WARNING: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTURBED
As is becoming customary, we like to doff the Assured Events hat to Halloween by sharing an original short horror story.
Yes, we’re event organisers, not a reading club, but events are all about engagement and getting a reaction – and this story will make you shiver.
Once again it has been written by Stu Smith (known to some as Captain Graviton). Stu is one of our creative guys – he’s a visualiser, illustrator, designer, writer, dog-lover and all round good egg, but mad as a box of frogs and with a horror streak running through him like a runaway ghost train.
All too often the word ‘nightmare’ is used to describe something that has gone wrong, which, over time, has diluted its true meaning. With that in mind, sit back and consider our tale of Morton Skregley and.....Ooooooo... he’s a bad ‘un.
THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO BAIL OUT IF YOUR IMAGINATION TENDS TO COME BACK AND HAUNT YOU AT 4AM...
The Unspeakable Deeds Of Morton Skregley
by Stu Smith
Groggy and semi-comatose, he smacked his dry tongue against the roof of his leathery mouth. A nagging feeling of unexplainable urgency prevented him from slipping back into his dreamless sleep. Damn, my mouth is dry, he thought. His body felt numb and immobile, he tried to wriggle but the effort was too great. This disconcerted him and he sobered slightly.
Upon doing so, he became aware of the sound of a church organ, dampened as if it were playing beyond a wall, softly playing an unconventional yet melancholy tune. Shuffling. He could hear the shuffling of many different types of feet. What's going on?
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a man's voice, also muffled, but understandable,
“We are gathered here today...” he continued.
He tried harder to wake up but he felt hungover, or still drunk, or ill, or drugged?
A black rose of panic blossomed in his belly and fought to grow up through his throat; its sharp thorns scraping his insides and quickening his breath. Slowly, he opened his eyes. A child's toy lamp beside his head cast a crimson glow over loose red silk that cocooned him with only inches of breathing room to spare.
Where am I? Where am I? He thought.
The panic inside of him grew even more urgent and he tried to uncross his heavy hands that were resting against his chest to push the silk away from his face, but he was still too groggy. Instead, he sucked in a lung full of unusually hot air and tried to speak.
“Hhhheaaarrrr!” was all he could muster.
His own voice frightened him and he rapidly inhaled more air, suddenly struck with morbid claustrophobia. Adrenalin flooded the blood in his veins clearing the anaesthetic effect of whatever had disabled him. His heart quickened and he snapped into full consciousness. Immediately after, a sudden terrible pain in his back and all behind his legs inflamed his senses.
“...to remember Morton Vincent Skregley.” said the man.
“Hhhhhheeaaarrrgggg!” he hissed from inside his silk cocoon.
He thrashed around as best his still sluggish, drug-addled body would allow. With each movement more slicing pain into his back and legs. So surprising was the pain that he surged to arch his back and found that he could not move more than a few inches in any direction. He tried to kick his feet but they, like the rest of him, were boxed in.
“Mwoaahhh!” he screamed from a palsied mouth.
“Many of you remember Morton as the secretive man from our village who lived alone...”
“...never one to mingle with others, always keeping himself to himself, he was most definitely not one of us.”
He managed to get his hands up and pushed at the silk sheets in front of his face. They were met with searing pain that cut through his numbness like an icy wind. Something hot and sticky splashed his face. The palms of his hands were striped with deep crimson cuts. Through the loose silk lining shone several razor blades and glass shards that had been stuck to the wooden lid with epoxy resin and hidden behind the silk lining of what he knew now to be a coffin. A coffin! He realised, far too late. My coffin! No!
“Fffaaaarrrgh whaaaarrgh!” he cried and the panic and adrenalin mix began to quickly sharpen his mind, “Heeeey! Hey! Help!” he continued.
“No one knows if Morton Vincent Skregley was his real name, nor where he came from, or even if he had any family or friends to mourn for him...” said the man's voice.
