Flash Fiction by Hayden Kahler

The pounding of drums seemed to barrel its way through the hallway, waking me up from my sleep. As consciousness rushed back through my head, I could hear the drums getting closer. My tired eyes fell upon the door separating me from what was outside, and I quickly threw my blanket over my head as the door began to open, pretending to be asleep. 

I could make out footsteps, small and timid, treading the carpet to make their way to me. I heard a slight giggle, one I’ve heard many times before. As the footsteps drew nearer, I readied myself. The footsteps stopped right next to me. I threw the blanket over them, grabbing them, and bringing them into the bed with me. From inside the blanket trap, I heard a giggling scream. Keeping them tied up in the blanket, I revealed their face. 

Looking up at me were two bright blue eyes. “What are you doing in my room, silly?” I told her. She kept laughing. “Let me go Daddy!” I obliged, and continued to unwrap her from her prison. 

“I wanted to watch some cartoons!” She said. 

“Okay Em, but not before you eat something. Lets go make some breakfast.” 

Hearing that, the six year old rejoiced loudly, and ran off. 

After making some quick eggs and pancakes, and setting a bouncy child in front of the television, I managed to start getting ready for the day. I took a brisk shower, then put on some shorts and a t-shirt, along with some shoes for running. As I grabbed my phone and earbuds, I yelled out to Emily, saying I was going on a run for about thirty minutes. My hypnotized daughter replied back with a simple “Okay”, and I made sure to check in with her again so she knew where I was. After confirming that she would be fine, and that she knew what I was doing, I started on my run.

 I felt the breeze through my hair, and heard the passing winds as I listened to my music throughout the nearby neighborhoods. While I jogged along the sidewalk, I started to take a path that strayed from my original route. It felt oddly familiar, but I didn’t remember coming through this neighborhood before. I decided to continue with my jog instead of fighting myself on my path, and went the way my body seemed to take me. 

There was an odd sense of deja vu, but it seemed stronger, and more intense than that. This was something I had felt before. I started to fill with dread. My steps became more heavy, and my lungs seemed to shrink. When I eventually stopped, I found myself before a house I remembered. Except now, there were patrol cars and police on the lawn. I noticed the strings of lights hung along the front porch, and how many of them were broken now. I recalled how nice they looked the night before. When I was here. 

Things started to come back to me, and my mind began to fill. It was dark, not quite midnight, but getting there. There wasn’t anyone else outside, that always seemed to be the case. Her lights were on, strung up in a way that seemed to make her front porch look like a fairy hideout. It was alluring. She walked out with some trash bags, carrying them over to the bins for them to be taken out in the morning. The bins were next to her mailbox. The one that displayed in very colorful typography, “Whitaker”. 

Once she finished dropping off her trash, I followed her up her driveway. I felt my eyes burn in that moment, and change. Everything began to tint, and become red. Her front lights no longer felt like a safe haven for the magical creatures in this world, but like a home for the damned and disgraced. 

My blood seemed to course through my fingertips, lacing my nails with iron. The woman reached for her door, but I got to her first. I snapped back to the present, and saw her sitting on the side of her door with glossy eyes. Her door now filled me with unease, and seemed to still be dark in the light of day. 

I noticed a camera positioned along the exterior wall of the house. It would have caught everything that happened on that porch last night. My anxiety tightened my chest, despite what I knew. That what they saw on that camera, wasn’t me. It was… something else. I took a deep breath, and began my jog back home, remembering the metallic taste in my mouth.