The Farmhouse

“Oh, cool, Mom! Look at the window glowing with the guy up there!  It’s like someone’s trapped! See? He’s spelled ‘HELP’!”

“Neat! You girls wanna trick-or-treat this one?” Sheri’s question was met with shouts of enthusiasm. “Go on then, but remember to say thank you, and only one apiece! You hear me Riley? I said you may take one!”

Sheri shook her head and laughed as the kids ignored her and ran to the porch, jostling for position.  “TRICK OR TREAT!!!” At least they did that in unison.

This was her favorite holiday, and agreeing to bring the Watson twins with them had been  a stroke of genius.  Riley didn’t terrorize her little sister nearly as much when there were other children around. Not that Maggie let herself get stomped on, but the rivalry between her two girls was always a source of stress for Sheri.  She just wanted their relationship to turn out differently than hers with her own sister.

Surprised screams turned Sheri’s attention back to the porch, but the shrieks quickly gave way to laughter as the girls realized a guy dressed as the grim reaper had jumped at them from behind a bush.

“Oh my gosh!” “We didn’t see you!” “I knew he was there all along!” “You did not! You screamed the loudest of all of us!”

“What lovely costumes you girls have! Come closer so I can admire them…” The older lady on the porch wearing a witch’s hat rallied the girl’s attention back to her.  “You must be Hermione, and your Dorothy, you are… Elizabeth Proctor? And I can’t figure out our yellow friend here…. An Angry Bird, you say! How imaginative! Now, who’s ready for their treat?”  The woman reached for a large bowl behind her.

“Oh, me, me, me!” “Yes please!”

Smart woman, Sheri thought.  If you don’t keep those four focused, you’ll have anarchy in two minutes flat.

Sheri heard a ding by her waist and looked down at her phone. Jason had finally finished work and was heading out to meet them.

Hey, babe, where are my favorite girls?

We walked down past the field and we’re at the old farmhouse

What old farmhouse?

The farmhouse just past the field. By the forest.

A  fresh round of shrieks drew Sheri’s eyes quickly back to the porch.

“Gross! What’s in there!?!”
“It’s eyeballs!”
“Emma, it’s okay, it’s just peeled grapes.”
“Hush, Maggie! You’re ruining the fun!”

“Riley, remember what we talked about at the house!”

“Sorry Mom!” Riley called back, then turned to Emma. “Maggie’s right. It’s just peeled grapes, but it feels gross like eyeballs…Oh, the candy bowl!”

A smile played at Sheri’s face as the woman brought the real candy bowl out. Even from the drive she could tell this house sprung for the good stuff.  Another ding brought her attention back to her phone.

Sheri, there is no farmhouse by the forest. 

Haha, very funny. Now u coming to meet us or not?

Sheri where are the girls?

Sheri glanced back to the girls, chatting and laughing with the guy in the Grim Reaper outfit.

Up on the porch having fun. These guys do Halloween good! 

Listen, there is no farmhouse. Call the girls now!

“Girls! Let’s get going!” Sheri wasn’t sure what Jason’s problem was, but she would ask questions later.  Maybe he was confused about what road they were on?  “Now girls! Thank the nice people!”

“Okay Mom, just one more second! They have zombie boogers!”

I’ve been overruled by zombie boogers… They’re coming soon 

Sheri, that farmhouse burned down 65 years ago!

The fire started Halloween night.

Grandpa told me by the time the family woke up, they were trapped upstairs.

It was too late, and they all died.

Sheri stared at the words popping onto her phone and Maggie’s voice from a few minutes ago came back to her. Mom! Look at the window glowing with the guy up there! It’s like someone’s trapped! See? He’s spelled ‘HELP’! 

A chill travelled down the back of her neck and she realized she could no longer hear the prattling chatter of the girls. She jerked her head back up from the phone and looked around. There was nothing.

No girls. No woman. No grim reaper. No farmhouse.

“Riley! Maggie! Emma! Taylor!” Panicking, she ran forward until she was standing in the middle of where the farmhouse used to be. “Riley!  Maggie!”

Quick! God Jason, quick! They’ve disappeared!  

Sourbce: Thur Picture Prompt #34: The Eve of All Hallows’ Eve

The Commodore

Marsha realized that things were not as they seemed. Her first clue was her reflection in the full length mirror. It was stretched out like a fun house mirror, but patches of the reflection blurred in and out randomly. It almost looked an old TV with a bad antenna signal.

“What are you looking at?” Mark was coming up the hall on her right, carrying a toboggan in his arms.  He set it down and investigated the mirror.

