Sunday Snippet, Scream by Bill Chance

“Contrary to popular belief and hope, people don’t usually come running when they hear a scream. That’s not how humans work. Humans look at other humans and say, ‘Did you hear a scream?’ because the first scream might have been you screaming inside your head, or a horse backfiring.”

― Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals

The Headlines Screamed, Baithouse Disappears


Sam hadn’t been getting much sleep. With summer there, the kids were staying up later and later – keeping him up. In the mornings, Sam would try to get up and slip out of the house before they woke up. They always had friends over, often spending the night. When that happened, The kids went nuts, staying up past the wee hours, getting wilder and wilder as the nights grew longer.

Tonight, his wife was off somewhere, leaving him with a whole pack. He was barricaded in the extra bedroom, trying to get some work done, when there was a sudden pounding on the door.

“Dad! Dad! Come look! We want you to see this!” they all yelled in chorus.

They hauled him out to the computer in the garage room where one of the neighbor kids was seated. Sam could see he was logged into America Online as a guest, under his own account. He did some clicking and a web page appeared, it seemed to be a simple picture of a room.

“OK, now,” they all said at once, “Look at that picture and figure out what’s wrong with the room!”

Sam peered at the picture and could see nothing out of the ordinary. “You have to look close!” the kids yelled. He could hear a hiss from the computer speakers – they had the volume turned way up.

He turned his head to check out the kids and they all had an amazing look of combined terror and excitement. Several had their palms planted firmly over their ears and were jumping up and down. Another was so juiced he was actually pulling the skin on his head backwards – he looked like his face was melting and being blown back by a powerful wind.

What the hell were they up to? Sam was getting pretty nervous – that bunch is capable of about anything when they all get together. Was there a firecracker under his chair?

While he was looking at the kids Sam heard a terrific scream from the computer speakers and turned to see a horrific face superimposed on the monitor for a split second. Then it was back to the room again.

“Haw! Haw!” yelled all the kids.

He was disappointed. He had been expecting something a little more ornery out of them.

“Listen guys,” Sam said, “you’re going to have to act a little cooler than that if you want to scare somebody Y’all were so wired I thought there was a firecracker in my computer or something.”

“A firecracker! Haw! Haw!” they all yelled.

Sam went back to his room and tried to go to sleep – He needed to get up early Saturday. A while later he heard the dogs bark and front door open; his wife was home. After a few minutes Sam heard a double scream – one from the computer and a louder, more panicked on from his wife.

She must have been looking really close at that picture of the room.