one a lot. Modern lovecraftian feel.

  2. Makes me think of Pitch Black with a creepy twist. Well done using all the words in a way that felt natural to the piece.

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