"Haunted (part three)" an original work of fiction for the #365daysofwriting challenge

in fiction •  2 years ago  (edited)

Every day @mydivathings invites you to write a short story based on the image she chooses. Today's image (below) is a Photo by Jack Michaud on Unsplash

Find out more about the challenge (you can join anytime!) here https://steemit.com/365daysoffiction/@mydivathings/day-39-365-days-of-writing-challenge

This is part three of a new story. You can read it as a stand alone piece if you wish, or you can read
part one here: https://steemit.com/f/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-one-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge, or
part two here: https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-two-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge

Dan stood behind Katie, his hands resting lightly on her shoulders. She was in her element.

“I want them all, Daddy! Can we take them all?”

“Even though we have a much bigger house now, Katie, I don’t think we have space for them all. Let’s start with one, shall we? Remember what I told you about the responsibilties that come with taking care of a dog? It’s hard work,” Dan leant in and whispered in his daughter’s ear. “You have to pick up its poo!” Katie wrinkled her nose. “One dog is bad enough. Do you want to pick up the poo of all these dogs?”

“Ewww! Yuk! No. Perhaps one dog is enough to start with.”

“This one looks good,” Gillian said, pointing to what looked - to Dan, anyway - like a dog that belonged on the dangerous dog list.

“Isn’t that a rottweiler, or something?” he said. “Looks pretty dangerous to me.”

“It’s actually a Staffordshire Bull Terrier,” the young woman - Claire, Dan thought she said her name was - said, smiling. “They have a pretty bad reputation, but mostly undeserved. Staffies are really affectionate dogs. Silky, here has a lovely temperament, and gets on really well with children, and cats. Did you say you had cats?”

“No,” Dan said. “I’m kind of allergic.” He looked around at the other cages. Dan wondered if Claire was trying to palm them off with a dog she couldn't get rid of. There seemed to be a lot of Staffies.

“I like Silky,” Katie said, her face pressed close against the cage.

“Honey, I don’t think you should stand so-”

“Awwe! Silky licked my nose, Daddy! I think she likes me!”

“I like Silky too,” Gillian said. “I don’t think people would want to mess with her.”

Dan looked at her. He was worried about Gillian. Ever since the incident in the basement, she had been acting strangely.

It was Steve who’d found her, banging on the door of the basement, shouting something about an old woman at the top of the stairs. The door had obviously not been wedged open properly, and must have slammed shut with a sudden gust of wind, or something. It was jammed a little bit - swollen door frame, probably - but Steve had shouldered it open, easily enough. To appease Gillian, Dan and Steve had searched the house, while Arlene looked after Gillian and Katie, in the garden, but if course it was empty.

Perhaps it was the bang on the head - she had a very nasty lump on her forehead. Perhaps she had she lost consciousness, had a nightmare or something? Gillian was adamant that she had hit her head after she’d heard the old woman’s voice, and seen the figure at the top of the stairs.

“I fell down the stairs after the lights went out,” she said, clutching a bag of ice to her temple. “Afterward. I know what I saw, Dan. I know what I heard.”

Dan knew what it was like to believe something - to know something with utter conviction - and to have everyone around doubting you.

After Michael died, he slipped into a severe depression. He didn’t know it at the time, and everyone - even Gillian - thought it was just a normal grief reaction. Shit, your child dies - especially like that - you’re going to be fucked up. For a long time, if not forever, right? Perhaps it was the sleepless nights, the chemicals in his brain, his genes. Whatever, the cause, his grief driven depression festered in the depths of his tortured mind.

He began to believe that Michael was still alive. That he was being held by the Government. And that he, Dan, was being followed. That he was being monitored by the Government, because he knew the truth.

And, after a while, he became convinced that even Gillian was in on the conspiracy.

One December night, a couple of weeks before Christmas, something finally snapped.

Gillian was preparing dinner, whilst Dan bathed Katie, and read her a story - her favourite story about a rabbit who became king of the world - when he suddenly thought he could hear Gillian speaking on the phone. He stopped reading the story - Katie’s eyes were closed, her breathing deep and regular: she was asleep - and, very carefully, he put the book down on the floor beside the bed. He put an ear to the door and listened, carefully.

“He doesn’t suspect a thing,” he thought he could hear Gillian say. “Yes, it’s all planned. It’s in his food.”

Suddenly, it all made sense. Gillian was going to drug him. She was going to take him to the place where they were holding Michael. They were going to take him too.

He carefully opened the door, and crept out of the room. He removed his slippers, so she would not hear his footsteps. He knew which steps to avoid, which ones would creak if he put his weight on them, and he carefully picked his way down the stairs. The phone was in its cradle, at the bottom of the stairs. Gillian must have finished the call. He could hear the rattle of a pan being put in the sink.

As quietly as possible, he opened the front door, and without a coat, and wearing only a pair of socks on his feet, he ran out into the night.

They’d be watching the house, of course.

They might not be expecting him to run, but they would be watching anyway. A clatter from across the street drew his attention. Mr Jones, from number 9, was putting his trash out.

Or at least that was what he was pretending to do.

Dan ran in the opposite direction, through the alley, avoiding the dogshit, and trash can spillages, as best he could.

