I was tasked to secure the Kleinikker property. What I found was something unexpected.
|“The chief wants you to secure the Kleinikker property. Pretty big house and he’s worried about looters. Think you can handle it?”
I pulled up in front of the odd estate in my cruiser. The rusty gate stood open, and I sauntered up the cracked walkway. I used the key they gave me, and saw no one milling about in the yard. So, I entered.
Cobwebs hung from every corner. Several chairs had layers of dust. Only a worn pathway between the kitchen, bathroom, and the basement door hinted that anyone lived here. I clicked the switch and one bulb on the chandelier alit.
“Jesus,” I said, “Talk about your hermits.” My voice swallowed in the stillness. “Wonder what was so important in the basement?”
I grabbed my flashlight, and descended the creaky stairs. A bare lightbulb illuminated a single chair facing a painting draped with a burlap bag. I remembered Chuck saying that’s where they found him.
I inched closer and carefully removed the bag. A painting of a squinting old man with silvery hair stared at me. The fine cracks riddled the oil-based paint. A grandfather clock one minute from midnight displayed in the background. I ran my fingers over its surface.
“I am the time keeper. Many sit with me and ask questions.”
I stumbled back into the chair and fell to the floor. “You… You ssp… spoke!”
“Yes. What question do you wish to ponder?”
“Ponder? I have no questions.”
“I can tell you how your life would have turned out if you’d married Jessica for instance.” The man’s steely eyes connected with mine. A whirlwind of questions and what-ifs filled my mind.
The next thing I remembered was Chuck saying to get out. I'd been missing for three days…
Flash Story Must contain: Gate, Bag, Painting