Short Stories

“The Unwelcome” by Ashlyn Johnson

The Unwelcome

by: Ashlyn Johnson

              Grace was born in just that. At least that’s what her father told her. She was born in the grace of God, even though her mother died during labor.

The doctors had to cut her open just to rescue the suffocating fetus with an umbilical cord wrapped around it’s neck. Why her father loved to tell the story, she’d never know, but it always ended with a pat to the head and a weak smile as he said, “But now Mommy’s home with the Lord. That’s what matters. It’s what she always wanted.” Grace sure didn’t want a life motherless, but her father didn’t understand her feelings.

“Hurry up, Grace! It’s time to talk to the dead! You should be most excited about this after all. What if your mother talks to us!?” Katie giggled as she tugged her friend along to the living room.

“I highly doubt this will work, Katie. Come on, we bought this board at Wal-Mart, not some spooky old shop with rumors of witches in it. It literally has the makers logo on the box!”

“You’re being a buzzkill, Grace.”

“And you are overzealous that we’re going to talk to dead celebrities.”

Katie giggled as she sat down on the ground and patted the area across from her. “Shut up and let’s see if this works.”

“Spoiler alert…”

“Shut. Up.”

Grace only laughed at her friend’s demand as she watched her set up the dinky board and unbag the pointer. “Katie, who are you even wanting to talk to?”

“Michael Jackson, duh!”

Grace burst out with laughter as she took the pointer in her hand, examined it, and then placed it down on the board. “Oh, Mighty Jackson, please come to us lowly teenagers who have only listened to the zombie song, and fulfill our needs to hear from the dead.”

Katie smacked Grace’s arm. “Fine. How about we do this right and ask to hear from your mom. She might want to tell you to shut up!”

“Okay, sure, but when this doesn’t work, can we please order a pizza?”

“Sure. If it doesn’t work, we’ll order pizza. Now first, let’s set the mood.”

Grace watched Katie leave the room only to return with an arm full of various candles. “Those look like your mom’s décor candles. She’ll kill us for burning them.”

“That’s why we’ll only burn them for a little bit. They’re so high up on the wall she’ll never notice a little dip in them.”

Grace sighed and watched Katie set up candles on the hardwood floor around them, lighting each one with care. She felt a sudden chill and looked toward the a/c vent. She was too close to that thing. “Alright, so what’s the plan?”

Katie sat down and took the pointer and laid it dead center of the board. “Now we both put our hands on this thing and start asking questions until someone or something answers.”

“Something??”

“Demons use this thing too, duh.”

“Bullshi-”

“Grace! Dad’s in the other room. Language!”

Grace rolled her eyes, knowing well how much Katie spouted off the f bombs at school.

“Alright,” Katie began. “Fingers on the pointer.”

Grace obliged and placed her index fingers on the pointer.

“Close your eyes and let me lead.”

Grace rolled her eyes before she closed them. She didn’t believe in any of this for one second, and in all honesty, her father would have her head on a platter, John the Baptist style, if he knew she were messing with something like this.

“Please, to whoever is out there listening to us, reveal yourself, talk to us, or even give us just a sign.”

Silence.

That was, until Grace snorted out her laughter and began to cackle loudly. “I’m sorry! I just don’t believe.”

“Come on, Grace! Take it seriously and maybe we can get at least creeped out! This is something I really want to do!”

Grace conceded with a nod as she placed her fingers back on the pointer. “Mom. Katie wants to hear from the dead. So, if you can do anything for me right now, here’s your big chance.”

Silence.

Grace opened her eyes and sighed. “See. This is just a bunch of bull.”

Just as Grace began to let go of the pointer, it moved to the letter “D”.

Both girls snapped their heads up to look at each other before they both shook their heads. “Wasn’t me!” They both said in unison.

Slowly the pointer moved again. “I”. Then to “E”.

Grace let go of the pointer and stood up. “Not funny, Katie!”

“I swear to God I’m not doing anything!”

