She slouched into the passenger seat of her 1972 Ford Cortina. The car was of a deep green color and had peeled off in parts and exposed a faded yellow interior. A faint outline cast by the light shown from the streetlamps helped discern the car, when peered at, from a distance. If you squinted and looked hard enough, a hint of a head swaying side to side perhaps to the sound of music would manifest in its interiors.
Her fingers glided on an ostentatious keyboard. Every key flickered with a different color and made a euphoric tingling sound when tapped. Plugged into a socket bursting with wires, the likes of medusa’s head. There was a screen about the size of a briefcase, a pair of dim blue coruscating lights lining the windshield and an otherworldly humidifier that hid behind that white mist it sprayed into the interiors, dispersing blue light ominously. On the seats in the front and back were strewn many unknown books and gadgets. She reached for a flask, and took a long satisfying gulp. The smell of coffee and mist hung in the air.
It was near dusk, with the sky growing dark in the distance and merging into the landscape, when she had driven inconspicuously into the driveway adjacent to the mansion, with her mom. There were no other houses around for a distance. It was the kind of neighborhood where homes had tall magnificent metal gates, beautifully manicured hedges and pristine white marble adorned water fountains to greet you at their entrance. The mansion, though only a few feet away was unrecognizable, for it was dimly lit and it hid behind a row of identical oak trees that surrounded the property.
Her mother had asked her to wait in the car until she got back. She was promised a month of isolation and a pass to skip all familial events including her cousin’s quinceañera. Having a strong dislike for social gatherings, she was intent on doing as told. But that also meant she had to resort to a less favorable defense technique, and that was to spy on her mom.
No, it’s not that she didn’t trust her mom- she did, mostly. But today was an exception because her mom was going to meet Mr. Manstein. The guy her mom had not only worked for, but also married and divorced in the last decade. Through the grapevine she heard he had amassed a great fortune from his illegal business which he ran with the family of his new wife, whose last name the town had feared for generations. Convinced of some funny business, she decided to record their voices.
Growing up she was a curious child, confident and enthralled by the workings of the world around her. Her love for reading and assisting her father on his projects which spawned and nurtured in their garage, stirred her childhood with ingenuity. She would intercept the radio to change the weather announcement only to skip school or playtime with her friends. After her father passed away when she was twelve, she remained distant to everyone, and her mother was no exception.
An hour had passed since her mom had left. She switched between reading the audio transmissions and engrossing herself in a video game. In the game she was negotiating a piece of land with alleyboy88, an acquaintance she had made when she had started the game. She had more online friends than real friends because having real friends needed time and effort.
Just when she was about to close her deal the audio began to stutter. She jerked up in her seat, and after a moment of recollect she started typing furiously. Duped by her headphones and the brightness of her screen, she opened the window to get some air, but only to close it immediately for it was raining profusely. After a few strategic attempts to fix the connection, it was evident that somebody had knowingly dislodged the mic.
She had decided to call the landline when calls to her mother’s cellphone went unanswered. In a matter of seconds, she had found and dialed the number to the house of Manstein. To conceal her identity over the call, she sounded like a forgotten actress whose voice samples she had collected and programmed. On the third ring, the phone was lifted by a lady who greeted her with a squeaky voice “Thank you for calling the Manstein residence. Whom would you like to speak with ma’am?” The girl in the car waited, and then she said “I believe my agent Ms. Agatha was meant to visit Mr Manstein this evening. She had also intended to get in touch with me regarding an urgent business; Do you mind putting me in touch with her? I hope it isn’t much trouble. Thank you”
From the other end of the call, a few rehearsed words are followed after a period of silence and fumbling, “I’m sorry Ms. …”
The words were cut short again and just heavy breathing followed
“Ms. there have been no guests this evening. In fact Mr Manstein has not been home since last sunday.” the lady said. “If you wish, I can take a message for the house.”
The girl in the car, her pulse was beating heavily like the rain on the car replied, “uhh…no, thank you.”
“Very, well then, Good…” The end of the call was marked with a static noise.
She was convinced that she needed to find her mom. Without another second to lose, she put her shoes on, grabbed a heavy flashlight from the glove compartment and gulped her coffee. As she opened the door into the rain she was shaken by a sound, as if suddenly greeted with thunder. Could it have been a gunshot? A screech, what was it? Maybe it was just thunder. She turned on her flashlight and right before she sped in the direction of the house, she caught a sound of a voice in the wind. The voice was muffled with the sound of shoes on wet muddy grass and the rain. Her ears were not ringing because it was growing louder.
“Run… run, runaway, Ellie”
Her mom stood in front of her, drenched, blinded, bent over, with her hands on her stomach as if trying to not let something go. Ellie flung the flashlight, and ran up to her mom who held her dark and shiny hands out. It smelled of rain and blood. She plummeted to the floor and Ellie dropped to her knees to catch her.
“Who did this to you?”
“Wake up… open your eyes!”
“You can’t leave me now. I’m going to take you to the hospital.”
Ellie shook her mom and the words she uttered were met with nothing but a wistful smile on her mother’s face. She hugged her mother tightly and stared into the sky as if looking for a sign. The thunder from the skies echoed her cries and the rain washed down her tears. She summoned up her courage and put her mother into the back seat of the car. The engine rumbled to life seconds later drowning away her thoughts, murmurs and the sound of the uncompromising rain. She took one hard look at the house before she drove off into the darkness.
About this short story
This is the first short story I have written, edited and published on my blog, so thank you for reading!
Written : Mon April 6th
Edited : Wed April 15th
Edited : Wed Jun 24th
Published : Thurs Jun 25th
Wordcount : 1230