Sabbath tugged at her seat-belt, pulling the strap away from her neck. To her dismay, it was locked into place–she sighed, placing her thumb in between the strap and her chest, doing her best to keep it from digging into her skin. She looked over at her father. He caught her gaze in the mirror and smiled, then reached to turn the station to something she’d enjoy.
She frowned. Today should have been fun. But Twitch didn’t want to go, and without her, she found herself bored before they’d even reached Miami. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go, it was just that her and Twitch did everything together.
Too bad Twitch found fishing about as fun as watching paint dry.
“We’re almost home,” Ash said. Sabbath could now see five townhouses superimposed against the skyline of the downtown area–the Calusa Shores Painted Ladies. The last of the brownstones was almost double the size of the others–this was the one she called home.
As soon as they reached the driveway, Sabbath hopped out of the car and ran inside the house, eager to see her sister. She flung the door open, shouting, “Mom, we’re home!” as she rushed through the mudroom and into the living area, where she stopped in her tracks.
The lights were off. She hadn’t noticed it from the outside, but the lights in the house were all off. With the curtains drawn, Sabbath found herself cloaked in a stifling darkness, with only barely enough light coming from the door of the entry hall to see about a dozen feet in front of her. She looked around the room, trying to get her eyes to adjust to the darkness and hoping their reflective layers could catch some stray ray of light, but they caught nothing. She called out to her mother again, but received no response–instead, she was greeted by the sound of a dripping faucet, and a single, wooden creak echoing from somewhere in the blackness.
“Why is it so dark in here?” Sabbath turned to the door to find her father fumbling for the switch, his hand feebly clawing at the wall behind them. She heard a soft click–he’d found it–but the light failed to respond, and she heard him mutter something under his breath that she dared not repeat.
There was a soft sound coming from the kitchen, catching Sabbath’s attention. Her ears perked forward, focusing on the direction of the sound. At first she couldn’t identify it–it wasn’t a sound she’d heard often, although she could swear she had heard it somewhere before. She moved toward the door, running her hands along the furniture and wall, before she finally found the knob on the door. As she opened it, her eye caught just enough light from over the sink to fill out the room, turning the darkness around her into a soft world of gray.
Sabbath put her hand on her sister’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?” She asked. Twitch stopped for a moment to sniffle, and then broke into a sob.
She found Twitch beneath the kitchen table, curled into a ball. Her face was soaking wet and stunk of salt–she was crying. It took a moment for that to sink in. Twitch never cried, not even when they were little–she was, as her mother had once put it, unflappable. Even as a baby, she had rarely made a sound–or so she’d overheard from the grownups at one of Uncle Devon’s parties.
And yet Twitch was crying.
Sabbath crawled beneath the table and held her sister. “What’s wrong?”
Twitch didn’t say a word. She stopped crying and let out a sniffle, but almost immediately after she went back to tears.
“Dad, something’s wrong with–”
Before she could finish, the screech of white noise filled the room. Sabbath grabbed her ears and pressed them down tight against her head, but even through her hands she could hear the voice of her mother blaring through the static: “I did it for her. I did it for her. Ash, forgive me, I did it for her.”
Beep. The answering machine–
“Hey Honey, just wanted to let you know we’re on our way….”
She looked back at the kitchen door. Her father stood a few feet away on the other side, his face pulled into a scowl. Sabbath rose to her feet and rubbed her ears, trying to sooth the ache. As she left the kitchen, she noticed her father seemed distant, his gaze fixed on the machine. She puzzled over it for a second. That message—
She took another step and slipped, catching herself on an end table before she hit the floor. She’d stepped in something–something wet, but hard to make out with the light she had. She could tell it wasn’t water–it was thick, judging from the smear her shoe left on the hardwood floor.
“Hey, there’s something on the floor–”
There was a soft buzz, and the light came on. The newfound brightness seared Sabbath’s eyes and filled her world with blurry color. She saw a shadow to the right, shifting slightly as its source moved above her. She looked up and caught sight of an nondescript figure–a hazy black and white blob swaying from the railing upstairs. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she could make out a brown skirt, then a pair of legs and a hand, and a horrible, dripping piece of denuded bone–the remains of a finger that had been brutally ripped away.
Hanging by a bed sheet balcony was her mother, her once bright yellow eyes now dull and lifeless.