Breaks And Bodies

Hi Everyone! To be honest I’m not sure what to call this story. It’s not really horror though it does have elements of it. Easiest way I can put it is that it is about a grandfather telling his grandchildren a story. I’m saying nothing more than that, other than its about 11,200 words long and I hope you enjoy it.

Don is a man in his seventies who lives in his rural home some forty minutes drive from the nearest town. The house feels empty and to be honest is a little large for his needs, especially since his wife Eleanor past four years prior. Still, he couldn’t then, and remains unable to now, bring himself to move from the place the couple had called their forever space after more than forty years of living here. The décor is simple with a TV perched upon an only just about big enough silver metal and wood media cabinet. In addition there are two armchairs, a three seater sofa, a coffee table that is a pine colour but not made from pine and a couple of corner tables with white lamps and shades atop them.

Don is sat in his armchair. The brown leather is heavily cracked but not yet worn through. If it ever reaches that stage he’ll be forced to replace it. If that day comes he’ll be have to face the sadness it’ll bring, though he won’t replace the other chair. It is identical to the one he is sat in and had been where Eleanor had always put herself.

The chairs are alongside each other but Don isn’t focused on the vacant twin. Instead, he is barely looking in the direction of the forty inch TV screen. He’s pays little attention to whatever it is that is on. It isn’t his sort of thing that much is for sure and he’ll be happy when he gets the only distraction he cares for.

Suddenly he hears a series of muffled scraping, clattering sounds. It’s the unmistakable noise of metal on metal. It is a key entering the lock. If Don were a younger more spry man he’d leap to his feet and barrel across the meagre living space to the front door, but he is not. He is fully aware that by the time he manages to scramble awkwardly to his feet his visitors will be upon him. That is why he has elected to remain where he is.

The door opens, creaking as it does so. The sound reminds him that he needs to oil the hinges. He keeps forgetting. A house is quite the thing to keep together when you are on your own. He’d never fully understood that until… He sighs a split second before…

“Dad, we’re here. Where are you?” The voice belongs to Don’s only child, his daughter Melissa.

“I’m in the TV room Mel.” Don calls back. He’s the only one that calls the room he is sat in the TV room. Still, Melissa knows exactly where he means. She hasn’t a clue where he got it from but has never thought to ask either.

Don hits the standby button on the remote that has spent the last however long he’s been sat here killing time. The wait was painful. It always is. Don misses being around people but never realised that until he was a single man again. Not something he ever thought would be a worry for him when he met his Eleanor.

“Hi dad, how you feeling…” Melissa begins. Her voice is quickly drowned out as her two children Vanessa and Charlie rush toward the elderly man with reckless abandon screaming, “Granddad!” over and over. Their presence will always be capable of brightening Don’s day.

He smiles in response and waits the short moments it takes them to cover the distance and then leap unto their granddad, who erupts into laughter. Vanessa and Charlie too explode into giggles as Don welcomes them with cuddles and shaking side to side movements that help fuel their joy.

Melissa stops, a smile is painted across her face as she watches her father and children smile and enjoy each other’s company. It’s enough to bring a tear to her eye, yet she ensures that it does not. If she were to allow it to there would only be a round of questions and queries issued, principally from her son and daughter. No need to make them question or worry unnecessarily. If she did they’d only pester their granddad asking why mommy was crying once she has departed. She doesn’t want to put her father in that position, especially since he volunteered to look after them, and so he forces laughter. It doesn’t take much but still she could do with them settling down because their granddad isn’t a young man anymore. Yet, he looks happy and that can be a rarity these days. He misses his wife, Melissa understands because she misses her mother. Yet, she has no partner. She and her now ex-husband Byron were never that close. Or at least Melissa doesn’t think they were. At the time she would have sworn their bond was the same as her parents, but looking back she can honestly say that it was not.

She forces her memories and feeling aside aware of her concerns for the safety of her dear old dad. It’s why she orders softly but with a stern tone of voice, “Ness, Char calm down you don’t want to hurt your granddad, do you?”

The response is immediate; the two children freeze midway through whatever it is they had planned. From looks of things it appears as though Charlie was about to hit Don on the head, while Vanessa was preparing to poke and prod the elderly man’s cardigan covered chest.

“Relax Mel; they’re just having some fun.” Don like any dotting grandfather is throwing caution to the wind and is focused more on his grandchildren than his own safety.

“Isn’t that right?” Don quickly follows up with a half whisper aimed in the direction of his grandson and granddaughters ears. They giggle in response which makes Don’s heart gush.

More than anything he hopes his life continues for a good while longer so he is able to watch them grow up. He’d really love to see who they become. Whether that is on the cards he cannot say. Only time will tell, though he is acutely aware that they won’t stay like this for much longer. Before too long they’ll think their old granddad is uncool, lame, old, or whatever the vernacular is these days. Don hasn’t a clue. He decides it matters little. No matter the word it all means the same in the end.

