“—the house. We try again tomorrow.”
Cyril Therren sat up in his bed and rubbed his tired eyes after hearing the broken, fragmented sentence in his head. A voice. Female. Unfamiliar. Must have been his imagination. A dream, maybe.
The bedroom slowly started to appear into focus. The open bathroom door, the family photos on the wall, the dark purple bedsheets and locked clothes cabinet opposite. Cyril yawned, his long sleep having done little to ease his fatigue, and stood. His toes touched the thick, woolly carpet, a pleasant feeling which helped his dulled senses kick back into gear. Cyril reached behind him onto his bedside table and felt along the top for his glasses. He found them and put them on over his wrinkled, dark brown eyes.
A shower would be nice. Later. Coffee was the only thing on Cyril’s mind right now. Nothing else mattered.
Lisa must already be up. Cyril could hear the kettle from here, rattling and hissing in the kitchen downstairs. It sounded like an alarm clock rattling around in his head.
Liam Terrance was very mature for a boy of six years old, so he had been told. His parents brought him up well, despite their less than usual professions. Clive and Evelyn Terrance were widely known in many circles as some of, if not the best people to talk to when it came to high-tech weapons and security systems. The couple’s ground-breaking work had kept their family in the black for close to twenty years now, as well as providing thousands of jobs around the world and ensuring their employees and their families lived their lives in safety and security.
The Terrance family home was a regal, eye-catching three storey building which rested upon the crest of a large mountainous estate. A twisting brick driveway led up to the property through the rough terrain, where it ended at an undercover parking area where no less than three cars sat parked at any given time. Two for work, one for everyday use. Top of the line was an understatement. You couldn’t just walk into any old dealership and buy these specific cars. They had been specially made to Clive and Evelyn’s stringent specifications, with all three containing dozens of features and mechanisms which wouldn’t make their way to general consumer vehicles for many years.
Despite his parents’ unprecedented fame and success in military and security cliques, young Liam remained more or less oblivious to the exact details of their jobs. All he knew was they had a lot of money and were respected by a lot of people for the work they did. He also knew what they did kept bad people from doing bad things to good people. For that, he loved them unconditionally. He didn’t like bad people very much, or bad things. Neither did Clive or Evelyn.
They had talked with Liam about their work once, and only once. He remembered it well. It would stick with the boy for the rest of his life.
This short story was originally written for my 2015 horror anthology, Random Number Hotline, but I scrapped it in favor of another story.
My legs shook as I stood before the front porch of the Carner family house. I still questioned my reasons for volunteering for this grisly mission in the first place. Perhaps I felt obliged to undertake the task because of my past with the family. I knew them better than anyone else in town ever did.
Maybe it was because nobody else on my street were exactly keen on volunteering to murder a family of four. It was understandable. There was something terrible happening. Some kind of disease, or virus, or…something. Nobody knew for sure what it was exactly, or where it had come from, but from what we had heard about it on the news before the stations went down, we were all living on borrowed time.
It hadn’t arrived in our town yet, as far as we knew. We had an agreement, those who hadn’t decided to run for the airports, harbors or bus depots. There was no point in running. Where would we go? So we stayed here, and tried to hold down the fort and survive for as long as we could. If anyone showed any signs of the sickness, we were to put them down, right then and there without hesitation. Since there was a lack of firearms and people trained in their use left in town, we had to find alternatives.
#10 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.
When Nikolas Bryant woke, the first thing he noticed were his surroundings. They were completely unfamiliar. The bed he lay on, the room and everything else inside, he had never seen any of it before in his life. What the hell happened last night? He sat up and rubbed his eyes and face, trying to wake up. The entirety of the previous twenty-four hours were gone, like they had never happened. The memories were just…empty. Whether he had drunk too much or if someone had slipped something into his drink at the bar, he didn’t know. He wasn’t sure if there had even been a bar. All he knew was he felt like shit.
It wasn’t the first time he had woken up in some stranger’s house after a night out on the town. But even if that were the case, he should have been able to remember something; who owned the place, where it was, anything. The more Nikolas thought about it, the farther he felt from an answer. He looked around the room again. There wasn’t a lot to see. A steel bed, a small wooden desk and matching chair, an old telephone sitting on the desk and a painting hanging on the wall next to a closed steel door. Other than those, the room had nothing else of note. Nikolas groaned and rose from the bed.
The door was only a few steps away, but walking there proved far more difficult than Nikolas had thought. Every step caused his head to pound in pain, to the point where he thought he would pass out if he took one more. He brushed past the painting, which swung on its fixture before coming to a halt a moment later. Nikolas reached out and tried to pull down on the door handle, but it refused to move. Unperturbed, he tried again, wiggling the handle up and down this time. Still nothing. He gripped the handle with both hands and put all his weight onto it, but no matter how hard Nikolas tried, the door wouldn’t budge.
#9 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.
His eyes fluttered open as the bright halogen lights flickered and turned on. Their white glow lit the chamber from top to bottom. It took a moment to readapt to the new environment. The grey walls, scratched and marked by hundreds of desperate hands weren’t familiar. Anton Terrey would know if he had been in here before. He wasn’t frightened. This was his routine now.
They were still at it. These people would never give up. Not until he talked. But he would never break. A few more weeks in this place wouldn’t matter anyway. They were going to kill him. Maybe now, maybe later. He didn’t know exactly what these people did to those who refused to cooperate. Judging from what he had seen them do so far though, it would be prolonged and excessive. The past month he had spent here had been an inescapable nightmare. Anton had no doubts in his mind the next month would be just as unbearable. It was only a question of when.
An unseen speaker screeched and crackled to life somewhere above him. The interrogator. His best friend since this whole things started, or so they told him between beatings. The lights continued to sputter to life right up towards the top of Anton’s cell. It stretched up as far as he could see, with no end to it visible from where he sat. His cell was wide enough to hold him as he lay against the rounded wall, and even then it was still a tight fit.