Abstract Fear (Part 1) by Harui (critique requested)

Abstract Fear (Part 1)

Alice was lost. And not just in a "I-don't-know-this-road" way, but in a "This-might-as-well-be-another-country" way. She had considered calling someone for directions, but she didn't know where she was to get directions from. She wasn't on the freeway, either. If she were, she would have just taken the next exit and turned around in town. She hadn't seen anyone on the road in...too long. Once she had almost turned around in the road, but the law-abiding citizen in her couldn't do it. That and she didn't feel like getting T-boned by an errant trucker who thought the speed limit did not apply to him.

The road just kept going.

All roads lead somewhere, she thought. But do they? Her negative side countered.

Suddenly Alice found herself driving into a town. She glanced around, wondering if maybe her mind had wandered and she had missed something.

She drove around slowly, looking for a place to turn around, or maybe a gas station to help her find her way back.

It seemed like a relatively small town, consisting of just a few thousand people. It was an older town, that was sure, obviously constructed in the late 1800's or early 1900's. The buildings--they looked mostly like stores on this street--were all built right next to each other, with little or no space in between, and all bore a similar construction style. Most of the buildings seemed two-story, probably with a shop on the first floor and living quarters on the second. Those that weren't bore a facade to live up to their neighbors.

The car sputtered and jerked underneath her. She gasped and instinctively pulled her foot from the gas pedal. She felt the car stop pulling and start rolling, and she gasped again, this time in dismay. She pushed her foot to the pedal again, and it sank to the floor with no effect. She guided her car to the side of the road as it rolled to get it out of the way as much as possible. It didn't roll far.

Alice sighed heavily. Well, at least I'm in town, she thought, trying to keep positive. Sighing again, she grabbed her purse and stepped out of the car. She locked it without realizing it--a force of habit.

She started down the sidewalk, looking for someone to guide her to the nearest repair shop, but when she didn't see anyone, turned to the nearest storefront. She gripped the handle and pulled, but received a nasty jerk on her arm as the door thwarted her efforts. She glared at the door as if blaming it for being closed. She noticed that there was no "Closed" sign. She tried the door again, but it was shut tight.

Alice turned and looked down the length of the sidewalk. Still no one in sight. She looked in the other direction. Nothing. Then she realized that she hadn't heard any cars passing by. Not one. She stared down he road as if by force of will she could make a car appear. Nothing but silence and a bit of haze. A chill shot down Alice's spine and she shuddered. She wondered if maybe she had wandered into a ghost town, but discarded the thought almost immediately. The road into a ghost town would most likely be blocked, and even if it weren't, surely the buildings would be boarded up and dilapidated. These buildings looked no more or less worn that the buildings in her own town.

Alice started down the sidewalk. Perhaps this wasn't a ghost town, maybe it was just a dead street. Something compelled Alice to call out.

"Hello?" Her voice was hardly more than a whisper, but the haze had turned into a fog while she had mulled on her thoughts. Her voice was amplified by the fog and echoed down the silent street. The word seemed to be spoken in a different voice each time it reverberated. She felt fear bubble up inside her as her efforts to rationalize the situation failed, but she fought it down before it could get too far.

No need to panic yet, she thought. Yet. Bad word choice. But it was true. Something didn't seem right here.

Alice briefly considered turning around and walking out of town, but she had been driving for at least half an hour on that damned road. It would be a long, long walk.

Reluctantly, Alice headed forward. She continued to try and open doors as she went, thinking she'd feel (safer) better if she were indoors.

Safer? The word had shot in from the back of her mind. But she wasn't under any threat. Sure, things were a little strange, but she was in no danger.

Or was she?

She turned and looked about nervously, though she couldn't see far. The other side of the road was obscured in the strange fog. She listened for--anything, but there was nothing. Nothing but the maddening silence.

Perhaps some part of her, some primordial, instinctual part had discerned some danger, but she had been too busy trying to figure out the situation, too busy rationalizing to notice it.

Settling her jumpy nerves, Alice continued down the sidewalk, testing the doors. One of these has to be open, she thought. It's the middle of the day, why would they all be closed?

Alice turned the corner and continued her pursuit of an open door. Frustration began to take over any feelings of dread and unease she may have had, as door after door remained steadfastly shut. Then, just as she was about to give up, she noticed something different about the door she was pulling on. At first she didn't even know what had made her realize that there was a difference. Paying attention, she pulled at the door again, and realized that this one was simply locked, where the others had been broken or stuck. While this didn't help her any, it gave her a small modicum of hope: Where there's a lock, there's a key. The chances of finding the key however...

Alice looked at the sign above the door, just in case. "Rita Book" was printed in old-style letters with drawings of stacks of books on either side. Hah, I get it. Clever. So, I wonder where "Rita" would hide a key? With a monkey, perhaps? Alice almost laughed at her own joke.

