The Message

The Message

Yesterday was mother’s day. The basic plan was a day of laziness for my wife- who is the hardest working person I have ever known. She awoke yesterday to get the usual cards and chocolates- and our sixteen year old son Jonathan cooked breakfast. My wife had expected me to cook dinner that night- as I am the one who always cooks. However I had something a tad more exciting up my sleeve…A date. I had procured tickets to one of her favorite bands-Keane- without her knowing. Due to the financial climate we have been forced to cut back on entertainment- and whereas a couple of years back going to a concert was a regular occurrence it is now a rare happening.

My instincts proved correct as she was thrilled with the tickets. Even though her voice was telling me I shouldn’t have- her body language contradicted the words she was saying. She literally bounced about with energy.

At five we set off for an early dinner and to enjoy our date night. Jonathan was left in charge of feeding the dogs- and himself. Parenting is a strange process for a couple of years ago I would have had no qualms about leaving him- as he was too respective and fearful to even dare to step out of bounds. However at sixteen things have taken a decidedly different turn. For the most part he is still very respectful and well behaved- and I feel he is better than most young men of his age. I swear I can sometimes catch a glimpse of the devil on his right shoulder daring him to test the boundaries.

As we left we reminded him to be responsible- and stick to the rules. He nodded without even realizing he was rolling his eyes.

It was a pleasant dinner at a local brewery- and reinforced with good eats and a pint of ale we set off to the venue. As we drove along the freeway I realized I was clasping hands with my wife. It seems to me the longer we are married the closer we become.

We arrived at the theatre in decent time and placed ourselves near the front of the sold out crowd.

The opening acts were stellar- and got rousing rounds of applauds. However when keane came onto stage the audience seemingly erupted into a screaming hysterical mob. You might be thinking that the audience was full of teenaged girls. And yes, whilst they were there in abundance the age group was varied. The lady in front of us was seventy years old and with her daughters who were just this side of fifty. She whooped it up with the best of them!

The band delivered with each song and it truly was a remarkable night.

We decided, as usual, to make our exit as the final encore began. This would mean a speedy escape from the parking lot.

We chased across the car park with the music still ringing in our ears. We were like two school kids on their first date- hands clasped and full of joy. We climbed into our car and quickly left the venue and sped onto the freeway.

It was then it happened.

Sarah glanced at her phone.

There was one message and ten missed calls.

“It is from Jonathan,” my wife explained as the contentment in her eyes was replaced with apprehension.

She fumbled at her phone and placed it to her ear.

“Jonathan wants us to call him immediately,” she said, her voice beginning to quaver. “He called us ten times since- all within five minutes at nine.”

By this time it was eleven.

Sarah frantically called home.

No-one picked up.

“Jonathan, Jonathan,” she squealed into the answering machine. “Please pick up.”


I placed my foot on the accelerator a little harder and went from sixty to seventy-five.

“Call again,” I said trying to remain calm.

She dialed again- and still there was no response.

I looked at the speedometer and realized I was pushing eighty.

It was then our minds began to work over time.

“What if he got hurt,” my wife said.

“What if he set the house on fire,” I answered realizing I was grasping the steering wheel a lot tighter than usual.

Over the twenty five minutes it took us to get home all the joy of the evening had been squeezed from us.

Every last single drop, our faces were drained and our nerves frayed.

We were two nervous, paranoid parents, who had gone through two dozen possibilities of why he called sounding so urgent. Not one of the scenarios was a pleasant one.

As I pulled into the driveway we realized that not a single light was on inside.

Before I had even managed to engage the parking brake Sarah was out of the vehicle and turning the key in the front door lock.

Soon I was at her heels.

The dogs greeted us with their usual buoyant affection, and seemed disgruntled at the brushing off they received.

At least one scenario was eradicated from my throbbing brain.

We raced upstairs.

Jonathan’s bedroom door was closed.

Sarah took a deep breath, and I placed my hand on her shoulder reassuringly; although I was far from assured myself.

The room was pitch black.

Sarah fumbled for the switch.

The light flashed on to reveal Jonathan wrapped up in the covers with a copy of ‘Pet Semetary,’ by his side.

The light stirred him from his slumber.

“What’s going on?” He murmured, still half asleep.

“What is wrong,” Sarah demanded. “Why did you call?”

“I just wanted to see if you were having fun,” he replied before pulling a sheet over his face.

We turned off the light and closed the door.

Moments later, downstairs, playing with the dogs…We decided we are going to have to teach him better communication skills.

The end.

A reminder I shall be at HyperiCon June 5th-7th and then on the 11th i will be at a mass signing at the coolest book store ever- Dark Delicacies- and that weekend i shall be attending the Bram Stoker convention- and be at the banquet when the winners of this year’s Stoker awards will be announced.

You might think I am beside myself with excitemnt.

You would be correct!


P.S. Gifford

P.S. Gifford is a published horror author of great talent. He started submitting stories around 2005. His short stories are by far some of the best and most entertaining that I have read. Around that time he was invited to write columns which are titled "Paperback Writer."

One thought on “The Message

  1. That was so funny, I know what you are going through. But my life is a little more complicated, I have four wonderful sons.

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