Just what I was afraid of when I decided to do these weekly Flash Fiction challenges–1,000 words isn’t enough! I’ll write a real ending for this at some point, but for the purpose of this challenge, I’ve maxed out the word count.
This is Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash fiction challenge on terribleminds.com:
My random ‘roll of the dice’ flash fiction challenge consisted of:
Haunted house–Occult Detective genre mash-up. Featuring an ancient book, and a mysterious stranger.
It was tough, but this is what I managed. Enjoy!
Along the path, I saw a man sitting on a log. He was a strange old man with a worn, weathered face. His white locks frayed off his scalp like torn cotton. His clothes were old but charming in a way. He looked like a man who stepped out of the 1950s into the present day.
“Excuse me. Do you know where I can find Delmar road?” I asked.
His slow acknowledgment of my question forced me to believe he was either deaf or didn’t care to speak with strangers. Based on the cold look he gave me as he turned his head, I would have put money on the latter.
His eyes shifted from a gold color to blue, all at once. It must have been the foggy night combined with how the light hit them.
The deepening of the crow’s feet near the corners of his eyes told me he was giving expressing an honest smile. As a detective, I’m well versed to determining whether or not there’s honesty in a man’s face.
“You’re telling me you want to go to Octavia’s.” I saw him glance at the the pistols resting in my shoulder holsters. “You’re crazy man, but I like your style.”
“Yes, Octavia. The witch…on Delmar. The only person on Delmar, in fact. Well, I guess person isn’t wholly accurate.” He cackled a few feet from my face, but I still got an awful whiff of his horrendous breath. It smelled like a mix-between dead fish and coffee grounds.
Great. The only man I meet in a dark and foggy stretch of the forest is bat-shit crazy, I thought.
“Huh? You lost me at witch. What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Without thinking about it, I took a step back from the strange man.
“What part of witch don’t you understand? ‘I’ll get you my pretty!’ That kind—what else is there?” The man cackled once more at this. His eyes remained kind, but his tone of voice suggested otherwise.
“Look, man. Do you know where I can find the house or not? Reports from a few children from just outside the city say one of their friends went in a house and didn’t come out. Can you help me find this kid?”
His voice changed to match his caring eyes. “I wish you would have led with that, Mr…”
“Whitlock. Detective Whitlock.”
I reached out to shake the stranger’s cold and cracked right hand.
“Nice to meet you, Eugene.”
“I’ll walk you over to Octavia’s house. I don’t know if I’ll be able to follow you inside, though.”
He looked worried. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought he was going to lead me to my imminent doom.
We walked along the dark and foggy path. Of course, I procrastinated until 5:30 to leave the city for this godforsaken part of town. Dallas rush hour held me up in traffic—one thing leads to another—and now I’m walking through the woods in the dark with a recent escapee of the asylum.
We turned the corner when we reached a rotted wood sign that read, No Outlet, written in red spray paint that looked suspiciously like blood. Call me a coward, but this place spooked me a little.
“This is it?” I asked.
I tried to portray a tone of disappointment, but Eugene didn’t seem to notice.
“Yep—Octavia’s humble abode. Getting a little nervous?”
As if on cue, I heard shutter doors slam on the side of the black decrepit house. I shivered despite the warm and muggy night.
“Na—nah. I don’t believe in witches, man. I think I’ll take it from here.”
I started to walk away but felt a firm—strong, even—jerk of my right arm causing me to turn around and meet Eugene face to face, once more.
His eyes bulged and shined with the cat-like gold color once more. “Don’t forget the book. She feeds.”
I tried to jerk my arm away, but couldn’t manage to get free.
“Spells. Her power.”
“Look man,” I said while jerking my arm back again. This time Eugene let go, and his eyes turned blue again.
I backed away in a slow and deliberate motion, then turned back to the house.
Before my fist could connect with the black, splintered door, it creaked open. I turned around to wave to Eugene, but he was no longer standing in front of the house.
Perfect, I thought.
Cold sweat streamed down my forehead when I walked into the dark corridor. I flicked on my flashlight and drew my gun.
An eerie cackling by what sounded like an older lady made the hair on my arms stand up. Out of instinct, I returned my gun to its holster and grabbed the taser instead. For whatever reason, I thought it’d be more effective.
I walked across the creaky boards towards the only lit room in the house. The loud cackling returned, that time it sounded like it was directly behind me.
I wheeled around and saw orange eyes staring into mine. I pulled the trigger on the taser, releasing thousands of volts into the direction of the eyes. I could tell it hit its desired target by the sound of the thing that hit the floor.
I dropped the weapon, then drew my gun and ran into the lit room.
There were signs written in the kitchen in red paint—or was it blood—they all said ‘get out’, with pictures of arrows pointed at the front door.
My heart played its drum solo a few inches under my sternum. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what looked like an ancient book.
Spell Book? I wondered.
Without thinking further, I grabbed the book and ran to the door. On my way out, cold hands latched on to my right foot and jerked me down.
The orange eyes crept closer to me.