He didn’t know where he was heading, but when he found himself at the gates to the park, he realised this would be the perfect place to hide. He launched himself at the railings and pulled himself up, slicing the palm of his hand as he did so. He jumped down into the park. He hid behind a bush, sucking the blood from the wound on his hand, watching for signs of pursuit.

A dog walker - obviously a Government Agent - approached, on the other side of the fence. The dog stopped to sniff at him, through the metal railings, but the owner ignored the signal and pulled the dog onward.

Once the dog and the Agent had rounded the corner, Dan pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and did his best to bind his hand.

Checking there were no other Agents around, Dan made his way into the heart of the park. He knew this park well. He often went there with Katie - and Michael, before he was “taken” - to play on the swing in the children’s play area. It was there he headed now.

The night sky was cloudless, but the moon was not visible and the stars did not cast enough light for him to easily find his way, and it was only when his shoeless feet found the damp grass that he realised he had meandered from the path. The park seemed different to him. Trees seemed to bend towards him, and shadowy shapes seemed to keep pace with him.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, he reached the the play area. As he opened the tiny gate, that divided the play area from the main park two hooded shadows peeled away from the swings.

“Hey, mister! Got a cigarette?” one of the shadows said to him. It was code, Dan realised. They were agents of the Government. One of them stepped closer, his breath fogging in the cold night. “Look,’ it said to the other, laughing. “He ain’t wearing no shoes.”

Dan punched the Agent in the face - opening up cut on his hand, in the process - and ran off.

Hours later, Dan was found walking in the middle of a dual carriageway, by a police car, alerted by a member of the public that there was ‘some fucking lunatic trying to get himself killed’. He was taken to a psychiatric unit for assessment, and Sectioned under the Mental Health Act, when he tried to escape. A couple of weeks later, he was diagnosed with psychotic depression, given medication, counselling and spent a further six weeks recovering.

Gillian stood by him. Despite all the horrible things he said to her, when he was first sectioned.

Even after that thing with, Mel, the student nurse.

Perhaps, Gillian had psychotic depression too. Perhaps, coming here, seeing that he was so much better had given her the space to allow her own problems to surface.

Or perhaps, the things she saw and heard - or thought she saw and heard - was just the result of that bump on the head.

Whatever the reason, Dan knew that he had to step up now. He was no longer “the sick one.” He needed to look after his wife and daughter.

Gillian and Katie were staring at him. They looked so alike, with the same questioning expression on their faces, he couldn't help but smile.

“I guess we'll take Silky,” he said, to Claire.


Click here to read part four


So... the big news is that one of my steemit stories (Reunion - told in 8 parts last month) has been selected to appear in the Isle of Write Anthology (see this post https://steemit.com/writing/@isleofwrite/isle-of-write-curation-to-publication-update). I am so excited to be a part of this. Please pay them a visit and check out the other stories that have been selected too. You too can be curated: so read the post and find out how!

Some more of my short stories

“Haunted (parts one and two are available)”
A ghost story
Part one https://steemit.com/f/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-one-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge
Part two

Some people only have their memories for company…

“Mother Bot”
Don’t read this if you have mother issues.

A man is on a journey. But why?

Not sure I'd want this power...

A relationship ends

“Impulse buy”
A man shows off his purchase to his less than enthusiastic wife

Very short stories (stories told in exactly 50 words)

“Another Crime Involving Rhyme”
Someone is killing words. Inspector Poet is on the case

“When Rhyme Is A Crime”
Theft, murder, bad rhymes...

An ill man at a dinner party. What could go wrong?

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Great choice man! It's really a thrilling story!!!

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. The links for the first two parts of the story, if you are interested, are just before the photo :)

Great story! Now I want more...

Ah! This time you are in luck. More is planned (also parts 1&2 are available - links just above photo if you missed them)

Great! I can't wait!

Love the story. Even with reading part 3, I am heading over to read the first two. The anticipation is killing me, lol.

Thank you! Great to have feedback! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

You are most welcome. Can't wait to read the next part. :-) Sorry I can't upvote your comment. My power is getting low, so I need to let it rebuild. I tend to vote for a lot of responses to my comments.

No need to upvote my comments! I know what it is like to run low on voting power. Do you use Busy.org? You can use a slider on there, even if you don't have one on the normal steemit platform. Helps if you want to reward everyone, but can't afford a full 100%. I like to reward people for commenting on my posts, but don't expect a upvote for my replies! Your comments are reward enough, my friend, thank you! :)

Thank you :-) No I haven't checked that out. I just watch my vote and stop if it hits 2 cents. I am getting the hang of what I can and can't do. I too don't really expect upvotes on comments. I appreciate when people do though. :-)

Busy is worth checking out. It is steemit, just with added functions. I can upvote comments at 25% which means I have more votes each day. Worth a look. (If you do you enable the voting slider and set default vote under settings)

Ok, good to know. Will check it out now, so when my vote power goes back up I can decide then. I just hate waiting so long for it to go back up, lol.

That was strange seeing that site. How long has it been in beta?

Not sure. Like steemit, I guess, also in beta

:-) ok, off I go to read it. I just finished my 9th chapter in my novel. :-)

Yay! Congratulations! :)

Thank you :-)

Nice... Hope Silky will be of help to fight against the old woman.

I hope so. Dogs don't have a great track record of survival in horror stories. Let's hope we can change that! ;)

Great piece, this got me the experience of the 'Imagination TV'.