This is pretty short and I think most of the thrill was left in the dark, as well. But it was the closest category.
Left in the Dark
“The inside was dark. It was as black as a patch of midnight that was never cleared away.”
“Oh that’s original, Carlie.”
I gave my friend, Zoe, a shrug. “Who’s telling this story. You or me?”
“Let me guess. Next a squadron of spiders come out and take the dwarves captive.”
“Oh pehleease. That was outside,” I retorted, rolling my eyes. “My story takes place inside, Zoe. Now where was I?”
“Stealing a line from The Hobbit.”
“I’ll have you know imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
“Whatever, Carlie,” Zoe retorted with a roll of her eyes.
“It isn’t easy to think up stories,” I said getting annoyed. “You’re the one who said I had to start with the inside was dark. If you don’t like my story, maybe you’d like to give it a try.”
Zoe shook her head. “No, by all means continue. I can’t wait till the dragon shows up.”
I gave a huff through clenched teeth. “Now, to the common observer it looked as if no one was home. However, far from the window a flicker could be seen as the commercials progressed on the TV.”
The kids walked up the porch steps and turned toward the door. Mike lifted his hand to knock when the door swung open on its own.
“Hello? Is anyone home,” he called out, cautiously stepping into the entryway. When he didn’t get an answer, he turned back to his friends, Jenn and Travis, and hiked his shoulders.
Jenn and Travis stepped across the threshold, following Mike.
“Where do you think Mr. Thomas can be?” Jenn asked.
“Maybe he already left for the airport,“ Travis answered.
“Yeah,” Mike agreed. “Something doesn’t seem right, though.”
All three teenagers jumped when a commercial on the TV shouted, “We all like commercials that shout!”
Jenn put her hand on her chest, sighing with relief, “Geez, that scared the crap out of me.”
The kids walked into the next room, and Mike went over to turn off the TV without wasting time looking for the remote.
“Hey, Carlie, I’m hungry. Got any good snack food?”
“Am I boring you without having any dragons show up?” I asked, perturbed Zoe interrupted me when I was on a roll.
“No. I’m really hungry.”
I picked up the pillow I had scrunched up in my lap and placed it on the couch. “I think my mom has M&Ms in the freezer,” I said, getting up and walking into the kitchen.
“M&Ms work for me,” Zoe called back from the living room.
I placed the bag of chocolate on the coffee table and returned to my seat on the couch.
“Thanks,” Zoe said, reaching into the bag for a handful of M&Ms.
I gave her a wan smile as I scrunched the pillow back into my lap.
“Mr. Thomas doesn’t watch TV,” Travis said. “Why would he leave it on when he isn’t even here?”
“Didn’t Mr. Thomas say he was going to upload a new quiz before he left for the airport?” Jenn asked, walking over to the computer desk.
“One based on The Lord of the Rings,” Mike answered.
“I’ll bet it’s already gotten 1,000 hits with the popularity of the movie,” Travis added.
Jenn booted up the computer and hit Mr. Thomas’ Internet connection. He always had the computer remember his passwords, so it was no problem for the kids to log onto his page on the quiz maker site.
“Yeah, here it is: Which member of the Fellowship of the Rings are You.”
Travis pushed Jenn aside. “Wow! Look at that 1,079 hits, and it was only uploaded forty-eight minutes ago.”
“Great,” Mike retorted. “But it doesn’t tell us where Mr. Thomas is.”
“No, but it does explain why the TV set was on,” Jenn replied. “He always worked with the TV on for background noise said it helped him think”
“Maybe he tuned it out and forgot it was on when he left,” Mike said.
“Hey guys, look at this!” Travis said still standing in front of the computer. “Mr. Thomas book marked this person’s quiz. Why would he do that?”
Mike and Jenn walked up behind Travis to look at the screen.
“I’ve always said you never know who’s watching you on the Internet,” Mike answered. “That’s why I don’t surf.”
Jenn laughed. “And here I thought it was because your parents won’t move up from dial-up.”
“Yeah laugh all you want, Jenn. You’re not the one stuck in the stone ages. This is the twenty-first century - the world of DSL.”
“I’m LMAO, Mike,” Jenn said, dripping with sarcasm.
“Funny, Jenn,” Mike cracked; “but we’re live here, not IMing each other.”
“Just making sure you’re keeping up with your twenty-first century lingo, Mike,” she said, wrapping her arm around his and resting her head on his shoulder.
“As fun as all of this is guys,” Travis interrupted. “It doesn’t tell us why this page is book marked or where Mr. Thomas went.”
“Mr. Thomas went to the airport, Travis. He had a business trip to…”
“San Francisco,” Travis finished instead of Jenn.
“Jenn lifted her head off Mike’s shoulder. “Yeah. How’d you know that?”
“Lucky guess,” Travis said, pointing to the computer screen.
“Hey user Vicky44 lives in San Francisco,” Mike said.
“Okay guys. Let’s get out of here. We shouldn’t be here when Mr. Thomas isn’t home, and this is really starting to creep me out.” Jenn turned to go, but was stopped by a figure blocking the doorway.
“I’m sorry. I can’t let you kids leave, now.” Mr. Thomas said in a low monotone.
I reached up to turn off the light next to the couch. I moved the pillow from my lap to behind my head and stretched out on the couch. “Good night, Zoe,” I said, closing my eyes.
Even though the inside of my eyelids were dark, I could still see the look of shock on Zoe’s face.
“That can’t be the end of the story, Carlie.”
I smiled, “I didn’t say the end, Zoe. I said good night. It’s late and I’m tired. Maybe I’ll finish the story tomorrow,” I said rolling onto my side. “Maybe I won’t,” I gave a yawn and fell asleep.
My friend, Zoe, sat awake, wondering the fate that befall Mike, Jenn and Travis. It was her own fault, after all, challenging me to tell a story beginning with the inside was dark. If she hadn’t accused me of not being original or stopped me in the middle for some silly M&Ms, I might not have left her in the dark about their fate. But she’s just going to have to sit and wonder, now.
I love wielding the power of a storyteller.