“Well that’s trippy… Is it a monitor, or is there some sort of projection, or what?”  Mark tried removing the mirror from the wall, but it wouldn’t budge an inch.  He then tried waving his arms overhead at various angles searching for a projected light, but there was nothing. “Huh, that’s just weird!”

“Where’d the toboggan come from?” Marsha couldn’t figure out why, but nothing seemed to add up.

“The what? Oh, this sled? Well, um, really I’m not sure.  I was just holding it walking down the hallway.” Mark’s brow furrowed as he stared at Marsha.  “Marsha, this hallway is painted lavender.  The hallways in my house are all off-white.”

Marsha squared herself in front of him and took his hands. She tried to keep her voice steady. “Mark where are we? How did we get here?”

“I’m not sure. Look around, have we ever been in this building before?”

Marsha looked all over the hallway. Except for the crazy mirror, it was empty of furniture. A wire ran across the top of one wall before dropping down to hang lifeless at the corner. At the far end, a drab red curtain hung from a tarnished rod.   Marsha walked down to it and lifted the curtain to expose a dirty window and a monochrome world beyond.

Across the street was an elementary school.  A group of boys was taunting and laughing at some younger children.  “My advice is not to let the boys in, whatever else we do,”Marsha murmured. Mark grunted his consent.

Beyond that, it looked like any large suburb of any large city, but Marsha could not say what city that was.  As she concentrated on the grayscale skyline, it seemed to change slightly, but she couldn’t say how.  She knew it had been different, but it must have always been as it was now.  A skyline can’t just change like that…

She turned back to face Mark. “Before here; what is the last thing you remember before here?”  He cocked his head and stared into the corner of the hallway for awhile before answering.

“There was a bad wind storm,” he began slowly. “Mom called and told us to go down to the basement, remember? We practically had to drag Nikki and Sam down the stairs.”

Sam and Nikki were both a year younger than Mark and Marsha. Marsha wasn’t very fond of her mouthy, sarcastic brother, but she liked Nikki even less.  Mark’s deceitful sister was always plotting something and most of the time she could convince Sam to go along with it.

“We were trying to find something to distract them,” Marsha’s memories were foggy, but it was starting to come back to her.  “I found an old TV/VCR, but the only tapes I could find said ‘Night Court: Season 3’, whatever that is.”

“I checked the fridge for snacks, but the only thing in there was leftover pineapple salad. It smelled like it had gone a little bad, so I was about to suggest running back upstairs to grab snacks when they pulled out that old computer, what was it called again?”

Marsha shut her eyes trying to picture the dusty old thing.  Her eyes flew back open, “A Commodore! It was called a Commodore! Nikki decided she wanted to see if it would boot up, and Sam agreed.”

Mark frowned. “Nikki tried to turn that thing on once before and Dad yelled at her to never mess with it.  I should’ve told her to stop, but they had finally stopped complaining… Even so, I don’t remember if they actually got it work-”

Without warning, Mark disappeared from Marsha’s eyes.  “Mark? Mark?! Mark!”

Marsha was completely alone in a lavender hallway staring at a freakish reflection of herself.

〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰

“I wanna try!” Nikki plopped down by Sam and pushed him out of the way. “You’ve got to be able to do more than design buildings! Oh look! Let’s make these guys tease those kids for having Teletubby backpacks! Haha, this is fun!” Nikki squealed her delight as the computer executed her commands.

“Oh that’s original,” Sam rolled his eyes. ” But Nik, look, it says Mark and Marsha are in there! And they have completely disappeared!”

Nikki waived her hand at Sam dismissively. “They’re just trying to pull one over on us, since Dad told me this wasn’t a toy.  But we can play their game! Let’s give your sister a funhouse mirror, since she is always so worried about how she looks!”

“Oh, let’s make the room purple! She hates that color! Hey, what happened? Where’d Mark go?”

“You pressed the space bar.” Nikki tapped a few keys then started laughing. “Oh my god, Sam, you just deleted my brother!  If only it was so easy in real life!”  She got up and started rummaging in the fridge.

“Really, Nik, where did they go? They are nowhere in the basement and how did this computer know their names?”

“Sam , I told you,” Nikki plopped back down with a big bowl and two forks, “Mark programmed it before hand to play a trick on me.  They’re probably making out in a closet somewhere.  Want some pineapple salad? It smells a little strong, but it still tastes good.”

 

Source: Casual Fri: Mix-n-Match

The Session

What do you see around you?

