The Gentle Sound of Tapping is the latest in the Dark Journeys Collection by Jennifer Hudock. Not only is she on the blog tour, but she is putting out more and more good short work in the collection. I liked this creepy story, it had just the right feel to it. The mood, the setting, yeah.. it does it for me, it has that Outer Limits feel.
You can check out Jenny's website and get in on the goodies and where you can get your copy at Amazon or Smashwords. Here is an excerpt!!
There came the gentle sound of tapping, tap-tap-tap-tap, while Walter Winthrop lay restless in his bed, and he believed if he rolled over in a huff and formed the pillow around his head, the soft cushion would muffle out the noise. Inside the padded safety of his pillow Walter sought peace, but then the tapping sounded even louder. It reminded him of his mother on Sunday mornings.
“Walter, time for church. God waits for no man, and least of all the idle man!”
He hated that remark, as though his getting a decent night’s sleep on the weekend made him some kind of tool of the devil.
His mother had been dead twenty years, and he had always believed the lofty dead did not suffer the company of the living. Of course, others believed differently. Some even claimed the veil between worlds was thin as spider web one night every year, All Hallows Eve. Lost souls wandered through the darkness in search of what had once been familiar in life. Some wailed and moaned over the loss of their bodies, while others pranked the living. The malicious spirits called for attention and sacrifice from the living, and many set extra plates at the dinner for their dearly departed. In memory of the deceased children dressed as ghouls and begged candy from strangers.
Walter never celebrated the foolish, fabled holiday known as Halloween. His mother had called it Devil’s Night and refused to let her son participate in any activity that might expose his soul to the devil. Once he was old enough to forget his mother’s disillusionment, Walter developed his own reasons for boycotting Halloween. Back then he considered himself a practical young man, driven solely by reason. The dead coming back for one night each year went against logic. The very idea of a devil didn’t even make sense.
For fifty-seven of his sixty-three years, Walter studied the calculation and reckoning of numbers and formulae. Mathematics was a safe and reasonable activity. There was nothing magical or unpredictable about numbers. They either added up, or they did not, and in situations that called for drastic measure, the uncooperative could be easily fixed with a simple adjustment or the inclusion of an imaginary number. Now before the thought of imaginary numbers could disrupt the weary and predictable self image of a man like Walter Winthrop, he learned rather quickly there was nothing magical or exciting about imaginary numbers either. They were not the same kind of imaginary that described an invisible friend or exciting adventure in one’s own mind. They were simply necessary in the computation of formulas and nothing more.
Walter never had the kind of head wrapped easily around inexplicable things. The fact that he had no father never made much sense to him, and because the other children made fun of him in the cruelest way imaginable, he kept quiet and to himself. The simple recitation of numbers became a game in his mind as he walked to and from school. Over time he discovered the importance of formulae in everything from building a tree-fort to planning a trip into outer space.
Science relied on numbers, which meant the entire fabric of the universe came down to numbers in the end. There was no clandestine purpose for geometry, no enchantment in calculus, and there was certainly nothing miraculous about algebra or physics. No matter how the numbers came together, they either worked, or they did not, and Walter wouldn’t have it any other way.
So when the sound of gentle tapping bothered just outside his window, Walter told himself it was nothing. Just a tree branch, not brittle bone-tipped fingers, only bending boughs in the howling wind. Yes, the wind did howl that night, in such a way Walter never heard before. Low moans, like those of a dying man, constant in his agony, but Walter would not be afraid.
It was only wind.
“All Hallows Eve,” he humphed and flopped around in his bed again, so the blanket coated lump of his backside faced the window indifferently. “Tip-tap on someone else’s window, bunch of superstitious fools!”