One by One They Disappear – Horror Chapter Free

Looking for something to make your toes curl, to make you look under the bed and keep the light on at night?

Read the first chapter of One by One They Disappear Free

One by one is the story of disappearing young adults in a sleepy British town. John must find his courage and face his demons to find his friend Nathan before it is too late.

Be warned this book is what I call visceral horror it is full of blood and gore as well as plenty of story and character development – think early James Herbert – read on if you dare:

 

“Evil things are easy things: for they are natural to our fallen nature.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

 

Prologue

Pain screamed in Kyle’s right leg, wrenching him from sleep and searing deep into his bones. Where was he? He tried to sit up but something held him fast and the effort caused a floating wave of nausea that sent him back down. He lay still on a sea of pain and vertigo until gradually the waves settled.

He squinted into the inky darkness of the room and tried to scan the shadows. There was nothing, just blackness and more blackness. It seemed to weigh on him as a sack of coal on his chest. He closed his eyes and fought down panic; he was hot, burning up. Was this his bedroom? Memories washed over him, and an icy knife of terror sliced into his chest. Was he alone with – it?

“No, please no.”

Tears sprang from his sore eyes, misting his vision, before breaking and running, cool as spring rain down his cheeks.

“Make it stop, please, make it stop,” He heard the words and shuddered, realizing he was crying in the dark. He sobbed. I must be quiet and small. At the realization, he froze and pushed himself deeper into the cold metal of the table. He fought to blot out the memories and lay still, trying to be small, trying to be invisible. He was panting hard. A drop of sweat ran down his brow at the effort to keep quiet. He must listen; was it here? He held his breath, fighting to stop the panic. It was a hard, impossible, fight. An animal cry escaped him, echoing small and lonely in the dark room.

At last he managed to control his breathing Keep still, as still as death. The silence felt alive, and the dark pressed down on him as he struggled to stay calm.

He let his breath out in a gasp of relief. The room appeared empty; no shape loomed over him, and he could not hear breathing, the rustle of dirty cloth, or gods forbid the power tools.

The darkness seemed to coalesce before him, as a beast hiding, biding its time to strike at a defenseless prey. Kyle gasped another breath and held it. He heard nothing. The room was empty.

He relaxed and expelled noisily. He was safe, at least for the moment.  As he settled back onto the table, his imagination started to work.  The tools – a shudder sent ice down his spine and threatened to release his bladder. As he sobbed, he felt sticky warmth against his thigh and became aware of a noxious smell. A mix of decay and damp sheathed his throat with the slime of revulsion. Sweat mixed with tears irritating his face and panic clawed desperately at his chest. Kyle closed his eyes to concentrate. What was happening? Where was he?

My feet? He could feel them, and joy bubbled within him. His bloody and dirty face spread into a smile. He tried and could almost move his toes. Had it been a dream? He tried to lift his head, to look at them, to sit up. Ropes pulled tight against his chest, keeping him flat on the table. The hemp was harsh against his bare flesh. A shiver passed through him, and the table shook rattling beneath him, as if to give away his location. It mocked him in the cold dark room. A metallic, coppery smell flooded his senses.

“Oh no,” he mumbled, the smell was his own blood. He raised his head. The room spun, and he dropped back to the table, exhausted.

He raised his head again, slower this time. He drew in a breath, to steady his heart. He would not pass out. His eyes adjusted to the dark, and he could make out the door, to his left. A sliver of light beneath it seemed to offer hope. He forced his head up further, looking down over his naked, bound chest. The blue rope cut deep into his skin; a red welt contrasted with the white of his flesh. He could see the material of his trousers, could just make out his legs. This had to be a dream. Jesse must have done this to mess with him. He looked down, and panic rose in his stomach, clawing its way up his chest and bursting out of his throat in a wail of despair. “No, oh god no.”

His right trouser leg was ripped and pulled up to reveal a white stump of his knee. The knee seemed to glow in the dark. Below the knee was a ragged mess where his leg should have been. Cotton wool soaked in blood had been stuck onto the wound and taped to his leg with black electrical tape. It made a merry almost amusing patchwork against his skin, white, black, and red.

