Today, I am going to share my first rough attempt at suspense. It is probably pretty lame. But I wrote it for my daily prompt. So I might as well share it. Don’t judge it too harshly 🙂
The Prompt from: The Daily Prompt 2016 by J. C. Cauthon
Using the following setting, write a short story or poem:
In an orange room, 7:00 PM
Coming Home by Sojourner McConnell
Sandra King woke up slowly with the feeling that something was wrong. The feeling was intense and made her want to shut her eyes again and become lost in that cloudy nothingness that felt so secure.
Yet, before she could drop back into that dark abyss, she heard the constant tap tap tap across the room in the darkness. Sitting up she strained her eyes to see if she could make out what was making that distracting tapping noise.
Steadily creeping to the bottom of the bed, not daring to place her bare feet on the invisible floor. Her knees pushing down the blanket as she reached the iron bar that made up the foot of the bed. Leaning over the iron bar, the cold cutting into her stomach causing her to shiver. She reached out, stretching as far as her fingertips to go she brushed a cold hard object. Clutching the edge she brought it back to her face so that she could try to make out what it was in the darkness. She could feel the movement inside the object. It was familiar and suddenly she knew that it was simply a clock.
Squinting into the face, she angled the clock in an attempt to get a glimmer of light to cross the oval glass face. Shifting back and forth she found the thin stream of light and read. 7:00. She knew it was night, there was no light streaming in to give any semblance of daylight.
Why was she in this strange room at seven pm? It made no sense to her. The last thing she remembered after arriving at the train station in Omaha, was coming up the walk to her Grandparents house.
Where was her grandmother and why was she feeling so fuzzy and thick. “Where in the world am I?” Oh no, she did not sound like herself, she sounded hoarse and stuffy. Had she been drugged? With the tapping of the clockworks filling the room, she felt more comfortable to examine this dark room.
Climbing off the bed she cautiously placed her feet on the floor and shuffled directly across the room until she touched the wall. Her hands slid along the wall and she felt the narrow knob coming out of the wall. She flipped it up and the light almost blinded her. The overhanging light fixture reflected off of the orange walls causing even more confusion. Why was she in an orange room? Who painted a room orange?
Her confusion was growing by the moment. She saw the stark white door that was closed on the far wall. She rushed over to it her feet cold on the concrete floor. She had the fleeting thought she might be in a basement. Concrete floors were often in basements. Perhaps she was not in danger, but if not, then what the heck was she doing here.
Grasping the knob she turned it and the door creaked open. She was looking into a narrow hallway and she was uncertain which way to go. Her logic was intact and she knew that if she thought to go right she needed to go left. She aways had gone the wrong direction when given a choice. So she immediately went left.
The moment she reached the end of the hallway, she once again had to make another decision. She could go up the stairs to the right or she could go down the corridor to the left. She wanted to gt out of this clammy cold basement. She climbed the steps listening for any sound of occupancy. She heard nothing. She reached the door at the top of the stairs and she slowly turned the knob and once again entered an old linoleum floored kitchen.
The gray flecked table with chrome legs sat in the center of the room. Sitting at the table was a person. Sandra could see the stooped shoulders of a gray haired old woman with a shawl around her shoulders and fluffy pink slippers on her feet.
“Grandma? Is that you?”
She saw the head turn around on stooped shoulders and she saw a mouth full of large teeth that gleamed in the dim kitchen light.
“Sandra, Honey, Where have you been? Why are you creeping around like that?”
Sandra looked confused at her grandmother and shrugged her shoulders. “Grandma? Why was I in the basement? Who put me there? Did you know I was in the dark in the basement?”
“No, child, I didn’t know you were in the basement. I waited on you to come to the door, and you never did. Why are you sneaking around. Were you hiding in the orange room in the basement? Do you not remember that your Grandfather did not want you in that room?”
“Grandma, you are scaring me. I had forgotten that Grandfather did not like me to go down to his workshop. I don’t know how I got there. I am a little fuzzy.”
