This got the lowest mark I’ve ever had (just above a passing grade) so it’s obviously not a great story. Feel free to enjoy or not.
Incidentally, just in case you were wondering what happened to assignments 2 – 4. Assignment 2 was a script adaptation of assignment 1 and I want to work on this a little more and submit it to a short film contest so probably won’t post that for awhile. Assignment 3 was a commentary on someone else’s assignment so bit pointless and assignment 4 is a plan for the final assignment. Assignment 6 is an extract of the final plan.
Considering it’s a creative writing course, you do very little assigned creative writing (2 pieces of fiction, 1 script and one free choice).
Anyway, here is my story ‘Room Twelve’.
A single bare light swung slowly from side to side, casting eerie shadows in the already gloomy concrete cell. The room was empty save for a single fire damaged wooden table and chair in the centre. An unexpected smell hung in the air, sweet but rotten with decay and neglect.
He carefully positioned the camera, glancing up to check on his subject. The hunched figure at the dark wooden table continued to scribble away frantically on a torn, stained piece of paper. He could see the grubby gnarled hands and the childish, disjointed handwriting and it repulsed him. He cleared his throat and the figure glanced up, one milky eye fixed the other a brilliant electric blue focusing in on the camera. The figure smiled, showing jagged, stained and broken teeth.
“Ready?” he asked, moving behind the camera.
The figure made a gurgling sound as it’s black tongue moved uselessly.
Hitting record, he slowly panned down to reveal a pair of thin legs, one crossed over the other. He followed the legs, revealing the figure to be naked save for a pair of women’s knickers and a very dirty shirt, stained in dark rust. The figure writhed in its chair, gesturing and making wet empty sounds with its useless mouth.
He zoomed in on the shirt as the twisted fingers began to tug at the buttons, slowly shrugging out of the shirt to reveal jagged, inflamed and infected looking scars. Zooming out, he smiled as the figure stood, the shirt falling to the dirt floor. A patchwork of human skin hung about the figure, mismatched and torn where the stitching had failed.
Paul stood in front of the heavy security doors and stared up at the building in front of him. It looked nothing like a haunted house, just a regular four-story square building. Not that he was disappointed, the fact it was nondescript and not particularly scary looking worked better for him. Closing his eyes he mentally walked through the script he was going to deliver. Starting with the building, he’d begin with it up as a normal everyday building then slowly reveal the disturbing stories from when it was a girls school, take the audience through it’s history as a World War One hospital, then a hotel before finally hinting at the mysterious events which had closed the hotel for good.
“So I’m doing all the work?”
He opened his eyes with a sigh and turned to see his technician, Owen struggling to unload their equipment from the back of the car.
“What happened to Mike?” He asked, walking over.
“Gone for a slash,” Owen grunted as he heaved the large box containing their camera out of the boot.
Paul grinned, reaching into the boot for the final bag. “I think this is going to be a good one. I can feel it.”
“You always say that.” Owen slammed the boot shut.
“Yeah well, this time, it’s true.”
“You getting any signal?” A third voice said, feet crunching on the gravel as he walked over to them his eyes glued to an iPhone.
The others looked at their phones. “No. Must be in a dead zone. Hopefully, won’t cause us any problems.”
“It doesn’t look haunted.” Mike sniffed, shoving his phone into his pocket.
“That’s the beauty of it.” Paul winked at him. “Let’s get this stuff inside then we’ll get some outside shots before dark.”
It took all three of them to heave the heavy grey security door open. Paul wondered what had happened to the caretaker who had been supposed to meet them but figured the guy had bailed on them, after all, they were a long way from the village and everyone had been strangely nervous when he’d inquired about filming there. It didn’t matter, it all made for excellent television.
Mike placed a hand on the peeling red door, his fingers came away sticky. “Why would you paint the door then cover it back up?”
“Maybe they were sprucing up the place a bit for the camera.” Owen shrugged. He put his hand on the large door knob then withdrew it quickly in shock. “It’s hot!” He exclaimed.
“The fuck?” Paul reached out to feel the doorknob. It was stone cold. “Must have just been the sun or something.”
“Or your imagination,” Mike muttered.