“Dad, don’t encourage them. You know I’m right.” Melissa adds, folding her arms across her chest right after her words have left her mouth. Melissa’s hair is cut into a bob and is black in colour just like the suit she is clad in. It might be a Saturday but she has to work. Meetings with clients will be the order for the day and so Don is going to look after Vanessa and Charlie. She should only be gone for a few hours at most. More than anything she does not want these meetings to drag on or suffer delays. Unless of course the delay is into next week; that would suit her perfectly because she’d really like to spend the weekend with her kids and dad. She had planned to bring them over regardless of these meetings but plans change and no longer will she be able to spend the day with her dad alongside Vanessa and Charlie. That saddens her more than she wants to admit but these clients are a big deal. Securing this deal means… Don’t think about that now, not with the time before you have to depart being so scant, she reminds herself. Melissa nods and then elects to move on.

“Ah, relax. They’re kids. They won’t stay this way forever. Let them have their fun. I’ll be fine, survived worse.” Don utters with a wide smile planted firmly across his face. Yet, the survived worse is a clear unconscious acknowledgement of the loss of his Eleanor.

Vanessa and Charlie exclaim with rapturous joy even if they don’t understand exactly what their granddad means.

Charlie is nine and Vanessa is seven. Both are bundles of endless joy, infectious laughter and near boundless energy. Melissa knows she should get serious and put her foot down but can’t bring herself too. Spoiling the trio’s fun would put a crack across her heart. She can’t do that to them, most of all her dad. He’s had a rough few years and any time Melissa gets to see him happy it reminds her just how much he’s changed now that his wife, her mother, is gone. That is why begrudgingly she concludes she’ll let the potential rough and tumble antics slide. Her dad knows what his limit is, even if he’ll forget about it until he hits it. Plus, Vanessa and Charlie listen to him. So if says he’s had enough they will, hesitantly, oblige.

“Story, story, story.” Vanessa begins to demand out of left field. Her cries of joy are soon mirrored by Charlie who also demands, “Yeah, story granddad. We want a scary one. The best you’ve got.”

“I’m going to go drop their stuff in the kitchen, ok dad?” Melissa announces knowing that it is best she make herself scarce and let her dad deal with the demands of his grandchildren. She could try and calm them but clearly their granddad doesn’t want that. He’s an experienced parent and so she’ll leave the delegation to him, for now.

“Sure honey.” Don says answering his daughter only to turn his attention immediately after toward his grandkids.

“So you want a story do you? A scary one says Char. Is that what you want too Ness?” Don is cognisant that Vanessa is younger and though tends to agree with what her brother demands isn’t necessarily always onboard with his ideas. It’s why he feels the need to check.

A few moments thought end with a hesitant nod from Vanessa. Her long brown locks bob up and down as her head moves. Because of all that hair her face is barely visible. Don pushes her hair back on one side and hooks it gently over her ear to better get a view of her delicate face.

“Are you sure?” He feels a need to check.

Charlie meanwhile is staying remarkably quiet during this time which is a bonus. Perhaps he is waiting with baited breath. Don cannot say for only the children themselves know what goes on in their minds.

Vanessa nods again. This time she is more confident in her approval of the story being a scary one.

“Alright then it’s decided, a scary story it’ll be.” Charlie exclaims in joy upon hearing that he’s getting his way, while Vanessa, still reticent, unleashes a half smile and a round of frantic nods.

“Get comfortable the pair of you for once I’ve begun there will be no stopping until the very end.” Don puts on an ominous voice. Both Vanessa and Charlie wriggle back and forth to get comfortable like they’ve been told.

They are nestled on either side of Don, partly on the arms of his chair. He might miss this seat when it’s worn through but he isn’t so precious about it that his grandchildren clambering on it he finds to be an issue. Eleanor would’ve passed comment about that being the purpose of the sofa. Yet ultimately she would’ve relented while continuing to cook her way through the morning, assuring the grandchildren that she is listening from the kitchen. And it would be true, Eleanor would indeed listen to every word her husband Don delivered to their grandkids, even occasionally adding or passing comment infrequently. She used to love his stories almost as much as Vanessa and Charlie do.

With the grandchildren having wriggled into comfort, Don begins. A smile still affixed across his face.

“This is the tale of a lake. But the lake is only the setting. For at this lake there is a killer on the loose…”

“Dad, come on is that a good idea?” Melissa interrupts from the kitchen.

Don pays her question no mind. Rather, he looks from Vanessa to Charlie. Both nod. It’s all the confirmation he needs to continue, regardless of what his daughter might think. Democracy at its best, he thinks. After all, this is two votes, three if he was to count his own, against one. Best odds he could hope to get.

