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Goodnight Sweet Prince

By Sonia Kirpalani All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Horror

The bridge

Kevin styled his blond spikey hair meticulously between his fingers in the rear –view mirror of his revved up Corsa. Techno music blared and throbbed as he swerved around corners and stationary vehicles at forty miles an hour in a residential area.He reached over to the glove box and fished around inside it for his aftershave dislodging several condoms and empty beer bottles.Suddenly the car was filled with the instantly recognisable scent that promises to turn all the women around you into lust-filled beasts… but in truth smells more like the bathroom of an under eighteens nightclub.Once Kevin decided he looked fit enough he put his foot down, turning the sharp right corner onto Bywater Bridge. Bywater Bridge is located on a lonely stretch of the Thames between Tower and London Bridges. The eerie silence in the air that surrounds it was only broken by the wind howling through the old wooden beams and the sound of the murky river lapping over the shore. The smell of stagnant water and mould hung heavily in the air and none of the street lamps ever seemed to work, so at night the crossing was plunged into total darkness. Kevin drove carefully over the rickety bridge and smiled when he got to the middle stretch. The sky was clear and black in every direction but the moon was nowhere to be seen.

Kevin rolled down the windows and took a nice deep breath of muggy London air. He was definitely getting some tonight! As he came to the end of the crossing something bright and colorful caught his eye and he slowed to a halt, he carefully got out of his car and his shoe almost became lodged between two rotting planks. Unconcerned; Kevin pulled it out ran back several feet to the beautiful bunch of yellow roses tied to the old railing with curled blue ribbons. Kevin eyed the embankment both ways for pedestrians, his dark blue eyes narrowing to see in the distance and furrowing the skin on his forehead. For reasons he couldn't explain he also looked over the ledge, down into the black abyss below. A shudder ran the length of his spine and a cold sense of foreboding gripped at the pit of his stomach. Suddenly he snatched the bunch and ran as fast as he could back to his car, expecting to hear an angry car horn or busybody shout at him. But there was nothing, he slowed to a stop as he examined the bunch of flowers, which he decided must have been fresh there that day, or perhaps the day before.A small elegant piece of stationary was nestled among the buds, which Kevin gingerly pulled out. "Goodnight sweet Prince, Of all my love be sure, Now I’m sleeping with you Xx"

“Well that’s definitely a mood killer.” Kevin slung the note over the ledge and sprinted the last few feet back to his car before it could fall through the decaying planks. He threw the bouquet in the back seat and revved the engine noisily again and headed down the A road toward Elephant and castle. A quarter of the way back over Bywater Bridge the note hung lazily in the wind, before it slowly fell down to the water near the bank of the river Thames. A small public park that was nestled in the built up city, hung in the backdrop as the note fluttered toward the slurping shore. It finally found its place on the corpse of a middle-aged woman; whose bloated white hands tightly clutched a locket and an old toy. Her stiff body seemed to stir ever so slightly and her scavenged eye sockets oozed a single tear of putrid river water; tainting the air around her with the rotting stench of death. A gust of wind flung her soaking matted hair away from her face revealing her horrifying mouth. Her lips had also been carrion for all the vermin and parasites that inhabit the muck at the bottom of the River Thames. And all that remained were long yellowed teeth, bare of any flesh or gums… forever snarling gruesomely.  A long centipede scurried out from between her sludge filled teeth, seemingly spooked by the unrest that stirred within. A distant ominous sigh filled the air, which seemed to stir up from around the decaying corpse and blew through the trees of Pottery Beard Park toward Elephant and Castle.

