A Familiar Face (Story)
This was my first attempt at flash fiction (a fiction story that typically ranges from five to fifteen hundred words). It's not perfect and that wasn't the goal. My goal was to write a piece that took me out of my comfort zone. I tend to write long form or poetry most of the time, and having to keep my word count below 700 words was challenging, but I did it.
So, here you have it, unedited writing from yours truly. This was loosely based off of a Reddit "No Sleep" forum post, I'll link the post below for your viewing pleasure. Instead of focusing on the story(time) in it's entirety, I was more interested in the cogs and wheels of the wife in the post. That became the backbone of this story. Enjoy!
A Familiar Face
Shel trembled as Atticus Hendley stood in her rear doorway with a crooked smile, one that injected her wobbly form with panic. Beads of sweat cascaded down her forehead and she nearly lost her footing. Was she going mad?
This grizzly, disheveled figure in front of her appeared to be her husband. His clean shaven face had been replaced with five o’clock shadow and what used to be his favorite Valentino suit was now covered in dirt and grime. In the glow of moonlight, she traced his sharp jawline, the hook-shaped scar that ran along the nape of his neck, and the dimples etched into the corners of his mouth.
Shel exhaled, blinked, and took a step back into the dark house.
“It’s me, Shel.” Atticus said, smiling.
The sound of his voice made Shel nauseous, a meek southern drawl, a familiar drawl filling her with fear. Bile began to well up in her throat as the woman struggled to breathe. Was this man really her husband?
She couldn’t quite make out the procession of words that began to stumble out of Atticus’ mouth, possibly sweet reassurances and declarations of love against the backdrop of a man who’d been missing for six months. The feel of hands grasping her shoulder’s broke though her stupor. Atticus looked at her with conviction, it made Shel’s stomach lurch.
“I’ve missed you.”
There was something unreadable in his tone and tears in his eyes, eyes that looked more cerulean than Shel remembered. She shuddered in the doorway, feeling faint. She didn’t move away from her husbands touch, but she didn’t return it either, and the words “how” and “is this a dream” evanesced as soon as she tried to speak them.
“I’ve missed you.” Atticus repeated.
Goosebumps prickled her skin, Atticus sounded pointed now, teetering on irritation. Shel looked past the man to her large rose garden in the distance. It was untouched and in the same state that she’d left it only days ago.
Shel brought her attention back to her husband reluctantly, his grin had contorted into a menacing grimace. A chill crept up her spine.
“There’s a spot for you too.” He continued.
Shel yanked away from him and as her eyes flickered over to the rose garden once more, she saw it. A mound of Earth lie on the far end of the garden, the unnatural darkness of a shallow grave seemingly taunting her in the distance. The blood drained from her face.
Atticus was dead. She'd made sure of it. She buried every piece of him in the ground, lined the grave with rocks, and made sure the rosebushes eliminated any sign of the act, but here he was.
Shel turned to her husband of ten years one more time. His eyes had changed, azure shifted to a fiery crimson glow, one that looked foreign on a man like Atticus. His grim smile returned, he took a tentative step towards her.
The scream that bellowed out of Shel shattered as strong hands seized her neck, violently squeezing at her windpipe. It was a grip she couldn't escape, the pleading grunts and gasps wheezing out were lost on her specter. He'd come to Shel with purpose and if her body wasn't beginning to convulse, if her lungs weren't screaming for air, she might have laughed at the fact that this was the most alive she'd ever seen Atticus Hendley be.
Link to the Reddit Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/u9cq7q/my_missing_husband_came_home_but_i_know_it_isnt/