Prompt 20: Dead of the Night – 501 Prompts

501 Prompts is my way to use imagination to come up with made up worlds, characters and plots and combine them to form into something like a story.

Here’s how it works: prepare an idea, write for 20 minutes, edit, upload it and move on to the next. It’s open to all genres, topics and experiments with storytelling.

Enjoy this week’s prompt!

The Prompt

Someone wakes up in the middle of the night. They hear a sound coming from downstairs. A cell phone rings in the kitchen but it’s not theirs.

My Story

After my wife Stacey went missing 5 years ago, finding sleep had been a luxurious commodity. Life moved on when no one discovered any trace of her for months. The world around me forgot about it faster than I was ready to accept. It took me years to find comfort in sleep’s embrace again.

Until one night, I woke up. I tossed and turned from side to side before staring up at the dark ceiling. Something felt wrong, and I didn’t know why.

I lost track of how long I listened to the dead silence. When I was finally about to slip back into sleep, a strange sound invaded my consciousness. With a jerk, I sat up in my bed and clawed my fingers into the blanket.

A deep humming, something like the roaring of a broken engine came from downstairs. I swallowed the dread that crept up my throat and forced myself to stand up.

Past the bedroom door, the unknown sound echoed through the dark hallway with the intensity of a swarm of angry wasps. For just a second, I hesitated before leaving the safety of my room. I edged closer to the top of the stairs. The noise grew louder with every step as if it commanded me to come downstairs. I paused and listened. The buzzing sound drowned out everything, overpowering the intense thumping of my racing heart.

Once I had reached the bottom of the stairs, I located the source of it in the kitchen. A stray beam of light from one of the street lamps created a tense twilight in the room. And there it lay on the counter, growling and squealing. The small display on top of the flip phone had a crack. I knew that phone, but it wasn’t mine.

“That’s impossible,” I murmured to myself.

It was Stacey’s, but I hadn’t seen it since that day so long ago. Just as I picked it up, the call ended. I looked at the thing. My stomach clenched into a tight knot. An earthy smell lingered in the air that hadn’t been there when I went to bed a few hours earlier. I flinched when a hand gently touched my shoulder.

“Hey, darling,” she said just as if nothing had happened.

The exact tone of her warm and deep voice had been lost to my ears, but hearing it again brought it all back. Just like a broken clockwork, I turned around, and there she stood looming in the shadows.

“Where —how —I —” I scrambled to find the right words but didn’t end up grasping any.

“What’s wrong?”

“How is this possible?”

“What do you mean?” She looked at me, and I could see her just enough to identify the smirk she always had when she wasn’t sure about a situation. I used to love that expression. Now it stung like a knife. “I went out for groceries and met with Paula for coffee. You know that.”

I stepped back. “We’ve been searching for you for weeks. It was like you vanished from the face of the earth. And now you’re standing here in my kitchen in the middle of the night.”

That gave her another pause. She looked around as if she just now noticed the slight changes to the house. The absence of our family pictures, her decoration gone, and the new furniture I had bought the year prior.

“Don’t you remember anything?” I asked her, gaining back some confidence and control.

“No… I — I was on my way to my car when something hit me.”

“And then?” I tried to push her further to see if there was anything she remembered.

“Long darkness. A cabin out in the woods. A long deserted road back home…” She buried her face in her hands. Her sobbing slowly turned into a laugh when the pictures came back to her. It made my blood freeze.

“That’s it. I’m calling the cops.” I was still holding her phone and flipped it open.

“And what are you gonna tell them? That you killed me, and somehow I’m back?”

I froze, eyes fixed on her. I was shaking. As she advanced slowly toward me, I retreated until I felt the counter behind me. “What do you want?”

She came closer and closer.

The light coming in from outside illuminated her just enough. Her hair hung heavy with dirt in it. Her light blue blouse was stained with dried blood, where I had stabbed her over and over again. All life had left her eyes long ago.

“What do you want for me?” I repeated, I cried at the specter of the past.

Stacey smiled a wicked grin. “Join me in paradise.”

Read my thoughts on making this prompt.

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