Old Shock

📅 Published on February 10, 2021

“Old Shock”

Written by David Senior
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 12 minutes

Rating: 9.00/10. From 2 votes.
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As Paul approached the town the signal for his car radio began to fail.  It seemed to sum everything up in a nutshell.  Even national radio couldn’t make it out to these coastal backwoods.  Though the roads round this way were little more than single-carriage tracks most of the time, so why should he expect anything else?

Once again, he silently cursed his brother for coming out here.

He felt grouchy.  It had been a long drive.  However, even his mood improved at his first glimpse of the ocean – shimmering sunlight, reflecting the deep blue of the skies above – across the endless fields and towards the horizon.

He wondered whether city dwellers like him ever truly lost that childhood excitement that comes with seeing the ocean.  Maybe that was ultimately the appeal of this place to Robert.

Paul drove past farms and woods and the odd campsite, towards the roofs and church towers beyond that marked the end of this leg of the journey.   He kept fiddling with the radio but was getting no joy, only a blanket of snow and feedback over the music he wanted to listen to, so flicked it off.

He passed by the town sign on the edge of the village.  It read, in big friendly letters, WELCOME TO CROWSMERE.  Even driving, Paul could make out the graffiti that some wit had scribbled across the greeting: “This Is Where People Come To Die.”

Paul smiled in agreement at that.  At least somebody out here knew the score.

After all this, Robert had better be in.  Paul had no intention of staying in this little inbred middle of nowhere village for long – he certainly intended to be sleeping in his own bed tonight – but the least his brother could do was buy him a pint in some local boozer for his trouble.

“Sabbatical.”  That was the word Robert had used to describe his year away from work.  Not that it was hard graft to start with – droning on for a couple of hours a day in front of a few university students who would rather be out getting drunk and laid didn’t sound exactly trying.  The last time Paul had seen his brother, it had been almost a year ago at their mother’s seventieth birthday dinner in the garden of a local restaurant.  Robert had explained that he was taking the next year off from teaching to focus on working on his book.  Their mother was, as ever, beaming with pride, and even their sister Kathy seemed to be at least feigning interest, so it was left to Paul to ask the questions like, “So, do you not get enough holiday as it is, then, with all the breaks the schools have?” and “So when are we going to see this book of yours in the shops, then?”

Robert had smiled coldly, and Paul, knocking back his umpteenth glass of wine – not his usual tipple, he must admit, and so was feeling a touch heady – felt a sense of triumph.  Brothers they may be, but sometimes that speccy know-it-all needing putting down a peg or two.  Later, he had overheard Robert telling Kathy that he was going away for a few months – spending six months renting some old dear’s house in some poky little seaside place called Crowsmere, at the other side of the country – to aid with his research.  “Research,” Paul had scoffed, wandering back over.  “I thought you just wrote about books other people had got round to writing.”

“I’m writing a history of a folk tale specific to that region,” Robert said, turning on him.  He looked his brother up and down, disgusted.  “I doubt you’d be interested, Paul.”

“Oh, aye?” was all Paul could manage, taken aback by Robert’s hostility, obvious even with his senses dulled with booze.  “Just wondering, like…” he continued, before Robert and Kathy turned away and continued their conversation.  Practically turned their backs on him!  Paul tried to ignore the affront, but with everybody else at the table talking to somebody else, he earwigged his siblings whilst gazing out across the garden.  Kathy asked Robert about the folktale he was researching.

“A story about Old Shock,” he’d said.  “The Devil Dog.  Goes back hundreds of years.  Haunts the cliffs overlooking the beach all along that coast.  Lots of occult activity in that region, and a history of smuggling, so there are various possible interpretations of…”

Whatever, Paul thought now.  A year off work to read about some fairytale nobody had ever heard of and the entire family fawns.

Into the village proper now, Paul examined the streets around him.  A bonny enough village, he supposed, as he passed a row of flint cottages facing the sea, but he still dismissed the entire place as ultimately nothing more than a hole in which to dump pensioners on their last legs and spotty boy racer native youths who would probably spend their entire wretched lives here.  He noticed a block of derelict-looking holiday apartments called Clifftop View Flats, and parked up outside there, unwilling to drive even longer looking for a car park.

