Fiction Friday: Galloway House Pt. 5

[Welcome to Part 5 of Galloway House. If you have missed any of the previous installments you can find them here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4. And as always...thanks for reading!]

A deep ebony silk crept its way through the thick, gray clouds. It slipped in like evening turning to night, but it was too early for stars to twinkle in the sky. The occasional lightning strike highlighted the waves and curves of stubborn clouds and with canceled plans and early dinners, it also highlighted the streets rendered empty below.

With each curious whisper slipped from assuming lips, the darkness dug its way deeper through the village. Then it wove its way into every resident of Townsley. The weight of it bore down on them thick and sluggish until, all at once, everyone in the village slipped into a cavernous sleep.

All but two.

For Kate Winstead and Joseph Strunk it was time to get to work.

Fiction Friday: Galloway House Pt. 4

[Welcome to Part 4 of Galloway House. If you have missed any of the previous installments you can find them here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3. And as always...thanks for reading!]


As Joseph Strunk sat down for a meal with his family, he imagined it was considerably more subdued than other dinner tables around Townsley. The arrival of the stranger would no doubt dominate every conversation. Theories would be discussed. Assumptions would be made. And thanks to the lack of facts and evidence, it was safe to assume that fear would grow and spread before night’s end.

Joseph chewed thoughtfully on leftover chicken and remembered the looks of wonder and awe on the other villager’s faces as the storm had rolled in. The hissing sounds of their whispered concerns whipping by on the growing winds. And then, how they had all fallen silent—momentarily stunned he supposed—as their widened eyes drew like magnets to the unfamiliar car as it rolled into town. He had watched as the shock and confusion morphed its way into curiosity.

“Who is that?” Ben Waller had said.

And although he was the only one within earshot of the question, Joseph hadn’t dared to assume it was directed toward him. Ben was Townsley’s only lawyer. In a town where everything had its place, there was certainly no slot that would involve a conversation between a lawyer and a garbage man. Joseph wandered off before the conversation continued, but he was sure it was filled with misinformation and speculation.

What he really knew was that he had just witnessed the seeds of fear being planted. A fear that would not bloom in his household. Neither Joseph nor his wife, Clara, were afraid and their children were much too young to care about the village’s goings on.

No matter how historic.

Watching his children’s chubby cheeks bob and squish as they ate their dinner, he considered their future. The Strunk family had lived in Townsley for almost as long as the village existed, but have never at any point been affluent members of the community. At least not under the definition of what seemed to matter these days.  Theirs was a wealth whose currency was knowledge. Secrets passed down from generation to generation. Ones that involved the truth behind why Galloway house stood abandoned and shrouded in mystery for so long. And more importantly, what it meant now that an heir to the Galloway legacy had returned. 

[Read Part 5 here]

Fiction Friday: [Galloway House Pt. 3]

[If you need to catch up on previous installments of Galloway House, you can click here to read Part One or here to read Part Two]

Kate Winstead’s shoulders rubbed against the intricately carved wooden door as she tried to steady her breathing. It wasn’t just the ominous weather or the flash of lightning that had struck too closely as she exited the car that ignited the booming in her chest. She couldn’t quite shake the creepy stares of the locals as she drove into town. The way they stood almost catatonic, every eye piercing through the comfort and security of her tinted windows, sent an uneasiness creeping over her as wholly as the approaching clouds darkened the sky.

As she listened to the rain pattering against the roof outside, and the house sighing and groaning like a bored, petulant child inside, Kate regretted having to make the trip alone. Her husband had offered to accompany her, but she convinced him it would be best not to use up any more sick days. The truth was that he wasn’t a Galloway. Allowing him to come would only open the door to questions she couldn’t answer.

 A mechanical buzzing drew her attention and she followed it to one of the many automatic light timers spread throughout the house. With each passing second, the cloud cover dipped the sky into deeper shades of gray. The house would be cloaked in darkness before the timers had a chance to do their job. Clicking on the lights, Kate took in the sheet-covered furnishings and was surprised at how much she remembered even though she hadn’t been within Townsley’s borders since she was five.  

