It’s time for Part 13 of In The Flesh. And yes, 13 is my lucky number, because the fabulously talented Kev Bliss has created a fantastic cover for In The Flesh. As the plot thickens and things get darker, I can’t help but wonder if Kev was reading my mind when he created it, and possibly even seeing the story before I did! Thank you, Kev!
Enjoy Part 13 in which Susan explores the crypt as well as some disturbing memories of a drunken celebration and strange dreams.
In the Flesh is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.
In The Flesh Part 13
Once the panic passed and I was sure I wasn’t going to hyperventilate, pass out, or lapse into hysterics; once I’d stopped calling the bitch Michael worked for every name I could think of for not getting me the hell out of here, I crawled forward, as carefully as I could, one hand outstretched in front of me until I found the wall. Then I slowly followed it around making my way toward where I hoped the door would be. I didn’t know why I bothered. It wasn’t like I could get out, and even if I could, it wasn’t like I could just give Him the slip, was it? That was assuming I’d even have the will power to try. In spite of feeling like I’d had one helluva beating, in spite of being scared witless, my whole body still buzzed with a desire for Him that hurt almost as badly as the burn above my breast. Still, finding the door gave me something creative to do, something to think about other than the fact that I was trapped in a place created to inter the dead. Of course the estate agent had assured us that all of the sarcophagi had been removed along with any human remains, ages ago. All that had been left when Annie took possession was an empty space perfect for a wine cellar, the agent assured her.
‘Wine cellar my arse.’ The sound of my disembodied voice in the thick dark was startlingly loud, so I kept the rest of my ruminations to myself, as I felt my way along the bare rock, banging elbows and scraping knuckles. I was exhausted by the time I found the even-edged crack between the wall of the crypt and the stone that had served as a door for who knew how many generations. I could have cried with relief, as I inserted my fingers along the vertical axis and slid them up until I was certain what I’d found was, indeed, the door and not just some ancient crack in the stone wall. It was such a small victory, but any victory that was something to hang on to, that was something to keep the panic at bay, was a good one.
I tried to recall what I remembered about the crypt when Annie had taken me on the grand tour right after she took possession of Chapel House. But we’d been so excited about her future home that while she speculated about the place’s gruesome past, or at least the way she imagined it, I hadn’t paid a huge amount of attention to detail, being, I’m ashamed to admit, more than a little creeped out by the place. In truth, there hadn’t been many details to pay attention to. There were no carvings, no sculptures, no grave goods of any kind, not even a stone vase for flowers. The walls were smooth stone without so much as catacomb-like niches for shrouded bodies. Truly, it wasn’t all that interesting as far as inspiration for good horror stories went. That was probably a good thing, considering my present circumstances. But still, it was a crypt. There had been corpses, lots of corpses over a long period of time. Best not think about that at the moment. Ghosts and ghouls I could do nothing about, but then again, I could do nothing about Him either, and what was He but a ghoul, all be it an outrageously sexy one.
As I recalled the crypt was long and rectangular, narrowing at the back to a tunnel that was barely high enough for me to stand in hunched in over. It was closed off at the narrowest end by rusted iron gate that was heavily padlocked. Beyond the bars, I had no idea where the tunnel led, and neither did Annie. If there were any existing maps or drawings of the crypt, she’d not been able to find them in her research of the place. Perhaps it was some kind of sinister escape route leading to a rendezvous point far beyond the churchyard walls, she speculated – possibly pirates, thieves, murderers or even clandestine lovers.
That night over way too much wine and double chocolate fudge ice cream, safe in her flat, safe away from the creepiness of the crypt of Chapel House, I’d done some speculation of my own, my imagination running wild with a story about monks and nuns and scholars and bishops frantic, not to escape through the tunnel in the crypt, but instead, desperate to keep something out. But just exactly what they were trying to keep out, my inebriated brain couldn’t quite sort. Still, Annie listened wide-eyed and squealed with delight, goose bumps rising on her arms, as I told her how the most powerful bishops and brightest scholars alike all tried to block the entrance to the tunnel to keep out the evil beyond, and all died horrible deaths for their efforts along with the poor monks and nuns who served Chapel House, and a fair few parishioners as well. All of this information, of course, was stricken from the records and kept secret, considered knowledge too dangerous for public consumption. She asked me if it was the tunnel to hell. But by that time I was way too drunk and had way too much of a chocolate buzz to imagine just where that tunnel led, or why it had been closed off. I had all sorts of ideas swirling in my head, though, like I always did when I was inspired, and Chapel House had inspired me as much as it had creeped me out. In fact it probably inspired me exactly because it had creeped me out. And while I was interested in all of Annie’s plans for renovation, I admitted to her, as we laughed and giggled that night, that I kind of liked the place just the way it was, though, I quickly added, I wouldn’t want to live there. As we both stumbled off to bed, I promised myself I’d write down all those intriguing ideas in the morning when I sobered up a bit, but I never did.