He stepped out into the warm air, and stretched and rubbed the various aches in the small of his back.  He looked around him.  He locked the car and had a stroll down the promenade, past chip shops and amusement arcades and places selling souvenir tat.  Nowhere was exactly busy, and even then it was mostly older folk wandering about.  The summer holidays hadn’t started yet, clearly.

He bought himself a bag of chips and ate them whilst looking around.  He found a pub called The Trawlermen and took a pint out into the mostly empty beer garden.  He sat in the sun and supped at his beer and thought about his mother.

The funeral was in two days.  Kathy had found her dead on the living room carpet a week and a bit ago. The doctor told them it had been a massive heart attack.  As well as arranging the funeral details – Paul was no good at that sort of thing, so just kept out of it – Kathy had tried constantly to contact Robert.  Endless phone calls that were never answered, even a few letters.  The problem was, nobody was sure if Robert was still away with his research or not.  He certainly wasn’t in his flat back home: Kathy had been round there several times, banging on the door, shouting through the letter box.  Paul hadn’t spoken to his brother since the meal and Kathy admitted she’d only been in contact with him when exchanging Christmas cards.  By her reckoning, he should have finished up in this Crowsmere place maybe two months ago: all she could think of was he had decided to stay on down there longer, perhaps moving accommodation and not getting around to telling anybody.

Kathy had gone through their late mother’s address book but couldn’t find an updated address, only the one he had initially given them.  The one she had written out for Paul after begging him to drive down to try and find him.  Paul had grumbled, but relented.

Paul downed the remainder of his pint.  He considered ordering a second, but already the beer and the afternoon sun were relaxing him perhaps too much.  He went back into the cool darkness of the bar.

“Excuse me, mate,” Paul said, calling over the barman, taking from his wallet the scrap of paper on which Kathy had written Robert’s temporary address.  “Do you know where I’d find this place..?”

It was only a few streets away, as it happened – though a village this size, everywhere was only a few streets away from anywhere else.  Paul followed the directions the barman had given him.  Number 17, Poppy Lane.  The houses down this road were old, and high – many were guest houses or B&Bs.  Paul figured the one Robert had stayed in would be the same, but, as he stood outside the door glancing up at the building, he noted only one doorbell, and it certainly looked like a single property.

Certainly looks like an old woman’s place, too, Paul thought, walking up to the door.  The tiny front yard was slabbed but covered in pots of flowers in bloom.  All the windows had net curtains across them, but again, plants and knick-knacks (porcelain figurines of dogs and fishermen of such unironic kitsch that they turned his stomach) stood guard on the window sills.

By the house number on the wall by the door was a small sign, made from various pieces of seashells and crockery glued together, with HAPPY HOME painted across it.

He pressed the doorbell.

A dog began to bark from inside, a deep, slow-sounding thing.  Paul shifted on the doorstep and looked around him, watching an old silver-haired couple emerge from the guest house opposite and shuffle slowly in the direction of the beach front.

This is where people come to die.

Through the door, he could hear a female voice quietening the barking.  A silhouette appeared against the frosted glass, and he heard a lock being slid back and a chain unfastened.

“Yes?” an old woman asked, peering out.

Paul had tried his hand selling double glazing door-to-door in his early twenties, and he lapsed back into that patter.  He smiled.  “Hello there, doll.  Sorry to trouble you…  I’m looking for a chap called Robert I was led to believe may be staying here?”

The old woman looked at him from beneath a bob of white hair, part expectant, part blank, as if to say, Go on.

“Er,” Paul said.  His heart sank as he began to worry if Robert had initially provided them with an incorrect address.  If so, there would be hell to pay when he finally turned up.

“Robbie McIntosh?” he continued.  “I thought he was meant to be renting this place out for a few months…”  Still nothing.  He wondered if the old dear was right in the head.

“I’m his brother,” Paul added, uselessly.

At this, a light seemed to flick on somewhere behind her eyes.  “Ah!” she cried happily, clapping her hands together.  “Mr. McIntosh, of course!  I’m sorry, my memory isn’t what it was…  He is the writer, yes?”

