Hiding

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Run and hide.

Submitted: July 23, 2017

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Submitted: July 23, 2017

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Off the Grid

 

The sky was a doomed grey, and the pastures were sad. The few fir trees that dotted the fields sat under the shadows of drifting clouds and icy mountains. The rural spread forever, but a wooden house lay hidden within a thicket of shrubs and bushes. It was as if the house were hiding. A stable stood by the house, as did a vegetable patch, and beyond that pens of sheep and pigs.

A tall, broad woman stomped through the mud in her great green boots, a bundle of sticks in her arms. Her hair was tied in a blonde, no-nonsense ponytail and she brought the sticks into her house. Two Alsatians, one black, one brown, obediently followed. The interior was a pool of swimming dust motes, and when she dumped the firewood in front of the fireplace, the motes went crazy, they clashed and fought and buzzed. The woman wiped her brow and went to the window. Through the metal bars she observed the shuffling sheep and pigs, who bayed and honked. She watched the clouds break and merge, and through her eyes it seemed like she was in prison, looking out through the bars at the free-flowing sky. She harrumphed and moved across the room. She petted the two Alsations, who were now lying on the floor, panting heavily through giant grins. Her eyes instinctively flitted over to the desk, and she tried to resist the urge, but couldn’t. She walked over, felt underneath the desktop and relaxed as her fingers ran their way across the bumpy, metal object that was her gun. It had been taped to the underside of the desk, and it was just one of three hidden in this house.

It was getting dark. She locked up the cattle and checked each bar locked over the windows to make sure they were all secure. She tugged at each one, but none had any yield to them. It took a long time, but once she had checked, and double-checked, she nodded her head. She rearranged some of the sticks strewn around outside and deliberately walked as softly as she could over them. Every step was loud and snappy. Perfect. She retreated into her house and, before locking the door, she sent the brown Alsation to sniff out the whole of the house. The black Alsation stood by her side in the doorway. The brown Alsation sniffed every corner and piece of furniture in the house for a solid ten minutes before running back to his mistress. Nothing to report. The woman petted both Alsations and closed the door. She drew the large bolt across the large steel-reinforced oak door and locked it. The single key was on a string in a loop, and she put it around her neck like a necklace. It felt heavy and safe against her chest. Time to start dinner.

*

Felicity was six years old when she came across the skinned corpses of her parents. She woke up, blinking in the bright day and went downstairs to make herself some Cheerios. It was a new box to be opened, and there was good news – there was a toy hidden inside the packet! It was to promote the new movie Jungle Fever, starring Kat Black, Vivienne Little, and the beautiful Peter McBran. Mum hadn’t taken her to see it yet, but the woman would yield, oh yes. She ripped open the top clumsily and said, ‘oops.’ Dad wouldn’t take kindly to that, but that was something to either worry about later or blame on Chris. She opened the inner packaging a little more carefully and plunged her tiny hand into the crowd of wheaty biscuits. It was buried down farther than she anticipated, and within seconds her hungry arm was halfway inside the box, grabbing and sending sprinkles of Cheerios into the crevice between packaging and box. She felt the toy and snatched her arm back, sending an explosion of Cheerios into the air. They scattered over the table and floor. There was no helping that now, there were far too many to clean up, and it was a triviality compared to the treasure she had just uncovered – the baboon figurine, Prince Butt. Voiced in the movie by the beautiful Peter McBrann. She squealed delight and rushed upstairs, leaving the chaos of Cheerios on the floor, where they would go stale in the time it took for police to preserve the entire house as a crime scene. Felicity didn’t even notice the broken window in the lounge as she rushed up the very same steps as her parents’ killer. 

Felicity kicked open her brother’s door and jumped onto his bed. He was still sleeping, but that soon changed. She used his bed like a trampoline and he was forced back into the real world. He groaned and pulled the duvet over his head, but still did Felicity hop and bounce.

I got Prince Butt, I got Prince Butt, I got Prince Butt,’ she taunted between jumps.

Chris responded with a groan. ‘Go away.’

