Murderous House

Part 1

Jake and his boyfriend, Alec, decided to spend the night in the house. When they first saw the house, they argued amongst themselves and wanted to turn back before the onslaught of breeze and rain made the choice for them.

For the past few hours, the derelict two-story house was on the receiving end of at a lake worth of rain. Lightning flashed through the night sky every few seconds, each time lighting up the whole hill for a brief moment. Thunders followed, sending shockwaves through the house. If it were any closer, the house would shook asunder.

Several hours earlier, they were hiking through the woods that covered the hill and were about to make their way home when a pack of wolves decided to make the boys their meal of the day. They managed to fight off the wolves and get away with some minor scratches. It was only then they realise they lost their map and phones during the chase, preventing them from making their way back home.

Now, their only hope was their families decided to send out rescue party soon.

They didn’t go deep into the house as it looked like it was about to fall apart. So as soon as they stepped through the main door, they beelined for the living room. They found an empty spot between the couch and the wall that was big enough for the two of them. After putting their bags down, Jake went ahead to setup their sleep bags. Alec went over to the fireplace located at the north side of the room, hoping to start some kind of fire to heat up the room.

The fireplace looked like it hadn’t been used in a long time judging from the amount of dust and cobwebs that covered the firebox. There wasn’t any wood either. He searched the nearby cabinets and shelves but found nothing that he could use.

“Jake, there’s no wood for the fireplace.”

“What about old newspapers or cardboards?”

“None of those here. I will search the other side of the house.”

“Okay, but please be careful and don’t go too far.”

“Sure thing. Be right back.”

Alec strolled by the front of the couch as he made his way out, failing to notice the dark shadow that looked like it was seated on the couch even with the repeated lightning flashes that came through the windows. The shadow lingered for a moment after he left the room before disappearing.

****

Jake stood up after he’s done with the sleeping bags only to feel an icy cold wave sweeping through his body that made him shiver. What the hell? He looked around but saw nothing that would explain the cold wave. He shrugged it off as a breeze coming from somewhere in the house.

He went over to his bag to get his water bottle. He only managed to get a few sip of water when he quivered and felt the hairs on his body stood up. There was this weird sensation that told him he was being watched by someone. He swerved around and scanned the room but couldn’t see anyone. He swallowed a lump of saliva but that feeling of being watched remained. A flash of lightning. Then a thunder roar made him twitch. He swallowed a lump of saliva and put his bottle back before hurrying out of the room. He didn’t want to stay by himself anymore.

In the main hall, he caught sight of a silhouette that was of the same height as Jake walking down the corridor on the other side of the house.

“Jake, wait up!” He called out as loud as he could, taking into account the thunderstorm but the silhouette didn’t stop. It was like his friend didn’t hear him.

Another roar of the thunder made his heart skip a beat. He went after his friend, passing the main stairwell located on the left side of the main hall that led up to the second floor.

An old lady dressed in a victorian-era gown that touched the ground stood on the stair landing with a lipless smile as she watched Alec making his way across. Lightning shone through the circular window behind her casting a long shadow across the floor.

Alec saw the shadow at the corner of his eye. He thought he saw a human figure. He turned around to look but didn’t manage to see the old lady. After another flash of the lightning, he turned around and quickened his pace.

The old lady reappeared. A moment later, her mouth parted, revealing nothing but a black hole as she made a soundless scream before disappearing again.

****

Jake found the kitchen. It was the second room along the hallway that defined the east wing of the house. The first room had a locked door and he didn’t bother to look for the key. After seeing the kitchen, he assumed the first door led to some kind of storage room.

Upon entering the kitchen, he saw that it was squarish in shape and much smaller than the living room. Along the north wall were three large awning windows that took up half the height and equally spaced apart with the walls in-between at least eight inches wide. Rain drops were splattering against the window creating a din. To the northwest corner was a dining table for a family of four with a hanging lamp above while the northeast corner featured a L-shaped counter top with built-in cabinets. The shorter end faced the dinning table while the longer end spanned the east wall with a stove on top and in the middle. Above the stove was an old, rusting ventilation intake meant to suck up grease, odours and gases. The kitchen island took up the space that was roughly in the centre of the kitchen with the sink on top. There were dirty dishes scattered within with moulds and cobwebs growing everywhere. It was as though the former owners had abandoned their dishes and left.

