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Twist Chapter 16

11/17/13

  11:39:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1170 words  
Categories: Twist

Twist Chapter 16

I didn't sleep. I tried, mind you. But I could hear them moving outside the house, and scratching at the windows. I saw shapes, blurry, but humanoid, casting impossible shadows across the wall. I told myself I was hallucinating- that he?s seen far, far worse in my time, but I couldn?t quite make myself believe it; I never really could.

The door still wouldn't lock, and that meant that every subtle creak of the old house made my eyes burst open, and my muscles tense. I slept with an old tee ball bat next to me. Hanah hated when I did that- she said me sleeping with the bat made her feel less safe, because we might need it. Under these circumstances, I could maybe see her point.

I checked the mail when I woke up. I knew it was ridiculously optimistic to think that my part would show, but as much as anything I was looking for an excuse not to have to go into work. So I got myself ready and went to work, largely because I had nothing else to do with myself.

The morning passed uneventfully, and then it was lunch time.

I started walking back home. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation. Or maybe I'd just come round the bend- been so deeply, deeply depressive, that when the last shoe fell it bumped me back into being able to be hopeful. Whatever the cause, I started to wonder if Hanah might be home. Maybe she'd had a trip, gone home to see some of her family, or even maybe some late-year equivalent to Spring Break.

It was certainly possible. I'd never had a good memory. And even young as I still felt like I was, I knew it had only gotten worse. So maybe.

But that maybe was enough that I started to run. But not like I'd run home the night before, this was running like Leroy did in the snow. Running made the air feel cooler, but that wasn't enough to make me slow down.

My heart raced when I saw lights on in the house. I ran through the house, towards the kitchen, without even slowing down. ?You?re late,? a woman said as I rounded the corner. It took my brain a moment to process, and I saw her at the same moment I recognized my grandmother's voice.

?Didn't know we had a standing engagement,? I said, trying to hide my disappointment.

?Then I guess I've no choice but to forgive you,? she said, trying to hide that she saw it, anyway. I sighed, too heavily for her to just ignore. ?What's wrong?? she asked.

?Something's happened with Hanah. I just know it. She's been gone too long. And no one I've tried to get ahold of can help, either. And perhaps what's worst is, because of what happened to Jim, it's hard for me not to assume that I might have had a hand in whatever happened to her.?

?You?? she asked at first. ?What do you think happened with Jim?? I couldn't meet her gaze. ?You didn't have anything to do with what happened. Jim left us.? Effie smiled. ?That night, it became clear that we were a family- a family he was no longer a part of. You didn?t hurt him. You could barely drag that gun along. How would you have fired it??

When she said, ?He left,? I got the sneaking suspicion she meant she told him that she owned guns, and had more than enough land that no one would ever find the body- not that anyone would come looking for him.

I felt better after that. Maybe Hanah was still missing, but now so was my conviction that I had anything to do with her disappearance. It lifted a weight from my shoulders, at least that creeping certainty- for the moment. I knew that that the absence of evidence wasn't evidence of absence- just because I hadn't killed Jim, didn't mean Hanah was safe.

I felt lighter on the walk back to work. And despite the conversation with Gram, I was actually early- though I realized it was because I hadn't eaten anything. But I did remember to grab a granola bar and a carrot, so at least I wasn't going to starve.

I had enough time, I decided to take a detour. I knew that the courthouse was only a few blocks down from my office. And I thought that the police station was somewhere in that same area, too. I still hadn't heard back from them, which felt strange to me. It was way past the dumb 24 hour waiting period, so they had to be interested in her case. And I'm sure I didn't know the process well enough to have given them all the information they needed.

Sure enough, a large sign pointed me in the direction of the station. It was a humble-looking building, not terribly different from the office my work shared with a dentist, only it was just one floor. I tried the front door, and it didn't budge. I looked inside, but it was dark, and empty. I didn't see anything about posted hours- but it was strange to me that the station would ever be closed.

But that didn't matter. I didn't have time to stand around contemplating. I had to get back to work.

I somewhat overestimated the rest of the walk, so I ended up at work ten minutes before my lunch was supposed to end. That meant I got to leave early. So it was a ways before nightfall when I got back home. She wasn't there- neither Gram nor Hanah. But that was okay.

I checked my phone. It was odd that I hadn't gotten any messages- not from Minnie, not from the police.

But it made me happier, that wherever Hanah was, at least she had Leroy to take care of her. She loved the hell out of that dog. I wasn't even much of a dog person, but I did, too. Everyone did. Even Alan- and he hated dogs, particularly dogs living in his house.

I slept all right, thinking of Hanah and Leroy at least having each other- and maybe aided by the fact that I wasn't a murderer.

At least, until I heard movement outside the house. It started subtle, the scraping of the willow branches along the edge of the roof, jostled by the wind. Then I saw shaped, blurry, but humanoid, casting impossible shadows across the wall. I heard tapping and scratching at the windows. Some of the locks were too old, or too painted-over to latch- one swift tug and they could be inside. Which ignored the fact that I hadn't been able to get the front door locked in days- I hadn't even tried when I got home tonight.

I told myself I was hallucinating. I'd seen far, far worse in my time; but I couldn?t quite make myself believe that- I never really could.

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