ShadowCast (Flash) An Absence of Light

Our second flash episode is now available, “An Absence of Light” By Judith Quaempts. This story is previously unpublished. I’m also debuting a new selection from Christopher Carlson on this one “Drift” is the name of the background song and is available for download at

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Flash Episode #2

An Absence of Light

By Judith Quaempts

Read by Jason Warden

“Yes. I’ll make them. I promise. Now go to sleep.”

“Will you stay until I do?”

“Don’t I always?” The lump in his throat is bigger than his beating heart.
“Now close your eyes, Seashell.”

She gives a little sigh and closes her eyes. Sleep comes quickly. He hated using
the pills, their father always gave them pills, but he can’t risk her waking.

He takes the gun – stolen from their father’s closet – from under the
mattress and tiptoes to the door. He steels himself by imagining Shelley in a
long white dress, flowers woven through her hair, and a nice boy, someone a
little shy, taking her hand gently, and leading her to the dance floor. Her face
is shining, her eyes are stars.

Gun pressed against his side, he hugs the wall until he reaches their parents’
room, presses his ear to the door, and hears the creak of bedsprings.

*Don’t think!*

Joey bursts through the door. His naked father sits on the edge of the bed. His
eyes widen.

Three shots, a sound like thunder rolling off the walls. Bright crimson flowers
bloom against his father’s hairy chest. He grabs the bed sheet as he topples
to the floor, uncovering an ashen-faced woman with curlers in her hair.

Fear explodes in his mother’s eyes. Joey closes his, thinks of Shelley, the
fear in hers when … the gun bucks in his hand.

The worst is over.

Joey hurries to another room, the room He unplugs the computer, smashes the
monitor, the lights, and deletes every picture from his father’s digital
camera. He knows those pictures will circulate forever but he needs to do this,
has wanted to do it for so long.

Adrenalin shock is setting in. He’s losing focus, wants nothing more than to
curl up against Shelley and lose himself in sleep.

With effort he picks up the phone, dials a number, repeats his message twice,
and hangs up.

He staggers back to Shelley, still deep in drugged sleep. In a perfect world,
she’d be dreaming of prom dates and slumber parties. Their world is not
perfect. It’s a world peopled by freaks. He strokes her white-blond hair. Once
he hoped they might find their way to a kinder place. Hope died a week ago when
his teacher, Mr. Richards, asked him to stay after class.

Joey had seen the teacher with his family before, had envied the two toddlers
clinging to his side. If only he and Shelley had been born to someone like him,
he thought then.

He doesn’t think that way now.

“I saw you on the Internet last night, Joey,” Mr. Richards said, placing his
hand on Joey’s shoulder. “You and your sister. I had no idea.”

The hope that surged in Joey’s chest made him dizzy. At last, someone with the
power to rescue them from their long nightmare.

But as the hand tightened, the truth sent Joey’s heart plummeting. No one gets
to that site by accident. Not without a password.

Mr. Richards was one of them.

“Your sister is lovely,” the man whispered. “Maybe I could see her in
person some evening. I can pay …”

Fighting tears, Joey had broken from the man’s grasp and run from the room.

There was no hope, not for him, anyway, but for Shelley? The thing he fears most
of all? He might become one of the monsters. He can’t let that happen. He

He lifts the gun.
* * *
The Star-Herald, October 15, 2009
Responding to a 911 call, police today discovered three victims in what appears
to be a murder-suicide. A fourth person, reputed to be a young girl, was
discovered alive but unconscious, and is being treated at a local hospital. No
other information was available at press time.
In other news, residents of this small community were shocked when John
Richards, a popular science teacher at Warren High School, was taken into
custody after police, acting on an anonymous tip, obtained a warrant to search
his home and found numerous items related to child pornography.

The Star Herald news staff will continue to follow both stories closely.
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