I sit up in bed, hands clapped over my thudding heart. My quick, raspy breaths wake my husband.
“What’s wrong, babe?” Andy mutters, eyes still closed.
I take the invitation. “I had this nightmare. I was trimming the hairs near Trixie’s eyes that make them tear, and cause that yucky dog smell.”
“Mmm-hmm.” A snore creeps into his breathing.
I nudge his shoulder. “As I squeezed the blades together, I noticed the point of the scissors in Trixie’s eye. I pulled it out slowly. At first, she didn’t appear injured, but then blood gushed from the slit in her eye.”
“It seemed so real…” Even after sharing the burden of this dream, a sense of dread keeps my back rod-straight.
After a lengthy silence, I hear a mumbled, “Want me to check on her?”
Andy shuffles to Trixie’s bed, in the family room near the fireplace hearth. “Oh my G-” His footsteps thump faster on the tile. “What? I don’t…”
“What’s wrong?” I call, jumping out of bed.
“Don’t… y-you don’t want to see this,” Andy says.
Too late. I round the corner and glimpse my dog sprawled in a pool of blood with a knitting needle in her left eye- the same eye injured in my dream.
I don’t knit.
Two nights later, on Halloween, we walk our son, Trent, through the neighborhood so he could acquire more candy than a person should consume in a lifetime. Being twelve, it could be the end of trick-or-treating. This year, it seems evil lurks beneath every costume. Even the toddler ballerina; her unblinking stare makes me uneasy.
I don’t relax until we reach home and are safely locked inside.
“I’m not tired yet,” Trent says. “Can I stay up and watch something scary?”
I check my watch. “It’s a school night, but you’ve got one hour.” I sit on the couch with him and flip through the channels. “Friday the Thirteenth?”
“Meh. Anything else?”
I click through several more programs, lingering on a deep-voiced narrator explaining, “He entombed his sister in a vault, though she’d been very much alive…” I switch channels.
“Wait, go back!”
I glance at Trent. “You sure?”
“Yeah.” He grins.
I press the ‘last’ button on the remote.
When the eerie music and final credits play, he asks, “Did that really happen?”
“I’m sure those people thought they saw ghosts. I think they are Poe fanatics who just wanted to be on TV.”
“But they found two bodies when they demolished the building.”
“So you don’t believe in ghosts?”
I shake my head. “Time for bed, kiddo.”
Terror flickers in his eyes. “I-I don’t want to. Can I sleep with you?”
I smile. “You’ll be okay.”
Unable to convince him, I stay in his room. When his breathing is even, I descend the stairs to my own room.
I sit up in bed, hands clapped over my thudding heart. Another nightmare. I’d been in the kitchen fixing dinner. With a butcher knife, I trimmed the fat from a roast. As I cut the slimy white from the pink meat, it quivered. I stepped back, and the roast beat like a heart. I picked it up in my hands, ice cold to my touch.
I glance at the outline of my husband laying with his back to me. I touch his shoulder and jerk my hand away from the chill. I roll him onto his back and see the knife handle sticking out of his chest. The one from my nightmare.
Lightning flashes, and the glow casts my shadow on the wall. At first I think the rumble is thunder, but as two by fours crack and plaster drops onto my head, I realize I’m living Edgar Allen Poe’s prophecy. “Noooooo!” I shout, but the evil spirits bursting from the walls just howl in response.
I don’t know who or what possesses me, but I rip the handle from Andy’s chest. Blood spurts from the wound.
The knife clatters to the ground and a scream pierces the night.
This was written for the Speakeasy #132 challenge, which is to write a piece under 750 words which includes some kind of reference to the media prompt, The Fall of the House of Usher, and a last line of: “The knife clatters to the ground and a scream pierces the night.”
I hope you find the story as disturbing as I do. Part of this is from an actual nightmare I had several weeks ago. If I’m not around, it could be that I’ve sought the psychological help I apparently need…or my house has held me captive. Bwahahaha!
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