Saturday, 20 October 2012

TK'n'C Editors' Halloween Special: David Barber

The deadline for that Halloween Horror competition to win ebooks by the TK'n'C editors is rapidly approaching, and Lily is straining at the manacles to get to the comp Inbox.

In the meantime David Barber reveals his love for horror with a disturbing tale written especially for the Editors' Special. In homage to one his favourite writers of the genre, Richard Laymon, David gives you...

DARE TO DREAM


Closing his book and switching off the bedside lamp, Brian Knowles shuffles down under the duvet.  His wife, Sonia, is fast asleep next to him.  He leans over and kisses her gently on the lips.

“I love you, honey,” he whispers, resting his head on the pillow.

He nestles down, drifting off, when his wife suddenly sits up.  She lets out a frightened gasp and Brian quickly gets up, switching on the bedside lamp.

“Sonia? What’s the matter?” he asks, gently rubbing Sonia’s shoulder, careful not to alarm her.

His wife just sits there staring at the curtains, her eyes unblinking.

She’s probably still asleep, Brian thinks.  He places both hands on his wife’s shoulders and is about to gently lay her down when she suddenly speaks.

“You know that feeling when you wake up and think, ‘thank goodness it was only a dream’?”

“Err, well, kind of,” he says, knowing that she's about to go off on one of her crazy stories again.

“Well, this particular dream isn’t like any I’ve had before,” she starts telling him, pushing herself back up against the headboard.

“Oh don’t tell me, you were alone in a log cabin, surrounded by darkness...”

“How do you know?” she asks, turning to him.  Her eyes are wide, searching his for answers.

He laughs, “You are crazy sometimes, you know?”

“Listen,” she says, playfully hitting him on the left shoulder.  “We’re up in the Highlands of Scotland in a log cabin at the side of a Loch. It’s totally secluded. We don’t even have a car and I have no idea how we got there.”

“I know,” he says, spreading his arms wide and waving them up and down, “maybe we sprouted wings and flew there.”  Brian laughs again.

“Right, I’m not telling you now.”  Sonia crosses her arms across her breasts and exhales through her nose.  She pouts like a spoilt child, a smile sneaking into her expression.

“Aw, come on. I’m only messing.”

“Okay, but no more laughing. You promise?”

“I promise,” Brian answers.

“So, we’d just finished watching TV and you get up to turn it off.  I turn off the lamps and we head into the bedroom...”

“Ooh, I’m loving the sound of this one,” he says, giving Sonia his full attention.

“Sorry mister, there’s none of that in this one. So, where was I? Ah, we head into the bedroom and there’s a noise outside, but not a noise that you normally hear, like an owl or something. This sound is different: like a slapping noise.”

“A bit of bondage? Hmm, interesting.”

“You really do have a one-track mind, Mr Knowles. No, not bondage. The sound is more like...well...steel against skin, like something metal being hit against a hand,” she says, staring at the curtains. 

“Hey, are you OK? What’s wrong?” he asks.

Sonia’s expression has changed.  Her brow furrows and it seems like her whole body tightens.

“Well, you decide to get out of bed to check what the noise is. You go to the window and throw open the curtains. You can’t really see very much because of the blackness outside and the lamplight inside so you lean closer to the window, cupping your hands around your face.”

She stops again and he notices a tear in her eye.

“Hey, don’t get upset, it’s only a dream.”

She turns to him and looks into his eyes. “I know, but it was just...just too real.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t be daft. You can tell me what happens.”

“No, I can’t tell you. It’s horrible.”

“It’s not real, Sonia. It’s just a dream and don’t people say that bad dreams normally mean the opposite. Go on, spill the beans. Tell me what happens,” he says, stroking her arm.

“OK. So, you stare through the window, shielding the light to get a better look, when we hear the sound again. You move your head slightly and mumble something like ‘I think I can see someone’ but then you turn around really quickly and shout ‘BOO!’ You’re laughing and I’m telling you you’re out of order for scaring me when suddenly the window implodes and this huge man hits you on the back of the head with an axe. There’s blood everywhere and...I’m screaming...and...”

“Hey, hey, calm down. It’s only a dream,” he says, sitting up and comforting her.

They sit embraced on the bed, his arms around her.  The room is silent and the energy saving bulb in the bedside lamp does little to brighten up the room.

They hear a strange sound from outside the bedroom window.  Not a usual nocturnal noise but... something different.

Brian gets up from the bed and walks towards the window.

