The Scream is the work continuing WEP’s art theme for this year’s flash fiction prompts.

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian born artist who split much of his working life between Berlin and Paris. Mental health issues ran in the family, so Munch had occasion so observe its effects from close proximity. He was much influenced by Impressionists and post-Impressionists such as van Gogh. [writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com]

The Scream

This is one of the characters I’ve been thinking about since August, before the lady at the book fair suggested I needed more female protagonists. I’m trying JoJo Madeira out on you for the very first time. I suspect I need to write myself into a character, and I don’t mind if you see her early embodiment. If embodiment is the right word for her. It’s 1006 words. I apologise but I can’t find six more to remove without upsetting my sense of character for her. Ignore the bit about the phone signal, if you like.

And I know you like flash fiction, so please check out the festive murder mystery book I featured on Monday,

We’ve been invited to give a tagline this month so:

A haunted house mystery with added cheese on toast

The Scream (JoJo Madeira #0.1)

It was bad enough being in a lonely, half-boarded up hotel for the night. 

Mum’s car broke down on the gravel track that led to Nan’s care home. The AA said they’d be right out, but phoned back to say they had a multiple pile up to attend, and gave her a pass for this hotel, only a mile back down the road. A mile plus the mile we’d travelled along the track.

So we’d walked, carrying our overnight bags. And the hotel…half-boarded up was the start of it.

Mum got a taxi to the care home: I’d be okay here with my books, wouldn’t I? And wasn’t it a lovely view from the lounge? And she’d be back before nightfall.

You can guess, can’t you.

Nightfall came. No Mum.

The lady in charge of the hotel was ancient. I mean, she made my Nan look like a teenager. But she made a decent bowl of tomato soup, right out of the tin, and she had bread to defrost and toast. I found the cheese, and scraped off the mouse bites and grated some to spread on the toast and grill, so it wasn’t bad. All’s well when there’s cheese on toast involved.

Even a half-dead haunted hotel.

Haunted? Yes, well, maybe I should introduce myself properly. I’m JoJo Madeira, and I see ghosts.

So after saying not much to the mumbling ancient, who had the decency to light the fire in the lounge and bring me some cocoa after dinner, I ticked off the signs.

A little whisper here, and rustle of wind in the curtains there. They were shy, not wanting to come out in the open. I understand that. I don’t generally come straight out that I can see them, either. And I never, ever tell live humans that I can see dead ones.

So, by eleven o’clock I was in bed, like a bored teen would be when her Mum’s away and she’s been dumped in a haunted…  well, you know where I was. I flicked through my messages and had the usual number. I put it down to a poor signal, but three bars was pretty good for a hotel in the middle of nowhere, wouldn’t you say?

I read the next few chapters of Escape from the Forbidden Planet, which I’ve read before, but it’s really good, especially when you’re in a strange place with suspects around.

Suspects, as in G…..

The scream was more of a wail.

I wondered if that was the last of it, and things would settle down by midnight.

Had anything else gone right tonight? 

Okay, the cocoa was a nice touch.

Apart from that…?

After the third scream, I decided to investigate. I dressed properly, although I’d only taken my sweater and jeans off anyway, strange house and all that. 

The third floor corridor was quiet. I’d wondered why the Ancient One couldn’t have put me on a lower level, but after supper and before bed I’d discovered a distinct increase in temperature at higher levels. Whatever heat was left in this house rose, according to the laws of physics. So up on the next floor, or the attic, I should be reasonably comfortable. Unless some of the ghosts had the chill factor.

Signs of frost crept along the banister from the attic level: there was a chilly one, or more, up there. Was this the source of the scream?

A maid brushed past me, and I heard a little giggle, like she wanted to play, so I smiled and waved at her. “Maybe later?” 

That created silence so still I thought everyone had frozen.

Uh-oh.

If these ghosts had never met someone who could see them it could prove awkward. It could even get nasty. Maybe I should return to my room. They seemed friendlier down there.

The scream came again. A bit more lost and lonely than the last time.

I crept along the narrow passageway, my breath freezing in front of me. I hate getting frost up my nose.

I tried the handle of the door I reckoned she was behind.

It turned, well-oiled, and opened a crack. I opened it a little more, and peered through.

Imagine Alice in Wonderland—that was who was in there. She was about my age, thirteen, and had disgustingly golden hair tied up with a satin ribbon. I wished I’d brought my cap to push my stringy mousetails into. She sat on a bed, with a nice bedside lamp and an overhead light full on. She had one sock off and was rubbing her foot.

“Er, excuse me,” I said, poking my head into the room so she didn’t get too much of a fright.

Fat chance of that. She screamed again and jumped up onto her bed, like there was a mouse loose or something.

“I’m JoJo, and I heard you scream. Can I help?”

She stared, and then: “No you can’t. I’m Alice and I have to share this room with my baby brother and when I find him, I’ll kill him.”

I considered that. Alice appeared to be a ghost, and I suspected her baby brother was too. There was no sign of another occupant, ghostly or not, and no second bed, cot or crib.

“What’s he done?”

“Look! Just LOOK!”

I looked. Toys everywhere, all over the floor. “Um, not put his toys away?”

“Exactly! Every night it’s the same. Every night I come to bed, wander round barefoot, and suffer torture indescribable, all because of him!”

“But why do you scream?”

“Have you ever trodden on Lego with bare feet?”

I beat a retreat, returned to my room, and snuggled down with more reasonable ghosts reading me a fairy story called The Raven.

Mum came to fetch me in the morning, all apologies, but she’d stayed the night with Nan, so we could go home again.

