Shades of DarknessbyLunaLover©
Rain tapped a steady beat on the tin roof of the old house. Various vessels were placed to catch the water as it leaked through the ceiling. Chloe was in the tiny dinning room looking out one of the windows watching the rain that had steadily fell for the past five days. She cursed herself for not having the roof inspected before she moved in to her grandmother's old house. She was so touched that the woman had loved her enough to leave her the house. It had been the place where many of her happy childhood memories were forged. The summers where they made pancakes and had fresh fruits from the garden for breakfast. Where they painted the old kitchen to give it a more modern look. Chloe had learned to bake bread there, developed her love for handmade quilts and homemade preserves. Grandmas was always a place of love and fun and consistency in her turmoil of life with busy divorced parents. She sighed as she sipped from her mug of hot tea, silently blessing her Grams for all of the wonderful memories.
The phone ringing brought her out of her reverie. She set down the mug and walked over to the old wall phone and picked up the receiver. Static permeated the line as she said hello.
"Ms. Spencer?" a manly voice questioned.
"Yes. Speaking," she replied.
"Ah...I'm glad I caught you before the weather took out any lines. This is Derek Wilson. You left me a message on my cell about your leaking roof. I can't do anything to stop it while it's raining.. But I can come out and look at it and give you a rough estimate on the damage and what needs to be done. That way you can get some bids in on it."
Chloe sighed but she knew that there was nothing to be done in the rain. "I don't want to trouble you Mr. Wilson. I know there's not much you can do while it's raining. Besides it's an old house and I should have known better than to move in before at least having the old metal roof covered in some sort of sealant. "
Derek Wilson chuckled slightly. "I think I know exactly where you're at. Not many fulltime homes have their original metal roofs anymore. You're out at Hattie Johnson's old place aren't you?"
"Yep. She was my Grams. She left me the place and honestly I couldn't wait to move in. The house has always been my favorite refuge."
"Well I'll tell ya what. I'll swing by with some tarps and some galvanized nails with rubber washers. That will ensure the holes made by the nails will be water proof. That should stop the leaks until the weather improves and we can fix it proper. At the very least you'll feel a bit better and won't have to worry about rain dropping in your bed in the middle of the night."
"Thank you," she replied. "I'll try just about anything. I'm tired of emptying pots and bowls."
They hung up and she went in to her bed room to dig out some proper clothes. Her pajama bottoms and tank top weren't exactly proper for meeting someone, let alone a repair man, for the first time. While bent over one of her many boxes of clothes, she thought for sure she heard the floor boards in front of the door too her room. She looked up and caught a glimpse of a shadow. It was as if someone had turned and walked down the hall toward the living room. She walked out into the hall and saw nothing. She walked toward the living room and thought to herself that if Mr. Wilson made it a habit of walking into potential clients' homes, well she was going to give him a piece of her mind.. What if she had been nude? Or perhaps that is what he was hoping for. There was no one in her living room, so she rounded into the kitchen and no one was there either and the back door was still latched.
Chloe shook her head and chalked it up to her imagination. When she turned around she felt her heart catch in fright as she saw a dark hooded figure outside her front door. It didn't take long for her to chastise herself though when she realized it was a man with his Carhardt's hood over his head. She breathed a shuddered sigh of relief at the realization, and walked over to the door. The man on the other side of the glass was very nice on her eyes. A five o'clock shadow forming on his chiseled features and sparkling grey eyes.
"Ms. Spencer I presume," he said when she opened the inner door.
"Yes. Mr. Wilson?" She questioned back.
He laughed and ran a hand through his sandy hair. "Yeah.. That's me."
He looked her dead in the eye then asked, "mind if I come in?"
"Oh my yes. I'm sorry." She unlocked the storm door and let him in the house.
Derek looked around the living room as he entered. He was surprised by all the containers she had sitting around to collect the water that was dripping so fast that it was nearly a stream.
"Wow. We really do need to get something done or you'll have an indoor pool before long."
Chloe agreed and showed him through the houses and he checked out the leaks and made mental notes on any damage that might have to be fixed so that the roof is stable and won't come crashing down on her.
"Yanno," he said while walking back to the living room. "We really need to get a tarp on at least this side of the house where all these leaks are. I also will put one over your bedroom. It would suck to wake up soaked with cold rain water."
She laughed, "as opposed to warm rain water?"
He shook his head and then announced that the rain had slowed down and that he was going to strike while the iron was hot and get those tarps on the roof. She asked him if he needed any help and he said he didn't, that she didn't need to get blown off the roof because it was a long way to the ground.
"However if you're feeling generous and have some coffee, a cup when I get down would be much appreciated."
Derek went outside and got his ladder and his supplies off the back of his truck. Chloe dumped out the filled up containers one more time before starting a pot of coffee. She really hoped that the tarps would at least lessen the amount of water streaming down through her Swiss cheese roof. It did not take long for her to get the pots taken care of, so she set to work on brewing the coffee and put some of those ready to bake cookies on a sheet and into her toaster oven, set the timer and went into her laundry room and gathered up towels. So that her new contractor could dry off. She was glad she had looked through Gram's old phonebook. Her grandmother was wonderful about keeping notes on the people she hired. Next to his name and number, she'd written "great work, fair price". There was also a green house she wanted to check out this spring.
