Short story by Colin Devonshire

Silent Shadows

“Come on, don’t be a scaredy-cat,” said Bobby.

“You think it’s a good idea to break the law?” said Gemma.

“It’s not breaking the law, I’ve got the keys,” he answered.

“Yeah, right, and that makes it okay?”

“I want to buy this house.”

“You are fourteen.”

“I know, my Dad is selling this place, and I want to have it.”

“Your Dad is a sales agent, that doesn’t give you a divine right to own. Not now, nor in the future,” she said.

“Come in and you’ll understand.”

Bobby unlocked the front door and pushed it back.

“Look at that,” he said.

“It is nice,” said Gemma, as they twisted their way to the lounge. “Wow.”

“Look at the view,” he said, pointing across the uncut lawn to the distant woods.

Bobby loosed his backpack, “Sit down.”

“On what?”

“On the floor, what else?”

“I expected some furniture, if your Dad has any hope of selling it, he should make it looked lived in,” suggested Gemma.

“So, you’re an expert?” he said, proudly showing his wine bottle.

“We’re too young to drink.”

“Technically, yes, come on enjoy it.”

“You had better open it first,” said Gemma as Bobby went to the kitchen.

“Oh, there is no cutlery, no corkscrew even.”

“Are you surprised? Why would there be a corkscrew when there’s no furniture?” sighed Gemma, grabbing the bottle.

“How did you do that!” yelled Bobby.

“Do what?”

“I felt the shadow.”

“Hilarious, are you trying to scare me? You scare me because you are so stupid,” she said, unwrapping the foil on the neck of the bottle. “It’s a twist open, you need nothing but strong fingers,” she laughed.

“There, there,” he stammered, looking around. “No glasses,” Bobby said recovering his composure.

“What’s the matter with you?” 

“Nothing, cheers,” as he unscrewed the top holding the bottle for her checking dark corners.

“Cheap plonk,” she said.

“What do you know about it, I thought you didn’t drink?”

“I do share a glass with my Dad sometimes. We drink decent wine.”

“This is what my Dad gives customers.”

“I can believe that. Anyway, what shook you up?” she asked.

“It was weird. As a cloud passed over the sun, I felt something on my arm, then my face. I thought, somehow, maybe you did it?”

“You think I have power over clouds?”

“Drink up, then we can look around,” he said, taking a deep swig.

He stood and took her hand, led her to the stairs.

“Don’t tell me you hoped for a bed?” she asked.

“Nothing here,” he breathed, looking from door to door. “Nothing in the whole place.”

“As I said, it would be easier to sell with full furniture.”

A golden reflection flicked the handrail then followed them.

They moved from the master bedroom to a second large room. They looked inside the fitted wardrobes, nothing.

“My God look at this,” shouted Gemma.

The third room was carpeted and packed with modern-looking chairs, stocked cupboards housed jeans and t-shirts, heaving bookshelves with teen love stories, a wide-open bathroom and on the far side, next to the window was a steel desk. On the black plastic top sat a MacBook Pro, open and glowing.

They edged their way into the room, opened mouthed. The sun blocked by clouds darkened the room. They rushed across to the laptop. As the room darkened, the desk glowed gold. Google was open at ‘teen pregnancy’. Gemma read the page titles and gasped.

“What does this mean?” she looked at Bobby, then moved past him looking back. “We didn’t shut this door, did we?”

She ran the few paces and tried the handle; it was locked.

“Okay, who is playing tricks? Did you set me up?” she glared at Bobby, who was now standing next to her fiddling with the stainless steel grip. He answered with a grunt as he tried forcing the lock.

They both felt a shadow push between them. The shadow breathed gold. A new colour on the cream carpet caught Bobby’s eye.

“Look, look, Gemma, blood on the floor,” he said.

Brownish red footprints disappeared as they moved towards the bathroom.

The pair stood rigid for minutes, then Gemma broke away from Bobby’s grip on her arm.

The bathroom door was now shut, it would not open. They tapped, then hammered on the wood. Nothing, Bobby ran to the bedroom door, still locked.

