Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
M K Lee would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

The Clamps

By M K Lee All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller

Short Story

It was the kind of story that kept you pinned down in terror and the younger children believed in full fear, while the older boasted of their bravado and pretended they had no fear at all. 

The beds strewn with blood and tell-tale yellow staining painted a picture that some people chose not to see.

The Workhouse had been in operation since 2013, right before the World Leaders had had enough of fighting over who was right and just decided the easiest way to have full world supremacy was to set off all of their nuclear weapons at the same time. Much like an apocalyptic firework display that filled the skies with death and eradicated the overpopulated planet problem in a matter of days.

The straggling survivors, after the fighting and destruction of all that the world had taken for granted for so long, were left to scrabble in the dirt to scratch out an existence of sorts. There really wasn't much left to work with. Nothing really worth arguing over. But argue they did, right down to the very ends of humanity until all that was left were pocket groups of renegade existence who had somehow managed to survive the apocalypse so many had feared for so long.

Those more resilient and born to leadership quickly showed their faces, and some sort of society began to take shape. People with the skills of agriculture were quickly in demand, especially those with the knowledge passed down through generations of farming without the conveniences of technology. In a huge shock to the individual that resonated perhaps more than the almost-obliteration of the planet, former employers in computing, electronics or finance suddenly found themselves powerless and weak. There were no computers. There was no electricity anymore, and the only currency system available now was barter. 

Once all of the useful people had been put to work, the rest had been left to fend for themselves. There was no sense of community or well-being, not on mass anyway, and houses were broken into, shops looted, homes taken over and claimed. These people began to hoard things, and these people became the Buyers who prayed on the Residents of The Workhouse. 

Children were without parents and left to fend for themselves, which is how The Workhouse in The Angel was built. On the site of the entrance hall to the old Underground station, people sheltered from fearful sandstorms and torrential rain. Tired, scared, and hungry, huddled together for a false sense of security or rocking, head on hands, in solitude, the population gathered.

George, in the former world, had been a taxi driver, and had been relatively successful. Able to switch between banter and fake concern, all the while hiding his hatred of all those who had achieved something better than him, George knew an opportunity when he saw one. 

He set up The Workhouse as a sort of halfway house of exchange. People would have a bed and be expected to earn it by performing various services. Buyers would come to George asking for a particular service, and he would direct them to the Resident who would provide this, in exchange for his protection and a roof over their heads. Often there was a little something given to the Resident by the Buyer too, and this was how Residents kept hunger at bay. So if someone came to you and asked you to sing them a song in exchange for a bit of bread, you did it, and if you sang well, you got more bread. 

A request for a song was rarely made; all sorts of other things, but rarely a song.

The general consensus was that being under the questionable protection of George at The Workhouse was somehow better than fending for yourself out there and setting up your own barter system, at the mercy of who knows who seeking who knows what.

The Angel Entrance Annex specialised in beds for children. 
Older residents had somehow set up bunks and other forms of shelter throughout the station and it was said that these residencies stretched down into the tunnels and into former spaces last occupied during the Second World War. 

For a while, the children would wander around, dazed, without parental guidance to know what to do. Children between the ages of five and fifteen were the most precious of all Residents. So when they took to wandering, George had to find a way to keep them from escape. 

The Clamps were installed on all resident beds within the first year. This is how it worked. Each resident, old or young, had a narrow strip of a bed on a metal frame. Sleep time was between Dark Out and Sun Up, which altered depending on the time of the year. If you were not in your bed before Dark Out, you were shut out to fend for yourself. 

Once in your bed, you were expected to stay there until Sun Up the next day. This is where The Clamps came in. Under the metal lats of the bed frames were packed an intricate system of insect-like legs that lay dormant and idle if not disturbed. They were installed on intermittent lats, tucked up and unable to be seen from above, hidden within the frame mechanism.


