I am writing a Horror story for a class and would love feedback to help me improve. Thank You.
Liam woke with the familiar grinding ache sawing back and forth across his forehead with every breath. He was thirsty, but he had gotten used to that by now. Three weeks inside this place with little fluids had given him a permanent dry crust on his lips and he could produce very little saliva to soften them.
He opened his eyes and blinked against the flickering white fluorescent light on the ceiling. The light was perpetual and sleep came and went in waves. The first thing he saw was Harry’s body in the corner, bent at an angle which would make a contortionist jealous. Liam wished there was a window in this place: nothing except four walls, a door, a camera mounted to the ceiling above a heavy metal door and now a body in the corner, growing cold.
His best friend, Jason, was awake now, and lying in the opposite corner of the small room, his head leaning on the broken, rusty sink, slowly knocking his skull against the basin with monotonous thuds like the ticking of a muffled clock. His eyes were open and blank and Liam wondered what thoughts were going through his head. His hair, usually so thick, was now lank and sticking to his gaunt face. His cheekbones jutted out at angles so sharp he could cut himself wiping away a tear. The effect of their diet was showing.
Liam looked up at the camera mounted on the wall. A small red light flashed regularly. At first, he had vented his anger at it but now he had little energy to shout.
Jason turned his head and looked at Liam. Liam smiled weakly but it wasn’t returned. The fight had started over nothing. On the outside, Jason and Harry had been inseparable, friends from childhood, sharing all the fun moments together. It was Harry who had persuaded Jason to marry his sweetheart. Barely five minutes could pass without the two of them cracking up with laughter. Now, the man who would have been best man at the wedding was laying battered and destroyed. One second, Jason and Harry had been having a normal conversation and the next, something inside Jason had snapped like a stretched elastic band and Harry was on the floor, nose broken, ribs shattered, Jason’s size elevens repeatedly driving into his gut. Frozen to the spot, Liam’s feet had been concrete blocks, his stomach pushing skywards, as though desperate for a look. After the fight, Jason had slumped against the grubby broken tiles of the wall, his hands held tightly against his face to stop them shaking. He had cried for what had seemed hours; they was not a clock in the room.
Presently, Liam stood up and felt the familiar light-headedness. He grabbed the wall to stop himself keeling over. He might have thrown up had there been anything in his stomach. The nausea passed and he walked over to Jason.
‘Morning,’ he said, with as much energy as he could manage, ‘well, could be evening, who knows in this place, eh?’ He chuckled but Jason just maintained his forward stare. Recent events had stripped the humour from him and left a cold shell.
‘He’ll smell soon,’ said Jason, in a dreary monotone which was so unlike his usual voice. It was as though he was speaking through the ashes of his former self. The words clung in the still air like spores. Liam had heard these words before inside his own head and nodded.
‘Where shall we put him?’ said Liam, motioning around ironically. ‘Whoever’s watching us won’t care, he’ll just be thinking, “one down, two to go,” probably.’
Jason grabbed his stomach. ‘I’m starving, Liam. What does he want with us?’ His words were eerily calm.
‘I don’t know, mate.’ He really didn’t.
‘I can’t even think of the outside right now. My mind is shot- it’s the air in this place, I swear. It tastes… forced. It tastes… laced.’
Liam knew what he meant. The air left an aftertaste which was impossible to shift. ‘He’ll come down at some point, I just know it.’
‘I’ll find the strength to kill him, I swear to God I will.’ He coughed on the back of his hand, looked at it and quickly wiped in on his jeans. He glanced over at Harry’s body and then away as though ashamed. Liam didn’t speak; he was convinced Jason had just licked his lips.
‘No. He’s our friend.’
Jason slapped the ground hard and screamed, which made Liam jump. ‘It’s not fair! Just LEAVE US ALONE!!’ He began to cry. Liam backed off and crouched in the corner opposite, beginning to feel that their captor was perhaps the least of his worries right now.
They sat in near silence for the rest of the day.
Liam thought he could already smell decay in the air.
