Here is a short story I wrote. It is my attempt at a writing prompt that Chuck Wendig put up on his website last week.
And so, without further ado, I present:
The Chocolatier’s Widow
David’s badge fell to the street as he leaned over to examine the abandoned toy car laying in a puddle. With an evidence bag inverted over his hand he picked up the toy. He wondered if it had been left here by Simon Travnikov, the boy who had gone missing three days ago. He picked up his badge and polished it on his blue jeans before clipping it back to his leather belt next to his gun holster. The boy had last been seen only three blocks from David’s current location and this was his second time through to try and scrounge up anything he could from the area and it’s residents.
David walked over and tossed the evidence bag into the seat of his squad car. He would give it to the lab once he got back to the precinct. David had already knocked on most of the doors on this block and was going to move on to the next. But now that he’d found the toy he had made up his mind to at least check with the house this particular piece of curb belongs to.
The evening sun disappeared behind the aged house as he walked towards it. The chimney and pointed roof stabbed into the sky while a Victorian trimmed front porch hugged the front of the house. David walked up the steps and across the porch to the door. The boards creaked under each step. He lifted his arm to press the door bell and was about to push it when a gust of wind came through and caused the bench swing hanging to the left to sway and it’s chain links to creak. He looked over and for a brief moment he saw a small boy standing in the grass off the edge of the porch staring at David. The swing swayed between them.
“Hello. Do you live here?” David asked as he started to kneel down to one knee. He did not dare to move toward the boy, as the boy seemed a little skittish. “I was wondering if you know a Simon Travnikov. His parents are looking for him.”
The boy nodded slightly just before a look of fear overtook his face. The door behind David had opened.
“Can I help you sir?” An older lady’s voice came from the doorway.
David stood and turned to face the old woman at the door. She was a little short and wore a long skirt and a fading purple blouse. Her hands had a slight tremor and were daintily held one inside the other in front of her waist.
“Yes Ma’am. Yes you can. I’m investigating the disappearance of a small boy. Is this your grandson over here? I would like to…” David had glanced over toward the boy, but no one was there. “Well, where did he run off to?”
“Oh no, I have no grandchildren. My husband and I never had children of our own.”
“Oh, well then. I’m Officer David Billings. And you are?” He reached out his hand in greeting.
“I’m Thelma Balmer.” Said Themla not moving to shake his hand.
“Is Mr. Balmer here as well?”
“He’s dead Officer Billings. Two years gone now.”
“I do apologize ma’am. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Mrs. Balmer thought this over for a moment. “No, that would be fine. Can you come in though? I can’t stand for too long at a time.”
David followed the elderly woman into her darkened house. There didn’t seem to be any lights on, the only light was in the sitting room just to the right of the entrance, and that light was only the slight glow that made it through the thick multi-layered curtains. She stepped behind David and shut the door. “We must keep that heat outside. Feel free to take a seat in the front room. I’ll get us some chocolates.”
“No need ma’am, this will only take a few minutes…”
She was already off to the kitchen. She was soon back with a small silver tray covered in chocolate truffles which she set on top of a crocheted doily on the coffee table.
“They still bring me treats from my husband’s shop most days. Elmer perfected these treats before he passed on and they still make them down there. Of course they still come up here a couple times a week to pick up Elmer’s secret ingredient. I still guard that well for Elmer. They have to come get it from me.”
David picked up one of the truffles and bit in. He did not want to be rude or anything. It tasted wonderful and had an amazing texture in the center; smooth as silk, yet thick and just on the edge of becoming too thick. “Thank you ma’am. That was amazing.”
“They’re passable, almost not worthy to be sold from my husbands sweet shop. But they are passable.” She sat in an aged rocking chair to the right of the couch David sat in. She rocked back in forth, lost in her own thoughts.
“Well, Mrs. Balmer, as I said I’m investigating a missing child. His name is Simon Travnikov. He is about seven years old and was last seen around this neighborhood about three days ago.”
“Yes, Stephan’s boy. Haven’t seen him around here in a month or so though. He loves the chocolates.” She continued to rock.
“I won’t waste any more of your time then. I’ll see myself out.” He stood and was frozen in place mid stand. Across the hall from the sitting room were two children staring at him from the kitchen. One was the boy he saw outside and the other was Simon Travnikov. They were not moving and there was no color to them. A steam slowly wafted from the top of them both.
“Well, I think that has been quite enough of that.” Mrs. Balmer stopped rocking and clapped twice. “Snookums, please come down stairs.”
David was about to speak when a sizeable white cat came bounding down the stairs and the children blew away as if they were smoke dissipated by the wind. David was dumbfounded and his butt found the couch again. The cat mewed a couple times as it stared at David. It’s tail flicked from side to side as it crouched down tensing all of its muscles.
“Mrs. Balmer, I really think I should be going now.”
“Just put him in the curing room Snookums.” She snapped her fingers. The light that had come through the curtains was now gone except for an orange glow. The glow was coming from the cat. But it was no longer a cat.
There stood a skeleton of a cat with a fire buring within its rib cage. Its limbs and tail were made of barbed wire and it’s skull was bright red. Its wire limbs and tail grew longer as it took lengthening strides towards me. It stood on top coffee table when it stopped and its tail whipped and wrapped around my right leg. The barbs dug into flesh as the wire pulled tighter and tighter. Mrs. Balmer just picked up her crochet hooks and thread as David screamed in pain. Blood streamed down over his leg and foot as the wire spun and drug the barbs deeper and deeper into his leg.
He tried to get away but the cat held him down with another long wire appendage. He grabbed his gun and fired multiple shots into the cat’s face before more wire wrapped around his wrist and sqeezed until he dropped the gun. The tail continued to wind around his leg, he could feel the leg vibrate as the barbs began to saw through the bone.
David’s will gave out as he slumped down onto the couch unable to continue the fight. A flurry of barbed wire grabbed his body and drug him off the couch and than across the floor circumnavigating the coffee table. He could not turn his head as he was pulled through the room, but he could see Mrs. Balmer still rocking in her chair as he passed by. He could hear the click of her crochet needles as she continued working on a small doily.
“That’s a good girl. There should be a spot open in the curing room. Just put him in there, Snookums.”
Then the needle work stopped. David could still see Mrs. Balmer and just on the edge of his field of vision was David’s gun. It was held by a small child’s hand and was pushed closer and closer to Mrs. Balmer’s face.
Her lip began to quiver. “Now Simon, there will be no treats for any of you tonight if you don’t stop this nonsense. None at all.”
The gun surged forward another inch.
The cat dove to try and grab the gun and David’s face rolled facing the floor just before the gun went off. The crochet needles and the half finished doily landed next to David’s face. Spots of blood blemished the spidery white pattern. He heard the gun hit the floor soon after and all of the barbed wire dissipated into the air around him. David then passed out.
Officer David Billings refused to talk about everything that happened in that house to the other detectives or the councilors. Every time he was close to recounting events from the Balmer residence he broke out in a sweat and went into convulsions before passing out.
Reports started airing on the news channels about how vials of the secret ingredient in Elmer’s famous truffles had been found in the basement. Mrs. Thelma Balmer had continued to collect the bone marrow of children even after Elmer passed away. At final count they were able to pin 15 disappearances over the past year on the chocolatier’s widow.
David lost both his right leg and his taste for chocolate on that investigation. And every night before falling asleep he whispers thanks to Simon for saving the rest his body.