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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Dark · #1786667
Do we really know who we are?
         Brian Sellinger sat in his Ford Taurus and stared impatiently at the red light as if it was mocking him. While waiting for it to change he fumbled in the passenger seat for his blackberry, but before he could grab the phone it plopped on to the floor convulsing. As he listened to Nine Inch Nails yelling at his floor mat, he strained to retrieve it without spilling his coffee everywhere. His fingers tingled at the touch of his phone’s vibrating pulse, but it was just out of reach. He was about to unbuckle his seat-belt when it danced into his hand just as a horn blew behind him. The light was green.
         Brian sat back up and hit the talk button as he slammed on to the gas pedal. He wanted to make it to Mindy’s house before she could back out of their arrangement. They really needed to discuss the timing of his visitations.
         “Hello?” he answered.
         “Where are you?” Mindy asked angrily.
         “I’m on my way right now! I got tied up…”
         “I don’t want to hear any excuses! You’re late! Brian… You just can’t do this to us anymore! I’m so tired… I’m so tired of your bullshit!” Mindy yelled, clearly she had been counting on him to be late once again.
         “Hey… Come on, I’m just a few blocks away! Give me a chance… I had to wait for the contractor to pay…”
         “I don’t care! Ricky’s been waiting for over an hour! When you say seven o’clock, I need you to be here at exactly seven! I have a job too!” Mindy was crying already. He wouldn’t take the bait.
         “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He hung up before she could push any more buttons and turned on to Sinclair Avenue.
         He loved Ricky dearly and Mindy knew that, but the divorce had brought out the worst in the both of them and they were just beginning the healing process. The fact was Ricky never should have been a part of their war, and there was no doubt in Brian’s mind that it was the friction from all of those battles that had left their son feeling so isolated; so much so that he barely spoke louder than a whisper anymore.
          Brian was still wondering if he’d done the right thing in regards to their last battle a month prior. He remembered how scared Mindy had been when she’d first told him about finding their neighbor’s cat. It had been butchered nearly beyond recognition, and whoever had done it had made no attempts to hide it. Mindy had been certain that Ricky was somehow involved, and had called him immediately. Brian had confronted Ricky about the incident but he’d sworn that it wasn’t his fault. He tried to press his son further about it, but Ricky just shut down. All he would say was that someone else had done it, although it came out as something else to Brian’s ears. Ricky wouldn’t say another word about it after that, but his eyes said he knew more, much more, and he was terrified. He’d wanted to get him into counseling after that but Mindy simply wouldn’t let him, so Brian had decided to drop the matter.
         He sighed when he turned on to Sycamore Street as he noticed all of the new real estate signs that were posted. Most of the people that he had known while growing up had lived in this neighborhood and it was a shame to see so many of them leaving. He understood though, it took every bit of his paycheck to keep his small apartment and still help Mindy…
         THWUMP, whip, whip, whip, whip…
         Brian grabbed the steering wheel hard and slowly applied his brakes as he pulled off on to the right side of the deserted street.
         After he stopped at the corner, he pulled the emergency brake and got out of the car. Looking at the rear wheel of the driver’s side he saw the flat tire immediately and nearly lost it, slamming his fist on to the roof of the car. Taking a deep breath, he opened the driver’s door and reached in to grab his blackberry only to stare in wonder through the passenger window at the house he was parked in front of.
         Talk about dark…
         Brian unlocked his trunk with the push of a button on the remote attached to his key ring and then closed his door and walked back over towards the open trunk. As he pulled off the mat that covered the spare tire well he casually glanced back over at the house again.
         It’s almost like a tomb…
         The house appeared to be painted black in the moonlight, although he was sure that couldn’t be the case. It was relatively small compared to the rest of the houses in the neighborhood, maybe only a two bedroom with an attached garage. It occurred to Brian that he didn’t remember seeing this particular house in all of the years that he’d driven down this street, but there it was now, staring back at him through a large bay window that was as dark as a raven’s wing. Unlike most of the other houses that surrounded it, it wasn’t for sale either.
         Who the hell would want to live here for Christ’s sake…?
         Brian pulled out his blackberry and pushed the call back button but nothing happened. He examined the front display and confirmed that the service bars were full and that the battery was indeed charged. After a few more tries with no luck he put it back into his pocket.
         That’s great, I’m going to be even later now and…
         A small light flicked on inside of the house. As he tried to focus on it, he thought that he could see someone peeking out at him just below the bay window. He took a single step towards the house and the light went out.
         Well hello to you too asshole.
