Thriller Suspense Teens & Young Adult

      All is peaceful. Maybe a little too peaceful. For many years, Lucas has never seen a night as tranquil as this one. The sky, normally littered with twinkling stars, remains pitch black tonight. Normally, this would unsettle him, but tonight he feels at peace. Within the darkness, there is a single orb of glowing light protruding from the moon, casting the town in a melancholic light. A haunting howl passes through the trees, shifting loftily throughout the town. Everything is going to be perfect tonight.

           Lucas has a date planned, with only the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. For the first time in forever, he said and did all the right things, and he’s finally been rewarded. He’s planned the perfect night: homemade dinner, followed by a movie. And then he’ll see where the night takes them. There’s a beach not far from his house, maybe a midnight stroll will appease her…

           With all of these exhilarating thoughts in his mind, he had already told his mother that she wasn’t allowed to be in the house when she was there.

           “What? Don’t be silly boy; I’m your mother, and this is my house. You can’t just kick me out.”

           “Listen, mum,” he spoke as gently to her as he could muster, “if everything goes well tonight, you can be here as many times as you like in the future. But it’s just not cool to have a first date with your mother third-wheeling. You understand, right?”

           He remembered her eyes flooding with fresh, salty tears. “But you’re still my baby boy.”

           “I can’t be your baby boy forever, mum. I’m off to university next year - you won’t be able to babysit me then.”

           Something shifts in his mother, something ugly, something sinister, and something of a pained expression settled on her face. She quickly covered it, though. “Of course. I’ll sort something out, don’t you worry. It will be a memorable night.”

           “Thank you.” And that was three nights ago, and since then, things between him and his mother have been tense - you probably couldn’t even hack at it with the sharpest knife you own. Despite the awkwardness, his mother has disappeared from the house tonight, as promised, which has helped him mildly keep his nerves to a minimum. He hasn’t seen her all day - not that he’s complaining. He needs to have a clear mind for tonight.

           The clock keeps ticking obnoxiously loudly. He spends half his time checking the clock as each hand moves a fraction of an inch. 20 minutes until she’s due to arrive. His hands tremble as he tries to assemble the finishes touches of the meal he’s cooked. He’s kept it a simple meal, just pasta and some garlic bread. Easier said than done still, but he is keen to impress.

           He is still keen to impress several hours later. After sitting in the kitchen, watching the steam from his food slowly dissipate, he decides to eat his bowl of pasta. And then hers. And all the garlic bread. And when he finishes, and his stomach is full, he finally realises she’s not coming.

           He’s heartbroken. As he cleans up the mess he’s made in the kitchen, he dwells on the argument he’d had with his mother earlier that week, and how futile it seems now. He vows to make things right as soon as she gets in. 

           She doesn’t stroll in until after midnight. This worries him, as she is always back before a new day arrives. It’s a superstitious thing; she thinks staying out when a new day starts means something evil will take over her. He normally encourages her to stay out as long as she wants and enjoy herself, but today he just wants her home to apologise to her. 

           When she walks in, a faint smell follows her. But it isn’t of alcohol, or even sweat from the pub… it’s a musty smell, one that his mother wouldn’t ever dream of producing. As she walks in, she heads straight for the kitchen. She doesn’t even acknowledge him, and instead shovels buckets of food into her mouth - it’s never-ending! It’s grotesque to watch, his normally poised mother eat food in such a disgusting way. She looks over at him, staring at him unnervingly as she eats, dropping about a million crumbs as she goes. 

           “Hi mum,” Lucas starts, getting up and walking towards her worriedly, “are you okay?”

           His mother grunts. She’s not drunk, but she’s not all there either. 

           “Are you high?” He grabs her arms, pulling him towards him, with an unusual amount of resistance. He inspects her face, which is somehow different from normal, but the same also. 

           “I’m not high, no.” Surprisingly, she talks with a calm and clear voice. “However, if you touch me again, I might have to snap your arms off.” She laughs girlishly, and just that is enough to make Lucas recoil in horror. 

           Who is this woman, and where is his mother? His real mother, not this aggressive woman who stands before him. He watches as she continues to inhale everything in the cupboards, until there is nothing left. She lets out an enormous, undignified belch, before wiping her mouth on her sleeve. 

           “So,” she slurs, inching towards him, “did you have fun on your little date?” There’s malice in her voice, a venom he’s never heard before. It trickles into her words like honey.

           “She didn’t turn up,” he states simply. 

           “Oh no! That’s sad.” Despite her words, she grins like the Cheshire Cat. “I guess it was never meant to be. Everything happens for a reason, I guess.” 

           What is she on about? ‘Meant to be?’ It was only a date. Something is seriously wrong with his mother; ‘Meant to be’ is not something in her vocabulary, especially with her condescending view of romance. 

           “I guess not,” Lucas admits, for his sake more than hers. “I just want to apologise, mum. I was really awful to you this morning, and you didn’t deserve that. So I’m sorry.” 

           Silence. “Do you think that is a substantial apology?”

           Lucas reels a little. “I’m not sure I follow what you mean.”

           She turns around, her normally sparkling eyes sporting a raging fire in them. “Ever since you were born, you always treat me like an inconvenience. I birthed you, and you repay me by treating me like a common earthworm. But not anymore.” She runs the tap, takes an enormous gulp of water from it, and then leans on the counter for support. “Not anymore.” 

           “Are you feeling okay?” Lucas starts to back away, as his mother starts to morph. Into what, he’s not sure, but the shrill shrieks she’s omitting are no longer human. The sound of her screams echo the house, and it sounds excruciatingly painful. Her body groans and slumps to the floor. Lucas rushes over to help her, as she begins writhing around on the floor.

           Suddenly, she stops.

           The room is eerily quiet and still. His mother begins to prop herself up on her arms, and slowly turns to face Lucas. 

           Except it isn’t his mother anymore. 

           Her face is longer, more haggard than ever before, her thin lips are pursed into a forced smile, and her skin is dull, grey and sagging much more than it used to. Her teeth are yellow and crooked, and Lucas can hardly recognise the person that was once his mother. Standing up on shaky legs, she stumbles towards him, and stops a few paces away from him. 

           “Not anymore.” She finishes breathily, before lunging on him. That’ll teach him to ever disrespect his mother ever again.

July 29, 2021 09:47

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