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  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Aug 12, 2015
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    London, UK

    Current Contest October 2016 Short Story Contest - Instructions and Entries Here

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest' started by Tenderiser, Sep 12, 2016.

    This month you have two options for a prompt. As the contest ends on 31 October, the inspiration for these prompts is Halloween (cue spooky noises... owl hoots... etc).

    Build a story using one or both of these prompts as inspiration, as loosely or literally as you like...

    Prompt Option 1 - Picture


    [Source and larger version of the picture]

    Prompt Option 2 - Words

    "Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.

    Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween."


    • 1,200 - 5,000 words
    • Any genre (does NOT have to be horror, or even spooky--you can make it funny, or sweet, or whatever you like)
    • Any style
    • Polished to the best of your ability
    How to Enter

    Post your entry as a reply to this thread. It will be automatically anonymised. Please title the story and include the word count.

    You will be able to post entries until 14 October at 23:59 GMT. In future, contests will only be open for two weeks. Since this is the first one, you have a little longer to get your entries ready.


    Voting will run from 15 - 31 October. There is no fixed voting criteria: voters will choose the story they think is the best.


    The winner will be announced on 1 November. He or she will get a shiny medal under their avatar, automatic entry into the annual Hall of Fame contest, and their winning story featured in the WritingForums annual ezine.

    Get writing!

    Will you give us a trick or a treat...?
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  2. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Testing the anonymiser...

  3. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Who said that?
  4. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    The Haunting of St Lawrence's [1,215 words]

    I didn’t know what the fuss is about.

    My friends wanted to check out the abandoned hospital, St Lawrence’s. It had been closed since 2002 and a new multi ward hospital was built just a few yards away on the same site.

    It was a psychiatric ward and with psych wards come freaky shit. Apparently in the early days, a young woman, I think she was 18, was suffering with severe depression, they gave her Electrical Shock Therapy or Electroconvulsive therapy in modern tongue (ECT). There were complications and they inadvertently fried her brain and she died.

    The story doesn’t end there, it is said that after her passing, she remained in the hospital, haunting the doctor that killed her and sending him insane. He later committed suicide. There have been many reports of the young woman, one patient in particular reported that if the woman visited at midnight of the weekday she passed, that person would vanish, only to turn up burnt to a crisp due to electric shock.

    Its horse-shit, that stuff ain’t real.

    We entered via the broken hatch out back bringing us to the basement, the air was damp, rainwater seeping through and dripping slowly in a puddle. It was dark, very dark. I turn on my flashlight and motioned for my friends to follow, there were big pipes on out left, with a smaller yellow pipe running the length on the opposite side. We follow the path, keeping the bigger pipes to our left. Some other friends of ours told us it was this way, if we wanted to find the ECT room. Luckily I had a map.

    We followed the path, light shinning from a distant passage way, we were looking for some stairs which would take us up to ground level.

    Just as we came to the much brighter opening to the stairs, I looked behind and made sure my 3 friends were with me, they were. I was about to turn back to the stairs when I saw a bright light shinning from where we came, there was a clicking noise or a fizz, similar to that of an electric fence.

    We ran up the stairs as quick as we could, at first I thought it was one of the security guys but there was no sound of him followed. We slowed down to a stop at the foot of the steps, a little light coming through the window from the street lights.

    I checked the time on my watch.

    “What time is it?” they asked.

    “Nearly 10pm” I replied.

    “Shit, we gotta go, Mums gonna kill us if we’re late!” said 2 of my friends.

    “Me too!” said the other.

    “I’m Going to just have a quick look at the room, from the looks of it, we’re not far.” I told them

    “I’ll see you pussies tomorrow.” I said as they left.

    I Followed the stairs up and around, holding onto the walls, they were caked in mold, parts of wallpaper hanging loose and floor boards giving in to age. There was a strange burning smell in the air, it smelt like someone had been cooking meat here recently. It was definitely creepy.

    I was in the main hall, the stage was still in place, curtains hung loosely from their fittings, gusts of wind blowing through the broken glass windows. The floor wasn’t in pretty good shape there was a huge hole torn into the boards, a big black hole into nothing. According to my map I needed to go up another set of stairs, I left the hall and walked back towards the stairs, just ahead of me was an open passageway, I needed to turn right to access the stairs.

    As I walked into the passageway, I saw a figure disappear into the stairwell in the next room down.

    “Hello?” I called out while shinning my torch towards the passage, it kept flickering, adding to the fear I never knew I possessed. There was no answer, I walked slowly towards where the figure disappeared, my right arm holding the side and placing my palm in something wet. I quickly moved my hand away and shone the torch at my palm, It looked like blood. At that point I had enough, I turned to walk back towards the way I came and I saw a woman, standing in front of me.

    She was wearing a silver/white nightdress, black hair in a style just like cousin It from the Addams Family. She began to laugh, hysterically and stopped abruptly. I was frozen, unable to move, speak or even cry out. I could only turn and run up the stairs, I couldn’t make it past her without her touching me. Suddenly I felt someone grab me from behind.

    “Gotcha!” I knew that voice, it was one of my friends from earlier, I breathed a sigh of relief and turn towards the woman, now with her hair removed. It was a Wig.
    “Stupid Idiots, you had me then.” I said

    They had explained that it was all part of the plan, saying they had to leave, when in fact they needed to get ready to play the prank.
    “You’ve had your fun, the room is just upstairs, come on lets go.”

    They followed me up the stairs, this time we all had flashlights. I felt much happier now that my friends were here, although id never admit I was scared. I noticed that only 2 of them came back, I’m guessing the third is hiding somewhere, more pranks are coming. As we got to the top of the stairs, there was a sign on the wall opposite in the corridor, it pointed left for ECT.

    As we were walking down the hallway again I noticed the smell of burning but it was stronger now.

    “Let me guess, got yourselves a portable BBQ and hes cooking some meat?” I said.

    “Don’t be daft, we’ve had our fun.”

    At the end of the hallway, we saw the door to the ECT room wide open, blue light was pouring out of the room. Rapid sounding clicks echoing down the hall. “How did you guys pull this off?” I asked.

    “It wasn’t us.” Looking at their faces, I saw no trace of a lie. I was scared.

    I pace slowly towards the door, hugging the wall as if on a high up ledge,

    I peer around the door and….

    The Blue light flashed brightly, blinding me, I fell to the floor trying to protect my eyes from the light and I hear the cries of my friends from behind me. Someone picked me up, carrying me as if I was a wounded soldier, placing me in a chair. I felt something being placed over my head, it felt like headphones but they weren’t covering my ears. A piece of wood, put into my mouth and tied around the back of my neck. Still blinded from the light, I couldn’t see what was happening to me,

    And then the pain, my head felt like it was on fire and was going to explode. It was getting hotter and the pain unbearable, I could smell burning, now I knew what that smell was. It was burning flesh, only this time, it was my flesh.
  5. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    The Eerie Light (1, 500 words)

    The room is a four-walled cell. Empty apart from the bed and the cupboard across it. A mirror sticks on the cupboard door, and Molly isn't afraid to look into it. As the rainbow-coloured curtains lap against the open window, Molly looks keenly into the mirror, fantasising. She's nineteen years old and there's the prince on the other end. He's supposed to be there but he isn't. She thinks she can see him within her eyes as she stares at her reflection, hiding behind them. She'll see him one day. She will.

    "So Molly," the doctor clears his throat. "Seen any more of your visions lately?" the doctor lifts up his right leg, crossing it over his left. "No, doctor."

    "No? But you have before." This is an assertion. "Maybe," replies Molly. "Maybe?" he pauses. "Only the other day you were telling me about the voices you're hearing." "They're not voices," she says, blushing. "What are they then?" "Friends," she replies. The doctor makes a quick note in his book. "And what are they saying?" Molly doesn't reply.

    "Do you still think you can read people's minds and know what will happen in future?"

    "Yes, you're going to discharge me from this institution." The doctor raises an eyebrow, "How can you be so sure?" he says.

    Now back alone in her room, Molly begins exploring the beast in the mirror. That guy whom she sees beneath the recesses of her eyes, who is a prince. The scene will change, she'll no longer be within the confines of this institution, she'll be in his castle. He will come for her, her knight in shining armour. He will save her from this life, and they will be married. Soon. Yes, very soon. She can feel it.

