Terry-Jean and Robert Tait hadn’t spoken a word to each other in what seemed like eternity. Robert sat at the round table in the center of the kitchen with his head in his hands, rubbing at his scalp with calloused fingertips to the point that it burned. Terry-Jean wiped and buffed the area of worktop closest to the phone repeatedly, only venturing away from the area for brief, reluctant moments to refill her glass or take a piss.
Robert couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He allowed the thought some free reign while his stomach roared in agony. Then he remembered— he had snatched a few of Abigail’s nuggets from her plate and folded a piece of bread around them. He laughed and took a smug bite as she moaned her disapproval, as over the top and stroppy as you’d expect from your typical eight-year-old.
“As if you can think of food right now!” TJ hissed. She snapped him out of the memory, leaving him disoriented. He felt a single cold tear roll down his cheek. Her lips peeled back to expose her gums as she spoke, her eyes filled with hate. Or was it hurt? Maybe both. He hadn’t seen that look since she found out about him sleeping with his coworker, and that was ten years ago. That’s the look… disgust. Betrayal.
“I’m not,” he replied. His voice was coarse, raspy. He hadn’t opened his mouth to speak since the officer left. What was his name… Kline? Kilne? He hadn’t even drunk anything. He got up then, wiped the stinging remnants of weakness from his face, and poured a glass of warm, misty water from the tap. He downed it in a couple gulps, almost choked on it. The water chased back a layer of sand that settled in his throat as it went down. He immediately poured another.
Whatever offended TJ obviously slipped her mind, because she went back to cleaning that single patch of worktop again. Robert stared out through the kitchen window, watching the shadow of the swing squash and stretch across the grass as it drifted back and forth in calm, eerie solitude. He felt a stab of pain then—but by now he was used to that.
The trees swayed gently beneath the moonlight, each leaf casting its own ghost across the lawn. The bushes that bordered the fenceline rustled, one by one, but only slightly. What is that? He traced the movement with his eyes, leaning closer to the glass to get a better look through his own reflection. The movement stopped. Everything stopped. He leaned further still, holding his breath. That last bush, where the rustling stopped. There in the moonlight. Or maybe it was just the moonlight, catching a couple rogue leaves he didn’t get properly in his last battle with the trimmer? Whatever it was, it changed direction and looked at him. Two piercing, ravenous eyes looked at him.
BANG! Something slammed against the window. Robert almost choked on his tongue.
TJ jumped out of her skin! Within a millisecond she had the handset at her ear, and Robert was at the back door.
“Have you found her!?” He heard TJ plead as he rushed out into the garden. The eyes, or the moonlit leaves, or the cat, were gone, but something lingered there in the garden with him. A feeling. A sense of dread. Something sinister danced on the chilling wind, something that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
Were he not petrified in place he’d have scanned the garden, but he felt… vulnerable. Open. He stayed stiff as a board, jaw clenched tight, fingernails digging into his palms. Every fibre of every muscle tingled under strain. He felt something watching but forced himself to ignore it.
He approached the window slowly and carefully, as if it were dangerous somehow. The first thing he noticed was a patch of gore splattered across the glass. He followed the smear of red down the window, out across the deep ledge, and down to the ground. There on the patio, moist with its own blood, laid a bird, convulsing as it fought pitifully for life.
He watched it for a few moments while listening to TJ’s hopeless sobs, all his previous fears dissipating in an instant. Her painful gasps for air told him all he needed to know. Abigail was either not found, or found dead.
The mangled, twitching, bird offered no comfort.
In that moment, just him and the bird, he wanted nothing. Not to die, not to live. Not to have to face his wife. Not to have to try to comfort her and tell her it’ll be okay while she choked and spluttered and pounded his chest. He’d stand out in the cold, and the dark, until the world swallowed him whole.
The reason he came outside found him again, and sobered him. He dragged his heels toward the back door and stepped inside, taking a quick second to look around once more from the naive comfort of his own four walls. Satisfied there was nothing out there, he pulled the door closed and locked it.
Time to find out whether his daughter was dead, or worse.
End of Part 1
Ahh I’m sorry! Were you enjoying that? You’ll have to come back tomorrow to see where this one is going. I couldn’t give this story a measly 1000 words. It just didn’t feel like a one shot story to me. I want to explore it some more, build the characters a bit, and see where it goes.
How are you finding Whispers From The Dark so far? If you’re enjoying it, I’d like to offer the chance to help support the project while its active and ongoing, and offer some exclusive rewards for your generosity. I’m pretty excited about this offer! Details below.
Whispers From The Dark ‘Supporters Edition’ Ezine
Whispers From The Dark is a 31 day flash fiction event, promising a horror based flash-fiction each day of the month in the build up to Halloween. All Posts will be pulled down on the 10th November, refined, edited, and placed into a full colour PDF Ezine for sale. This is a recurring yearly event.
So you’re interested in supporting this spooktastic project? Here’s the run down!
Your £10.00 payment not only supports this site and the creation of all its works throughout the year, but nets you the following rewards:
-All 31 flash fictions fully refined and edited in one beautiful E’zine upon release, direct to your email inbox!
-A custom artwork cover exclusive for those who purchase the Supporters Edition (offer ends 31st October)
-An exclusive ‘Whispers From the Dark’ Short story tucked inside the E’zine, for Supporters Edition only. (Offer ends 31st October)
-A special mention in the acknowledgements and a link of your choosing to your online presence.
-50% discount on limited edition print run, signed and delivered anywhere around the world.
-As a special thank you, I’ll throw in the Gold Member subscription for the entire month of November, absolutely FREE. (4 extra flash fictions, direct to your inbox)
-Guaranteed safety from the eternal forces of darkness… We have an understanding 😉
Simply make payment below and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from the email address you would like to receive the E’zine. Please provide the Name, Link and Bio Text (Max 50 words) in the body of the email to be placed directly at the beginning of the ‘Zine.
Whispers From The Dark ‘Supporters Edition’ E’zine
Estimated Delivery: 15th-30th November
Thank you so much for supporting this project! For now, enjoy all the horror stories in the event so far: Whispers From The Dark