Linda sighed and looked at the broken garden doors. She knew leaving Jonathon in charge while she visited her mother was a mistake. Stepping gingerly over broken shards, she glanced around and accessed the situation. All she saw were dollar signs though. “Jonathon Michael Murphy!”
“Jonathon? Sweetie?” Linda walked through the house and shook her head. It looked like a tornado had struck, leaving nothing untouched. Where was Jonathon? “Jon? Hun?”
She started walking up the stairs but stopped as she heard a muffled cry coming from under the stairs. Linda stepped back down and tilted her head to look down the small hallway. “Jon?”
Jonathon burst out of the closet under the stairs and grabbed hold of his mother with tears flowing down his cheeks. “Shh.” He covered her mouth his with hand. “They might come back.”
Linda’s eyes widened and the color drained from her face. “Who?” she asked pulling his hand away and hugging him.
“The human children.” Jonathon’s finger shook as he pointed out the tiny cottage’s broken windows toward the looming mansion on the hill.
This short was inspired by Fandango’s FFFC prompt.
Captain Travis stared at the anomaly on the main screen and inhaled deeply. “Any readings off it?”
“Negative,” the helmsman said, glancing down at his instrument panel. “According to the sensors, there’s nothing out there.”
“How can that be, Captain?”
Captain Travis looked at the communication’s officer and studied her worried face. In twenty years, he had never seen her look so afraid or sound so puzzled. Everyone on the bridge looked to him for the answer, but he didn’t have one.
As they watched the silvery mist twist and turn on the screen they started tilting their heads the way children do when looking at clouds.
“Is that a boat?”
“I think I see a balloon,” a crew member said, tilting his head the other way.
“That looks like a clown.”
Captain Travis chuckled. “It reminds me of that classic movie, IT.”
“Oh man, that show is so cheesy.”
“Cheesy? That movie terrified me when I was six. Never liked clowns since.”
With all the debate over the merits of the movie, no one noticed the mist taking a more solid form–until it was too late.
Rumors of the small wooden box with the single red button inside it had circulated for years. Every time someone came into money, people wondered. The only real safeguard anyone had was to know everyone else in town and pray it never came for you.
Molly and Glenn grew up in Fox Hollow, attended school together, and became the family everyone expected when they turned eighteen. Life was rough without real training or college, even in a small town, but they made do and were happily raising three children in a home of their own. Neither complained about their situation until the package arrived.
“Who’s it from,” Glenn asked, pouring himself a glass of water.
“Doesn’t say.” Molly looked over the package wrapped in plain parcel paper again.
Glenn walked over beside her, pecked her cheek, and took the package. “Well, let’s have a look then.”
As soon as he opened it, they both sank into the dining room chairs and stared at the small, hand-carved wooden box.
“It’s not, is it?”
Glenn looked at Molly and shrugged. He took a deep breath and held it as he lifted the lid revealing a single red button.
Molly whimpered and covered her mouth. “We can’t, Glenn. We can’t!”
Glenn looked at the button and wiped his face. “We know everyone in town. It… it’s not like it would be someone we knew.”
“Glenn!” Molly was shocked. How could he even think that killing someone for money was okay. “Think of the kids!”
“I am,” he said, reaching for Molly’s hand. “Imagine what we could do for the kids. Frank could go to college and be the doctor he wants to be. Sarah wants to be a dancer, and Johnny could finally get that computer he’s always wanted.”
Molly wiped the tears that streamed down her face. He was right. They could do so much with the money. It’s not like others in town had not used it to help their situation. How nice would it be to see the kids’ faces when they returned from their trip with Grandma.
“For the kids,” she whispered.
Glenn looked at her and nodded. “For the kids.” He pushed the button and held his breath. Nothing happened.
Molly looked around the kitchen halfway expecting to see money appear out of nowhere. She chuckled and soon Glenn was too. They both sighed and went about their evening activities forgetting all about the box.
The phone started ringing off the hook a few hours later. Panicked and crying voices was all Molly heard on the party line. “What’s wrong with everyone!”
Molly yelled at Glenn to turn on the television and flip it to Channel Four. They were able to catch the last few moments of the breaking news. “Flight 2713, bound for Orlando, Florida crashed into the White House just moments ago.”
Molly’s fingers ran over the flight information taped next to the phone. Flight 2713. Arriving 8:00pm.
“Early reports,” the reporter continued, “suggest a medical emergency in the cockpit is to blame. They do not expect to find any survivors. There were 416 passengers and nine crew members on the airplane and an estimated… “
Glenn turned off the television and sat in silence on the couch. He shook his head and walked into the kitchen where Molly was crouched on floor sobbing. He looked at the empty table and cursed himself for pushing the button.
It was my pleasure to interview Marisa Noelle, author of The Shadow Keepers and the upcoming series, The Unadjusteds. Both are Young Adult SF/F. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do.
~ The Haunted Wordsmith
What is one book that you would recommend be on everyone’s reading list?
Argh! Always such a mean question! How can I choose just one?
Big breath…going in, I think what stands out for me is Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy. (Look, I got three in there!) It’s an upper middle grade novel, but when I picked it up as an adult I didn’t know that! It sweeps you away to magical places so effortlessly and I enjoyed it so much I forgot to analyse the writing. It’s one of those books that can appeal to all ages.
With a background in psychology and an interest in horror and thriller…