Kevin put his foot down making the engine in his small car go ballistic. He zipped in and out of traffic as he closed in on the street where his date lived. As he pulled up outside the three story town house he could already see his date’s blonde head peeking anxiously between the curtains, nervously awaiting his arrival. Kevin winked confidently at himself in the rear-view mirror and grabbed the bunch of roses out of the back seat. As he stepped out of the car Kevin briefly caught the foulest of stenches, he looked suspiciously down at the curb for a drain and checked the bottom of both shoes; but could find no source for the disgusting, rotting smell. As quickly as it appeared the smell was gone and Kevin figured it must have been something on the wind. He hopped up the three steps to the tall black door, fully aware of the girl’s presence hovering on the other side. He had barely pushed the bell when the door swung open and his date stood excitedly in front of him, dressed far too extravagantly for he intended to take her. And certainly nowhere near anything he would imagine introducing to his mother. He quickly examined the skimpy pink dress and blue eye shadow as he held up the now ostentatious seeming bouquet, ‘like putting a silk hat on a pig’ he thought to himself and instantly thought of a dozen other girls he wished he’d found these on the way to pick up.

The same cold shiver and stomach lurch engrossed him as he handed them over, but he attributed this to the fact that he forgot the girl’s name. “For you babe,” he said.

“Why thank you!” she purred as she gingerly took them, “And what’s this, a note?” All the blood in his body instantly rushed to Kevin’s face, he was sure he had thrown that damn thing away! He quickly snatched the goodnight note from the bouquet almost taking several buds with it. “Just a receipt” He laughed casually, but the rotten smell from outside again filled his nose and mouth and he gagged furiously. ‘Babe’ looked on helplessly as he hurled violently all over her doorstep. For all his willpower Kevin could not stop retching, as though something had a hold of his guts and was twisting them out of his throat. The reek of raw sewage forced its way into his lungs with every heave.“Oh my gosh Kevin are you OK?” She cried as she carefully stepped away from the splatter of Kevin’s strange black vomit. The moment his heaving let up he sprinted back to the car, completely unconcerned for his date and just wanting his bed and his toilet. He jumped back into the car and turned the key, the engine struggled and Kevin hissed profanities as he held his guts in. The girl clutched her roses like a statue as the car finally burst into life and sped off down the street. 

Kevin silently thanked God and sniffed furiously around in his car for the source of the stench. Kevin swerved from one side of the road to the other as his empty stomach retched beneath him; he just had to get home. He reached the black silence of Bywater Bridge and slowed to keep from drowning himself in the Thames. He held his breath as the car hobbled over the rickety structure but could still taste the rot at the back of his throat. As his car reached the highest point of the bridge the engine seemed to just die and Kevin was surrounded by darkness. The very air around him seemed thick and suffocating and the stench was more unbearable than ever. Kevin turned the key and absolutely nothing happened, not so much as a whisper from the engine.

He struggled to see as his eyes adjusted to the blackness and his blood ran cold when he felt another presence in the back seat of his car.. Kevin stilled his breathing and froze as he listened to the terrifying sound of an unknown passenger in the back seat.

Too petrified to turn around Kevin strained his eyes into the rear-view mirror, he could make out only a vague shadow in the darkness… a shadow right behind him. Suddenly the sound of breathing was all too apparent, yet Kevin’s breath was held tightly. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness around him and the black turned to grey, Kevin looked away from the mirror. He was too scared to look. The breathing grew louder, but it didn’t sound human. It was harsh like the sucking and exhaling of hair through teeth, un-muffled by the obstruction of lips. Kevin fumbled at his seat belt before it unclicked and he couldn’t stop his eyes from looking into the mirror behind him. His limbs turned to jelly as the dark figure shifted slowly towards his back, the guttural sound of rasping drew ever nearer and he felt the cold, clammy putridness of it on the back of his neck.Kevin screamed and clawed helplessly at the door handle, he recoiled instantly from the horrendous breathing behind him and backed furiously into the door as his fingers scrambled over the latch.Out of the depths in front of him the shadow loomed closer and Kevin whimpered. He closed his eyes tight to stop whatever was in front of him becoming real.Suddenly the door gave way and he was sprawled on his back on the rickety old bridge. He looked frantically at the back seat of his car but it was deserted, the smell was gone and all that remained was him and the darkness.

