Napsal Amras (») 28. 6. 2021 v kategorii Horror short stories [ENG], přečteno: 549×

Did you take your pills?

Joan Loan swallowed dryly and licked her lips. She tightened her grip on the steering wheel of her old Volvo. Suddenly she put her hand precipitously on the forehead and twisted her face a little. She felt how a migraine begins to take hold again. She'd had it quite often recently. Her highway exit was approaching and so she threw a turn signal. The woman went down the slip-road and continued into the center. She drove down the main road for a moment, then turned onto one of the side streets.
Joan worked as an accountant for a small law firm. She had never been married. She had two boyfriends in her youth but it never lasted long. Her father died when she was two years old. After his death Joan's mother began to drink a lot and gradually her friends started to turn away from her. Joan spent her childhood mostly alone - mother with eternal hangovers didn't care about her and what more, she began to go crazy and freak out. She practically didn't leave the house; Joan catered the shopping. Mother left the house only when she ran out of alcohol. The liquor store was only half a block away.

Joan parked her volvo and pulled out the key. She was just sitting there for a while as if she didn't want to get off the car. She stretched out for the handbag laying on the passenger seat, dug there for a moment before she found an orange bottle of Flurbiprofen. It was strange that for example aspirinn didn't help her that much. She began to be addicted to it a little. Joan was still sitting in the car and just watching the course of events on the street. In the distance she saw an old grannie with a colorful scarf on her head and a cane in her hand, on the other side of the street a young couple was kissing and a little further on there was a mother with a child. Two little sparrows bathed in a small plash on the sidewalk. The sun was shining beautifully a few minutes ago but now it was weakly trying to break through the clouds. Joan was observing everything and smiling. Sudenly and abruptly strident thump was heard at her left side of the car and a man's head appeared in the window. He had one glass eye, several scars on the face and he was completely bald. Joan screamed. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a movement and was about to reach her cell phone from the purse and call for help when the bald head put back and someone pulled him close. A second man emerged in the window.
"Pardon," he just said and led his companion away. Apparently they were celebrating something yesterday and it  prolonged untill morning. Joan's face changed to disgust. Boozehounds and drunkards totally repelled her. She acquired this aversion to the alcohol thanks to her mother. When she was fifteen, she tried to taste a beer and right after the first sip she felt sick in her stomach. And since then she hasn't drunk any liquors.
Joan finally took her purse and opened the door. She locked her car and headed to the office with slow walking. She always exchanged a few words with the receptionist. It  was a kind guy, a widower, who manage to cheer you up every time. Mr. Slowney was the oldest in that company, almost 80 years old, but full of elan and vitality. Even for a complete stranger he could make a better day. But you couldn't say that about sexist director Patrick McHershell. Every time he walked past Joan, he never forgot to slap her ass. She complained at first but when he threatened to fire her and what more, he could ensure she didn't get another job, Joan griffted her teeth. She really needed that job.

She sat down at the desk and when she looked at piles of invoices and tax returns, she assumed that she would have to stay longer at work today. But she didn't mind it either because she had no plans for the evening. Suddenly she was struck by one invoice that said nothing to her. The invoice was issued in the name of Dr. Jonathan Pier. There was a small logo next to the name - some kind of tree with a seesaw. And underneath it Isle au Haut. That title was quite familiar to Joan but still she immediately couldn't subsume it right now. She got up from the chair, certainly  groped in the file shelf and pulled out a much-handled atlas of the States. She flipped through the index and ran her finger down slowly. She  finally found it. She opened proper page, quicky orientated herself in coordinates and tapped on a small island several times. Isle au Haut. Joan looked at the map once again. She checked the measure, calculated it in her mind and found out that from Montpellier, where she worked, it was about 330 kilometres as the crow flies to the island. Isle au Haut. That name kept constatly repeating in her head, over and over again. She became completely fascinated and obsessed with the place but had no idea why. Joan knew that she had to find out more about it. Maybe one day she will visit it...


The days passed slowly. Joan had a lot of work to do but in some part of her mind she still had fixed little island called Isle au Haut. Suddenly she rashly opened her eyes. It was 4 pm. So it meant that she would be there for an hour and after that only Friday awaits her. She was already determined. On Saturday she will travel to Isle au Haut.
The next morning she was busy. She checked her watch. Nine minutes to noon, so a lunch in a moment, she thought. She wasn't so much hungry therefore she chose just light vegetable salad. Frank Bolt was just telling some funny story. Joan didn't listen to him much and when the other colleagues started laughing, she joined them, even if only subconsciously and somewhat absently. She put the last bite on a fork, then got up and took the tray away. She even bought an apple in the canteen for the afternoon. After that she returned to her office and closed the door. The woman sat down and took one contract which had been reading before lunch. She was reading it and making notes. She finished after twenty minutes. She remembered having to write one important e-mail which she had been still postponing. She opened a new messege and she was just starring on the flashing cursor. She put her fingers on the keyboard and began typing all ten. The lady paused for some moments in order to think about the sentence, then continued again. It didn't take a much time and the e-mail was done. She read the whole thing once more and then sent it. She stretched her neck and interweaved fingers. It sounded as if someone had fired a small pistol.