He sighed at the thought of not being home at this time with his family. Almost every night, he would be home to have dinner with his parents and younger sister. Sometimes, Alec would join them as his parents tend to come home late due to their work at the hospital. And he lost count of how many times they would have awkward conversations that end in laughters at the dinning table. He shook his to get rid of the thoughts and went about searching the cabinets for anything he could use for the fireplace.

****

Alec went by the kitchen as he followed the figure deeper into the east wing of the house. He didn’t hear the sound of cabinets being searched through nor did he notice anyone in it. What he’d notice was the new mist that seemingly came out of nowhere, enveloping him. The sound of thunder sounded muffled. Even the lightning flashes coming from the windows on his right weren’t as intense as before.

“Jake, wait up!” Alec called after the figure. Without any lights, all he could see was the silhouette. The figure stopped at the end of the hallway and turned to face the adjacent corridor. It remained still for a moment before continuing down the corridor.

Alec picked up his pace. He turned around at the bend to see a short corridor leading to two doors, one in front and one to his right. He went over to the door facing him and tried the knob. It was locked.

“Jake! Are you in there?” He banged on the door with his left fist while his right hand tried turning the knob. He tried a few more times but there were no response.

“I’m in here!” A voice sounded like Jake came from his right.

He turned around to see the door ajar. He cocked an eyebrow as he couldn’t remember if the door was left open or closed earlier. Regardless, he pushed the door open. He felt his heart skip a beat when he saw the room had lights on since the rest of the house was in total darkness.

In the center of the room was an oval wooden table with a full spread of food. There were two chairs, one on each side of the table. The night had seemingly became a lot calmer judging from the lack of thunder and lightning. Hanging in the night sky, just at the corner of the window opposite the door was the full moon. On the wall adjacent to the door was a huge painting of a three-story mansion surrounded by trees with a roundabout in front of the main entrance.
Jake came out through another doorway along the same wall, carrying two glasses of water.

“Come on, have a seat. I’ve prepared dinner for us. I’m sure you are starving by now,” Jake said with a smile on his face.

“What about the fireplace?” At the back of his mind, the question of how did Jake manage to prepare dinner in such a short time keep popping up. He chose to ignore the question after his stomach decided to growl.

“Oh? Don’t worry about that. I will set it up later,” Jake replied as he set the cup down.

Alec hesitated for a second. The person looked and sounded like Jake but he felt uneasy. And Jake had never made him feel that way ever since they met. Ever. However, he didn’t want to upset his best friend and also boyfriend. He went in with a smiling face and took the seat opposite the painting.

Jake joined him at the table a moment later, “I hope you like my cooking.”

Alec looked at the huge plates of Cobb salad, Jambalaya, slices of fried chicken cutlets, and a huge bowl of mashed potato. His eyes lit up and mouth full of saliva, “We shall see!”

He scooped up a spoonful of mashed potato and let it splatter on his plate before pouring brown gravy on it. Then he took a piece of chicken cutlet followed by a decent serving of salad. He tried the salad first. It had the same taste as what Jake’s mom had done.

“It’s good, Jake.”

“I’m glad that you love it.”

Alec cut a slice of cutlet and chomp down on it. He just couldn’t believe how juicy and tender was the chicken. That was when he realise Jake wasn’t eating anything. His boyfriend was just sitting there, all smiling and looking at him.

“Jake? Why aren’t you eating?” Alec asked after swallowing.

“I’m not that hungry anyway.”

“Aww…I can’t finish all these anyway. Come on. Eat something.”

“Alright then,” Jake stood up to get the bowl of mashed potato and scooped a spoonful to put in his plate.

Alec cut another slice of the cutlet to eat. Halfway through chewing, he commented, “the chicken taste really good.”

Jake stopped what he was doing and looked at Alec with eyes that would struck fear into anyone, “It’s not chicken.”

“What is it then?”

“Human.”

Alec froze. Eyes went wide. He spat out whatever he was chewing onto his plate. Then he pushed his finger down his throat to trigger a gag reflex so he could vomit whatever he had just eaten.