Are you on drugs Sandra? Are you back doing drugs again like you did as a teenager?”
“I did not do drugs Grandma, I was always afraid to do drugs after what happened to Mama. Remember, Grandma?”
The old woman turned again moving her entire body this time to face the young woman shivering next to the basement door. “Tell me Sandra, why do you keep calling me Grandma? Don’t you remember Grandma died almost ten years ago? Are you ill again Sandra?”
“Grandma died? Ten years ago? Oh my God… you’re right. She did! Who are you?”
Sandra dropped onto her heels with her knees folded under her. “Who are you and why was I in the orange room? What is going on?”
The woman’s face was spidery with wrinkles and her grin was not a friendly smile, it was a toothy smile that looked more evil than benign.
“Sandra, Do you not recognize me? Your Mama? Come give me a hug my dear.”
Sandra started screaming, “No no, My Mama is dead, who are you? Who are you?”
The old woman stood her back bent with age and her hand rested on a cane. “Come to me child. Come to your Mama”
“My…my mother died years ago. She died in the hospital when I was a teenager. I do not know who you are. I want my Grandmother. Stay away from me. Stay back!”
The dark eyes of the old woman stared at the young woman. “I am your Mother. I have been away a long time. I am back now. Now you will pay for choosing your grandparents over me.”
Sandra stood, kicked the cane out from under the old lady’s hand, and ran out the back door. She ran as fast as she could through the brush until she reached the house that she remembered as Mr. Coventry’s.
She knocked on the door and knocked again for good measure. When the old man opened the door and saw the ashen face of the young woman he was shocked.
“Is this little Sandra?”
Sandra opened her mouth to tell him that it was indeed, when she felt a gnarled hand on her back. She turned just in time to see the old woman reaching for her again. Screaming directly into the old woman’s face she hurried closer to Mr. Coventry. “Help me, Please!”
Mr. Coventry was unable to believe his eyes. He recognized this old beaten down woman with the snarled hair and the wrinkled face. He remembered her when she too was a young mother and wife. He remembered her before she went mad after the death of her husband.
He could remember like it was yesterday, driving the ambulance that took her to the sanitarium on the other side of the county.
He remembered her screams, wails and threats as they walked her out arms wrapped and bound tightly around her waist.
“Dotty! Dotty! It’s me. Earl… remember me Dotty? Remember how I took care of you before? How did you get here Dotty? Did you run away?”
Dotty’s eyes shifted from Sandra to Earl and back again. “I didn’t mean any harm. I saw her coming up the walk. I didn’t mean any harm. I love her. She’s my baby. I just wanted her to stay with me. I knew she wouldn’t stay unless I put her in the orange room. I just wanted my baby. I missed my baby. Is that so bad? I didn’t hit her hard, just hard enough to make her sleep. I didn’t mean any harm. You believe me don’t you, Earl?”
“Of course I do, Dotty, of course you love her, she’s your baby. I know you didn’t mean any harm, girl. Sandra’s fine. She is just fine. Come with me and lets get you settled.for the night. Come on with Earl, Girl.”
Sandra watched the interaction between the two, clarity coming to her finally. This was her mother, her mother that has been locked away most of her life. She was afraid of her mother, but she believed Earl would keep her safe.
Sandra, smiled a nervous fake smile and assured her mother that she was going to be fine. She was scared but she knew not to startle the old woman. “Let’s go with Earl… Mother.”
Sandra almost choked calling her Mother, but she felt it was the right thing to do. Sandra and Dotty followed Earl into the house and once the coffee had been made they all sat at the table and Earl calmly explained to Dotty that he would return her home. She would be fine and no one would be mad about her escape. She looked at him with trust.
His kindly face showed her there was nothing to fear. Sandra waited until Earl and Dotty had left in the long white ambulance before heading back to her grandmother’s home.
She was in a rush to get her car and go to a local motel. She was absolutely not going to spend the night in that house. She was going to put the house up for sale and never come back.
She never wanted to see the house, her mother or the orange room in the basement ever again, and she never did.