It’s that time again! Suzanne Burke chose a great photo for her most recent flash fiction photo prompt—a perfect fit for autumn weather, Halloweenish happenings, or things that go bump in the night. As always, I enjoyed playing with this prompt and giving my muse free rein. To learn more about Soooz’s weekly fiction challenge, click HERE to join in the fun.
This time I came in at exactly 750 words (the limit) when including the title.
I’ve Got a Plan
“You really bought this?” Mason shook his head as he surveyed the derelict property. In its day, the house had probably been grand. Now, it was nothing more than a weathered, ivy-encrusted shell. Gilded by the last rays of the setting sun, the old two-story appeared part of the barren woodland surrounding it. “I hope you can get your money back.”
“It was dirt cheap.” Jeremy’s face glowed with pride. “Besides…I’ve got a plan.”
There was always a plan with Jeremy—another fanciful idea or dragon tail. It had been that way since he was a kid. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the plan?”
“A Halloween Haunt. Picture it.” Jeremy spread his hands, framing the house. “It won’t take a lot of money. Just enough to shore things up and make certain they’re sound. We add a few fog machines, cheap vintage furniture, and I’m telling you, Dad, it can’t fail.”
“You’ll need actors.”
“I’ve got that covered. We add to the existing atmosphere and play up grim and creepy.”
Business would be limited to a few months in the fall, but that wasn’t entirely problematic. Plus, it would be good experience if the kid pulled it off. At twenty-eight, it was time he managed something.
“Maybe.” Mason wasn’t ready to commit. “Let’s see inside.”
Isabelle rolled her eyes at the agonized creak of the front door. It had started screeching like that somewhere during the last century. “Dearest, we have company.”
Liam flipped a page in his book. “Two men. I saw them standing out front.”
“Don’t you think you should go downstairs and see what they’re about?” She lowered her embroidery hoop to her lap, the soft folds of her saffron gown, a color match for the flames in the hearth. As cozy as their sitting room was, she understood why Liam was reluctant to leave but one of them had to address the situation. “You’ve already read Moby Dick numerous times.”
“But I never tire of it. We could send Chloe.”
“That strumpet?” Isabelle clucked her tongue. “I think not. I don’t even know why the fool girl insists on lingering.”
“She did love me.” Liam set his book aside. “Probably still does.”
He was a distinguished man with a smattering of gray in his hair, his eyes the dark blue of midnight skies. Isabelle was sometimes overcome by her devotion to him. She couldn’t term the affection love—not any longer—but her emotion ran strong. She’d been naïve when they’d wed, but after a decade discerned his wandering eye. Especially after Chloe came to live with them, lending a hand with domestic chores.
“Her love is irrelevant. I do not share.”
“As you proved.”
Isabelle flashed an innocent smile. “You always enjoyed my tea in the past.”
“Minus the poison.”
“At least I followed you to the grave by drinking it myself.”
“Not quite the grave.” He motioned to the room at large.
“Which brings us back to the problem downstairs.”
“Very well.” Liam heaved a breath. “I’ll scare them off like the others.”
“It has potential.” After exploring the main level, Mason was almost ready to commit. It would take an outlay of cash, but nothing he couldn’t raise. Maybe this time Jeremy would finally turn one of his pipedreams into gold. “We should look upstairs.”
He started toward the staircase, halting abruptly when he spied a figure at the top. “What the—”
The man’s face appeared chiseled from granite. Dressed in outdated clothing, he looked much like a Dicken’s character, wearing a short waistcoat, silken cravat, and high-topped boots.
He speared a finger in their direction. “Trespassers! You do not belong here!” The walls shook at the boom of his voice. The floor heaved and cracked. Behind him, lightning exploded from the ceiling, filling the air with ozone. “Leave while you can.”
“Holy shit!” Mason stumbled backward, colliding with his son.
Jeremy caught him by the shoulders. “Don’t mind him, Dad. That’s just Mr. O’Conner.” He hustled past, climbing the steps two at a time. “Hiya, Mr. O’Conner.” He flipped a wave to the stunned apparition. “Chloe told me all about you and your wife. You’re going to fit right in. Aren’t they, Dad?” Jeremy glanced over his shoulder. “Dad?”
Mason stood rooted to the landing, knees quavering, heart thundering. “J-J-Jeremey…” He couldn’t seem to find his voice. “Th-that’s a ghost.”
“Yeah, I know.” The idiot kid grinned ear-to-ear. “Didn’t I tell you we wouldn’t need actors?”