A collection of short stories, mostly written for 'Screams!'
| A Hand Print
The scream woke Rosie with a jolt. She sat up, her heart thumping, and concentrated all of her senses on listening.
The house seemed silent apart from Ed's soft snores. How was it possible that he had slept through it? That scream had been loud, piercing, close too. Rosie had been sure that it came from inside the house but that had to be wrong. There was no one else inside apart from them. Was there?
A fox! That must have been what she had heard. She remembered reading about people hearing them and mistaking the sound for a human scream. Rosie had to admit that she had never seen a single fox in the area. Much as they had been reported as straying into the town, they seemed to have avoided their neighborhood so far.
Rosie tried to go back to sleep but she couldn't relax. Much as she did not want to risk waking Ed by getting up, she would do so anyway if she continued tossing and turning. Rosie slipped from beneath the covers and pulled on her dressing gown. She padded barefoot towards the door, opened it and cringed at the slight creak that seemed so much louder in the night than it had during the day. Keeping her steps soft, she made her way along the hall, down the stairs...
Something was wrong.
Rosie did not know why but her body became flooded with adrenaline. Her impulse was to flee, but she knew that was ridiculous. Better to take a look, reassure herself, then she needed to get back to bed. In another three hours she'd be getting ready for work.
The bedroom was directly above the lounge so that was where she headed. The door was shut as they always left it. Feeling more and more foolish, Rosie opened the door and stepped inside the room. She reached out and flicked the light switch to on.
There was nothing. No intruders, no body, no possible explanation for the scream.
Rosie was about to leave the room when she saw the hand print. It looked like red ochre paint, or blood. It had not been there on the wall when she and Ed had retired for the night, of that she was certain.
Feeling prickles of fear running down her spine, Rosie tiptoed towards the hand print. It looked similar in size to her own hand. With a tremble she reached out, let her hand hover above the red marks. The blood drained from her head as she saw that it was a perfect match.
Rosie did not notice the drapes move, for her eyes were fixed on the wall. She did not hear the intruder step towards her. But she felt herself being turned around, she saw the flash of light on steel, and she recognized her attacker.
Before she spoke the name out loud the knife lifted towards her throat. The scream that had woken Rosie shattered the silence of the house.