Suddenly the window shattered open and the wind blew out all of the candles. The two girls screamed when they heard the harsh foot falls on the hard wood floor, as if someone was wearing boots.

“Girls! What’s going on?!” Katie’s father yelled out as he flung the door open.

Both girls screamed out as the blackened silhouette with glowing yellow cuts throughout its figure shoved its hand and arm through the man’s torso. Katie’s father’s still beating heart in its hand before it dropped it and tossed the body to the side.

Katie’s horrified screams silenced as she passed out, but before she hit the floor the creature caught her, took one angered look at Grace with its glowing red eyes, and disappeared with Katie.

Grace looked all around the room, and before she could say or do anything she felt breath on the back of her neck. Slowly she turned, only to be faced with Katie’s father staring her down with glowing red eyes.

“Where’s… my… daughter?” He croaked out.

Grace began to walk backward, crying loudly as she shook her head. “I don’t know!”

“Where’s my daughter?!” He let out a high-pitched scream after his question as his mouth contorted and stretched far past what was natural, until his jaw fell to the floor with maggots scurried about the flesh.

Grace was nauseated by what she could see, shaken and horrified by what was happening. It had to be a nightmare, but it was all too real. There were no words, only fear, and she knew whatever was happening was the end.

Katie’s father crouched slightly before he lunged and tackled Grace. A long tongue slid out from the gaped hole and glided across her left cheek and into her hair. His hand gripped tightly to her throat.

Grace began her struggle. Her own hand gripped the tight arm of the creature Katie’s dad had become. She knew she only had moments before she would be choked out and unconscious. She began her fight, kicking and jerking her hands on his arm as she tried all she could to save herself. However, it simply wasn’t enough. Her vision tunneled, and the dim moonlight grew dark all around her before her body went limp in the creature’s grasp.

*****

Bird chirps was what drew Grace out of her unconscious state. Quickly she leapt up, looked about the blood-stained room, and began to shake all over again. It really happened. Katie was gone, her father’s heart was on the floor, as was his jaw, but no sign of the creature he’d become. She walked upon the shattered glass, winced as it cut up her feet, but made it to the window where she saw the horrifying sight. Katie’s body was mangled and disfigured in the tree, and her father’s body lay by the trunk, lifeless.

Grace tried to scream, but no sound would come. She attempted to make any noise possible only to be met with silence. It was then she heard footsteps once more behind her. Turned on heel, she gasped at the sight.

It was her mother.

She recognized her from photos.

“Mom?” She mouthed.

The woman nodded and smiled. “I saved you last night my beautiful daughter, but I can only keep you safe for a few more moments before he comes for you again. You knew better than to play with this sort of thing. I know your father taught you better.” Her hand reached out and maggots fell from her sleeve to the ground.

Grace instinctively stepped backwards against the window. The wind whipped her hair about. “Get away.” She mouthed, as she knew this was not her mother.

The woman’s smile went from loving to angered before it contorted and stretched. Skin fell away in thick strips around the hoofed creature that showed itself to Grace. Screams began to sing all around her as the creature began to advance her.

Grace knew of no other option. She leaned back and let herself free fall from the second story window, colliding head first with the ground in a sickening crunch as her neck snapped. The world disappeared from her vision in an instant.

*****

“No! I have no idea why she would do this. She started screaming and attacking my father! We both ran she was so enraged! We didn’t know she’d hurt herself while we were gone getting her father.” Katie’s tears rolled down her cheeks as the police officer took her statement. “I don’t know what possessed her to be that way.”

“Did she show any signs of mental illness in the past?”

“No. My daughter was a perfectly normal girl. This is completely out of character for her.” Grace’s father was able to respond through his own tears as he watched them roll his bagged daughter away on a stretcher to an ambulance with the lights off.

“Again, I am so sorry for your loss.” The officer spoke in a solemn tone before he closed his notepad and walked away from the two as they grieved the loss of Grace, who never stood a chance.

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