Подведены итоги студенческого конкурса Short Horror Story
27 октября 2021 на кафедре иностранных языков прошел конкурс для студентов второго курса очного факультета на лучший horror story на английском языке. В жюри конкурса были приглашены доцент кафедры зарубежной литературы Елена Алимовна Кешокова, аспирантка кафедры зарубежной литературы Анна Лысикова и студентка V курса семинара проф. О.А. Николаевой Эльмира Шариффулина. Мы благодарим всех участников, которым нужно было дописать конец предложенного рассказа, и от всей души поздравляем победителей!
I место получил Павел Ларин
второе – Мария Некрасова
3-е – Янис Куликов.
Прилагаем тексты рассказов с одинаковым началом, любезно предоставленные нам победителями и некоторыми участниками. Желаем всем творческих успехов!
Short Horror Story
THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY
David stepped on the front porch. It had been a long day. It was good to be home.
He turned the key, and waited for his dog Scruff to run to the door.
There was silence. Nothing at all to signify that the dog even knew he was there. “David?”
There was a sound of Linda’s voice. He hadn’t seen Linda’s car when he pulled in, but he supposed he could have missed it.
“It’s me,” he said, making his way towards the back of their small house.
“How are you?”
“Good.” Linda’s voice made him feel a little better. The missing dog still worried him. “Where’s Scruff?”
“Down here,” Linda said. “He followed me downstairs to do the laundry.”
David froze. Scruff never went downstairs. Heck, Linda never did either, at least not since—
Not since they moved the washing machine upstairs.
“Linda? Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” Her response was quick and sounded strange.
TO BE CONTINUED
The silence at home suddenly became clear: David’s dog had never met him without a happy bark, feeling his owner coming from the gate of the house. David loved his four-legged friend. He remained with him after the deaths of his closest people, his father and his wife Linda, who died in a fire in 1984. David froze when he walked into the cold living room. Linda followed him quietly, leaving clear footprints on the floor. Her step seemed to be the presence of something supernatural. David knew that she wasn’t there, that she didn’t exist. Linda was dead. And only the dog in this suddenly empty house was still waiting for him.
" I’m going to do the laundry." Linda approached David and looked at his shirt with an invisible look, "You’re sweaty, take off your clothes."
David obeyed. He knew that it was useless to resist: every time Linda came, he obeyed. He obeyed his past, but he knows about the unreal nature of his vision.
But the past didn’t burn in a fire. He’s still wandering around in the maze of his memories, and he’s trying to forgive himself for the fact that then, on that terrible evening, he decided to stay at work a little longer: "If it wasn’t for my decision, I would have pulled you out of the fire," David repeated to himself. The dog is barking. The barking from the basement echoed in his eardrums. The barking goes into hysteria. Then silence. Linda comes back holding a red shirt. It used to be white. There was a spark of fire on the shirt. "It’s your fault," David said to himself. The dog’s bark broke his heart, mixed with the woman’s scream, and he put on a flaming shirt and looked into Linda’s eyes for a long, long time. The claws clawed at the door. The door was flooded with fire and then Linda dissolved. All that remained was the long, long barking of the dog in the locked basement. David knew he was there, but as soon as he got close to the door it pulled away from him.
And then David remembered about the dog’s death. David woke up and the sun was shining outside but he was gone too.
“I’m just trying to clean everything up”, she added.
David frowned, “Honey, do you really think it is the right time to do it?”
“Yes,” she yelled.
David shrugged his shoulders heading towards the kitchen. He glanced at the door to the basement and only after he made a few steps forward, it dawned on him that the stairwell was drowned in darkness. No signs of light, no noise caused by Linda’s heavy steps or any other actions of hers.
After a long day full of work David’s mind struggled to consider this weird situation. He froze and tried to concentrate.
The only thing he came up with was, “Why don’t you want to turn on the light? The cleaning will go faster.”
“Just let me do it the way I want, David!”
David was not in the mood to argue with her, so he fell silent. He entered the kitchen and made himself a cup of jasmine tea. The smell of it reminded him of the day he met Linda five years ago.
“Do you want a cup of jasmine tea, Linda?” asked David hoping that she would finally forget about her stupid idea of cleaning up the basement.
“Oh, for God’s sake! I told you the day we met that I hate it! Aren’t twenty seven years of our marriage enough for you to learn it?” said an old voice with familiar Linda’s intonations.
“What the...” David choked on the words. He looked at the photo hanging on the wall. There were two old strangers and a young woman.
After a minute the back door opened and the young woman came in.
“Hi, dad, how are you?”
David looked down at the tea inside his cup and saw himself. He had no dog now and he was old, grey, confused, widowed.
His first thought was to ask her to come upstairs. Those horror films that they watched in the evenings did not pass in vain. The main commandment of any of them is that all bad things happen in the basement. Or in the attic. In short, in such a place from which you cannot quickly escape. After all, you won’t climb from the monster to the roof or try to escape from the maniac through the basement window? Because both options are illogical.
