“I’m so glad you could make it.” Ben smiles at me when he opens the door.
I’m still not sure about coming here. Every bit of advice I’ve ever come across tells me not to meet strangers in their own homes for the first time. I should have insisted on a neutral place—a coffee shop, cinema, or public museum, but curiosity both about the man and about what he’d told me about himself had gotten the better of me.
“Come in.” He opens the door wider and steps back, creating space for me to step by him into the interior of his house.
Six months have passed since we first chatted online. We found each other in a group of science fiction aficionados and quickly bonded over a mutual interest in alien abductions and experiments.
“Would you like a drink or do you want to see my collection first?” he asks.
“I’d love to see everything you told me about. If it’s even half as good as you made it sound….” I trail off, excitement over what I think will come next robbing me of words.
He smiles at me as if I’ve given the right answer, his enthusiasm clear on his face. “Good, follow me.” He leads us down the hallway to a door which opens to a stairway leading down. He turns a switch and lights come on, before gesturing for me to precede him.
I stop moving when we reach the bottom of the stairs, unable to believe my eyes.
“This is even better than I imagined.” I stare at him in wonder. “You made this? How? Those men...they look so…real.”
“Thank you.” Ben sounds proud. “It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of trial and error but in the end I found the right method.”
I stare at the cylinders holding figures so realistic I almost expect them to raise a hand and wave at me. The green liquid surrounding them combined with the somewhat eerie light in the cellar give the room an unworldly feel, perfectly in tune with the abductions we discussed.
He slowly leads me from one cylinder to the next, telling me which one he constructed first and how he takes comfort from their presence now. “In fact,” he says, “I spend most of my time here now. I even brought a bed down.”
I’m awed. I can’t imagine coming up with an idea so grandiose, never mind putting it all together.
My host takes me by the arm and smiles at me. “Come, let’s have that drink I—"
A loud crashing sound coming from behind us cuts his sentence short. I turn around and my heart skips several beats.
“I thought….” My mouth is suddenly dry and I swallow hard. “You said….” I stare from the man leaning out of the broken cylinder at Ben, my mind scrambling to come up with a logical explanation. A deep and paralysing fear grips me when I see the bowed man’s hand twitch.
“Such a shame you had to see that.” There’s no longer any trace of friendliness in his voice. He tightens his hold on my arm while he reaches around me with his other arm
I pull, try to break free, while at the same time twisting to see what he’s up to behind my back.
A vicious pinch in my arse and my muscles turn to jelly. I open my mouth but can’t speak. My eyelids are too heavy. I’m falling. I’m doomed.
I overshot my word count by almost 100 words today. But this is how this flash wanted to be told so I can live with it. More flashes based on this picture can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook. And while you’re there, why don’t you suggest an image we might use for our Christmas project?