Whiskey Shots Volume 10
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by Susan M. Sailors
Description: Brave enough for a horror thriller? Read the latest Whiskey Shots short stories from author Susan M Sailors?if you dare! "A Wee Dram:" Tom doesn't mind helping Mrs. O'Malley around the house, even though in reality Reverend Hixton shamed him into it because most of the other "good Christians" in town seemed to be afraid of her. However, when Tom starts seeing things around the house and having nightmares, he begins to uncover a mystery his small town will never believe. "Dark Moon:" Christine has never wanted anything more than to make her father proud of her, so she's thrilled when he offers her a job at his private lab. When she meets his assistant Erik, she's intrigued and wary. Erik seems to have a secret that could threaten her father's work, and Christine finds herself torn between what she feels for Erik and her desire to please her father. She can only hope she'll make the right decision as she investigates the strange sounds coming from the lab at night.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [62 KB]
Reading time: 36-51 min.
A WEE DRAM by Susan M. Sailors
Tom kept trudging through the slushy snow and mud. Mrs. O'Malley probably wasn't even in touch with reality enough to notice if he was late, but he didn't want to take any more chances. Reverend Hixton was right. They all needed to do their share to help those less fortunate. But Tom couldn't understand why the least fortunate person in his neighborhood had to live in such a creepy house.
It wasn't so much the house itself as the feeling Tom got from it. He felt like it was alive, watching him the way a crazy person would, as if it might do anything or nothing at all. Or maybe it was just Mrs. O'Malley. She wasn't exactly crazy, but she was definitely a little beyond what Tom's grandmother would have called "a character."
She'd first gone off her head a bit back in 1949, the year her brother Cyrus killed himself after finding out he had cancer and only about three months to live. No one ever really talked about how he'd killed himself, supposedly because it was too horrid and thus giving out the details in such a respectable little farm community would have been vulgar. It had obviously been bad enough to send his sister off the deep end.
She'd recovered, for a time. She married Seamus O'Malley and had two children in as many years. But in 1955, Seamus left, taking the children with him. Everyone assumed she'd driven them off. It made sense, but Tom had always figured Seamus just didn't love his wife enough to stick around and take care of her. It took too much out of his family pride and his enjoyment of life. O'Malley had been a lawyer, and Tom had the sneaking suspicion a young secretary might have left town about the same time for reasons other than suddenly being unemployed.
Tom stopped at the fence to catch his breath. The fence was barbed wire, even though Mrs. O'Malley didn't keep any animals and didn't really have much of a need for that kind of security. The top of the fence came up to Tom's nose. The entrance was made from two sheep gates, but with no barbed wire, so anyone who wanted to could have climbed over it. Tom doubted anyone had ever wanted to. Even the kids avoided her place. It was no fun daring another kid to break into a place no one even wanted to walk past in broad daylight.
Tom got his key out and busied himself with the lock so he wouldn't have to look at the house. Then he would lock the gate, and finally fix his eyes on the half cobbled, half dirt path until he got to the door, thus avoiding all the creepy feelings he usually got from staring into those dark windows. He had work to do when he got home, and it was already dark because of a storm moving in. He didn't need the memory of seeing shadows or glowing eyes or frosty handprints.
He'd seen all those things before. The shadow had probably been the curtains, as Mrs. O'Malley was mostly confined to the first floor because of a bad hip. The eyes had probably been a cat, though Tom had never seen one while he was there. The smeared handprints bothered him. They could have been made twenty years ago, and no one had ever bothered to clean the window. Tom liked to imagine that was the case, that no one had cleaned the windows in decades. He'd seen a big print, like a man's hand, and a little child's. He noticed them on the very top window one frosty evening, but he'd never seen them before. He'd never checked since to see if they were still there. He couldn't be sure whether he'd be more terrified at finding them gone or still there. The house got to him that bad.
As he walked up the path, he noticed lots of the stones seemed to have been kicked up recently. There were several fresh holes that still showed wet dirt, as if it had only been a few hours since someone had kicked them up. It might have been Reverend Hixton, either checking up on him or doing a monthly visitation. Tom didn't care if Hixton was checking up on him, so long as all the weird stuff around this house somehow had a rational explanation.
Tom stepped onto the porch carefully. He'd put his foot through one of the old boards several weeks ago, and he didn't intend to do that ever again. He shuddered when he remembered the smell that had come up from the hole his foot had made. Hixton had fixed the hole, but he'd said the smell wasn't that bad, probably just the normal rotting of an old house. Tom didn't see how anyone could think that kind of stench was normal. If he were as good of a Christian as he wanted Hixton to think he was, he'd probably offer to check under the house for Mrs. O'Malley. There was probably a dead animal or some kind of septic leak down there. But Tom wasn't quite that selfless, and he had no intention of volunteering to spend more time under those watchful windows.