“No, Brian. Don’t open the curtains,” Sonia says.

Brian laughs, but his nerves are biting a bit. “Oh, it’ll be nothing. I think your dream is playing tricks on us.”

He gets to the window and opens the curtains.  He strains to look into the blackness and then leans closer, cupping his hands around his eyes to get a better look.

“I...I think I... can see someone.”

“Stop messing about. It’s not funny,” she says, pulling the quilt up around her.

Suddenly he spins around, ‘BOO!’  Brian laughs and looks at his wife just as the window implodes.  His eyes go wide as an axe is embedded in the back of his head.  Blood splashes onto the curtains and down the wall as his body goes limp.  There’s a squelching sounds as the axe is pulled out of his head and he crumples to the floor.  The huge man outside the window shouts into the night and starts climbing into the room.

Sonia just sits there and screams and screams and screams...

She wakes up with a start, sweating and panting for breath. 

“Brian,” she mumbles and pats the bed next to her.  It’s empty.  She sits up and throws off the duvet.  Her watch on the bedside table says 7:38 AM.

Outside the bedroom the sound of a running shower drifts along the hallway of the log cabin.  Sonia gets out of bed, opens the bedroom door and walks towards the bathroom, the dream dissipating into the far corners of her mind.

“Briiiaaannnn, do you fancy some company in there?” she says, opening the bathroom door and walking in.

The room is full of steam and Sonia’s skin tingles as she removes her bedclothes.  Naked, she walks towards the shower and gently draws the curtain back.  The shower head has been broken off and Brian has been impaled onto the outlet.  There’s blood everywhere and water is gushing out of his mouth.

Sonia screams and stumbles backwards, banging into something.  She turns and stares up into the steam.  A glint of silver flashes through the steam as an axe is brought down towards her face.  Sonia screams as the weapon closes in.

“NO...NO...NO!"

“Honey, honey. Wake up, you’re dreaming again,” Brian says, gently pushing at her shoulder.

She shudders, taking in deep breaths and opens her eyes.  A film of sweat covers her face.  She sits up and looks at Brian.

“You won’t believe the dream I’ve just had,” she says.

“Oh, don’t tell me.  I’ll bet it starts with us being in a log cabin surrounded by complete darkness...”

“How do you know?” she asks.

Brian gets up from the bed and walks over to the window, pulling open the curtains.

“Because we are, honey. We’re on holiday, remember?” he says, turning to her, a smile on his face.

Sonia smiles back, “Yes, I remember.”

The bedroom window suddenly implodes behind Brian, sending shards of glass flying across the room.  The look of shock on his face changes to a blank stare as an axe is embedded into the back of his head.

Sonia’s terrified scream echoes into the cold night air, lost in the mist that has descended onto the log cabin.

__________________


Bio:

David Barber was born in Manchester, England, but now lives in Crieff, Scotland, with his wife and their two daughters.  He started writing years ago but put it on the back burner after the arrival of his children.  He was inspired to start writing again four years ago by good friend, Col Bury, and the beauty that surrounds him in Scotland.  His writing has appeared on numerous e-zines and on his own site davidjbarber.wordpress.com

He was the editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive for 18 months and is now a crime editor of Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers.  He is also (when time allows) the editor of comedy e-zine, The Laughter Shack.

David is currently writing his first novel and is constantly fighting with the voices in his head as they churn out idea after idea.

His e-book, From A Crowded Mind, is available from Amazon.co.uk, .com and all other Amazon sites.

39 comments:

  1. wow, what a strange winding piece,such surreal clockwork of horror spinning through dream and death rhythms. Nice.

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    1. Thanks, Isaac. Really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

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  2. That was like a horror version of Dallas in the middle. The cyclic dream created a great claustrophobic atmosphere. Have you ever seen an episode of 'Hammer House of Horror' with Denholm Elliott called 'Rude Awakening'? A very similar theme and probably my favourite episode. So I loved this story.

    I'm always boring people by saying the greatest device in horror is entrapment. Lock somebody in a deserted hotel packed with ghosts in winter as one of them slowly loses his mind to murder (The Shining), trap them in a lift with an invisible killer (Devil) and the list goes on. Most have been used and over used. However trapping people in their own minds isn't used enough in my opinion.

    Think I'll skip sleeping tonight thanks. Great story that plays in the mind after reading.

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    1. Thanks, Anthony. It pleases me that I can make a horror writer like yourself uneasy about sleeping. Thanks for the kind words.

