Inside Chaos by Brody Lane Gregg

Aron sits on a beach with his wife when his world suddenly ends, in Brody Lane Gregg's hellish vision.

They had the beach all to their own. It was one plot of sandy paradise nestled against the cool flow of crystalline water. Heaven on earth.

All he wanted was to hold her in his arms. He reached out and caressed her tan skin. It was as soft as anything he'd ever felt. She leaned against him, wrapped in his warm embrace. She was his, only his.

"I love you," she whispered.

He pulled her down onto the sand, running his fingers through her long blond hair. His hand caressed her cheek. "I love you too."

He laid down beside her.

A blanket of stars stretched above them and the moon glistened off the placid water.

He noticed her lips tighten into a smile.

"Will you always love me?" she asked. "Even when I'm old?"

"Always... forever... until the end of time..." He pulled her closer. "Nothing will ever change my love for you... nothing, Lizabeth."

She seemed content with his answer.

They stared at the waves that crashed on the rocky edge of the beach, watching the moon glide overhead like the face of God watching over them.

And then there was darkness...

Aron felt like a black hole had engulfed his senses. "Help!" he yelled into the nothingness.

Aron didn't know if he was blind or if this was a dream. He had the strange sensation of being asleep - the surreality, the lack of control he felt. But for some reason, he knew he was awake. Somehow.

The darkness was all-encompassing, like slipping off the edge of the earth into a black abyss. It breathed in on him, sending chills down his spine. Voices pierced the air as if from another time; another place. Move... run... "Run from what?" he yelled.

"I love you, Aron." This voice - her voice - was low, fearful.

"Lizabeth, where are you?" Aron felt warm tears glide down his cheeks. "Lizabeth!"

She did not answer.

No one answered. He swam in the abyss for what felt like an eternity...

Blinding light cut through the darkness, the whitest flash of light Aron had ever seen. His eyes burned; even though they were closed, he could not withstand the barrage of light coming through his eyelids.

Then, a spectrum of other colors appeared. He allowed himself to look at the blur. Though his vision was distorted, an overwhelming relief flooded his mind. No more darkness.

Slowly, objects began to appear. A desk. A window. Filing cabinets. Tangible objects.

Aron gasped when he realized where he was. It was his office. The Daily Enquirer. He immediately looked around and saw familiar faces. His co-workers bustled about the office, attending to their menial tasks as if nothing strange had occurred. Aron realized that maybe nothing had happened. Maybe he was going crazy. Maybe it was all in his head.

Aron started to relax in his chair when he noticed something odd. His chair had always squeaked before. From the time he took the job as editor, it had made a distinct noise when he moved around in it. He listened for it again, and the stark nothingness surprised him. He could not hear anything.

"Hey!" he screamed. He only heard the words in his mind, but no sound came from his mouth. And no one in the office heard him either. They moved about as if he was invisible.

But at that moment, Aron felt far from invisible. A hollow feeling rose inside of him, making him sick. He had no proof of his feelings, but he knew he was being watched. Not by his co-workers, but by something else. Something from the darkness.

Aron looked everywhere for the eyes that seemed to be piercing into him. "Who are you?" he yelled. "Stop!" Of course, his words were empty again. The only sense of feeling he had was the sweat forming on his brow, the sense of nervousness brewing inside of him.

"Bob!" he yelled to the chief editor. "Look at me!" Bob walked by, waving off in the distance.

"Clara!" he called to the receptionist, the blond bomb-shell of the office. She returned no answer.

Aron jumped to his feet, staring at the long row of cubicles in front of him. He caught his reflection in a mirror that hung on the far wall. The frail, dark-haired man looked like him, but something wasn't right. Aron wiped the sweat from his brow, losing himself in the eyes of his own reflection.

"Stop looking at me!" he yelled at his own likeness.

The image in the mirror smiled and leaned forward. "Run," it whispered.

Aron was horrified. He immediately threw up on his desk, his gut wrenching with terror. And then he did exactly what his reflection had told him. He ran.

He ran past the cubicles, past the mirror, and into the long hallway that led to the other offices in the building. The hall was long and narrow. A nightmare. Aron ran as fast as he could, dodging the zombies that did not acknowledge him. There were elevators at the far end of the hall. But he ignored them. His eyes locked on to the window instead.

He had to get out of this place; away from the haunting feelings that burned into him; away from the eyes that were watching him.

Aron felt no reservations when he reached the large window. He leaped into it, crashing through the glass. The cold air sucked him into the open sky, fourteen floors above the city. He felt shards of glass sticking into his arms, his legs, everywhere. He felt his imminent death.

But he also felt free. And for a moment, relieved.

Then reality took over, and he knew he was falling. Aron knew he was about to die as Main Street quickly approached. In an instant, he crashed into the asphalt.

Once again, Aron opened his eyes to darkness. But not the all-encompassing darkness that had captured him before. This was the pale night sky of the city. The moon was shaded, but the street lights even more dim.

