Spending time at the family lodge at the lake was meant to be an escape. A place to reset, a place to rekindle my love for the violin. A love that I had lost to my vices, the drink. Will Bowen, a 28-year-old alcoholic, a sad and pathetic situation. I took my broken violin to a specialist music store known as, The Lake View Music Emporium. When I asked the peculiar old man inside when my violin would be ready. He quietly responded, “You will know. Then you will come.”
Sleep is now a luxury, as the nightmares always start the same. At first, blackness. I feel suspended over the endless abyss, staring into nothingness. The musical composition begins. A solitary note of a piano. As the note drones on, it’s as if time itself is being stretched. A hair-raising slowed screech as the sound of a violin crawls inside your ears. Then, I see it.
Lake View Music Emporium. It had an almost rustic feel to it. The window was populated by violins and for some strange reason, a clown doll. The clown, which stood about 3 feet amongst the display, wore a grey coat, polished black loafers, and a black bowler hat. It rested on a small walking cane. What was most disturbing about its appearance, was the fluffy blonde wig. It looked freshly plucked from the scalp of its last victim. Because surely that’s the only explanation for such a monstrosity in a shop window: the clown ventured out at night and preyed on poor unexpecting victims with questionable hairstyles, wearing the hair the next day, like some kind of trophy.
As you open the door to the shop, you can’t help but glance again at the clown, its face, underneath its eyes and red nose, a grin that appears to widen the longer you look.
The nightmare becomes hazy, and I suddenly find myself lying on a cold, hard wooden floor, my hands splintered and bloodied from the rough surface. No longer complete darkness, but the harrowing sound of the violin and piano continues. The room was dimly lit by a few lights fitted into the walls. I look ahead and notice a decrepit table, its frail legs barely keeping it upright, behind it, a chair that matches the condition of the table. I slowly attempt to get to my feet, and the music creeps in its intensity. On the table rested a violin, a couple of its strings broken. The strings that were left were covered in a thick layer of dust as if they hadn’t been played for years. I felt a realization of familiarity, this violin was mine. I have been here before. Before I could turn around, a drop of liquid fell from above. I froze.
The liquid ran down my head, and touching it with my fingertip, revealed it was thicker than water. It was blood. I jerked away and clambered into the table. The table gave way and my violin along with the contents of the table crashed to the floor. The sounds of the violin and piano came to a stop. Somehow, I was now craving the haunting sounds of the orchestra, the silence was so deadening, I could hear my heartbeat. I backed myself up to a nearby wall, deciding to brave the glance of the ceiling where the blood had fallen. The ceiling was dark, I couldn’t make out what was producing the leak of blood from the ceiling. I drew my attention to an entryway in the near corner of the room. I began to slowly make my way over, perhaps there would be an exit. Upon reaching the opening, I shuddered. There sat on the stairway, was that fucking clown. This was indeed Lake View Emporium. But something was very off about this place. The music returned after a short interval. It began to dawn on me that I wasn’t alone.
The clown was no longer in the shop window. Looking back out across the shop floor, revealed there was no longer a window. There was no front door. There were four walls, and the only way out of this room was behind me. The shop floor held a chaotic display of violins. The walls began to feel like they were closing in on me. The clown on the stairwell, grinning, as if he was inviting me upstairs. At this point, I wondered what choice I had. I made my way up cautiously up the stairs and past the clown, glancing my head back and fearing the clown’s head would turn. It didn’t move, but the music certainly was getting louder.
On climbing the staircase, I came upon a half-open door. An orange glow came from the other side, the music ever louder now. A stench seeped its way up my nose, it smelt of rot, death, and decay. My fingers touched the side of the door, I felt physically sick. I knew that nothing good would be found behind this door. This was all just a nightmare and I’d awaken soon. I pulled the door back.
The music stopped again. The room was much dimmer than the light downstairs, but I could still make out shapes and some of the room under its orangey-red glow. The stench grew stronger now. I couldn’t see anyone. Who or what was playing the music? Looking out into the room, a grotesque large object. The object resembled a grammar phone that was between five and six feet off the ground. My eyes then shifted to the centre of the room. Another table, something was on it. I reluctantly went to investigate. I found the source of the smell and blood leaking into the room down below. The dead eyes of what were human remains looked up at me. The torso was mostly removed, you could see the blood-soaked table through the huge puncture in the body. I was so distracted by the chasm in the body that I didn’t even realise the legs were missing. Upon closer inspection, something shocked me. Across the hole in the body were fine strings, connecting from one side to the other, leading down until a sudden stop. Whatever this project was, it wasn’t finished. I had a grotesque urge to run my finger down the strings, was this a part of the orchestra I was hearing? Running my finger slowly down the strings created a chilling whining noise. It was as if the corpse was groaning in pain. Turning my attention to the head, which I could have sworn just moved. A matchbox lay just beside its left ear. I cautiously reached towards the box, fearing that this thing would turn and bite my hand off. It didn’t. “Dead as dead could be I thought”.
A crackling sound came from across the room, but I could not pinpoint where. I reached for a match and struck it against the box. I held up the lit match to one of the nearby walls not covered by the dim light. The match revealed an odd display of violins, these did not look like your usual wooden violins. They looked like some form of animal hide. A chill crept up my spine when the realisation hit, “It’s human.” The match burnt my finger causing me to drop it to the ground, extinguishing it. From behind me, the sound of bones cracking. Terrified, I reached for the box of matches, now shaking in my hand. Strike, strike, strike, strike. An otherworldly groan. I was now facing the large grammar-like phone object. Strike, strike, the match finally lit. The flame was dancing around in my hand. I made my way over to the other side of the room. As I approached the large object, it revealed that it wasn’t a grammar phone at all. It was of the flesh. Inside what would have produced sound from the grammar phone, a maze of red-like tendons. I made my way around the monstrosity, now producing cold sweat which was blurring my vision as it soaked my eyes. I rubbed my eyes so that I could see again what was in front of me, instead, I wish that I had just dropped dead at that moment. What greeted me was a humanoid-like figure sitting at a piano, its black hole eyes staring straight through to my soul. A smile which had no teeth, but strings. The more I looked at it the less humanoid it became. Its four spider-like arms rested upon the piano. I had disturbed its musical composition. I fell backwards, the match falling beside me, still lit. I now saw the creature fully, the grammar phone of flesh was attached to its back, like a hermit crab’s shell. I retreated backwards slowly under the bloodied table. The sounds of more bones cracking as the creature began to move. It flopped to the floor as if its own body was too heavy for the creature. I watched as it began to scuttle towards me. The light of the match slowly dimmed. “Oh, how I now missed the sound of my music. For without music, the monster in my head roamed free.”
Credit: William Bowen
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