|The Gas Lamps
Author: Fliss252 PM
A (very) short story set in the Victorian era: "...the murky darkness would have been all consuming but for the gas lamps hung every twenty yards or so, which punctuated the inky black intermittently with patches of artificial brightness..."Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Suspense/Horror - Words: 621 - Published: 02-16-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3101390
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N I wrote this a couple of years ago for homework after studying Jekyll and Hyde, but I still quite like it so I thought I would upload it anyway... enjoy :)
The city street was wreathed in fog and the murky darkness would have been all consuming but for the gas lamps hung every twenty yards or so, which punctuated the inky black intermittently with patches of artificial brightness. The fog hung like a veil from the heavens, shrouding the various passengers making their way through Soho at this unearthly hour.
Although still early in the morning, the street was filled with a tense, almost expectant atmosphere; this was a place that never slept and its general appearance reflected this. Young girls, of no more than thirteen, were idling on street corners; boys of younger ages bolted hastily between the narrow, near-deserted alleyways of this dingy district.
Amidst these streets of ill repute, a gentleman (identifiable by his manner of dress) wandered solemnly – a picture of discontent. At a distance from his desired destination, the gentleman questioned a young boy loitering near a lamppost; seemingly satisfied with the answer given, he resumed his meandering pace along the shabby street and once again lapsed into a thoughtful silence.
The gentleman, as though suddenly recalling his objective, drew to a halt facing a squalid townhouse. It was not in any way remarkable and the average person would have passed it by without a glance. However, as he paused, a flicker of recognition was evident in his eyes and he withdrew a much-folded, crumpled letter from his coat pocket. He straightened it carefully and, after a brief examination of its content, began to cross the street towards the unexceptional townhouse. He strode across the road at a pace quite unlike his previous gait, and knocked loudly on the rotten door. The brisk sound reverberated around the street with an unexpected alertness, for there was a dormant hush over its occupants.
After a considerable wait, a sleep-deprived, sickly-looking girl hesitantly opened the door. At the sight of the gentleman in question, her face visibly paled and she retreated into the relative safety of the gloomy hallway. After some moments, a disgruntled, aged man appeared at the door. His expression barely altered on spying their visitor, but for a subconscious tightening of the lips. After a brief exchange between the two men, the visitor was admitted into the now lit, dank hallway.
After spending less than an hour in the townhouse, the gentleman re-emerged into the fog-obscured Soho street. The sky was beginning to lighten as he stepped out of the door. He glanced around, satisfying his disquiet and perhaps his conscience and then strode swiftly towards the street corner, making no further hesitations. Yet before he reached it, the most anguished sounds of suffering were heard from the townhouse. His pace quickened and as he turned the corner, he began to run.
The street, which had previously sounded as if it were awakening, suddenly became ominously silent. Shattering the silence, the tormented, animal-like cries echoed down the street. Suddenly a door slammed and the girl who had answered the door earlier, previously fearful now terrified, fled towards a crowded by street. Still the miserable screams could be heard and instead of lessening, they intensified. The street fell into a hushed silence, broken only by the persistent and increasingly agonised howls. Eventually, a brave neighbour ventured into the town house. By this time a small crowd had gathered, quiet murmurs passed between curious bystanders and neighbours, temporarily making the street lose its sinister quiet. Until suddenly the shrieks abruptly stopped and were replaced by a single tortured scream.