So…I love writing horror.
Like a lot.
So for the month of October, I am going to keep scratching that itch.
Who knows, maybe I’ll just keep making spooky flash fictions even when it is not around Halloween.
But, that’s later. Till that time comes, I am just here to scare. So here’s the next terrifying flash fiction.
“It is estimated that the average American watches five hours of television daily. However, like all estimates, there are exceptions to the rule.”
It came in a box. This bright, shiny, neon colored thing. Sitting there, adorned with happy children on the back, and happier parents on the front. Delivered for the measly price of forty-five dollars, and deposited on the front porch for his convenience. He saw it as he drove up to the house waiting to be unwrapped. As he walked towards it, a sound carried on the wind; soft beeping, and sharp clicks.
It was lighter than expected, and he nearly hurt himself when he yanked it up. The box soared past his waist, and then pressed to his chest. It was only when he stepped into the room that the mass got to him. It grew heavier with each step, and he found himself panting with effort as the final motions were completed.
The space had been cleared weeks in advance, the children having excitedly pushed papers away when the news had come. Now five weeks later, they had forgotten. But the excitement exploded again, as the call echoed up the staircase. The pounding of feet flew down the stairs, followed by eager eyes waiting for entertainment.
The wires were inserted in the walls, and the box roared to life. Marvelous colors danced between their eyes; the stark white blended beautifully with somber black. By some force of luck, it was a time of broadcast, and the children, and their father, sat down to view it. Feet propped up on recliners, and eyes glued to the screen. A meal shoved into their faces, never looking at the food. How could they? Even the commercials were marvelous. The best thing they had ever seen. Stimuli like they never imagined. The show ended after the hour, and the father stood up. A newspaper was unread, and that was unacceptable, so the father’s eyes proceeded to the task.
The children, though, still sat enraptured, watching the flicker of static. The dead air of the television was more entertaining than any toy up in their room. They sat like that, staring, mouth widening slightly with each passing hour, ’til they were finally sent up to bed.
School hoarded much of their day, but as soon as they could, they went home back to the box. It did not matter what was on, or if anything was on at all. They watched like it was a message from God. Their blinking would slow down, heartbeat erratic, and the spittle of their mouths would simply land where it may.
The father did not notice, and even when he thought something was off, he would dismiss it. Their children were quieter than they ever had been. The father loved the silence, loved the freedom to read his newspaper, and eat his meals without questions levied at him. He soon fell into a routine with this, and his kids became fixtures. “What was different?” he mused occasionally; they simply ate his food and lived in his house. How was it any different?
It was only when the letter arrived that he remembered. The children that had become silent shapes in the corner of his vision were brought back to sharp reality. The message claimed they had been absent from school. For nearly a week it seemed. The children always walked themselves to the bus; there had never been a need to worry about it until now.
Angered by their irresponsibility he went to find them, in the one place he knew they would be. Three tiny bodies sat staring at the screen, a screen that at the moment did not even hold a program in its parameters, only a soft flickering bar reflected across any nearby surface.
He started with shouting, but the kids did not move, not even an inch, or a flicker of recognition.
Only infuriated more, he gave a kick into the side of the nearest child, his youngest daughter. A bruise worthy impact shook her frame, but still not a single movement. In a final fit of rage he stepped forward and put his fist through the screen, breaking the static and silencing the room. He cradled his hand now, shallow cuts along the knuckle line; still screaming at his children.
His voice dried up however, when the three heads turned. In that moment he noticed a few things, but the most important was the audible static of the television had returned. Growing louder by the minute and echoing across the room.
He stared down at his children’s faces, or at least what had been their faces.
The skin was shallow, the bones underneath poking through, and the eyebrow arches defined until they looked like knives. The mouths were all open as one, and they emitted the sound. Each one’s tongue slapped against the gum line faster than visible, generating the inhuman crackles.
The eyes were gone, the remnant puddles dried around the chin. Growing out of the sockets instead was white fuzz. Like mold on bread, it spread across the face, coating the jaw line.
The television, despite everything, sprang back to life, crackling with electricity. Displaying a face, similar to the children’s, but older. The hair grey, the skin sagged and liver spotted. He recognized it immediately, in spite of the fuzz that had replaced the eyes.
His children all stood up, and the image of him started laughing.
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