She didn't feel that she would forget "Rita Book" any time soon, so she decided to move on. But just as soon as she turned around, she realized she didn't have anywhere to move on to. But I won't get home by standing here.

Alice crossed the street, not knowing what she was looking for but hoping to find something other than silence, fog and desolation.

It wasn't long before she found something, and she wished she hadn't.

A worn-down wheelchair sat in the middle of the intersection, solitary and brooding, almost seeming to hover in the fog surrounding it. As disconcerting as this was, that wasn't what bothered Alice. What bothered her were the bloody tire tracks the wheelchair left behind. There was a sodden mass in the seat, blood dripping into a pool underneath the chair.

Before she had thought that something wasn't right here. This not only cemented the fact, but blew it out of the water as well. Even saying that something is wrong would be a gross understatement.

Alice began to back away. The sight of blood did not bother her, but this thing did. She wanted to get as far away from it as she could. She began to run back to her car, seeking some comfort in something familiar. The red of her car was almost surrealistically bright compared to the gloom around it. She reached for her phone. Screw this. Even if she didn't know where she was, she was going to call someone. She found herself shaking as she grabbed her phone from the pocket and ended up dropping it. It clattered to the ground, the noise louder than it should have been, sounding like a gunshot or breaking bone. She picked it up quickly and started dialing, but was so dead-set on calling someone, that it took her a moment to notice the "no signal" flashing in an angry red.

"No signal?" She blurted out, her voice echoing down the street. Why would she get no signal? She couldn't be that far from home, and she wasn't even inside!

Suddenly the phone emitted a terrible squeal. Startled, Alice dropped it again. This time the clatter was less, dulled by the sputtering static it now spewed, broken intermittently by sounds so horrible Alice didn't want to know what they were.

Alice heard a sound behind, something like footsteps, and spun around, hopeful that someone had come by. Christ, she'd even be happy to see a mouse at this point.

Alice took in a ragged gasp. She felt her blood drain and was paralyzed with shock.

It was...wrong, and even that didn't describe it. It was vaguely humanoid shaped, but that was stretching it. All its parts were in the wrong spot and in the wrong amounts. A head--but no face--protruded from a shoulder while four feet were in place of a leg, one of the feet having teeth instead of toenails. A multitude of noses and eyes adhered to the torso, and three legs and one arm sprouted randomly from the body. The arm ended with a mouth and a half, and one of the legs had an assortment of ears as a knee, while another ended in three tongues.

The thing--the abomination--the...Unbody lurched toward Alice, unsteady on its rudimentary and uneven legs, its equilibrium thrown off by its lack of symmetry. It didn't even seem to care when it fell, simply rearing up again on whatever limbs would allow for it.

Fear finally broke Alice's paralysis and she turned to her car with a desperate squeal. She pulled on the door handle so hard the car rocked, but it didn't open. Locked! Without looking behind her, she ran to the other side of the car, pressing the unlock button on her remote keys as she did so. She dove into the passenger side, locking the door as son as she was in. Looking out the window, she saw the Unbody stagger up to the car. It pressed itself against the car, probing and searching with its many limbs, as inadequate as they were. She felt it tug at the door handle, and gasped despite the lock. Despite its malformations, it was not stupid. The Unbody tugged at the door a few more times, but stopped when it realized it was not opening. Alice watched, holding her breath, hoping it would go away. The Unbody stood in front of the door a moment longer, its limbs sweeping across the door, perhaps searching for a way in Finally, it turned and loped off.

Alice sighed heavily, but did not dally. Although she knew it was useless, she tried her keys in the car again, and was not surprised when nothing happened. She was slightly surprised, however, that the engine didn't even turn over. It was almost as if the car had no engine at all.

As much as she did not want to go back outside where the Unbody was lurking, it looked like her only option was to walk out of town.

She opened her glove compartment to look for anything that might be useful on the trek home. A wall of napkins and condiments greeted her, but she knew there was more underneath. She hoped there was, at least. She scooped out the napkins and condiments and set them on the floor in front of the seat. More napkins and a plethora of random objects greeted her. A key chain to a museum she had visited some two years ago; a small notebook with just about every page written on; a broken plastic fork; an assortment of pens, pencils and even a few markers. Some items downright mystified her. She neither wore glasses nor smoked, yet she found a miniature screwdriver and a half-used pack of matches. She stuck them in her purse anyway. If nothing else, she could throw them away later. She continued to look, rifling through items. And empty CD case to a CD she didn't remember buying, and assortment of Wet-Naps, a baggie partially filled with Cheerios (and God only knew how old they were).

Where the hell did all this stuff come from? And how did it all fit?

Finally, shoved all the way in the back, she found something she knew would be useful--a flashlight.

