Friday, March 27, 2009

Raising Rachel [part 4] (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Josh over @ his blog, Just Joshing. Click here to read and share more great fiction.

Author's Ramblings: Well, I'm a little earlier this week than all the rest before, and I think this story is morphing faster than I can keep up with it. I'm aiming for that conclusion soon, I promise...just hang in there. ^_^ Thanks for all the wonderful comments last week, it made my day, I'm glad to know you enjoy Rachel as as a character. She's getting the other half of her surprise this week and next week, well, her life will twist even further upside down than it has already. Oops...is that too much of a spoiler? Thanks for stopping by Fiction Fusion, have a great and blessed weekend.

Rachel awoke to that annoying, pounding thing in her head again. She tried not to blink, as even the slightest thought seemed to bring pain. The grimace that spread across her face did bring more than a slight twinge of pain and she didn’t care to process that.

When she finally moved past the annoying set of morning thoughts, the rest of the gaps in her mind were slowly filled in. The annoying pounding thing was the nonexistent cellphone beneath her pillow.

Non-existent.

The thought registered with a frightening reality. Rachel jerked upright, one hand darting under her pillow to retrieve the annoying object. It was, in fact, a cell phone and one she’d never seen before. It buzzed again, then beeped and she flipped it open.

A text message was clearly displayed on the screen.

She grimaced, and flipped it shut.

The phone beeped persistently a moment later. She glanced at the screen, then pressed the button to ignore it. Almost at once the phone began to ring.

The sound echoed loudly in the nearly empty guest bedroom and Rachel hurriedly flipped it open. “quit bothering me!”

Her expression changed from annoyance to fear and then finally, she closed the phone. Her morning routine was quickly changing into something she didn’t want to deal with. A quick shower, and changing back into her old outfit, didn’t help much. Her mind had blurred again and all traces of the day before left her feeling ugly and horrible at the same time.

She yanked open the bedroom door and jerked back at the sight of several pink post-it notes pasted on the door. She pulled them off one at a time, squinting to read her uncle’s horrible handwriting.

“…don’t want to bother you…are you okay…haven’t eaten anything…” She stopped to look down at her stomach, the growl was almost a whine. “I’m hungry.” She told the door, tugging off the remaining post-it’s and reading them as she went down the hallway.

As far as she could gather, he’d checked in on her several times and she’d been asleep for nearly three days. “Asleep?” her stomach rumbled again and she angled towards the refrigerator. The last note, dated that very morning had said he was out to work. She frowned. The note didn’t mention when he’d be back.

She continued her morning breakfast hunt, finding toast, butter and cappuccino mix. She nibbled on the toast as the milk heated on the stove and her thoughts returned to the phone call. Mark was calling to check up on her. He’d also reminded her that she’d almost died and if it hadn’t been for his interference, she would be dead.

She’s told him to take a hike. His answer had been that next time he wouldn’t bother. A shudder trickled down her and she shrank back against the kitchen counter. Three days without food and water was bad…but surviving it as if it hadn’t happened…that was worse. She stared at her hands for a moment, wondering what was coursing in her bloodstream, beneath the surface of the skin.

Mark was known for his experiments, at least that’s what Ben had told her. And he was very, very good at what he did. If he’d been trying to warn her, it had gone a little overboard. Her thoughts blanked and reloaded as the oven timer buzzed. She opened it to check the toast. They were browning quite nicely.

She closed the door, hunting for oven mitts. The toaster was broken, and she made a mental note to bug her uncle about it. He probably hadn’t even noticed, since most of his meals were rarely ever eaten within the home. Anything he had around, was probably microwaveable, she guessed, settling for a thick kitchen towel to retrieve the pan.

It wasn’t as thick as she thought and she hurriedly dropped the pan on the counter, waving her fingers in the air. “Owww!” That hurt. She dashed for the pipe, turning the taps on cold before her brain decided that wasn’t exactly what she ought to be doing to a burned hand. In that same instant, something sparked and the entire house went silent.

The water stopped running at once and Rachel stood, shocked, in front of the sink. “Okay.” She said slowly, feeling the goosebumps coming on. In spite of the midday sun, the house was suddenly feeling rather dark and creepy.