He gave the door three loud raps before he used his key to open it. He made his way carefully through the dark entry hall and opened the door to the "best" sitting room. This room contained six curio cabinets, filled with exotic objects and junk. Shrunken heads rested on top of Coca-Cola cans, and vases valued at over four figures held flowers made of pipe cleaners. They were all locked, so Tom never had to dust the stuff inside. He only had to dust the tops and clean the glass once a week when he brought the groceries.
"Mrs. O'Malley? It's Tom." He addressed the large chair facing the television, assuming she'd be sitting there as usual.
"Hello, Thomas. I'm over here," she called from a chair by the window.
Tom turned quickly. He'd glanced right over her. "I didn't see you over there. I hope I'm not disturbing you."
"Oh no. My eyes are hurting today, so I thought I'd look out the window and just listen to the television."
He nodded. "I'll go put the groceries away. Is there anything special you'd like me to get for you next week?"
"No. I manage just fine." She busied herself smoothing her skirt and Tom went into the kitchen.
Tom couldn't always rely on Mrs. O'Malley to tell him when something around the house needed fixing, even when he asked her, so he checked the faucets and the refrigerator himself. He took out the garbage and peeked into the bathroom. He had just finished putting the dry goods away in the pantry when he heard a creak. That was the last thing he ever wanted to hear in this house. He closed the pantry and looked down the hall. It wasn't Mrs. O'Malley. This creak had been from a door, not the floor.
He looked at the back door first, which was securely locked, and then the bathroom door, which seemed to be in the same position he had left it in. He stepped into the hall and saw that the door to the second floor was open a crack. Tom had checked that door before and typically it was locked, either from fear of burglars or just habit. He really didn't want to look up the stairs, but he knew he needed to. Even if it was just unusually brave kids fooling around, they needed to have their butts torn up. Or one of Hixton's good old hellfire Sunday school lessons.
He opened the door slowly, and the creak it gave sounded right. He opened it just enough to be able to peek up the steps. There was nothing there. The stairs were covered in dust and the window about halfway up was covered in grime. He started to close the door, but something had caught his eye. On every other step, the dust was disturbed in various places. If someone walked up there two steps at a time, they would leave a trail like that. Mrs. O'Malley could hardly handle two steps in a row, much less two at a time. Tom stared up at the door for a minute. Cobwebs fluttered around its corners. It didn't move.
He closed the door quickly and went back to the sitting room. He started dusting so he could get out of there quickly, but he felt bad about not saying anything, even though it probably meant nothing.
"Has Reverend Hixton been by recently?" he asked.
"Not as of late. He called on the telephone last week though."
Tom nodded. He just had to come right out and ask. "Has anyone else been by? It's just that I noticed the path was kind of messed up. Some of the stones had been kicked around."
Mrs. O'Malley took a moment to answer. Tom wasn't sure if she really had to think about it or if she just hadn't been paying attention. "No. No one comes here except you and the reverend."
Tom nodded again. "Oh. Well, I can put the stones back in place if you want me to. Wouldn't want someone to trip or anything."
"That would be nice."
Tom moved on to dusting the top of the final curio. "And I noticed the door to the next floor was creaking. That door is usually locked, so I wasn't sure why it might be unlocked. If you need something from up there, I could get it for you."
Tom most definitely did not want to go up those stairs, but he'd feel better knowing she had been the one to unlock the door.
She gripped the arms of her chair for a minute, as if something troubled her about it, but then she smiled and said, "Oh, yes. I was just airing out the stairway. I figure it must get awfully musty in there."
Tom didn't feel very reassured by that answer. He got out the glass cleaner and sprayed the curio by the window. "I see. I just thought I'd mention it. Just in case."
She nodded. "It was very good of you to mention it. You never know what such a small thing could mean."
Tom got through the rest of his work as quickly as possible. Mrs. O'Malley seemed to lose herself in her own little world.
"Was there anything else you needed?"
Mrs. O'Malley stared up at him for a long moment. "No, no. You run along home. Hurry. Before the storm really comes."
Tom looked out the window. It was much darker, but the storm still seemed a ways off, and it was only two miles to his farm. "All right then. You call if you need anything."
She nodded absently.
Once Tom was outside, he moved most of the stones back into place with his foot. A loud clap of thunder made him look up, but it wasn't the storm that sent a chill through him.
Up in the window, the one he'd seen the handprints on, he saw a dark figure with glowing yellow eyes. It turned from the window before Tom could pull his gaze away. Its movement disturbed Tom more than anything. If it had remained still, Tom could have told himself it was a shadow. He could even have dismissed the eyes. But this had definitely been a person.
Tom turned away and bolted for the gate, jumping over it quickly before dashing down the road to his car. He didn't stop or slow down until he was on the other side of his own locked door. * * * *