Scary Saturday Short Story – Door Bell

At least Covid 19 meant no children knocking at the door this year. My own ten year old had gone to her friends’ house to do Halloween and my husband was picking her up after his shift finished. We were still medium risk in our area and no one in Maya’s class had tested positive, but it might be the last time she could see friends if we were heading for a second lockdown. Anyway, I was going to leave the television and radio off and read my new book. I did not want to hear any Covid news.

Two pages in and I was startled by the door bell ringing frantically. How annoying, Maya and her friends must be playing a joke.

I opened the door to see a pale very solemn child standing there, peering from beneath a hood. Her costume and acting were rather good. I peered over her head; the street light by our front gate revealed no parent or older sibling looking out for her.

‘Are you out on your own?’

‘I’m always on my own.’

Her voice was faint. That’s all I needed on my evening off, some child from a dysfunctional family, probably one of those who needed food hand outs at half term. She looked like she needed feeding up, but I could hardly invite her in, I might be accused of kidnapping and anyway, I did not want to get involved.

‘Perhaps you had better run along now, I haven’t got any sweets, my daughter took them to her friends’ house.’

She remained silent.

‘How about a bag of crisps and a banana?’

She remained silent, so I turned to nip into the kitchen and see what we had in the fruit bowl. I grabbed a carrier bag and put in two bananas and a few satsumas; she probably never got any fruit at home. But before I could turn back to the kitchen door I sensed her behind me. There she was, standing in my kitchen, this was getting creepy.

‘Where do you live?’

‘Here.’

I didn’t like the way she looked through me, I felt a chill; despite her translucent pallor she looked familiar. Now we were in the light I noticed the ginger curls escaping from her hood were just like Maya’s bouncy hair and she was the same height.

‘Now don’t be silly, your parents will be worrying where you are.’

‘No they won’t, they don’t want me, why didn’t you want me? You love Maya, why didn’t you love me?’

I felt chilled to the core. I hadn’t mentioned Maya’s name and I was certain she wasn’t one of the neighbour’s children or in Maya’s class.

‘You have done your tricking and you have your treat. Now I want you to leave my house.’

‘Why can’t I live here?’

I felt sick, should I call the police… where had I left my mobile… I didn’t want to take my eyes off her, this could be a burglary attempt with a big brother waiting to slip in the front door… it was upstairs charging and the landline was in my husband’s office…

‘Why don’t you tell me your phone number and we could ring your home.’

‘This is my home Mummy, it took me a long time to find you.’

What kind of sick joke was this, could she really be… no that was ridiculous…

‘My daughter will be home soon and it’s time you left.’

‘She’s not coming home.’

‘Her Dad’s bringing her.’

‘Maya’s not coming home, so I can stay now.’

‘Of course you can’t.’

‘Why don’t you want me, you wanted Maya.’

I tried to think rationally, so why did I find myself trying to explain?

‘It wasn’t the right time, it wouldn’t have been fair to you.’

‘You should have given me a chance.’

Who or what was this strange child? What could she possibly know about… I tried not to let my imagination run wild, prayed that Maya and her Dad would be back soon… no, I prayed this frail creature would leave before they did return. I stepped back, nauseous as she held out her blue veined hand.

‘Please go’ my voice was shaking ‘I told you  my daughter will be back soon.’

I told you Mummy, she won’t be coming back.’

I closed my eyes for a second, trying to think. I heard a tread, felt the floor vibrate, they must be back. But when I opened my eyes a policeman was standing there.

‘Sorry Madam, the front door was wide open, didn’t you hear me calling?’

His voice was muffled behind his mask, but his eyes were darting around nervously.

‘Thanks for coming, were you looking for this lost child, will you call social services?’

He looked puzzled. I followed his gaze round the kitchen, the girl was not there.

‘Oh she must have crept upstairs, we better check.’

‘Madam, madam please, I need you to sit down. Is anyone else at home?’

‘No, my husband and daughter are out.’

‘I am very sorry, I have to tell you there has been a serious accident and we think…

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Friday Flash Fiction – 525 – Linda

John was already up. I hadn’t heard the alarm. He was keen to get an early start, breakfast on the way. I started down the stairs, determined to at least have a cup of tea before I got dressed. I stopped halfway down, John was talking to a stranger, a man in a black polo shirt with a scarlet logo AID, he looked like a plumber or an electrician, maybe he had got the wrong house. But they were talking intently, John hadn’t noticed me. Irritated I listened to what they were saying. The other man was doing all the talking.

‘We usually advise counselling Mr. Anderson, a week at our clinic to adjust.’

Something was wrong, why hadn’t John told me? The man continued speaking.

‘…but with your daughter’s wedding tomorrow, there isn’t time. Nobody will ever guess, her big day will not be spoiled.’

