I wrote this following a picture prompt on OfficeMango.com – a Horror Bites Challenge. The guidelines included “Try to scare me, or at the very least create a little bit of darkness“, so here goes. This is the picture prompt and my resultant piece of flash fiction:
The intensity of the flames was hurting my eyes, but I couldn’t look away. Not until Peter put his hand on my shoulder.
I looked up into the face I’d watched change from baby to boy, from boy to man. From son to stranger. The purple blobs prevented me from seeing him properly, and for that I was grateful.
“It’s lucky I was here.”
I stared for a few moments longer, until blinking started to shoo-away the purple clouds. I didn’t want to see him, so I turned back to the wheelbarrow. David’s wheelbarrow. He’d probably pushed that old thing around as much as he had me.
“It’s no longboat, but it’ll do. Can you imagine? Valhalla! Magnificent.”
That’s when I started to weep. Silent tears to match the emptiness that had been slowly enveloping me over twenty years.
“I’m going inside for a minute. Stay there.”
If ever an instruction was redundant, that was it. Stay here. The alternative being what? David had moved the three of us here when Peter’s behaviour had shifted from odd to disturbing. Burning down the neighbour’s shed. The missing cat. And so many other things I’ve forgotten. Here, an old farmhouse miles from the nearest neighbour seemed the perfect foil. But it wasn’t. Far from it.
But at least we had a few years of peace while he was gone. After he did that thing. I hoped they would never let him out. I loved him too much to think about what he might do if he was given his freedom back. And of all things, it was a recession that brought him home. Government austerity. Budget cuts. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been released otherwise.
I heard the back door, and watched as Peter walked past, stopping half-way between me and the wheelbarrow.
“It wasn’t cancer that killed Dad. He was called by Odin. To sit at his side. His burning ship will speed his journey.” Peter turned towards me, glancing at my wheelchair. That’s when I saw the cleaver.
“In Valhalla, you will be able. Able to serve him.”