Dark Corners - Twelve Tales of Terror

BOOK: Dark Corners - Twelve Tales of Terror


Tales of Terror


Dark Hall Press

A Division of New Street
Communications, LLC

Wickford, RI

Copyright 2012 by Michael Bray

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American
Copyright Conventions. Except for brief quotations for review
purposes, no part of this work may be reproduced in any form without
the permission of Dark Hall Press, a Division of New Street
Communications, LLC.

Published 2012

Dark Hall Press


A Division of New Street Communications, LLC

Wickford, RI





Room 5

Rest for the Wicked


Last Day


Gnawing Feeling

5 Sycamore Street


Little Helps

Strange Affair


Last Man

the Author

the Publisher


my wife Vikki, my daughter Abi, my sisters Ann-Marie, Carol, Debbie &
Pauline and my mother Mavis. This labor of love is also dedicated to
my father Michael, who always encouraged me to embrace my creativity.


Huge thanks to all of
my family and friends who have supported this project from start to
finish, and have generally tolerated my often incessant ramblings
about the book. Also to William Renehan at Dark Hall Press for having
belief and faith in the manuscript and for his tireless work to bring
it to press. And last but by no means least, to Robert Belsten and
all the staff over at Emblesten.com for creating and hosting the



I’m in isolation. The doctors aren’t sure
what I was injected with, so they’re not taking any chances.
I’m scared, really scared, but I won’t give up hope that
I can come through this. I’ve always been a survivor and this
will be no different. I found this pen and notepad by the side of my
bed and figured I might as well log everything that happens, if for
no other reason than to keep myself occupied. My name is James
Robinson and I work in the city for an insurance brokerage firm. I’m
making my way up the ladder, and although it’s slow going, I’m
getting there. I still remember the words of my father, the only
advice of any worth he ever bestowed upon me.

a lot of money out there in the world, James. Just make sure you get
your share of it,'
said around the hand rolled cigarette that was always wedged between
his teeth. Those words stuck with me—almost as much as the
drunken beatings and crushing put downs he dealt out liberally. But
that’s another story. Besides, I had the last laugh; he died of
liver failure when I was fifteen. Tough-titty, Pops.

I don’t like this room I’m in. It’s
too sterile, too white. I’ll describe it for you from where I
lie, propped up in this hospital bed with its itchy sheets. It’s
around twelve feet square with no windows, and other than the bed and
small table beside it, no furniture. There’s an ugly faded
painting on the wall of a vineyard basking in the glow of a summer’s
day. Artistically it’s awful, but I suppose it serves as
something to look at in the absence of a real view. I also have a
small private bathroom and have been told to bottle my piss if I need
to go, as they want to test it. There is a TV, although you won’t
catch me watching it. No time for tuning out to shitty quiz shows and
the like; I need to keep active and not become depressed despite what
happened. They keep the door locked of course (otherwise it wouldn’t
be called isolation) and keep an eye on me from the small security
camera mounted in the corner. I can see the small red light blinking
as it watches my every move. Fuck it. I won’t have to put up
with this for too long. They’ll find a way to help me and then
I can get back to my normal life.

I had to stop writing for a while, as a doctor came in to visit me
(why I’m apologizing I don’t know). He was wearing one of
those white full body suits with the hood and clear plastic visor. It
all seemed a bit dramatic to me and I don’t mind telling you
that it caused me a little alarm. He asked how I was feeling, waiting
for my response with his stupid fucking pen and clipboard. I told him
I felt fine apart from the dryness in my throat, which is starting to
feel like somebody installed a roll of tiny carpet inside whilst I
wasn’t looking. In fact, I feel pretty good all things
considered. I didn’t like the way that doctor looked at me; the
way I imagined he looked at patients when he was about to bear bad
sorry, it's terminal. I suggest we turn off life support. Days rather
than weeks. Nothing more we can do
Standard bread and butter of the job for a sour faced prick like him.
I told him I was hungry though, and as he scurried off he promised to
have one of the nurses bring me some food. I hope it’s not the
standard hospital fare. I could really use a decent meal... I suppose
now would be a good time to explain what happened. I should warn you
though, it’s a pretty fucked up story.

I only live six blocks from the office where I work, and
most days I walk there by cutting through the park. However on this
particular morning, I had failed to set my alarm clock and was forced
to take the subway rather than my usual park route. I was sure I
would make it if I caught the eight thirty-five train. Now I must
admit, I hate trains—the thought of being closed in with so
many people makes me feel sick. I don’t like to be touched,
especially by the great unwashed. It’s nothing personal; I just
don’t like my space to be invaded. But if it meant I would
avoid being late for work, then I was prepared to make the sacrifice.