For a few minutes he lay there, too horrified to move, the dampness of the old wood sunk into his shirt but he couldn’t feel the cold.His feet still hung limply next to the pedals in the driver’s seat, it took all his effort for Kevin to flop them down onto the bridge next to him so he could try and stand.His head span and he sat dizzily back in the car, his stomach lurched as he noticed a wet hand print on the neck of his seat.“That’s just sweat Kevin” he slapped himself in the face and turned the key, but sat with his chest pressed against the steering wheel the entire way home.
Kevin literally launched himself out of the car when he screeched to a halt in the dimly lit car park in front of Henry’s Tower. The apartment block was a great dismal structure with windows lit few and far between, partly because a lot of the inhabitants were working nights in the brewery half a mile down the road; but mostly because there had been a major plumbing disaster a couple of weeks ago and the two floors above Kevin and his mother had been flooded. He still remembered drops of water creeping down the faded brown wallpaper in his living room whilst he and his mother watched television. The event left a permanent brown smudge in all four corners of the roof.Thankfully his fob key worked the first time he swiped it and Kevin burst through the large glass doors of the foyer. 

The long dark void of the hallway loomed out before him to the elevators at the end. The halogen panelled lighting flickered and blinked overhead illuminating locked, windowless doors on either side of the passageway.The doors slammed shut behind Kevin and the vast expanse of the lobby seemed to stretch even further before him. He stared hopelessly at the intermittent darkness and began to jog toward the elevator. The echo of his own footsteps made Kevin tremble with horror, convinced somebody was chasing him.As he reached the lift he pushed the button desperately, the elevator groaned to life and slowly counted down the stories from the eighteenth floor to the ground. Every dull chime seemed a lifetime apart and Kevin watched the glass doors behind him creak and rattle in the wind. His heart stilled in his chest as a shadow seemed to loom in front of the glass and the doors groaned inward threatening to burst open.

“Oh my God” Kevin whispered, and looked urgently up at the numbers above the elevator, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Kevin pushed up hard against the metal doors as they slid apart, and slipped in between them the second space allowed his body through.Once again he was furiously attacking buttons trying to get the doors to close and ascend to level eight.As the doors closed the elevator seemed to entomb him and Kevin felt more anxious than he ever had outside. The usual smell of cigarette smoke and urine had vanished from the metal box and was replaced by the heinous stench that had been haunting him since he’d arrived at his date’s house. ‘What was going on?’ Kevin thought desperately to himself, ‘Did he have a fever? Was it playing tricks with his mind?’The elevator doors parting breathed life into the box again and Kevin dashed down another dimly lit hallway to his own front door.Despite having a key he pounded on the door just dying to see his mother’s face, just to see anything that wasn’t dark and rotten.After several minutes Kevin’s heart broke at the realisation his mother too must be working nights at the brewery.

His sadness was soon interrupted by terror as the elevator began slowly tolling back down to the ground floor. Kevin gulped back horror and he broke into a cold sweat as the dull chimes sounded in unison with the flicking of the light bulbs over him plummeting him into suffocating darkness a second at a time.As the elevator reached the ground floor Kevin found use of his fingers again and he began foraging around in his pockets for his door key.“Please God don’t say I fucking forgot it” He squealed through gritted teeth.His hands darted frantically from pocket to pocket, searching for the keys to let him out of this hallway of terror.Finally he felt the reassuring weight of metal keys in his palm and he hurriedly whipped them out of his back pocket. His hands trembled as he singled out the front door key from his car and work locker keys…But his heart dropped to his stomach like a brick as the elevator began slowly rising again; 1,2,3,4… Kevin’s jaw fell open and his eyes could only watch helplessly as the metal shell slowly returned up to get him… like some horrendous cage, which threatened to drag him with it back down to hell.

