Short Horror Story
Jan felt trapped. A crawling claustrophobia moved in. So she threw on a jumper, pair of jeans and left her bedroom. Light tore through the living room window as she stood overlooking the street. A row of houses with neat plots of grass affront them. Jan felt suffocated in her own home, craving life, being seduced by mother nature.
It had seemed like a mere second ago that the house was filled with children running and screaming, when in reality it was years ago. The silence still didn't sit well with her as she stood surrounded by sofas, tables, family portraits, lights, and other furnishings; all of which held memories. Everything in her home held great sentimental value. Normally looking back on the past gave comfort, priding herself in the incredible family she had raised. But not today. On this day she needed to run free and escape, to feel the wind in her hair. So she paced back into her bedroom, stepped into a pair of sneakers, ran a comb through her hair, slapped on a dollop of moisturiser, and headed for the front door. As the breeze barged in through the open door displaying her trimmed lawn, Jan frowned at her car. Dirt decorated the metal, and a heavy coating of dry mud caked the wheels. If she was to enjoy a nice, relaxing drive, a car wash was called for. So Jan grabbed her purse and let it swing freely from her shoulder as she locked the door and tread the moist green.
Jan sat in the leather cushion of her red car and shoved a key into the ignition, eager to get on the road. It was invigorating how much freedom she felt just by sitting behind a windscreen and holding a plastic wheel. From that seat she could drive for miles, letting her troubles melt away and warmly welcome peace and tranquillity. She often drove up to her lavish cabin by the beach in times of personal crises. She would absorb the problems of literary, fictional characters as a way of distracting from her own. Jan could easily work her way through a dozen books in a week. But she didn't only read as a way of relaxing, she thoroughly enjoyed the feel of a book, the smell of its pages and being taken on a thrilling journey all by a few carefully selected words.
Soon enough she pulled up to the stop sign only five minutes from the car wash. Given that it always took what felt like a lifetime for the lights to turn green, she took a second to look in the mirror. She flipped it down and fiddled with her hair, never quite satisfied with how it sat atop her head. It was full of life, naturally dark without the pain of grey hairs or dying, and full of perfect curls. But regardless of the compliments, she was never quite content with her doe. Next she assaulted her skin. On a daily basis people told Jan how young she looked for a woman of a certain age, but she would have none of it. If the bank balance allowed it she would fill up on botox and collagen like it was going out of fashion. Regardless of the fact her face was smooth, with minimal lines and imperfections. Then a car horn blared abruptly, bringing her back to reality and away from vanity. She jerked and flung the mirror back up and drove on. Store after store ran alongside the road, sandwiched in-between fast food joints and restaurants. Jan made a note to swing by and grab a burger when the car was clean. It wasn't the healthiest meal, but she had a serious addiction for fast food. The greasy buns and cheesy burgers hit the spot every time. It was a wonder that she managed to retain her slim figure. Soon enough the car wash came into sight on her right. The sun glared through her wind shield as she drove around to the back of the small brick building. She pulled up to a small yellow machine and with a swift swipe of her credit card, she had paid for a deluxe cycle. Seconds later she was approaching a man in an orange jumpsuit gesturing for her to drive towards him. She complied with his wishes and glided to a black bar on the floor, then at his command, relinquished control of her vehicle and let the pulley system drag the car through the various stages of the wash. As she stuttered along Jan quickly checked all windows were closed fully. Confident they were, she let her back fall into the comfort of the seat. First came a sprinkle of water dousing the doors and windows, tapping at her eardrums. Tinkles of moisture danced down the glass as three furry cylinders began spinning enthusiastically up ahead, gearing up for contact with Jan's car, ready to rid it of dirt. The large multicoloured brushes began licking the exterior with each twist and turn. A foamy pink wash smeared on the windows, blocking Jan's vision of the following stage to invigorate the car with cleanliness. But then, the pink wash transformed into a thick red liquid.
“Huh?” Jan spoke aloud.
If she weren't mistaken she would have thought it was blood. It drooled down the wind shield and slithered on the driver's window. This texture didn't look as if it would help clean a car. Jan thought it would be more likely to get stuck and leave dry residue. Speaking through the opaque redness she yelled, “Hello, I think something is wrong.... hello!” Jan was impatient, twisting and turning in her seat.
