First published in Gscene July 2020
For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.
For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being Read more
More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.
When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more
For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.
For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more
A to Z of horror. Write flash fiction based on that letter.
A is for Arachnophobia
In all it took him an hour to take his final breath, made all the worse by the paralysis and the harrowing side effects.
We’d been working the graveyard shift at the supermarket warehouse, unloading crates of bananas. It wasn’t until it was too late that I realised just what had happened. A huge spider sprang out of no where, it was Mick who spotted it, and stamped on it. Neither of us were to know the damn thing was pregnant… it really was like something from a horror film, a hundred baby spiders sprang out of their mother’s wound and covered the floor.
In a flash they were crawling up every surface, including us. Together we were like a pair of flamingo dancers, stamping the floor. It was only when Mick screamed a really high pitch scream that I realised one of the bastard had got on his skin and bitten him; the two tiny pinpricks were only visible by the two tiny drips of blood that appeared on the side of his neck. It was while I was looking at the tiny wounds that I got bitten on the leg. I grabbed some twine and wrapped it round my leg, I think it is that that is keeping the worst of the side effects at bay.
Soon after getting bitten, Mick said he felt really dizzy, that the room was spinning; he then fell back on to a crate. His eyes rolled back and he kept swiping the air in front of him before attacking his own skin. That’s when he really stated to scream the place down; I was kind of hoping someone would hear him and come running in, so joined in, I yelled and yelled, then suddenly Mick went dead quiet.
…I’m not one for faith, but I’m praying right now to any ‘God’ willing to listen. Hell if the Devil is tuned in, then please come and end this misery; my soul is for the taking.
I went to yell of us when the air changed with a smell I instantely recognised. Back in my youth I had worked at an abattoir, the same stench that came from the animals poured back into my head, mixed in with the fresh green scent of bananas. Mick jolted which made me jump up, only to instantely crumple back down, sensing his demise the spiders marched in. I scambled at the twines, pulling them tighter, begging to stop or at least delay the inevitable.
misfits-skull-nun-doll-face By customcreepydolls customcreepydolls.deviant.com
Turning the next page he saw Sister Theresa outside the house he was in now, in the back ground a ‘Sold sign’ and read the rest of the story. “Sister Theresa makes vow to bring old orphanage back to it former glory.”
Grabbing the scrapbook, Dan was about to go downstairs and find the other when he heard a noise from the other side of the room, holding up the candle he spotted a door on the far side.
Oh dear reader what a silly mistake Dan made, for you see as soon as he stepped into the back room of the attic, he fell through a hole, right up to his middle.
Within that moment, Dan thought of the nursery rhyme in his room, Doctor Foster. As he tried to move, he felt himself being gripped hard by the waist as someone tied restraints into place. In any other circumstances, Dan would have been quite pleased, but right here, right now, he was furious and thrashed against his restraints, with no success. Then from behind him he heard the door open again he tried to turn but found he could only catch glimpses of a figure behind him, each time getting a better idea who it was. Slowly the figure walked past him, carrying a candle and setting it down on a table in front of him, which lit up the fall horror in front of him.
By now the disabling drug in the brandy had taken full effect. Although Cherry could move, she was fully aware of her surroundings as she watched Trisha Steers lit candles all around the room.
“What have you done with my friends?” slurred Cherry
Trisha continued to light the candles in the room and said, “Friends my dear? Can you really call those sewer dwelling scum your friends? But then have you ever really had any friends? I know you’re work has been your soul interest, never really been able to make a meaning connection with anyone since that fateful day at Big Steps wide strides have you Cherry?”
There was a long pause as Cherry tried to say that wasn’t true, but dear reader she knew that Trisha had hit the nail on head, if only that was the simple plan of revenge Trisha had lined up for Cherry, but she had something much more punishing for the girl who could have helped.
“I tried,” slurred Cherry, but Trisha wasn’t listening, as she spoke more to herself then to Cherry,“I should blame myself for making a small mistake, but I did all I could to look after my baby.”