Owen spun round. “Hey, that was one time and I still swear someone grabbed me.”
“Guys, seriously. Let’s get this stuff dumped, then Owen I’ll give you a hand setting up the microphones while Mike gets our exterior shots. You know where you want to place them?”
“Jenny said the third floor had a lot of reported strange noises so I reckon if we focus there, for now, might get some stuff. You want a camera up there as well?”
“Infra-red and motion activated.”
Mike collected his equipment and walked away, leaving Owen and Paul to finally open the old oak painted door to the hotel. The smell of mildew and stale air rushed them making them cough.
“Great, poison spores,” Owen grumbled.
“Don’t be a drama queen,” Paul replied, taking out his torch and heading into the dark foyer. The boarded up windows blocked most of the natural light, giving the remaining light a dirty quality. He walked inside, his feet crunching on broken glass and dirt as he went.
He let the light linger on the dark wooden counter with its bank of room keys hanging behind it, noting the key to room twelve was missing. He trailed his beam along the grand curved staircase, taking in the once gold painted but now rotting handrails. Everything once grand and magnificent had fallen to ruin, paintings hung peeling in their frames, graffiti scrawled on one wall.
“Okay, this is going to be good.”
As Mike walked away from the hotel, his phone sprang into life. Shifting the camera onto his left shoulder, he extracted the phone from his jacket. Fifteen missed calls, all from his soon to be ex-wife Janet. Setting the camera down on the gravel, he hit ‘call back’ and held the phone to his ear. As he listened to each maddening ring, anger began to slowly rise in him, threatening to erupt.
“Where are you?” No pleasantries, no greeting. Janet sounded as frustrated as he felt.
“What do you mean? I told you I’m—”
“‘Working’.” She cut him off. “It’s your daughter’s birthday.”
“I know and I’ll be there but Jan, I can’t just leave.” Janet’s reply became lost in static, her voice breaking up before dropping completely. “Hello? Jan? The line’s pretty bad.”
“I see you.” A rasping slur breathed, cutting through the static.
“Stay away from the lift.”
The call dropped completely. Mike stared down at his phone, at the mocking ‘no signal’ before throwing it down in frustration, the screen shattering as it hit the hard gravel.
“Shit.” Mike retrieved his phone and sighed before stuffing it back into his jacket. Turning to pick up his camera, he began to frame his shots unaware of the figure watching him from the third floor.
Paul stood at the bottom of the ladder as Owen finished wiring the last of their microphones.
“Mike seems pretty distracted.”
Owen laughed. “Hardly surprising, what with Janet and the kids and everything…did you know?”
“About him and Jenny? I knew he had a thing for her but I didn’t expect…” he let the thought hang. “I don’t get why he would throw all that away.”
“I get it. Chris has been pushing to get married and it’s not how I ever saw my life so yeah, I can definitely understand not feeling like this is what you wanted and just grabbing the first change that comes along.”
“I guess. What’s done is done.”
“Speaking of done, we are good to go.” Paul stepped away as Owen climbed down the ladder.
Leaning back from the bank of television monitors, Mike rolled his shoulders and stretched. He could see Paul and Owen moving around in the kitchen area setting up for an EVP recording.
“Hello, room service? I’d like an extra rare steak.” He quipped into his two-way radio. On the monitor, Owen gave him the middle finger. Laughing, he checked his phone to see that there was still no signal. It made no sense, they hadn’t had any interference on the cameras or radio equipment but something was blocking their phone signals.
Movement caught his eye and he looked up to see what looked like a dark shape moving down the hallway towards the camera they’d set up on the third floor.
“Hey guys, I’ve got something on the third floor.”
“What sort of something?” Paul asked.
“Shadow. Moving towards the hall camera on the third floor.”
“Okay, thanks. We’ll check it out. You’re recording right?”
“Yep.” He leaned closer to the monitor. The shadow seemed to have stopped moving. “It’s still there.”
“We’ve just reached the north landing on the first floor, we’ll be on the third shortly.”
On the first-floor stairs camera, Mike he could see Paul and Owen slowly making their way up to the next floor. Both of them wearing head cameras.
Mike’s phone beeped.
