Saturday rolls around quicker each week. I’m going to start buying stuff for Halloween soon. But until then, I’ve got part 2 of my horror short story A Snap of the Fingers.
Think I said this last time, but Snap is one of my favourites. It’s probably the one that makes me feel most uncomfortable, but that might just be because the protagonist is a child of a similar age to my son.
Last time, SETH ROGERS was going into hospital to visit someone. You can read the last part HERE. Now, carry on the story today…
The light was bright in here, much brighter than the corridor, and Seth squinted momentarily while his eyes adjusted. He allowed his dad to lead him over to the bed. Seth closed his eyes completely; he didn’t want to see. He could hear the ping of a machine somewhere to his right. The smell of antiseptic was strong and tickled the back of Seth’s throat. He covered his mouth as he coughed.
“Open your eyes mate,” his dad said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Seth opened his eyes.
His mum lay in front of him. She looked far more than her forty years; her eyes were half open, her cheekbones protruded, and her skin held a grayish tinge. Wires came from somewhere in her chest and connected to the monitor that was pinging. Her chest rose and fell slowly, matched by the rasping breaths she took.
Seth looked away. He didn’t want to remember his mum like this; her hair was gone. She’d always had such beautiful hair. Seth remembered the times he would spend running a brush through it as they watched TV. Sometimes he would plait it. In fact he had become quite the expert, creating ladders, spirals and crowns in her dark, auburn hair.
But that had stopped when she fell ill. Over time, the hair had fallen out, leaving her with an almost bald head, save from one or two wispy strands at the front.
No more plaits. No more anything.
She reached a hand out towards her son. The fingers were those of a much older lady. Not his mum. When she spoke, her voice was quiet, almost inaudible.
“Seth, hold my hand.”
Seth continued to look away.
“Please, Seth.” She started to cry. Her stick-thin arm lowered to the bed, and she stretched out her fingers towards him.
“Seth.” His Dad’s voice was gentle yet firm.
Seth spun on his heels, and ran out of the room, slamming the door as he went. It was a few moments before he heard the door open and his dad’s voice calling to him, but by then, he had turned a corner and was still running.
He continued running until he had turned down several more corridors. As he approached a door, Seth slowed and opened it. Stepping inside, he closed the door. The room was dark, but Seth could make out cupboards and chairs, and he sagged to the floor in the far corner. He hugged his knees to his chest, and began to cry.
When he had cried for several minutes, he raised his head and wiped his eyes. He could hear his dad calling his name somewhere outside, but he had no desire to go back to see his mum. Not yet. As he sat in silence, Seth heard the door handle begin to turn. He pressed himself further into the shadows and hugged his knees tighter. There was a glimpse of light from the corridor as the door opened and then closed. Someone had stepped inside, but Seth could not see who it was.
“Seth, is it?” a voice said. Seth remained silent as he heard the squeaking of shoes on the floor. The light came on as the figure flicked the switch. When his eyes had become accustomed to the light, Seth peered over his arms at the figure standing three or four paces in front of him. It was the nurse that had spoken to him earlier.
“I’m sorry I threw the book at you,” Seth said.
The nurse moved across the room and sat down on the floor alongside Seth.
“Think nothing of it.” He waved a hand. “My name is Cain, but my friends call me Red.” He pointed to his head, indicating the shock of ginger hair that was there. “We can be friends, so you can call me Red.” He held out a hand to shake Seth’s, but it was ignored, and he took it back.
“Are you gonna tell my dad where I am? ‘Cos I don’t want to go back yet.”
“No, Seth, I’m not.”
Seth relaxed a little and let his legs sink to the floor.
“Did the doctor tell you how long your mum had left?”
“No.” He looked down at his lap. “It’s not long though. Did you see her? She looks bad.” He began to cry again.
Red shifted closer to Seth until their shoulders were touching. He smelled faintly of antiseptic, like Seth had smelled in his mum’s room. It reminded him of the toilets at school; after they had been cleaned, of course. Red looked around before he spoke. He leaned over and put his lips close to Seth’s ear.
“Can I tell you a secret?” He spoke in a whisper. Seth felt the breath on his cheeks and could smell his breath. Whatever he had eaten for dinner couldn’t have been very nice. A mint wouldn’t go amissthought Seth.
“Your mum has two days at most. Maybe three.”
Okay, that’s your lot for today. The story does not start in a happy way, but if it helps anybody, you’ll be glad to hear that it doesn’t get any better… Come back next week to see if it gets better for SETH. [SPOILER] It doesn’t, but where would be the fun in that?
- TWO new short horror stories – Read ‘The Island’ and ‘Into The Scar’
- ONE reworking of a classic fairy tale – Horror style!– Read ‘Tooth Fairy’
- Art and Inspiration from all SIX stories in ‘A Sinister Six’ – A look at some of the images, places and people that went into each of the stories in ‘A Sinister Six’
- Interview with Steve– In place of an author bio, Steve answers a series of questions about his writing, his motivations and inspirations
- Author test – have you got what it takes?– A tongue-in-cheek look at some of the characteristics that make up an author. Score yourself!
- Everything you ever wanted to know about Steve but didn’t care enough to ask– Steve answers 50 questions about himself, his work, and his favourite things. More tongue-in-cheek humour
- Character creation– read the stories of three alternate ‘superheroes’, with unfortunate powers. Read how they discover their powers and learn about the bizarre way they deploy these powers (explicit content).