For our final day of the Halloween Flash Fiction event, we’ve got stories that range from cute to creepy — much like the books from this morning’s author, Abbi Glines! Abbi took inspiration for her short story from this image…
Don’t forget to check the info for the Rafflecopter giveaway below the story!! Print books, ebooks, and giftcards are all parts of SEVEN different prize packs!
When Shadows Reply By Abbi Glines
The leaves that had burst with color only weeks ago were now on the ground covered with frost. Freezing temps often came early to New England and this Halloween looked as if there could be snow. Trick or Treaters would be bundled up and costumes would be hard to recognize under the extra layers of warmth.
I didn’t mind the cold. I loved the smell in the air this time of year. Tilting my head back, I inhaled deeply and enjoyed the changing of the season. Fall was always too short. I wished we got more time with it. Tucking my hand deep into the pocket of my wool lined coat I made my way toward the trail behind my house.
The trail was one of my favorite things about the house I’d rented last spring. Moving this far north wasn’t what I had planned to do after graduating from the University of Boston but when my grandfather passed away, I wanted to be close to my grandmother. She wanted to keep her freedom but the idea of her being so far away from the rest of the family worried me. My job as a freelance editor made it easier for me to move close to her than for my sister or parents to make the move. My sister owned a preschool in Hartford, Connecticut and my father was a senior partner in a law firm in Hartford that his father had started sixty years ago.
That left me to make the move.
The house I’d rented was small but cozy. It had been built in seventeen eighty and the original structure only had a bathroom added to it over the years. Although the quaint new England home had been what peaked my interest, I had fallen in love with the trail behind the house. Especially during the past month when the path was bursting with the color of fall.
“It’ll be icy soon and prove difficult to walk,” a deep voice said from behind me.
Surprise and panic slammed me at once as I spun around to face the stranger in my yard. No words came right away. His appearance stopped the scream rising in my chest. This man didn’t appear dangerous but then some of the world’s most notorious serial killers had been attractive. I took a step back from him.
The sky blue color of his eyes and his dark almost black hair was striking. The crooked grin didn’t look like that of someone who was here to murder me but again that could be deceiving. His broad shoulders and tall frame could easily dominate me. All I had was my voice to scream. Luckily I had neighbors and hopefully they were home.
“I’ve frightened you. I’m sorry, it wasn’t my intention.” His words sounded so formal. That could be sexy and it could also be creepy depending on how you looked at it. I watched too much television so I was leaning toward creepy.
“Who are you and why are you in my yard?” I demanded pulling myself together from the shock of having this stranger pop up out of nowhere. Or had he been here all along watching me? I shivered and it wasn’t from the cold.
He glanced around the yard and the house before his gaze found its way back to me. “I lived here once,” he said then shrugged his shoulders and smiled again. If he was a serial killer, I bet he was very successful killing women. If one wasn’t careful, they’d forgive him anything. I took another step back.
“Well, you don’t live here anymore. So…” I said not caring if that sounded rude.
“No, I don’t… it would seem,” he replied.
“Do you often trespass on other’s property?” I asked growing annoyed with the fact he was still here.
He chuckled softly, almost as if that were an amusing question. “No. I don’t make a habit of it.”
Still he stayed there. I waited a moment trying to decide if I could out run him. He was tall and that was a strike against me. My shorter legs would have to move fast and I wasn’t a great runner. I was also clumsy.
He motioned toward the house with his right hand and gave me another smile. “It once was a lovely blue,” he said. “The house that is.”
It was now red and although I thought blue would be a better color, I didn’t say anything. I was still trying to decide if running was a good idea or not. Screaming may be better or possibly doing both.
“The fireplace in the parlor always heated the house so much better than the one in the dining room,” he continued on.
I had three cords of wood stacked in the woodshed to the left of the house but only one fireplace worked now. The other was sealed and seemed to have been that way for many years. “You must have been a child when you lived here,” I said forgetting this man may be planning my death.
“Yes, I was,” he replied.
“Wait, do you own the house? I’ve only met Mrs. Harper who works for the real estate company that rents the place,” I said starting to feel foolish and that maybe I shouldn’t be watching so many murder mysteries.
He frowned then and looked unsure. “I don’t believe so.”
That answer was so odd that I needed to question his sanity. He was a beautiful man but he was also possibly crazy.
“I should check into that,” he then added.
Okay then… “Uh, well, is there a reason you are here then?”
He ran a hand through his perfectly tousled hair and I tried not to sigh at the sight of him. “I should be going. You’re right,” he agreed then nodded his head toward the path. “After the third maple tree you’ll see a black walnut tree. It has the best walnuts you’ll ever taste, although I fear they’ll be gone already this season. Next year perhaps,” he said then tilted his chin down in some formal nod before turning to leave.
