Friday, 31 October 2014

The Haunting of Benjamin Creed

“Aye, it’s all done now, sir.” Said the fumigator. He was a mid height man with a dodgy accent, and his white suit included one of those masks you see people wearing when they spray paint cars, which only went to muffle his voice further.
“Good, good.” Replied Benjamin Creed. The years had been good to him personally, but not too good for his health. Thousands of hot dinners with extra trimmings and beer had left him with a tyre shape wealth of fat around his waist, and the inability to go more than a mile without his face flushing red. Even worse, however, he’d often noticed a small gap growing in the centre of his scalp, where his once voluminous amount of hair was beginning to ware away. He’d noticed that it was thinning and greying, but this black hole of sorts was even worse. “That’s an awful lot of equipment for some fumigators.”
“Not for the prices you’re paying them.” His wife Lucinda snapped. She didn’t have any complaints about him paying large amounts of money, she just didn’t like it when the money was spent on someone other than her. She was towering over him and had a tendency to wear dresses that made her look like she was mourning, and cause her to be mourning if someone was to point that out.
“Shush Lucinda.” Benjamin said, instantly regretting it. He felt a great pang burn into the back of his head, and reflected why he was going bald was quite obvious.
“It’s a pleasure doing business with you.” The fumigator said, accepting the money in cash, and climbing into his black van. He couldn’t wait to get out of there, there was an eerie feel, but the long path beneath the tunnel of overhanging trees made it an unpleasant escape. There was a mile between the front of the mansion and the golden gates that entered out onto the private road which led between the mountains. As secluded manor houses go, that place would win awards. Everybody knew why it was so secluded, and had all those German Shepard's and rifles. But nobody would dare say why.

Six months passed like excitement of getting something you deeply wanted but didn’t need, and yet the fungus that the fumigators had eradicated didn’t come back. Lucinda realised they had done quite a good job, but she wouldn’t dare admit it, as that would mean she was accepting she was wrong. Her private car, a black BMW with blacked out windows, had delivered her into town that morning so that she good spend Benjamin’s money, all in cash that was stored behind the wall in the living room, on frocks and shoes she’d wear maybe once. As her chauffeur, the new one because the old guy had gone for an extended holiday, drove her down the mile and into the swinging arch in front of the mansion, she saw a collection of black Jaguars parked outside. She inhaled deeply.
The DeMattio’s.
They were the big family who owned most of the city. The commanding male figure was Luca DeMattio, an Italian immigrant who had moved here with his brothers in the 90’s. He was married to the closest thing Lucinda was one of his wives friends, which was how she’d met Benjamin at one of their parties. Benjamin was one of the DeMattio’s artists, until he’d been promoted to look after and restore the famous art that the DeMattio Brothers owned. He’d made a lot of money which was how he bought the great mansion in front of her. It was unlike Luca DeMattio to ever leave his Househole, nowadays he preferred to send his sons everywhere, but sure enough, the Stygian Beauty was parked outside the mansion that day.
She rushed in and found Benjamin and DeMattio in the drawing room with a hoard of his thugs, sons and brothers around him. Benjamin looked as if he was about to gulp. “Mr DeMattio, I would be honoured to do that for you. Please, give me the opportunity.”
“You would do wrong to fail me, Mr Creed.” DeMattio said. Despite having lived in England for twenty years, he still clung desperately to his Italian accent. It made him more threatening.
“How is your wife?” He asked.
“She’s fine, thank you.” Benjamin stuttered, despite Lucinda being stood directly next to him. 
“Good, I’d hate any harm to come to her.”
With that, he walked out, his assortment of accompanying people following. Benjamin was left in the armchair, shaking, although whether it was with fear or excitement he couldn’t tell. “He’s asked me to sell a painting for him. For 2.3 million.”
A smirk grew over Lucinda’s face, casting away any doubts about the tone of falseness in his voice. Think of all the dresses she could buy with that.

