This is my second published story, which was originally published in Fear and Trembling Magazine in 2010. Unlike my other horror story, it comes with no warning, and is suitable for all readers who like scary yet uplifting fiction.
Everyone always said that Maggie Dunn might never win a beauty contest on earth, but she was certain to win one in heaven. Her nose and ears might be too big and her eyes and lips might be too small and her hair might look like an explosion of frizzy orange wires, but her heart was just right.
Her neighbors and her fellow members at the First Baptist Church had all learned to see past her uncomely exterior and were always happy to come over to her house for good food and spiritual encouragement. She kept her house spotlessly clean, just like her soul, and that was why she was so upset to come into her living room one day and see a black spot on the hardwood floor.
“How did that get there?” she wondered.
She tried to scrub the black spot away using soap, and when that didn’t work she tried alcohol, and when that didn’t work she tried bleach and every other cleaning solution she could find. None of them made the black spot go away, nor even lessened the pitch black color one iota. The black spot was only about the size of a penny, so she sat a potted plant over it.
The rest of her day was spent working at the library and volunteering at the First Baptist Church’s homeless outreach. When she got home and sat down on her couch to rest, something didn’t seem right. It took her a few minutes to figure out what it was. She stared around the room, her eyes finally coming to rest on the black spot. It was now the size of a tea saucer.
Jumping up, she rushed over to the black spot, wondering what had happened to the potted plant she had used to cover the spot, and how the spot had grown so big so fast. The only explanation she could think of was that the black spot had swallowed the potted plant. After all, it was by no means a normal black spot, like a stain. It was pure black, as if it was the doorway into a void where nothing existed except darkness.
To test her theory, Maggie went into the kitchen and got a can out of the trash. Coming into the living room, she stood by the black spot, holding the can directly over it. Taking a deep breath, she dropped the can. It seemed to fall in slow motion, going closer and closer to the black spot. She expected it to bounce off the black spot and prove that it was just a weird stain on the floor.
Instead, the can went right into the black spot and disappeared. Maggie’s eyes widened and she backed away, clutching her chest. Had she just seen what she thought she saw, or was she going crazy? The black spot grew a little bigger. No, she couldn’t be going crazy. The Bible said that God had given her a sound mind. That meant the black spot was as real as could be.
Maggie fed the black spot some more trash, to see what would happen. With each piece of garbage, the black spot grew larger, until it was the size of a car tire. She resolved to try and starve it, feeling sick. But she felt even sicker when she remembered that she was hosting the First Baptist Church’s women’s brunch at her house in two days, on Saturday afternoon. She didn’t want the women to see the black spot in her house, which was always spotless.
“Dear God,” Maggie prayed, “please make the black spot go away.”
She prayed this prayer many times that night and early the next morning. She headed off to work hoping that the black spot would be gone when she got home later. But, after eight hours at the library and two hours at the First Baptist Church’s homeless outreach, she arrived home to find the black spot still the same size.
“Dear God,” Maggie kept praying, “please make the black spot go away.”
This prayer was on her lips through the rest of the day and night. She tried not to be too disappointed when the black spot was still there the next morning. Only one day was left until the women’s brunch at her house. She went to work and volunteer with a heavy heart, arriving home sure she would find the black spot still there on her living room floor. And sure enough, it was.
As she cleaned her house to make it ready for the women’s brunch, she couldn’t keep her mind off the black spot. Dusting, scrubbing, mopping, sweeping, and shining, she kept remembering the black spot and praying for God to make it go away. While vacuuming off her couches, she got her foot caught in the electrical cord, and when she tripped it knocked the vacuum into the black spot.
The vacuum cleaner disappeared, like everything that went into the black hole, and Maggie wasn’t too sad, being that the vacuum cleaner was old and didn’t work too well anyway. Still, she hadn’t noticed that the electrical cord was caught around her leg, and she found herself being pulled towards the black spot, as if the cord was a spaghetti noodle that it was slurping up.
“Oh, God, no!” she cried.
Having eaten the vacuum cleaner, the black spot had grown much larger, easily large enough to swallow a little spinster. Maggie tried to grab onto nearby furniture, but she lost her grip and found herself sliding into the black spot. Inch by inch she passed into darkness, until only her fingers were grasping the edge of the hole.
By swinging her feet, she made the vacuum cleaner’s electrical cord slide down her leg and off the tip of her foot. Hope surged with her, and with a strength she didn’t know she had, she pulled herself out of the black spot and onto her living room floor. She had to lay on her back awhile to catch her breath, her heart pounding like she was the nail and it was the hammer.
“Thank You, God,” Maggie said. “I wasn’t ready to come home yet. And I certainly didn’t want to come home in such an unpleasant way.”
Tired, but glad to be alive, she went back to cleaning her house. She was just clapping her hands together at a job well done when she heard the back door open. She always left her back door unlocked until she went to bed, in case one of her neighbors wanted to come visit. Wondering which neighbor would be coming over this late at night, she started to head through the living room.
Maggie came face to face with a big, mean-looking man. He had a large knife in one hand, and he was showing his teeth in a shark-like grin. His eyes were wild as he walked towards her, looking her up and down. She wasn’t sure whether he was a demented rapist, a demented thief, a demented serial killer, or just run-of-the-mill demented. Whatever the case, she knew what to do.
“God,” she prayed, “please protect me.”
The big man walked slowly towards her, like a vicious alley cat stalking a soft city mouse. Maggie had nowhere to run, the man blocking the only way out of the room with his massive frame. Her eyes were drawn to the black spot, which was between her and the maniac. He was walking towards it without even seeing it. Being soft-hearted, she was about to warn him in the hopes of getting him some professional psychiatric help, but she was too late.
Just as she opened her mouth, the man stepped onto the black spot. Or, perhaps, into would be a better word, for he fell like a rock being dropped into a well. He didn’t make a sound, the darkness swallowing up his feet, his legs, his stomach, his chest, his arms, and finally his wide grin and wild eyes. The teeth and the eyes seemed to stare out of the black spot for several seconds after he was gone, and she looked away.
Once she got up the nerve to look again, the black spot was the size of a small table. She was about to edge around it when, like a giant mouth, it began closing, the dark circle growing smaller and smaller until it was nothing more than a dot. And just like that, it was gone. Her floor, like the rest of her house, was spotless.
“Thank You, God,” Maggie whispered.
(c) 2011 Jonathan Garner