Laughter and books make life a little easier

The Horror [creative writing]

Hi guys! I thought it was time again for a new short story. I don’t know what it is that is lately happening to my writing, but everything that I write seems to turn out as these dark, surrealistic stories… I’ve definitely been studying and reading too much Modernism this year! Bleh. Sick smile

Oh yes, if you have read this little guy on my Goodreads shelf, you might recognize the title of the story. And maybe the end as well. And if you have read one of my all-time favourite Agatha Christie stories, Sleeping Murder, then you might just recognize the… claws…

Anyhow, I’m talking too much and not getting round to the story. Here you go! Hope you enjoy it and leave a comment to tell me what you thought! School


Library - L. Ménabé

All copyrights belong to original artist, Laurent Ménabé.



The Horror


The library was deathly quiet at this time of the evening. There were no other people, no other movements – only me… and the little noises. Just the little noises to break the dusty, deathly silence. You think I’m hearing the creaks from the bookshelves’ wood cooling down after the heat of the day? Let me tell you that this is not so. The noises do not come from the bookshelves, but I do not know where they come from. Sometimes it sounds like creaking and sometimes like rattling, and sometimes they seem to come from just about anywhere and sometimes they seem to come from overhead.

Outside, the golden light of the westering sun fell in standing pillars through the limbs of the trees. They were ancient trees with heavy, knotted trunks and twisted boughs which formed a canopy high overhead. As the light fell through them, the leaves glowed and sparkled: mostly green and brown, but also with hints of red, gold and silver.

Over the great double-volume main hall of the library, a glass dome stretched. It was inlaid with delicately carved frames of metal and panels of different coloured glass. The evening light also fell through this skylight and drew mandalas of coloured light all over the ground floor of the library. I stood on one of the first-floor balconies, looking down at the floor below. Then I saw another speck of light dancing in front of my eyes. I blinked and it shimmied off to one side. I squinted and tried to focus as it flickered closer to my nose again. It was a firefly – a little glowing ball of light with wings attached. When I opened my eyes after having blinked again, it was gone – this time for good. I sighed and turned back to the bookshelves behind me.

I picked up my bag and started walking through the shelves. It was narrow and dingy in there and the shelves were absolutely stuffed with books. The spines bristled like that of so many hedgehogs.

I was heading for the English Literature shelf. Which was right at the very back, of course. Right at the very back, where the lights were faulty and the little noises intensified in volume in the stillness. When I reached the correct shelf I started to browse down it, running my fingers along the dusty spines of the books.

Directly behind my back, the creaking noise started up. I thought it came from both behind my back and overhead at the same time. I spun round and looked up, but I didn’t see anything. Shrugging, I turned back to my shelf and then spotted the book I was looking for. As I dropped my bag and pulled the book out of the shelf, the overhead light started flickering and the creaking redoubled. This time it was definitely overhead. There was a sound as if someone was filling a paper bag with gravel and shaking it very hard. With the book in my hands, I looked up again and this time I saw a light bobbing across the ceiling.

It was a firefly again, though if it was the same one as previously I could not possibly tell. It was bobbing close to the base of that flickering lamp and by its light I could actually see the base of the lamp for the first time. The lamp was partly pulling out of the ceiling, leaving gaping holes around the base where the screws had torn out of the compressed wood. By the light of the firefly, I could just see inside one of these holes. There was a faint movement in there and I could see the edge of a shadowy shape that was just illuminated by the firefly. The shape was indistinct and at first it drew back out of the tiny circle of light, then it seemed to make up its mind and approached the hole.

All this time I had been standing with the dusty old book in my hands, staring upwards at the hole in cold, frozen horror. I don’t think I would have been able to make myself move at that moment, even if I had thought about it. My brain was so occupied with trying to keep my imagination – which had leapt into overdrive as soon as it saw that firefly – under control that it had basically shut down all other functions, including breathing.

I stared at the approaching shape; I watched it grow distinct. I saw it become a pinkish-grey, hairless paw. I saw its digits curl into spastic claws. I saw it trying to squeeze through the hole in the ceiling, felt my legs finally regain the power and I ran. I dropped the dusty old book and heard it clatter on the floor behind me as I scooped up my bag and took off.

