's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Tea With a Stranger "

Submitted by Flee

It was mid September. It was that time of year when it was just starting to get cool, but still fairly warm weather. There was no need to wrap up yet, the grass was starting to just barely wither. The weather was sunny, a seemingly perfect day for the event of exploration. A favorite pastime of mine was to go out in the grassy, swampy wilderness near where I lived and explore. I would find many interesting landmarks, a half buried bus, a broken down stone house, a half excavated cemetery, and I had just hit the jackpot. It was a withered farmhouse, at least 200 years old, and battered with neglect. It was in the middle of an untamed field, grass and ivy climbed high along the sides of the battered house. Its roof had collapsed, and planks of wood littered the surrounding area and lined the side of the house. Its shutters were closed but beaten and broken, and one small window at the top of the house was smashed. It seemed completely undisturbed, making it all the more interesting to check out.

I approached the aging house with some caution, I didn’t know if it still belonged to anyone, and I didn’t feel like getting into any kind of trouble. But then again, the building was nearing the end of its life, and it was probably going to get plowed to make room for a corn field or something. As I approached, I noticed that the front porch was rotting and probably unstable, and sure enough, as I climbed the soft wooden steps, the entire thing collapsed under my feet. I wasn’t injured, maybe a scratch or two, but I felt fine. I jumped up to the part of the porch that wasn’t obliterated under my weight, and opened the door which was hanging precariously on near destroyed rusting hinges. It was all that I had hoped were in a spooky farmhouse in the middle of an obscured field. The floor was littered with junk, old wood, scraps of metal, smashed pictures; I was in a wonderland of cool things. I entered the living room. There was a crumbling stone fireplace that was coated in spilled soot. Above it, a mantle place with a few destroyed picture frames and a candleholder in the shape of an angel. Little light entered the house, despite being littered with holes. There were a few antique clocks around the house, and I mean antique even for the houses age. They looked like they were made in the 1700s or something. They were all broken, except for one clock that despite the years of aging was still ticking away. I could only hear it though; I couldn’t see the mysterious clock. I went to the stairs, and good luck getting up those stairs. They were completely collapsed, leaving only a pile of mushy rotting wood. I was luckier with the basement stairs, which were made of stone. The basement also happened to be a treasure trove of cool artifacts. The most prominent feature of it though was the immense amount of glass jars that littered the place. Was it a pantry or something? The shelves in which the jars once rested were covered in various knickknacks. A cracked jar filled with dried pickles, a plastic lawn decoration of the Easter bunny, and a thing that looked like a meat grinder except without any holes in it whatsoever. It unsettled me quite a bit, but I wasn’t going to give up on this amazing place just because I feel a little bit spooked. Besides, I’ve seen worse.

I climbed back up the stairs, ready to explore the rest of the place, when suddenly, a coarse, hacking voice shouted out, “Come out kid, I can feel you!” I froze in my steps, the guy who owned the place somehow figured out that I was here and was coming to get me. “No use dashing out now you hooligan, I’ll only find ya!” What could I do? If I ran, he would only see me and possibly call the cops. If I stayed where I was or hid, he’d only come looking for me and eventually find me. I did the only thing I could, I called back to him. “I don’t mean any trouble, I thought this place was abandoned and wanted to explore.” I said it cautiously; I was in a state of near panic. He shouted back “You sure?” “Yes.” I said back. “Come over here, prove it.” After this the man started coughing very hard, and I heard some sort of lump fly out. I didn’t want to confront this man at all, but I assume it was better than going back to jail. I slowly approached the voice; it was coming from the dining room. “Come here I said!” The voice called as I approached the entryway to the dining room. I entered and, well, how could I explain the thing that lay before me? Its head was similar to that of a mole, a star nosed mole, and it rested on a turkey like jointed neck that sat upon an ungodly thin body, so much that you could see the shape of its skeleton. It had no arms or legs. It just ended in some kind of tentacles, well more like branches, that rooted into its old wooden chair and hung down onto the floor; some clinging to the table in front of it. It was coated in sort of lumps, like on an elephant. Its figure was somewhat bird like however, despite looking like a lump of flesh. On the table in front of it laid many dirty dishes and smashed cups. It was all coated in a fine layer of dust and disturbingly what looked like old dried blood. I felt like vomiting when I came upon this abomination. “So...” It said in a dry voice, “You wanna take a seat? I haven’t had any company in god knows how long.” I didn’t hesitate to dash out of the ruined house and back home. What the fuck was that? I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to know. It was mid noon by the time I arrived home, and the remaining day was severely unpleasant. I did my best to convince myself that what I saw was a mere figment of my imagination, but the image was so clear, every wrinkle on the fleshy skin of that monster was burned ever so clearly in the back of my brain. I slept little that night, and the remaining week, in which I slowly built up the courage to go back to that house.