The lights in the room went out in an instant, plunging it into complete darkness. Lightning flashes served as replacement. The sound of thunder reverberated throughout the room.

After puking out his dinner onto the floor, Alec looked up at Jake only to realise the figure wasn’t his boyfriend. It was just a dark shadow with yellow eyes and row of white teeth.

A quick glance at the table revealed plates of weird and black looking chunks of organic material surrounded by cobwebs. There were bits and pieces of what it seemed to be fingers, toes, eyeballs and internal organs. He wasn’t sure if those were of human origin or animal.

He shot out of his seat and switched his attention back at the figure. It started laughing. The laughter sent shivers down his spines. The hairs on his body stood up too. He became aware that his legs felt wet and the legs of his pants were clinging tightly.

Somehow, he found the courage to scramble for the door, which was now closed. To his relief, the door wasn’t locked and swung open without effort. He stumbled into the corridor and started running back to where he came from.

“Jake! Where are you!” He cried as he ran. Tears started running down his cheek. Along the way, he sneaked a couple of glances to see if anyone was following him.

He crashed into something hard, tripped over his own feet and fell forward. He managed to break his fall with his arms but struck his knee against the floor in the process. Lucky for him, he didn’t break them. During the commotion, he heard a yelp followed by a loud thud. While on the ground, he turned to see what it was.

“Jake!”

“Buddy! What the hell? That hurts!” Jake glared at him while rubbing his butt. Then he saw Alec’s pants drenched in some kind of liquid. “What happened to your pants?”

“Someone is in the house!” Alec was hysterical as he kept pointing at the far end of the corridor. “He looked like you at first! Cooked a bunch of food for me…only turns out to be human meat…” He started hyperventilating.

Jake got up and went over to his boyfriend. He hugged him, placing a hand on his neck, “Hey, I’m here. There’s no one else.”

When Alec calmed down enough, both of them got up and gave each other support as they were still hurting from that crash.

A laughter from behind them made them turn around. It was that black figure standing at the far end of the corridor. No matter how many times the lightning flashes came through, the figure remained black except for the eyes and teeth.

Both of them started running.

Jake was slightly faster and reached the main hall first when he heard a yelp followed by a hand gripping his shoulder from behind. He turned around to see Alec, down on one knee with a hand on his injured knee.

“It hurts!” Alec complained as he looked up with puppy eyes.

He quickly bend over to help Alec up. At the same time, two black hands reached down and grabbed Alec by his shoulders. Before anyone of them could react, the hands lifted Alec up, high enough for his feet to be at Jake’s eye level. Then it slammed Alec against the floor.

Alec didn’t make any sound. He was just laying there, unmoving.

Jake knew immediately. His boyfriend was unconscious. He scrambled forward to pick his boyfriend up. But the figure was faster. It grabbed Alec’s arms and pulled him further into the corridor. Jake only managed to grab his boyfriend’s legs by the ankles when he lost his grip. He watched helplessly as the figure dragged the one person he love as much as his family since kindergarten away.


To be Continued…

Your kind of writing

Since we are individuals, we have our own comfort zone or the thing that we are think we are good at as writers. Some writers are just more interested in crafting poems and spend most of their time honing that craft. Some are more interested in working with factual stuff and so they take up journalism or technical writing. And some are interested in crafting fictional worlds and stories. This is where we get our short stories and wonderful works like Lord of the Rings, War of the Worlds, etc.

For me, well, it took me a while before I settle down on where I want to take my writing. These past few months, I’ve read dozens of articles and essays written by other people which made me realise the only kind of writing I’m comfortable with is sharing my own life story and using it to help me navigate through my feelings and thinking. All the disappointments, the sadness, the angsts, the joys and lastly, the thoughts that I have about certain things.

The other kind of writing that got me going was writing fiction. I love crafting stories, especially science fiction ones. And now I’m attempting to craft horror stories. But I’m well aware that I’m not a published author yet. Even then, it doesn’t stop me from writing and putting them up. Whether it get one view or ten views, it doesn’t matter.