Dylan glanced around, circling cautiously to take in the whole landscape.  This wasn’t real. It was not real. He was just observing, then he would go home. He tried repeating this to himself in an effort to slow his pounding heart, but it wasn’t working very well.

And yet he knew he was not in the real world. The real world put clouds above in the sky, rather than below on the ground. The real world was in color, not this stark black and white. But one thing that was real in this world was the fear he felt looking at the plantation house looming over him.

Dylan, what’s inside the house?

Attempting to discern anything in the inky blackness beyond the open doorway, Dylan tread slowly towards the plantation. With every step, the certainty of his impending doom weighed his chest further and further down. He tightened his fists to keep his hands from trembling and tried to ignore the sweat trickling down his brow. Just as the great distance between himself and the house seemed absolutely insurmountable, he found himself at the base of the porch.

Very well done Dylan. Now, can you climb up the steps to the front door?

Dylan didn’t understand how he could feel so feverishly hot when such a cold wind was cutting across his neck and stinging his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself to take the next step. This was the furthest he’d ever gotten; he didn’t want to stop now. He gripped the handrail, lifted his foot and pulled himself up on the first step.

Without warning, the stark grays and silvers of this world were swept into blackness, and Dylan seemed to be in a complete void penetrated only by the sound of distant screams.

Dylan, it’s alright, you are safe. Dylan, wake up!

He gradually felt a pressure on his shoulders and realized someone was holding him. He then became acutely aware that the distant screaming was in fact coming out of his own mouth.

As quickly as the dream world had drained from him, the real world came flooding back in. He was in the fetal position, tear-stained face pressed against the cool hardwood floor, gasping to regain control of his breath.  Dr. Gardner was gently but firmly holding him by the shoulders.

“Dylan, you’re okay. Everything is fine. You’re awake. Nothing is hurting you.”

“I got to the porch that time.” He managed a rueful smile as he shakily made his way to sitting.

“You’re definitely making progress.”

An alarm chirped by the desk, and Dr Gardner stood, smoothly adjusting her skirt, and walked across the room to sit at the desk. Flipping open a book, she looked down at Dylan.

“Shall we schedule another session at the same time next week?”

Source: Thur Picture Prompt #33: Great Distances

Escaping Miners Hill

Miner's Hill

The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.  Most folks think it’s been that way for decades, but it’s only really been true for a couple a years.

Two years ago, I found her eatin’ stale bread outta the dumpster. I dragged her in the bakery and ordered her to wash up.  She refused to say anything that first day as she stuffed blueberry muffins and croissants in her mouth, washin’ it down with some OJ.  Over the course of that first year, I learned bits and pieces as she helped me knead dough and sweep floors.

She had a Ma and a Pa and a baby brother. How they came to live in Miners Hill she couldn’t remember, they had always been there.  A supply truck came in once a month with an order her Ma would place over the phone.  She and her brother would play in an old playground, complete with rusting swing set and creaky see saws and merry go round.  Her Pa, well, she didn’t much talk about him that first year.  But by the time she told me the whole story, I think them spirits in Miners Hill used her Pa for their own devices.

This piece is inspired by The Blog Propellant Friday Prompt and is an edit of a post originally written on May 25, 2015.

Forced Labor

Note: I find this story disturbing, as it spawns from one of my own nightmares.   It involves kidnapping, enslavement, and contains strong language. I imagine it may be too disturbing for some.  Consider yourself warned.

I gradually heard a persistent beeping noise invading my head.  Ugh, it’s Saturday, make it stop. My body felt heavy and my brain and my arm apparently didn’t feel like communicating yet to turn off the alarm.  Or better yet, to pull the covers over my head and bury myself in ignorant bliss for at least another half hour.

Rustling movements began to register all around me.  Were the dogs up already? I still can’t make my body work,  or open my eyes. I try to focus on breathing, racking my brain to come up with a logical explanation for why I suddenly felt paralyzed. All the while, I feel the panic bubble begin to swell in my stomach.  Without warning, feeling rips back into my body and an explosion of pain from my abdomen shoots me into reality as I let out a blood curling scream.

“Ah, there now, she’s back with us!” It’s a female voice; clipped, calm, collected.  She must be the source of the rustling. “Hello Miss Prescott. Just keep breathing and we will be done in a flash.  That’s a good dear…”

What the hell— I try to force my body to sit up but I am still dead weight.

“Now dear, don’t trying to struggle, it’ll just make things harder.  Just breathe and push, breathe and push.  We’ll have these little ones out in no time.”