Aron cursed. His head was throbbing, his mind racing. "Where am I now?" he screamed to no one in particular. He could at least hear himself.

"Welcome to hell," answered a shrill voice. Someone laughed in the distance.

Aron stood, searching for the presence. "Who's there? Where are you?" That hollow feeling of being watched crept back inside of him. Aron felt trapped. Two brick walls stretched out in both directions. It was an alley; a cold, damp alley.

A streetlight flickered in the distance and then died. The wind howled down the narrow alleyway, causing a slight whistling noise. Aron began to see shadows in the distance. Then he heard the murmuring, the whispers. And there was only one thing he could do. He ran.

The sound of footsteps echoed behind him. He could hear them talking, laughing, saying things about him that were not true. Or were they? Was he crazy? Was this all his imagination?

Figures began to peer above the brick walls, on the rooftops. "What do you want?" he yelled at them.

No answers, only more whispers. More laughter.

Aron stopped when he saw a lone figure before him. He couldn't see its face, but it was as small as a child and cloaked in black. Aron stepped closer, still hearing the sound of footsteps behind him. But the figure did not move. It was like a statue.

Aron was out of breath. "What... do you want... with me?" he cried out. "Please... just tell me."

The figure raised its head, revealing the face of a boy. His eyes were bloodshot, his skin pale.

Aron began to shake with fear, as red foam began to pour out of the child's mouth. The boy smiled. "We've been watching you."


The boy laughed, before lunging forward.

Aron turned to run, but he saw the shadows behind him, a group of black shapes, barely revealed by the dim lights. There was nowhere to go.

He turned back to the boy. He saw the knife clutched between the boy's thin, pale fingers.

Aron collapsed in fear.

The boy raised the knife and swung down on the defenseless man, violently.

Aron felt the knife penetrate his chest. There was immense pain. But only for a second. For he felt another stab. And another. Over and over he felt a new pain as the knife was inserted into his body. And it continued until he saw nothing but darkness again.

Aron woke up in his bed. Sweat covered his body and had soaked through the blankets. The terror had control of his entire being, but only for a moment. He looked around his bedroom, allowing the realization to come to him. He was safe. He was home.

Aron flipped on his lamp and sat up. "It was only a dream," he told himself. He repeated the sentiment several times until he truly believed himself. It had all felt so real.

He wasn't sure how long he had sat there, but when reality came back, and his heartbeat stabilized, he felt his sleepiness set in. He lay back down and reached his arm across the bed. "That was terr -“ He paused, then felt around the blankets for a moment. His wife wasn't there. The bed was still warm, so she hadn't been gone for long.

A loud noise, like metal on metal, startled him. "Lizabeth, is that you?" No answer. Aron sat back up in his bed.

Another noise. A different noise. It came from the hallway. "Lizabeth?"

Again, no answer.

The hollow feeling returned. It all seemed too coincidental. "Just calm down," he whispered to himself. "Lizabeth!"

Aron was out of his bed and at the bedroom door before an answer was available. He waited a moment, his fingers around the handle. Still, none came. He took a deep breath and opened the door. It was dark, but he saw the shag carpet, the white baseboards. Everything seemed right.

"Lizabeth, honey, where are you?" He pleaded, stepping into the hall.

He froze. His stomach sank and his muscles tightened. This can't be...

The hallway should have stopped at the kitchen. It didn't. He saw the elevators, the broken window. The hallway in his home bled into the narrow passage of The Daily Enquirer. He saw his robotic co-workers walking toward him. There was Bob, talking with a young intern. There was no sound, even though she was definitely laughing at one of his stupid jokes. Clara was looking at Aron, but her eyes saw through him. Just like before, no one knew he was there. He was a ghost.

Aron collapsed.

But he was not alone.

There, not two feet behind him, was the cloaked child, a wry smile across his face. The boy raised the knife above his head.

Aron fell back through his bedroom door, sliding across the carpet, his feet pushing wildly. The boy took one step before Aron slammed the door shut. He quickly pushed his back against the other side.

He should have been momentarily safe. But when he opened his eyes, he was not in his bedroom. Aron was back in the dark alley. And again, he could feel the countless eyes upon him. The dark shadows on the rooftops. He could see the shadowy figures walking toward him.

Aron broke down into tears, crying for Lizabeth, for anyone, just some semblance of his normal life. "Why!" he screamed to no one in particular. He wanted his home. He wanted that beach, the water, the serenity. He wanted is wife. He needed her.

The outburst did nothing to calm him. He was lost and alone, terrified. There was only one thing he could. The only thing he'd ever done.

He ran...


  1. first class. vivid descriptions, descent into absolute hell!

    well done

    Michael McCarthy

  2. As Michael said - absolute hell. This had all the destabilising qualities of the worst of night terrors, not for the faint hearted! Intensely evocative writing,