An IN THE AIR Excerpt: “Dark Air” by DJ Tyrer

Another rumble. Another sound carried on the gusts, nagging at the edge of his hearing, like a factory whistle. He pinched the ridge of his nose, a pressure building behind his forehead.

The missing keys belonged to cabins one and seven, which according to a faded sign on the office building’s wall, were to the left, so he headed for them.

Around the corner, a light shone behind the grimy orange curtain of number one.

Jake banged on the door. “Hey, anybody there?”

He crouched down and put his eye to the keyhole, but all that revealed was a hint of a chest of drawers and a static-filled TV screen.

He hammered some more and shouted, then tried the locked door.

The wind intensified, tossing trash past him.

Wincing at a stab of sinus pain, he walked for seven.

The door ajar.

“Hello?”

Jake pushed the door open and swore.

Inside was a mess—TV on the floor, its casing cracked, static hissed, a chair overturned, bed covers strewn about—and blood splashed across the floor, the furniture, the walls. In the middle of the room lay a woman, prone in a crimson pool. A man’s body slumped in a corner, his throat torn out. A smashed ashtray lay nearby, smeared with blood.

Jake gagged and puked over his shoes.

Silencing his heaving breath, a faint scuffling came from behind the ajar bathroom door.

“H-hello?”Jake took a step forward. Was it another victim, lying injured, desperate for help? A hidden child, quaking in fear? Or…

He hesitated, foot half-raised.

…was it the killer?

He didn’t want the risk, and he certainly didn’t want to step through the congealing mess.

Jake shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. He swore again.

Shoes making that horrible sticky-shwuck like in the lobby, Jake took hesitant steps towards the bathroom door.

Whoever was in there didn’t sound good, groaning in an odd, panting way.

Still he paused, halted just shy of the door, wary, his body twitching with the urge to turn and flee.

He couldn’t. Someone was injured.

Wincing, the head pain worsened.

Jake shoved the door open wide and stumbled into the bathroom, fighting the renewed nausea that came from fear and pain.

A man was slumped against the toilet, groaning.

Jake gasped and stumbled back a couple of steps.

Blood splashed the man’s chest and arms, but he had no wounds.

Something about him made feral pop for Jake, though he wasn’t quite sure why.

“Hey, you okay? Sir? Sir?”

The man raised his head, his jaw garishly splattered; had he been grinning, he would’ve looked like the Joker.

But his face was almost blank, expressionless, save for a grim tightness to his lips as if he were holding in a scream. The man blinked, and the stiffness seemed to spread to the rest of his face, an emotion in his eyes—fear? Anger? Guilt?

Jake shivered.

“It’s in me.”The man wheezed. “It’s in me, and I let it out.”

The man jerked, as if trying to stand, and Jake twitched back a little.

“I let it out, and it called to them. It called.”The man managed to pull himself up, using the cistern of the toilet. “They’re coming.”

 

 

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DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All The Petty Myths (18th Wall), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), What Dwells Below (Sirens Call), The Mad Visions of al-Hazred (Alban Lake), and EOM:Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens Call, Hinnom Magazine, Ravenwood Quarterly, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).

 

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