My friend, the lovely historical fiction writer Haley Whitehall, issued a flash fiction challenge in the horror genre and this time it involves a prize! The contest runs until 10/31/11, so there’s still time to enter. My entry is Part 2 of a story I wrote for BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday IX. You can find Part 1, Postcards from Hell here.
Ants in the Mailbox
Steve looked right. Left. Nothing else moved anywhere on the street.
Deanna squeezed the stock of her crossbow. “He really dead? Dead-dead?”
Steve swallowed. “Dead-dead.”
They both looked at the small rectangle of paper laying next to the figure’s ruined fingertips.
Steve glanced at the mailbox, the bent red flag half raised, paint flaking off. “Remember when we used to put cookies in there?”
“And pretend elves did it.”
“Buck played along. ‘Look, those elves left me cookies again. Nom-nom.’ Dork.”
A grin tugged the corners of Deanna’s mouth. “Till Mom said quit it ‘cause of the ants.”
“And one time it was red ants. Mom made us get the mail then.”
“Think ants’ll get him?” Her lips trembled. “We should bury him.”
Steve pushed the mailbox flag down. “You know we can’t.”
Deanna nodded, wiping her face with the back of her hand.
Steve reached down and picked up the rectangle of paper. Stared at it a long time.
“It’s from Crazy Larry’s Used Cars, right? ‘Save thousands’ or something.”
Steve held the postcard out.
Deanna grabbed it. “Beth. Stacy. Steve. Deanna. Don’t know what’s happening. Everything’s crazy. Phones aren’t working. I’m OK. Hurt my leg.” Her hands began to shake. “At Buck and Susy’s. They’ve got supplies. Guns. Stay there. Buck’ll come get you. Wait for him. I love you-”
Steve took the postcard back before she could drop it. “Dad.”
“Steve, he’s alive!”
“Alive when he wrote this. That was-” He looked at the weeds and the litter blowing down the street. “-weeks ago.”
“He said his leg was- What if-”
She grabbed his arm.“What’s wrong with you? It’s Dad.”
Steve pulled away. Shook his head.
“Maybe Mom’s there too. Maybe they’re both okay.”
“The note was for all of us. Mom too.”
“Maybe she got there after he sent Buck-”
Steve looked down at the figure that used to be Buck. Crossbow bolt in his forehead. The place where part of his neck was torn away. “Look at him, Dee. Buck died. Turned.”
“But he kept trying to bring us that note. From Dad.”
“Dad was alive, he would come for us. Wouldn’t leave us alone.”
“He doesn’t know. About Stacy. Thinks we’re all here. Safe.” Deanna clenched her fist. “He coulda been hurt bad. But not- Not a bite! Dad’s okay, dammit. We have to get him.”
“We are safe here.”
“Almost out of food. We scavenged as far as we could from here. Need another home base. You said.”
“We can make it there by dark-”
“-is past the plaza. Remember the plaza? It was crawling with-”
Deanna smoothed the edge of the sheet over Buck. “Think he minds it’s Snoopy sheets?”
Steve adjusted his backpack. Checked his crossbow. “Nah. It’s Buck. Come on. Let’s go get Dad.”
A very kind thank you to Gene Lempp who wondered (in a comment on Postcards from Hell) if the postcard might not be from Crazy Larry’s Used Cars.
So what do you think? What will Steve and Deanna find at Buck’s? Is their Dad alive? And is the plaza still crawling with- ?