“Power’s out.” She finally announced, moving out from the kitchen and towards the living room with the large front windows. A quick glance didn’t show much apart from the fact that it appeared the house across the road had a working TV. “Just me.” She muttered. “In a whole block of houses, only where I am, the power would go out.” She trooped back to the kitchen to check the refrigerator for her uncle’s emergency phone numbers. Her thought wandered back to his eerie laundry room. “Not going down there.” She hesitated, cell phone in hand, then tried the house phone.

Another uneasy jolt shocked through her as there was absolutely no sound on the line. Her fingers trembled as she hurriedly punched buttons and waited anxiously for his answer. “Hello? Unk…it’s Rachel.”

“Rachel?”

“Yeah…um, there’s a power failure and-”

“You’re awake?”

“Yeah, I’m awake, um, Unk-”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m feeling fine, actually, Unk, I need to ask-”

“When did you get up?”

“Just a moment ago, actually-”

“And you’re feeling fine?”

“Yeah…um…are you okay?”

“Considering that I’m the guy with the niece who literally dropped off into some weird state of sleep for the past three days, who has been a puzzle to the two-”

“Um, Uncle Thom? Can we discuss this at another-”

“Shhh. Hold on…”

“O-kay….”

A few minutes of muffled mumbling passed and then her uncle returned to the phone. “Rachel? You still there?”

“Where else would I be?”

“You’re sure you’re feeling fine?”

“I’m terrified actually.” Rachel closed her eyes. “There’s a power failure and I am so not going into your creepy basement or laundry room!”

“There’s a power failure?” Puzzlement came clearly through his voice. “Rachel, are you okay?”

“I really wish you’d quit asking me that.”

“If you’d generally answer honestly the first time, I wouldn’t repeat myself.”

“Is this the part where I’m supposed to ask if you’re calling me a liar?”

“Rachel.”

“You started it! I’m standing your kitchen, I’m starving-

“Order take out.”

“I can’t, there’s no dial-tone on the phone and-”

“there’s no dial-tone?” His tone changed at once.

“Uh, no…”

“Then where are you?”

“I’m in the kitchen.”

“Whose kitchen?”

“ours.”

“Rachel, you just said the phones are out and-”

“I have a cell phone.”

“Since when do you have a cell phone?”

“Since this morning?”

“Rachel?”

“Yeah?”

“Never mind…how’s the house?”

“Um, it’s fine, I guess.”

“Fine, how?”

“Uh, I looked through the front window…” Rachel began to move towards the backdoor. She was beginning to remember why she didn’t like two-story houses. She checked the backdoor lock. “and we seem to the be the only house without power.”

“Are you sure?”

“Everything’s out, Unk. And the guy across the street is still watching football.”

There was a frustrated sound on the other end.

“Unk?”

“Are the doors and windows locked?”

“Yeah…I mean, like, I didn’t touch anything. I just showered and came down stairs to get something to eat and when I took the toast-”

“The toaster’s broken.”

“Yeah…I know.”

“Rachel!”

“I was toasting it in the oven. In a pan. Like people used to do before they came up with toasters.”

“Rachel…” There was a sigh on the other end.

Rachel could picture him burying his head in his hands. “What did I do, blow a fuse?”

“You don’t blow fuses in a house, Rach.” His voice was quite mild. “In fact, you only trip a breaker, which means that if you go downstairs and flip it back, everything will work fine again. You probably just overloaded a circuit.”

“That’s it?”

“I’m sure that’s all it is, now look, I’ve got to-”

“If that’s all it is, then how come you had me checking door locks and windows a half-second ago?”

“Rachel.”

“I’m serious here, is there something I should be worried about? Besides, there is no way I’m going downstairs into your creepy laundry room.”

“It’s not creepy, it’s just a little dark and if you want to-”

“NO way! Look, I’ll just uh, check out and stick with a couple of friends for a bit.”

“Rachel, you don’t have friends over here.”

“Says who?”

“Okay, let me rephrase that, I’d rather you didn’t hang out with those friends if they’re the kind of friends I think they are.”

