When she was seventeen years old, a young girl named Nancy was babysitting when three dumb asses decided it would be fun to scare her. It was dark, a storm was brewing and she was alone with the kids when three knocks on three different windows made her scream loud enough to wake the dead.
She called the police and then her ever protective father. The police charged two of the boys with a list of offences; they had been in trouble with the law.
But, one of them got away with it. The police officer walked around the cottage and couldn’t find the third culprit.
“But, there was three of them, officer,” said the girl still visibly upset and crying.
“I’m sorry, miss, but there is no one around.”
“His name is, John Henderson. He lives on Great White Beach over in a white cottage with red trim. The number is sixty-two.”
“Are you sure there were three?”
“Yes, I’m not crazy.”
“I’m sorry, miss, I couldn’t find the third one. But, I will go and talk to this kid.”
The next day, the officer talked to John who answered the questions evasively. The officer left.
From that point on, he would be known as the He Who Got Away With It.
The years drifted by. The teenagers grew up and moved on with their lives. Crow ended up in jail for rape; Moonie who worshiped the Moon Goddess ended up in a cult. In a five day stand off with police, some members where shot and then the authorities stormed in to find a mass suicide had occurred. They identified George ‘Moonie’ and the others through their teeth.
When John was in his early twenties, his parents sold the family cottage.
Upon the death of her parents, Nancy inherited the family cottage and decided to live there permanently. She had decided on a career as a freelance writer.
On her fortieth birthday, the single woman with no children heard some shattering news. Since Lorraine and Mike had never been able to have children, and He Who Had Never Been Caught had taken care of their dog for years, he inherited their place.
The distance between the two places was just a warm whisper in the dark away.
“I can’t believe this,” she said.
John had married, had fathered two children and owned a twenty-two foot cruiser that he raced up and down the lake. When he drove by Nancy’s place, there was the irresistible urge to maybe catch a glance of the woman who might be suntanning or out in the garden wearing shorts and showing off those great thighs. Maybe, she was bending over and he could catch a glimpse of the top of her enormous breasts?
It was a fun game to play.
His icy blue eyes shattered her soul that was alike a very thin window. Windows were so fragile; a small bird could break the glass just by flying into it. If it couldn’t stop a simple song bird that weighed less than a pound, then how could it keep out the dark sinister mind of He Who Got Away With It?
What nobody knew on the night when the three idiots had scared her half to death was the front window had been cracked. The glass didn’t shatter, just broken in a way that it could not be fixed without replacing the entire bay window. They stole a corner of her soul that night and the only way it could be fixed was to acquire a new soul.
Sometimes, she saw him walk by. The little girl was pretty; she looked like her mother. The boy had the same floating blue eyes and smirk of his father.
It was usually after supper that He Who Got Away With It would take the family for a ride. The kids were seated, the happy smiles on their faces etched and stretched out, the vessel bouncing off the waves splashing them, their mother basking in their joy.
She was a spinster and her loins had remained unproductive.
The boat always motored far away from the break wall. Because of the erosion it was necessary to put up a stronger break wall. Nancy’s family cottage had always been fronted with giant boulders. It was costly, but a necessary element if one wanted to live on the water.
One beautiful summer night, the boat went by. It was the perfect time for a ride. The lake was calm, there wasn’t a cloud and the sky was infinitely blue.
But, something went wrong. The engine died like her life force the night those knuckles wrapped against the window like a death knell.
He had gotten away with it. Like a hockey player putting an illegal hit on another player with no penalty called. Like a student cheating on an exam and later walking proudly across the stage pretending they had earned their degree fairly. Like a rapist smearing his unwanted semen all over his victim’s inner thighs.
The boat just floated in the water like a dead body.
The current wasn’t in their favour. There was about forty feet between them and the wall of heavy, silent, killer boulders.
A little frustrated, He Who Got Away With It, tried to start the engine over and over, but it was flooded. The motor was cold, dead, like the fish that floated up on the rocks. The lifeless creatures with vacant eyes and mouths askew stared at the sky as they baked in the unforgiving sun their bodies taking on grotesque physical changes.
Nancy pretended not to hear it. She couldn’t close the blinds; it was still light out. Besides, he would know that she was inside. The sun was slowly sinking, but there were still a good forty minutes of daylight left.
Wifey was pretty, but even at her best had not excited him like the teenage Nancy with those tanned thighs, large swaying breasts and a face for the ages.