As I sat with my head pressed to the door of the crypt, my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of that night after Annie first brought me here. The place had been officially deconsecrated. Chapel House and its surrounds were no longer holy ground, and yet who can really say what that means? That day while exploring the crypt, we had no sense of sacred or profane, no sense that we might be desecrating something, or that we might have treated anything with disrespect. In the evening we’d celebrated her closing on Chapel House and we made up stories, mad, insane stories. It was the first time we’d ever done that, but it meant nothing really. We were drunk and we simply followed our imaginations into the dark and let them run wild while we hung out in the safety of her very posh flat. But that night I had disturbing dreams. I didn’t remember the details, but I woke shivering as though from a nightmare, body slick with sweat, expensive sheets tangled around me. And yet somewhere in the midst of my dreaming, I’d slid my fingers between my thighs, and I woke as desperate with need as I was desperate to escape the nightmare. I had lain there writhing, breathing hard, aching all over as though a lover had brought me to the brink and left me unfulfilled. All I could remember was that in the dream, I opened the door, and once I’d opened the door, I couldn’t close it again, no matter how hard I tried.
But then the alarm went off and I was dragged hung-over, dry mouthed and head pounding, into the waking world. The dream had faded by the time I’d prop myself against the shower wall until the hot water was all gone. By the time we’d poured enough coffee down our throats and popped enough Paracetamol to take the edge off enough so we could hit the shops, I had totally forgotten it happened. Honestly, the dream never entered my mind again until this moment. That wasn’t like me at all. I kept a dream journal. I sometimes spent hours writing down every minute detail of the most troublesome and the most powerful dreams because I believed that they helped me understand myself. But on a more mercenary level, I also did it because my dream were quite often the inspiration for my stories. Like so many writers, I found dreams and their wild array of symbols and improper behaviors to be a treasure trove of creativity. Occasionally I even borrowed other people’s dreams if they were willing to share.
Before I knew what I was doing, I was hunched over nearly double, one hand resting on the stone wall, the other stretched in front of me to guard against obstacles I couldn’t see. I made my way into the tight space at the back of the crypt, heart pounding, stomach knotted, and cold sweat stinging my sightless eyes. What? Was I out of my mind? Christ, why couldn’t I just leave well enough alone? But there was no goddam well enough, was there? I was screwed and so was Annie if I couldn’t figure out how to get us out of here and away from Him. The space tightened still further. My thighs cramped. My knees ached, and I might have been more claustrophobic than I already was if I could have actually seen just how tight fitting the tunnel was. I didn’t remember it being so far to the end. But then we hadn’t actually gone into the crawl space. Annie had just shown her Maglite down the narrow passage and the beam had glinted off the metal bars dissipating in the darkness beyond.
I was just contemplating whether to drop to a crawl and continue on or to admit defeat and turn back when I
suddenly felt the air change. The musty thickness of the crypt gave way to a metallic chill that reminded me of high altitudes where it never got warm, where the wind always blew. The thought had barely entered my mind before an icy breeze hit me in the face and, had the shock of it not given me pause, I would have surely fallen. Cautiously I extended my foot and found nothing beneath it but emptiness. I yelped and jumped back, falling on my arse as the wind quite literally howled over me.
Once I’d stopped shaking and got the bounce of my pulse in my throat back in control, I lay down on my belly
and extended my hands, blinking hard, light-starved eyes desperate to see something, to see anything. I inched my way forward until my arms and then my head and shoulders leaned out into emptiness. My skin prickled, and I fought back thoughts of demons or corpses reaching up from the pit to grab me and pull me down. There were times when a good imagination was not a plus. The wind stole my breath and whipped my hair like a flag around my face. I was just about to crawl away and move back into the crypt, when the cold iron smell of altitude was overwhelmed by the scent of roses. This time, I felt strangely calm at His approach. I would hardly say that I was glad for His presence, but then it beat the hell out of the alternatives at the moment. “What do you want?” I asked, my voice sounding unusually steady under the circumstances.