Archive15: Open Day Part 2

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(Warning: This post contains horror elelments)

Bartholomew was showing a disinterested audience how to feed a mottled bee-eater, and getting progressively more irritable about it.

‘Eat the nice, crunchy bluebottle please!’ he said through a forced smile, waving said snack, dead and impaled on a cocktail stick, under the bee-eater’s nose. The creature was far more interested in escape, or maybe rifling through the visitors’ bags to see if they had any actual bees.

‘I guess she’s not hungry!’ he said, trying to be heard over the chattering group. ‘I’ll put her back in the cage and… ‘

Honestly, why were they even here if they didn’t want to listen? He rubbed his brow, trying to banish the beginnings of a headache.

‘Okay, come on,’ he said, when the noise just increased. ‘Chanting, really? Is now the time—‘

Okay, in hindsight?  Perhaps he should have been a bit more alarmed by the chanting.

He caught a brief glimpse of the chanter before everything went to hell: young man, gaunt, sickly looking, eyes bloodshot, black sweater with a red decal on the front.

Their eyes made contact. Bartholomew was going to say something witty about not needing a note to leave his class.

But instead the guy’s chest burst open and a swarm of moths emerged, which changed the mood considerably.

The sheer force and volume of the moths knocked everyone off their feet. He could see nothing but a whirl of bloody wings, soft fluttering bodies knocking against him all over. His mouth and nose burned with a smell he couldn’t begin to identify.

He hardly noticed the bee-eater claw herself from his hand and, with a delighted shriek and a gaping mouth, dive into the fray.

Bartholomew covered his face with his arms, and tried to move to where the door should be. Maybe. He thought? He tripped on something- on someone, nearly losing his balance.

A man stared up at him, a cut on his forehead and unfocused eyes, wheezing for breath against the godawful stink. His hand grasped at his shirt pocket. Probably where he kept his soul, Bartholomew thought, coughing as he hauled the man up onto his feet. Protecting their soul was normally the first instinct in a situation like this.

Bartholomew touched the locket hanging against his chest beneath his shirt. It was little comfort.

Bartholomew shoved the man in front of him, hoping he was steering in the right direction. The moths made it hard to tell what way was up, even, with all their swirling and diving and black spots yawning like mouths coming to eat…

Hmm, no. That part was probably him losing consciousness? And that would explain why the floor was suddenly under his back instead of his feet. It helped with the spinning for a moment, but then he realised the moths were landing on him, on his face and his mouth and the smell, the smell
Continue reading “Archive15: Open Day Part 2”

Archive14: Open Day Part One

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As she did every year, Evelyn spent most of open day waiting for something to go wrong.

The flow of people coming through the doors was steady, but not overwhelming. Evelyn had done her welcome talk, and lead two of the hourly tours. She’d made a hundred teas and coffees, nipped out to the bakery next door to replenish the biscuits, and so far had only had to apologise to one visitor for Jesper’s… abrupt demeanour.

Ruffled feathers had been soothed, and Evelyn was feeling rather good about it all.

It was then she noticed the smell.

‘Oh my- Lesley, do you smell that?’ It snagged on the back of her tongue, she fought back a cough. On second thoughts, it was less of a smell and more of a hand shoving something rotting down her throat and squirting lemon juice in her eyes for good measure.

Around her, other people started coughing.

Lesley grabbed her shoulder.

‘Get’emout,’ she told evelyn between hacking coughs. Out of the corner of her eye, Evelyn saw that Thursday was already herding visitors to the front door.

‘The others,’ Evelyn said. ‘Jesper. Barty—‘ as she spoke, she heard footsteps on the stairs, then Jesper appeared in the doorway, shirt pulled up over his mouth and looking more pissed off than usual.

Keeley should be out in the greenhouse, and she’d hopefully have the good sense to stay there. Which just left Bartholomew, who… was currently running the feeding demo in the archives.

Downstairs.

‘The cellar!’ she said to Lesley, who nodded and as one they pushed through the panicking bottleneck of people to the stairwell.

As they went down, the smell got worse. Like old blood, curdled milk and piss and… superglue.

Trust her little brother to end up in the middle of the chaos. Typical Barty.

Lesley came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the stairs. In the poor light, Evelyn thought at first that the archive door was shut. But no, it looked wrong- like it was rippling, heaving, wriggling.

She switched on the light, and it caught silver on a thousand twitching wings.

The doorway was full of moths.

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