Somewhere in America
A Horror Short Story
Teddy – Part Four
The inspector had been napping when the call came. Screams from the neighbor’s house.
“Yes, yes. 3112 Sycamore. Why that’s…. Thank you, I’ll be right over.”
He set down the receiver, his mind racing. Grabbing his jacket he ran out of the station. Something was going to get resolved tonight.
The Inspector got to the house fifteen minutes later. After banging on the door for several minutes he finally jimmied a window open and climbed through to find himself in a little study with a couple of bookshelves only half filled with books and other odds and ends.
He stepped out into the living room where he’d originally met Mr. Phillips. The light from the hall showed him nothing immediately amiss. The bottle of brandy he’d seen earlier was now nearly empty along with the glass on the coffee table. He walked up the stairs taking care to observe everything but noticing nothing out of the ordinary.
At the top one door stood open and one closed. He knew which was the father’s. He went to that one first, knocking, and when that didn’t work, entering. But Mr. Phillips wasn’t there. Back down the hallway he went toward the daughter’s room.
He looked around at the furnishings in the little room, so nicely organized. On the bed a neat line of stuffed animals sat staring at him. In their center was a little doll with a porcelain face. It looked like her face had been broken at one point and then put back together again. She seemed to be smiling at him. He smiled back.
Other than that there was nothing there. Nothing but a bed, a dresser and an old rocking chair sitting empty.
Then he noticed something else. Across the room stood a little girl’s vanity with a large mirror in the center, cracked down the center, half of it in pieces on the floor. On the edge of the mirror’s frame was a thick smear of blood. He looked closer. It ended in finger prints. A man’s finger prints.
He bent down to inspect the blood spattered shards on the floor when he was interrupted by a loud banging sound coming from downstairs and hurried down to see what it was. Through the living room and into the kitchen he went, stopping abruptly to stare at the back door, banging open and shut in the wind outside.
The wind had picked up since he had entered and must have slammed it shut only to have it catch on the lock. But it was the handle that got his attention. It was covered in blood.
He pushed the door open and stepped outside into the backyard. Above him thunder clouds were gathering for another attack. Looking about he saw nothing and was about to step back in when he noticed the streak on the side of the house. He took out his flashlight and looked closer.
More blood, smeared, as if the person had lost their balance and put their hand up to steady them self. Feeling the rain on his neck he pulled up his coat collar and followed the direction of the smear, soon finding more in the form of drops on the pavement of the driveway and smears on the open door of the shed. He started running.
The path was dark. He could just barely hear her up ahead, her tinkling laughter, her smiling eyes, calling to him, telling him to hurry.
“I am honey, I am,” he called back to the night, coughing something wet into his mouth as he ran, the wooden handle cool in his grip.
It was going to be alright now. It was going to be fine. Ahead in the moonlight he could see the first of the large stone slabs, silhouetted against the moonlit sky. He was almost there. Almost there.
The inspector arrived at the cemetery thirty minutes later. The gate was open and one bloody finger print told him who had been the one to open it.
He stepped through, looking about. His trail ended abruptly in the sparse grass and darkness. Huge trees grew up all about reaching their branches out to him like long fingers whose shadows rose and fell with the wind, reaching towards him.
His trail gone, he began walking up the little path, careful to avoid stones and roots in the dark. He remembered where the little girl’s grave was. Probably her father was there.
Several times as he walked he thought he heard voices ahead or to the side, once even behind him. Vague whisperings he could barely make out. But after the first few searches came to nothing he stopped following them.
It was probably the wind anyways, it had kicked up along with the rain and now all he heard was the quick pitter-patter of droplets landing heavily on the bare branches of the trees. A few minutes later he turned a corner, passing under the bough of a large oak tree, and saw up ahead the small hill on which she had been buried.
He stopped, squinting his eyes. There, outlined against the orange glow of the moon behind it, stood what looked to be a squat, little boy with a large round head. He was holding a shovel, much too large for him, patting a small mound of dirt in front of the girl’s grave. There was something strange about him, maybe the way he stood.
The boy seemed to sense the Inspector’s presence and turned toward him. The boy’s head was big, too big. A large circle with two small circles on the top of each side. The little boy stared at him for several seconds before going back to his work. The inspector started forward.
He left the path, intending to catch the boy before he could run off. But he forgot to watch for the stones and roots. Before he’d gone more than a few yards he found himself flat on the ground. He heard a crack in the distance, like the sound of wood breaking, and stood quickly, scanning the dark horizon.
But the little boy was gone. He walked more carefully now, picking his way through old, fallen over grave stones and tree roots covered in grass.
A few minutes later he arrived at the grave of the little girl. There was no one there now though the foot prints of a grown man lay all about. Where Mr. Phillips had gone he had no idea. He stared at the stone for several seconds, thinking, before he realized there was something different about it, different than when he had last seen it at the burial. It was hard to see in such darkness and he bent down to get a closer look.
There had a been a large cross etched into the front of it but now that seemed to have been carefully scraped away until there was nothing left of it. But that wasn’t what held his attention.
The name on the stone was gone. It had said the little girl’s name in large roman lettering. But that was gone now, chipped away. His skin grew cold as he read what was etched into that stone facing now.
Reaching out his fingers he traced the jagged letters in the cold stone, feeling a chill run up his spine.
He stood then, still staring down at it. Beside the freshly made mound on which he stood the shovel the strange little boy had been using lay broken.
From somewhere in the distance he could hear the high pitched tinkling laughter of a little girl and he looked around to see two small figures standing on a ridge a little ways off. They were holding hands.
Lightning flashed and he shielded his eyes. When he looked again they were gone.
He looked back down at the word scrawled on the tombstone. “Daddy.”
From below him, in a grave deeper than most, he could faintly hear what might have been the screams of a man. Or maybe it was just the wind.
This is the end of: Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story