    Molly is aware that she is not a prisoner in this room. The door is unlocked and she is free to roam around the institution. There are nurses outside and there is a canteen downstairs that is open for an hour during breakfast and lunch. This is a better life for her now. Although people think she's crazy, she doesn't care. Her life here is hundreds of times better than before. Not when she was out on the streets dying of the cold, no shelter, hungry and was reduced to begging. No matter how desperately she called or how loudly she whined, she was the worst of beggars. She would shout out for hours and she would be starving for days, but was unable to get the slightest glimmer of compassion from people. Yet the prince was always there within her, soothing her and assuring her that it's not going to be like this for long. That the next life would be a life filled with parties, extravagance and the high life.

    The day the ambulance arrived to take her into the institution she had no idea what was happening. Only that she was expecting it.

    Hurry up! She urged the prince. Take me into your world! Do it now before they section me. But it was too late, and she was angry with him for days for having caused this. Then she would listen to him excuse himself until eventually she not only forgave him, but she was thankful to him for taking her out of the cold streets and landing her into this Institution. Whatever it was, she could make the most of it.

    Molly comes out of her room. A nurse greets her:

    "How are you doing, my pretty?" Molly blinks. "Fine." The nurse enters her room and Molly sees her making the bed. Not only is the Institution better than squatting on the streets but it seems they're giving her some room service too.

    Molly walks slowly down the long dark corridor. She walks toward the bright white light that opens ahead. Visions enter and exit her mind at a fast pace. Like a train approaching the end of a long tunnel. She has a vision of the train. She's seen it before. A woman asleep. She wakes up and notices it's her stop. She runs out of the train, realising too late that she's left her things inside. The doors close and the train moves away. She screams, but that's just her nightmare.

    Molly reaches the end of the corridor but instead of arriving into the next life that the prince should prepare for her, she reaches a cluster of seats and cushions, decorated in cartoons and happy faces; the living room of the Institution. The television is on hosting a program nobody's watching. As Molly sits, she makes eye contact with a girl who gives her a dirty look. Molly quickly looks away and quietly retreats into herself. She scans the living room and every patient sitting there. The television murmurs in the background.

    Whatever these people have to say, I'm determined to believe every word. I will not be judged the way the doctor judges me. None of these people deserve that.

    Molly sees a lady rocking back and forth on the chair and she knows the woman is communicating with her deceased husband. She could hear her murmurs, why'd you leave me this way? Why won't you return? If Frankie doesn't reply soon, she'll break into a rage.

    She scans her eyes over an elderly man sprawled over the seat. He is clearly doped but what brought him here to begin with isn't clear. It could have been depression over a divorce. Molly also notices a younger girl and senses that she's there for saying she's been spied on. Molly senses them and she believes them. Isn't it because of her own visions why Molly's here also?


    "So the results of the urine test have come forward," the doctor says. Molly has been fighting the nurses off refusing to give them a sample but this has more to do with her integrity, rather than that she had something to hide. She was humiliated. She knows the doctor was suspicious but she kept on refusing to provide the sample until eventually something gave in.

    "The results are clear. I'm sorry for doubting you but this is procedure we do with every patient." Molly blinks. "Also Molly, according to the nurses, you behave very well and we may be considering discharging you soon.

    "Discharging me?"

    "Yes.. Isn't that good news?" Molly shakes her head. "But what if I get into trouble again and have to return?" The doctor narrows his eyes, "Do you want to be institutionalised?" Molly explores the recesses of her mind closing her eyes: "Um... well the thing is doctor.. he hasn't quite left yet." She rekindles memories of the rough life she's had on the streets. In the cold, under the rain. On street corners selling zero copies of the homeless magazine. Nobody wanting to buy from a roughed up chick like her. She can't go back to that. At least here there were hot showers, she had a room, television, radio, nurses who cared, and even made a friend or two in here. She has nowhere to go to beyond this. The doctor obviously wants the worst for her.

    "Molly, you've been a good girl."

    "Is that why I'm being punished?"

    "You no longer have to be here."

    "And you're to decide that? Why is it you lock people up when they don't want to be here, then discharge them when they do? Have you any idea the sort of life I have to go back to? I'm still not a hundred percent. I still get visions, I'm always right! There's still... that something that can't be explained. Not even you can explain that. Yesterday you were being so patronising. Asking me about my vision, now you want to discharge me?"

    "I feel we no longer have reason for you to be here."

    "- and by the way, I know all about your wife of late. How you stay up every night gazing at her picture and talking to her photograph." The doctor scans Molly over with his eyes. His lips press together to form a tightened line. "... alright, how about this. I offer you my home temporarily until you find your feet? Honey, this institution has no use for you anymore. The nurses don't think you're ill."

    "Not even because of my visions?" Or that she talks to the prince within?

    "Especially because of your vision," he says. She stares back at him. Wait. What? "Because you're right, I do cry over Hillary. Every night I do," he squeezes his eyes shut. When he opens them again, Molly thinks she sees tears moistening in his eyes.

    "Okay," she says slowly. "I'll take your offer."

    "Good," he says. He reaches out to take her hand, and as Molly stares deep into his eyes she thinks she can see the prince residing somewhere deep within him. Things might not be too bad for her after all.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2016
  6. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    The Washer Woman
    (1662 words)

    "Hurry up, we have to get to the loch before dark. Do you have the sheets Elspeth?" Sorcha cries out as her bare feet run excitedly towards the dirt path into the woods.

    "Oh, I hope my husband will be strong and handsome." She continues before giving her older sister a chance to respond.

    "Slow down Sorcha, yes I have them, and you are too young to worry about marriage just yet." Elspeth replies.

    Since their mother's death giving birth to Sorcha, Elspeth has become protective of the child.

    "Aren't you curious what your husband will look like?" Sorcha asks.

    "I have enough to worry about with you and father than to concern myself with silly fairy tales."

    "No, it's true father told me if we dry our sheets by the fire tonight we will get a vision of our future husbands." Sorcha innocently insists.

    "I am just grateful you are so keen on helping with the washing for once." Elspeth teases.

    The air around the woods is infested with the smell of mildew. The plants seem to fight endlessly to strangle the light from the sky, leaving the small snaking dirt path void of all color.

    Sorcha hesitates.

    "You don't think Father's stories about the eve of All Hallows are true?" She ask with a tremor in her voice.

    "The men of the village will set the bonfires tonight, they will keep us safe from any evil spirits."

    Sorcha's small hand reaches for Elspeth. She smiles down at her sister as she reaches back for hers. They begin their way down the path hand in hand.

    "Tell me about Mother again." Sorcha asks.

    "Well, she was kind, and gentle. Everyone in the village spoke of her beauty. You look like her, you know. You will be a very beautiful woman someday."

    "Do you miss her?"

    "Very much, but we have you now. Which I know she would have been so proud of. I know she would have given anything to have watched you grow up."

    Sorcha gleams proudly at this comment.

    "Is she who Father sets the extra plate and chair for tonight?"

    "In a way yes, it is said on the eve of All Hallows spirits are free to visit the land of the living."

    "I hope she visits tonight." Sorcha says as they reach the end of the path.

    A mist rises off the dark grey waters of the loch. The mountains surrounding the distant shore rise high above blocking the low setting sun.

    Elspeth walks to the edge of the shore and begins to wash the sheets.

    "Elspeth, I know I said I would help, but can I please go and play?" Sorcha awkwardly asks.

    Elspeth looks at her sister as she stands back looking small and hopeful. She smiles lovingly at Sorcha.

    "Of course little one, you will have plenty of time in your life for washing."

    Sorcha's eyes light up, and with laughter she runs towards the woods on the edge of the loch.

    Minutes pass as Elspeth hums, while pleasantly attending to her chores.

    Her mind drifts and she considers what she would want her husband to look like. To often has she sacrificed for her father and sister, not that she minds, but it would be nice to have a boy in her life.

    "He should have a kind gentle face." She thinks to herself.

    She is deep in a daydream when she begins to hear it. A soft song of a language Elspeth does not recognize in an old feeble sorrowful voice.

    She looks up to see, a few yards down the shore, the back of a small old woman. She is hunched over covered in green tattered rags, her long grey hair is oily and wraps around her body like a cape, it wildly blows in the wind. She continues singing her song while washing what appears to be grey and red rags.

