"I promise to finish cleaning our attic no matter how tired I’ll be." (Flash Fiction)
|The telephone rang, cutting into Ilene’s nightmare. She flipped opened her eyelids. Her breasts heaved. Her pulse throbbed in her ears. She lay face up, staring. Shadows from her dream slinked into the corners of the ceiling as she let the answering machine catch the call.
“Hey, babe, looks like I’ll be late. There’s been some kinda chemical spill. I’m swamped with patients in the ER, but will be home ASAP. And, yeah, I promise to finish cleaning our attic no matter how tired I’ll be. Love you.”
Calmed by her husband’s voice, Ilene eased onto her side. She fell asleep, again.
Quaking thunder woke her hours later. Ilene flipped opened her eyes. Pitch darkness greeted her, and her heartbeat leapt.
She reached for the handle on the nightstand drawer, her fingertips fumbling until tapping against the drawer’s handle. She pulled. Dipped her fingers into the drawer, grabbed the flashlight, and then got out of bed.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, sudden knocking startled her. She inched toward a window to peeped out. Two sheriff’s deputies waited. She yanked opened the front door.
“Ma’am, I’m Deputy Richards, this is Deputy Sykes. Are you Mrs. Palmer?” Ilene nodded. The deputy continued. “We’re sorry to say, but your husband suffered fatal injuries in an accident. We suspect he was on his way home when he grew ill and lost control of his vehicle.” Richards paused as Ilene sink to the floor. He and Sykes caught her by her elbows and led her to the couch.
Sykes sat Ilene’s flashlight upright on the coffee table to illuminate the living room. “Is there anyone you’d like us to call?”
Ilene shook her head, tears dripping off her chin.
Floorboards creaked overhead.
“You’re alone, aren’t you?” Richards asked.
More than ever now that Marvin’s gone. Ilene managed a nod.
“I’ll go check things out, anyway.” Richards flicked on his flashlight, and headed upstairs.
Minutes later, several pop sound banished the silence.
Ilene’s shoulders jumped along with her heartbeat.
“Stay here,” Sykes yelled, clicking on his flashlight and running upstairs.
Seconds later, another pop, pop, pop, pop sound.
Then, dense silence followed.
Ilene grabbed her flashlight. She rushed to the kitchen. Slid a butcher’s knife from the wooden block on the counter. She turned to leave and halted when her eyes found the backdoor ajar. “Marvin,” she whispered, her lips quivering. You’re supposed to be here protecting me! Not dead on a cold slab of steel waiting for me to come claim your body!
She aimed her flashlight upwards to light the walls. She crept out of the kitchen.
She stood breathless outside the attic room. The door sat ajar, floorboards screeched. Ilene trained her flashlight onto the floor ahead, and pushed past the door.
She gasped at the sight of Richards and Sykes sprawled near each other, their blood pooling. She swung her flashlight up toward the movement on the other side of there attic.
The beam spotlighted Marvin’s reanimated corpse.
Ilene staggered backwards. She stared as Marvin fought to stack cardboard boxes with mangled arms. As he forced his rigor mortis legs to stumble forward.
There’s been some kinda chemical spill. The words echo in her mind. “What happened to you, my love?” Ilene’s voice was hoarse with pain.
Her flashlight’s beam glinted in Marvin’s eyes. He shot toward her in preternatural speed.
Ilene raised the knife. But Marvin was too swift. He snatched the weapon. Then, thrust the thirteen-inch blade into Ilene’s stomach, once, twice, and again.
Ilene sank to the floor, still gripping the flashlight.
Marvin dropped the knife. Turned away, and retreated to the other side of there attic, his steps awkward and off-kilter.
Ilene soon lost her grip on the flashlight. No, not like this, she cried in her thoughts.
Marvin mumbling his words thick and slurred. He spoke with an undead tongue.
Ilene struggled to understand him. “I promised,” she said as the darkness of unconsciousness oozed down onto her body. She exhaled her last breath.
"A Promise Kept" (2007) was feature in Micro Horror website.