“You sound like mom. Assuming that I can’t do anything right and that no matter what I do I have lousy taste in people in general and-”

“And I get off for lunch in an hour. If you can hang on until then, I’ll swing by and check the breakers for you.” There was a matter-of-fact tone to his voice. “Until then, hang tight, there’s some snacks in the pantry under the stairway and you know where I keep the flashlights if it gets that bad.”

“I don’t believe this.”

“I don’t either, Rach, but I’m not going to argue on that point, okay?”

“But-!”

“If the house feels bad, get out and go to Mrs. Clover across the street, tell her I sent you and be nice.”

“Uncle Thom!”

“Bye kiddo.”

The phone clicked off and Rachel stared at the screen with the sunflower background. This was a very bad, horrible, terrible sort of day.

She rooted through the pantry for a few more snacks and then headed back up to her bedroom, thanks to the daylight, it wasn’t that bad on the upper floor and few other interesting things came to her as she passed the original guestroom.

“Strange.” She muttered, pausing in front of the door. That was always the room he let her stay in when she came to visit. She tried the knob. It turned easily and she stepped into the room and quickly backed out

The walls were neon pink, with shaggy neon green carpet and plenty of other too-bright colors spilling out from everywhere as if someone had exploded a giant paintball inside the room and decided they didn’t feel like cleaning up after it.

Another queasy jolt struck her stomach. She gingerly pulled the door shut. The room looked as if it had been made just perfectly for a ten year-old girl…and not a ten year-old that Rachel could put her finger on, as she ran through the list of cousins in her head.

A shudder passed over her and she took the extra few steps down the hall to the second guest room. It was just the way she’d left it and she rooted around for a few minutes, until she opened the dresser and found what she was looking for.

The file folder and a set of clean clothes. She took the moment to change into the new outfit, glad to shed her dirty ensemble for something of an apparently cleaner nature. She found a drawstring bag a few drawers down and stuffed the dirty clothes into the sack.

Her fingers worked quickly, combing through her hair and pulling it into a half-twist as she opened the file folder on the bed and quickly spread the sheets out across the bed. She frowned.

There were pictures this time. She eased onto the bed and began to sift through them. Mark had sent someone to drop the folder for her, because she’d been in too much of a hurry to even pack something to bring with her for the trip.

Her mind settled at once into what she enjoyed. Putting the puzzle together. She scanned police reports, street acquired information sheets and dozens of pictures she hadn’t had before. Her mind went into overdrive as she began to connect a few pieces, finding a rather disturbing link.

A loud, eerie chime echoed through the house and she jumped, the goosebumps running rampant over her arms as she hurriedly shoved the papers back into a stack and jiggled the folder for them to fit inside, before hurrying to stash it back inside the dresser drawer.

The chime echoed again and she recognized it as the doorbell. Cautiously inching to the window, Rachel tried to squint down to see who had arrived, the uneasy feeling continued itself as she scanned the street and realized her uncle’s SUV was nowhere in sight.

“Please don’t be anyone I know.” She headed for the stairs and then paused on the last one. “On second thought…if you’re someone I know-” A sharp pain shot through her head and she moaned, leaning against the wall to catch her balance. “Oh make it stop…” Her hands went upward and she crumpled to the floor as the insistent chiming began to make her head feel as if it would split in two.

© Sara Harricharan

5 comments:

Catrina Bradley said...

Ok, now, don't feel you have to conclude it too soon Sara! You could just keep giving us installments week by week and in a year you'll have a novel! I missed last week so I had to catch up. I'm LOVING Rachel and her story. I could definitely read a novel-length story.

Teresa Lee Rainey . . . said...

This is such an interesting character. I'm completely enjoying her story. :*)

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I popped in to read your story, and of course had to go back and read the others leading up to this one, too. :) I'm enjoying the mystery. Looking forward to seeing how you wrap it up!

Joanne Sher said...

Man, girl! I am LOVING Rachel. And I only have one question - who's at the door????? And what's up with Unk?? and where'd the cell phone come from?? (LOL I guess that's more than one.)Keep on goin', dear Sawa. JJ will be here to read every installment!!

Josh said...

I need to go back and read the first few installments. Your stories never fail to intrigue and leave me in suspense. Keep up the good work you got going on here.