Let the Games Begin
Reader Margaret Gallop said:
A nervy description of feelings with a menacing ending.
3am. She couldn’t remember what had woken her.
She sat up. Just a bad dream? She strained her ears. No, there was a siren in the distance. She was about to growl at the injustice of life and go back to sleep, when she heard a creak.
She froze. Her arm was still suspended holding the corner of her blanket. She had no cats; she lived alone in a three-room apartment.
She dropped the blanket and pulled herself into a foetal position.
Two more creaks, each one closer than before.
She wanted to scream, but stuffed her fist into her mouth. She’d done a self-defence class once, but how would she know where to punch the guy in the dark?
Light. The synapses in her brain finally started firing. She put her hand to the switch.
There was a squeak as the door handle was pushed down.
She hit the light. Nothing happened. Hit it again and again, but nothing. She swore. When had the light bulb died on her? She didn’t know.
He bent down on the wooden planks, his old bones creaking as he leaned towards the shoes.
The material was a faded grey, washed far too many times. He remembered wanting to throw them out. He almost had, he remembered smiling. But then she’d begged him. Pleaded with her wide emerald green eyes that he couldn’t resist. She had the same eyes as her mother.
Slowly, he sat down, the shoes still in his hand. He stared out into the garden.
The old swing set, slightly moving in the cold morning air. How many times he’d pushed her. Higher and higher. She’d always been adventurous. Always in search of new things to know and to do. He’d always thought a thirst for knowledge was better than climbing the sides of mountains. So he’d let her be the journalist she’d always dreamed of being.
Of course she couldn’t just be the kind to write about the local life. She had to get out there. War journalism was far more up her alley.
“Come back inside, darling. Maybe it’s not even her.” His wife put a light hand on his shoulder.
He looked at her and held the shoes up. “She left these behind.”
©2018, FFftPP Week #41
Photo from August MorgueFIle 2018 1415390688o66bl
She could only see the soft glow of the lantern ahead of her. It was disquieting. She’d always loved the darkness, but tonight it felt unsettling. Fear of the dark was one of the most widespread fears, she remembered reading once.
As she hurriedly moved along the street, her hoodie pulled tightly around her body, she felt the shadows shift. She shivered and kept her gaze straight ahead. She didn’t have that much further to go. Just a few more corners.
Then she left the cover of the streetlight. The paths darkened again. There was no lantern around here, but she’d always thought that was the cool part of her journey. No one could see her, as though she were a part of this darkness. Not tonight. Tonight the darkness was even darker and she was no longer a part of it.
She thought back to their argument. She couldn’t even remember how it had started. Who had started it. But it didn’t matter anymore.
All that mattered was that she had to get away from him.
She thought she was almost safely at home when she heard the footsteps behind her. She broke into a run.
Image from free photo stock Pixabay.com
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the back of an elephant before,” she whispered amused, nudging him with her arm.
He didn’t reply.
She turned her torch back toward him. “Everything okay?”
He wasn’t looking at her. His eyes were fixed on something behind her, his brows creased.
A knot of unease formed in her stomach. She didn’t want to turn around. “What’s there?”
He opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out. Her stomach flipped. She couldn’t turn around. It was like she was frozen in place. “What is it?” she whispered again, fear shaking her voice.
“Your father,” he finally replied.
Behind her she heard the crack of a floorboard.
She spun around.
Sunday Photo Fiction, May 13, 2018
She was walking down the street, whistling to herself. Night had fallen quickly, but she was almost home. She threw her head back and stared at the sky. Stars were sprinkled across it randomly, but it was as though a thousand eyes were watching her, smiling down at her. She smiled back.
She turned off the street and entered the woods. She didn’t usually like the forest much, but it was only a short walk and faster than taking the long way around. Today, however, she felt strong and confident.
Suddenly, she felt something curl around her wrist, then she was yanked backwards. Her mouth opened in shock. This was not how the night was supposed to end.
