|Working Title: The Man Upstairs
Author: DiamondEyedDog PM
It's my mom's job is to take care of sick old people and this job should be just like every other. Except there is something very wrong with old Mr. Cuthbert and I know Mrs. Cuthbert is keeping secrets. 2 parts This will be a part of short story collection that will be e-published soon. Stay tuned for details!Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Suspense - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,978 - Updated: 08-08-12 - Published: 06-28-12 - id: 3036851
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I dread nights at the house because it's really quiet. And that's when I hear Mr. Cuthbert. He moans at night. Loudly. And I swear he says things.
"Hungryyyy... Hungryy... Pleasee... Pleaseee..."
Finally, I complain to my mom. Well, I really wouldn't call it complain so much as totally freak to her about it after like the fifth night, because I can't sleep while he's doing that and it's totally freaky and weird and he doesn't stop until dawn.
"He's not saying anything like that." My mom says, but she gets this really worried look on her face and I see her whispering with Mrs. Cuthbert later that day. And I swear Mrs. Cuthbert whispers to her, "Then we'll have to feed him!"
"What does he eat?" My mother asked. Before Mrs. Cuthbert can answer they spot me and tell me to go play outside. Which is a joke, because a) it's like ten degrees b) there's nothing to do and c) I'm not five.
Despite my objections, I follow their orders and go "play" outside. I think it's because I'm sick of being in that big empty house and it's a little warmer than usual. I go and sit on an old swing that hangs in the backyard from an ancient oak. I sit on the swing and kick my feet back and forth. My thoughts drift and the air is cold but not unbearable.
I think I'm out there for awhile, and then I see it. A bird sees it first. Pecks at it. Then flies off. And at first I think it's a twig because it sort of looks like a twig but I keep looking at it because there's just something wrong about this twig. The swing keeps moving but my eyes just keep staring. Something about it is bothering me. Is it the color or the shape? Maybe it's the feeling that it's oddly familiar. I let my feet catch the ground and when the swing stops I climb off to investigate. When I pick it up, it takes me a second but then I'm screaming.
"MOM! MOM! MOM!" She doesn't hear me. I want to drop it, but I my fingers are locked in a grip around it. "MOM!" Tears fill my eyes and I stumble as I run back to the house. "MOMMMY!"
Inside the house I'm finally able to let it go. I drop the offending thing, and start running through the house.
"Shh, Clara. Stop yelling like that." Her eyes move upwards towards the forbidden third floor.
"M-m-mom!" I run to her and hug her hard. I'm not usually the cuddly type and my affection catches her off guard.
"What? What's wrong?" Now she's gone from annoyed to scared. She hugs me as I shake.
"I f-found something. Outside"
"It's a- It's a-" I can't even say it, so I just grab her sweater and pull her into the kitchen. I can't even look but I point at the kitchen table. "That."
"Clara, there's nothing there."
"What?" I look at the table. It's gone.
"There was just..." I stare at the empty surface then I drop to my hands and knees and start looking all over the floor.
"What's all this?" Mrs. Cuthbert appears.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Cuthbert my daughter she-"
"Did you see it?" I ask her.
"See what?" Mrs. Cuthbert asks me, her voice feigns surprise but her eyes are cold. She had seen it. She had seen it and gotten rid of it.
"In the yard- I found it..." I turn to mother. I know she won't believe me. Who would? But I take a deep breath and tell her anyway, "Mom, I found a human finger in the yard."
My mother sighs. "Really Clara? A finger?" Then she laughs. "A finger! Clara, we need to get you out of the house more." She keeps laughing, almost hysterically.
"Mom, I'm not making it up."
"I'm sorry Mrs. Cuthbert." My mom wipes tears of laughter away from her eyes. "My daughter sometimes just has the most wild imagination."
"That's quite alright." Mrs. Cuthbert gives me a tight smile. "It's quite alright."
My mom's solution to my "over-active imagination" is to start bringing me to the Y for swimming lessons. I meet up a couple of kids but when I tell them where I live they avoid me for the rest of class.
Only after it's over, does a girl approach me in the locker room as we're changing out of suits.
"Woah, you have a tattoo?" She asks, noticing the pair of wings I have tattooed on my lower back.
"Oh yeah." In truth, I had gotten it when I was fourteen. My sixteen year old boyfriend had talked me into it. I usually forget it's even there.
"Does it mean something?"
I debate what to tell her.
"It does." I say finally.
"So, some kids were saying that you live up at the Cuthbert house."
