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The Great Aunt

By Kurt Brown


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As the bus bounced along the narrow old road, David stared out the window

watching the scenery fly past, lost in thought. He was unsure about spending the

next few days with his great aunt, whom he had never even seen before. He would have opted to

stay at a hotel, but his parents had talked him into staying with her and keeping her company.

His family was wealthy, and he was going to be visiting an expensive and exclusive private

college that was located a short distance from his great aunt's home. He ran his hand

through his short brown hair, let his head lean back upon the seat and closed his eyes.

A short while later he felt the bus begin to slow down and he was gently

pushed up against the window as the bus turned onto a gravel road. As he listened to

the grinding of rubber and gravel he figured that he must almost be there. After going

through a dark tunnel of decaying trees, houses and stores began appearing scattered along the

roadside. The bus screeched to a halt.


"Last stop, Farmington," grumbled the driver.


David pulled his bag out from under the seat and carried it off the bus.


He began to trudge down the street looking for Samron Street. He only had to walk a

few blocks before he found it. It was a dark road, surrounded on both sides by lifeless trees

and shrubbery. The wind rustled the trees above, causing shriveled brown leaves to rain down.

The only sound was that of his shoes crushing the carpet of leaves as he walked briskly down

the road in search of the house. He spotted an old gate hidden among the weeds and bushes off to

the right. The number on it read 966, which matched the address he had been given. The

gate creaked on its rusty hinges as he pulled it open.


A hundred feet in front of him stood a large, decaying old two story house. He walked

up to it and climbed the broken steps onto the porch. As he tapped the

large iron knocker against the faded door, the 9 of the house number next to the door flipped

and became a 6.


"It will be great staying in this dump," David thought to himself.

The door slowly opened a bit and an old woman poked her head out.


"You must be Dan," she said in a hoarse voice.


He smiled and said, "Its David actually. Nice to meet you Elanor."


"Please come in and make yourself at home," she offered.


David went in, set down his bags, and went to sit in a large over-stuffed



"Don't sit there," she scolded, causing David to jump to his feet.

"That's Fluffy's chair!"


"Sorry," he apologized as he watched a decrepit dog trot in, hop into the

vacated seat, and begin to cough obnoxiously. David went to the other side of the room

and sat down on a plastic covered antebellum couch. "I wasn't aware that you had a dog," he

mumbled. "I'm allergic to them."


"Well you better get over it," she snapped. "You'll be sharing a room

with him."


"Wonderful," he thought. "I won't stop sneezing all week."


The woman disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a pan of cookies.

He had been told that she was once a famous cook, so at least he would be able to

enjoy the food he thought. But when she lowered the pan and offered him one, he saw that

they were burnt.


"Thanks," he muttered politely as he picked up the least disgusting one.

When he attempted to bite into it he nearly chipped his tooth. After processing it

in his mouth for a few minutes he was finally able to force it down without making too much of a



"Well, its starting to get dark. You should get to bed soon. I have a

lot of work for you to do tomorrow," she said.


"I don't think I'll be able to help you tomorrow," David replied. "I will

be gone most of the day."


"Well I guess you'll be getting up early then, " she said sternly. She

was nothing like what he had expected.


She told him which room he would be staying in, so he grabbed his bags and

trudged up the stairs. He threw his stuff into a corner and closed the door behind

him. He pulled out a book and looked around the room. There was only a bed and a small dresser.

The one window was open allowing a cold breeze to enter. He shivered and went to

close it. It was stuck, but after a short struggle he was able to accomplish the task.

He plopped down on the bed and began to read. The only light in the room

was very dim, and his eyes soon began to hurt. He decided that he would just suffer

through that night and then would find a hotel to stay in. He put down the book and got up to

go get a snack.


As he stepped out into the hall the little rat of a dog darted in and

jumped up on the bed. He stared at it in disgust for a moment and then continued on his way. As

David neared the stairs, he heard what sounded like his great aunt and someone else talking

in hushed voices. He snuck down the stairs, but when he got to the bottom, no one was there.

He drank a glass of water and ate a pop-tart and then went back upstairs.

Having nothing else to do, he decided just to go to bed even though it was only

nine o'clock.


When he went to brush the dog off the bed, it tried to bite him, so he

ended up having to use a pillow to knock it off. He climbed under the covers and curled

up. He sneezed a few times due to the presence of the dog, but was soon able to fall asleep.

He awoke some time later, but noticed that it was still dark. He glanced

at the clock and saw that it was only 3:30. He wrapped the covers tightly around him,

trying to stay warm in the unheated house. He closed his eyes and tried to fall back asleep, but

the dry panting of the mutt under the bed was keeping him awake.

Just as he was about to fall asleep, he heard a quiet creaking sound

coming from the hall.


