Monday, June 28, 2010

Short Story: The Attic

Here's another short story. Hope you like it.

side note-I have no idea why some paragraphs are indented and some aren't. I can't seem to fix it either. Guess I'm just not tech savvy enough :)

The Attic


The steps creaked noisily under my feet as I climbed into the attic. The little slates of wood swayed discomfortingly under my weight. Carefully but quickly, I pulled myself up onto the uneven floor of the attic. I hated climbing that pull-down ladder. It always gave me a slight sense of vertigo.

Stumbling in the darkness, I searched the air around me with my hand, hoping to find the string to the light. My hand fought with the cord as it wrapped itself between my fingers and I fumbled to get a grip.

Through the sound of the pounding rain against the roof, I heard a slight creak behind me. I turned around, but couldn’t see anything except for the faint light that shone in from the hole where the ladder sat open. No one else was up here with me, so I had to assume it was just the wood settling.

Finally, I caught hold of the string and pulled, letting dim light shine down around me. The bulb was getting old and gave off a faint, orange-tinged glow. A haze of dust floated in the air around me, blurring my vision as I crouched in the attic. I stepped forward cautiously and prayed that all the musty smelling beams were still solid enough to hold my weight.

I hadn’t been up here in a long time and now the little space seemed even smaller somehow. But Mom needed the Christmas decorations, so here I was, sent to rummage through boxes in search of a few old decorations. Of course, she couldn’t have made it easy for me at all and, oh I don’t know, actually label any of the boxes. No, that’d be asking too much. So now, I faced stacks of blank cardboard boxes as they mocked me with their intimidating numbers. How was I supposed to find the one box of decorations in all of this mess?

Another louder creak to my left had me spinning around again. I turned just in time to see the corner of a sheet draped over an old stand-up mirror flip up before fluttering back into place.

“Just…just a draft”, I whispered to myself. No need to get freaked out over something like that just because it was creepy up here. I’m sure there was a vent over there or something that I just couldn’t feel.

Hesitantly, I stepped forward in search of the box I needed until I felt something scurry over my foot. I looked down and screamed. I slapped my hand to my mouth, quickly silencing my panic. A disgustingly furry mouse had crawled over my foot before racing away to hide in the dark corners around me.

Gross.

Moving on, now with my eyes also peeled for disease infested rodents, I continued on until I came to a stack of larger boxes. Grabbing one, I pulled open the lid only to find it filled with old clothes that smelled like mothballs. I set it aside and continued my search through the other boxes until I heard another sound, not quite a creak this time. It was louder and closer now, like something scraping against the floorboards or slowly dragging across them.

I squinted in the dim light as I searched for the sound until a small box suddenly dropped down next to me. I jumped up at the movement as another gasping scream escaped.

Not a draft. A draft couldn’t make a box fall, no matter how small it might be.

“T-Tommy?” I whispered into the stifling quiet of the attic. “This isn’t funny. Come out now.”

Silence.

I tried brushing off the feeling of being watched as the hairs on the nape of my neck stood on end. Turning back around, I grabbed another box to look through and hoped this one would hold the decorations, so I could get out of here. Alone or not, the attic was still disturbingly creepy.

My hands felt clammy as I opened the box in front of me. The feeling of being watched lingered and caused my heart to beat erratically. I gave a cry of fright when the light suddenly turn off, plunging me into complete darkness.

I fumbled around as my eyes attempted to adjust to the lack of light.

“Stop it now, Tommy. I know you’re up here,” I said into the darkness. He had to be. If it wasn’t him, then who—or what—was it? I turned around, searching for the light’s draw-string.

I was being foolish and jumping to conclusions. It was just me up here. The bulb was old, maybe it just went out. That would be my luck.

Another scraping sound directly in front of me had me believing that maybe I wasn’t jumping to conclusions after all. Slowly, the sound dragged closer. I peered into the darkness, but couldn’t see anything. Inch by inch the sound grew closer as my heart pounded in time.

Just as I found the draw-string, a small voice drifted from the shadows around me saying, “You’re not alone.” It was said in an eerie sing-song voice that sent a trickle of fear racing down my spine. It had to be Tommy now. No one else was home.

I turned the light on and practically jumped out of my skin as I shrieked. Tommy stood directly in front of me right under the light.

Sighing with relief that I wasn’t actually going insane, I narrowed my eyes in annoyance at him.

“You’re not allowed up here, Tommy.”

“Tommy’s not here,” he said in a haunted whisper. He tilted his head slightly to the side as vacant eyes stared through me.

“Stop it. You’re right there. I see you.”

“No…he’s not.” His voice turned flat and emotionless as he spoke. Not at all like Tommy’s normal carefree cadence. What was wrong with him? Again, my heart rate picked up as I stared down at my little brother. This wasn’t like him at all.

“S-stop.” I stuttered and grabbed his shoulder. I shook him lightly in hopes of getting some sort of normal reaction out of him, instead those unnaturally vacant eyes just continued to stare back at me unseeing.

“Tommy. Tommy!” I said, each syllable was shouted louder than the last.

Suddenly, he jerked under my grip as he threw his hands up and shouted. I screamed a full on lung-piercing scream as his reaction shocked me. I stumbled away from him, still screaming, before bumping into a box and falling down hard onto the wooden floor.

Tommy lifted one arm back up and pointed at me as he stepped forward with the slowest of movements. My chest heaved as I tried to calm my breathing after screaming so long. With each step that he took toward me, my heart beat faster and faster.

He jerked to a stop once he was directly in front of me. My eyes raked over his face for any sign of my little brother.

“T-Tommy?” I stuttered again, unsure of what to say.

Suddenly, his eyes flicked straight to me as if finally seeing me for the first time before loud giggling erupted all around me.

“I scared you so bad!” he teased. My face hardened and I scrambled to get up and chase him as his laughter drifted all around me.

“I’m gonna kill you, Tommy!” I shouted while running after him. “That wasn’t funny!”

He rushed to the other side of the attic before hopping down and out of my reach. Not caring about the dust or mice anymore, I dropped to the floor and tried to stop by body from shaking so much. Adrenaline still coursed through me and I willed my heart to stop beating so fiercely as I took deep calming breathes.

Stupid, little brothers.


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