An Unusual Case

This was a 750 word challenge story for the above photo of a sculpture by Rook Floro. He calls it ‘Shadow.’

This challenge was set by Miranda Kate, please find her on twitter @PurpleQueenNL. The challenge is part of her #MidWeekFlash game on Facebook, and the link is below the story.

An Unusual Case

This case promised to be unusual. I could never have imagined just how unusual it would turn out. The house I was called to was normal for the city. Every room inside was filled with the debris of a cluttered existence. Since the advent of social media, I’d noticed a steady increase of hoarders. I picked my way through layers of stench ridden trash looking for the sergeant who called me. I found her looking green in the kitchen – I could see why too.

“Sergeant Frost, why? Oh, why did you open the blasted fridge!”

“Bad idea…” Frost vomited in the sink. “…Gah! I’ll never get that stench out of my nostrils. I need to bleach my eyes too!” she replied.

The fridge was filled with mould and putrid, rotten food. I forced my stomach to behave. “So, why did you bring me to this rubbish tip with walls?”

“Yeah, thanks for coming, Detective Gracey. The police were called to reports of screaming. I found the front door open and let myself into this hell hole to check on the homeowner – a Ms Fern Zach. I found this…” Frost entered a utility room. She showed me gelatinous, black gunge in two lines, like drag marks heading out of the backdoor.

 “Okay… This place only gets weirder,” I said having crouched for a closer look. I noticed bare footprints and blonde hair strands visible in the substance.

“I think its crude oil.” Frost rubbed her forehead.

“Agreed.” I rose to my feet and headed out the backdoor following the black substance. The garden was buried beneath more trash dumped from the house. Behind a festering sofa was an open manhole ending the trail. “Sergeant we need Environmental Services, please.”

“I’ll get on it.” Frost took up her radio.

I’d always been fearless except for one thing – narrow, dark spaces. Claustrophobia was a  hang-up for me. I peered into the darkness – I had no choice, “I’ll go, take a look.”

Having flicked on my torch, I climbed down into the manhole. I was sweating before I even reach the bottom, ten feet below. By the diameter of the piping, I knew this was a storm drain. The water was black with the oil I was following. I headed upstream in the dank, gloom; feeling more constricted the further I went. An oily handprint led me into a side tunnel and eventually a room of sorts. It was an outflow of three drains into the one I entered. Flashing my torch about the space, I saw her – the homeowner crouched beneath a large pipe. She was coated in oily gunge and wide-eyed with shock.

“I’m Detective Gracey. Are you okay, Ms Zach?” I asked having stepped through the contaminated water toward her.

“It didn’t hurt m-me!” I saw her lift a trembling hand, pointing across the room.

Following her direction, I picked out a ton of rubbish, mainly plastics, and… “Ah heck!” My light found a container with a terrifying symbol upon it. “Radioactive waste! Just wonderf-” I’d continued panning my torch across the room and there he or rather it was, skulking among roots growing from the walls. Shape like a human, it had the appearance of a shadowy mesh. My light gleamed upon its globular skin which oozed oil.

“W-what is it?” asked Fern, her words making me flinch.

I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing, and I’d seen the strangest things the world had on offer as a detective. “It’ll be okay, Ms Zach,” I lied – I had no idea what was going to happen. “You – get on your knees!” I ordered the being.

It opened its hollow mouth, my light hitting the wall behind as it let out an unearthly, skin-crawling wail.

“Don’t move!” I drew my gun.

It raised its black, oozing hands and stepped forward.

“I said, don’t move!” I was abuzz with adrenaline – cold with mortal panic.

“H-h-e-l-p… m-e.” it managed.

“See, it means no harm. I think it grabbed me to get help,” Fern said.

“Okay, stay there. I’ll bring you help.” I promised the being.

It put its palms together; lowering its head in gratitude.

By the end of the most bizarre day in my life, I learned the being was once a human called Walter. He’d fallen into radioactive oil; dumped into the storm drain. Somehow it altered his molecular structure, making him as much oil as man.

“Listen world, please stop polluting our planet.”

The End

Do you fancy writing a 750 word story for the above photo. Head over to Finding Clarity, follow the instructions and have fun.

Check out more of my tales in the Short Stories tab too. Thank you for joining me on the website and for reading. Have a great day!

This is a reposting to remind of a story created on the 31st day for Fandango’s Friday Flashback.

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17 thoughts on “An Unusual Case

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  1. Hi Mason. I loved this story. Great idea using the first person narrative. Very descriptive, which I liked and added to the intensity and build-up. You could easily squeeze another thousand words out to make it longer if you wanted to. Very enjoyable and with a timely statement about the environment to boot!! Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jim. This one was a battle. I started in my usual 3rd person but it wouldn’t come out properly. So I switched and I feel it worked well.

      This story could easily be a lot bigger too. Maybe it will get a larger make over in the future. Thanks for reading again Jim.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks for reading, Simone. This weekly short story prompts are so much fun. I love adding little twists to them.


  2. Great story, Mason! You’ve got some compelling stuff here! The action is riveting and the imagery is on-point! My favorite line: ‘I was abuzz with adrenaline – cold with mortal panic.’ Just… stellar!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, this started out very creepy! Small spaces, yikes! I really liked the progression this story went through – from a seemingly horror story to more of a cautionary tale with a meaningful message. I loved that message, by the way! It’s so, so important to take care of our world and its environments. Great story! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you for reading, Haley. I love a tale that twists and turns through feelings. I especially love a message in it. Getting all that in a few words is tough but a great challenge. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so very welcome! I’m always happy to read your work! I’ve made it a goal to catch up on your recent stories. 😄 Yes, I love having twists and turns, especially ones that take you on an emotional journey. And a great message is always nice to have in a story. I think you did an amazing job! I love your stories, and I’m in awe over just how good they are, even with such a small word count to use. Write on! 🌻

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aw, Haley you flatter me a lot. You deserve a hug for that comment. You’ll be the first to make a goal of reading my stories and thats special. Thank you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

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