WetterBrian Fatah Steele / Horror / Science Fiction
br /> WETTER
Brian Fatah Steele
A Short Horror Story
Something came with the rain one night to the town of New Leeds. Something dark that soaked into earth, the buildings, the people and gave birth to something darker. Cleaning out his basement, Hollis comes to learn this... and learn something has been born inside him as well.
Petty Like A God
In Bleed Country
Fragments Of Ruin
Further Than Fate
A Complicated Divine
Far House, Deep House
Past The Patch
A Dark Red Press presentation
Wetter by Brian Fatah Steele
Copyright (c) 2011 by Brian Fatah Steele
Original cover artwork by Brian Fatah Steele 2011
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be altered in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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for my neighbors,
Jeff and Annie Keys
“Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.”
- H.P. Lovecraft
That summer began like so many previous, the heat rising from the east and casting out all the morning dew. The spring that year had been a wet one, the rains more frequent and heavy than the region had seen in many years, and the ground remained soft underneath feet even as temperatures rose in those later months. Yet while the torrential downpours of the past season did not return, a humidity was abundant in the air that made the citizens of New Leeds feel as if they were swimming through the afternoon atmosphere.
Hollis found the sticking dampness uncomfortable, even more so for the work he had put off from last year and had unfortunately found a growing necessity for in this new one. The house, while new to him, was quite old and badly in need of repairs. He had tinkered and fiddled with the interior all through the colder times at his leisure, finally achieving most of his set goals. However both the basement and the house’s exterior now awaited his efforts, and only the saddest excuses for procrastination could stop him any longer.
There was no particular reason why he didn’t wish to begin repairs to his home’s exterior, other than he wasn’t entirely sure where to begin. The sheer magnitude of the project threatened to overwhelm him at times when he considered it, instead often finding himself content to shift his piles of bricks back and forth or occasionally tend to the jungle that someone had contemptibly considered a backyard flower garden. At some point the gate would have to be replaced, the roses properly treated and the bricks set in a style that would lead from the road to the gabled porch. All of this, plus the drafty windows, leaky roof, crumbling steps and faded paint.
As for the basement, it was a case that spoke more about quality than quantity. Only a few stray items from the long-forgotten prior tenets needed hauled away, along with some minor electrical work and plumbing. No, here in the basement Hollis was bombarded with the seasonal temperatures tenfold, the heat an unbearable inferno in the summer while it remained some dreaded arctic wasteland in the winter. He had missed his opportunity to forego extremes and now as May rolled into June, the basement had become a boiling ocean.
Hollis worked from home, the computer his main tool. Since he couldn’t very well go about pounding and drilling in the darkness, for fear of awakening his neighbors with the noise or the excessive lights, he retreated to his office most nights. There Hollis found some meager cheer with his words as his music played, losing himself to the writing as his bolder cat wove its way between his feet. Frequently he would attend to his tales far longer than he would have planned, not crawling to his slumber until the first rays of sunlight began to illuminate their way through his heavy bedroom curtains. In turn, he would not awake until a large portion of the day was gone, the sun lounging bloated in its glaring position directly above his home.
One day, Hollis awoke to find the light of his room darker than usual and groaned at the thought of more hours wasted than usual. A glance at the clock told him it was his normal time to rise, but the dim and grey-diffused walls gave him pause. Once out from his cover, he was astounded to find a slight chill to the room. Peering out the curtain, Hollis discovered a virtual deluge, the heavens torn open to allow the blackest storm clouds their rain.
Considering this a boon, he quickly dressed and saw to his coffee. While the rich French Roast brewed, he fed his two impatient cats then went about a variety of morning routines. The daily trivialities dispensed with and fortified with a large mug, Hollis made his way into the basement.
While the oppressive warmth was not apparent on this day, the dank confines of the stone walls seeped with moisture. There was an odor to the underground space that Hollis had not noticed before, something both musty yet cloying. There was a hidden sweetness to it and it lingered in his mouth, meaty and foul, and he found himself spitting into the ancient, rusting drain to remove it. Attempting to put it out of his mind, he toiled away for hours as he moved the dozen empty paint cans scattered in the corner, the jagged set of bed springs, the oddly-shaped bird cage and other myriad items of suburban debris out to his back porch. At one point as he neared the small cubby once used to hold coal, the putrid stench wavered stronger than before. He glanced inside at the decades-old saturated bits of blackened fuel, the broken sticks used as kindling and the wisps of ancient garbage all covered in cobwebs. Cramming a plank of warped cedar against the narrow, rotting orifice, he stepped away hacking the taste from his throat.
Sitting in a lawn chair on the back porch, Hollis drank the cooled dredges of his coffee and smoked a cigarette, trying to banish the memory of the abhorrent flavor. Examining the mounds of junk he had accumulated, he punched a number into his cell phone and talked briefly to an acquaintance who would be able to transport it all away for a small fee. A major task completed and that weight lifted from the back of his mind, he retired back to his office for the night.
While searching the internet for a particular piece of information needed for his next bout of fiction, Hollis typed his way to a site that provided what he had found to be acute weather reporting for his area. He found the next four days were to be as dreary and flooded as the day he had just worked through, but determined this to be positive news. He had accomplished his goals on the very onset of the storm, and could hardly be expected to tackle outdoor maintenance in such conditions. Hollis fell to bed that night content that he would be able to spend the next few days dedicated to his writing.
And that night, things grew wetter.
The sky, now that strange deeper black that obscures our celestial cradle and cloaks us from the solace of stars, undulated and swirled with primal forces. Sealed away from those shining, burning icons that humanity so love to romanticize, waters caught from elsewhere fell to New Leeds and washed it clean of secrets. Indeed, instead of a sparkling purity one might find after a bathing, all the hidden filth of the town found license to creep its way further unobscured. And so the rain drenched homes and streets, soaking into the dirt to make pacts with all those things long forgotten.
Hollis woke up coughing. Rolling over, he rubbed at his eyes and took in the clock that spoke of a time not long after he had collapsed. Thinking to fall back asleep, he realized the abysmal stench from the basement had drifted all the way to the second floor. Cursing, he reached to the small reading lamp that sat on an end table and blinked in the sudden brightness. Turning back to eject his usual feline companion from a nearby pillow, Hollis issued a sound of utter disgust at what he saw lying only inches from his face.
A single, twitching pale maggot arched its back on the blue pillow case, its mindless and sightless head seeking some giving matter to burrow its way into. No more than half an inch long, it was thick and bulging as if recently fed, the segmented ridges of its body pushing it along. As if realizing it had been discovered, it curled into a circle, content and gorged.
Scrambling back from the pillow, Hollis tried desperately not to retch. He fumbled in his small trashcan for a piece of paper to grasp the tiny horror and crush it. Its body obliterated between his fingers and a wad of tissue gave Hollis a sense of satisfaction, but his nausea still crept. Stumbling to the bathroom down the hall, he found the light in time to fall before the toilet.
His guts on fire, Hollis vomited his meal and bile into the porcelain bowl. There was a wrenching pain like food already digested was being dragged back up