In the spirit of this spooktacular season, I’ve decided to do something daring today by sharing a short story I wrote recently- enjoy!
They were in my house. Setting the floorboards creaking, going where they pleased. I could hear them, carelessly clattering about down there, redirecting the furniture, chattering about this or that. The sound penetrated the cosseted safety of my abode; their presence plucked on my nerves and sent them a-tingling.
It wasn’t right. The place was historic- Georgian I recalled- possibly listed. They should have known better- still that didn’t seem to stop folk moving whatever wasn’t nailed down. That didn’t stop them desecrating the decades-old dust with their footprints.
I could hear them laughing now. Marvelling at some feature or another, their delight gliding round the ballroom like a child at play. Oh I was well and truly woken from my slumber. Nothing could keep me abed.
Had they no respect? I wondered, taking two steps at a time, thundering on the stairs loud enough to wake the dead. Soon I was upon them.
They didn’t see me at first- they never do. But they heard the door slam and startled like little birds. I almost wanted to reassure them- almost. Instead I looked them up and down- trying to calculate their worth from their peculiarly tight clothes and sharp angled haircuts- assessing their tells with my weary gaze. I crooked my neck, trying to get a better view, my eyes half failing me: a man and a woman. One of them holding a bright rectangle of light in their hand like a torch. That was a new one, I mused. Beyond that they were murky smudges.
“Who are you?”
The male was the one to speak. His voice was shaky, a rust to the command, clearly from disuse.
I sighed. I could have asked them the same question. Indeed there was a time when I might have. Was it a realtor or a blustery wind that had brought them to my door? Did they think they were going to stay? There was a time when I thought I cared for such details- but that time was gone.
“Who are you?” the brave soul repeated.
That was a good question. I pondered how I might answer. I wondered how I appeared to them, in the white nightgown I never changed out of- not since that night…
A rush of feelings came over me, as it always did when I thought about it. Red hot and white cold all at once. Like being dunked in ice cold water and held under three seconds too long, as your legs kicked and lungs burned for breath. Like seeing someone you trust, naked with someone else. Like getting a glimpse of the traitorous blade that would end your life just before it did and knowing, knowing you could have prevented all this.
I funnelled that rage into my scream:
It wasn’t a question and they knew it. Trembling before me like leaves in autumn, clinging to the tree of life, right before winter ripped them off and cast them to decay. They knew there was no escaping the storm I summoned. They had unwittingly stepped into the tornado’s path and heavens knew there was no place to shelter. I shook the very foundations of the house. The bright object fell from the man’s grasp, and smashed to the ground. We all fell into darkness. All that could be heard was a scream muffled through sweaty hands.
I heard that all too human sound and would have stopped- had it not been so long since I had made that sound myself. But my hatred had a will of its own. It tore the remaining paintings from the wall, it shook the chandeliers one screw looser, it flung the broken mirrors in the air. Shattered glass collided with flesh and my thoughts turned to redecorating as a crimson stain splattered onto the wall.
Damnation, I cursed, my calm returning as I witnessed the carnage around me. I would have to wait for the bodies to turn a little before attempting to move them- hopefully no one would come looking for them a while yet… It would so destroy my rather tranquil mood if they brought people sniffing out their rotting corpses- theirs or the others. Let’s hope no one took a peek down the dumbwaiter.
But I supposed this would be a problem for another day. I span on my heels and went back to bed.
Somewhere in the distance the clock chimed again. No, not a clock chiming- a bell. Someone was ringing the bell. I tensed, drawing my linen closer, not knowing their next move, too scared to trail my bare feet out the sheets- until I knew for sure. Until the dull thud of that tricky front door opening gave them away. They were in my house…
Okay so short stories are not my usual forte- but I hope that was at least a little entertaining!