Download story as PDF.

Preview:

“999”

by J. McDougald

Stevie’s pedal bike squeaked to a stop in front of the old Keller place as the twelve year old saw the police cruiser turn off the street and onto its cracked and garbage-strewn driveway. The boy looked towards the long abandoned two story home for a sign of why they were there but everything looked normal. Well as normal as it ever did. The lawn was somehow both dead and overgrown, the paint faded and starting to peel, the roof peppered with leaves from the surrounding trees. The old Keller house looked just how it always looked. Alone. Dead. Forgotten.

His friend Graham skidded to a stop right beside him. That morning they were on their way to a friends to play a new video game, but it could wait. This might be something cool.

“Watcha think they’re doin’ Steve-oh?”

“I dunno, but I’m gonna stick around,” Steven replied.

“I bet they’re looking for Adam’s heart. I heard when they found him his guts were splattered all over the place, but they never found his heart.”

Stevie turned to his friend. “Whatever! My dad said that Adam kid was drunk and fell over a railing and broke his neck.”

“So? Your dad’s not a cop, Matt’s dad is a cop and that’s what Matt told me.” Graham paused for a moment and they both just watched the two cops walk up to the front door. “So are you comin’ or what?”

“I’m gonna hang out here, see what’s goin’ on.”

“Alright, see ya later,” his friend said as he rode away.

All the houses around 165 East were normal, actually they were some of the nicest homes in town. Stevie’s dad told him it was because most people were afraid to live next to a house with a reputation like that, so people that weren’t afraid could get property dirt cheap. His Dad’s friend Barry owned the house two doors down and said he’d never seen or heard a single strange thing from that old house. The only down side was having to live next to such an eye-sore. Stephen’s Dad had asked why they didn’t buy the place themselves and tear it down.

“Are you crazy?” Barry had replied. “Do you have any idea what that would do to our taxes?”

#

“Should we knock or just bust on in?” the twenty-seven year old police officer said with a mischievous grin.

“I think we’ll just go in Ernie,” his partner said like a parent dealing with an unruly child.

“Come on Joel, you gotta lighten up. Hell we could sneak in real quiet and scare the livin’ shit out of those kids if they’re still in there.”

Joel didn’t reply, just stared back at the much younger man with one eyebrow cocked. Ernie stared right back for a moment, grinning like the kid he in many ways still was. I wasn’t that young when I was ten.

Finally Ernie cracked, the smile vanished and he turned towards the heavy wood door. “You’re about as fun as a splinter in the eye, boss.”

Joel chuckled. “Splinter in the eye huh?”

“You like that? Right off the top of my head.” He turned to the older officer. “That’s how genius works.” Ernie waited for Joel’s new round of chuckles to stop then tipped his head towards the door. “Care to dance?”

“Just open the damn door, Ernie.”