He frowned. These thoughts were definitely complete nonsense. Perhaps Linda just made a slip. After all, there was a training room in the basement. And the fact that she hadn’t trained in months didn’t mean anything. She could have started again, right? And Scruff... Everything happens for the first time. Maybe Linda was lonely or scared or whatever and lured him with a bone.
He started to go down the stairs. The wooden steps creaked under his weight, and he wondered if he should start training too. Maybe they should do sports together instead of watching horror movies.
“Darling, where are you?” David called.
Nobody answered. It seemed to him that someone had slipped past him, but the passage from the basement was so narrow that only a shadow could have done it. He shivered and made a vow to quit watching horror movies. And switch to comedy. Sitcoms. Brazilian soap operas. Anything will do. And then he thought that Linda would laugh at him and replaced this vow with a visit to a neurologist. Or what doctors are now dealing with nerves?
Contrary to his expectations, their makeshift gym was quiet. The light did not burn, the dust, as before, hovered in the air, settling on the sports equipment. He opened the closet. Nobody. Even a sack of potatoes, usually in plain sight, hid gloomily under the shelves. He opened the door to the former laundry.
There was no one there either. No dog, no wife. He started to get angry.
"Probably," he thought, "she decided to prank me."
He called her again. This time he heard not a voice, but laughter. He rushed upstairs because he thought her voice was coming from the attic.
He ran up there exactly at the moment when Linda smeared blood on her lips, laughing. David froze. Guts dangled around his wife's neck. She saw him and burst into laughter, light and pleasant.
“I asked him to shut up,” she said. Then she suddenly blinked with an effort, looked around and rushed to the window. She pressed her hands to her ears, looked at her husband with a lost look. She suddenly screamed and scratched her face, her neck, trying to get away the dog’s guts. And as soon as David leaned towards her, she hit the glass with her fist, breaking it. He staggered back, and she hit her head against the grin of the window, pulled the handle towards herself, and when it opened, she jumped out of it.
David blinked and sat up abruptly in bed. Scruff whimpered. Linda fidgeted in bed.
“Time to quit horror movies”, he thought before crawling back into bed.
David tensed and loud silence enveloped two people, who had known each other for ten years. And for the first time he was afraid to hold his gaze on his wife, something strange was happening around.
“Good,” David said and came in.
He decided not to show his emotions and not to ask anything.
As soon as the door closed behind him, he understood that it was a mistake. He had to call the police and protect his wife. And now they are both trapped because of his inattentiveness. Everything was in its place, but he was alarmed by a rag lying in the middle of the room. Everything was okay, but he hadn’t noticed his wife’s hand position, she was standing in front of him like a soldier. Everything was great, but how couldn’t he notice strange replies for his questions, when his wife was trying to warn him. All in all, everything seemed to be fine, but the dog was lying on the floor in the kitchen, he had seen that two seconds before a bash on his head. Someone who decided that he had a right to belittle the significance of other people’s life, was standing near the door, holding David’s wife by the neck and looking at the pool of blood, flowing from David’s head. And he had already known what he would do with the couple’s money and their lives.
David stood there puzzled feeling horrified yet silly.
“Why don’t you come to us, hon?” Her voice got sweetened and playful in a very uncommon, almost surrealistic way.
If somebody asked David what was so wrong about Linda’s voice, he would fail to explain.
“I’m exhausted today, hon! Do you mind coming upstairs?”
Oh, that sounded even more playful. He made a step back, but caught himself on it and returned, with a short and mechanical giggle.
That “Okay—“ reminded him how his dog had been a puppy and choked a mouse to play with it afterwards. He’d been delighted with his new toy, and it had taken David three days to finally get it and throw away. The mice had looked terrible by that time.
He heard a short dog’s howl and then the silence fell.
“Linda, what’s going on?! Alright, I’m going downstairs!”
“Don’t bother, sweetie, all is fine!” Her voice was very, very optimistic.
But David didn’t hear any steps, the stairs didn’t creak. The only thing that kept irritating his ears was the sound of drops falling on the floor—
And then he screamed.
Linda was climbing up the railings, holding on with nine furry paws, that came right out of her torso.
“Why so loud, hon? Are you so happy to see me? Why don’t you kiss me, like you kissed that colleague of yours two days ago. What was her name? I don’t recall it, but you used to call her hon, just like me! Why would you do this, David?”
The paws got to his neck and a huge black claw showed from the creature’s back.
“Linda was a nice fair girl. You might want to remember her for the last few seconds of your li—“
David woke up, all cold and sweating. It was an early morning, and he was safe.
Linda was awake: she had taken Scruff for a walk, and now they came back. It must have been the door clap that awakened him.
Linda smiled tenderly as she saw him.
“It’s quite freezy outside,” she said.
