The Noise

I’ve grown up in a very old house. You know, the kind where the floor, the wall, the cupboards…everything creaks. I’ve long been used to the creepy sounds they make. One interesting side-effect of growing up in such a house is that I’m never impressed by the so-called horror movies Hollywood churns out. If you really think about it, ninety percent of the scares are just that – creaky furniture. Hah. I’m not losing any sleep over that.

But, tonight’s different. I was jarred awake in the dead of night by something I’d never heard before.

Complete and utter silence.

When I look up, my eyes catch something pacing the room. Yet, I don’t hear the floor groan in complaint. It stops to scratch something onto the wall. But, the walls don’t screech.

As the silence becomes deafening, I slide back into bed, and pray for something…anything…to creak again.

The wish

I never left my television on. But, I wished I had been forgetful tonight.

The night was still as usual. But, I wished the cracked window pane, was the wind’s doing.

My boyfriend wasn’t home. But, I wished those footsteps I heard creeping up behind me, were his.

As I turned to face it, I wished I was dead.

Sometimes, wishes do come true.

The Twist

The steak was succulent. The chicken juicy. The entire meal had a certain…character to it. He tucked into it with unusual abandon. She finally spoke when he’d finished licking his fingers.

“You like it?”

“Like it? It’s magical! Where did you find such a genius chef?”

“Oh, he’s good, no doubt. But the magic here lies in the ingredients and also,” she hesitated before adding, “the meticulousness with which they were sourced.”

#

“Stop!” My companion smashed his fist on the bar counter, spilling some of his beer in the process. “I’m not going to listen to any more of this tripe. I can see the twist coming a mile away. She served him a human being, didn’t she?” he asked.

I smirked in that annoying way which always got on people’s nerves.

“No, she didn’t. How predictable would that be? And who said anything about there being a twist anyway?”

“Fine. Continue then,” he said.

“Where was I now…oh right…the source.”

#

“Where do you source your food from?” he asked.

“We grow it ourselves,” she replied.

“What’s your secret?” he asked as he not-so-discreetly mopped the remaining juices off the plate with his fingers.

“Our farm animals are on a special diet. So are our vegetables. We don’t use ordinary feed or fertiliser.”

#

“She grinds humans up into the fertiliser and the feed, doesn’t she? Is that it? It’s even lamer than I thought!”

“Why are you being so morbid? And I do agree — that would have been very lame. Now, if you don’t have any more ‘theories’, shall I continue?”

He nodded. A cold, steely determination had crept into his eyes.

I smirked again.

#

“I’d love to meet and compliment the chef in person. This was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

“I’ll summon him immediately,” she made a couple of gestures at the server.

A few seconds later, a voice coughed behind him. He looked up to see a tall slender man in a chef’s hat standing over him.

“Well, that was quick,” he said.

“Meet The Count, our head chef. He has apprenticed under a lot of culinary masters and is now a man who possesses the sum of their skills. He’s absolutely lapped up their talents, so to speak,” she said.

The Count smiled at him. He smiled back. The Count’s teeth glinted.

#

“Vampire!”

“This, sir, isn’t chic-lit!” I said with as much indignation as I could muster.

#

“What’s your secret?” he asked.

“Would you believe, cauldrons? I always cook in cauldrons. And I like to sing with the other chefs while I do it,” The Count replied.

“That’s…interesting,” he said.

“Surely, there must be something else?” he probed further. He knew that The Count was hiding something.

The Count hesitated for a bit, then leaned into his ear and whispered.

#

“Warlock?”

“Nope.”

#

“Salt. Lots of it,” The Count said. “And a shitload of MSG,” he added with a wink.

#

“You’re horrible at spotting the twist,” I said. And then I ate him.

Telling that story always gives me the munchies.

THE END

The Rewrite

She showed him the horror again.

Clear as crystal. His own. It can really affect you, that.

It was the curse, she told him.

He had heard about the curse before. From her as well as the elders. Three centuries ago, an ancestor had burnt a witch in cold blood. The witch’s sister, who plied the same trade, hadn’t been impressed. Every male heir since then had met with a gruesome, albeit creative, end.

He believed what he’d seen. He believed in the curse. But he also believed that he could undo it.

*****

It had required a lot of effort, but it was finally ready. He sat at the controls and drew in a deep, purposeful breath. This was it. He was ready to rewrite history, and his own future in the bargain. He pressed the button, the science did its thing, and the machine hurled back into time.

*****

He peeped through the window again. The witch still lay asleep. There was no sign of any tip-toeing ancestors in the vicinity. He guessed he had some time to kill before he’d have the opportunity to prevent the deed from being perpetrated. He sat down in the bushes, lit himself a cigarette, and waited.

The screams jolted him out of his nap. He rushed to the source. The machine was up in flames. So was the witch. She must have gotten inside, curious to determine what the contraption was. Maybe she had fiddled with the engine. Maybe there had been a short-circuit. It was too late to save her, or the machine, which would soon become her coffin.

A cold tap on the shoulder caused him to turn around. It was who he’d thought it’d be. And she was mad.

Birthday – flash fiction

After years of heartbreak, the adoption agency finally called. We were happy. We were complete. At least, until the sickness engulfed his tiny frame.

He offered to help. In exchange I’d have to sacrifice another human on my son’s first birthday.

I’d have taken a worse deal.

He kept his word. When the dreaded day came, I kept mine. Her eyes will haunt me forever.

I hid the body and returned home. My hands still trembled.

My wife greeted me with a bemused look, “The adoption agency called. Apparently there was a mix up with his birth certificate. They said his actual birthday is on the fourth of next month.”

She looked around at the decorations she’d worked on all day, and laughed.

“What a waste,” she said.

I nodded in agreement.

The screams

I followed the screams. I had to reach her. She continued to run down the wrong path. I tried to warn her, called out to her to stop, but my voice muffled by the thunderous rain always seemed to fall short. For the first time in my life, I was truly afraid.

And then I heard the sickening thud. She had fallen. I filled with dread when I saw a figure run towards her, with a pistol gingerly extended in front. I had to reach her before he did. Her screams were barely coherent between her frightened sobs now. “Help…daddy…please,” she repeated, over and over. She finally looked in my direction. I waved at her between strides, trying to tell her everything would be fine, but I could sense the fear in her eyes as they darted between me and him. I suddenly realised, with almost paralysing apprehension, that her life depended on who won this race. I think she did too. She closed her eyes, and waited.

Luckily for her, I came in first, and I knew what I had to do.

I plunged the knife into her ribcage with all my might, twisting it in, until all that remained was silence. I looked up to him as he finally reached her. The family resemblance was obvious – she had his eyes. I watched calmly as those eyes, now brimming with tears, aimed the pistol at my head. I wasn’t afraid anymore. The screams had finally stopped.