(This is the flash story that I won the Pseudopod Flash Contest III with. 500 words to woo a group of hardened horror readers and get their votes. Hope you like it as well as they did. Sometime in late fall/early winter, maybe the first of the year, this will appear as an audio podcast at www.pseudopod.org. Head over there to check out a ton of great horror shorts and flashes read by their talented voice performers)
Celia stood in the foyer, looking up the staircase. Her grandfather’s house was quiet. Empty. Sunlight spilled through tall windows, and shadows couldn’t find a foothold. It was bright and familiar but she didn’t want to be there. Not alone.
“Hello?” She felt stupid calling out. Grandpa’s nursing home needed his insurance papers. It would only take a few minutes to find them. They were in his room somewhere, in a box. There was no reason to think about anything unpleasant. But she did. She thought of the attic. The creaky wooden stairs that dropped out of the ceiling. The huge, wooden wraparound desk against the wall. The bitter taste of pills on her tongue. The ambulance ride.
She thought of Mr. Flyspeck.
She’d been six years old, exploring the attic, looking for old toys. She’d heard a voice and looked up. She hadn’t been afraid, only curious and surprised. Something was sitting on the desk. It looked like a rat, or mouse. Three feet tall with orange fur and wild eyes. She remembered how it smiled at her. How it spoke.
He called himself Mr. Flyspeck. They talked about her mommy and her brothers, her grandma and grandpa. He said he lived inside the walls and could walk through closed doors. He liked to watch her sleep and take her baths. Then he told her about the pills on Grandma’s nightstand downstairs. If she ate them all, she’d be able to walk through walls and doors, like him. She thanked him for such a wonderful idea and headed to her grandparents’ room. She’d gobbled half the bottle before her brother walked in and caught her. She didn’t remember the emergency room or having her stomach pumped, but she did remember her mother’s tears shining red and blue in the spinning ambulance lights.
Grownup Celia pushed away the murky images. She stepped into Grandpa’s room and opened his closet. There were boxes sitting in the shadows. She sifted through them, not finding the papers she needed. She looked up, frustrated, and saw a large, fireproof case huddled in the back corner. She crawled over and pulled it towards her. She lifted the lid and screamed, jumping backwards, colliding with the wall. Lying in the case, smiling up at her, was Mr. Flyspeck.
When she’d caught her breath, Celia leaned forward and gingerly lifted the lid again. There he was, not moving or speaking. With a sudden bloom of understanding, she could see what her childhood self had not. Mr. Flyspeck was a puppet. Her mind reeled. *Why was this in her grandfather’s closet?* She studied its rodent face. It reminded her of Grandpa. A thought blossomed within her. An *awful* thought. Suddenly its familiar smile filled her with a terrified rage. She started shaking it violently, screaming.
“Talk to me, damn you! Be alive! You’re not a puppet! You’re not him! You were never him!” But Mr. Flyspeck said nothing and after awhile, Celia began to cry.
*** *** *** *** ***
©2013 by R.k.Kombrinck.
*** *** *** *** ***
R.k.Kombrinck is a writer and artist who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and two sons. He is a founding cast-member of the popular horror podcast “Night of the Living Podcast.” He enjoys iced-tea (unsweet) and genuinely believes in Sasquatch.
You can find his work online HERE