    "I am sorry I didn't see you there." Elspeth politely says.

    The old woman makes no reply she just continues her eerie song while frantically washing her rags.

    "I must have been deep in my thoughts, I didn't even hear you come down the path." Elspeth tries again.

    Still no reply other than the slow sorrowful song.

    "Maybe she is hard of hearing." Elspeth thinks to herself.

    Elspeth starts to go back to her work when the song stops.

    She looks up to see the old woman turning in her direction. Her face is haggard, and her nose is disfigured, looking as though she only has one nostril. She smiles showing her black gums, and one yellow stained protruding tooth.

    Elspeth looks down at the old woman's hands and sees they are covered in a thick red substance.

    "My God, you are the Bean Nighe, from Father's stories." Elspeth says with fear as the realization comes upon her.

    The old woman just stares at her with her horrid smile.

    "Will you hurt me?" Elspeth asks, in a small frightened voice.

    "I am afraid child, that is not how this works. First you answer three questions, and if you be truthful, I will give you three answers." The old woman responds.

    "Do I have a choice?" Elspeth asks.

    The old woman just stands there, with her horrid smile, not responding. Elspeth reluctantly nods, with a pleading look.

    "Are you alone, child?" The old woman asks with a knowing look in her eyes.

    Elspeth considers lying momentarily and decides better of it.

    "My sister Sorcha, plays in the woods, around the bend."

    The old woman nods approvingly, as her smile grows.

    "Good child, to lie would be pointless. Tell me, you both look so young, are you alone in this world, are you well cared for?"

    "My Father cares for us. He is a good man. He is at the village now, preparing for the feast of the eve of All Hallows tonight. He likes to tell Sorcha stories, she so adores his stories." Elspeth replies as tears begin to run silently down her cheeks.

    "Child tell me, though young have you lived a fulfilling life?"

    Elspeth's voice momentarily fails her as the weight of the last question hits her. Her breath becomes shallow and fast. It takes her a few minutes to regain her composure.

    The old woman waits patiently, smiling her horrid smile, never blinking.

    "There is so much I wish I would have done. I have spent so much time, caring for Father and Sorcha. My days have been filled with cooking, and cleaning, but watching Sorcha grow strong and beautiful has provided me with much fulfillment."

    "Three true answers, ask your questions child."

    Elspeth hesitates.

    "In Father's stories the Bean Nighe are the harbingers of death, and were once human. Are the stories true?"

    "Aye, your father has been truthful. We were once women, we died before our natural time. This is our curse to spend our days singing our song and washing the death shrouds of the soon to be dead."

    "Will you hurt me?" Elspeth asks for the second time, fearing the answer.

    "Dear sweet child, I would never harm you. I have no desire to see you hurt. It is the shroud we prepare for the dead, they become so stained sometimes. The blood is such a bothersome mess." As the old woman says this Elspeth senses a kindness to the woman. For a second, she feels she recognizes something in the old woman's eyes.

    "Who's shroud is that you prepare now?" Elspeth asks.

    The old woman's smile fades and a sorrowful look fills her eyes.

    "It was especially sad in the washing. So much blood on such a tiny shroud. Take comfort though she felt little pain.

    She was happily playing on the rocks, when she slipped on the moss. She did not fall far, but hit her head and landed in the water. She never woke up. We can take comfort in that, yes we can dear child."

    Elspeth stands quietly as tears run steady down her cheeks. She turns towards where Sorcha had been playing. Realizing the time that has passed since hearing Sorcha's laughter.

    From the trees Sorcha emerges. She is faint like mist and Elspeth can see the trees through her as she walks.

    "Elspeth, Elspeth! Where are you? I am so sorry. I didn't mean to be gone so long, I must have fallen asleep. I only just now woke up." Sorcha cries out as she runs in the direction of Elspeth.

    "I am here, dear sweet child I am here. Can you not see me?" Elspeth pleads.

    As Sorcha runs passed Elspeth a cold chill runs down Elspeth's body. Sorcha stops in front of the old woman.

    "Hi, have you seen my sister?" Sorcha asks the old woman.

    "Yes, child she sent me to collect you. The night air has a chill to it, here put on your coat." The old woman holds the shroud out towards Sorcha as she reaches out and accepts the gift wrapping the shroud around her shoulders.

    "Thank you, we better be going. Elspeth gets so cross when I am out late. I love her so, I don't want to upset her. My name is Sorcha, what's yours? You are so beautiful." Sorcha reaches for the old woman's hand as she says this.

    The old woman transforms before Elspeth's eyes, she is now young and beautiful. Her crying grows harder, as she realizes what she had recognized in the old woman's eyes earlier.

    "Sweet child, Elspeth can't go where we go, but worry not she will be okay. Let me teach you a song to help pass our time on the journey."

    The two walk out into the loch hand in hand, as they dissolve into the cold Scottish rain. Leaving Elspeth alone on the shore. She falls to her knees and through the sobs and tears four words can be made out.

    "Mother, come back please."
  7. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:

    Family Affair

    1300 words

    Erika returned from the hairdressers, and modeled – surveyed herself before the long corridor mirror. Yes, this fringe was certainly an improvement, she decided, and grinned behind her curtain of fringe, a snip at $125. She really should tell her mother, she thought, and also tell mom how she borrowed the debit card from her purse, embarked upon a shopping spree. She was so ditsy, she would say, mommy I spent $80 on a dress, $115 on shoes. She would perhaps not mention the fresh, and tribal, tattoo gracing the base of her spine. Ouch, it was very sore to her touch, although Rat, the tattoo artiste, he was a dreamboat, so funny in his own tender, and spider-webbed way. Erika had great plans for their evening together.

    She turned, and bumped her guts into the door handle of her bedroom - here on the upstairs corridor. Damn it, she said, I suffer for self-expression, and she laughed. Instead, and sensibly, Erika crawled the length of the corridor, smelled her way long the landing on her journey toward the distant kitchen. She was very, very, very hungry and hoped she might find an adult to fix a sandwich, and a soda – for her thirst.

    Mom hopped the staircase in slippers, she turned the corner of the banister, piles of washing clasped against her chest.

    ‘Christ the Lord,’ she screamed - at the vision of a girl, or a slug, creeping at her feet. ‘Erika, you brat, frightened your mother. I love your hair, by the way. Have you seen my debit card?’ She stared at the daughter, ’Actually darling, I don’t suppose you have.’ Mommy chortled, and continued her drudgery, until obviously, she returned to her kitchen and to her handcuff lifestyle.

    That foolish woman, thought Erika, all she ever does is wash clothes and vacuum floors, why does she not get a life?

    ‘Would you like a sandwich, baby?’ Mom cried, now from downstairs. She was elusive as a wisp, her rasping voice carried to the top of the stairwell. Erika mountaineered down these stairs.

    ‘Yes mother,’ she replied, ‘give me cheese and mayonnaise and a coke to go.’

    As Erika negotiated the final step, she arrived at base camp, or lounge area as it was called. Upon the sofa her brother Lemsil gurgled inside his oxygen mask, his fingers twitched rapidly over the controls to his computer game console, such a loser with his cancer, thought Erika.

    Finally, and her own fingers rubbed raw by fittings, Erika hopped to the high kitchen stool and ravaged a sandwich, munched great mouthfuls of hair. She considered the brilliant turn of events, an identifiable anorexic intolerance due to hair’s inhibition of her swallow facility, and she choked on cheese and on hairspray. Erika slipped mother’s card back in its purse.

    Meanwhile, this mother looked outside over the sink, out the window, her face held in her palms. Hearing the cough she turned.

    ‘What is it tulip, baby-doll, is it the crusts?’ said Mom.

    ‘Why did you not cut the fucking, god-damned crusts off my sandwich?’ said Tulip. ‘And where’s Dad?’ she said.

    As ever, Dad was most probably laid under the bonnet of that wheelchair in his mechanics workshop, his garage, or sleeping on his bed. Did Dad ever find any time for Erika, the son of a bitch? She laughed aside her crust because grandma really was a bitch: her whiny advice, her wrinkles, fifty dollar bills exchanged at Christmas. What kind of exchange rate was that for Erika’s precious attention and presence at funerals, and during Thanksgiving dinners in grandma’s smelly trailer?

