Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. A. L. Kennedy

Saturday, 13 April 2019

#WEP/IWSG post -- my #flashfiction, SORRY. SORRY. SORRY.

It's time for the WEP/IWSG April challenge. I've been missing Yolanda Renee's grisly stories, so I thought I'd go grisly myself with a little ghost thrown in. I know. I know. It's April, not October, but sometimes the story won't be denied. I wanted to retell the Aladdin story. It was the first thing that came to mind when I saw Jewel Box and the wonderful image our image guru, Olga Godim found. But Aladdin wouldn't be retold, so I plunged in another direction.

DISCLAIMER; Don't read this late at night...

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Ghost on the tulip staircase, Greenwich

Since the murder, I could hear a mouse wearing bootees tiptoe through my house. Otherwise, I would not have heard the faint footsteps creaking up the stairs. Sitting up so fast I cracked my head on the poster, I screamed, ‘Who’s there?’

The bedroom door handle turned slowly.

I squeaked like a frightened mouse, my voice scarcely audible over the thump of my heart. ‘Who’s there?’

Someone. In my room. I strained my eyes in the darkness. A small shadowy sinister shape stood on the threshold.

‘Sorry, Sheila. It’s me.’

OMG! My arm hairs prickled. A shiver sprinted down my spine.

It was him...

But … I’d buried him a week ago. I’d tossed the black rose onto his coffin. I’d watched the gravediggers set about their grisly task. He’d risen from the dead? Tread quietly into my house like he’d been working night shift and didn’t want to wake me.

‘It really is me.’

I’ve never seen a ghost. But like they say in the old cliché, there’s a first time for everything. I’d heard there are two types of ghosts – benevolent and malicious. If this was Drew’s ghost, it’d be malicious. After what I’d done.

‘Sheila.’ He mouthed my name again, his voice wavering like he spoke underwater.

Far from oblivious to the threatening tone, I grabbed my throat. ‘Drew? How … why … whaaat?’

‘I had no time to give you your birthday gift. Sorry. Death came to me … so suddenly.’

Did he know I hired the assassin? Did he know about Leopold? Had he come home early one night and caught us? Maybe in that place where he’s gone, he’d figured out his sudden demise.

He stepped out of the shadows.

I gasped. Clutched the bedclothes to my throat. He looked the same but different. Was I expecting blood dripping from his slit throat?

He smiled his kind Drew smile. ‘I came back to give you something for your birthday. I don’t want you to go to your grave thinking I don’t care.’

Grave? A strange turn of phrase? I shuddered. Did he have foreknowledge? Did he know the time and hour of my death? Was I dreaming this whole creepy episode? I just wanted him gone. ‘Please don’t worry yourself. Go back where you came from. I, er, know you care. Or did. Once.’

And he did care. He was the best husband a woman could want, but not the one I wanted. I wanted glitz and glamour. Nights on the town. Not nights sleeping alone waiting for my husband to finish night shift.

Leopold gave me the glitz and glamour I craved, but he stressed I had to deal with Drew.

I rubbed my fingers over the gold necklace I never take off. So much better than those cheapo chains Drew gave me. Did he make the onerous journey back from the grave to give me another cheapo chain? I chewed the sheet so I wouldn’t laugh out loud.

Closer and closer he came. His shape grew bigger and bigger. His black presence filled the room. Or had a black moon stumbled through my bedroom window? 

I flicked my eyes around the room. There was no escaping this looming presence standing between me and the door.

He opened the curtain that hid the safe, exposing the shiny steel. Flicking the dial, he said, ‘Someone’s changed the code.’

I didn’t miss the flash of anger in his voice.

Drew had been locking the safe when the assassin broke through the window and slit his throat.

I’ve since torn up the carpet. Repapered the walls. Hung new curtains. But like Lady Macbeth, I can’t get the blood off my hands. The smell of Drew’s death lingers.

By some magic, he wrenched the safe open. Apparently where he came from, you don’t need a code.

His shape turned to me, holding another, more concrete, shape in its hands.

‘Sheila. Your belated gift. I hid it in the secret compartment no one knows about, not even you.’

Walking to the side of the bed, he threw aside the filmy curtain I liked to sleep behind. Gave me a sense of mystery. Tonight, seeing his shapeless face, I’d had more mystery than I wanted for a lifetime.

‘Take it.’ In his cloth-covered hands he held out a small, sparkly box.

There was something vaguely Aladdin-ish about the scene. If I obeyed his wishes, maybe he’d disappear into the miasma from which he’d appeared. If he didn’t hurry and get this over with, Leopold would return. I crossed my fingers. I touched one the wooden posters of my four-poster bed.

Ghosts killed.

The box was smooth, satin to the touch. Jewels studded the lid and sides. They looked like precious jewels, but, no, Drew never gave me precious jewels.

‘Open it.’ His shape leaned closer, but stepped back when I gasped in fright. He wandered aimlessly around the room seeking distraction while I examined his gift. When he picked up our photograph where I’d slashed him out of the picture and added Leopold, I nearly vomited.

The phone rang. I lay the box aside. If it was Leopold, I’d warn him to stay away. "Hello," I said, "Hello." No one there. I hung up at the same time the lights went out ...

Beside me, I heard faint music. What the? I picked up the box and lifted the lid. Loud music crashed around the room like out-of-tune violins played by a cat.

Then it stopped. Like my heart was about to. 

‘Ghosts don't exist!’ I screamed as the horrific visage gurgled, approaching my bed.

