WORD COUNT: 183 words
GENRE: Paranormal, horror
If Megan Beuchanan had been the type of person to take the figurative temperature of a potential home, she’d have discovered the Turner House was zero at the bone.
Clinging to the cusp of the ravine, every bit the Victorian-era vulture, the now-dilapidated residence was everything the single mother sought: cheap.
It also, then, wouldn’t have come as such a shock when daughter Ava found the small sachet of letters stuck behind a swatch of old wallpaper in her closet. The letters spoke with the ghost-tongue of long-lost lives and lovers. Thomas would come back for Gladys, somehow. His illness—and confinement in the Turner pest house—would be only temporary. She was to pay no mind to the purported mystique of the manor. Indian haints* did not roam the grounds, nor could they be heard screeching as the diseased husks of their bodies were rolled into the waiting arms of Brine River below.
If only Megan could have steeled her psyche for the night Chief Swift-as-Hare John Harris’s smallpox-addled corpse came calling. Ready to reclaim the feathers of his people’s whisked-away souls.
*A Southern United States (dialectical) word meaning ghost, specter, or spirit.
This flash fiction is humbly submitted for Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers photo-prompt challenge, though it comes in a bit too long (as usual). If you enjoy writing or reading (or both), I encourage you to take part with your own story or to follow along by absorbing the brilliant fiction out there in Rochelle’s quadrant of the WordPress-iverse. Cheers!
13 thoughts on “Terminal House: Flash Fiction”
interesting story. every house has a story. the older it is, the more it has to tell. once i helped a friend clean up a house of an old timer who had passed away. when we started rummaging through his stuff, the light bulb started flickering as if to announce his presence. like ava in your story, i found personal letters neatly tied in a ribbon. after i read a couple, i stopped. i realized i was intruding into his privacy.
I learned a new word. I doubt if many here would have seen a smallpox addled corpse much less a man living with the ravages of the disease. This was a truly brilliant idea and added to the horror. Great write.
Thank you, YS. Happy writing!
Smallpox – just the word once send shivers through the bone of many… The idea of a residence where the dead come back to reclaim their lost dignity is very good, and I wouldn’t mind a much longer story on this theme.
Thank you for stopping by, Björn. You’re very intuitive there: Dignity was exactly the word I was thinking for the last paragraph, and I almost used it in the story itself.
They never mention these things in the sales literature. You always have to ask. Good piece.
Leigh, I think your writing is really good. Would you, by any chance, like to do the “guest storyteller” slot on my blog in September. If so, please email me via the contact form which you can find at the top of my home page. You can read all about what guest storytelling involves on my page http://sarahpotterwrites.com/guest-storytellers-2/ Hope you can do.
This was eerie (and creepy, and downright scary!) To me, this touts the benefits of a brand new home – you know, no ghosts to haunt the hallways 🙂
Great story! Love the spooky vibe I got from it. Nothing quite beats a spooky story!
Victorian era vulture….love your writing which draws me in immediately.
oofty. this packs quite a punch for its brevity. certain potent words as well positioned for maximum impact..eg’ screeching’&’husks’. smallpox-addled is also visceral. sweet. i imagine these flash fiction challenges are quite good exercises to,among other things, help focus on individual words. i would like to read more too. thankyou for the blog visits&thoughtful comments as ever. i am really glad you have at times pointed out changes that could improve stories. it makes blogging so much more holistic helpful and nurturing.
Being new on WP, I’m thrilled to meet another great writer. I enjoyed this so much I read it twice.
Thank you, Pam. I’m very flattered. Strangely and coincidentally enough, I used to be on and read you on Gather, though I was not active there with regard to creative writing (I did “Socialwriting” before they changed over to, what, Skywriting or whatever it’s called nowadays). Sadly to me, I’ve lost touch with many of the writers I knew there, and I’m sorry to see it has turned away so many good writers like you (apparently). In any case, welcome to WordPress; I wish I knew more about gems and crystals. That was a pet hobby of mine as a child, that unfortunately I did not retain much knowledge from.