    Lemsil wheezed into his gas mask and scratched at his tumor. This evening he was the leading driver in the Le Mans 24 hour rally. He loved speed, the thrill of driving, and tonight was Tuesday night. Of course, Dad would go to his factory soon enough for a shift of bovine slaughter, and Mom, she would be salsa dancing, again. Maybe if that goth creep of a sister got out the house, an hour or two, he could wear everybody’s underwear, spend his precious last me-time in their suspenders.

    Erika felt her way from the kitchen, past the tall lamp stand, and sat on her brother.

    ‘Get off me, you cunt,’ said Lemsil.

    ‘Oh, I thought you were a human being,’ she said, and flicked crumbs into his working eye. The pair slapped, tickled, then enjoyed a silence together.

    Boots kicked at the front door. Erika leaped for joy because Rat Spider had arrived on his motorbike. She rushed to the door, cried ‘Mother, I am arranging flowers at the youth center,’ and slammed the door. She spread upon the pillion seat, like a wishbone.

    The couple thundered through high trees, up long the valley highway. They stopped briefly roadside, and made love rapidly. Rejoining the highway their motorbike arrived at the incomplete Canyon Viaduct, the bridge that one day would link two states, yet was incomplete due to central government restrictions in the wake of the transgender washroom controversy. Rat revved the engine. Around them stood the Goths of Freedom County. On the other side waited the Emos of Apache Reservoir.

    ‘We can do it, baby,’ said Rat.

    ‘Are you sure, honey,’ said Erika, her nose poked through her fringe.

    Headlights lined the far side. Their leap through space - captured by photographers – a magnificent second of suspension, until they crash-landed. The bike thumped the concrete, Erika tumbled from the back seat in a first bump of deliverance, whilst the second bump took Rat over the side of the bridge and to his death.

    Erika screamed.

    ‘Oh my god, I’m pregnant,’ she screamed. Then remembering the condition of her brother, she regained a modicum of composure. Surely utilizing Rat’s harvested organs, Lemsil might be cured of his cancer and the entire family, and also Dad, might live life like the people they once were when Christmas was real.

    The county helicopter retrieved the battered corpse from the base of the pine tree, and Rat in death wore an expression of great curiosity, though his nose was broken. The motorbike was left among the pines for many weeks. Erika stroked at Rat’s lifeless palm inside the ambulance, recalled the life story, his years in the orphanage, and quest to secure a suitable Emo fionce to match his tattoo and piercing lifestyle. Lights flashing, they rushed to Woodside Park Avenue and her ailing brother secured inside his bedtime oxygen tepee. Meanwhile Erika dialed the abattoir on her cell phone, and messaged mom, and Mauro, her dance partner.

    Lemsil caught the elevator upstairs. He selected father’s leather braces, his grey socks, and from mother’s bedside drawer he withdrew the silk camisole and one of many purple vibrators. He wheeled towards Erika’s bedroom hoping to find critical elements to enhance his fantasy outfit, knew somewhere in that wardrobe lay the Snoopy French knickers. Yes, yes he had everything now, grabbed the Marilyn Manson gilt–framed photograph from her bedside, and wheeled toward the corridor mirror to perform his transformation, pleasure himself exquisitely before a raid to the refrigerator. He lifted his buttock, squeezed into the snoopy knickers, twisted his features through the camisole neck.

    ‘Lemsil, Lemsil,’ cried his sister, come quick, we have acquired the parts for your brain transplant,’ she called.

    In a great panic, Lemsil sought his escape and he power-wheeled toward the elevator shaft. He tumbled through space, and thumped upon the roof of the elevator cabinet. The cabinet had naturally returned to the ground setting. Erika heard the thump, and she rushed to the elevator, pressed the buzzer marked One. Rising to the bedrooms she heard a crunch and squelch as Lemsil was compressed in bedwear.

    1300 words
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2016
  8. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:

    You know the sensation, everyone does, that exquisite, spine tingling anticipation that something unusual is about to happen. Sharon felt it now as she sat in the pool of light cast by the angle-poise lamp on her desk. All around her were the noises generated by the eight sleeping patients in her ward. Nothing unusual there she thought, just the occasional moan, the squeak of traction pulleys and the regular shallow breathing of the more comfortable patients. Sharon couldn't identify one single thing to make her feel this uneasy. She had spent scores of night shifts like this, alone in charge of a ward of sleeping patients, but she just knew something strange was going to happen tonight.

    Shivering, although it wasn't cold, Sharon hugged her cardigan to herself and checked her watch, two thirty-three. Still a long time to go before the end of her shift; time for a cup of coffee. Going to the kitchen Sharon pulled her cardigan closer. Was it her imagination or had it just got a touch colder? No, the little temperature gauge on the souvenir ruler someone had brought back from Cornwall still read 22 degrees. Funny, thought Sharon, Perhaps I'm coming down with a chill.

    The kettle was still warm when Sharon reached the kitchen and didn't take long to come to the boil. A hint of movement caught the corner of her eye, as though someone had walked past the open door. Sharon walked over, looked up and down the corridor, but there was no-one to be seen. With a shrug she walked back to the kettle and poured her coffee, picked three tea-biscuits from the open packet on the table and set off back along the corridor to the ward.

    Walking back she studied the paintings on the wall, all of them by patients of the psychiatric clinic. Some of them were very good, but in some the artists' mental anguish was all too clear. Too many reds and blacks, thought Sharon, not enough blue skies or yellow sunshine. She was so engrossed in the paintings she never noticed, until she put her hand out to push them, that the double doors to the ward were swinging, not by much, just those rapid little swings those kind of doors make before they become still. Frozen there, with her hand inches from the door, Sharon could hear the low murmur of voices from within.

    Summoning up her courage, and telling herself it could only be one of her patients disturbing his neighbour, Sharon pushed open the door and strode in. Nothing had changed, the same pool of light around the desk accentuating the shadows in the furthest parts of the ward, the same moans, squeaks and occasional snores; but the murmured conversation had stopped.

    Placing her cup of coffee and biscuits on the desk, Sharon went over to the nearest bed. Mr Simpson was sound asleep but his pain still brought sweat to his forehead. Wiping his brow made him shift his position as much as his leg in traction permitted, and he muttered something about, "...bloody ladders..."

    Going across to the next patient Sharon made certain he too was as comfortable as his broken bones, plaster and traction allowed. And so on, slowly working her way farther and farther from that little pool of light over her desk.

    When she crossed the ward to work back down the other side Sharon was surprised to notice the screens had been pulled around a bed. Why she hadn't noticed that before she couldn't understand. Sharon was sure they had been pulled back when she checked her patients earlier. There was no reason for them to be closed now as they were only closed when a patient needed privacy. With her heart in her mouth she groped for where the two sections of curtain overlapped, gently pulled them apart, and stepped inside.

    Two men were sitting there, one on either side of the bed. Sharon stood stock still, petrified with fear. The man opposite looked up and said in rich, calm voice full of authority, "Stay awhile my dear, perhaps you may be able to help us."

    The second man swivelled round and looked at Sharon coldly. His voice too was full of authority but higher pitched, harsh and cruel. "Stay if you must, but I'm damned if I can see how you can be of help."

    "You're damned anyway, if you recall," responded the first man mildly.

    The second man continued to look at Sharon in a manner which made her skin crawl. His eyes seemed to flit over her face, never quite looking at her direct. His gaze seemed not only to strip her of her uniform but lay her very soul bare.

    "Well, Miss Florence Bloody Nightingale," spittle flew off his lips and his breath was foul, "Just what do you know of this man?"

    "Wh..Who are you? What are you doing here?" said Sharon, and then as her courage began to return, "You must go! Leave at once. There's no visiting at this time of night."

    "Ah my dear, but that is not possible, at least not yet. You see, we were sent by a higher authority. We have a job to do," explained the mild gentleman patiently.

    "Who's authority? What job?" said Sharon.

    "Hmm. Good question," he leaned forward, resting his hands on a beautifully carved walking stick, "You could say the Ultimate Authority, and as for our job?"

    "Executioners!" spat out the man with his back to Sharon.

    "No, that is not correct. Judges, or perhaps advocates, would be nearer the truth I think. Don't you agree my friend?"

    "No I soddin' well don't. This wretch here lies condemned out of his own actions. It's cut and dried!"

