Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The Birthday Surprise (A Flash Fiction Story)


“It’s my fortieth,” said Melissa, more than a little irritation in her voice, “have a drink.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Oh, all right then. I’m going to the kitchen. Does anybody want anything?”

Around the small coffee table in Mellissa’s lounge, the guests raised their glasses and half-full beer bottles one at a time. It seemed everyone but her was sorted. Jane harrumphed. “All right. But when I get back, we’ll sing Happy Birthday.”

Melissa sighed. “If you must. But I’m forty, not four. We’ll have to wait for Mike to get back first, though.” She thumbed towards the bathroom door and raised her voice for effect. “I wonder what’s taking so long in there.”

There was no response from within the bathroom, as Jane left for the kitchen.

The party continued their merry banter. Simon was telling what he believed was a hilarious story about Mike’s bachelors' the day before, as everyone else laughed politely between sips of their drinks.

A scream emanated from the kitchen.

The party shot up from their seats, knocking drinks all over the coffee table in the process. Simon reached the kitchen first, in time to witness Jane standing in front of the open fridge. She was slack-jawed, shaking, and snow white.

“Jane?” said Simon. “What’s wrong?”

She didn’t respond, but lifted a shaky hand and pointed. The group huddled around.

There, on a shelf above the margarine, was a human head. The eyes were open in a permanent stare, the mouth was twisted in an expression of agony, and blood dripped from the neck onto the shelf below.

The face was unmistakable: Mike.

Melissa sank to her haunches on the kitchen floor. Her mouth shook, and she sobbed. Jane fell to the ground beside her, and the two women bawled hysterically on each others’ shoulders.

Simon ran back to the lounge and banged on the bathroom door.

“Mike! Mike! This isn’t funny!” he screamed, pounding the door furiously. “Come out of there right now.”

When no response was forthcoming, he instinctively grabbed the door handle, pulled it down, and shouldered the door. It sprang open, causing him to almost lose his footing as he spilled into the room.

It was empty.

Mike was nowhere to be found. The window above the toilet was open, and a chilly wind blew the curtains into the room. Outside was pitch dark, and all was silent except for the muffled sounds of crying and “Why?” emanating from the distant kitchen.

Simon made his way back to the kitchen, where the girls were still huddled on the floor. The fridge was still open, and Mike’s face was still stuck in its rictus stare. By this time, the blood had begun to drip out of the fridge and was pooling on the floor.

Simon steeled himself and tiptoed to the open fridge. Sticking out a tentative finger, he gingerly touched the head’s cheek.

It didn’t feel like human flesh. The texture was rubbery, almost like silicone.

The back door to the kitchen flew open.

“Surprise!”

Mike stood in the open doorway, laughing like a crazy person. “You should have seen the looks on your faces,” he said, between gasps for air. “My word, you don’t understand how difficult it was climbing out of that bathroom window, coming around the back, getting this creeky door open. Happy birthday, Melissa!”

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