Oct 31 2008
David didn’t quite comprehend. He stood outside Dark Hill Chambers and stared at it for a moment. He looked back at his taxi driver and asked him to hang on outside for a few more minutes to make sure he was settled. Handing the driver a substantial tip, he thought about his booking. He was sure this wasn’t what he had booked on the website, and yet the shape and style of the building did look somewhat familiar. The sunlight was obscuring his vision a little and perhaps the photos for the website were taken many years ago…but didn’t the site say it was a brand new family run hotel? He would look into it once he was settled.
“They better have broadband,” he muttered before pushing past an equally perplexed guest.
David Corkish had a high powered, demanding job in banking in the IFSC in Dublin. David was a large man with bright red bushy hair on his head and a matching beard covering the rest of his face. He was like some ginger werewolf and he liked the individuality of that. At 49 years of age, the only thing that kept him from falling over the edge in his stressful job was the four or five times each year he would take himself away from the city’s bustle and be treated to a relaxing countryside break. A colleague in customer service recommended Dark Hill Chambers. She would get an earful on Monday morning.
Halloween was one time of the year when he made sure to be away. His house was a prime target for the trick-or-treating little bastards and time away from that could only be good. That said, as he looked at the bug-eyed receptionist with her unkempt hair and peculiar odour, David wondered whether he had left Halloween at home at all. In fact, he looked around the damp lobby and awaited the arrival of Vincent Price.
Price did not show up, but instead a seven foot tall, cross-eyed boy (the term ‘boy’ is used warily) lurched in to help David with his luggage – a sign made it clear that the elevator was broken.
“Look, I’m sure there’s some mistake here,” David pleaded with the receptionist.
She smiled with a mouth full of yellow and black teeth and nodded slowly as she handed him his key.
“But really, this isn’t what I booked,” he implored.
She must be on drugs, he deduced, as she smiled a smile that seemed to extend, stretch and contort beyond the sides of her face. She gestured towards the stairs.
“Right…I’m going to look at the room, but if I’m not satisfied I’ll be right back down to speak with the manager“. David wasn’t even sure she had heard him.
The receptionist’s grin extended incomprehensively further and her bugging eyes seemed to protrude further than is medically possible. A little freaked, David turned towards the stairs where the ‘boy’ was waiting with his suitcase and laptop bag. He thought of the broadband –
“Oh, and one more thing…” turning to where the large reception desk was, David now saw only a tall bookcase with a leather chair at its side. The few fellow guests who were behind him as he checked in were nowhere to be seen.
“Excuse me for a moment,” he said to his porter before rushing for the front door. It was dark outside now and the full moon was high. His taxi and the other cars were gone and in the distance he heard the howl of a wolf.
David laughed out loud – “fucking Halloween“. He was not one to be scared by such triviality. At least, that’s what he told himself.
Back inside the house, the lobby was now completely empty. The porter must have brought his bags up already. As he crossed the lobby for the stairs, each and every floorboard creaked louder than the last to the point of absurdity. The final board before the staircase was so loud that it sounded more like a man screaming than a rickety floorboard. David was forced to cover his ears as he rushed up the first few steps.
No noise now. Four steps up, he turned around to see nothing but a silent, empty lobby. He heard the distant wolf’s howl again, but didn’t laugh this time.
“Parlour tricks and simple theatrics,” he nervously reassured himself. His logical mind put it all together quickly. The hotel was running a Halloween themed weekend. Understandable. He made his booking and they must have assumed that he wanted to be part of the event, so they were providing him with the same ‘fright fest’ experience that all other guests paid for. Content with this explanation, David smiled and ascended the stairs.
In a hotel with so few rooms, he wondered about his room number, 237, but dismissed it as a quirk.
His room was on the second floor and as he reached the floor he stared down the impossibly long corridor. His logical brain decided the corridor was at least three times the length of the house. Was it an optical illusion?
Pushing cagily forward, he wondered where the porter had gone with his bags. Then he heard an elevator grind to a halt at the far end of the corridor. The elevator was broken, wasn’t it.
A repetitive creaking, almost whistling noise from behind him. Turning quickly, he saw the staircase had been replaced by a corridor four, maybe five times longer than the house. So shocked by this he jumped and knocked his black thick-lensed glasses to the floor.
Fumbling along the carpet for his glasses, the repetitive creak got louder. It was heading his way, whatever it was. It was coming for him. Louder.
He found his glasses and looked around. Coming from one end of the corridor was a small boy on his tricycle pedalling swiftly in David’s direction. The boy, with red demonic eyes began laughing wildly. From the other end of the corridor, the elevator pinged. David turned in time to see it open and he saw gallons of thick red blood pour out towards him.
The river of blood to his left and the demon child to his right, David clasped his head and screamed “stop it“.
The creaking and laughing stopped. He looked to his left and saw no elevator, but a normal corridor ending just feet from him. The staircase which he had ascended only moments earlier was to his right. He was standing outside room 237, crying.
