If you are ever at a loose end, and you want some inspiration to write, then my tutor Esther Newton, has weekly writing challenges. You can write as much or as little as you like, and it needn’t take long. Her challenge last week, was to write a ‘Dark Tale’. This is my very quick scramble at a dark tale, let me know what you think.
She ran into my room complaining about the smell again.
“Mummy, Mummy, the bad doggy came again,” she said bouncing up and down on tippy toes clutching her tatty rabbit’s ear.
“It was under the bed this time.”
“Honey, I told you, we don’t have a dog.”
She jutted her bottom lip out and frowned at me with her crystal blue eyes. I bundled her up on to the bed snuggling into her tummy and blew raspberries.
“Eek, stop it, stop it!”
Several locks of her shiny black hair fell on my face. The stench of dog sellotaped itself to my skin. I coughed letting her go and sat bolt upright.
“What’s wrong?” Lala asked smiling and flashing her tummy at me.
But a growing unease had started to settle deep inside me. I had to admit, there had been a lingering smell of wet dog I’d been unable to get rid of for three days, and the cat had been behaving even stranger than normal.
Sometime in the afternoon Sarah bought Tommy over for a play date. The kids screeched playfully chasing each other around the livingroom, whilst Sarah and I sipped at coffees in the kitchen and gossiped.
“Thing is, Sar, it’s been three days, and she keeps saying it,” I slurped at the warm coffee, and rubbed my temple, “do you think I need to take her to a psychologist or something?”
“God, no. She’s a kid. Kids make shit up, Tommy’s best mate is an invisible Asian elf called Gertrude. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
I nodded politely.
Three short sharp shrieks ricocheted into the kitchen, followed by a silence no parent wants to hear. Sarah dropped her coffee cup and ran.
“Tommy,” she yelped.
I watched the cup fall to the tiled floor and splinter, spilling brown liquid.
I took a slow measured breath, unsure if I wanted to see what was in the livingroom.
“It was the bad doggy,Mummy,” Lala said tears in her eyes.
She was smeared with blood, and her clothes ripped. Tommy lay semi conscious on the floor, chunks of fleshy skin hanging awkwardly off his leg.
“Jesus Christ,” I whispered, “I’ll call a ambulance.”
I ran back to the kitchen and picked up the phone. I noticed the cat shaking in the corner of the room, every inch of her fur standing to attention, rippling in time with her shakes.
What the hell is going on?
When I put Lala to bed that evening she was subdued, and clinging to her bunny.
“I’m sorry, Mummy, I didn’t mean to,”
“Mean to what?” I said tucking the covers under her chin, and kissing her forehead.
She shook her head and rolled over. I knew she was talking about Tommy. But I didn’t know why. It wasn’t possible for a toddler to do that kind of damage to a child’s leg.
The unease I’d felt early in the day felt like an anchor of worry. My whole body ached for an answer. Exhausted I climbed into bed and passed out clinging to the baby monitor.
Scratch. Scratch. Tap.
Scratch. Scratch. Tap.
I woke to an overwhelming stink of putrid wet dog clinging to the air.
Scratch. Scratch. Tap.
The sound of claws scratching across wooden floor boards rattled around my head.
My heart hammered. Fingers tingled. And a heavy knot clung to my throat.
I snuck as quickly and silently as I could to Lala’s room. My breath heavy. Fear throbbed through my limbs.
The door creaked as I pushed it open, breaking the oppressive silence.
Lala’s bed was empty.
Covers strewn across the mattress.
My chest felt tight. I couldn’t breathe. I desperately searched the room flitting my eyes to every corner.
I took a step into the room.
My toes squelched into something warm, furry and wet.
“Lala, come here now.”
A shuffle and scratch of claws came from under her bed.
Reluctantly I shifted my foot and peered at the furry heap on the floor.
I drew a sharp intake of air.
“Oh. My. God. The cat.”
I tore my eyes away, tears streaming down my face.
“Honey, its ok, just come out now.”
Another scratch and scuffle.
I puffed my breath out, and wiped the tears away. I knelt down next to the bed, every muscle screaming at me not to look underneath it.
I had to.
I needed to know.
I pulled the cover up.
The smell of dog was so overpowering I felt sick. The sound of heavy panting and the slathering of jowls filled my ears. Terror prickled at my chest.
It was definitely under there.
Slowly, I peered under the mattress.
It was looking back at me. The only part of her that was recognizable were her crystal blue eyes.