Short Fiction: 32 Clarence Street

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5:15 A.M, a police car pulled up to the leaf-covered driveway, it was a foggy day. The perfect kind of day for a call like that. Officer Smith had heard stories about this location before; everyone had their own version of what happened in that house when the sun went down. Town gossip had it that the big home had been newly renovated to attract potential buyers but the real estate agent was lying. Whoever bought that house, also bought the powerful force that was said to have resided there.

People claimed strange noises could be heard from the house by passers-by, terrifying the bravest dogs in town as they walked with their masters at night. Teenagers wouldn’t dare prank that house at Halloween; they claimed shadows could be seen in the windows. That house had been unoccupied since the murders had happened.

There is no longer a “for sale” sign pegged on the overgrown front lawn. Officer Smith wondered how long it would be before the Dawns moved out. The last owners didn’t survive more than a month as rumors spread about unexplainable things happening and they put 32 Clarence Street up for sale.

He stepped out of his car and closed the door. The cool wind blew giving him a chill. He closed up his jacket and pulled the zipper up as he slowly walked toward the front of the house. The wood creaked as he stepped his weight down on the wooden stairs. He reached for the doorbell and pressed his finger on the lit up white button. He could hear the sound of the doorbell chime echoing within the house, it sounded so empty but people had just moved in days before.

He could hear footsteps coming toward the door from the inside. He could feel the sweat begin to bead across his brow; he was an officer of the law, why was he so damn nervous? The door slowly creaked as it opened and Mrs. Dawn’s bright eyes met his. She smiled sweetly. She looked very well put-together for this time of the morning. Officer Smith cleared his throat and adjusted his jacket.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Dawn, I don’t mean to bother you so early in the morning but we had a call about some noises coming from your house. I’m just here to make sure everything is okay with you and your daughter.” he recited exactly what he was trained to say on these disturbance calls. After all, it was probably nothing.

“Well, that’s unusual. Emilia and I have been asleep. I’m sure if there was a serious disturbance in my own house, I would be the first to be calling you!” she smirked as she taunted Officer Smith.

“You didn’t hear anyone screaming? Anyone in distress perhaps?” asked Officer Smith as he doodled on his notepad pretending to look like he was doing something really important.

“Screaming? Oh, yes. That. Emilia has been experiencing nightmares since her father left. The poor thing can’t handle the stress of having to move. We must have had the windows open. I’m so sorry anyone had to hear that.” said Mrs. Dawn, placing her hand on her chest as if she was about to lose her breath. Officer Smith felt somewhat like a jerk for questioning Mrs. Dawn like that but he needed to confirm all of this to speak to Emilia. It was all part of his protocol.

“I thought you just said you were both asleep?” Officer Smith questioned further. Something felt off but he just couldn’t bring himself to believe she wasn’t telling the entire truth. “I woke up an hour ago. I don’t sleep well these days,” she said. Officer Smith needed more information. He wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

“Is she awake? Would I be able to speak to Emilia?” he asked trying to look around Mrs. Dawn in an attempt to get a glimpse of what could have been going on inside that house. Mrs. Dawn leaned on the door frame, closing the door a few inches with her foot. She was trying not to make things too obvious, it was bad enough a nosy neighbor called him. She couldn’t let anyone know what was going on, everyone would think she was crazy.

“I’m sorry Officer, it would be better if you came back at another time.” Mrs. Dawn came outside for a moment and stood in front of him. “After spending half of the night awakened by night terrors I’d rather let her rest,” she said with a nod.

“Of course, I understand. I can come by later on today if that’s alright,” he said and turned to leave. Mrs. Dawn grabbed him gently by the arm, “I can trust you, right?” she asked. He looked at her for a moment; as an officer, he wasn’t supposed to get involved beyond a simple questioning but as a friend, he wanted to find out more and maybe help. “Yes, you can trust me,” he said.

“My daughter hasn’t been well since her father left, she’s taking it harder than I had thought and I’m trying my best to help her. Mood swings, lashing out, nightmares, you name it; she has teenaged angst through the roof,” she said with a bit of a laugh.

Officer Smith knew all too well what she was talking about; his mother passed away when his sister and he were just young children. He was the one who rebelled; applying to attend the police academy changed his life. He understood why Mrs. Dawn would move her and her daughter to a small town like that; a fresh start at a new life. Unfortunately, living at 32 Clarence Street may have been making things worse.

“Alright, well if you need anything don’t hesitate to call. You know my number!” he joked as he walked down the stairs and back to his police car. Mrs. Dawn watched him get into his car and drive out of her laneway. She backed into her house, closing and locking the door behind her. She leaned on the door and took a deep breath; eyes closed. He had no idea what she had been through the night before, what Emilia had been through.

They had only been living in the house a few days before Emilia started to behave strangely. She lost her appetite, she looked pale and she began to have nightmares about a strange shadow man. He comes and takes her every night and there is nothing she can do to stop him; nothing her mother can do to stop him.

Mrs. Dawn collected herself and slowly walked toward the kitchen. She reached up and grabbed the landline phone from the wall and began to dial. The tone rang on the other end as she curled the cord around her fingers in suspense. “Father Pierre, we need to work quicker. He came again tonight.” Mrs. Dawn listened with concern.

“Father Pierre, we need to work quicker. He came again tonight.” Mrs. Dawn listened with concern. Her eyes filled with tears, “I understand, Father. I’ll talk to you later today at the church.” With a shaky hand, she hung up the phone. Father Pierre was the only one with answers. If he couldn’t help Emilia, they too would have to move out away from 32 Clarence Street.


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