Then the blood fled the exterior of the car in a hurry. It peeled off and revealed a black void. To Jan's dismay the car sped out of control, travelling through the dark abyss. The speed was so intense she could feel skin on her face become taught, and hair rush behind. Her clothing rippled and swayed with the force, until a loud scream sounded and the journey came to an unexpected halt.
“What the fuck was that?” she muttered, shaking, breathless.
As Jan recovered, and her eyesight adjusted to the darkened world, she became disorientated. It was the end of the wash cycle, but it was now night. The sun had retired, the blue sky and fluffy clouds had fled, and everything was dead-silent.
I have a good mind to request a refund, the fuckers! Had I fallen asleep? How was it possible for a car wash to take that long?
Jan questioned the current situation as she drove out into the road to see it wasn't just dark, but ruined. The roads were crumbling, street lights blinking on and off, restaurants destroyed, store windows smashed, cars upturned and wrecked. Where the hell am I? What the heck has happened? Jan slowly veered right, a crimson light weighing down on her vehicle. Her eyes rose to the source of the redness to see a bloody moon. Not a white ball floating in a sheet of mystic navy blue kept company by glistening stars, but a maroon globe that appeared to be haemorrhaging. Streams fell from the moon and pooled the roads in lumpy slime. In a frenzied panic, Jan reached for her purse sitting on the passenger seat, and yanked out her phone. Normally she despised her phone, never answering it, or using it. But she figured this was an emergency and her stubborn techno-phobe mind had to get over it and contact family. Having several children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, and friends, had its advantages. She alphabetically worked through family members, each met with a sickening screech and then a loss of dial tone. “Jesus fucking Christ!” Jan almost launched the phone out the window.
Again this was out of character for her as she was a religious woman who respected the lord, but shock was causing her to act out-of-character. “Someone pick up the damn phone!”
But alas, after 23 calls nobody came to her rescue. She began to panic. This wasn't helped by the vampire sat on the car hood glaring at Jan.
The phone fell from her grip as she floored the breaks and shrieked. Jan pressed herself into the seat in a vain attempt to make as much distance as possible between her and the female beast knelt on the hood. The white flesh, shredded clothing, completely white eyes, long sword-like nails and sharp fangs that trickled blood.
Jan hysterically pounded the accelerator and the vampire spiralled in the air and thudded to the road. It skidded on the asphalt, rolling awkwardly as she drove away in a hurry, looking through a mirror. The thing was standing and waving at Jan from afar, completely void of injuries. The monster had inhumanly managed to survive, without so much as a single scratch. Now Jan really was scared. It was then she noticed there were several creatures swarming the streets, destroying shops and diners. An abundance of beasts were wrecking everything. Werewolves, green demons, witches, reptilian monsters, life-sized spiders, zombies, and other creatures that couldn't be identified. She was in hell. But the more prominent question remained: how does she get back home?
Unsure what to do she performed a U-turn and began speeding back home. Jan questioned why she was doing this, but going back to her house felt like the only sane thing to do. Go somewhere familiar, a place safe and warm. She spun corners and hauled roads. Streets were littered with demons of all kinds. Some had multiple arms, others had more than two legs, several heads, and new body parts. They received great pleasure in abolishing anything. Jan loathed herself for doing so, but some innocent looking people were being slaughtered, that she had to pass. Jan dodged, circled, veered and swerved until she pulled into her driveway. Everything had been a blur of dusk, but now she stopped, absorbing the surroundings. She could see her own street had been polluted with this turmoil also. The houses were destroyed, walls caving in, glass pebbling the ground, grass torn, cars twisted and dented. It was the Devil's playground. Anxious and afraid, she jumped from the car and raced to the front door. Jan jammed a key into the lock and fell through into the living room. The windows were boarded up, furniture was in tatters, with muck and grime coating every surface. This was not her house. There was no warmth, no memories, no feeling of security, this was hell's version of her residence. Then someone came running from the kitchen attired in black clothing and waving shiny silverware above their head whilst screaming violently. It was a woman, and she was preparing to attack, wearing a blood stained t-shirt and jeans. Jan threw herself down and crawled around the coffee table that was missing a leg and held a blanket of dust. Jan scrambled for a weapon, but everything had been tarnished. She looked at the woman juggling knives to see she was looking at herself. The woman stood atop Jan must have also noticed this as her movements froze and anger vanished from her visage. The woman stood, lowering the weapons, and confusion spreading on her skin like a bad rash. “What the...” they both said the same thing in unison, echoing off the walls and boarded windows. Jan thought this hell couldn't get any worse, but it had just become not only horrifying, but mind-blowing. This wasn't possible, she told herself, seated on the floor staring up at the doppelgänger. But this enthralling pull soon dissipated when a growl sounded, followed by a bang at the front door.
