Published by R.N. Decker
Copyright 2017, R.N. Decker
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Paul Marshall sat at his work desk studiously writing his next novel. He’d been writing science fiction pieces since he was ten or eleven years old. It started with winning a contest in grade school. The story hadn’t been very well written, and the characters were obtuse and shallow, but because the story was about friendly aliens coming to Earth, it seemed to grab the attention of the judges in his small high school. That simple little fluff piece started him on the road to his future, and he was hooked on writing from then on. Over the years he’d gotten a few breaks too, catching the eyes of editors from science fiction magazines, then being noticed by a publishing house in New York. He’d developed a few followers over the years too – well, maybe more than a few – but he didn’t like to brag. Good luck and good writing habits kept his wallet full and his life rich and prosperous. No problems and no worries. At least that’s what he thought.
At the throw of the switch, the time machine raced through the centuries, taking with it the two travelers – to their own age in history, and their own people.
Paul made a deal with his publisher to have the manuscript in by the end of the week. And he didn’t know whether he’d have enough time to do it. He was feverishly trying to finish. His backside was throbbing from siting at his desk for so long. Eight hours was grueling. He was wiped out. He needed rest and badly.
“Whew! I’m beat. I’m going to call it a night,” Paul mumbled to himself.
Slowly getting up from his chair, stretching aching muscles, he proceeded to get ready for bed. Doing the usual things like brushing his teeth, showering, shaving, and the necessaries he could do in the morning. His body was just too tired right now. He simply jumped into a pair of bright red pajamas and hit the sack. Within minutes he was asleep.
A mind exercised in the fantastic isn’t really put to rest when the eyes close. Even in his sleep, Paul Marshall created images which were strange and frightening: blazing eyes floating out of a darkness without end; a shape of immense size, bright red in color, transforming into a wriggling mass of protoplasm that engulfed his face, trying to snuff out his breath; a red claw with pincers racing out of the fathomless blackness taring at his body; gripping, rending, grinding at his soul.
“No! No! Don’t! Keep away!”
Paul screamed himself awake. Frightened, heart racing like a trip hammer and sweat pouring off his brow, he gulped air to calm down. Covering his face with his hands to dispel the sight of his nightmares, he thought he might go insane.Over the years he’d had this same dream once or twice a week – a horror-mare
– nightmares where pleasant compared to these. The many Doctors he’d seen over the years all said the same thing, he was anxious and on edge, sleep deprived, and depressed. Pills were prescribed – they’d even helped for a few years – but after a time and many new doses and strengths – he’d felt lethargic and out of sorts, so he threw them in a dumpster. Now, after all these years, this same dream had come back, he’d had it again. But somehow it was worse.
This time the dream felt like reality. It felt real.
Looking about his small apartment, Paul couldn’t see much. Shadows crawled over most of what he thought he could see, making an illusion of dancing tables and shimmering corners. But while taking a deep breath to try and calm his already stuttering heart, he glanced in the direction of his window, and nearly had a heart seizure instead. His breath, gasping because of his nightmare, caught in his throat.
Two blazing red eyes were looking in at him.
“Holy, Mother of…” Paul gasped. Knuckling his eyes, he tried to rub out the sight like a small kid would have. “I must be crazy.” Paul shut his eyes quickly. “No. No. No. This can’t be real. Get hold of yourself, you idiot.” Jumping out of bed, while heading to the window, the eyes disappeared.
“Gone? Where did they go?” Paul thought his imagination must have taken a turn for the worst. Nightmares aren’t real. He looked out the window again.
Nothing. Just the same sight he’d always seen: a building twenty feet away, brick and mortar, with Lots of rain trails from the summer thunderstorm the night before, but nothing else. Not even another apartment window to look into. Just brick and mortar, five stories off the ground. Shaking his head he walked into the bathroom and splashed water on his face, examining himself in the mirror, taking a couple of deep breaths to calm down. Then went back to bed. Just another nightmare. Just one of many he’d had over the years.The next morning Paul didn’t think too much about his experience. He simply put it down to overwork and hyperactive imagination. But throughout the day he constantly felt something, or someone, was watching him.
Veronica, his long time girlfriend noticed how edgy he’d been though their dinner. “Is something wrong, Paul? You seem jumpy.” She looked him in the eyes, maybe he had a fever or something. She knew he’d been working hard on his manuscript. Being pushed was hard on a body. “You’ve been distracted all evening.”
“Sorry, I guess I’ve been working too hard. I have a deadline you know.”
