Today’s writing prompt and my response.
Day six and the last of this week’s challenge. The story starts here.
Courage Cave Crow: use these three words
‘So where’s this small space you talked about?’ Alan poured Maree a glass of wine from the bottle he’d bought from his meager waiter earnings. She’d told him about Peter stealing her savings and his heart went out to her. A bottle of wine was the least he could do to cheer her up.
She took a sip, set the glass down with a grateful sigh. ‘My mother’s house. There’s a crawl space under the attic eaves.’ She paused, frowned. ‘Yes, of course, that’s where I saw the ghastly doll and torn teddy …’ Her voice trailed off.
‘Never mind.’ Maree was all business now.
Alan loved it when she was all business. He loved it when she was distressed and he could comfort her. He loved it when she was amused, and laughed, although he hadn’t heard any laughter since … that bastard. Alan shared Maree’s thirst for revenge.
‘The house is for sale, too big for Mum now she’s by herself. Access is no problem.’
‘How do we get him there?’
Maree smiled. ‘I’ll play the innocent, pretend I don’t know about the money, say I’m sorry for walking out, and move back in.’
Alan glowered. Maree patted his hand, loving that glower. ‘For long enough to ask for help retrieving some stuff from Mum’s place. He’ll love playing the hero.’
‘It’s in the attic.’ Maree pointed up the shadowed stairs.
The lights weren’t working because someone had stolen the bulbs in several rooms. ‘Must tell the estate agent to replace them,’ Maree had said to Peter when he shook his head and ranted about the horrible nature of the human species.
Maree thought about the bulbs in a box in the boot of her car, waiting to be restored, and agreed about the human species. Specifically, one member of it.
‘The attic?’ Peter grumbled. ‘Let’s hope they didn’t take that light as well.’
Maree waved her phone. ‘We have torches.’ She smiled winningly. ‘And you have courage, I know.’
‘Hmm.’ But he preened.
The attic bulb was in place, and broken. Enough light filtered through a cobwebbed window to see by. Nothing much in here except a heavy wooden table and a scruffy teddy lying on the floor. Maree pointed again.
‘That cupboard, in the eaves. The trunk I want’s in there, I’m sure.’
Peter bent to the door, yanked it open to darkness. ‘Can’t see it,’ he said.
‘You’ll need to go in, it must have got pushed to the back.’
‘Go in? It’s as black as a cave in there.’ ‘Use your phone.’
‘Not sure I want to …
‘Don’t be silly.’ Maree leaned close to him. ‘Remember what I told you, about what’s in there? The likely value of those sketches? I’d go in myself, but I have the strength of a storm-driven crow.’ She reached up, kissed him on the cheek. ‘My brave man. It’s worth a little dust and darkness.’
Peter drew in his stomach, stood taller. ‘Hundreds of thousands, right?’
He went down on his knees, faced the opening and turned on his torch. As the light swept the space, Maree glimpsed the white porcelain face of the ghoulish doll, recalled its parted bloodied lips and dark eyes menacing her when she’d moved it in there yesterday. She shuddered, prepared herself.
‘Right, seems clear,’ Peter said. ‘Apart from that creepy doll thing.’ He shuffled through into the darkness.
The beam of light swung to and fro. ‘Can’t see any trunk,’ he called.
‘No.’ Maree slammed the door shut, bolted the large bolts she’d installed yesterday, heard Peter’s shout of ‘What are you doing?’
She dragged the heavy table across the doorway, and sat between its legs, close to the door.
‘Leaving you here, that’s what I’m doing.’
‘No!’ It was a scream. ‘You know I hate small spaces. Is this a joke?’
‘Yes. Like the joke you played on me in the subway with your actor buddy. Like the joke you played on me stealing my money. Like the joke I am for letting you do all this and getting away with it.’
‘Don’t.’ Maree crawled away and stood up. ‘You should know I’ve taken the sim card out of your phone, so save the battery for the light. I’ll be back tomorrow, with the card – it’ll fit under the door. And before I let you out, I want my half of that money in my account.’
‘Of course, of course,’ Peter gabbled. ‘I’ll do it now, right away, just let me out. Don’t leave me here with this thing, in the dark. Pleeeeaaaasee!’
Maree had no difficulty hardening her heart.
‘Good night,’ she called from the top of the attic stairs. ‘Enjoy the company. Think of it as my little joke. Ho ho ho.
The End – join in next week for more writing prompt fun.
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