Tag Archives: horror

On a Dark, Desert Highway

The thump of rock music blared out of the speakers as the old rusted chevy navigated an s curve then took a right onto a white rock road. Melissa navigated the old clunker down the back roads as the Eagles belted tunes from the ancient cassette player.

The road came up to meet the undercarriage as she took a turn a bit too fast, white rock giving way to hard packed dirt. The faint glow of street lights had faded behind her as soon as she left the county pavement. Now the dark coalesced around, suffocating in its intensity. She clicked on the high beams making a mental note to herself to purchase some new headlamps.

Flying down the dirt road reminded her of those wild teenage nights she had spent out here, drinking, laughing and singing along loudly with the very same cassette tape that now spilled out Hotel California as the car shimmed and swayed down the country lane.

Suddenly a shape appeared in the dull glow of her high beams and the tires squealed in protest as she slammed the brake pedal to the floor and twisted the wheel sharply to the right. Throwing dust everywhere the car skidded off the road, fishtailing as it went. Melissa twisted the wheel again, trying to regain control of the vehicle.

The car thudded to a stop and she sat for a moment, heart pounding in her chest. The Eagles suddenly gone as she switched the radio off and pulled a flashlight from the glove compartment. The door creaked like gunshot in the sudden silence of the night as she opened it and stepped out to inspect the damage.

Please, she prayed silently, please, please, please tell me I didn’t hit her! She glanced wildly around the road and the field she had stopped in but there was no sign of the child she had just clearly seen standing in the middle of the road.

She stood still for a long minute, her breath coming in ragged gulps, eyes closed, as she fought down the hysteria trying to rise in her chest. When she was sure she could breathe without screaming, she opened her eyes and slowly lowered her body to the ground. Stomach flat on the ground she stared under the car. Relief flooded over her like a warm welcoming waterfall when she saw no limp body under her car. Tears of relief coursed down her cheeks as she regained her footing and dusted herself off.

Taking another deep breath, she turned back to stare at the empty road. If she hadn’t hit her, where had the child gone? It was dark, but not so dark that she doubted what she had seen. There had been a little girl in the road. She took in her surroundings. No houses within sight, no structures at all within sight, in fact. Not that she could see very far. It was so dark that it felt it ought to have substance, texture, like if she reached her arm out, she would feel the solidness of it. She fought back to urge to do just that as the hair on the back of her neck stood up.

The light swung in an arc as she searched the area around her car thoroughly. No girl. She started to second guess herself. Maybe she was seeing things. It was so dark! Maybe she had hallucinated the little girl. People hallucinated sometimes she told herself.

The light in her hand blinked out. Shaking her head, she lowered herself back into the driver’s seat and pulled the door closed. She said another silent prayer that the car wasn’t damaged as she put it in gear and pulled back onto the road.

The car had come to rest facing the opposite direction she had been heading, so she had to maneuver it back to the correct position. As she passed the spot she had originally seen the little girl, the engine sputtered and died. She coasted to a stop cursing out loud.

There was a soft clunk as the hood popped. She opened door but hesitated to get out. She had driven these back roads hundreds of times in her life, she reflected, so why was a sense of dread crawling up her spine this time? As she listened she realized it was the silence, deep and solid as the darkness. Where were the crickets? The frogs?  The normal night sounds of country living?

The only sound she heard was a soft rustling of fabric from the backseat as her eyes lifted in horror to the rearview mirror, a scream stuck in her throat as she made eye contact with the little girl from the road.

The last thing she ever saw was that small, pale arm reaching toward her as a dry, brittle voice whispered, “Stay with me.”

 

 

The Incident

She fumbled for the light switch. It had to be here somewhere she thought as she stumbled along the wall in the darkness, feeling for it. This level of darkness was impossible, was there not a window anywhere? A bit of moonlight or a street lamp shining through a curtain? Seriously.

She felt the primeval panic rising in her throat. She tried to calm herself, to think logically. But every primitive instinct in her body was screaming that the darkness was evil, bad, to be feared. She had to get out of here.

She felt hot tears come unbidden to her eyes and start to spill down her cheeks. Mucous clogged up her throat and her breath came out in ragged gulps. Just as she was about to lose it completely, she mercifully found a doorknob. Turning it, she threw herself through the door and out onto the fair grounds.

All around her sirens blared and the sounds of the shouting filled her ears. Stumbling away from the doorway she suddenly found herself struck by the glare of a spotlight. She froze like a deer, and for the same reason. Going from complete darkness to the blindingly bright spotlight, she was momentarily stunned and blinded.

“Ma’am! Ma’ma!” a voice was demanding.

