Sunday 15 August 2021

Sadeekah Abdul-Salaam, Short Story 2021 Longlist

Candy's Mansion

It was nearly twenty-five minutes before the dispatch team decided to show up at the crime scene. Perhaps it had been a busy night, or maybe not. They maneuvered their way inside and grabbed at the freezer with a few forceful tugs without luck. Maybe they had thought it would be easy, it wasn’t. They stopped after a few more attempts and contemplated whether or not to carry the giant freezer outside the building for a better job at handling the incident. Meanwhile, the girls together with the neighbors had waited impatiently across the other side of the crime scene. And after what seemed like eternity, the cops put together their brilliant noggins and just when they had held onto each corners of the freezer to lift it outside to the front porch, the adamant door gave way by will. Then, one of the officers on duty shoved his flashlight between its wide jaws as quickly as he could. It was obvious they had had an unusually long night. The officer-in-charge had bent over to assist his subordinates yank the door fully open and lifted the victim out of the merciless and cold ice-box, by which time Candy was dead meat and frozen beyond recognition.

"Good grief," the officers blurted out in unison and stared at each other long and hard without another word. They led the girls outside to a seat in hopes of getting down their statements. They seemed quiet shaken and out of sorts, taking into account the order of surreal events that had unfolded in the span of such few hours. They had sat silent and unmoved for a really long time. The police had gotten tired of waiting to hear their tall tales and took them down to the police station for further questioning.

“I caught most of it on camera,” Fanny blurted out after she snapped herself back to reality. She advanced towards the officer-in-command to prove her statement. The officer signaled to a junior officer to take her phone and copy the video for the records. They released the girls to go home as it had turned out to be an accident that had resulted while defending themselves. The captured video was crystal clear as Candy was seen mercilessly forcing Mindy into the freezer at gun point. The incident was reported over major television stations and had quickly spread throughout Wolfton High School and the neighboring schools. It had been a tragedy for the school and friends and close relatives of Candy Monroe.

It was Tuesday after track practice, the sun had long set and paved way for darkness. Two of the girls who had abandoned Candy and left her parents' mansion, last minute before her untimely death, had walked home together after missing the last bus ride. They pushed their way through the grasslands as quickly as they could. And the dark shadows the sky had cast over the vast acres of tress had begun to frighten them. Then, flying above them were a few crying crows that screamed away, no more than a few feet above them from up high. It wasn’t long before a dark and slender figure appeared. Making her way towards them in a grand fashion, Candy Monroe approached them from behind through the thick cluster of trees. She had looked nothing like the friend they had known. She was from a different species now, definitely not a ghost, but not human either; a hybrid between the living and the dead.

“Allow me the honor of escorting you both to our new abode,” she said. Laughing out loud at her own joke. Whatever it was she was pitching, Lisa and Abby were not in the mood to buy. The two girls exchanged horrified glances and screamed out in unison. They had been shaken and begun to scream again, only this time around, no sound would be heard from their consistent screams. They stood there with their mouths wide open, screaming their heads off, but still, no sound came through. Their lips were sealed tight as she turned her coily finger nails in just two turns. And they mourned their fate as they found themselves obeying Candy against their will. Sadly taking her hand without choice, to follow her for what seemed like a memorable event that was yet to unfold. Candy threw them to the floor upon arrival at the mansion. They had the shock of their lives as they saw many humans hanging from ropes upside down, many had been either cooked, fried or roasted on stands at a portion of the mansion; as dark brownish viscous oil dripped from their bodies into buckets that had been carefully placed beside them, which trickled down into oil wells that had been skillfully dug within the structure.

She had been feeding new-comers with the collected human oil from the wells and turned them into one of her kind, as she built her own little army of the dark side.

Several weeks had passed since the girls had mysteriously disappeared and the search for them continued. It had felt longer than a few weeks, much longer. Too long to stay and withstand her constant brutal torture, but the girls had to endure her ways. Their hope to make it home some day had somewhat kept them alive. Maybe they wouldn’t stay alive for long, but at least they had each other for comfort. The sadness in their eyes was obvious as they glanced back at the other humans who had also been taken hostage by their evil friend. Point of correction, ex-friend. A real friend wouldn’t harm you even in death. No really, even if you offended them in real life before their life-meter ran out, they would forgive you once they emerged in the other world. But not this one. Which totally proves how much of a "friend" she had been to them in the first place. The hate she felt for them now, had surely taught them a good friend from a bad one. Something they had been too blinded to see, despite all their intense moments spent together, causing trouble for others.

She bound them to her world with mind control and inquired every morning, their reason for abandoning her at the time when she needed them the most. Then, she would give a run down of the graphic details of what she had in store for them for being disloyal friends. It had become their morning routine to listen and soak in her repeated sermon on topics that were outdated and far too boring to pay any serious attention. You couldn’t blame her, she had been out of touch with the real world for quiet sometime, so one could never take anything serious when it came to apportioning blame to her.

