Prompt #11: False Hope – 501 Prompts
Brothers who communicate only with one another in a language only they understand (cryptophasia) behave in increasingly erratic ways.
In: 5000 Writing Prompts by Bryn Donovan
Most people can only dream of meeting the love of their life. But I did. Or at least I thought for the past years. Now I’m not so sure anymore.
Emily had been pregnant when we first met. The father had run off, and she rarely ever spoke of him. It didn’t bother me at all. We connected and got along very well. I loved her, and even though I had my doubts about becoming a parent, I wanted to be the best father I possibly could.
I was so nervous when Emily woke me in the middle of the night. We rushed out to the hospital. It was late afternoon the next day when the twins first saw the light of day. I remember thinking that it would change my life forever.
Having two babies was exhausting, and we struggled to keep up. Especially because Emily’s family had abandoned her. But we did our best. I really believe we were a happy little family. The boys grew up so fast. I still can’t believe how the years flew by.
I remember one time, the boys were 3 years old, my mother had offered to take care of them so we could have a night out in town. We desperately needed some time for ourselves. When we came back, my mother was sitting in the living room, crying. I had never seen her like that.
Through the sobbing, she said something wasn’t right with the boys. Something about them is not right that made her skin crawl. Emily jumped in to protect our sons against her judgment, and I sided with her. The contact with my parents broke ever since, and the last thing my mother said to me was to get away as far as I could.
My sons are fast learners. Everything comes naturally to them. I know every parent says that about their kids. But they usually are far ahead of others their age. One day, I overheard them talk to each other in a made-up language in their room. It sounded like a weird mix of an archaic dialect, filled with guttural growling and hissing. After dinner, I casually mentioned it to Emily. I didn’t think much of it. A lot of kids come up with stuff like that. But looking back now, her overreaction and constant reassurance that everything was normal should have tipped me off.
A few weeks later, Emily told me that her family wanted to reconnect with her and the kids. She seemed to look forward to it. Even the boys were giving her a wide grin at the news. Naturally, I wanted to support her as best as I could. But things went downhill from there.
The boys grew distant towards me. Their room is locked all the time, and they don’t talk to me anymore. I hear them behind my back, speaking in their primal language. Weird symbols have been appearing around the house, carved into the wood. Yesterday, I caught them scratching off my face in all the family pictures. They have been in their room since. At night, a low humming like a chant emanates from their bedroom.
I wanted to accept my kids for who they are. But I just feel that something is terribly wrong with them. I don’t understand what is going on, but I can’t go on like this. Maybe my mother had been right all along. I need to getaway.
Tonight is the planned reunion with Emily’s family. I cannot bring it over me to leave her before that. I never thought I’d say this, but tomorrow I will leave them for good.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Writing time: 20 minutes
Editing time: 42 minutes
I love the horror short stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Sure, some parts and elements are questionable from a modern perspective. But I like the composition and the sense of slowly creeping dread they induce. This prompt reminded me of one of his stories. I think it was Dunwich Horror. The one with the strange boy whose father might have been a cosmic entity and the monster bursting out of the house at the end.
Anyway, that was the direction I decided to go from the get-go. Of course, the brothers are twins. Twins are said to have a special bond with each other. I don’t know if that’s true. My mother has a twin sister, and they can’t stand each other. In fact, they haven’t talked in 15 years. But for the story’s purpose, I roll with it.
I only realized while writing this commentary that I might have underplayed the made up language aspect of the story. Because the prompt says they only communicate that way. Well… that’s the creative freedom I take, I guess.
I wanted to tell the story from the view of an outsider. I decided on a stepfather. He gets to know Emily during her pregnancy and falls madly in love with her. They start to build their future. Times are tough, as for most young families, but they get by.
In this condensed form of storytelling, I needed a way of foreshadowing that warns of the things to come but is completely ignored by the protagonist. That’s the case with the grandma babysitting. What did she see that night? What happened? Her son never asks, and she removes herself out of his life, leaving only that ominous warning.
From there, things had to turn sour eventually. I had some trouble to come up with stuff for the boys to do that are considered erratic. I didn’t want to use too many cliches, and personally, I can accept quite a lot of weird behavior. I ended up with some odd cultist sacrifice vibe.
Even though the end is open, I intended to have it rather clear that staying there might be a bad idea. Like when you scream at a character in a movie to not make that stupid decision. I don’t know if I got there, but I enjoyed making up this little horror tale.
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