|Creatures in the Mist
Author: NoMoreTears PM
Monsters don't exist only in stories. They're real. And they exist within the confines of this small, foggy village. Ever since I arrived, horrible things have been occurring. And I can't leave until it ends...Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Suspense - Chapters: 12 - Words: 22,285 - Reviews: 2 - Updated: 06-19-11 - Published: 02-25-11 - id: 6778017
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The air on this dreary night was cold, the fog surrounding me like a veil, my vision stretching no further than the top of my horse's head. I ventured blindly down the road, my horse plodding along slowly beneath my tired body. I reached over and pet the animal's neck, running my gloved fingers through its coarse mane. My hand soon returned to take hold of the tattered leather of the reins, guiding her along the worn cobblestone road. I shuddered against the cold and pulled my overcoat closer to my body, attempting to stay warm.
Squinting through the dense mist, a faint light appeared, wobbling to and fro in the light breeze. I tugged on the reins, urging the horse to pick up the pace, and hurried toward the source of the light. The further we moved, the more I could see through the fog. A kerosene lamp hung not too far from us now, swinging idly underneath a crooked sign. The wood was chipped away, repairs apparently not the owner's priority, as well as their appearance.
I climbed down off of the horse, hitting the ground with a dull thud. I led the horse toward the sign, keeping the animal close to me.
The sign read "The Lennox Inn"
"Hmm, must be owned by a couple a' Scots, aye girl?" I chuckled.
The horse snorted in reply, shaking her head excitedly.
I pulled the reins slightly, gently moving her. I stopped at the gate, examining the wrought iron, riddled with rust, an orange dust coating the black metal. I opened the gate, the old hinges creaked loudly.
Not a moment later, the front door of the building before me burst open, a large, burly man stepping out onto the porch. His rifle raised from his side and was aimed at me, the metal glinting in the bright light of the lamp.
"Who are you?" The man called out, his voice lilted with that of a Scottish accent. "Well?"
I looked at the horse. I was right. They are Scots, I thought. What an angry lot they are. "This is an Inn, ain't it?"
"Yeah. What of it?"
"Well, if you don't mind…I'd like to stay here," I said. "I can pay you now, I've got money."
Behind the man, a woman appeared, peering over his shoulders. Her curious eyes scanned the yard, and locked onto my own eyes. She held eye contact for a moment, then stepped backward. She placed a hand on his shoulders. "Callum, dear, what's wrong?"
His head snapped around to glare at the woman. "Get in, Elizabeth. It's just another traveler," he grumbled, the gun still aimed at me.
I tossed my hands up defensively. "I'm not lookin' t' cause any trouble, sir, I just need a place to stay."
"Let the poor man stay, he looks worn out from his travels, Callum. Are ye hungry, sir?" The wife asked, ignoring her husband.
I smiled slightly at her disobedience, and her kindness. "Yes, ma'am, I am. I'm famished."
"What's your name, young man?" Elizabeth asked, stepping out onto the porch.
"My name is Grayson, ma'am. Grayson Ackley."
"By the sound of that name, you're a Brit, eh?" The husband remarked.
I rolled my eyes. "I'm a mix, if you will. But more English than anything."
The woman swatted her husband's raised arm, his hands still clutching the gun. "Put that away, along with your resentment for the English."
"Believe me, ma'am, I'm no more fond of the English than your husband is. They're a pompous bunch. I don't take much pride in being one of them."
"I don't see why you would, boy. Come inside now," he said, holding the door open as he stepped inside.
"Sir, what am I to do with my horse? You haven't got any stables 'round here, have you? I can't leave her to roam about."
"Tie 'er up to the post here, the horse won't move. We've got the whole area surrounded by gates," he scratched his chin. "She'll be fine."
"Aye, but she's a wild one." I said admirably, petting the horse once again. "You sure she won't escape?"
"Your horse will be fine. Now, tie her up and come in, it's late now."
He turned his back and entered the house, leaving his wife and I alone. I pulled the horse through the gate, shutting it behind me, the gate rattling loudly. I approached the house, looking up to meet his wife's scrutinizing gaze. I smiled sheepishly, unsure of what to say. She must have sensed my apprehension, for she began speaking.
"What are you doing in these parts, Grayson?"
"Just traveling, ma'am," I said shortly.
She sighed. "A very curt man, aren't you? You'll need to give me more of an answer, and less of the attitude, if you're to stay here; I don't put up with none of that."
A metal chain hung from the porch, the heavy links wet from the rain. I looped the metal around the horse's neck, tying her to the railing. "I apologize for coming off so rude, ma'am, but you see, I'm not too good with people. I grew up alone, no friends, no family."
"Didn't ye have anyone to take you in as a boy?"
"No, ma'am. Spent most of my time on the streets, 'til I traveled on up to the farmlands. I was taken in by a quaint couple. They had me doing menial work for food."
Elizabeth nodded. "Were they good to you?"
"No, eh?" She shook her head slowly. "They shoulda treated you better, boy. Such a strong, good lookin' man like yourself, and no social skills. Such a shame," she added sullenly.
I nodded. "Yes, I know. It is a shame, I suppose."
"Well, we'll try and liven ye up a bit, Grayson. No sense in staying so quiet anymore."
"Thank you, ma'am. But-"
"You don't have to call me ma'am. Call me Elizabeth," she smiled.
I offered a tight smile. "Alright…Elizabeth. Thank you, again. But you don't have to waste your time on trying to make me social, you don't have to do that."
"I know I don't. but I don't want the people here thinkin' you're some sort of banger, you know?"
"You know, one them slow folk."