"Is your mom his new caretaker?"
"Yeah- how did you know?"
"It's a small town. People talk."
"Do you the big secret?"
I shake my head.
"Well, I heard from my grandma that like forty years ago, he was some super big wig around here. Owned that factory outside of town. Then one day there was a rumor he got sick, like cancer maybe? But no one's seen him since. We only know he's still alive cause sometimes we meet his new caretakers. They're always moving in and out of town. Or so we think they're moving out. Sometimes they just," she pauses for dramatic effect. "Disappear."
"Oh." I swallow hard and pick at my chipped magenta nail polish.
"Did you hear what happened to the last woman who lived there?"
I feel a shiver go down my spine. "Yeah, it didn't work out," I say, with pretend confidence.
"You live there and you don't even know?"
"Know what?" I try to pretend like I'm not interested even as I hang on her every word.
"The girl who used to work there, Maddie. She was real friendly, came to town all the time. Then one day she came down from the house and she was just babbling. Saying all sorts of crazy things about ghouls or something and she said there was something all sorts of wrong with Mr. Cuthbert. I saw her and she looked sick, like real sick. Her eyes were all red and her hair was falling out. They were going to take her to the hospital but Mrs. Cuthbert came and took her back to the house. And you don't argue with Mrs. Cuthbert."
I nodded and almost smiled.
"You should get out of there."
"What happened to that woman?"
"After that night we never saw her again. said she drove her over a few towns to some big hospital for her sickness, but dunno. All I know is that we never saw her again."
"I think she just moved," I say, trying not to think about the finger bone I found.
The girl shakes her blond head, "No... Everyone in the town didn't think she'd really left. Finally Sheriff Tilder went up to look for the girl. He came back, wouldn't say what he saw. But we know he didn't find the girl. Then like two weeks later, someone at the Goodwill said they got garbage filled with clothes they said looked like what she used to wear."
"That doesn't prove anything."
"You're right, but I'm still saying, do yourself a favor, find a bus. And get the hell outta here."
I don't tell my mother what the girl said. But I do ask her again if she ever found out what happened to the woman who used to work there. I ask if Mrs. Cuthbert said anything about her getting "sick."
My mom denies me. Tells me the woman moved to Florida.
I decide it's time for me to meet Mr. Cuthbert.
It's almost 2am and my first day of school starts tomorrow and but I'm restless. I can hear Mr. Cuthbert moans. I slide out of my bed and tiptoe out into the hallway. I sneak past Mrs. Cuthbert's room and, because it's so dark, I have to grope for the doorway that leads to the steps to the third floor.
Once inside, I grope for a light switch. I leave the door slightly open.
"Grrrrr..." The moans are louder on the this side of the doorway. "Grrwwrr!"
My hand is shaking as it palms the light switch and I debate turning and running back to my rooms but I'm already this close. I flip the light switch.
"GRUURRRRR! HUNGRRRRYYY!" My knees almost give out as I walk up the stairs, my hand clutching at the banister. As I peeak over the top of the steps, I find myself staring into a pair of blood shot eyes, the pupils so dilated they look almost black. The rest of his face is hidden behind a hockey mask.
So does he. But his scream is unlike anything I've ever heard. He tries to pull loose from his chair.
A chair he's been tied to.
He strains against his ropes as I turn and run back down the steps. I don't bother to turn off the lights. I reachto the bottom and slam the door shut. My heart is pounding. My brain is still processing the images of his wrists and ankles, cut down to the bone by the rope, his torn and bloody clothing. The hunger in his eyes.
And I'm staring into the eyes of Mrs. Cuthbert.
"What have you done?" She hisses. A crash reverberates from upstairs, the sound of wood splintering. "NO!" She staggers backwards. "Get a chair! Quick!" I don't know what the means, but I run downstairs, passing my mother in the hallway, and run into the kitchen. I grab a wooden chair that's just like the one he's been tied to.
When I run back upstairs and hand it to Mrs. Cuthbert she doesn't, as I expect, go back to third floor and tie him to the new chair. Instead she wedges it under the door knob.
"Stupid girl..." She hisses. "Stupid, stupid girl."
My mother, hair in disarray, staires at me,. "Did you go up there?"
"I just wanted-" A thud echoes against the stairway.
"He's trying to get loose," Mrs. Cuthbert whispers. "He's coming." She sounds genuinely scared. "Where's the tranquilizer gun?"
"Other side of the door," My mother says.
