Welp, it’s the first flash fiction of the new year, and I’m staring at this picture that looks entirely too much like it looks outside and trying to come up with story that’s not me whining about how cold I am and how much I hate to drive in the snow. Both of these things are true, but me whining doesn’t make for good fiction.
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The snow blushed pink under the glow of the early morning sunrise as Ruby walked in the tire ruts of the rarely used road that led to the farthest edge of her family’s contested property. Her boot prints from last night were still clear in the tracks, heading in the opposite direction. She supposed she could have spent the night there at the farmhouse and saved herself the trouble and strain of walking the five miles back and forth from the motel. After all, she had a key to the house.
But the estate had been tied up in probate court since her grandma had died four years earlier, and the gas and electricity had been shut off while the lawyers tried to sort out who got what and when. It was far too cold to stay there in the winter. Besides, it was a little too haunted for her tastes.
Ruby climbed the wide, but rickety, front steps and unlocked the front door. The house smelled like it always did. Old grease, stale cigarette smoke, and underneath it all, old mothballs and decay. The decor hadn’t been updated since the forties, and the whole house looked like a time capsule. Whichever relative ended up with the house could probably make a killing on antiques in this place.
Swallowing thickly, she pulled her supplies from her bag. Just like she’d done every New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, she sprinkled holy water and salt around the perimeter of each room, taking care to lay extra at the threshold of basement stairs. Making sure the dead stayed buried.
It wasn’t just that her grandfather had died down there, it was all the people he’d killed down there. Farm hands. Migrant workers. People from the halfway house looking for work. And she was doing her part to follow her grandma’s wishes–making sure the dead stayed buried.
But this was it–this was the last time she’d do it. The case would finally get a hearing sometime in the spring, and the house and its dead would be someone else’s problem. She’d be on a beach in Mexico, living off the money she’d found hidden in the back of the cupboard last night when she was looking for a can of anything edible and non-expired.
If the ghosts followed, at least she’d be warm while they haunted her.
That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories.