When I stepped out of my house, I noticed the sky was a smear of rouge with dense, ashen clouds lingering low onto the town. One tiny puff floated across the street and dissolved into a giant oak tree. A muffled rumble added some sound to the empty neighborhood, followed by a flash of pink and purple.
It gave a sense of morbid anticipation. A feeling of knowing that something out of the ordinary might happen but who knows when?
My plans for the evening were pretty much in order. I was going to prepare a cup of hot chocolate, stare at a piece of paper, hopefully write half a story, and then sink into despair for not being commercially creative.
As if the bullies at school weren’t already doing a fantabulous job of making me feel like I was an outcast, my over-perfectionist brain was their ally and never failed to pop a cherry on top of my self-doubting mental sessions. Could it be because I was a Virgo? I won’t say I am obsessed with zodiac signs, but they are accurate in my case.
Alas, I digress.
I had stepped out of the house not to get lost in my thoughts, but to rake the leaves on the lawn. I stepped on the dry, crunchy chunks of mustard-colored leaves and started brushing them toward me. Mindless repetitive chores always helped to ground me. My dog of two years, Casper, came jumping out to play with the leaves. He was another reason why I liked this chore. I would make a heap of leaves and let him play in it. Casper waited until I gave him the green signal and then dived into the leaves.
With his ears jumping up and down, and tail wagging left and right, Casper looked like a puppy all over again. I swear, if it wasn't for this furball, I would’ve forgotten the meaning of love a long time ago.
The sky had now turned a deeper shade of maroon and the yellow streetlights were slowly coming to life. It was time to go inside. I called out to Casper and made my way to the main door, holding it open for him to go in first. But he did not follow.
I looked back, and saw him sniffing and pawing at something between the leaves. I took the rake and made a clearing for both of us. Before I could see it, Casper picked it up and started doing zoomies around me. It did not take me much time to pin him down, force his mouth open and pull out the object of interest.
As I inspected the sticky, cylindrical, greyish-brown object in my hand, I realized that, it was a thumb. A finger with a bone sticking out of one end and a pale yellow nail from the other. What a dreadful, intriguing find! Finally, I had the inspiration for a story!
I ran back into the house, followed by Casper, and shut myself in my room. First, I cleaned the thumb in the sink. I had to get rid of the sticky drool. Then I placed it under my study lamp for a better look.
From the looks of it, the thumb seemed to have been torn from the hand. The flesh at its end was dangling, the bone broken. I guessed that the thumb belomged to a man because of its broadness and the unkempt nails.
I placed it on my phone holder and prepared my writing space. But I could not write anything. I jogged and jogged my mind to come up with an explanation, but something was blocking my imagination. And then I realized. Nothing was blocking my mind. I simply did not know what to write.
To write, I first need to know something!
I put on my hoodie and placed the thumb in my pocket. Casper was sitting with his leash in his mouth, prepared to go wherever I was going.
"We are going on a hunt!" I told Casper as I put the leash on him.
We left the house, and started walking up the street towards the high clock tower. Most of the town was visible from that height. Whoever looked suspicious would be the target of our interview.
It took us a good twenty to climb to the top. Both of us were a bit out of stamina. From our elevated position, I could spot three people in total who seemed suspicious.
Why, you may ask.
Because they were the only ones out on the streets. No one else was loitering out of their house on such a lovely, gloomy day; only these three souls and me and my dog.
The first person was a lady on call, smoking and pacing her sidewalk with quick steps. On getting closer, I realized that this was Madam Mild. She was the librarian at our school. According to the rumors, she was a divorcee going through some family dispute. Was she a bit controversial? Positively. But was she shady enough to toss a finger in our yard? Not likely.
I made my way further down to the next person, Mr. Nenol.
Mr. Nenol was the Karen of my neighborhood. He had a problem with everything and everyone. In fact, he was the reason why we had started raking leaves. He never liked the deserted house look that my family was going for. So, one day he visited us with two community members and asked us to clean the lawn.
His precise words were, "Unclean lawns can cause the spread of epidemics."
Not sure if dry leaves could cause an epidemic, but we obliged without resisting. If cleaning the lawn meant that it would keep away people like Mr. Nenol, then clean we would. Anyway, my point is that this man won’t dump a thumb in any yard for fear of plagues and epidemics.
The final person was farthest away from my house. He was bent over a bush, frantically searching for something. The streetlights were on, but his long, black coat with its long straight collar made it difficult to see his face. From afar, the only thing I could make out was that this was a man over 6 feet and was a stranger to me.
“What are you searching for?” I asked, and he turned around astonished, clearly not expecting anyone to call out to him.
“Um… it’s a little hard to explain but… um… I am looking for a…” stuttered the man, red-faced and sweating.
“Is it this?” I held up the thumb to his face, and his eyes lit up instantly.
“Yes! Yess, oh my yess, that’s mine! I have been looking for it for the past two hours!” The man rejoiced and took the thumb.
“Can you explain what that thumb was doing in my yard?”
“Huh… that’s a really silly story… I was playing with my fingers and tore one off by mistake… hahaha… can you imagine how silly I felt! But thank you so much kid! For returning this to me! I might even visit you someday for a payback- oh, my ride is here!”
I had not noticed that we were standing at the bus stand. A bus was waiting for the man to get on. He thanked me again and took off with the thumb.
I wasn’t really satisfied with this ending, but I lived in Grimm Falls, and weird happenings were a part of daily life.
As I walked home with Casper, I noticed that a decent crowd had gathered a few houses away from my house.
I was going to join the crowd, but my father, who had been looking for me, stopped me from going further.
He told me that a ghastly incident had occurred with one of the committee members, Mr. Roe.
“He was assaulted by a tall, scary man wearing a long, black coat."
“Doesn’t sound that ghastly to me…” I muttered
“That’s not the worst part… apparently, the assailant tortured Mr. Roe and sometime during the happening…” My father bent down to get closer to my ears,
“… he ripped apart Mr. Roe’s right thumb!”
I could not say much. But I noticed some people raking lawns very seriously around us.
“What are they doing?” I asked my father.
“Looking for the lost thumb, I suppose. I high doubt that they'd find it..." my father mumbled, shaking his head. He had no clue how correct he was.
And yes, it was, indeed, a ghostly event. Not the part where Mr. Roe’s thumb was ripped from his hand, although that was gruesome too.
But the fact that I had just handed over Mr. Roe’s missing thumb to his sadist assailant.
I decided to keep it to myself. The neighborhood people would never believe me.
“Let's have dinner...” my dad called me inside, and I followed him home. I could use this incident to write a short story, right? Let me know what you guys think.