I write character-driven dark fiction.
What do you do?

The screen door slammed as six-year-old Billy barreled across the porch, slipping on the top step, slick soles nearly sending him tumbling down to the walkway. He caught the railing, averting disaster, and scrambled down the stairs in a panic. The keys clutched in one hand dug into the flesh of his palm, and every breath pushed out words in a constant litany of fear.

“... gotta go, gotta get away, please, I gotta!”

He ran for the driveway, glancing back toward the house in terror, so focused on the door he never even noticed the mess on the stairs; swipes of color wherever he’d touched the handrail, matching Ked prints on the steps and walkway.

Red. Blood red.

He gripped the door handle, thin arms straight as he threw his whole body into it. The hinges popped and creaked as the door swung slowly open. The words still came, squeezing around and through teeth clenched with effort..

“Please, gotta go, gotta get away, gotta go, gotta go...”

He slipped beneath the steering wheel, clinging to it with one hand as the other stabbed the key at the ignition. One try, two, then three, and then the key was socking home and he was turning it so hard he was lifting his elbow, throwing his shoulder into it. The starter whirred, chugged, died.


He threw himself against the key, twisting with all the force his small body could muster.





He glanced toward the porch, saw the front door yawning open behind the screen, saw the carnal trail leading down the steps and toward the car, and his eyes went to the darkened doorway behind the screen once more. He whimpered, resting his head on the lower curve of the steering wheel, the plastic cool against his fevered brow.

“Think,” he whispered. “Think. Think-think-think!”

Then he had it —  could see it in his mind. Mommy starting the car, turning the key but pumping one of the pedals while she did it. The gas pedal. It had something to do with the carbonator, or the fool line, or something like that, but she had to pump the —

Thinking of Mommy caused him to look at the house again, cold at the thought of what lay beyond that doorway, hiding away from the sunlight.

He hung from the wheel with both hands, flailing with a bloodstained sneaker until contact was made. He let go the wheel with one hand, his denim-covered backside sliding sideways across the front edge of the smooth slippery seat. His foot fumbled from the pedal as he slipped, and he cried out in frustration and fear, but his toe found it again just as he gripped the key. He twisted, and as starter began to whine he kicked out with that foot and —  

—  a big hand wrapped around his thin upper arm, yanking him half-way out of the car. He screamed and looked up at round, shiny eyes that showed nothing but a reflection of his own screaming face. He screamed again as the powerful hand shook him, once, hard. He started to scream a third time but the voice penetrated, words started to make sense.

And he saw the badge.

“Son, what the hell happened to you? Are you hurt? Jesus Christ, is this all... Oh my God! Jimmy —  get on the radio and call for an ambulance, we’ve got a kid here, a caucasian male, probably six years old and he’s covered with blood.”

The big body dropped down, one hand whipping off the mirrored glasses as the cop planted his wide face just inches from Billy’s own, close enough that Billy could smell the kielbasa he’d had for lunch spicing his breath.

“Son, can you tell me your name?”

“I have to get away.” It was a whisper

“Are you hurt? This blood —  is it yours?”

“I have to get away, run away.”

“Your mom, son, where’s your mom?”

Billy turned and pointed a trembling finger toward the open doorway at the top of the stairs.

Officer Kielbasa looked to his partner.

“Jimmy, go check on the mom. I’ll stay with the kid until the ambulance arrives, got it?”

“Got it.”

Jimmy, a younger cop who’s uniform fit better, moved across the yard and up the stairs. Stepping around the blood he drew his gun before moving into the doorway. The older cop put a hand on Billy’s shoulder.

“Police,” Jimmy called into the house. “Is there anyone in there in need of assistance? Please respond.”

No answer. He called out again. The same result. Pulled open the screen door and went in fast, gun at the ready. They waited. The older cop took a step forward, then another, eyes on the house. His feet almost left the ground when the radio clipped to his epaulet crackled to life.

“Oh... Mike... Jesus...”

“Jimmy? Jimmy what’s going on in there?”

“Oh... I found her... the mom. It’s... it’s bad, Mike, it’s real bad. Looks like a knife. She’s like... everywhere.”

Mike swallowed.

“Is there anyone else in the house?”

“Not that I can tell, I don’t think so —  wait! I... Oh God, I found a kid. A little girl, I think, done the same as the mom. Oh, Mikey, this is bad.”

Mike turned toward Billy.

“Son, do you have any idea who —”

Billy’s blade slid across the front of his thigh. Blood spurted and he bent to clutch the wound —  just as the blade came up under his descending chin, sharp steel sliding up through his throat, mouth, sinus and coming to rest poking him in the brain. He fell over sideways without a sound.

Billy unclipped Mike’s holster and drew out his gun. He held it in both hands as he lay down in the dust next to the corpse to wait for Jimmy. He had to get away, and these two weren’t gonna stop him.

“I have to get away,” he whispered.

~ ~ * * ~ ~

Author's note:

This month at Friday Frights the theme is "Horror Cliches", and there's a whole list of them to choose from over at the Friday Fright site. I think this week I only used "The car won't start". Is there anything else here that might be called a Horror Cliche, or maybe a trope? 

Please, let me know what you think.

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