What did happen next in last week’s Friday Flash Fiction?
You can read Part One here
Thanks to Kevin, Julie, Libre and Penny for their suggestions.
At the end of last week’s story Tony was cooking a breakfast that would never be eaten…
Tony didn’t need to call up the stairs that it was ready, there was a smell of burning bacon. I rushed down.
‘Hey we don’t want to set off the smoke alarm.’
I threw open the door, then staggered back. Whatever sound issued from my throat brought Tony rushing to my side. A dark pool of blood on the doorstep and a trail of gore leading to the cottage, he slammed the door shut, bolted it, then grabbed his phone.
‘No wait,’ I said ‘we could be prime suspects, we should just leave, right this minute.’
Tony was still peering at his phone. ‘There must be someone else they could blame… phone’s dead, I forgot to charge it up. Hey, why don’t I just go and look in the cottage…’
‘Not by yourself… let’s jump in the car and go to the nearest town, find the police station.’
‘Very tempting, but I’m sure there’s a rational explanation, an accident, maybe Celeste needs urgent help, there must be a landline in the cottage and we should call an ambulance.’
I pulled myself together; there were no further signs of danger. We tiptoed around the front garden of Celeste’s cottage, avoiding the trail of darkening blood that led to the open front door. We could soon see the back door was also open. As the morning sun began to filter into the cottage it revealed a smeared trail of blood along the flagstones straight to the back door, but also something else; rows and rows of shoes in neat pairs, too many for one family, too neat for any family.
‘Must be other guests’ I found myself whispering as Tony opened a door.
I looked round his shoulder, a room full of suitcases and backpacks, there couldn’t be that many guests.
‘Helloo…’ Tony called out ‘anyone there?’
No answer, or did I hear a muffled murmur.
‘Come on, let’s search the whole cottage first’ said Tony.
I nodded, relieved to avoid following the trail of blood.
‘This door’s open… OW’ I recoiled with shock as my nose encountered painful resistance. The door was open but the doorway was sealed with a solid pane of glass. Peering through we could just make out several guests seated at a breakfast table. Tony rapped on the glass but they did not stir.
‘Oh, it’s a museum, what a clever idea’ laughter rose in my throat at the absurdity of everything that was happening.
‘Odd, we’d better go upstairs and look for real people, Ce..le..ste?’
The narrow staircase led to low ceilings and an odd shaped corridor, the cottage went back further than we imagined. Nervously I pushed open the first door and stepped back. ‘Oops, sorry.’ I saw a lady in a Victorian bath, but my hand touched glass, it was another model, a wonderfully realistic set.
I let Tony open the next door, his hand raised to check for glass. Through the door shaped window we saw an old lady eating breakfast in bed. I almost expected her to look up at us, but like the other models she was motionless. As I stared, fascinated, I heard a muffled cry.
Tony must also have heard it, before I could utter a word he set off round the bend in the corridor.
‘Don’t come any further Merryn, broken glass.’
I looked round the corner to see a whole wall had been replaced by glass, but in the middle of the large pane was a person shaped hole, like something out of a cartoon. As our eyes adjusted to this gloomier part of the house we made out a room with a bed and table and in the corner a crouched figure.
‘Are you the police,’ the figure called out in a croaky woman’s voice ‘John told me to wait here while he went for help.’
‘No love, who are you, where’s Celeste?’
‘I don’t know, I think something terrible has happened’ the woman confirmed my worst fears.
‘Now don’t worry, I’m sure everything is fine’ said Tony, sounding like one of his favourite cop dramas, when nothing is ever fine. ‘We need to fetch help to get you out, the broken glass is too dangerous.’
‘I need to find John.’
‘Don’t worry, the police will find John.’
‘The police won’t get here in time, the best thing you can do is get out before you end up like the others.’
‘What others, we haven’t found anyone else, what is this place, a museum?’
‘You could say that’ her voice was tinged with an insane laugh now. ‘Go and look for yourselves, they were all holidaymakers, bed and breakfast guests once.’
‘Come on Merryn, she’s obviously mad, we have to go…’
But I was already further down the corridor, opening each door to more guest house scenes, people getting dressed, looking out the window, all so real, yet…
‘Tony, what does she mean?’
The police put us up at a hotel, with no promise that we would ever be reunited with our belongings at the holiday cottage, the only certainty that we could not go home yet, we faced hours of questioning with none of our questions being answered.
We woke up to an even stranger day; our car was virtually impounded, stuck at the sealed off property, we were not allowed to go home yet, even if we could. But we were not under arrest and glad to get out in the fresh air, a stroll past the local shops revealed that somehow the Sunday tabloids had already got hold of the story.
Holiday Horror Cottage – Guests Plasticized.
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