Did you take your pills?

Joan leaned her elbows on the desk and began massaging her forehead and temples with both hands. Here we go again, she thought. She stayed in that lean-forward position for a while. When the pain didn't subside even after a few minutes, she got up and poured water with lemon from a glass jug into a big glass. She reached for the hanging purse on the hanger and, without taking it off, dug inside and pulled out the Flurbiprofen. She opened the white lid and spilled two pills straight into her palm. Hmm, I'm running out of my supplies, I'll have to buy a new bottle next week, she told herself. The migraine slowly began to subside. Joan rubbed her temples once more. She stretched and sat at the computer again. She placed her fingers on the keyboard and somehow automatically she typed "Isle au Haut" into a search engine. The very first link took her to the official website of the island. Joan reached out her hand, picked up the apple and bit into it. Then she immediately looked back at the screen. Isle au Haut. A small island near to Maine which could only be reached by ferry from Stonington. In the off-season there are 72 residents, in the high season up to two hundred. The main income was from crabs fishing. Acadia National Park was located in the southeastern part of the island. Its extent occupied almost half of the territory of the Isle au Haut. Several people worked at a local power plant. There was also a school, church, general store where you could literally buy  everything, post office, town hall and a small firehouse. Of course the pub Lighthouse Inn couldn't be missed. Those who were interested in moving to the island had to fill out a short form but according to the official website everyone is welcome because the locals are very down-to-earth and nice. There was also a photo gallery on the web which Joan clicked on with an interest. The apple, which she had completely forgotten in the meantime, had already begun to be stale at the place of the bite. The bright, almost white core was already brownish at the edges, and gradually it began to darken over the entire surface, as if a sun was overshadowed by a cloud on a clear day.
Suddenly a notification of a new incoming e-mail flashed in the right corner of the creen. That brought Joan back to reality. She looked at clock and found out that she had a little over half an hour to go. The woman began to devote herself fully to work again. She still had to send a few mails.
It was already ten minutes after five. Only now she began to lined up the folders and turned off the computer. She took a light coat from the hanger and went out of the office. It was the last September weekend ahead of her. Portland was already relatively on the north so the summer only quickly passes through there and soon a cold autumn begins to rule. Joan opened the car with a key and threw the purse on the passenger seat. She decided to go to the store for supplies for the weekend still today.

On Saturday, only one ferry ran to island Isle au Haut at half past six. Joan arrived to the place before six with a smaller travel bag over her shoulder. She had dark leather jacket and denim pants. According to the weather forecast it supposed to be slightly cloudy. Joan stood alone on the pier and no one even joined her when a small boat arrived. The ferryman was elderly man with sharply cut features on his face. He just muttered something in greeting and said the price for the trip. Joan paid and got on. During the voyage she tried to strike up a conversation with a man several times but when she always received only a brief response from him, she soon gave it up. The cruise took about forty minutes. A sea was calm. The sun was still slightly shining but in some places smaller clouds began to pile up. Joan was glad that she had a light plaid scarf; now she dug into that a little more. All at once the first contours of the island Isle au Haut began to appear. The island was all covered in a creamy mist, although - which Joan found strange - there was no fog anywhere but at the island. Meanwhile the ferryman drove safely to the dock to a wider pier. Joan got up, picked up her bag and got off the boat. But she still returned and asked the man when he would return to the mainland.
"At three." He said nothing more.
Joan just nodded slightly and walked along the pier. On its end stood a smaller building with a wide roof. There was a wooden porch which was supported by ornate columns at the corners. A sort of faded signboard stated from distance: "Hayley Connor's General Store". Joan decided to start her exploration of the island right here. The windows were darkened. Well, it probably opens later on Saturday, the woman thought. Still, she tentatively took the handle. It was open. Even just a slight opening of the doors woke up a small bell on jamb which alerted the newcomers. The shop was small, but you would find everything there - from food and galoshes, to fishing rods and canisters of gasoline. Joan came inside carefully and wanted to close the door but she immediately realized that she would lose essentially the only source of light. There wasn't much to see out of the windows through the various dirt and dust.
"Hallo?" the woman tried to call. However the room responded her with a sound of silence. Suddenly there was heard a childish laugh. Joan instinctively turned to the half-open door and saw a little girl running away from there.
"Hey wait!" shouted Joan and went after her. The girl was running along the pier and then turned right. Joan headed in the same direction. She didn't even notice at all that there was no longer the boat at the pier, which ferryman had transported the woman to the island. Joan ran into the forest where she had last seen the little girl but no one was there. Joan was still looking around. Suddenly she heard the crackle of the twigs. She headed right there without hesitation. She came out of the forest and was surprised to find that it got dark outside in the meantime. It seemed strange to the woman but before she could think more about it, she suddenly saw that little girl, less than a hundred yards in front of her, how she opened a ornately wrought-iron gate and disappear behind that. Joan didn't wait for anything and ran straight to the gateway. Her bag fell from her shoulder but the woman left it lying. She stopped about a meter before the fencing and stood there with a mouth open which she slowly covered with her hand. Her eyes widened. There were two signs on the sides of the gate, in which she immediately recognized the logo from the invoice that actually brought her to the island of Isle au Haut - the tree with the seesaw. But only now she found out that it wasn't a seesaw but a hangman! Joan want to shout but her throat was dry. Instead of it she now focused on the mansion behind the gate. It was a giant house of dark red bricks which was more like a chateau. There were several large oval windows on the ground floor and it had two marble columns with lion statues at the front door. Part of the mansion was a smaller park with a fountain and shrubs trimmed into the shape of animals. Viewed from the front, the house evoked a grinning face through the layout of the windows. It could look nice during the day but at night, especially in the gentle light of the moonlight, it was truly scary sight. Joan was still standing there at the gate but she felt as if the house was gradually moving toward her. Suddenly the front door opened with a creak sound. But no one stood there. Joan wanted to turn around and ran for her life away but her legs didn't listen to her as if they weren't hers. Some kind of invisible power forced her to open the gate and take a quick step to the entrance. There she paused for a moment but then entered the darkened house.