I remember my nervousness as I climbed back up the collapsed steps of the porch and the suspense of entering the broken down house, knowing deep in my heart what was in that room. “Hello?” I called out feeling courageous but really sounding like a complete wreck.

“I’m still here nitwit.”


I slowly approached the dining room and sure enough it was still there. The room had hideous yellow wallpaper with little cross hatches across it. It was decomposing and falling off. The table in front of the creature was made of old wood, unfurnished and obviously handmade. A pendulum clock was on the wall and somehow still ticking. The entire room was a mess. “Take a seat boy.” It said while some strange viscous liquid dripped out of its “face”. I pulled up a chair unwillingly; still unsure if this thing was going to suck my face off or something. The chair immediately collapsed below me, and the creature let out a coarse, dry laugh. “Take a different seat, that one’s broken.” No shit. I pulled up a different seat, which thankfully held up my weight. “Now, let’s talk. I haven’t had a conversation in years and I’m dying for some company.” What was I supposed to say to this thing, I was never much for conversations, especially with skinny bird mole flesh trees. I said all that I could say... “Umm, how’s it been?” “How’s it been? You make first contact with a thing like me and the best you could do is how’s it been? It’s been fan-fucking tastic.” The thing hacked out a yellowish, mucousy glob which flew across the table and right in front of me. “Well, uh, what do you do here on your own?” I said it in a timid voice as I stared at the goober that was settling in front of me. “I’m not able to do much, given my situation. It directed its head towards its lower half, looking at its branching roots that seemed to fuse to the surrounding table and chair. I just sit here listening to the clock, doing nothing, for as long as I can remember. By the way, could you do me a small favor?” “What’s that?” “Could you clear off this table? The dishes just keep piling up.” What the hell did he take me for? I’m not too ecstatic about being here in the first place, and he could at the very least treat me like a guest. I did it anyway though; I didn’t want to piss this thing off. “Just put them on the floor, I don’t care; I just want some space on this table.” I put them in the corner, possibly risking getting some gross disease just by touching them. “That’s much better!” it stated with a satisfactory tone, “Now, sit back down please. There we go.” I sat back down. Now in this moment, there was just silence. Across the now clear, scratched table, sat the creature that had sent me in a panic just near a week ago. I stared at him, he stared at me, man and beast, confronting each other in total silence. Finally, after what seemed like hours, though probably being closer to a minute, the thing spoke up. “Well” It spoke up in its scratchy voice, “No use sitting here staring at each other, you want some tea?” “Umm, sure I guess; but how, well, how are you going to…” “Oh I’m not going to make it, you are.”

You blistering cock.

“Get up now, everything’s in the kitchen. The tap should be working, if not there’s a well in back.” I got up and headed for the kitchen. There was an old gas stove with a stack of newspapers and a scummy, rusted kettle on it. I pushed of the newspapers and put the kettle under the tap. I turned on the tap and instead of water a puff of dirt came out followed by nothing. With a sigh I picked back up the kettle and headed out back. There was a well, or more of a pile of rubble with a hole in it. I dipped the kettle in the water and headed back in. “Is the well still working?” he asked when I opened the door. “For the most part” I replied. I entered the kitchen and placed the kettle on the stove. I turned on the gas and was blown back by the explosion. As I was sitting there on the dirty floor covered in soot and ash I heard the thing laugh followed by a hack and another glob coming out. Back out to the well, and back in. “What am I supposed to use?” I asked him. “There’s a wood burning stove in the living room.” He replied. “Use some of the wood that’s all over the place, there’s so fucking much you can barely navigate.” I picked up some old wood of the floor which immediately turned to mush in my hands, so I got a few planks from outside. I placed them on the stove and used the lighter I had in my pocket to set it off. I placed the kettle over the fire and waited. Soon enough, the thing started whistling. I took it off and placed it on the table. “You have any cups?” “There’s some in the cupboard.” “What about teabags?” “There’s a tin on top of it.” I took out two wooden cups from the cupboard and did my best to brush off some of the dust from them, then grabbed two teabags and placed them inside. I poured in the boiling water and slid one of the cups down the table. After about a minute of waiting for it to brew I took a first sip. I took another. As I was drinking, I felt a slight wriggling in my mouth. “You have to be fucking kidding me” was my thoughts. I spat it out on the table and sure enough, there were worms. The thing let out a small chuckle, which later grew to a cackle. “What, a few worms going to put you off?” It asked in a humorous tone. “Well why don’t you drink it then?” I replied, sounding not as amused as the snickering beast. After he caught his breath, he replied rather calmly, “What do you take me for an idiot? You think I’m just going to hunch over and drink this like and elephant?” I felt like shouting multiple profanities at the thing at this moment, but kept them inside and slowly calmed myself. “Don’t take it too seriously there chuck” he said. “You can’t take these things to heart.” He really was making me furious, but I restrained myself from doing anything serious.

