Dark Whispers, by Kevin Lazarus

Kevin Lazarus on the streets of Carthage Falls

Kevin Lazarus in Carthage Falls

(From: The Dark Side of Carthage Falls, the Anthology – by Kevin Lazarus)

The sky looked dark, even menacing. Happily, the driveway was empty. Of course, I couldn’t say that I was sorry he wasn’t there–the man with two faces.

I was home from school at what should have been the normal time, because, according to my teacher she had some kind of emergency and had to leave early. So I didn’t need to stay for my usual after school sessions.

As I opened the back door to my house, I called out my mother’s name and listened in vain. I knew she wouldn’t answer–she wasn’t there–she was never there. But, like many children, hope is often the only companion they have, so I called to her anyway.

The silence was stark but expected. I slipped the house key hanging around my neck back beneath my shirt and closed the door behind me. The loneliness was all too familiar. By now, I had gotten over feeling cheated or angry–at least I thought so. Having no one there once in awhile is a blast, even fun, but all of the time. Eventually you begin to wonder if anyone really gives a damn about you. Then throw in a messed up freak that wants you to call him dad, and this unfortunate place called Carthage Falls, and its way more than anyone deserves in ten lifetimes.

The clock on the wall in the kitchen told me that I had at least several hours before he came home. Hopefully, mom would get there first. My heart sank at that thought. “Come home first mom–please–” With that whisper, I quietly grimaced. I found myself wishing that I could go over to my friend’s, but they had some family thing planned and it didn’t include me.

The fridge didn’t have much to offer. But, things being the way there were, I had learned to be resourceful. In the butter keeper was a cube of butter. Yes, I thought, a treat! I flipped open the cover and took it. With that, I opened the bread box and retrieved the half loaf of bread in it, and then–a bottle of Maple syrup.

A long ribbon of dark Maple syrup slowly flowed out over the plate until I was satisfied it was enough. I hacked off a large hunk of butter and began smashing it into the syrup with a fork.

A sudden gust of wind rattled the windows and shook the house. I grabbed my plate along with several slices of bread and hurried to the kitchen table near the window, from where I could watch the gathering storm outside. Tearing a piece of bread apart, I pushed it around in the mixture, sopping up as much butter and syrup as I could; soaking the bread so thoroughly that it would ooze syrup when I squeezed it. It was like biting down on a soft squishy sponge that just melted in my mouth. Outside great gusts of wind blew flurries of snow in every direction. Little white flakes sticking against the glass would slowly melt as they slid down into a droplet. Within seconds everything outside was a blinding white–and I watched in awe. It was a total whiteout.

I was lost in the moment, unaware of how dark it had suddenly become. The last few bites of the bread and syrup tasted good, and I considered having another helping. Once more a gust of wind, more robust than the first, rattled the house. There was something oddly exhilarating about it, this storm swirling around me, causing such a terrific noise.

But then, there was something new–another sound; one, that at first, I thought to be the wind whistling through the seams in the doors. Yet, it was somehow strangely different. It had an empty hollow feeling to it, and I could swear that I heard what sounded like voices. I listened for a moment longer, but nothing, the sound was gone. It was then when it occurred to me just how dark the house had become. That was an easy fix, I mused. But as I reached for the light switch, there it was again! That curious little sound, filtering its way through the house–I felt my heart skip a beat. But it was so subtle–so hard to hear. The wind, I thought, it has to be the wind. Clearly, it came with each pounding gust of air. Still, I wondered, there was something not quite right about it–something truly odd.

The warm glow of the kitchen light restored my sense of safety, and once more I considered making a new batch of the tasty concoction. There was plenty of syrup and butter. I eyed the bread. There was clearly enough for more. For a moment I thought about the possible implications. How would he act, knowing I had eaten all of this food. But the truth was, I just didn’t care. I was still hungry and there wasn’t anything else to eat…well, there was the peanut butter. I could just get a big spoon and start double dipping gobs of peanut butter–hmmm–not a bad idea!

But before I could even move, another gust of wind shook the house. I watched out the kitchen window a little while longer, still in awe of the storm.