She walked over to the rocking chair in the sitting room and pulled the sheet, sending sparkles of dust into the air. Her eyes drifted across the ivy leaves carved into its curved back and traveling down along the arms. A burgundy pillow with an elaborately crossstitched “G” was still perched on the seat. Kate’s mind flooded with memories of sitting on her grandmother’s lap, listening to tales about their family. A memory that would make most nostalgic made the hairs on the back of her neck bristle.

Kate questioned again whether she should have come. Whether any of this was even necessary. What if she was acting on the whim of a family tradition born from unwell minds? On tales passed down and told so often they morphed into an undisputable truth? With every mile traveled to Townsley, the more she had believed that to be the case. But what if she was wrong? The consequences were too great to find out, so it wasn’t a chance she could take. She hadn't wanted the responsibility, but Kate was the last living Galloway and she had a job to do.


Fiction Friday: [Galloway House pt. 2]

[Today's Fiction Friday is a continuation of the story I posted last week. If you haven't read part one, you can find it HERE. As always....thanks for reading!]

Arriving just ahead of the ominous clouds and darkening skies, a car far fancier than ever seen in Townsley before rolled onto the village’s streets. With its emerald body sparkling under the last of the sun’s rays, it drew the attention of everyone it passed. Tinted windows only added to the mystery of who was behind the wheel.

The car eased slowly down Main Street and by the time the first drops of rain pelted the ground and turned dust to paste, everyone knew of the mysterious visitor. They watched, mesmerized and stunned, as the car took a sharp right turn and made its ascent up the hill toward Galloway House. The closer the car drew the more foreboding the enigmatic home appeared as the storm clouds settled over its slate roof and stripped away the details of its patterned bricks.

The car pulled to a stop and the villagers held their collective breath. The brake lights flicked off and they waited for the brave soul—or the fool—to reveal themselves. The driver’s side door eased open and something long and narrow and black advanced from the vehicle. Imaginations, along with the angle of the hill and limited sight from cloud cover, aided in the illusion that it was surely something sinister. Several people jumped when the object snapped open and then laughed nervously upon realizing it was just an umbrella. A black-panted leg was spotted briefly before lightning cracked blindingly across the sky.

So blinding that when everyone opened their eyes white spots floated lazily in their line of sight. After blinking them away, disappointment rippled through the villagers as they looked up the hill. The stranger was gone, no doubt already inside the house. With barely a glimpse, they had no idea if the person had been male or female, short or tall, but they would be the main topic at every dinner table that evening nonetheless. Theories and speculation would be tossed around. Embellishments would be added. By morning, the mysteries surrounding Galloway House would have many new chapters. 

Fiction Friday: [Galloway House]

Perched atop the hill protruding in the middle of the village, Galloway House loomed over Townsley. No one had been seen leaving or entering the home in years. Yet, every night, after the sun dug itself into the horizon and the moon cast a pale blue over the village, warm light glowed between the green shutters of the eerie, eye-like windows. And although shadows never crossed those windows, every villager bore the uneasy feeling that they were being watched.

The Galloway family’s history was steeped in mystery. Aside from their ancestors being the first to settle in Townsley, little more was known of them. Speculation and tall tales had been passed down from generation to generation. Each year the stories grew more fantastical and cautionary like a morbid, decades-long game of telephone.

To this day it was believed that no one could ever escape the long gaze of Galloway House. Those who have traveled far beyond the village’s borders claim that its image still flashed through their nightmares and questions about who resided behind its wall still tumbled noisily through their thoughts, even years after cutting the cord and moving away.

Younger children often stared up the hill, eyes wide with wonder before their parents yanked them away and explained to them—in hushed tones—that they were never to approach the house. As these children grew older those words turned into dares of ringing the bell which always ended with teasing. No one had ever summoned the courage to go past the middle of the hill.

In the distance dark clouds gathered and aimed their sights on Townsley. As they eased closer, an uneasiness spread amongst the town. A sense of dread that was as thick as the murky gray sky following in the clouds wake. An energy swept through the village and with it, the knowledge that they needed to brace themselves. The storm on their horizon would prove to be unlike any they had ever faced before. 