The metallic taste of fear was slick at the back of his throat and Kevin forced his attention back to opening the door, but every ding of the bell seemed to get louder and the evil within it grew closer. Kevin’s hands shook violently as he used both to force the key into the lock just as he turned the bolt he could hear the elevator doors opening behind him.‘What was climbing out of that elevator?’ Kevin could feel the harsh rasping breath looming toward him, he daren’t even look back at what was coming, and instead he focused all his strength on the resisting door.He almost screamed as he flung it open and jumped inside, a cold gust of foul-smelling wind seemed to howl after him and Kevin kicked the front door shut with all his might.“Oh my God, God, God…” He cried hysterically as he lay on his back, in the familiarity of his home. He lay silent for a moment expecting to hear some unspeakable creature thundering on the door. But there was nothing, only a faint scratching that vanished as soon as it began.

His mother had thankfully left the living room lights on, and the faded brown wallpaper, beige carpet and once beige leather furniture was like a reassuring hug all around him.He could smell chilli that his mother had left in a pot on the stove but he could not even bear the idea of eating anything. Instead he stumbled to his feet and slowly shuffled down the hall toward the chipboard door of his bedroom which had been varnished to look like grainy oak.As he swung the door open he suspiciously looked into every dark recess of the room, the only movement he could see was his own pallid reflection in the floor length mirror by his bed which was underneath an open window.

Kevin flicked the light switch but recoiled instantly at the cold sensation of water dripping onto his fingertips. He looked up and the roof was leaking again, this time it had dripped all the way down to the floor and the wires behind the wall had been an obvious casualty.Kevin fearfully brought his wet hand back in front of his face; the presence of black slimy moisture was not a welcome sight.Once again his intestines threatened to hurl themselves out of his mouth, and Kevin lurched toward his bed to lie down. Fear and adrenaline had been coursing through his veins for far too long and Kevin was exhausted.He staggered slowly to his bed with as much trepidation as one marching to his own grave. He stopped short and the hairs on his neck stood up as he peered into the ominous void underneath his bed. 

It had been many years since childhood, when he had jumped in an out of bed; for fear of something grabbing him and dragging him below. But now he was more afraid than ever of an evil presence in the blackness underneath.Kevin squeezed his eyes shut tight and lunged across the matress and slammed the window shut, completely unconcerned that he had shut his flimsy purple curtain in the pane.He dived under the covers and held his breath for just a moment, ‘If he could just get through the night! Then his mother would come home and this terrifying delirium would end.’

Kevin gasped and his blood ran cold as he heard an unearthly scratching at the glass of the window which made the fillings in his teeth ring. There were no trees nearby to explain the awful noise and Kevin could not stop the urine from streaming down his legs.The God awful smell returned and Kevin buried his head underneath the pillows. 

Suddenly his skull was splitting with violent and distressing images; flashbacks of a life not his own. A bridge, a car… a young boy his age. A ferocious impact… and blood… and tears. His heart felt searing pain, and grief.He saw the yellow flowers from the bridge through the eyes of the woman who left them, and her fall to the black waters below.“I’m sorry!” Kevin screamed through the pillows, “I didn’t know, please just leave me alone” But the scratching continued and the sound of rasping breath and teeth glanced along the surface of the glass.Kevin’s entire body shook fiercely and cold sweat poured from his flesh as he slowly peered over the top of the pillow at the window. 

His very soul froze with dread at what lurked on the other side. Yet all that his eyes could see was the darkness of the night sky... Yet Kevin was soon consumed by something far more horrifying than dread... 

He realised that the scratching wasn't coming from the window... but from inside the room! There, in front of him in his full length mirror, stood the mother in all her horror… still dripping in the sludge she'd drowned in. Her grey face was flesh-less from the nose down exposing snarling, rotten teeth and her eye sockets contained only mud, which streaked down her cheekbones and dripped on her outstretched clawed hands.

Kevin recoiled and let out a bloodcurdling scream as she stepped through the glass like a cold shower. Her rotten dripping hands twitched and contorted towards him. His back found only the wall as the mass of matted hair and rotten flesh closed in. He closed his eyes for the final time as the darkness consumed him.

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