Kind of sad leaving my room ghosts so soon, though. Maybe I’ll meet them again, some day.

© J M Pett 2021

The Scream | Flash Fiction #WEPFF. In which Jemima presents the first adventure of her new MG heroine, JoJo Madeira #mglit #hauntedhouse #flashfiction Click To Tweet

The Scream | Flash Fiction #WEPFF
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28 thoughts on “The Scream | Flash Fiction #WEPFF

  • 20 October, 2021 at 6:42 am
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    I like Jo Jo. Calm, sensible and at least friendly. and probably with some fascinating stories of ghosts she’s met. It would be interesting how she first found out she could see ghosts and how it went down with any adults she told. IIt’s probably a very good reason for why she doesn’t mention it to people now.
    Hugs Galore

    Reply
  • 20 October, 2021 at 7:58 am
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    Smiling. And yes, Lego between the toes IS torture.
    I look forward to reading more about Jo Jo in the future.

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 11:15 am
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    Wonderful Jo Jo. Her voice is very distinct and matter of fact which gives her a light humorous touch. I think you have nailed this character. Looking forward to reading more of her adventures. Thanks Jemima.

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 2:28 pm
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    JoJo is a great character – I hope we’ll hear more of her in the future!

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 2:45 pm
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    I remember the Lego pieces on the floor!!!
    What a fabulous story – Love JoJo – she must have such an interesting life!

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 3:21 pm
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    Hi Jemima – Jo Jo is a great character – with lots of tales to tell – from both sides of life. I too dislike lego on the floor – but any toy … I’m glad Jo Jo will be around some more – cheers Hilary

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 5:21 pm
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    Great story–JoJo has real promise, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her. As for Lego… I count myself lucky that one of Eldest Son’s obsessions was with sorting and order, so they were always put away in all the little drawers… hmm. Still are.

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 5:36 pm
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    JoJo is a personable character and I enjoyed meeting her. The pain of trodding on a Lego is definitely scream-worthy. Great story! 👌

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  • 20 October, 2021 at 10:16 pm
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    What a nice ghost story, not scary at all. I liked it. And I liked Jo Jo. A very sensible girl, that one.

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  • 21 October, 2021 at 8:24 am
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    Hello Jemima! You write Jo Jo, the female character, so well. You set up a nice ghost story. I like those stories where ghosts see ghosts. I hope we see more of Jo Jo. Stepping on a lego – oucheroo!

    Reply
  • 21 October, 2021 at 10:09 am
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    This is a lovely reading. A kid who had a good time bedding down with friendly ghosts.
    Well done.
    Shalom aleichem

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  • 21 October, 2021 at 4:50 pm
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    Amusing and fun, your character creation is top-notch. Love the character and would love to read more. Well done!

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  • 21 October, 2021 at 5:46 pm
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    This is just delightful! Loved meeting Jo Jo and looking forward to reading more. of her adventures. A lovely entry for the Halloween month. Thank you.

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  • 22 October, 2021 at 2:16 am
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    I understand that ghost girl’s pain. Stepping barefoot on a Lego is the absolute worst! You wove an enjoyable tale with a lot of personality and wonderful details. Well done!

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  • 22 October, 2021 at 3:32 am
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    Jojo has the distinct voice of a teenager. Great character. I loved your story with Alice screaming about LEGO. I’m so impressed by how imaginatively you’ve turned the prompt into what you wanted to write.

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  • 22 October, 2021 at 1:54 pm
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    Hi Miss Jemima.

    Oh, how I love a good ghost story. Jo Jo is a cool character and will have lots of future adventures. I like her calm, fact of the matter demeanor. She has a positive relationship with other ghosts. Well, at least, for now. Who knows about the future? Thanks for a good, ghostly read. Stepping on a Lego while barefoot calls for more than a simple “Ouch!” Lol.

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  • 22 October, 2021 at 3:42 pm
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    I enjoyed meeting JoJo and her interesting talent for seeing ghosts. Nice touch to have ALICE as the ghost…I like the premise and look forward to reading more stories about JoJo and her encounters.

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  • 22 October, 2021 at 4:42 pm
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    JoJo reminded me of a character from a TV series I used to watch years ago—The Ghost Whisperer. I used to wish I could see ghosts, too! JoJo is one lucky girl. It would be fun reading her adventures with ghosts. 🙂

    Reply
  • 24 October, 2021 at 2:19 am
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    I love her already. I also have to say that torture in the afterlife by lego is a really nasty sentence! I would scream too!

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  • 24 October, 2021 at 7:43 pm
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    Since your trying this character out, my comment will be about her. You nailed it. Her personality shines and she’s so matter of fact. There weren’t enough words available, but I’d like to see her try to reason with that ghost screaming. Well done.
    Nancy

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  • 25 October, 2021 at 3:28 pm
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    Great piece. I didn’t expect the light-hearted ending. I like this character and I think you did a good job of capturing the teen voice.

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  • 25 October, 2021 at 10:16 pm
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    I felt the girl’s pain. No wonder she screamed. Good ghostly tale and perfect for October.

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  • 30 October, 2021 at 12:56 am
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    Loved this piece, Jemima – full of subtle humour although Lego never is. JoJo is a great character run with her, and the ghosts are varied…even literary.

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  • 2 November, 2021 at 11:45 am
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    Oooo I like this. What a great Teenager – “It is so, take it or leave it” sort of attitude! Run with her – she’s great. Looking forward to future tales.
    I liked the word play at the beginning “Nan’s care home (Nan scare home)!!!

    Reply

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