Faded ‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #37 NEW Image Prompt. Join in the fun! #IARTG #ASMSG @pursoot #WritingCommunity
Hi everyone! It’s that time of the week again …fun flash fiction from Suzanne Burke. This week’s theme led me down another dark path.
Here’s the short story I came up with >>>
‘Who numbers an apartment 13?’ Jake shook his head.
Emma said, ‘Our last house didn’t need superstition to be unlucky.’
Jake shoved the key at the lock and missed. The sharp end scratched the pristine wood of the door. ‘We had a fortunate escape.’
‘Careful!’ Emma snatched the key from him and eased it into the keyhole. The door swung open. The couple shared a glance—not a single creak and a welcome change from their old place.
Nervous, the pair stood in utter silence and listened. Neither wanted to think about what had driven them out of their old—cheaper—home. Though the new flat looked gorgeous, it came at a steep price. How much is peace worth?
After a good five minutes, Emma let out a sigh and galvanised herself into motion. The rooms seemed quiet, non-malevolent, and the pair relaxed. The next few hours saw them busy with the business of moving in. Neither had brought anything from their previous home—not wishing to invite any trouble here. They’d moved clear across town … surely nothing could follow them?
Later that night, pleasantly exhausted from the novelty of physical labour, Jake and Emma fell straight into a deep slumber. In the morning, after the first solid sleep in months, fingers of sunlight pried open their eyelids, and the couple roused.
All was right with the world. Emma rubbed her eyes, yawned, and swung her legs over the edge of the mattress. Cold shock struck the soles of her bare feet. She lifted her toes from the chill laminate flooring with a gasp. To the offending wood she said, ‘You look nice but you sure don’t feel good.’ Then, holding her breath in dread anticipation, she lowered her limbs once more, groped with her toes for her slippers, which had slipped under the bed, and snuggled her feet into the faux-furry warmth.
As she dashed to the bathroom, the cool of the apartment filtered through to her sleep-fuddled brain. Why’s it so cold? It’s summer. Emma plonked herself onto the frigid toilet seat and braced her elbows on her knees. I’ll check the AC settings in a minute. While she peed, she gazed around the new space. A large mirror hung on the opposite wall. It took a few seconds for Emma to realise that she should be able to see her reflection. The mirror showed only an empty room.
Scared, she called out to her boyfriend, ‘Jake? Come here would you?’ Her voice sounded as pale as her body felt.
Jake pushed into the bathroom with a grin. ‘What? Found another spider?’
Emma pointed behind him. He turned and followed her gesture. Jake swore and spun around to face his girlfriend. ‘This some kind of joke?’
She shook her head. ‘I’m scared.’
Hurriedly, she finished her business and stood. ‘Come on.’
‘Where we going?’
‘Out. Anywhere. I don’t care. Just not here.’
Jake pulled on her hand and held her back. ‘Woah. Get dressed first.’
Emma swallowed her rising hysteria and dashed to the bedroom. Uncaring of the sweat and dust of yesterday’s activity, she pulled on the jeans and t-shirt that she’d discarded at the foot of the bed last night. Jake had dressed while she was in the bathroom. Hand in hand, they grabbed the apartment keys and left. Emma expected the building to keep them trapped, but it let them go.
On the street, Emma pulled Jake toward downtown. At the first store window she stopped and stared. The glass reflected an empty early-morning pavement. No Jake. No Emma. Horrified and confused, the pair raced to the next shop, and the next, and the one after that. All the windows failed to acknowledge their existence.
They reached a news stall. The headlines showed large type in bold …
Police Search Continues for Missing Couple
Emma said, ‘It got us, then.’
Jake squeezed her hand. ‘We should have known the rent on the old place was too cheap.’
The haunted house tugged them back—the pull started behind their navels and spread.
Trapped within the antique mirror in the hall, they gazed out and saw that the old place hadn’t given them a fresh start at all. A trick—an illusion. They’d never left. The months passed. The landlord cleared out their stuff. Helpless, Jake and Emma watched as a young family moved in.
Were they, too, fated to fade into the bones of the ancient timbers? Or could they thwart the evil?
© Harmony Kent 2021
I’d love to know what you think of this short piece … so please don’t be shy and leave me a reply.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Please put your entry (or a link to it) in a comment HERE or email it to Sooz at her email address. by DEADLINE: 4pm EDT on Thursday, February 25th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to THIS page would be much appreciated.
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