Liam woke with a start. Someone inside his head was banging against his skull like a drum. He breathed in and tasted the familiar stale air. He could hear a soft chewing noise coming from somewhere nearby. He opened his eyes and they quickly adjusted to the light. He saw Jason in the corner, his back facing him, hunched over something. Liam’s brain was slower in this environment, but it only took a few seconds to realise what he was witnessing.
‘Jason, what are you doing?’ Liam stumbled clumsily across the room in his daze and grabbed Jason by the shoulders and pulled him off Harry. Normally, Liam could not have caused Jason to shift an inch, but both of them were emaciated. Jason fell onto his back and Liam saw blood clinging to the bristles of Jason’s unkempt beard. He had a monstrous look in his eyes, eyes which no longer seemed to belong to the man. In his hand was a wrist watch, the metal strap covered in blood. He had sharpened his watch and used it to cut into Harry.
He scrabbled desperately to his feet and wiped his face on the back of his hand.
‘We have to survive. The man’s dead, Liam. He’s not Harry any more.’
‘You’re not Jason anymore, either,’ said Liam, with disgust.
‘What did you say?’ Anger flashed like a beacon behind Jason’s eyes and Liam swallowed painfully, the air scraped his throat like fingers being dragged along a floor. Jason stood up, having summoned strength from somewhere. Liam backed away automatically.
‘Calm down, mate. Just calm down.’ The blood around his mouth was unnerving.
Jason came at him suddenly, without warning, and Liam fell to the side in an attempt to avoid him. Jason rebounded off the wall, his head struck the tiled wall which echoed in the confines of the room. Liam no longer recognised him: blood around his mouth, congealing on his beard; his eyes were wide and without focus. It was as though something had infected him. Liam supposed this was what was called Cabin Fever, he just never believed it actually existed.
Darting forward as quick as he could, Liam nearly tripped over Harry’s body. His foot caught the recess of the opened flesh on his leg and he stumbled, reaching out for the disused sink, catching the basin in his hands. The pressure of his landing was too much for the cracked ceramic, which split in half and Liam fell to the floor with a thick wedge of sink in his hands. Half the sink was still attached to the wall, now sporting a lethal jagged edge.
Jason recovered and made his way towards Liam, hunger in his eyes. Liam gripped the piece of sink and lifted it as though waiting to hit a ball in a playground game. Jason staggered forward and Liam swung the ceramic, his eyes closed with the effort. The sink wedge made contact with Jason’s left kneecap with a dull crack. He fell forwards, arms clumsily stuck to his side. His head struck the sink and the sharp corner pierced his temple. By the time he hit the floor, there was a long cut across his face, his eye had also been caught by the sink and now resembled a cherry in it’s socket. His body twitched for a second before becoming still.
Liam saw this in slow motion, the adrenalin heightening his senses. The urge to throw up was too strong however, and he dry heaved for several minutes. The orange bile was mixed with specks of blood. Completely spent of energy, he dropped to his knees, tears clouding his vision, and crawled into the corner where he closed his eyes against the room. A tear from each eye raced each other down opposing cheeks and came to rest in the corners of his mouth. He refused to taste them.
His chest throbbed in agony.
For how long he sat in the corner immobile, he could not tell; his brain was incapable of making judgments anymore. The air smelled of blood, both fresh and old. He would die of hunger, he just knew it. He would not become a monster like Jason. Part of him wished he had let Jason finish him, so he could be released from this place.
Liam could not bear to open his eyes. He knew what image would be awaiting him if he did and he tried his hardest not to think of it. His mind was racing, but without a solid track and across bumpy terrain.
A sound stirred him. He could hear footsteps outside the room. His heart began to race, sending a much needed burst of life into his veins. From the other side of the door he heard a fumbling of keys and then a clank as a bolt was thrown back. He half opened his eyes. The lock turned and the heavy metal door swung open slowly, revealing their captor.
The corridor behind the man was pitch black and he was lit up like an angel standing on the edge of heaven, looking in at His kingdom. Liam expected the man to look clean and authoritative. What he didn’t expect was for this man to look just as dishevelled as Jason had, and, as Liam suspected, he did himself.
The man hadn’t shaved in a long time and he had dense bags under his eyes which suggested insomnia. His clothes, dirty and torn in place, were a size too big. He stepped into the room and spotted Harry’s body. He put his hand to his mouth and coughed. Then he saw the blood stained sink and Jason’s mutilated face.
