This is the fictional account of an actual incident I witnessed as a child. Some names have been omitted and others changed. Oh, and I have embellished a bit. This is my first attempt at suspense in Lord knows how many years.
Diane C. Hundertmark
Her fingers neatly manicured curled around the mug of fragrant French vanilla coffee, as she sat at my dimly lit kitchen table, "Come now, " she whispered spinning the mug blood red nails flashing, "It's a perfect night to share tales of terror." She fixed a steady gaze on each of us in turn.
I nervously glanced at my friends and took a healthy swig of my coffee.
Outside the full moon lit up my yard with a slivery blue light, bleaching away the vibrant colors of my garden leaving it filled with shades of lavender and gray.
"Oh Judith," Mary cajoled, "Don't be so melodramatic."
The wind rattled the windows in a macabre juxtaposition to Judith's light laugh. I watched the dark shadows race across my yard as the autumn wind blew highflying clouds over the face of the moon.
"Just listen to that wind! Come on each of us must tell a tale from our childhood. The most terrifying thing we can remember. Something true , that scared you as a child."
"Judith, you are weird," Sara groaned and drained her mug.
She smiled, perfect even white teeth, tanned face, sun bleached hair framed sky blue eyes, "Who will go first?"
I leaned back in my chair, and watched my friends. They giggled and shared their stories. I remained silent. Simple tales of childhood fright told in trite horror cliches.
Mary's adventures of getting lost at the Rhode Island State Fair at the age of six and wandering into the House of Mirrors.
Elaine's of the terror of getting wedged in the narrow space between a garage and a retaining wall for six hours while everyone in the neighborhood hunted for her. She topped it off with the ordeal of getting out.
Finally, Judith presented her outrageous embellishment of being kidnapped. She told it from her parents' point of view. The others tossed crumpled napkins at her. It was all false; all that had happened was a young Aunt had taken her for a day trip neglecting to tell a soul.
"Well unless your tale is better, " Sara nudged me, "Elaine wins. Hers is documented in the Providence Journal for Christ's sake."
"Your turn!" Judith waved a hand at me.
I watched the shadows flit across the garden, and lied, "Nothing remarkable ever happened to me," and looked down to study the contents of my mug.
"Party pooper," Sara snapped as she rinsed out her mug and plunked it in the dishwasher.
Elaine grumbled, "Be like that! I'm off to bed," and her mug joined Sara's with a clank.
As they faded into the shadows, Judith tapped the rim of my mug, "You're lying."
Her blood red nails captured my gaze.
"And if I am?"
"Tell me," she whispered conspiratorially.
I looked up at her, "Why?"
"Cuz it's a dilly, I know."
"Perhaps I don't want to dredge it up, " this time I told the truth. I roughly pushed past her and made my way to the sink.
She grumbled behind me, "Fine!"
With a stomp, Judith left me standing in the dim kitchen with my memories. I finished the coffee inhaling the sweet aroma of the vanilla to crush the sharp tang of blood my memory tried to dredge up.
Who needs a night light when you have a street light right outside your bedroom window? The heat of the summer night meant I couldn't pull the shade down tight and block it out. It was up half way so the feeble breeze could filter in. I lay there hot and sticky.
The low hum and clack of the fan in the hallway a counter point to the occasional swish of a car passing on Benefit Street a half a block away. The background noise of buzzing and chirping insects added to the night's music.
It didn't put me to sleep, I laid there eyes closed in a drowsy daze, sweat soaking the sheets.
Somewhere up the alley across from my front door a dog barked, it kept on barking; and a man's voice shaky and shrill.
I sat up, arms wrapped around my legs no longer hot. I peered at my younger sister, still deep asleep and crept to the window.
Darker shadows moved in the dark alley.
"Bill get up quick!" my mother whispered loudly from across the hall.
I scrunched down my eyes just above the windowsill and squinted. My father cursed as he tripped over the fan and yanked open the screen door.
Sounds not words drifted down towards me--scuffling feet and a sick wet thud.
My father cursed again and ran up the alley clad only in blue and white striped boxer shorts and a white tee brandishing...I blinked...a golf club. He vanished into those shadows where the street light didn't reach. I shivered, sweated, and hugged myself tight.
Through the night came screams, pounding feet, my mother yelling into the phone at the police, my father cursing, and then silence. The dog barked once, a car swished down Benefit Street. I couldn't move. I barely breathed.