‘I got the Prince Butt toy,’ she told him, revelling in her smugness. ‘I got it from the cereal box. Ha-ha! It’s mine now.’

Chris’s eyes shot open. He sat up and locked his sights on the crowned baboon figurine in Felicity’s hand. ‘That’s not fair!’ he seethed. ‘You can’t grab it right out of the box, you have to wait until it falls into the cereal bowl after you pour it.’

‘I don’t have to do nothing,’ said Felicity. She brought the toy to her lips and planted a kiss on its goofy expression. ‘He’s mine now.’ She watched Chris’s outraged expression with mirrored glee. ‘You’re so jealous.’

‘I am not!’ he said, and tears were forming in his eyes. ‘Give it to me!’

‘Nah.’

‘Mum! Muuuuuuum!’ he wailed, his eyes already leaking.

‘God you’re such a baby,’ she told him. ‘You gonna go cwy to mummy and daddy? Poor cwybaby. Aw.’

‘Shut up!’ He leapt at her, but Felicity pirhouetted off the bed and landed on the floor like a ballerina. She stood in the doorway, shook a finger at him and winked. ‘Baby can’t catch me! Baby can’t catch me!’

Chris roared and ran at her like a bull, terrifying in his blue and yellow pyjamas. His short, fat legs waddled towards her as fast as they could, and already Felicity was in fits of giggles. She danced and leapt out of his way like a cat, and he threw clumsy fists and feet at her. She dodged them all and her laughs rang through the house like evil music. As her mirth increased, so did his fury, and both levels of emotion increased exponentially, juiced by one another.

‘Shut up!’ their older brother Lewis yelled from his bedroom. The command went unheeded.

The battle eventually wound up outside their parents’ door, and just as Chris was about to lay a thousand fists into her, Felicity opened up her parents’ door, and the two of them fell through into the bedroom, where already a fat, angry smell had taken over.

*

Felicity, tall and broad, chowed down on porridge. The usual meal. It was a good option – easy to make, nutritious, the oats lasted for eternity, and there was always more. She decided to treat herself this evening, so added some chopped strawberries and sugar into the mix. It was nice to treat oneself once in a while. Her Alsations, Oogie and Boogie, sat in the kitchen, waiting for their turn. Felicity mopped the bowl clean with a wedge of bread, ate that, then fed her dogs, who scoffed down a cacophony of leftover meat and vegetables. Afterwards, the three of them sat in front of the dim fire. It was cold, so Felicity moved her chair closer. She thought about sticking some more sticks into the furnace, and even though the thick, black curtains were firmly shut, she was still worried about how bright the fire might be. She knew she was well-hidden, and that hardly any of the furnace light could pierce both the thick curtains and the surrounding shrubbery, but that old phrase kept creeping in, like an earwig: better safe than sorry. She shivered and wrapped the blanket closer around herself. The light made long, black shapes across the floor and walls, and she refrained from looking at them – shadows were mischievous and haunting. She wondered about maybe playing some soft music, but thought better of it. She missed music, perhaps even more so than human contact, but then again… better safe than sorry.

*

It was another nightmare, not the intruder, which awoke teenage Felicity. The nightmare was an abstract screaming of red, purple and white colours. The colours screeched violence and hate, and Felicity was unable to hide from their vicious attacks. She woke up at the same point she always did: the colours would lash out at her in a bombarding series of whip-like strikes, and just when it got too much to bear, her eyes shot open, wide and veined. The nightlight in hers and Chris’s room was still on, as it was every night, and she saw Chris was already not only awake, but sat in the middle of the bed, as still as a suspicious rabbit. He looked relieved Felicity was awake, but he still had that wide-eyed stare. Felicity’s heartbeat quickened on seeing his expression. She looked at the clock: 4:07 AM.

‘Chris, what? What’s wrong?’ she whispered.

Chris put a finger to his lips and for long moments, Felicity could hear nothing except her own pulsing heart. Then, a long groan. From the next room.

