FlashFic: Release

July 4th was a week gone, but Travis still had fireworks. His mother was all, “You’re not setting those off here.” We laughed when Travis acted out his mom. He was a riot. Problem was no way could we go to any of our houses with the fireworks, either. Someone would call Sheriff O’Bannon. We didn’t need him up in our business.

Brian suggested the Milford place. It was for sale, had been since last summer. This year they weren’t even taking care of the lawn. The place had that empty-a-long-time look now. “How do we get in?” quavered Polly.

Brian dug into his pocket and pulled out a couple thin metal sticks. “I have a key,” he grinned. Travis bumped knuckles with him and Clay laughed. Polly looked at me and I shrugged.

The Milford place was way out on the edge of town. Travis set off his bottle rockets and stuff. The boys jumped around. Polly and I clapped. In Elksville, that was an exciting day. Breaking into the house made it more exciting. Brian fiddled with the lock on the back door and a long minute later, turned the handle. We piled in, kicking up dust and coughing.

The place was deserted, but still had furniture. I tried to ignore the scuttling in the walls. Chills shook me and my tummy flipped. I went to Polly, who stood in the middle of the living room with her arms wrapped tightly around her middle. Her eyes were big and blue, the whites showing around them. “When can we leave, Laurie?” I shook my head. We always did things as a group. She whispered, “I don’t like it here.”

“It’s gross,” I nodded. Polly gave me an odd look, kind of impatient, and she walked back to the door. The boys were off exploring the upstairs. I was pretty sure I heard one of them treating a bed like a trampoline. This was going to take a while.

Bookcases lined the walls of the living room, turning it into a library. My favorite place in town, but this library had books which were all new to me. I ran my hand over the spines of a bunch of leather bound books labeled Harvard Classics and sighed. One day I would own a library like this. I twirled, taking in the view of all the books, hundreds of them, and sighed again. A moaning sound undercut my sigh, joining in.

Cold wound around my belly before washing through me. I felt my long hair rustle as it passed by. Scared, I tried to shake the feeling off. I wanted to bolt from the room when a book fell off a shelf. It landed so hard, I jumped like a gunshot went off. Automatically, I bent to pick it up. As I did, the shelf emptied itself, books bouncing off the back of my head and shoulders, knocking me down to the floor with them.

“Are you okay?” Polly’s anxious voice came from the back of the house, nearly a shriek.

“I’m good, Polly. Ready to go?” My voice was strong, even confident. I had not opened my mouth to speak, though. My voice came from the bookcase. I looked up and stared, a silent scream in my throat.

“Yes, oh yes, Laurie, let’s go!” Polly cried. While I got up, I heard her calling for the boys. She yelled their names to be heard above the racket they made. As though I rushed through a long tunnel, I stepped toward the sinister bookcase, my friends’ voices dimming in the distance. I stood before it, resting a hand on the now-empty shelf, casually kicking the books away. Inwardly, I marveled at my calm, at my knowing what to do.

“Release me.” The whisper lingered on the air of the empty room, soaking into me until my insides trembled. “Release me.”

I reached out my hand. I pressed the palm against the wall. There was an answering pressure. As I took my hand away, I could see the imprint of a hand against the other side of the wall. I gulped and tried to turn away, to run away. My feet were rooted. Whipping back to stare at the impossible handprint, I saw it fade.

Unearthly cold filled me, slow and true, from my belly out. I was shut aside, somehow pushed away in my own mind. My vision hazed and another’s vision cleared. I watched as the other tested moving hands, then feet. Her glory flowed through me, spiking my fear.

“Polly,” I heardfelt myself say. “Send Clay to fetch Sheriff O’Bannon. Quickly now.” My voice was harsh, hurried and deep. Through a distorted lens, I saw Polly wring her hands and back away, then flee up the stairs. Clay came down, stared at me and was off like he had a butt full of birdshot.

“Laurie,” I feltheard this other speak to me. “I can’t sustain this. You must tell Sheriff O’Bannon I am Anita Milford. I did not run off with that carpenter. My husband killed me. My body is in that wall.” I felt the other weep and weaken. “Tell the sheriff… if he doesn’t believe say he was called Rooster and I never forgot his kiss under the bleachers.”

We collapsed.

Next I knew, Dr. Rooney was waving some hateful stink under my nose and I tried to get away. Sheriff O’Bannon’s face loomed close. “Okay now, Laurie?”

“She’s in the wall,” I forced out in a whisper. “Anita Milford. She’s in the wall.” His eyebrows frowned. “She said you’re Rooster and you kissed her under some bleachers. Mr. Milford killed her and put her in the wall.”

They jumped when the sigh came out and swirled around the room. I just lay there, tension seeping away at her relief.

© 2011 Jessica Rosen

This story was inspired by a #storystarters writing prompt written by Selorian (Clifford Fryman). It’s found roughly around the middle of the story this time, beginning with “Release me.” Thank you for the prompt!

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12 thoughts on “FlashFic: Release

  1. Icy Sedgwick January 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm Reply

    Oh I’m glad she got her body back but no good can come of snooping around in old houses…

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2011 at 8:32 pm Reply

      Never know what one might find snooping around in an old house. Odds are against it being shiny, though. Thanks, Icy.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Virginia Moffatt January 15, 2011 at 5:31 am Reply

    Nice build up and neat ending. Glad they found out the truth.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm Reply

      Thanks, Virginia. Usually my stories are under 1k words easily, but this one wanted to be 1,300 words on first draft. Eeep! Cutting 300+ words to give room for the “main event” wasn’t easy. I’m relieved to get your feedback that it worked.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. Johanna Harness January 15, 2011 at 9:39 am Reply

    Fascinating challenge to stay in Laurie’s POV through this. You’ve done the haunted house at least once before. Ever think of doing a series of these?

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm Reply

      You know, if someone told me a year ago I’d write several ghostly paranormal stories, I’d have stared at him with a raised eyebrow. You’re right, though. I’ve written several. My mind is now grinding along about putting them together and offering them… [grind grind grind]

      Thanks, Johanna!
      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. Gracie January 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm Reply

    Eek! Superb and creepy ghost story. I have goosebumps. I’m glad the possession didn’t last too long, and glad also that the poor Anita will be able to rest now.

    Excellent. 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm Reply

      Gracie, thanks so much. I really wanted the ghost part of the story to sort of sneak up on the reader, making eyes widen. Goosebumps are gravy. You really made my day.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. ganymeder January 16, 2011 at 9:31 am Reply

    I was worried for the girl there, but I’m glad the ghost got her release. Incredible ghost story!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm Reply

      I’m so glad you liked it. It played out in my mind musically, so writing it was fun. I’d like to visit Laurie again a few years later in her life to see how it may have impacted her. Thanks!

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Aidan Fritz January 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm Reply

    I like the feel of this and the other-worldliness of the spirit talking from the place where it had been hidden in the wall. Serves her murderous husband right.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen January 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm Reply

      That’s great, thank you for letting me know that it all worked for you. Perhaps we’ll see Laurie again.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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