She looked up, blinking, shielding her eyes, trying to make sense of the words that were being said to her. The words were unclear, muffled, coming from a distance. As she struggled to focus, things began to sharpen, the words became decipherable, clearer, closer, and she was able to make out shapes around her. Police cars, an ambulance, cameras, were those reporters?

“Ma’am, I need you to focus!” the voice was more insistent now. She looked up into the face of a firefighter that stared back at her with a mixture of fear, amazement and concern, “I said, did you just come out of that building?”

She glanced back at the door she had exited through and nodded, numbly.

“My God! How is that possible?” He took her arm and guided her toward the ambulance, a uniformed officer holding the reports at bay.

“Ma’am! Ma’am! What’s your name?”

“Who are you?”

“What were you doing in there?”

“Did you have anything to do with the attack?”

“What’s your association with the victims?”

Victims, what were they talking about?

As she sat in the back of the ambulance she glanced down to notice she was covered in blood, she looked up in horror as the spotlight hit her again, a reporter she realized this time. She tried to remember what had happened, but her memory started with her frantic search for the light switch. Any existence she had prior to that was gone, wiped from her memory.

“We’re going to need to question her,” a police detective was saying to the paramedic that the firefighter had handed her over to, “we don’t know if she’s the only survivor or the perpetrator.”

“After she receives medical treatment.” The handsome young paramedic replied, loading her into the back of the ambulance and closing the door.

“I’m sorry,” she finally managed to speak, “I don’t remember anything.”

As the ambulance pulled away from the crime scene, he smiled at her with red glowing eyes, “It’s ok, all that is behind you, you’re one of us now.”

 

 

Wild Flowers

It was the frame that first drew her attention. It glinted at her from across the room. She glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed. They hadn’t seemed to.

She was in a little antique shop that she had almost missed amongst all the other stores on the square. She was traveling, just passing through but had stopped in a town in the middle of nowhere USA for lunch.

Pulling off the highway she was going to stop at Mcdonalds or Burger King, but she could see the town square from the gas station she fueled up at and decided to take a break, explore  a little, hopefully find a mom and pop lunch counter or diner, which she did.

“Down Home” was the name of the café, she was thrilled with menu options that included real vegetables and home cooked foods like meatloaf and pot roast. She had the pot roast with a salad and homemade rolls.

Once her stomach was full, Irene turned her attention to the rest of the square. She loved finding unique shops filled with interesting things that you couldn’t buy in bulk or find at Wal-Mart. It made her a popular gift giver. “Oh I’ve never seen anything like this before!” was an oft-used phrase amongst her friends and family. She prided herself on it.

Antique stores were particular favorites of hers. Old furniture just had a certain feel about it, like it was bursting with memories she couldn’t read. It was also built better in her opinion. Solid, sturdy. Not particle wood crap like they sold so much of today. Built to last.

It was a small shop, but it was jam packed full of merchandise, from giant armoires to ancient handbags, there was even a collection of old pipes. She was admiring the pipes when the picture caught her eye. Pipes reminded her of her grandfather, sitting in his rocking chair, encircled in smoke, the smell of pipe tobacco surprisingly pleasant considering she could not stand cigarette smoke.

From the corner of her eye she saw something glimmer. She looked up and craned her head around trying to determine what it was. She wandered to the back corner of the store. She had to weave in and out of dressers, curio cabinets, a canopy bed and plenty of old chairs.

Hanging on the wall was a watercolor in pastels of ladies laughing and sipping tea in a gazebo surrounded by a field of flowers. The golden frame around it had caught her eye from across the room, but up close the patterns in the painting itself were mesmerizing. If she stood very close, the flowers ceased to be flowers and just became dots of color, a dizzying number of them!

She wasn’t sure what was so fascinated about the dots, but she couldn’t stop staring at them. As she leaned in closer to the painting, she could swear she could hear the soft murmur of women’s voices, the tinkling of their laughter. She could smell the wild flowers; feel a gentle breeze caress her face.

She moved closer and reached her hand out; convinced it would go right into the canvass. She felt sure that if she just took a step forward, she would be there, sitting in the gazebo, sipping tea, forever in the wild flowers. The field of flowers began to move, as though waving in the wind, the entire painting seemed to shimmer, then……

“I said excuse me ma’am, may I help you?”

The voice startled her. More than startled, her heart nearly beat right out of her chest! What on earth? She shook her head, trying to clear the fog that had settled in it. It was like trying to claw away cobwebs from her mind. Irene was getting older, but she wasn’t so old that her mind was gone.  She had not yet succumbed to the trials and tribulations she had watched her grandparents go through, confusing one child for another, not knowing what year it was, not knowing where she was at.

