Chapter 8

Written by: cindimp

Brent woke up crying. It startled Gretchen who was dozing fitfully. Her eyes darted to the hole in the wall. Shivers juddered her body. Gretchen picked up the screaming Brent and made her way to the kitchen. She put the baby in his bouncer and went to fill his bottle.

As she reached for the bottle, she saw Albert standing outside, peering through the kitchen window. His fixed position frightened Gretchen. The thought of what she had read in the file about Albert chilled her. He didn’t move. Brent’s crying had reached fever pitch. Gretchen gripped Brent’s bottle to her chest and took a step towards the kettle. The shrill ring of the phone jangled her. She dropped the bottle. It clattered on the floor and rolled away. She scooped it up. While blinking away tears, she reached to answer the phone. As she did, she remembered that Jennifer promised to call. Feeling a little foolish, she released a long sigh.

“Hello?” Her voice shook. She waited for the other voice on the end. Silence. “Hello?” she repeated her voice a little stronger. Still no answer. She tapped the cradle. It clicked into the stifling room. Still silence. Holding her breath, she looked out the window. Albert was gone.

Her body jerked, and the phone fell from her hand. The handset swung from its cord like a pendulum. Brent started screaming again, jolting her. She rushed to him. As she was picking him up, the doorbell rang. Gretchen put Brent back in his bouncer.

As she made her way to the door, Gretchen muttered a plea, ‘Please let that be Jennifer.’ Fear melted away as she told herself that the visitor was likely to be Jennifer. Calm settled over her and composed, she opened the door…. halfway. Her heart sank. No one was there. She stepped off the porch and searched the yard.

‘Who is there?’ she ventured.

Dread made her feel limp. On the balls of her toes she made her way to the front door, slid around the frame, and closed it firmly. The silence gripped her. She immediately thought of Brent and ran to the kitchen. Gretchen collapsed against the wall, her eyes wide with disbelief. Brent was gone.

She blinked. When she opened her eyes, Albert stood in front of her. Gretchen screamed and leapt away.  Albert moved with her and grasped Gretchen’s arm with his bony fingers. Gretchen started to struggle.

‘Let me go,’ she demanded.

Albert gripped her arm tighter. She tried to pull away but his hands were locked on her. Albert dragged her towards the basement.

Fighting him, Gretchen screamed. “Where’s my baby?”

Albert stopped so suddenly she was surprised. His eyes were wide. He was in a trance. Without speaking, he raised his arm and pointed towards the basement. Gretchen looked at him in horror. It was then, that she saw Grandma Whitaker at the top of the stairs. Albert caught Gretchen’s gaze and then dropped her arm.

Cindi Prewitt (USA)


Well, if we wanted some tension and drama we certainly got it here. The short clipped sentences and the unanswered telephone, the non speaking but staring Albert, and Grandma. Just two things, one - I think we had seen to many baby dissapering acts and two - the last paragraph, although its interpretation is clear, is confusing in the way it is written. The whole piece reeks of a frightening experience.(well done) Although it does not move the story along any faster it does move the story into a position where we can see opportunities for several endings. Overall, you got my vote Cindi. 500 words of a scene I could see clearly.
Fast-paced sentencing, dire conditions. Beautiful stuff for the full-on sprint to the finish of a horror story. I would have liked some more colorful verbs - but that's asking a lot in a quick turn-around of 2 days.  I agree with Ray about the last paragraph - and here's why. There's so much description of Albert being in a trance and then he caught her eye? How? Why? I realize that's your cliffhanger, but I feel you could have taken that extra step. I also felt that a new mother, being that afraid, wouldn't have put her child down for anything once things started going crazy. All in all, Cindi, you did a fantastic job. Great writing skills. I look forward to seeing your stuff from now on!
It isn't the verbs that have me going. I'm going to have to go over it again and figure out what it is. Just wanted to let you know this part now. And apologize for jumping to the wrong assumption early.  
I found the scene very well written. I agree with you all about the short heart-pumping sentences that got the adrenaline rushing. The one thing that Annette picked up on and I agree with is I don't think Gretchen would have left her baby to answer the door given the state she was in. Exciting reading.