Feeling irritation – how could he go round telling people he was a writer when he hadn’t published a book yet? – Paul simply said, “Aye, that’s the one.  I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for him.”

“Oh dear,” the old woman said, opening the door wider now.  That enormous-sounding dog was still cough-barking somewhere out back.  Paul nervously glanced over the woman’s shoulder into the hallway behind her, but it seemed any angry hound was secured off in a room somewhere.  “Mr. McIntosh rented the house from me whilst I was away visiting my niece…  She lives in Australia, such a nice girl, she’s a doctor, they both are…  Fifteen years they’ve lived there, you know, but neither one of them have lost a bit of their accents…”

Paul continued to smile even as he began to glaze over.  “And my brother?” he managed to insert, gently but firmly.

“Of course,” she said, as if that had left her mind completely.  “I’m sorry, but he left here perhaps two months ago, when I returned.”

Great.  Paul sent another silent curse Robert’s way.  He looked up and down the street, pointlessly, as if he expected to see him happen to be strolling past.

“Do you know if he stayed in town?” Paul asked, turning back to the old woman’s sympathetic eyes beneath her thick spectacles.  “Did he rent somewhere else?  Or did he leave you a forwarding address at all?”

“Please, come inside,” she said, now moving aside and opening the door fully for him.  “He may have left an address…  I’ll go and see.”

Paul thanked her and stepped inside.  She closed the door behind him.  The hallway was dim, its only window that in the front door.  The dog seemed to know a stranger was inside, and upped its enraged barks.  The old woman ushered him through a doorway off the hall on the right.  “Please, sit down, dear…  I’ll see if I can find anything.  Would you like a cup of tea?”

“No, thank you,” Paul said, stepping into the bright lounge.  “I don’t want to be any trouble.”  It was warm in here, bordering on stifling.  He marveled at how Robert could stay in such a place for six months.  He’d always had an old head on his shoulders, but Christ, surely not this old.  Doilies seemed to cover every surface, and on top of these were yet more revolting porcelain dolls and pots of potpourri and vases of sickly-scented flowers.  He didn’t want to spend the afternoon stuck in here reminiscing.  Although, as he thought this, he did feel a pang of unexpected sadness, and guilt.  She was probably just lonely.  Like his mother must have been at the end.  Of her three children, Kathy was the only one to visit her with any regularity, and even then only once a week or so.

Paul had only lived a ten-minute walk from her.

At the old woman’s insistence, he perched politely on the edge of an armchair.

“All my paperwork is in the kitchen,” she told him, about to leave the room.  She was thin, and moved liked some eager if fragile bird.  She turned back to him, and her voice turned a hushed tone of gossipy.  “Is it… very bad news?”

Paul wanted to smile affectionately.  His stopping by was probably the most drama she’d had since her holiday, poor old soul.  He kept his expression respectfully somber, however, when he said, “Our mother passed away.”

She looked down at him like he was a five-year-old sadly cradling a popped balloon.  “Aw,” she said.  “Such a shame.”  She turned and scurried away.

With her out of the room, Paul stood up, and strolled idly around the room.  Framed reproductions of bland watercolors hung on the walls alongside black and white photographs of people he assumed to be long gone.  Men and women posing on the beach in enormous swimming outfits, or smiling at the camera as they tramped heartily across rugged moorland.  One particular couple appeared in the photographs more than most – a robust gentleman with a receding hairline and a slight, dark-haired beauty.  He wondered if this was the old woman in younger days, with a now-deceased husband.  He peered at the pictures but couldn’t really tell.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cup of tea?” she called out from another room.

“No, thank you,” he shouted back, turning towards a glass cabinet in which there stood more smaller framed photographs.  Paul didn’t have a single photograph on display of any of his family or friends in his flat.  Any that he did have were kept in no particular order in a shoebox in a drawer.  He wondered whether this would change, the older he got.

That dog continued its weird barking from somewhere.  Paul wondered whether Robert had had to look after it whilst the old woman was away.  She surely couldn’t have taken it to Australia with her.  If it barked like that all the time, it would have been impressive for Robert to manage any work at all.

