What Will You Write? #4 – The Winner

After a two week wait, we can finally get a winner for the fourth What Will You Write?  This time, we had a guest prompt by Tracey Lynn Tobin, and the theme was supernatural.  Due to time constraints, she was unable to judge this time, so I’ll be judging.

You can check out the original post right now if you need a reminder about the prompt.  Judging this one was not easy.  There were only two entries, but they both took a similar path.  I noticed they both ended up outside, but with very different conclusions.  Both entries were well-written, had good suspense, and were supernatural in nature.  But they were different in tone, one was darker, the other lighter.  Both could easily win, but I had to make a decision.  The winner is silverliningsanddustbunnies with a first time submission.  Why did I choose this one?  Well, first, please read the entry:

Jerry flicked on the flashlight and pointed it into the electrical box. The batteries were dying, so the light barely illuminated the box enough for him to read the labels.
“Well?” Andrea asked, peering over his shoulder. “What’s the issue?”
Jerry frowned. “There’s no power,” he shot back with a sarcastic tone. “How the hell do I know? Do I look like an electrician?” Gingerly, he poked at one of the breakers and was surprised to find that his finger came away sticky. He shined the flashlight at his hand and squinted. It was some kind of red liquid. Upon further examination he saw that half the box was splattered with it. “What the…”
Andrea’s hand reached out and grabbed Jerry’s wrist hard, her fingers digging into his skin. “Jerry,” she squeaked. “Look!”

Jerry was tiring of her hysterics, but as his eyes followed where she was pointing an involuntary gasp escaped him. Rising from the top of the electrical box, now spitting out sparks, was a shimmering blue Haze that was moving upwards with obvious intent. It seemed to be searching for something. In the split second he was able to focus clearly on it, it dove through the floorboards to the kitchen upstairs. With the last dying rays of his flashlight he could see a small patch of dripping red liquid where the Haze had penetrated the wood.

“What the hell…,” he mumbled.

“We can’t go back upstairs. It’s in the kitchen,” Andrea whined, clinging to his arm so tightly that it hurt. “Oh, Jerry, what’s happening? What was that thing?” Her voice rising both in volume and tone, and he could feel rather than see the tears gushing from her large brown eyes.

Instead of the biting sarcasm he had answered her with earlier, he replied as calmingly as he could, ” I don’t know what’s happening, and I agree with you, honey. Let’s get over to the wood chute. We can get out there and then come in the front door.” He was trying to calm himself as much as her. They picked their way through the basement clutter in the near total darkness. Jerry’s fear was now as palpable as Andrea’s, who was beginning to shake. They could hear clattering above them as they finally reached the chute. Jerry reached up to open the door, but it wouldn’t budge.

Just then the basement light came back on, and then as suddenly went out. From the corner of his eye, Jerry saw sparks once again flying from the box, like embers from a hot burning fire. A second blue shimmering Haze was taking form, this time was drifting in their direction. “Holy shit! Jesus, help us!” he breathed hoarsely, and with sudden almost superhuman strength ripped the chute door off its hinges.

He burst out into the eerily moonlit alley that ran out along the back. As he turned to help Andrea out of the basement, he watched in helpless horror as the blue Haze engulfed her. She shrieked something unintelligible, with her now wild shining blue eyes staring somewhere past him. She shook all over, and after blinking rapidly, Andrea’s eyes closed as she collapsed into a heap at the base of the chute. The Haze was now pouring out of the doorless chute.

Jerry, frozen to the spot, felt as cold as death itself as the Haze brushed past him. Then it was gone. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the limp form of his wife from the chute and sat cradling her in his arms until he stopped shaking.  When Andrea finally came to and had regained some strength, they made their way around the house and out to the street in front of their house where they hid between two parked cars. They watched as shimmering blue patches of Haze emerged from a few other houses on the block. The Haze was climbing up the power poles, and ran like ghostly current towards the two story house at the end of the cul-de-sac.

With the pounding of his heart slowing a bit, Jerry became aware of neighbors screaming and doors slamming. He forced himself to look towards the two story where the loudest screams were coming from. Blue patches were gathering into a glowing blob in the air outside of it, and as he watched, the blobs sank slowly to the ground.

From their hiding place the terrified couple watched the blobs coalesce into two distinctly human shapes. All of the remaining Haze rushed toward the shapes as though being sucked in by a vacuum. The two forms glowed brilliantly for a second, and then the glow started to fade while the personages started to advance up the street in Jerry and Andrea’s direction.

Andrea fumbled for her phone. “I’ve got to get a video of this,” she whispered. Jerry shook his head in sheer amazement at his wife.

When the ghostly couple was almost upon them he could see in the fading glow a man and a woman dressed in turn of the 20th century garb. As they passed by, drifting as much as walking, the man nodded his head toward Jerry and tipped his bowler hat with his ivory capped cane. The younger looking woman was still settling her gathered flannel skirt and short jacket into a more defined shape, but she turned her head in Jerry’s direction and gave him a saucy wink. After they had disappeared around the corner, a heavy scent of lilacs and musk lingered in the night air. Street lamps were flickering back on, revealing red shoe prints glistening on the pavement in their wake. Looking over his shoulder at his own house, he could see the power was on again.

“Crap,” exclaimed Andrea suddenly. “There’s nobody on this damn video but the neighbor.” Walt, their next door neighbor, sporting smeared red streaks from wiping his hands on his white t-shirt, had emerged and was yelling, “What the bloody hell is going on? I’ve got this red stuff all over my house.”

Neighbors began to gather and exchanged hushed and frightened whispers. The sound of sirens from a rescue truck and squad car added to the tension of the night. As the vehicles pulled into their neighbor’s driveway. Jerry and Andrea, not wanting to be part of this scene, inched quietly back into the shadows and entered their house.

After intense scrubbing and cleaning, life returned to normal. Jerry opened the Friday paper to read a short entry in the weekly “Police Blotter.” It stated that an unknown individual or individuals had vandalized a few houses in their neighborhood with red paint. He smiled and shook his head.

I enjoyed the light tone toward the end.  There was a lot of tension and suspense about what this haze was, but it turned out to be a couple friendly ghosts.  What I liked about this was that it came to a reasonable conclusion, but left a lot of questions.  As it is supernatural, it’s not possible to know everything.  A lot is left unexplained, which is fine.  I don’t think anyone could explain the reasons for what happened.  It is still quite mysterious.  So, congratulations!

The only other entry was done by a consistently high quality writer.  Here’s the entry:

Tara Southwell – The winner of the previous two challenges and the next prompt writer and judge.  This was yet again a very strong piece, creating some great atmosphere.  It started off lighthearted, but soon became dark and pretty atmospheric.  Check out her entry.

So, as I said, the next prompt, which will be up later tonight (that is my time, Japan time), is being done by Tara Southwell.  It’s quite different than before.  Now, instead of a couple of paragraphs, it’s only one line.  And there is no theme.  It’s a wide open theme, so you can write what you like.  This should result in a lot of variety.  So please keep your eye out for the next challenge.

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