Felicity felt a diseased dizziness creep into her head. She swayed and then composed herself. She pulled the cord on the lamp, and the light went out with a soft click. Chris’s horrified expression disappeared, along with everything else in the room.

‘Maybe Lewis is just having a nightmare,’ said Felicity.

‘We have to check on him,’ said Chris.

Felicity heard him get unsteadily to his feet. Felicity got up, too. As scared as she was, she couldn’t bear the thought of her older brother suffering the same way her parents did. Not knowing scared Felicity more than anything that might be in that room with Lewis. She and Chris, without another word to one another, crept out of their bedroom and moved towards Lewis’s room next door. The door was ajar, and already that sent Felicity’s body crawling. Lewis never kept his bedroom door open. He was eighteen, and he liked his privacy. Felicity took a silent breath, Chris right behind her, and she pushed open the door a crack more.

The room was almost black, but the light outside the window was cobalt. Lewis was strapped to the bed in the same way his parents had been. His arms and legs were stretched out and all four limbs were tied to the bedposts in rope. His body was writhing. A tall man sat on top of him, just a silhouette, like Lewis. The shadow of a knife was in his hand. He applied it to Lewis’s arm, and he sliced it across the surface like one would an apple. A roll of skin followed its path, curling like a ribbon as it parted from the body. Lewis choked through his gag.

Before Felicity could scream, her grandpa pushed her out of the way from behind. He held one hand on his bloodied throat, and a gun in the other. He kicked the door in, and the intruder quickly focused his attention on the old man. Felicity’s grandpa aimed an unsteady hand forward and pulled the trigger. The explosion of noise seemed to rip the whole world out of its ethereal doze. The bullet missed by several feet, and the intruder jumped off of Lewis and tackled grandpa to the ground. The gun flew out of his hand, and grandpa, already bleeding heavily from the neck, closed his eyes and didn’t open them again.

Chris’s body, without the mind even willing it, picked up the gun and aimed it at the intruder, who by now had stood back up. Chris pointed it at the man, not even knowing if there were any bullets left. The sounds of police sirens sounded rushed in. The intruder looked from Chris to Felicity to Lewis, then simply walked downstairs as if he were taking a stroll through the park, and exited the house.

*

Felicity, still sitting beside her small fire, flicked through the weathered, well-thumbed pages of Moby Dick. The fire was getting low, and she considered stoking it a bit more. But maybe it was time for bed. She glanced at her watch and saw that it wasn’t yet ten o’clock. She sighed and thought about how most girls her age were out with their friends, putting on makeup, getting drunk and being stupid. Felicity had forgotten how to apply makeup, had forgotten how to make friends, had never been drunk, and couldn’t afford to be stupid. Hell, maybe she would barely know about that life – maybe she’d have kids by now. Such normalities were dream-like to her. She put Moby Dick down, not bothering to bookmark her progress, and stared down at the floor. A spider crawled along, and she thought about how, if the universe were just, she wouldn’t be aware of this spider’s existence. Would never know about this place, beautiful though it was. And she would never have been introduced to Oogie and Boogie. She smiled and tickled Boogie behind the ear while Oogie slept. They were her silver lining.

 Boogie enjoyed getting his ear scratched, but he quickly lifted his head into the air for seemingly no reason. She looked at him, but the dog was focused on the great oak door. His tongue poked out and licked his own nose. Felicity looked to Oogie, but he was almost asleep on the floor. She nudged him with her foot and he awoke from his doze. Then he, too, lifted his head and pointed his nose towards the door. Both of their tails began wagging. Then, they both did something they almost never did - they began growling.

*

Patricia watched the seagulls float on the wind like musical notes on paper. There was a beauty to them that was ruined by their ugly caws and burping squawks. The sea lapped against the grey beach like a great blue tongue, and hearing it wave back and forth put her into a hypnotic trance that allowed her to forget her troubles. She breathed in and out in-sync with the tide, and she could smell the salt. She had a craving for chips in that moment, and she looked towards the shops behind her. There was a fish and chip shop right there, covered in red and white stripes. Couples and kids walked back and forth and she considered going over and buying a greasy, deep-fried fish. Her stomach grinned in agreement.

