Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Dowry (flash fiction 443 words)

He lifted the the trapdoor leading to the cellar. The rusted hinges creaked in protest. Descending a few steps, he reach up and grasped her lifeless hand. Her face appeared above him. With his hands around her neck, a quick tug brought her body sliding down the steps.

He could still hear the rain beating on the window panes as it had been doing for more than a day. A damp, musty odour rose from between the cobbles that made up the floor of the dark cavernous space beneath the kitchen.

Sweat broke on his brow as he toiled to dig her resting place. Tendrils of cold, moist air wrapped themselves around him.

“I'll have no wife argue with me. I told you, I didn't want it here, you stupid bitch. It's evil. It's cursed. It's not staying in my fucking house,” he swore, heaving her body into the deep channel he had dug. He laboured for over an hour restoring the cellar floor, seating each cobble in its place

Standing back to admire his handy-work, he noticed water rising between the cobbles. Outside the storm continued unabated. The water soon covered his feet, climbing icy cold towards his shins. His stomach tighten in fear. He sloshed his way to the steps that lead to the safety of the room above.

Thunder cracked and rumbled, the sound distorting as it travelled down to meet him. His head breached into the room above, his feet scrabbling on the slippery stone steps.

In the kitchen he wrapped his fingers around the wooden handle of his axe; hefting it above his head he swung it at the dresser. An ear piercing clap of thunder and a blinding flash of light disorientated him. He did not hear the glass shatter as the lightening passed through the window, nor did he see the heavy dresser move with the impact. The dresser fell, and in doing so knocked him through the trapdoor into the rushing torrent that was rapidly filling the cellar.

The water licked just below his chin, before it forced its way into his mouth and nostrils. His last breath burned in his chest; his lungs screaming for air. His fists hammered on the fallen dresser that blocked his escape.

The last sounds that penetrated his brain were a voice, as sweet as a child's, which mingle with two others which were coarse and strident.

“That dresser was my dowry, my mother's before me and hers before that. If we cannot have it in life, you shall not live to destroy it,” they chorused.

The storm over Pendle Hill raged on into the hag-ridden night.

© Lindsey Chapman - 


  1. Oh yea, that's the good stuff. Great work on this. Looking forward to more next week!

  2. A haunted dresser… whoa! He got what he had coming to him though… I wonder how many other bodies are in the basement?

  3. Great, spooky story. Love it! He got what was coming to him!