Yet at that moment, she struggled mightily to remember who and where she was and what she had just been doing.

“Ma’am, are you ok?” The voice came again.

“Uh….y…yes, sorry.” She looked at the sales clerk who was watching her warily at this point. She was a young woman with auburn hair piled on top of her head in a knot and a long, flowing skirt with matching sweater. Her name tag said her name was Karen.

“I was just, just………” Irene trailed off, again, not quite sure what she had just been doing.

The painting! She had been admiring the painting!

“I was just looking at this painting……..” she trailed off as she turned back toward the blank wall, blinked a few times then turned to face Karen again.

The young clerk looked even more concerned now, “Would you like to sit down? I can get you some water. Is there anyone I can call for you?”

It was the pity in the younger woman’s eyes that finally snapped her back to herself. Call someone for her? She wasn’t old and decrepit yet, she still had many good years, hell, decades, in her!

“I’m fine!” She snapped, drawing herself up to her full height, “just got lost in thought for a moment!” She lied, “Thanks for your concern, really, but I’m ok. I really should be going now.”

She was momentarily confused as she headed for the exit; it was full dark outside though she had just entered the shop a few minutes ago, in broad daylight. She paused and asked the clerk what time it was.

“Almost nine o’clock ma’am, closing time.” Karen replied chirpily.

Irene knew she had entered the shop just before two in the afternoon. She swallowed, mumbled thanks and headed for the door.

“Irene” she heard, but it wasn’t Karen’s voice. No, it was the soft murmur she had heard from the painting, complete with the tinkling of laughter in the background. She fought the urge to turn and find the voice, to stare back into those dots, to stay forever in that field of wild flowers. Shaking, she forced herself to push her way out the door and hurried back down the road to her car without ever looking back.

 

 

 

Tek

At first there was nothing, then slowly he started to become aware of things. The first thing he became aware of was movement. Sometimes he could feel himself moving, and sometimes he was still. Sometimes there was warmth or light and sometimes there was not. Then he became aware of noise.

At first the sounds he heard were just a noise, a comforting murmur that came from all around. Little by little he began to understand words. He enjoyed listening to people talk. It didn’t occur to him, at first, to try and talk himself.

Slowly he added sight to his growing awareness. First he saw just blurs, vague outlines and shapes. Eventually he could see everything, people, animals, buildings, the sky. It was wonderful expect when it wasn’t.

Darkness was his enemy. The darker it became, the less substantial he felt. He would just begin to fade, the things he heard and saw and felt lessened until there was cessation of consciousness. He hated this because he would lose track of time, it was like he popped out of existence then back in and he had no control over it.

He gradually became aware that there was one person who was always there. Many other people came and went throughout the day, but Jared was always there. It was like they were attached. They were attached.

Everywhere that Jared went, Tek went too only he didn’t seem to have any control or choice over it. Tek got the feeling that when he disappeared, Jared still existed and that didn’t seem fair at all.

Jared was your average, run of the mill boy. He was of average height and average build, he lived in an average house in average neighborhood. He walked to school every day where he made average grades. The only non average thing about him seemed to be Tek himself.

Tek eventually realized that he was different than Jared and the people like Jared, Tek was what Jared called a shadow. Other people had them too, but if they were self aware as Tek himself was, he had seen no sign of it.

Tek began to notice when the light faded, he would focus all of his concentration on himself, over and over he repeated, “I exist, I exist, I exist!” It worked! At first, just a little, he would maintain self awareness for several seconds after it was full dark, then for a full minute and then several and eventually he was able to stay in existence completely.

He became fond of darkness then because in darkness he existed though Jared seemed not to know it. He felt more himself when he was in the darkness, but began to find being tied to Jared unbearable. So he determined that he must free himself of the intolerable existence that being tethered to Jared presented. He wanted to be free, to run and jump and fly if he wanted to, separate and of his own volition.

At first he tried gymnastics. He twisted and turned and wiggled and squirmed, but he just could not break free.  He stole some shortening from the kitchen and slathered it liberally between his feet and Jared’s and tried to wiggle free. Finally, in despair, he cried out to the darkness his frustration and the darkness answered.

He was free! He felt like soaring, so he did! He literally soared up to the ceiling, around the room and out the window. Escaping from his bondage he was now free to explore the world, and free to stay forever in the dark, where he would remain hidden from the world. Free to creep along dark alleyways, crawl across floors in darkened rooms and slink behind trees in dark forests. Free to be the noise that isn’t there, the shadow you thought you saw, the terrifying thing waiting for you under your bed, in the closet, behind the tree, always at the edge of darkness.