Die, My Darling

Francis tells me his fiancé is moving in soon and I will have to move out. When that time comes, so does the For Rent sign in the yard a few doors down. A basement apartment in an old house built decades ago. I sign the contract with the owner and walk my belongings across the street over a couple of days.

There are six inches between my head and the ceiling. I have to stoop to enter the bedroom. Hilarious, cool, the place has character. The bedroom has one small rectangle of window at street level, and a side room that’s cozy and quiet, perfect for writing.

I’m moving my computer into the side room when I notice a door, tucked away. Should have seen it before but didn’t. The way the main door to the room opens conceals this other door. I thought I was seeing the whole room when I walked the place prior to signing. I wasn’t.

I stand there with my arms around my desktop, keyboard resting on top. I stare at the door, the door at me. I bend down, set my computer in the corner. I stare at the door.

The brass knob is cool when I touch it. Clacks as it turns. The door squeaks, swings into a dark space. A musty scent swirls. Piled to one side are a dusty vacuum, a broom, an old pair of shoes. The floor is tamped earth. The walls are earth. The walls don’t meet the ceiling, or rather, the underside of the house. It’s pier-and-beam, and enough sunlight leaks in at the edges that I can see without a light. I can see over the earthen mounds rolling to the corners. Someone could crawl over them. Crawl to this door.

My fingers fumble over the door knob, up and down the door jamb, looking for a lock. There is no lock. I try the door knob from the other side. I don’t want it to turn, but it does.

This door is the way in. It’s my dream.

I’ve been having a recurring dream since I was a child. In the dream, each time it comes, I’m living in a different place. Once it was the house I grew up in. Once it was a dorm room. Once it was an old, abandoned house, huge and ancient, not unlike this one. But each time, in each place, I discover there is more to the place than I ever knew. Stairs, hallways, rooms. As I explore, a feeling stirs in my gut, a knowing that permeates my very being, and can only be described as absolute horror. The rising of pure evil. I explore the place in terror of it, feeling this present evil overwhelm me, filling my chest like ice water. And I discover ways in. Windows thrown open. Rooms missing walls, doors that won’t lock or close, opening into dark places full of silhouettes, creatures unseen.

Here in the closet, like in the dream, fear floods my chest. The horror of the dream, the horror that can only be felt in a night terror. That I’ve never felt outside the dream. I feel it.

But I am awake.

That night, I lay in bed, eyes wide. At best, my eyes close on the border of sleep not-sleep, then pop open. Come morning, I am in a haze, exhausted.

I phone the owner. He lives upstairs. He agrees to install locks. He will come this afternoon.

He does not come.

Next night, I’m in bed. I begin to drift. I startle myself awake, hearing things on the far side of the door. I shoot up in bed, sitting in the light from the rectangle of window above, my ear towards the door.


Morning of the third day. I stumble to the front of the house. My apartment key opens the front door of the house and I climb the stairs to the owner’s apartment. I pound on the door and it swings open, but it’s not the owner, it’s Francis. He looks through me, like I’m not there. He steps through me, sees nothing. He smiles. He shuts the door, and before it closes, he says, “Almost time.”

I pull myself down the steps, out the door, across the lawn. I can’t move the way I want to. My arms are heavy, the grass wet and swampy, the muck sucks at my ankles. I cross the street and struggle against gravity to my old apartment door. Francis’ door. I ball my fist to pound on the door but it passes through, and I follow, off-balance. Inside, two bodies wrestle on the floor. The owner rolls me over and straddles me with a knife. He plunges the blade into my belly and rips me up to my throat.

My scream is faint and seems to come from elsewhere, far away, not from me. I push hard to make it come from my own mouth. I scream with all I’ve got but I can barely hear it. I scream as hard as I can and —

I wake myself up, jolt upright, clenching the covers. Streetlights shine through the one small rectangle of window at street level, in the bedroom of my basement apartment. All is quiet.

Elbows on knees, face in hands, in bed I sit. I rub my face, sigh.


The doorknob.


I hear movement. Crawling. Muttering. They’re coming inside.

“No!” I shout.

“Yes,” says a voice.

“It’s time,” says another.



“Wakey wakey.”