Suddenly, another intense gust of wind slammed into the house as the lights went out. I was horrified at that prospect! Everything had stopped–the sound of the furnace, the hum from the refrigerator–even the clock. Suddenly my appetite wasn’t so important anymore.

And then I heard it again–empty and hollow–odd little whispers! The words exploded through my mind. Voices–I was hearing voices? Hyper panic set in as fear flowed through me like a shockwave, dialing up ever sensory emotion. Every sound, the slightest bump or creak was now magnified a thousand fold. Those strange little noises were coming from somewhere at the back of the house; back in the bedrooms. Images started flashing before me, from my memory and for a second, once more, I thought I could hear the same footsteps walking behind me from that first night. I quickly shook it off. “Not in the house,” I quietly insisted, “No way!”

Deeply disturbed by what I thought I was hearing, I backed into the corner, scrunching down into a ball. I listened some more, waiting for another gust of wind–hoping that I was wrong. Whatever it was, at least it wasn’t the sound of footsteps. But, for some reason I had the same crummy feeling that I had that night…like I wasn’t alone. “Listen Kevin–listen,” I whispered to myself. “Maybe it’s nothing…”

I lost track of the time waiting. Curiously, the sound hadn’t returned and I began to breathe a little easier. But I didn’t move, not yet–I had to be sure. So I continued waiting there in the corner listening wanting to prove that it was nothing. Again, the wind battered away at the house mercilessly, rattling the windows.

My lower lip was painfully sore, as locked onto it with my teeth, biting down hard and pulling on it; thinking, rehashing what I had heard over and over again, in my head. Another gust of wind hammered the house–and then–it happened again! This time there was no mistaking what I had heard and that realization hit me hard–it was voices!

I scrunched down a little harder, wishing my mother was there. Why wasn’t she home yet?

Suddenly a door slammed somewhere at the back of the house! Every muscle in my body jolted as I leapt to my feet, rigid with fear. Now, I literally couldn’t move. I was gulping back air as if each breath were my last. My mind in a frenzied state, unwilling to accept what I was experiencing, flew into wild speculation. Worse, the temperature was dropping steadily. As my mind worked through the possibilities, I latched onto the only conclusion that made any sense. My stepfather had to be there–hiding somewhere in the house! It was like a bolt of lightning. “Yeah,” I mumbled under my breath, “that’s it, it’s him–it has to be him!” I didn’t know whether to be angry or frightened. I was tempted to scream, but didn’t dare. I didn’t want him to know, that I knew he was there. My entire body was now shaking. There was no way to know if it was from the cold or from the fear. Though, it didn’t really matter.

With some effort, I forced myself to run to the backdoor leading out into the driveway, where I hesitated. I spun around and stared back at the hallway coming from the kitchen. He could’ve been there anywhere, my mind screamed; in the bathroom or even in the closet.

Without windows, the hallway was pretty dark. I stared at the closet door sitting just ajar, a long slender opening that was as black as night. I suddenly felt flush at the idea that he could be standing there in the dark waiting for me. It would be just like him to jump out and grab me. My heart was pounding and my breathing was halting and out of control, as I started moving toward the closet. I knew if I showed any fear, he would never let me hear the end of it. I flung open the closet door and waited for the worst. He wasn’t there…

I closed my eyes and drew in a long deep breath, wanting to feel happy about it, but I couldn’t. He could still be there in some other part of the house–just waiting for me; another long breath as I bolted out the back door, running out into a blinding snow storm. The cold wind and thick snow swirling around me as I fought my way through the storm; to where he would normally park his car. I had to see it, to touch it, to be sure that it was there.

The distance wasn’t that far from the house. With only a few steps to go, I turned around in several different directions looking for his car, ultimately realizing–it wasn’t there. His car wasn’t there? I swallowed hard on that one, and then turned back and looked at the house. I could barely see it, with its windows dark and uninviting. I didn’t want to go back into it, but I had no choice. The wind and the cold made it impossible to stay outside. My fingers were growing numb. And since I hadn’t taken the time to put on a coat, I had to return. Slowly, I walked back to the house.

With each passing moment it was getting darker. Back in the kitchen I dug through a utility drawer full of tools and crap, and found a flashlight. I didn’t even hesitate; I pushed the “on” button grateful for the light.