The children looked worried.
“John, get it started?”
“Daddy, why won’t the boat start?”
“I don’t know honey.”
There had been occasions when Nancy had seen them and He Who Hat Got Away With It, had whispered something into wifey’s ear. She nodded and managed the same creepy smile as her husband. It was obvious they deserved each other.
After such a rude meeting, she had wanted to go over in the dead of night and knock on the window scaring the entire family. Let the children scream and the wife get all worked up. It would be fun.
He had gotten away with it. The others had failed miserably in life. Nancy had endured, but had nothing to show with the advances of middle age crossing her face like a permanent shadow.
He was successful in his career. He had a pretty wife, two healthy, bright, good looking kids, a fancy summer cottage and an expensive boat. He wore a Rolex and Gucci shoes.
He had just put his hands in the back pocket of his jeans and walked away whistling a happy little tune.
The boat floated closer to the silent boulders.
She wanted nothing more than to close the blinds, but that would have served notice that she knew they were there.
The window of opportunity at revenge was there. She had a chance of finally silencing the ghosts that had haunted and shaped her life into an empty, dull and tenacious one; she always one bad nightmare away from the asylum.
So what if they crash on the boulders?
That was not good enough. It was like winning a free ticket in the lottery, while someone totally underserving walked away with the mega millions jackpot.
He Who Had Gotten Away With it sounded the horn.
Sound that horn all you want, I am not going out there.
The boat was some thirty feet away from the rocks and sliding with each sweeping wave a little closer toward losing.
The window pf opportunity had opened a smidgeon more.
Wifey had pulled out the oar and was trying to paddle the boat back to their cottage. She looked desperate and foolish.
Nancy wanted to look out the window and wave and smirk. She wanted to scare them like a fist knocking on a bay window terrifying a teenage girl babysitting alone in the dark with three vulnerable children.
He Who Got Away With It attempted to start the engine again and it failed. Now, it wouldn’t even turn over.
“What is wrong with it?” Wifey had an edge of panic in her voice.
“I don’t know,” he shouted at her.
“Don’t scream at me.”
The little girl started to cry. Nancy couldn’t tell, but the little boy was probably smiling at the fact that his younger sister was so upset, scared. Like father, like son.
He stared at her through the window and although she did not see him, she could feel his eyes penetrating the security of her home. She had long ago installed surveillance cameras both inside and out ever since he had inherited the cottage.
Sometimes, they came out in the winter to spend the weekend. She had seen footprints around her place and they could belong to only one intruder: He Who Got Away With It.
The boat was twenty-five feet away. It seemed to be drawn toward the boulders.
“Why don’t you call someone?” Wifey smiled at him.
“Who do you want me to call, Ghostbusters?”
“Why do you have to be such an asshole sometimes?”
He ignored the comment.
Nancy could hear them because the window was open. She had central air installed because the humidity in the summers was unbearable, It really grated on her psoriases. She had never showed one iota of symptoms of the disease until right after the night of terror where someone wanted to do more than just knock on the window and scare a teenage girl.
She had gone to countless doctors and tried every known remedy over the counter and even experimental, but none of it had worked. When the nightmares grew worse so did the incessant itching.
The boat was twenty feet away.
He screamed. “Hey, we need help. We have children on board.”
And, I was alone with the children that night but it didn’t bother you.
“What do you want her to do?”
“I don’t know, but she could come outside and do something.”
Wifey continued to try and get them out of the jam with the one oar.
“That’s completely useless, you know?”
“Well, I don’t see you doing anything.”
He sneered at the bay window that the sinking sun reflected off of. The place looked empty, but he knew she was in there.
“She’s just pissed off at what happened when we were teenagers. So we scared her. She’s had like a million years to get over it.”
“Never mind all of that it isn’t important. We are about to smash into those rocks. Can you please focus?”
He wanted to strike his wife at the moment. Just haul off and plant a backhand that would curb that mouth for the rest of their time together.
He worked his way to the bow of the boat and knelt down.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to drop anchor.”
“Why don’t you call someone?”
“Because we don’t get reception out here genius.”
“So drop the anchor already.”
He grabbed the anchor and dropped it. It sunk into the water quickly and the distance between them and the silent, killer boulders stopped.
“Hello, don’t be so selfish. We have little children on board.”
“She’s probably not home.”
“She’s a hermit; she’s always home.”
He wasn’t aware that Wifey knew he looked toward her place everything they drove by.
