For my flash spooky story, I decided to expand the short snippet I had written at Realm Makers during Wayne Thomas Batson’s session on creating suspense. He told us we had to use the names “Biff” and “Zelda”… so I kept them. Here you go!
Biff held the knife in his trembling hand, the peanut butter jar before him, still tightly closed.
“Just ignore it,” Zelda whispered in his ear, her voice nearing a hysterical strain. “Maybe it will go away.”
But he couldn’t ignore it. The squelching, sucking sensation on the bottom of his shoes, the wet, glopping noise it made whenever he shifted his weight, the cold, clammy stickiness on the palm of the hand clutching the knife, the echoing sounds in the sterile kitchen, all combined to assault his nerves.
“I can’t do it,” he hissed. “I can’t!”
“If you don’t, you know what will happen. Please… please, Biff,” Zelda’s voice choked. “I want to see our daughter again.”
Biff took a quavering breath and clenched his teeth tightly together. Resisting the urge to close his eyes, he unscrewed the lid of the jar and scooped up a large portion of peanut butter onto the flat of the blade. He raised the knife high over his head waving it about. The creature beneath him shifted suddenly, the tentacle upon which they stood wobbled, nearly toppling them both; they clung to the counter, trying to maintain their balance.
“It knows!” Zelda’s fingers tightened on his arm. He looked down into her white face, pale in the dim moonlight filtering in through the windows. She nodded firmly.
With all the strength he had, Biff flung the knife across the kitchen. It sailed into the living room and landed on the new carpet with a gentle thud.
The floor beneath them lurched. Biff and Zelda could not maintain their balance, and they toppled onto the slimy tiles as the creature slithered toward the fallen knife with terrible speed. Biff’s hands slipped in the ooze as he scrabbled and slipped, attempting to regain his feet. He finally managed to stand, pulling Zelda up with him. Together, they worked their way across the kitchen to the stairs. Biff’s heart thudded in his chest, filling his ears with the drumming staccato of fear. The peanut butter would only serve as a distraction for so long. He wanted to run, but knew it was futile on the slippery tiles.
A swishing, glopping sound filled the kitchen behind them and Zelda whimpered.
“Just a few more steps,” Biff whispered.
The sound of rubbery tentacles covered in suction cups slapping the tiles behind them grew louder and louder. Biff’s spine tingled with apprehension, waiting for the cold, heavy blow he knew was coming. Regret flooded through him. If only he had thrown the knife harder. If only he had never ordered that quick-grow nutrition pack for their daughter’s science project. If only there hadn’t been a storm. If only the power hadn’t gone out… but all the “if onlys” in the world could not save him now. They could not outrun the creature. It had every advantage here.
A shock coursed through him as something wet slapped against his back, propelling him forward and onto the carpeted safety of the stairs. Zelda’s shriek of terror filled his ears. Gasping, he yanked her arm, dragging her along behind him, gaining speed as he climbed out of the darkness below. Above him, the soft, reassuring glow of a battery-operated nightlight filled the hallway and he aimed himself at it in desperation.
They gained the landing, but they could hear the creature pulling itself up the walls of the staircase behind them. Biff was not sure the tiny glowing radius of the nightlight would be enough, but it was his only hope.
Then the glow winked out, and Biff’s heart plummeted to the soles of his sludge-covered shoes.
A moment later, a blinding brightness filled his vision and he reeled back at the unexpected radiance.
“Mom! Dad! Quick! I found the flashlight! Come on!” Cindy, their daughter, stood in the hallway and aimed the powerful light at the strange creature and it made an inhuman, screaming sound, scrabbling away from the light that burned its sensitive skin, tentacles flailing in the stairwell. Biff did not relent. He shined the light on the creature, stepping closer to it until it curled up into a tiny ball and dropped to the stairs where it lay, unmoving.
Biff took hold of the flashlight, shielding his wife and daughter behind him and together they backed into Cindy’s room. Biff shut and locked the door, then turned to his family, a sense of relief rushing through him. He pulled Zelda and Cindy to him in a desperate embrace.
“I thought…” he began in a choked voice, but could not finish, could not voice the fears that had overwhelmed him in the darkness downstairs.
Zelda pulled away. “We can climb out the window,” she said, her voice high and thin, but no longer trembling. She dug into her pocket and held up her keys. “I never put these away after we got home from grocery shopping!”
They all laughed, a strained, hysterical sound in the tiny room.
A squelching noise emanated from the closet, and Cindy froze, her eyes wide with horror.
“What is it, honey?” Zelda asked, patting their daughter’s shoulder.
“Mom… Dad… please tell me you already took care of the others.”
Biff frowned. “What others?”
The closet door burst open.