"I thought you might like a sample of something I've done, so here is a short story I wrote a long time ago. I hope you like it."
The lightening crackled on the horizon, casting an eerie glow through the windows of the library in which he sits. There, by the candle’s light and the fire’s blaze he reads, book after book, of the haunting folklore which envelops this wooded valley. Hounds, hell-spawned and blood thirsty, so black the cloak of night renders them invisible. Even under the full moon they are only shadows. Their eyes shine, like red hot coals, stabbing the darkness. Their insatiable appetite for terror knows no master, save the Devil himself. No one is safe in the forest at night, and few are safe in the daylight.
Suddenly, rising from somewhere deep in the storm, a piercing howl invades his ears. Hushed, like a memory from a forgotten dream. Shaking it off, he returns to his research. After turning a few pages, there on the next one, is the only known sketch of the beasts. Drawn by the dying hand of the longest surviving victim. The sun had shown bright that day, the detail is perfect. He lifts the book, to carry it to the fireplace, for a better look. From between the last few pages a piece of parchment falls to the floor. Without missing a step, he picks it up and continues to a chair by the hearth. Once seated, he turns his attention to the writing on the parchment, instead of the book. The note is in a sanscrit unfamiliar to him, but some of the words have been translated already. Among the sentences in English, two partial ones catch his eye, ‘….the hounds that haunt…..’ and ‘…Only one path to their destruction.’ Placing the book and parchment on the stones of the hearth, he gets up and crosses the room, to one of the many bookshelves that line the walls.
As he stands there, scanning over the titles for one on sanscrits, a baleful howl fractures the stillness. So like the first, yet louder and much closer. This is trailed by a wail that shivers the soul. That of a mortal, who has just seen the approaching face of death. He trembles for the nearness of it all, wondering whether he should have built a great wall around his Keep, as the villagers had warned him to do.
Another howl comes. This one vibrates off the outer stone walls, lingering for awhile within. Before the echoes can die, three booming knocks ring out, from the huge oak door on the far side of the castle. At first he is unable to move, his feet frozen to the ground by a shock-wave of reality. This doesn’t last, and soon he is running down halls, past rooms, seeking the shortest route through this massive home. Mid-stride he stops cold, for the howls have returned, followed almost immediately, by three desperate, heavy, knocks, falling faster than the first. Split-seconds pass, and then he hears a wail that rattles the metal and shakes the crystal. The knocks, howls and screams become so simultaneous that they begin to fuse into one terrifying sound. Fighting the urge to turn tail, he commences running, only a slight more hesitant. When he enters the main hall, that ends in the door which is his goal, the clamor is at such a volume he has to cover his ears, or scream in pain himself.
The seconds it takes him, to complete the distance, could well have been an hour, he would have not have known the difference. He moves a trembling hand towards the latch as three knocks explode throughout the castle, reluctantly paused, each having the time to echo. Then comes a silence tainted with an air of death. The only sound to follow is that of the claws and pads of the hounds, brushing the porch stones as they leave. A grandfather clock ticks the moments away as he tarries there, frozen like a statue, his hand still raised half-way between his side and the door. His hand completes the journey so slowly that he is hardly aware of it. The cold solidity of the brass handle is enough to stir his senses out of the fog of fear. Momentarily numb, he opens the door. Midnight looms beyond it. As if compelled, haltingly, he looks down. A mute scream sticks in his throat like a bad piece of gristle. For there at his feet lays a hideous puddle of blood and bones that only moments before was a man.
As he turns slowly back into his castle, and closes the door behind him, he knows that tomorrow he will start making the plans for a great wall.