Fear Today, Gone Tomorrow – Matt Roberts

MattFor the first time in her life, Caitlin was spending time away from home. To spend less time traveling to school, she got herself an apartment near the university on the third floor in an old converted Victorian house.

Scott, one of the three guys living on the first floor, told her the landlord was typically “slow to get things done” and that he had been renovating the unoccupied, second floor, for well over a year.

Caitlin didn’t mind. The parts of the house she had seen were very nice and well kept. Her apartment was huge and at times felt like a little too much space for just her.

One night after a hectic week, Caitlin decided she was going to do a little relaxing, which wasn’t something she normally did. She wasn’t into parties or even really socializing. Focused on her grades, she always spent her time studying. The stack of school books on her dining room table, beside stacks of term papers and homework were proof of that.

She picked out a movie and went to the kitchen for a glass of wine. As she was putting the bottle back in the fridge, she heard a clatter behind her. Caitlin spun around and discovered the corkscrew, which she had placed on the counter, was now in the middle of the floor. She picked it up and put it back on the counter.

Ten minutes into the movie a sound from the kitchen caught her attention. She paused the movie and went into the kitchen to discover the corkscrew on the floor again. This time she put it in the drawer.

She sighed heavily and trotted back to the couch. She flopped down and pressed play on the remote. She flung her arm over the back of the couch, remote still in hand, and took a long drink from the wine.

Robert De Niro was begging Bradley Cooper to sit down and watch the game with him when Caitlin felt something grab her hand behind the couch. The shock made her drop the remote and she screamed, nearly spilling her wine as she leapt up.

Her heart pounded away in her chest, and she searched the large open room with her wide, staring eyes. The couch was placed in the middle of the room, sectioning half of it into a living room, while behind it was the dining room. Despite the entire room being well lit, she saw nothing. Whatever it was had to still be behind the couch.

Caitlin crept around it cautiously, and she leaned forward to get a view behind it. Nothing was there. Confused and terrified, she sped into the dining room and looked at the back of the couch again. Nothing was there, not even the remote. She glanced quickly down the hall toward the rest of the apartment and still saw nothing.

She flew down the stairs and nearly out the front door before being stopped by Mike, another of the guys living on the first floor.

“Woah, hey! What’s the hurry?” Getting a good look at the terror on her face and paleness of her skin he added, “Jesus, you look like you saw a ghost.”

Trembling, she responded, “Is that what it was?”

Mike took the wine glass from her hand, which she didn’t realize she was still clinging onto, and lead her to the couch in his living room where Scott and Kevin were both sitting and watching her. Scott jumped up and let her have his place.

She told them what happened and after a bit of laughing at how she probably had too much to drink, they calmed her down and recommended she stay with them until she felt able to go back upstairs, if she wanted to at all.

After watching a comedy about a guy living with his Grandma, Caitlin felt better and was ready to go back to her place. The three guys escorted her. When she opened her door she saw her apartment was a mess.

Her school books and papers were off of the table and all over the floor. The drawers in the kitchen were open, their contents all over the floor there. The fridge was standing open, the wine bottle sat alone inside it, everything else now lay on the floor with the silverware.

The screen on her TV was blue, and she noticed the movie was sitting in the DVD tray, ejected. She found her remote sitting on the couch.

Finding the rest of the apartment untouched, the guys helped her clean up the mess and went home.

A few uneventful nights later, Caitlin laid in bed and thought about an upcoming test. She had studied and felt ready for it, but she was still unsure. She sighed, opened her eyes, and noticed something out of the ordinary.

Coming in from under her closed bedroom door was a light. She sat up and wondered to herself if she had forgotten to turn off all of the lights before bed. That was impossible. She had a routine. She always turned lights off, it was how she was brought up.

Caitlin slid out of bed and opened her door slowly, peering out through the crack to see if anybody was in her apartment. Seeing nobody, she opened the door further and stepped out into the hall. The main light, the one over the living/dining room was on. She switched on the hall light with the switch next to her bedroom door, and made her way out to turn off the main light. She flipped the switch next to the front door and the entire apartment went dark.

