Fear Fiction: When Evil Comes - A Short Story by Audrey Kirchner
When Evil Comes
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Isabel lay awake in bed, practicing the Bach minuet on the blanket, trying to remember each and every phrase and praying that she would be able to perform well tomorrow at the recital.
"I hate recitals," she thought miserably to herself, thinking if only she could be someone else, somewhere else, life would be so much easier.
A chilling breeze swept past Isabel and she swore she heard someone whisper "Be careful what you wish for, child."
She loved music, she truly did, but performing was enough to make her physically ill. If only she could play for just herself, she thought with a sigh. If only she had a different life.
Cutting through her thoughts and jangling her already tense nerves, the phone rang. She looked at the clock – it was 2:30 a.m. Sleepily, she stumbled from her bed into the kitchen to pick up the receiver.
"Hello" she said quietly into the phone hoping not to wake anyone else.
"Well, hello there my darling daughter," came a gravelly voice that made Isabel cringe. "‘It’s been far too long. I’m calling to tell you I’ve been watching you."
Isabel suppressed a shudder and tried to form words to answer but the voice continued.
"I’ve decided I’d like to get to know my oldest daughter much better, so you just be ready, honey because I’ll be coming for you soon."
With a muffled scream, Isabel dropped the phone and ran to the couch where she buried her head in the pillows sobbing.
She could hear from her spot huddled into the couch her mother’s voice demanding, shouting "How DARE you call here and frighten that child like that! You stay away from her, do you hear me? You’ll stay away from ALL of us if you know what’s good for you! I’m calling the police!"
And with that the receiver slammed into the phone on the wall.
Isabel began sobbing in earnest then and before she knew it, her mother was beside her, soothing her, trying to calm her.
"Don’t worry, honey – that excuse of a man is not going to get near you, do you hear me? I don’t know how he got this number and I don’t know what this is about, but it stops here, it stops now."
She couldn’t help but ask – maybe being 10 wasn’t old enough to understand all the complexities of grownup affairs, but Isabel had to know.
"What does he want with me?’ she asked in a shaking voice.
Her mother paused for a moment too long and then said quietly, "He wants to get back at me through you, Izzie but I’m not going to let that happen. He’s just trying to scare us. He said that he’s been watching you, knows where you go and what times and that he’s going to kill you if I don’t cooperate and give him money. So I need you to promise, Izzy to be very careful."
Hearing this news, far from relieving Isabel, she shrieked and tried to crawl into her mother’s lap. Minutes ticked by and then she found herself alone on her bed where her mother had carried her, listening while her mother phoned the police.
When the call ended, her mother came back with somber news. No complaint could be filed unless some harm had actually come to someone. Since nothing had been attempted, the advice was to try and keep safe and report something if and when it did happen. Such was life in 1963.
Trying to absorb all this did nothing to ease Isabel towards sleep and she spent the rest of her night tossing and turning, dreaming of ghosts and goblins and things that went bump in the night. It was after all approaching Halloween.
Didn’t it stand to reason that she would have her very own monster who was bent on hurting her? At least it took away the anxiety of worrying about a recital and Isabel finally drifted off into a haunted sleep.
Two days later, as the sun went down on a beautiful southern California Indian summer day, Isabel stood in the living room looking out at the darkening street. She wasn’t really sure what had caught her eye but just on the periphery of her vision, she seemed to see a man, a very large man lurking in the shadows. As she stepped closer to the big bay window to look up and down the street, a shape popped abruptly up in front of the window.
Recoiling, Isabel screamed, falling backwards as the man loomed in front of the window. By the time her grandmother raced into the living room to see what was the matter, the man was gone, leaving Isabel in a quivering heap.
The problem was that Isabel had never seen her father. She had only heard tales of him from her mother and grandmother. Not flattering tales either. There were tales of beatings and abuse of every imaginable kind. He had left them destitute and penniless and disappeared all these years.
Isabel had always had a fantasy that he had left because he had to and that he really was not a bad sort. He was working for the government on a secret mission and he had had to flee because he was on assignment and he was trying to protect his family. He was so important to the mission that he couldn’t even tell his family who he was and had put up this front just to preserve his cover.