Paul picked up a small lucky cat figurine from the mantelpiece.  He scoffed.  It would have been ghastly enough even had it been finished correctly, Paul thought, but to make things worse it had then been mispainted slightly, so its face looked like it was sinking on one side, like the poor creature had suffered a stroke.

Homemade gift, he figured, placing the thing back.

He sat back on the armchair.  He felt restless, wanting the old woman to return with an address so he could get out of this slightly sad, stuffy front room.

On a small coffee table beside the armchair was a pile of books and magazines.  He uninterestedly looked through them as he waited.  The top few were knitting and crochet magazines, then a notebook, then a fairly weighty and highbrow-looking tome bearing the title Eastern Counties Folk Miscellanea.  He lifted it, intrigued – plain cover, cloth-bound, more the kind of thing he’d have expected to see in an antique shop or dusty college library.  The kind of book he would have expected to see on his brother’s shelves.

He turned the book over, and noticed several scraps of paper sticking out from a section near the middle.  Paul opened the book to this section, where he found a chapter headed ‘Old Shock and the Daemon Dogs of the East Coast.’  He flicked through the pages.  The pieces of paper, he was unsurprised to see, were covered in notes.  Paul recognized his brother’s handwriting.

Out in the hallway, he could hear the old woman finally coming back.  She seemed to be chattering to herself.  Paul stood up, still turning the pages of the miscellany, wondering whether she even knew Robert had even left the book when he had departed.  He looked at reproductions of medieval woodcut images, of enormous snarling beasts and witches and the devil, and his eye fell upon a note Robert had jotted: “Shock – Shuck – old Eng. ‘scucca’ – ‘demon’?”

“Did you know this had been left here..?” Paul asked, turning round, before the words died in his throat.

He paused, and was about to laugh, unsure how else to react to the sight – baffling, and clearly some bizarre joke.  Yet as his naked brother lurched on his hands and knees into the room, the thick collar around his neck attached to the leash being held by the old woman behind him, Paul didn’t even know how to laugh.  Robert, never a bulky man, was now a lean, wiry creature, muscles tensing beneath skin intersected everywhere with scars and lash marks and thin scabbed wounds.  Dirty hair hung long and a straggly beard covered his lower face.

“Robert,” Paul said dumbly.  Through some instinct, he took a step backward.  The heavy book dropped from his hands, forgotten, onto the thick carpet.

Robert snarled, and barked – ludicrously, actually bearing his teeth, and here Paul actually did laugh, stopping only when he noticed Robert’s hands.  Robert was on his hands and knees, but did not have his palms flat against on the floor – rather, he had both hands curled backwards, wrenched and knotted, and was moving forward with that hideously off-kilter movement with his upper-body weight resting on his twisted bent wrists.

The old woman, standing behind Robert, the thick lead clutched in her fist, had her eyes closed, her head titled up, as she muttered what sounded to Paul like an endless stream of gibberish.

Paul began to crouch, slowly.  Robert barked, saliva flicking from between his teeth.  Paul’s eyes flicked from those of his brother – raging and unrecognizing and utterly alien – to the multitudes of sore wounds across Robert’s body.  He held out his hands in front of him, calmingly.

The old woman’s chanting became louder, and more shrill.

“Robert…?” he managed.

Then the lead in the old woman’s grip was freed and Robert lurched crazily forward and was upon him, knocking Paul back in a blur of snarling and hair and arms and unwashed stench and surprising weight.  Paul fell back against the carpet, knocking over the coffee table and sending magazines flying, too bewildered to think about defending himself even as his brother’s teeth bit down into his Adam’s apple and wrenched away meat and splatter and cartilage.  Paul could hear the old woman’s babbling even as the crimson mist stung his eyes.  Robert was back on him, biting down into his face.

Paul eventually tried to scream, before realizing he was simply choking on and gargling out his own blood.  His hand, pinned uselessly beneath him, gripped onto the carpet.  The carpet felt thick, comfortable.

Rating: 9.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by David Senior
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: David Senior


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author David Senior:

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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