short stories

Part Nine: The Dark

The Dark
Are you afraid of the dark?

The slammed door disrupts dust particles and cobwebs which dance across your face and into your nose. You almost sneeze, almost, but you hold it in. You stand there as the cloak of darkness and ever-present silence engulf you. You’re shaking, but only slightly, and the tabby presses close to you, silent as well.

Your body is stone, cool, unmoving for several minutes while you wait for any sign of movement, any sign of life. But, from what you can tell, the only sound is coming from your labored breathing, sharp and grating against the stillness of the air.

The darkness that has closed itself around you is beginning to dissipate as your eyes adjust, and you’re able to make out some basic shapes: doorways to your left and right, and another further beyond the stairs in front of you. You wonder where they lead. At arms length there is a coatrack, and you thrust your hand out to feel the smooth wood, to anchor yourself in this unfamiliar, shadowy place.

Tentatively, you take a few steps, expecting the floorboards to give way beneath you, or at least groan under your weight. Nothing, as though you are light as a feather. As though you are a ghost. You walk to your right and end up in what you think is a sitting room. You see the streamlined outline of couches, the bulk of a piano in the corner.

You move to the center of the room and notice a side table wedged between the couches. On it is a teacup filled partway with steaming liquid. You bend closer and the faint scent of cinnamon, of something sweet, drifts up to meet you. You relish in this, fond memories of your grandmother’s cinnamon buns materializing in your mind. It takes you a second but you tense up, pull back. It’s still warm.

You straighten yourself, electricity like fluid in your veins. It’s still so dark, and you wish you would have brought a flashlight. But you didn’t. You don’t want to turn any lights on, and you certainly don’t want to keep stumbling around in darkness, so you creep slowly, silently, into the next room.

You emerge in the kitchen, the outlines of counters and appliances slowly surfacing from the black depths of the darkness. Slowly, as if the drawers are going to jump from their sockets, you pull them out one by one. No flashlight, no candles, no matches. Out of luck.

As you close the last drawer, sounds rise to meet you. Voices at first, high pitched and frantic followed by manic laughter, soon interspersed with something deeper, more ominous. The frantic voices rise to a crescendo, and there is a struggle and a dull thud. Your skin pricks, and the tabby bristles next to you. Silence.

 

Check back next week to see what happens. Previous chapters can be found here.

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