Suddenly the driver side window imploded, showering Alice with glass. She looked up to find a chunk of cement on the seat, the Unbody not far behind.

Alice gasped in shock. She had sorely underestimated its capabilities. The Unbody stuck a mutated arm in the window, mouth chomping like a horse at bit, tongue lolling. Its movements were exaggerated and punctuated, almost as if it were--excited. Alice stared at it for a moment in disgusted fascination, wondering somewhere in the back of her mind how it wasn't biting its tongue off.

The Unbody lunged at her and she broke out of her stupor. Brandishing the flashlight she still gripped, she began to beat it back. The Unbody twitched and flinched, but did not withdraw. Alice hit it harder, desperately trying to drive it back. She was sure she had heard a bone break, but the Unbody seemed unaffected.

Pain doesn't seem to bother it.

Of course not, the other side of her mind retorted. It's always in pain. How could something like that not be? She could beat it all day and it would not make a difference. Realizing this, Alice changed her tactics. Moving swiftly, she tucked the flashlight in her purse, then leaned forward and unlocked and opened the door. Using all her might, she rammed into it, toppling the Unbody and spilling her out of the car. The Unbody flailed about as she scrambled to get up. One of its limbs touched her and she cried out, panic overtaking her better judgment. Pebbles and asphalt scratched at her hands as she rose. She fled, not caring where she went as long as she got away from the Unbody. Down the street, through the intersection--away from the wheelchair--but then she had to stop so hard and fast that she literally fell on her rear.

The road it was--gone!

Breathing heavily she crawled forward. "What in the hell!?" She cried in disbelief. The road--and everything along side it--just...ended. An enormous chasm stretched out before her, and she could see neither the other side nor the bottom. It was as if the earth had suddenly fallen away. She began to take deep ragged breaths, despair starting to take over her fear.

Footsteps, to her side. She started. The Unbody? No, another Unbody! This one was different from the other. It's configuration of limbs and number of body parts was different from the other. There was more than one Unbody!

She was frozen by this realization, staring dumbly up at the second Unbody. It lurched forward, groaning. Some viscous fluid dripped off of it and onto her foot.

She ran, screaming, blindly, not thinking, reacting to pure instinct. She ran until her legs were so tired she tripped over her own feet.

She lay on the ground for a moment, lungs heaving, gasping for breath. The ground was moist beneath her, and her nose was filled with scents of wet grass and dirt each time she breathed. After her heart had slowed a little, she picked herself up off the ground, her muscles protesting at being treated so cruelly. She stood and surveyed her surroundings.

The first thing she noticed is that the fog still persisted, though it seemed to have thinned some. She was in a residential area, perhaps a slightly older part of town. The houses were fairly large and well-spaced. Most seemed to have Victorian influences, but some were full Victorian. She could hear the lapping of water not far away. There was no way she had driven to the ocean. A lake, perhaps.

Suddenly Alice realized that she didn't know where she was, or where to go from here--or even how to get there if she did.

Well, she thought, I suppose it doesn't matter which way I go, so long as I get out of here.

...If I can get out...

She didn't know where that last thought came from, but it frightened her. Why would she think that? Sure, things were a little bizarre, a little illogical (okay, more than a little), but that didn't mean...

Alice shook her head. It wasn't helping. Maybe things would be a little easier if she would quit trying to figure everything out.

Alice found that she had started walking as she'd been remonstrating. She was still in the residential are, but these houses seemed a bit older than the others. She saw a figure on the porch of one of the houses and, thinking it was an Unbody, prepared to run. Glancing back again, she noticed that the figure had a normal, human shape.

"Oh my God!" She gasped, and dashed up to the porch.

The man was sitting on an old wooden bench. He was older, but not quite elder, and wore a crisp, dark suit. His eyes were bright and intelligent, and peered at Alice entreatingly.

"Oh my God!" She repeated. It seemed to be the only thing she could say. The man cocked his head, seemingly amused. "A real person!" Alice blurted. It hadn't been what she intended to say.

"But of course I'm a real person," the man said. "What did you expect?" He had a slight accent that Alice couldn't quite place.

"You're the only person I've seen since I got stuck here," Alice said, the words tumbling out of her mouth. "Why isn't there anyone here?"

The corner of the man's mouth lifted in a half smile, but Alice felt no mirth in it. In fact, it made her downright uncomfortable.

"There is never anyone here, but there is always someone here." The man emphasized "someone" with a slight nod of his head. It seemed to Alice that he was indicating her. But that didn't make any sense. Suddenly she felt that she would only get riddles from him.

"Well, uh..." Alice was suddenly at a loss for words. "Wh-what about the monsters? How do you explain that?"

