Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to another Story Time With Tim! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and this week’s offering starts off a multipart rendition of my old novella Shiver. Originally, I had titled the tale Creeping Death. However, it just wasn’t working quite the way I wanted it to. So I changed it to Shiver. Right now, the story stands as a pilot of sorts for a new story series I want to write involving this town and the horrors that transpired within its boundaries.
Now, this story has a lot of inspiration derived from Silent Hill (that video game series Konami seems hellbent on annihilating permanently) and I think it works fairly well in that regard. It’s a long one though. Not as long as some of my other novellas, but long enough to warrant multiple postings as a result. The last posting, One Last Dance, was almost long enough to warrant multiple parts, but it would have only been two postings and I thought that you all could read through the whole thing in one sitting with very few issues. After all, you all are great readers!
Anyhow, let’s not dawdle too long here. I’ve expressed what the story is inspired by, but I suppose the question is why did I write it? Because I loved Silent Hill and I wanted my own tale based on the concept. And, since this was written in 2004, the Silent Hill series was on its way down and out. Alright, here we go. Enjoy part one of Shiver! And come back next week for part two!
See you soon!
Strong and steady, the fresh breeze blew across the mountain path gently stirring the fur on chittering squirrels squabbling for fallen nuts. Small necks craned, yet barely acknowledged the two human beings traversing downward the mountain pass. Hastily, those gray rodents went about their business of nut foraging in preparation for the coming winter.
Lazily, the man cast his eyes towards the local wildlife setting itself in unison motion underneath the multicolored trees making up the heavily wooded park set aside for hikers and those folks just looking for a good walk through mother nature. A smile had crept upon his face as he viewed nature’s splendor in all its glory.
He loved the scenic areas of this small, Appalachian community in the hills. Even the housing complexes seemed at ease with the natural settings of mountainous terrain going on without apparent end. It was in a town like this that he’d grown up. In fact, the man was half tempted to grow out a beard again. He was tired of being a smooth faced real estate broker and wanted to don a more appropriate demeanor. This was his country. Chicago was behind him.
The man looked down at his daughter walking beside him. If anyone could stand out in stark contrast to his smiling, happy visage, it was she. A scowl of discontent had worked its way over the girl’s face and she had crossed her arms in contempt.
Oh, Maddie, Maddie, Maddie… the thought crossed his mind, as his smile slightly dimmed. However, he wasn’t content to let that smile fade completely as they continued treading the mountain path.
“God, would you look at this scenery. Isn’t it beautiful?” he gestured with wide arms at the arcing paradise set in panoramic splendor before them. She wasn’t biting.
He knew what the problem was. That boy. She couldn’t forgive her mother for taking the job here, forcing them to move away from the hoodlum with loose fitting jeans and a demeanor that just begged for lawful intervention.
“Look at how blue the sky is here. And just breathe in that fresh, mountain air!” he continued, knowing she couldn’t care less.
He let his arms drop back to his sides and reluctantly returned to just walking in the peace of the country around them. The thirteen-year old girl couldn’t keep her silence, though.
“This sucks,” she suddenly spoke, somewhat disturbing her father’s revelry. “How could mom do this to me!?”
“Your mother has a very important job to do. I for one am glad to have come.”
“You would be…”
“Hey, watch your tone.”
“But I love him!” she pled, looking up to her father.
He could only cast half a smile and shake his head. What could she possibly know of love? At least, whereas experience warranted, that was. Maddie hadn’t lived long enough to know what real love was. Where you were willing to sacrifice your own needs to see to the fruition of the relationship and the family.
“There are other fish in the sea.”
“Ugh!” she proclaimed indignantly, with a notable and exaggerated sagging of her shoulders and chest. “It’s sooo unfair!”
“Mmmm. God, I love it here,” her father spoke, ignoring her incessant whining of some juvenile delinquent in Chicago.
They walked further along in a semi-silence. However, it wasn’t long before something strange seemed to settle over the young woman. She squinched her eyes somewhat as a nausea built up within her stomach. Hands went to her gut as she tried to contemplate what it was. She didn’t think it was her getting sick. And she didn’t think she was about to erupt in some foul-smelling incident. But there was definitely something wrong. She looked up to her father as he slightly hummed to himself with that stupid smile plastered to his face.
“Dad,” she began, trying to remain calm.
“Look, there are leaves falling! Yellows, and oranges, and vivid reds!” he spoke, trying to ignore any further irrational pleas to return to that corroded city. He didn’t bother looking at her because he knew those beautiful, brown doe eyes would be staring right back up at him.
“I… don’t feel so well,” she stated, feeling the pain increase. Something was definitely wrong.
“You’ll get used to it. It’s a new environment. I know. But there’ll be plenty of other boys…” he said, looking ahead, “Wow. I can see the town from here! With the mountainous backdrop, with its hazy tones, it’s so serene.”
“I… I feel funny.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it,” he said and looked down at his daughter, finally relenting to her penetrating gaze. His smile vanished.
