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Poor Hollis and his demons

Yesterday I closed a blog that I’d almost forgotten I’d started.  It was something I started 6 years ago, with the intention of having an anonymous outlet for “artistic” content (and I’m abusing the word “artistic” so hard that the CPS would shit on me from upon high).

Aaaaanyway, the idea was that I would publish short stories and the like to this blog, which in the course of 6 years received a total of 30 hits!   There was bugger all on there, to be fair, but I did start a story that I never finished.  I’m putting it here and setting poor Hollis, the main character, free.  Take him and his story and do with it what you will:

Hollis panted as he ran. His lungs close to bursting. He had to get away, get away now. They followed him regardless, keeping up no matter how hard he worked his legs, no matter where he ran. Never ahead of him, always behind as they watched him run. He ran across the playing field towards the goalposts and hedgreows on the other side. If he could just get through to the road he could flag someone down. If he could just make it a little bit further. Hollis tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over in time to see one of them over him, then everything went black.

When Hollis came around the room was dark and musty. He tried to move, but his aching muscles prevented it. His head pounded as lights danced around in front of him. Then something, a sound, caught his attention. There it was again, a shuffling sound moving towards him. Hollis began to panic as a figure loomed over him out of the darkness. The light next to his bed came on and he recognised his wife.

“You’ve been asleep for 3 days again. We found you in the middle of a field.”
“Where…where am I?”
“You’re back home Hollis.”

He looked around. It looked familiar and homely, but he didn’t recognise it as his own. The curtains were certainly the same, and the carpet. There was something missing, what was it? Then he realised as he sat bolt upright, ignoring the pain searing through his body.

“The clippings, where have you put them?!”
“They needed to go,” she replied firmly, “you were obsessed with those news reports, and you know the doctor said you shouldn’t get tied up in these things.”
“You’ve destroyed them? Destroyed them all?!”

He felt the rage building up inside him. The pain in his muscles was all but gone now and there was a new sensation flowing through his veins. The adrenalin brought him to his feet. He lunged towards Jenny to grab her, but she’d been here before. She stepped to one side as his inertia pulled him over. He collapsed, the pain in his muscles returning. She helped him back into bed and he fell asleep, back to the nightmares.

It had been like this every day since the troubles began six months ago. Nobody knew what happened on that day. Hollis was returning home from his job as a lawyer — something which he celebrated moderate success at — when his world went dark.

He stood on the platform of the train station waiting for the usual 1746 train. As always, it was late. Hollis hated late trains; he was always prompt so he didn’t see why something which shouldn’t be affected by any traffic conditions and the like shouldn’t be too.

That was the first time he saw them: figures lurking nearby. For a moment Hollis could’ve sworn that he could see right underneath them, that they didn’t appear to be on the floor. Whilst he knew he should be able to shake that feeling away, he couldn’t. There was something about the figures which didn’t seem right. His instinct was to run.

And so he ran. He left the train station and sprinted as hard as he could down the road towards the bus station — his determination so strong that his feet were struggling to keep him upright as his body lunged forwards. He reached a crowded cafe and sat down, his lungs grateful for the respite.

It was only after he’d caught his breath that he looked around the cafe, and it was only then that he realised that nobody else in the cafe seemed to be touching the ground. He turned to run but was halted suddenly: one of them was directly in his path. It was then that Hollis realised that there was more, or rather less, to these beings than he had first thought. It was then that Hollis saw nothing where once there might have been a face. A darkness like he’d never experienced before shrowded him as he screamed. As he felt it enter him Hollis could’ve sworn he heard the sound of children laughing.

Hollis had woken up in hospital. The ambulance had come for him at the cafe after the owner reported someone fitting in his restaurant. Eye witnesses told of a man running away from nothing and then sitting down in an empty cafe before standing up, screaming and having what seemed to be a seizure. Once he had physically recovered, Hollis had been referred to the psychiatric ward.

“Well Mr Hollis, as you know you’ve been with us for 3 weeks now and we’re happy to let you go home. You seem to be suffering with paranoid episodes, probably brought on by too much stress.”

It seemed logical: Hollis had been working on a major case with no precedent to work from. It was vital that he played it right. It didn’t help that his client was his boss. Hollis had been working 18 to 20 hours a day, with no breaks. He had made some excellent progress and was certainly making significant tracks towards being promoted to the company’s board of directors, so long as he won the case. Whilst nobody would say it outright (after all, it was illegal to) Hollis knew that he had everything to lose as well as everything to gain. If he lost the case, the company would fold and he would lose his job. It was all or nothing.

Hollis squinted as his eyes struggled to adjust to the harsh sunlight after being inside the hospital for so long. Jenny was taking him home and things would settle down again. Maybe he could start looking at the case file soon. He would need to catch up, after all.

Hollis had been prescribed some drugs by the doctor, designed to help stop the hallucinations. By the third day of his return home, he knew they wouldn’t work. Whilst he hadn’t seen the figures since that eventful day, he knew they were there. He could still hear their voices, though they sounded cold and didn’t seem to actually say anything. A month later he left the house for the first time, and a month later they returned.

He only intended to walk to the local shop. They had run out of eggs and Jenny was out for the first time since she’d picked him up from the hospital. It was a big deal, going back out into the outside world, but he knew he had to or risk becoming completely recluse.

“It’s only down the road,” he told himself, “kids go to the shop down the road. I’m an bloody adult. This isn’t an issue.”

The empty voices followed him as he made his way down the road. The cars passing him seemed to slow down as they went by. The world was quiet. He realised the cars were no longer there, his world had been transformed once again. The road alongside him was now a dusty track, and behind him was the sound of hooves. Hollis stopped and slowly turned around. What he saw froze him on the spot: 4 horses were approaching him — on them, 4 shapeless figures. Their cold, empty voices seemed to call to him as they approached.

That’s Hollis’ story up to this point.  Let me know what happens to him!

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