So now you know why my blog doesn’t have a set theme or topic. The kind of posts I put up are seemingly everywhere. All because those were the things I was thinking about or have tried and wanted to share something about it. And when it’s time for short story or novels, I put those up here too. It’s why the url is wordsfromturbulenthill.com.

And what’s your kind of writing? Are you a poet whose words can moves the earth and make the sky cry? Or are you technical writer who can move people in the management of a company to take action? Or are you a script/fiction writer who can tell a great story that inspires people or get them to live a different life in their mind?

Living with hyperhidrosis is lonely and sad

Just imagine. The weather is cool and you are in the comfort of your home or a familiar place, either by yourself, with your friends or family. You aren’t nervous or anxious.

Yet, you are seemingly sweating from places on your body like your hands or your feet. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Because of that, you grow self-conscious. You find yourself not willing to touch someone just because your hands just feel damp and sticky most if not all the time. You are afraid of people giving you that questioning look. So you don’t shake hands. Under certain situation, your hands are dripping.

And anything you touch with your hands, you leave behind a trail of sweat droplets. If you don’t wipe them away in time, when those droplets dry up, they leave behind white and yellow stain. Writing on paper causes the ink to smudge, paper become wet, soaking through. And whatever you grip, you feel like there are times it’s slipping away.

But that’s not it.

Your feet sweat just as badly as well. After a long day of wearing covered shoes, your feet stinks from all that sweating. And when you walk bare feet, you leave behind a trail of footprints. If someone else were to walk the same path as you, they will wonder why is the floor so sticky. Sometimes, because your feet are so wet, you feel like you could slip and fall.

A quick google reveal the name of this condition: Hyperhidrosis. So you wonder why it has happen to you. What have you done wrong to deserve this?

Well, it’s not your fault. The sad reality is that you won. You won the genetic lottery that causes the nerves that control sweating to be hyperactive. To those system, it’s like you’re constantly overheating.

Here’s the kicker.

If you are overweight in anyway, then, your body will feel like it’s overheating even more because it has to carry around those lumps of fats in your body when you do move physically. So now, you are sweating all over, instead of just limited to your hands and feet for the wrong reason.

It won’t be so bad if there’s a cure for it.

But because hyperhidrosis isn’t a life threatening condition, the medical industry didn’t spend too much resources on finding the cure to it. There are of course treatments available but they aren’t ideal or foolproof.

One could try prescription-grade anti-perspirant but it doesn’t really work well on the palms or feet because of the thickness of skin in those areas and the amount of sweat glands. The use of iontophoresis is time-consuming and expensive and may not even give you the best result. Botox injection is effective but painful, time-consuming and expensive. Oral medication comes with excessive side-effect that doesn’t improve your quality of life. You are simply trading sweating for dry mouth, kidney issues, etc. The final and more drastic treatment is the Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy. It is a surgical option that comes with the risk of compensatory sweating and may stop your body from sweating properly from the chest and up. As with any surgery, there are other risks involve.

This is why I feel miserable at times. The excessive sweating prevents me from living the kind of life that I desire. Medical treatments will tie me down financially, limiting my options. I mean who doesn’t want the autonomy associated with zero debt. You are free to do whatever you want for as long as you got enough money in your bank. Without treatment, well, life sucks too. A five minutes walk will leave me drenched in sweat. I dare not enter into any relationship because of the condition. If anyone were to hug me, their body heat will cause me to feel like I’m heating up and I will sweat excessively. Meeting new people make me nervous and I sweat even more.┬áIf anyone were to hold my hands, they will probably recoil from those clammy, wet hands.

So…It’s a lonely and sad life.

To write, is to tell a story

Writing is a form of communication. It is a tool to help two person connect with each other, to exchange ideas or to entertain.

But these days, there are so many pieces of writing published online that are simply variations of listicles that has headings like, “ten different ways…” Or “five things you should do…” No doubt they allow for exchange of ideas but they are boring as fuck.

The biggest problem I have with listicles is that, they take away the individuality that goes into a piece of writing. They take away the humanity from writing. And worse, they don’t really tell the human story. They are like the sales report generated at the end of every month to show the bosses. It’s cold. Uncaring. I don’t want to read those. Period.

What I will read though is a piece of writing that tell the story about a human, his or her thoughts, what he or she sees, the experiences, and how he or she navigates through the world. Because I want to connect, or in other words, feel what the person is going through. I want to understand the human condition.