“No, you freak, where are you?” he screamed staring into the darkness. I’m too young to die. Gradually the sobbing turned to exhaustion it lulled him down into a quiet place of safety, where he remembered his seventeenth birthday. The memory became real as consciousness faded. He and Jesse had gone out, talked about girls, and drank too much beer. He could feel himself drifting in and out; one minute there was pain, the next he was drinking with Jesse. He let go and for a while he was back in his life, the night of his birthday.

They stumbled out of the pub, he and Jesse, giggling and a little drunk. The air was ice against his skin, after the fevered bustle of the pub. It hit him hard, and his stomach turned threatening to empty its contents onto the pavement.

Jesse grabbed his arm as he stumbled forward, and pulled him upright. “Come on, let’s get you home,” Jesse said, pulling them in the general direction of the bus stop.

Kyle stumbled again as they passed a row of closed shops, but the cool air was clearing his head. A pack of predatory delinquents stalked the area, and the last thing they needed was to draw any attention. They were almost clear when the ring leader shouted abuse at an old woman. With heads bowed, they watched them surround her, cutting off her escape as she tried to move through them. In the daylight, this was a scary-looking bunch of teenagers and young adults, but at night they were hunters. The woman stooped over a shopping trolley, looked terrified.

“Hey, what you doing,” Jesse called, the beer boosting his bravado.

“Fuck off, kid.” The largest of the group, a vindictive boy called Tony turned towards them, his face a nasty sneer.

“Oh shit,” Kyle and Jesse said in unison, laughing as they turned and ran.

They arrived back at Kyle’s house, breathless. Not needing to say anything, they sat on the steps. Neither one would go in till all the lights went out.

“You know Isabel?” Kyle asked.

“Sure, good legs.”

“I’m gonna marry her and buy that old rundown house near the garden center. I’ve applied to college to study to be a vet.”

Jesse dropped his can, spluttering and coughing as the beer went down the wrong direction.

“Damn it, man. My exam results were good… you’re just like my old man.” Kyle jumped up and stormed into the house.

Leaning against the door, eyes closed, head back, Kyle wondered if he would pluck up the courage to ask her.

His dad had laughed at his dreams. “You’ll end up in the factory, same as me. There’s no money here for college,” he had said his face red from his night of binge drinking.

“No I won’t,” Kyle had screamed, “and I won’t be a fucking drunk like you either.” He had run away, shocked and slightly thrilled that he had sworn at his father.

Shaking away the memory he quietly went through to his room and opened his bottom drawer. He moved some clothes and pulled out – the envelope with his exam results. The form was faded and worn, but it still raised a smile. Now all he had to do was work out how to pay for college. Let Jesse laugh. He didn’t care. Deep down, he knew it was his destiny.

The urge to vomit overcame him, and he raced for the door. Skidding into the bathroom, he just made it to the toilet. Vomit streamed from him, again and again, its caustic flow burning his throat. His head rested on the cold porcelain as his birthday celebrations came back. Finally, he curled up on the bathroom floor and nursed his head trying to stop the feeling of someone trying to escape it with a pick axe.

 

His head hurt. Why had he drunk so much?  It was more than that. A throat-wrenching scream tore from him as he came back to the cellar and reality. Raising his head, nausea flooded through him, but it was not the biliousness of too much to drink, this was much worse.

He looked down at his missing leg. Great shivers coursed through his body, racking him with fear and pain. He remembered, oh god, yes, he remembered the circular saw.

Hot tears streamed down his face as he collapsed back onto the table. The liquid felt like defeat as it tracked across his cheek and through the downy stubble of his chin before dripping onto the metal.

The table was like rock against his back, hard and uncompromising, but the pain from his leg was worse. There was a terrible sickness in his stomach, and the urge to vomit was hard to resist. A scream ripped from him. The sound reverberated in the small, empty room. He shrieked and fought against the bonds, and cried calling for his mum until eventually shaking and weak he fell down into a deep unconscious state. Loss of blood and lack of water took him from delirium to blessed nothingness.