They reach for my bed, pull the covers. A dozen hands, gripping, groping. They clamp on my arms, my legs. I’m pulled to floor, dragged to the door.


“It’s fine, my love. It’s fine.”

“It’s time,” says Francis, flashing before me, then receding backwards through the wall.

I ride their hands, rolling on their fingers into the side room, through the closet door into mustiness. Over the mounds I float, their fingers under me like a bed of nails.

One of the earthen mounds is dug out. I drift toward it, fall in. I land on cool, hard earth, and they scoop the sides over my calves, my back.


“Yes yes, lovey. Yes.”

Earth covers my legs, my neck, but I still hear them. “Time to sleep, my love,” one says.

“Perchance to dream,” says another.

“Oh God,” I cry.

“You’re one of us now,” one says. “You sleep. Enter dreams.”

“Sleep and raid dreams.”

“Find others, make them dream. We go get them.”

My eyes are heavy, can’t keep them open. The fear I’ve only felt in nightmares. I want to wake up but I am not asleep.

“You’re one of us now.”





“Die, my darling.”

“Yes yes, my love. First you get real dead.”

36 thoughts on “Die, My Darling

  1. Excelente! It’s a bit reminiscent of the cat story with the mysterious incarceration in a sinister place. It also has a similar tension between what is real and what it is delusion, which I liked a lot. You obviously have a thing about these things, Walt!


    • Thank you, Alastair. You know, I really did have a recurring dream like that for the longest time. I stopped having it when, in one if the dreams, I went through the house and shut all these doors and windows that were open. After that, I actually did move into a basement apartment like the one in the story – door, earthen closet and all, and thought ‘this is my dream’.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Truly sinister – I love it. A real confusion of dream, reality, illusion. Leaves me asking questions – was the narrator murdered by the landlord? Is Francis a dreamsnatcher too? Has the narrator been dead since he moved in – before? I do like stories where you’re left wondering, where you’re as baffled as the character – a great trick to pull off. Great story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to any of those questions. In the horror genre (though I’m not sure you can call this one horror) there’s a tendency to explain the horror at some point. To tell the reader why the scary things are happening. I think as soon as you do that, the scary things are less scary. And maybe that’s the point. But I think it’s the things we can’t explain that are the scariest.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s disturbing, isn’t it? Glad you like it. I always want to find the perfect picture, and it would be so much easier to just google one, but I always try to find something licensed for public use, which can be…limiting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmm, yes I know. I do the same. I spend chunks of time searching for photos to illustrate posts and often end up feeling I’ve compromised in the end. This, however, is a cracker – very nasty and possibly a prompt for a whole new piece of writing 🙂


  3. Oh God! I’ll never sleep now. I hate little doors in big houses. Nothing good is ever on the other side. Wonderfully creepy, Walt. I especially like the ending dialogue. In between sleep and waking is a rich and dark area to explore. It’s a prison when anything seems possible.


    • Yes, I’ve been spending a bit more time than I’d like on that threshold lately. That strange space between wake and sleep, half in dream, half out. About the only thing to do is stand up and shake it all out of your head. And then you’re awake. And it’s quiet and dark. And then what?

      Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, the hidden door that opened into the earth under the house is entirely true (it really did not lock and there really was rolling earthy ground there, and light coming in.) The recurring dream was true, too. And I did have to move out of the other place because of my roommates’ fiancé. 👻

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s a very creepy door! Would have given me nightmares too.We don’t seem to have those spaces under houses like you do sometimes in the States – no root cellars or storm cellars, or crawl spaces or houses raised from the ground. Just bricks in the earth, sometimes with plain old, brick lined basements. Still creepy, but not quite as bad as your door!


  4. Pingback: Die, My Darling — waltbox | WELCAME CNN

  5. This one might be my favorite. Or the one with Carol. Or this one. I hear Gollum’s voice when I read “Yes yes, lovely. Yes.” Oh em geeeee, that’s creepy!

    And I particularly like the image you put with this story.


    • I think I may have been thinking a little Gollumy at that point. Glad you liked the image. I like the face but not so much the black background. Images can take a long time to find, to match the mood. And of course that’s very subjective anyways. What “matches” for one person may not for another. Anyhoo, happy creepies!

      Liked by 1 person

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