“The Man in the Closet” by Alexis Chateau

It was happening again.

That familiar, faint feeling gripped me in the knees and shoved me to the floor. I didn’t try to get up. Instead, I pulled my legs up to my chest and hugged them tightly.

Outside, the summer sun blazed relentlessly. Yet the lighting in the room dipped and brightened like a lonely flame, struggling by an open window. I shuddered. A chill had come in and crept up my spine with icy fingers.

A room away, my mother prepared a delicious meal I would have no appetite for tonight. It smelled like steamed fish and vegetables, with rice and beans cooked in coconut milk – my favourite.

The clinks and clangs of the knife on the cutting board, and the spoon in the pot, cut loudly into the stunning silence. My mother noticed it, too. It was far too quiet for a six year old tom boy to be at home.

She appeared in the archway and looked suspiciously in my direction.

I was glad to see her but knew better than to move. I clutched my knees closer to my chest and rocked and breathed and sweated. There was no point in telling her again what I saw or felt or heard. She never believed me.

Still I said, “Mommy – The Man.”

She tensed. Her knuckles turned almost white as she tightened her grip on her flour-stained apron. She knew what ‘man’ I was referring to, but she refused to acknowledge it. “What man?”

“The Man,” I repeated. “He’s coming.”

She rushed towards me then, and the walls and floors and ceilings disappeared into blackness.

I came to, still lying on the floor with my mother hovering over me. I could sense her, but I couldn’t see her. Instead, I saw static – much like the black and white grains on our old television sets when we lost a connection.

It always happened like this – my small respite before chaos hit. I studied the static apprehensively, waiting for the face to appear and that deep, dark laughter that chilled me to the bone and cut fear into my heart every time I heard it.

Nothing.

Nothing but silence, and that constant frying of static in the background.

Somewhere in the house, a clock ticked and tocked the time away. In the distance, I heard the playful laughter of happier children, chasing each other in the neighbour’s yard. I didn’t allow them to distract me. I watched and waited.

Soon enough, I saw it. One by one, the tiny grains of static worked together to form a three-dimensional face that seemed to strike out at me through the darkness. And then came that laughter; the epitome of evil, emanating from his bodiless throat.

I screamed.

In an instant, the static dispersed, and all the colors and textures of the room returned. There he was, standing by the door, with thinning silver strings for hair, and a bushy white beard.

He might have been friendly if he didn’t smile, or laugh, or look at me with such piercing eyes of blinding white. They were like lightning emanating from orbs in a face so twisted with hatred and malice that it had no form, no shape.

He glided rather than walked towards me, a chilling shuffle of black rags sweeping our tiled floors. I shoved my mother away and bolted up the stairs screaming, and crying, and begging for help.

I bolted into the bathroom, then out again and down the stairs – running from everything and nothing in particular. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him clearly. I heard the heavy thud of his footsteps, and the thump, thump, thump of his scythe on the wooden floors.

It seemed to echo throughout the house like a roll of thunder in a terrible storm; rocking its foundation and shaking me to the core.

Suddenly, darkness descended upon me like a cloak. I was blacking out again. Still I fought, and bit by bit, I dragged myself back to consciousness – like a dog dragging the corpse of its drowned master back to shore. I tried to remember where I was, and what had happened.

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

The guttural laugh made my heart skip a beat and then sped it up double time. I was alone in my room. He would take me now for sure. I looked around, but couldn’t see him anywhere, and my door was closed.

Still, I could hear him by the door, trying to make his way in. I looked under the bed – too easy. The closet would have to do. A dark box carved out of the concrete walls, it wasn’t the most comfortable place I could think of hiding, but it was the best.

I climbed in and pulled the sliding door shut behind me as quietly as I could. Maybe if he came in and didn’t see me, he would go away. I crouched back behind hanging dresses, jeans, and T-shirts, fumbled a bit over old shoes, and sat.

I breathed deeply.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed a shadowy shape before me, just a few inches from my bare feet. A bit of ragged cloth hung loosely on the floor, swaying ever so gently though no breeze could make it into the windowless closet. My eyes followed the dark cloth up and up to the two white orbs of glowing light looking down at me.

Trembling, I realised he had won. He had me. But this time he didn’t laugh. He only raised his scythe. The blade shone even in the darkness, and then came down with blinding speed.

