Friday 14 February 2014

Dark Fiction - After


By Casey Douglass

as part of #fridayflash

It was a dark and stormy night. Now it’s morning, and the thing is still outside, roaming around and around the perimeter of the small cottage.
You pick your way through the shattered debris strewn about the kitchen. What was once a lovely oak table now no more than a pile of sticks and panels.

Your hand trembles as you lift the kettle and fill it from the cold tap. The sun is still low outside, its fresh rays entering through the small-paned window and reflecting in a dazzling band from the draining board. You don’t look out because you know it’s still there.

When you thought it had gone earlier, you had looked out at the dawning day and had been rewarded with the sight of a robin imploding. One moment it was sitting on the small cylindrical bird feeder, the next it vanished in a cloud of plumage and gore.

You place the kettle back on its base and busy yourself while it boils. The old book is still splayed open on the floor, the scuffed wax circle that surrounds it more broken than whole. It looks like the dimples you have to contend with when tearing out your new car tax disc. You still aren’t sure of your mistake, you think that you did everything right but obviously something was amiss.

You walk into the small lounge and switch the TV on, your arms wrapping around yourself to keep the internal chill at bay. You watch the news half-heartedly as you hear the kettle begin to judder and shake.

You raise a hand to your throat and wince as you feel the still forming bruises. You marvel at your quick reactions. They probably saved your life last night. Sitting there with your eyes closed, one candle for illumination and words tumbling from your lithe tongue, things were going so well. The room had buzzed and vibrated as the energy levels rose, the most powerful reaction you had ever experienced. Then those cold fingers clamped around your neck and it all became a mishmash of vertigo inducing tumbling and struggling. How you ejected it from the cottage and slammed the door before it could re-enter is a true marvel. Thank goodness the house was already warded at each portal!

You walk into the kitchen, the steam from the kettle curling in tendrils as small drafts toyed with it. The kitchen window is misted now, thick beads of water trickling down once they achieve enough mass. You pick up the kettle and flick a teabag into a waiting mug.

A loud thump hits the glass but you suppress the flinch and look steadily at the window. Darker rings form at face level, swiftly followed by the impression of an insane grin. It puts you in mind of how teeth look in an x-ray, inverted and warped. The glass mists and clears, mists and clears as the thing breaths against it, looking in at you. You lean closer and look through it, it’s invisible body only adding the slightest of shimmers to the garden behind it.

You move away and finish pouring your cup of tea. It’s going to be a long day.