Down the hill came a form, dark and wavering, an oozing lumpy shape, black shadows against the lighter shadows of the cobblestones. I tried to swallow and couldn't.
It stepped out into the yellow tinged light of the street lamp. My father supporting a hunched form. His white tee covered with a dark stain, as was what he supported. He eased the form down on our front step, the old grumpy man who lived up the alley. It was blood; red dark and it covered the old man's face and shirt. So much, it ran down on our step, spreading out in a pool. It smelled, sharp like some metal.
"Kay get towels!" he cursed again.
In the distance sirens wailed, neighbors came out yelling. "For Christ's sake what is going on?" "Shut up!" More curses and running feet.
All I did was watch the growing pool of blood. It covered the step. The old man slumped against the doorframe and the dark red dripped down on the wood.
My mother wrapped a towel around his head, her face a pale oval, her hands dark red.
The police came and the ambulance. More yelling and questions, a story spilled out in bits. A robber tried to take his pay envelope stuffed with cash, and the attacker hit him with an axe. What had my father seen they asked? A young man running away. Who was it? The old man muttered something and then stopped talking.
And still I crouched by the window in morbid fascination.
He was bundled into the ambulance and taken away. The neighbors grumbled and drifted away. The insects buzzed and hummed, the fan clanked louder tipped on its side, a car swished down Benefit Street.
And my mother and father stood staring at the pool of blood spread out over the stoop, more black then red in the light of the street lamp.
"Oh Christ! The kids," my mother dropped the towel.
I scrambled for the bed. She stood over me, I heard her breathing, and she moved away setting the noisy fan upright to clank with a different tone.
"Don't know how, but they are both still asleep."
I knew my father shrugged, "Let's wash this up. It's already starting to dry."
They moved quietly. The night music came back, with the added note of splashing water.
"Oh yes it is a dilly," I muttered, pushed the button on the dishwasher, and followed the others to bed.
They should have guessed. They should have remembered. How I wouldn't sit on the step or even walk on it. Jumping over the dark lingering stain that took months to wash away. The scent of the blood seemed to linger too. The spot where the old man had nearly bleed to death. How I slept with my window shut tight no matter how hot it was for the weeks it took the cops to catch him.
But they didn't know. They hadn't seen what I had. I knew who he was. I had watched him slink up the alley just before I went to bed, and he'd seen me.
Site: The Dragon and The Rose
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|Reviewed by Charles O'Connor III
|Riveting. Your work never fails to impress and excite me.|
|Reviewed by Carvin Wallson
|I disagree with Kenneth. I think the brief summaries were fine and dandy, and altogether not dissimilar to sour candy, based on the brevity of the language overall. The beginning reminded me of "Turn of the Screw," by Henry James--good suspense. The thing that bothered me the most was drinking coffee right before going to bed--I'm not the type of guy who does well with caffeine after dinner, and that took a bit of the reality out of things for me--but otherwise well told.|
|Reviewed by Claira Jo
|I really enjoyed reading this. Wonderful story in its own right, but the fact that it really happened just makes it even more riveting. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone - Bravo.
|Reviewed by Kenneth Seay
|You needed to expand the others stories and define what happened and what the form was.|
|Reviewed by Alex Greene (Reader)
|Wow. Great story. Well told.|
|Reviewed by Ann Berg
|Great - Really keeps you in suspense.
I never knew that you had seen this
as it happened.
|Reviewed by JOHN VIVEIROS
|WOW! YOUR DAD, ALWAYS WAS A HERO IN MY EYES,
YOU HAVE CAPTURED HIM EXACTLY AS I REMEMBER HIM.
|Reviewed by Nightwind
|*shivers* for a while I had the feeling I was looking at miself in a mirror|
|Reviewed by Colin
|Great story Dee !!! The ending gave it a perfect, creepy touch.|
|Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione
|This one is awsome as hell. I am trying to see what others you have here - keep up the good work. This is a messed up one but I like it, this is a scary read.|
|Reviewed by Annette Gisby
|Very suspensful, good ending.|
|Reviewed by Claywoman
|This was riveting! So you actually saw the person who committed the crime? Tell me more girl!|
|Reviewed by Carol Kluz (Kaz)
|Excellent story Dee. It really held my interest. The ending makes it a bit more sinister and frightening.|