They’ve Come Back by Featured Author: Nicole DragonBeck

At our meetings, we often do 5-minute exercises using 3-5 words to create a short-short story. Sometimes, those stories are continuous from exercise to exercise. Here’s one of those from Nicole DragonBeck!

• Graham cracker

•Bookmark       

• Limp

Hildy walked into the room, and surveyed the mess. Graham cracker crumbs littered the table, next to a glass of milk with one sip left. The pillows were thrown willy-nilly over the floor, and the rug had been pushed into a heap in the corner. All the books had been pulled off the shelf and stacked in random places. Some of the ribbon bookmarks had been pulled out and pinned to the wall like prizes or party decorations. The curtains were closed, and a smattering of burning candles gave a dim light.

“Peter?” Hildy called out.

“I’m right here,” a gruff voice snapped at her, and her heart rammed into her throat.

“Peter, what’s happened?” she asked. “Why does your place look like…” she waved her hand inarticulacy around.

“What?” Peter said, and blinked.

“Let me open the window, get some light and fresh air-”

“No!” Peter barked. “You’ll let them in.” 

“Let who in?” Hildy wondered, watching the old man limp around the piles of books, leaning on the worn cane he never let out of his hand.

“They’ve come back, and this time, they’ve brought friends.”

Hildy frowned. “Are you having nightmares again?”

Peter stopped beside the couch, wheezing. He looked like he was a hundred years old, but Hildy knew that he was only a dozen years older than she was. A tapping at the window drew both their eyes.

“They’re here,” Peter whispered.

• Post-it             

• Sulphur           

• Stolen

The tapping intensified.  Peter held up his cane as if he meant to attach someone, his eyes narrowed intently.

“What is going on?” Hildy demanded.

“They’re here!” Peter snapped. “Grab something to defend yourself girl, unless you want to die!”

Hildy had no particular desire to die, but there wasn’t anything particularly dangerous or threatening that she could use as a weapon.

“Wait wait wait!” Peter’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Sulfur! Get the sulfur!”

Hildy looked around, but she had no idea what sulfur looked like. “There there, on the shelf!” She dashed to the shelf, and saw that in place of the mistreated books, little vials of colored powder were now lined up in rows. Post-it notes with weird symbols were behind each, but none of them said “sulfur”.

“Which one?” she asked.

“The yellow one!” Peter yelled. “Damn it, girl, we don’t have all day!”

Hildy realized he had forgotten her name, but the urgency in his voice banished the sadness. She pulled the jar with the yellow powder and put it in his eagerly outstretched hand. The liverspots were new, as was the faint tremble when he pulled out the stopper. The room filled with a pungent smell, and the tapping at the window stopped at once. A grin of pure glee spread over Peter’s face, then the window exploded inward in a shower of glass shards, ripping the curtain off the wall. The sunlight was blocked by a monstrous shape, claws digging into the frame.

Hildy mouth dropped open, her scream frozen in her throat. Peter threw the yellow powder in the air, thrust his cane after it and muttered something. Lightning sparked and then dispersed in a giant crash. The darkness in the window was obliterated, and an eerie silence enveloped the apartment.

“What was that, and why is it here?” Hildy whispered, her eyes wide.

“They came for what was stolen,” Peter said quietly, and then sank down onto the sofa.

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