Creative Writing NZ April 2021 Competition WinnerPosted 2 weeks ago under Uncategorised,
Mike Rymarz is an unremarkable 40-something year old, who enjoys spending time with his wife, two kids, two dogs, cat and hamster. He also enjoys creating stories that hopefully make the reader smile. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him in front of the TV watching sport or on his bike.
Silent. That’s what he’d been told, to be completely silent. Not a word. Otherwise it would be all over.
Jeff had known this was coming, had known for a couple of weeks in fact, but that didn’t make it any easier. His aching joints at that precise moment made him wonder if he should have trained for it, but it was too late for what ifs. He was too old for this, his bent arthritic knees testament to how he was no longer suited for being in this position.
He had found a spot where he knew he could stay hidden, a place they wouldn’t see him when they came through the door. And he knew they’d eventually come. They always came. He just hoped he wouldn’t give all of them away. He’d seen it happen once before, when they’d been spotted, and the hatred, confusion and vitriol directed at the guilty party was, well, shameful to say the least. There was no way he would be responsible for that. There was too much hurt afterwards, too many disappointed people. He would stay quiet. For as long as he could.
There was no way of seeing anyone else in the room, their hiding places like his shrouded in darkness and shadows. Until recently, the room had been lit up and the contrast between the two states had been stark to say the least. From light to darkness, from clarity to confusion, his eyes straining to become accustomed to the black they found overwhelming them. He had never liked the dark, not since his elder brother had pinned him under the bedsheets when they were kids, a torture which may have seemed like harmless japes at the time, but which had stayed with him throughout his whole life. And he was back in the dark now, a sense of foreboding washing over him.
He controlled his breathing, making sure to take long, deep inhalations that were easy to silence. He had thought long and hard about this, recognising that shallower breaths usually emitted a sharp sound that would be clearly audible to anyone in the room, and he needed to remain incognito. He gripped the bottom of the table leg next to him, squeezing tightly in another vain attempt to ease his fear. God, how he hated the dark, a dark that was made even worse by this deathly silence.
His ears twitched, hearing a sound from outside. Passing bus? Approaching car? He couldn’t quite make it out but knew that the end was nearing, that it would be all over soon. He was tempted to get his phone out to check the time but didn’t want the light from the screen to give him away. To give them all away. He couldn’t even conceive what the consequences of that would be.
A faint cough. Not from him, but from someone else in the room, someone else in the same position as him. QUIET, he mentally shouted at them, hoping that by some chance he had become gifted in ESP and mind-control and could actually make a difference by his thoughts. He strained again, listening for any other sounds. He could hear a dog in the distance and another vehicle passing but apart from that it was silent. Silent and dark.
His knees and back were killing him, crouched as he was in this position. Cowered might be a better word, the upper half of his body almost folded over in half, hiding his legs and feet. He was trying to make himself as small as possible, a feat that was almost impossible to achieve with his aging bones. He desperately wanted to straighten up, to move a bit to relieve the pain that was coursing throughout his whole body but being stubborn he knew there was no way he would do anything to give up his hiding place. The repercussions would be inconceivable.
Footsteps. Voices. Two of them coming from the other side of the door. He held his breath one final time wondering if this was it. He heard a quick burst of laughter, almost sadistic he felt by this point, and then the tell-tale sound of a key entering a lock. The handle slowly turned, the room filled only with an audible expectation and a sense of foreboding.
Quick as a flash, the room was illuminated by the visitors, the man having flicked on the light switch. This was it…
“SURPRISE!!!” they all shouted as one – Jeff a little slower to rise than the others, who had leapt to their feet to see his forty-year old daughter’s stunned face.