He turned towards the door and stared at it through his squinted eyes.

Soon, a silhouette appeared in the doorway. It started into the room, but when the dog began

to wheeze loudly, the figure darted out and disappeared down the hallway.

Thinking it must just have been his eyes playing tricks on him, he put it

in the back of his mind and was soon able to fall back asleep.

The next morning, David was rudely awoken by the sound of his great aunt's

harsh voice shouting for him to wake up. He sat up and looked out the window. The sun

was just beginning to peek over the horizon. After a quick, cold shower, he went downstairs

and entered the kitchen.


"You got up too late, so I didn't cook you anything for breakfast," Elanor



"You'll just have to have a bowl of cereal."


"That's a shame," David thought to himself.


"When you're done you'll be going to the grocery store for me," she

commanded. David just rolled his eyes and didn't respond. "Here's the list of things I want

you to pick up." She protruded it into his face.


He grabbed it and looked it over. "How am I supposed to carry all this

home?" he wondered.


After he finished breakfast, he began the trek to the store. He was

coming to despise Elanor and couldn't wait to get out of there. He still had another three

hours before his scheduled visit at the college, so he decided to take his time at the store.

He found everything on the list and carried it up to the cash register.

The middle aged cashier, not recognizing David, asked if he was new in town as she scanned

the items.


"No," he replied. "I'm just staying at my great aunt's house while I

visit the college."


"Oh," she exclaimed. "You must be David."


"How'd you know?" he asked.


"Elanor is quite a congenial person, and last time she was here, she told

me all about you're upcoming visit. She couldn't wait."


As the cashier scanned a can of dog food, a puzzled look appeared on her



"What's this for?" she wondered out loud.


"I guess its for her dog, Fluffy," David responded.


"Dog!" she cried out in bewilderment. "How can she have a dog? She told

me the she's been terrified of them ever since one bit her when she was little."


"That's odd," David said. "Fluffy seems to be very important to her. I

think she's had him for a long time. But then again, a lot of strange things have been

going on."


"Like what?"


"Well, everything I was told about her has been repudiated, and she's been

treating me very rudely. I also think I saw her spying on me last night," David



"That doesn't sound like her at all," the clerk said, sounding surprised.

"She's the nicest person I've ever met."


"Something strange is going on, that's for sure," David said to himself.


He paid for the groceries, balanced the bags in his arms, and began to walk back. "As soon

as I get back from the college this afternoon, I'm getting out of here," he convinced himself.

He arrived at the house and went through the back door into the kitchen,

almost letting the bags fall when he reached out and turned the knob. He dropped them on

the kitchen table and walked towards the stairs.


"Take Fluffy out back so he can go to the bathroom," the old woman yelled

from somewhere in the back of the house.


David reluctantly picked up the dog who was nestled on its chair in the

living room and carried it out to the backyard. It wandered about the yard until something

in the trees rustled, which caused it to bark and streak off in pursuit of a squirrel. David

gave chase and soon caught the overweight dog just a few feet into the forest behind the

house. As he turned to walk back, he heard a noise that sounded like a muffled scream come from deeper

within the forest.


He peered into the deep abyss of trees, but didn't see anything unusual, so

he hurried back to the house, with the dog under his right arm.

After setting it on the floor, David ran upstairs and made sure his bags

were packed so he could make a quick exit when he returned. He looked at the clock, and

seeing that he only had 15 minutes before he was supposed to be at the college, he flew down

the stairs and out the door.


By the time he was done, the sun was beginning to disappear under the

treetops. As he neared his great aunt's house, he hoped that he could slip out with nothing

more than a quick good-bye.


He slipped through the front door and up the stairs. He grabbed his

bags, which had been thoroughly covered in dog hair, and went back downstairs to tell

Elanor that it turned out he didn't have to stay as long as he had planned. He was unable to find

her, and got no reply when he called her name, so he scribbled a quick note on a piece of paper

and left it on the kitchen table. He walked to the front door and turned the rusty knob, but

the door wouldn't budge.


"Where do you think you're going?" a voice from behind him asked.

He turned and saw the old woman perched at the top of the stairs. She

had a grim smile on her face. "I guess I only needed to stay for one day, so I'll be

heading back home," he replied. He started to get nervous and his hands began to sweat.

"You won't be going anywhere," she said shaking her head. "You'll go when

I tell you."


She began to slowly descend the staircase.


"What do you mean?" David demanded, his voice trembling.


"We're holding you for ransom, rich-boy," she said with a chuckle.


David was dumbfounded. "What do you mean we?" he asked.


"Oh, I almost forgot. I'd like you to meet my grandson, Gabe." A man

appeared from the kitchen. He was a balding man in his mid 30s. He had a mustache, an

earring, and a large gut that hung out over his belt. In one hand he held a beer; in the other

a gun. "Gabe planned this whole thing."


