"Last": Free Post-Halloween short story

With the Halloween decorations put away, many of us are on to Thanksgiving. So that means my mind is on food and family right now, but I wanted to share this with you anyway. This is a little something I wrote for a Halloween short story competition hosted by one of my Tribemates. Didn't win, but there were lots of entries and it was fun to participate. Oh, all participants used the pic above for inspiration. Hope you enjoy :-)

“Book me a flight to New Orleans, Mary – any available class. I’m off to the airport, so call me there with confirmation. I’ll be away for a few days, um…family emergency.”

Chantal grabbed her navy Kors bag from the desk security drawer and rushed from her law office. The family attorney’s call announcing the death of her mother and sisters shook the illusion that she could outrun her destiny. 

She stared ahead, shifting from foot to foot, the fifteen-floor elevator ride like awaiting surgery results in the emergency room. She quickly mapped out a plan. Call Tommy, take off stockings and heels… One, one-thousand, two, one-thousand, three…

Starting her BMW,  she spoke into her IPhone, surprised to get Tommy’s voicemail, then floored the accelerator, deciding at the last minute to run by her apartment in case he was there. 

Seven minutes later, she stepped into her apartment and flew upstairs, a soft moan her only warning before she reached her bedroom.

Chantal sighed, slowed her breathing, and grasped her gris gris, the charcoal doll marked with a red “X” worn at her neck since childhood. 

Shock covered Tommy’s face, his woman’s mouth agape in terror, hair tousled as she attempted to cover her breasts with Chantal’s gold-satin sheet…One, one-thousand, two… the last images Chantal saw before her personal bayou tsunami rose, guardian spirits demolishing everything in her path on command.

Chantal stepped away from the carnage she’d wrought, expressionless, vaguely aware that she felt no remorse. Eventually someone would find the bloody, broken bodies of her cheating lover and his whore, but no one knew she’d been there to exact justice. Mary would confirm that she’d gone straight to the airport. 

Four and a half hours later, Chantal stood in front of the two-story dilapidated Creole. The white wooden house had been in her family for centuries, and now she alone remained. Ten year old images resurfaced, heavy fog illuminating ominous figures in the dark as she ran, desperate to reach the ferry. 

Despite Chantal’s efforts to escape, her mother, Madame Beauvais to residents of the small southern bayou town named for her family, never let go. 

Chantal crept up the front steps, rundown boards crying out, threatening to give-way rather than support her slight weight, then stepped inside the house, memories razing her brain, the light sounds of squeaking, scurrying rats a welcome anchor to the present.

She stood in the open doorway, closed her eyes, and covered her ears…waiting…waiting…until the familiar barrage of voices emerged, remnants of her mother’s…customers. 

Something hairy brushed her bare leg as it ran across her feet, prompting Chantal to open her eyes. She stomped her foot to scatter the rats, the curious creatures apparently emboldened by darkness, then something cold enveloped her. 

“Ten years well spent, ma fille.”

“Merci, Maman.”

Chantal exhaled and settled into Madame Beauvais’s rocking chair on the winding front porch. Chirping crickets, croaking frogs, fluttering ravens, and the raw scent of earth and water - the bayou - welcomed her…home. 

Read the winning entries here

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