Short Story – Terror in the Dark

I wrote this several years ago so it’s probably not very good.  But this was written for a horror story contest my library had during Halloween. (I won).

I wake curled up in a notch at the foot of a large tree. I look up slowly, blinking. How had I gotten here? I fell asleep in my bed, but now I’m in a forest. I stand slowly, the darkness thick; my eyes are unable to adjust enough to see more than three feet in front of me.

A biting wind blows through me and I shudder, glancing around. The tree limbs all look like arms with gnarled hands reaching out to grab me. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, telling myself to stop imagining things like that. It was bad enough being alone in the cold and dark in a forest I had never seen before.

A twig snaps and I turn sharply, my eyes wide, my breath quickening. It’s just an animal, probably a squirrel. But squirrels don’t have large, glowing yellow eyes. I gasp and stumble back when I see them, falling over onto the ground.

The eyes move closer and a head becomes visible. It’s a man. No, not a man. Men don’t have glowing yellow eyes, and they also don’t have smooth, gray flesh that looks like putty. It moves closer to me and speaks in a cold monotone, and I realize it has no mouth.

Little girl comes out to play this late at night? How sweet of you, sneaking away from home just to play with me. For being so nice, I’ll give you a treat after we play our game.”

What… what are you talking about?” I crawl back slowly, staring at the creature, who stepped closer to me. “Who – or what – are you?”

It steps in front of me, the form of a tall, slim yet muscular man, completely gray with no features whatsoever except for the glowing yellow eyes. He leans in close to me and I hear heavy breathing, despite him not having a nose or mouth. “I am the hunter and you are my prey. I am the monster and you are my victim.”

His arm extends and sharpens, his hand and wrist taking the form of a blade. His eyes disappear and a mouth grows on his face, twisting into a dark grin of fangs. “Now run.”

I have little time to react before he brings his blade-arm down. I roll out of the way just as it slams into the ground, narrowly missing my ankle. He pulls the blade up, dark laughter rising in his throat. I push myself to my feet and start running down the forest path as fast as I can, my heart pounding in my chest.

I sprint faster and faster down the path, the wind blowing in my face, tears stinging my eyes, forcing me to shut them. Something clamps down onto my shoulder and I scream. The moment I open my eyes, I find myself in a dark hallway.

I turn, breathing hard. How did I get here? This was impossible. I hear a dripping sound and look toward one of the rooms. Something lays on the floor in front of the door, jamming it so it cannot close completely. I take a few steps forward and then stumble back. An arm, whether severed or attached to a body laying in the room, is what jams the door. Blood drips out from under, leaking into the hall.

I turn and run into a different room, my fear getting the better of me. The door slams shut behind me and I jump back, gasping. Everything falls silent and still. The room is dark, the air stale, as if no one had used this place for a long time. I take a few steps back and bump into what feels like a bed, though the cover is dusty and slightly damp.

I turn my head slowly, seeing a window. It lets in no light. I shiver and sigh, swallowing hard. The monotone voice whispers in my ear, “Are you lonely?” Two cold hands wrap around me, one at my neck, the other at my waist. I tense, my eyes wide.

The voice chuckles in my ear, sending shivers down my spine. “You hate being alone, don’t you? All alone, trapped in the dark. Don’t fear, you’re not alone anymore. I’m here, now. And I will always be here for you, little one. I promise.

His hands squeeze when he says this and I flinch, whimpering. “Please, don’t hurt me. I just want to go home.”

He spins me around, his blank face gazing into my eyes. His whisper becomes more sinister, more inhuman. “This is your home now!” He pushes me forward and I crash out the window, the wind getting knocked out of me so I can’t even scream.

I splash down into a pool of ice cold water, sinking down to the bottom. I try to move my arms to swim back up to the top, but the chill of the water paralyzes me and I can’t move. My eyes drift closed and I pass out, my thoughts lingering to how I’ll never wake again.

But those thoughts all got pushed away when I woke, breathing hard. I’m in the forest again, laying at the foot of what is perhaps the same tree I had woken up at before. I breathe in huge gulps of cold air, coughing. I’m alive. I’m still alive.

Yes, still alive,” the monotone says, dangerously near to me. “Why would I let my sweet little play mate drown?”

I stiffen and glance over my shoulder slowly. The man, or creature, sits perched on a branch above me, watching me with his faceless face. I bite back a scream and breathe in deeply. “What do you want with me?”

Just one more game,” he says, reaching down to touch my cheek with his clawed hand. “And then I’ll give you a treat and let you go home.”

I shiver at his touch and jerk away. “What game?”

A mouth grows on his face and grins sinisterly. He drops down from the tree, going on all fours and transforming himself into a large black panther. He sets his yellow eyes on me, his tail flicking back and forth. “You run, I catch you.”

I stand slowly, holding onto the tree for support. The panther slinks toward me, claws extending. He bares his fangs which glimmer white. He snarls at me.

RUN!

He pounced at me and I sprang forward into a sprint, running down the dark forest path once more. The panther’s footsteps were silent so I couldn’t be sure if he was still chasing me or not without glancing over my shoulder, which I didn’t dare try.

A light appeared in the distance before me. I set my sights on it and continued forward, breathing hard. I had to keep moving, I wouldn’t let him catch me. The closer I drew, the clearer the light source became. My house. I’m nearly home.

Pain tears into my shoulders and I scream, falling to the ground, a great force pressing down on me. It’s too late, the panther has caught me. I feel something warm and sticky trickling down the back of my neck.

He purrs and leans down, whispering in my ear, “I win.” His rough tongue runs over my neck and I shudder. His jaws come down, locking around my throat and I go still. His fangs prick my skin, making me whimper. “And here is your treat.

I feel a horrible, stinging pain for an instant and I scream, but then everything feels right and normal once more. I open my eyes, breathing hard. I’m in my own room, in my bed, a dull stinging in my neck. I rub at it, but there are no marks. I’m home, I’m safe.

I notice a wrapped box sitting on my dresser and I go over to it slowly, still a bit shaky. I tear away the wrapping and open the box. It’s filled to the brim with candy. A card lays at the top which I open. When I read it, I hear his voice saying the words in my head.

Here’s some sweets for your trouble. I do hope we can play again soon. And by the way, Happy Halloween.

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One thought on “Short Story – Terror in the Dark

  1. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you
    could be a great author. I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come back sometime soon. I
    want to encourage continue your great writing, have a
    nice holiday weekend!

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