A flash fiction story written for Screams!!! 1/26/2020
| The Furnace
"Grace, where's Mom?" I shout out to my sister.
"I do' know," she yells back. "She's in there somewhere."
Well, that was a lot of help. A waste of breath even asking. I've got to admit it's kind of tempting to go out in the garden too, forget about the problem that there must be with the thermostat because quite honestly the house is like an oven.
I looked in Dad's study, just in case he'd decided to work from home today. The light was off, his chair pushed in neatly beneath his computer desk. He must have gone in to the office then. I must have just not noticed the car leaving today.
"Mom," I call out, as I try the kitchen. I force myself to trudge upstairs. The effort makes the sweat drip from my forehead, and my t-shirt is stuck to me. The radiator in the hallway is boiling; I walk as far from it as I can and I can still feel the searing heat.
The door to my parents' bedroom is closed. She could be inside. There's something about not wanting to intrude on the privacy but I knock anyway. When I don't get an answer, I open the door, look inside.
The room is empty. The bed is in a mess, which I've got to admit is unusual. Normally at this time of day, the door would be open and the bed would be neat and tidy; pillows plumped and quilt just right.
Mom had to be somewhere. She'd not have just gone off without leaving a note. I couldn't spend any more energy on looking though; I was just going to have to go down to the basement and see if I could sort out the furnace.
In winter it would be kept burning at a steady rate, but when it got milder we'd dampen it down until eventually by summer it would be entirely out. I hated the thing. Why we couldn't live in a modern house I couldn't understand, but this was a 'family place', had been for generations and my Dad wouldn't hear of selling it.
I carried on walking as I went down the basement steps. The door was not quite shut which is kind of odd. There are noises coming from inside there too.
I pushed open the door and found Mom. "I've been looking... " I began, before noticing how the furnace was raging with flames. "What's wrong with it?" I asked, still not quite processing what my eyes were seeing.
The sight of my Dad's shirt froze me; the fact that his arm seemed to be still inside it alarmed me even more, especially as my mother, his wife, flung it into the flames.
The stench of burning flesh filled the basement.
I turned, bolted for the steps. "Grace, run!" I screamed, as a pair of hands gripped my legs and I found myself falling until my head cracked against the concrete step.