Thursday Thriller – Dark Horse

horse-818950_960_720

He rode up on a dark horse this morning, just as the sun rose through the line of trees that faced the house. I was on the front porch, wiping sweat from my brow as I sat in a rocking chair. I needed a rest. I’d been working all night.

He told me I didn’t have to worry any longer, that I was safe. He would take me far away from this squalid house, my unfulfilling marriage. He was going to rescue me.

Then his eyes widened as he saw the deep, brownish-red stains on my white apron, the perspiration on my face, the hole dug at the edge of the property. The sun shone in the window of my house, illuminating what was lying on the floor of the front parlor. He blanched as he looked back at me with eyes full of fear, not pity, for once, and my chest swelled.

I don’t need rescuing.

​​Thursday Thriller – Quest

mansion-1149774_960_720

Read Part 1 – Calla

Read Part 2 – Tower

Read Part 3 – Beast

Read Part 4 – Rose

I’m such a fool, Calla whispered as the cellar door slammed.   Edgar had grabbed her before she’d even made it out of the dining room, growling in her ear about how dearly she would pay for her mistake.  His arm gushed blood as he dragged her down the stone steps to the cellar, flinging her inside and locking the door.  Why couldn’t she bring herself to do what needed to be done?  Why didn’t she grab the knife and drive it right into his neck?

The cellar was smelly and dank, with just a tiny window so high up she’d never be able to reach it.  Rose brought her food and snuck her the occasional book, but she could never stay long.  When she asked if Edgar would ever let her out, about the things he was doing, saying, while she was locked away, Rose said that he was very angry, but that his mother would be returning from her travels soon and would be coming for a visit, expecting good news.  She stared back at her tellingly.

The next day was special.  The only day of the month when Rose got to leave the property, a large portion of Edgar’s allowance for the month, carefully controlled by Catherine of course, filling her small purse, keys jangling in her pocket.   She usually lingered in town before finishing her errands; she’d have a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, browse a bookstore, people watch.  It was so rare she got to see anyone besides Edgar and Calla.  But today, there’d be no time for that.  Today would be different from any other day Rose had since she’d come to the mansion.

Edgar didn’t look up at the woman who passed his door in the hallway that rainy morning.  Every inch of her skin was covered.  She was wearing Rose’s worn raincoat and gloves, with galoshes that came to her knees.  Her head was down and covered by a hood.  She walked quickly, purposefully.

Tears filled Calla’s eyes as she opened the front door and ran down the front steps to the drive, where Rose was waiting with the van.  She’d ducked out of the house earlier undetected, leaving the doors unlocked for Calla to follow.  Calla laid across the back seat, keeping her head low as Rose sped down the drive.

Read Part 6 – Banished

My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form. 

Thursday Thriller – Tower

mansion-1149774_960_720

Read Part 1 – Calla

No one is looking for me.  

Those words sat like an anchor in the pit of Calla’s stomach because she knew how true they were.  The result of years of lies, stealing from her family and her friends to feed her lengthy addiction, the blackness that had possessed her mind and body for more than a decade.  Everyone had cut her off.  Even her mother, who no longer took her calls, who pulled the blinds closed when her daughter’s car came up the drive.  She was completely alone.  And he knew.  He’d been watching.

She’d awoken in a locked bedroom, where she’d remained for hours.  There was a huge four poster bed with an ornate carving in the mahogany headboard.  A family crest.  The bed was laden with a thick rich purple duvet with gold stitching.  A dress from another time, scarlet red with a tight bodice, puffed sleeves and full skirt was lying across the bed, with a note, commanding her to put it on. There was a window directly across from the bed, bolted shut.  She could see no signs of life outside.  Just a neglected garden, overrun with weeds, a white van parked in the bushes.  Screaming would do her no good.

There was also a bookshelf in the corner, stocked with all of her favorites, even a connecting bathroom with a luxurious vanity and whirlpool bath.  He wanted her to be comfortable, locked away, waiting for whatever he had planned.

The locks clicked open.  The knob began to turn.  Calla slowly backed away until she was pressed against the wall, feeling foolish and frightened.  There was nowhere to run.  The man stepped inside, dressed in formal attire – all black, a well-tailored suit.  His face was covered with a white mask, but she could see his eyes were steely and blue.

“Why aren’t you dressed?”  His baritone voice was cold, even-toned as he stepped closer.

She wanted to cower but she stood tall, her eyes meeting his.  “I won’t do what you ask.  I’m not playing this…this…game…whatever it is…just so you can kill me…”  The blow seemed to come out of nowhere.  His fist was a blur, barreling into the side of her head with a force that made her dizzy.  She crumpled to the floor, blood trickling down the side of her head to the carpet, as he leaned over to whisper into her ear.

“You will do everything that I ask!”  He stood, straightening his jacket.  “Clean yourself up.  Get dressed.”

The door slammed behind him.  Calla curled up into a ball, making herself as tiny as possible.  Though she knew no one was listening, she screamed.

Part 3 – Beast 

My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form. 

Boy

pedestrian-925850_960_720

There is a boy outside. I see his shadow against my wall. I shake my husband awake, allowing fear to narrate my thoughts.

He’s coming up our walk now. Did I remember to lock our doors?  My husband creeps down the steps and I sit on the landing, staring at the bedroom doors of my sleeping children. The doorbell rings and I nearly leap from my skin.  He’s standing under our harsh porch light.  I see the bloody eye, the bruise rising from his temple.

“We had an accident.  Phone’s busted.  My mom’s hurt real bad.  Could you please call 911?”

 

The Moral Mondays prompt is JUDGE NOT, LEST YOU BE JUDGED.