“We have no electricity, so I’ve bought some coffee and sandwiches,” she added.
“Scruff is so playful today, he has been chasing squirrels in the park,” she said. “What’s wrong hon?”
David rubbed his face and felt tears on it.
“Linda, I’m afraid I have something to tell you.”
He loved her so much. Yet, he still fell in love easily with other women. He hated himself.
Linda smiled again. She was worried about David as he had taken her cup by mistake yesterday and drunk her medicine with his tea. She discovered it in the morning as she couldn’t sleep. Now she probably wouldn’t tell him.
David was quiet. He didn't ask any more questions and didn't say a word at all. He was worried that Scruff wasn't around, so he followed Linda downstairs. His wife's gait was strange, as if every step was difficult for her, as if she was trying to look normal with all her might. They walked slowly, and when David stepped on the last step, he heard the sound of a car parking from the street. It was definitely Linda's car, David recognized it by a special short sound of brakes: Linda always parked very quickly. David closed his eyes. He just stayed there, on the last step, afraid to move.
"Hello, dear," was heard from the floor above. 'Where are you? Scruff and I have had a lot of fun. This new playground for dogs is just a miracle!' David heard a joyful bark... and immediately felt someone's hand on his neck. The grip was not humanly strong. David never opened his eyes. The last thing he heard was: 'Love can't be bought. Do you remember how ten years ago you brought a photo of Linda to the cemetery and promised that you would do anything for her love? Well, the dead can listen. Then you said, jokingly, of course, that you wouldn't mind if she killed you because of your obnoxious nature. So here I am - almost in her skin. You asked for her love at least for a while. Never play with magic, David. The spell worked then, but now it's payback time. Dust to dust.' And then the real Linda upstairs heard the sound like a neck breaking.
David decided that he wouldn’t do the stupid things like following Linda. He thought: "Jesus Christ, I’m 78 years old man, I’m a professor at the English Literature Department, why the hell did this damn dog and some Linda try to trick me?"
By the way, Linda was David's wife, she had died 40 years ago.
David walked back to the car and mumbled: “What nonsense! To die 40 years ago and only now show up at my house? With a dog that I never had? Did she pick up a stray, dead ghost dog and bring it to my house? I had always told her that she was a fool. And I did the right thing, when I chopped off her head. "
So he walked and mumbled, walked and mumbled…
Approaching the car, David thought: “Why couldn’t I walk to the university? It is 30 kilometers from here, I will be on time in the morning. Everyone will be surprised "
So he went off.
At first, when the night was in its blackest height and he could not see further than his nose, David walked with his hunched shoulders.
After a few kilometers, the sky began to turn blue and pink, and he straightened his back.
When a couple of hours was left before the university, he completely relaxed, enjoying Walt Whitman’s poem. He whistled, and between the parts of the poem he sang a song. He composed the song himself:
“Walt Whitman, Walt Whitman!
How much I Like Walt Whitman!
Leaves of glass (or leaves of grass, it was difficult to make out)
Leaves of glass!
Leaves of grass!
How much I Like Walt Whitman!”
Suddenly he felt a sharp pain, and immediately he saw how his newly inserted teeth flew out of his mouth and remained lying in front of him on the grass in pools of blood.
David turned around and saw a granny very similar to his dead wife Linda. Something in this granny was similar to a dog, probably her eyes.
“Do not whistle! It’s bad for your money, such a superstition…”
David was stunned.
The granny immediately turned around and walked away, mumbling: "I hate Walt Whitman...If someone could know how much I hate Walt Whitman…"
«David felt ill at ease. He hesitated to move further and repeated his question but louder, ‘Is everything alright, my dear?’
There was no response except a quiet clatter coming from downstairs. ‘Linda!’ he shouted once again and the noise died away. After a few seconds he finally plucked up his spirit and made three steps towards the stairs. To his relief, there was a mild light coming from the far side of the laundry. ‘She must be searching for something there in the old boxes’, he thought. And when he faced the fading gloom of the place and went downstairs, indeed he saw his Linda standing on the chair with a pair of decrepit boots she was struggling to hold with her arms and her chin. At the same time, she was trying to pick off something from the higher shelf.
David smiled and greeted Linda with a reproach. When she stepped down, he saw Scruffs lying right under the chair. «I’ve completely forgotten how late it is already! Even this big boy has already worn his energy down”, he told her looking down at the dog.
‘You mean this?’ Linda looked in the same direction with a grim face. There was a cold shade in her eyes.
‘Yeah, well…’, David grasped this strange expression of hers with great anxiety. ‘What were you searching for here, Linda?’
‘There are lot of those useless old things down here. I thought it is time to get rid of them’, she answered almost through her teeth.
Then David looked at the dog again. It was not moving and even its chest was lying calmly on the cold floor completely still.
«Where’s your car, Linda?»
She did not answer. She only grabbed a heavy box from the floor with all Scruff’s toys and empty glass bottles in it».