Finally, my cliche story after everyone else has delivered:
“The night rumbled, dark and stormy. The shot echoed the thunder, and Abigail shuddered as she dropped the gun and stepped uncertainly backwards. She stared at the pool of blood forming under the intruder. His eyes stared blankly through the mask, and Abigail crept forward slowly to pull up the mask so she could see the face of the man who had hunted, and haunted, her for the past year. She gasped as the mask revealed….”
Clara jumped as the phone shrilled. She glanced out the window, surprised to see the weather now mirrored the book she had been reading with such rapt attention. Dark clouds had replaced the bright sunshine she had come home in. Clara grabbed the insistently ringing phone.
Five minutes later she had swiftly changed her clothes and grabbed her purse. Gerry, her friend having a dinner party later in the evening, had sliced his hand while preparing the roast. He hadn’t wanted to go to the ED, thinking that she could get there faster than he could get to the hospital. Thinking he was probably right, Clara directed him to wrap it in a towel, keep it above his head and not get any blood on her dinner!
The sound of thunder chased her as she ran to her car. She had always hated storms, and this one was increasing her nerves about Gerry. She pushed her little BMW she as drove down Rt 3 to Gerry’s road. She knew once she got to his twisty road she would have to go much more slowly. The late 90’s Beemer was her pride and joy, she never liked taking it down his road on the best of times. As she slewed around the corner onto Gerry’s road, she looked at the waving branches nervously. Wouldn’t like one of those to come down on her after the new paint job she and her brother had just finished the paint job on the car.
Gerry’s grandmom had just passed and left him a house out here in the woods. His brother Jamie shared it with him, but was currently at college. He sometimes came home on weekends, though, and Clara wondered if he would be home for the party tonight. She liked it better when the boys had lived in the city, she thought wryly as she navigated the narrow lane. One final turn and she would see the old farmhouse. The farm had flourished once, but that had been a long time ago; now the trees had grown up and the fields had disappeared.
Normally Clara liked the house, it was cozy and filled with family memories. Tonight she just wanted to get there. She peered through the windshield as her wipers tried valiantly to push the slashing rain. Clara cast a wistful glance at her purse with her book in it. Normally the only way she liked to ride out a thunderstorm was curled up with her book.
As she went around the final curve, she heard a tremendous crack of thunder with a corresponding thunk behind her. Jerking the car to a halt, Clara looked back. A large tree had come down across the road, just missing her rear bumper.
Clara sighed, she knew she wouldn’t be able to get her low slung car back over that. Sometimes she wished for a Land Rover. Hopefully the boys would be able to cut it and she could get home tonight. At least she had traded her shift for tomorrow, so she didn’t have to worry about work.
Tamping down her fear the accident had caused, Clara turned forward again and drove up to the house. The house sat in the dark; power must be out, she thought. Wonderful. Parking and grabbing her emergency care bag plus her steel Stanley flashlight, Clara went up onto the big porch and pushed open the front door.
“Gerry?” she called. “Gerry, where are you?”
When she got no answer, Clara became concerned. Had he lost enough blood to pass out? Maybe it was more serious than he let on. I should have made him go to the emergency department, she thought guiltily. Clara rushed into kitchen, bumping into a coffee table on the way.
“Ohh, ooohh, ooh!” She mumbled, finally getting the flashlight adjusted in her full hands so she could actually see where she was going. Flashing the light around, she didn’t see Gerry anywhere, not even on the floor. Setting her bag on the kitchen island, she looked around more intently.
There was a lot of blood on the butcher block, with a trail to the refrigerator. Gerry putting dinner back, Clara surmised. Pointing the light at the refrigerator, Clara recoiled when she saw the vivid red hand print on the white appliance. A bunched up towel sat on the floor near the island. What had happened here?
Clara suddenly realized the storm had passed, leaving quiet in its wake. Quiet that allowed her to hear every creak in the old house. She was intensely aware of being alone. Gathering herself, and chastising herself for acting like the heroine of her thriller mysteries, Clara walked over to the stairs. She had to check Gerry’s room and see if he had passed out there. Besides, she reminded herself, not like she could get out anyway. She hoped Gerry didn’t need an ambulance.
Clara crept up the stairs, unable to shake her edginess. Gerry’s room was clear. A sudden noise down the hall made her jump, and ignoring the voice that said all the blondes in the horror films should not go down the hallway and neither should she, Clara went to check out Jamie’s room. Maybe Gerry had gone in there for some reason.
Pushing open the door, Clara flashed the light around the room. In the corner she saw wide glassy eyes reflecting back at her.
Clara rushed in, dropping to her knees next to the body. Reaching out for a pulse, she encountered cold smooth plastic. She backpeddled sharply, inhaling deeply before realizing that it must be one of Jamie’s models. He was a design student. And he always liked putting the models in odd places to scare everyone. Tree limbs banged on the window, jumping her once more.
“Damn!” she cursed.
Clara ran down the stairs and out the door, panting heavily. Wind still tossed the branches, but the clouds were racing away, leaving the starry night behind. Clara leaned on the porch railing, gathering herself. As she stared out into the night, lights flashed up the drive. Clara stared in amazement as the car parked and Gerry, Jamie and their friend Ami piled out. Gerry waved his white bandaged hand at her cheerfully.
“Where have you been?” Clara demanded. “I have been here, and by myself, in the dark with the creepy noises and blood all over the kitchen and…”
“Whoa, whoa, I’m sorry!” Gerry interrupted her. “Didn’t you see the note we left you?”
“Note? What note?” Clara waved her arms. “It’s pitch black in there, you know!”
Jamie walked up the stairs and wrapped his arm around her, rubbing her shoulder. He steered her over to the porch swing and set her in it, still holding her. Clara gave up and let him pet her until she felt better.
“Ami showed up right after I called you,” Gerry explained. “Her doctor is only a few miles down Rt 3, so she took me there instead of waiting. It was pretty deep. It hurts a lot too. We did leave a note,” he ended plaintively.
“And I was cutting the tree up so I could get by when they got back, so I left my car down there and came back in Ami’s. It is still a bit rough, didn’t get all of it pulled away by myself,” Jamie said. “Not sure your car will make it out tonight.”
“Fine, fine,” Clara said. “It just wasn’t…. fun, you know.”
“Well, I think the power is out for the night, but we have a generator. We’ll get Jamie to start it and we will finish making dinner to make up for your fright. Although,” Gerry paused, “maybe if you didn’t read those horrifying murder books with the killers slinking around, you wouldn’t have been so scared.”
“Hey!” Clara said indignantly, “a lot of people read those. They’re entertaining.”
“But maybe not for you,” Ami finally chimed in. “Let’s face it Clar, you can overreact sometimes.”
“Let’s not worry about that right now,” Jamie said, seeing steam building in Clara again. “Let’s just get dinner going. Cutting wood is hungry work!”
Ami came up and linked her arm with Clara in apology as they all headed back into the house. Once the lights were on, Gerry and Ami started cleaning the kitchen to finish the cooking. They shooed Clara out, saying they owed her. She wandered into the living room. Seeing her purse, she pulled out her book. Maybe they were right. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so frightening if she didn’t read this kind of fiction.
Clara put the book on the table and sat on the couch. She eyed at her book. Maybe it would be good to finish the book, just to get it out of her mind. She didn’t have to read any more scary books, Clara told herself as she reached for her book. Snuggling into the couch, she opened the book.
……Abigail crept forward slowly to pull up the mask so she could see the face of the man who had hunted, and haunted, her for the past year. She gasped as the mask revealed….”