Halloween Flash Fiction Event: Elliott James
Thank you for joining us for this Halloween Flash Fiction Event story from Elliott James. Elliott brings us a prime example of why Mr. Weasley was right when he said, “Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.” (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) The image is a stock photo from a DeviantART artist who specifically allows it to be used on outside websites, with credit and links posted. Big thanks, to both the author and the artist, for sharing. Now… on to the story…
The No-Hope Chest
By Elliott James
The chest wanted open.
It wasn’t words that skittered over Adam’s mind like dry leaves on a tin roof. It was an urge. He stared at the chest and told himself he was being crazy, but the feeling lingered, coiled around his spine like a python, squeezing him. The chest wanted open.
And Adam didn’t want to open it.
It was an old chest, large and ornate and creepy looking. Adam had always stayed away from it as a kid. A row of engraved H’s formed a line that looked like stiches across the chest’s bottom, and a snake-like design crawled across its top. It was the tiny key hole that had freaked little Adam out though. That dark puncture wound of a mouth was too small for such a large body, and Adam always thought the chest was hungrily sucking in sips of air while it squatted there, forcing itself to breathe slowly so that no one would know it was alive.
“Eat me.” Adam whispered hoarsely in the moonlit room. Then the absurdity of the words– hell, the mean weirdness of being homeless in his own home, of having to break into his own house – snapped Adam out of it. He needed to find something small that he could turn around and sell for a lot of money quickly. If his old man still had any valuables stashed that Adam hadn’t found out about, they would be in here.
The chest was unlocked, which surprised Adam, but not as much as what was inside of it did. His father’s neck was obviously broken, and there was a huge dent in the old man’s forehead. Those rolled up eyes looked like white poached eggs.
Adam jerked back with a jolt, dropping the heavy lid. The chest snapped hungrily at Adam’s fingers but missed and slammed shut, and he stood there breathing harshly. He was scared, scared of what he’d seen, but even more scared of the vicious undercurrent of dark satisfaction that had washed through him immediately afterward. Adam’s entire life, his whole sense of who he was, suddenly seemed fragile. Like the universe was made of glass and shadowy things were looking at him from some other side, waiting to break through.
Then Adam heard the angry voice he’d heard so many other late nights when his father came lurching home drunk. His father? Waking up. Shouting.
Trembling, mesmerized, Adam lifted the lid again, slowly. The body was no longer there. Adam slowly reached down into the chest’s open maw, groping, and took the only item he found – a baseball bat – into his hands.
Adam’s father flung open the door to the storage room. No one. No home. Adam thought again, already sliding his grip down the haft of the bat. He was his father’s next of kin.
And the chest wanted to be filled.
About The Author
Hello, my name is Elliott James (well, it’s a pen name) and I’m writing a series called the Pax Arcana. The protagonist of my series is one John Charming. You know those guys in all the Prince Charming stories who are always slaying some monster or chasing some woman or getting turned into some creature, or wandering around forests maimed and confused after getting jacked up or cursed by some foul beastie? Those are John Charming’s ancestors, and he has continued to uphold the proud – if not particularly bright – family tradition of messing with things that really shouldn’t be messed with to the extent that somewhere along the way he picked up a mild case of werewolf.
You can meet & greet with Elliott in February, as he is one of the Featured Authors at Coastal Magic, an urban fantasy and paranormal romance convention in Daytona Beach, FL.
About The Artist
Image: Chest 7
Artist Page: mrscats http://mrscats.deviantart.com/art/Chest-7-486809205