Dorry’s Claim: 50 Word & Six Sentence Story Thursday

60© Deb Whittam 2020

“It wasn’t fair that Dorry couldn’t get her hopes up.” – Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts – Kate Racculia

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Old Reliance had seen better: better waters, better days; frankly, better owners. The same could be said of Dorry; feet swinging over the murky Mississippi, frayed cut-offs brushing against Reliance‘s rusted hull, matted clumps of curls sticking to her dirty brow.

It wasn’t fair that Dorry couldn’t get her hopes up, seeing as she never learned what hope was. Come to think of it, she’d never learned much of anything except to not drown and not get beaten.

No matter; things would be different, starting that morning.

Dorry rose, stood against the sweaty sky, declared, “I claim Reliance as m’own!,” and washed her hands of the man floating downriver forever.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

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GirlieOnTheEdge‘s rules:

Rules of the hop:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word.
Link the URL to your post via the blue “Click here to enter” button.
Spread the word and put in a good one to your fellow writers 🙂

PROMPT WORD:  CLAIM

The Island Getaway, a Continued Story (My Part)

The Island Getaway

Teresa Grabs wrote:

As soon as Liam read the advertisement, he knew the place was for him. Three-story newly renovated home on private island in the middle of Hidden Hollow Lake. Owner motivated to sell.

“I will have it!” He scanned the ad for a contact number and phoned it immediately. To his surprise, the agent said the house was his as soon as she answered the phone. “What do you mean the house is mine? I haven’t even made an offer yet.”

She laughed. “Mr. Owens, I have been instructed to sell the home to the first person who called, and today is your lucky day. I can meet you on the pier in an hour with your keys.”

“Oh… okay… yeah! Today really is my lucky day, isn’t it?”

Liam rushed around his tiny apartment, threw a few items into a backpack, and caught the train to the pier. Halfway expecting this to be a scam, he was gobsmacked when a professional-looking woman approached him, smiling.

“Mr. Owens, I presume?”

“Um, yeah, that’s me.”

“Good. Sign here, please, and I can release your keys to you.”

His hand shook with anticipation as he scratched his name on the form.

“And here are your keys. That man will take you to the island,” she said, pointing to a man in a small row boat. “Thank you for your business.”

He watched as she walked toward the parking lot and disappeared into the crowd. “How’d she know my name?”

“You ready?” the boatman called.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” He climbed into the row boat and took in the beautiful scenery before him, forgetting all about the sales agent. “This is really pretty, isn’t it?”

The man didn’t respond.

“Ok.” Liam sat in silence until the island came into view. It looked exactly as it had in the advertisement. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, convinced it was a dream.

“Get out here,” the boatman said, sternly as they reached the shore.

“Well, thanks, I guess.” Liam stepped out into knee-deep water and shivered as it soaked his pants. “How do I get back?” he asked as the boatman pushed away from the shore.

“There’s a flare in the house should you need it,” he called back, shaking his head.

Liam turned around and saw …

Msjadeli wrote:

…first that a lush forest started directly behind the house and traveled the length of the island. Tropical birds were screeching and flying from branch to branch, their feathers glinting red, yellow, and green in the sun’s ample beams.

That’s funny, this isn’t a tropical location. What happens to the birds in when winter comes?

Liam walked the hundred yards from the water’s edge to the front of the house. He had been impressed with it in the photos and as they approached the island, but up close he saw that the home had the appearance of being vacant for a long time. Mildew had settled into the corners of the windows. There were wet leaves layered on the porch that were disintegrating. There were cobwebs covering the front door. Curiously though, there were what looked like large dog footprints that had worn a path around the front of the house and carried on towards the back of the house.

Liam walked up the leaf-sodden steps to the front door and pulled out the keys. Neither of the keys worked in the lock! He decided to walk around back to see if they’d work on the other door. As he got to the back, he noticed right away that a well-worn path led into the forest/jungle. Like the front, large dog-like prints littered the path.

Liam sighed in relief when the back door opened to one of the keys. He stepped into a stately home that must have cost a fortune to build out here on the island back in its day. Each room spared no expense. The kitchen had marble counters and ceramic floors. The dining room had a heavy oak table with 14 heavy chairs and regressed cupboards. The living room was big enough for large parties, where the centerpiece was a massive stone fireplace.

Over the mantelpiece, high on the stones, was a trophy head of a wolf.