He wasn’t here to kill me and now I wished I hadn’t pushed for him to leave so soon. I had a million questions as to what brought him here and why. He was almost at the corner of the house when I called out.
He paused then turned back to me.
“I didn’t, uh, get your name,” I said.
He nodded as if he was agreeing with me. “You don’t want my name. I’m best forgotten,” he replied then before I could say more, he turned the corner of the house.
I started to go after him but decided on going back inside instead. Although he had left, I still knew nothing about him. A walk seemed spooky now and no longer enjoyable.
The smell of firewood and cinnamon met me as I entered the house. Walking over to the window, I peeked out to make sure my unknown visitor had in fact left. There was no sign of him or a car. Sighing, I decided to make a cup of peppermint tea and relax by the fire’s warmth. I had a manuscript to finish editing before I went to bed. I’d promised the author she would have it no later than tomorrow and I liked to be on time.
The stranger’s visit kept me on edge until I added a shot of whiskey to my second cup of tea. I was finally able to get back into the manuscript and stop thinking about the man. All the doors were locked and bolted. A serial killer in Stowe, Vermont wasn’t likely. I really needed to stop watching so much television.
A movement in my peripheral vision caused me to gasp but when I turned my head nothing was there. Studying the area near the stairs leading up to the bedroom, I still saw nothing. Rolling my eyes, I decided I needed more whisky.
The fire needed poking so I sat my computer down and stood to go move the log on top around. I was getting good at keeping a fire going. My dad had taught me how to take care of one when I lived at home but it had been a few years since I’d lived with a fireplace. I enjoyed the smell and feeling of home that came with it.
The sound of a door closing upstairs caused me to freeze. Any warmth I was feeling left me instantly. Hairs stood up on my arms and I looked down at the poker in my hand then at the stairs across the room.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard things since moving in and I’d accepted maybe I wasn’t alone… the house was over two hundred years old. Nothing had bothered me so I had no problem sharing the space. I waited for the sound of footsteps but nothing came. Opening the screen on the fireplace, I stuck the poker inside until I was sure the end was scorching hot.
Once I was armed, I headed for the stairs to make sure that there wasn’t an intruder. Going to my neighbors was less horror movie like but again I wasn’t living in a movie. I had to be rational. The lights were all off upstairs. No reason to waste electricity.
I flipped the light on then looked at the closed door leading to my bedroom. It was the only room at the top of the stairs other than the attic space. While my poker was still hot, I swung the door open. When no one jumped out at me, I turned the light switch on and quickly scanned the room for anything that seemed off.
It was empty.
Of course, it was empty.
I lowered the poker and started to turn off the light when my eyes landed on the tiny door beside my closet. I’d opened it once to see what it was since it was too small for a crawl space. It had been a small storage area that was now empty. Nothing more.
Lifting my poker back up, I walked over to the door and squatted down to open it. I didn’t expect the Other Mother from Coraline to be inside but I was currently creeped out. Today had put me in a weird head space.
There was a leather journal lying inside. I stared at it a moment knowing it had not been there when I’d looked inside this space back in April. I reached for it and pulled it out before standing back up, looking around to make sure I was still alone. The dust on it was thick. I wiped it off to find the name Alexander Barfield in the far-right corner. I went to open it when something inside fell to the floor beside my feet. Bending down, I picked up a photo taken before the days of color.
The face staring back at me was eerily familiar.
I turned the photo over and found faded writing. The date was 1911 and below it was the name Alexander Barfield. My heart was racing in my chest. I inhaled sharply turning it back over to study. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe my imagination was getting the best of me.
But it wasn’t.
The face in the photo was the same from the man today. I could understand some item being left behind. This man was obviously a relative of the man I met today. How had this gotten here? I knew that the small space was empty before. Someone had put it in there but how and when?
“Who put this here?” I asked out loud expecting nothing in return.
I heard movement. A shadow moved just outside the door. I stood terrified gripping the poker tightly in my hand and letting the journal fall at my feet. Someone was in my house. This was not my imagination
“That would be me,” the deep voice replied.
“How did you get in here?” I shouted pointing the poker in his direction. I was ready to jab it straight through him if I needed to. There was no way I could think of that he could have gotten in the house. I’d watched him leave.
“I’m afraid I’ve never left.”
After you have left a comment for one (or more) of today’s authors, telling us what you think of the story or this blog event, click HERE to enter to win one of our SEVEN prize packs! (One entry per day.) Enter now through midnight (ET) November 1st. Winners announced on November 2nd.
**And don’t forget to follow our participating authors on their social media and/or newsletter, and follow Funk-N-Fiction for more funky bookish posts! GOOD LUCK!