Jacob Hauser was on his way home after a twenty mile bike ride when he noticed dark clouds building on the horizon. It was a hot, humid July afternoon. Jacob enjoyed summer weather, but he had never cared for humidity. I’m going to get soaked, Jacob thought as he pedaled along the country road.
Bike riding was one of Jacob’s favorite hobbies. He had been working as a middle school science teacher for a year and didn’t have as much free time as he used to for exercise. During college he had put great emphasis on working out. Those days had been more carefree.
The dark clouds continued to spread across the sky as Jacob heard a distant rumble of thunder. Jacob couldn’t recall seeing any houses along the stretch of the road he was on; he was out in the middle of nowhere. Jacob pedaled as fast as he could, but he knew he would never make it home before the rain began; there were still about nine miles to go. Jacob was wearing a gray T-shirt and khaki shorts, so he wasn’t dressed for a storm.
A flash of lightning cut across the sky as it darkened. Jacob had been terrified of thunderstorms when he was a child. He remembered being unable to fall asleep at night as lightning lit up his bedroom and thunder shook his house. Thunderstorms had always seemed like the perfect backdrop for monsters to come crawling out from the closet and under the bed. As an adult, Jacob was no longer scared of thunderstorms, though they still created a sense of anxiety in him.
The wind began to pick up and shake the leaves of nearby trees as Jacob smelled the ozone scent of rain. I need to find some kind of shelter soon, Jacob thought.
The wind tore at Jacob’s face as he continued to pedal. His leg muscles were aching from the long bike ride. The first drops of rain began to fall when Jacob saw it: an old, dilapidated house. He remembered passing the house on his bike rides in the past. He had never thought much about the house, until now. The house was two stories and had rotting clapboard siding. The siding had once been painted white, but years of neglect had resulted in an ugly gray. Most of the windows were boarded up. The house’s weed-choked yard surrounded it like a moat. The building looked like it had been abandoned for a decade or longer.
Jacob hopped off his bike and ran with it to the front door of the house. He just made it onto the crumbling front porch when the rain began to pour down. The front door was boarded up, but there was a broken window next to it. A board covered the upper part of the window, but there was enough room to get in. Jacob leaned his bike against a wall and climbed through the window into the house.
Looking around, Jacob noticed he was in a foyer. There was a staircase leading up to the second floor against the right wall. The white plaster walls were cracked and peeling. Fragments of plaster covered the floor. The air smelled musty and stale. Jacob peered outside through the window he had come in through. The rain and thunderstorm showed no signs of stopping. Well, I might as well take a look around, Jacob thought as he watched the rainfall. I don’t think I’m going anywhere for the time being.
Jacob wandered through an open doorway into a kitchen. The room’s furnishings were simple: a wood table, several chairs, cabinets, a stove, a sink, and an old refrigerator. Some of the cabinet doors had fallen off. Pieces of broken ceramic plates littered the floor. The table was covered with mouse droppings. Jacob spotted a foot-long snake skin on the ground next to the table. That’s lovely, Jacob thought as he kicked at the snake skin with his right foot.
Jacob opened a door leading into what seemed to be a cellar. There weren’t any windows in the room, and the only light came from the open doorway. Jacob could hear the sounds of animals skittering around below, probably mice. Jacob could see the top of a staircase descending into the darkness, but he didn’t feel like going down there. Jacob shut the cellar door and returned to the foyer.
Jacob climbed the staircase to the second floor. Every step he took on the stairs created a loud creak that shattered the dead silence of the house. Jacob thought it was odd how there weren’t any signs of recent human habitation of the house. He figured he would’ve come across empty food wrappers or beer cans left behind by a vagrant using the building as a shelter.
Jacob reached the top of the staircase and entered a room to his right. The room was devoid of furniture. There were two windows in one wall. Dim light from outside filtered in through the spaces between the boards covering the windows. Jacob could hear the rain pounding on the roof of the house. Jacob walked over to one of the windows and looked outside. The wind continued to whip the nearby trees, and rain pounded down. Jacob saw a flash of lightning. That’s when Jacob heard something strange. It sounded like people whispering. The noise seemed to be coming from behind a door in the room.
Jacob went to the door and put his ear next to it, trying to hear what was being said. It definitely sounded like two or three people whispering. Jacob couldn’t tell what they were saying. Jacob put a hand on the doorknob and turned it. He flung the door open and looked in. As soon as Jacob had opened the door, the whispering had stopped. The room was a closet. There was nothing inside it. A horrible odor that smelled like a dead animal emanated from the closet. Jacob wasn’t sure what was creating the stench, but it was awful. That’s weird, Jacob thought as he shut the closet door.
Jacob left the room and walked to the top of the staircase. He heard a strange, raspy breathing sound coming from behind him. Jacob turned around to look behind him. There was nobody there, and the breathing had stopped. Jacob turned around and put his hand on the staircase banister. As Jacob was about to step onto the top stair, something shoved him from behind. Jacob grabbed for the banister as he began to fall. He was angled towards the right and barely managed to catch hold of the banister before he would’ve fallen down the staircase. “What the hell was that?” Jacob shouted as he gripped the banister.
I could’ve gotten killed, Jacob thought as he stared at the bottom of the staircase. I need to get out of here.
Jacob ran down the stairs and headed for the window he had come in through. The strange whispering started again. It seemed like it was surrounding Jacob. He couldn’t see any people; the sound seemed to come from thin air. Jacob began to climb through the window when his shirt snagged on a nail sticking out of a board. Come on, Jacob thought as he struggled to free his shirt from the nail.
The whispering was coming from right behind Jacob. He didn’t have much time left. With one final struggle, the nail tore through Jacob’s shirt, and he was free. Jacob grabbed his bike and ran for the country road. It was still raining, but the thunderstorm had ended. Jacob was soaked in seconds from the deluge. As soon as he reached the asphalt, Jacob jumped on his bike and began pedaling as fast as he could. Jacob had a feeling he was going to set a new record on his ride home.
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.