|The Quaint Sound of Shuffling|
|Author||Lead The Careers|
|Genre||Fantasy; Thriller; Suspense|
The quaint sound of shuffling awoke me from my shallow slumber. I lay beneath the torn blanket, my chest rising and falling in sync with my slow, cautious breaths, ears pricked up in search for the noise. The moon bathed the room through the gap between the curtains, painting every dull feature a gorgeous shade of silver; my eyes flickered towards the splintering door which thankfully remained in the mode it had taken when I last checked. Shut tight and locked securely.
I shoved the patchwork quilt off of me and slipped onto the ground, each footstep muffled by the rough carpet. The house was eerily silent – not even the birds sang their midnight melody, yet the odd shuffling tune which had now spread to various rooms of the building continued to play.
“Mum is never up at this time,” I muttered under my breath, and I caught hold of keys dangling from the keyhole; a full circle twist resulted in the familiar click which signalled the lock had given way. A brisk shove opened the door, revealing the gloomy staircase, and inviting the creepy atmosphere to completely engulf the house.
“Shh!” a voice hissed from downstairs, and I instantly leapt to the first step, breath held. “Quiet, or you’ll wake the boss!”
“But where is she?” another voice said. Whilst the first voice sounded gruff and ancient, this one was smooth and silky and seductive, yet I couldn’t match his tone to any faces in the neighbourhood. Both were male though – I could guarantee that fact.
“She must be here somewhere!” the old man replied, clear irritation embedded in his tone, followed by an ear-splitting crash which signalled that something had fallen from a shelf, or that it had been knocked over. “Have you tried upstairs?” the youngster enquired, the scuffling slowly growing louder.
“No, not yet... you head upstairs, I’ll stay down here,” the old man hissed. “No way! She might be armed! The old ones go first – you are older and can do a lot less than I can! Go on, baldy, I won’t mourn,” the young man scoffed, and suddenly the sound of thumping footsteps on the dust-varnished staircase filled the corridor with sound.
I panicked. My eyes had adjusted to the black, and I could make out the blurred edges of furniture; I could also see the shadow which was approaching me with impossible speed.
Immediately, I sped from the room and down the corridor, repeatedly tripping over my feet, aiming for mother’s room with the determination of keeping my mother safe from any harm. The corridor walls seemed to be closing in on me in an attempt to slow me down, to make me vulnerable to attack. When I reached my mother’s room, I silently closed the door and bolted it, before dashing to the double bed, feeling relaxed as the crimson silk sheet slipped up my arms.
“Mum, wake up!” I hissed under my breath, shaking her still figure, confused at the abnormal low temperature of her flesh. “Mum, intruders! Mum! Wake up!”
She looked gorgeous when she slept; her frown lines disappeared into her forehead, the deep circles beneath her pale eyes faded, and her stiff limbs relaxed. Her honey curls were finally released from their taut ponytail and hung heavily round her heart-shaped face; she looked beautiful, alluring, young, when she hit the hay. But her beauty was the last thing on my mind. She failed to awaken, and then the footsteps grew more audible. Ideas raced through my head as I searched for an escape or an exit – the only way out of the bedroom was through the window, and a two-storey drop would definitely result in a lot more than injury.
Then I remembered. Her sock drawer housed a lot more than socks – I remembered unearthing it when searching for a walkie-talkie I’d lost that day. It was slick and black, an alien object, and it scared me when I first clasped it. My mum saw me fiddling with it and shrieked, then explained to me that I was holding a pistol, and that if my finger had slipped, my head would have been blown off.
Three firm thuds on the door made me jump in a foot in the air, and I found myself aggressively rummaging through the container of fabrics, hurling socks over my shoulder, until I felt my fingers enwrap around a cold, hard, strangely-shaped object; there in my hand is the pistol which almost killed me when I was five years old.
Another ear-splitting bang on the door, and I saw that the weak piece of wood was about to separate from the woodworm-ridden doorframe, so I impulsively slid underneath the double-bed into the darkness, breath held, finger curled round the trigger.
