The Static Stills

Submitted into Contest #186 in response to: Write a story within a story within a story within a ...... view prompt


Contemporary Fiction Suspense

This story contains sensitive content


Written by Michelle SHAAY

The Hot Toddy Lounge was busier than usual for Wednesday. A frosty night and frigid temperatures across the city gave patrons a reason to stay inside the rustic place. As the pub began to close, a fatigued but curious bartender listened to a trending news story on its large flat screen television.

“Can I get another shot of vodka and cranberry?” asked a drunk bar patron.

“We’ve shut the bar down for the night- sorry,” the bartender replied.

Kenneth a seasoned bartender turned his attention back to the breaking news. As images of the victim’s home appeared on the screen, it was yet another death amid unexplained and strange circumstances. A strange and eerie chain of events continued to haunt the community of Owl Parke. The rumor mill buzzed day and night about the modern age witch who decided to cast a spell. It all began when her own child was taunted for being born with an unusual birthmark on his face. Many claimed it was a mark of her wickedness and a sign of his unwanted birth.

“Do you need a ride home or not?” asked Kenneth. The drunk patron snored loudly with his head lying on the bar. As a regular at Hot Toddy, Kenneth knew where Bob lived so he requested and paid for his rideshare trip. He took a screenshot of the order just for safety and ended his shift for the night. Kenneth kept thinking about the news story and was fascinated by why it was happening in the first place. His house was almost a mile away when the traffic light stopped him. He sighed heavily before rubbing his eyes out of exhaustion. He turned the radio volume up louder to stay alert and looked down at his phone to check an alert. The screen suddenly became brighter but the screen was fuzzy to him. It reminded him of the old TV snow when antennas were used for reception. The hissing sound even came through his mobile device too. Without any warning his phone began snapping photos randomly of him. The flash was blinding to him as he helplessly fumbled to make it stop.

“Come on you piece of crap! Stop this shit now!” he yelled while driving.

“Damn foreign phone. Thank goodness,” he stated as it finally stopped flashing. Kenneth pulled into his driveway and began to park when the phone began taunting him again. The heat suddenly shut off in his car and the doors wouldn’t unlock. The phone again took photo after random photo while he attempted to unlock the doors. The temperature had fallen to ten below zero since his departure from The Hot Toddy. He hadn’t worn a jacket, nor hat or other layers since he knew how long his shift would be and his commute home wasn’t very long. The leather seats were cold to the touch. The crowbar he usually left in his backseat was in the trunk now. The odd and sinister behavior of the phone continued while he yelled for help. Although incoming calls appeared to come through only a blank grey screen was visible while the noise of loud static increased in volume. This prevented Kenneth from making outbound calls to anyone.

The air in his car was brutally cold now and even smoke could be seen with every breath Kenneth exhaled. He looked to see if any neighbors were still up with lights on in their windows. The entire street was shrouded in cold darkness and the neighbor’s pets had been moved inside because of the extreme weather. There were no dogs barking to make anyone aware of his peril or presence. The frost on the windshield began to quickly thicken. Kenneth hugged himself to create warmth but it didn’t really help. His teeth chattered and the hairs on his skin stood up all over. He tried to turn the car on again but it made no sound. The next few hours became dire and extreme for him. Kenneth continued to bang on the glass of the car windows and yell as loudly as humanly possible but still no one rescued him. The early morning sunrise peeked out over the small community where his car sat still in the driveway. Even a new day didn't bring out passers-by as the temperature only slightly increased above freezing. Not even birds that normally chirped beautifully were up and they remained eeriely silent.

As his lifeless body slightly slumped onto the driver's seat his cell phone began to vibrate against the cup holder console. There was a call and then another one right after. The latter rolled to voicemail.

"Hey Ken it's Lou your schedule has changed up today at the pub. Trisha will work tonight man, she needs the hours and plans to swap out with you again next week too. So just like that you're free to enjoy some time off until tomorrow. Oh and by the way your bonus check should hit your account tonight. I promised it to you because I can always count on you. Welp I'll quit yapping now. See you Friday night okay, thanks." The message from Lou, Kenneth's boss would be one of the last records to support the mysterious legacy of the spell cast there in the town. He was yet another young adult male with much promise, handsome qualities, and no visible flaws to be shunned or ashamed of like the "witch's marked son" as folklore described.

Nearly half the day passed until a nosey neighbor decided to find out why there had been no sign of Kenneth yet. She stumbled upon the horrible sight when she peered through one of his car windows and the medical examiner was summoned to his address within minutes. The sudden passing of Kenneth became the trending news and even more bizarre after an autopsy revealed a distinct mark of some kind appeared on his face. The origin of it could not be rationally or medically explained by professionals in the field of autopsy.

February 22, 2023 01:52

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Delbert Griffith
15:05 Feb 25, 2023

I like a good ghost/horror story. Throw in a witch and you have the recipe for a nice story. This was a fun read, and entertaining. Nicely done, Michelle.


Michelle SHAAY
20:58 Feb 25, 2023

Thanks Delbert- I am greatly pleased it was an enjoyable and organic read for you. Your kind words motivate me to continue pursuing this creative writer's Journey! Best Wishes To You


Delbert Griffith
22:03 Feb 25, 2023

Pursue it, please! You are a welcome addition to the writers' family here. Keep on writing and we'll keep on reading! Cheers!


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