The computer screen lights the room around me. I stare at the blinking line on the white blank page that mocks me. It knows I’ve run out of ideas; it knows I won’t write tonight. I turn the speakers on, and European pop streams out. The heavy melodies and emotional voices normally help me write, especially the melodramatic English bands. Still nothing. Should my new story be about a single man? Should I try a detective novel this time? Did anyone really care about stories that don’t have vampires? I can’t do the undead; I don’t have the patience for immortal sagas.
Nothing was as cold as his heart, not even the snowstorm outside, I write, then instantly delete. What kind of shit was that? That story wouldn’t lead anywhere. I minimize the tab, and open up the internet. When all else fails at three in the morning, online shop. After twenty minutes I have two books, a pair of slimming panty hose, a Halloween costume I’ll never wear (plus it’s only May), and an eagle statue in the cart. I debate on adding a full box of candy bars, because why leave the house, when I hear crackling from the speakers.
The music still plays, but it’s quieter. I’m pretty sure there’s interference in the speaker, too, because I hear more than just lyrics. I turn the volume up, but only the music gets louder. Whatever else is coming through is still as soft as before.
“Where are you coming from?” I ask the left speaker as I fiddle with the cords.
“Here.” It sounds like a whisper in my ear.
I drop the cords and eye the speaker. Maybe I hadn’t heard it, it’s late and I’m tired. Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me. I go back to unplugging cords and unkinking them. I pull the power cord from the wall, and the music stops, but the other sound does not. Popping my head out from under the desk, I jiggle the left speaker, then the right.
“Hear…. Hear me,” the speakers crackle and hiss.
I jerk back, hitting my head hard against the desk. I yank all of the power cords from the wall, cutting all sources for the computer and speakers. Three strong pops come from the speakers like a laugh.
“What is happening?” I screech.
“Barker,” the static voice says.
I back to the door until I feel the doorknob pushing into my spine. “Is that… Is that your name?” I croak, still half unbelieving.
“Brady,” it says.
“B- Barker Brady? Is that you?” I lick my lips trying to get any moisture to return to my mouth.
“MOTHER! MOTHER, NO!” Booms the speakers.
“Who is Mother? Your mother?” I beg, pushing against the door of the room harder.
I hear a bang, but I can’t tell from where. It wasn’t from the speakers, I know that much, but it was definitely in my house. Another bang comes, then clattering like metal on a floor. My kitchen. Someone is it my kitchen.
“Mother knows,” the speakers hiss with a low growling chuckle.
I turn my body, still pressing to the door, and grab the knob. Before I can open the door, though, a large knife smacks into the wood like a dart board. A sliver of the metal blade pokes though in front of my nose.
A cackle from the speaker pierces my ears. “Won’t run,” it tells me cruelly.
“This is my house!” I yell, anger erasing the fear.
“WRONG!” the speaker voice screams. Sparks fly from the wall outlet, raining down over the room and sizzling as they hit carpet.
“I live here,” I say firmly, my hands shaking.
“WRONG!” it says again.
“What do you want?” I cry as another knife sticks through the door, this time above my eyes.
“Piece,” the speaker voice says calmly.
“Peace?” I repeat. “Peace from this?” I assume possessing a computer is the worst form of afterlife.
“Piece,” hisses the voice, rage flaring back up. “Missing piece. For Mother. Mother knows. Always knows.”
“Piece?” My earlier panic creeps back up my throat. “What piece?”
The speakers laugh crazily. “Barker- heart. Brady- lungs. Brittany- mind.”
I swallow hard at my name. In a fever, I sling open the door and bend low in case any more knives are hurled my way. What I don’t expect to find is the towering figure of a woman at the end of the hallway. She looks tired and withered in a pale grey dress the hugs her waits tightly, then flares down to her feet in rags. Her silver hair is pinned to her head with only a couple stray curls hanging loose about her face. There are no shoes on her feet and no jewelry around her wrists or neck. The only thing flashy about her are the knives in her hands. Her eyes dip down to the floor, and she smiles sheepishly when she sees me. Her teeth are black like tar.
“You,” I force saliva to my mouth and swallow again. “You must be Mother,” I say clearly.
Behind me, the speakers crackle. “Mother speaks when she wants you to speak.”
“Who are you?” I plead with the speakers from the floor of the hallway.
“I liked your stories,” it admits sadly. “But Mother wants your mind.”
“Why doesn’t Mother tell me herself?” I look defiantly at the grim woman of the past.
The ragged woman opens her mouth and a deafening wail escapes her lips. My body feels like it is collapsing in on itself. Blood drips from my ears and nose, staining the carpet beneath me. The woman, still singing her deathly moans, bends and begins mopping the blood with the torn ends of her dress. I raise my hand to touch her, but she flees to the opposite side of the hall again.
As I watch her, a hand rests on my back. Still on the floor, I turn my head enough to see who it is. A gorgeous woman with long flowing blonde hair smiles down at me. I spare a second to glance at the wailing woman. Her eyes fill with dread at the sight of the new arrival.
When I turn to face the blonde again, she’s standing erect. She’s dressed like a housewife straight out of the 1950s. Her lipstick is pristine and blood red, her nails painted to match. Her dress is cropped at the sleeves and snug over her bust giving her the perfect Marilyn Monroe shape. She sneers at me like I’m a child and she caught me playing around in her makeup.
“Mother hates when they have warning,” the speakers pop.
The howling from down the hall is nearly unbearable. The blonde reaches behind her and pulls up an ax. With both hand she holds it above her head, then she brings it down on mine.
“I can’t believe every owner of this house had a name that started with ‘B’,” the detective says over the lifeless body.
“Believe it,” the medical examiner says, closing his toolkit. “My Ma always said this place was cursed.”
“Because of the ‘B’ thing?”
“Nah, because everyone who lives here, dies here. When she was a little girl there was a man named Brady who was murdered in the basement. Before that, my Gran knew a woman who lived here. Ol’ Gran played with that lady’s son, even dated him. They were engaged to be married when all of sudden lady and son move. Few months later when the new people arrive, they find the body of some other guy tucked away in the walls. Who knows who or what might be in here.”
The detective shivers. “Well, let’s get moving, then. This place gives me the heebie jeebies.”
About the author:
Rebecca Timberlake is a self-published author from Louisville, Kentucky. She published an ebook, Independent Will, while in her third year of college. She also has some work available on Wattpad (one ‘finished’ work, and another in progress), and likes to ‘genre-explore’, which is a fancy way of saying she writes in a variety of genres instead of sticking to one.