Maddie looked up at her father, not understanding what was happening, but just knowing that something was very wrong. She saw her father through a blurry haze as he reached out for her.
That something eked its way into her consciousness and rational thought disappeared. Then there was only the darkness.
Cerise Oldega was a difficult person to miss noticing, despite her short stature of five foot six inches tall. She was still a giant in her field. And anyone who stared into her deep, blue-green eyes, could not miss her fierce intellect. She had long, dark brown hair with slight slivers of auburn serving as natural highlights, which she now had done up into a French Braid to prevent it from whipping around onto delicate equipment. Normally, she enjoyed just pulling it into a pony tail and letting it trail down upon the backs of her knees. However, now was the time for utmost professionalism. She pulled the coat she wore a little snugger into her form and made sure her buttons were all the way fastened.
Cerise cast her view around the sanitized lab. Men in white trench-coats made haste with their proceedings. Odd lights blinked upon consoles littered around the very nauseatingly white room that let out, via a small hall, into another room. It was large and oval with a massive, cylindrical object in the middle taking up at least half the space.
Through a large viewport, Cerise carefully examined the intricate workings of the cylinder. She looked at the plexiglass material encompassing three quarters of the cylinder’s construction and through it to the small sphere slowly rotating upon a pedestal within. Serious physics were at play here. Some she didn’t quite understand herself. Quantum mechanics wasn’t her specialty. However, the experiment had to go on.
The best team in the world had been assembled for Cerise’s new assignment here, in this lab, far from Chicago. All her research hadn’t been in vain, for, finally, the higher ups had taken heed in what she’d been saying all along; that artificial gravity was possible and she could prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
It had taken some time; years, in fact. She had met many contacts, including the young physicist Elliot Dawson who stood in the next room over. His specialty was Quantum Physics and the mechanics associated with its application. His theories on how to apply gravity waves in opposition to its natural course was genius and well beyond her level of thinking. It was all so abstract as to be impractical. Yet, somehow, it could be applied to her theories on artificial gravity; that Earth was essentially a magnet, to think simplistically, and that one could, in theory, pose an opposite effect to it, creating lift. This capability could be reconstructed in space to create a polar dynamic using energy cells that represented the Earth’s gravitational pull and other components that pulled against it. Nothing but logical guesswork was at play, and here they were getting ready to put the theory through its paces.
“Well, Doctor, feeling metaphysical today?” Elliot smiled and gave a slight laugh that belied the obvious nervousness he had to be feeling.
“As ever as I’m going to be. Let’s get this puppy warmed up,” Cerise smiled back, feeling giddy at the opportunity to apply her theory in real life.
It was amazing to think how much faith her investors had in her to be putting this much on the line. The private space industry had only just begun in earnest and everyone was looking for a leg up on the competition. What better way to say you’re the best than to say, ‘Hey, we have artificial gravity. The other guys don’t. Come fly with us!’
“Alright, everyone, goggles on. This little ball’s in motion,” Cerise said.
The whole lab put on their equipment, getting ready for history. Aides abandoned the chamber beyond, housing the cylinder and the little component that would make this radical endeavor possible. A dull thrum emanated throughout the complex as the device booted up. Fingers were crossed as a bright light shot out from the cylinder. Cerise could barely make out the ball, crazily spinning suddenly on its axis upon the pedestal on which it sat. Then, it began to hover into the air and a din of excitement broke out.
It was true. Gravity had been defied as the silver ball with its strange wave patterns in its surface began to slack off in its spin and began its own, slowing rotation. Cerise smiled in private defiance at all those who had said it was impossible. None of those so-called geniuses were there, of course. But she knew they wouldn’t be happy to be proven wrong.
She turned towards Elliot, who was monitoring a screen on his side of the lab. With a feeling of being watched, he turned to take in Cerise smiling at him. He smiled back knowing what they’d accomplished. Cerise gave him a thumbs up. He returned the gesture. She turned back towards the little hovering globe, thinking about her husband and daughter and knowing that they were all set for life. She could now write a book about her theories and continue to push and refine the technology.
“Doctors! We have a problem!” a voice cut in over Cerise’s thoughts.
The smiles on those in the lab dissipated in that sudden exclamation. Elliot and Cerise rushed over to the systems monitor to see what the issue was.
“What’s going on?” Cerise inquired nervously, hoping beyond hope that it wasn’t anything serious, her dreams of glory now seeming very dim.
“I don’t know. Some sort of spike in the energy outputs. It shouldn’t be reading levels this high.”
“That’s not good,” Elliot commented, rushing over to the viewport to take note of the little ball now bouncing up and down in its own geosynthetic orbit.
Cerise peered over to the ball and frowned.
“How much energy are we talking about?” she inquired, afraid of the answer.
“Uhm… enough to power New York indefinitely,” the aide looked up at Cerise from behind her goggles, looking very alien.
“Perfect,” Cerise commented wryly. “Try to lower the levels…”
“Ma’am, I’m trying. But… It’s not responding!” she replied to Cerise exasperated.
