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The Serial Killer...in my house

by G.W. Willis-Brannigan



G.W. Willis-Brannigan was born in Vancouver, British Columbia to ex-pat Anglo-Irish parents in a privileged and chaotic home. He survived his prep school upbringing to study design & painting at art college, art history and theatre design at university and worked in theatre and film all his incorrigible, mischievous life. He currently lives on an island off the Wild West coast with his youngest son and two spirited cats.

Noiselessly, imperceptibly, stealthily something creeps... somewhere. I think I can hear stifled, muffled cries. I sit up in my easy chair, straining to listen... did I really hear something or was I just imagining things? No, there it is again! It sounds like... like a child laughing, with a pillow over their mouth. I put my book aside and lift my stiffened body up. I stand. Listening.

Nothing.

I shuffle to the door of my reading room. I listen. What am I listening for? There haven’t been children in the house for thirty years. I’m imagining things. I’m really just wanting to hear them playing, laughing, running. I’m missing them.

There it is again! I’m sure of it. So sinisterly quiet. My heart quickens, pounding against my chest wall. What do I do? I’m too old to run out into the street, to quickly make my way downstairs, out the door. But what choice do I have? Maybe it’s the kids next door playing tricks on the old guy. But why? I open the creaking door to the hallway, slowly. Stop.

What was that! I can hear something. I look out into the hall. Nothing. No one. I take a step forward. The floorboard cracks beneath my foot... damn! Did they hear that? Now they know someone’s here. Now they’re waiting. I freeze. I look for some kind of weapon. I should have kept the gun... dammit!

What... there’s someone... downstairs. Small footsteps. Lightly moving. It has to be those next door kids. What the hell are they up to? Scaring an old man. I could have a heart attack for Christ’s sake. They wouldn’t know that, they’re kids. They think it’s fun, sneaking around, playing hide and seek, hands over giggling mouths, barefoot. I can see them.

“Daddy! Over here! C’mon!” “I’m coming, hold your horses.” “We don’t have any horses.” Their laughter is intoxicating. They run out the door onto the grass, squealing. “Come on, Daddy! Let’s go!” “Okay okay, I’m coming. Lord almighty.” They jump into the back of the old Dodge pickup, barefoot as always. Where’s the dog? He’s always at their side, jumping up and down with them, tongue hanging out, just a kid himself. “Here boy! Come on.” Here he is. I drop the tailgate. “Jump up.” “Rudy!” they scream. I close the tailgate and climb in the cab. I look back to make sure they’re all safe, sitting down, holding on.

I take a cautious step into the hall. Slow. Listening.

Nothing.

Wait! What was that? There it is again... like someone wearing slippers, so quiet. That muffled sound. Scratching? Scraping? I slowly make my way towards the stairs and look down. I need something to hit them with... baseball bat! Where did I put it? By the front door. I forgot. In case something like this happened. I probably shouldn’t be alone anymore. But I like it. I like being alone. They’re grown now.

“Dad? Where are you?” “In here. Gettin’ lunch.” “We brought lunch, I told you that this morning.” “Oh yeah. Uhm, this is for tomorrow. Going to the beach.” “Oh yeah? Who with?” “Your Mom, who else?” “Dad.” “What? It’s traditional. We always go to our beach tomorrow, you know that.” “Dad. Here... let

I get half way down the stairs. I can see the bat by the door. I look over the railing... nobody. What was that? There it is again! Louder. Sounds like a chicken or something. What the hell? Can I make it to the door? Every step on these old stairs is louder and louder. Damn! They have to know I’m here. They’re waiting. The kitchen. I’m steps from the front door. Can I get there? The bat. What!? Behind me! I freeze.

“What do you want? I don’t have anything... nothing.”

Nothing.

Then I hear it. Choking, gasping, clawing, grasping. The kitchen. I turn. I reach for the bat. I turn. The kitchen. They’re in the kitchen. Food? Homeless? The kitchen door is open.

“Dad. We’ve been thinking. It’s not good you being here all by yourself.” “Why not? I’m fine. I can take care of myself. I always have.” “Dad, you’re getting on. You’re making mistakes. You’re forgetting things. You can’t stay here forever.” “Why not?” “Because there’s no forever, Dad.”

Fuck this! This is my house, goddammit! I take a couple of brave steps forward. Small screeching noises. I’ve got a firm grip on the bat, both hands. Okay, you motherfuckers... come on...

A tiny spill of darkened red blood on the linoleum floor. A few feathers. The cat. A half-dead blue jay in her mouth, kicking, flapping. The cat looks at me and I swear she’s smiling.

“Another one! You’re a goddamn serial killer.”


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