Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: Mean Man
By Larry Elliott
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Somewhere in this tranquil suburbian home, a window exploded with the intensity of a car bomb.
David sprang to a sitting position instantly alert, listening intently to muted shadows. A tip-toeing minuscule cheese bandit in fuzzy house shoes could not have escaped detection.
Sweat teased his forehead. His wife squeezed his hand.
“I’m going downstairs.” David whispered.
He made his way around via a small nightlight whose pale yellowness oozed from beneath the door to the master bath.
David mused why the woman always said that. As if the man, clad in BVD’s and facing a possible unknown assailant- in the dark- would consider being anything else.
“Let’s get this over with.” He coaxed himself as he took the baseball bat from the closet, wielding it in more a Jack Nicholson fashion than Babe Ruth.
He crept to the stairs and paused. He could have sworn he heard the delicate swish-swish of rodent size slippers on ceramic tile, but quickly resolved this to his adrenalin gorged imagination.
As he descended the stairs David released the weapon with one hand and clutched the banister.
A prone man at the bottom with bleeding face and twisted limbs would make a pitiable opponent, and David did not intend to make life any easier for an intruder- if one existed.
As his toes touched the cool tile someone, or something, tugged the bat from behind.
David’s heart stopped. He wanted to run screaming like a pigtailed school girl encountering her first wart encrusted toad.
He looked up and there was the business end of the bat caught in a hoop of antique brass. He had forgotten about the light fixture. What an idiot. He took respite on the bottom step.
A sudden wail pierced his ears like unexpected sunlight on dark laden eyes. He leapt to his feet dropping the bat which smacked the tile with a crisp ‘ka-lang’.
As he reached out it rolled just beyond his grasp and stopped. He took a step forward and the bat clacked off across the tiles making an impossible right turn, disappearing into the blackness of the kitchen.
Impulsively, or stupidly, he started after it when another scream came from above.
David bounded back up the stairs.
He switched on the hall light. His wife stood in the doorway to their son’s bedroom.
David stepped around his wife and into the room.
Where a window used to be now gaped a maw filled with menacing teeth of glass shards.
He noticed the empty bed.
“Nate?” No answer. “Nathaniel, where are you?”
He gave no thought to the consequences of broken glass on bare feet- until he felt the sharp pain.
Forcing himself to look down he noticed no jagged flesh shredding fragments anywhere, and no blood- only a plastic teradactyl, now minus a tail.
The ruined windows stained fangs resembled remains of some fiendish cathedral.
He touched one.
His wife found her voice. “What is it?”
“Oh God, no…”
He stuck his neck through the opening with the sincerity of a novice lion tamer felt.
Most of the window lay in pieces on the manicured Bermuda below.
“I’m going out there.” Cheryl cried out.
“No, call 911.”
“Did you hear that?” David whispered. A muffled wheezing came from the closet.
Cheryl moved, David gestured her to stop. He snatched a stegosaurus lamp from the nightstand then jerked aside the folding doors.
“Nate.” Cheryl cuddled her shivering son.
“It’s ok, you’re safe now. Mommy and daddy are here.”
The boy whimpered, “He took… Sammy... and jumped out the window.”
“The mean man. He stole my dog.”
They all turned toward the window at the sound of crunching glass from outside.
Something was wrong.
Todd woke from a dreamless sleep. Then he did what any good pastor would do when roused with obvious purpose by the Holy Spirit. He sat up, careful not to disturb his wife, and slipped downstairs to his office to pray.
Everything was right.
Calrion’s commission was complete.
The beheaded demon wisped to its finality on a gentle night breeze.
Prayers of a faithful servant foiled its plans of cruelty so the monster seized the boy’s pet instead.
Calrion held the small frightened animal until its wounds healed then placed it beside a small tree. “Stay small friend. Your master will find you shortly.”
Calrion then drew attention to the dog by allowing his departing footsteps to be heard.
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