“We have to go,” the woman ordered Jan.
The twin dragged Jan from the living room down the hall into a spare bedroom. Jan used this room as a library, but in this reality it was used for weapon storage. There was a bed, but everything else was either weapons, or storage with weapons on or in. Drawers full of knives, wardrobes holding guns, corners of the room had bats leaning against the damaged plaster, and silver gleamed from under the bed; God only knows what she had under there. The twin quietly closed the door and secured it with an abundance of locks and bolts. Jan went to turn the light on but was met with a hand swat from the other her. “No! They'll find us!” she whispered.
Jan rubbed her hand and frowned. “Who are they?”
“You don't wanna know, trust me,” she responded walking to a heavily boarded window and peeking through a tiny gap near the bottom.
“Oh great, there's tonnes of them,” she shuddered.
Jan, becoming rapidly impatient, paced to the gap and peered through, only to wish she hadn't. The street was now swarming with beasts of every variety. They were ruining everything in sight, breaking into homes, some werewolves were shredding people alive on the roads and gorging on their muscle. Jan felt the need to vomit, her stomach not ready for this.
“We need to go!” Jan demanded.
“No, we need to wait it out, how else do you think I have survived this long in this shit hole of a place?”
Jan pulled away from the boards and turned to the woman, “How long have you been here?”
The twin also retracted from the window and turned to Jan.
“From birth, or as long as I can remember. Which brings me to a question. How did you get here?” she suspiciously questioned.
Jan thought back to the car wash, and saw it as the only way into this version of hell.
“A car wash.... I think....” Jan shrugged.
“You're kidding? A friggin' car wash! There must have been a portal in there and they sent you through it?” the twin said as she sat and pulled out an oat bar from the pocket of her jeans.
“Who are they?” Jan inquired.
“The hell if I know. The Gods, fate, I have no clue, but there is someone that makes things happen for a reason. I have no fucking clue what the reason is for me being here, instead of where you're from.”
“What do you mean?” Jan asked, confused.
“Well let me put it this way sugar, this is hell. And there can only be one of us in hell, and one on earth. So count yourself lucky.” She tore off a chunk from the bar as some stray oats crumbled on the wooden floor.
“But doesn't hell mean you've died?” Jan was now so far beyond confusion, she wasn't even in the vicinity of confused anymore, more like discombobulated.
“Hell ain't what you think honey, it is the opposite to earth. True, some people from the good earth come here as punishment for living a sinful life. But most of us were born here, the alternates to our other selves on nice earth, understand?”
Jan was temporarily distracted by the grains running down her t-shirt and sticking to splotches of what she assumed was blood.
“Yeah, I think so. But if that's the case, how did I get here? Or more accurately, how was I able to travel here if only one of us can be on earth and the other in hell?” Jan quizzed.
“You got me there,” the bizarre version of Jan said whilst cycling grains in her mouth like clothing in a washer.
“So how do I get back? Through the car wash?” Jan asked.
“I would guess so yeah,” the woman finished the bar and screwed up the wrapper, tossing it on the floor among other trash and chunks of food.
Jan stared at the hell version of herself to see she hadn't fared well in this life. Jan herself had aged very well by everyone's standards, but it was only now that she believed it herself. Looking at how she could have aged if she'd have been born into Satan's twist of life. The twin was haggard and wrinkled, hair a blend of grey and brown, each strand greased and ends split. She was however, thinner, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing. Jan could see the woman's skeleton, every bone was on show, her face gaunt and lifeless. Her skin covered in scratches and scars. In the midst of Jan's thoughts a loud whack came from the house.