Elliot looked back at them. He grimaced but remained calm.
“Take the matrix offline. We’ll see what went wrong and try to correct the outputs,” he said.
“…the system isn’t cooperating with me. I don’t get it,” the woman replied to Elliot, frantically trying to override the system.
“Unplug it,” Cerise commanded to one of the aides nearest the power station.
The man reached down into the safety overrides and shut off all the breakers. Nothing happened. He went over to the wall where serious looking conduits of cable were plugged into the power station and set about releasing the safety harnesses with his gloved arms. He looked up once the task was complete. The power was still on.
“Ok. This is new,” Elliot said, stepping back from the viewport. Strangely enough, the little bouncing globe seemed to now be powering the lab.
“Suggestions?” Cerise asked Elliot, coming up beside him.
Before Elliot could answer, a sudden pulse knocked them off their feet and onto their backs. Seated aides were flung haphazardly from their chairs. The room went dark and utter silence prevailed.
A thick dampness woke the man from an uncomfortable slumber. He sat up in an awkward confusion. Something wasn’t right. Where was he? Apparently, he was on a bench in the middle of what looked to be some park. He couldn’t tell. All he could see was a thick fog surrounding the area everywhere he looked. The man sat up and inhaled deeply, placing his right hand to his forehead. It throbbed with the pressure of a very unsettling sleep.
Shit. Goddamn headache. Thoughts of this nature persisted in his mind as he struggled with his center of gravity to stumble to his feet. Apparently, his center was in his posterior as he found himself rather quickly on his duff on a very wet ground.
Wonderful. Fortunately, he had a trenchcoat on. An old brown leather one he’d gotten from—he realized he didn’t know where he’d gotten it from. He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know how he got here. And he sure as hellfire didn’t know where he’d been. The only thing he knew for absolute certainty was his name; Rysden.
Sheridan scratched a full days’ growth of accumulated whiskers upon his chin as he contemplated his new surroundings and got to his feet. Turning around three hundred and sixty degrees, he realized that no matter where he went, there was some fog hindering his progress. He could see some trees. Some paths as well. Grass was in abundance, oversaturated with dew or just rainwater. Or something. He didn’t care.
He chose a direction; that-a-way. And began to plod along to destinies unknown. Grimy and gruff looking hands dug into pockets in his coat and denim jeans looking for money. There had to be a diner in this area. Because, he was hungry. And hungry wasn’t good. Especially in a place you’d never seen before. Better to have a full gut and then think on it than an empty one going hysterical about it. Maybe he’d find a store along the way and get some aspirin.
A wallet came out of his back pocket. In it was one hundred forty dollars. How fortuitous. He thought to himself, suddenly paying attention to his driver’s license. Well, at least now I have some idea where I came from. Point one: me. He stashed the wallet back into his rear pocket, brushing aside his trench-coat ever so slightly and continued on his way to god only knew where.
About half an hour passed as Sheridan traversed the terrain. He had found the town the park belonged to not too far along the path he had chosen. You chose wisely, my son. Jesting thoughts came to him as he found a pack of cigarettes in his inner coat pocket and lit one to pass the time. The town was strangely deserted. And that eerie fog only got worse as he continued along the streets. There were no lights. That was a puzzler. He was beginning to wonder if everyone had just packed up and left town when he ran across a figure lying hunched by a guardrail to an apartment complex.
“Hey, buddy,” he said, making a move towards the figure and flicking an ash. “Pal, where the fuck am I?”
Sheridan touched the figure on its shoulder as it lay crouched on the steps. The figure rolled off the steps and onto its back.
Sheridan paused and looked at the face. It was a woman. Her arms flopped down on the ground and she looked dead.
“Ah, shit,” he stated and knelt down to check her pulse. “People these days. Ain’t got any regard for human life. Just leave a poor soul slumped on the steps like some—” as he touched her neck, the woman opened her eyes, took one look at him, screamed in terror, jumped to her feet, and jetted down the street like a triathlon runner going for the gold. He flicked an ash and took another drag on his cigarette. Exhaling the smoke, he shook his head, “What the fuck?”
Sheridan stayed there on his knee watching the woman disappear into the gloomy fog without a clue as to what just happened. He shook his head and got to his feet. People these days. And at that, he continued on his way through the darkened streets of some town in the middle of nowhere.
There you go! The end of part one. Come back next week for part two and I hope you’re having fun reading these tales! If you want to check out Shiver in its full glory, check out where I’ve posted it on my author’s page and other links! Thanks for reading and read to you again next week!
~Timothy S Purvis
Here is the independent posting of the novella Shiver (and it’s only 99 Cents!):
If you’re looking for some other novellas to read in addition to this one, check out Tales From A Strange Mind Volume II and get most of the novellas I’ve ever written. And it’s only a 1.99 too!
And don’t forget to check out my personal author’s page. Just click on my name and the link will take you straight there–> Timothy S Purvis