I’m no wildlife expert but that wolf head is three times as large as a normal wolf’s head!

The sun was sitting lower in the sky, throwing shadows inside. Liam tried the light switch, but no power.

That’s right, I need to go turn the generator on in the basement.

Using the substantial oak staircase leading to the basement, he needed his flashlight which he pulled from his knapsack. Within minutes the generator was chugging and he flicked the basement light on. Looking around down there he saw a heavy iron door with a substantial lock on it.

I wonder if that’s what this other key is for?

Liam tried the key in the door, and it clicked. Pulling the heavy door took some strength. Looking in, a shiver ran up Liam’s spine. What he saw with his flashlight looked like the entrance to an underground passage of a cave that had been blasted or carved out of the granite. Liam could hear water echoing in the cave. Then he heard another sound. . . .

Padre’s Ramblings wrote:

At first he couldn’t quite make it out, but then as his ear adjusted to the echo of the granite passage it became clear.  It was the melodic singing of a woman.  It was husky, but somehow hypnotically alluring.  Almost involuntarily, he moved towards the voice.

The passage was a bit longer than he had anticipated, and took two unexpected turns making his ability to calculate his position in relation to the island almost impossible.  Was he still even “on” the island or was he under the lake?  The dripping after the first turn suggested the latter, but he was unsure.

Night had fallen before he reached what could only be describe as a subterranean portico.  As he approached the porch-way, his flashlight flitted across what seemed in gloom to be the nude figure of a middle aged woman, but when he focused the beam back on the spot where he had seen the apparition, there was nothing there.  Then there was a definite movement which he caught in his peripheral vision.  Something large, and dark shot into the forest beyond.

“What the f —,” he said aloud, jumping back against the passageway wall.  After steeling himself, he shot his light towards the cave mouth to the trees beyond.  Well, at least I’m still on the island, he mused trying to give himself some consolation.

Once he was sure that nothing was going to come in from the outside he began to systematically examine the porch.  There was a fair amount of tracked-in dirt on the floor, but it was clear that the surface underneath was tiled.  There was a marble bench and a matching marble table – on which there was a framed black and white photo of a young well-to-do looking couple dressed in a style popular just after the Second World War.

His light then fell on a small pile of neatly folded woman’s clothing placed carefully on the corner of the bench.  Under the seat was a pair of elegant shoes, which seemed to placed with similar care.  He stooped to examine the shoes, and as he did his flashlight illuminated not only small human footprints in the layer of dirt, but more of the huge dog prints almost everywhere in the chamber.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when one of the tropical birds called out in the night.  It was then that he saw . . .

Joanne the Geek wrote:

that Hank was standing there. He was a Facebook friend. One Liam had never actually met for real before. He wore a black leather coat and a dark wide brimmed hat. He was holding a Glock.

“Hank? What are you doing here?’ Liam asked surprised. Hank started laughing at him.

“Good to finally meet you in the flesh, Liam. You are only here because you have fallen into my trap! Everything that has happened to you was so we would eventually meet here at this spot.” Hank revealed.

“So you’re going to shoot me? Can I ask why? I thought we were friends.”

“No I’m not going to shoot you, unless I have to. I just want to humiliate you!”

“Is there a reason for this?” Liam asked totally confused.

“You made fun of one of my Facebook posts, and since then I have plotted my revenge!”

“I think I know the one you mean. I thought you were trying to be funny. I’m sorry about that.” Liam explained. The gun clicked, and Liam almost felt his heart explode out of his chest.

“It’s too late for that!” Hank shot back. “I want you to put on those women’s clothes there and start dancing and lip-syncing  to Britney Spears’s Oops! I Did It Again. I will record it on my phone and then post it onto Facebook with your name tagged on it. You will never live it down.” He started laughing maniacally. I really should have unfriended him a while ago, Liam thought.

He motioned with his gun and Liam began removing his clothes and then putting on the women’s clothes that were folded on the bench. Disturbingly, they managed to fit quite well. As soon as he had changed, Hank began playing the song on his phone.

“Dance!” he ordered. Liam began dancing and trying to lip-sync to a song he barely knew. Hank began recording it on his phone as Liam continued dancing. Hank gave some further orders: “Put some expression into it! Make love to the camera!” Liam began wondering if this was not so much about the need to humiliate him, but more about Hank’s own strange desires…

Then without warning, the largest wolf Liam had ever seen suddenly pounced on Hank. He screamed as the wolf attacked him. What the hell was going on here? And why am I still dancing? Liam wondered.