The clock was ticking seemingly louder; the thing was sitting there, regarding my every move. I really wanted to leave. I had the same feeling as when you’re stuck with a hideously boring family member all alone and desperately searching for an excuse to leave. We were at that moment again, just staring at each other in the total silence. “So, you want to cook us up some grub?” He asked. I was really sick and tired of this fucker making me do his chores, but I guess that with his obvious mobility handicap I should help him out a bit. With a sigh, I asked, “What do you want me to do?” “There’s a chicken in the pantry, it should be plucked.” He said. “You’ll have to do the rest though, there’s a cleaver over there.” He turned to a shelf with a massive cleaver on top with the expectation for me to grab it, which I did. I went to a pantry, which along with an extremely out of place plucked chicken there were canned goods dating to, wait for it, 1932. I pulled out the cold chicken with disgust, it smelled like bleach for a strange reason. I have to admit though, for a chicken that was festering in a rotting pantry for god knows how long, it hadn’t aged a bit. It looked like it was freshly plucked. I grabbed it by the neck and carried it into the dining room. I dropped its limp body on the table and grasped the cleaver. “Well, what are you waiting for, I’m starving.” I lifted the cleaver slowly, and with a whack I cut the things head off. Immediately after, the chicken sprung to like, bawking loudly as the headless body jumped around on the table, gushing blood. The thing was laughing, taking obvious pleasure in the moment, while I jumped back in fear at the surreal sight. The headless plucked chicken danced around on the table for a good minute before finally falling down “dead”. We stood staring at it for about 30 seconds, and finally I spoke up. “What now?” I asked. “Just leave it.” He replied. “I won’t be needing that any time soon.” “Why’d you make me do that then?” “The thing was bad” “What do you mean bad?” He didn’t reply. He just sat there “staring” straight. “Listen” He said finally, “I’ve been here a while, unable to do anything. So could you do me another favor?”

“*sigh*, what do you want this time?” I said it in an admittedly rude tone.

“What’s with your attitude there smithy?” He said. “I’m just asking you a favor.”

“It’s just that your tasks are…” I began to say.

“Kid, let me tell you something. I’ve been here, alone, since before your grandfather was even a concept yet. I’ve been sitting here at this goddamn chair since as far as my memory can provide, and even my first memory was sitting in this same wooden chair in front of the same wooden table in the same hideous room. I’ve watched this house decay; I’ve watched the entire world around me slowly reclaimed by nature, unable to do anything. So the very least you could do is help a guy out.”

“Jesus, okay” I said, feeling a sudden sympathy for the poor thing, “what do you want?”

He coughed for a bit, hacking out various swirling mucous globs. “Could you brew us up some tea?” He let out a wheezing cackle. I sure as hell wasn’t laughing. In fact, I just left then. I left and I don’t give a shit. I stormed right out of that broken down door as I heard his laughing intensify. I walked off that decaying porch and through that overgrown field. I walked right home and sat down. I didn’t care anymore; it could rot in that house for all I care. I sat there, slowly venting out my anger through relaxation. I sat there for a long while, I don’t remember how long. I just sat, too tired and angry to get up. I felt something in my throat, which I hacked up and spit out on the floor. Then I felt a craving. As I sat there in a completely idle state I thought to myself…

I could really go for a cup of tea right now.