October writing challenge winner! Genre-Horror


Sydney Altbacker, Contributing Author

A muffled scream echoes in the distance, piercing my ears and making it extremely hard to concentrate.  I’m running faster and faster, as far away from the scream as I can get.  I know this landscape like the back of my hand, dark rolling hills with the moon giving up a soft eerie glow, just barely highlighting my path.  The scream is becoming more distant, but yet whenever I turn my head, it is two hills beyond.  That poor girl, I thought.  Her silhouette haunts me in the moonlight, but there’s nothing I can do, not this time.  My feet carry me farther away, as my mind wanders off.  As my Violer Lane.  I shuddered as the thoughts returned to my head.  A dark figure emerged from the house, his cheekbones defined and his clothes stained and worn.  I’m faced with a mind splitting decision, Where should I run? The scream fills my head as the man comes closer, his huge hand reaching towards me, inches from face.  Right before he pulls his hands back, my vision goes black and the scream turns into a repetitive monotonous note.

I hit my alarm clock with aggression I didn’t know I was capable of. I walked into the little one’s room to wake him up for school.  His eight-year-old innocence erased the scarring nightmare from my head.

“Ron,” I whispered, “It’s time for school.”  He grumbled and reluctantly got out of bed.  I gave him a huge hug and went downstairs to mas gaze into the distance I see the same horrifying image I see every night.  A tall colonial house with brown shutters, the mailbox reading 33 Violer him breakfast. My Gram’s kitchen wasn’t anything special.  There were old white cabinets, worn from all of her amazing cooking, and an oven that Ron called The Meatloaf Maker, only because he thinks that oven is what cooks the “best meatloaf in the universe.” Ron was my little pride and joy, after all, Mom gave me the responsibility to raise him.  It was hard for her to watch over both of us, because Gram couldn’t always take us to the hospital.  She herself was getting old.  Mom suffered from a severe type of cancer, she was diagnosed 9 years ago, and it tired out Gram just to see her daughter in that type of pain. I never asked to visit Mom, I was lucky enough to stay with Gram and I didn’t want this window of opportunity to shut.  I know the only reason Gram was sticking around was to make sure we were in safe hands, and I was so grateful for that.  These past four years have been hard on everyone, and custody laws are one tough nut to crack, but I am just thankful that Ron and I are safe, even if it means I had to change everything about me.  My name, once Amanda J. Simpson is now Tina Greenwood, and my long brown hair was cut into a short frizzy bob that is impossible to maintain.  I place two bowls of Cheerios on the table and help Ron get ready for school.  Once he’s on the bus, I start to get myself ready, but I stop right in my tracks, a pair of men’s dark brown timberland boots sit the top of the stairs.  They aren’t mine, or Gram’s, and they definitely are not Ron’s.

“Gram?” I yell across the hallway. “I think there’s someone in the house.”  A chill runs up my spine, giving me a feeling of fear and loneliness. There’s no answer from Gram.  I gather my things and leave the house in such a hurry even I was surprised.  Gram’s car wasn’t in the driveway, and relief flew over me in remembering she was at her daily yoga session.

School dragged by like a weight tied against my ankle. I was failing every class, so I don’t even know why I bother to show up.  Walking home was unexpectedly pleasant.  It was fall, and the foliage was dark amber and scarlet red, the air was crisp, but warm enough for a light jacket.  It had rained the night befor and the street gave off a soft glow which highlighted the scenery as if it was plucked from a movie.  I stared at my reflection in a puddle.  My ragged hair did not highlight my face, and my olive skin made me look sickly rather than beautiful, but I did not care, I had bigger things in my mind.  Suddenly, in one sweeping motion, a grey pickup truck sped past me.  My heart sunk down to the bottom of my chest. It can’t be. I raced home to find nothing less than I expected a note, written in familiar bumpy handwriting:

It’s in our best interest that you come home tonight, but just you, ONLY you.  I wouldn’t worry about the consequences of not coming, you would want to hurt your little one would you?

I fell to my knees and sobbed. Not again I thought.  I bolted to my room to find Ron sitting at the foot of my bed doing his homework. His usual smirk sat across his face, and his legs dangled effortlessly beneath him.  I locked all of the doors and gave him a hug. I’d thought that I squeezed all the innocence out of him, but he remained content and happy as always.

Afternoon eroded into night as warm vibrant colors mimicked the sky. Ron had fallen asleep at my side and my fingers traced through his tight blonde curls.  Gram was out,  shopping for something she needed.  I reassured myself that it was just some immature teens  playing a joke, and laughed at what their reaction would be when I called them out on it tomorrow.  As I was imagining the fun that tomorrow would bring, I fell into a daze, and then finally let my eyes rest, dreading the images that were soon to come.

It started soon after I fell asleep, as it always did.  The glowing hill, Violer Lane everything was the same as it was yesterday night, and the night before that.  The screams, the brown shutters, It was compressing my head, making me more confused then ever.  Everything was moving in circles, swirling around me and making me dizzy.  I turned to face the house, waiting for the man to come out of the door as he always does. Let’s just get this over with, I thought to myself.  The door opened, slower than yesterday, and this time no man came out, but rather a small boy with tight blonde curls.

Ron.” What was intended to be a shriek came out as nothing more than a silent whisper.  My knees buckled and I collapsed to the floor.  I wiped the salty unforgiving tears in my eyes and ran towards the house.  It was as if every muscle in my body was working against me at that exact moment, and I was incapable of saving the only person I truly cared about.  Just as I had feared, the dark figure appeared from behind Ron, his eyes blazing with a fire more threatening than the farthest point beneath this earth.  His firm calloused hands held my wet cheeks, as if trying to console me.  The mocking gesture made me sick to my stomach.  I stomped my foot on the ground as a sharp pain darted throughout my entire body.  I tried to escape the man’s powerful grip, but it was useless.  His warm soggy breath smelled of cigars and alcohol, and I cringed in disgust.  It was all too familiar, the hollow blackness, the hole in my heart, and the hopeless feeling in which you can do nothing in your power to save the one you love.  It was never my fault, the darkness overcame me and I was too innocent to know any better.  I was weak, and didn’t have my own voice, but now I do.

The pain poured around me until I was laying on the damp grass.  The man walked away, showing no acknowledgements of my screams.  He took Ron by the hand and walked him straight into the house.  Ron let out a whimper, then a heart-burning shriek.

I jerked up in my bed.  My pillow was wet with tears and my eyes were red from crying.  In the darkness, I scanned the room for Ron, he was no where, but the door was partially open.  I let out a sob I should’ve been careful I thought as I approached the narrow corridor leading to Gram’s room.  There before me, lay the body of Ron, my little angel, my best friend.  His chest bleeding into pools around him.  The only tears I had left to cry cascaded down my grey face as I wrapped my arms around what was left of the poor child.  He took one final breath and pushed three words out.

“I love you.” It came out in a crinkled soft voice, but it was decipherable.  I cried and cried and couldn’t get enough oxygen to reply.  On the floor next to Ron lay a note, in red and bumpy letters it read;

“He was proud of his mother, but I certainly wasn’t

xoxo, DAD,”

How could he? The man that had seen me grow, watched me go through school, and watched me suffer, how could he do that to his own child?  All of the pain I went through and everything I had done until this day had been done just for Ron.  He was what parted the blackness and what opened my eyes to see what life was worth living.  I thought I’d do that for Dad, I’d do something, anything to make his blackness go away.  Eight years ago my only innocence entered this world, and now, it’s gone.