The wolf having finished with Hank, then turned to face Liam…

My part:

Liam paused, mid-hip thrust. The wolf’s eyes glittered against the verdant darkness seeping in from the forest. Its teeth glinted in the reflected glow of Hank’s cell phone, still recording. Liam could hear the echoes of Hank digesting, oddly melodic in the granite tunnel.

He swallowed. Quickly assessing his chances of escape, he shuddered down to sit across from the wolf. “Always die like a man,” Liam’s grandfather had said -strange advice to be telling a grandchild, and even stranger from a man who’d been found in drag…

The wolf laughed. Liam blinked. Then, before his eyes, the animal morphed.

“Eeeuragh!” Liam covered his eyes. Animal-shifting was clearly not like in the movies. He felt scarred for life at the grotesque, painful, obscene imagery he’d glimpsed before screaming. Between that and watching Hank be consumed, Liam’s therapist could count on three solid years of paid work.

“Mr. Owens.”

Liam peeked between his stiff fingers, then dropped them from his face. The cell phone now illuminated a professional-looking woman: the realtor. Also contrary to shape-changing in movies, she was dressed. “What the –”

“I can see you are surprised,” she said. She stepped forward, casually crushing the cell phone beneath a stiletto-ed heel.

Liam blinked, his eyes adjusting to the forest moonlight in the cave. He made out the realtor’s shape, her hand a few inches from his face in a helpful gesture. He took it and rose from the ground. She smiled wolfishly before turning to walk back up the tunnel. Liam followed.

“I own this place, you see.” She glanced back at Liam before continuing, “Rather, my family owns it. A few centuries ago, a man came and claimed it for himself.” They stooped under a few natural bumps in the ceiling, nearly to the door into the basement. Liam saw the realtor’s neat eyebrows contract in painful memory. “The man, the one who came and slaughtered my grandfather and put his head upon his own mantel -that man was Hank’s great-great-great grandfather.”

They entered the house once more and stood, paused, at the base of the substantial staircase. “I’m …I’m sorry,” Liam managed. To himself, he determined to use any means possible to get off the island and back to his therapist.

“Until you came along, I had no way of confronting Hank. No way of reclaiming our property.” She faced Liam. Her dark hair framed a sweet, vulnerable face. Her blue eyes, full of sadness and gratitude, were a startling contrast to her hair and black eyelashes. “I’m so very sorry for what I put you through, but also eternally grateful.”

Liam shrugged and tried to look away, but couldn’t. It’d been a year and half since his last relationship. He’d forgotten how beautiful a woman could be. How seductive.

The realtor stepped closer. “We got off to a …an unusual start, I know, but I’d love to show you my gratitude….” She smiled. “Upstairs.”

Liam thought. “Well,” he said, “I do need to get out of these clothes…”

 

FIN

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Rules:

  1. post the story as you receive it
  2. add to the story (or finish it, up to the writer)
  3. tag another person to continue the story (unless you finished it)
  4. Have fun!

 

Part 1 Teresa Grabs

Part 2 Tao Talk

Part 3 Padre’s Ramblings

Part 4 Joanne the Geek

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Three

Unfortunately for Wil, Dr. L. had attended a mandatory training over the weekend. This training, he now stopped mid-lecture to lament to the class, involved hands-on activities. He’d had to practice with actual people and be told, no, he couldn’t just talk about science.

The conclusion of his complaints to Wil’s class was that the school wanted him to change the way he taught. Wil groaned in sync with a chorus of fellow sympathizers. She wasn’t the only teenager who used Dr. L.’s lectures to finish activities like text conversations or homework due in the next period.

“They’re even sending someone in to-” their teacher began, then cut off as a knock sounded on the classroom door.

They all turned to look as the knocker pushed into the room and stood expectantly just inside. She was a woman with a messy bun and a somewhat wrinkled pantsuit. Everything about her frowned, Wil thought, from the lines of the woman’s outfit to her down-turned spectacles.

Dr. L. stared in apprehension at her for a full minute; Wil couldn’t remember ever seeing him focus on a living object before. The woman cleared her throat. “Don’t mind me, please.” Her voice was a higher-pitched version of his, a nasal sort that put Wil in mind of a squirrel. A squirrel with a messy bun and frowning face. *Ahem*, she cleared things again. “Just pretend I’m not here.”