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Of course her big day would not be spoiled, what was this stranger talking about? Over a year in the planning, we all knew what we were doing, John had his speech off pat.

‘John, what’s the matter?’ I called out.

He didn’t hear me, I felt frozen to the spot, nerves perhaps, I hadn’t felt well last night.

At last John was speaking, but not to me.

‘What will happen… upstairs?’

‘All taken care of,’ said the man in black ‘we’ll lock up after. It’s time you set off, are you ready to meet her?’

The living room door opened and John gasped. ‘Linda?’

‘Who were you expecting, come on, are you ready to go, are we all locked up?’

I clung dizzily to the banister; the woman my husband was talking to was me, Linda Anderson, his wife of twenty eight years.

‘Are you feeling better, you said you felt ill last night.’

‘Fine, never better, I feel like a new woman.’

She put her hand on his chest, I felt the warmth through his shirt in my finger tips.

Tentatively John put his arms loosely round her waist, then smiled, tightening his grasp. I felt his strong familiar hands in the small of my back. I turned to look behind me at the empty stairs, I was obviously dreaming. I mounted the few stairs to the open bedroom door.

I halted in confusion. Two strange men were in our bedroom, two men in black polo shirts, bending over something on the bed. Angrily I stepped towards them, they did not turn their heads. I screamed, but no sound came out.

On the bed, motionless, was a body, a naked body, my body. The men were pulling off wires, electrodes. Next to me was a suit bag, no it was longer, a black vinyl bag. Deftly they inserted their arms under the body and lifted it up. I caught a glimpse of my face, pale, eyes closed, before the zip reached the top of the bag.

Oddly detached for a moment, I read the logos on their shirts AID, then noticed an unfamiliar piece of paper on my dressing table.

AID Emergency Call Out

I skimmed down the page.

Android Intelligence from Donor – Resurrection for the Digital Age

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Dropping In

Bloggers just wanna have fun.

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With so many good blogs and not enough time to read them all, sometimes, maybe all the time, we like to drop in to blogs that make us laugh or don’t require much mental effort.

When I looked at how many bloggers I followed, the number was 748! I don’t feel as if I know them all… in fact I’m pretty certain I don’t regularly see posts from all those bloggers. I do have a variety of favourite bloggers, but here are just a few who post regular or occasional blogs where I can just drop in, know what to expect and have fun.

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Joan Hall has just started this series, Mystery Monday, featuring famous mysteries that remain unsolved. We all like a mystery; perhaps you know the answers, or can join in the discussion as to what might have happened. This week it was the tragic loss of the famous aviation pioneer.

https://joanhall.blog/2019/09/09/amelia-earhart/

Jaye and Anita share posts from other bloggers and write poetry and book reviews, but on Monday there are no words. Macro Monday brings you one amazing photograph each week.

https://jenanita01.com/2019/09/09/macromonday-63/

Travel the easy way. When Fozzie Bear took Brian Fagan on a cultural trip to Europe, Fozzie made sure he got in all the photos.

https://acrackinthepavement.com/2019/09/08/fozzie-loves-the-cologne-cathedral/

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It seems I am not the only one who loves photographing doors. Rowena in Australia calls one of her regular blogs Thursday Doors.

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/35828219/posts/61136

 

Stevie Turner knows we’re all busy so if you want to share your blog  you can just leave a link and run off. Of course you might have time to stay and see what other bloggers are sharing…

https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/09/06/friday-click-run-6th-september/

Jill Dennison writes in depth blogs from politics to music, but on Saturday it’s time to have fun with Saturday Surprise and you never know what you might see. Pictures of cute animals, strange people and jokes… and… well see for yourself.

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/15107025/posts/54381

And it’s the end of the week, Sunday and I look forward to Kim’s three quick questions, wondering what she will come up with each week. Can you answer without thinking too hard?

https://itrippedoverastone.com/2019/09/08/what-about-you-sunday-quick-questions-30/

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There are some bloggers I started following because I loved the names. Biff Sock Pow writes brilliantly about having nothing to write about… with great cartoons as well. Who could resist a blog entitled – ‘A Feeling Of Listlessness – or – Blogging On Empty.’

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/32671356/posts/9464

The Bluebird of Bitterness has plenty of jokes and cartoons. You can also join in the Friday Happy Dance or enjoy more music as the birthdays of great composers are celebrated.

https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/2019/09/05/reptile-dysfunction-4/

If you want to rest your brain at the weekend visit Silly Saturday here at Tidalscribe.

Friday Flash Fiction – Holiday Cottage Part Two

What did happen next in last week’s Friday Flash Fiction?

You can read Part One here

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/friday-flash-fiction-975-holiday-cottage/

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…

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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.

