Today we bring you a chilling little bit of flash fiction from a new writer. Just a man and a sound …
I woke with a start, my heart pounding in my chest. Breath came in fast, shallow panting. Was the sweat beading on my body from the strange dream, or did an actual sound cause me to sit up in fright, pulling covers to chin? I cocked an ear.
Lightning flashed along the low ceiling of heavy, dark clouds and a thunderclap shook the house. I cowered and a whimper escaped restricted throat muscles. The glowing clock on the nightstand flickered out. The room lighted only by a streetlamp reflecting off wet pavement. Puh-floosh.
I waited, shivering as much from fright as the chill in the air. Something rattled, like a tin can rolling in the wind. Silence again, except the curtain of rain pelting against the window. Puh-floosh.
What the hell? I pushed the covers aside, my feet glided into slippers, and I reached into the nightstand for the flashlight. Timid steps moved me room to room. The sounds again. There! In the basement. I opened the door, aimed the flashlight, and flicked it on.
No light. I shook the damn thing and smacked it against my palm, then tried again. A dim glow faintly illuminated the staircase.
Easing down one step, I paused. That tinny sound rattled. Lightning crackled. Clawed shadows flickered against the stairwell walls. Prickles raced across my skin. The descent took a full five minutes, each step down hastening my heartbeat. The can rolled, breath caught in my lungs. There—along the south wall. A window was open. Rounding the corner, I saw a curtain fluttering in a stiff wind. Rings clattered, sliding along the rod. The flashlight beam faded the rest of the way and went dead. A tiny, cold breeze rushed past. The grazing of pajamas against my leg had been caused by the wind. Hadn’t it?
Standing on a chair, I chuckled and chastised myself. Puh-floosh. My attention turned toward the furnace. The automatic pilot light. I laughed aloud. How foolish, looking for boogiemen at my age.
With the window closed, and curtain adjusted, I stepped off the chair. The steady whisper of flames from the furnace accompanied my relieved sigh. My heart rate slowed. Climbing the stairs, I heard a slow creak and looked up the stairs.
The door swung shut.
The lock tumbled closed.
A low laugh rumbled in the dark below me.