Anytime someone who hadn’t been turned yet managed to escape, she’d hunt them down with her unnatural abilities and drag them back to add to her collection. She recruited more and more people with each passing day, and succeeded each time without fail.

Malaiyya was over at Fanny’s after track practice on the Thursday before Halloween.They had a jolly time and darkness begun to set in, as the sunset had long settled below the country hills. After seeing Malaiyya off, while she leisurely walked back to her parents home, Fanny had noticed an uncommon feel to the breeze. For one, it was cool alright but carried a funny feel to it. She had also felt tensed and sweaty as it brushed against her skin, nothing like the usual freedom and nonchalant vibes she would usually get from the wind’s elements. So she sensed something was off. Whatever it was, she sure didn’t plan to stick around long enough to witness it, for it gave her the creeps. And she couldn’t wait to get home to a good hot shower. Perhaps a hot soak in the bath tub was what she needed most. She’d been busy making mental plans for the rest of the evening so much that, she didn’t realize the cyclone that was headed her direction in a whisking motion. Before she could grasp hold of what was happening, she was being carried in an upward spiral to God knows where. She had lost touch with her senses, at least enough to not even pull away from whatever invincible force it is that had dragged her through the clouds. She had blacked out somewhere along the journey, and had only gained consciously upon arrival at her new home; Candy’s mansion. Where she was sure to dwell in together with the rest of the others in capture. She could sense the unspoken words from the others, the fright in their eyes had taken away all hopes of their freedom from Candy’s reign. She concluded she’d better gotten used to their condition then, and save herself some energy. Since it was clear that no one had ever escaped from the grips of their new queen.

Malaiyya Wright, the one and only girl left from the group of girls who were present on the day of the accident, couldn’t help but get scared. The other girls had simply vanished into thin air, with no trace whatsoever and she knew she was next. She knew Candy couldn’t wait to get hold of her. She knew how much she hated her even while she was alive. And now that she was dead, there was nothing to stop her. Not even the gods of the underworld. What’s more, she now possessed powers from the land of the dead, powers she was sure would be unmatched. And now, there was no question she would make a show out of her.

Malaiyya’s bedroom window seal was open. The night was hot for whatever reason and she needed some air to breathe, as she snored away the night. A strong wind blew at her thin white curtains and then, she felt a soft tap on her shoulders while in deep slumber. She repositioned herself to sleep some more, and felt yet another tap. She turned around reluctantly to gaze at the fellow who was bent on ruining her sleep. With a slow but subtle squint of her eyes, she let her eyelids fling open in annoyance. Seeing the fright in her eyes, Candy Monroe laughed at Malaiyya in hysterics, her ghostly image of floating freely right above her shocked victim, in thin air.

And natural impulse to scream soon set in, as she witnessed the odd creature simply flaunt her evil ways. But she couldn’t seem to get an ounce of sound come through her throat and Candy laughed in her face even more, showcasing her charcoal brown canine - like teeth. She lifted her up effortlessly like a twig in a strong wind, with the soft curl of her fingers and flew through the open window to her mansion. She tied Malaiyya up, after a good tour of the area and having introduced her to her friends from school; two of whom were dead already. For the rest of the people in captive, She didn’t know them. Perhaps they were regular folks from Wolfton heights. And they had filled Malaiyya in about Candy’s plan to deal with her on special terms.

Malaiyya had soon learned her bearings well and cautiously planned an escape. She followed a certain route where a bunch of kids played hide and seek. It didn’t seem normal for kids to play by themselves at such odd hours so, she knew they must be of Candy’s own kind. She knew by instincts that, Candy would ask the kids which path she took during her escape, and so dashed for a different route which she didn't want to take initially, for she had made a mental note to change paths as soon as she was out of their sight. Malaiyya Switched paths to blend in with the darkness of the night, but even that didn’t stop Candy from fishing her out. All she did was gurgle human oil and spit into the air to be led to her prey. She dragged Malaiyya by the hair back into her chambers; and rested her between the open space with wells of oils from her victims dead bodies.

She intended for her to swim inside the oil wells so she would be overtaken by darkness. Malaiyya scuffled for a moment, eventually cutting herself loose and escaped once more even though another victim; a woman, had told her to give it up because it was no use escaping, since Candy would find her and bring her right back.

Anytime someone begged to be set free, Candy would reply; “oh but I can’t let you out of my sight, I’m preparing the fuel of my new babies for us to feast on”. ….. in an eerie voice. Malaiyya escaped anyway, that was when Candy had left for a moment to adorn herself in a swimming costume. She noticed Malaiyya’s absence upon return and hunted earnestly for her. She dragged her back to the oil pool for initiation. As she uttered a few haunted and long - winded phrases of incantations, forcibly opening Malaiyya’s mouth to let her evil words travel down her system.

