Horror and Thriller Fiction posted June 14, 2017


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After a flood, an opportunist meets a girl he can't shake.

The Flood of '36

by acmoore

We can see a well-appointed, antique looking library with a wall of shelves with a ladder. The floors are covered with lush oriental rugs in shades of gold and burgundy. In the center of the room is a sturdy wooden desk with some aquariums sitting on it.

An attractive, bespectacled, leggy woman with long silver hair with a black streak (obviously not her natural color) hosts this show. Wearing a white lab coat, black heels and stockings, she sits by an old fashioned library shelf filled with old books. She looks up and crosses her legs to address her audience. It appears she has been reading tattered old letters from a cigar box.

The woman beckons to her new guests, "Come in, come in. Hello, I'm Dr. Fabia Grey. Welcome to my Chill Zone. I have a very special presentation for you tonight, guaranteed to chill you to the bone, and then some. My experiments have been going well, so I have found some leisure time to share with you."

She turns around to an aquarium filled with rats and picks up a plump black rat which she proceeds to hold and pet as she is speaking.

"Today, I found some letters from the personal collection of my research funder and dear friend, Dr. Spielman. What a spine-tingling story they tell. After doing a little more digging, I found out that there is even more to the story."

Fabia then addresses a shiny, black and gold urn on one of the shelves. "Thank you, Dr. Spielman, for your undying support and encouragement."

The eyes of the black rat she is holding begin to glow a bright yellowish-orange and the female rats still in the aquarium begin going wild and trying to claw their way toward the black male. "There is something special about this one, ah, yes, a real ladies' man. How do you get any rest, dear?"

She puts him into a separate aquarium but the females keep trying to claw their way out to get to him. Then, Fabia turns back toward the audience, "Ah, Spring! A time for lovers! But alas, it's hard to find love when you've died in your prime, as this story will show. Enjoy, my lovelies."

......................................

We now see a small town street on the nice side of town. This is Washington street in the town of Cumberland, Maryland. The town was once a bustling mercantile center, formerly referred to as "The Queen City." There are spacious, yet close-together frame and brick houses with manicured hedges, picket fences and flowers blooming.

A young man in his late teens is whistling, with his hands in the pockets of his slacks and kicking around pebbles on the sidewalk in front of one of the houses. His dark hair catches glints of the orange sunrise. Bobby Scarpelli stands on the doorstep of Pamela Matthews, a doctor's daughter, when she opens the door.

He gives her a start, rising to hand her the newspaper with a huge grin, as if presenting a gift. "Your paper, milady."

Pamela pleads,"Bobby! You need to leave. My father said he'd brain you if he sees you around this house again!"

Peering into the dim hallway behind Pamela, Bobby sees a shadow on the wall and hears the heavy footsteps of a man approaching. It must be her father. With a simultaneous wave, nod and wink, Bobby tears away down the street.

Still jogging, Bobby arrives about 20 minutes later at the mill. A man with a pencil behind his ear looks up from his clipboard.

He gives Bobby a grim look as he addresses him, "Bobby, I can't tolerate your tardiness anymore. I'm sorry. Your old man was a good friend of mine. HE was a real worker, a dependable, honest sort. I miss him and I tried to do him a favor taking you on now that he's passed. I gotta let you go though, son. Don't you understand how hard times are now? There are at least 10 experienced men waiting in line for your job."

"I-I-I'm so sorry," Bobby stammers meekly.

"Sorry's ass. Here's your last pay." The man hands Bobby a dollar and some change.

Bobby turns and walks dejectedly home to a small, dilapidated row house on the not-so-nice side of town. His mother is boiling cabbage on the stove.

She looks at him with concern and says, "Son, why aren't you at work?"

Without answering, Bobby turns and goes upstairs to his room to lie down on his cot. He stares at the ceiling until his eyes well up with tears.

Later Bobby and his mother sit down to a meal of cabbage and bread. He haltingly begins to level with her about losing his job. His mother's face suddenly cracks into a look of anguish as she speaks into the dead air, "Clarence? Why? Why did you have to leave us? Why didn't you ever save anything? You left us to fend for ourselves and I hate you for it!"

Bobby gets up and puts his hand on his mother's shoulder, but she sits staring blankly, as if ignoring him. She puts her face into her hands and sobs loudly. Bobby leaves to go upstairs again.

Looking out the window, he sees a massive roiling storm headed their way. A flash lights up the sky, thunder cracks, and the rain starts. Bobby lies on his cot and pulls the covers up.

The rain just won't seem to stop. After days and days of rain with no place to go, the town is faced with its hundred year flood. Homes and shops are flooded. Livestock and people are violently washed away like so much insignificant debris. Both can be heard wailing together long into the night.

Bobby lights a candle and kneels by his bed to pray. His house is high enough to be safe, and he's sure Pam's is safe too, but he prays for all the others.

Later, after the deluge recedes, Bobby treks out into the humid morning to look around by the creek just outside of town. Other people are out with shovels as well, looking for lost people.

Bobby sees a man's shoe sticking out of the muck. He strips down to his shorts and wades over to where the body is. Bobby knew the man, a shopkeeper. He slides a gold ring off the man's finger and puts it into his mouth until he can get back to shore to slip it into his pocket.

Bobby finds a few more bodies which he decides he will later lead the other men to, but now, he will just take their valuables.

There is a young woman he has never seen before. He sees her pale, delicate hand sticking out of the mud. He wades over toward her when the hand sinks back under the mud. Then, her head pops up, a raspy breath comes from her mouth, bubbling up the brackish water. Bobby pulls her up, but then sees that she is lifeless. He takes her locket and lowers her back down into the murky brown water.

When Bobby gets home, he can't sleep, thinking of how the girl seemed to stare at him. She was sort of pretty, but he is afraid to think of her anymore.

That night, he dreams of the mystery girl kissing him. Her breath seems to draw something out of him and into her. It is a feeling he is unaccustomed to. He wonders, "Is this what it's like to be in love?" When the day time comes, he daydreams of her again, kissing him. He wonders what her voice sounds like, but she just keeps looking at him, pulling him close and kissing him.

...................

That afternoon, The men searching the creek-bed find Bobby's body. He is situated almost in a kneeling position and staring at the sky with dead eyes and open mouth, a man transfixed, with a rose-gold filigree locket in his hand.

........................

Dr. Grey smiles at us again, "I hope you liked the story, my lovelies. Make sure you don't go in the water for at least 20 minutes after a meal. You might have a cramp."










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