That night, Lucinda went to have her shower. She was stood beneath the jets of hot water when she looked down and saw the bottom of the separate shower was painted with blood. And crawling in the blood was a spider. She screamed, tripping out of the shower and falling to the floor. Benjamin rushed in and saw the scene in the shower. “Holy Jesus and Mary.” He muttered, a converted Catholic since his association with the DeMattio’s. He grabbed a flannel and used it to crush the spider into the bottom of the shower, watching as the blood engulfed it. He then washed the blood away and led his wife from the bathroom. He didn’t let on, but he was shivering again, with fear.
The following morning, he went into the bathroom to take a shower. He pulled open the steamed up glass door to the showering room and saw a giant spiders web stretching all over the room. He cursed and turned on the water supply and watched it being flushed down the drain. He spat on it to help it’s journey.
That night, there was no problem with the shower. Both of them washed quite successfully and climbed into bed. They spent an hour watching television on one of the twenty flat screen TV’s they had in the house and then turned it and the lights off, sinking into slumber. As Benjamin felt the first  drug of slumber drag him down, there was a deep thump beneath them. He ignored it, but again there was another. He tried to ignore that, but it got stronger and louder. He climbed out of bed and hurried downstairs, the throbbing getting louder and louder. And then, as he barged the door to the room below open, it stopped. He searched the room and then closed the door, only for the beating to start again. He opened the double doors and it stopped. Irritated, but a puzzle solver nonetheless, he left the doors open and returned to bed. As he tucked himself in, rolled over and closed his eyes, the beating began again as a shallow throb in the room upstairs. He put some cotton buds in his ears and went to sleep.
The next night, he fell asleep, having left the doors to the room above and below open. But then a glow played with the skin on the front of his eye lids and he began to shake. 
“What the hell is that?” He screamed. Furious, he climbed out of bed and marched towards the source of the glow, seeping in beneath the door. He threw open the door and he was blinded by a white flash. He fell back, smashing his head against the bed cabinet. His eyes reeled and he kicked the door shut. He flailed around on the floor and then that infernal drumming began to pick up from everything and everywhere. He screamed and crawled towards the door, as the green glow seeped through the bottom of the door. Benjamin pulled himself up, grabbed the handle and ripped it open. Silence. Darkness. As if it was all in his head. He really wished it wasn’t.

Lucinda was sat in the study, looking out at the tunnel of overhanging trees. It was the day of the big transaction.  Benjamin and host of DeMattio’s men had left the house in a rush that morning, driving their procession of black cars, each with tinted windows. Sometimes she joked that the windows were tinted so that the drug addicts wouldn’t see the dealer until it was too late, but that was usually met with a frown of disapproval. She’d had a member of staff make her some food and carry it up to the study, where she sat, looking out of the circular window, searching for the first signs of the cars returning. She saw that sign too early in the afternoon, as the cars accelerated too quickly down the little tunnel and into the drive. Seven had gone.
Six had come back.
She rushed down the great marble stair cases and into the hall as one of DeMattio’s men threw Benjamin threw the grand doors at the front and to the ground. “You stupid man! What in the name of the Virgin Mary did you think you were doing?”
“I’m sorry,  he just went for his gun and I got there first!”
“It was a cop you moron! You a cop killer now? Is that what you think we do?”
“I’m sorry!” Benjamin pleaded.
DeMattio’s man delivered a blow to his stomach. “You stupid man! That guy had kids and a family! Do you want to rob them? You are taking their only income! You should have got outta there, man!” Another kick.
DeMattio’s man pulled him up and took him into the kitchen, throwing him into the counter. “You idiot! You blinking idiot! Pedro, get me some soap!”
Pedro ran off and came back with a block of soap. DeMattio’s man took it and smudged it into Benjamin’s face, before pushing his face and hands into the sink and running a stream of steaming hot water. He rubbed and rubbed and for the second time, the water in that house was bloody. Once DeMattio’s man was sufficiently gratified, he pulled Benjamin out of the sink and threw him to the cold, stone floor. “Wait till I tell Luca DeMattio about this, amici,” the man chuckled, “he ain’t gonna be pleased!”
With that, DeMattio’s men marched out and Benjamin was left on the floor, panting for forgiveness.
Lucinda stepped in from where she was hiding and saw that light the water, Benjamin’s shirt was dyed red. By blood.

