Although tempted, Douglas Montgomery III refused to interpret them as retribution. Yes, the affair had compromised his ability to care, but the doctor’s prognosis was clear; there was nothing he could have done to help his wife.
He first heard them the day after the funeral: two short notes; un-nuanced and atonal. One high, one low, with an insipid syncopation that jarred against the steady rhythms of the house.
Must be the wind, he thought.
At first they were barely audible; Douglas imagined a subtle draft, julienned into aimless notes by ragged brickwork. But with each passing hour they become louder and more insistent until he began to feel like a stranger in his own home.
One moment he heard them in the kitchen. The next in the lounge. Then, in the rooms above him, screaming like a panicked locomotive.
He tore down cupboards and emptied rooms. He purchased a stethoscope and listened at every wall and floor. He found mouse holes and plugged them with expanding foam.
His normal routines were abandoned. He neglected himself. He didn’t shower for days.
Douglas looked elsewhere. Workmen were fitting new windows in the gatehouse. Could they be the source? He already knew they hated him; he’d seen them snigger as he passed.
He tried to talk to them, eviscerating his conversation of everything but the tersest, mostly prurient captions. But still they hid their mouths.
He hurried inside, locked the door and sat down on the last remaining kitchen chair. He heard laughing outside and smiled.
Forget them, he thought; why should he care? After all, he was now sole legatee of a property that had already doubled in value.
Gritting his teeth, Douglas Montgomery III leant back and began to hum an artless strain comprised of two notes; un-nuanced and atonal. One high and one low.
G. J. Hart currently lives in Brixton, London and is published or cued in The Harpoon Review, The Legendary, Yellow Mama, Spelk Fiction, Schlock Magazine (UK), Horror Within Magazine, Three Minute Plastic, Literally Stories, Fiction on the Web, Shirley lit mag, The HFC journal, Under the Fable, The Unbroken Journal, The Pygmy Giant, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Drabble, The Squawk Back, 521 Magazine, Visual Verse, Fewer Than 500 Magazine among others.
Find him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/gj_hart