When she looked around a little, she found out that she is in a large room with many doors and the place was equipped with ancient furniture. Straight behind the entrance was large stairway with dark red carpet. Approximately in the middle of the room hung a richly decorated chandelier from the ceiling, fitted with ten unlit candles. Several candlesticks and torches were placed along the walls. Joan slowly examined the room from one corner to the other. Abruptly and all of a sudden and unexpectedly without a warning all candles were lit at the same time that the woman screamed. The whole room glowed with a wavy light. This displayed various paintings on the walls with frighteningly grinned and jeering faces. All eyes seemed to be looking directly at her. The another shock was when she looked more rigorously on the furniture. It was strangely deformed - a sloping table with two unevenly cut legs, a skeleton of an armchair without a cover, a wordrobe with broken mirror, torn curtains. The woman could not shake off the feeling that a thousand eyes were constantly looking at her. At that moment, there were heard loud tremors and the walls began to crack. Gradually pesky grey hunched monsters were emerging from the walls with massive claws and grinned pictures instead of their heads. They quickly began to approach Joan. With a scream the woman yanked a torch from a stand on the wall, with which she waved and swayed furiously all around. The goblins kept getting closer and closer. One of them was almost at her but the woman full of adrenaline swung instinctively and hit the creature straight in the chest. There was very loud and vociferous screaming and the creature fell to the ground. There it began to scratch its stomach with the claws until the flames comletely consumed it. The stench of burnt meat filled the room  and the air was oddly sour. That aroused aggression in the others and with loud growls and grunts they ran to Joan. The woman bounced and killed several of them, but didn't even notice that two behemots had gotten behind her. The paintings on their shoulders disintegrated and were replaced by an eyeless head with a mouth full of hundreds of sharp teeth. It immediately bit into her left arm and leg. Joan howled in pain because it was as if someone had wrapped her limbs in barbed wire and tightened it. She looked left and saw blackened blood gushing to the ground. Suddenly she felt how her flesh began to rot alive on her body. Joan shouted, dropped the torch and fell screaming to the ground, where she hit her head hard. She was unconscious for only about five seconds because the porch fell right next to her head and it only took  a few microseconds for her hair to burn. The woman let out an inhuman scream. She felt how her brains was broiling. And the awful stench of burnt skin! Her hair was already all gone and the flames began to lick her face.
"AND ENOUGH!!!" a deep voice thundered from somewhere and exactly at that moment all the candles and flames blew out. The room sank into darkness again. Joan gathered the last bites of strenght and raised her head. A tall figure in a long hooded cloak was walking down the stairs. Actually, it didn't walk, it hovered. Joan's head dropped again. Her whole body was shaking uncontrollably as if receiving electric shocks. She closed her eyes. Suddenly she felt movement around her. She opened her eyes for the last time and saw with horror as two sharp whitish fangs were approaching her neck.
Then everything was engulfed in darkness.
Absolute darkness.

Did you take your pills?

The End

Note: The island of Isle au Haut does really exist, I didn't make it up. It falls under the Knox County of the state of Maine and you can concretely found it in Penobscot Bay. Here is the official website of the island:

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