by Guy Belleranti
This story was previously published in the October 2003 issue of Nocturnal Ooze, and then again in 2006 in Flash Tales Epzine, and then in Golden Visions in July 2011.
Griffin lifted the huge knocker on the door of the House of Screams and let it drop with a resounding boom. Seconds later a little window in the door slid open, and a horribly scarred face with dead eyes stared out. “Not open ’til eight tonight,” it said.
“Oh, I know that,” Griffin said.
“Then what do you want?”
The dead eyes narrowed. “Ah, I recognize you now. You’re that troublemaker who refused to leave.”
Griffin grinned. “You promised scares, but failed to deliver. Your boss – the guy with
the hump – said I should come back at noon today, that you all would give me the special tour.”
The face stared at him for a moment, and then the window slid shut and the big door swung inward.
Griffin stepped into the darkness. “Hey, where are you?”
“Didn’t you hear me, Dead Face? Where are you? I want my tour.”
The door slammed, shutting out every bit of light from the outside world, enclosing Griffin in a solid blackness.
“Oh, ho, ho,” Griffin chuckled. “I get it. This is the beginning of the tour. You’re trying to give me some scares. Well, I ain’t scared of the dark so you might as well try something else.”
Griffin moved forward. “Hey. I said I’m not scared. Not scared of the dark, the quiet or—” His foot hit something and he tripped, stopping his fall only when his knees and hands hit the hard floor.
Griffin felt around, trying to find what he’d tripped over, but there was nothing there. At least nothing there any longer. “Very funny,” he called. “Very, very funny. But not at all scary.”
No answer. No sound at all.
Griffin straightened up and moved on slowly, arms extended, his feet shuffling on the floor in small steps to alert him to any new obstacle. His hands touched something solid. A wall. “Ha, 0ha. Now I can find my way. I’ll—”
The wall curved and kept curving. “What the—”
It didn’t go anywhere, just in circles. Or at least that’s how it seemed. “Tricky,” Griffin said. “Real tricky.” He raised his voice. “But still not scary, Dead Face. Not scary at all.”
No answer. Just dead quiet.
“All right, so you’ve got me in the dark,” Griffin called. “That’s okay. I can go back to the door. Go back and open it.”
Griffin moved the way he’d come. Or was it the way he’d come? After several minutes he still hadn’t found the entrance door. He hadn’t found anything he might have tripped over either. In fact, he didn’t know where the hell he was.
Damn it, things weren’t so funny any longer. Of course, they weren’t scary either. Or so Griffin told himself as he alternately squinted then widened his eyes in the total blackness.
“Dead Face, where are you? Where’s your hump-backed boss?” Griffin pounded a fist against a wall and felt something envelope around it. “What the—” Sticky, oozing— He jerked his hand away and jumped back.
Sweat ran into Griffin’s eyes as he bent to the floor and tried to feel his way. More ooze and something else – a netting, or mesh – hanging down from above. A sticky netting… a web. A spider’s web. Huge and— Something was in it! Many somethings. Long legged, hairy feeling somethings, each one moving… a couple crawling up his arm….
“No!” Griffin scooted back on all fours, shaking his arms, his body, screaming. “Let me out of here! Let me out now.”
But no one answered. No sound came at all except the echoes of his own screams.
By that evening The House of Screams had another employee, an unpaid lunatic who frightened anyone entering with cries all the more chilling because they were, in fact, real.
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