Allen feels his throat strain as he shouts above the unexplained snow squall.
“We need to leave,” he holds the camera to her light as Karen searches the ceiling for the origin of the storm. “Karen—did you hear me?”
Fear secures the reigns of his consciousness and he pulls at her arm, turning her to him. She looks up in startled wonderment.
“We have to leave,” he pleads.
She reads his lips and shakes her head.
“Not yet. We’re so close, Allen… we need to finish this.”
Karen opens the door of the room on their right.
“Must be the girls room,” she yells without turning her head.
Separate beds with a dusting of snow scattered atop pink comforters are on opposite walls, leaving a large gap in the middle of the room. Allen thinks to himself that they must’ve been twins; even the dressers and bedside stands are identical. He steps to Karen’s side and notices her eyes beginning to swell. Her flashlight caresses posters that hang over the headboards of the beds. One is Snow White, and the other is Belle.
“How old do you think they were?” Allen asks.
“Does it matter?” She snaps to him and Allen could hear the anguish and see the pain on her face. “They should’ve been princesses… now they’re nothing but ash.”
She leaves the room without a further word and Allen gladly joins. Ice forms on the inside of the window at the top of the stairs, concealing the outside world. Allen feels the temperature drop and he shivers. He rubs his bare hands together and they brush up against his coat. He feels the outline of the notebook.
“Look at this,” he reaches into his jacket and stops when Karen brings her hands to her shocked mouth in the doorway of the room opposite the girl’s. “What is it? What do you see?”
The bathroom is small for a family of five and Allen squeezes beside her and pivots to what Karen’s shaky hand is pointing to. The camera captures the sight and Allen references what he sees on the tiny flat-screen to the ghastly splatter across the sink and mirror with his own eyes.
“It can’t be blood,” says Allen.
“Then what is it?”
Allen leans forward and touches the unknown substance with his forefinger. He rubs the substance between his thumb. The viscosity is coarse and grainy.
“Too thick to be blood,” he brings his finger to his nose and takes a quick whiff. “Christ that stinks like something… rotting.”
He wipes the substance off on a stiff towel hanging from the rack adjacent to the sink. Karen jumps when she glances through her peripherals the door of the girl’s bedroom shutting with a forced haste.
“Can we please leave now?” Allen begs.
Karen doesn’t hear him and goes against his intuition, following her down the hallway. Their boots sink into the fresh accumulation of powder and Allen looks overhead, searching for any logical evidence of why the Parish Home was experiencing a blizzard within. A vague outline of pull-down access to the ceiling is spotted. His fingertips are just out of reach and he hops, scraping across a patch of ice that burns.
None of this makes any sense and we are going to die in here if we don’t leave he thinks to himself.
Allen hurries to Karen, who is now in the master bedroom.
Her light bounces from one corner to the next, revealing a similar sight as the one in the girl’s room.
“Why does everything look so neat?” Karen turns to Allen. “It’s as if nothing ever happened.”
Even with the snowfall intensifying, Allen can understand what her faint voice identifies. He shoves a heavy pile of snow from the corner of the bed and sees that it is tightly made. The laundry basket by the closet is empty and the bureau is void of any clutter. A vanity is at the far end of the room with bulges underneath the snow. Allen guesses these to be jewelry boxes. Karen follows as he grabs the one closest to them. The jewelry box slips from his hands as he shakes off the snow. The top pops open when it hits the floor and the contents spill out.
“What is that?”
Allen reaches down and brings the box level to his chest. His fingers reach inside and pull out a Polaroid. In the picture is the family, and something that brings a chill down his spine.
“That must be Bobby.”
Mr. Parish is beaming in the picture with his arms wrapped around the shoulder of his wife, and the girls stand in front. Away from the family is Bobby Parish, who is dressed in nothing but black and has a look of hatred on his face as his eyes are slanted towards the rest of his family.
“You need to keep this,” Allen places the jewelry box on the vanity and folds the picture, sticking it into Karen’s pocket. “And we seriously need to leave.”
“Okay… I am ready to go.”
Allen’s relief was dismantled with a merciless blow as the door opposite of the master bedroom is wide open. The snow drifts roll from within, crashing into their shins. Karen inches forward, possessed by her curiosity and Allen is forced to oblige.
A full-sized mattress, a stout desk, and a slim dresser is all that awaits in the simplicity of Bobby Parish’s room. The walls are void of any pictures and the snow palpitates from the ceiling with an unseen rage. Karen opens the top desk draw and Allen finds his moment.
“I found a notebook like this one downstairs,” he removes it from his coat and Karen shines her light to the hunter green cover and Allen can now see the smudge of writing in the top corner. “That is definitely his initials, but what do you think the symbol is?”
“I have no idea.”
Allen pauses before returning it to his jacket.
“You should hold onto this.”
The notebook is rolled at the metal spiral and Karen reluctantly grabs it from his outstretched hand. She begins to protest, but it is too late. A shadow appears behind Allen and takes him from the room. The camera drops from his hands and Karen is frozen in place. Allen fights back, kicking at the darkness dragging him up the attic stairs of the pull-down door.
His last words echo through the deafening blizzard before the attic closes.
And she does just that.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017
Has anyone seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe?
Yeah, we’re going to talk about that for a moment.
I just want to say that personally, I have never seen a horror movie as clever as this. The progression and sequencing is phenomenal, the relation between our two main characters is superb (Brian Cox is an outstanding actor and Emile Hirsch does wonderful work in this film) and the storyline! Holy shit everyone, this is as original as you get.
This is modern horror at its best.
I can guess that there was minimal—if none at all—CGI effects utilized. Everything is natural and raw. And real. I am not as educated as I’d like to be with the operations of family run morgues, but it doesn’t require an experienced eye to understand that this concept had been researched to the point that every little detail was given the once-over with a fine-toothed comb multiple times.
And talk about scary.
I don’t frighten easy. I don’t know if it’s because I have a graveyard in my back yard, or that I grew up with classics such as “Halloween”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Hellraiser”, and “Wax Works”, but there were moments where I felt the fear.
Do yourself a favor and go watch it. Do it alone and in the dark, too.
I will be releasing one final issue of this story. It’s more of an epilogue… but you’ll see what I mean in the coming days.
Not much of an afterthought today. I guess I really just want to get back to writing. A quick update, though:
- I am still 0-2 on “Daily Visits” (excerpt is here if you’re interested), and I have yet to hear back from the last magazine I sent it to. Maybe that is a good thing?
- I am working my ass-off on other stories for publication and will probably release another excerpt in a few days for a short story called “Under the Window”. It’s wicked sweet, bub! That’s Maine speak for awesome, by the way.
- Did you enjoy the Word Press spotlight after my last afterthought? I sure did. Expect another one of those soon, which will touch base on a comedy horror you should be reading. I’d do my own site—Ghoul Flash Fiction—but Ghoul and I have decided that I am shameless enough. Heh… go check it out if you enjoy horror humor. I think this week he will be doing some ice fishing. Last week he struggled to understand memes, but I think he gets the gist. My goal with Ghoul is to turn it into a comic at some point, so if you haven’t read any Ghoul (shame on you!), you should…. Ah hell! I did it again with the shameless self-promotion. Just don’t tell Ghoul.
- I am also thinking of adding a resource page to this site with links to tools that I reference as a writer and publication companies I have been trying to get my work to.
Until next time,
John Potts Jr.