I screamed – and then it was over.
I remember nothing else of being human.

Originally written for and rejected by The Canary Press. Edited for publishing here.

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. The childhood details are marvelous: the sounds in the kitchen, the way the mother appears in the apron, the frying of the static. At first I thought that The Man was a metaphor for a seizure. Did you write more?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alex says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s actually based on a “true story”. I did hallucinate quite a bit as a child because of high fevers I got from rheumatism. I thought I’d spin the details and make it fiction.

      Unfortunately I didn’t write more on this. This was all of the story. I’m more of a novelist than a short story writer, but I’ll keep posting my short stories here going forward!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. you told me you were writing a novel, is this part of it? I liked it, you kept me interested to keep reading more and you leave me wondering what the hell happened??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alex says:

      Haha thank you. No, this isn’t a part of it. I wrote this separately but a lot of people have been asking if there’s more. I should probably start racking my brain for a part 2 haha.

      Like

      1. Do it! I enjoyed it, I like the contrasting writing styles from this compared to your elite daily article, lots of range

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alex says:

        Haha. Thank you. I’ve been writing for 10 years, so I’d like to think I’ve learned some range over the years.

        My writing style on my blogs is more my regular style. I wrote for Elite Daily in Elite Daily’s tone, mostly to make fun of them. I had no idea they would actually take the article lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I used to really like elite daily, I still do, but I think they’re becoming more like buzzfeed. I wrote an article for elite daily talking about how it’s better to enjoy the journey than the destination and it got picked up by entrepreneur magazine and that article that I sent you got 16K shares so writing for them is never a bad thing in my opinion. I try to avoid lists and 10 ways to do this articles though, occasionally I will, but not all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Alex says:

        Elite Daily writes better content than a lot of people in their genre, but their editors are missing a lot of spelling errors and the content they want now is a sorry excuse for actual content half the time.

        I do use the list format, because it’s pretty convenient and thats how I wrote essays in college. “There are 6 reasons for so and so… Firstly… secondly… thirdly… etc”.

        Not surprisingly, I use that format mostly on my other website for College students: http://www.collegemate.org. I don’t believe a format makes a blog good or bad; it’s the actual content that counts. As my friends put it, I write listicles for the intellectual market lol. You can check out this one as an example of what I mean: https://collegemate.org/2016/04/20/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-drop-out-of-college/

        Liked by 1 person

      5. that makes sense, compared to daily mail, buzzfeed and the odyssey, I consider elite daily the best. they really do need better editors. and I like the idea that content is what matters the most:) I’ll give that website a look:)

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Alex says:

        I think Daily Mail is a good contender for Elite Daily. But yes, they really need better editors. They’re sleeping on the job.

        Lemme know what you think, or if you have any suggestions! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. well I think daily mail buying elite daily was one of the reasons why they’re becoming more like buzzfeed. haha they really are and I will:)

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Alex says:

        I didn’t know that happened. You would think the editors would have become better on account of that.

        Like

      9. you would think that, but guess not

        Liked by 1 person

  3. AstridOxford says:

    I really enjoy your writing style. Your words kept my eyes glued to the screen, wanting more. Fantastic job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alex says:

      Thank you! That means a lot to me. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  4. Im gonna go watch some cartoons now. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alex says:

      LoL. Careful. That man might come waltzing out the static of the TV..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I dragged myself back to consciousness – like a dog dragging the corpse of its drowned master back to shore. ”
    This was beautiful and dark. I liked the story until I read this part… Then I loved it! This was a perfect short story, it brings me in, scares the sh… out of me, then let’s me imagine the rest on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I worked real hard on that story so I’m glad you love it. On October 3rd my new short story series will start with a new post every month all October in celebration of Halloween. I hope you come back to read it. Thanks again!

      Like

  6. Lucie Archer says:

    I loved the suspense here. What a wonderful little read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lucie! Stay tuned for more next Monday!

      Like

    1. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Like

  7. darthtimon says:

    May I just say, this is bone-chilling, and I will be sleeping with one eye open tonight.

    Like

    1. I hate to break it to you but that’s exactly what I want to hear…

      I hope you manage to get some sleep. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You could rewrite this to be a novel. I would read it for sure!! This was very good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve had the same request for my Moreau Witches series. I’ll think about it, for both! Thanks again for reading. I’m glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

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