Silence in the Night (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: January 13, 2017 in Fiction
Tags: , , , ,

This week’s challenge: 1000 words on the thing that scares you the most. It’s strange, but maybe I was braver when I was younger, or maybe not smart enough to be afraid. As I get older, I find myself fearing things more. Afraid of not being able to pay the bills. Afraid of my children getting hurt. Afraid of something happening to my parents. Afraid of my own aging body. Afraid of my government. So yeah, the trick isn’t to not be afraid, but to let the fear be the emotion that solely drives you. Because a healthy sense of fear is a good thing. It keeps you alive. It keeps you from doing really stupid shit.

But fear that paralyzes? Fear that makes you hurt someone else simply because your fear turns to anger? That’s the dangerous stuff we all need to be on the look out for.

As always, comments are welcome and appreciated. (And yes, this is quite a bit under the 1k limit, but I like how it came out regardless)

I wake up hard, eyes slamming open, my heart thundering in my chest. Some primal sense tells me something isn’t right, but my logical side catches up and tells me it was only a dream. I strain my ears, surrounded by the not silence of my house. The creaks as the house settles. The constant whirr of traffic outside my window. The steady breathing of my wife cuddled in the blankets next to me.


I sit up, slow and easy. My ankle throbs when I set it down on the floor, a not-so-gentle reminder of an old accident involving a sled, a fallen tree, and me. I growl unintelligible as I force stiff legs into my sweatpants, my bladder insistent on a bathroom detour.

I conduct the necessaries, leaving the light off to keep from blinding myself. Out of habit, I walk down to the kids’ bedroom, careful to avoid stepping on discarded coloring books and those caltrops of the night: Legos. Something seems… wrong. Off in the worst possible way. The kids’ window is open, letting in an arctic blast of January air, and the blankets on the bed are bundled together. I sit on the lower bunk bed, reach out and touch… nothing. More blankets. No small figure dreaming of ponies and puppies. I feel my heartbeat increase, feel the panic threaten to take over. I stand up. Call out the name of my son. Step up on the lower mattress and feel there for his stick-thin form, all limbs and ribs and a smile that’s more of a smirk even at seven. Nothing but his blankets, a few stuffed animals and the book he was reading at night.

“No,” I whisper. And then “No, no, no.” Louder. Yelling.

I hear footsteps in the hallway, and there’s my wife, pulling a robe around herself and looking concerned.

“The kids are gone,” I force out, feeling the room spin. I sit down, hard. “We need to call the police. Someone must have used a ladder, gotten to the window. I told them to leave it alone. I told them-”

My wife looks at me. Blinks. “It’s okay. We dropped them off at my parents’ last night. Remember?”

I look at her, panic attack receding. “We did?” And then I remember, eating dinner out. Arguing with my mother-in-law (again). The hugs and kisses and that we’d see them on Sunday.

“Oh, right.” Abashed, I follow my wife to bed, close my eyes. She places her arm around my chest and holds me tight until we both fall asleep.

  1. This did turn out well.

  2. moteridgerider says:

    You turned that around quickly – the post only went up today, didn’t it? Good job.

  3. Great job at conveying fear; I could feel it as something palpable. It leaves a bitter taste, even when it turns out to be unfounded. Kinda like that feeling you get when you reach in your pocket for your keys and find them missing; only, finding your kids missing is a thousand times worse. I can imagine my heart literally stopping at the thought.

    Good work!

  4. Mel says:

    Welp, I just about died reading that. As a mommy, I feel this 100% every single night. And day. Okay really, every waking moment. Well done!

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