Caitlin spun around and saw the hall light was off. “Dammit!” she yelled, trying to tell herself the bulb blew out, or the electric went out for whatever logical reason, but a look to the entertainment stand showed her the DVD player was still on. The time, 12:14 AM, was glowing brightly on its display. “Damn bulb!” she insisted.

She made her way back to her bedroom when she noticed the switch next to her door was off. She flipped it and the light came on. The hair on the back of her neck stood, and she felt the presence of something behind her. Caitlin turned and discovered the main room light was on again. “Stop messing with me!” she screamed, and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. She dove into bed and covered herself completely with the blankets.

She got very little sleep that night, and what sleep she did get was harassed by terrible dreams. The next morning she awoke and reluctantly left her bedroom. The lights were both off, but again her apartment was in shambles. Everything was all over the floor, and her couch was turned onto its back. Tears fell from her eyes as she went to find her phone.

Caitlin called her mom and asked if she could move back home. She wouldn’t say why, only that she would later. Her mom quickly agreed and said she would send her dad to get her immediately. Caitlin hung up the phone and went to the spare room to get empty boxes, which she placed on her bed in her bedroom.

She heard a scratch, and she froze, listening. The scratching grew louder as Caitlin slowly turned, to discover it was coming from inside her closet.

“Okay, I just need to get some clothes. Please.” A tear formed in her eye as fear gripped her body.

