Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 3) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.
Today I’m featuring a contribution by Harmony Kent.
I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Here is the image prompt.
The Mad House
Emily does not like this house. Doesn’t matter how cheap it is. Rick, however, adores it. ‘C’mon, Em. It’s got serious potential.’
‘For a broken back,’ she mutters with her back turned.
‘Mmm. What was that?’
She faces Rick and lies, ‘I said, it’ll be nice to bring it back … see this old place restored to it’s former glory.’
‘Yeah.’ Rick grins and gives her a quick hug.
Emily’s happy that she’s made him happy. These last few months have been tough. Still, this place gives her the creeps. It feels oppressive. The house oozes hate.
Subdued, Emily traipses after Rick toward the filthy, broken door that leads into the hallway. Absently, she trails her fingers along the wood.
‘Ouch!’ She sucks the bloody finger into her mouth. Wide-eyed, she stares from the door to her husband. ‘The damn thing just bit me.’
Rick shakes his head, and a sad smile tugs at his lips and eyes like they can’t decide whether to go up or down. ‘Oh, honey. Let’s not start all that again.’
Emily hangs her head, and her stomach rolls sickeningly. No, let’s not do ‘all that’ again. The asylum wasn’t a fun place, and she’ll do anything not to return. Even this old building is better than that house of horrors. But she never made it up. It wasn’t all ‘in her imagination’. Fed up, frightened of looking crazy, and wanting to make it up to her husband, Emily holds it all in.
When she fails to speak, Rick pulls her in for another hug. Like that’ll fix everything. She holds in a sigh, but her tension transmits to him through her muscles. With a frown, he pulls away and promises, ‘We’ll get there.’
Emily nods and forces a smile for her husband’s benefit.
He strides into the hallway. Emily takes a step after him and then stops dead. The broken glass rimming the two lower frames in the door look like fangs. And the top two resemble eyes—empty and black and menacing. She shakes her head and strides past determinedly. It’s just a door. Simply four damaged square panes.
Rick’s gone upstairs. She wishes he hadn’t. The thought of stepping foot on those old risers leaves her weak and trembling, and it seems hard to breathe.
A creak and draft from behind give her a split-second’s warning. The door to the lounge swings shut. Impossible. An old chair had propped it open. Emily’s heart hammers so hard she’s sure it’s about to break her ribs. Its frantic bid for escape echoes her own misgivings. Why can nobody understand that she sees things? No matter what the doctors tell her, it’s all real. It is.
She spins around with her arms raised in front of her face. Sure enough, the door’s closed tight. The chair is nowhere in sight. The discarded box-drawer that had lain against the hinged-edge now lies by her feet on the dusty floor. Emily skitters away. Misgivings forgotten for the moment, she dashes up the stairs. ‘Rick? … Rick? Where are you?’
Thick silence surrounds her, more like the sinister wrapping of a hungry spider than the protective cocoon of a butterfly. Emily shudders. She dashes from room to room but can’t find him anywhere. Panicked, she flies back down the stairs and runs throughout the ground floor. No Rick. Terrified, she even checks the basement. Nothing. Her breathing comes in gasps and heaves, and her vision blurs. She bursts out of the front door.
Rick stands outside, holding up the keys to the house and wearing a huge smile. His smile falters and then recovers. He jingles the keys. ‘Welcome home, honey!’
What? They were just viewing to see if they would buy it. Where’s the agent? How have they bought this place already? She blinks and copies Rick’s enthusiastic smile. ‘Um, remind me what day it is, sweetie.’
Rick chuckles. ‘It’s Monday, of course.’
They’d viewed the house on a Saturday. ‘Er, do you have the papers?’
‘Sure.’ Rick holds out the contract. Emily snatches it and looks at the date: three months have passed. The house has had her for twelve weeks. Rick frowns and studies Emily. ‘You okay, hon?’
She nods and smiles. She knows what she has to do. ‘I’m looking forward to gutting this place.’
‘It doesn’t need that much work. And they just released you. Remember, baby steps.’
His words make no sense. All she sees is utter devastation. Illusion? Delusion? Or premonition?
© Harmony Kent 2020
CONTACT HARMONY HERE …
Harmony’s Amazon Author Page: author.to/HarmonysBooks
Goodreads: Author Page
I can be reached here …
Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as they are received.