Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 30 of the 250 Word Prompt

"While looking through his recently deceased grandfather's attic, a young man finds a box containing old newspaper clippings about an as yet unidentified serial rapist."

The attic was musty and hot and smelled old.  Not like old people, so much; that smell seemed to be confined to the lower levels of the 1912 Victorian home of his grandparents.  No, the attic had a stench all its own.  It also had an undeniable mystique.  Allen, named for his recently-deceased grandfather (making him a “second” NOT a “junior,” his mother had stated emphatically) had not been in the dusty, dirty top floor since he was eight-years-old.  During that ill-fated visit, he had made it to the large chest not quite in the center of the room before his grandfather had grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and dragged him back down the narrow staircase.  Allen could still recall with a quickening of his heart rate the wild, blazing eyes of the old man, as he shook the boy, hollering at him, “What the hell do you think you are doing?  You are never – NEVER – to go up into the attic ever again!  Do you understand me?”

Then eight-year-old Allen had just stared at the man, wide-eyed and fearful, only able to nod before twisting out of the old man’s strong grasp and running to the backyard.  Now twenty-year-old Allen, standing in nearly the same spot, shook himself out of his reverie, and placed his hands on the chest, slowly opening it.  The hinges creaked and groaned, not wanting to betray the secrets held inside.  His grandfather had been such a private man; Allen had no idea who he was or what he had been.  Grandpa Allen was an enigma, an island, a virtual nobody – but that was all about to change.

The stale mildew aroma of the trunk assaulted him, and he stood for a moment waiting for it to pass, or for his nose to fully acclimate.  A lone wooden box sat at the bottom of the chest, too small for the large area it inhabited.  Pulling it out, and placing on the floor in front of his knees, Allen lifted the lid and anxiously peered inside.  To his wonderment, a mass of yellow, brittle, historic newspaper clippings filled the container, inviting Allen’s investigation into a world he would soon wish he had not ventured. 
Carefully unfolding the top artifact, Allen’s eyes are instantly drawn to the large heading over the front page news story from May 20, 1954:

Fear Grips Elkwood Neighborhood as Elusive Rapist Claims Another Victim

Allen read the article, flattened it against the dusty floor, and carefully unfolded the next clipping.  His apprehensive scrutiny mirrored the growing anxiety building within him, as his breathing became more pronounced, his heart rate sped slightly, and his mind tried to process the connection between the guarded “first” man and the concealed stories of the past.

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