“Layers Part 4” by Kaine Andrews

“Layers Part 4” by Kaine Andrews

Part IV

Mom and Sis didn’t seem like it mattered to them one way or another that there was a gangly loser standing in their doorway, one who was trying to scream and had the reek of fresh urine hanging about him. Dad noticed, though. It looked like it was what he wanted because I could see the hard lines in that face go smooth, then contract in the other direction as his lips pulled back in a smile. His teeth were missing; only ragged gums and a flopping, greenish thing. Beyond that I guessed was his tongue.

As one, they turned away from me, rotating their heads towards the ancient television. Dad stopped smiling. My lungs unlocked enough for the shriek to slip past my lips and allow me to take a ragged breath.

The reprieve was short-lived. There was a solid thunk from the direction of the entertainment center, followed by the distinct hum of old technology powering up. A moment later the house was filled with a test tone cranked up to almost deafening levels. I screamed again, this time actually getting one out, but nobody could have heard it over that noise. Covering my ears, I looked over at the television and saw it was displaying one of those old Indian Head title cards in grainy black and white.

That was new. I’d been expecting a different sound, thought I might even have been prepared for it. Was hoping for it, really. That was the easy part, the only part that didn’t make my teeth grind and my heartbeat turn into a techno beat.

Doing the only thing I could think of, I lurched towards the television, probably looking like some poor man’s impersonation of Frankenstein. I took one hand away from my ear, instantly regretting it when the sound clawed into the canal and ruptured my eardrum. I felt something leaking out and dribbling on my shoulder. The pain was bad, but at least the sound was deadened.

I reached out and shoved the television, rocking it on the little rubberized feet a bit. It was heavier than I expected. I shoved a second time, harder, and it tipped over, landing facedown only a couple of inches from my foot. I heard glass shatter, but the sound kept going. I don’t know what else I’d expected; things were built like tanks back then, and breaking the glass wasn’t liable to trash the speaker.

I did the next thing that came to mind, grabbing the power cord that snaked out of the back of the unit and yanking it as hard as I could. It came loose in a shower of sparks. For a moment I hoped they’d hit that obnoxious carpet, catch fire, and burn the whole mess down. Preferably complete with Mom, Dad, and Sis.

I wasn’t that lucky. Whatever toxic chemicals they used to pour on the carpeting in the way back when, meant the sparks barely singed it. The lightshow ended a moment later with a loud popping noise from somewhere deeper in the house. The living room dimmed a little. I guessed a fuse must have blown or a breaker was tripped.

Either way, it put things back on track. When I took my hand off my other ear, I heard the sound I’d been expecting. Faint, coming from further back, down a hall past the family couches.

Somewhere back there, a baby was crying. I had to find her. Even though I knew what would happen when I did, I still had to try.

This story was originally published at KaineAndrews.com. Intrigued? Stay tuned for Part 5, next Thursday!

About the Author

Kaine Andrews

Kaine Andrews was raised in the wilds of Nevada, molded by NASCAR-loving witches, a Catholic school education and typewriter theft, granting a natural fascination with all things dark and dreary and demented scribblings. He currently resides in Oregon, where the omnipresent drizzle keeps him somewhat sane.

Black Catastrophy

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Willow Croft’s Short Story Response to black CATastrophy Writing Prompt 2

Willow Croft’s Short Story Response to black CATastrophy Writing Prompt 2

A crippling feeling gripped him in the very pit of his stomach. He knew he would never see Beckham again.

“Relax,” Tamara said. “It’s only kindergarten, he’ll be fine. Wait till we have to send him off to college.” His wife took his hand. “C’mon, I’m due in court in an hour. Sure you’ll be okay? I can have Dad come over and take you to lunch.”

“Ha, ha. Don’t worry, I have clothes to wash and floors to sweep. Oh, and don’t forget to get milk on your way home.”

“I won’t—see you at six. Love you,” Tamara let go of his hand.

“Love you.” Tim watched his son dump a pile of blocks on the carpet. He’ll be fine, he told himself as he left the classroom.

At home, he wandered from room to room. He’d lied to Tamara. The laundry was done, the floors were swept, and he’d even finished the dusting while Beckham had watched his Sunday morning cartoons. Why didn’t I play with him more yesterday, instead of having the TV babysit him?

He turned on the TV and looked for a tennis match. There was none. And the TV noise annoyed him more than the sound of his wife’s business-on-weekends phone conferences.

Milk, he decided. He went to take his car keys off the hook by the door, only to realize he was still jingling them in his hand. The noise echoed in the quiet house as he left.

He got milk last, going up each aisle and gathering everything to make Beckham’s favourite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. Tomatoes, grated cheese, pasta, ground beef, spices and herbs thrown on top of a cartful of things he didn’t need. And red wine to toast his wife’s court victory after Beckham was in bed.

On the way home, he switched “Wheels on the Bus” for a top 100 mix of artists he pretended to recognize. Beckham’s fine, and he got on the freeway instead of the back way that would take him past the school.  He merged and then typed a text to his wife: Got the milk.

…………….

Tamara knew she would win—she always did—but she was still energized as she left the courtroom.

“Congratulations, Ms. Sanders. You’ve helped yet another criminal avoid prison time.” The prosecuting attorney shook her hand a little too firmly.

Tamara hid the wince with a smile. “Thank you,” she said, resisting the urge to comment on his lunchtime happy hour. Or, more likely, his liquid breakfast.

She practically skipped to her SUV, unused to getting out of court so early. She took her phone off silent mode. She scrolled through her text messages, all business. I’m not going back to the office, she decided.  But it was the missed call from Beckman’s school that caught her attention. She began dialing the school, but another call came in. Business, she sighed, and took the call.

“Mrs. Sanders?”

“Who is this?”

“Mrs. Sanders, my name is Officer Hudson of the Boston Police Department…”

“What happened to my son?”

“Ma’am, your son was not in the vehicle your husband was driving when the accident occurred.”

He’s fine, my son is fine, she thought.

“My husband has been in an accident?”

“I’m very sorry, ma’am.”

He’s not fine.

The phone shattered against the pavement.

Originally written in response to black CATastrophy Writing Prompt 02 published on willowcroft.blog. Edited for republishing on black CATastrophy. 

About the Author

Willow Croft is a freelance writer and editor, who loves nature, stargazing, and action adventure movies. She is the author of the poetry book, Quantum Singularity: A Poetic Voyage through Time and Space. Tweet her at @WillowCroft16.

“Keeping Secrets at Gravestone Hill” by Alexis Chateau

“Keeping Secrets at Gravestone Hill” by Alexis Chateau

Alexis Chateau

Heat and sweat.
That was the sum total of summers at Gravestone Hill.

Thankfully, Kevin had no shortage of cars, and trucks, and trains to keep him busy. Video games were fun, too. But most days he stayed inside, cooling off while books transported him to a universe of dragons and fairies and knights in shining armour.

It was a pity people didn’t need knights anymore. He had a good feeling he would have grown up to be a dashing young lad, on his fine black steed. He would have named him Midnight, and brushed him so he shone when the sun was high and the moon was bright.

Mother was always good for distraction as well. She was a library on legs with lips to share her tales. There was no bit of history she didn’t know – or couldn’t fabricate.

Still, it wasn’t enough. “When can we get…

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