    With his voice rising in pitch he got to his feet and turned to face Sharon. His feet made strange slithery noises on the polished floor, as though he found it hard to keep his feet. Glancing down Sharon was appalled to see that both his feet were grossly misshapen. In the dim light they looked more like hooves.

    Putting into her voice all the authority she could muster Sharon said, "Keep your voice down, you'll wake the other patients!"

    Both men looked at Sharon, as if expecting her to go on. There was an uncomfortable silence.

    "I say again. Who are you and what are you doing here?" whispered Sharon as loudly as she dared.

    "We have been sent here to decide this man's ultimate fate my dear. You see it's not always cut and dried. Sometimes when a man dies his soul is, shall we say, in dispute. We two are, let us say, two sides of the same coin. How we fall decides whether this man's soul goes to Heaven --"

    "Or to Hell. And you're spinning!"

    "You mean?" gasped Sharon.

    "Yeah, yeah, yeah; you're goin' to help us decide whether this jerk spents eternity playin' the harp or burnin' in Hell."

    "But Mr Peters isn't dead," exclaimed Sharon, moving round the bed to examine her patient, "His legs are broken that's all. He isn't going to die. Is he?"

    The nicer of the two men put his arm out to guide Sharon to a seat. "We all die in the end my dear. I'm afraid his life has been one of extremes. He committed at least one extremely wicked deed in his life, yet self-sacrifice, kindness and honour were also part of his psyche."

    "Psyche, smyche; he's damned I tell you, damned. He killed a man once you know. In cold blood. It was a deliberate, cold blooded action," said the other man, rubbing his hands together as though relishing the deed.

    "Ah, but the man he killed was his best friend,"

    "All the more reason to damn him eh? Don't you agree? Eh? Eh?"

    "Please. Why did he kill his friend?" asked Sharon.

    "Because he's a cold blooded killer."

    "Because he cared for his friend."

    Sharon's eyes flicked from face to face. One calm and full of compassion, the other sweating and devoid of pity, "But why?"

    "It was war. His friend had been horribly wounded and was dying in great pain. No medical help could have saved him," he paused, "So Mr Peters here, he shot him."

    "But that's terrible," said Sharon, gently wiping Mr Peters brow, "The poor, poor man."

    "Yeah, Isn't it. Terrible eh!? Fancy being shot by your own mate. He-he, what a way to go eh? How do you think his friend felt about that? Eh? Eh?"

    Sharon turned on him, furious, "I didn't mean it like that! I mean fancy having to live with that on your conscience for the rest of your life. The poor man."

    "So you think he did the right thing, do you?"

    Sharon hesitated, "I don't know, but he did act out of compassion and not malice. Surely that must count in his favour."

    "If you say so my dear,"

    Sharon felt that a point had been made

    "Okay, Okay, so he felt sorry for his buddy and he killed him out of compassion. But was he truly sorry for what he did? Eh? Eh? Go on, answer me that little miss smart alec."

    "What was his friend's name?" whispered Sharon, blinking back tears.

    "His friend's name was Michael. They came from the same town."

    "Mr Peters has a son called Michael. He must have named him after his friend."

    "Why do you suppose he did that Sharon? Would it not remind him of his friend every day of his life?

    "Yeah, go on, answer that one. Bump your mate off and name one of your own brats after him to rub salt in the wound."

    "Well I suppose he didn't want to forget. Perhaps he thought it would honour his friend's memory to name his son after him."

    "Pah! Some honour!"

    "Sharon. Do you think it was an honourable thing to do?"

    "I'd like to think so", then, squaring her shoulders, "Yes."

    "Hmph! Dress it up as much as you like with pity and compassion. He still killed a man. In cold blood too. That goes against all His commandments."

    The more pleasant of the two intruders sighed."My friend doesn't like to see the argument going against him Sharon. You really must excuse him,"

    "What do you mean 'going against me'? Eh? Eh? He killed, killed! There's nothing to debate. He lies there damned by his own actions."

    Sharon rounded on them both, "Surely it's what is in his heart that counts,"

    "True Sharon, very true, but we can't weigh that while he still lives."

    "So what can you achieve tonight? Mr Peters isn't going to die. Not tonight, not for a very long time. His legs will mend and he will go home to his wife, his children and his grandchildren."

    "As we said at the beginning. With this man there is some doubt. His motives may exonerate his deeds. We are here to see for ourselves what sort of man he is"

    "But how? He's asleep"

    "Ah, but he dreams Sharon, he dreams, and you, I, and my nether world colleague here are all part of his dream tonight."

    This was all too much for Sharon and she just could not blink back the tears any longer,"Excuse me please. I need to get some tissues."

    Sharon slipped out from behind the screens and quickly walked over to her desk. She noticed that her cup of coffee was still steaming. Grabbing a handfull of tissues she made her way back to Mr Peter's bed.

    "I don't believe ..." but there was no-one there. The three chairs were empty. Only Mr Peters lay there, breathing so gently that Sharon thought for a fleeting second that perhaps he had died. Checking his pulse she was relieved to find that he was just asleep and appeared to be okay. Carefully she pulled back the screens and, looking over her shoulder all the while, walked slowly back to her station.

    Mr Simpson moaned again and the little light on Sharon's desk came on to tell her that he had pressed his button. Sharon got up quickly and went over to him.

    "Good morning Mr Simpson. How are you feeling?"

    "Oh, not so bad lassie," he replied hoarsely, "My leg's gey sore and I was wondering if it was time for my medication?" .

    "Just you lie there Mr Simpson and I'll get you something," said Sharon.

    "Whit's wrong lassie? You look as though ye've been greetin'. Are you okay?"

    Sharon forced a smile, "Oh, I'm fine Mr Simpson. Really I am. It's just been an awful long night that's all."

    She gave Mr Simpson his painkillers and some water, then got ready to write it up in the ward log-book. She sat down and reached for her drink. Ouch! it was still scalding hot! Glancing at her watch she was startled to see it was only two thirty eight, just five minutes since she left the ward to make her cup of coffee.

    Sharon was kept busy for the rest of her shift. As was normal for the wee small hours her patients would waken and ask for further medication as their painkillers began to wear off. She kept a close eye on Mr Peters throughout the night, but he continued to sleep soundly until nearly six. When Sharon saw that he was waking she went over to his bedside.

    "How are you this morning Mr Peters?" she asked quietly.

    Mr Peters looked at her for a while. He then smiled and reached out to hold her hand. "I feel marvelous my dear, quite marvelous. I've had the best nights sleep since ... Well, let's just say for such a very, very, long time. Thank you Sharon, thank you."
  9. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Words: 1317

    Roy opens his eyes and blinks a few times. He's staring at a ceiling, his own ceiling, his bedroom ceiling. He looks at his watch then sits up and climbs out of bed, straightening his stiff back slowly. He plods across and out of the room, along the corridor and into the bathroom where he stands before the toilet and pisses non-handed. Some of it goes in the bowl. He squeezes the last drop out and accompanies it with a fart.
    ........Back in his bedroom he dresses in yesterday's clothes then goes downstairs to make coffee. He turns on the television and switches to his favourite channel Cinema Gold. They're running The Wizard of Oz again and Dorothy isn't in Kansas any more. The Lollipop Guild are doing their routine for her. Roy smiles. He never tires of the way they curl their lip in a snarl, like a dwarfed Richard Cramer or Walter Long.
    ........He turns off the television, grabs his keys from the coffee table and leaves the house.
    ........The late November chill cuts through him like a knife as he makes his way into town. There's an early morning frost coating the pavements and his mouth steams like that of a sleeping dragon's. He pulls the zip on his jacket up around his throat and lifts the collars around his neck.

    'Roy,' his advisor calls from behind her desk. She's an attractive woman and much easier on the eye than the usual witches you see in these places.
    ........He walks over and sits down.
    ........'How've you been doing?' she asks.
    ........'Same old,' Roy replies. 'Countless applications to the same old agencies and no replies to show for it. I'm sure half these jobs don't exist. They just want as many people on their books as possible.'
    ........She ignores his implications. 'Have you been phoning round, calling in on companies?'
    ........'Done all that, but there's only so many you can try before you start running out of places.'
    ........She studies her computer screen for some time, to check he's been updating his online diary. Eventually she turns to him and says, 'Have you got your appointed card?'
    ........He passes it across.
    ........'Just keep trying the agencies,' she says, as she writes down his next appointment, 'and I'll see you again in two weeks.' She passes him back the card.

