Freedom’s Little Window (short horror fiction)

The corner store with the green awning has a small basement window. The window has old, rusted iron bars in front.

Words and phrases are etched into the iron with strange symbols.

Some say it’s to keep the “real” store owner, a mysterious entity, in its place.

Bone-white fingers poke past iron bars unnoticed by passersby casually chatting as they peruse the sidewalk.

Blue, sunny skies cover the summer horizon.

The aromas of hotdogs and hamburgers waft in the breeze. Laughter and shouts serenade the blossoming greenery. Light hills and mountains cradle the town like the hand of god, cradling the good people of “Winstonville.”

A beautiful, normal summer day in a town that could be anywhere. Even yours–Actually, especially, yours.

Anthony ran around the park with Jade, Thomas and Crystal, doing what kids do: run around, jump off swings, and leap out of spinning merry-go-rounds.

Good kids having a wholesome time.

“Little ones, oh little ones, I am so lonely,” a voice murmured. “Please, come pay this old dearie a vist.”

The air was still, humid, but pleasant, until clouds formed overhead.

“Did you hear that?” Anthony asked, glancing around.

Jade sprinted around the playground with Thomas.

Crystal held Anthony’s hand. “I heard it,” she said.

“Please,” Anthony said, shaking Crystal’s hand off of his.

“I’m your girlfriend!” Crystal yelled.

“Since when?” Anthony asked, confused. “You like looking at your own face… a lot. I don’t that’s healthy…”

“Ugh, whatever. Just hold my hand,” Crystal responded. She giggled and shoved Anthony. She was going to shove him again in jest, but stopped when she felt drizzle.

“Rain!” Thomas yelled. The kids scurried under a nearby awning beneath a local corner store.

A breeze blew, jingling the chime hanging from the awning overhead.

Then a soft, raspy whisper said:

Little ones.

Oh, little ones.

“Did you say something?” Anthony asked Crystal.

“No. Let’s go home, please,” Crystal said, unamused. She held Anthony’s hand again. “Like, Now.” They clasped palms and interlocked fingers.

“Ok then. We’re leaving,” Anthony declared to.

Thomas and Jade stare at each other confused.

“Don’t be a chicken! Baw-gawk!” Thomas shouted. “Baw-gawk! Baw-gawk! Bak-bak-bak!” He mimicked, flapping his elbows. “Jade and I aren’t scared. We don’t hear nothin’! Right, Jade?”

Then came another whisper in the wind:

Small fingers.

Delicate thumbs.

A hand to take.

A pact to make.

“I-I-I don’t know. Sure–Yeah, actually,” Jade responded, shy and nervous. She didn’t like the attention. Even worse, she hated being put on the spot. The attention scared her more than the pale hand tapping the iron window bars behind Jade’s feet. “Are you sure that you don’t hear anything?” she asked, leaning and whispering into Thomas’ ear.

Secret silence.

Darkness. Peace.

Tranquility. Sleep.

Wonderful violence.

Thomas shrugged. “I dunno. I ain’t a whimp though!” He yelled.

Then, the whisper spoke:

Am impure heart cannot appreciate the lighter side of my art.

Disaster of no consequence.

Rreturn from whence.

Please, little ones, bring him to me.

Help me through the fence.

“Are you sure you don’t hear that, Thomas?” Anthony asked, ready to bolt. He looked at Thomas, then at Jade, and finally the basement window just above the sidewalk.

Anthony shrugged. “Okay? I’m not sure what to tell you. Crystal and I both heard it.”

“Well, I didn’,” Thomas responded. He sighed heavy and shrugged. “I just don’t want go home,” Thomas declared, nonchalant. “I didn’t hear anything, but my parents are having a bad day so I’m trying to avoid my house.”

“Yikes,” Jade said, awkwardly looking at the ground. “Do you like your family, Thomas?” Jade asked. “They don’t sound very nice.”