Veronica smiled. She understood all too well. She knew Paul had a new work of fiction he’d been trying to finish. He was under a lot of pressure. “Sure. OK. But, why don’t you go home. I’ll see you in the morning. You look exhausted. You could use some rest.”
Paul nodded. “Sure, you’re right. That’s probably it.” But leaving the restaurant he wondered. He still had a nagging suspicion he was being watched.
Later that night, Paul resumed his writing. He knew he should have taken Veronica’s advise about sleep, but he couldn’t. He had a deadline. His publisher was a monster when it came to deadlines. And this one was important. If he didn’t finish the new manuscript, he’d be too late to have it published in The New York Times Journal. This was a major stepping stone in his career as a writer. The Times Journal had a subscription of over a million copies a month, which would net him a lot of new followers and that meant a lot of new money coming into the old bank account. He had to keep going. Shaking and out of sorts, he sat at his typewriter, an old beat-up general, the same one he’d used to write his first story so long ago, and began the last chapter. Only moments into it, however, Paul’s nerves gave a lurch and his heart started pounding like a drum and his hands started quivering. His fingers literally froze over the keys. He felt someone was watching him. Turning slowly in his chair, he looked to the window.
Two blazing red eyes were looking in at him. The same red eyes from the night before. And they were huge. Bigger than he remembered; saucer sized.Paul froze. His hands clinched and un-clinched spastically. This was his nightmare come to life. And this was crazy. He must be imagining things.
A monster at his window.
He shut his eyes to close out the sight. Taking gulping breaths he wished the sight away. “Go away. Go away. Away. Away.” Heaving in air, he opened his eyes to see… nothing. Nothing was there. Nothing was outside his window. The eyes had vanished.
Am I going insane?
Calming himself, Paul slowly got up and walked to the bathroom, getting a sleeping pill from the cabinet above the sink. Sleep would be the best thing for him, deadline or no deadline. As he was about to pop the pills in his mouth, he heard a tremendous crash behind him…glass breaking!
Rushing back into the bedroom, he found glass scattered all over the floor.
Something had broken his window. Frantically looking around he felt something was eerily wrong. Someone, or something was in there with him.
Why would I thing some-thing.
It has to be a some-one. But how?
The hair on the back of his neck stood up, as if someone walked on his grave.
Some thing was in there with him.
Paul slowly scanned the room, taking a small step toward his closet near the front door. Inside he always kept a Louisville Slugger. He never played, but he liked the feel of it in his hands. He knew he could ‘swing for the fences’ if the need arose. He just had to get to it. He watched as shadows crawled the floor, walls, and ceiling, obscuring a clear line of view to every part of the room. He normally wrote with just a small lamp lighting his work area because bright lights gave him headaches, so he really couldn’t see much. But he knew something was there. He had a feeling. And then…
…Paul heard an incredibly heavy footstep.
The floor creaked from the impact. He snapped his head to the right at the sound.
“You’re real? You really exist?” Paul croaked, coming face-to-face with his nightmare.
Standing in front of Paul Marshall was a sight straight out of Dante’s Inferno. A monster so large it couldn’t fit all of its body into the room. The thing looked like granite: slate-gray in color; its head flat on top; ridged brows sloping downward, nearly covering those all too familiar bright red blazing eyes.
It’s massive arms, rippled with muscles, bulged in places Paul never knew could have muscles. And its hands were enormous; shovels. Each finger the size of sausages capable of crushing stone…or bone…or strong enough to cling to the side of a building ten stories high.
The monster was enormous! Its lower body bulked as much as the upper: massive thighs and feet, slab-like and almost toe-less. Huge girth, wide and bulking.The huge monster took a step forward.
Paul’s will broke. Turning, he ran.
In a gravelly, grinding voice, the monster boomed after the man, “It is useless to flee. You cannot escape.”
The voice sent shivers up Paul’s spine. It was like fingernails scraping a chalkboard.
“Help! Somebody help me!” Screamed Paul as he ran out the front door of his apartment. He pounded on doors and kicked at the walls as he ran. But nobody came out of their apartments to see what the commotion was about. Nobody. Which made Paul’s heart race. The walls of this place were as thin as paper. He’d heard the guy in number 10 strike a match once. It was as if he’d been in the same room with the guy instead of separated by a wall. But the booming voice of a monster couldn’t be heard? Crap! The thing was right on his heels, it had just knocked down the front door of Paul’s number 9 like it was made of tissue paper, scattering chunks of wood and plaster all over the hallway. And no one heard? No way! No way!