In an effort to pull himself together, David went into his room and headed towards the bathroom. Like much of the hotel, his room was dark and drab. Although, there was nothing strange here. No goblins in the corner or demonic children hiding behind the dresser. His bags were on his bed and David breathed a sigh of relief.
After washing his face in the bathroom sink, he looked up at his reflection and saw something that shocked him more than anything else he had seen that evening. It chilled him to the core……
I have always been a horror fan. Whether it was the early Stephen King novels or the kitsch Freddy Krueger movies late at night, I loved it all. So, when Maxi suggested this project, I was very excited and looked forward to writing a traditional suspenseful horror, like the many I grew up reading.
David Corkish is a character that I’ve had in my head for a long time. He has a life, he has opinions and he has views that even counter my own. In my head he is a well-rounded character and I’m glad I’ve been able to use him in a story.
I am sitting in bed putting the finishing touches to my story, which is due to run shortly, and I’m starving.
Stupidly, and like something from my story, I am startled by a sound coming from the bathroom. I put on my dressing gown and go exploring, but of course there’s nothing there. While in the bathroom, I use the facilities and go to wash my hands. Hands clean, I splash water on my face and then look up at my refection. I jump back in horror at what I see. Am I dreaming?
It’s not my reflection I see. I don’t recognise the man in the mirror and yet, he seems somewhat familiar. I see a fat man with ginger hair and beard, putting on a pair of thick black glasses.
It’s David Corkish. I’ve gone insane. Curled in the corner now, I reach for the door handle which jams as per usual. As I start to panic the face in the mirror speaks and I hear a voice that I have only ever heard in my imagination.
David grabbed his glasses and thrust them on. His eyes were surely playing tricks on him. In the mirror was a frightened young man. The young man was cowering in the corner of the room and David elected to speak to him.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Who are you?” I shout.
“This is my room. My name is David. It’ll be ok,” David said calmly, hiding his own fear.
“What? You can’t be!” I try to regain some composure by standing up and tightening the belt of my dressing gown.
“Relax sonny, what’s your name?” David tried again.
“This can’t be happening”, I mutter to myself before I ask him again, “Who are you?”
David remained calm and spoke again.
“My name is David Corkish and this is my…“
I cut him off mid-sentence.
“I know who you are!” I’m shouting at the man now. Fear is being replaced by anger.
“What do you mean, you know who I am?” David’s fear was beginning to take over again. “Who are you?”
“I wrote you,” I shout. “You’re one of my characters”.
David didn’t understand. He began to shake with a mixture of fear, confusion and hunger.
“Hold on,” I tell him, before finally opening the bathroom door. I run to the bedroom to fetch my laptop. I’ll show him that he is a figment of my imagination. I’ll show him that I wrote him into that bathroom. This is crazy.
He wondered what was happening. Was it more trickery and theatrics by the hotel’s owners? This felt more real though. He looked at the mirror and saw that not only was his own reflection missing but so too was the reflection of the bathroom. The dimensions of the room on the other side of the mirror were the same, but the tiles were different, the light was different, and in place of his own cast iron bath tub was a modern shower unit. Was it just a window into another room? He placed his hand against the glass and his hand fell through like he was pressing against jelly. He pulled his hand back and looked at it. The glass wobbled for a moment before return to its solid sheen.
David looked around his own room. In the distance he could hear the faint creak from the child’s tricycle again, then the howl from outside. He reached forward once more and pushed his whole arm through the soft glass.
I unplug the laptop and take a moment to catch my breath. I must be dreaming, or having some kind of hallucination. Things like this don’t happen. They don’t. Picking up the laptop, I head back towards the bathroom.
“Right, here’s the part where you meet the receptionist…” I begin but stop, frozen to the spot, when I see the man’s arm coming towards me from the mirror. The glass around his arm ripples and I can hear laughing and a creaking noise from behind him. I hear a loud shrill scream and drop my laptop as I clasp my hands around my ears. I close my eyes and scream, “stop it”.
I open my eyes. Is it over? I look around and I’m not in my bathroom anymore. There’s a cast iron bathtub beside me and I scramble into the adjacent room to see a drab hotel room with someone’s luggage on the bed.
I run back to the bathroom and beat my hands against the mirror. It’s not my reflection. It’s David Corkish. But he’s matching my movements. I close one eye, he closes one eye. I wave, he waves. I reach up to my face and I feel a large beard beneath my nose. I look down to see a fat belly and fat hands. I’m wearing thick glasses. What’s going on? Help me!
This can’t be real. I run out of the bathroom, out of the hotel room and into the corridor. It’s silent. This can’t be happening to me. It’s only a story, it’s only a story.
The story. I remember the story. Darragh is here somewhere. Maxi, K8, Chris, Lottie, Rick, surely they can help me. No, no wait – their stories are finished. There’s only one person who can help me, who can save me. I have to find H. His story is next. His story begins now.