Kelsey heard it first. She shared this huge ancient wood frame house with her grandmother, her baby brother, and her cousin Joey. Many of her friends came up with excuses when asked to come over, she understood but would still be disappointed.
But she heard it, the unmistakable ping of a piece of glass hitting the tiled floor and it shook her out of the novel she was engrossed in. All four of the family members were on the second floor, but the sound came from downstairs – at the entry. With the heavy rain outside from the oncoming wave of hurricane winds, they had bolted the doors and activated the storm shutters on all the windows. She knew they were alone. No one, or thing – should be making any noise in this huge house.
Whenever her parents made her stay at grandma’s she’d protest. This time she lost the argument before she could let a single word out of her mouth. This was a huge storm; it was headed directly at them, and her parents volunteered to help throw sandbags at other neighbor’s houses who were unable to do so. In this neighborhood, most people were in their eighties.
Kelsey loves her grandma, but the house has other issues that bother her. Just hours ago, she painted over a spot in the hallway wall after she’d killed a roach with her shoe and the splatter couldn’t be removed. She didn’t want Grandma to see it so she grabbed one of the paint cans in the garage that was labelled “hallway wall gray” and went to work.
At sixteen, Kelsey felt like she was the grownup in the house. Grandma had dementia, so she and Joey had to babysit her. Mom and Dad were probably going to be out all night and then hunker down with a neighbor until the tempest passed. They knew the house was sturdy and safe and they left their only daughter in charge. She’d be a trouper and take it in stride, but thirteen-year-old Joey didn’t appreciate sharing the responsibility of caring for Grandma.
“What was that sound?” she asked herself. She placed the book down on the table, right next to her uneaten piece of wheat toast with strawberry jelly.
She knew her grandmother was asleep, she slept most hours of the day, and her cousin was probably engrossed in a videogame with headphones on. She stood off the bed and shifted to the bassinet. Her little brother was snoring.
She reached over for the broom stick, which was normally used to bang on the wall when Joey made too much noise playing his games, but she could hear the car screeching noises as he played on that console. The noise got on her nerves.
She twirled the stick in her hand like she’d seen in the movies, then swallowed a nervous gulp and stepped out into the hallway.
The stairwell was just outside her bedroom. Joey’s light was on, and she could hear the loud snore of her grandmother from where she stood.
“W-who’s there?” she held out the stick and approached the top of the stairwell. No answer came back.
She had to do something, she was in charge here and she couldn’t call Mom and dad, what could they do? She took slow steps down each stair remembering the stories her grandmother used to tell her of this house supposedly haunted. She’d never felt afraid here until now.
“I’m warning you; I have a weapon.”
The pounding rain and wind outside was almost deafening, it was a long drum solo on the heavy wood door. Kelsey reached the last stair and saw the piece of glass on the floor. It was from the small window on the front door and the wind whistled furiously through it.
“Whew, probably hit by a flying rock form that high wind out there, knocked it off its frame.”
Then the sudden clicking sound caught her attention from just above her on the ceiling. Her eyes glanced up to see the gang of huge roaches collected there, then she saw more crawl in hurriedly from the hole in the door frame. Her scream coincided with the entire gang of insects taking off in flight and headed straight for her.
Attracted to words at an early age, Rod’s first book was created in grade school, his teacher used it to encourage creativity in her students. His high school English teacher told him to try short story writing, he listened, and the rest – as they say, is history.