Jack P came up with the idea to write a short story for Hallowe’en. I wrote two, both the product of sleepless nights and both written in the early hours. As I couldn’t decide on which to post, and as they’re both quite short, here’s both. Besides, I’m sitting here dressed as Dracula ready to scare some young kids and I’ve got to get going. Happy Hallowe’en…
Lock and Key
I slammed the front door behind me. I bolted it tight and drew the curtains. I turned out the lights and walked quickly into the kitchen.
I checked the back door. I locked the cat flap. I paused; there was a need to be systematic. Doors and windows had to be secured first. Smaller things came last, like catflaps. Like blocking drains and sinks.
I caught my breath. Checking that all the downstairs windows were closed, I hurried up the stairs.
I shut the bathroom and bedroom doors in the dark, feeling with my hands. I listened, and moved on. In my blindness, I stumbled on something. A small toy. It crunched underfoot and I fell, catching myself against the wall. I looked ahead towards the faint light from the box room.
I entered and closed the door behind me. I steadied myself as I held onto the side of the cot. The breeze ruffled my hair. I moved to close the window and noticed a shadow behind me. It was too late.
“Got you,” it said.
aviarium -i n. [an aviary]; also [the haunts of wild birds].
obsessor -oris m. [one who besets , haunts, or besieges].
obsideo -sidere -sedi -sessum intransit. [to sit down near]; transit. [to beset , haunt, frequent]; esp. [to blockade, besiege; to watch over, be on the look-out for].
pervulgo (pervolgo) -are [to publish , make publicly known; to make generally available; to frequent, haunt a place]. Hence partic. pervulgatus -a -um, [very usual or well known].
praesaepes (praesaepis) -is f. and praesaepe -is , n. and praesaepium -i, n., [an enclosure; a crib, manger, stall; a hive; a haunt, lodging, tavern].
remordeo -mordere -morsum [to worry , haunt].
That boy has never liked me. I know it must be difficult for him, me moving in with his mother, but there comes a point where you have to draw the line.
I knew that moving into the flat wasn’t going to be the smoothest of rides. Is anything? And I knew that he’s something of a cry-baby. The evening I arrived with all of my things he’d missed school because of that tooth. Ah, the tooth. There was an atmosphere I could have done without. I told him to stop pulling at it and that it would come out of its own accord. But of course he didn’t listen to me. I made things worse. Telling me to go to hell like that! I was already halfway into my new home.
His mother is too generous, she’s too understanding. He gets his own way far too often. So I didn’t think it unreasonable to bring a few house rules with me…
On the first day I had an important meeting at work; a visit to the university for a translation. But it all went badly that morning. I almost missed the train due to several I would say deliberate obstacles placed in my path. My papers had been rifled through, disorganised. Why had the towel fallen into the bath? Why were my suit trousers screwed up and on the floor? How did I manage to cut myself shaving so severely with a blunted razor? His mother put it down to the loss of my glasses, another incident in a string of mishaps that week.
Rushing for the station, I saw the boy watching me from the window. The day proceeded with a coldness about me. I returned to my new home. Things visited me that night.
On the second day I left with a – how shall I put it – tugging tiredness pulling at me. I had not slept well. The boy watched me again from the window. His mother had put it all down to my stressful day previously; I was over tired. And although prepared for that evening’s nightmares, they still came upon me with a shocking reality. The birds stabbed at me. I cried out.
The third day I barely struggled through. I did not go to work. I dared not stay at home. I moved from street corner to street corner, like a ghost. I visited endless tavern and drinking den.
But then it all came clear. The third night was a revelation to me. As I adjusted the bed clothes on the settee I noticed something. Carefully sewn into the inside of the pillowcase. It took me a while to pull it apart gradually in the half light. Something wrapped in a small cutting of blood soaked tissue.
I slept well for the rest of that night. I even crept back up to bed. But I was cunning, I wanted to fool the boy. I sleepily moved around the flat the next morning waiting for an opportunity. And I found one. The tooth. Ah, the tooth. The nagging loose tooth had worked itself looser and the boy couldn’t stand the discomfort any more. He’d worked it right out, a messy business. But there were tissues to hand. I caught him off his guard.
He’d seen what I’d seen. We’d read the same things, although – come on – he’s merely an amateur. I’d looked at my papers differently. They were still disorganised. There is more than one way to skin a cat. The boy was clever and he certainly caught me off my guard, but there’s always a better way. My spell’s best.
And now I continue to sleep softly. The screams in the next room don’t really bother me at all. And he will notice when I watch him. I can stop it whenever I decide to, whenever that may be. It’s my decision. He’ll never find it. I’ve drawn the line.
cogitatio -onis f. [thinking , conception, reflection, reasoning]; sometimes a particular [thought, idea or intention].
cogito -are [to turn over in the mind , to think, reflect]; sometimes [to intend, plan]. Hence partic. cogitatus -a -um, [considered, deliberate]; n. pl. as subst. [thoughts, reflections, ideas]. Adv. cogitate, [thoughtfully].
contueor -tueri -tuitus dep. [to see , survey, look at attentively];mentally, [to consider, reflect upon].
dispicio -spicere -spexi -spectum [to see clearly] , esp. by an effort; [to make out, discern, perceive; to reflect upon, consider].
recolo -colere -colui -cultum [to cultivate or work again; to resume; to set up again , rehabilitate; to reflect upon, to recall].
reddo -dere -didi -ditum (1) [to give back , restore]; ‘reddi’, or ‘se reddere’, [to return]; in words, [to repeat, recite; to reproduce by imitation, to represent, reflect]. (2) [to give in return]; hence [to answer; to translate, render, interpret; to make, render, cause to be]. (3) [to give as due; to pay up, deliver; fulfil]; ‘reddere ius’, [to administer justice].
referio -ire [to strike back , strike again]. Transf. [to reflect].
repercussus -us m. [reverberation; echo , reflection].
repercutio -cutere -cussi -cussum [to strike back , make rebound]; perf. partic. repercussus -a -um, [rebounding, reflected].
repulsu abl. sing. m. [by striking back , by reflection, by echoing].