“Shit, they came in!”
Jan was afraid.
“We have to go, now!” Jan's twin ordered.
“But I thought you said-”
“NOW!” she cut Jan off reaching under the bed and pulling out a sledgehammer.
The woman began smashing the boarded windows. They came to pieces in a splintery demise. After a few powerful blows there was enough space for both of them to crawl through, and that is exactly what they did. The twin landed first, hitting grass then rolling to a stand. Followed by Jan who landed less gracefully and staggered up, not accustomed to running from hellish incarnations. Jan hauled ass to her car, the lady following not far behind. She opened the driver's side and jumped in, waiting for her sister from another dimension to accompany her in the passenger's side. In a minute they were both seated, belted and Jan was jutting the keys into the ignition and turning on the engine, but it wouldn't start.
“Oh come on you piece of shit!” Jan yelled, afraid.
“You need to hurry...” the woman spoke the obvious.
Jan was about ready to bite her tongue off when she saw what her twin was referring too. A bed of bald, white skinned, long-toothed creatures had awoken from their slumber on the car's hood. In the rush of things neither had noticed the pack of monsters using the metal bonnet as a mattress. But now they were painfully aware, even more so due to the mechanical malfunctions.
“Jesus!” Jan hollered, repeatedly twisting the keys as the inhuman beings started to lick the wind shield, smiling, staring at the two stuck in the vehicle.
Then finally the motor purred to life. Both women exhaled loudly as Jan reversed out of the driveway. The demons fell ass over elbow onto the asphalt. As she turned they both noticed a hoard of demons running from both sides of the street, at them.
“What do we do?” Jan worried.
“Crash into the bastards!” the twin said through clenched teeth and flared nostrils.
Jan complied with her twin's order and careened ahead, hammering the accelerator as the car flew into the flurry of beasts. Each one tumbling, somersaulting, vaulting backwards, being crushed under the wheels, flying through the air and scattering amongst the street like trash from an untied waste bag. The wind shield cracked upon impact and the sound of horns and teeth scraping on metal pierced the women's hearing. Eventually through screams and creased faces, they had barged through the unholy crowd and were headed to the car wash.
Jan's nerves were shot to shit. She gripped the wheel as if it were a lifeline. The twin sat laughing, while Jan was a wreckage of nervousness.
“We did it, now let's get you home, you're not meant for this world,” the twin chuckled at Jan's incapability of handling demons and general stress that battling evil brought.
Soon enough the car wash was mere metres ahead, just below a dark red moon, still leaking fluid onto the world. Jan veered into the car wash and spun round to the back. Oddly enough, the vicinity was free of monsters. Which strangely made Jan more anxious than if they were out in plain sight. But the back was closed. Jan felt dread flutter in her stomach. The twin could sense this. “Hey, don't worry, wait here,” the alternate version of Jan said leaving the passenger seat and entering the darkness.
Jan could see her approach a garage and bang at it vigorously. But that achieved nothing. She then patted the walls nearby for some strange reason that was beyond Jan's understanding. Then the woman's hand fell through some kind of vortex in the wall, she had found a way back!
Jan leapt from the car and dashed to her twin. In this run Jan had noticed demons were awaking from their slumber and had noticed the two women messing around.
“Hey you need to hurry, monsters are coming,” Jan warned.
“Oh I know, good luck,” she sniggered as her body was being eaten by the wall.
“What? wh....” Jan stuttered.
“Only one of us can be in each world permanently, so when I go through you'll have to take my place here,” she winked.
“You stupid bitch!” Jan threw herself at the evil twin.
But she soon halted when a gun was pulled out on her. “Hey, I only think it's fair Jan,” she chuckled.
“You will go to hell for this!” Jan barked.
“Look around honey, we are in hell, and I ain't the one staying, you are!”
To that the woman fell through the void in the wall and vanished. Just to be certain Jan tried to go through the vortex, but it had gone. Nothing but hard brick. Jan was now left alone, being surrounded by all varieties of demons, trapped, in hell.