It’s been too long since I wrote something gruesome. The story that follows is tame in comparison to some of the others I’ve written, but I opted to take a break from The Dark Calling this week and deliver a bit of horror instead.
I like how the scene played out. As is so often the case, I think it’s rough–chiefly because it is–but full of potential. I’ll have to come back to this one at some point and play with it some more. I like the unusual route it takes. I like the symbolism, too, though it’s a little too obvious. It needs to be toned down.
That said, as always I welcome your feedback. Let me know what you think, the good and the bad, in the comments.
“Bev, you’re scaring me.”
She was hysterical, yelling with the phone so close to her face that most of what I heard was a muffled roar. What I was able to make out didn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Beverly is my sister. She’s always been a bit of a sticky wicket. She’s just one year older than me, and neither of us were trouble-makers growing up. Good grades and all. Still, she’s the black sheep, if not in action, in mentality. Ours is a conservative family. Proper. She likes to rock the boat.
After a short and lack-luster career in accounting, I got married and had kids. She’s on her fourth career, and she isn’t even 35. Currently, she works for a funeral home. She claims to have–I swear I’m not making this up–“a passion for embalming”. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Her call could not have come at a worse time. I was halfway through painting my nails, both my children were circling me like sharks, and for no other reason than to add to the chaos, the cat was doing rocket sprints back and forth between the living room and the kitchen. My youngest screamed “Mama!” no less than ten times in rapid succession to impress upon me the urgency with which he needed baby carrots right that very minute.
“What do you mean, they came back?” I asked.
She screamed loud enough to make my ear ring. I jumped. My iPhone, previously perched precariously between my shoulder and cheek, slipped and fell to the floor. I heard the crunch of the screen when it hit.
“Shit,” I said before I realized both the kids were right there.
“Shit!” screamed the youngest. The older one snickered and followed suit. “Shit, shit, shit!”
I leaned down to retrieve my phone and knocked into the table as I did. The bottle of nail polish tipped and rolled right off the edge. It collided with the floor like a grenade. Red went everywhere. Two thick strands of scarlet landed on my newly cracked screen.
“Bev, I’m going to have to call back from the land line. Whatever’s wrong, we’ll sort it out.”
Knowing Bev, it could have been anything. A guy. She had horrible luck with men. Her boss. This would not have been the first time she’d gone down in a blaze of glory, losing a job in spectacular fashion. Hell, it could have been a prank. She liked to push my buttons from time to time, just to see if she could give me an aneurysm.
There were more screams from the other end of the call. Loud, horrible screams. For the first time since answering the call, I got genuinely nervous. If this was a joke, she was taking it all the way. If not, she sounded like she was in real trouble. Concerned for her safety, I snatched up my phone and raised it to my face. The nail polish was cold on my cheek.
“Bev, are you okay? Do you need to call 911?”
No answer. Just more screams, and then a rending sound. I don’t know how else to describe it. I heard something being ripped or pulled apart. Then the screaming stopped, but I could still hear breathing. Breathing and grunts.
“Bev, I’m calling the police.”
The call disconnected.
My phone’s screen was a wet, red mess. I sat it in the sink and walked quickly to the wall-mounted artifact we kept next to the fridge. That was when I realized the grunts weren’t coming from the phone.
The kids were quiet. All the chaos had stopped. Even the cat was standing still. I turned and looked over my shoulder. There, on our back porch, stood a man. He was disheveled, his clothes tattered and filthy. He was swaying as if he could barely hold his balance. Drool ran freely from his open mouth and he grunted as he watched us, pawing at the sliding glass door.
There was a massive head wound covering half of his face. I could see brain through his broken skull.
I struggled to comprehend the sight. My eyes lost focus. I saw my reflection in the glass, a crimson trail running from my mouth to my right ear. It glistened.
The thing at the door raised one hand and punched through the glass. My reflection shattered as shards of the former barrier tumbled inward, covering me, my kids and my cat.
“Run,” I told my children. “Run!”