"Did he touch you?" My mother asks. "Did he bite you?"
"What? No! What's wrong with him?"
"What should we do?" My mother asks Mrs. Cuthbert.
"We have to catch him. Tie him back up." Another thud.
"Why is he tied up like that? What's wrong with him?"
Mrs. Cuthbert ignores me. "Go down into the kitchen, find the rope under the sink.
"Go!" My mother yells. Another thud. And several loud snaps. I imagine it's the chair that demon is tied to. Was tied to. Another loud moan.
"RUN!" My mother screams. I run back downstairs and find the rope under the sink. I don't have time to question why there's a rope under the sink.
When I return, both Mrs. Cuthbert and my mother are braced against the door. It shakes on its hinges as if a heavy object is being thrown against it.
"We have to let him through, then grab him and tie him up." Mrs. Cuthbert says.
"Do you think he still has his mask on?" My mother asks. She looks at me. "Clara, go to your room."
"No! We need her help!"
"I can't put her in danger," My mother says.
"She's the one who's put us all in danger!."
"Clara, take my keys and go to the car. If I'm not out in thirty minutes, drive. Don't come back for me. Find the police."
"I'm not leaving you. What's going on?" The door shakes again, cracks appears in the wood. How can one old man have this much strength?
"RUN CLARA!" My mom says. I decide to obey. The door thuds again, and this time, it's ripped from it's hinges. Mr. Cuthbert emerges. He's bloody and missing the lower half of his right arm, but he doesn't seem to have noticed. The hockey mask is gone. He spots me, and then his wife. With speed I had no idea an old man could be capable of, he leaps upon her. He bites and snaps, his left hand grasping at her, and he pulls a chunk of flesh off her face and sinks his teeth into her neck.
My mom grabs the rope from my hands. She ties a few quick knots and then tosses it lasso style over Mr. Cuthbert's head and pulls it tight around his torso and his remaining arm. She pulls him off Mrs. Cuthbert's bloody body then jumps on him, knocking him to the floor. He struggles and I run over to help.
I try to hold his legs down but he's too strong. He kicks me off, and I stagger back and almost fall over a small table in the hallway. The fake flowers sitting in the vase fall and the vase shatters.
"Grab the gun from that drawer!" My mom says, holding on to her makeshift lasso.
Mr. Cuthbert is going after my mother now, his neck stretching hard to try and bite her while she struggles to hold him down.
There's a drawer in the table. I yank it open and find a pistol.
"Shoot him in the head!" My mother yells.
"Turn off the safety and shoot him." Growing up, my mother's father was a member of the Mexican gang the Nuestras. She knows her way around firearms but I don't. She made sure of that. Now I wish she had shown me a little more as I fumble for a moment before I find the safety and flick it off.
I line up the shot, praying. Mr. Cuthbert gives a hard kick.
I pull the trigger just as my mother is thrown in my direction. She screams.
I drop the gun and run toward her.
Mr. Cuthbert is still.
My mom climbs off him, holding her arm while blood flows freely through her fingers.
"Mom, I'm sorry..." Mr. Cuthbert groans; his arm twitches like he might try and push himself to his feet. I can see his brains through his shattered skull. My mom pushes me aside and grabs the gun off the floor. She fires three more shots into him.
He stops moving.
"Is- Is he dead?" I ask.
On the floor, Mrs. Cuthbert moans. My mom grabs my discarded gun and fires two quick rounds into Mrs. Cuthbert's head.
We steal the silver cutlery. Well, I steal the silver. Mom waits in the car, a sheet wrapped around her bloody arm. The bullet passed through cleanly.
I grab what stuff I can and throw it into the trunk and back seat. Then I go for the silver. I figure they don't need it anymore. And it might help us. And it's just a thing. Then I step on the gas and we fly down the driveway.
I'm surprised when my mom tells me to go to the police station in town. We just killed two people. One of whom didn't really do anything. She goes inside. Talks to the police. Then comes back out.
"Drive." She says. "They're going to stay away from the house for 24 hours. Then they might come look for us. Hopefully they won't."
"Mom, what was that?"
She doesn't answer me.
"Are they both dead?"
She looks at me. "I hope so Clara."
"When did you learn to throw a lasso?"
"Oh that. When I was a little girl, I lived on a horse farm in Montana for a summer."
"Oh well... It was really cool."
"I wonder if Montana is nice this time of year," I say.
"It's far from here."
My mom looks at me and almost smiles. Then she turns the car towards the west.