Snatching his phone up, he stared at the signal bar. One bar. He had one bar of signal. His phone beeped a second time and vibrated as it alerted him to three missed calls. Two of them from Janet, the third an unknown number. He turned in his chair, his back to the bank of monitors, and tried to call Janet back.
His phone cut out after one ring. Frowning, Mike waved his phone about in front of him. He stood up and held his phone above him before starting to move around the foyer, his boots making light imprints in the years of abandoned dirt and dust covering the one beautiful mosaic marble floor.
Their 10w LED work lights had little effect on the limited light in the foyer, not seemingly able to penetrate the eerie darkness making Mike’s only strong source of light his iPhone. Illuminated by the blue glow of the screen, he continued to walk about the foyer searching for the signal.
He didn’t see the hand opening the elevator gate and it took only seconds for him to plummet down the open lift shaft leaving his body in a twisted, crumpled wreck on the metal below as his phone began to ring beside him.
On the monitor, Paul and Owen reached the third-floor unseen.
Staring down the lens of the camera and seeing nothing unusual in the corridor, Paul clicked on his radio. “Okay, Mike. We’ve reached the third floor. Location on the shadow?”
“Mike?” Paul tapped Owen on the shoulder. He looked over, slipping his headphones off his ears. “Dead zone?”
“No, not getting any interference.”
Owen shifted his weight, feeling cold and suddenly uncomfortable standing in the corridor. He wasn’t getting anything on sound, nothing not even the usual background noises he would have expected from such an old building.
“Probably arguing with Janet again.”
“The first really promising location in months and he’s risking it! You okay to keep looking? I need to check this out.
“Yeah, sure.” Owen took the camera and tried to look confident as Paul headed back towards the staircase. Alone in the corridor, he activated his head camera and continued to walk. He held the main camera out in front of him, glancing down at the view-screen. On the viewfinder he could see a dense patch of shadowy darkness in front of the door to room twelve, looking up the shadow was non-existent.
As he drew level with the door to room twelve he became aware of an odour. A sweet smelling sickly odour with an underlying sharpness. The smell of something rotting. Viewfinder showed he was standing in the patch of shadowy darkness but apart from the smell, there was nothing unusual about it.
He turned his attention to the door. It was old, the paint beginning to peel and expose the wood beneath, the once glossy ‘twelve’ faded and starting to rust. He put out his hand and touched the paint, breaking off pieces and letting the little flecks drop to the floor.
“Okay…” he said more to himself than the camera as he wrapped his hand around the brass door handle. In a moment, the door was yanked out of his hand. He let go in shock and was too stunned to react when a slimy fleshy arm reached out and wrapped long bony fingers around his wrist before pulling him inside the dark evil-smelling room.
Down in the foyer, Paul reached the bank of monitors to find no sign of Mike. He drummed his fingers on the back of the chair, glancing about the foyer in an attempt to locate his cameraman.
Turning his back on the monitors, he took out his Maglite and began to scan the thin beam of light around the room. He located what he thought were Mike’s footprints in the dust and began to follow them.
After a few moments, he came to the closed gate of the elevator shaft. Edging close, he shone his light down into the darkness. Nothing.
In room twelve, Owen slowly regained consciousness. He didn’t remember hitting his head but he must have done as his thoughts felt disjointed and cloudy. He was gagged and tied spread-eagled on the bed, his clothing gone. Panic rising he struggled against the rough ropes. They bit into his wrists and burned with each movement. He tried to cry out but the gag was firm, the fabric smelled rotten and made his eyes water.
Willing himself to calm down, he blinked into the darkness looking for something which might help him. All he could see was the canopy above the bed, straining he tried to lift his neck but the position he was in prevented him from doing so comfortably.
Somewhere to his right was the creature. He could smell it’s sour rotten odour, hear the slow rattle of its breath. Closing his eyes, Owen forced himself to pull once again against his bindings but they were too tight. There was nothing he could do.
He heard the click of the door being unlocked and opened his eyes, straining into the dark to see who it was, hoping it was someone who could save him. He stared in horror as Paul walked through the door and tried to scream against his gag, to warn him of the creature but something made him stop.
Smiling, Paul walked towards the bed and casually began setting up a camera.