With all the cool stories on here, I got inspired to try my hand at it.
In the dream, it’s summer. The sun is warm on my face as I sit down by the docks. The smell of the sea can be felt on the afternoon breeze, and distant seagulls can be heard from afar. I hear children playing in the garden, and my grandfather’s old grammophone playing old, charming music from the 1950’s. A faint scent of newly barbecued burgers on the grill.
It’s perfect. It’s the life me and my wife Linda always wanted, a place near the sea where our kids could grow up at their own pace. Her grandparents live nearby, and come by with their boat every summer.
We’ve just put a fresh coat of paint on the house, a typical swedish red cottage. Renovating took time after we bought it last year, but it’s already starting to look like a proper home. The neighbours are nice to us, and the kids have already made friends at the school in Östervik. I even got to keep my old car, my orange Ville. Östertörn’s roads are small and there’s minimal traffic, but it’s just up my alley.
Then I feel it. A cold wind brushes up against me. As I draw my eyes towards the house, dark clouds begin to roll in. The music is drowned in a hollowed readiness alarm that echoes over the sun-bleached cliffs, and the surroundings grow ever darker. That’s when I see them. Red glowing eyes, methodically approaching the house from the woods. Mechanical stomps, the whirring of metal joints. Sharpened blades. They want Linda, and the children.
I begin to run to the house. I can save them, we just need to run. As I move, I realise that I’m underwater. For every breath, my chest aches as I draw in more ice cold water into my lungs.
A child screams in horror. It’s a sound that I’ll never forget.
With a loud yell, I wake from my slumber. My voice echoes in the empty dark void around me, and it takes several long, drawn-out breaths before I can regain enough of my senses to realise that I’m awake. My chest hurts as I breathe. And the mother of all headaches comes crashing down on top of me. But my instincts take priority, and I scan my eyes across the black space that surrounds me. There’s nothing to see. Am I blind? I rub my eyes several times, and nothing changes. A bit of panic starts to take hold of me, but I try my best to stay calm. Think, Karl. What’s going on?
I’m lying down, presumably in a bed. I’m clothed, shoes are still on. I’m cold, but not freezing. Wherever I am, there’s ventilation. I can hear it too, now. Just barely. The distant hum from a ventilation shaft. There’s nothing else. If I were inside a house, you’d at least be able to hear the weather outside. It’s November in Sweden. First snow fell a few weeks ago, basically blanketed half of Östertörn in white. I’m still there, right?
“Hello?” I call out. There’s a slight echo. Otherwise, nothing. No response, of course.
I move my hands around, try to get a sense of my surroundings. There’s a bed right next to mine, and one on the other side as well. They’re empty. Behind my bed is some sort of divider. It’s too heavy to move. I slowly get up to sit on the end of the bed, still moving my hands around for things to touch and sense. I stand up. My headache makes an ill reminder of just how much pain I’m in. It’s dizzying, but I’ve got no choice.
There’s a whole row of beds here, and I keep following them. I walk for what feels like at least 30 meters before finally touching the frame of the last bed. Am I in a hospital? If so, all I need to do is find a door. Or better yet, a doctor. Some Alvedon, maybe a Treo. That’d be great. With my arms stretched out, I walk away from the beds, straight ahead. Follow the faint sound of that ventilation. It’s somewhere in front of me.
Suddenly, my stumbling feet hit something on the floor. It’s soft, cumbersome and takes me completely by surprise. It’s one hell of a faceplant, onto a cold concrete floor. I barely avoid breaking my nose, but I’m pretty sure my right elbow took the brunt of the fall. It aches terribly. I move around in a bit of blind panic, trying to find what I tripped on, when I lay my hand on something soft. It’s fabric. Something slim, long… A boot. A LEG.
That feeling of hopeless panic comes back, but I quell it quickly. Yes, it’s a leg. Attached to a body. I feel around it like some insane mortician and locate the head. Is he breathing? No, he’s not. His skin is cold. I’ve tripped on a dead man. Great. Feeling him over, I notice something in his jacket pocket. Two things. One is a square object made of plastic. It’s got a switch on the side. A flashlight!
The light is blinding, to say the least. Who would’ve thought this little thing could shine like the sun? As my eyes adjust to the light filling the area ahead, I start to relax a little bit. I’m not blind, I’m just in a pitch-black room. I see the hospital beds, now. Panning the light around, it resembles some kind of emergency field hospital set up in what appears to be a concrete bunker. All the other beds are empty. There are signs on the walls, leading into various corridors and opened red bulkhead doors. ‘Kraftcentral, Förråd, Barracker, Utgång’. Utgång! An exit! There’s hope, at last. Before I get up, I take a look at the other item I found. It’s a spherical object, with a ring and… It’s a handgrenade.
“Jesus…” I proclaim as I feel the explosive in my hand.
The dead man at my feet is wearing a military uniform. His eyes are open, staring into the ceiling. And there are strange chokemarks on his throat, like someone attacked him from behind and just… Squeezed, presumably until he died. His empty gaze makes me uncomfortable, so I close his eyes gently. Poor guy. Wonder who he was… And better yet, wonder who killed him.
I begin to make my way towards the corridor with the exit sign. It’s the same one where I heard the ventilation. As I walk down it, it feels good to be able to see again, even if it’s quite creepy down here. I can’t hear the ventilation anymore, either. Strange. I thought for sure it’d be right around this corner.
The corridor continues a fair bit, past some doors that look worthwhile to investigate, if it weren’t for the overwhelming need I have to get out of here and find fresh air. At last, I come to a narrow staircase leading upwards. There’s a slight, cold draft coming from up ahead. The sign of freedom. As I grab the railing to make my way up, a strange whirring sound appears somewhere behind me. It sounds like that ventilation again, except… This time it’s more clear. Like a computer terminal powered on, almost. A single, bright red light sits in the darkness, staring right at me. It sits just out of my flashlight’s reach.
I slowly begin to back up the stairs, when it exclaims a loud, terrifying shriek. The thing darts out of the shadow, and what appears to be some kind of overgrown spider charges at me. With a terrified yelp I leg it up the stairs. The flashlight drops to the floor, and breaks. The light goes out, but I can feel fresh air from the exit nearby. So close!
I can hear it’s little legs tapping against the concrete floor behind me, but ahead is an opened, red bulkhead door. Blinding bright light shines through the doorway, like it’s some kind of gate into heaven itself. I dive through the doorway, and drag the heavy handle outward as quickly as I can. The metal door shuts, and I can hear the angry little spider shrieking and clawing from the inside as I lean against it, exhausted.
As my eyes adjust to the shining sun and the cold morning air, I make out several tall shapes a ways down the path. There are a few cars there, as well. A police car among them. I begin to make my way down the slope, when I suddenly freeze in terror. A lone police officer sits in the driver seat, red blood splattered across the windshield. Two bodies lie face down on the road. The tall shapes turn to face me. Mechanical stomps, the whirring of metal joints. Sharpened blades. Glaring red eyes light up, as they let out a blood-chilling howl that echoes throughout the valley.
I take up the grenade, and pull the pin.