He picks up right where he left off, “…and visiting this lake are three teenage friends. They’re on break from school and wanted to get away. This is the last summer they’ll have together before they move on to other things. But their future plans are not our concern. Our concern is what happened while they were at this lake.”

Vanessa and Charlie are looking up at their grandfather with mesmerised stares of genuine intrigue. They are hanging off his every word. They love his stories, even if they are sometimes perhaps a little much for children of their age. They’ll do no harm however. After all, Melissa was told similar things as a young girl and she turned out fine. That’s how you sell it. You make it abundantly clear that this is fiction. That way kids don’t get it into their heads that it is or could be real.

As Don continues to set the scene with descriptions of the lake, Melissa finishes unpacking Vanessa and Charlie’s stuff ready for them to eat later. It’s only fair she made them lunch. After all, she is abandoning them, for a few hours, during the weekend. Plus, this is putting extra responsibility on her aging father. She doesn’t like doing either but needs must she thinks just prior to checking the time. She needs to make a move if she wants any hope of arriving in time for the meeting. It’s back in town. Just over an hour should be enough but she’s not inclined to dally any longer. It’s why she shuffles back into the TV room as her dad calls it and announces, “Mommy’s got to go now. You two be good. Dad, don’t overdo it. You know what I mean, so don’t argue with me.”

Don and the children flanking him on either side take a short pause from the story to turn their attention and gazes toward Melissa. Don is the first to speak, “Wouldn’t dare honey. Be safe. We’ll see you later.”

“Bye mommy!” Vanessa shouts loudly while Charlie waves his hand furiously and elongates “Bye.”

Melissa smiles, blows them kisses, turns and waves until she is at the door. Like a whirlwind she vanishes from sight closing and locking the front door behind her.

“Right, now back to the story.” Don returns his focus toward Charlie and then Vanessa. The pair both take to bouncing up and down. It’s a clear sign of their eagerness to hear more.

“The white rented sedan pulls up outside the large cabin which sits alongside the large oval shaped lake. It’s dark and the only sounds are of the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. There is limited light shining out from the small street lights that line the drive up to the two storey log cabin. Yet, the ground floor is bathed in light.” Don has started the story proper now and continues without pause.

“We’re here.” Cody announces climbing out of the white sedan. He splays his arms wide as if their arrival is the greatest achievement of mankind and he celebrating the victory.

“Yeah, it just took us half a day longer than it was supposed to, Cody.” Briana utters right after but makes sure to emphasise Cody’s name when she reaches it. She wants him to be sure that the blame, in her eyes, is squarely on him.

“We still got here though.” Is the response the jersey wearing Cody fires back with little care for the blame being placed upon him.

“Yeah we did.” Gray agrees as he unfolds himself from having been jammed behind the steering wheel. From free he takes one look Briana’s way, their eyes meet and a hard stare is delivered unto him. Because of that he swiftly adds, “But Brie is right, we should’ve been here hours ago.” Gray is too tired to argue. All he wants to do is sleep, especially as he is the one who’s been doing the driving. Something tells him that he should doubt the other two are entirely capable of understanding how tiring it’s been to be the designated driver. Not like there is a reason they couldn’t have shared the driving either. Both Cody and Briana know how to drive and are named on the lease. No, it just so happened he got landed with the keys and as a result the driving. Tough luck, but I’m not going to be the one driving back, he promises. More than likely he will be. That will be an issue to face in a few days when they have to leave. Until then Gray intends on enjoying this long weekend at the lakeside.

Briana is the one who told them about this place. Apparently she used to visit this lake when she’d been a little kid. Though, they’d had to get the name of the lake from her mom. Unsurprisingly Briana didn’t remember it. Cody had teased her ruthlessly about that.

It was a strange thing for him to do when he’s the one who wants to get closer to her, but that’ll be his problem not Gray’s. Still, this continuation of blame and not accepting it must be damaging Cody’s prospects, surely.

“Sure, you’re right, both of you. Blame it on me. But, at the same time if it were not for my quick thinking would we have ever got here in the first place?” Cody with his trademark cockiness has a beaming smile and index fingers vaguely pointing toward both Briana and Gray in the moments after the words have been delivered.

“Yes. In fact we would have got here and still had half a day left if we hadn’t been following your directions. And why were you even using a map? It’s called satnav for a reason, dingus. What decade are you from, the seventies?” Briana is attempting to make a point. On the whole it’s a valid one, even if some of the details are a little off. Sure, Cody had insisted on using maps, paper ones, to trace their route here and it had gotten them lost. Apparently, Cody is not as good with a map as he believed he was. More than likely he thought it would be simple. Then saw the map, panicked and instead of fessing up randomly chose something. What he chose turned out to be wrong. It could just as easily been right. 50/50 chance and he landed on the wrong fifty, this time. Yet, even if they hadn’t got lost on what should’ve been a three hour drive they wouldn’t have had half a day to do with as they pleased. They would have had maybe a few hours and more than likely it would have been a quick meal and then collapsing to get some sleep.

