Built on Sand

Full Version: If Walls Could Talk
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That’s all Ryan could think when he looked around. Bare, dull, dusty walls. He had purchased his new home sight unseen only two months ago, but aside from his desk, bed, and a microwave the entire two-story Georgian home was empty.

He was displaced from the heart of the historic town center just enough to avoid prying eyes, but as Ryan stood watching the sun sink lower from a second-floor window, he was close enough to see the dazzling refractions as the dimming light rode the rippling waters. Ryan was in his “office” or room with a desk covered with ancient papers and books. It was a cornucopia of crazy. There were aged and cracked leather-bound books of Eastern European witchcraft intermingled with a virtual encyclopedia of books dealing with the occult, superstitions, and magic. Strewn about were photocopies of an 8th-century manuscript transcribed to tell the horror of ocean-dwelling, humanoid beasts that remain hidden from mankind and on top of it all were a pile of copied photographs that the now deceased Elliot-Calthrope had taken of the local ruins.

Ryan had stared at the symbols and horrid scrawls so carefully documented on those pages that his eyes had begun to burn. He sighed while looking out at the distant water and turned back towards his desk.

“Time to get back to work,” he said to no one.

Maybe it was the strain on his eyes or the way the dusk light was falling into the room but for the first time, Ryan noticed something on the wall in front of his desk. 

“What the…”

On his knees, he got as close to the wall as he could and yes, there just above the ornate baseboard was a something bleeding through the dusty old paint.
And then, there it was again. That old feeling, that dog with a bone mentality, the ravenous need for answers. Ryan darted quickly to the bathroom to grab a rag then set to work cleaning the wall.
Blood stains

Under his eyes, they took a different shape. The shape of scrawls and arabesques. Something he'd seen carved on ritual steals, back on that island - and somewhere else, there, in Sandsbridge. It wasn't a local language, he said. Not a local tradition - a universal one. But he was gone. Dead. Or was that news just a dream? The one who could've translated it - gone. Anyone going to be the next?
“What the actual fuck…” Ryan mumbled to himself in disbelief.

He was sitting on the ground legs outstretch with his back against his desk. He was staring up at the wall in awe. It had taken some time, but he managed to clear the wall of its caked on dust and peeling paint to reveal something he was not ready to see. Not again. 

Ryan remembered the distinct color blood made when it was used at paint. He was looking at that color now painted in symbols all across his wall. They must have been Sigils of some kind he thought. His mind taken back to that night, and the altar, and the screaming….and Ryan forced himself to block those thoughts from his mind.

He sprang up from the ground and grabbed the photocopied pictures of Eliot-Calthrope’s work. They were similar but not identical. Some of the signs matched but others were totally alien.

Ryan’s mind raced. The haze created by his obsession kept Ryan locked away and he had only heard a rumor of the Scholar’s death, a rumor his mind could have created on its own. There was only one option, Ryan would have to go find out for himself if his only hope in transcribing these symbols was dead or alive.

He could count on his hands the number of times he’d left the house since moving to town, but he had no choice. Ryan looked out the window, eight maybe nine more minutes before dark, grabbed his coat off the hook on the wall, headed to the hall, down the staircase, and checking for his keys in his pocket, towards the front door.

On the front door was a note. A piece of paper, covered with familiar red signs. An alien language, and yet he could read it. Those who speak the name of God, it said, should be mindful of... - and there his sight, or better, his understanding, went blurred. The signs still there, but indecipherable as they'd always been.
For a moment his mind spun. His stomach became queasy and his vision began to darken. He shook his head vigorously and regained composure; he had almost passed out. He leaned back against the door and tried to control his breathing. 

“Get it together, Pierce,” he told himself.

Ryan looked down at the paper that was now balled up in his fist. Carefully, as if something might fly out of the tiny paper ball, he uncrumpled the page and stared in confused silence at the grotesque symbols. 

While he could no longer read the text, its translation bounced around in his head.

“Those who speak the name of God should be mindful of…” he whispered trying as hard as he could to be able to decipher the glyphs once more. 

Ryan sank to the floor. What was going on? Was he going crazy? Ryan had no choice but to question his sanity. After everything he’d seen, and now words appearing and disappearing amongst symbols, maybe he’d lost it.

