Night Sortie – Edgar Arthurs

My next guest in the 13 Days of Horror took a unique spin on penning macabre, crafting suspense with an edge. Though he may be new to the blogosphere, he is adept at elliciting reader’s fear response. Please welcome horror writer from downunder, Edgar Arthurs and his frightening tale, Night Sortie

Night Sortie
By Edgar Arthurs

Dusty wind howls through the buildings. Tiny flecks of red and brown and grey and black tumble through the spaces between concrete walls. Splintered pallets and packing crates litter alleys, snagging papers, leaves and rags. Punched out windows, black jagged yawning mouths and eyes. Dust drifts in, settles onto cobwebbed desks and cabinets. Lights flicker across the surfaces, glinting on the metal and shards of glass. Nightbird shrieks. Flapping wings.

Crunching gravel outside. A car rolls through the car park, slowly picking its way along the fence. Headlights wink out, fading yellow, orange, blue-gray to black. Engine falls quiet. Doors open. Doors slam. More crunching… lighter. Boots, shoes. Three crunch and scrape through the carpark. One facing forward, two facing back. Dusty wind blows into their faces, coating their boots, their pants, their
jackets, their hair. Dust devils whip up, swirl and dissipate into the night.

One sees movement, shouts. Weapons are drawn, leveled at shadows. Shuffling, dragging across the concrete ahead. Flashlights blaze, cutting through darkness. There! Pathetic thing, cowed by the light Milky eyes shine. Low moan, mouth agape. New bravery… arms reach out, changes direction. Gunfire – cracking, booming. Deafening silence. Body thuds to ground. Sweep around with light… nothing… no more groans, no more sound. Only one… lucky night.

Warehouse doors wrench open, grinding, scouring unoiled metal. Dust is shaken free of the doors, peeling paint flecks off, taken by the wind. Gloom within, smells of dust and staleness. No rot. Flashlights climb up high, heavy shelves stretching almost to the roof. One whistles, tuneless amazement. Pallets and boxes, stacked with cans and bottles. Tomatoes. Beans. Peas. Carrots. Corn Spaghetti. Meat. Pickles. One finds batteries, shoves the packs of cylinders into her backpack and pockets. Light glints off tools, ranked in neat lines, plastic wrapped. Axes. Mattocks. Shovels. Hammers. Nails.

Moaning explodes around them. Echoes bouncing off the walls. Where? Dragging, shuffling. Snapping jaws. Lunging. One fires, shells eject onto the floor, pinging, ringing on concrete. Fuck! Gritted teeth. Reload, reload. More gunfire. More thuds. One is surprised, rotten teeth fastening onto his calf, sinking in. Turns, fires. Thing not going to get up again. Anguish, crying. What do we do now? Swap uneasy glances. One looks up, stricken, resigned. Already changing. Unlucky night now. One more shot rings. Silent tears.

Two return to the vehicle. Carry all they can. No more movement in the warehouse, pile more into the car, one always watching behind. Three trips back and forth, scurrying, panicked. Push closed the doors, harder with two. Spraycan rattles. Hissing. Red spray paint X, stark against the rust and peeling paint. X for treasure – more left inside. X for a cross, commemorating the fallen.

Doors slam. lights flick on, engine roars to life. Gravel crunches, lurches out of the carpark. Glances exchanged. Remember him in life – it wasn’t his fault – it was best for him. Best for us. Lights recede into the distance. Blackness again. Wind dies down, dust settling. More to reclaim. Food. Tools. Return soon.

2010 © Edgar Arthurs

Edgar Arthurs is a psychologist, working in Queensland Australia. He
works with children, adolescents and adults during the day and herds
cats with his partner during the night. If he ever gets some free
time, he won’t know what to do with himself.

Edgar blogs infrequently at S. Latitude 47° 9’, W. Longitude 126° 43’,
located at http://edgararthurs.blogspot.com/ and tries to avoid the
urge to rant at the moon. Edgar enjoys science fiction, urban fantasy
and weird fiction, including Lovecraftian, weird western, steampunk,
dieslepunk and zombie apocalypse tropes. Edgar’s influences include
H.P. Lovecraft, Jeff Van Der Meer and China Meville.

14 thoughts on “Night Sortie – Edgar Arthurs

  1. I'm still reeling from the depth of mood you set up in this piece. The style gave the theme a refreshing twist. I felt like I was on the inside of a very slick, very creepy movie. Even using the impersonal references, you managed to generate some genuine fear when the attack inside came. Well done!

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  2. A great take on the world of the living dead and those try to survive in it. Would we become like this story? Putting things off at a distance to survive emotionally, only to have horror drag us back into the reality of living death?Great job.

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  3. Frantic, breathless – felt like I had to continually look over my shoulder as I read. Like Laura, I enjoyed the staccato delivery.I'm exhausted now! a great – and very different write.

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  4. This piece definitely had an edge to it, Edgar. The style is uncommon, and the mood and atmosphere it creates is chilling and frightening in its suspense. Excellent penning!

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  5. "Unlucky night now."All that was missing was a misting soundtrack to the movie scene fading widescreen, zoooooming in, zoooooooming in. Action Jackson. LOOKOUT! Tale told. Scary, bold. The red X ~ eerie, real. As the Roland reeled, (realed?) ~ "what if's" definitely come to mind.From ~ "Push closed the doors, harder with two." to ~ "– it wasn’t his fault – it was best for him. Best for us." … survival of the fittest, nay fortunate screams into a dark night. Credits roll. Edgar's a dark star. Watch the horizon.YEP. Like the other Howlaweeners up there, really dug your style Mr Arthurs – you can come out of that pyschologist office anytime and just slide these notes on out under the door. ~ Absolutely*Kate, a new fan < who loved the *whistle*

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