“Are we going to sit here all night long?”
“I don’t know,” he screamed at his wife and the little girl who had stopped crying started up all over again. The little boy smirked at his sister crying until his mother caught him with that disturbed look.
John stood on the bow.
Every ten years, the boulders had to be replaced. The to and fro of the water, the severity of the winters, the ice, the seasonal storms all forced the rocks to be shifted, to settle and re-settle.
Some of the boulders despite their size and weight were carried out and planted in the lake bottom.
The boat had been anchored, but it moved about in a static state the back end shifting about.
He had forgotten to lift up the stalled engine. It struck a boulder and he fell into the water awkwardly.
He Who Got Away With It was an expert swimmer. On the swim team in high school, there had once been talk of possible Olympic competition.
“Stupid ass,” gurgled his wife.
“Is daddy okay?”
She didn’t even bother to answer the question.
She walked over to the edge of the boat, knelt down and looked over making sure not to suffer the same fate as her husband. She was expecting him to say something.
“John, John are you okay?”
There was no answer. He floated there like one of the dead fish that was destined to land on a boulder and be pecked away at by the birds and the sun until there was nothing left but a disturbing mess.
“Is daddy okay?”
The boy started to climb on the deck.
“Get down right now,” barked his mother sharply.
“But, I want to see if daddy is okay.”
“He’s fine. Rebecca, quit crying.”
The little girl who was almost in hysterics stopped cold.
Wifey looked out at the cottage and the sun was sinking real fast. The shadows were already dancing on that bay window, the window of opportunity to end this unpleasant turn of events that was quickly sliding into nightmare territory was closing.
Nancy sat on the couch and had muted the TV.
I could do something about this.
A term from grade ten science class flashed through her mind. Inertia: a tendency for all moving objects to resist a change in motion.
Her mind, her body, her spirt were inert.
“John, damn it, what is wrong with you.”
She turned to the children that were completely frightened like bunnies caught in the headlights of an on coming death car ready to squish them into lumps of lifeless tissue.
“Dylan, I want you to take care of your sister.”
“But, mom, I-
“Just do as I say.” Wifey jumped into the water.
The lake was calm that night but the undercurrents were strong. He had been right where she was treading water a minute ago, but now he was gone.
“John, where are you?”
She looked briefly at the bay window. Darkness was quickly winning over light. The window of opportunity was closing faster than her mind could think.
“I didn’t even want to go for a boat ride tonight.”
“Mom, where is daddy?”
She turned around and Dylan was at the edge.
“Get back in that boat like I told you and take care of your sister.”
“But, I’m scared.”
“Do as I say or you won’t be sitting down properly for a week.”
Wifey looked around and dived under the water, but there was no sign of the man she loved, had shared a bed with, had brought life with twice into a crazy, unpredictable world.
He claimed that she was his first.
Wifey swam around and the darkness was soon to engulf her. The boat was moving away from her or was she moving away from the boat?
She started to swim.
I am going to climb on the boat and he’ll already be there with that irritating smirk and say: ‘Hey, Gloria, where have you been?’
She made it to the ladder barely. A good swimmer — not as strong as John — she was exhausted when she reached it.
Wifey climbed the ladder and he wasn’t there with that irritating smirk. The kids were huddled in the corner and their eyes were red with fear and tears. Like a girl alone in the dark on a stormy night babysitting and frightened by demanding male fists pounding on the window of her virginity. It was their window of opportunity after being spurned so many times.
She tried to say something, but the words would not cooperate.
It was well past dark when they pulled him out of the water. He looked like one of those fish stranded on a slab of rock, eyes vacant staring at the infinite sky asking why?
They had paraded Wifey and the sobbing children right past her door. She couldn’t look at him, but could feel her cold, hard stare attempt to penetrate. But, a very thin window of a fragile teenage girl that had once been violated was closed shut.
The first responders asked Nancy why she had done nothing to help out.
“I’m sorry, I feel so horrible about all of this. I fell asleep watching TV and when I woke up my window of opportunity had closed.”
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I love this phrase “The distance between the two places was just a warm whisper in the dark away.” and the comparison between a bird hitting the window and He Who Got Away. Sorry I haven’t had time to read or write many stories lately but yours are always high up on my list so I will read more soon. Horror seems to be a genre you’re exceptionally talented in. You fitted the prompt so impeccably too in more than one way. Congrats and never stop writing — for yourself and for your fans!