Didn't I promise you that Rohan had written a story to contribute to the Childhood Chills story challenge? Thus he makes his creative-writing debut! Do you have a spooky story to share as well?
What If It Comes Back?
By Rohan de Silva
“Can’t you stay?”
His young voice desperate, Tim turned a stricken face imploringly, almost desperately, up to his father.
“Now, Tim, you’ll be just fine.” Tim’s father spoke in that tone of someone trying to be patient. “Mum will be home in fifteen minutes, and you’re perfectly safe. It’s not like you’ve never been home alone before. You’re quite old enough.”
“But that was before . . .” Tim stopped, and his eyes widened at the too-recent memories. “What if it comes back?”
His father sighed, a resigned expression on his face, and gestured to Tim as he walked out of the living room on his way to the kitchen. “Come with me.”
Tim followed. Up the three stairs that led to the dining room, left into the pantry, and through the door into the formal kitchen. Unhappily, he walked the length of the kitchen to the back door, set between windows that were always kept open to allow the breeze to blow through the house. Tim felt the welcome draft on his face and reminded himself that he did now live in a tropical country. The open windows were necessary for cooling the house, since there was no air-conditioning in these older houses.
“See?” His father drummed his fingers against the fine metal mesh on the windows. Tim hadn’t noticed the mesh as his view of one window was partially obscured by the refrigerator, and the other window was beyond the sink and the drying rack which was piled high with clean plates, bowls and dishes, just needing to be put away. No doubt he would be asked to do that later this afternoon . . . another, albeit less unhappy thought.
“Nothing’s getting through that,” Tim’s father said confidently, tapping the mesh a last time. Then, glancing at his watch, he steered Tim back out to the living room. “Now you just go on playing with your Legos, and Mum will be home soon.” So saying, he ruffled his son’s hair.
Then he was gone.
Tim looked dismally at the Legos in front of him then warily behind him toward the kitchen. The mesh would be fine. The mesh was good.
There wasn’t mesh before, when it had gotten in.
He had seen its tail out of the corner of his eye, disappearing behind the sideboard in the dining room, and wondered if he had imagined it. He had gone to investigate only to discover, to his horror, that it was really there! He had screamed, flown up the stairs and stood shivering and peering down from there as his father and mother, armed with brooms and yells, had chased it out. His father had said it probably wasn’t even one of the poisonous ones. As if this was something to be pleased about!
Tim glanced at the clock. It had only been five minutes since his father had left, yet it felt like days. He pawed listlessly at his toys, sneaking glances every now and then over his shoulder. He was just beginning to develop a story for his Lego men, when he heard it.
It wasn’t loud.
It could have been a tree outside, its branches and leaves rustling in a sudden gust of wind.
He decided that must be it, and went on playing.
A small clang sounded from the kitchen. No doubt one of the utensils had slipped off the drying rack. With the way his father liked to pile them up when he did the washing, it was a wonder that they didn’t all slip and fall.
Tim glanced at the clock. Only five minutes more and his mother should be getting home. There was no need for him to go to the kitchen to check, was there? No, no need at all.
The initial sound was followed by a long drawn out dissonance, and Tim could see in his mind’s eye the round metal serving tray falling from the drying rack, hitting the floor, rolling, and finally making those little wobbling adjustments; like a coin hitting the floor and taking its time to come to rest. The awful noise continued for ages, it seemed to him, until finally, all was deathly still.
He had to look. It would be better to go see. Better to prove to himself that it was only his father’s bad placing of the cutlery and crockery. Nothing more. Better not to think about the fact that those same plates and bowls had been sitting there since this morning.
Not to think about the fact that something might have knocked them off.
He peered around the corner. There was the round metal tray, lying in the middle of the kitchen. A few more steps. There was the spatula, lying close to the sink. From this angle, he could clearly see the window beyond the refrigerator. All looked well.
He took a few more steps in, and bent to pick up the plate. As he straightened up, he glanced beyond the sink, beyond the drying rack to the window on that side of the room.
There was a hole in the mesh.