Saturday again, and a new story starts today. This one is called A Snap Of The Fingers.
What would you do for the one you love? Would you die for them? Would you kill for them? Ten year old SETH ROGERS is faced with that very question in this horror short story.
When I wrote this, my son was just a year older than Seth, so I was trying to imagine what he would do. Would he be conflicted? Would he do it? I explore that here in this short story, starting today. Part #1 begins now…
The corridor was dimly lit, as it usually was at this time of night; the overhead strip lighting hummed slightly, on low power. An open door at the far end spilled light into the gloom. Seth’s trainers squeaked as he scuffed them along the tiled floor. The book he had been reading, ‘Captain Underpants’, hung by his side. His blonde, curly hair lay in small tight ringlets against his cheeks and forehead; he brushed a lock aside absently.
To his left, his dad walked silently. He had tried to take Seth’s hand more than once, but each time, Seth had shaken him off.
One of the nurses at the desk looked at him as he walked past.
“Whatcha reading champ?” He stepped from behind his desk and crouched down as Seth approached.
Without breaking stride or turning his head, Seth tossed the book towards the nurse and kept walking.
“I’m sorry, it’s –”
“It’s ok, Mr Rogers. I understand.” The nurse picked the book off the floor and handed it back to the boy’s dad.
Taking the book and nodding at the nurse, Vernon Rogers turned back to his son.
“Seth, there was no need for that.” He felt no conviction in what he said, however, and simply placed the book on a nearby shelf before continuing along the corridor.
Seth’s progress towards the door had become progressively slower, until he had virtually ground to a halt; his arms were crossed and he shuffled forward slowly. His dad crouched down in front of him and took his hands. This time, Seth made no effort to shake free.
“Come on, mate,” his dad said softly. “We’ve got to do this. You’vegot to do this.” Standing again, he held out a hand. Seth looked at it for a moment before taking it with his left hand. He dragged the back of his free hand across his face, wiping away the streak of snot that had reached his upper lip. Together, they walked towards the open door, and the light within.
There was very little noise in this part of the hospital, which bothered Seth. He couldn’t see how so many people be could crammed into one building and make almost no sound. Once, in school, he had been kept behind for cheating on a test. Mister Baxter had caught him looking at Heather Forrest’s history answers and had asked him to remain after school. He had sat in silence in the classroom while Mister Baxter marked the other test papers. He had asked Seth to sit quietly and think about what he had done. No problem. Seth sat with his head in his hands, leaning on the table thinking about what he had actuallybeen doing: not cheating, never cheating. Heather Forrest had started to develop breasts and Seth thought they were worth looking at. The silence offered him the opportunity to relive his adolescent fantasies, the reality of which was still several years away. The classroom, indeed the school, had been silent that evening. But all the children had gone home, and he had been left alone with a teacher that thought he was a cheat. This was not the same at all.
As the pair approached the open door, a man stepped out into the corridor.
“Mr Rogers, if you please.” He opened both of his arms, shepherding them away from the door. He leaned down and spoke to Seth. “Can I just have a word with your dad, please?”
Seth stared at him and said nothing. He hadn’t cried yet. He knew it was there waiting, but crying was what girls did, and Seth Rogers was no girl. He allowed himself to be moved away, as the doctor stepped in front of him and began speaking to his dad.
Seth couldn’t hear what was being said, but he watched his dad’s face and got the all the information he needed; at first his dad smiled, a weak smile that didn’t touch his eyes, then his mouth slowly came open, and he raised a hand to cover it. The other followed seconds later.
He stood that way for another minute or so while the doctor continued to speak with him. Seth continued to watch his dad’s face; tears had started to well up in his eyes, and they shimmered in the dim light. Just for a second, his dad’s eyes flicked to Seth. As their gaze met, the tears spilled out and ran down his cheeks. He made no sound, instead Seth watched his knuckles turn white as he pressed his hands harder against his mouth. The doctor spoke for another minute or so, before turning to Seth. He smiled and ruffled the boy’s hair. Seth watched impassively as he moved away, back down the corridor.
Seth felt his dad’s hands on his shoulders, but he continued watching the doctor as he stopped to talk to one of the nurses at the station that Seth had seen earlier. The hands moved to his face and gently turned it until it was pointing at his dad. Mr Rogers’ eyes were swollen, puffy and red. The tears had gone, but it was clear they had been there. This was his dad. His dad. If boys didn’t cry, then dads certainly didn’t. Seth sniffed as his dad squatted down, bringing him to Seth’s eye-level.
“Right. We’re going to go in now.” His hands had moved back to the shoulders and were stroking Seth’s arms. “Don’t be frightened by the equipment. I’ll be there with you.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath before continuing. “We’ll be good, buddy.” His voice cracked slightly and the tears began to roll down his cheeks again, more freely now. He wiped a sleeve over his face before standing up. He looked down at his son and offered his hand again. Seth did not offer his hand in return, but allowed his dad to take it gently in his own. Together, they both walked into the room.
That’s all for today. If you can get the ending from this, I’ll award you 2 imaginary horror points that can’t be redeemed anywhere. Until next time…