by Charlie 🌈
Short story prompt for the Asylum
|Fields of wildflowers rose beyond the dusty old window, the sunlight reflecting their bright colors. It was just another day, same as always, with Sarah lighting a cigarette against the beautiful backdrop. The view inside the house was nothing like what was just beyond its walls. Full of cobwebs and dirt, it could make anyone asthmatic. This old abandoned prairie house was like a second home to us though, ever since we stumbled upon it while looking for a safe place to smoke weed away from the parentals and pigs. Now we were freshman again, in a completely different type of world, full of exams and research papers. The old shack proved to be our only stomping ground in life, dilapidated as it were, it provided us with some sense of stability.
You can imagine my surprise then, when Sarah looked at me with her big, olive eyes and said, "There's something going on here, Logan." Her eyes darted around in paranoia and I thought the Addy must've been getting to her. She had acquired quite a taste during midterms and I don't think she ever really stopped.
"What kind of thing?"
She sighed loudly, exhaling smoke. "I've been telling you. We aren't the only ones coming here any more. I found a candle in the bedroom last week and this week, my sketchbook was on the kitchen counter. I know I left it in the living room because I was drawing from that window last week."
I shrugged, not really sure what to make of it. "Does it really matter? I mean, it's an abandoned house. I wouldn't be surprised if some high school kids didn't find it like we did and come here after school to hang out." I motioned around the room. "Clearly they aren't here on the weekend, so why do you care?"
"Why do I care?" She leaned forward, letting her black curls fall on her porcelain face. "Is that even a question? I care because this is our hideout. We have owned this place for almost five years. I don't want to share it with anyone."
Even though I was almost positive Sarah was crazy, I still decided to check the place out midweek, just to see who, if anyone, was trying to take over our spot. It was an hour drive from school on a stormy Tuesday afternoon, but the fields were as golden as ever under a deep blue sky, the perfect contrast.
Driving up, it looked untouched as always. There wasn't a beat-up car full of rambunctious teenagers outside, as I had imagined. I creaked the front door open as quietly as possible, and stepped into the kitchen, not wanting to scare away the potential crashers before I could get a good look. I made my way into the living room entrance, but nothing looked out of place and I was ready to get out of there. I never realized how creepy the old place was. It was like being in a dark school hallway after hours, just eerie.
As I started to head out, satisfied that I could tell Sarah I had checked things out and determined that she was indeed crazy, I heard the bedroom door slam shut. Nearly jumping out of my skin, I ran out the living room door onto the rickety front porch. We never went out this way because the planks were molded, but they held firm beneath my light weight. I turned on one foot and looked back at the house. Come on, Logan. What would Sarah say if she saw you like this? She would laugh her ass off, I answered myself. It was just some kids from the local high school, probably scared when they heard someone walk into the house.
It was an arduous process, but I convinced myself to finish the job. Pushing the front door open with my foot, I made a scene about it this time. "Hey guys! Whoever's in here, I just want to talk. You're not in trouble."
No response. I made my way through the living room and down the short hallway to the bedroom door, which was still shut. I reached my shaking hand up and tapped on the door with the back of it. "Hello? Can you just open up the door. I want to talk to you, that's all."
Why wouldn't they say something? I would have responded if someone showed up, even when I was younger. What's the worst that could happen? "Okay, then. I'm coming in!" I warned them. Slowly, carefully, I turned the knob and pushed the door all the way open, only to be greeted by an empty room. I noticed things out of place right away though. For one, the window was wide open. Sarah's books were scattered across the rough hardwood floors and there was a glass ashtray on the windowsill, like you'd see in a restaurant.
I ran to the window and peaked my head out, sure that I would see a bunch of miscreants running through the wildflower fields, but of course, there was nothing. I had wasted too much time trying to be polite at the door and I'd missed them. They were probably halfway up the road by now where their car was likely waiting. Smart kids. Sarah and I never thought to park far away in case unwanted guests showed up.
"Fuck that, I'm going back there," Sarah's face was full of contempt as she shifted into third.
"Do you really think that's a good idea? I mean, we can have it on the weekends and they can have it during the week. Really, we're going out of our way by driving here on a Thursday."
She looked at me, completely ignoring the country road sprawling in front of us. I guess you can get away with that in areas as desolate as this. "They scattered my books, Logan. They scattered them on the floor." She shuddered in horror and sped up a bit.
Apparently wars were started over the mistreatment of books. Who would've guessed. Sarah had demanded we drive out to the abandoned house the second I told her about it. I was just going to leave it alone, but I thought I'd mention that she was right about someone being in the house, but that I was right about it just being some kids hanging out after school during the week. No big deal, or so I thought. Sarah's disgust had made itself evident as she began ranting the closer we got to the house. "Were any of the pages ripped? They better not have folded the covers all the way back. Ugh, who does that to someone else's books?"
