March Madness Flash Fiction Series: CLICK by Kathy Palm
TODAY’S BREW: Hawaiian Chocolate Nut from HoneyDew. My fave.
Kathy Palm is one of those friends from Twitter that I might never have known otherwise and am so glad I found her. As if it isn’t enough that she’s hilarious and outspoken, she writes creepy shit like this and it makes me fangirl. Find her on Twitter https://twitter.com/KathleenPalm and keep an eye out for DOORS, through REUTS publishing next year.
by Kathleen Palm
The alarm blares. My arm snaps out to silence the sound. The colors of the sunset creep through my window and paint the walls red.
My fingers curl into my pillow that smells of sweat and fear. “Will it happen again?” I whisper.
“Of course it will,” I answer.
My mind spins.
“How long? How long has it been… since it began?”
My fingers work through the knots in my long, lackluster hair, once golden. I pull my blanket around my shoulders and rock on the edge of the bed. Chipped purple polish adorns my toes, which press into the worn rug. “Don’t know. Too long.”
“Too long.” A frantic laugh shakes my belly.
My gaze flickers to the window where the sun hovers over the horizon. I gasp. Moments. Minutes before the fight, the push to survive.
I stand. The blanket falls to the floor. I kick dirty clothes out of my way as I shuffle to the door. My hurried steps interrupt the silence of the stark hallway and invade the tiny kitchen. Grime-coated dishes fill the sink. A bag with only a few slices of bread sits on the counter.
“We’ll need food.”
I throw the bread in the toaster. “Yes. We’ll get food. When the light returns… tomorrow.”
I jump when the toast pops.
My hand shakes as I crunch on my breakfast and wander to the sliding glass door, leading to the backyard. My shoulder presses against the glass. The edge of the sun dips below the horizon. Twilight, the last seconds of peace.
“How long?” I mutter. Bits of bread fly into the air.
“Since that night, the night we called—”
I slam my fist against the window. “Don’t speak of it! You’ll make it true.”
The sky darkens, and I flip on the kitchen light.
“It is true. It whispered to us.”
Two steps and I electrify the light over the stove, another step and the bulb above the sink blazes to life. I follow the path, the seven steps to the living room. The bulbs of the ceiling fan brighten.
“Whispered of the dark.”
Two steps to the end table. Six more steps to the other end table. Five steps to the hall.
The spare bedroom.
Driving the shadows away, but not forever.
I stand in the hallway. Warmth spreads from every doorway.
“How long do we have until it starts?”
My fingers dig into my thighs. “I don’t know!”
“Maybe it won’t…”
My hands twist in my shirt, my fingers finding holes worn through the fabric. I turn my head and stare out my bedroom window. Buildings become dark, reaching fingers against the last rays of the sun. The light leaves the sky as if the world sucks it away, devouring it, to keep its brightness for itself.
“It had only been a game.”
Night swallows the city skyline.
“It hadn’t been a game.” I spin toward the sound and race to the living room. Fear wraps around my mind like icy chains. I search for the extinguished light, nearly knocking over the lamp as I twist its knob and fight back the shadows.
I perch on the edge of the couch. My fingernails scrape across the leather, leaving scars, marks counting days. “They said it was a game. Not real. But we should never have gone there, never have called on the dark!”
My sob morphs into a hysterical giggle. “No.”
“We brought it back with us.”
I snap my head up.
Darkness settles in the kitchen.
I leap to my feet, my manic laughter matching my rapid pace. My fingers slap the light switch, chasing away the shadows.
I stumble to the hall. My bedroom door is a black hole.
“It… wants us.”
Light once again fills my room, illuminating the mess.
“It,” I mutter.
I stumble along the hall, watching, listening, waiting. Tremors of fatigue ripple through my body.
“How many nights now?” I whisper.
“How long have we chased the dark?”
“We don’t know.”
“Will it end? Will it ever end?”
My legs quiver with every step. I trip in the hall, falling to my knees.
Blackness swallows the bathroom. My chest heaves with sobs… with laughter.
“What happens if the lights go out?”
“We don’t know.”
I drag my fingers through the carpet, pulling myself to my knees. “It’s just the dark. Nothing to fear.”
“Everything to fear.”
Struggling to stand, to continue, I glance over my shoulder at the dark living room. High-pitched laughter bursts from my gut.
Tears steam down my face. My mind shatters into a million pieces.
“We can let it end.”
I sink to the floor, wrapping my arms around my legs. My thoughts blank as darkness overtakes the house. My hysterical giggles echo down the hall.
“Let the lights go out.”