Cherry pulled her head up and took another good look at Trisha, of course she now knew where she had seen the face before, as Trisha continued, “A good Catholic girl like me wasn’t allowed to make a mistake, no matter how small; if the Mother Superior had ever discovered that I was pregnant then I would have been banished by the order, the church was my life!”
Trisha then turned back to Cherry, “I could only watch from afar as the other nuns cared for my boy, I knew I could not get involved as my secret would surely have been discovered, I even came to the school on occasion to see him and even then I found I could not stop his life being made a misery.”
Cherry, looked up “Sister Theresa! I remember you now.”
Dan stared at his old classmates all sitting in front of him and screamed. Bella sat on a chair, a fine mist of a spiders web covered her bitchy features, while the spider itself feasted on her eyes. May lay with her body flopped backwards, her intestines oozing from a gash in her gut and then there was Rose, sitting so sweetly in her chair, with her head placed neatly in her lap. Dan watched as the skull faced nun walked over to the far corner of the room and picked up a rusty watering can. Dan tried to struggle free from his restraints, but it was impossible, he was stuck fast. He looked up just as the nun tipped the watering-can’s contents. The shower of acid, rained down on Dan, burning his skin, dissolving his vicious tongue and murderous eyes for evermore.
Sister Theresa, smiled and squeezed Cherry’s face. “I have waited so long to get you all together. I wanted you to have something precious in your life, be it wealth, recognition or even love, not that I think any of you spiteful lot had ever felt that.” She then looked up as the door opened. “Good, you’re here, come in.”
The nun came into the centre of the room and stood in front of Cherry.
“Take your mask of Johnny.” said Sister Theresa.
Johnny pulled off his mask and Cherry gasped. Although a fully grown adult, Johnny Flynn still had the same innocent baby face.
Cherry looked at Sister Theresa and pleaded to be let go but Sister Teresa slowly shook her head, I’m sorry my dear, but that is not going to happen. It was my fault that I lost my baby once, but it was you and your friends who destroyed him and for that reason, like your friends you will have to suffer.
Cherry pleaded for Sister Theresa to stop what she was doing, but Sister Theresa ignored her cries as she to pulled on a skull mask and fixed her veil back in place while Johnny passively looked on.
Sister Theresa opened her bag and took out a gold-gilded box and a rusty funnel.
“What was your nursery rhyme again my dear? Oh yes, there was an old woman who swallowed a fly.”
“Please stop” said Cherry “what ever you’re thinking of doing you can just stop now and leave. I won’t tell anyone what happened, you’re right, I have no loyalty to the others who made Johnny’s life such a misery.”
Cherry’s turned her gaze to Johnny and pleaded with him, “Johnny, I tried to save you, you remember that don’t you?”
Johnny looked on at Cherry, giving her some hope, but then he pulled his skull mask back into place.
Sister Theresa chuckled to herself as she walked over to Cherry, lifted the lid of the gold gilded box and showed Cherry its contents. Cherry’s eyes widened as she looked down at the hundreds of maggots crawling around the inside of the box.
Taking the opportunity, Sister Theresa grabbed hold of Cherry’s hair and yanked her head back, she then pushed the metal funnel down her throat, scrapping the metal tube along Cherry’s teeth. Cherry gagged, but was unable to move a muscle as Sister Theresa tipped the maggots down the funnel until the box was empty, she then pulled the funnel out of Cherry’s throat, tapping out the remaining maggots onto Cherry tongue.
Sister Theresa laughed as Cherry’s eyes darted around the room, “Don’t worry my dear, you’ll still be able to breathe through your nose, giving the maggots plenty of time to feast on your innards, my guessing is by the time they hatch into bluebottle the majority will escape through your nose, but the backlog will definitely try and eat through your eyes”.
The crazed nun then sealed Cherry’s mouth with some masking tape and turned to her son, only to see that he had picked up the gold-gilded box.
“Put that down Johnny, it’s an heirloom from the church.”
But Johnny ignored his mother, pulled off the skull mask and looked at Cherry, before turning back to his mother and crashed the gold box into the side of her head, knocking her to the ground.