I flew out from between the shelves, through the – suddenly very quiet – library and clattered down the stairs. I raced across the dark main hall and wrenched open the great entrance doors. And moonlight spilled into the library.

During my time inside it had grown dark and the stars glittered and flickered in the sky – like little fireflies. The cool night air washed over me and calmed my racing heart. But then I looked down at the trees – those beautiful trees of this evening – and saw, to my horror, that they had grown faces. Huge, knobbly faces, with shadows dancing between them. And their branches creaked like that sound inside the library and their leaves whispered in the wind. Once again I stood frozen in horror – caught between the horror inside and the horror outside.

That was when I knew I was having a nightmare. And all I wanted to do was wake up. But the problem with this nightmare was that it was reality. The world was the nightmare and the nightmare was the world. And I was wide awake – there was no waking up from this. As I stood there, cornered on the steps of the library, I knew that I had to face at least one of these horrors to find escape. I could go back inside and face the horrible claws. Or I could get off these steps and face the horrors of the dark night. But I could not make myself move. I could not face up to these horrors and so escape from them.

I was in reality and reality was a nightmare. I could not overcome it. I remained on the dark steps.

14 responses

  1. I hope you don’t think me an ass, but I’m going to offer you the kind of critique I always want to get and never do. Since I’m not a writer (but am an avid reader) you are welcome to come over to my blog and poke me a sharp stick too.

    I like the concept here, but the execution was a little too much like hearing an overexcited person speak a story out loud. You have some excellent imagery that if a little less wordy would be overwhelmingly beautiful.
    As an example:
    “The evening light also fell through this skylight and drew mandalas of coloured light all over the ground floor of the library. ” Try using the world light once, since we already understand you are talking about light, and we know you’re in a library so you can drop that too…. *The evening light fell through the skylight, drawing colorful mandalas over the ground floor.* I might even use the word “poured” for a more flowing feeling to go with the concept of mandalas.

    Call me old fashioned, but I hate when sentences start with “and” since that is a bridging word meant to bring two concepts or sentences together. While the breaks you employ in the end of the story would go very well with a spoken retelling of someone’s off the cuff account, it is quite jarring in print as the tale teller’s words.
    “I flew out from between the shelves, through the – suddenly very quiet – library and clattered down the stairs. I raced across the dark main hall and wrenched open the great entrance doors. And moonlight spilled into the library. ”
    *I flew out from between the shelves through the suddenly silent library and clattered down the stairs….. main hall, wrenching open the great entrance doors and moonlight spilled into the library.”

    You have talent, I have no doubt if you continue to work at you you will hone your skills to display that talent to a much wider audience than a blog! Good luck, and keep writing.

    September 30, 2011 at 22:39

    • Oh no, please, go right ahead! I can never learn if nobody wants to give me critique! 🙂

      Overexcited? Yes, that sounds like me. And I tend to write the way I think, so… I think you can figure out where that comes from. I need to be less wordy. Seriously, I must work on that! About the light, yes that is true what you are saying. I don’t like either when the same word is repeated all the time. Thanks for pointing it out – I didn’t spot what I did there. Poured… now that is a good word! 😀

      I know, I know… many people don’t like the whole “and”-thing. I, on the other hand, do. As I said above, I tend to write the way I think, and that happens to be the way I think. I’m not sure what I should do about it, or if I should do anything. Maybe I should just try and wean it off or something and only keep it for dialogue or stream of consciousness. Which is a bit ambitious for me, I think. Ah well, I can just practise! 🙂

      Thank you, and you write a great critique, if I may say so? 😀

      October 1, 2011 at 20:15

      • I’m glad you liked my critique, I think a lot of people including myself) have a fear of critiquing others honestly since you never know how it is going to be taken. I’ve begged people to critique my work and it never happens!

        I figured, after reading through your other posts, you wouldn’t mind too much. When you do move on to get published (and I have little doubt that if you keep working hard you will achieve that) your editor will help clean things up a bit, after all, that is what they are there for!

        Most people tend to write how speak and from editing my own rambles I’ve found I have a strong tendency to overuse and even the abuse the humble comma. Since I know this is an issue I have I write it out and go back the next day to smooth things out and change word order if needed.