He dreamed of Isabel. She stood in a white chiffon dress. The sun shining through the material outlined her perfect body. Her blonde hair shone around her happy face. Walking forward, he placed his vet’s bag on the ground before taking her into his arms. Her lips were soft against his, her breath warm on his face. Her soft, pliant body relaxed against him, as warmth grew in his groin. They kissed her lips luscious and seeking against his, her breath fast and urgent. She pulled away, a twinkle in her eye, and took his hand leading him towards the house.

A dribble of cold sweat ran across his forehead and into his eye jerking him awake. He tried to wipe it away, pulling against the ropes before he remembered where he was. A dream. Isabel, the house it was all just a dream, but if he could get out of here he knew the dream could come true. For the first time in ages, he had hope. All he needed was a way out. If he could get out of the ropes, he could get out of the house. It can’t be that hard. With this thought, he drifted back to sleep.

A fever burned through him as he came back to consciousness. His mother stood by his side, and he called out, “Mum, help me, please.”

Not mum. The person wore a black gown, head to toe, as a vampire cloak. He laughed. It must be Jesse, after all. He must still be drunk that’s what the pain was. Maybe he fell and hurt his leg, Jesse was just having a joke with him.

Kyle tried to reach out, but his arm wouldn’t move. He could feel the coarse rope that held it to the table. He tried his left arm. This one moved, but not far. The hemp bound the arm against his chest. “Jesse, let me up damn you. I need to pee.”

The figure turned towards him. The hood filled with blackness; the cloak rustled in the dark as a beast in the bushes. The beast waited the dark hole menacing in the semi-light. Slowly a hand appeared from the blackness, bringing the electric saw into his view. The wicked blade filled his vision; its huge teeth flecked with flesh. “Come on, Jesse, this is no fun any–“

The words froze in his throat as the blade started to spin.

 

 


Chapter One

Michael massaged his temples and lifted the phone to his ear. It felt like it weighed a ton. “Sergeant Brookes.”

“Can you speak to a Mrs. Smith? Her son has not been home this week,” said John on the front desk.

“Another one?” Michael regretted the words instantly. He was six months away from retirement and hated these cases. If they passed it to him, they thought the kid had run away. “No problem, on my way.” He straightened his tie, pushed his chair neatly under the desk and weaved his way across the busy room. He checked his watch and pushed through the door into a drab corridor. It was five thirty, half an hour before his shift finished. He sighed. This would take longer, and he would be late again. At least Maureen won’t be worried. He closed his eyes at the thought of her. Would he ever get over it? Did he ever want to?

He opened the door into the reception area and was hit by the smell of smoke. It had been five years since smoking was banned in public buildings, but the room was like chain smokers hands, stained beyond repair. Like the rest of the station the room was a dull gray, poorly furnished and uninviting. A faded map covered the rear wall, surrounded by an eclectic group of posters. There were missing persons, wanted posters, and safety notices many long forgotten and worse for wear. A plump woman with pink-streaked hair sat across from the door. As he entered, she turned towards him; her angry face matched the red of her jacket. He had seen that expression so many times. Her anger was protection, her way of coping with fear. He smiled and walked towards her, hand extended. “Mrs. Smith, I’m Sergeant Brookes.”

She took the hand, and her face softened. “My boy’s gone missing. You have to help me.”

“Follow me, and we’ll see what we can do.” Michael opened the door and led her into an empty, almost desolate gray corridor. Her perfume was strong and caused his eyes to sting. Maureen had never worn perfume. He shook his head to clear the smell and the thought. Three doors led off each side of the hallway. They crossed to one and Michael managed a smile as he opened the door for her.

“Take a seat.” He pointed to a gray plastic chair in a drab gray room. Rounding a small Formica table marked with graffiti and scratches, he pulled out a chair and sat down. He tried not to sigh as he took out his notebook. This was the last thing he needed tonight. As he opened the pristine book, one of the florescent tubes twitched and flashed. Across the table, she clutched her large brown handbag and stared at the flickering light.

Michael waited for her to settle. He noticed the worry lines round her eyes and felt a touch of shame. “What seems to be the problem?”

“It’s my Tom. He hasn’t been home for a week.” She searched Michael’s eyes then dropped her gaze, as if to admire the worn gray floor.

“Let’s take some details, his name?”

“Tom Smith.”