I laughed as she pulled in near the house and jumped out. "I like it when your feisty!" I called after her, trying to get the passenger seatbelt unhooked. She flipped me off and stomped in through the kitchen door. I noticed that she didn't pause at all before entering and thought about how embarrassing it was that I had been so scared a couple days before.
"Come on you stupid thing," I spoke to the seatbelt, trying to jiggle it loose. Sarah always told me to not wear it, but the thought of flying through a windshield at high speeds made the annoyance seem worth it. That is, until now at least. The more I pulled at it, the tighter it became. I tried to slide out over the top of it, but my belt got stuck on it.
Feeling panic grow in my chest, I went mad trying to unhook it from the receiver. It was quite a scene, shaking and pulling at it. Finally, I gave up, out of breath from my fit. Sighing, I hit the red button again. Click. "Seriously?" I asked it, freeing myself from its binds and jumping out of the death trap. What if it had caught fire? I shook the thought from my head. Why would it spontaneously combust?
Laughing to myself, I trotted up to the front door. Now that I knew the porch could support me, I figured it would be the perfect sneak attack, for Sarah, of course. She was a hard one to spook, but it was worth it when it worked. "Ahh!" I threw open the door screaming.
My moment of bravery collapsed on itself when I didn't see Sarah. The house was tiny and I was in the center of it with a clear view of the living room, kitchen and hallway. She wasn't anywhere in sight. My eyes followed the small hallway to the bedroom door. Closed again. My breath caught in my throat and I tried to keep the panic down. If something was wrong, I would have heard a commotion. I didn't hear anything at all. She was probably just checking on her precious books.
The wooden planks creaked beneath my sneakers and came to rest just outside the door. Don't be weird about this, man. I shook my head. I wasn't going to be the scared one this time who freaked out over nothing. Instead, I held my head high and opened the door as casual as possible. "Hey, Sarah, I got stu-"
Words caught in my throat as the stench of iron rose around me. I choked on the toxic air, looking at the scene. Blood splattered over every inch of the wall next to the window and her body, crumpled there beneath it, twisted in an unnatural way, facedown.
"S-Sarah?" my voice came out weak and shaky. "Sarah!?" A full scream this time. I dropped to her side and rolled her over. Her head flipped almost all the way back, cut at the throat and just dangling there. "No, no, no," I plead, crawling backwards with my hands and feet.
I jumped into action, turning around and balancing myself on the bedroom doorknob. "Help!" I screamed, stumbling through the living room, the world unreal, a wash of colors. The bleakness inside mixing with the colorful world beyond its windows. "Help me!" I screamed again, running through the front door and getting into the passenger seat of Sarah's car. I had to get help.
It took me far too long to realize that something was missing. The keys. Oh God, the keys were still on her, I realized to my horror. Weighing my options, I decided that I needed the keys. I was at least ten miles from the nearest house. The murderer would be scanning the roads for me. There was no way I could walk that far before nightfall.
I crept around to the back of the shack, staying low beneath the windows. If I could just slip into the bedroom window and get the keys, I would be home free. The grass crunched beneath my shoes as I made it to the window. I listened for a minute, trying to hear if he had heard me screaming and come back. There was nothing. Slowly, I peaked my head over the bottom of the window. There was no one in the room. I could see all the way through to the living room. This was my only chance.
The window was higher up than I remembered. I was surprised to realize that I felt the same level of panic now as I did about the seatbelt just moments before. I latched onto the bottom of the windowsill inside, my nails scraping against the paint as I tried to lift myself up. I kicked against the side of the house, my shoes sliding down its exterior. "Fuck, come on," I cursed myself, never the athletic one. "Please, please," I begged, trying one more dive into the window, using all of the upper body strength I could muster.
"Looks like you need a lift," the voice came, soft and pleasant behind me.
I spun around, halfway through the window and fell onto the hard grass outside. Looking up, I saw him- a skinny man in a button up with black pleated pants. An accountant? He wiped his hands on his pants as though ready to boost me in through the window.
"I- I-" I didn't know what to make of it. "My friend..."
"You what?" he asked, smiling politely. "Do you need a hand or not?"
"My friend." I couldn't breathe and the dizzying world overtook me with darkness.
When I woke up, I was in the middle of the wildflower fields, their sweet aromas carrying through the light breeze around me. I tried to stand up, but nothing happened. The sun blinded me, but my hands wouldn't reach up to block it from my face. I lifted my head up as much as it would go and saw a lot of red on the crushed petals around me.
They were gone- my arms, my legs. I turned my head to both sides. "No," I whimpered again. "This can't be happening." I coughed and the taste of iron filled my mouth, splashing out onto the front of my once white shirt. My breathing was ragged and wet, but I felt no pain. I closed my eyes, letting the sun bake my lids. It has to be like this. For the first time, I felt no fear, only the need to be with her. I felt myself floating away, high above the wildflower fields of my childhood escape. I was ready.
Word Count: 2242