Little ones? What little ones? I am trying with all my might to leverage my arms into a sitting position until I finally realize  my chest and arms are strapped to the bed.  My legs are up and I feel straps around my ankles as well. I try to look around the room, trying to gain my bearing, but nothing is in focus. Clouds of blue and black and red swirl through my eyes, further distorting my vision.

I don’t understand.  I think I am managing to talk out loud, but I’m not sure if anyone can hear me.  Or, if they can, they truly don’t care about what I’m saying.

“Okay, dear. One more big push then Number One is out!” This bitch sounds almost cheerful.  Number one of wha — oh my God, I can’t do this, oh shit this hurts! What the fuck is happening to me?!?  Without any conscious thought, I am pushing with all of might, praying that doing so will make this pain stop.

After what seemed an eternity, the pushing seemed to help and pain subsided.  At this point I was fully conscious, although my vision was still a bit clouded.  I looked around and it looked like I was in the middle of someone’s library strapped down to a hospital bed attached to a monitor and an IV.  The monitor continued to beep out my heart beat as I heard a cry erupt from somewhere past the foot of the hospital gurney.  Everything clicked.

No fucking way! No FUCKING way! I am not pregnant! I don’t remember being pregnant! Fuck that, I don’t remember getting pregnant and that’s a pretty important part of having a — the pain  suddenly returned, shooting up my back with a vegeance.

“Hush now dear,” Cruella was really getting under my skin. ” Just two more to go, then all will be done for this round.”

Two more? Two more? I’m having triplets? What the fuck – this isn’t possible! Right? This can’t be possible! I haven’t missed a period.  Paul and I broke up over a year ago.  There hasn’t been so much as a man I wanted to talk to come through this town in a year, much less sleep with.  I don’t —

Oh God heeelp meeee!  I couldn’t even concentrated on my internal monologue, it hurt so badly.  Tears streaming down my eyes, I tried to get a better look at Mary Poppin’s demonic sister.  Tall, skinny with short brown hair, all pointy and sharp, no curves at all.  Wearing an old fashioned crisp nurses uniform, complete with the cap.

I stop analyzing Charlotte Diesel because now all I can do is push again.  This is surreal.  I am surrounded by books, giving birth to three children that I didn’t know I was pregnant with twenty four hours ago and had no idea how they could have possibly been conceived.  Oh my god, have I been raped and don’t even remember it?! Aaaahhhhh!! I push with all of my might until the pressure is finally relieved.  After a minute, I hear another shrill cry come from the corner. I close my eyes, desperately praying for all of this to go away. This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. Wake up Joanie, wake up!

“Oh you are very much awake dear.” Nurse Ratched came up beside me, looking in my eyes for the first time.  “And don’t be silly, of course you weren’t raped. We used fertility drugs and artificial insemination.  Everything must be clinical and sterile to insure product quality.” 

Product quality? Clinical? Fertility drugs can take months… I feel my body trembling as the implications of her words wash through me. I narrow my eyes at her and draw in my breath. How did I get here?

“Dear sweet girl.  It’ll be easier next time.  You put up such a fight we’ve had to keep you drugged for quite awhile. The sooner you accept your fate, the better it will go for you. Just think, after this is over, you can enjoy the gardens and the music room and are only required to pump breast milk for the next ten months before we even start the second round of fertility.  And we so hope the next round will be bigger. Even with the high dollar we can fetch for your particular gene set, three is a rather low yield.  Oh, it looks like we are almost there! Now push!”

My scream reverberates for miles, but Annie Wilkes is the only one that can hear me.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Nightmares.”

Escaping Miners Hill

Miner's Hill

The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.  Most folks think it’s been that way for decades, but it’s only really been true for about two years.  

It’s been two years since I found her eatin’ stale bread out the dumpster and dragged her in the bakery and ordered her to wash up.  She refused to say anything that first day as she stuffed blueberry muffins and croissants down her mouth, washin’ it down with some OJ.  Over the course of that first year, I learned bits and pieces as she helped me knead dough and sweep the floors.

She had a Ma and a Pa and a baby brother. How they came to live in Miners Hill she could not remember, they had always been there.  A supply truck came in once a month with an order her Ma would place over the phone.  She and her brother would play in an old playground, complete with rusting swing set and creaky see saws and merry go round.  Her Pa, well, she didn’t much talk about him that first year.  But by the time she told me the whole story, I think them spirits in Miners Hill wanted her Pa for their own devices.