“House of Wolves” by C.L. Raven

by E.V. Jacob on October 28, 2013

This spooktacular special is brought to us by the Masters of Mayhem, C.L. Raven!  Follow these delightfully delinquent ladies on Twitter at @clraven1


It’s not real.

The boat lurched, slipping soundlessly through the water. Fingers brushed Tristan’s face, trailing over his pirate hat. He batted them away, his heart thumping, his eyes aching in the endless gloom. A wet globule splashed his face. He glanced up but the dark protected its secrets. The boat nudged a mannequin which bobbed, its clothes billowing. Chiron prodded the mannequin with his oar. It rolled over, its mouth fixed in a silent scream, waxy flesh peeling off its face, its milky eyes wide with terror.

“These props are amazing.” Ripley elbowed Tristan excitedly, her creepy crawlies twirling from her bouquet. “I need these for next Halloween.”

He tugged her purple hair. “Every day’s Halloween in Casa Ripley.”

Chiron lit a lantern; sinister shadows scurrying up the cavernous walls to await the unwary. “Prisoners travelled this way to the dungeon. They’d be incarcerated until their execution. Some starved to death. Wounded prisoners were eaten by rats. They were the lucky ones.”

“Lucky is winning the lottery,” Tristan murmured. “Not becoming rats’ all-you-can-eat buffet.”

Desperate sobbing seeped from the water’s dark depths. A zombie girl clung to a half-submerged grate.

“Help me,” she pleaded as they glided past.

The boat bumped against a bridge. Chiron raised his lantern while the guests disembarked.

“I’ll volunteer you to be jailed,” Ripley told Tristan. “We’ll place bets on which part of you the rats eat first.”

Chiron’s boots clumped on the wooden bridge. They stalked him through narrow tunnels, one girl yelping when a rat scuttled over her feet. Chiron unlocked a prison gate, ushering them through.

“Don’t antagonise the warden. He’ll imprison you and leave you to die.” He leaned in close to Ripley, the lantern causing shadows to crawl over his face. Ripley smiled.

Chiron slunk away, locking the gate. Some guests huddled, the cloaking darkness awakening their nightmares. Candles flickered to life, tiny flames writhing as though possessed. Dungeon cages flanked them, carved into the cave’s broken body. A manacled skeleton sat in one cage, rags shrouding his bones. Wretched screams shattered the silence, chains clanking as a bloodied prisoner lunged at the bars. One guest shrieked, knocking Ripley.

Ripley poked Tristan’s cheek. “You’re bleeding.” Blood glistened on her fingers.

“I got dripped on.” He looked around. “Where’s the rest of our group?”

Ripley shrugged. “Wussed out, probably. Nobody’s entering into the spirit of this. They’re not even dressed up!”

Phantom footsteps thudded. Keys jangled. The warden entered, his gaze exploring the guests. Tristan stepped behind Ripley, gripping his plastic sword.

“You.” The warden pointed to the shrieking woman.

“No!” She backed away.

“I’ll go,” her husband volunteered. The warden opened the door, unshackled the skeleton and clamped the shackles around the man’s wrists. “You’re mine.”

The candles died, blackness swooping on funereal wings and smothering the horrors.

“Run,” a hoarse voice urged.

The group fled through a winding passage littered with bones. A scream echoed behind them, swiftly dying. Tristan glanced back, unease slithering through his veins.

“It’s not real.” Ripley laughed. “They’re actors.”

He shivered. “It feels real.”

They entered a lecture theatre, where a doctor guarded an examination table.

“He can examine me any day,” Ripley whispered as they sat at the front.

The doctor peeled back the white sheet, revealing a patient strapped to the table.

“Wasn’t that patient in our group earlier?” Tristan asked.

“He was probably a plant, to frighten us now.”

The doctor sharpened a knife. “Centuries ago, doctors practised on corpses of executed criminals. Demand outstripped supply.”

“Burke and Hare.” Ripley grinned.

“Some exhumed their patients. I prefer them…fresh.”

The knife kissed the patient’s flesh. He screamed. Ripley laughed as blood splattered her. The doctor parted the man’s ribcage then ripped out his heart. Blood streaked his hand, the heart beating its final moments.

“I’m gonna puke,” Tristan groaned.

“I need a volunteer.” Ripley’s hand shot up. The doctor chose the girl who’d been scared by the rat. “Judgement awaits the rest of you.” He pointed to the door.

Everyone filed into a room with a drop ride and secured themselves in it.

“Now I’ll puke,” Ripley murmured as the ride rose to face a judge.

The judge scowled. “The only sentence befitting your heinous crimes is death.” Nooses lowered, slipping around their throats. “You’ll hang from the necks until dead.”

“Hold the noose,” Ripley hissed. “It might malfunction.”

“Corpse brides can’t die.”

“Pirates can.”

Tristan tensed, his heart pounding. The ride plummeted. Their stomachs lurched. They laughed as they escaped. Tristan freed Ripley’s tangled veil.

Two men dangled from nooses, thrashing and gurgling.

“I don’t like this,” one guest whispered to her friend.

“It’s too realistic.”

“It’s a House of Horror,” Ripley muttered. “What were they expecting? Santa?”

A prisoner burst in. “They’re coming!” He led them outside. “Run!”

Leatherface rushed forwards, swinging his snarling chainsaw. Ripley and Tristan bolted. The chainsaw sliced through one woman’s neck. Blood spurted as her head rolled into the grass. Ripley stopped. Tristan crashed into her. The woman fell to her knees.

“It’s real,” Ripley murmured.

Leatherface revved his blood-stained chainsaw.

A chainsaw-wielding clown cornered them. They dodged him and raced back towards the house.

A chainsaw roared behind them. Tristan yelled, its teeth tearing his arm. Ripley kicked the clown in the back then pushed Tristan into the house. Tristan gripped his arm, blood seeping through his fingers. They crept through dim passageways, convinced every noise was Death stalking them. Dying candles flickered in the cellar. They ducked behind a coffin.

“New victims,” an undertaker rasped to another group, holding a tape measure against a man’s back. “I’ll measure you for your coffin.”

Ripley peeked into the coffin. A drop ride victim lay inside, purple bruises choking his throat.

Spectral screams pierced the gloom. Footsteps thumped outside.

The warden entered. “Two prisoners have escaped. Find them.”

“Bet you wish you’d brought my real sword,” Ripley whispered as they hid amongst the coffins.

“It’s the last time I let you pick the Halloween event.”

  • C L Raven

    We had this idea since visiting Edinburgh Dungeons in April, so when you asked us to write Halloween flash fiction, we were thrilled we had a chance to use it. We never write flash fiction, so thank you for dragging us out of our writing comfort zone!

  • Pingback: Halloweentown | Raven's Retreat

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