The Noose, by Lynn Mullican
(Based on actual events)
Joe stood before the historical house, dressed in his work clothes, and tools in hand.
He stood on the patio, studying the house, when his co-worker, Steve walked up behind him.
“The work’s not going to get done with you staring at the place.”
“Yeah, I know,” Joe said. “I was just admiring the architecture. They don’t build houses like they used to.”
Steve peered up at it. The early morning sun glared down at him. He squinted, studying it.
“No, they don’t.”
Steve reached for the door when it swung open.
The men looked at one another. Then, they poked their heads in. The house was vacant.
Steve yelled. “Hello!”
“Oh, screw this,” Joe said, turning around, ready to go home.
“What are you doing?”
Joe peered back at him, eyes wide. “Tell me how the hell that door opened.”
Steve looked at the door. It lay open, as if waiting for them to enter.
“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe the house isn’t level. Maybe the door wasn’t shut all of the way. So, it swung open when I went to open it. Regardless we have a job to do. Now, let’s get it done.”
Steve walked inside. Behind him, Joe huffed before following him.
“You know, ghosts do exist,” Steve said with a grin.
Joe eyed him. “That’s not funny.”
He shut the door and then turned, stopping in the foyer, which overlooked the living room. Steve stood beside him.
“Sometimes they follow people, too.”
Joe stepped into the living room. “I’m going to ignore you, now.”
“I’m thinking about doing some ghost hunting. Would you like to join me?”
Joe stared at him. “Are you kidding me?”
“I take it, that’s a no.” Steve chuckled. “Sorry, man, I couldn’t help it. You should have seen the look on your face when the door opened by itself.”
Joe shook his head, set his tools down, and walked the floor. “You can have fun chasing ghosts around, but this fool isn’t interested. But, enough about that, it looks like we have some serious water damage here.”
As he took another step, the floor gave way, exposing the underlying beam.
“Son of a…!” Pain set into his ankle, as he grabbed it.
“Hey, you alright?” Steve asked.
Joe laughed, and then groaned.
Steve shook his head. “What the hell you laughing for?”
“That’s how I deal with pain. I laugh at it.” Joe sat up. “Well, looks like we found…” A glare from inside the hole caught his attention. He leaned in, his eyes narrowing in on the bottle and a…teddy bear?
Steve stood over him. “Do you need to go to the hospital? Or are you going to be okay to work?”
“I’ll be alright,” Joe muttered.
He reached into the hole and grabbed the items, but when he tried to pull them out, they snagged on something.
Steve glanced down. “What are you doing?”
“I found something in here, but I can’t get them out.”
Joe laid down on the floor to get a better look at the situation. His eyes fell on the child’s belt that was looped like a noose and screwed to the underside of the beam. His jaw dropped.
He pulled on it but it remained intact. He examined the intricate western design on both the belt and the bottle. Chills ran down his spine.
“Son of a…”
He yanked his hand out of the hole.
Steve’s eyes narrowed in on the bottle and the teddy bear. “I don’t like the look of that.”
Joe studied the bottle. “I bet this is opium. This is what they used back in the eighteen hundreds…”
Steve interrupted, “For medicine and drug use.”
“You should take a look at the noose down there.”
Steve’s eyes widened. “Noose?” He poked his head inside.
“Oh, my God!” The hair on the back of his neck stood. He bolted upright. “Uh, yeah, it looks like a noose, for a child.”
Their eyes met.
“That’s what I thought, too.”
“Why don’t you let me have that bottle, and I’ll have the liquid examined. I know somebody who might be able to tell us what it is.”
Joe gave it to him. “I want to know what it is the minute you find out.”
“Oh, I’ll let you know. I’m going to put this in my truck, though.”
“Alright, well, let’s get this floor done and get the hell out of here.”
As Steve walked out and shut the door behind him, Joe set the bear aside and began to rip up the floor, throwing the debris into a pile. The scent of death filled the room. He wrinkled his nose and then pinched it shut.
Then, the front door swung open. As he glanced up, a child’s laughter filled the room, yet no one was there. Nausea filled his stomach. Joe sat motionless, staring at the doorway. Then, the pitter patter of a child’s feet ran across the floor toward him.
Joe scrambled to get away and backed into a wall. His heart raced as he turned to run down the hallway. His ankle gave way, throwing him forward into a bedroom.
Screaming, he panicked and turned. Steve appeared in the doorway. Startled, Joe punched him.
Steve grabbed his nose.
“Where is it?” Joe glanced behind Steve, his heart pounding.
“What?” He glanced around. “There’s nobody here, just me. What’s going on?”
Joe stared at him. “Did you see it?”
“See what! It’s just us, Joe!”
Joe pushed past Steve, and glanced out into the vacant living room.
The teddy bear moved. Then, a child’s voice asked, “Do you wanna play a game?”
Screaming, Joe bolted out of the house.
As Joe drove home and his anxiety had settled some, the radio turned on. Frowning, he glanced at it. He hadn’t touched it. Beside him, a child giggled, yet, nobody was there, only the teddy bear he swore he left at the house.
LYNN MULLICAN was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she currently resides with her husband, three children, and five grandkids. She has woven her fascination with the paranormal into written works including short stories, dramatic plays, poetry, and full-length novels. In Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon, she incorporates years of knowledge in self-defense and martial arts.
As of 2017, Lynn has three published short stories, Raven’s Hill, Sacrificial Blood, and The Awakening. She also has three published novels; Bad Elements series, Crystal Dragon, Blood for Blood, and The Hybrid Unleashed.
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Posted on September 3, 2017, in Issue 21: PhotoFlash 1--11 Visions and tagged e-zine, fiction, flash, flash fiction, photoflash, photoprompt, picprompt, The Were-Traveler. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.