Johnny then ripped off the masking tape and pushed Cherry forward, allowing her to throw up the crawling maggots. He then pulled Cherry out of the lounge, not noticing that that one of the candles and tipped over towards the curtains.
Dragging Cherry outside, Cherry gulped in deep breaths. It was only then that Johnny noticed the building was on fire. Cherry tried to call after him to stop, but Johnny ran back in to save his only living relative.
Cherry looked up to find flashing light and with police, ambulance and the fire brigade rushing around. As she was put in the ambulance, she managed to say, “I think my friends are all dead, but there’s two other inside alive”.
Later in the hospital, a two policewomen sat by Cherry’s bedside and asked her if there was anyone she wanted them to call, but Cherry shook her head and said there was no one. She asked after her friends, and was told that their remains had been found at the top of the house.
“What about Sister Theresa and Johnny Green? They were in the lounge.”
Both policewomen looked at each other and said, “I’m sorry Ms Blossom, but there were no other bodies found.”
Cherry Looked at both women and said, “Then they are still out there….waiting”.
Having finished all the bottles and with Trisha Steers nowhere to be seen, the group left the dining room in search of more booze. Unaware of the horror that was going on around them, Dan, Rose and Cherry found the kitchen and searched the cupboards only to find them all completely bare of any food.
“Old Mother Hubbard.” said Dan absentmindedly.
Rose then called the others to a large dustbin by the backdoor, “Look at this lot.” Cherry and Dan went to see what she was looking at to find the bin full of empty take-away cartons.
“So what?” said Dan
Cherry looked at one of the lids, “Oh, Jamie Heston’s deluxe take away service, we’ve used him before”.
Rose looked at the others and said, “Yes, I know who it is, but don’t you think it strange that there’s no more food in this place?”
Cherry glanced at Dan, then said, “Well maybe Trisha Steers has another delivery in the morning, it’s not like we’ll be going for a jog in the morning is it?”
Rose was about to speak, when all the lights went out, causing all three of the x-classmates to scream, with Dan making the highest pitched noise out of the three.
“Oh my god” quivered Dan, “What’s going on?”
“Nothing!” snapped Rose, “it’s just a power cut, get a grip Dan.”
Rose then turned to Cherry and said, “I don’t suppose you know where the fusebox would be do you?”
Cherry let out a nervous laugh, “I’m guessing it’s in the basement, or maybe on the top floor?”
“Okay Cherry, you and Dan have a look in the basement, i’ll see if there’s anything fuse boxed shaped upstairs.”
Dan looked like he was about to burst into tears, when Rose punched his arm, “Christ sake Dan, you may dress all macho, but you’re nothing but a bloody wimp: man-up!”
As Dan and Cherry made there way down into the cellar, Rose tried the lift but found it out of order so took to the stairs. As she got closer to the top floor she could here someone one singing, “Orange and lemons said the bells of St Clements, you owe me five farthings send the bells of St Martins”
“Hello,” Said Rose, “Bella? May? Is that you?
As she climbed the stairs she heard more clearly what they were singing
“When will you pay me said the bells of Old Bailey, when I grow rich, said the bells of Shoreditch.”
Rose paused on the stair, “Who’s there?” Ignoring Rose’s request, singing continued, “When will that be said the bells of Stepney. Rose became agitated, “Bella, stop being an idiot,” but also a little frightened and wished she had gabbed herself a weapon, if only to freak Bella out. She then turned on to the top stair and on to the landing and saw a glow of a candle at the very end of the hall, but couldn’t quite make out who it was holding it. She was about to call out again when the lights all came back on.
Down in the basement, Cherry and Dan let out a cry of delight, but Rose screamed out loud as she saw that the figure was neither Bella or May, but a nun, with a skull for a face, holding up a huge axe.
Terrified, Rose began to walk backwards as the nun continued to stride towards her, finishing off the rest of the rhyme, “Here comes the candle to light you to bed, here comes the chopper to chop off your head.”
As they made there way back to the ground floor, Cherry and Dan called out to Rose, but got no reply.
They were about to call out again when they heard a muffled cry coming from inside a cupboard. Cherry pulled the door and were shocked to see Trisha Steers, gagged with her hands tied behind her back come tumbling out.