"Hi," Gabe said. A droplet of drool formed at the corner of his mouth.


He certainly wasn't the brightest crayon in the box. David was stunned. He still

couldn't put the whole thing together. He stared at Gabe, who had the gun pointed at his chest.

"You see," said the so-called great aunt. "Gabe here overheard your

great aunt explain the visit you would be making while he was bagging her groceries a few days

ago. Realizing you must be rich if you planned to go to that college, he came up with this

plan to kidnap you and receive a nice ransom that he could use to start a better life."

"I promised grandma that I'd get her a house to live in if she pretended

to be your great aunt," Gabe chimed in.


"They were going to put me in a home," the impostor said bitterly. "Then

they would have taken my Fluffy away, and I couldn't let that happen."

"I'll buy you a nice house with a big yard for Fluffy," Gabe promised.

David decided to try to make an escape. He could see that the back door was

unlatched. "If only I could elude Gabe and make it to that door, I could

probably get away," he thought.


When Gabe looked over at his grandma and began scratching his mustache

with the gun barrel, David figured it was as good a time as any to make a run for it.

He bolted to the door, pulled it open and slammed it behind him. He ran into the forest, hoping

he would be able to find a good hiding place.


He turned and looked back and saw Gabe burst out the back door and begin

to fire the gun blindly. One of the bullets grazed David's leg, but he kept going,

ignoring the pain. As he ran, branches whipped his face and slashed his clothes. After wading

through a small creek, he noticed an old shed partially hidden by dead vines and trees.

He ran for it and slipped in through the broken door. Thin rays of light

streamed in through the cracks in the wooden walls, but it wasn't enough for David to

be able to make anything out in the dark. He stood perfectly still, trying not to make a

sound. Soon, he began to hear the crumbling of dry leaves and branches as Gabe drew near. Realizing

he might be spotted, he fumbled around in the dark for anything that could be used to

defend himself. His

hand come over a long, heavy object. Upon further examination, he

discovered that it was a shovel.

"This will do the trick," he thought. He lifted it to his chest and stood

by the door in waiting. When the footsteps slowly went past, he thought that maybe he

would be safe. But he quickly dismissed the idea when the footsteps circled the shed and stopped

in front of the door.


As it slowly swung open, David readied the shovel. When Gabe poked his

shiny head in, David brought the shovel down right on the island of hair in the center of his

head. He groaned and collapsed to the ground.


David grabbed the gun and started out the door, but stopped when he heard

an urgent moan. He turned and opened the door wider. The light revealed an old

woman bound and gagged in the corner of the shed. David, thinking that she must be his

real great aunt rushed to her side, untied her, and helped her to her feet.

"Are you OK?" he asked.


"I'm alright I guess, just a bit thirsty," she answered. "What happened?"


"It's a long story. I'll explain later. Let's get you home." He led her

out of the shed and dragged Gabe in. After tying up the culprit, he closed the door and helped

the real Elanor back to her house.


"You're bleeding," she said softly, looking at his leg.


"I'll be OK. I'm just glad that you're alright."


When they reached the edge of the forest, David told her to wait there.

He went into the house and looked for the impostor. He was unable to find her, and

seeing that the front door hung open, he figured that she had fled. He went to the back door and

motioned for his great aunt to come in. After he called the cops, he sat down and explained

everything to her as best as he could.


"Well, I'm sorry things went this way. I had wanted this to be an

enjoyable visit for you," she said when he finished telling his story. "I guess you won't want

to visit me again."


"I probably will," he replied. "Its not your fault that they tried to

kidnap me. I'm just happy that the ordeal is over."


The cops arrived a short time later. David told them where Gabe was and

they arrested him. "He won't be getting that better life he wanted now," David

thought as a cop shoved him into the back seat of the police car.

David told them what had happened, and then gave them a description of

the impostor.


After the cops left, he and Elanor went to the hospital. She was a bit

dehydrated since they hadn't given her much to drink, but other than that she was fine. David

had sustained only a minor flesh wound. The doctor cleaned it up bandaged it and said it would

heal quickly, leaving only a minor scar. After they were done in the hospital, he decided to

stay with his real great aunt for the rest of his planned visit.


On the news that night David learned that the impostor had been found and

arrested in a town a short distance away. Apparently she had tried to start a fight when

the owner of the hotel she was trying to check in to refused her, since there were no pets

allowed. She was charged with disorderly conduct, and when the police saw that she matched

the description of the fugitive, they arrested her.


David chuckled to himself when he heard the story. "She'll get what's

coming to her.


She won't be able to be with her precious dog in jail," he thought.

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