If not that, then the piece of writing is to entertain the readers by bringing them into an alternative world or life. Real life is boring and mundane. Sometimes, real life is a nightmare. Just like those sales report.

So to write, is to tell a story that either entertains, allow people to connect and share ideas, and not give people nightmares.


P.S. I was actually struggling the whole night about what to write because I couldn’t think of anything meaningful to write about. I’m exhausted from work while also feeling really uncomfortable and sick from hives outbreak. Took me a while before I decided to just rant. So I won’t call this the best piece of my work.

Book Review: Slipstream – Book #1 of A Crisis of Two Worlds

Slipstream was a debut science-fiction novel written by Michael Offutt published in 2012. It was the first book of the A Crisis of Two World series. I came upon this book on Goodreads because I was searching for a good LGBT-themed science fiction to read and it was one of the good ones. I didn’t manage to buy it because it’s not available in store here. It was only after I got the Kindle app on my phone before I bought the e-book.

The book is about a teenager who discovered he had the ability to manipulate space-time after a car accident. And that was in addition to his innate ability to fix situation that have gone bad. As the story went on, we will see his talents with the sciences and mathematics and how he used those knowledge to help him navigate the world.

For a start, I like the writing style of the author. It’s concise, easy to read and does a good job of showing what’s going on. And there aren’t any words used that forced me to stop and use the dictionary, which will pull me out of the fiction world. That’s something I hate.

The second thing I enjoyed was the story. The story started out showing a teenager, Jordan, navigating through high school, struggle with drug use, having to deal with dreams and the drama from sharing those dreams with his sister. This help establish the brother-sister relationship that was way more interesting than the one I have in real life.

Then a car accident happened and it sets off a chain of events that put Jordan, who discovered he had the ability to manipulate space-time, his sister and a stranger, known as Kolin, in an alternate Earth that an apocalyptic event which wiped out most life due to a nuclear test gone wrong. By now, I’m truly hooked because I’m interested in how societies turn out on an alternate Earth that suffered some kind of world-changing event. And I love stories about people having special abilities. The inclusion of cybernetics, fantasy-related ideas like vampires and succubus further made the world the story is set in interesting.

And after arriving on alternate Earth, or should I say parallel Earth, Jordan and his sister were recruited to help bring down Shadow, the half of the AI that gone mad. To achieve that, both of them had to undertake various missions with the people who work with Light, the other half of the same AI. This is where I knew I wasn’t going anywhere else as I love a good AI-related story. The book also reminded me of my favourite movie, i,Robot, where a conflicted AI ultimately resort to taking power away from humans due to the wrong conclusion drawn from the Three Laws of Robotics.

And during one of the missions in the book, the characters encountered a monster. To me, monsters in science fiction are aliens or rogue AIs, not a monster monster you typically find in Japanese monster movies. And I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just delightful to see how well it fits.

The other thing I like is how the relationship between Jordan and Kolin unfold. Even though this is the first fictional male-male relationship story I’ve read, I can tell the pacing wasn’t too slow or fast. The attraction and ultimately love for each other didn’t come across as fake or pretentious. And the way the two of character struggled with the potential truth and the discomfort arising from being judged that they are queer, and how they actually feel about each other throughout the story made me sympathise with them.

But the book isn’t without its own flaws.

Other than Kolin and Jordan, the remaining characters seemed boring and doesn’t really resonate with me. For characters like Kathy, Jordan’s sister, she looked interesting at first but after a while, she started to look like she was an extra and came across as an enigma because there wasn’t much shown about her personality or thinking. There were also attempts to show certain amount of closeness or intimacy between some of the characters but those actually felt weak and not as memorable.

The end of the book actually felt like it was kind of rushed. The fight scenes ended too fast. The enemies, although made to look like they were invincible and powerful initially, went down very quickly. Finally, the reveal of Jordan and Kathy’s origin just make me feel a little meh.

So I will give the book a 3.5/5. As for whether I will read the next book in the series, I can’t decide yet because I got myself the Greg Mandel series by Peter F. Hamilton on Kindle and would prefer to finish that first.