"Come inside now, your horse will be safe," Elizabeth said, glancing over at the horse.
I patted her side one last time before entering the house, my boots pounding on the wooden floor.
Their house was big, especially for a low class family. The walls of the entryway were lined with hooks, all holding coats and various hats and other items. It was dark, the only source of light the few candles the were placed randomly about the hall. My eyes adjusted quickly to the dark as I followed Elizabeth down the length of the hall into the common room.
Her husband sat on a wooden rocking chair, his feet pushing him back and forth, the motion seemingly calming him for he began dozing off.
Elizabeth cleared her throat. "Callum, dear. Grayson is in, now. Shall we send him up to his room?"
Callum blinked, staring at his wife, a look of confusion on his face. "Ah, yes, hon. Send him up."
"Do you have any bags with you, boy?" Callum asked me.
"No, sir. I've come empty handed. I don't have anything aside from me horse," I said.
"Alright. Well, my wife here will bring you to your room. Get some rest, boy, you look drained."
"Would you like anything before you settle down?" Elizabeth asked.
"No thank you, ma'am," I replied.
"Come then, dear."
Elizabeth led me up a flight of stairs, presumably toward the bedrooms for all of the guests they had attained. About five or six doors lined the corridor, numbers crookedly nailed to each of the doors. They mustn't have a lot of visitors, or else, I would assume anyway, that they would take pride in the condition of the house, they would take care of the building they use to shelter weary travelers, or those looking for time away from a stressful environment. A poor family, definitely, as I had speculated before. Due to their-or at least her husband's-hostile manner, they are not very good with people. They, too, are socially inept. Unlike her husband, Elizabeth, though blunt, is very cordial.
I followed closely behind Elizabeth, her body rigid, as if she was scared, or stressed. I reached out and tapped her lightly on her bare shoulder, the skin smooth to the touch. She shivered slightly, turning on her heel abruptly. I took a step back.
"You seem tense. Is something wrong?"
She frowned. "No, Grayson. Nothing is wrong."
"Then why are you as stiff as a corpse? If you stood up any straighter, ma'am, I'm sure your spine would crack," I joked.
She glanced around the hall. "Callum has been drinking all night again. I'm worried he's going to become belligerent again," she said, her voice lowered to a barely audible whisper. "I'm afraid he's going to become incensed, boy. I hate what the damned liquor does to 'im."
"Ah. One of those violent drunks, eh? I don't see why you'd put up with that," I scowled.
"Because I love him, dear. He's a wonderful man. But he's a different person once he starts drinking." She paused, her face contorting, seeming disappointed with herself for revealing her poor husband's vice. "Well, love, here's your room. It's not much, but it'll do. After all, I'm sure you'll be movin' on soon."
"Hopefully, ma'am. I never stay in one place fer' too long," I shrugged. "Besides, I wouldn't want to impose."
"A drifter…I see. Haven't you ever wanted to meet a girl and settle down somewhere?"
I entered the room, still facing Elizabeth. "The thought has crossed me mind many a time, but I've never wanted to. I couldn't bring myself to do it," I admitted. "The thought of being tied down to one person, to one home for the rest of my life drives me up a wall."
"I see. Well, I'll let you rest now. Sleep well, boy," she smiled, turning her back and walking back down the stairs to her husband.
I closed the door and turned the lock, satisfied upon hearing the loud click. I immediately began to disrobe, removing my coat and boots, as well as my sweater. I collapsed onto the lumpy mattress, pulling the covers up to my head and rolled over, and stared at the black ceiling. A few strands of light peeked through the dark curtains, but not enough to illuminate the small bedroom. I watched the light, the patches wavering slightly because of the breeze.
My lids grew heavy, exhaustion taking over. I had been traveling for three days without any rest. The poor horse must be tired as well. I might have overworked the dear animal.
I frowned at that, vowing to remain here more than the single night I had planned on staying, in order to allow her some rest.
She deserves it.
. . .
I awoke the following morning, to the gentle rapping of what I assumed to be Elizabeth's hand on the door. I rolled over onto my back, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Tiredly, I called out, "Come in."
The door opened slowly, a small figure stepping out from behind the door. I sat up, propping my body on my elbows. "Who are you?" I asked, curious as to who this person was. Surely, it was not Elizabeth.
"Rhiannon, sir. I am the daughter of the owners," she said quietly.
"Oh. I had no idea they even had a child," I muttered.
"They don't speak much of me, I'm…the black sheep of the family, I guess you could say," she blurted.
I raised an eyebrow at her. "You and your mother are very open people, aren't ye? First I learn your father is a drunk, then you're hated by your parents. Christ, you people don't know anything about discretion…"
"Sorry, sir," she apologized, "I didn't mean to bother you."
"It's alright," I said gruffly, swinging my bare feet over the edge of the bed. "What did you say your name is, again?"
"Rhiannon," she said quickly.
"Rhiannon….why do your parents hate you so?"
Might as well ask…she'll wind up telling me soon enough, either way…
"Because I'm not a good, subservient, little girl," she spat, the very words sharp enough to lacerate.
"I see. Well, you'll need to show some respect at least. As for being…subservient…I don't agree with that, Rhiannon. But, it is not my place to criticize. I am nothing but a mere traveler."
Rhiannon stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, her eyes crawling over every inch of my body. Finally, she spoke. "You seem to be more than just a traveler, sir."
My head cocked to the side. "And what do you mean by that?"
"There's something about you. I don't mean to offend, but something not…normal. Unusual."
"Yes, unusual. You seem different than most, at least from what I could tell so far. There's a….dark air about you, sir."
"Aye. So I've been told."