It was so dark; she only saw the silhouette of a tall man. Then she felt the shove right before she tumbled backwards onto the ground. The twigs snapped beneath her and her hands hurt as she caught herself. She tried to push herself up.
All of a sudden something hurtled through the air and she felt the force of the blow right before she blacked out.
The sounds were the first to return. She thought she heard soft scuttling and was reminded of the time her little sister kept a pet mouse and hid it in her room. The same panic as back then shot through her now. She hated small animals, as her sister had perfectly well known.
As feeling returned to her limbs, she realized the ground beneath her was hard and uneven. It reminded her of the few times she’d gone camping with her family. The smell of dirt filled the air. Normally, she would have inhaled this and thought summer was almost here, but all she felt now was dread. Where was she?
When her eyes finally opened, everything was black.
“A great novel is the record of how a character fights with death.”
-James Scott Bell, Write Your Novel From the Middle
He turned on the lights and squinted in surprise. Cob webs covered the place from head to toe, but the light bulbs must have been replaced recently. He shivered. This was where they were meeting? He could only imagine: Dark writers had a strange fondness of odd places.
Carefully, he worked his way inside, making sure not to get the thin threads glued to his hair.
The chair creaked as he moved it…Or was that a different sound? He cocked his head.
Suddenly, the light flicked off and his head was jerked backwards. A terrified scream escaped his lips.
©2018, Friday Fictioneers 12 January 2018
The bench he decided to sit on was wet with rain, but he didn’t really care. It had stopped raining an hour ago, but even that didn’t really register with him. He felt totally isolated, as though cut off from the world. Staring at the puddles on the ground, he felt the world keep spinning around him. Men and women rushed past him. Everyone had a place to go. Needed and wanted. For years he thought he belonged to them. He was a part of this wave of people, moving from place to place, always in motion.
Now he didn’t know where to go. Didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to act. His world had come crashing down on top of him, everything he had so carefully built fell apart like a house of cards.
Something had changed, his mind registered. It took him a few seconds to realise what it was. He found himself locking eyes with a man through the puddle. Staring him straight in the eye, the man seemed to stand right before him.
When he slowly lifted up his head, he felt the bullet tear through his body a second before his eyes found the gun.
They had stripped him bare of everything. Now, finally, they had taken his life too.
Image from free photo stock pixabay.com
I looked down at the tiny cars way down below. They were so far away, they almost looked like toy cars. I sighed and turned back into the room hundreds of floors above.
“You sure you want to do this?”
The man opposite me nodded solemnly. He was down on one knee, looking at me with pleading eyes.
“I can’t do this no more.”
I stared into his sea green eyes, wishing I could tell him not to do this, telling him to go back home to his wife and pretend like nothing had happened.
Slowly, I raised my right arm and pointed the gun somewhere between those eyes. There was no way I could let him do that and he knew it.
Silently, the bullet tore threw his body.
When I turned back to the window to look down, the two cars were gone.
Sunday Photo Fiction, October 22nd 2017
I watched the hand curl around the door, the long fingernails digging into the wood. In the shadowy moonlight, I could see the knuckles turning white. The door creaked. It was standing half ajar, but I was sitting in the dark, hidden away from the outside. All I could see was the door. The door and the hand curled around it. And of course the shadow. It was so huge, it almost occupied the entire doorframe, the hulky shape blocking out the moon.
I shivered. I didn’t know what to do. My teeth were clamped together so hard, my jaw hurt, but I knew they would chatter as soon as I opened my mouth. It was so cold here. The floor was so cold, hard and wet. The hand moved a fragment of an inch, barely noticeable, but I was so fixated on it, I noticed it. The door creaked once more, now slowly opening wider. I wanted to scoot further into the corner I was in, but there was nowhere to go.
That was when the screaming started. Thousands of voices around me, begging for forgiveness.
FFfAW, Week of September 5, 2017
Photo prompt provided by artycaptures.wordpress.com