His mind began to go to a dark place as he sat alone on the floor in his big, empty home. He closed his eyes and in the blackness, his wife’s eyes appeared. They were filled with terror. Her eyes looked the way they did the night they drug her into the jungle…

Suddenly a more terrifying thought came into his mind. He scrambled to his feet and shoved the paper in his pocket. His brain, for the first time, allowed him to question how the fuck the note got on his door in the first place!?

Like a newborn deer on ice, Ryan panicked and slid across the hardwood floors all the way down the main hall to the coat closet. He flung open the door to reveal a totally empty space save a white shoe box on the shelf. He reached up and pulled the box down discarding the lid on the way. 

Ryan retrieved the contents of the box and bolted back to the front door. Now that he had a gun he felt more comfortable. He didn’t really know how to use a gun, but it gave him a little more confidence, and the sweep of the house began. Every room was searched, every door opened, and every cupboard inspected for intruders. Not a person in sight.

Ryan peaked out the window. It was dark now and the street he lived on was normally very quiet at night, with the exception of distant echoes from Main Street. He took a deep breath and walked to the door. He opened it just enough to slide out into the night. 

The street light in front of his house was burned out. He had never reported it and had always been glad for the cloaking it gave his property at night. But now as he stood outside, alone, he knew the darkness could be hiding someone, or something, very dangerous.

A rose bush scratched Ryan’s arm, but aside from that he crept around the perimeter of his home without any excitement. Whoever left the note was long gone by now.

Back at his front door he locked it from the outside and tucked his gun in the back of his jeans. He had to get some answers. And so, without any real plan, he walked down his lane and turned left heading toward the harbor before disappearing into the fog the rolled up from the waterfront.
The Harbor

The harbor was quiet. Not a time for fishing - or, better: not a time for landing. Boats - lonesome, empty - were berthed side by side. A couple was taking pictures of them; chattering, whispering.

Then a new figure appeared. It crawled up from the docks, however its clothes were dry, even though dirty and ragged. He crawled up, walked on unsteady legs. Entirely ignored by any passer-by, he headed towards a lit building at distance.
For some time Ryan was frozen. He was pressed as hard as he could get against the cold stone wall of the harbor master’s office. His skin had grown clammy and he was sickened at the inhuman way the figure walked.

The couple that was doing some evening sightseeing looked at Ryan suspiciously as they passed. This prompted Ryan to step out into the street light and try not to look so damn creepy to people who might be around.

None the less, Ryan had no choice. He had to follow that thing wherever it was going. 

His body really didn’t want to move though. Back on the island, he had seen something else slide up out of the waters. Of course, it was mammoth compared to whatever slinked forth from under the docks tonight. That didn’t make Ryan any less scared.

One foot in front of the other Ryan crept off behind the figure sticking close to the shadows when he could and taking every possible measure to keep from being seen. That last thing he needed was for whatever it was to turn around and see him.
the old tavern

The place he entered was, indeed, an old tavern. Not the charming type - instead, it was the place where an actual drunkard fisherman would go, running no risk to be mistaken for picturesque. Two filthy men were playing cards in a corner, sharing a bottle of wine that had very little of appealing.

The figure who'd crawled out of water, under the lights, looked much more human - a ragged old man, his hideousness reassuringly mundane.

He sat at the bar, saying nothing. The barkeep, a huge guy with long grey moustaches, poured him a glass of something. "Nice evening, isn't it, Mike?"

Then he rose his eyes, meet Ryan's gaze. Puzzled by such an uncommon guest.
It was almost like Ryan came to from a trance when he entered the bar. Where was he? He certainly hadn’t seen this particular establishment before. He moved his eyes, as casually as possible, to try and take in as much as he could. The weathered walls looked damp, but the sturdy wooden chairs scattered about tables before a large fire gave the place a slightly more comfortable glow.

None-the-less, Ryan was painfully out of place. Not only had he been delusional about what he saw coming out of the harbor he also followed a stranger to a bar, in what Ryan could only assume, was not the safest part of town. The crowd looked less than savory at best.

Blend in, Ryan told himself. Like that was possible.

The floorboards creaked with each step he took and he swore he could feel every pair of eyes in the room drilling holes in his back. 

