I have a lot of headaches these days. Not the run-of-the-mill, I-drank-too-much-last-night, kind of headaches. No. Mine take on a life of their own; they possess me, fill my mind with shards of hot glass. They stroll in and dance around my skull like waves on the beach; each slap threatening to fracture the thin bone surrounding my brain.
It starts as a dull ache at the base of my neck and radiates outward into the muscles perched upon my clavicles. My husband’s feeble attempts to massage away the agony fail miserably. My pain monsters lord their control over me, flaunt their power and magnificence. I bow to them, worship their supremacy and pray to their authority; but they ignore me completely.
I’ve seen every specialist, submitted to the drum and throb of the MRI, and pushed the limit of my medical coverage. One doctor suggested that it’s all in my mind. You know what? I think she’s right.
I have these… visions. I hate saying it, even in the confines of my mind, but I can’t think of a better word. They creep into my periphery then flash across my eye like a streaker across a football field. Sometimes they are fleeting, so brief I wonder if I see them at all. Other times they project onto my retinas and play a feature-length movie.
Sometimes my images are ubiquitous, revolve around my daily activities. I see my son kick a soccer ball; his feet weave, in and out, around and back, teasing the ball down the field. The reel is changed and I see my husband standing in line at Starbucks, checking his watch, and sighing. Again, and I see my dog chest-deep in the trashcan at home.
The movies evolve along with my headaches. Each time I’m given a few more frames of the ending: my son is wrenched from a park bench, and a man wearing a plaid shirt walks into the coffee shop. Each time the movie starts from the beginning. This time it ends with an idling white panel van, and a blood splattered storefront window.
I call my husband and heave a sigh of relief when I hear his deep tenor, husky like the sound of sex. I love his voice. It calms me the tiniest bit.
“Are you all right?” My voice trembles. My heart hammers, keeping time with the pounding in my head.
“Yeah, except this line seems to be moving backwards, if that’s possible. What the hell is a skinny macchiato? ”
My sigh of relief must have been audible.
““Are you all right?” he asks.
“I guess so, just─ have you talked to Billy since you dropped him off at soccer practice?”
“No, he’s hitching a ride with Josh after practice. I’ll pick him up after work.”
“What kind of car does Josh drive?”
“A Ford. Pickup. Why?”
“Not a van?” I asked.
“No, no van. Why are you being weird?”
“I’m not being weird. You sure you’re all right?”
“I got to go. It’s my turn, finally.”
“Hey, watch out for the man in the plaid shirt.”
Silence greets me. My head is pounding like a jackhammer. There’s nothing I can do for my husband; he’s a big boy. My son, however, needs me. The vision flits past my eyes again; this time the van’s side door is open.
I grab my keys and jump in my car. The soccer field is about a mile away. Oh God, I have to make it there before─. The wheels squeal as I turn the corner into the park. My son is at the water fountain roughhousing with a couple soccer buddies. His uniform is streaked with grass stains, but he’s in one piece. I pull up next to him and motion for him to get in the car. With a roll of his eyes, he waves at his friends and hops in. As I pull away, I see a white van parked next to the bike rack.
My husband tells me a story when he gets home. Just as he was leaving Starbucks, a man robbed the place and killed a customer. My husband says blood sprayed all over the plate glass window. Then we heard the breaking news. Witnesses at the local soccer park saw a boy abducted by a man driving a white van.
Frames of a new movie unfold before my eyes. The headaches are getting worse.
For more of my horror flash fiction check these out:
Centerville, from Sanity’s Threshold
Charcoal, from Unconfined Delusions
Unconfined Delusions, Beyond the Threshold, contains snippets of fast-paced, twisted fiction mingled with short stories aimed to keep you on the edge of your seat. “Broken Heart” questions the morality of organ transplantation. “The Basement” corners you in a dank basement with the tools of torture openly displayed. “My Last Sixteen Hours” counts down the last minutes before execution. “Seeing Things” warns of a malignant aura wrapping its inky hands around your throat. “The Clutching” will send fingernails searching for a vein. Don’t let your guard down because the next story might bite.
The words slither across the page, feed on insecurities, and corrupt dreams. Savor the weird deliciousness but read with the lights on. The land of Happily Ever After doesn’t exist behind this cover.
Angela L. Lindseth’s first collection of flash fiction, Sanity’s Threshold, Slivers of a Twisted Mind, is available on Amazon.
The Basement: Awesome doesn’t begin to cover it! If this is a sample of your writing, where do I sign up! —K.B.
Unconfined Delusions, Beyond the Threshold
Sanity’s Threshold, Slivers of a Twisted Mind