    It's snowing when Roy steps out into the street. He makes for the marketplace where he can shelter under the stalls. He finds one selling books and buys three because he likes the covers.
    ........He steps across to shelter under a shopping arcade. He stands there and watches the people. He hates them all; young and old, fit and lame. Ferreting about from place to place, coats and umbrellas protecting them from the elements, laden with bags of groceries. A small group of teenage lads are dicking around under a row of unoccupied stalls across the square, all tracksuits and baseball caps, leaping from stall to stall and swinging on the rafters. He hopes one of them will slip and smash his face but none of them oblige. Inconsiderate bastards. A toddler starts bawling nearby so he turns and heads for the nearby cafe.

    The cafe is empty. He picks the least dirtiest table and orders coffee and a bacon sandwich.

    He's back home watching television. The Wizard of Oz is still on. His phone rings. It's Abigail, his advisor from the job centre. He thumbs the screen. 'Hello.'
    ........'Roy? It's Abigail from the job centre. Can you get to Murton tomorrow for twelve o'clock? Don't worry about the bus fare. Just keep your ticket and we'll reimburse you.'
    ........'I expect so. What is it?'
    ........'Assembly line work. You know Bishop Foods?'
    ........'Can't say I do.'
    ........'Oh. Anyway they're interviewing tomorrow and I've booked you in.'
    ........'Right. Twelve o'clock. Thanks.' He hangs up and finds the number for the bus company. He calls and asked about times and numbers, and is told he needs to take a bus into Akford then change for another to Murton.

    The following morning he's up at ten. The snow's still falling. He washes at the bathroom sink and puts on some fresh clothes. He doesn't have a suit, or anything that might be classed as presentable, but at least the jeans and shirt he finds are clean, if more than a little creased.
    ........He makes coffee and toast and turns on the television while he eats.
    ........He leaves for the bus at eleven-fifteen and buys a Day Saver ticket as he boards because it's cheaper than buying separate tickets for each journey. He arrives in Akford at eleven-forty and asks someone which is the bus into Murton. The man points to stand G so Roy strolls over and waits.
    ........The people here are even more dislikeable than they are in his home town. They scurry about, all furtive and bursting with energy, spitting obsessively and unable to stay still for even a second. Young mums scream at their kids for no obvious reason, showing them less respect than they would a mangy dog that's just shit on their new carpet. They depress him deeply and he wishes they would all die a slow painful death, right there before his eyes.
    ........The bus pulls in and he steps aboard and shows the driver his ticket.
    ........'Hold on,' the driver calls as Roy turns to find a seat. 'You can't use that ticket on this bus.'
    ........'But it's a Day Saver,' Roy protests. 'I can go anywhere with this.'
    ........'Different bus company, pal. That's for Top Coach buses. We're not Top Coach.'
    ........'So when does the next Top Coach to Murton get in?'
    ........'It doesn't. Top Coach don't do a bus to Murton from here.'
    ........Roy steps off the bus without bothering to ask the price of a ticket because he has exactly sixty-five pence in his pocket and he knows it isn't enough. He walks out of the station cursing under his breath. He continues through the shopping mall until he finds somewhere quiet, away from the scumbags. He pulls out his phone and calls Abigail.
    ........'Hello,' he says when she answers. 'It's Roy here.'
    ........'Yes, Roy.'
    ........'That job you put me onto. The one at the food factory. I can't get there.'
    ........'Because I've got no money.'
    ........'What do you mean?'
    ........'I spent all my money on a Day Saver and the bus into Murton doesn't accept Day Savers because it's a different service and the ones that do take Day Savers don't go into Murton,' he explains.
    ........'Can't you draw some from a cash machine? I've told you we'll reimburse it.'
    ........'No, the money in there is spoken for. I've got bills going out.'
    ........She sighs. 'This isn't good enough, Roy.'
    ........'What do you mean?'
    ........'What I mean is you always find some way to avoid the jobs we put you on to. I've been very lenient with you so far but you leave me no choice. I'll have to pass your claim through for a decision on the strength of this.'
    ........'You mean you're going to sanction me?'
    ........'That won't be my decision.'
    ........Roy tries to argue his case for a while longer but it's pointless. They end the call.

    Back at the house Roy checks the quality of his work. He doesn't want any fuck ups on this. The rope is the right thickness, and strong. It's tied to the handrail that runs along the upstairs landing, then fed down and over the stair bannister so that its end dangles ten feet from the hallway floor. He grabs the website printouts detailing the correct way to tie a noose and studies them at length.

    The noose is tied.
    ........Roy sits down with a freshly made cup of coffee and switches on the television. They're showing Casablanca.
    ........'I'll just watch the end of this,' Roy tells himself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2016
  10. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Grandma Called Me Susan (1515)

    When I was younger, my grandmother used to tell me stories. She never told me about Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, none of that bullshit. We’d sit in my room when the whole world was asleep and even the owls were too tired too hoot, and I’d curl up on my bed with grandma sitting on a stool beside me.

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way my grandmother’s face used to glow like a firefly’s in my nightlight when she leaned over me with that spark in her eye - the little flame that sent shivers down my spine and made me think of ghosts in tattered old sheets - and bared her teeth in something like a smile.

    It was always the same story.

    “You look scared, Susan.” Grandma always used to call me Susan, and nobody could ever convince her that my name isn’t Susan. It’s Ellie. “But let me tell you something, that’s nothing to how scared the little girls in the hospitals are.”

    It was always that sentence that made me want to burrow under my covers and scream for mommy. I’d lean my head forward like a goose, but I’d pull my arms back, because I never had known whether I should go to my grandmother like she was a grandma, or pull away like she was a ghost. “What do you mean?” I’d ask her, high and breathy.

    As if I didn’t know.

    “Well, back way before you were born. Before even your mother was born -” She’d always pause there, to chuckle like a scratched old radio. “When I was just a little schoolgirl, and that was a very, very long time ago, there used to be hospitals where they put the people who were never ever gonna get well. Like cousin Maxwell, the one who has cancer. He would’ve ended up in one of them hospitals. They were usually built on the edges of small towns, away from all the city folk, and people would drive an extra hundred miles if it meant they could avoid those graveyards - that’s what people used to call them, “graveyards” - because everyone knew they were pretty much full of dead people.”

    “They were dead?” I’d ask, as horrified as a six year old could ever be.

    Grandma would shake her head and grin like the shark that learned to smile, “No, but they were on their way out. Now shush, I can’t fact check everything you say.”

    When I was littler, that was how I comforted myself when I dreamt of those dead hospitals at night. I told myself if she couldn’t fact check, that meant she was making it up.

    “It was mostly full of old people like me, but occasionally, little girls would get sick with cholera or pneumonia or something like that. They’d be sent away by their parents who didn’t have any money to pay for their sick little kid, and the hospitals would promise the poor mother and daddy, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of your daughter. But you can’t come see her, we don’t like families to have to see their kids die,” and nobody ever really questioned that that was why they couldn’t go see their dying kids and siblings. That was how it was back then, you did as you were told and were left alone as much as you left everyone else alone. But you know what they did at those hospitals? Tell me, Susan, do you know what they did to those sick little girls?” I’d always shake my head and beg her not to tell me, but grandma had never cared.

    She’d lean forward and just keep on plowing through, “There were experiments, Susan. The doctors looked at the dying little kids and said to themselves, ‘Say, what if we can make this little human collection of DNA keep on living?’ But they didn’t think of those girls at babies that liked to play with dolls, as kids who imagined that one day they might be a ballerina, as school children that loved nobody else more in the world than their parents and their kindergarten teacher. They saw them as rats just waiting to be tested on.

    “They’d electrocute the kids, shock them with fire. Stick needles up them and make them drink bubbling, hissing, burning things - but nothing was working. The doctors, they were getting pretty damn frustrated, but then they realized they’d been going about it all wrong. It wasn’t the bodies they needed to keep alive, those were broken beyond repair, it was the people inside the bodies. So the doctors took bits of DNA from the little girls and stuck them somewhere safe, then they left and let those scared little girls die.”

    “Is that it?” I would squeak, “Is that the end of the story?”

