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Moaning Pipes

I collapsed jaw gaping with every needy gasp for air as I pushed sweat soaked black hair from my face with an exhausted hand. My eyelids drooped, demanding I halt my efforts and sleep. I looked around at the maze of boxes scattered around my new apartment and sighed in defeat. With limbs formed of jelly I stood only to collapse back onto the couch. I sagged into the cushions and groaned before flopping bonelessly to the side and succumbing to my tiredness.

I had just moved into a new place and at nineteen it was my first apartment alone. There was an eerie feeling settled in the place and I had shivered at it when my friend left me to unpack. I had succeeded in moving the couch to its proper place, putting away my dishes and moving my mattress to the floor of the bedroom before I fell asleep.

I awoke to a low moan rattling through the place. I shot up and winced as my sore muscles screamed at me for the sudden movement. With widened eyes I surveyed the apartment’s blank white walls when that groan sounded again. My heart pounded in my chest as thoughts of intruders ran through my head and I scrabbled for my phone as I made to investigate. My legs shook beneath me as I walked and my fingers quickly sorted through the contacts in my phone.

I heard the moan again and shivered as it bounced around me and it almost seemed as if the walls themselves were lamenting their agony. It was a sound that could only be described as a rumbling, wheezing groan that spluttered and choked on itself. I maneuvered my way through the winding stacks of boxes shrouding my basement apartment and threw a cursory glance at the front door to find it still locked. My resolve hardened as I turned into the bedroom and the sound grew louder with each step. I rounded the corner to the bathroom when the sound started again. I threw the door away from the wall with a loud bang when it struck the plaster and stared at the reason behind my fear.

Concealed behind the door was a large crack in the wall with a single rusty pipe peeking out from behind dark rotting boards. A laugh bubbled forth from my lips, manic and relieved that echoed off of the walls. I swung open the door as the pipe rattled again and collapsed on my bed as the adrenaline faded.

The next day was a boring one and filled with boxes. For the next week as I unpacked and returned to work the pipe tormented me with its groaning. I had been more than happy come Friday when Cassandra came by and demanded I join her for a night out at the bar.

“Are you serious?!” She spluttered and laughed as I told her about my adventure with the pipe.

“As the plague.” I answered and giggled when she fumbled with her glasses.

“Just moving out jitters.” She laughed and ran a hand through her pixie cut auburn hair. “I had the same thing happen. Remember? I called you.”

I laughed at the memory as the two of us stumbled down the street.

“Of course I do! I ran out to save you from the serial killer you swore was in your house and got grounded!”

We laughed all the way back to my place where we separated and I made my way down the steps to my door. My footfalls bounced off of the cement walls around me as I fumbled with my keys. I dropped them once and winced at the sudden clatter of metal on the hard stone. I stooped and tried again a second time, this time I succeeded. I hurried into my apartment as a sudden discomfort made itself known. I tossed my purse onto the table by the door and rushed through my bedroom into the bathroom. I relieved myself with a sigh and stripped down to a T-shirt before shuffling into bed.

I was grateful for Cassandra. She was a good friend to me and the only one in my life. She was dedicated and caring and so different from my parents who just wanted me out of their lives and the hassle gone. Cassandra may have been a small woman but she had shown a lot of people just how tough she could be over the years of bullying in high school. I was invisible and she had been the only one to notice me.

I fell asleep to that same ghostly moan that I had never grown used to. Every time I heard it the sound only unsettled me more but this was the only place I could afford and I was determined to keep it. In my drunken haze I could have sworn the groaning had turned to gasping words and pleas but my eyes fluttered shut all the same as a chill swept through the room.

The next evening I nursed a throbbing headache and only deigned to sit on the couch with the company of water and aspirin and feel sorry for myself until it faded. I lounged around the house for the weekend and that groan in the walls began to blossom into a great paranoia. A heavy weight settled on my shoulders as coldness settled in the apartment and the moaning grew louder and more frequent. I voiced these fears to Cassandra who giggled and consoled me so that I could sleep that night.

