It has become a common habit to associate the elements of horror and fear with the imagery of gore as portrayed in the boorish, popular film productions in the video media of today.
Ax-wielding madmen, hordes of cannibalistic undead and creeping nocturnal horrors burst forth in 3D from giant screens to jolt the mostly adolescent crowds into fits of nervous laughter and perhaps the occasional embarrassment of urinary incontinence. In an hour’s time, they return home to the safety of their beds and daily lives, oblivious and relatively safe.
Perhaps this is how our understanding of definitive fear and horror should remain; depicted as spillages of fake blood and dramatized with banal B-movie dialogue.
Even the fear and horror man has experienced through ages of suffering, eras of armed conflicts and innumerable examples of humanity’s self-inflicted violence, do not approximate in effect the dreadful occurrences of which not a single soul has survived to recount, save for your humble narrator.
To present myself; my name is Razelio Armes, town librarian of Hobb, my (defunct) hometown, born and bred. I retained the directorial position for 35 years, in which time, chronologically listed; I married my High School sweetheart Pavia, helped raise two children (a boy and girl who today boast Miskatonia University degrees in Xeno-Botany and Business Finance, respectively,) buried both of my parents and later, my only sibling and reached retirement in time to see my wife suffer and lose an extended battle with a deadly illness.
Our little town of Hobb was largely unremarkable. Our common character and sensible style had nothing to offer by way of tourist appeal and was mostly unknown, save for the notorious and often exaggerated stories concerning a few unsolved murders in the course of 50 years. Nevertheless, even the grisly details of said cases remain more pertinent fodder for the local gossips and teen campfire lore than most netsurfing demon or ghost hunters would care to devote but a fleeting interest.
O opportune bliss.
My tale in relevance to what I can best describe as the Hobb’s End Horror begins at the following juncture of time…
Sometimes, during the early stages of my wife’s illness, when she was still able to communicate through comprehensible speech and still slept soundly through the night, I’d often be awakened by her soft but audible sleep talk.
It’s important to note that our home at the time was a two-storey edifice, replicating a Mediterranean style of high arches and intricate brickwork under Spanish moss and similarly complimentary foliage. In previous years, visiting neighbors or acquaintances would remark on the wrought iron gates and window bars, or the beautifully adorned interiors. My wife, Pavia, modestly redirected those topics to her childhood years in Eongria, where these customary styles did not seem extravagant but merely the conventional architecture. In contrast to our neighbor’s homes, our house may have appeared as eccentric in lavish décor but I assure you that any vestiges of opulence would’ve immediately faded upon closer evaluation of our financial statistics recorded annually with the National Revenue Service.
In the deep summer our uniquely designed home provided a cool respite from the oppressive heat wave that befell our town. However, the icy winter winds gusting across the small valley proved an excessive strain to bear in her condition and often, for her sake, we evaded the winter storms and in sad anticipation of what I’ll term “April’s cruelty,” to appease a poetic whim. Naturally, upon our return from southern comforts abroad, I undertook all of the external home cleaning and external restoration duties. These early spring evenings frequently found the two of us retiring to bed early, fatigued; Pavia weary from her ailments and I from the necessary household chores.
It was during one of these nights that the dread began.
The first night I awoke to the sounds, a light wind teased the chimes twinkling at our windows, waking me in a shiver. I arose to secure the shutters and returning to the beckoning comfort of our bed, I heard strange guttural mutterings in the dark. Freezing at half-stride, for an insane second I imagined some neighborhood dog or animal had entered our house in the night and found our bedroom. However, no dog is articulate and I discerned the familiar cadence of speech patterns. The shadow laden room offered no evident source, other than my wife, for the emanations of sound. Walking to her side I carefully leaned over and called her name gently, hoping I’d interrupt some inopportune pious oration from a woman I’d never known to be religious. When she did not answer my call but continued to mutter in that awful, unrecognizable voice, I realized that she was talking in her sleep. Abruptly her sleep talk ceased and after a moment of considerations I returned to bed attributing this odd occurrence to nothing more than just that; an isolated, odd occurrence.
The following morning, preparing our breakfast, I playfully remarked that her basso profondo talent had no equal. Puzzled, she inquired about the reference and I elaborated including all the details in my recount, excluding one aspect; the strange language she’d been speaking in. Reason being, I mistook it for slurred speech at the time.
Subsequently, our nights continued on in a similar manner for a few weeks. I’d awaken to her somnolent monologues and ignore them, at first. However, it slowly came to my attention that something more than talking in one’s sleep was afoot.
One morning, while at the town supermarket buying the week’s groceries, I overheard two women conversing at the checkout line. One of the ladies, Mrs. Patel, was the notorious town gossip. Borrowing a vulgar but more precise descriptive term using a teenager’s vernacular; she was an attention whore. She was animatedly describing her previous night’s ordeal involved her husband stalking around the house in the dead of night, chanting in a strange tongue and flinging the doors and windows wide open.
The incident was unique, she said, though not in occurrence since it had been many weeks of increasingly loud sleep talk developing into outright sleep walking.
Familiarity with the woman dictated that her claims should be regarded with some prudent measure of skepticism. However, more than a few of us within earshot of her account seemed to identify with her predicament. She continued to recount that regardless of her vigorous protests and even attempting to physically obstruct his mad course about the house, being a small woman, she was unsuccessful in stopping or waking him. Only once all the windows and doors had been open, did he return to bed whereupon soon thereafter awakened as he ordinarily accustomed, oblivious to his bizarre, erstwhile activities.
Mrs. Patel concluded her strange recount by stating that her husband’s eyes had become unnaturally enlarged, to a grotesque degree, like some nocturnal creature such as an owl or lemur. He, however, seemed unfazed and disinterested by the hideous physical alteration, going so far as to become infuriated by her demands that he seek immediate medical assistance. Frightened by his uncharacteristic eruption, she fled the house and decided to delay her return by shopping, in hope that upon her evening return, he would have concluded whatever mysterious work he’d been performing in their basement for the past few weeks.
An unnerving tale to be sure and I headed home scheming precautionary strategies for that night.
I would not be relating this to you had I not prepared.
The uniformity of events during our evening together remained basically unchanged. Pavia spoke to a friend over the phone about the daily occurrences in town, freeing me to make special arrangements in our bedroom undisturbed.
We ate dinner.
I cleaned the kitchen as we engaged in a light conversation about various social and domestic interests while she sipped herbal tea. Conspicuously, the subject of Mrs. Patel was not brought up by either of us, although I’m sure that it had been much discussed in subdued tones about town all day.
We went to bed.
Shortly after midnight the trouble started again. The silence of our room was broken by that ghastly low voice intoning a frightening language of strangled consonants and suffocated phonics.
I leaned over and brought the concealed recorder closer to her mouth, digitally logging the entire cryptic monologue. After a moment I was startled to see that Pavia’s fluttering eyelids emanated a subdued glow beneath. My sudden start can be heard clearly in the recording a second before it abruptly stops. From my place of rest on the bed, I was hurled halfway across the room by an unseen force similar to a strong hurricane wind or magnetic repellence and landed painfully on my back, disoriented and terrified.
The voice stopped I froze in the darkness, afraid to inhale or exhale. Nothing stirred in the least and just as I was about to move I heard a sound. It sounded like my name but as if spoken through a mouthful of mush. It was then that I perceived a pair of eyes shining through the murky black space across the room, focused on me.
The glowing eyes moved closer and that awful sound like my name repeated again.
The thing my wife was, advanced.
It was going to get me.
-to be continued….