‘OVER MY DEAD BODY’ by JJ Breech

Even though my memory isn’t quite what it used to be, it still won’t let go and forget that tortuous sound. Aggh- God! that strange rattling, that appears -oh- so- quietly and gets louder, louder, louder. Where is it coming from? Is it the basement? The attic? My mind? Or somewhere far, far more worrying…?

I’ve searched everywhere: the whole house, top to bottom. But nothing, absolutely nothing- just the wind whistling through cracks and crevices, the creaking of old floorboards expanding with the house’s natural heat. Wait- there it goes again, it’s a rattling but not of chains, like the sound wooden wind chimes make as a breeze blows through them but oh so much louder. So once more I venture around the house, candle in hand- and then I see the steps are down, leading up to the attic—damn!– how could I have missed that before?

As I creep up the ladder to the attic, I notice dust has been disturbed on the rungs and the rattling is begin to peak. I carefully raise my head to see nothing but a dusty old rug, with boxes of my personal papers, letters and books spread out upon it- all as it should be- accept for a wardrobe at the far end, that I can’t quite recall being there before. Gah-! my memory, useless, useless. But I see the culprit of the noise for within the keyhole, skeleton keys- many of them- rattling, rattling, rattling… Skids and scratches can be seen around the cupboard door as if it has been in very recent use; then a sudden thud inside the cupboard makes me jump. What is it? Who is trying to play me for a fool? Is someone intent on driving me insane? I have no patience for such trickery; this will be dealt with now and for evermore.

I glide over to the wardrobe in efficient silence, turn those damnable, jangling keys and open the doors out. For a second I see nothing but blackness, until an ashen face with eyes as white as snow falls towards me, with the body straight behind, and then ending with a  heavy slump to the ground before me. And then I stare in disbelief as I stand over my own corpse, recently deceased, half of me burnt to a crisp. Before I know it the candle crashes to the ground as if I could no longer hold on to it. I wave my hands before my eyes quick enough to see them start to fade; I feel so empty and hollow, as if I’m not all there, and as I look down upon my person, it seems my body is following my hands and leaving me. As the flames set alight to my laid out body and continues to the well-worn rug, my papers, my books, my well packaged past- I realise I have been here before and suddenly I remember: The fire; hiding in the cupboard hoping to survive; and the excruciating pain as I roasted slowly like a bird on a spit. If only I hadn’t followed that God forsaken sound, I wouldn’t have been in the attic at all, but that was then and this is now- so what am I doing here again, standing over my dead body, watching my whole world go up in flames. Then my memory returns: this has happened many times- dozens, maybe hundreds. Must I repeat this over and over again until- what? – I solve the mystery of the rattling keys? Warn myself to not go in the attic? This repetition is more tortuous and painful than any hell I can imagine, but at least this time I will remember what has transpired and can warn my–

–Wait a minute- I must have dozed off. I awake to the crackling of a warm, homely open fire. A book lays open on the floor before me- it must have fallen off my lap as I nodded off and hit the floor, awaking me from my slumber. For a minute I found some peace, not that I get much with that disturbing noise that seems to come from nowhere and, yet, everywhere.
Even though my memory isn’t quite what it used to be, it still won’t let go and forget that tortuous sound. Aggh- God! that strange rattling, that appears -oh- so- quietly and gets louder, louder, louder. Where is it coming from? Is it the basement? The attic? My mind? Or somewhere far, far more worrying…?
—————————————————————————————
JJ Breech is the Curator/ Editor/ OversEEr of bizarrEEye Creative Community. He writes @ the UNSEEN & the OBSCENE blog (amongst other places) and has had an interest in Horror and the Fantastique from an early age, when he saw An American Werewolf In London, and realised that’s exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up!

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