Troll Beats

       Claude Vicent
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Troll Beats
short stories
vol. loud


by
Claude Vicent


This is a work of fiction. References to names, characters, places, events, incidents and rock bands are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Lyrics of the Great Song remain the copyrighted material of the Pazanna People’s Republic.

Copyright © Claude Vicent 2017
Published by Claude Vicent at Smashwords

Originally published in 2016
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


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Dark Shadows

I can’t really recall when it first started to go all so pear shaped. Perhaps it was a Thursday. The dullest of days. A depressingly brown, autumn Thursday. Only Sunday afternoons ever seem to trump autumn Thursdays as the most boring of days. And brown is the colour I choose to associate with such dull moments and days.
Whatever it was that first welcomed such a thing into my house will forever remain a mystery to me. They say vampires never venture into a house uninvited. All I can say, is that I never once asked the strange presence into my place.
It’s all in the past now. The calm and serenity of our lives is restored and there is little for us, and mostly my weak self, to worry about any longer. However, such was the despair that took over during that brief period, all so long ago, that I have been compelled to write about it now. A short, dark tale that started on a Thursday, like many others, and eventually ended on a Sunday afternoon. Call it a coincidence. Call it what you like.
What manner of dark forces and energies inhabit our world, is a question I may never find the answer to.

I was making my way home that evening, one slow step after the other, from a job that was slowly sucking the living essence out of every grain of my body. I moved along the streets hoping, miserably and macabrely, to slip and break my neck on the cold icy pavement. Perhaps, I thought, that might end my hopeless existence in this world once and forever. All that was stopping me from stepping in front of the next approaching tram was the love I held for my beloved other half. The idea of her knowing they’d had to scrape me off the bottom of a tram was enough to keep me walking in a straight line, all the way home, day after day.
The stale smell of elderly rotting beings, from the home for the old and demented just across the park, hung in the air with a sickening heaviness. A few of them sat frozen at the front porch. Their miserable faces, hustling over a piece of bread and an apple. Content at nothing. I wondered why they hadn’t ended their lives years in advance. Why they still insisted on holding on? Perhaps I should set an example. Do the world a favour... and just do myself in.
Adjacent to the old people’s version of hell was the building that housed our small apartment, three stories up from the cracking tarmac of the streets below. I had hardly finished hanging my coat and scarf on the nail that hung from the damp wall of our flat, my shoes still clinging to my frozen feet, when I noticed the first of many shadows creeping across the hallway. The piercing sound of the thumping of my heart, beating away like a drum, whistled in my ears. The intensity of it alone would have been enough to end a man a few years my senior. It sent an unexpected bolt of lightning shooting down my legs and out of my shivering arse. The fright was such that I barely avoided filling my pants. A cold, immobilising force took over the better, and still functioning, part of my body. And there I stood, frozen, for a confusingly long time, until a few shady rational thoughts saw best to see me on my way. I moved into the kitchen where I set the kettle on and waited patiently. Carefully listening to the rummaging sounds coming from just behind the creaky door to our bedroom.
What kind of man, I can hear you folks cry. What kind of a man am I, not to pick up a club and storm into the room with the firm intention of facing the intruder? I beg of thee just a few more pages of patience. Then, and only then might you all begin to appreciate the level of fear that I was subjected to. Enough to paralyse my weak frame. Right down to every single atom in my being and loosen the otherwise clenched muscles of my arse.
When the shivering eventually subsided, I managed, against all my wits, to take a peak into the small sleeping room. Shyly I pushed at the door with my finger and to my relief, there I stood before an empty room. Much to my good health, tea cup in hand, and a few cinnamon biscuits the better, I made for the living room. There I decided to light the fire. The cold swept in through the draughty windows and under the doors. The cold autumn months were upon us and I sat there shivering, only to find that the last logs of wood had disappeared. Only a few blazing ones were left in the chimney giving off the last remaining bursts of heat. All I could do was sip on my tea, my hands held up before my chest clinching desperately for a little warmth.
Suddenly, I felt a thump in my chest, as a creaking sound of footsteps began to sound again from the bedroom area. The knocking, scratching and sounds of things falling, dropping and hitting the cold wooden floors started to grow louder and more frequent. The source of such sounds was unequivocally the adjacent bedroom. I sat at my writing table, my eyebrows raised in a manner most excited I imagine, missing my mug every other time I tried to sip at it. The tea dripping on my woolen jumper, and the biscuits crumbling and collecting at my feat as I kept my eyes fixed on the door to the kitchen that gave into our bedroom.

It is a fortune, now that I look back on it, that I did not choke myself to death, when minutes later I witnessed the dark shadow appearing from our sleeping chambers. A tall, large, dark figure, with broad shoulders, covered head to toe in a dark heap of mist. Wrapped in a black cloak, its head held low, heavily hanging towards the floor, and dark as the shadow it cast across the hall. I heard the door knob turn and the hinges creaking as it pulled back at the door and made its way through the kitchen towards the toilet. Before doing so it stopped with murderous nonchalance and twisted its elongated neck and shoulders to stare in my direction. I did not see, as much as I felt, the power of its anger and hate, as it stared at me from within the darkness of the cape, that hid its face.
Time stood still, just as in the worst of cliches, as the dark figure missed a few beats and then hit a wall. From deep within the cape I thought I could make out something which I imagined to be one of the being’s eyes. Its big head twitched subtly over its shoulder before its frame turned to face away from me and back across the hall towards where it had come from. I was left there, sitting incredulously frozen to the chair. Watching as it made itself at home in the house that my loving wife and I had worked so hard to build and call home. And my poor old self, made to feel like a stranger in my own home. Pinching myself would not have done more to make me realise I wasn’t dreaming. I had the fresh smell of shit fear still clinging to me for dear life.

As time slowly began to return to its normal course of things, there seemed to be no rest in the being’s dark tendencies, as it moved about the apartment, which incidentally had begun to grow colder and colder by the hour. For all my efforts, there seemed to be no good way of withholding any considerable amount of heat. As for my health, it too soon began to deteriorate as I shivered with ever more frequency and less and less control. There weren’t many nails left for me to chew on. Whenever I chewed, nervously, chronically, I did so on my fingers, causing them to bleed and ache in the cold air. Seconds turned to hours, which I spent constantly enveloped in the darkness and rain that winter always seems more than glad to dish out, year after year without fail. There did not seem to be any way of escaping either.
In the days following the strange incident, I would attempt to delay my return home the longest possible. Trawling the streets at night in the misty puddles here and there. Sitting in libraries and overcrowded pubs until closing time, when they would politely ask me to leave. Loitering before shop windows and wondering how come I had no one to ring, no one I could rely on. And so, to avoid falling prey to deeper and deeper levels of worthless despair I would eventually embark on my short voyage home. My shoulders held low and my stare fixed on the next few steps in front of me. Putting the key in the hole, hoping, praying to find the entity no longer inhabiting my place, and perhaps to see the beloved smile and feel the warm embrace of my dear wife, the likes of whom I had not had the pleasure of seeing since the entity first made itself known.
Never, during its stay, did it try to make contact with me, nor did it ever try to explain why it had picked that particular spot as its squat. Rather it commanded a powerful presence as if it had always owned the damn place. And so, stepping off the bus at times I would pause, and lean on the side of the brick wall by the small grocery store on the corner. And I would stand
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