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NYCmidnight 500 word Fiction Challenge Rd 1


It's not scary when you know, only when you don't. 

Every Sunday I see them.

Without fail the heating of the hotplate on the oven is the routine fragrance for our bacon and eggs breakfasts. A steakhouse smell would fill the rooms. Like the smoke.

My grandparents' house in Dandenong, the smell of home. Southeast of Melbourne it is known for its amazing scenery and beautiful national park lands. A place of lush flora and fauna in Victoria.

The east coast of Australia is spectacular and filled with rich indigenous and colonisation heritage.

Many see them on Sunday’s, only some don't.

Nana and papa spent their entire married life in the suburb. It's only thirty five kilometres from the Melbourne Central business district.

The commute to town with them is long and cold. Yet after church is done, brunch warms our bellies up all day.

After the usual Sunday smoke alarm test, nana and poppa would disappear. The broom is everybody's best friend when the smoke alarm screams and it's whoever is closest to the broom's job to pick it up and turn the alarm off.

These days, it just chimes on Sunday briefly before the room fills again with silence.

On the train, I sit alone. Allowing room for my grandparents to sit together. People often look at me with a peculiar expression. Until they see them, glowingly in love - together forever.

Last Sunday was unique. We Always sit in the fifth row. At seven in the morning there is no fighting over seating really.

Nana and papa sit at the window seat and I sit on the aisle. Yet, on the ninth of August 2023 someone was in my seat. Nana and papa's seats were free but my seat was not.

I asked politely if I could sit next to my grandparents to which the young man stared at me oddly. Raising his eyebrows puzzled, like I was delusional. I persisted and asked again, tilting my head to the side, gesturing towards my grandparents. His look unchanged, still blank. This time buckling his belt for comfort. His head turned forward and proceeded to ignore me. Upset, yet with a seat spare facing my papa I sat on the chair facing him. Papa started to get upset. I motioned to him not to stress over the boy. "I am still sitting next to you." I said. Tapping my papa's knee.

Suddenly, the boy who had stolen my seat smacked my hand from reaching papa. Shocked I stood up, so did the boy. Before I had time to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing, he started yelling at me. "Are you a raving lunatic?" he said. As I stood still, jaw dropped. "There is nobody sitting there!" He bellowed.

As he turned to the seating beside him where sat two corpses, green and decayed, holding hands. The boy fainted and I casually sat down.

Church was normal and the smoke alarm went off as usual too. As for that boy, he never stole my seat again.

Author: Marcia Anita Hobbs

26 August 2023

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