's 2014 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by HUW SAUNDERS

Finally there’s a bit of peace.

I sit back on the bed in this reasonably nice hostel room. It’s not my room, I was offered to join some people. It’s nicer than my room and the only problem with this one was the noise, which I’ve dealt with.

There’s a nagging doubt here, as I look around the bodies, telling me now you’ve done it.

So I was alone in my room, and these rugby players from down the hall stumble across me – one of them tried the wrong door – and they say hey, I should join them. I’ve never liked rugby players, and in school they never liked me. On the other hand, I thought they would be sure to have some beers so I figured why not.

The beer was Carling. That was the first of many insults. They talked too loud. I suggested we put on some music. Instead they began singing too loud, remarkably tone-deaf too, for people who must do it in front of an audience.

So the night wore on – it seemed like an eternity, and when I checked the clock it was only eleven – with them all taking it in shifts to sing and talk and laugh, all of it too loud. And I came to think the laughing was at me, all that laughing coming out of their big strong bodies. Nothing’s that funny.

There was a Stanley knife on the table. I believe one of them had brought it from his work and was showing it round – how it was spring-loaded and only cut what you wanted it to. So I grabbed it and cut him across the eye.

It seemed, as the wound opened up and started pouring blood, none of them noticed. They just continued to talk and laugh. I carved into his eye again, and again, until I couldn’t see the eyeball any more. Then I did his other eye.

Then I went around the others.

Now you’ve done it.

I feverishly open another beer, and look around the bodies. At some point, something spilled over. One second they were there, laughing away with their eyes bloody and torn. Then they were flat and silent and still.

I walk around the room, and pause over the tallest one of them. It seems I got carried away with him. There are razor-cuts all over his face and neck, his own parents couldn’t pick him out now.

For the first time I feel regret. It doesn’t last long but it leaves its mark. I just wanted to scare them, I tell myself, I just wanted them to shut up for a little bit. And now I have done it.

Yes, there will be a reckoning for this, I know that. I try and picture what will happen. Most likely – whether a maid blunders in, or I turn myself in, however it comes to light – the entire hostel will be stormed by Taser-wielding community support officers, who will scream at me to get down on the ground.

I grimace at the thought of more noise.

But this will be a capital crime, won’t it? I count up the bodies and figure I am not far off being a mass murderer, perhaps I even made the grade.

I could try tucking them under the bed linens, or throwing them out the window. The idea is so cartoony and implausible I actually go over to the window to see how far it would open.

I never get the chance. When I’m looking through it I see Yasmin, Tom and Anna returning to the hostel in the street below – and they see me, and wave. I raise my bottle in a half-hearted salute.

Now I’ve really done it. When they’re back they’ll have all kinds of questions – why am I in this room, where’d I get the beer, why am I covered in blood and still gripping the knife. The way things are going everyone might as well know already. Who will get me first? The police, or the families of these poor innocents, launching a vicious, poisonous and entirely justified vendetta?

I walk out of the room, and there, down the corridor – waiting by the door of my room – is a man wearing a suit far too nice for anyone to think he might be crooked. “You’re here for me,” I say, as I approach.

“Honest Chang,” he says, and shakes my hand. “Do step inside and take a seat.”

We go inside and he locks the door.

Dr Benway arrives some five minutes later and gives the secret knock. In one arm he has his leather doctor’s bag, under the other he carries a writhing package wrapped in black plastic.

“Anaesthetic,” he says by way of greeting. Honest Chang shoots the patient up with tramadol again. “I don’t hold with modern medicine. We really need dilaudid for this, and the patient should have something stronger too.”

Honest Chang takes off his suit jacket, and stands ready with a wipe and a blood-bucket. Dr Benway reaches deep in his doctor’s bag, and takes out a serrated breadknife. He tests the edge on this thumb and curses.

“Terrible, just terrible – ah!”

He levers the Stanley knife out of the patient’s death-grip.

“This will suit our needs. Now then. What we are going to do is a very simple operation based on the Buddhist principle of karma.”

“Fuck off,” says Honest Chang instantly.

“I know, I know. This isn’t strictly about appeasing God or Satan, rather just a higher power than this poor fool.” Dr Benway makes the first incision through the patient’s eyelid. “Make yourself useful, nurse, fix me a daiquiri.”

Soon the patient is smeared with his own blood as well. His empty sockets stare damply at the two medical professionals.

“He’s catatonic,” says Honest Chang. “Doesn’t seem like much of a revenge.”

“They’ll get their money’s worth,” says Dr Benway, and begins to unwrap the black plastic package. A horrible shriek comes from inside.

I feel as though the life is slipping out of me. Strangely I really don’t care, it all seems very far-off. I’m not sure exactly what it is I’m seeing. What I am sure of is that I am sitting on a white bench by the waterfront at sunset. The hostel is lost somewhere behind me, and I have a moment, finally a quiet moment, to sit and enjoy.

As though this was not blissful enough already, Elaine – a friend of mine from college, like Yasmin, Tom, and Anna – comes to join me. She is tall and lovely, and in this light her hair shines a glorious orange. She rests her head on my shoulder, so I get a first-hand view of that hair, and the way she does it, it’s like she’d put it in my lap. I have absolutely no doubt this is getting sexual.

For some reason – and I couldn’t tell you why – I get a brief vivid image of an adolescent orang-utan, shrieking, its eyes empty holes, tearing flesh out of a naked white torso.