First: She tweeted the location of the picture prompt, then the rules...1,000 words, due by dawn, send to LeahCliffordBooks at gmail.com. Winner gets a prize. (I believe the tweet was sent around 11pm central time or so...but if you'd like to participate in the next flash contest...follow @LeahClifford)
Since I wasn't sleeping regardless ...#insomniaismyfriend (lol) .... Here's the flash that I entered....
by: Dottie Taylor
word count: 980
The dusty victrola sat in the corner, the red-label disc spun round and round. When the needle dropped into the grooves, it scratched and popped, but the music poured out. “When the harvest moon is shining, I'll be pining...,” echoed off the cobwebbed corners, back to the small footprints visible on the grubby floor, to the smoky mirror reflecting nothing. No hand had turned the crank to spin the disc, nor lifted the needle to fill the grooves, yet it played it's sad little melody.
Downstairs, the front door banged opened, the family of four trooped in, two small children, two adults. You'd think there'd be laughter to fill the old house, but no one wanted to live here. They entered as the last of the chords resounded in the darkness, drawing their attention.
“Greg, did you leave your iPod playing?” Mom questioned, eyebrows raised.
“You mean this one?” The boy held out his hand, the metallic gleam shined in the entry light.
“Huh, I wonder what's playing?” She shrugged her slim shoulders, before glancing up the steps, taking a step forward.
“Dunno, but I'll check it out.” Dad bounced the little girl in his arms, he smiled and kissed her forehead.
“That's okay, supper'll get cold, we'll eat first. It's stopped now anyway.” She smiled tiredly, taking the little girl from his arms, carrying her to the kitchen.
The young family gathered around the table, when the eery tune began again, indistinct and muted, indistinguishable noise.
“Now, that's weird. Where's it coming from?” She glanced around the ancient home of her husband's family. They only came back for the funeral, that was over two months ago. All their lives had changed with the inheritance.
“I think it's the attic, there's an old record player up there. It's creepy.” Greg raised his blue eyes to the ceiling. “I wish we'd never moved here.”
“Gregory, that's enough. Eat.” His father prodded, but he shivered just the same. He'd hated this damned old house as a child, and now he was forced to return, and to stay.
With his mother's death, everything had changed, and not for the better. She'd been a cold and unfeeling old woman. He was surprised when the Lord took her, he thought she'd live forever. Heaven was too good for her, but maybe she resided in the other place. Her will's provision said the house couldn't be sold until a full year after her passing, and if her son, as her sole heir, thought to benefit, he'd have to live there. Only ten more months to go.
Jennifer started to cry, and her mother gathered her close, shushing her, rocking back and forth. If the truth were to be known, she was as creeped out as Greg, and he was only eight.
The music stopped and the house grew quiet, Jennifer cried harder.
“I know I said we'd live here, but I don't know hon...” She held little girl closer as she felt a hand as cold as death linger on her cheek, her neck, and down her arm. She jumped, jostling Jennifer who started crying all over again.
“The will said I had to live here, it didn't say anything about anyone else. Why don't you take the kids, go to your mother, she hasn't seen the kids in a while.” He stood and stroked his wife's back, “you don't need to be here, and neither do the kids.”
“No, if you're staying, we're all staying.” She leaned closer, “I just wish this weird crap would stop.”
“Can't we just leaving Daddy? I don't want to live here.” Greg watched his parents, his eyes begged and teared. “Sometimes I think I see Grandma around the corner, she didn't like me, and I think she likes me even less now.”
His father cringed, if they could afford to leave they would, but he'd lost his job over a year ago. He looked to his wife, and she smiled weakly.
“Now that's silly Greggy, you know that's impossible.” His mother smiled at him, reassured him, and he tried to smile back. But if a house was haunted, this one would be it.
That night after the lights dimmed, a rocking chair creaked, then as if the weight shifted, creaked again as it began to rock. Soon they would leave her home, soon they'd be gone. She smiled, she'd never leave. A ghostly cackle filled the air. That was the plan all along, they'd come, they'd leave, she'd stay, forever.
Life continued the same for six months, until the day came when the family could take no more.
“I don't care if we have to live on the street,” she wiped the tears from her eyes, “we need to leave before someone really gets hurt.” Greg was sleeping now, his arm in a cast after taking a nasty spill. He swore he was pushed, and the scary part was, he had a bruise in the center of his back, a hand print.
“We'll leave tomorrow, your mother has been asking us to come, so we'll go.” He kissed his wife's worried forehead, then he shouted to the room. “Do you hear that Mother, you win, we're leaving.”
On the next day, a cab pulled up to the house, and a young man stepped out, and knocked on the door.
“Does a Mr. Anderson live here?”
“For about thirty more minutes. What can I do for you?”
“Mr. Anderson, sir, your uncle passed away, leaving you his estate.”
“You've got to be kidding...” He replied as he looked over the legalese.
“No sir, but there's a catch...”
Like sister, like brother.
So, there you have! A wee bit of midnight flash....
Hope you had a great weekend!