The House Sitter – 450 Word Flash Fiction

haunting house

After turning off the ignition, the wiper blades stopped their rhythmic beat and Megan stepped into the mist. She pulled the mail from the wrought iron box and then shook rainwater from the plastic sleeve covering the newspaper. Glancing at the Victorian home cloaked in a gray shroud, she shrugged uneasy feelings from her tight shoulders. The home was horror movie cliché with its peeling paint and saggy railings propped up around its wraparound porch. Taking care of the Friedmans’ house while they traveled through Europe was easy pocket money, but something about it creeped her out. One more week.

She avoided stepping in puddles on the uneven sidewalk and made her way to the front door under a canopy of ancient oak trees. Megan imagined they stood guard with watchful eyes hidden within gnarled trunks until their knobby and arthritic branched arms reached out with claw-like fingers to snatch a length of her long hair. She shuddered.

Tapping the number into the lockbox, she retrieved the skeleton key and slipped it into the brass lock. The heavy door scraped open with a sigh as if disappointed to see her. The chandelier, with its myriad of dusty prisms and one working bulb, offered light like a feeble candle too far away from the room filled with period furnishings. The scent of furniture polish and sour antiques tickled her nose. After adding to the collection of newspapers and mail on the walnut sideboard, she began her inspection of the drafty house. Megan kept her head down to study the worn carpet. She had tripped last time.

PING.

Megan jumped. The radiator kicked in and she let out a breath.

She made a quick sweep of the first floor and entered the kitchen. Yawning, she checked her watch. There would be enough time to stop for coffee if she hurried.

A footstep groaned above. Her heart skipped. Did I imagine that? She shook her head and continued her routine. The back door was locked.

Another floorboard creaked through the ceiling. Adrenaline pulsed and her heart hammered in her chest. “Hello?” she said. Someone clipped down the wooden steps. A burglar! She peeked into the hall.

An old woman with gray hair in a topknot, dressed in a housecoat and slippers, stared at the sideboard and shook her head.

Grinning, Megan let out a breath. She strode up to her. “Mrs. Friedman. I didn’t expect you until next week. You gave me a heart attack.”

She looked away.

“Is Mr. Friedman here?”

Mrs. Friedman ignored her and walked back upstairs.

She has to be ninety. I’ll let them sleep and will come back tomorrow.

Megan vaporized through the closed and locked front door.

***

I’ve been busy with family after the death of my father, but needed to treat myself by blogging again. My daughter, Courtney, suggested writing flash fiction.

Did you expect that ending? What gets you into the Halloween mood?

49 thoughts on “The House Sitter – 450 Word Flash Fiction

  1. I literally was on the edge of my chair reading as fast as I could comprehend to the end of the story. AWESOME! I love a little mystery with a twist or even the unexpected. I sometimes even like a cliffhanger as long as I am not waiting too long to hear the rest of the story.

    Happy Weekend – Happy Halloween – Enjoy 🙂

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  2. LOL whoa, I didn’t see that coming! Loved it. The autumn atmosphere at dusk, yellow looking lights in the windows, wind blowing, full moons, leaves parading across the ground, all lend themselves to the feeling of Halloween for me.

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  3. I love the juxtaposition of the house with the cute and welcoming gingerbread trim surrounded by imposing and downright creepy gargoyles. Gingerbread and gargoyles are not a good combo for me. Love the picture and the interesting twist at the end of the story. Good stuff.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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  4. “Skeleton key” – great little detail for so many reasons.
    Always impressed to do so much with such a short word limit. (My spooky one oozed on too long…sigh…working on that)
    Enjoy all the little goblins tonight at Holler-Ring (The skull shaped Spooky asteroid just missed us at 12:05 noon, so we will have to pay the bills and walk the dog after all)

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    • Thanks Vanessa. It was a good exercise. I used to write twisted tales weekly, but couldn’t finish the first draft of my book a couple years ago. I also didn’t like giving my writing away for free. I have one post that gets hits every day. I swear students are ripping it off for assignments. I wonder if two will hand in the same 150 word flash fiction somewhere in the world. Ha!
      I loved Nanowrimo last year and had planned to start a new book, but I am heading back to Wisconsin for two more memorial services. GAH! Good luck to you. 😀

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  5. You turned all that build up on its head, stopped it on a dime and BOOM! No, I wasn’t expecting that ending at all. Nicely played, very nicely played! Glad you treated US to your ‘writing exercise’, you are so much fun, you spooky little girl.

    On a serious note, been thinking about you and your amazing family. Peace and love to you guys. Be well.

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    • Thanks, my friend. I’m still catching up as you can see. We are on the rise after being in the hole for a while. He couldn’t have asked for a better send off.
      I love writing these. It’s why I switched from non-fiction to writing novels!

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  6. Whilst writing last night, my thoughts happened on this piece. It’s funny how writers inspire writers, and how that inspiration bleeds into every other thing. Hope you’re well Susie.

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  7. Pingback: Blog post ideas for NaBloPoMo or WHATEVER | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

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