A Chuck Wendig prompt - 2036 words genre: supernatural horror - found footage
With a flicker of blue light, the screen comes to life. It’s evening, the streetlights flare on. The lens zooms in on an old, abandoned looking house, with bashed in windows on ground level. There is a wooden porch with some missing slats.
Someone smokes there. A little red dot gleams lazily just above the handrail.
„There they are…“ A male voice whispers to himself. “Showtime.” A bush winks into the field of view. A shadow moves in front of the ember. Suddenly the cameraman shrinks behind the bush.
Click. The frame blacks out.
The camcorder glows, showing the facade of the abandoned house. The cameraman stands in front of the porch.
„Finally!” Steve Garner bellows. ”You’re late! What took you so long?“ He moves from the further end of the ill-kept porch. „I said seven pm. Not eight thirty! Not fucking nine!“ He is getting more and more visible with every step.
„Dude. Chill. Car problems…“ The voice puffs as if pumped out. The frame shakes as he takes all the three steps at once up to the porch. Steve moves closer, nearly bumping into the camera. Tiny remains of the chipped white paint stay on the right side of his black T-shirt. The other man is half leaning half squatting near the entrance. His dark baseball cap reveals only the tip of his nose and his stubbly chin. Nevertheless, he seems to observe everything very intently.
“Damon? Are you stoned?” Steve’s face comes closer eclipsing. The look on his mug is just for a moment the usual flashing smile. He brushes over his blonde hair and loses the mask of a decent human being. Anger burns through his blue eyes. “If you are, then this is your last gig. Ever! Now pull yourself together.” He beams on Damon, like a kid through a magnifying glass on ants. „Where’s the food? I’m starving.“
A hand stretches into the lower left corner of the screen, holding two white plastic bags. Steve takes both of them and turns to the other man, handing him one. „Hey, Vince!“ With a thumb Steve pushes Vincent’s baseball cap up his forehead, revealing his dark hairline. “Don’t just sit around, look alive. Can you take that off?” Vincent’s jaw muscles start working under his skin.
Locking eyes with the camera he growls, „Keep that outta my face!“ He does a death stare into the lens, then pulls his cap deeper.
„Cut it out. Let’s eat,“ Steve puts his palm over the lens.
„Hi! My name is Steve Garner. Welcome to Haunted Hunter.“ He flashes full teeth straight into the cam. That hideous smile makes the cameraman cringe a tiny bit. The Ladykiller shudders in the frame.
„Disgusting,“ Vincent mutters and walks into the picture. He shakes his head and crosses his arm before his chest. The smile freezes on Steve’s face.
„Tonight, Vincent, Damon and I are going to spend a night locked in this wonderful place.“ He waves at the door in the background. „Beware! The Old Talbot Mansion,” he lets it sink in. “We’re going to investigate the house from bottom to top. It has a juicy wicked past, with 22 confirmed deaths. Sprinkled with cruelty and torture.“ Steve turns around and walks to the door. The creaking planks sound like a wooden sigh of relief. „This is Vincent, our new clairvoyant. Straight from Transylvania. Vince, say hi!“ His yawn and the way he leans on the doorframe makes him look bored out of his mind. “He is our psychic rod, hopefully channeling us some ghosts or demons.“ The camera zeroes in on him. He winks, indecisiveness sweeps over his face. Vincent seems to be pondering what he is going to say. His lips tighten, then relax into a broad smile. „See? No fangs!“
Steve chuckles, „Did you just channel that joke? That was ancient!“ He holds up the key to the entrance and winks. „Let’s roll!“
It’s dark inside. From the windows, the streetlights wash in. Damon kills the lights of the camcorder and switches to infrared mode. Steve closes the door behind them, and locks it casually, pocketing the keys.
On the screen, two greenish glowing backs appear. They walk a bit deeper into the building. The old wooden floor keeps whispering with their every movement. Vincent tests the laths if they’re safe enough to step on.
„Now we are inside Talbot Mansion, floor level,” Steve explains his plan to the future audience. “In the coming hours, we’re going to search the place for apparitions, orbs, disembodied voices and other paranormal occurrences. We’re aiming to record poltergeist activity on tape.” He straightens his posture. “Normally, we would start in the attic and work us through to the basement. However, the reports on violent deaths culminate in two neighboring rooms on the first floor. Also, the basement is famous for strange appearances and disappearances.“ He turns to glance at the camera with a knowing look, then wiggles his brows expectantly. The psychic stops, as if he has suddenly run out of movement.
„So, what do you say, tiger?” Steve pats Vincent’s back. “Where should we start?“ The touch seems unpleasant, his shoulders and arms tense up. Hands clench into fists. For a moment his limbs twitch, and his back straightens, making his silhouette taller and bigger, than before.
„Shhh,“ Vincent hisses.
Eyes rolling, Steve retracts his hand from the shoulder. He takes two steps back to the camera and whispers. „This is why I have invited this psychic bloodhound.” He throws an annoyed glance to Vincent. “I was told he’s always on the spot. We let him concentrate on the energy and advance then.” He smiles friendly. “Cut!“
The frame moves to show the old parquet flooring and the tips of two pairs of sneakers. “Don’t you ever shush me again!” The outraged voice belongs definitely to Steve. “Capisce?” The tips of the sneakers move out of view. “You can kiss the money goodbye if you behave like a prick!“
“What money,” Damon asks.
“None of your business!” Steve barks back.