The door flew open as a foot collided with the wood, and my eyes saw two hiking-boots slip across the floor almost gracefully, the floorboards silent beneath their steps.
“I know you’re in here,” the human spoke, and I recognised him as the young man who possessed the silky, seductive voice. What happened to the old man? I thought as I watched the feet trace irregular patterns across the carpet. “Come on, darling, you have no need to be afraid – I have no intention to harm you, you can come out.” My lungs were crying out for air, yet I kept my lips clamped together, knowing he’d hear me if I breathed in. His feet were edging towards the doorway, and I prayed that he’d leave soon, so I could finally inhale.
Then suddenly his face was there, staring into my eyes, frozen like a statue. I yelped, and scurried back, keeping the gun concealed behind my figure; he was beautiful, almost inhumanely beautiful – his skin dark brown, his face seemingly chiselled from marble, and his irises a startling crimson.
“So... beautiful,” he whispered, gently extending his bulky arm towards me, and he cupped my face with his hand as I shook with fear, my eyes widened. “You resemble your mother so much.” He stretched out his other hand.
I yanked the gun from behind my back, pointed it at his bewitching face, and wrenched back the trigger; an explosive bang rang out at an ear-cracking volume, and the man flew back, giving me just enough time to scrabble out from my hiding place and race across the corridor. The stairs groaned as I stumbled down the staircase, tripping near the bottom and landing flat on my face on the varnished floor.
When I finally managed to stand, I saw the old man standing in the doorway, arms outstretched to prevent my escape. I raised the gun, and the man’s face muscles instantly relaxed. His arms found the sky in surrender, and he edged away from the doorframe, allowing my exit.
I burst out into the open air, and the harsh wind immediately began attacking me; thankful I’d fallen asleep fully dressed, my eyes scanned the village, looking for somewhere to escape. All I could see was the dense woodland that encompassed my house.
Just then, I felt a chilling hand clasp around my neck and force me to the ground, and I found myself struggling under the weight of the young man I was positive I’d killed earlier. I felt his hand batter my fingers which held the gun – refusing to let go, I twisted the gun up to him and fired again. He released his grip and I slithered from beneath him, eyes widened in horror as I watched him writhing in pain on the lush lawn, but the only thing really baffling me was the lack of blood oozing from his body.
Just then, the burning sound of screeching tires shocked me, and I span round to see a car barrelling towards me, gleaming slick in the milky white lustre of the full moon. I didn’t know much about cars, but I could easily identify this vehicle as a silver Mercedes.
The car skidded to a halt in front of me, and the figure inside shoved the door open. He was around my age, his skin pale and chalky; his bronze curls sat a greasy mop upon his head.
“Get in the car,” he growled, and my eyebrow rose, not possessing a fraction of trust for this stranger. So I whipped the gun out from behind my waist, and pointed it right between his deep-set, black eyes.
“Still want me to get in the car?” I almost threatened menacingly, and the corners of his mouth turned upwards as he raised his athletic arms in surrender. “Listen, that guy is going to awaken any second, and he will snatch that gun, so I suggest you get in this car before you have to fight him defenceless,” the boy said, obviously enjoying the conversation.
“Fine,” I whispered, very slightly lowering the gun. “I’ll get in the car if you agree to keep your hands to yourself. I am really not in the mood to be messed with.”
The boy smiled and nodded, and I launched myself into the heated-seats of the car and shut the door with force. His hand wrenched back the handbrake and he stomped on the accelerator, and suddenly I was speeding off into the night.
I was immensely struggling to process everything which had happened in the space of an hour. I’d awoken to the sound of two intruders, I’d raced into my mum’s round and found her unconscious (I’d couldn’t say the word ‘dead’), I’d stolen her gun, I’d shot the same guy twice and he still wasn’t dead (he didn’t even bleed), and now I was in a car with a stranger.