No…it didn’t start here. Not with the pissed man clutching a crushed beer can in fear on his knees. Not with the other over the wall…somewhere…split.
After all, it’s only been how many hours?since I stopped staring at the blank wall of the TV. Only so many hours since I’d finally started listening to that other voice, like I should have been all along. I just walked out of the house and into the concrete cold, aiming for the usual trip to the WORLD’s BIGGEST MALL, or so it was once. That should have been the nothing of it.
And then the surprises came.
Nothing much else comes out of him, the beer-piss puddle beneath the man growing as grows the effects of the adrenaline I know I can’t let go of now, no, not now. Not ever. There wasn’t a “going back”. I’d already let go.
About this time last year, over 50 contestants braved their worst fears by entering them into my Face Your Fears Short Story Draw. Now you, just like Rob (last year’s winner), have the chance to win a short story that leaves you at the mercy of your worst fear. He was most scared of fungus…what are you afraid of?
Whether privately or publicly, submit your name and worst fear by commenting below, or messaging directly via email, instagram, or twitter. All entries received by midnight on October 9, 2019 will be collected in a hat and drawn at random, with results posted the morning of October 10th, 2019.
Competition Closed: This Year’s Short Story Coming Soon!
And we’d learned a few things about that old house, the tall thin one with too many stories it seemed. Like how we all felt safer in one room with all the doors closed, or that it was better to light three candles than one. Or that if me and Lita – but only us – sat in the two chairs by the indoor tree on the third floor with everyone around, noises would begin and we would all giggle and jump up and clap, happy that we’d scared everyone once again before we fell to bed, at least one of us up and watching the ceiling for spiders or rats or whatever anyone else was dreaming of that might come to life there. For everything felt possible, in the swirls of the wood grain, as the distorted faces of creatures leapt from one wall to another.
No one notices when you slip away, even in the bright orange light of a late autumn afternoon. Instead they sit on their daisy porches unaware of the chill in the air, complaining idly about the Penchant house’s awful lawn.
“It’s rats,” says one of them, sipping a sour lemonade.
“It’s this drought!” coughs another, wiping a grim, wrinkled hand over their parched mouth.
I myself couldn’t say exactly. I’d watched that house a long time; had grown up just across the street, the never-ending parade of “For Sale” signs forever planted in its front yard. One sits there now, dangling and dusty as it has been for the last six years, with nothing but the neighbourhood cats willing to wind their way quickly across the lawn, whiskers high.
“Think that one looks fresher than the others?” I flick my cigarette at a grave to my left. Both of us watch as the cherry fades into the yellowing sod.
“What’s the name?”
“Hughes, 1943 to 1987,” I say.
Nicholas gives the stone angel a kick. The priest at the bottom of the hill stops mid-eulogy and scolds us with a brief silence. A few black-laden mourners notice the pause and begin looking around strangely, unaware of the priest’s line of sight.