No, thought Liam. It cannot be.
Their captor hobbled over to Harry, one hand outstretched, lower lip trembling. He knew who this man was because he had grown up playing with his son. This man was Samuel Masterson, Harry’s father. Samuel took a step back, unable to take his eyes from the two bodies on the floor.
Harry had often spoken of his father, who was an accomplished Biologist. Once they had been as close as one lung is to the other, but when Harry was only sixteen, his mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.The disease had stripped her of life slowly across a painful three year battle. Samuel Masterson had not been the same since the day his wife died and Harry once told Liam he saw less and less of his father after her death. Harry said he would shut himself away for weeks at a time.
What was he doing here? Had he come to save them? Or…
Samuel keeled over and threw up; a disgusting yellow liquid which hit the floor like a waterfall. Liam noticed how weak he looked and then he collapsed and lay breathing heavily by the door. He was sobbing between breaths.
Liam, using the energy gained from the adrenalin in his blood, ran over to him. Samuel looked up at him and smiled.
‘I’m sorry, Liam,’ he said. He turned his head and coughed, throwing a pink globule of phlegm onto a tile. Liam’s head was spinning. He made to speak but he couldn’t find words. His best friend’s father? Why?
‘I’m so sorry, Liam,’ he said again. ‘Forgive me. I didn’t foresee this happening. I thought you’d be safe.’
‘It’s okay, Mr Masterson. It’s okay.’
‘My son. My poor son. He didn’t deserve to go like that. I just wanted to keep him safe. Keep you all safe.’ He found Liam’s hand and squeezed it. The grip only lasted a second. Liam looked over at Harry’s body. Luckily, his face was pressed against the wall.
‘You haven’t fed us in days, sir. What happened?’ Liam couldn’t help calling this man ‘Sir’; he had much respect for Samuel Masterson.
‘It ran out,’ he said simply. He appeared in pain, but was clearly trying to remain strong until he had had his say. ‘Oh I hoped I’d develop the cure in time. I’m sorry. I only wanted to create a world free of disease. Good people should not suffer.’ He coughed again, and added a fresh pink phlegm to the tile.
‘What cure? Please tell me.’
‘Oh I failed everyone. They’re all dead. I just wanted to keep you safe. Forgive me. Please, forgive me, then I can go.’
‘I forgive you,’ said Liam, more automatically than consciously, for he had no idea what he was forgiving him for. He wanted to ask so many questions.
‘Thank you.’ And with that Samuel Masterson’s eyes closed and his pained breathing slowed and eventually stopped. Liam had no tears left in his body.
He stood up and walked though the door.
After climbing a flight of stairs he found himself exhausted and inside a dark office. There was a small table with a single black and white monitor atop it, showing a grainy image of the grisly scene downstairs. Samuel had sat in here watching them. Next to the monitor were several small containers: evidence of his attempts at creating the cure he spoke about, the cure that never materialised. Up here, the stale smell had gone and was replaced by fresher, cooler air. The smell of death remained though.
In the corner, emitting a loud buzz, was a large air purifier; Samuel had been cleaning the air as it passed into the room. This explained the stale quality to the air downstairs. Jason had even said it seemed laced.
I only wanted to keep you safe.
Samuel’s words echoed in his head. Safe from what? What had Samuel done?
Then Liam noticed a cork-board on the far wall of the office, hanging at a slight angle, several clipping pinned haphazardly on it. He scanned them, his mind too fogged and deprived to focus.
Key words jumped out like people fleeing from a burning building: pandemic, virus, dead.
Liam began to understand what had happened, and, like a man finishing a jigsaw, the pieces fell into place and the image of what awaited him outside the door was suddenly burned bright on his retinas like ignited thermite.
He fell against the table and put a hand out to try to stop himself falling but failed. He hit the floor, bringing the table down with him. The monitor crunched on the ground next to him and the screen shattered, sending shards of glass in every direction. A shard cut his cheek. He barely registered the pain.
Samuel Masterson wanted a world free of disease so that good people wouldn’t suffer. It couldn’t work like that.
God punishes imitators. Thy Will be Done.