Family Secrets: Flash Fiction by Thomas Winship


The Winter 2013 Blogger Book Fair: The World For A Shilling may be over, but I'm not quite done! Those who followed my Flash Fiction Challenge were treated to some awesome offerings. Now, it's my turn.

Remember, all entries had to be approximately 500 words in length and begin with the following: "Lightning flashed. For one brief second, everything was illuminated. And my life was never the same."

 

Family Secrets by Thomas Winship

 

Lightning flashed. For one brief second, everything was illuminated. And my life was never the same.

It began as every thunderstorm-riddled night in my short life had: the anxiety that slithered toward fear as bedtime got closer; the rising panic that forced me to ask for, then demand, and then beg for, the opportunity to sleep in my parents’ bed—or at least in their room; the forced compromise that saw me shivering under the covers while the hallway light created unwelcomed shadows in my room.

The screams that jolted me awake.

I lay there, chest heaving, with panic threatening to sweep me away. I was covered in sweat. The room still echoed with my screams, but I was certain the screams hadn’t been mine.

Lightning flashed.

I screamed, ripping the covers aside and running down the hall. My parents’ wrath was insignificant compared to my fear.

My mother was fast asleep. My father’s side of the bed was rumpled, but empty. I longed to crawl in next to my mother, but my father’s absence represented a mystery. What boy can resist a mystery?

Both upstairs bathrooms were empty.

“Daddy.”

No answer.

I walked down the hallway and peered down from the top of the stairs, the darkness transforming the landscape into unfamiliar terrain.

“Dad—“

Lightning flashed, choking off my inquiry. In the brief light, I saw that the basement door was ajar.

Shivering with excitement and fear, I padded down the stairs. They were good, sturdy stairs and I was small for my twelve years. It was a soundless descent. I hesitated at the top of the basement stairs. What if my father was dead down there, the result of a fall…

… or the victim of a monster?

I felt sick. I opened my mouth to call to him, but a sound interrupted me—a wet, fleshy sound like someone being slapped.

It wasn’t a monster-y sound, so I found the courage to go into the basement. Light spilled from beneath the door leading to the old root cellar, making the basement less dark. Approaching it, I heard grunting, like my father sounded when working on a car. But this was deeper. Breathier.

I knew that something was wrong, but I reached for the handle, anyway. The door swung open without a sound.

Lightning flashed. For one brief second, everything was illuminated. I froze.

Neither person noticed me. My father was too busy. The naked woman was too dead.

Somehow, I didn’t scream. I turned and fled back up the stairs to the safety of my room.

I hadn’t closed the root cellar door. I fell asleep while waiting for my father to notice.

*****

The morning was bright and cloudless. My mind wasn’t.

“Hey, sport,” my father said, entering the kitchen. He held his iPad in one hand and a coffee mug in the other. But all I could see were blades and blood.

Somehow, I choked back a scream.

**********

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed it.

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