“Aaaargh! I'm alive! Hey! Hey! HEY!” he screamed from within.
“...It is possible, that someone, somewhere, will shed a tear upon hearing his name and learning of his demise...”
“Hey! I'm not dead! I'm still alive! Oh God no! I'm still alive! Hey!”
“...but not us. No one so evil can commit such heinous atrocities in our community and be pitied or forgiven. Morton Skegley's name shall be forever cursed by one and all...”
“NOOOOOOO!!!” He screamed and began to thrash and kick his arms and legs. Pain lit up his whole body as the coffin's silk shredded from the broken glass and razor blades that were stuck to the inside walls. Blood sprayed from his mouth as he screamed to be heard.
“...forever and ever. Go to hell” spat the man's voice.
The church organ broke a chorus and slipped into a musical refrain. It seemed to taunt him, an unexpected tune on an unfamiliar instrument.
“Go to hell!” Spoke the voices of a hundred or so villagers in unison.
The coffin began to move, smoothly, on electric rails. It gently rocked for a few moments to the sound of the church organ. That song? It's Megadeth! He thought as the coffin stopped abruptly. Inside, he sucked in yet more hot air to scream once again, but suddenly, a sound froze him still, his eyes wide in horror like a rabbit caught in car headlights. It was a hiss, followed by several whumps. Instantly the already hot coffin, leaped forward in temperature. Fire.
“Aaaaaaeeeeeeeiiiiii!!!!!” he screamed.
Blood spatters flew in all directions inside the coffin as he threw whatever reservations he had left away. The pyjamas he was wearing were soaked in hot red blood and cut to ribbons. Deep slices in his hands and arms exposed neatly cut muscle fibre. He could feel shards of glass poking at the exposed bones of his ribs and the vertebrates of his spine as he lurched within his confines. He tried to scream again but no sound came out other than the urgent noises of rapid hyperventilation.
The sound of gas burners roared like angry lions beyond the thin coffin walls. What a time to notice that a choirboy had been singing.
“Place all your trust here in me, rest assured these things I know.
And as Charon sails the sea, your journey too shall end below.
Ah yes you're all sitting ducks, It's true you reap what you sow...”
“...Go to HELL!” spoke the audience.
Dark grey wood smoke curled inside the coffin space like the ethereal hand of Death himself. Its wisps mixed around the sparse air with the blood droplets of the screaming man inside who was tearing himself to shreds to escape his horrific fate. Then a fierce yellow flame penetrated the coffin corner and lit the red silk at his feet. The flame crept around the lining and burned the exposed skin not dampened by his own blood. Sooner than expected, the fire proper broke through the weakened area and charred the feet of the still screaming occupant.
“...Go to HELL!” spoke the audience as they watched the burning coffin in the open crematorium.
“Go to Hell Morton Skregley!” shouted the speaker of the sermon.
Peace had been restored once again, thanks to the incriminating evidence and delivery of Skregley himself provided by the anonymous informant. The villagers at the funeral delighted in seeing the man being burned alive before them. It represented an end to Skregley's reign of horror and a return to idyllic village normality. Such an evil beast as this should not face justice by the book of the City folk; to be merely be caught by those that know not their village life; to be jailed and nourished towards a natural end – not after all those unspeakable things he had done.
Every eye in the room was wet with tears of happiness until they heard the tortured man in the coffin scream his last words...
“I'm not Morton Skregley!!!!”
Hope you enjoyed the Assured Events #Halloween 2015 Gruesome-Fest!!
Next time you think that something is a nightmare, just ask yourself, "where does this actually sit on a scale of one to ten, where one is not much at all and ten is Morton Skregley?"
If you like Stu's work, you'll be delighted to know that he has co-authored a book of short stories which will be coming out next year. As ever with Stu, there is a twist - the book is called 'Codependent' because each story uses the last line of the previous story for its first.
Happy Halloween Folks!