The Final Act
Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER
Horror Month wraps up today on Flash Fiction Fridays with award-winning authors Daniel Pyle and Julie Ann Weinstein. Enjoy.
by Daniel Pyle
Jack and Elle unloaded the U-Haul and spent the morning sorting through boxes. When Elle pooped out around noon and suggested she go get them some lunch, Jack agreed.
"Wanna come with?"
"Nah," he said. "You go. I’m gonna check out the back yard again."
She laughed. "You and your back yards. I think you would’ve bought a burned-out shack if it was on a big enough plot."
"I know I would have." He gave her his best but-you-love-me-anyway smile. "If you get burgers, don't forget the bacon."
She found the car keys and left. He went through the back door to survey their property.
Their property. Thinking about it made him feel so grown up. In thirty-five years, the most valuable thing he'd owned had been a used Volkswagen. Now he had land. Property. A little piece of the whole world.
Something whined behind the privacy fence separating their yard from the neighbors'.
What the hell was that?
It sounded like an injured dog or a crying child.
"Is somebody there?"
The whining came again.
"Are you hurt?" He walked to the fence and tried to peer between the slats, but the wood was swollen, gapless. He grabbed the top of the fence and hoisted himself up.
The first things he noticed were the doghouses lined up along the opposite fence. He counted twelve.
Twelve dogs? Who owns twelve dogs?
Breeders? Dogfighters? Dogsled racers?
He pulled himself farther up the fence, rested his stomach against the tops of the slats.
"Is somebody back here?" He half expected a dozen pit bulls or dobermans to jump at him. None did.
The word was soft, almost inaudible, but undeniable. Jack thought the sound had come from one of the doghouses. Knew it had.
Jesus. It is a kid. You've got to call for help.
No. If there was a child trapped in here with a bunch of dogs, he had to do something now, before it was too late. He'd never thought of himself as a back-turner.
He swung over the fence, dropped to the other side, crept across the yard.
The thing that slunk out of the first doghouse to meet him wasn't a dog or a child. Not exactly. Its sharpened teeth dripped bloody saliva. Scar tissue covered its face and one eyeless socket. It wore a torn Superman shirt and a pair of stained underwear. It smelled like shit and blood and decayed meat.
It reached for him with a twisted, human hand.
"Wanna play?" It bared its teeth and growled.
Jack screeched and turned back for the fence.
The thing chased after, grabbed him by the ankle, pulled him to the ground.
Jack turned to fight it off and saw more children-things crawling from their houses.The first little beast blinked its lone eye and bit into Jack's leg. By the time the rest of the neighbors got to him, he was too busy dying to scream.
Daniel Pyle is the author of one novel, Dismember, and many short stories. He lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his wife and two daughters. His new novelette, Down the Drain, is a creepy monster tale that's perfect for the Halloween season. It's available now from Amazon, iBooks, and www.bloodbrotherspublishing.com. For more information about Down the Drain or the author, visit www.danielpyle.com.
The Whisps of Shadows
by Julie Ann Weinstein
The wind spoke to me. I saw it in the palm trees. Their leaves swaying downward in shame trying to hide the secrets and still I walked up to the house. Ignoring the watchful swaying of the palm trees, the whistling wind, the wisps of shadows telling me to leave, to leave the inhabitants there; they’d invited this upon themselves.
I rationalized, they’d killed the goat and drank its blood, and danced a thousand dances in candlelight playing the ouiji board, but still I felt responsible. I gave them the goat and the keys to the house, the one rumored to be haunted on old Mill Road, but still I walked past the house ignoring the screams inside and on the corner I turned around at the sound of my own name being chanted, "Willford, Willford."
And so I turned back, walking up the old manor, past the whistling palms, knocking on the door, the door no one answered. I followed the trail of blood past the entryway into what once was the formal dining room with a crystal lamp with tear-drop candles weighing down its base above the silver candelabra on the floor. Seeing my own name on the wall in blood I screamed. I heard the chanting, "Wilford, Willford."
I saw a man with the goat’s head on his own, wielding a butcher’s knife, calling, "Father, you shouldn’t have come." He was my son, this man-goat with the taste of blood on his hands. "It’s the ouiji board, my son. You and your friends got carried away. It’s just a game, a twisted game. You mean no harm." A chorus of voices chanted, "Willford, Willford is home," and I saw the whistling palms curling in half screaming, "No." And my own blood drawn on them, "Wilford, the protector," and the chanting quieted down. It’s so silent now. They say it’s the silence of death you notice first.
Julie Ann Weinstein has published over ninety short stories and is a Pushcart Nominee. She is an editorial consultant and a flash fiction workshop leader in the Southern California area. Julie is also published under the name Julie Ann Shapiro. She currently lives in Encinitas, California, where she is working on future short story collections. “The Whisps of Shadows” is an excerpt from her story collection, Flashes From The Other World (All Things That Matter Press). To learn more about Julie Ann Weinstein, visit her website at http://julieweinstein.com/.
Thanks to all our Horror Month authors. It has been creepy, unsettling and scary; in other words, perfect. Next month, get ready to explore the dynamics of family gatherings. Boo.