I came up with the idea of this story after watching Sleepy Hollow last night. F-R-E-A-K-Y. And by Ai's short story. It made me want to make my own short story.^^ Unfortunately, it ran a little too long.
It was a dark night; the clouds were ink that blotted the moon. Far off, the distant rumble of thunder warned a patch of shadow, outlines indistinct in the suffocating darkness, that the storm was coming. It tensed.
Jumping out of his stalled car, he quickly raced back along the gravelly road he came down from with a flashlight he had taken out from the glove compartment. He remembered a farmhouse; a decrepit one. Had it not been for a light shining out from one of its windows, he would have supposed that it was abandoned as well. He would find shelter from the storm there.
Again he cursed his stupidity, his arrogance at forsaking a plane for the “open road”. His colleagues were, no doubt, right now enjoying a pleasant dinner or perhaps turning in their beds; only he, at his insistence in taking his car to the function, had to start off two weeks early.
“Why Dave?” he asked himself as he trudged up a slight incline. (He had long given up on the notion that talking to oneself was bad form. He was good company.) “You just had to be different didn’t you? Just had to pull when everyone else was pushing - damn these flies! I hope they have a landline; lousy coverage.”
The farmhouse loomed into view as he rounded a corner. It was as ghastly as he remembered. The paint was cracked, peeling at all places; the shutters were flapping in the wind, a few had already broken off; a portion of the roof seemed to have collapsed on itself. Climbing up the porch, he felt it sag.
“Surely nobody lives here”
And yet there was that light in the second floor – flickering, jumping, and full of life. It was in stark contrast to the house that it had decided to illuminate.
“Hello?” he called out as he stepped through the doorway (the door was gone, no forced entry was made) “I need to use a phone if you have one. My car’s stalled further up the road and with this storm coming, I don’t know, I might need to stay here for a while. Hello?”
He was about to call again when he heard something. It was faint, very faint. He only heard it because the whole place was eerily quiet. The wind, it seemed, had little to bother in this house.
He cocked his head to one side. Where was it coming from?
Upstairs? He looked up. Light was filtering through the numerous cracks in the floorboard and, to him at least, it seemed the sound was coming from the very same room. Only one way to find out.
Slowly, gingerly, he climbed the stairs. It was a complicated affair. One foot down, carefully, careful Dave, the plank’s about to break. Now the other one, up, up, up – oh! Steady now, that was a hole. Steady.
At the landing, he paused to catch his breath. The dust that blanketed everything was suffocating him.
That sound again. No doubt now, it was coming from the illuminated room. It was in front of him and light was oozing out of the gaps where the door hugged the doorway.
He calmed himself. No use getting worked up now, he needed that phone. Steeling himself, he took a step forward.
He stopped, surprised. What happened there? He took another step.
Now he knew it wasn’t coincidence, somebody in there was reacting to him. He broke into a cold sweat. Something was definitely not right here.
The wind seems to have died down; maybe the storm’s changed direction? Maybe he didn’t need that phone anymore. Maybe he should have stayed in the car. What drove him to rush out in the first place? Odd. Surely his car is as good enough a shelter as this sagging house is?
“I think I’ll go back,” he whispered, more to calm his nerves if anything else. He took a step back.
He stopped for the second time. A new sound. Unlike the ghastly affair of the previous one, this one seemed, for lack of a better word, friendly.
Now that is just bizarre. Was that a purr? Was it reacting to his thoughts?
Ping. Ping ping ping.
He was hooked; he was curious. What was it?
Only one way to find out.
He put his hand on the doorknob, and pushed.
Blinding light greeted him. So accustomed he was to the pale light of his flashlight that he was momentarily blinded by its brilliance. He raised both hands to his face and, in the process, dropped the flashlight he was carrying. It rolled all the way to the landing, teetered on the edge – up, down. Up… d.o.w.n… up, up, up - and fell down. It banged its head twice on the hard floor and went out, never to give light again.
He blinked back the tears. His eyes were slowly adjusting and he was, piece by piece, taking stock of the room.
There was nothing much in it.
There was a table in the center of the room, and on top of it was a lamp. Inside the lamp was a candle, worn almost to the stub. It wouldn’t be long before it finally gives out. Even now, the light it was giving was slowly fading. In the far corners of the room, dark shadows were already forming. He cursed his stupidity at dropping the flashlight. He would have to be quick.
That sound again. It was coming from under the table, from a drawer that wasn’t pushed all the way back in. He steadied his nerves, and took a step closer.
He laid his hand on the table. It was surprisingly cold; he expected it to be warmer at least.
No doubt now, it was calling him. Suppressing a shiver, he grabbed hold of the handle.
At first there was nothing but inky darkness.
Then, something rolled out.
His face broke into a huge smile.
“Cheeky little devil,” he smirked as he pulled the object out into the light, “Wrapping paper. I should have known.”
Chortling to himself, he turned around to go back to his car. What a coward he was, he thought to himself. Just wait until the guys at work hears about this. Wrapping paper. Ha! They’ll be having a field day with this story.
Stopping at the doorway, he chuckled aloud. He looked back at the wrapping paper on the table and wagged a little finger, as if he was reprimanding a little tyke.
Satisfied, and still laughing to himself about how much this story would be appreciated at the office, he turned to leave, and was decapitated in a
single stroke of a machete.
Dave Windsor was dead, his expression frozen forever in a self-satisfied smirk.
His assailant sank back and was once again a patch of shadow, outlines indistinct in the suffocating darkness. It tensed. The storm was coming.