Finally, at the bar, he pulled out a stool and took a seat leaving an empty stool between him and the man he just learned was named “Mike”.

Ryan tried to steal a glance but realized he being obvious and the hulking bartender was staring right at him.

“Uhhhh…I’ll have a whiskey…neat,” he sputtered out laboriously.

Fuck, what now? he asked himself. Ryan really should have made a plan.
at the tavern

The barkeep did his best to hide his puzzlement, although subtlety wasn't probably a required skill in his line of work. Asking for one's favorite label wasn't his style either, instead he just grabbed a bottle from a shelf. Suddenly he reminded something, however. "Ice?"

Meanwhile, "Mike" was slouching silently at the bar. Once he saw the barkeep was distracted, and without caring if Ryan or the two card players saw him, he swiftly took a knife from the counter got up and headed towards the toilet.
“No, no ice. Thanks,” That’s what ‘neat’ means, what kind of bartender is this? 

Ryan didn’t say that out loud though. He looked around, remembered where he was and recognized how large the man making his drink was, and decided to stay quiet.

Well…well, damnit. Where is he going now? He thought to himself.

He was beginning to get frustrated. Someone invaded his privacy with that note, then he followed some random man to a bar in a super sketchy area, and now that guy was taking a knife to the toilet.

“Thanks,” Ryan said as the drink was placed in front of him. 

He looked around. The bartender had moved his attention elsewhere and the card players were too engrossed in their game to notice, so Ryan took one giant gulp to down his booze and followed ‘Mike’ around the corner towards the bathroom.

As the dusty light of the main bar dimmed in the hallway Ryan couldn’t help but think this was a really bad decision.

The man had entered a filthy stall, locked himself in. From the inside, muffled sounds came, as if he were screaming in pain, but clenching his teeth to keep it quiet.
Ryan pressed his back against the old wooden door with its sickly green peeling paint. His left hand fumbled behind him until he was able to grasp and throw the deadbolt to the locked position.

What is happening? He thought. The man was clearly in pain, but this…this…whatever was happening in that stall was not normal. Also, this was certainly not what he expected when he left the house. This exact situation was one of the myriad of reasons he had envisioned for not leaving his house.

Ryan crept as softly as he could from the door, across the water damaged floor, and came to a stop just short of Mike’s stall.

Mike gave the loudest agonized groan yet and Ryan saw blood begin to hit the ground in drops by Mike’s filthy boots.

“Aww, fuck it,” Ryan said out loud.

With a swift motion, he used his first to hit the stall door hard and break the cheap lock.

Ryan stood at the now splintered door thinking, once again, that he was in waaaaay over his head.
inside the stall

The door opened easily as he hit it. Inside, however, there was nobody. No human being, at least. A huge rat jumped into the water closet and disappeared, finding refuge in the sewers. After which, indeed, no living thing was in sight.

On the floor, blood stains and an abandoned knife.
Ryan blinked…Then he blinked a few more times. He could feel his heart rate increasing and his brow beginning to become moist. His brain was trying as hard as it could to catch up and make sense of what was going on.

He knew…KNEW he followed Mike into the bathroom, but now he was alone. He knelt down totally disregarding the disgusting floor and felt the blood and the knife with his own hands. It was real. But where was Mike?

Ryan looked to where the rat disappeared. No man could fit in there. 

He felt silly for pushing his bloodstained hand against the wall behind the toilet, almost half hoping to find some kind of trap door, at least then something would make sense, Unlike the idea that was forming in the back of Ryan’s brain. It was a strange idea. An idea that told him he had seen unusual and terrible things already in this life, what if that rat was…No, he stopped his own mind from going down that route. A man turning into a rat? Crazy.

Ryan was at a loss so he did the only thing he could think. He reached down and picked up the abandoned knife and concealed it in his jacket. He needed to get out of there fast and he did. He didn’t care what people thought and he hoped the fisherman were too drunk to notice so, after one deep breath he flung open the bathroom door and sprinted through the bar, out the main doors, and into the dark street. He wouldn't stop running either, not until he was home.

Finally, with every door bolted and window shuttered Ryan stashed the knife in his desk and washed his hands before crawling under the blankets and forcing himself to sleep.