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  3. ...I'm holidaying in a log cabin by a Scottish loch, surrounded by darkness, very soon. THANKS, David! ;-)

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    1. Matt, you are more than welcome! I forgot to mention it's based around Loch Tay - Hahaha!

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  4. Ooh, I really enjoyed this, David! I love having the wits scared out of me (when it's daytime). I really enjoyed the dream-within-a-dream element in the core of your story.

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    1. Thank you, Robin. I enjoy scaring the wits out of people. Horror is still in me and this has inspired me to take it further.

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  5. This is why I never tell a dream. It brings it to life.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patti, and for the mention on the Story 365 website. Really appreciate it.

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  6. PS - Maybe you and Col should collaborate on a horror screenplay. I could visualize both of your stories very well!

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    1. That, Robin, is something that my mate and I may have a chat about. I've known Col since our school days and we both originally started writing in the horror genre. I'll keep you posted on any developments.

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  7. Hey, Dave - this beaut's progressed since I read the 'skeleton' version. Loved the circular motion of the recurring 'dream'. Tense, visual and brutal.

    Top work, mate.

    Ps. Robin - you may be onto something there!

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    1. Thanks, as ever, Col. Always appreciate your feedback. Robin may have a point!

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    2. Damn straight, guys! I'm signing on now as a beta reader for that screenplay, if you need one!

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  8. Damnit, David. You got me three times. I love it. Thank God the sun is out and maybe I'll keep the lights on tonight.

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    1. I aim to please, Jeanette. Glad you liked it and I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

      Have a safe and dreamless night! :-)

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  9. Thanks for making me afraid to fall asleep tonight! I'm moving the bed away from the window, for sure.

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    1. Don't mention it, Zelda. If I've scared you enough that you feel the need to rearrange your bedroom then my work here is done. LOL!

      Thanks for the feedback.

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  10. Enjoyed that, and that was very Lamonesque impaling the corpse over the shower head.

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  11. Thanks, Lee. Great of you to pop in and leave a comment. Laymon was the master.

    It's about time we had some more from you, buddy.

    Have a great weekend!

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  12. A huge THANK YOU to Lily Childs' for a spot of editing on this story and for posting, etc. I've got my parents here at the moment and time is a bit tight, although they both read the story and thoroughly enjoyed it - but they're not biased at all! LOL!

    I really appreciate all your comments as this is the first story I've had published in a while. Virtual beers all round!

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    1. A pleasure David, barely any editing was required at all. Your lovely parents might well be biased, but in this case - there's no need!

      A thrilling, chilling repercussion of fear - loved it.

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  13. Nice work David. Your use of dialogue is top drawer as always, the sexual teasing enough to lull us into a safe zone before all hell breaks loose, again and again and again! Reminded me a bit of Triangle with the wonderful cyclical nature of the piece.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Phil. Appreciate the kind words. Cheers!

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  14. A real Halloween hoot. Nice one, David.

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    1. Thank you, Allan. Appreciate it, buddy.

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  15. I think the best of horror generates a overwhelming sense of hopelssness in the face of what's happening to the victims. The recurring cycle of deams here fits that bill perfectly, David. Awake or asleep nothing matters. Sonia and Brian are the helplessness toys of a cruel, deadly and inexorable evil. EA Poe would have high fived you on this one, mate. So would Cormac Mccarthy. Cool.

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    1. Aj, as ever your words mean so much to us up-and-coming writers. Really appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. To mention POE and McCARTHY alongside my story is a real honour. Very cool!

      Cheers!

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  16. Thanks for the Halloween treat, David. I love a good scare.

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    1. You're welcome, Dana. Thanks for stopping by.

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  17. Scary stuff.....I agree with the Hammer House Of Horror comment above....the DVDs are worth tracking doen

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  18. Thanks, Andrew. Good of you to stop by and leave a comment.

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  19. Great story David, I guess we've all had dreams within dreams, but not like these one, thank God. I'm wondering If Sonia will be having this dream repeated for eternity.

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    1. Thanks for the comments, Keith. I'm not too sure Sonia made it through the night...*huge grin*

      Cheers!

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  20. I really, really enjoyed this David. The merging of dream and reality was so well done, but the dialogue sold the relationship, which made the story live. Great job!

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    1. Thanks, Chris. A comment like that coming from a very accomplished horror writer means a lot. Nice one, buddy!

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