Racing down the hall, Paul had to make a rough right hand turn to reach the stairwell. He couldn’t take the elevator because it hadn’t worked in months. The idiotic super didn’t care if his tenants walked or not. Paul had to make it to the stairs. It was the only way out. But in his mad dash for safety he overshot his mark, careening off a wall, nearly knocking himself out for his efforts. With his eyes watering and his ears ringing he scrambled as best he could and finally opened the nearest door. Stairwell or not, this would have to do. He wouldn’t have enough time to try for another door.
Paul heard another crash. Sneaking a peek over his shoulder Paul saw the monstrous thing racing after him. The hulking brute was so wide it couldn’t fit its body into the hall. To keep pace, the thing turned sideways and was scraping plaster and wallboard off with one shoulder. That looked to Paul like the only thing keeping it from catching him.
Jumping through the door, Paul slammed it shut. Stumbling, he landed awkwardly on the bottom flight of stairs. He tried to catch his breath, but there was no time. Jumping up, he desperately wanted to go down. But this was one of the few buildings left in the city which had separate up and down stairwells. One side led up, the other down. His awful luck, he picked the only one going up. Swearing to himself, he had no choice but to flee to the roof.
Through the steel reinforced fire door Paul could clearly hear the grating voice of the monster tell him, “There is no use fleeing, Earthling. I will follow you wherever you go.”
Paul raced up the stairs, his heart beating like a funeral dirge, and his breath rasping in and out like a bellows. At the top he found another fire steel door. Pounding his hand on the latch he popped it open to jump out on the roof.
Slamming the door closed, he frantically looked about for something to wedge under it or in the handle to hold it closed. Seeing nothing he wept. The thing would get him. His breath came in gasps, his lungs weren’t getting air. He could feel his heart pound like a hammer on a nail. His sweat soaked his shirt and his legs were wobbly.
Dear God, what have I done to deserve this? Please forgive me Veronica. I love you.
Paul backed away from the door. His head he kept on a swivel. Maybe he could figure out a way to get out of this. Whatever this was. Maybe find a parachute tucked under one of he buildings heating ducts. Or a high powered rifle that had been stowed away for an emergency sniper shot of the newest mayor. Anything. He could only keep looking and waiting and praying. That’s all he could do. The graveled asphalt roof crunched under his feet as he slowly backed farther and farther from the door. When his butt hit the safety rail he stopped; abruptly. The unexpected contact made him gasp. Looking over the edge, Paul saw nothing but the night air and ten stories of free fall to the sidewalk below.
And that’s when the thing came bursting through the door.
Paul’s heart nearly stopped. The monster crashed through the door as if it were made of balsa wood instead of reinforced steel. The noise was deafening. He couldn’t understand why no one had heard it and called the cops, or the fire department, or somebody. It was like a small nuclear blast.
The creature came closer to the Earth-man and stopped. Watching him, it said, “You cannot escape me. But,” he smiled a knowing smile, his lips cracking and dust falling to the roof, “If you obey my commands, you will not be harmed.”
Paul’s breath caught in his throat. Did this thing just say ‘commands?’
Looking up into the monsters blazing eyes, Paul got the feeling this thing wanted something from him besides to kill and maim him. Hesitantly, stuttering, he asked, “What commands?”
The monster took a couple steps closer, smiling. That’s when Paul realized just how large the thing was. It was like Wilt Chamberlain looking down on a Munchkin. It was a true giant. In a booming voice, it said, “I came from another dimension. My world plans to invade. But we want humans to trust us. To consider us friends. It will be the ultimate betrayal when we attack.” He laughed a gravelly rock sliding rumble that sent chills down Paul’s spine. “That is where you come in, human.”
Paul’s mouth fell open. Him? How?
The gigantic creature looked down upon this tiny human creature and said, “We want you to write about us. You will describe us as friendly, kind, and charitable. Your stories influence many of your kind, the word will spread. But when they learn the truth it will be too late.”
Paul got the idea. He would be their conduit to this world and utter conquest. And that was when Paul had another feeling: anger. Not fear as before, but anger that something so disgusting as this thing could possibly use him in that way. Standing up straight, no longer shy and afraid, Paul said, “I’ll be glad to write about friendly aliens. I’ve been doing it all my life.”
The gray skinned behemoth smiled a knowing smile. But the human wasn’t done.
He said something else. But…
Paul smiled himself. This critter had another think coming if he thought he’d write about them.
The monster looked at the human, not understanding. “Why are you smiling? You must do this or I will kill you.”
