The shivers running down his spine had nothing to do with the frost in the air or the snow on the ground. Roger forced himself to put one foot in front of the other. He only had to get to the end of this path and he’d reach his destination.
“I’ve nothing to be afraid of.” He whispered the words to himself under his breath, too afraid that saying them out loud would bring forth the ghouls his imagination conjured up with ever more convincing clarity.
His fear would be funny if it didn’t feel so real. It didn’t matter that he knew his mind had gone haywire; calling forth monsters lurking behind trees, and nightmarish creatures about to emerge from the mists.
“You’re being stupid.” This time he said the words out loud, immediately regretting his impulse when the words appeared to echo around him, bouncing off a force he couldn’t see.
Six months ago it had been so different. On that bright, sunlit day this path had been welcoming and safe. Peter had held his hand as they walked past the benches, all of them occupied by happy couples enjoying the warm sunshine and each other.
“Are you nervous?” Peter had asked.
“A bit.” Roger had refrained from sharing his real state of mind.
“It will be alright.” Peter had smiled at him. “I know I’ve made him sound like a bully, but he is my father. I have to believe he wants me to be happy, and that means accepting that you are now my life.
At the end of the path, once they’d left the benches behind them, Roger had seen the imposing, somewhat Gothic, mansion for the first time. Their visit with Peter’s father had been uncomfortable but okay, or so Roger had thought at the time. Three weeks later Peter had disappeared without a trace or a word.
Was he imagining things or did he really hear his name carried on the still air surrounding him?
When he’d received the email from Peter yesterday, Roger had gone through a range of emotions. Pure relief that his lover was still alive was soon replaced by anger at the months of silence, only to turn to confusion when the message ended with an invitation to visit the mansion again.
He came to the last bench and sat down, torn between the urge to flee and the need to find out what was going on.
His doubts vanished. He did hear his name, even if he didn’t know where the sound came from or who—he shuddered—or what was making it.
He fisted his hands and closed his eyes forcing himself to calm down. He’d count to ten and then he’d finish his journey and get the answers he needed.
Ten. Nine. Eight.
He thought he heard a branch snap behind him but refused to be distracted.
Something was pulled over his head. Roger opened his eyes to complete darkness before inhaling deeply and… losing consciousness before he could release the scream on his lips.
515 words. Wow. I can’t remember the last time I managed to stay this close to our (unofficial) limit of 500 words.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure exactly what is going on in this story. But it should be fun investigating that further some day soon. 😊
More stories based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group.