    “Oh, no, Susan.” The way she said Susan still haunts my dreams, thirty years older and twenty years after my grandma died. It was like she knew the punchline to a joke that she would never tell me. “Not at all. After the little girls died, the doctors let the DNA sit pretty for about seventy years. There was talk about the ghosts of those little girls wandering the halls of the graveyard hospitals, but nobody paid much attention to it. Especially not the doctors in the big fancy hospitals. Now, this was seventy years later, and it was different doctors, sleeker, more sophisticated doctors, who looked at the DNA and realized maybe it was time those little girls were brought back to life. This would’ve been only about six years ago, maybe seven, and this was about the time there were women going into hospitals and begging for IVF or something to get them a baby. And the hospitals thought, what better way to get those women the babies they wanted than to give them premade kids? So they stuck DNA in some needles and injected those ladies full of undead baby juice, all the while telling them it was just some special kind of IVF.”

    “Did it work, were the little girls born again? Are those kids alive today?” I’d ask grandma, and she’d grin at me then, the only way she knew how. Big and sharp and scary.

    “I don’t know, Susan,” She’d say, “Why don’t you tell me?”

    I never did question how my grandmother knew all this.

    My grandmother’s dead now, and I didn’t even cry at the funeral. But I’ve never had a friend named Susan, the name will always make me think of some little girl’s ghost standing in the darkness of an empty hall, and I still can’t bring myself to go to the terminal section of a hospital. It’s been thirty years and this is the closest I’ve ever been to a dead person part of a hospital. I was driving around New York, the country area, and I got lost at the edge of some middle-of-nowhere town. I kept driving because I thought the roads had to go somewhere, right? I kept driving and now I’m stuck here in a weird as hell abandoned building.

    This isn’t a terminal section of a hospital though. It’s just plain terminal. It looks just like the hospital I used to imagine when my grandma told me the story, all dingy and abandoned and blue. Blue, everywhere. The lighting is blue, the only thing coming through blue tattered curtains, and the walls are painted with peeling blue. The floor is old blue tiles and the little girl standing in front of me is blue.

    “Hey,” My voice sounds like the wind trying to make way for the clouds, and my words are nearly lost, “Hi, sorry. I was driving and I kinda got lost, and I saw this place and thought maybe it was open. But it’s obviously not, I mean, look at the damn hall. Frickin’ deserted.”

    The little girl doesn’t respond, so I keep rambling.

    “Yeah, I don’t know this town. I live in New York actually, so this little area is pretty far away from home for me. Do you think you could tell me where I am? I haven’t seen anyone for at least a hundred miles.”

    The little girl moves slowly, like someone awakening from a deep sleep, and I see she isn’t so blue after all.

    She’s got my dark hair.

    She’s as pale as I am.

    She’s got the little freckle under her right eye that I have.

    She looks just like a six year old me.

    The little girl looks almost angry, but she’s too young to be angry, and she says in my voice, “I don’t know where I am either.”

    I’ve forgotten how to breathe. It’s me, this little girl is me. It’s little six year old Ellie. Or is it? Some freak thing where some kid looks just like me? She can’t be Ellie, I’m Ellie.

    So I try to smile and I ask the little girl, “What’s your name, honey?”

    The little girl doesn’t even blink. “My name is Susan.”

    Grandma was right.

    Grandma was right.

    Oh god, grandma was right.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2016
  11. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Love Sick (~4,350 words)

    "Would anyone else like a drink?" Asked Lisa, standing at the doorway to the kitchen, an empty glass in hand.

    "Oh I will, rum and coke please."

    "And me, another vodka please." Added Suzy.

    Lisa collected empty glasses from Suzy and Rachael before heading into the kitchen to make drinks.

    "So Rachael, I think it's your turn for a scary story." Said Claire, her eyes widened in anticipation. This night was Claire's idea, she loved the idea of Halloween and scary stories despite not believing in the paranormal.

    "I don't really know any scary stories to be honest." Rachael replied. She watched as Claire's smile started to disappear. "But I do know an old wives tale?"

    "Perfect." Said Claire, her smile returning.

    "It's said if you walk downstairs tonight at midnight while holding a mirror you'll see the face of your boyfriend reflected back." Rachael looked in Claire's direction, waiting on her response. Despite the fact they had been best friends for many years, Rachael seen her as the cool, wise older sister she wanted to impress.

    "I'd need to find a man willing to put up with me before I could try it." Said Claire, sighing afterwards.

    Rachael shook her head. "Don't be stupid, you are one of the most beautiful women I know."

    Claire looked at her for a minute with a straight face, then began to smile. "That tells me more about the women you know rather than anything else."

    Both Rachael and Claire started laughing until Suzy interrupted. "You might prefer this story. Growing up in Scotland, I was told you could see the image of your future husband if you hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. My mum always called it a daft old wives tale."

    "Your mum is probably right." Claire answered.

    Lisa reappeared through the living room doorway, carefully balancing three glasses filled to the brim with alcohol. Suzy stood to help her, sniffing the glasses before taking the one that smelt like vodka.

    "Thanks Suzy. I have something we could try." She said while handing a glass to Rachael. "It's an old magic spell. It can make any man you desire fall deeply in love with you. But it only works on Halloween."

    "Interesting, how does it work exactly?" Asked Claire.

    "Well first of all, we need to sit facing each other, leaving a small space in the middle ". The women rearranged their sitting positions. "Now, someone places a photograph of the man we wish to cast the spell on, into the middle space".

    Claire picked up her glass of white wine and gulped down the remaining half glass. "I don't have a physical photograph, but I do have a picture on my phone from social media if that works?"

    Lisa nodded. "I presume it would still work."

    "Even magic needs to get with the times." Added Suzy.

    Claire flicked through her phone then placed it down in the middle. In unison, the others leaned forward to examine the photograph.

    "Is that Michael and Brian from work?" Rachael asked.

    Claire nodded.

    "So which one are you casting the spell on?" Lisa queried.

    Claire shrugged. "Both of them. That doesn't break any magical ethics, does it?" She asked before laughing.

    "I guess not. Ok, take each other's hands and say the phrase, Aphrodite open the heart of these here men to the one we call Claire, and repeat ten times."

    The women followed Lisa's instructions, repeating the phrase. As they finished the tenth and final iteration, the lights flickered.

    "Oh my God, something actually happened." Said Rachael, jumping up.

    Claire let out a giggle. "It's nothing. There has been an issue with the power in the street for a few days, simple coincidence. Your face was a picture though."

    Suzy and Lisa started to laugh with Claire. Rachael looked at them, shaking her head. The moment was interrupted by Claire's older sister, Erin, walking down stairs.

    "What are you all up to?" She asked.

    "We are doing some magic spells, you know, making some guys fall in love with me." Claire replied, a playful grin on her face.

    "Seriously? You are all young ladies, started your first jobs, bright futures. You shouldn't be obsessed with needing men in your lives." Said Erin, shaking her head.

    "Calm down, Emily Pankhurst. We are messing around for Halloween." Claire replied.

    The lights flickered again. Erin rolled her eyes at Claire before heading into the kitchen. The other girls tried to stifle their laughter as Claire sarcastically mimicked her sister.

    "On the subject of men, Liam is outside. Do any of you want a ride home?" Lisa asked. Rachael and Suzy both nodded their heads then proceeded to guzzle down their drinks.

    "Thanks for hosting tonight. I'll see you tomorrow at work." Said Rachael, holding out her arms for a cuddle.

    Claire wrapped her arms around her. "Yeah, another week."

    The other two said their goodbyes and all three left while Claire headed up to bed.

    Taking a sip of coffee, Claire wandered along the corridor of the office towards her desk. The place was bustling, the sound of keyboards being pressed and paper being printed. Claire normally loved the atmosphere of the busy office but not today, not with this niggling hangover.

    As she turned towards where she sat, a large item on her the desk caught her eye. She squinted trying to see exactly what it was but a tap on the shoulder interrupted her.

    "Hi Claire, I'm Michael. From human resources. Sorry. This is completely random. I've wanted to say hello to you for a while."

    Claire almost choked on the coffee she was about to swallow. "Hello Michael." She said, smiling. She ran her fingers through her long blonde hair and flicked some over her shoulder.

    "This is forward but would you like to go for a drink after work?" He asked.

    Claire took a second before responding. "To be honest Michael, tonight isn't a great night but why don't you email me and we can figure something out for another night?" Even though she was delighted at the offer, her head was pounding and she also wanted to try and play it cool.

