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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2189264
SCREAMS!!! Contest Entry. ~ 1396 Words

This is a public service announcement; please do not attempt to adjust your web-enabled devices until you have read through this brief warning.

If you so choose to go on this concise literary journey, you may experience a slight numbing sensation in your fingers and toes.

You may have started to
feel this sensation right now; if so, it's important that you don't panic.

numbness will cease at the end of the story.

Until then just repeat to yourself this calming mantra.

I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.

I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.
I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.
I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.
I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.
I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.
I'm okay, it's only a story, and a story can't harm me.

If you still think you can, please enjoy this terrifying tale.


Unwanted Gifts

Have you lived, what you would consider, a normal life?

I haven't.

Boring, sure, but never normal.

When I was three years old, my father abandoned me on the roadside in the middle of nowhere.

Thankfully a passing motorcyclist saw me sitting there and took me in.

Keith Lincoln was a pretty decent man, he was the first of my carers to pass away unexpectedly.

After him there was Gary Schneider, Kathy Fobb and her husband Michael, Sister Abigail at St. Lucius Orphanage, William O'Leary, the list goes on.

Each one perfectly healthy before taking me in, then after a year or so, just dropping dead of a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, or my personal favorite, natural causes.

Who passes away from natural causes in their early thirties?

I've never once been questioned about my proximity to these poor saps; makes you wonder about all those television programs about cold cases.

The day I turned sixteen, they let me loose unto the world.

With less than two hundred dollars, and a photo of my supposed father in my old jeans, I caught a bus to the town of Holsbrooke, near where my father dropped me off all those years ago, to try to find some closure.

I figured that someone would have to know something about my heritage, what better place to start?

You wouldn't believe it, although nobody there even remembered hearing about me.

From there I moved on to Gol-Ranor, Chyldes, all the way up to Innestriel; still nobody could tell me anything about my past.

The putrid stench of death followed me; it follows me still.

                   (Can you
feel your fingers? )

Every town I visit, someone passes away unexpectedly.

Do you think that this death-curse may have something to do with my abandonment?

I've often wondered.

Right now, I'm in a small former mining town, Kellabooli; you can almost count the town's houses on two hands.

With my swag still on my back, I walk into the empty pub, and pull up a stool.

The elderly bartender stares at me, his sunken eyes grayed from a hellishly laborious life.

"What can I get ya?"

I hand him my last tenner.

"Cold water in a glass."

Like most of these small town folk, he raises an eyebrow.

"Y'know water's free, right?"

"I know. I was wondering if you've seen someone?"

He pours me the water as I get the photo out of my tight jean pocket; I pass it over to him and he stares at it for a while.

                   (How do your
toes feel?)

"Yeah, I've seen him. That's Mick Carter, old picture though. What do you want with him?"

He hands back the photo.

"Do you know where I can find him?"

"You answer me first kid. What do you want with him?"

"I'm not looking to hurt him, I just want to speak to him."

He holds his hands up and grins.

"It ain't his safety I'm concerned for. Old Mick is a weird sort of cat. Sort of hoodoo-juju style freaky, if you know what I mean?"

My fists slam against the bench-top in mock frustration, a well rehearsed act.

"Can you give me his address or not, old man?"

He shakes for a moment, then grabs a keno pencil and starts jotting something down on a napkin; he goes to hand it to me but keels over atop the counter before I grab it.

One more innocent victim of this unknown plague I carry.

I grab the note and leave.

The address is familiar; you wouldn't believe it, but I stopped at the house directly beside it to ask for directions when I got into town.

Amazing, right?

Especially in a town like Kellabooli, where there is sometimes hundreds of miles between properties.

I stand on his front veranda for what feels like an eternity-and-a-half!

My sweaty hand clenches into a fist and I knock on his door.

                   (Can you feel the
numbness spreading?)

He answers.

I can tell he recognizes me by the stunned look on his face.

"Hi dad."

It was then I noticed that he was wearing the same clothes from the photo.

A few more wrinkles, a bit grayer in the front, but still pretty much the same looking.

"Do you want to come in? I'll bet you have more than a few questions."

A myriad of emotions stir through my being, the feeling is intense.

I walk inside.

His house is bare, save for one uncomfortable looking rattan chair, and a bunch of cobwebs.

"Where's your..."

"My everything? I sold it. I figured, since I didn't give you the life you deserved, then I should at least leave you with something to start fresh."

What is he saying exactly?

"I know you are a little confused. Let me start at the beginning. I'm guessing you still have the photo?"

I reach into my pocket; he grabs my wrist, firm though not firm enough to stop me if I really wanted to retrieve it.

                   (Is the
numb sensation overwhelming yet?)

"Don't pull it out! You haven't figured that part out yet, have you?"

I shake my head.

"Haven't you ever wondered why all those folks died around you?"

"The photo?"

He nods.

"That was why I had to desert you. That damned photo killed your ma, and it would've got me too if I hadn't left. I can't explain it, but everyone who has come into contact with that photo has died. Everyone except you."

I stare at the floor, I am more befuddled now than I have ever been.

"Have you ever noticed how strange I am standing in that photo?"

I nod.

"That's because your mother was once in that photo with me. When she passed, her image moved on as well. Something about that cursed photo, erased her completely. I'm the only one who can remember her. This is why you have to show me the photo, but first I want you to have this."

He turns and grabs a duffel bag from behind his chair.

"Start a life, a real life for yourself. There is more than enough money there for you to make something of yourself."

He sits down in his old rattan chair.

"I was scared then, but I'm not now. I'm ready when you are, son."

Tears start to well up in my eyes.

"Before I do dad, what is your name, and what is the name you gave me?"

He speaks but I don't hear him; something unexplainable blocks my ears, though for some reason, I don't mind.

I pull the old photo out of my pocket and...

senses are no longer your own.)

My father passed away recently.

It's been a hard transition, although I think I'm managing.

Some days I forget that he's gone for a moment and feel a bit better, but then I remember.

I always end up remembering.

We were fairly close, my dad and I.

He was always there for me growing up.

I don't know what to do with myself now he's gone.

My memories are all that remain of him, I don't even have a photo.

That's probably for the best however; we've never really looked all that good in photos.

                                       (How are you feeling?)
© Copyright 2019 Laurie Razor (laurie-razor at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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