The class and, especially, Dr. L. watched her perch atop a lab stool, her clipboard grasped before her and her legs and feet drawn near to her body. When nothing else happened, she returned the bespectacled chemistry teacher’s gaze. “Well?”

“Oh!” He started, and seemed to remember where he was. “Oh! Right; right.” Shuffling back to his lecture table, Dr. L. began shifting through chemical bottles and loose papers. “It’s right here -I know they’re here somewhere…” he muttered.

“Dr. L.?” Jenny, the girl to Wil’s left, raised a hand.

The man she addressed peered near her in some confusion. “Yes, Ms. -?”

“Sanders, sir,” Jenny said politely. She always had to tell him and Wil always marveled at how patiently Jenny did so. “I think you left the experiment notes on your computer.”

The overhead lights glinted off Dr. L.’s lenses as he lifted and turned his face to the location Jenny referenced. “Ah!” he exclaimed, and walked over to pick the pile up. “Thank you, Ms. -?”

“Sanders.”

“Yes,” he agreed. Turning to Cash Delarge’s desk, he said, “Here, Mr. LeDog. Take a paper and pass them along.”

Wil sighed as a few people tittered. Chemistry was going to be a long class today.

 

Continued from Eighty-Two.
Keep reading to Eighty-Four.

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Two

Wil used Dr. Lombard’s momentary distraction to enter the classroom and move to a seat near the front. She told herself she would sneak; she even thought the phrase, slipped into her seat. In actual practice and true to form, however, her entrance was more distracting than any lecture on acids and bases.

Still, she might have avoided detection if she hadn’t stepped on two people’s feet. She certainly would have avoided attention if she’d been more silent. But even a nearsighted, absentminded science enthusiast notices when a desk falls over.

“Ms. Windows,” Dr. L. said, turning and speaking over a background of laughter. He squinted at Wil’s blushing figure through his thick glasses. “Chemistry begins when the bell indicates, and not one Planck more.” He wagged a stern finger in a direction somewhere to the right of her as Wil hastily set the furniture to rights and sat upon the chair.

Dr. L. nodded a definite scowl to the girl on Wil’s left and turned back to puzzle over his notes on the board. They were barely legible to Wil and most of the class, yet seemed clear enough to help their teacher regain his train of thought.

“Water is not completely zero, of course,” he continued, and shot what he thought was a commiserating look back over his shoulder. “Buuut, some say it’s close enough to put it there. Really, though, nothing is absolute zero because of contaminants and outside influences…”

As he droned, Wil settled into her seat. Her face still felt hot and she tried to keep her head low. She dragged her backpack around to her side, on the floor, and opened it. If she didn’t take notes, she knew, she hadn’t much chance of passing Chemistry this term.

“…Like soap, bleach, and liquid drain cleaner…”

Wil rifled around the dark cavity of her backpack. She withdrew a notebook, and was very surprised to find it was her Chemistry one. It even had a pen shoved in the rings. She yanked the pen free, flipped to a mostly-blank page, and began sketching a pH scale similar to the one on the board.

“No, Mr. Urn, you would not survive drinking drain cleaner. Chemicals and solutions at the far end of the scale cause irreparable damage to tissue…”

Not a bad idea, Wil considered, For Carl, anyway. She doodled a bit in her margin, then noticed some text showing through the page. She flipped her notes over to see what was behind them. Somehow, there lay a green page with dots and lines in half-box and part-triangle shapes: a coded message.

Wil felt eyes on the back of her head, but knew better than to look. That Hope! She really was sneaky. How the small, quiet, shadow of a girl slipped the paper into her notebook, Wil would never guess; and therefore didn’t try to.

Keeping an eye on Dr. L.’s flapping-arm explanations and her own interpretations of them before her, Wil slowly unfolded the green paper. She picked up her pen and started drawing a codex diagram at the bottom.

She wondered what message The Talented Teenagers (name still a work in progress) had sent her. She couldn’t wait to find out.

 

Continued from Eighty-One.
Keep reading to Eighty-Three.

Creativity Contest: The Sealed Safe (Open)

A thief heist with a twist?! YOU bet!

Come up with a story to answer Peregrine Arc’s latest writing prompt. I’ve even promised to (finally) enter this one, so join me!!

