Horror and Thriller Fiction posted May 15, 2020

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This is a flash fiction story I submitted as a contest entry

Dinner with the Donners

by christianpowers

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

The clock chimed, snapping Mary Donner out of a daze. 6:30 already? She stopped fiddling with her wildflowers, snatched up the vase and scampered toward the basement. "Teddy," she shouted, "Grab the steaks and get your butt downstairs."

As she yanked the basement door and descended, Teddy yelled, "I'm coming, dag-blasted!"

Mary set the vase down on the long dining table and ran to the bulkhead. They had the biggest basement of all their neighbors, lined on both sides with giant kennel cages from when her father-in-law, Fred Donner, raised dogs back in the '50's. That's why she and Teddy always got stuck hosting.

On the bulkhead stairs she slid the giant deadbolt and opened the steel doors. Jim Brown and his brother Sidney had been expecting her. They grabbed the doors and eased them aside.

Grace, Jim's wife, stood in front of her with arms folded. "So now it's locked. Too little, too late, don't you think?"

Mary ignored the jibe, spun around and motioned for them to follow. "Welcome, folks. Sorry I made you wait."

Jim said, "It's okay. We came early, I think."

They followed her down. Teddy arrived from upstairs with the platter of steaks. He set it on the table and greeted the Browns. The Hattons arrived next with old lady Bess Hatton waddling down the bulkhead stairs followed by her sons. Then came the Baileys, the Krafts and the Martins.

Finally, their new members arrived. Billy and Alison Clark with their teen daughter Sarah stepped cautiously into the basement. They said their hellos and then Billy pointed to the pile of steaks on the table. "You gonna grill those?"

Teddy said, "Sure, Bill... sure."

Billy nodded and asked, "Okay... so's y'all got any beer?"

Mary said, "Well, I think we should chat first."

Billy looked perplexed. "You ain't even got any chairs. What gives, Ted? I had work, but you said we had to come. And, truth is, you people ain't the friendliest. Been livin' here for years and y'all barely say hey. So, what in hell is goin' on?"

Nobody wanted to break the bad news. Teddy stammered, "Well, you see... it's strange... uhm, you remember last month, Bill... when you got bit by that rabid dog?"

Billy nodded. "Damn straight. Son o' bitch nearly took my arm." He waved it all around. "Bled like hell, but it healed. Didn't even scar."

Teddy fidgeted. "Well," he said, "That's... uhm... that's why we're here."

Billy said, "I don't get it."

"What I'm trying to say... uhm... it's simple, really... uhm... it's just that... uhm..."

Bess Bailey huffed and said, "Just tell him he's a goddamn werewolf already. The moon's fixin' to rise."

Teddy held up a hand. "Stop, Bess. No reason to be rude."

Bess cackled. "Rude? A couple minutes and we'll be at each others throats. That will be rude."

Billy said, "What? You think I'm a werewolf? That's ridiculous."

Mary stepped forward and said, "I'm sorry, Billy. I lock everyone in the cages and then lock myself down here. It's my job. Last month, somehow, I left the bulkhead door unlocked." She fiddled with the vase full of bluebonnets. "It was all my fault. I got loose and now your family has to come here every month to get locked down with the rest of us."

Alison said, "This is crazy. You people are crazy." She turned to leave, but Kenny Hatton slammed the bulkhead and locked it. Alison said, "Hey!"

Kenny shrugged, "Sorry, Ma'am, moon's rising."

Teddy shouted, "Okay, everyone in!" He grabbed the steaks and began tossing one in each cage.

"You're all crazy!" Alison shouted, hugging her daughter. "There's no such thing as werewolves... and we weren't even bit."

Mary said, "I'm sorry, Alison, but if Billy has it then you all have it. That's why we're so private in Branford. It's... very contagious. Now you all should get in that last kennel."

Billy shouted, "Over my dead body. We're leaving here right now and there ain't nothing y'all can do to stop--"

A loud gunshot rang out and Billy fell with a gaping chest wound. Alison and Sarah screamed.

Teddy holstered his .357. "Now you two ladies get in that kennel." The Clark girls retreated into the cage. Teddy dragged Billy in after them and then grabbed 3 steaks and tossed them in with the family. Mary locked the cage.

"You killed my husband!" Alison screamed.

Teddy pointed, "Does he look dead to you?"

Alison looked down as Billy sat up. Alison screamed again. This time terrified at the sight of her husband still alive despite a hole in his chest.

Teddy said, "Only silver can kill us."

As Mary locked Teddy in the last cage, he shouted, "Here comes the moon, folks!"

Silver moonbeams flooded through the cellar windows. The cages rocked and rattled as dozens of human cries and groans slowly changed into a loud cacophony of snarls and growls.

Outside, across the moonlit plain, as a weary backpacker walked the only road through Branford, Texas, he heard the strange, muffled sounds of faraway howls and quickened his pace.

By Christian Powers

Limited by word count and some prompts I had to adhere to gave me this short story. Sometimes they write themselves.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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