Writer’s Digest: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on this prompt: A man who lives alone sees a set of footprints leading away from his house the morning after a heavy snowfall.
*results won’t be announced until mid January
I was lying, in what seemed to be a puddle of my own sweat. The cool breeze from the freshly fallen snow cracked through the window as I got up in a sitting position at the end of my bed. I didn’t remember leaving the window open last night, its December, no one in their right mind would leave the window open. I made my way over to close it as I realized that there were puddles of water from the window to my bed. I assumed that someone had entered my cabin and if, then for what reason? I froze and attempted to gain my composure and thought they could still be here. I was in no position to find out unarmed. I walked to my desk and grabbed the only jagged object I could find—a letter opener.
I looked everywhere; there was no clear evidence of a broken entry at my door. My investigation found no suspect. I had no choice but to retire my efforts. I was startled but I had to get ready for work. I went into my bedroom and locked the door behind me. I entered the bathroom and did just the same. I looked into the mirror distressed, as if I hadn’t had a single ounce of sleep. I attributed this to my less than desirable morning. I took off my clothes—heavy of perspiration—and dropped them on the floor.
Dressed and ready for work, I started my pot of coffee. I put my documents back into my brief case and realized I hadn’t seen my phone. I must have been in a deep sleep last night when it rang. I had three urgent message alerts when I finally found it on the floor near the front door. As I waited for my coffee to brew I dialed my voice mail and listened to the first message.
“Judge Ryker, I. . .I would never call this late but it is imperative that I speak to you, it is Marcus Mariedo, I am assisting Defense Attorney Smith in your sons case. . .um. . .I need to update you on something that has happened.”
I checked the other two messages; they were from Attorney Smith’s office again. I decided I would call them when I arrived to my office this morning. I had a bad morning already. I was not interested in discussing the details of my son’s case mid coffee.
I grabbed my thermos, adjusted my tie in the mirror and made my way out the door. When I stepped out I saw foot prints from the outside of the door, the footprints continued out into the forest. The hairs on my neck stood erect as icicles.
I ran back into my bedroom, as I suspected the footprints stopped at my bed. The rest of the floor was bare as bone, not a flicker of water. I opened the window and looked upon my backyard, there was an imprint where a body scuffled to the ground and then a set of fresh footprints that led to my bedroom window. I turned and frantically pulled the covers off of my bed, my sheets were wet, my winter boots on the left corner of the bed.
My phone began to ring. When I answered, it was Attorney Smith. He said, “Judge Ryker, we’ve been trying to get ahold of you. I apologize for the late calls but it seems that there is an interesting turn of events in your son’s case.” I responded, “my apologies, it seems I misplaced my phone last night, what is it Mr. Smith?” He went on to say, “The witness that was testifying against your son this afternoon, Laura Creed. . .well, she was found dead this morning.”
He went on for about five minutes. I could not make out a word he said. He assured me that though it was tragic, it favored my son’s case. I looked at my watch to check the time. I was probably running later than usual. I looked down and there it was—a blonde hair tangled in the dial. I paced backward in disbelief and realized; it was me.