Peregrine Arc

Last week you received a mysterious letter about a dinner guest arriving at six. The guest was yours to invent, along with building the anticipation and laying out the setting. The results were pretty humorous with some unique timing and guests who showed up at the end. I appreciate everyone participating and encourage you to take a look at other’s takes you can find in the entries’ comments. Together, we can spread the joy of writing and dig in the garden of imagination. 🌷

For this week’s prompt, I want you to imagine you are a thief. Whatever motive you have, good, bad, or both, is up to you. Whatever setting and condition the safe is in is also up to you. It could be underwater, in a mine, in a delapidated mansion…Take the wheel of literature and drive us there!

But here’s the twist: you don’t get what’s inside…

View original post 220 more words

It’s All a Mystery

New visitors to my blog might be a bit confused. Is this a poetry site? A place for flash fiction? One in which I go off the deep end in a depressive heap?

You’re not alone; I am also confused.

There may not be a term for what I do here, specifically, besides ‘impulsive’ or ‘whimsical’ or maybe even ‘nonsensical.’ If pressed, I like to say that I write on “many topics and in many styles of expression.” (That’s from my résumé.)

Despite this, there are two genres that I avoid: romance and mystery.

We’ll go into the former later, Dr. Freud. I only want to talk about the latter today, because I …can’t. I can’t write a mystery. “It’s not that difficult,” you might say. Or, “But, but, but -many of the stories I’ve read of yours reveal something the audience didn’t know. That’s mystery, you know.”

They’re really not, because of my approach to writing new stories. That approach is, basically, having a general idea of a theme or direction and then writing. Little details, dialogue, descriptions, and humor crop up as appropriate while I write. In a sense, I am as much in the dark as the reader until a resolution presents itself somewhere as I go.

So, today’s question is: How does one write a mystery? Plotting? Red herringing? Do you know every twist and turn and intentionally-wrongly-accused character? Do you *gasp* know whodunit from the outset?

If so, how is it any fun to write?

mortality-401222_1920

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Looking to solve The Case of What I Did Last Week? Here are the spoilers:
Wednesday, January 16: “How to Win Friends and …Nevermind,” my admittance to social ineptitude.
Thursday, January 17: “The Cure for Depression,” the beginning of a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, January 18: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to second-time winner, Molly Stevens.
Also, a re-post of Peregrine Arc’s writing prompt. VISIT; WRITE SOMETHING!
Saturday, January 19: Announced the tenth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Enter, if you dare!
Sunday, January 20: “Home Life Poetry.” I may need to get out more on Sundays.
Monday, January 21: Some answers to Len‘s Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination.
Tuesday, January 22: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty.”
Also, “A Day in the Life” (a re-post of a poem I wrote on this site) at my mothering blog.
Wednesday, January 23: Today!

Hallowe’en Serial: Final Night

Continued from #6.

*Bhrmmmm* *Bhrmmmm* buzzed the phone. Carol kept glancing at its screen to see if Miss Ziegenbusch had picked up yet.

She even knew where the woman lived, as Carol also did the job of Payroll Clerk and Human Resources Department. She did everything except attend pointless meetings, glad-hand clients, and look pretty at the front desk.

Hiring the current secretary, the woman she was now trying to reach, had not actually been Carol’s decision. Nor had retaining her.

“Hello?” said the phone. Carol’s car wobbled in its lane as she fumbled to answer.

“Hello?” –What was her name again?– “Um, Shelly?”

“It’s Cindy. Who’s this?”

“Cindy.” Right. “This is Carol Carter. Um, from work.”

…. “Oh.” …. “Uh, this isn’t the best time right now, Carol-”

For some reason, Carol felt she needed to be completely honest. “I’m being chased by something!”

She heard a gasp, then, “You are? Wait -is it that werewolf thing?”

Carol took a turn gasping. “How did you know?”

“Out of curiosity,” Cindy asked, “Has your radio also been playing songs based on what’s happening?”

Carol felt she was seeing herself from far away. Someone else was driving her car at dangerous speeds down the highway. Someone else was holding a cell phone with a grip like a vise. Someone else, surely, was doing all of these things at …she checked the clock on the dash…

At midnight. It was now Halloween.

“Carol?” Cindy’s voice called from the phone.