Fiction Friday: [Coffee & Consequences]

My mind spun and I tried to grasp at any thought, any memory to give me the sense of feeling grounded. Feeling solid. Instead, years of worry and pain bore down on my chest, smothering my urge to scream. My urge to flee. The stranger’s eyes were unyielding as they locked onto my own. His words continued to bounce around my confused mind.

I had noticed him earlier, watching me. My morning paper and the rich, smooth aroma of roasting coffee beans were all that separated the space between us. I took comfort in the tip tapping of fingers on laptop keys as fellow coffee shop patrons worked on future bestsellers or, more likely, checked the latest tweets. Potential witnesses if this man proved to be crazy.

The jingly notes of the Christmas music faded under the crashing waves pulsing in my ears. Blood surged at the insistence of my pounding heart as he walked toward me. By the time he reached my table, the low murmur of coffee shop chatter drowned under the sound of my own heartbeat.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” he had said. “But I have a message. She’s…she’s quite, um, insistent.”

I felt a pinch between my brows as I opened my mouth to speak. After a moment he must have realized that nothing was going to come from my parted lips and he continued.

“Anya wants me to tell you that she hopes you and Darren are happy.”

His eyes swam with kindness and a hint of pride. My mouth eased open further as if to catch the tears swelling too quickly to the surface. A smile spread across his face and I realized he believed he had delivered comforting news from beyond.

Pressing my lips together, I swallow down the bark of fear throbbing in my throat. With great effort, I was only able to curl up the right side of my mouth, but the lie of it was too much and it fell back into a grim, straight line.

“Thank you,” I finally managed to say and he walked away.

His steps were light. Those of a man who had done some good. I knew my steps would never be that free again as the weight of fear now pumped through my veins like concrete.

…she hopes you and Darren are happy.

Heat prickled my skin, but I shivered as I recalled the stranger’s words. Words meant to ease the suffering of loss, but I knew all too well Anya’s true intention. What she had implied.

If she knew that I was now involved with her husband—her widow—then she surely knew that I was the one who killed her, too.

Fiction Friday: [Owusu]

It wasn’t a body as much as pieces. Four to be exact. Two arms and two legs. And they weren’t the first sets of limbs to be found. Discovery of the first had sent the media into a frenzy. With the second, serial killer was splashed across every headline and flung from every news anchors lips. After the third, they gave the killer a name…The Butcher. This new find might just send the city into a full blown panic.

The call came in a little after 2 am. They called in Detective Anita Owusu, who wasn’t on duty. She was not a happy camper, drumming her perfectly manicured nails impatiently against the steering wheel the entire ride. The street lights would occasionally glint off the purply-gray polish on her squared shaped nails, drawing her attention.

“What’s the deal?” she asked Suarez who approached her as she arrived. “This isn’t our case. Why are we here?”

Her partner rubbed the back of his neck and couldn’t quite meet her eyes. Her stomach fluttered, nervousness wasn’t an emotion she’d ever seen him wear.


Following Marino’s voice, she looked over to find him standing next to Jackson in the tall grass. They glowed, spotlighted by the work lights that formed a harsh line against the blackness surrounding them. Suarez grabbed her arm when she took a step toward them. She waited for him to speak, but instead he pushed up her sleeve, revealing the tattoo on her left wrist.

“What’s going on, Suarez?”

Instead of an answer, he studied her face for a moment before dropping her arm and heading toward the scene. An uneasy feeling trailed behind her as she followed him. Marino and Jackson stood awkwardly as they drew closer.

“Sorry for bringing you down,” Jackson said. “It’s just…”

He exchanged an uncomfortable look with Marino. Then, they both looked to Suarez.

“Just show her,” Suarez said.

She hated being treated like the odd man out and after all her years on the force she didn’t deserve it. The three of them not only knew something, they worried it would upset her. The idea that it was because she was a woman made her angry.

“You got me outta bed for this, so let’s see it,” she said with an edge.