         Brian shook his head and stepped back to his trunk. He pulled out his jack and laid it on the cement next to the flat tire and then began to pull out his spare.
         The light in the house blinked on again, even brighter than before. As he dropped the spare back into the trunk, he was sure that he could see someone staring back out at him from the window this time, a milky pale figure that seemed vague and featureless. He waved at the shape in the window and was surprised when it appeared to wave back.
         Not such an asshole after all.
         As he took a step on to the grass he pointed at his flat tire, hoping that the owner would understand his poor attempt at charades. Only there was nobody standing at the window any longer. He was sure they must have seen him. He waved at the window again and the light went out once more.
         I give up.
         Brian went back to his trunk and picked up the spare determined not to look back if the light turned on again. He had enough on his mind in regards to his ex-wife without having to deal with some freaky voyeur who only wanted to play mind games with him. He dropped the spare down on to the cement next to the flat tire and then went back to get the tire iron from the trunk.
         Out of the corner of his eye he saw the light come back on again. He sighed while looking down at his feet and took a deep breath.
         Alright you prick, now I’m getting pissed…
         When he looked back up, Mindy was staring back out at him through the bay window.
         There was no mistaking his ex-wife’s icy stare as he stood frozen in shock. Her face was somewhat obscured by the shadows but it was Mindy. Brian’s hands began shaking and he dropped the tire iron on to his right foot. Wincing in pain, he reached down to massage his sore toes. When he looked back up at the window again it was dark and empty.
         Am I losing my fucking mind?
         He stared into the ebony eye of the house from the street, waiting for something, anything to happen.
         Come on…
         Come on…! I know you’re there asshole!
         A flicker of light caught his attention. It appeared just above the bottom of the bay window, swaying slightly in the dark. It seemed to be floating in mid-air, wobbling back and forth as if it was suspended on a rope. As it grew closer to the window Brian realized that it was a candle, its flame whipping in an invisible breeze. Brian stared at the light, mesmerized.
         Ricky was frowning back at him from the window, the candle he was holding playing shadow dances across his face.
         Jesus Christ!
         Brian raced up the lawn, his eyes never leaving his son until he scrambled up the cement steps that led to the front porch. He slammed his fists against the screen door, pummeling it until he realized that it was unlocked. With a growing anxiety, he threw it open and reached in to throttle the handle on the door inside. Upon finding it unlocked as well, he suddenly stopped, grabbing his forehead.
         In the back of his mind he realized that none of this made any sense, his son couldn’t be here. Mindy couldn’t be here either. Some kids inside were just playing a game with him and he must have imagined the rest …
         They probably just called the cops too. Jesus, I’ve got to get it together…
         He stepped back out on to the front lawn and slowly walked over to the bay window. The pale yellow light that flowed out of it was still highlighting what appeared to be his son’s face. The boy looked sadly at Brian and put his hand up to the window as if to reach out to his father. Brian at once raised his hand and pressed it against the window, staring into the boy’s eyes in amazement. Suddenly the boy began to cry, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to speak, but Brian could hear nothing.
         Another light appeared behind the boy.
         It was Mindy again. She was smiling at Brian with an ashen face and obsidian eyes.
         She was also holding an axe above her head.
         Brian ran anxiously from the window back to the front porch, this time slamming open both the screen door and the front door as he burst into…
         No Ricky, no Mindy.
         The room was an empty shell. No furniture, no carpet. There was only the moonlight that seeped in drearily through the bay window on to the pale wooden floor beside it. A cold breeze enveloped his body as he stood frozen in confusion.
         Movement from outside of the window suddenly caught Brian’s eye, and he slowly walked over and stared out at his car in a daze. Someone was bent down beside it using his tire iron.
         His eyes filled with tears as he began to realize that he was staring at someone, or something, that looked just like him. It slowly stood up near the trunk and grinned over at him eerily through the window. Brian began to whimper as he saw the axe in its hand before it threw it into the trunk and slammed the lid closed. He couldn’t move. He stood paralyzed as the thing that would be him waved, smiling innocently as it opened the driver’s door and got in.
         Before he could scream, the front door slammed shut next to him and the window vanished before his eyes. He fell silently on to his knees in the darkness and suddenly began to pray to a God that he had never understood.
         Two lights flickered on behind him. He swallowed hard and closed his eyes as he finally began to sob. Too frightened to look anymore, his body trembled as there was a tug at the back of his shirt...
         “I’m scared too daddy…” Ricky whispered in his ear. “I’m scared of what you did to the kitty…”
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