The general premise was that if you wriggled around too much in your bed or tried to get out after dark, the legs would unfurl, encasing you in a multi-legged prison until the morning at which time they would release and silently tuck themselves away. If you were caught on the way out of the bed, the legs could spear you in place, and horror stories of people waking to find others pinned, bled out on the floor, with nothing but fear in their eyes, became legendary amongst the Residents. 

Sometimes, the children said, the beds just got hungry. The legs extended, curled as if to embrace, then pulled you down to ingest you like metallic spider. If you didn't put your fingers in your ears you would hear a sucking noise, like when a straw would hit air at the bottom of a slush puppy in the Old World. There were no screams, because the victims were paralysed by some sort of venom. There were never any bones, only a pool of blood in the very centre of the bed. Once a lone shoe was found at the foot of the bed, covered in a thick green gloop that no one was brave enough to touch. But never anything more.

And, the children said, if the bed caught you listening, discovered you overhearing its midnight snack, it would hum. Not a lullaby to soothe you back to sleep, but to wake its brother, let it know that it also had a feast waiting. Then you would feel the tell-tale jab in the back and you would no longer be able to move. But you'd be awake. Right from the piercing with venom, through to the slow digestion of you from the inside out. Paralysed and helpless.

But that's just a story for children.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, M K Lee
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

Tony Lee: Read this during my 7-hour flight. You've done a great job describing each situation, but I believe there is room for improvement. Also, the ending was a bit abrupt and I think the last part where Terry Hunter was brought in again (slight spoiler) wasn't really necessary.. But overall the story k...

Alex Reltin: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...

shotgundriver: As with all horror fiction, the reader must be able to suspend disbelief to digest this story. Fortunately, the first-person style of the story is so casual, and the protagonist, Ashley, so familiar on many levels, that I found myself sacrificing sleep to stay up and read, as if I was anxiousl...

Hemanth Thiyagarajan: MA'AM the story was really good as well as the plot and your catchy writing style.Would i were give a rating it would 9 out of 10A few drawbacks were that you hinted about the upocoming danger in the nd of each chapter of the beginning i felt that it was not necessary only once you could have put...

Andria M. Redlin-Author: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD-READ WITH CAUTION: The book was an enjoyable read overall, with many surprises I wasn't expecting. There were only a few things that bothered me: 1. There were times when the characters (mainly Opal and Lee) were talking too much, which got in the way of the action.. ...

Dina Husseini: I loved this story. It was so great that I did not expect it to be this awesome. I swear to you this deserves more than just 5 stars. Beyond amazing. Kept me wanting more and I felt exactly like Emma felt while reading. Although in the beginning I did not expect anything to happen. Then, when som...

christylynnr5: This was beyond amazing! Its plot was so unique! It was a beautiful romance story with a mystery twist! I can't believe it ended the way it did!!!! There HAS to be a second book!! This needs to be published and made into a series!

C.K. Bachman: Just read the first chapter. Love how the main character thinks and is conflicted over his wife and the trickery he uses on her.

Samantha Jade Clements: This story had me hooked from the start, as a lover of the super natural an especially the creepypasta's this story caught my interest from the start. As the logs when on I found myself trying to guess the killer just by description and I learnt new ones on the way. I didn't know you had used you...

More Recommendations

jodie456: I started reading this book because of the great cover. I found out you CAN judge a book by it's cover!This wonderful story is fresh, exciting, and intense. The story was even better than the great cover! Matthew Thrush's characters are so real, you will find yourself missing them when you are fi...

europeanlove: I gotta hand it to you. I love reading. I read books everyday. When the book is good I can read it in probably 13 hours. Your story was amazing. Great prose, very imaginative. Incredible dialogue. I am deeply impressed. Keep it up.

cuzley: I enjoyed this read, the romance and the "who done it" worked well together, I would recommend this story to both romance and mystery readers .

Anonymous: I've never before had the pleasure to read something so unique. It was so captivating, and so unexpected. I was surprised by the protagonist and the idea of a pizza shop becoming a post apocalyptic delivery system. Good plot and amazing story telling. There could have been many places for the st...

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.