Another week passed by and I joined Cassandra for another night out to escape from the suffocating embrace of my own home. After I returned I headed to the shower when I suddenly decided I needed a wash. I relished the feeling of the hot water spilling over my skin and stood there as the room filled with a heavy shroud of steam. I scrubbed myself down and opened the curtain to grab my towel and step out. I had wrapped it around my torso when I caught a wisp of movement out of the corner of my eye.

There were four fingers peeking their way out of the crack in the wall that had somehow widened. Four emaciated fingers white as milk with greying flesh around their yellow cracked fingernails. I gasped and spun to face the crack to find everything as it should be. Fear settled in my gut and I all but ran from the room in my haste to get away from the image that still lingered in my mind’s eye. The pipes groaned loudly as I fled.

I slept with the groaning of the pipes lingering on the edges of my dreams and shaping them into nightmares of pale fingers clawing through the walls and jaws dropping in a hideous moan. There was a flash of black and red before I briefly woke with a gasp to a cold room and a thick inky blackness.

I awoke the next evening and lazed on the couch after taking some aspirin and downing as much water as I could stand. I kept the lights out and was thankful for the darkness of my below ground apartment. The pipes rattled again and the memory of last night surfaced along with a paralyzing fear. I leaped from the couch and darted to the bathroom, bashing the door into the frame in my haste to look at the crack and alleviate my fear. I leaned in close and my breath caught in my throat as I beheld four scratches beneath the horizontal crack.

My mind spun and I reached a finger up to scratch at the torn white wallpaper when I saw a hint of rusty brown beneath. I grappled with it and tore it away in small bits until I wished I hadn't. Hidden beneath the layer of stark white was a hand-print and a single name carved into the palm on old wood. Adrenaline seized me and I clawed away the wallpaper only to find more hand-prints and more names.

Charlene

Donald

Thomas

Samantha

Henry

My mind sorted through a few names before panic seized me and I ran about the apartment clawing at the wallpaper and tearing it away from the walls only to find more hand-prints in old blood, each one with a name. My breath turned to an icy mist before me as the darkness swooped in and suffocated the meager light from the windows. I gasped and hurled myself away from the walls as the groaning intensified and words were distinguished.

“Run.”

“Get out.”

“It’s coming. Run.”

I stumbled to the door and scrabbled clumsily at the lock as fear took away my coordination. The darkness seeped over and drowned the light shining through the window. With a hideous shriek I raised a fist and smashed the glass, feeling the stinging bite to my palm as the shards cut deep. I smacked away more glass and tried to crawl through but an icy tendril wrapped itself around my ankle and yanked me back into the darkness. I received a disorienting blow as my head smacked to the ground and could only squirm and whimper as I was dragged further into the living room. I rolled over when my ankle was released and yanked my phone out of my pocket. I hit speed dial for Cassandra before the darkness swallowed the light from my phone and a deep laughter rang out.

“Sera?” I heard her voice.

“Cassie!” I shouted in tears. “Cassie help me!”

“Sera what’s going on are-” Her voice faded away and that laughter struck my ears again.

I howled in pain at the sound and clutched at my ears. I dropped the phone as I beheld a pair of deep crimson eyes grinning at me in the blackness. Vermilion eyes with slitted angled pupils stared into me and I couldn't take the sight. I crawled until I found a wall and pushed myself up, leaving a smeared bloody hand-print in my wake. I was only able to take a few steps before I was smacked to the floor again.

An ice cold talon dragged its way across my throat and my screams were drowned in blood. I was dragged through the apartment and into the bathroom where the crack widened and I was tucked inside. The wall closed behind me and all I could do was moan as my flesh was slowly peeled away and fed to a cavernous maw and my bones froze.

The pain is all that is left as it continues to feed slowly. I moan and groan and wheeze from my place inside the wall. It’s all we can do to drive people away or warn them of what is to come if they stay. We moan to tell them of our agony, we groan to demand they run and we wheeze great rattling breaths to let slip the existence of this great beast, the creature that was summoned so long ago by people who couldn't fathom its might and now it dwells on the lands and feeds.

We moan to terrify so that you might live.



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