To ease you into your weekend, here's a creepy little story from yours truly.
This was my very first piece of fiction writing for my course this year. It was published in 'INfusion 46', our NMIT student publication. I've tweaked it a little for this version. It's short and sweet. Indeed, it's the shortest thing by far that I've written for college this year!
I think I could adapt this into a longer work for young adult readers. I'm intrigued by the ideas behind it, which I'd like to explore. I'll let you know how I go.
Please to enjoy.
‘The Next Day’
She was awoken by a sudden white flash. The thin blanket of sleep slipped away. She held her breath against the rumbling of the early dawn.
She counted, getting as far as five. Another flash. She counted again, only getting to four.
It's coming quickly this time, she thought.
Her cold skin prickled from the ozone. She was completely awake. On the bed that had been his, she pushed back the stained quilt. She never slept deeply these days. No-one did.
She glanced up towards the sound of rain tapping on corrugated iron. She hoped she had sealed the roof tightly enough. She’d used all of the resin that she could find in his workshop. You couldn't trust the rain. You couldn't let it touch you. And you couldn’t let it in. Not anymore. The days of carefree walks in the rain with her father were past now. The days of trusting the rain — of trusting anything — were long gone.
The initial silence was replaced by a sudden roar. The rain was very quick. It was getting quicker each day. It could sneak up on you if you weren't careful. The rain could hide other noises if you weren’t careful, too.
Her gaze shifted to the door. She strained to hear over the storm. The old-fashioned key was still in the lock. She should still be safe, even if he came back. But, like many things in this house, the lock wasn’t very strong.
She stared out the window. She ignored the faint reflection of herself — a skinny, unremarkable girl with long brown hair. It was her mother’s hair, but with some of her father’s copper highlights through it. It was a face of dark hollows, and darker, empty eyes. She looked past herself and allowed her mind the rare luxury to wander. No-one let their concentration lapse for too long, not if they valued their safety. But the locked door was a measure of protection — for the time being, anyway.
She stretched out her awareness to the roiling sky. Her eyes widened, taking in the view.
Weather is too large to be concerned about someone’s death. Weather is vast. Weather stretches across countries, across the planet. The weather here is just a tiny part of a pattern within patterns within patterns. There's a reason The Scientists can’t make rain, or make it stop raining for that matter. The Forecasters might be able to give some vague predictions about weather based on years of gathered information, but you can’t ever reliably say what the weather the next day — or the next hour — will be like. And you can never create weather or try to control it. The Rainmakers had tried that once and everyone now knew the disaster that had become.
But life goes on. So too, it seems, does death. Sometimes death goes on in a cruel parody of life. That happened quite a lot these days. Life and death go on, and so does the weather. The million small dramas people wake up to every day doesn't matter to the weather. It doesn't care about what happened to you yesterday. It doesn't care about your sanity, or your safety. It's weather. It's just too damned large to worry about you. It’s too damned big to care. But we have to worry about the weather and life and death.
Today, she had to worry about all three. Especially death. In particular, his death. She hoped his death would be permanent, and that her life would continue.
I don’t want to have to kill my father again.
Across the room, the doorknob rattled.
© Aaron Hughes 2012