Sometimes, Howard thought Lauren stopped loving him right after the Flood. Although it wasn’t true. It was in his nature to blame everything on cataclysmic events, truth is, she stopped loving him when she lost the child.
Back in those days, the Furniture days, when the shop was still mostly open, they planned on calling it Joshua if the child ever came to be a boy, and deep in his deepest recesses, Howard surely wished his first born would be a son. He’d never tell it to his wife though.
As her belly grew, Lauren’s stare got… more distant, more fragile. There were a few times when the shop-owner did think of having his wife sent to Arkham. He felt ashamed of this, deeply feeling it would be much worse if Lauren actually turned cray-zee. He always thought of this word as two distinct syllables, just like his third-grade teacher used to pronounce it.
Back in Providence.
Lauren and Howard met at a theatre, a midnight screening of White Zombie, the Bela Lugosi’s flick. They went inside with a different partner each, and sat right next to one another because the room was so packed. Lauren jumped out of her chair when the mad hypnotist sets his zombies upon the handsome Robert Frazier and she grabbed Howard’s hand just like this, by accident.
There were times when the shop-owner would admit to you that, deep inside, he still believed in fate and up until fairly recently Howard really thought he was blessed. And didn’t the Flood come? And didn’t they both survive?
They survived at first, until Lauren started singing strange melodies in tongues he didn’t recognize. One night, Howard even found his wife sitting upon the window, their second-floor window, yelling at those green canals which had now replaced the streets down below. He woke up ’cause it was freezing, not that he’d felt his loving half leaving the bedsheets and for this, Howard still felt guilty from times to times. This night, this precise night, he’d took Lauren back to the bed, closed the window, her teeth still shattering against one another, and he’d been scared of her for the very first time.
It wasn’t the night they lost the child, though. The darkness which surrounded him the night of the loss, this very night he awoke in his empty marital bed, was much more profound and sticky and damp, oh-so-terrifying. It was the screams that woke him, guttural sounds so low, they couldn’t have come from a human mouth orthroat. Itcame from the streets, those liquid, fluids streets.
Howard instantly noticed his pregnant wife was missing this time, and anguished by the insane mumblings which seemed to emanate from his front door, he rushed down the two set of stairs, still only covered by his pajamas.
The frontdoor was ajar.
And under the pale, oh-so-thin, oh-so-tight moonlight which peered through the building which surrounded theirs, Howard could see Lauren. She was sitting on the wooden planks people now used as sidewalks ever since the Flood. Her legs, he couldn’t see her legs, what with her back turned, but he knew. Howard knew something was off the very moment he saw her, the very second he understood the strange sounds where coming from his wife’s throat. He also knew this could not be. Period.
Her dress, the white gown she used to wear every time she got to sleep, the white gown he made her wear every time they shared the bed, it was just soaked in blood, from the crotch almost to her feet. Howard fought with himself not to cry in front of her, he man up, he raised her, held her tight, his legs trembling.
And when he took her up the stairs, he could swear to you, he heard her giggling and this simple fact sent chills through his spine, broke something in him.
After the incident he locked her up, what else could have he done? The Flood… It had taken away his wife’s sanity, maybe it had even made the young woman kill his son for all he knew. Deep down Howard believed it had been a boy.
Except for the constant stomach ache, the next few weeks had been normal, almost suspect in their oh-so-common form. Howard had three calm and quiet weeks before Lauren started singing again.
He didn’t notice it at first, he was so scared and trying to reopen the shop and kind-of-broken, here, right through his heart at the time, he didn’t notice. He would have admitted that. He never knew, though.
But one day, a few weeks in, after Lauren had started again speaking in tongues, Howard awoke alone, and drenched in a hard sweat which was already freezing because of the open window. The cold, harsh wind which came from the street was howling secrets he couldn’t understand, mysteries he didn’t want to pierce. This night, this very night when Howard opened his eyes, he thought of the time they lost the child, of the white gown oh-so-red and he gripped Lauren’s pillow with the strength of his despair.
The empty shel which once was his wife wasn’t on the side walk, past the frontdoor. This night, when Howard set foot upon the first floor of their house, he instantly noticed the light rays which were coming from the shop, stabbing all through the darkness. Howard enterd the shop and there she stood, Lauren, her hand firmly pressed against the cold glass which walled the shop, growling, no, chanting oh-so-vilely, to a clustered shadow which stood on the opposite side of the window.
The shop-owner missed a breath, walking towards his wife, listening to her lullaby and he’d noticed.
The form which pressed itself against the shop windows, it was a tentacle, a tentacle so vast, it couldn’t have been attached to a creature which would have fitted the then-drowned street. Howard noticed the tiny fingers which made up every sucker on the creature’s arm.
A part of him understood.
This concludes my series inspired by Astor Alexander’s artwork for Frogwares’ The Sinking City videogame and if you ended up here, I really do hope you liked what you read and even if you don’t, please feel free to say it in the comment down below. If you liked this piece, please follow, clap ( ’cause that’s what we do in here !), I ‘d take good and bad criticism.
With this being said, if you’re interested with the process (and havn’t read it already)which led me to write about an artwork I saw online, you can read about it in One tip from a Diletante Writer.
Next week I’ll begin to talk about cinema so stay tuned!