Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Meet Me Outside.

"Hello?" her voice croaked from lack of use.

"Meet me outside."  Click.

Mary replaced the handset, inched her way back to the armchair and took back up with her knitting.  She'd been working on the same afghan, night after night, for as long as she could remember. It was longer than any person could need and more than any sofa could hold.  Some was on her lap as she worked, but the bulk of it was heaped on the floor in a pile next to her little basket of needles and yarn.  She kept her eyes fixed on her project, glancing up only occasionally at the clock.  Behind her, the floor lamp gave off the only light, illuminating the chair and very little else.

Ring...  Ring...

Mary rose slowly, her joints cracking as she straightened her frail body.  She set her knitting aside on her seat and walked over to the desk on the opposite wall.  She pulled the chain on the lamp with her right hand, reaching for the phone with her left.  She raised the handset to her ear and cleared her throat.

"Hello?"

"Meet me outside."

This time the caller did not hang up.  Mary could hear breathing and the chirping of crickets and the wind rustling through the trees.

"Who is this?"  Click.

She put the phone back once again and turned off the light.  She shuffled back to the chair, eased her weight down and resumed her knitting.  Several moments passed before the phone rang once again. She rose and returned to the desk, repeating all of the same motions just as she had hundreds if not thousands of times before.

"Hello?"

"Meet me outside, Mom."

"Katie?  Is that you?"

"Meet me outside, Mom."

Click.

Mary padded to the front door and flipped on the porch light switch.  The door opened quickly with the force of the autumn winds.  Mary's white nightgown flowed and swirled about her ankles, her feet feeling the chill in the air through her old slippers.

"Katie?  Are you there?"  Mary called out gently, knowing Katie wouldn't answer.

There was still only the sound of crickets and wind.  Mary returned to the house, turned off the porch light, turned off the desk lamp and sat back in her armchair to resume knitting.  She  only completed a few more rows of the burnt orange blanket when the phone rang again.

Mary rose wearily, placing the knitting on the seat of her chair.  She returned to the desk, pulled the lamp on and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Meet me outside, Mom."

Mary knew it was Katie.  It was always Katie and Mary never asked on the fourth call.  Mary set the phone down on the desk, the cord tightening and twisting back up on its own.  She headed back to the door and flipped on the light.  She held tight to the door as she opened it, expecting the wind this time.

She stepped out onto the porch, wrapping her arms around her chest to protect herself from the chill. She looked around, pushing her hair out of her mouth where the wind had blown it.

"Katie?" she called out, knowing she'd get no reply.  Katie was out there, but Mary didn't know where she would find her.  She shuffled down the steps, squinting to see beyond the reach of the porch light.

"Katie?  Where are you?"  There were never clues to where Katie would be and Katie never answered.

Scanning the ground, she finally saw the blood.  Several smaller drops at first, growing larger as Mary followed them.  She ventured farther from the house and into the night.  She stopped when she found her daughter.

Katie knelt on the ground, clasping the long chef's knife that was covered in John's blood. Her brother's body was splayed out before her, his torn shirt soaked crimson.  When she heard her mother approach, she looked up from the body to reveal her bloodied, tear-stained face.

"I'm sorry, Mom," the teen said through her tears.  She heaved the knife in the air and thrust it into her own chest.  She collapsed onto her brother, pushing the knife in deeper.   Her body rolled off onto her back as she choked on her own blood and the final breaths of life escaped her.

Mary lowered her head and walked back towards the house.

"I know you are, my darling.  Please rest now," she urged, all the while knowing she'd see her children again tomorrow night.



I'm giving fiction a try over at the Speakeasy this week.  Please click through and read other works of fiction and poetry.  Don't forget my friends on the Challenge grid either!

26 comments:

  1. Wow Michelle, really great job! I was on the edge of my seat. Poor Mary.

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  2. That was excellent. Really creepy, but I like it.

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    1. Thank you!! I was hoping it would be creepy and not hokey.

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  3. Your creepy stories are the best, I think you have found a genre that really agrees with you. I wonder, is she knitting that blanket night after night because she can't sleep?

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    1. Thanks! You know, I'm not sure what she's knitting. I feel like she's stuck, like in a macabre Groundhog Day. She came to me out of nowhere and I'm pretty curious about her myself.

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  4. That was really good! You do creepy very nicely!

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  5. So haunting and sad -- loved it!!

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    1. Thanks! I was hoping the sad would come out. I was thinking that it's just tragic that she's not even frightened by what she saw.

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  6. Creepy and sad. I didn't expect it to be her daughter but some cliche masked man or something. Therefore, I much preferred your ending. It is haunting and leaves you with more questions than answers.

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    1. Thank you! I was so afraid it was going to come off as cliched. Fiction is totally new to me and I didn't want this to be dumb. I'm glad you have questions. That's what I was hoping for.

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  7. So creepy and good. I love how you built the suspense with the phone calls. Very well written too!

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    1. Thank you so much! I tried a few versions with the calls so I'm glad you liked what I settled on. This was all so new to me!

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  8. You've got some serious fiction writing chops! Love the suspense! Great job!

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    1. Thanks! This was a difficult one for me!

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  9. Hey! This is great! Very, very well done. Good suspense and ending...I have all these questions now.

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    1. I would love to hear your questions. I have many too - I want to think about Mary and her children more and see where it takes me!

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  10. Gah. This was suspenseful. My stomach hurts. Great job.

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    1. I feel sort of guilty feeling happy that I gave you a stomach ache but I feel like it's a compliment so it made me happy. It means a lot to me.

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  11. You nailed the sadness. Initially, I tried to think of who could be calling, but you surprised me.

    I like the bit about the afghan because I love to crochet but I can only make scarves that go around the earth.

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    1. Thanks Flood! The image of you crocheting really long scarves cracked me up!! My mom crocheted and she tried to teach me when I was younger. All I learned was that basic chain stitch and I worked on the same blanket for 10 years, taking breaks for several years at a time. It was awful! I would love to learn now, but I don't see myself having the time. I want to see a pic of you with one of these scarves! (perhaps for a winter themed week on the grids?)

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    1. Yes, I do feel sorry for her. But also for the daughter, who has to play out this scene night after night.

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  13. Hey! Nice work. fiction terrifies me about as much as your story did. Good for you!

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  14. The repetition of the phone call, with the same dialogue over and over again, was a fantastic, tension-building heartbeat to the story. It kept the core creep so close to mind: Meet me outside. It stuck into my mind, and then kept being picked at. What's outside? What's outside? Really, really effective.

    Scary and tense with a great ending (this keeps happening? Every night?! Ahhh!). Thank you! Great work!

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