The murderer’s rage had ended. Cissy and another victim lay beside each other in the little space under the floorboards.
“Do you think he’s gone?” Cissy whispered.
“I think so,” the other victim, a man, replied.
Both their bodies lay supine, still, and stiff, eyes staring up at the cracks between the floorboards.
“By the way,” the man told her, “I’m Thomas.”
“I’m Cissy,” she said.
Day faded from the room above them, and it was darker than she’d ever remembered darkness, there under the floor.
But she and Thomas told each other things, their whispers like the rustlings of beetles along the walls.
“I’ve heard the moon likes to wear velvet dresses. So that’s all darkness is.”
“Once upon a time, some ants gathered together for a feast, and danced all through the night. They decided to create an empire, and so they did, and ruled it well – until one day a giant anteater came and ate them all up.”
Day came, then night, then day, then night, over and over. Cissy could see Thomas out of the corner of her eye. One day, she realized something, and gasped. He’d changed. And she knew that she’d changed as well.
“Oh God,” she whispered. There was no way tears could run down her cheeks.
Their bodies were peeling and pickling and flaking into nothing. Their lips had curled up and disappeared, like dry, folded leaves. Their uncovered teeth shone dully in the light that came through the cracks in the floorboards.
Thomas’s eyes became holes with thin, brown, parched tissue inside. Their nails grew a bit. Their hair grew a bit. The bugs ate their skin.
One day, she couldn’t bear it. They were barely skin, mostly just bones.
“We’re beautiful,” he told her softly. His hand could not move to take her hand. “We’ve made whole universes down here in our minds. We’ve laughed and talked. We’ll continue to dissolve together, our bones will draw closer, and one day, we will be dust mingling together eternally.
“I love you, Cecilia, my partner in death.”
She was quiet, thinking about it all for a long time.
Thomas settled his bones even more.
But, suddenly somehow she found the power to reach up her hands. And she pried up the floorboards, and suddenly she was out in the big living room of the house where they’d been murdered years before. Her flesh was coming back to her. Her blood was coming back to her. She gasped in wild joy.
And then she was running, as she always ran, and she couldn’t stop, and all the dirt and dust that had settled on her flew away like birds startled out of sleep.
This week's Fiction Weekend prompt was : A character enters an old house and finds something under the floorboards. What does he/she find, and what happens next? This weekend has started out to be pretty hectic; we're planning and setting up the house for our belated Halloween party tonight. I remembered this old short story that I wrote years ago as part of a bigger project. It sort of goes with the prompt...
If you'd like to check out the other Fiction Weekend stories, or would like to participate yourself (and everyone's welcome!), feel free to check out The OS Weekend Fiction Club blog. You can read the stories or post your own here.