's 2017 Horror Write-off:

The Plastic Roses

Submitted by Airborne Terror (email)

Imagine, if you will, that you wake up from a vaguely dreadful dream, while waiting in the living room of a house. It is an old Victorian style building, but the decor seems from perhaps the late eighties, and trying just not hard enough to feel authentic. You know the vibe... Cold, fluorescent tube lights barely filling the shadows of a hot, sunny afternoon outside, casting the dark wood of the furniture and the corny pastoral scenes of the paintings in a sickly grey light, white doilies on tables and hordes of ceramic, plastic and glass figures covering every available horizontal surface.

There are fake plants on plastic pots near the main window, green leaves slowly turning pale blue where the sun hits them through the window, pink and white roses greyed by falling dust years of neglectful cleaning, the smell of warm, stale air with just a note of mildew, and a general sense of dull malaise.

Imagine, if you will, that you are being kept from totally zoning out again by the ticking of a grandfather clock and a terrible recording of undetermined classical music coming weakly from another room, off-beat and plagued by at least three layers of recording device interference, like if someone recorded a wax cylinder into a vinyl disc and filmed the playback of the result on a VHS tape. The thought of this process feels strangely appropriate in the mangled chimaera of epochs that currently surrounds you. The song ends after some seconds of clicking sounds it starts over. You let out a quiet, bored sigh and close your eyes, trying to remove yourself a little bit from the moment to think why in the world is the wait here worth your while

... Was it this morni...

Damn it, the bloody song just looped back again, is it louder now? as you begin to feel an urge to get up and see why did the song looped back so soon you end up deciding it's not worth the effort, the doc's assistant probably going to... Wait, the doc's clinic is downtown; you're here to see the accounta... Man are those flowers ugly, you start wondering why do these people actually bought real dirt for plastic flowers... what are you supposed to put them in anyway? And why did they make the whole plant, roots and all, instead of just making a fake arrangement?

You slowly rise yourself from the couch to inspect the fake flowers closer. They actually have thorns, reddish, sharp thorns, are they wet? Wh... The song just looped back again, something's wrong, why is the volume so high? Something's moving outside, beneath the window, as you are about to look out you get distracted by the clock announcing the hour with a loud bell, no, it's not right, that's not the sound clocks make, is it? Somewhere on the back of your mind, you start feeling something familiar, the sort of blurry confusion that some dreams have, you try to concentrate on any specific detail of your surroundings, only to be immediately distracted by something else. You know the sensation is not normal, but your mind struggles with a growing, confused drowsiness as you feel yourself falling asleep. The song looped back again. The sudden jolt of the distorted piano wakes you and fills your mind with everything wrong with this place, all at once... the light is wrong, it seems flat, it takes the life from the already lifeless plastic roses, but also from everything outside, in that garden that looks just as lifeless as the pastoral paintings hanging in the room you're in... there isn't even any wind outside, it's all still and quiet, except for the damn music, and the clock... and the music... You feel trapped. But also, not quite willing to move.

Another loop... the sigh you emit now is a desperate one, that does it, you're sick of this place... you finally get up and reach for the window for at least a change of scenery... You look outside again, to the trees, the bluish trees... The sunburnt, plastic trees, The music is so loud you can barely concentrate, but you try anyway, to remember, this is oddly familiar, and those aren't trees, they're bushes. Giant, plastic rose bushes... As far as the eye can see, you remember the last dream you had, and the ones before it, you scream but the scream is drowned by the dissonant music, the buzz of the fluorescent tubes overloading and a sickly grey light consuming everything into a white void that quickly dulls your memory as you suddenly wake up from a vaguely dreadful dream.

Imagine if you will that you are waiting in the living room of a house.

There are fake plants on plastic pots near the main window, and the smell of warm, stale air with just a note of mildew quietly fills you with a general sense of dull malaise.