So last Saturday was a gap week, following the end of Die, Blossom, Bloom. A chance to cleanse your palate, if you like, before your next story begins as it does today.
This time, I would like to offer you a short horror story from my first collection, A Sinister Six. The story is The Book. It’s a book that wants to be read. It needs to be read. I wanted to try writing something in a non-linear fashion, as this story is.
Here is part 1 for your enjoyment:
“Okay, Okay!” said Monte Hilton as he felt his way down the stairs. He tried to pull the chord of his dressing gown tight about his waist, and nearly missed his step in the dark. He stopped briefly as he regained his footing and pulled his dressing gown cord tighter. More banging at the door forced him down the stairs. “I’m coming!” he shouted at the door. “Who is it please?”
“It’s me, Doctor Hilton. Jeff Reinhart.” The voice was urgent, insistent.
“Jeff? Do you know what time it is?” Monte pulled up the sleeve on his dressing gown and looked for the watch that he had taken off several hours ago.
“I’m sorry Doc. You know I wouldn’t come if it wasn’t urgent.” He knocked again, this time quieter.
Monte had reached the bottom step and sat down.
“How did you get my address Jeff?”
“I followed you, Doc. Last time.”
There was something in his voice that started alarm bells ringing in Monte’s head.
“Why would you do that Jeff?”
“Can I come in and explain?”
“No, Jeff. It’s inappropriate for us to be even talking outside of our sessions. Please go home.” Monte stood up and took a step back upstairs, before Jeff banged his fist hard against the door. It rattled in its frame.
“Doc, you gotta let me in!” The voice sounded desperate.
“Ring me at the office tomorrow, Jeff, and we’ll talk about upping your Clozapine prescription.”
“I don’t need any Clozapine. I still have plenty.” The door rattled again as he pulled at the handle. Monte turned around on the stairs.
“Have you been taking your meds Jeff?”
“No.” He barked it out. “They aren’t helping me.”
“You haven’t been taking them long enough to make that judgement. Please go home Jeff – Mr Reinhart – and call me at the office in the morning.” He turned and started back up the stairs. “And take the Clozapine,” he shouted over his shoulder.
For a moment there was no sound from outside, and Monte thought Jeff had left. But before he had reached the top step, the banging began again.
“I’ll take the Clozapine. I’ll take it all. Catch up on the days I’ve missed. I’ll do it before I go to bed, Doc.” The banging stopped and there was silence. Monte waited, frozen in place as he listened for any sounds. He should just go back to bed. This hour was for sleeping, not talking. His wife was upstairs in bed and he was surprised that she hadn’t surfaced with all the noise. It was warm back in bed, and he was tired. But could he knowingly leave a man that had threatened to overdose on meds that he himself had prescribed? He wanted to say yes, but that wasn’t the kind of man he was, and he turned and once more trudged back down the stairs to the front door.
The key hung in the hall on a tiny peg at about eye level, and he plucked it from its place. He slipped the chain off the door, inserted the key and turned. He glanced down to where his shoes were sitting. If he was going outside to chase this man down, he wasn’t going to do it bare-foot.
As it turned out, going outside was not necessary. As the door swung out, Jeff ducked around it and slipped into the hallway. Monte tried to bar his way, but Jeff was too fast, and slipped past him and went along the hallway and turned into one of the rooms.
Monte, now wide awake, followed him in.
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” he said, “or I’ll be forced to call the police.”
That’s a start made on this story. There will be more next week. but for now, have you ever written a non-linear storyline? How did it work out? Are there any pitfalls to avoid?