As she answered, she would find Michael’s eyes and then quickly look down at the table. It was a common trait. People often found it hard to keep eye contact with the police, and Michael knew that despite being in his early sixty’s, he still looked a little imposing

“Well, I guess Thomas Smith is his proper, you know, official name.” Her eyes were red and glistened with unshed tears.

“I understand.” Michael gave his most reassuring smile. “Tom’s age?”

“He’s seventeen, left school this year. He’s not been able to get a job yet.” Her round face softened now that something was happening.

Michael knew that taking time with her was important. More than anything, she needed him to listen, even though there was little he could do. He would check the hospitals, the cells, speak to Tom’s friends and see if he could get any leads. Most likely, the boy had run away and would be hard to find.

“Does he have any money with him, credit cards, mobile phone?” Michael continued to fill in answers, waiting for her reply.

“He may have some cash, but he’s not flush. He doesn’t have a credit card. We don’t believe in them.” She stopped a second, and cleared her throat, swallowing down her emotion. She dropped her head, and then raised it, meeting his eyes. “His phone, can you track him like in the movies? It’s just dead, you see, I’ve tried it loads of times.”

Michael watched as hope briefly lit up her face. “I’m not sure that will be possible, it’s only certain phones, but just in case what’s his number?”

“She reached into her bag and pulled out a pink phone. A fluffy cat dangled and danced from it as she pressed buttons to call up the number, and then she handed the phone to Michael.

He wrote the number down and cleared his own throat, before looking up at her. “I have to ask… was there any trouble at home?”

She held his eyes for a second, and then looked down at the pink phone, her fingers twiddled the cat. “He had a fight with his dad.”

Michael relaxed slightly. Most missing persons were arguments gone wrong. There had been a lot recently, but they all followed this pattern. It looked like this was another. Just a seventeen-year-old boy left to find his fortune. Most times, he would come back to Mum and Dad for help. But sometimes trouble or success would keep the youngster away. Why they never told their parents where they were, he could not understand.

“He left after this fight?” Michael asked.

Panic skittered across her face. “Yes, but there’ve been loads like it before. He’s never been gone long, just a couple of hours usually, a day at most.”

“Why did you leave it so long to call us?” Michael hid his frustration. If something had gone wrong, time was of the essence.

“My Bill, that’s his dad, said he would be with friends. But I’ve rung all his friends and no one has seen him.”

Michael took the rest of the details, his mind wandering. He promised to investigate and get back to Mrs. Smith. He would look into it, starting with Tom’s last known whereabouts, the sports center. He smiled as he showed her out. He was off there anyway to see his nephew John in his first football match.

As Michael held the door for her to leave, she turned. Desperate, she grabbed his arm. “What if he’s been killed?”

Michael took her hand and smiled. “Mrs. Smith, this is Donborough, a quiet country town. We’ve not had a murder here in… Well, in many years. Don’t worry. If he needs help, we’ll locate him. If he just wants some independence, then we may not.”

Mrs. Smith’s lips curled into a smile that never reached her eyes before she turned from him. Michael watched her cross the car park. Her steps were hesitant as if she was unsure where she was heading. He understood her loss and wished he could do more.

“Sergeant Brookes, a moment, please.” Inspector Burton looked his usual forbidding self, silhouetted in the doorway. He was a tall man, with a ruddy face and serious eyes. Michael had known him forty years and had never seen him smile.

Michael pushed the fatigue and impatience to the back of his mind. “Yes sir?”

“New case?” the inspector inquired.

“Another missing youth. Probably ran away, but you know the worry.” They continued down the somber ashen corridor, before reaching the stairs.

“We seem to have a lot of missing people at the moment. I think it’s the good weather; tempers frayed opportunity calling,” the Inspector said as he took the stairs two at a time. Michael hurried to keep up. “Or maybe it’s that traveling show?”

“Maybe,” Michael said. “I have looked into a couple, mostly kids from the wrong side of town, with well known family problems.”

The Inspector was no longer listening. “I want you to look after a new Police Constable. Have a good weekend, and we’ll talk on Monday.” He walked away, leaving Michael at his desk. This was all he needed – a rookie PC.

He tidied his in-tray, put away his pen and covered his monitor before heading to the leisure center.  He was looking forward to the match.

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