The subway entrance is only half a block away from where
I live, and as I hurried down the steps, I felt a quiver of unease in
my stomach. As I had feared, the subway car was already filling up
with people. I tried to keep a neutral look on my face as I squeezed
in, but all I could think about was my churning guts, and I had to
concentrate all of my efforts to stop myself from being sick. You may
think me odd, and maybe even a little obsessive, but just think about
it for a minute. How many people are breathing their germs on you?
How many people have gripped the metal rail after wiping their nose?
Germs. Infections. Shit like that was rife, especially with so many
people crammed together, sniffing and coughing. Initially I found a
relatively spacious area (no seats of course—there never were
any left, even that early on a morning) but as more and more people
streamed onto the train, I found myself pushed further into the

If not for choosing that exact moment to look through
into the car next to me, I wouldn’t be here writing this now. I
saw that it too was full, apart from the seat nearest the door. I
craned my neck to see why nobody had snatched such a rare opportunity
to sit whilst they travelled to work and immediately saw the reason.
There was an old hobo slouched in the corner. Although that car was
jammed to capacity, nobody would take up the spare seat, keeping
their distance as if the old fuck carried some kind of plague. (Maybe
he did, but I won’t think about that yet) Baffled by their
stupidity, I jostled my way through the people next to me and made
for the empty seat. There was plenty of distance between him and
myself to sit without touching him, and that’s exactly what I
did. You might call me a hypocrite, and that’s your right.
However to me, sitting next to that filthy old bastard was far more
acceptable than being wedged shoulder to shoulder with all those
dirty, sniffling, germ-carrying people. The other passengers looked
at me as if I was crazy, but I didn’t care. I was the one with
the seat and not breathing in their diseases. Not that the old
bastard didn’t smell. There was a distinct air of over ripe
cheese and the yeasty stench of hops. Although everyone else was
doing their best to ignore him, I couldn’t help but stare,
fascinated and disgusted at the same time. How could a person let
themselves go like that? He was the typical homeless cliché;
long scraggly hair and beard that looked like it had once been black,
but was now mostly grey and matted together. He had leathery, sun
damaged skin from what looked like a lifetime of living on the
streets. His clothes were old and tattered and the toe of one shoe
was missing, revealing the stub of a filthy and overgrown toenail (he
didn’t appear to be wearing socks). Clutched tightly to his
chest were two things: a three-quarters empty bottle of cheap red
wine, and a cardboard sign. Despite my disgust I wondered what it
said, but whatever writing there was he had concealed by his arms. I
don’t know if he felt my eyes on him, or if by sitting in his
space I had stirred him from his snooze, but he woke up, looking at
me with glassy, half-sunken, three sheets to the wind eyes. I suppose
you could almost feel sorry for him, if he wasn’t such an
obvious waste of space.

The old prick might have gone back to sleep, but instead
his eyes lit up and he straightened in his seat, sending a fresh wave
of that disgusting cheese and booze smell towards me. I glanced
around and noted how I, like him, had become invisible to the other

I tell ya somethin’, young fella?” the hobo had slurred,
looking blankly in my direction.

Now here is something else about me that you probably
should know, if you haven’t guessed it already that is. I’m
a prick, and I don’t mind saying it. You probably suspected as
much anyway, but I don’t really care what you think. The point
is that you might have ignored him, or looked away, or maybe even
stood and took your chances with the other sardines crammed into the
rest of the subway car. But not me. I’m James fucking Robinson,
and I don’t get intimidated by anyone—least of all an
old, stinking, alcoholic bum. I told him to go ahead and talk, get it
off his chest. He leaned forward and grinned, showing a mouth that
was more gums than teeth.

the end of times you know, sonny.”

His breath made me queasy, but I had a point to make and
forced myself not to flinch or show my disgust. Not just to him, but
to the other people on the train who were now watching secretively. I
don’t know if the old bastard noticed, but I did. I’m
good at noticing shit like that—the little details that most
people miss. I told the old guy in no uncertain terms how I felt
about it. I told him that it was people like him that were dragging
down society, and that he would be better off dead. That one got me a
few disapproving glances from the observers, but I didn’t care.
I turned the tables, acting as if they were as invisible to me as I
was to them. I always spoke my mind and if someone didn’t like
it, tough luck. To his credit, the old man didn’t seem to mind
and laughed it off.

used to be like you, sonny. All dressed up in my suit and tie. I bet
you have one of those big apartments in the city too, don’t

This wasn’t part of the plan, and certainly not
what I had expected. This old guy was sharper than he looked and I
was more aware of the people who were now watching intently, waiting
to see what would happen. Maybe he was just getting his second or
third wind, or perhaps he was fuelled by the attention, but he
suddenly seemed bigger, somehow more powerful. I’ll admit it—
I felt a little intimidated.

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