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Eldritch City Shorts
Robin Heggelund Hansen
Date of Publication: March 21st, 2015
Number of pages: 15
Word Count: 5100
Nine years have passed since the tragic and mysterious deaths of Mr. Phillips and his daughter. A new clue surfaces, one which the lead investigator will follow to the brink of insanity.
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Reading the first few paragraphs of short story “Beneath”, I was reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart” and its lyrical prose. The narrator is tortured by his own actions, consumed with guilt and disbelief of unmentionable horrors. He even questions his sanity.
For lovers of the horror genre, it’s a great hook.
“Beneath” ends with a beginning, leading me to think it’s a prelude to an interesting novel. This short story packs a lot of wallop into a few pages, 15 to be exact, but don’t think of it as a detriment. Rather, consider this a choice morsel you want to roll over your tongue and hold there, enjoying the burst of flavor for as long as it lasts.
That’s not to say the story is without flaws. It could use a good edit. The word “that” appeared much too often, and certain phrases were repetitious – but those things are only a nuisance in an otherwise well told story. Mr. Hansen understands less is more. While there are a few gory scenes, they are not sensationalized and contribute to the main character’s discovery later in the tale.
My only regret is that I read this late at night – before I took the dog out for last potty call. I did not stray from the sidewalk, and will avoid walking on the ground in the future. <shudder>
To whoever reads this: I feel that I must apologize if what you find on these pieces of paper appears to be nothing more than a collection of near-indecipherable words. I can assure you that I have tried everything I can think of, and yet I cannot keep my hands from trembling. This, however, is only a symptom of my much greater problems.
I cannot eat, or sleep, or even close my eyes for longer than the briefest of moments. I feel as if I’m about to lose my mind, but I’m clear enough to realize that I have to get this story off my chest, before it consumes whatever sanity I have left. Unfortunately, the only recipient I can trust with a story as bizarre and horrible as this are the same pieces of paper upon which these words are written.
For officers of the Eldritch City Police Department, no two days are alike. Even with this in mind, yesterday morning would still single itself out as peculiar. As I entered the precinct to begin my shift, I met a man who I realized was from out of town. It was clear that he was uncomfortable since he was constantly scratching his arm and shifting his gaze. It was as if he was trying to view the entire room at once.
There are many things that can be said of Eldritch City, but the one thing people always remember is the air. It’s not that it has a particular smell, but it has a way of sticking to your skin, like wet clothes on a rainy day. Us locals usually say that it is due to the humidity that comes with being in a warm coastal city, but humid air does not leave you with a feeling of being watched, or that something terrible is about to happen. Given time, one learns to hide this discomfort. People from out of town, however, usually haven’t learnt the knack.
The man introduced himself as Deputy Swanson of the Heartbrook Sheriff’s office. Upon learning my name, he raised his eyebrows in surprise. “It would seem I am in luck,” he said. “It is in fact you that I have come here to see.”
Before continuing the conversation, I invited Swanson back to my desk — I have yet to earn my own office — and offered him a choice of coffee or tea, of which he chose the latter. When we were both sitting comfortably, I asked what had brought him all the way here from Heartbrook. To this he responded by handing me a newspaper article, dating back nine years. The article was an interview with a younger me regarding a murder case out by Mirkwood. I knew the article well, not just because I was the subject of the interview, but also because the case in question had been troubling me ever since I had been assigned to it.
Nine years earlier, for their summer-break, the Phillips family had gone out to their newly built cabin in Mirkwood, on the outskirts of the city. Only a day into their vacation, Mr. Phillips and his daughter, Julia, were brutally murdered. Their bodies had been mutilated to the point of being barely recognizable — large portions of flesh were missing. It was almost as if something had fed on them. The coroner couldn’t rule out an animal attack, but thought it unlikely since the wounds were inconsistent with the bite of any species known to be living in Mirkwood.
About the Author:
Robin was born on a cold winter night in Oslo, Norway, 1989. Growing up, he was always fond of telling stories, leading people to wonder when, not if, he would move on to writing stories of his own. Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, he wrote his first short story, ‘Beneath’, in 2015.