However, this string of events put things into a whole new perspective for Isabel. She remembered vaguely that night when she felt the chill and heard the whispered "Be careful what you wish for, child." Now she understood what the premonition meant.
She had been wishing and dreaming about a fantasy father who didn’t exist. Instead, this person who was her father was every bit the monster that her mother and grandmother had told her about. How ironic that he should surface at this frightening time of year to join the pretend monsters and goblins.
The next day was Halloween and walking to school the next day, Isabel felt the eyes of the devil on her back as she trudged along the sidewalk. It was becoming increasingly hard for her to concentrate or to stop worrying.
She looked behind her and broke into a run when she saw the black sedan with the middle-aged man driving slowly down the road, watching her intently. As she started to run, the car sped up and before she knew it, she was running as fast as she could towards the safety of the school.
Safe and sound within the school, Isabel began to relax and started to feel better knowing she had escaped. She didn’t know what she would do when she got out of school but at least she was safe for now. She tried not to think about the peril she was in and went about her day keeping a watchful eye out for the black sedan when she went outside for recess.
Thinking maybe her father had given up, Isabel gathered her belongings and set out from school for the walk home. Just as she opened the front door of the school and stepped outside, a tall, dark man with a black fedora stepped out of the shadows and took her by the hand.
"Well, hello, darlin’ – I’m so glad I caught you in time to give you a ride home from school."
Isabel tried to wrestle herself free of his grasp and turned to the other kids and adults pouring out of the school building screaming in protest – "He isn’t my father! I don’t know who he is. He threatened to kill me – please stop him, please HELP."
To Isabel’s dismay, they all continued on, some laughing at her and taunting her.
"Oh Isabel, come on! All you ever talk about is how you want your dad to pick you up from school and be there for you – and now here he is. Quit being so dramatic! We’ve heard all about your wonderful dad and how long he’s been gone. Why are you making up these stories?"
Dragging her to the car, Isabel soon found herself shoved in on the driver’s side onto the front seat of the car. Her father jumped in and the door slammed shut. He quickly started the car, put it in gear and off they roared.
Isabel could only hope that one of her friends or her little sister had been outside and seen what happened, that someone would know that she had been taken.
Isabel tried to think as her father drove them out of town. She had to escape but she was afraid to try and jump from the moving car as he sped along. Where was he taking her? What would become of her and would she ever get back home again?
As if he could read her thoughts, her father snapped at her in icy tones, "If your mother had done what she was told and given me the money, none of this would ever have happened. And you, my dear can wipe those stupid tears off your face and stop sniveling before I give you something to cry about. Tears won’t help you any – just like they didn’t help that slut of a mother of yours."
Not realizing that she was even crying, Isabel wiped the tears from her face and sat silently contemplating what to do.
They stopped in front of a large two-story house and grabbing her by the arm, her father wrenched her out of the car and steered her towards the walkway.
"Keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good
for you or I’ll go back and kill your mother and your sister for good measure,
do you hear me?", he hissed at Isabel.
Isabel nodded quickly and though cringing at his touch, she put her head down as she was dragged towards the wraparound porch of the big house.
"Oh hi, Lee – you’re back! Who’s that you got there with you, honey? She’s a scrawny little thing! And how’s about that rent money, darlin’? You got that together yet for me?", the woman on the porch in her housecoat and slippers cooed as they went up the steps towards the front door.
"I’ll have that for you right soon, LouAnne – just as soon as this little brat’s mama gives me back the money she stole from me. In the meantime, little Izzy here is gonna be bunking with me. You ain’t seen a thing, darlin – got that?"
Nodding with a wide-eyed look, LouAnne looked away as Lee dragged Isabel into the house and up the stairs to his room. It really was none of her business and she really needed that rent money since her no-good husband had run off with his secretary. It was hard to find good tenants and Lee had always been one smooth talker. Now that she thought about it, he’d yet to pay a cent of his rent money though but soon, very soon, she’d be collecting.