“How about we get inside? It’s late and I don’t know about you two but I’m exhausted.” Gray can feel his body demanding he find a bed. He if tried to stand here and listen to the back and forth which very well might be incoming there is no doubt he’d drop. The start to their vacation has been bad enough; Gray doesn’t want to add a broken nose from face planting the ground on top. Such a thing would really ruin this weekend for him. Thankfully, Cody agrees.

“Yeah sure, let’s get inside.”

Briana doesn’t like that this argument hasn’t been resolved. Chiefly because Cody has not taken the blame but she’s been outvoted, which is why begrudgingly she goes along with it.

During Briana’s thinking time, Cody has managed to pull the bags from the back seat of the sedan where they had been wedged. He cannot fathom as to why Briana refused to let them put the bags in the boot instead of on the rear bench seat but it matters little now. He can’t say it was any easier to get them out however.

“Get my bags for me would you?” Briana demands leaving Cody behind to struggle. Gray has already claimed his and is well on his way to the front door of the cabin. It’s quaint, that’s what he’d call it. He drives the key into the lock. It’s stiff, that is why he jiggles it and then…

“Will it not open?” Briana queries over his shoulder. Gray almost leaps out of his skin. He didn’t know the seventeen year old with long curly blonde hair was that close to him. In fact, he wasn’t aware she was near him whatsoever.

“Jumpy.” She states before a giggle passes her lips.

Before Gray can say a word she inserts herself into the situation, effectively pushing Gray aside. Yet, her barging in is done in the nicest and least physical possible way imaginable. His jaw drops and hands rise in silent protest. Briana is unaware of his reaction and instead focuses on releasing the lock. She succeeds following a brief fiddle. Her success followed by a proud giggle that grows distant when she disappears inside leaving Gray on the doorstep.

“Can I get a hand back here?” Cody pleads.

Gray turns only to find Cody almost buried under a mountain of bags. The two smallest bags are Cody’s, the rest are Briana’s. Neither Cody nor Gray could grasp as to why one woman needed so much luggage. Is it a rite of passage? They still don’t know, though Briana had protested that all of her bags were essential. Both of the guys had doubted that but had silently agreed not to say another word on the matter.

“Sure Cody.” Gray assures while heading back toward his friend. Between them they split the bags. Gray soon learns that not only does Briana have more luggage than they do combined and multiplied by two but it is heavier to boot.

The two young men struggle into the cabin. Briana already has every conceivable light on inside. Cody bashes the door closed with the heel of his shoe. It doesn’t quite work. He sighs in frustration and then while still balancing the luggage in his arms takes a quarter step backward. His back pushes against the door and forces it closed. He’ll lock it later. Right now all he wants to do is drop all he has hold of before his arms become like long pieces of spaghetti.

“Aw, aren’t you good for bringing in my stuff.” Cody is happy to hear the thanks being offered. “Thanks Gray.” Are the next words out Briana’s mouth. Cody’s mood plummets. In place of the warm feeling he had felt there is an empty hollow void. Even his shoulders drop. Then he realises his mistake and begins to lose balance, toppling forward. Dump the bags or crash to the floor, such is the decision Cody is faced with.

“Whoa.” Gray exclaims coming to Cody’s rescue and helping to prop him back upright once more. Gray had dumped Briana’s bags already. It’s what alerted her to their arrival and why she gave thanks to him and not Cody too.

“Put ‘em down Cody before you hurt yourself.” Gray urges sure that his friend will collapse if he doesn’t. Cody complies and unceremoniously releases his grip in a flash. The bags crash to the floor. A smirk appears across his face.

“What the…” Briana roars angrily. She heard the crash and felt it important to investigate.

Cody’s smirk vanishes and just in the nick of time as Briana’s head pops around one of the doorframes.

“Cody… Oh…” Briana is exasperated but too tired to argue. Her lack of energy has hit her now that they have reached and stepped inside what will serve as their home for the next few days of this vacation. Still, her face is flushed. Not red, but definitely not its normal shade regardless of what makeup she may or may not be wearing.

Cody goes to say something but it’s too late. Briana is gone.

“Don’t worry Cody. Let’s just get some rest. Patch things up tomorrow, yeah?” Gray, as always, is acting as peacekeeper, sense maker. Cody wishes he could do that but it just isn’t in his nature. He wonders if that difference is the result of Cody being an extrovert and Gray an introvert. Cody hasn’t a clue. Though, he can’t argue the sense Gray is making and so replies, “Sure.”

Gray smiles, nods and then with a single head motion suggests they go check this cabin out. Briana certainly has so it’s only fair that they do too.

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