Marino and Jackson parted, allowing her a clear view of the limbs that lay in a square on the grass. The legs parallel to each other and the arms, the same. Slender and delicate, they were undoubtedly female. Just like all the others. Suarez passed her a pair of gloves and Owusu knelt down next to the morbid display as she slid her hands into them. The first thing she noticed was how clean the cuts were. The media’s moniker was even more accurate than they knew.

Starting with the leg on her left, she scanned them each carefully before settling on the left arm at her feet. She was used to tamping down any outward indications of panic, but it was gathering and swelling to a level that she couldn’t control. She tried to swallow, but her throat had gone dry. The sound of her jackhammering heart pounded in her ears.

“Owusu?” Suarez sounded tinny and distant.

She jumped up and ripped the glove off of her left hand and pushed up her sleeve. Holding her arm out in front of her, the butchered limb lay below, out of focus. She studied the black Enso circle that surrounded the open heart made of barbed wire at her wrist. She had designed it herself, an overly stylized reminder of her past. Of how protecting her heart needed to be a priority. Even more telling, the tiny “m&d” that filled the small gap where the circle didn’t quite meet. An homage to the first to break her heart. Her mom and dad.

She looked down at the ground and back to her wrist several times. The tattoo on the bodiless limb was an exact match. There was no doubt. She lowered her arm in an effort to hide the shaking, but she wasn’t able to stop the tears. She watched as they splashed down, striking the victims hand. A scream formed in her throat as they rolled down toward the perfectly manicured, square shaped, purply-gray nails.

Fiction Friday: [The Reckoning]

Head full of fog I try to open my eyes, but it’s harder than it should be. Slowly and with full effort I finally succeed. My vision is as cloudy as my thoughts, but I am acutely aware that I am not at home.

As my eyes come into focus panic riddles my body so swiftly that I grow dizzy.

I was right, this is not my home.

In front of me is a door, but hope fades before it has a chance to flare. No knob, no handle. Not even hinges to try to unscrew. Above, below and side to side, nothing but concrete.

I’m in a concrete box.

I try to stand up. My legs are tingly and weak.

What the hell?

I gingerly shake them before attempting to rise again. Wobbly, but successful I stand and get my bearings.

Turning to face the back of the room I see a security camera in the corner, red light glowing. I stare at it wondering who is on the other side. I want to ask as much, but for the first time I realize how dry my throat is.

I swallow hard as my eyes drift over to the back wall. The fear induced gasp causes spittle to catch in my throat. A coughing fit doubles me over, hands on knees until it finally dislodges from my throat and splats onto the concrete floor.

I take a deep breath to gather my courage before looking up at the wall again.

You know what you did. Repent or die.

The words are painted across the wall. Fresh enough for beads of dark crimson to run from each letter toward the floor. My sense of smell kicks in and I choke on the metallic, coppery scent in the air.

It’s written in blood.

My brain pounds against my skull, palms grow sweaty as my body temperature skyrockets.

Backing away from the wall, the creak of the door opening stops me in my tracks. Panic sends my heart racing and I breathe so quickly I think I’m going to faint.

“Don’t turn around.”

The voice is disguised, robotic, but it is terror inducing nonetheless. I do as I’m told—solely because I am paralyzed with fear.

“You have forty-eight hours to figure out which of your sins has sent you here to your reckoning. If you succeed and repent you will be set free. If not…you will die.”

My brain goes into overdrive searching for the right words, for sins I’ve committed, a primer on how to speak, but then he is behind me and all thoughts fade away. Except one.

I don’t want to die.

Tears flow freely as I hold my breath in anticipation. That’s when I feel the pin prick of a needle sink into my neck.


An unbearable screeching pushes on my brain. My eyes shoot open and I sit up--heart racing. I look around to discover that I'm in my room. Relief sweeps over me knowing that my nightmare was just that. A nightmare.

Reaching over I hit snooze before closing my eyes and laying back down. I must have drifted off again because the alarm wakes me. I stretch my arms wide and let out a little morning roar before shutting if off and taking a moment to savor the quiet.

I open my eyes ready to start the day, but instead prickly bumps rapidly spread all over my body and my breathing grows shallow. In my periphery I can see the exaggerated rise and fall of my chest. I lay frozen staring at the red letters that stain my ceiling:

See you in 48 hours.