**This was a story that I wrote for a contest. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but I did have the chance to take the story from a new angle before I submitted it. The first draft is actually already posted on my blog. To read that, click here. Feel free to let me know which version you prefer in the comments!**
The crisp air of the first day of fall cheered me up while I dragged the large plastic rake through yet another pile of leaves. “The hooded figures that haunt the graveyard are on vacation this week so I guess we won’t find out about those mysterious ducks anytime soon” the radio announcer said in a low, gravelly voice through my headphones. “However” he continued “The young boy that draws portals to hell on his walls has had his magic markers taken away after a disagreement about eating his peas.” The news was surprisingly slow for a weekend, so I turned the dial on my radio headphones to my favorite static channel and hummed along.
“Why do you need cheering up?” You might have asked me had I had some help raking this 3 acre piece of land. “I recently lost my job” I would answer and proceed to tell you the story of the travel writer I used to be, and how my journalistic dreams were dashed by Agnes Harvey. I’m still doing my best to forget the fact that she slept with my boss so her stories would be published over mine. I know I wasn’t the most attractive journalist, but it would have been nice to have my talents acknowledged, at least a little.
As I pulled the rake through the pile, it caught on something. I bent down to examine it, uncovered a dead raccoon, and sighed. “Guess Jackson has been playing in the yard” I said to proverbial you. I threw it into the trash bin next to me that I had been using to collect leaves. While this was only my third day working here, the Cooper family seemed to be fairly normal. They lived in a large ranch-style house that sat behind a large brick wall and wrought iron gate, much like the other houses in this neighborhood. This was mostly because nearly all of the houses have toys, tools, and sometimes furniture just lying around their property. Some might think this is because they are hoarders or lazy, but really it’s because none of them have faces.
They simply can’t see where they’ve left their possessions, and that’s where I come in. It’s suddenly in-trend, according to Mrs. Cooper, to have a nanny/maid around the house. During my interview, she telepathically told me “Jeanette has one and she’s over the moon with how tidy the place is. She has her boy explain to her everything he has re-arranged at the end of the day.”
I haven’t learned much about the Cooper family, aside from the fact that there are four of them; Mr. and Mrs. Cooper and their two children Jackson and Jessica. I don’t ask a lot of personal questions because it’s not my business. I also don’t ask because just about every article of clothing in the house has some kind of stain on it and I’d rather not find out where they come from.
Mrs. Cooper’s mannerisms are straight out of a 1950’s magazine. She has perfect posture and crosses her legs at the ankles when she sits. Her husband and children are the same, and do just about everything in unison, following her every move like drones. So here I am, raking leaves and tossing dead raccoons into trash bins. It’s not journalism, but it pays the bills. Maybe now my roommate Sophie will stop pestering me about my half of the rent.
Suddenly, I heard a muffled voice through my headphones and felt a coarse tap on my shoulder. “EXCUSE ME” a young, pimply boy shouts at me. He’s holding a pizza box in one hand and a receipt in the other. “Is this 1233 Nutmeg Drive?” he asks, squinting at the receipt. “Yup” I reply curtly, not happy to be bothered. He sneers at me and walks towards the front door of the house.
From where I’m standing, I can see Mrs. Cooper open the door. She’s wearing a pink polo shirt, an orange skirt, and a mystery stain apron. Her hair is a cascade of matted brown hair and her posture tells me she’s greeting him warmly. As I turn to continue my work, I heard a shriek. The pimply boy was running away, Mrs. Cooper hot on his heels. She chased him into the bushes behind the house. Not a moment later, the remaining members of the Cooper family darted out of the house, in their strange unified way at the same inhuman speed.
After the remaining members of the family had disappeared behind the bushes, I heard the pubescent boy screaming with his crackling voice, slowly being drowned out by the sound of chewing and breaking bones. I knew if I didn’t leave now, I was next. I called Sophie but she didn’t pick up. I quickly redialed and started to run to my car parked in the driveway near the front door. I fumbled with my keys as I ran up to the driver’s side, wishing I had forsaken just one of my 4 magic pony keychains. I dropped my keys and my phone to the ground and as I bent down to pick them up, I heard gravel crunching behind me. I slowly turned around, hearing Sophie on the other end of my phone trying to reach me. It was Mrs. Cooper, standing over me. Her clothes were dripping blood. “Your shift doesn’t end until 5” her voice rang through my head at a volume much louder than normal. The remaining Coopers joined her in pinning me to my car. I slowly stood, my body shaking. My eyes darted between each member of the family as I plotted my escape, but before I could, the middle of Mrs. Cooper’s face opened up to reveal a mouth full of needle shaped teeth and a forked tongue. She and her family lunged at me and everything went dark. The last thing I remember thinking was “man, this would make a great story.”
Last Week’s Story: Wishful Thinking Part 3
Next Week’s Story: Trapped
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