"Monsters?" The man straitened a little and his gaze shifted out to the street. Alice could tell he wasn't really looking for anything. He seemed to be thinking. "Hrm. Yes..." He muttered. "The fog. I should have known." He stood from the bench and turned towards the door of his house. "If that's the case, then I can't help you." He opened the door and stood within it. "You'll have to find the answers on your own." He shut the door and disappeared within.

"Wait!" Alice cried, dashing up to the door. "Answers to what!?" She pulled on the door, and was unsurprised to find it locked.

"Hey!" Alice pounded on the door, but there was no movement from inside.

Alice slumped onto the bench dejectedly. She had finally found a person, but was no closer to finding--well anything. No, that wasn't true. She had found someone--not that he had helped any.

Speaking of "someone," that was a strange comment he made. There is never anyone here, but there is always someone here. It doesn't make any sense.

Maybe she wasn't the "someone" as she had originally surmised. Maybe she had to find the "someone." He certainly wasn't.

But I don't want to find anyone! I just want to get out of here! Alice growled in exasperation then sighed heavily. But we don't always get what we want, do we?

Sighing again, she got up and began walking. She didn't even care where she was going, and she figured it didn't matter anyway. Not until she started figuring things out. That was another strange thing the man said (as if anything he had said hadn't been strange), about finding the answers on her own. Answers to what? How to get out? Or what was going on around here? Both? Maybe that was it. Perhaps by finding the answers to this place, the town would let her leave.

The town? What the hell? Where had that thought come from?

Alice shook her head. Whatever. She wasn't going to dwell on it. She wanted to start looking for clues. But what to look for? Before the Unbody, she hadn't found anything particularly strange. No, the bloody wheelchair. It had nearly been driven from her mind between her desire to forget and the shock of the Unbody. She really did not want to go back to the wheelchair, though. There was a reason she had wanted to forget it, but it was the only lead she had. Still, she really, really did not want to go back. She deliberated about whether to go back to the wheelchair or look around town.

There was a sound behind her and she took flight, her feet moving before she realized it. She didn't know what the sound was, and didn't care to look back. Suddenly she decided that going back to the wheelchair would be better than wandering aimlessly through a haunted town. Haunted didn't quite seem right. Demonic was more like it. As much as she didn't want to go back to the wheelchair, she didn't feel like facing another Unbody, either. She felt that the wheelchair was the lesser of the two evils.

Sighing heavily, Alice made her way back to the wheelchair. She hoped to find it gone--disappeared as suddenly as it has appeared, but no such luck. It was still there, and still bloody. More bloody, perhaps, if that were possible.

She stood away from it, staring at it as if expecting it to do something, and shifting uneasily from one foot to the other. For some reason it bothered her more than the Unbody. Maybe that was because the Unbody had a mind of its own, whereas someone had to put this wheelchair here. Someone had to put the bloody lump in the seat. Alice noticed it was still bleeding. She frowned. Why had she come? What could she figure out from this? All her instincts were telling her to flee, but she had nowhere to flee to. With some effort, she calmed herself.

She again noticed the bloody tire tracks leading away behind the wheelchair. While it was the last thing she wanted to do, she forced herself to follow them. I won't be able to leave until I figure this out, she reminded herself, trying to keep some measure of motivation. As she followed the tracks, something began to bother her about them--not that the tracks themselves weren't bothersome--but there was something else. When she realized what it was, she was halted by shock.

There were no footprints.

She quickly looked behind her, half expecting to see the wheelchair following her, despite how absurd that was. Ironically enough, it didn't seem quite as absurd in this situation as it would normally. She couldn't see it, however. It was lost somewhere in the perpetual fog behind her. Regardless, she walked a little quicker.

She didn't have very far to go--a block or two--before the tracks turned into a parking lot and faded away. Strangely, the fog was less thick here and she could see all the way across the parking lot to a large and expensive-looking movie theater. The marquee on the facade of the building was slightly aglow. Not quite lit up, but not quite dead, either. The movie displayed on the marquee made her gasp.

Alice in Wonderland.

She was nearly positive that it had been done on purpose. She was an avid movie-goer, and she knew there were no Alice in Wonderland movie coming out. But who would put that up, and why? What did it mean? This was just about as far from a wonderland as anything could get.

Alice sighed. Well, the tracks had lead her here, she might as well go in. She began to approach, but soon felt apprehensive. She didn't know what to expect. She didn't even know why she'd been lead here, or how it would help her escape.


She hadn't realized it until she thought it, but she was, indeed, trapped.

Abstract Fear (Part 1) (critique requested)


23 January 2013 at 23:08:00 MST

I based this story heavily around Silent Hill, although it is not Silent Hill per se. I suppose a better way to put it would be that it is highly influenced by Silent Hill, so if you see some similarities, that is why.

If there is something that I need to fix, or if you have some suggestions on how to make it better, feel free to let me know.

Also, if you enjoyed it, let me know if I should continue!

Submission Information

Literary / Story