Isabel found herself in a small, musty-smelling room that was dark and dingy. For all the openess and warmth of the house below, it didn’t extend to this room. There was something evil about this room or maybe just the occupant.
"Can’t we open the windows or the blinds?" Isabel said in a small voice wanting to break free of the darkness surrounding them.
"No way I’m opening the blinds or the windows so you can start screaming. Sit down and shut up so I can make another phone call to that mother of yours and get the ball rollin’ on that cash."
Isabel watched as her father crossed the room to the small table, took the bottle of scotch and poured himself a drink. She closed her eyes as she imagined the danger that she was in and prayed that she could find a way out of this.
Carefully, she began moving about the room quietly looking to see what might be available to use as a weapon of some kind. She wasn’t much of a fighter but she had been bullied most of her life and knew how to fight back.
Meanwhile, her father had thrown himself down into a chair, gulped down his scotch and poured himself another.
"Even if I don’t get the money, Isabel, I have big plans for you, darlin," he said in a slurred voice.
"If your mama doesn’t put out the money and a few other things….ha ha...if you know what I mean….I’ve got uses for a girl your age. It’s about time you started thinkin' about your dear old daddy and helping him out so he doesn’t have to work so hard."
Isabel’s stomach flipped over and her palms began to sweat. The thought of never getting back to her mother, grandmother and sister terrified her but she quickly tamped it down and pressed on in her search of her surroundings.
There had to be something here that she could use to threaten him or at least stun him long enough to get away. Once she got outside and away from this place, even though she didn’t know where she was, she would go for help. She could get home – she just had to get home.
Now on his third glass of scotch, her father stumbled to his feet and crossed the room to pick up the phone. As he began to dial, Izzy crept closer to the bed and the nightstand and cautiously opened the drawer just a crack to look inside.
Then she saw it – the gun lying in the drawer. She had never seen a real live gun before, much less held one – nor did she know what to do with a gun except what she had seen on television. She knew you pointed it at someone and you pulled the trigger – but knowing it and doing it were two different things.
She heard her father screaming into the phone on the other side of the room.
"Yeah you stupid old bitch, I’ve got your granddaughter! Took her right out from under their noses at that school and drove off with her! What you gonna do about it? Call the police? No one will know where we are and no one will care anyhow – she’s the daughter of a slut, a bastard!"
Isabel cringed inside – she knew what she was and she knew what her fantasies had always been. To be a normal girl with a normal family but it didn’t look like that was something that was going to be happening anytime soon. Suddenly it all didn’t seem that important though. What seemed real at that very moment was getting back to her life and being free of this real life monster.
As she heard her father yelling at her grandmother… "You tell that pig of a daughter of yours to have the money ready for me by tonight when I call at 8:00. I’ll tell her where to bring it and if she wants to see her kid again, she’ll do as I say. Got that old woman?"
"And don’t even think about calling the police because if you do and I smell something up, I’m taking Isabell as far away from here as you can imagine and you’ll never see her again."
"Besides, if you did see her again, you wouldn’t recognize her for what will have become of her when I’m through with her.’
Isabel flung open the drawer, grabbed the gun by the handle and without even thinking, pointed the barrel at her monster father and fired.
His mouth flew open, the drink crashed from his hand to the floor and he staggered back against the window and crashed through it backwards. Isabel fainted.
"Izzy, wake up! Izzy, wake up!" she heard from the dark reaches of her mind.
"It’s almost Halloween sweetie and you’re screaming in your sleep. Are you dreaming about ghosts and goblins?"
Isabel shook herself awake and looked down at her hand. No gun.
She looked around the room and all she saw were the familiar trappings of her life. Not believing it could be so, she reached out to hug her mother and sure enough, it was her. Not a fantasy, not a mirage but the actual real deal.
Relieved she pinched herself to make sure it wasn’t a dream and she was really safe and sound.
"Oh my God, mom – I had the worst nightmare"…..and as she started to speak, she glanced at the clock.
It was 2:30 a.m. and even as she started to remember something that had to do with 2:30 a.m. somewhere on the other side of the room, the phone rang……
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