“I- I’m here,” Carol answered, pressing her phone closer to her ear.

Cindy sighed. “I thought so. Hey, I’m sorry for any bad feelings between us; but I really need to tell you something -something big.”

Carol wasn’t sure what Cindy could define as ‘big’ after her other revelations. “O…kay?”

“Um,” Cindy began. “You know that werewolf thing?”

As if on cue, Carol heard the tell-tale, Owooooooooo! She realized it had come through the phone, from Cindy’s end. “Cindy?!” she asked, in a panic.

“Oh shit.” Cindy said. “Um, sorry for swearing. I gotta go. …Basement…”

“Cindy?!”

“Yeah…?” Her breathing was more rapid. Carol could hear a door slam and hard steps on echoing stairs.

“What was the ‘big’ thing about the werewolf?”

Cindy paused. A cupboard from her end creaked, then Carol heard the unmistakable sound of a large gun being cocked. “Carol,” Cindy said, “That werewolf is Carl C. Carter. Your husband. I gotta go.”

And Carol was left alone, with the dead sound of a disconnected phone.

Hallowe’en Serial, 6th Night

Continued from #5.

Carol’s sharp, hasty turn brought her inches from a semi-truck approaching in the opposite lane. Its blaring-horn *Mruuuuuwwwmph!* trailed off behind her as she continued down the road at breakneck speed.

*Oh the werewolf, oh the werewolf / Comes a-stepping along* ♪

Her eyes flitted to the radio; back to the road. Werewolf? she thought. And, How in the heck does the radio know?

♫ *…Once I saw him in the moonlight, when the bats were a flying….* ♪

She chanced another look in the rearview mirror, yet could not see anything. The road was dark and ill-populated. She’d chosen to head East, away from the storm and towards the highway. She hoped to outrun the werewolf -or whatever it was- or at least discourage its following her.

The song stopped and “Thriller” began playing. “I’ve already heard that one,” she muttered, and switched to a new station.

“We’re here with Sergeant Riding to get the latest on this breaking story…” a businesslike female voice said. Carol’s hand, which had been hovering over the controls, slowly drifted back.

“Well,” a gruff male voice began, “We can’t say for sure what’s going on. We’ve had a lot of different reports. What we can say is that everyone ought to stay inside until we have a lead on this case.”

“Sergeant,” the female voice again. “Are you saying we’re on lockdown?”

The man laughed a short, humorless snort. “Now, we’re not trying to scare anybody. It’s more the advice that, if you want to stay safe, you’ll stay inside right now. Oh, and get your pets in real quick, too.”

“We-e-e-ell, I’m sure that’s all we have time for now.” The female reporter sounded worried to Carol. “Be sure to tune in next time for -Eeeeeeeaaaahhhh!”

*Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

Carol sat in shock. She was hurtling down a city road at 50 mph, but still felt numb. Slowly, she reached up and pushed Power Off on the dead radio station. She didn’t know where to go or who to contact; it sounded like the whole world was going crazy.

Slowing enough to multi-task, she pulled her phone to within visual range.

She had never, ever in her life used her phone while driving, a minor point of contention between her and her missing husband. But she was already finding herself breaking all sorts of personal and written laws in the face of potential death and dismemberment.

Scrolling carefully down her Contacts list, she tried to think of who she could call on a night like this. Anyone she was close to would not be awake to answer, nor would believe such a ridiculous story as she would tell if he or she answered.

“Gardener, Lawrence, Schwartz, Warner… Ziegenbusch.” At literally the end of her list, she paused over the last last name. Was she really desperate enough to try her nemesis, the front desk secretary?

Taking a deep breath, she pressed her finger on the Call icon. And waited.

Continued and ended at #7.

Hallowe’en Serial, 4th Night

Continued from #3.

Memories of uneasy feelings, eerie desk décor, and an empty car were amplified in the yawning, open, Carl-less garage. Carol put her car into Park and pushed the Door Lock button, too worried to even enter.

Any other day, she would have gone into the house alone. She would have eaten leftovers, watched some television, taken a shower, cleaned her teeth, climbed into her twin-sized bed in her own bedroom, and slept with the contentment of an overworked, underhappy 50-year-old woman.

Today was not any other day. Tonight had not been another other night. The radio station began playing Thriller.