“I hate them. You’re supposed to hate family though. Show me a happy family and I’ll show you a bunch of phonies and liars. No such thing as a loving family, love, romance or safety,” Thomas said. “My dad loves my mom by hitting her and my mom loves back by hating her life, hating her kids, hating herself and hating my dad. Truth is, I only hang out with you guys to avoid going home. I don’t feel anything except wanting to hit people and scream. There isn’t a moment I don’t wish both my parents just dropped dead. Then, I feel bad,” Thomas admitted.

After a long pause, he continued speaking. “I feel bad because I don’t want to feel that way. Then, I think of certain things . My fists shake and I want to run. I’m usually mad as hell until I imagine their funerals and see their plastic faces in a wooden box,” Thomas said.

“That’s–uh–that is some… just… wow…,” Jade said.

“You’re entitled to your opinion, the same way he’s entitled to his feelings,” Crystal chimed in.

Thomas nodded. “I mean I didn’t ask to be born. No one asked for my permission. They were kids with kids who were angry and confused that kids wasn’t as romantic as they’d hoped. I personally think the younger you are when you have kids, the stupider you are as an adult,” Thomas said. “The shadow that talks to me at night says we’re born from our parents true feelings.”

The kids remain quiet for a few minutes, awkwardly staring into the distance, fidgeting.

Please come down.

Join my indoor, underground town.

Get lost, only to be found.

Gagged and bound.

Close your eyes and hear my secret.

Can you keep it?

If I tell my name, will you help other’s speak it?

If I show you my face, will you force others to seek it?

“Are you sure you can’t hear that, Thomas?” Crystal asked.

Thomas sighed. “No, I don’t hear it,” he responded.

Sometimes I can hear the treble below me
Pounding through the floor

My body’s so restless

It lives in the basement below some boxes
I feel so strange and so thoughtless

Please, little ones, bring me to bliss

Bring a soul you care to dismiss

“Well, little one- er, I mean, Thomas, I think we can help you,” Jade said, her skin turning pale. The kids didn’t notice the wrinkled hand gripping her ankle.

“What’s that? What can you guys do?” Thomas asked, curious. “Don’t keep me in suspense, Jade.”

“We’re leaving, right?” Crystal asked, looking at Anthony.

Anthony blushed. He gripped Crystal’s hand with more confidence. He looked at their interlocked fingers. He turned his bright red face away, smirked to himself, then turned to Crystal with a straight face. Anthony nodded. “Yes,” he said without hesitation.

“I don’t want any part in this. It doesn’t feel right to me. Like, at all. Something is giving me the creeps,” Crystal declared, in secrecy.

“I feel that. Then, that’s that. The rain let up, so let’s go,” Anthony replied. “Hey–Thomas, Jade, we’re out. Catch you tomorrow. I’m curious about what Jade thinks we can do, but this ain’t for us,” Anthony said, waving and walking away with Crystal.

“Shall we, young Thomas?” Jade asked, leaning against the wall above the basement window. “You aren’t afraid—are you?”

“I not afraid of nothing!” Thomas shouted.

They found an opening in a narrow fence around the corner, and slipped into the back of the corner store, undetected by the store owner.

Walking past the back room and several boxes, Jade led Thomas to a locked door with several iron bolts.

Bible verses were scribbled on the heavy door. Talismans, gems and sigils were etched into the frame.

“Open the door, Thomas,” Jade commanded, in sync with a whisper from the shadows behind them. “A hand to take. A pact to make. Open the door, Thomas, then you’ll be awake,” Crystal said.

One by one, Thomas flipped the sturdy deadbolts, and slid them unlocked.

“What is it?” Thomas asked.

“Good boy, Thomas,” Jade said, encouraging Thomas to continue. “Here, take this.” Shae hands Thomas a white claw.

“Nothing. Just something to scratch the gibberish off the door before you open it. Hurry up and do it,” Jade responded, shoving the object in Thomas’ hands. “Hurry, Thomas. The storeowner will find us. He will call your parents. You don’t want that do you, little one?” Jade asked, her eyes in a trance.

Thomas couldn’t make out the expression on her face–Nor did he care. “This will make my life better?” He asked.

