Writer’s Guild – Suspense Exercise


The girl, in her worn leather jacket, pushes back the array of lenses up on her forehead, chestnut hair poking at strange angles through the straps.  She looks at the gears on her table, the files and probes, cranks and bolts, litter atop the worn wooden table.

“Oh Papa.” She sighs, rubbing her tired eyes, “I wish…”

Ah yes, but wishes wouldn’t get her anywhere.  She had learned that much.  She had been working on this clockwork doll for the better part of a month and she had just gotten the arm mechanisms to work properly.  The delicate work taking a toll on her eyesight.

She reaches across the desk to the cup of tea, long gone cold by now.  She makes a face as she sips it, fishing out the bits of iron she had filed off that last sprocket and flicking them away before finishing the cup.

She sets it down with a rattle as the lightening outside made her jump, she glares at the rooms one window, covered as it was with drapes older than she was.  The dust thick upon the fabric, she had no time for such mundane worries.

She was running out of time.

She palms the long strand of hair from her face and in doing so, smears a bit of grease across her flesh.  She makes a face at her hand and looks for a rag, looking up as there was a knock on the door.

“Terrance?” she calls out, “I’m working.”

The door cracks open several inches.  She waits…giving the door, and the man she assumed stood behind it a rather dour look.

She waited a full heartbeat before frowning.  “Terrance?”  she cocks her head to try and see out into the hall, but it was dark and she couldn’t see anything past the light of the oil lamp on the table.

She sighs and shakes her head, sliding off her stool, she grabs the lamp with weary carelessness.  She takes the lenses off her head and sets them on the table before making her way around.

“Terry, love…I really don’t have time…” she pauses, as thunder cracks through the house, her hair standing on end.

She humphs and steps to the door, shaking out her long cream skirts before grabbing the door handle and swinging it wide.  “Terry!  This is stupid!  I don’t have time for your tricks!”  But Terry wasn’t there, and she could do little more than frown down the empty hall, holding the lamp aloft to shine it’s flickering light over the thick shadows.  They gave their way reluctantly, seeming to slink off as she moved down the hall.

“Papa?” she called that strange tingling at the back of her skull returning.  She presses her lips together and moves down the hall, down into the bowels of the house.  Three flights of stairs and four hallways later she stood before a large wooden door, a blue light glowing softly under the crack.

She worries her lip as she eyes the door, cluching the key around her neck.

“Please….” Comes a voice from the other side of the door, “Please….let me out.”

She closes her eyes, hating this part. Knowing that the eerie voice would only get worse before the evening was done.  She drops her head….unmoving.

“Please…I can see the light…I know you’re out there…please…open the door.  Let me out.  I’ll be good…I promise…it hurts…” the voice cracks, scared and near tears, “Please…I just want it to stop…please.”

She trembles at the words, licking the tears as they slid down to her lips.  Shaking her head.

“I can’t…” she whispers, “I’m so sorry…I can’t.”

“Please…” comes the cry, the light under the door glowing brighter, it’s soft blue haze filling the hallway, “Please release me.  I’ll be good!  I swear…Just make it stop, please…oh god please!”

The girl sniffs, wiping the tears from her cheeks with a ragged sigh, “I can’t.  You know I can’t”

The door would buck as if something large from the inside was thrown against it, the girl would jump and back up, eyes going wide as the light would go from blue, to a deep blood red.

“LET ME OUT YOU DISPICABLE LITTLE CUNT!” the voice screams, howling. “LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!” the door would rumble and bang sending shivers of terror up her spine.

“PAPA SAID NOT TOO!” the girl screams back, falling to the floor and scooting back against the wall, holding the lantern up with trembling hand, eyes impossibly wide.

“He said….he said that it was important!  He said…” she gasps and goes very still as a scream of abject frustration and pain rips through the house.

Then there was silence, absolute silence.  The storm outside a pale memory of the horror that lived within the room before her.

“Please….” Comes a soft whisper, a scraping sound across the door, wood splintering “All I need you to do…” comes the voice, struggling with patience, “Is to open the door.  It is all you need to do….and then I will leave.”

“I’m running out of time.” They whisper together, soft words spoken in unison, a ritual that they share between themselves.

“I’m sorry.” She whispers, “I’m….so sorry.  It will be over soon.”

“MONTHS.”  Comes a sob from behind the door, “I’ve been here…MONTHS…it hurts…please…so bad.”

The girl covers her mouth to hide her own sobs, turning, tears streaming down her dirty cheeks.  She races back up the stairs to the safety of her room, slamming the door tight…and then….only then, does she allow herself to give into the sorrow, curling up on the floor before the door, her tears and cries echoed in the room far below her.

Minutes pass slowly, and she calms.  She wipes the tears from her cheeks and sniffs miserably, pulling herself to her feet and making her way back over to the table…she sits back down and begins to work again, the tremble in her hands slowly fading.

“I’m running out of time…”

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