        Just curious, how much H.P. Lovecraft have you read?

        October 2, 2011 at 02:16

      • Yes, me too! I keep asking for honest advice and opinions and I hardly ever get it. 😦
        You’re right, I don’t mind well-meaning, honest critique or opinions. The only thing I won’t stand for is an internet troll, and believe me, I can spot them a mile off! 😉 Thanks, that gives me new hope: some days getting published seems so impossible.
        I, on the other hand, am very dash-happy. I abuse the poor things! Aww… 😛 Editing my own stuff is something that I have only started doing recently, even though I edit other people’s work quite often. One thing that I have learnt is to let a piece lie for a couple of days before you get back to it. It’ll give you a new take on it.
        None at all, actually. I know who it is, of course, but sometimes it feels to me as if I have jumped straight from reading Enid Blyton to studying Modernism and Post-colonialism literature on a daily basis. 🙂

        October 2, 2011 at 14:23

      • Oh don’t skip the Lovecraft! I assume since you’re studying lit. you’ve read your fair share of Edgar Allen Poe as well? If you have an interest in writing horror as well as humor then another author I strongly suggest is Algernon Blackwood, he was simply a master of taking a normal everyday life and turning it upside down into a spiraling whirlwind of terror. If you can find a copy I’d suggest trying “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”, the latter you can find at .

        While Lovecraft was pulp fiction writer and best known for the Cthulu series of tales, I find the dream cycles to be his best works. While they certainly incorporate elements of horror and terror in them they are mainly fantasy in the purest sense of the word. While often overly bombastic with language he paints some amazing visions with words alone. The best part for you, since I’m sure your to-read list is quite long, everything is short stories that are easy to read in one sitting.

        October 5, 2011 at 06:11

      • Haha, no, wrong again! 😉 I haven’t read him. I remember looking at one of his books once, but I didn’t have time to read it. Ah, that is the current story of my life! 😀
        We get to do modernism, modernism and modernism. When everybody is tired of that, we get to some colonial or post-colonial lit, and then we go back to modernism, modernism and modernism. As you can probably deduce from this, I’m seriously fed-up of it by now! 😛 It’s Forster, Woolf, Lawrence, Joyce, O’Neill, Miller, Pinter and Conrad. And probably others that I’ve forgotten. Nobody as interesting as Poe!
        Actually I don’t read much horror stories. Or watch horror movies either. I simply don’t like it. All the horror in my own stories comes from an overdose of Modernism, nothing else.
        But I do want to read Lovecraft and Poe someday. Yeah, someday when I get to go to the library again… And I’ll add Blackwood to my reading list as well – it sounds good! 🙂

        October 5, 2011 at 12:08

    • I love this critique. it’s so detailed. @ idiotphotographer please read my short story
      I really enjoyed reading this. not sure what the ‘monster’ was… looking forward to reading more of your work.

      October 3, 2011 at 18:33

      • The “monster”, plain and simply, is the evil in the world. Actually, that and the scary trees outside are exactly the same thing. Only, the trees should be seen as evil in the “outside world” and the monster on the inside as the evil inside every human being. Heart of Darkness, linked up there at the beginning, is basically just on this. But in this story, the character is unable to accept either natural evil, and therefore remains stuck – unable to accept or face reality.
        Sheesh… my attempt at explaining does not even make sense! 😉

        October 3, 2011 at 20:36

      • thanks for explaining it helped…XD

        October 4, 2011 at 08:41

      • Done and done. Maybe I should start a second blog critiquing short stories on WP! lol

        October 5, 2011 at 05:34

  2. wastelandexplorer

    Loved the story.

    October 1, 2011 at 20:04

    • I’m glad you liked it! And thanks for subscribing! 😀

      October 1, 2011 at 20:17

  3. Ah, brilliant. I would suggest changing up the second-to-last paragraph, which sounds a bit too thought-like and less prose-like compared with the rest of the story. But this is really a beautiful piece.

    May 23, 2012 at 20:28

    • Hmm, I see what you mean. I should actually redo this entire story…
      Thanks! 🙂

      May 24, 2012 at 19:08

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