Escape

Sunday, February 3, 2013 7:42 AM By crosswaysnet , In




2013 "Beat the Clock" Contest Entry - Bookrix.com


Slats.

Lucy reached forward to poke her finger through, thinking that maybe she could see better. Jimmy yanked his four year old sister’s hand away from the door.

“Don’t do that!” he hissed. “Be quiet - and still.”


A flash and the overhead light in the master bedroom exploded. Lucy let out a scream which Jimmy immediately muffled with his hand. He pressed his lips to her ear.

“Lu - you’ve got to be quiet. I’m trying to listen.”

The horror continued to rise in his own mind. First the shouting. The race for the closet. The stumbling tumble of boots on the stairs following them. Then his mother’s scream from the first floor. The scuffle on the stairs had changed direction and raced back down.

Jimmy had practically thrown Lucy into the back of the closet. It was the only place they couldn’t be seen. Away from all the shattered glass. There they cowered.

Distant thuds and a groaning reached their ears.

“Noooo...” Jimmy began to moan.

“What, Bubby?” Lucy looked up to her brother. For a moment they caught a glimpse of each other in a strobe of light as the ceiling fixture sparked again, bouncing slashes of shadow through the closet.

“It’s coming, Lu. We’re not going to be safe, even here.”

JImmy moaned again.

There was a sharp crack from down below. A gunshot? A wrenching noise followed. Something was tearing through the wall at the bottom of the stairs.

Somewhere outside they heard their mother’s voice, something between a screech and a sob. “THE KIDS!! NOOOOO!!!”

The echoes shifted as the voice moved, somewhere in the front yard. Their father's voice bellowed, closer to the stairs below.

“No you DON’T Elizabeth! Get back in here!!”

The children heard their father's boots race off toward the sound of their mother. The sounds and sobs wrestled together out beyond the porch. Jimmy felt he should run to them to stop the struggle, but the icy fear locked his legs. It seemed like the whole house began to moan with him. Lucy crawled into his lap and clamped down on his arm. The sounds outside ceased. It was suddenly silent everywhere.

He looked past her head into the darkness. What had he seen there? A pile of clothes. An idea erupted in his panicked mind.

“Lu - We have to go down before it’s too late.”

The girl stiffened in his lap. “NO, Bubby. I not going back down the stairs. Not safe! Momma said!”

Jimmy cringed at the thought of Momma.

“Not that way Lu.”

The house shifted and more sparks lit up the closet. Both the children stared at the pile in the corner.

“NO, Bubby. That’s too scawwy.”

Jimmy was having none of it. A monster was closing in. It was time to go. He flung the heap of dirty clothes aside and slammed back the lid of the laundry chute. “Twenty two feet to the basement floor” - He’d heard his father say that once. He was supposed to help Momma with the laundry that morning - before, this... He knew there was a pile of towels and comforters down there.

“Lu - I’m going to drop you down.” Jimmy said it with an adult's calm and gravitas.

“NO, Bubby!! I get hurt!”

“Lu - we stay here, we die. It won’t hurt, I promise.” He prayed his promises meant something.

The girl started thrashing to get away from him.

“Lu, STOP IT. We’ve got to! I drop you in the pile then you move quick -  I’m jumping right after you.” He knew she had to go first. She'd never follow him.

The girl screamed again as he grasped her arms. He dangled the little girl over the opening.

A voice called from downstairs.

“UPSTAIRS!!” the ragged voice bellowed.

Mad stomping tortured the stairs. The monster suddenly howled from all around the house. Jimmy’s ears popped. He let go of his sister's wrists.

The sound of “BUBBY!!!” echoed metallically up the chute and faded. Jimmy’s stomach wrenched as he swung his feet into the chute. The closet door burst open. Sparks from the ceiling lit up the crazed face of Jimmy’s mother as he dropped into the darkness.

“JIMMY!!!”

His mother’s voice was a wail and a sob. A deeper voice pressed up close behind. Jimmy prayed in a flash that his sister had survived the fall and moved clear. He landed with a soft thud and rolled his feet under himself.

The big voice echoed down the chute. “You’re going after them, El!”

The mother’s voice was simply a whimper. Jimmy could tell she’d given up hope. The monster was right behind her.

“AHH!!!” and thuds came down the chute as Momma ricocheted down to the basement. She landed harder than Jimmy and let out a startle of pain as she rolled into her son who shielded his sister.

A huge tearing noise came from everywhere. The father’s voice now howled. His large body was punishing the laundry chute as he forced himself after them. The monster was on its way.  It sounded like a hungry wolf.

“He’s coming for us!!” Momma shouted, in fear and a strange awe.

The man emerged from the chute headfirst. Somehow, Jimmy could see him. It wasn’t so dark now. Light was creeping in from somewhere. Suddenly all the basement light fixtures came on and burst simultaneously. The father lunged for the children and his wife.

And the house was gone.

The tornado moved on. The man huddled over his family. Alive... 

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