Dan and Cherry quickly untied Trisha who seemed in a terrible state.
“Who did this to you?” cried Cherry.
As Trisha pulled herself up, she pulled the gag from her mouth and said, “I have no idea, I thought it was you or one of your friends playing a joke on me.”
Dan ran off and came back with a large carving knife. Cherry and Trisha both looked on with alarm and said in unison, “What are you doing?”
Dan, who had a crazed look in his eyes said, I know who exactly did this, Johnny Bloody Flynn.”
All memories of that fateful day came flooding back into Cherry’s head as she called out for Dan to come back, but he had already taken to the stairs, two at a time.
Cherry helped Trisha into the lounge and said, “Do you have any brandy?”
Trisha smiled weakly, “Thank you my dear, but I don’t drink, never have, never will.”
Cherry shook her head, “You may not, but I really need a stiff drink, right now.”
Trisha nodded, searched inside her dress pocket and pulled out a small silver key and nodded to a cabinet in the corner of the room.
Taking the key, Cherry’s hand trembled as she slipped the key in the lock and opened the cabinet door. Inside was a single decanter and a single crystal cut glass.
Cherry sniffed the decanter, “Good, brandy, just what I need”.
She then poured herself a large measure and took three hearty swigs as she tried to get rid of the image of Johnny’s Flynn’s frighted face looking back at her in her minds eye.
As she took a fourth swig her lip tasted a bitterness which she chose to ignore, putting it down to her own anxiety as she drained the glasses contents.
Searching every room, floor by floor, Dan found each room empty. By the time he reached the top floor, he’s heart was beating fast with fury. He had hated Johnny Flynn as a child and so much more as an adult. Over the years he had played the moment when he had finally got rid of that snotty nosed kid, the one his parents had complained so much about that he had hoped if he could get rid of Johnny, then maybe his parents would notice him and give him the love he had craved. Of course his parents never changed, which only made Dan all the more convinced that Johnny Flynn had survived. Even though both his parents had since died in a mysterious cars crash, now was Dan’s turn to get rid of Johnny Flynn once and for all.
Although Cherry didn’t feel quite right, she put it down to the horror of her memories crashing in over and over her mind with Johnny Flynn’s petrified face looming ever closer and so she took a direct swig from the bottle and enjoyed the burning sensation as the brandy coated her insides.
She then noticed that Trisha seemed to have recovered from her ordeal quite quickly and was changing from her maids outfit into a long black gown. Cherry asked what she was doing, to which Trisha replied, “Just preparing myself for the climax of this very special reunion my dear”.
Cherry was about to ask what Trisha meant, when the brandy bottle slipped from her hand and crashed to the floor, next she felt her legs buckle beneath her as she fell back on a chair behind her.
Trisha turned and continued to fix the nun’s habit in place.
With all the rooms on the top floor empty, Dan turned to the small stair case leading to the attic room. “Your mine now Johnny Flynn,” growled Dan as his hand tightly gripped the knife and he slowly made his may to the top of the stairs. Turning the doorknob, Dan threw the door opened and yelled out, “Ha!” only to find the room empty, bar a mattress in the corner and a desk in the middle of the room. As he walked to the centre of the room he lit the candle on the side of the desk and saw a scrap book set out on the middle of the desk. Turning the first page he saw a headline from the Coalville Times: “LOCAL BOY MISSING.” Below that was a picture of Johnny Flynn. Dan turned the next page and saw the next headline: “LOCAL COALVILLE BOY STILL MISSING, FEARED DEAD”. Below this was a later news clipping in smaller letters: Missing Coalville Boy Suspected of Running Away, Search Suspended.
Dan couldn’t help but let out a chuckle, but then he turned to the next page and let out a gasp as the face of Trisha Steers stared back at him, dressed as a nun with the headline: NUN SO LUCKY! Sister Theresa: Jackpot winner!
Dan looked at the picture, then the headline, then back at the picture again, “Oh my God, it’s an anagram! Trisha Steers is Sister Theresa!”