The entrance to the hallway leading to the back of the house was looming before me; dark and foreboding. The only other thing I could think of was that he had parked his car somewhere else, and had come in through the basement door. If that was the case, then he could still be in the house, still waiting to scare me. There was only one thing left to do–take it like man.

I knew he wouldn’t stop until he’d scared me and scared me but good. This little game that he liked to play wouldn’t be over until I faced him, and–as he would say–took it like a man! I would just have to do it; walk around through the house until he’d jump out from some dark corner. Then and only then, would it would be over–

Another gust of wind shook the house. Once more I heard the voices–whispering hissing little voices–that I couldn’t understand. But they were there–no doubt about. It had to be him, I thought. Maybe even the footsteps I had heard during those walks home had been him all along. “That would be just about right,” I groused quietly as I started down the hallway to the back of the house.

The master bedroom seemed like a good place to start. It would be like him to hide in there, I thought; trying to remember all the different places he had hid in the past. My muscles were rigid with anticipation, half expecting him to terrify me at any moment. But as I went through his room I knew he wasn’t there.

The family room was even less revealing, so I went next, to his office. And with each room I came up empty. All I could think about now, was how he must have found himself a really good hiding place this time. When finally, I came to my own room–and–the door was shut! I hesitated. I hadn’t shut the door! That must have been what I had heard earlier. And oddly, beneath the door, there was ice and snow forming at the seams. I had never seen anything like it before and didn’t know what to think of it.

As I opened the door, from the last of the daylight, I could see that my window was wide open, with snow blowing through it. My carpet was covered in white. The wind was tossing my curtains about wildly. I shined the flashlight around the room and into the closet. There wasn’t any sign that he’d even been there. And if it hadn’t been for the fact that my window was nearly two stories high, I would have assumed that he’d come in through there.

As I hurried to the window to shut it, something suddenly took hold of my foot; something that was reaching for me from under my bed. I screamed out loud. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that he would be hiding under there! I went crazy, flailing about wildly trying to free my foot. And then just as quickly, it let go of me. From the light of my flashlight I could see what it was that I had taken hold of my leg. One of the blankets from my unmade bed was hanging down onto the floor, and I had unwittingly walked into it. I leaned over and gasped for air, and then went and shut my window.

When I left my room there was a loud “click” as I shut the door behind me. I felt a growing sense of relief–believing that the voices I had heard earlier were nothing more than the wind blowing through my bedroom window. The only thing that troubled me now was how the window had been opened in the first place. I didn’t know.

The house continued to grow colder. I could even see my breath in the light from the flashlight, an icy cloud billowing through a column of light. I was admiring it when my flashlight suddenly began to fade. The light growing weaker until it finally died and left me standing in the dark. I couldn’t believe my luck–it was all bad, really bad. I banged the flashlight a couple of times with my hand hoping it would come back on, but it didn’t. I decided to go on without it and continued towards the kitchen.

However, within a few steps I heard another sound behind me…someone was there. Without stopping, I took off and sprinted into the last bit of daylight from the kitchen window. I turned to face the entrance to the hallway, half expecting my stepfather to appear, laughing his sick little laugh. I waited, every muscle in my body shaking violently–but nothing happened. And then that feeling came to me again, the feeling that I wasn’t alone. The hair bristled on the back of my neck. My heart was palpitating and skipping beats with each gulp of air. I wanted the lights back on. I wanted to be warm again. And I dearly wanted my mother to be there with me.

And then I heard something that sent another chill through me…a voice calling to me from the darkened hallway…whispering my name. I turned and bolted to the back door, flinging it wide open. Outside, in the snow, it was light enough to see. I slammed the door behind me and looked around for something, anything that would keep me warm. On the railings to the backdoor, there were several large throw rugs hanging. I grabbed each of them and wrapped them around me as I huddled next to an outside wall. Now, I was more than willing to take my chances with the storm…

TO BE CONTINUED…

New installment: THE DARK SIDE OF CARTHAGE FALLS, January 04, 2012

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Copyright 2011 Kevin Lazarus/DreamStream Productions Inc.

Kevin Lazarus NOW on SMASHWORDS! http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/creepystories

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