“I doubt that very much, monster,” Paul told the thing. “For you see, I was here first.”
“What do you mean?” Rumbled the monster.
Paul wasn’t afraid any more. He chuckled. And then something extraordinary happened: Paul Marshall’s skin started to glow an angry red-orange color. His eyes glowed with light the monster had never seen before. He was changing, changing into something not human.First, his skin faded until only bones showed. Then his eyes disappeared all together and stalks grew out of his brows with blinking lidless orbs on them. At the ends of his would-be hands were pincers the size of plates, and his skin was being covered with an armor plating that would be the rival of any tank. In just moments Paul had grown to be as tall or taller than the gray skinned behemoth he’d been facing.
In seconds, Paul Marshall was no longer standing in front of the dimensional monster, but instead stood another monster.
Laughing hysterically at the open mouthed gray skinned behemoth, the creature that used to be Paul Marshall said, “Do you really think you are the only ones from another dimension ready to conquer this pitiful world?” It opened and closed its pincers in a scissoring action that could mean only one thing: pain was coming. “I have lured you up here, in the open, so no one or nothing could see what I’m about to do to you.”
The granite skinned monster faced a rival the equal of any he’d ever faced.
“No!” He screamed. “You will not take what I have worked so hard for.”
And so, high above a city unaware, two fantastic creatures engaged in mortal combat for the right to invade and conquer the Earth.
For the Earth’s sake, let’s hope neither survives.
Thank you for reading this short story. I hope you enjoyed it.
Please take a moment to write a review of my work and recommend it to all of your friends.
This work of fiction is based off of an old story. One which was published in Tales to Astonish. I don’t know if any of you out there will remember such a magazine, but it was one in which I enjoyed very much growing up. Tales of monsters, ghouls and ghosts were common in this magazine, and it always fired my imagination to its fullest. I simply brought the story into the 21st century. At least that’s what I intended. A few names I mentioned in this may jog a memory or two in you also.
About R.N. Decker
I’m a middle aged man (well, possibly more than middle age now) and I’m trying to get the word out for anyone to read what they like. And take the good along with the bad in life. I live in a small rural town in the Eastern part of Oklahoma, and I don’t mind being here. It’s quiet, out of the way, and neighbors can only get so close. I have to drive twenty minutes to get to the nearest town to do grocery shopping, and the one thing I’ve learned out of the many years being here: don’t take any convenience for granted. When you have to wait twenty minutes for an ambulance to get to your door (not so long any more, thank God), you know for a fact you’re ‘out there’.
But it’s not all bad. The quiet and the distance from your neighbors means there isn’t much distraction when I write. And the best part; one doesn’t have to worry about urban sprawl. As I said, they can only get so close. And when I really think about it, being raised in the sticks gives me an advantage over many people who are used to city life. So, tell me, what would you do if you didn’t have running water? Or air conditioning? I grew up with the possibility of water not running, and having to use a swamp cooler (most don’t know what they are any more) to stay half way comfortable in the blistering summer heat. One truly learns to cope when raised like that. And yes, I have central air now and am very comfortable, thank you very much.
I have an Associate degree from Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and a B.A. in Journalism from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and I have been writing for many years.
Through bad luck, or timing (whatever you want to call it), I never got the chance to get into my chosen field. When I went to college it seemed you had to have a friend in the industry before getting a foot in the front door. So, when life kept going – bills, you know – I had to go with the current or be swept down stream and drown. I’d always been told ‘If one door closes, another opens.’ Well, the door I wanted, I thought, closed, so another opened: truck driver.
Yep, I drove a truck to make a living. For over twenty years.
And to those who’d like to know: I don’t regret it for a moment. It gave me the chance to see all of the United States and three provinces of Canada. I got to see the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and even go to Disney World in Florida. All of the things a kid from the sticks could only dream about. And I got to travel the country, and get paid to do it. Man, some of the things I could tell you: some good, some bad. But in the main, good. And the most important lesson I learned in all those years: people are people everywhere. Some good, some not so good. And I loved meeting them all.
Through it all, however, I never gave up on writing. To this day I still have a notebook close at hand in case I get an idea so I can write it down.
Why do I keep poking away at the keyboard? I hope whoever reads my work enjoys it as much as I did writing it.
Let’s just call this a work in progress, and I’ll leave you for now. OK?
Discover other titles by R.N. Decker:
The Fairies Tales: Kharon
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Paul Marshall is a writer with a dream. Well, a nightmare. He sees monsters. One particular monster: at his window.