A few days past of seclusion induced paranoia, and Benjamin was looking worse for wear. More and more of his hair had fallen out, and the remaining strands were now grey with stress. His eyes were heavy and drawn, and the stubble beneath his nose was longer and dirtier. He hadn’t changed his clothes in the few days, simply sitting in a chair and muttering to himself, dark and neglected murmurings. Occasionally, Lucinda would try to talk to him, but that had resulted in the bruises and cuts that surrounded her eyes. She looked gaunt and hanging on decrepit now, the food having already run out, leaving her starving as Benjamin refused to let her leave the house.
Eventually, Benjamin decided to get up and go to bed, but as he washed his hands, blood oozed from the taps and covered his hands. Lucinda found him in the corner of the bathroom, cowering from his own hands that were splayed out before him, dripping. 
She cleaned his hands and took him to bed, holding back tears every time he lashed out and hit her. Then she put him in bed and turned out the lights. He writhed and turned and sweated in his sleep, so much that the bed shook and became damp. And then the giggling began. It was quiet at first, whispering it’s way around the room, until it amplified and began to giggle directly into Benjamin’s ear. He jerked up and heard the giggling run to the door, which slammed shut. He spun out of bed and ran to the door, grabbing the handle. It was slippy, but he managed to rip it open. He burst out into the corridor as something swooped past him, knocking him to the ground. The giggles got louder and louder, until they turned into cries. A similar green glow opened up at the far end of the hall. He trailed towards it, until it flared into bright lights. He fell back and two figures emerged. Children. Crying children. “You killed our farther.” The Girl cried.
“And in turn our mother.” The Boy sobbed.
“I did no such thing.” Benjamin protested, his voice quaking.
They crept towards him. “You have left us to poverty. We will no doubt die soon, all your fault.”
“I’m sorry.” Benjamin moaned. “I’m so sorry.”
“If you were really sorry, you never would have killed my father.” The Girl said.
“I didn’t. I really didn’t.” Benjamin lied.
The children became dark and menacing phantoms, hanging over him with a vengeance. “Then why is his blood on your hands?”
Benjamin looked down and saw his hands were covered in blood. He screamed and ran to the bathroom to wash the blood from his hand and calm himself. He threw open the door and saw that the entire room was filled with spiders and spiderwebs. He screamed as his skin crawled and then raced out, itching, roaring through the corridors and out into the biting winds of the night. The gravel that Lucinda had insisted he covered the drive in bit into his feet, drawing blood, and the cold of the winter night rippled his flesh with goosebumps. The darkness of the seclusion and the silence of the night meant he could see and hear nothing except the desperate pumping of his clogged up heart, and the blood rushing through his ears. He broke into the forest that lined the road out, and long branches tore at his skin and pinged at his eyes. Beneath him, dying leaves broke apart beneath his feet. He smashed his head into a large hanging log, and a swelling grew. Blood trickled down his face and screamed. Then he heard the padding of multiple footsteps behind him and the howl of dogs on his tail. The German Shepherds that normally protected him were now hunting him down. They moved quickly, ducking under there trees that ripped skin from Benjamin’s arms. They caught up, moving quicker than he could possibly expect, and launched onto him, but he stepped back and fell. The pounding in his ears stopped, the rushing of his blood stopped as well. He simply fell and fell until he hit the ground and his back screamed in pain. But at least the dogs couldn’t get him. As he lay in silence, darkness and calm, he felt no upset. He was safe down here, in the darkness. Thank goodness!
A green glow opened, and then suddenly it exploded into white light that burnt his eyes and the beating throb of those infernal drums filled his ears. The two children stepped out in front of him and grabbed either of his arms, raising his hands to show them to him. They were dripping with the blood of the man he killed. The white light hurting his eyes, it then went all black.

The Ghost Boy released the arm and put gaffa tape over Benjamin’s mouth. He signalled for the lights to be turned down and they were, the flood lights disappearing and normal lights taking their place. He pulled off his costume and smiled at the Girl, Joan. “We did it!” He cried.
“Indeed we did, Spud.” She smiled.
“Your time with Peter is showing.” He pointed out as they climbed a ladder up into the forest and walked down the road to the house. Miss DeMode and a ground of Occult Bailiffs were stood around their vans in front of the house. “Is it done?” Miss DeMode asked.
“It is.” Joan grinned.
And so the Occult moved in…

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