Before the other side

Having not written much in the way of off the cuff new stories, I think since last year, so decided to explore a fresh one. Have mostly been busy redrafting existing tales, and editing. So here we go…

Okay, I’ve not done one of these in awhile, a “Free Write Prompt” from Kellie Elmore.

Thank you Kellie for keeping the Fridays going, even though down here Saturday is when I get to see the prompts.

Here is your FWF prompt:

This house has a story…what is it?

Image Credit: We Heart It

Before the other side

As he sat there on the hood of his friend’s borrowed car, between the gusts of cold tasteless wind in the lone skirts to the high country, Wayne devours a cold meal of fresh figs, along with a few slices of date and pumpkin cake to stave off the journey’s hunger. While Wayne also waits for the 68’ Mustang to cool its head. This Fall of 2017 has been good to Wayne Dahl, he made enough money over the Summer to afford his merchant seaman’s ticket, and training, life is looking good. But right now, he is on a bit of a mission to catch up with a close cousin on the other side of the mountains, rather than take two days to drive around, Wayne is taking the old Cutter’s Pass Road to make it just a four hour journey.

A gust of wind knocks Dahl backwards in his perch on the Mustang’s hood, he sits back up to see what seems to be a small card cart wheeling up the road towards him. Stepping back down on to the ground, Wayne notices the card is a photo as it whips past, and he gives chase to then catch it as the image becomes tangled in a tussock of grass. The photograph now in Dahl’s hand, the image is a run down double storey weatherboard gable with a porch, and balcony, a couple of trees without leaves in the foreground, along with mountains out the back. The place looks to be a once grand now hovel from the early 1900s.

On closer inspection, a lone figure in the shadows of the upper balcony is looking out from the photograph. A cold chill runs through, Dahl’s bodyy, as he is quick to turn the image over, and on the back an inscription. There’ll be days like this, when not even the paint of nature can hide the ugliness inside the shadows to life, signed, Edwina Waddell.

Still the cold wind gusts as Wayne walks back to the Mustang with the photograph in hand to gathers up the food from on the hood. Getting back inside the car out of the weather, he turns the key bringing the eight cylinders back to life. Dahl place the photo up on the dashboard, slips the car into gear, and makes for Cutter’s Pass, while an ipod pumps tune from his parents era through the car stereo system.

Several miles along the road the gradient begins to steepen, the chunky country tyres fitted to the Mustang bite hard into the gravel as the long winding forty-mile climb to the pass starts. Wayne reaches down to change the music selection on the ipod, when he sees high on a hill to his left, the house in the photograph, the exact same house. Dahl picks the photo up off the dash to compare. The shadow about the figure on the balcony seems to of receded partially, Wayne turns the image over once more to find the inscription on the back has changed. It now reads, The recession to life’s shadows are but a short respite to what nature will bring, signed, Eddi Waddell.

Spooked, Dahl’ brings his friend’s car to a grinding halt in an almost sideways fashion on the red marble gravel to the road, and jumps out of the car to a just stand there gazing up at the house half a mile away up on the hill, photograph still in hand. However,  with his curiosity pricked, Wayn jumps back into the car, drops it into gear, and dumps the clutch, turning the Mustang sideways even further around the next bend as he spots the driveway access up to the house. Slowing down, Dahl takes control of himself once more to gently point the car up the access road at an easy pace.

On arrival at the house, Wayne shuts the ignition off, and coasts to a stop waiting for the dust to settle before opening the car door. As Dahl steps out on to the dirt driveway, photograph in hand once more, the house is every bit identical to the photograph out front, even to the extent one might think the photograph was only just taken today. Approaching the porch, and front door, Wayne calls out. “Anyone home, anyone abouts! Anyone home, anyone abouts!” No response came from outside, or within, just the whistle of the wind cutting through the eaves, and the sheeted tin on the roof.

Dahl climbs the handful of stairs as a click is heard, and the door gushes open with a gust of wind to reveal an eerie darkness within, a dull blue, and orange glow. Stepping forward, Wayne enters the rundown house, the strange glow is emanating from the back of the house, he quickly passes through an open living space, down a hall, and into the kitchen. The glow is that of tinted blue and orange glass windows as the Sun spreads its rays across their surface in a dance.

Along the wall to Dahl’s right, is a long narrow table covered in dust, and cobwebs, in front, and old combustion stove, its door half hanging from the last hinge. Wayne takes a look along the table, beneath the dust, and webs, a teapit a few cups and saucers candle holder  a lantern  and then  there at the end. What appears to be a book under all the dust, four inches thick, Dahl picks it up sweeping the cobwebs away to find a course burlap wrap with the words “The Ugliness Inside the Shadows” hand stitched upon the wraps surface.

Wayne places the photograph in his hand down on the table as he unwraps the burlap to expose handmade rag paper, the contents a manuscript with the same title as on the burlap, The Ugliness Inside the Shadows. Turning the page these words come into focus, Now you have read these few words, time for such a person as you is short, for now it is my time,  signed Ed Waddell.

A cold chill again cuts through Wayne Dahl, as if ice runs through his blood, as he looks down at the photograph, the figure on the balcony, she is standing there in full view, out from the shadows, laughing, laughing aloud…

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4 responses to “Before the other side

    • Not the end just yet, I’ve pulled up short, as it seemed a good place to pause. Got a little lazy on the punctuation too. Thanks reading the short piece, Sky, and sharing your thoughts.

  1. Gripping, Sean! I was going to say that I loved the ending — how the figure in the photo eventually appeared before Wayne. But after reading your comment, I realize there is more. Hurry! I can’t wait to learn who this mystery female is.

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