Malaiyya let her, as she mentally planned for an opportune time to fight back. When the time was right, she flipped Candy over, put her fingers between her zombie - like jaws to keep her mouth open and spat prayer versus from the Holy Bible, into her mouth. Candy wrestled to keep her mouth shut and Malaiyya struggled to keep it open for as long as she could, Malaiyya halted for a full minute as she had forgotten parts of the prayer due to sheer panic and exhaustion. She kept going however, and repeated what she could remember. Then finally, after what seemed like a never - ending battle, she had won. Malaiyya wright had defeated evil Candy and her illusionary world and Wolfton Heights and the World at large was save from her and her little minions as they all turned into desert sand, and disappeared into a bottomless abyss. Malaiyya had walked through the valleys of the shadow of death.


Earlier that morning, Candy Monroe, Monroe Jenkings’ daughter, had tapped Malaiyya Wrights’ shoulder from behind during a Pep rally event in Wolfton Public High School, she inquired about her identity and whether she was having an affair with her father. Malaiyya had considered it thoughtfully then turned around to answer her.

“no, I don’t even know the man”.

“What a shame” Candy looked around thoughtfully and replied. Throwing her hands up in the air, to continue.

“Because from what I heard, You’ve been his freak between hotel sheets all this while”, she landed.

Malaiyya was so embarrassed about her approach as a small audience had gathered around them and she continued to deny having any such ties with Mr. Jenkings. Candy joined her rich friends; five in number, (Lisa, Abby, Mindy, Sandy and Libby) as they plotted and planned to teach Malaiyya a lesson. “Let’s see if she makes it through the rest of the day”, Candy snarled, walking away with her gang of troublemakers.

After school hours on that same day, Malaiyya was having the blast of her life with her best friend, Fanny Reynolds, when Candy and her gang ambushed and dragged them to her parents holiday private mansion at gun point.

They had tied them up in the basement, with black duck tape wrapped over their lips.

Malaiyya had overheard their conversation to jump them and possibly kill them in a humorous manner. Candy and her gang had been torn between shooting them and keeping the dead bodies in the freezer of the basement or dragging them to the backyard to set them on fire and capturing the whole show on camera. A verbal match had soon ensued between them and they did the whole blame game, as to who actually started the whole rumor thing about Malaiyya dating her father. Candy’s friends inquired at this point if she was truly sure Malaiyya had something serious with her father. “To be quiet honest, I’m not sure if the rumor is legit”. She confessed, “I didn’t know how else to deal with the problems between mom and dad at home, and besides, I heard rumors about Malaiyya going on numerous trips with business men to fund her education. So, it was only natural I suspected father might be one of the men, because of which he no longer stayed home that much” she concluded.

They realized they may have no justified reasons to want to kill Malaiyya .

The first four girls walked out of the room and left for their various homes, they wanted nothing to do with the absurd plan. But Candy wouldn’t let go, she was bent on dealing with Malaiyya, even if she wasn’t sure she had business with her father. What if she actually did and she freed them, then what?

Unfortunately for Fanny and Malaiyya their several attempts to break free from the ropes that had bound their hands and feet proved futile. Just then, Candy emerged through the basement door and walked up to them with a pair of scissors in hand. They couldn’t help but get scared upon seeing the weapon in hand. “Jeez, relax!, I’m not shredding you up or anything, she said as she came close to them. She grabbed onto the knots and cut them loose. There, standing in the northeast corner, was a giant freezer in a basement, It had been empty for some reason. Probably because it wasn’t a place they used that much. She then ordered them to step inside, with fire in her eyes and a voice that screamed “ you’d better do as I say”, and so they obeyed her. Malaiyya set foot first as Fanny followed suit. Candy had shut the freezer door but accidentally slammed it on Fanny’s fingers which made it hard to close. Candy had been angry and ordered she kept her fingers down. As she stood barking commands, Mindy, one of her friends who hadn’t left yet, had come around and tried to change Candy’s mind. For the whole idea of killing them was an absurd one. Candy ignored her and carried on with her plans, with intense passion this time around.

Mindy had struggled to set Malaiyya and Fanny free. They had climbed out of the freezer and shivered like naked little birds, almost in shock due to the cold. Candy was even more enraged and pointed the gun at Mindy, as she ordered her to step inside the freezer in place of the girls since she played heroine. Mindy, knowing how crazy her friend can get, obeyed, and stepped inside the freezer without protest. Malaiyya and Fanny had ganged up and hit the gun out of Candy’s hands. A fight had ensued between them and Malaiyya had gotten the upper hand on the gun. She had saved Mindy from the freezer and together, they had ordered Candy into the freezer to have a feel of the cold. Mindy had slammed the freezer door shut, out of anger. But they had decided moments later, to open and check on her as she would have experienced the cold enough to not attempt putting another human being through such inhumane circumstances. Unfortunately for them, the freezer door had been locked automatically and refused to open. They had tried all they could with no luck. They had wasted enough time trying to save her by themselves, but realized it was of no use and together, they had called 911.

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