Writing, Preparing for Scaring

Preparing for Scaring Two: More of the Unseen

To view day one's Preparing for Scaring post, click HERE.

Here we are! Day Two of my series on 15 minute exercises in writing for horror, suspense, and just plain spooky stories. Much like yesterday's post, this one is all about what isn't seen, and as always, I try to include some sort of turn in the last few lines. Just seems to be my style.

For those unaware, these exercises are all about setting the timer for 15 minutes, picking a random symbol (or symbols), and just writing within the theme. I don't stop writing for the entire 15 minutes, and I post on the blog whatever I end up writing, without editing, revising, or critiquing.

Image via www.flickr.com/photos/mdhanafi/

Image via www.flickr.com/photos/mdhanafi/

“Look at this,” the detective said, kneeling close to the body which was lying on the thick, shag carpeting of the apartment floor.

His partner, wearing a long blue coat, strode over from the nearby kitchen and leaned over the man, peering down at the indicated detail. “What?” He said, one hand inside his coat pocket. “So the guy doesn’t clean his fingernails.”

“Call me crazy,” the detective said, taking off his baseball hat and running a hand over his bald head. “But this is hair.”

“Why would he have hair under his nails?” His partner asked. “Did he grab a handful of the assailant’s scalp?”

The detective shook his head, replacing his hat, pulling the bill low. “I don’t think so. The hairs are short. Probably body hair of some sort. Arm, maybe facial if it was a man.”

His partner nodded, pulling out a notepad from his blue coat pocket and jotting down the detail. “I’m sure the coroner will find all the details.”

“Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look,” the detective said, using his own pen to lift the victim’s fingers up off the carpet, examining them more closely.

His partner flipped the notebook closed and then popped a piece of gum in his mouth, crinkling the wrapper into another pocket. “Still think it’s a drug deal gone wrong.”

The detective nodded slowly, but didn’t take his eyes off of the fingernails. His partner wasn’t wrong in assuming it. Their precinct had reports of drug deals going down in this unit before. Even had one suicide, back in January. Never a homicide, though. And the general disarray of the apartment suggested that this man didn’t see himself out, so to speak.

“Still, though, nothing taken,” his partner said, walking away, disappearing behind a wall and into an adjoining room. “Signs of a struggle but not theft or destruction of property, save for one lamp. People aren’t even killing each other for money any more.”

The detective slowly let the victim’s fingers rest on the carpet once more, and then stood up and took a step back, examining the body from above again.

The dead man lay on the floor in the middle of 70’s orange shag carpet stained with his own blood. There were no gunshot wounds, not even stab wounds, but there were multiple scratches and bumps, as if he and his assailant had gotten in a dirty fight of punches and scrapes. His neck was broken, and there were small shards of glass in his scalp, suggesting that the assailant used the lamp on the victim’s head, and then took the opportunity to snap his neck and end the fight before it could get going again.

Not their normal type of case. Oftentimes there was an obvious weapon, such as a kitchen knife or a gun, even a screwdriver or pen. In this case… fingernails and a lamp.


“Yo,” his partner called from the next room. “You’re religious, yeah?”

The detective looked to the open door leading into the victim’s bedroom. “So?”

His partner stepped back out to make eye contact, his black hair hanging in front of his face. He had been examining something, and now he was putting on his gloves. “You ever seen something like this before?”

The detective cautiously stepped over the victim’s splayed arms and legs before joining his partner in the next room. The man was turning through the pages of what seemed to be the oldest book he’d ever seen. The pages crinkled audibly as they turned, didn’t bend or crease, but were instead stiff as parchment. The book was lying open on the end of the bed. When the detective looked at it, he realized it was all written in some foreign language.

“Where was this guy from?” He asked.

His partner shrugged. “Queens.”

“Before that.”

“Born and raised,” he said.

“The where the hell is this book from?”

His partner shrugged.

“What page was it on?” The detective asked.

The other man turned the last few pages back again, until the book was opened as he had found it. The text was still in some language that seemed to be a kind of Arabic, but with symbols and lines and shapes that were also reminiscent of far eastern script. Yet that wasn’t the most shocking thing on that page.

At the bottom of the page was a small picture, obviously hand drawn as it was crude, abstract, and seemed more like the absent doodle of a crazed librarian than any work of a professional artist. The image drawn was of a man standing still, arms and legs stiffly extended. The man was naked in the drawing, though the detective didn’t even check to see if he was anatomically correct, as his eyes were instead set on the more disturbing piece of the image.

For in the drawing, coming through the standing man, was a second man, drawn similarly, except that it looked like he was moving through a hole in the first man’s abdomen, emerging in front of him. It was as if this man had cut the first one from behind, and straight through to the front, and was now climbing through like it was a small window.

“What the fuck is this?” His partner asked, chewing his gum.

The detective opened his mouth to respond, to confess his uncertainty, when a sound from the living room made him stop. As they stood there staring at the book, they heard the sounds of wet tearing, almost like flesh and muscle was being ripped apart, slowly, deliberately.