So excited to share today’s flash fiction with you.
I am trying to hone my suspense writing skills and hope I was able to capture it in this piece. Please, drop me a comment and let me know what you think.
Keep in mind, my flash fiction is meant as personal inspiration and a way to keep my mind fresh with new ideas. In no way is this perfectly edited, as having been written the night before. But any and all critique is appreciated.
Thank you for taking the time to read!
Winchester Manor had long been known for the unexplainable events occurring throughout its existence. Some say the manor was built upon sacred ground and spirits roam the seventy acres around the estate, others whispered about the souls that haunt the many corridors of the house, summoned during seances performed by the occult owners of the 40s. Dozens of missing persons cold case files sat in cardboard boxes, all with the same dead-end lead, last known sighting- Winchester Manor.
The mildew painted siding and grime slathered windows were enough to deter any sane person from trespassing. For some, the permanent fog and unkempt grounds served for the perfect ‘I dare you’ spot.
But for Missy Guthrie, Winchester Manor was simply home. Perhaps, she was one of these forgotten souls. But she remembered a time, long ago, when she had a family. But where had they gone?
It was no surprise to her that the estate was thought to be vacant. It had been many years since she left the parameters. She had no reason to leave. Missy was never a girl imagined of as having many friends. Rather, her many friends were imaginary.
There were times she allowed curious minds to wander the estate and leave with only a spooky tale as a reminder. But occasionally she made an exception for those looking to play, for those worthy of adding to her collection.
“That is a terrible, horrible, incredibly foolish idea.” Juniper Marks meant every word. She had heard of the disappearances in Molton, all with the Manor as the focal point of investigation. But she had started this game and wouldn’t back down now. She knew how powerful first impressions could be, having been the new girl in town more than a few times. Her dad was in the military and she and her mother followed wherever he was transferred. “Let’s do it and see what happens!” She felt an instant surge of pride in herself when Beth and Elliot stared wide-eyed at her answer.
It wasn’t the first time Elliot had made this dare, Juniper realized, as he guided them to exact spot of a break in the brick fence just wide enough for them to pass through. Juniper lead the way. As her father always said, you are only as good as your word. She admired that about him, and she tried to stay true to those words. When Elliot asked if she was done playing as she hesitated once inside the fence, she replied, “I said I would play, so I’ll play”.
The smell of dank earth met them on the other side. Rain water collected in large pools and made up most of the ground as far as they could see. Fog blanketed the rest of the estate from view. The hair on Juniper’s arms rose from the sudden temperature drop, or maybe it was simply fear, she couldn’t be sure. She wrapped her arms around her middle and moved forward.
The dare was simple. Find the broken swing hanging from the dead tree. Stupid and childish. Juniper enjoyed truth or dare. It was an easy ice breaker and a way to weed out nonpotential friends. She once jumped from a two-hundred-foot bridge into a lake below, then her and the girl who had dared her were nearly inseparable after that. But the weight in her stomach as she walked around the Winchester estate made that daring leap feel like a pebble of adrenaline, and Elliot and Beth looked more like a-holes.
“There.” Beth said, pointing to a large, splintered tree. She shivered and moved closer to Elliot, using his body as a shield to ward of an invisible threat.
Juniper could almost feel Beth and Elliot’s heart beats rise just as quickly as her own. They stared in disbelief as the wooden seat begun to move forward and back through the air. Juniper took a step back, her foot snapping a twig as she did. The swing didn’t stop but where once it was empty, a girl now sat upon the seat, her head leaned against the rope.
Mud caked the hem of her white, tattered dress. Her hair looked wet, twigs and leaves stuck out from the mess, forming a sinister looking crown atop her head.
They moved as one and rushed toward the gate. Beth went through the hole first, then Elliot. When Juniper tried she was met with a density that she could not penetrate no matter how hard she pushed. She could hear Beth on the other side.
“Where the hell is she?”
“She was right here, I swear!” Elliot’s voice raised to a high pitch.
Juniper’s pleas for help went unheard. Beth and Elliot could not see or hear her. A surge of cold rushed the right side of Juniper’s face and arm, lingering long enough to force her gaze. The girl from the swing smiled up at her with gray lips and stared at Juniper through white, dead eyes.
“You can’t leave, silly,” the girl said before grabbing on to Junipers arm. “You said you would play with me.”