Thursday Thriller – Calla

mansion-1149774_960_720

If Calla had known this would be her last moment of freedom for two years, she would have taken a second to look at the sunset. It was an especially gorgeous one that day. Purples and oranges and reds swirling the sky, the sun an amber orb disappearing behind a lush line of trees. But she was thinking of other things – the daily uphill battle of her sobriety, the dirtbag ex she still loved who’d just left town without saying goodbye, how she would get through another sleepless night alone in her dingy apartment without a drink.

It happened so fast. She only caught a glimpse of his face before the hood covered her head. Enough to see that it was abnormal, disturbingly so. She clawed and screamed as she was tossed into the back of a van like cargo, the doors locked swiftly. How could no one see? Hear her screams? Was she that invisible?

She bounced around painfully against the hard surface as the van rumbled over jagged, bumpy roads. The ride lasted so long, her screaming until her voice gave out, she wondered if they were even in the same state when the van came to a final stop.

The doors opened again. She still couldn’t see, but knew it had to be night. The air felt cool; the song of crickets filled the silence as he dragged her outside and tossed her over his shoulder as though she weighed nothing. The fight was out of her. She tried other tactics. Pleading. Compassion. And when those failed – manipulation.

“There will be people looking for me,” she whispered, the loudest she could manage. “They’ve probably already called the police.”

There was a cruel twist to his laughter. “Calla,” he said as she heard the sound of a creaky door opening. “We both know that no one is looking for you. It’s why you were chosen.”

She felt a pinch, then all went black.

Read Part 2 – Tower

 

My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form. 

Thursday Thriller – Intruder

forest-falls-1443347_960_720

She was born into a world of silence.  She’d never known any different, so she never viewed it as a disadvantage.  She cherished the friends she’d made, the community that had embraced her, the life she built herself.

She spent her days walking the grounds of her secluded estate, dreaming and jotting ideas for future novels in her journal.  When the weather didn’t cooperate, she sat indoors near the window, clicking away at her laptop.  That’s what she was doing when the man entered through the carelessly unlocked back door.  He made as much noise as he pleased entering her home; he knew it didn’t matter.

When he reached her living room, where she sat with her back to him, he stood close enough to see the hairs on the back of her neck, the dots of lint on her well-worn sweatshirt.  He would wait for her  to turn around, to see him, her eyes widening with fear and surprise.  Then, his game would begin.

Read Part 2 – Warrior

Black-Blue

break-70968_960_720

I’m startled awake.  There are coarse, raised voices out on the deck.  Curious, I climb the stairs and see them, a man and woman, grappling, fighting over an unseen object.  The woman loses the struggle and slips over the railing with a chilling wail, a flash of white dropping into an infinite black-blue.

I close my eyes, but prolonged sleep is impossible.  She tiptoes through my dreams, leaving crimson footprints wherever she goes.

Someone’s fiddling with the lock.  I hear the cabin door creak open, heavy footfalls across the tiny room.  The bed is jostled, and I close my eyes more tightly, pretending, praying.

“I know you’re awake.”

For Story a Day

Thursday Thriller – Watched

ballet-999802_960_720

She danced alone now, in the once-dark basement she’d transformed into a palatial studio flooded with light.  Her home, a gray fortress barely visible through the blinding snow, was simultaneously a refuge and a prison.

She had a life back in New York.  How she loved the freedom of being onstage, the music of the orchestra swelling in her ears, spinning wildly until the other dancers around her were just a blur.

It started with a few strange, anonymous messages, ardent expressions of devotion.  She ignored them.  The person that had written them was clearly obsessive, but likely harmless, she’d reasoned.  Then came the phone calls and messages threatening her with violence in unspeakable, torturous ways.  Demands for attention.  Pictures of her, at lunch with friends, hailing cabs, walking to rehearsals, were sent to her phone with the frightening caption, I see you.  

Then came the final straw, when she realized her home was bugged.  That someone was watching, listening, every moment she thought she was alone. She never slept there again.

Maybe one day she’d turn the basement into a real dance studio, start teaching classes, holding recitals.  But for now, just being able to dance was enough.  She closed her eyes and leaped into the air once again, not noticing the tiny dot above the doorway.

Someone watched her still.

Read Part 2 Watcher

Gem

house

Every other hotel room, apartment, and house within a hundred-mile radius of the convention was booked.  But somehow, the quaint little cottage with the bright blue door, tucked away in a quiet suburb a few miles from downtown, sat vacant amidst all the hubbub.

“So, what do you think?”  Their realtor, Sara, asked after they’d completed the brief, unnecessary, tour. They would have rented it sight unseen.  It was this or sleeping in a car outside the convention hall.

“I think it’s too good to be true,” Chris piped up before Meg could answer.  “How come this place is vacant?”   Sara lowered her face, shifting her eyes to the door.

“Is something wrong?  You have to tell us.” Meg urged.

Sara sighed.  “This home is where  John Darden, that cannibal murderer, had his first kill.”

Sara turned away, shoulders slumped, resigned to the fact she would never unload this tainted property.

“Sara, wait!”  Meg called after her.  She looked at Chris, her mouth twisting into a hybrid of a grimace and a smile.  “We’ll take it.”

 

Inspired by this news item and written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.

 

Denial

emmylgant

Emmy  L. Gant

“I mean, that kind of discrimination just doesn’t exist anymore,” Claire said to Bonnie as they ran across the parking lot to the high school, the sky darkening above them, threatening rain.  “It’s time for people to move on.”

The opposing team, from a neighboring, mostly Latino, town, was running onto the court.

“Learn English!!!”

“Go back to Mexico!”

The crowd chanted, waving signs in the air with sayings so hateful Bonnie could barely believe her eyes.  There was Claire’s oldest, across the gym, gleefully chanting along.  Bonnie turned to Claire, whose face blanched as she slowly sat down.

For Friday Fictioneers