She placed a shaking hand on the doorknob. The scratching stopped. She slowly opened the door and looked in, seeing nothing. Suddenly a group of gnarled hands shot out, grabbed her, and pulled her into the closet. The door slammed shut behind her.

~~~~~

Matt Roberts writes creepy stuff year round. For more of his short stories, check out his site at officialmattroberts.com! You can also follow him on Twitter @MattRoberts29 or on Facebook – facebook.com/officialmattroberts

Get his zombie novel here –
http://www.amazon.com/Hand-One-Is-Dealt-ebook/dp/B0086FYQLA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1338077711&sr=1-1

Cold Glass of Grief – Matt Roberts

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Robert Vanguard was a cranky old cuss. Seventy-eight and in failing health, he refused to go to a nursing home, rather, he insisted on being cared for by his only son, William.

William was thirty-six and loved his father very much. But as much as he loved his father, he hated the way the old man ran him around by constantly calling out to him, “William! Bring me some oatmeal!” or “William, I need to be changed!” More often than not, the old man would also bang his cane on the floor while he yelled. This bothered William to no end. With every rap of the cane, with every call and demand, William slowly but surely began resenting the old man.

William didn’t have much of a life, which he longed for. Before his father fell ill, he had a great job, great friends and met plenty of women. He worked hard and partied harder. When Robert got to where he couldn’t take care of himself, William gave up his life to devote it to his father.

He didn’t mind because he loved his father. Before he fell ill, the two had a decent enough relationship. But after Robert became in need of live-in assistance to help him do things he could always do on his own before, he grew cranky and he took it out on everyone. It got to the point where nobody stopped by anymore to see either of the men. Robert’s nasty attitude kept everyone away, and his constant demands kept his son too busy for company of his own.

One night after his father had gone to sleep, William decided he would drink. He didn’t get to do it often enough anymore, but he needed it. He needed some sort of break. Even though his father was a restless sleeper and often woke in the night, William risked it to have just one night for himself.

He sat alone in the study of his father’s large house and drank from a bottle of his father’s aged Brandy while listening to the thoughts in his head. Thoughts of how his life used to be versus how it was now. Depressed and liquored up with the bottle half gone, William began to fall asleep, hoping for dreams of a life without his bossy old man. Just as he started to snore, his father banged his cane on the floor and yelled out, “William! William! Bring me some milk!”

William shot up in his seat, the room spinning around his head.

“William! Bring me my milk now!”

William took a large drink from the bottle and stood on shaky legs. He groaned and stumbled through the dark house into his father’s bedroom where his father was laying in bed, banging his cane on the floor next to it.

When Robert saw his son was drunk he grew angry. “You’ve always been a no good drunk! Were you drinking my liquor? I know you were, because you’ve been using me for my money all this time! Bring me my milk!”

William was enraged. How dare he say that? William gave up his life to help his father. He never asked for this, to be an unappreciated slave. He grabbed his father by his bed shirt and lifted him up, causing Robert to drop his cane on the floor. “How can you say that dad? How?”

Robert was shocked at his son’s audacity and he began beating on William’s shoulders with his fists. William stumbled and he stepped on his father’s cane, which caused him to fall backwards. He held on tighter to his father in a desperation for balance, but he fell anyway. As he did, he pulled his father out of bed and they both crashed to the floor. William landed on his back with a thud, knocking the air out of his lungs. Robert came down next to him, head first onto the floor. William quickly gasped for air in a drunken panic until he became light-headed. Paired with the adrenaline and booze flowing through him, that was all it took, and he passed out.

The following morning William awoke with such a hangover! His head was pounding and his back was stiff and sore. The room spun around him when he opened his eyes and the dim light coming in through the window was enough to blind him. He moaned his displeasure and held his head with both hands, hoping for some stability, but none would come.

Finally he felt as if he could move, so he looked around to figure out where he was, since he clearly wasn’t in his familiar room. Just then he noticed his dad lying next to him on the floor with a puddle of blood under his head.

William sat up quickly, and again the room spun around him. He felt as if he might vomit. He took a moment to steady himself and then focused on his dad until finally the realization hit him.

“Oh god… oh god no…”

William searched his father for a pulse but found none. He wasn’t sure if he did it right, so he tried shaking his father awake. That’s when he saw his father’s eyes, wide open and staring across the room. His mind raced and William felt again as if he might vomit.

That’s when the second realization set in. Suddenly his thoughts all settled down and he focused on one particular idea. His father was dead. William was now free. Free from a life of agony and torment from his ungrateful father. He was no longer bound by his father’s chain. He could get his life back on track and be happy again.

“Poor Dad… he fell out of bed during the night and…” A smile grew upon William’s face. He began to laugh to himself, quietly at first. He was finally rid of the old man. His heart ached over his loss, but more so, excitedly beat away in his chest at the prospect of reclaiming the life he once had.

William got to his feet quickly, the pain in his body doing nothing to slow him down. He ran out of the room and found a phone. He dialed the morgue to let them know what had happened and to have them send someone out to collect the body to prepare it for the funeral.

As he dialed, he suddenly remembered bits of the previous night and the dialing stopped. He had ripped his father from his bed in a drunken rage. His father was powerless to defend himself. What had he done? William’s mind raced again and he set the phone back in the cradle. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t pretend as if nothing had happened. He had to do what was right by his father, and be true to himself. He picked up the phone again, only this time he dialed the police.

The phone rang, and rang again. William heard the phone pick up on the other end and there was a shuffle. Finally there was a groan and he heard his father’s voice. “William, you killed me William! You’re such a drunk! Such a horrible drunk!”

William’s jaw dropped. “No dad! I didn’t mean to! Honest! I love you dad! I’m so sorry!”

“William! You putz! You’re going to Hell for what you did to me! You can never be rid of me!”

William dropped the phone and fell to his knees, holding his hands over both ears while he sobbed. He could still hear his father on the phone yelling at him for a moment and then the line went dead.

After another moment William opened his eyes and stopped breathing. He listened but couldn’t hear a thing. Other than the beating of his own heart inside his chest, all was silent. William reached for the phone and just before he could pick it up he heard his father’s cane smacking against the floor in his bedroom.

“William! Bring me my milk!”

 *****

Matt Roberts writes stuff sometimes, and it’s usually of the horror
variety. You can get his book here
or you can check out his website and read some free short stories at
officialmattroberts.com. He also has a Twitter
and a Facebook page.