„Seriously! What mone—„
“Something’s wrong…” Vincent’s barely audible voice trails off, “different evil…”
“What?” Steve clicks his tongue. „You’ve picked something up? Already?“ He shakes his raised euphoric fists. „This is gonna be so good! Quick, Damon, get me back on.“
The frame swipes across the dark room, approaching a smiling Steve. He covers nearly all of Vincent’s back. “Till then let me tell you about this Manson.” He inhales, “It was built in 1831, by the rich Barnaby Talbot. He made his fortune with sugar, rum, and gum. Reaching everything he wanted to, he decided to get married. A beautiful young girl named Elisabeth G. Wilson was the chosen one. Coming from a well known, but poor family, Elisabeth must’ve thought she hit the jackpot.“
In one corner of the frame, tiny yellow orbs appear. They rain down on trembling Vincent. One appears to fly right through his shoulder and disappear before entering Steve. “Hey, Steve…Look!“ Damon’s voice interrupts the history lesson. “We’re already deep in.” A hand with a pointing finger stretches into view. “Orbs! Up there!” Steve’s head flies up, following the finger.
He pulls out a digital camera and takes some pictures. “Nice!” He nods to himself. “Do you hear or see anything unusual? C’mere ghosts. C’mere and show off. C’mere demons. Comm’n get us…“
A barely audible guttural vibration stops Steve and Damon. „Was that you?“ The frame pans to Vincent’s back. “Did you just growl? Please, tell me you growled.“
„What’s with him?“ Damon’s leery voice shakes. The picture swings back and forth between Steve’s confused face and Vincent’s back.
„We go.“ The psychic starts walking down the hallway, rapidly disappearing from view. „Now,“ his voice demands from the darkness. The cam shakes as the two-man scramble to follow Vincent deeper into the building.
The frame glitches on the top and bottom. It fuzzes out, dances and topples. The footage stutters distorts and flickers. „Hey, what the—“ Damon grunts. The video blurs, the focus seems to be off. „Uh, hold on!“ He shouts,„I think the cam’s a goner!“
Steve’s figure fades into the darkness of the stairway. The hall flickers again and blacks out.
„Go!“ Vincent’s distorted screams filter through the misty static. „Go! Go!“
Two fuzzy men are running down the stairway. Their movements flicker through the footage. Elbows, backs, heels, and sides tumble through something fog like. The handrails and steps are barely visible for the cam. They’re wheezing.
„Move!“ Damon passes Steve and overtakes Vincent. The video shakes violently. The fog lightens somewhat, as they move downstairs. They’re running like hell, taking two or three steps at the time, wide-eyed, pale and sweating. The old wooden stairs shake in the rhythm of their stomping feet.
“Is it following?” They keep looking back. Even though they see nothing, they don’t stop running. They aren’t even slowing down.
Vincent glances upstairs into the thick darkness that seems to be slowly descending. His face can’t hide how worried he is. The video catches Steve’s horrified expression.
The psychic clutches at his right side. The sight of his dark glistening right-hand shocks him visibly. He opens his mouth, to call for help, or to say something, but nothing comes out. He can’t keep up. Nearly tripping, he catches himself on the old wooden handrail, that shakes and crumbles under his grip. He crashes into Steve’s back, both almost fall over.
A horrifying death scream rips the air apart, then chokes off into silence. Both men freeze in motion. They are at the end of the stairs. Steve gapes into the lens, pale, trembling, jaw slacking. His eyes turn to stare at something in the solid darkness. There’s nothing. The camera zooms into the descending black mist. “It’s moving,” he breathes.
Damon finds his mouth first. „What the hell was that?” The frame moves to Vincent. “Vince?” Damon’s voice trembles. ”Man? What was that? Bloody hell! What’s happening?”
Steve whispers,”It’s coming to get us …“ Vincent nods, unable to speak. The sound of marbles falling down the wooden stairs echoes.
„Come on!“ Vincent shows Steve his bloody right hand. „Oh my God!“ He gasps and presses his hands on the right side, where Vincent’s shirt glistens. “Ohmygodohmygod.” Drenched in sweat and cold to the touch, he starts shaking. „Why didn’t you say something,“ the additional pressure makes him cringe and hiss.
„Interference,“ Vincent rasps weakly. „Too late …“ is all he manages before his knees give out. Looking down on himself, he notices his limbs started vibrating violently. Not sure, if it’s caused by the blood loss, or the presence, or the haunted place, Vince slacks into Steve’s arms.
Above them, the stairs creak and moan as if something heavy has been dropped on them. And that weight was moving. The dimly lit hallway pokes into the frame. „Fuck!“ Steve grabs Vincent, hauls him over his shoulder and runs as if the devil is right after them, which probably is true.
Vincent can’t tell, he is busy bleeding out.
Steve reaches the door.
Damon rattles the door. “Lemme out!” Nothing.
The house doesn’t want them to leave.
Vincent mumbles something. He swears. What is that? French? Italian?
The creaking and breaking of wood are much louder now. Vincent mutters Romanian curses into Steve’s back. He has to handle things his way if he wants to survive.
“The keys!” Steve screams. What he can’t see, is the massive wall of darkness two feet behind them. Damon shrieks when he catches the black mist on tape. “No!”
Vincent shuffles and wiggles from Steve’s shoulder and brings his back to his. “Don’t look!” He groans to Steve and the camera. “Whatever happens, don’t look!” Facing the phenomenon, he rips his shirt open. His pale torso reveals banning tattoos over his thorax and abdomen. „Not today, fucker!“ Vincent growls.
The darkness stops.
He whispers a nordic prayer to Fenrir, the wolf swallowing the sun and howls.
The ripping sound in his throat transforms from a howl into a piercing banshee shriek. The frame glitches at the moment right after the blackness advances upon Vincent’s pale silhouette.