‘I’m going to ask you to come back into the room,’ said a pleasant female voice.

‘I don’t want to,’ said Patricia, her eyes scrunched shut.

‘Sorry, but I have another patient waiting.’

Patricia opened her eyes and looked back at reality. Dr. Calouri pushed her thin, black glasses up her nose and closed her notebook. ‘We’re going to continue the relaxation therapy next Thursday, okay? You can keep revisiting the beach any time you want. I encourage you to go back whenever you feel a panic attack coming on.’

Patricia stood up off the couch and looked at the red-carpeted floor. It was so pristine, so well-managed and professional. It was like observing a perfectly manicured red lawn.

‘Patricia?’

‘Don’t call me Patricia,’ said Felicity. ‘I hate that name.’

‘You chose it,’ said Dr. Calouri.

‘Well, I hate having a new identity,’ said Felicity. ‘It’s like having my whole past wiped out.’

‘It doesn’t wipe out your past,’ said Dr. Calouri. ‘Your new identity is purely for your own protection. You can’t reveal your past to others, but it’s still a part of you. You’re lucky you still have Oliver to remember your past lives together with. A lot of my patients don’t have that luxury.’

‘“Lucky”,’ Felicity scoffed. ‘It’s lucky how me and my brother can talk about our mum, dad and older brother being skinned alive while we slept. Lucky how they’re all now dead, as are both of our grandparents. All murdered.’

‘I’m going to be prescribing you another dose of anti-depressants,’ Dr. Calouri told her, now scribbling on her notepad. ‘Have you been taking them?’

‘Yes,’ Felicity lied.

‘Good. I hope you know you can’t keep all this bottled up. Talk with me about how you feel, do the same with Oliver. You have someone to share your pain with, don’t take it for granted.’

‘His name is Chris,’ said Felicity.

Dr. Calouri ripped the prescription off her clipboard and handed it to Felicity. ‘Patricia. Please remind… Chris to attend his appointment this time. It’s important not to miss these sessions. I know they may seem useless to you both now, but they’ll help in the long run. I promise.’

‘OK, doctor.’

Felicity returned home. It was seven in the evening by the time she put her key in the door, and she could smell pasta. Chris had an obsession with the stuff. It was easy and tasty, he would often declare. Felicity called it lazy. She walked into the kitchen, and the room was swallowed in steam. She spluttered and looked into the metal pot. Almost all of the water had boiled out, leaving slugs of pasta caked on the bottom of the pot. He must have left it on the stove again.

‘The man’s a fool,’ she muttered. She turned off the hob and scraped the leftover pasta into the bin. Another batch ruined. How Chris had survived this long, Felicity couldn’t say. She walked out and turned into the lounge, where Chris’s skinned corpse lay on the blood-drenched couch, bound and gagged in rope.

*

Why us? the eternal question asked once again.

 The two Alsations were on their feet now, tails wagging and teeth bared.

Why did he choose our family to terrorise? Such a boring question now.

Oogie and Boogie trotted over to the door and started sniffing at the bottom of it. Felicity put out the fire completely, leaving only a whisper of sight and a line of smoke. She snuck over to the desk and pulled the gun out from underneath. She hoped it was him, so she could finally be rid of him… hell, maybe it was them. Maybe it was her time to be skinned alive, as was the family tradition. An absurd smile played on her lips at the thought of that. She checked the bullets and pulled bits of tape off the handle and trigger. She had a gun, she had her dogs, she had a reinforced oak door and bars on her windows. She certainly did a better job of her own protection than the police had. Yes indeed, she hoped “The Flayer”, as the newspapers called him, was outside her door.

All night did Felicity stay up with her whining dogs, gun in hand. And by the end of the long night, nothing had happened. Nothing at all. As the morning light slipped in through the curtains, she wondered how many more nothing at all nights were left to endure.


© Copyright 2017 Reagle. All rights reserved.

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