There’s nothing I love more than the dark and ghoulish nature of October. I am not sure if I read too much R.L. Stine, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz as a kid, but I have always loved the macabre. My coworkers over at our digital agency are obviously a very creative bunch, and they were discussing the 2018 Inktober challenge, which is to draw with the daily prompts below. While my drawing skills are definitely not up to par, I thought it would be fun to write a Halloween-inspired short story using all of these prompts.
The Man in the Moor
The moor was tranquil tonight, cast under the spell of its guarded secrets. The dark waters glistened in the moonlight, and the fog hung in the air like poisonous remnants of a long ago gas bomb. I walked as I usually did in the early evening, finding solace in my solitude, hearing nothing but the still air and the neighbor’s chickens. My boots were muddy with the moor’s essence, as if it were imparting a gift to me for my flowing appreciation of its existence. I walked, seeking to stretch my legs, which were still aching from my muscles that were growing weak with disuse. I pondered the night sky, searching for the wondrous shooting stars that would so often slice through the sky.
In truth, I was exhausted. I had yet encounter another human being in this place, and I was glad. If anything, human interaction left me with the firm knowledge that I was breakable. My innards still felt scorched, as if the thunder of life hung in my ears. I swept my broken body away from cruel humanity and came to this place, a natural beauty prickly with misunderstanding.
I needed this reprieve from life, from humankind.
Of course, that is when I walked into the presence of a man. He did not see me, and so I quickly ducked awkwardly behind some brush, like a whale attempting to hide behind a glass bottle. His angular jawline was unnaturally swollen and bruised. I studied him quietly from my hiding place, debating whether or not I should double back or engage him in a conversation. His demeanor seemed to change, as if he sensed a new life in his presence — as if I were a life worth sensing. He turned and placed me and gave a startled jolt.
His voice sliced through the air, thick with a tongue swollen from abuse.
“Hello there, you startled me. I thought I was alone out here.”
He was eating roasted peanuts, I could smell its dank smell it in the night air. It was an assault against the otherwise muggy atmosphere.
I moved cautiously toward him, hearing the irregular chop of my heartbeat getting faster with anticipation. I studied his clothing and deemed it as expensive, and unfit for a nighttime stroll in the moor. He wore a pressed suit and brown leather shoes, which were polished if not for the mud clinging to him. His wrist sported a Rolex watch. His posture was unfittingly open, as if he preferred to be cautious but wanted to impart some camaraderie in our shared existence. He gripped his fedora in his hands as a gesture of respect for me.
I sensed ingenuity. I sensed danger.
“Good day, sir,” I stated, angling my body so that it was offering a polite nod toward him but still pointing in the direction adjacent from him. I continued to walk as casually as I could.
“Well you see,” he chortled, “I really did think I was alone.” He was gesturing with widespread arms with his fedora still in his hands, as if to visually express to me that the moor was previously undisturbed with life prior to our encounter.
“Yes, as did I, that is a pity,” I started to walk faster, dropping my air of pleasantry, making my voice more clipped to denote my annoyance at his presence.
And that is when I noticed the hand sticking out of the moor. It was delicate, pale, and adorned with precious feminine jewels.
He saw me notice the body and I could not dismiss the wide-eyed panic assaulting my eyes. He was upon me in seconds, gripping me so tightly and turning me so that he could choke the very life out of my lungs. Now I understood how he was bruised so. I also landed blows upon his body, attempting to release my limbs from his imposing presence.
All I could hear was my heart beat, my rasping attempts at breath, and his clock ticking in my ears, mocking the precious seconds I had left in this world. I could feel his labored, hot breath upon my face. I could feel myself drooling from an open mouth that was seeking air and could get none.
I wondered who this man was. I wondered who he murdered. That poor woman, rich in worldly goods but clearly lacking in luck. Who had loved her? Who would mourn her loss?
Who would mourn me?
“I am terribly sorry,” he rasped, as he choked the life out of me. “You were not supposed to be here. It’s just business.”
My limbs started to fail me as my body shut down. I was falling into the earth, seeing nothing but a faint outline of my beloved moor, sensing only the darkness that was meant to come.
Maybe it was better this way. Maybe this was always meant to happen, and I was just too weak to do it on my own. I felt myself giving up as my captor hung on.
I felt the life drain out of me.
I become one with the moor, and the moor with me.