The dim shine from the headlights poured onto the pavement as James and Ian hastily drove down the road. “Do you even know where the Hell we are anymore?” Ian asked in his typically cynical tone.
“I’ve honestly lost track,” James responded in a fairly hushed, tired voice.
“Well that’s perfect,” Ian said as he began to to pull up the GPS on his phone in hopes of finding directions. James continued to maneuver their vehicle along the path, trying his best to keep his heavy eyelids from clasping shut. The built-up exhaustion from their trip was clearly taking its toll on him.
“No signal. Unbelievable,” Ian said as he was putting his phone back into his jeans pocket. “What’s the plan now?”
James looked at the digital clock on his dashboard which read 2:35 a.m. They had been driving for nearly six hours now. “I guess we just keep going. We don’t really have many options other than that.” The two friends remained silent for several moments until Ian decided to chime in.
“I still don’t get why we had to go this way. I’m just ready to get home, man.”
“I thought this route would be quicker,” James responded. “It’s not my fault. It’s easy to get lost out here.” The two friends continued to drive until they eventually came across something that gave them hope. “Wait, what’s this?” James asked as their headlights revealed what looked to be a small town that they were approaching. As they continued driving towards it, they could make out a sign just on the outside of the city which read Blithe Town. They entered the town, which was only lit by flickering street lights. “Maybe we can get some directions around here,” said James.
They continued to drive around the collection of small buildings only to eventually come across what looked like a bed and breakfast. “Their lights are on,” said James. “Let’s see if anyone inside can help us out.” The two of them each got out of the car and quickly hurried inside as the brisk air sent chills down their respective spines. As they both entered the sizeable house, they disappointingly found no one to greet them. Ian walked over to the front desk as James wandered around the lobby, observing the various decorations that were scattered around in a respectively organized manner. Ian rang the small bell that sat on the counter, only to be met with no response. Ian continued to tap on the piece of silver metal, creating a series of high pitched notes that were still only answered with silence. As Ian persisted with his frustrated chimes, James continued inspecting the decor that were scattered around the room. Right across from the front desk was a red brick fireplace with no wood or even ash inside of it. It looked as if it hadn’t even been used for quite some time. Above the mantel was a framed painting that depicted a family of four, a father, mother and two daughters, in the middle of a forest. The outer edges of the forest were incredibly dark and it was almost challenging to distinguish what it even was. In contrast, each of the family members were painted in bright, vivid colors, giving it the presence that it was created relatively recently. The attention to detail on their appearances was nothing short of remarkable, as you could practically see every wrinkle or blemish that they possessed. However, what made the painting somewhat unnerving was that every member of the family had a distraught look on their hyperrealistic faces, like they were all in the middle of sobbing. All four of them clung to one another as if they were experiencing the utmost essence of tragedy. “What the fuck?” James uttered under his breath, but before he could bring Ian’s attention to it, his friend interrupted his train of thought.
“I guess no one’s here,” Ian said. “What do we do now?” James paused for a moment as he looked away from the painting and back at his companion.
“Let’s keep driving through town. Maybe we’ll come across another place that’s open.”
The two of them got back into their car and began aimlessly driving down the road with any hope of finding some form of civilization. As James grasped the steering wheel, he couldn’t shake the image of the painting out of his mind. The disturbing look on each face of the family members lingered with his thoughts like an unforgiving migraine. “It’s weird,” Ian said. “It’s like there isn’t even anyone here. I mean, I know it’s late but usually you see some kinds of life in a town, even a small one like this. You’ll at least see a stray cat or something like that. Here it’s nothing. No signs of anyone else.” Ian let out a nervous sigh and began to fiddle with the radio in an effort to calm the uncomfortable silence, but as he switched on the station the only thing that came out of the speakers was static. Ian began switching stations but they all played the exact same thing, just muffled noises with no clear sound whatsoever. Ian quickly turned off the radio and leaned back in the passenger seat, trying to hide the shaking of his muscles. “Let’s just get the fuck out of here,” Ian said.
