The Guest House (excerpt) by Chris Nelson

The following is an excerpt of the short story: The Guest House by Chris Nelson, which you can find in the anthology Static Dreams Volume 2. Inside you’ll find nine dark and twisted stories written by him and other amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.


When Duncan turned around and stepped out of the room he found himself on a jetty. He checked behind himself and saw that the jetty was long and jutted out almost precariously over the ocean, its wooden planks weather-worn and tired. With one footstep Duncan had found himself almost at the head of the pier, although, by now, he had given up trying to fix logic and reasoning to the day’s events. It was early morning once more: a warm sun had already burned the clouds from the sky and a prickly heat had begun to creep over the land beneath the sky. Duncan could feel the warmth on the back of his neck and his naked forearms and wondered if this was some kind of sign that his day would indeed begin to make sense.

The grey sea stretched out away from him, its slate surface broken only fleetingly by the current which was dragging it unerringly towards the shore. Leaning forwards, his arms resting on the wooden rail which ran along the top of the fencing which ran alongside most of the jetty, Duncan stared into the water. At first, he saw nothing but the water looking back at him as if it recognized him as a long lost, half-forgotten friend, but, as his eyes began to adjust themselves to the disruptive properties of the water, he started to make out details in the shapes that he could see. The seaweed swayed and parted, its heavy fronds abandoning their weight to the up thrust; fish skittered across his line of vision, darting and diving, and surfacing occasionally to gulp at the warm air; once in a while a gull would appear and dive beneath the surface, but the fish were awake to the danger, and the gulls returned to flight disappointed.

As he continued to stare into the water, his gaze going ever deeper, Duncan became aware of a new shape which seemed to be forming itself in ever more detail. It was a shape that he would never have associated with the sea, and certainly not one that he would have expected to have seen. Below the surface of the water the shape began to reveal its features in ever greater detail. There was no mistaking the identity of the shape that Duncan was seeing now: it was clear. It was the body of a man.

Not for the first time, Duncan found himself paralyzed, unable to move or act, even if he had wanted to or known what to do. He felt as if he were an audience of one, watching a film play out before his eyes, and, at the very moment when the endangered character on the screen was pleading for help, he was unable to give it: he had been drawn in and made part of the action, given the role of potential hero, and then been chained to a rock, inert and ineffectual, destined to merely watch as the world about him crumbled.

Below him the body seemed to float as if suspended somewhere between the surface of the water and the ocean bed. Despite the greyness of the water and the brightness of the sunlight Duncan was seeing it in ever greater detail: black denim jeans, soaked now in the brine, clung tightly to the man’s legs, his feet held firm in expensive looking boots. He was wearing a t-shirt, also black, which bore a picture of a group that Duncan enjoyed listening to, but this was looser and danced across his torso with the underwater currents. His eyes were wide open and staring as if they were fixed upon something in the water that Duncan could not see and, as bubbles of air began to rise from him lips towards the water’s surface, Duncan realized that he knew the man, or at least he recognized him: it was another of the residents in the guest house – Jacob.

At the exact moment in which this realization hit Duncan he became aware of music filling the air around him. He was unsure of exactly where it was coming, but he could have sworn that it was rising from the sea; or more specifically from the body beneath it. The tune swam for moment inside Duncan’s head awakening recollections of where he had heard it before. As it replayed in his mind he became aware of the words that he had heard Chanai singing in her sleep just moments earlier, first hovering over it and then seamlessly joining with it and becoming one. He realized, too, where he had heard the song before: stood, by the side of a quiet road, watching as a car plowed through the figure of a running man.


I’ll be sharing more stories in the weeks to come. Currently this is available for purchase in paperback at lulu and I’ll update the post when Amazon and other retailers make it available. The ebook will be available for purchase early next month.

11 thoughts on “The Guest House (excerpt) by Chris Nelson

    1. It’s such a great story, Goldie. Actually… I loved each and every story in their own way and for different reasons. This one threw me for a loop at the end. Just like yours! I remember when I read your story out loud to someone and his reaction at the end was priceless.

      Liked by 1 person

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