Quit Playing Games

Chapter 55

The door moved slightly in the wind, the handle tap-tapping against the wall behind it. Other than the wide open door the kitchen was as it always was: dishtowels hung over the handle to the oven and the teakettle in the back right corner of the stove. Dishes were stacked in the drying rack and the counter was spotless. The table in the middle of the room was covered with a light pink tablecloth and set for three people using a hodge-podge of plates - the ones set aside for family only.

In the corner the fridge's motor purred then giving its habitual clicking noise every so often. It was one of those annoying little things that they had always intended to fix but, as it never impacted on the fridge's ability to work, wasn't a priority. Little magnets held notices and coupons in place on its door, though the top part - the freezer door - was given over to fridge poetry.

She couldn't resist a smile at that: her mother had given the little word magnets to her father on his birthday a few years back and they had become a bit of a tradition. They now had a whole lexicon of words to use to compose poems, limericks and other doggerel.

Moving forward she read the few lines that were placed there:

Over the hills and across the bay
Love and now hatred held in their sway
Two sides of a coin
What are you doing

As her eyes hit the last line the words turned to red and began to slide down the door, trickling like blood. She lurched back in horror and then turned quickly as a loud bang sounded in another room.

She turned to run but it was as if she was running through thick mud -- it was all in slow motion. Even as she concentrated on moving faster the only thing that speeded up was the loud beating of her heart. Finally, she got to the doorway to the inner rooms of the house but could not enter: there was some sort of force field holding her back.

Across the room, a man's body lay slumped in an easy chair facing a lit fireplace. His body was half turned away so that she couldn't see his face but thick, red blood trickled over the leather chair's shoulder, pooling on the floor. She thumped against the barrier, trying to get to him, but it resisted her.

As she watched a thin line of fire crossed from the hearth to the pool of blood. Once the two met an explosion blasted forcing her gaze away. Turning back, the room was now full of flames and the man's body was gone. However, she could see a female figure leaning against the doorway at the far side of the room.

The figure took a step forward and she recognized the woman as her mother. As always, she was immaculately dressed and made up, though the cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth marred the look of perfection. As did the fact that her hair was on fire.

She glanced at the chair and cackled before looking towards her daughter, locked in the doorway. "It's meant for you too. Come in, come in."

As bidden, she took a step forward, the barrier now gone. Another step into that burning room, towards the cackling figure that was now gulping liquor from a bottle and breathing flames.

The chair by the fireplace dissolved into ash and then rebuild into a man's figure. He too was covered in flames, his face distorted with pain. Shrieking, he swung his arm at her, trying to force her back. "Away, away," he howled over and over again as he lurched towards her.

"Blood of my blood," her mother yelled in counterpoint to the man's wails. "You can't escape. You are me. I'm in you."


Her voice finally broke through the noise. She took a step back, covering her ears to get away from the sound of the roaring inferno and the baying of the burning figures. "No,' she screamed again, as the blaze started to roll towards her. Faster than she could move they were on her, flames licking up her legs. She beat at them, trying to put them out.


She ignored the voice calling her and kept fighting the flames. They seemed to be responding to her actions - falling away slightly - though as they died down the screeching of the burning figures could be made out again.

"Just like me," her mother called. "Never escape."

"Away," the male figure wailed.


Hearing her name she looked up and saw that the man's face was clear now, still in pain but she could recognize it. Her father.

"Daddy!" she called back, trying to move towards him. Her mother laughed loudly.

"Kat!" This time she felt someone give her face a firm slap. It was as if that act released the dream and she was being pulled backwards - and very quickly - through a tunnel. Her eyes opened and she saw Nick's concerned face looking at her.

And burst into tears.

Chapter 56