Up on the roof, the wind gusted at Derek in protest. He had to be careful where he put his weight at, afraid he'd step through a soft spot and make even more of a problem. He managed to get one tarp nailed down before he was frozen through and through by the wind driven rain. He climbed down the ladder and faced the harsh wind, trudging to the door. He looked in through the window and saw Chloe setting her little dinning table with mugs and a plate of cookies. He knocked on the door anxious to get inside where it was warm.
Chloe looked up from her task when Derek knocked on the door. Quickly she walked over to let him in, grabbing the towel she'd laid on the back of an arm chair.
"Oh my that was fast," she said.
" Thanks, I'm not done yet. It's so windy up there I thought I was going to learn to fly," he chuckled wiping his face and neck with the towel.
" Perhaps you should call it quits and come back when its not so windy and rainy." She poured hot coffee into the two mugs. Then asked Derek to join her at the table and put something warm in his stomach.
"You've really made this place your own. The last time I was here was to set up the clothes line in the back yard for your grandmother. I really like those framed pictures in the living room. The background looks really familiar."
" Thanks. And you should if you've lived in this town for very long at all. This is out behind the dam at the City Lake."
"I see that now. That was early spring? When the dogwoods first bloom." Derek took a bite of a cookie and grinned and the chocolate morsels dribbled across his lips. "I'm no better than a kid it seems."
"Let me get you a paper towel" she stood up and turned. There she saw the shadow again, briefly outside her kitchen window. She shook her head and retrieved the towel and handed it to Derek.
After a few more minutes of small talk Derek excused himself to go back out to the roof and finish his project. The cold wet air hit him hard as he pulled the door closed behind him. He really didn't want to be doing this but he knew the woman inside needed the help, and honestly he was rather looking forward to collecting a payment. He chuckled to himself as he thought about how cheesy that sounded. But if he could get her talked into it, his payment would be a dinner date. When he saw her come around the corner she stole his breath. Her brown eyes were inquisitive and wide. Her auburn hair was pulled on top of her head in a ponytail that swished around her neck when she walked. The surprised look on her face when she'd seen him was almost erotic. She affected him at first glance. Perhaps he was just that lonely. He didn't know or care at the moment.
Inside the little house, Chloe was cleaning up and putting the coffee pot back on the stove to stay warm. She was wondering to herself just how much the man on her roof was going to charge her for the work and the hassle of doing it in such nasty weather. She might have to set up installments. Photography paid well if you kept at it steadily but that was the point, keeping at it. She had not had a real job in a while now, and she was thinking it was time to look for one.
As she walked back to the table to wipe up the cookie crumbs there was the shadow again. Only this time it stayed. She lost her ability to move. Her feet were glued to the floor. The air around her grew cold and heavy. Despite all of this the shadow made no movements toward her. Her heart was racing and she wanted to scream and as she opened her mouth the shadow ran right through her knocking her down. Her world faded away.
She felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It was like things were rushing at her. Images and feelings. She tried to sort them out but it was too hard. She resigned to accept what was being dealt to her. Then the images began slowing down and she felt an overwhelming nausea as she saw a small child reaching out for a its mother as the mother was being struck repeatedly by a man. Chloe tried to scream at the man, to make him stop. But she was only a watcher of this gruesome show. The man never turned around , so she never saw his face. It disturbed her to see this unfolding before her, unable to help or do anything. Then she saw the little girl with her blonde curls in little ponytails turn and Chloe watched her walk over to the counter, Chloe's counter, and pick up a large knife. With determination the little girl walked up behind the man who was still bend over the still body in the corner. She called out to him, the one real word that Chloe was able to grasp "daddy". Then raised both over her hands over her head, clutching the knife. The man turned to face his daughter with a bloody hand raised. She struck. She threw her entire little body into it and the sharp knife sank right into his chest. A look of shock and disbelief washed across his wrinkled features. Tears streamed down the little blonde girl's face as she cried out to him that she'd told him to stop. She was sorry that it had come to that, but she couldn't let him hit her mom and her any more.
Derek was just hammering the last nail into the roof when he heard a scream from within the house. He nearly broke his neck trying to get down the ladder, and opted for jumping, half way down. Around to the front door he ran, but it felt like he was running in sand. He swung the door open , not caring to close it behind him and called out to Chloe.
"Ms. Spencer? Are you alright?" He questioned, not getting an answer.
He walked into the house, through the living room to the dining room, and looked into the kitchen. There she lay, tears streaming down her pale face. Eyes fixed in a state of horror. He ran to her, scooping her up to cradle her head in his arms.
" What happened? Are you okay?" he gently tapped her cheeks with his free hand.
(a work in progress)