As James and Ian continued their venture, they were beginning to wonder if they were ever going to get out of this town. But as they drove down the single road, they soon came to a sudden halt. James slowly put pressure on the breaks and both he and Ian sat in silence trying to make sense of what was in front of their eyes. Right before them, no more than 20 feet from the hood of their car, stood a tall figure with it’s back towards them. The figure stood there, in the middle of the road, wearing both a long trench coat and a trilby hat that each seemed to cover its entire body. James and Ian could do nothing but glare at the figure, too shocked to move. “What the Hell is this?” Ian asked. After taking a few heavy breaths, James pressed his palm onto the front of the steering wheel, causing the car horn to let out a loud screech. The figure remained still. Once again, James blasted the horn in hopes of getting a reaction but the figure still did not budge.
“What is this guy’s problem?” Ian asked in a shaky voice. After a brief moment of silence, Ian began rolling down his window and just barely stuck his head out into the cold air of night. “Hey!” he screamed. “What are you doing out here?” The figure didn’t move. “We’re trying to get out of this town! What do you think you’re doing?” Ian screamed. After no response, Ian adjusted himself back into his seat and rolled up his window. “What the fuck do we do now?” Ian asked in a nervous whisper. James stared at the figure, waiting for any kind of feedback from it but it still just stood there in an emotionless stature. As James’ patience was winding down, he slowly started to take his foot off the breaks, but just as he was about to do so, the figure began to turn around in an almost slow-motion form. The two friends could only sit in silence as the figure eerily crept its way to face them. Once they could see the figure from this newfound angle, its appearance left them frozen. It seemed even taller from this point of view, easily greater than 7ft. The trench coat draped over its body with leather gloves and boots each covering the ends of its limbs. The only piece of skin not covered by an article of clothing was its face, which was by far the most chilling aspect of its character. Its skin was whiter than one could imagine, paler than chalk. Its black, beady eyes were just far enough apart on its face to give it an unhuman demeanor. And at the very bottom of its face, there was only smooth skin where its mouth should be. Once it was turned all the way around, the figure still only stood there with its eyes staring deep into both James and Ian. There was absolute silence except for the heavy breathing coming from the two friends. As he began to regain his wits, Ian managed to mutter the word “Drive.” James took his eyes off of the figure for the first time and looked at Ian for reassurance of what he had just said. Without looking back at him, Ian again said “Drive” though this time there was a greater sense of urgency in his tone.
James pressed his foot onto the gas pedal but their vehicle remained stagnant. James repeatedly stomped his foot but the engine only rattled and refused to put their car in motion. As they both sat there, unsure of what to do next, the figure continued to glare directly at them. After only a few seconds of hesitation, James and Ian both remained still as they saw the figure slowly begin to twitch, and gradually start to make its way towards them. It walked in a troubled fashion, as if it were at a constant threat of losing its balance. As it was making its way towards the duo, James and Ian knew not what to do. James’ first reaction was to jolt from the car and get as far away from whatever dreadful fate was awaiting him at this moment, but something was holding him back. His mind was urging his limbs to take action though his body refused to cooperate. As the figure grew closer, James could feel himself growing weaker with each step that it took. He was only capable looking onward as the mysterious being got closer inch by inch. Before too long, the figure was now standing directly in front of the hood of their car, still intently staring at them. As James continued to look into the eyes of the figure, his vision began to become blurry and his mind was now a disorganized haze. James could only sit there as his eyes were gradually consumed by black, making the figure’s face the last thing that he would witness.
“Where in the Hell are we even going?” Jessica cried as she and her two friends drove down the desolated road. “We’re in the middle of nowhere!”
“Shut up!” Chris responded as he did his best to keep his eyes on the road. “I’m sure we’re almost there.”
“It looks like there’s a town up ahead,” said Claire from the backseat. “Maybe we can see if anyone there can help us out.” The three friends drove into the city, paying no attention to the Blithe Town sign on the side of the road. They parked in front of an old bed and breakfast and all gathered inside with the intent of finding someone who could provide them with assistance. As Chris and Jessica began ringing the bell on the front desk, with frustratingly no response, Claire began analyzing a painting that was above the lobby’s fireplace. Her eyes were fixated with the individuals that were portrayed.
“Does anyone even work here?” Jessica asked. After repeatedly pounding on the front desk bell, she let out a sigh of frustration and walked over to Claire who was still quietly examining the piece of art that was in front of her. She silently looked on at the painting which featured two young adult males in a forest, both with terrified looks of fear on their faces.
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Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors Anthology
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. 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 authors.