This sto­ry is part of a game on twit­ter, spear-head­ed by NaNoPals. The idea is to write a sto­ry of 1K-5K using prompts of a char­ac­ter, a set­ting and an object. Mine were the fol­low­ing:

Les­bian roller der­by girl
An attic
A low-qual­i­ty statue/figurine

With­out fur­ther ado, I present:

The attic

It was noon on a Sat­ur­day. Jus­tine rang the door­bell with a deject­ed sigh. Her grand­moth­er, a beatif­ic woman with white hair in a thick braid, let her in.

Sweety, it’s so nice to see you!” She kissed Jus­tine on both cheeks. Jus­tine gave her a tense smile, chang­ing the grip on her book­bag.

Nana, you said you need­ed help?” She stepped into the large hall, the scents of old hit­ting her between the eyes. Her annoy­ance melt­ed away.

Yes, but first, would you like some tea?” The old smell was usurped by wafts from the kitchen: fresh scones. “I have home­made lemon curd, just as you like it.”

A grum­ble com­ing from her stom­ach remind­ed Jus­tine that it had been a while since she ate last, and she nod­ded. “Yes, please. Is this about grand-père?”

What makes you think that it’s about him?” Nana’s eyes were wide and inno­cent, the cane tap­ping in the floor as she led the way into the sit­ting room. Jus­tine sank down in one of the soft arm­chairs, rest­ing her head back against the head­rest. Her grand­moth­er served the tea and pushed a tray of hon­ey, fresh scones, but­ter and lemon curd towards Jus­tine.

When­ev­er there’s some­thing urgent­ly you need help with, it seems to be con­nect­ed to him.” Though her tone as testy, she bit into a scone with evi­dent plea­sure before she took a sip of tea to wash it down. “And more often than not, some­thing he found on one of his trav­els.” Her gaze fell on items in the sit­ting room, one more absurd than the oth­er. One in par­tic­u­lar, a fer­til­i­ty stat­ue rem­i­nis­cent of Venus from Wil­len­dorf, caught her glance. Her cheeks flushed momen­tar­i­ly.

Well, now that you men­tion it …” Nana stirred a dol­lop of hon­ey into her tea. “There was the small mat­ter with a stat­ue that seems to have gone miss­ing.”

Gone miss­ing?” Jus­tine raise an eye­brow as she watched her Nana. “How did it go miss­ing?”

I’m real­ly not sure,” said Nana and sighed. “I was cer­tain that it was on the mantle­piece, but this morn­ing I didn’t see it.” She took a del­i­cate bite of her scone. “So you’ll help?”

Can I do any­thing else?” Jus­tine shook her head. “But let me see if I get this straight: You called me away from roller-skate prac­tice because you’ve for­got­ten where you put one of grand-père’s moldy old stat­ues?”

It is not moldy. He brought it back from Roma­nia dur­ing his last trav­el. Maybe it’s up in the attic again?”

Why would it be up in the attic?” Jus­tine pushed a hand through her dark, straight hair. “And what do you mean, again?”

Oh, you know this place. Some of the things, they’ve for­got­ten that they’re not where they were, so they wan­der. So many things end up in the attic. I almost won­der if Jean-Marie did some­thing to it. It’s a maze.”

It’s just an attic, Nana!” Jus­tine pat­ted Nana’s hand. “Alright, I’ll go up and take a look, but I can’t stay too long. Chris and I have a date lat­er tonight.”

Oh, love­ly! How is Christi­na? Well, I hope?”

Yes, she’s fine. A bit freaked about the apart­ment, but …” She shruggged. “I think she’s wor­ried that I’m not seri­ous, or that I’ll change my mind.”

Sil­ly girl. Of course you won’t, sweety.” Nana pat­ted her cheek. “Well, if you’re all done with your tea, maybe head up to the attic? The soon­er you find the stat­ue, the soon­er you can go to meet Christi­na.”

Alright. What am I look­ing for, again? A stat­ue, but how big? What does it look like?”

Oh, it’s an old thing. Clay, with some traces of paint. Some kind of shaman or witch, kneel­ing. I’m sure you’ll know it when you see it.”

Jus­tine sighed inward­ly, before nod­ding. Down­ing the last of the tea she walked towards the hall and up the stairs. She remem­bered the attic: grand-père loved to show her the things he kept from his trav­els. Love­ly old Nana, get­ting bat­ti­er every year, but as long as she could take care of her­self with just some help, she could stay in the house. After all, it’s where she had moved as a bride, where she’d had her chil­dren and where she’d become a wid­ow.

Though occa­sion­al­ly I won­der”, said Jus­tine as she slid the lad­der down. “What real­ly hap­pened to grand-père?” She climbed up, look­ing around the dark, dry place. She sneezed as the dust tick­led her nose. One time. Two times. “Sheesh, Nana,” she mut­tered as she wiped her eyes and nose. “Would it kill you to have some­one dust this place, if only occa­sion­al­ly?”

The light slow­ly flood­ed the area. Shad­ows danced in the sharp­ness of the light­bulbs gen­tly twirling from their chains. The area was silent, wait­ing. A chill ran up her spine, and she sur­pressed a shud­der. “Don’t be ridicu­lus”, she told her­self stern­ly. “You’ve nev­er been afraid of the dark before, so stop mak­ing things up.”

Her voice echoed strange­ly as she moved between suit­cas­es and shelfs. Each turn stranger than the oth­er. Here was the col­lec­tion of stat­ues grand-père had brought with him home from Ethiopia, there the one from a dig in Scot­land. When the clock down­stairs struck she froze.

Wait. Three pm? That can’t be right.” She glanced at her armwatch. The bat­tery was dead—again—and it was still at 12.35. With a sigh she turned to go back down­stairs. The light­bulbs high above her still twirled in their chains, but every step took her deep­er into the attic. She no longer rec­og­nized any­thing. With every turn she saw new stat­ues, new fig­urines, new knick-knacks. The smell of dust and moth­balls was over­pow­er­ing. Nana was right; it was a maze, and now she want­ed noth­ing more than to escape it.

Foot­steps echoed. The lights dimmed and she froze.

He– Hel­lo?” Her voice quiv­ered. There, a small fig­urine! She grasped it as a weapon.

There was no answer. She exhaled, her hands trem­bling. What was it Nana had said? “I had to call the police. He went up to the attic and nev­er came back down.” Pull your­self togeth­er, Jus­tine. You’re just being sil­ly now. You took a wrong turn, that’s all! “Is that so?” She asked her­self, her voice hushed. “Then explain to me how I’m not find­ing my way back. It’s not that big a house!” Her thoughts did not answer, no mat­ter how much she wished that there was a log­i­cal expla­na­tion.

The dark, dry area was silent in antic­i­pa­tion. She could hear her own heart beat. Da-dum. Da-dum. The lights high above glit­tered and flick­ered. A shad­ow stepped out of the cor­ner. The dark­ness part­ed to release the hood that shad­ed the face, the cloak that belied any human form beneath. Her lips part­ed as she stared, dread fill­ing her eyes. Da-dum. Da-dum.

Then silence.