For a special Halloween theme post, I challenged myself to write a horror story as a short story. The specific challenge was to make the reader gasp or get chills in as short of a story as possible. So please enjoy… Muuuuwhahaha!
The meeting dragged on as the white-haired, stiff collared man muddled through a power point presentation he obviously had help creating. It was obvious that his technical help was not present at this meeting. Colorful pie charts about sales demographics we accompanied by half-witted jokes. Brian couldn’t help his mind from wandering.
It wandered from the pie chart of women in their 30’s to his wife. She would be arriving at airport security right about now and he wondered if she would be one of the 9.7% of women her age to buy their product in an airport. His mind wandered from his wife’s travel to her birthday, from her birthday to his struggle to find a present for the perfect wife and mother. His mind wandered from the present to their daughter. This was a common landing-place for his day dreams. He could feel the weight of her as she fell asleep on his chest, slowly rising and falling with each breath. He could smell her hair freshly dried after bath time. He could hear her laughter as the tickle monster caught her. In his most stressful moments he could always see her eyes light up with joy and this could always lighten his burden. She was his favorite thought.
Brain snapped back to the room as the white-haired man finally landed a joke and the conference room laughed together. Brian squeezed out brief ‘Ha,’ to not reveal how far his mind had wandered. He readjusted in his chair and looked down at the notes on his legal pad. Our sales are strong with male teens in convenience store and older women in super markets. Yup he got it all written down. He wished for a break in the monotony, but not the one he would get.
His large black phone sat idle on the yellow legal pad. It was the custom for sales staff to have their phones out during meetings with their ringers turned to silent. That way the meeting would not be constantly interrupted by buzzing and ringing, but the sales staff wouldn’t miss any urgent emails or calls. Heaven forbid they wait an hour to respond to a potential sale.
A picture message popped up silently on his phone. The luminescent screen caught the corner of his eye and drew his blank stare away from the presentation. His daughter and her beautiful brown hair arranged in a crown around her head as she lay fast asleep in her bed. Her hair looked a little too short for his liking. The day before he told the hair dresser not to take off too much for her first real hair cut. She had, but his little angel had been so brave sitting in the salon chair. The picture was a nice surprise as his nanny was not in the habit of sending pictures.
Brian’s eyes had only passed over the message and were now back to the presentation. He processed a slice of a new pie chart before it clicked in his head and his eyes short back to his phone. Immediately there was no saliva left in his mouth and he found himself standing with his chair toppled over behind him. All the eyes in the conference room were on him. His eyes were on his phone, fixed on the number that sent the picture, a number he did not recognize.