“Oh, yes,” Jade said, with a sinister smile. “Now, remove the sigils!” she whispered loud. Jade pushed Thomas against the doorframe. “Do it, Thomas! Do it!” she repeated, her voice sounding more and more twisted with each repetition.

Someone smacked the back of Thomas’ head. “Do it already, you fucking sissy boy. Wimp. Your garbage. Worthless. No one cares about how you feel. The only thing that matters is what people can gain from you. Ain’t no safety in this world. No love. Not for you. Not for me. Not for no one,” Thomas’ father’s voice echoed. “Open the fucking door, Thomas. ‘En then, go gemme’ a goddamn beer, fucker.”

Thomas’ hands trembled and his legs shook. “This doesn’t feel right, Jade,” he said, turning around. “Jade?” Thomas asked in darkness. “Jade?” he asked again. The room looked bigger and darker than before. Thomas couldn’t see the light from the store, or hear the music anymore. “Jade?”

No response.

Suddenly, Jade appeared beside Thomas, startling him. She grabbed his hand and slammed it against an etching. “Carve, Thomas,” a deep voice, bellowed from her mouth, demonic and twisted.

The pitch black room gets colder and colder.

Thomas started shivering. His teeth rattled as he struggled to scrape the engravings. “I can barely see what I’m doing, Jade. Why am I doing this?”

Dozens of hands reach out of the darkness. They force Thomas to stand by the door.

“Because you’re a good boy, Thomas. You’re special. So special. You’re number one. We need you and your special talent,” voices whisper.

Thomas cringes and squirms. He tried to run, but hands grabbed at his legs and arms. When he turned, the hands forced him back up against the doorframe.

Thomas scraped the sigils and etchings one-by-one. The painstaking task felt like an eternity.

Then, a loud click, and the heavy door creaked open.

Thomas observed a dark room, poorly lit by a small window. The room has a stone stairwell in the center.

“Thomas,” Jade says, still in a trance. She patted Thomas on the back, then kicked him in the direction of the stone stairwell.

Thomas fell. His body thumped on every cold, hard, concrete step. He passed out.

Chains rattled. Thomas open his eyes.

A tall old woman in long black wedding gown, shuffled toward Thomas. Dragging chains on the ground, occasionally creating sparks.

“Where’s Jade?” Thomas asked.

The tall, slender woman crept closer and leaned down.

Thomas couldn’t breath.

His eyes froze when he stared into her red pupils.

Her long black wedding dress blended with her long, straight black hair, juxtaposing her pale skin.

“I let the little one run to your house, darling,” the tall woman said, pressing a long pale and slender finger against Thomas’ lips. “Beg for your life when they arrive, Thomas. Beg for your life.”

Thomas nodded and the world went black.

That was the last day anyone ever heard or saw Thomas’ family.

Shortly after, Thomas was adopted by a strange, tall woman who rarely left her newly purchased home on the edge of town.

Thomas now works as an assistant at the corner store.

The previous owner vanished, along with the basement window.

Thanks for reading.


Post inspired by “Locket” by “Crumb.”

*I didn’t write the song or lyrics. Found them how I find everything else, random coincidence.Check them out.

Lyrics to “Locket”:

I live in a house with a tin roof and
Every time it rains I can feel my brain it’s
Moving back and forth, upside-down, east west
Feeling and remembering everything you do

I was up last night tossing and turning
Couldn’t get to sleep and I slept through the morning
Need to clear my head and get out of the city
All alone in the jungle you’ll find me

Close your eyes and hear my secret
Deep deep loving hear my secret
Hear my secret
Hear my secret

Sometimes I can hear the treble below me
Pounding through the floor, my body’s so restless
It lives in the basement below some boxes
Makes me feel so strange and so thoughtless

So maybe someday this roof will cave in
You’ll find me on the floor, looking at the stars
These walls are made of brick, plated in gold
But I’m still here, growing so old

Close your eyes and hear my secret
Deep, deep loving hear my secret
Hear my secret
Hear my secret

Close your eyes and hear my secret
Deep, deep loving hear my secret
Hear my secret
Hear my secret



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