Hidden in the Attic

My wife had been nagging me for weeks to clean out the loft. Personally, I couldn’t see the point. There was nothing up there but a pile of old junk, some mouse droppings, and a plague of spiders. There really were some huge spider’s webs up there, which was one of the many reasons I’d been putting the job off, but the main reason was the sense of unease I got every time I looked up at the attic door. Call it a premonition if you will, but I sensed that something really bad was lurking up there, waiting for me.

Finally, I couldn’t put the task off any longer. My wife had decided that we needed the large suitcase for an upcoming family holiday and it was up there, along with the rest of the flotsam of our lives. I would have to overcome my irrational fears and dig out the stepladder. It was time to face my demons. I promised my wife that I’d go up there and fetch the case tomorrow, as soon as I got home from work. I’d need my flashlight for the job, and it was in my locker at work.

She looked at me sceptically, eyes rolling as if to say, ‘I’ve heard that before.’

When I came home the next day, there was no getting out of it. She had the ladder propped up and ready for me as I came in the door. Even I could take the hint.

With torch in hand, I prised open the attic door. It creaked ominously and strands of cobweb pulled apart like candyfloss as I pushed the flap open and peered into the darkness beyond. I flicked on my torch. The beam of light cut through the darkness, picking out the myriad dust particles which languidly through the still air. It was cooler up there, too. The heat of the house blocked out by the thick fiberglass insulation. The thick layer of webs probably didn’t help either.

The stale air had a whiff of decay that assaulted my nostrils as I pushed the doorway farther open and climbed the last few rungs of the ladder. I stepped carefully onto the ceiling joists, and orientated myself, trying to remember where I had last put the suitcase. The sooner I was out of there, the better I would feel. For the last few weeks I’d been suffering from dizziness, and occasional memory loss, and the prescription that my wife had picked up for me from the chemist didn’t seem to be alleviating the problem. It could even be making it worse. I would have to go and visit the local G.P myself and get a check-up, and I hated doctors, but first things first, I had to find the damned suitcase, and get my wife off my back.

Swiping cobwebs aside with the torch I ventured further into the dark tomb of the loft, following the thin rafters toward the distant header tank. My heart was beating rapidly in my chest, but I couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t afraid of the dark, or spiders for that matter; though some of the specimens that lurked in the dark were large enough to give anyone pause.

I scanned the darkness in the dim light of the torch beam.

The torchlight reflected back at me from the brass corners that protected the leather suitcase, and I smiled with relief. My premonition had been paranoia, after all. All I had to do was grab the luggage and leave my overactive imagination behind me, along with the rest of the junk that I’d left up here over the years. It’s a shame I couldn’t leave the missus up here too. Life would be a lot easier.

Grabbing the handle of the case, I pulled it clear of the other detritus that lay around and prepared to leave.

It was then that I heard a clunking sound from within.

I paused.

There was something inside the suitcase. What could it be? Had my wife stashed Christmas decorations in there, or a box of old photos? …. Or was it something more sinister?

A dark image of the neighbour’s missing dog flittered through my brain, wrapped up in brown paper and stuffed into the suitcase.

I laughed nervously at my own morbid joke.

Resting the suitcase on an old armchair that I’d been intending to re-flock for years but had never gotten around to, I fumbled with the latches. My fingers trembled as I clicked the mechanisms and prised open the lid.

Within, I found an unmarked DVD case with a disk inside. Attached to the top of it was a post-it.

Tucking the flashlight under my arm, I lifted up the note. I recognised the handwriting immediately. It was my own.

Strange! I couldn’t recall seeing the DVD case before, or writing the note.

The note said: If you are reading this then it’s probably already too late!

I barely had time to register the creak of wood behind me, or to feel the sharp blow as it struck.

As I slipped into unconsciousness, I finally remembered why I’d hid the DVD up in the attic. My wife was scared of spiders, and wouldn’t have been caught dead up there.

The DVD had been given to me by a private investigator I’d hired. It contained enough damning evidence of my wife’s infidelity to ensure a quick divorce, and no alimony.

Realisation hit me, nearly as hard as the hammer to my skull.

Somehow, my wife must have learned about it, and she’d taken steps to eliminate the problem. Clearly, my cheating wife’s latest fling had no aversion to creepy crawlies, or for that matter, murder if the price was right.

Now I understood why the scheming harlot had insisted on me renewing my life insurance policy, and why she had insisted on going to the chemist for me to pick up my prescription.

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