“Let’s wait and see what happens,” said Bobby hopefully.

“And how long are you prepared to wait, and for what?” said Gemma.

Bobby tried the easy chair, moving a novel to the bedside cabinet, as Gemma leafed through a volume of medical miracles next to biology textbooks on the shelf.

“Look at this,” she said, tapping a headline, “Dangers of youth pregnancy!”

Then the bathroom door opened slowly and silently. Footprints padded silently to the desk.

A girl’s face appeared on the screen, pretty blue eyes peeked from under a blonde fringe.

“Hi,” she said from the screen.

Gemma and Bobby were leaning on the desk.

Gemma was the first to speak, “Who are you?”

“Just a young girl like you,” said the Mac.

“What happened? Are you a ghost?” asked Bobby.

“Do you believe in ghosts? You surprise me,” chuckled the computer.

“I don’t, someone is pranking us. I want to know who? And how they do it,” said Gemma.

“Do you enjoy playing tricks on people?” said the Mac.

“It can be fun,” suggested Bobby.

“Oh, really? Like telling a morbidly depressed man his daughter is pregnant?” said the Mac.

A golden shadow flicked at Booby’s hair. Teasing, poking, prodding and gently stabbing at his face.

“Leave him alone, let us go,” said Gemma.

Bobby was silent, standing rigid.

“Ah, now you remember me?” said the Mac.

Like a melting snowman, Bobby slid to the floor in a heap.

“What is going on?” asked Gemma.

“I don’t think your friend is up to telling you. So I shall. You are in my new house. My father was a talented, but tender scriptwriter. He had landed a tremendous job, hence the new place. We were happy for the first time since my Mum died.”

Gemma, transfixed, breathed, “Go on.”

“My new school was not welcoming to a shy girl.”

It went quiet except for Bobby weeping.

“He teased me, I did not want him as a friend. He told his mates that he had made me pregnant. The word spread, it got back to my Dad. My father was, how should I say, unable to cope with such news.”

Gemma glared at her ‘friend’ on the floor.

“My Dad killed me, trying to dig the non-existent baby from my womb. And then killed himself.”

Across town, a doorbell was ringing.

“Okay, okay, enough with the bell.”

“Where is my daughter?”

“Hey, calm down. Who are you and who is your daughter?”

“Gemma, my daughter, said she was coming here to see your son. She hasn’t returned home. Is she here?”

“When I got in from work, the house was empty. Now my wife and Bobby’s brother are here.”

“Where are Gemma and Bobby?”

“How should I know?”

“I like to monitor my little girl.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Never mind. Where can they be?”

“Why all the fuss? It’s not late.”

“It is when we have a dinner engagement.”

“Okay, let’s see. They can’t be far. It can only be walking distance?”

“Unless your son has an illegal motorbike?”

Bobby’s Dad stalked to the garage to check, “His bike is here!”

“So they walked, got a taxi or went with others?”

“Have you phoned her?”

“Of course. She didn’t pick up.”

“Let me try Bobby.” He grabbed his mobile and tapped in an important number. “Ringing, but no answer.”

The men went back into the house.

“Did Bobby tell you of his plans,” his father shouted up the stairs. Negative answers were returned. They moved to an office-like room.

Bobby’s Dad sat and offered a chair to Gemma’s Dad.

A phone sang out, “No, she is not here, have you heard anything, any ideas?” said Gemma’s father.

Both men were shaking their heads, Bobby’s Dad looked up and noticed a keyring missing from its hook in a line of ten others.

“Come with me, I think I know where they are.”

Car headlights flashed as they raced the short distance to the modern, ‘For Sale’ house. No room lights on show, but an odd golden glow from upstairs.

After hammering on the door, they looked through the windows.

“Look, come shine your torch in here.”

A wine bottle stood alone in the middle of the lounge. Bobby’s Dad raced to the back door, retrieving a key from under a rock, and went in.

The men ran from room to room shouting. They entered the last room, pushing back the door. It was empty like the rest, no carpet, no furniture, no Mac and no teenagers.


You can read more of Colin’s short stories at @dark-novels