‘Police…’

‘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.’

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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.

‘Bloody Hell…’

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?’

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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?’

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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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Friday Flash Fiction – 975 – Holiday Cottage

The car wheels crunched on the gravel, but the noise did not seem to draw attention to our arrival. I turned the engine off and picked up my phone to check the email again.

If I’m out, key under flower pot by the seashell.

‘Which one’s ours?’ said Tony.

‘Hopefully not that dilapidated cottage.’ Already I was regretting my spontaneous idea that we should get away from it all for the long weekend. ‘It’s called Owl Barn, I suppose that’s it; smarter than the cottage, but looks like it was a barn once.’

‘Neither building looks like the pictures on the website’ frowned Tony.

I decided not to mention that after I had already booked, I noticed the newest post on the website was October 2011.

‘Come on, let’s see what it looks like inside.’

Along the wall of the barn were numerous plant pots and exotic seashells, the ones nearest the door revealed nothing.

‘We may as well check if anyone’s home at the cottage’ said Tony.

The cottage faced the barn, the small dusty windows gave no clue if anyone was home or looking out of them. We ducked under a creeper covered archway, I let Tony lead the way down the narrow path.

‘Good afternoon, I was just feeding the goats.’

I was startled by the voice and almost bumped into the tall woman standing right behind me. She held out her hand. ‘Mr and Mrs. Conway? I’m Celeste, welcome to the village and welcome to Owl Barn.’

The name didn’t really go with her appearance, I tried to suppress a smile, relieved that at least we were in the right place. ‘Thanks, Merryn and Tony.’

 

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‘…and if you need anything else don’t hesitate to knock.’

‘Thank you, it’s lovely.’

‘What was the name of the pub?’ said Tony.

‘The Haunted Barn, but don’t worry, it doesn’t refer to our barn. They do good meals if you don’t want anything fancy.’

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It was a good meal; a country walk round the village, only getting a bit lost, had given us a good appetite and we strolled back ‘home’ looking forward to the weekend. We wondered what the inside of Celeste’s cottage was like, she said they had converted the barn first to fund the renovation of their home, it made sense. We almost missed the narrow turning now it was dark and expected a security light of some sort to come on as we stumbled across the gravel to our door. Something brushed my leg, I grabbed  Tony’s arm and caught a flash of white.

‘Sorry…  here Angus you naughty boy.’ The pale face of Celeste loomed out of the dark. ‘You enjoyed your meal then?  Goodnight.’

Safely indoors I wondered how she knew, but Tony said of course she knew we were going to the pub for a meal.

7

The country air had sent Tony straight off to sleep, but above his snoring I thought I heard a noise, a crunch on gravel, heavy feet. I looked out of the window; the moon had appeared, but I could see no one. Across at the cottage several upstairs windows glimmered with a faint yellow light.  I wondered how many people lived there, family or friends; Celeste had given no indication.

‘Is everything alright?’ A harsh whisper from below the window, was it Celeste or someone else?

Like a naughty child caught out of bed, I backed away and slipped gratefully into bed beside Tony, the alarm clock said 1.30a.m.

‘What’s the matter Merryn?’

‘Sorry, did I wake you, I heard noises, I think Celeste is prowling round.’

He yawned ‘Maybe she lost the cat or…’

Tony was asleep again before he finished the sentence. But for me sleep wouldn’t come. I crept out to the bathroom, then downstairs to fetch a drink of water. Out of the kitchen window I thought I saw movement at one of the lighted windows, then at the end of the cottage a window was flung open and a head popped out; it didn’t look like Celeste. He or she was staring at me. Didn’t anyone go to sleep in that house? I rushed back up the narrow stairs, stubbing my toe.

Hiding under the covers I tried to be rational. It was their home, they could stay up as late as they liked, stroll around in the dark…

I felt myself drifting off, only to be woken by a piercing scream.

‘TONY… did you hear that?’

‘What… what time is it now?’

‘Two thirty, did you hear that scream.’

‘No I was asleep, it was just a fox.’

‘Tony, how could you just go back to sleep, it wasn’t a fox… TONY… there it is again..’

‘Owl’ he mumbled.

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I thought morning would never come, but somehow the sun was shining in through the window and there was my long suffering husband standing by the bed with a cup of tea, smiling.

‘So much for our peaceful weekend, do you remember having a nightmare?’

‘It wasn’t, I heard the most awful cries… do you think we should check if everything’s alright at the cottage?’

‘What, just knocking to see if you’ve been murdered? I didn’t hear a sound love. We’ll have that cooked breakfast I promised you then go and walk up that hill we saw yesterday.’

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…

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What would you do, who would you call?

Write the next line in the comments and see what happens next week…