Drew’s hand reached into the box and chose a shining emerald necklace. ‘Your birthday gift, Sheila. I came back to put it around your throat.’

I struggled. I screamed. I twisted. But he was a ghost. A malicious ghost. He ripped off Leopold’s necklace and replaced it with his. His ice-cold hands bunched it behind my neck. He pulled … and pulled ... tight … tighter. I gurgled loud ... louder... I was vaguely aware of the door opening and Leopold’s chilling scream.



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WORDS: 1024

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  1. I did indeed like it. Rather a lot. The thought of a ghost with power claim revenge seems a most excellent form of justice to me. Karma biting more promptly than she usually does.

  2. LOL! Although I feel her terror, I can't really feel sorry for Sheila, it seems like just desserts :)

  3. Oh, this is really scary. I wonder: who said the last "Sorry"? Was it the ghost, or the glitz-loving heroine, or Leopold?

    1. Ha, that's for you to work out Olga. Could go several ways...

  4. Nice change of pace. Very creepy. Too bad she couldn't have waited until her birthday, perhaps she would have changed her mind about Leopold. Seems like Sheila got what she really wanted in the end, an expensive necklace from Drew.

  5. Nice!!!! Creepy and atmospheric and very, very creepy! Well done :)

  6. Definitely creepy, and I'd say she got what she deserved. Nice work!

  7. Glad you stepped up to do a Yolanda horror bit! Love horror. Thanks for the creepy read.

  8. Well, she got her comeuppance, didn't she? If you kill a person in a certain place, they can always come back to haunt the place of their demise. At least that's what the ghost investigators tell us. . .and it was the triangle she created that caused the husband's death. You have done well in this horror story, Denise. Creepy. The narrator has a touch of cynicism in his telling, which tells me he thinks justice was served.

    1. So he came back to the scene of the crime. Justice is served.

  9. As someone who writes a lot of horror I've long since ceased being scared by reading eerie stories at night. I've also seen a couple of ghosts. Not malevolent ones, fortunately.
    I like Drew. He's cool and snarky. Sheila seems like a self-serving jerk. She deserves the revenge Drew is serving up.

  10. Very nice. Sounds like his ghost killed her because she thought he wasn't good enough. In which case, well, guess she deserved that emerald necklace of death. Well-written.

  11. Hi,
    I'm sorry at some point I shut down with this story. It's grisly and it is horror at its best and I have to respect that my psyche doesn't take well to horror at all.
    What I read was well-crafted though.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    1. I understand Pat. Sorry but I was just having some fun. Not to be taken seriously at all.

  12. Ooh, I really enjoyed that! I was kind of rooting for Drew's ghost after what Sheila had done to him. I like the way she kept touching and covering her throat in the build up as if she sensed what was coming to her.

    1. I love a delicious villain Anstice and Drew was that for me.

  13. Thanks for the warning. It took me four visits to get here early enough not to have nightmares tonight... I hope :D

    1. Oh sorry Jemima. Looks like I'll have to stop with the grisly tales. Too many people upset by it...boo hoo...

  14. Wow. Not sure if she died or if Leopold saved her. Drew figured out what had happened. Well written, Denise. On a lighter note, my husband often says he'll come back to haunt me. I said, "If you do, I'll know and then I'll yell. We're out of peanut butter!"

    1. There's also the possibility that Leopold set up her death. Who knows?

  15. Glad I didn't read it in the night! A chilling revenge. I'm never going to look at an emerald necklace the same way again. Sheila came across as a horrible, unprincipled character who deserved what she got - swift justice. Very atmospheric and creepy.

    I too miss Yolanda's horror flashes.

    1. Hope you don't refuse too many emerald necklaces in your lifetime Nila.

  16. Hi Denise - yes glad I read it in the bright light of day ... I was wondering if the grave was actually for her - another twist to the tale possibly. I really don't like thinking about these sorts of things - even if it's being murdered by an expensive necklace! Never been happy with horror ... but thank you for entertaining me! Cheers Hilary

    1. Yep. The grave was def for her. Sorry if I upset you, but I meant it to just be fun.

  17. The wonder of whether he'd disappear and have her regretting his death or him killing her, kept me at the edge of my seat.

    1. If you were on the edge of your seat, Bernadette, my work here is done!

  18. Wonderful and so poetic for a ghost story ! Well done. A benevolent ghost in the end, in his own way, unthreatening, soft and tender even in his killing. Poor Drew, I feel for him ! An antihero who steals the show.
    Thank you Denise.

  19. What goes around comes around?
    I'm wondering about another possibility - that Drew and Leo were in cahoots... would make it really twisty...

    Thanks for a spooky story, Denise.
    Fortunately, it's early morning, so I'm not as spooked out as I would have been had I read it late at night. He!He!

    1. I wanted that possibility Michelle. Who says sorry at the end. Could be Leopold apologising.

  20. I read it before midnight - just - and have to read something else. I nearly entered something with an emerald choker, but thought better - not being a horror writer...like you've become with one grisly tale. Wake me up when it's daylight, please.

  21. This was a twisted tale indeed. Thank you for the warning that it would be spooky. Sheila really felt safe in her evil intention, didn't she? Well she got her just desserts I would say. And I'm happy to say I've figured out why I couldn;t leave comments. It was my browser - safari.

  22. That's always interesting, seeing a lore character with a different trait. Can ghosts kill or not? Great way to explore this! Good use of the prompt.

  23. I was just watching an old episode of Merlin last night. "The Curse of Cornelius Sigan." And in it, a sorcerer trapped his soul in a gem. That's what this made me think of.


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