At the opening wolf howl -Owooooooooo! ♪-, the moon released itself from graying cloud cover and shone a beam or two within Carol’s car. One reflected a glowing outline round a small, plastic-cased device resting on the passenger seat: her cell phone. She picked it up and checked for updates. Surely Carl had texted her, or left a voice mail; perhaps something was scheduled and he’d not put it on her calendar.

But, like with the orderly garage, there was nothing. “Carl C. Carter,” she said, “Of all the times to be gone….”

The night once again shrouded itself in dark mystery as the glowing moon moved aside for rapidly-approaching storm clouds. One minute Carol was sitting in her driveway contemplating her husband’s absence; and the next, bright lightning streaks and thunderous sky shouts seemed to come from just half a mile away. Surely her immature fears were not worth driving somewhere else in torrential rain, nor walking in it if she refused to park inside the garage.

What was so bad about her house, anyway? She and Carl had lived there for fifteen of the twenty-two years they’d been married. She knew the rooms, the light switches, the location of her mace. She’d be fine.

Where was Carl, though? She’d text him first, and see how late he expected to be.

*Hi, Honey. Just checking when you’ll be home. Let me know.

She stared at the cheerful message and thought to add a smiling face from her Extras menu. Thinking on Carl’s usual preferences of succinctness, she refrained. If she included one, he was also liable to suspect her phone had been hacked. She sent it off as-was, adding a silent wish for a quick response.

After ten minutes of nothing but Halloween songs to interrupt the silence, she conceded defeat. Though not a religious woman, she bowed her head and uttered a quick and direct prayer: “Whoever might be listening, tell Carl to call me; and keep me safe tonight.”

Finally, she pulled forward. Automatic lights warmed the empty space. She turned off the engine and pushed the remote to close the garage door.

Just before opening the driver’s door to exit, however, she caught an image in her rearview mirror. For the fourth time that day, her heart leapt and her breath grew rapid. No excuse like ‘too short a driver, surely,’ or ‘must have been seeing things’ could explain what she saw this time.

From just inside the recently-closed garage door, a pair of glowing, hungry eyes stared right into her own.

Continued at #5.

Hallowe’en Serial: 3rd Night

Continued from #2.

Carol noticed nothing, the image of a few bent window blinds storing itself cozily into her subconscious as she listened to her new favorite radio station.

♫ “You hate your boss at your job…” 

She sang along, though she didn’t hate her boss. Her boss was her husband. They were happily married, and had been for twenty-two years this November. No kids, of course. Carl hadn’t -well, maybe it really was Carol’s fault as he had suggested.

Miss Tight Skirts was expecting, probably from some discount store clerk. That’s where she got the ugly decorations from. Ugly decorations that could move…

No. Carol pushed the thought from her mind. Ceramics didn’t move, desks didn’t move, blinds didn’t -a black sedan pulled out into her lane and she had to jerk the steering wheel sharply to avoid impact. They honked at her and sped away into the night.

Her breathing almost matched her rapid heartbeat. This was the second time in one day she’d been scared enough to worry for her health. She tried to drive straight as she slowed her panicked breaths. Now, what had she been thinking about? Things looking at her?

♪ “Well, if you hear somebody knocking on your door / If you see something crawling across the floor / Baby, it’ll be me and I’ll be looking for you” ♪

Carol hadn’t heard the song; it sounded old, but still good. Catchy. Jerry Lee Lewis, perhaps… Her mother had kept a record.

Just then, a bright pair of headlights entered the road at her left side and she swerved to avoid yet another collision. “What is with the maniacs tonight?” she wondered aloud. She glanced over to at least glare at the driver. She couldn’t see anyone, so faced forward instead. Her mind did a double-take and she looked back.

No one.

It’s probably just a really short man or his seat’s set back really far, she told herself. The night was cloudy, too. The road was dark. She was tired. The driverless car drove off.

Carol slowed and turned onto her own suburban street, noting the tacky inflatable jack o’lanterns and grim reapers and Charlie Browns on her neighbors’ lawns. She’d forgotten Halloween was coming -in just one night, she realized. She’d have to pick up some candy and watch all the children. All the sweet children she’d never had to dress for Halloween nor take trick-or-treating.

Sighing, she drove up to their house. It was dark. Carl often forgot to leave the lights on for her, but he was never to bed this early. She opened the garage door and stopped in the driveway, engine idling.

Carl’s car was not there. The garage was as empty as a tomb.

Continued at #4.