    "Ok, I can do that." Michael hesitated for a moment. "Is it because of your boyfriend?" He asked, pointing towards Claire's desk. She stopped staring at his bright blue eyes for a moment to turn and look. Focusing, she could see the item on her desk was a large bouquet of flowers.

    She turned back to Michael. "I don't have a boyfriend, they are probably a thank you from a client. Anyway, I should do some work but email me."

    Michael smiled at her before walking away, whistling. Claire floated towards her desk, at least, that was how she felt. Rachael stood up to greet her. They both had started this job at the same time and worked side by side since. Claire sniffed the mixed array of red, pink and white flowers.

    "You will never believe who left those for you." Said Rachael, her voice more high pitched than normal.


    "Brian Stockton." Rachael replied with a knowing smile. "It must have worked."

    Claire looked at her for second, pondering. She allowed herself to consider for a brief moment that a magic spell to make two men she had barely spoken to, fall deeply in love with her, had actually worked. But the rational, dominating part of her mind dismissed it.

    "Think about it Rachael. What seems more likely, a magic spell invoking the Goddess of love has made two guys fall in love with me, or Lisa is trying to prank me?"

    The smile receded from Rachael's face. "This does sound like the sort of prank she would pull." Claire nodded while picking up the phone receiver. She dialled Lisa's extension.

    "Good morning, Averis Banking, Lisa speaking, how can I help?"

    "Good morning Lisa, having fun with your little prank are we?" Claire asked.

    "Hey Claire. What prank?"

    "I've barely been in work five minutes and Brian Stockton has left a bouquet of flowers on my desk and Michael Pelano has asked me out for a drink."

    "Are you serious? Claire I've never spoken to either of those guys in my life." She said, a hint of excitement in her voice. "Wait, are you trying to prank me?"

    Claire looked up at Rachael and shook her head. "Lisa, I need to go but we can catch up at lunch." She placed the receiver back down.

    "What is it?" Rachael asked.

    "I don't think it was her, she sounded genuinely surprised when I told her."

    "Who else could it have been? Suzy doesn't work here. Nor does your sister. And I'd never do that sort of thing." Said Rachael, a smile reappearing on her face. "It worked."

    Claire looked at her and then at the flowers. She knew magic was not real but could not quite figure out what was going on.

    "I should work." Claire said, sighing. She was determined to have it figured out by lunch.

    Claire and Rachael walked into the work canteen and made their way towards Lisa, sitting on her own sipping soup.

    "Right Lisa, you swear you don't have anything to do with this?" Asked Claire as she sat down, feeling frustrated at her inability to solve the puzzle.

    "I swear Claire, this has nothing to do with me. So what happened?"

    "Like I said on the phone, Brian left flowers on my desk and Michael asked me out tonight. Both have been emailing me non-stop this morning right up until lunch. Well, Brian has, Michael went off grid about an hour ago." Claire explained.

    "Speak of the devil." Said Rachael, nodding her head towards the canteen entrance. Michael, towering about everyone else with his side-combed blonde hair, was standing at the canteen entrance, scanning around. As she turned to look, Claire caught his gaze and he made his way over.

    "Hi Claire."

    "Hi Michael."

    "I've bought you a gift." He said, handing over a small blue box. Claire looked at him confused then opened up the box to find a sparkling diamond necklace. "They are real diamonds, one carat. Beats flowers anyway." Rachael and Lisa looked at each other, stunned.

    Claire, eyebrows raised, stared at her sparkling gift. Struggling to find composure, she looked up at Michael. "This is too much. Actually, this is crazy, you don't even know me, why are you buying me diamonds?"

    "I feel like I've known you all my life Claire. I love you."

    "It actually worked." Rachael whispered to Lisa.

    Claire's heart was racing. She could not believe what was happening. Then, as if things were not crazy enough, she noticed Brian marching towards them.

    "Hey Claire, is this guy bothering you?" Asked Brian getting in between Michael and Claire.

    "Who the hell are you?" Michael replied, looking down at Brian, at least a foot in size between them.

    "I'm the guy who is going to kick your ass if you don't back off." The two men were now squaring up. Claire turned away from them, lifting her hands up to cover her face. The situation too overwhelming.

    "Ok boys, let's just calm down here." Said Lisa, walking over to them. "Michael, you leave that direction, and Brian, you go that way." Lisa was now standing between the two men, swishing her hands in opposing directions to shoo them away. Both men took small steps away from each other while maintaining eye contact.

    "They are leaving Claire." Said Rachael.

    Claire uncovered her face but did not speak.

    "Let's get out of here." Lisa said, putting her arm around Claire. The three women left the canteen back into the office corridors.

    Claire broke her silence. "This is madness. Magic isn't real."

    "How else do you explain all this though?" Asked Rachael.

    Lisa nodded her head. "I mean, I thought this was all nonsense as well but those two guys were ready for going at each other in there. And that necklace."

    "Ok, I am going to stop emailing them back this afternoon. Hopefully they'll lose interest and then I can return the necklace to Michael."

    The three women headed back to work.

    Claire finished washing her dinner dishes then headed back into the living room. Monday nights always meant at least two hours of peace as her mother and sister attended a yoga class in the city. Flopping down onto the sofa, she started to flick through the TV channels, trying her best not to think about the craziness of her day. Just as she settled on a nature documentary, her phone vibrated on the table. Claire leaned over and picked it up.

    "Hi Claire, Brian here. Hope you don't mind me texting you. I missed you this afternoon, guess your inbox was full so you never got my emails? Anyway, text back please xx"

    Claire sat up and instinctively looked around. Calm down and think how he got your number she told herself. She grabbed her laptop and signed in to her social media account. Clicking on her personal details, she scanned down the page to the phone number section, private. She tried to think of other places her mobile number might appear before being interrupted by the phone vibrating again. Cursing out loud, she picked it up.

    "Hi beautiful, it's your love Michael here. Hope you are enjoying your diamond necklace. I will see you very soon. Love Michael x"

    Claire jumped off the couch. She felt around the side of the phone then held in the on/off button until it shut down. Her body felt infested, like creepy crawlies rush hour, each little beast racing all over her skin trying to reach their destination. Claire closed her eyes tight, trying to focus on her breathing. It was starting to work. Until the home phone rang.

    She stood still, trying to ignore the phone crying out to her but the possibility it was her sister or mother was too much. A flashback to the day her mum answered the home phone to hear the news about her dad's accident tipped her over the line. She ran over to the table where the phone sat.

    "Hello." She answered hesitantly.

    A brief moment of silence followed before a voice on the other end responded.

    "Claire, it's Rachael. I tried calling your mobile but it was off."

    "Oh Rachael, thank God. I thought you were Michael or Brian. They've got my mobile number so I've switched it off. I'm creeping myself out here, feels like they are watching me."

    "That sounds awful Claire. Do you want me to come over?"

    Claire thought about it for moment. "No, it's ok, I'm probably overreacting. The lights keep flickering which isn't helping."

    "Yeah, it's happening here too. I was just calling to see if you were ok after everything that happened today?"

    "I'm still freaked out, and confused. I'll be ok though. I'm going to get an early night and deal with those two tomorrow. Thanks for calling, I'll see you at work tomorrow."

    "Ok, as long as you are sure. Night Claire."

    Claire placed the receiver down and went to check the front and back doors were definitely locked. After satisfying herself that the house was secure, she headed upstairs to bed. Climbing under the covers, she was exhausted from one of the strangest days of her life and within five minutes had fallen asleep.

    A loud bang woke Claire. She quickly reached to turn on the bedsit lamp but nothing happened. Flicking the switch back and forth a few times, she realised the power must have gone. She felt around the bedsit, searching for her mobile phone before realising it was downstairs. The room was pitch black, must be the middle of the night she thought. Laying for a minute, listening to the sound of rain beating against the window, it happened again. A loud bang. But this time she knew what it was, only thunder.

    Time to head back to sleep she thought but then the whole room lit up from a flash of lightening outside. Claire's heart went into overdrive, certain she had seen a face at the window. Panicking, she had no idea what to do. She tried to convince herself that it was all in her head but Claire knew deep down she had to go check for sure if there was any chance of falling back asleep.

    One at a time, she placed her feet onto the floor. She gingerly walked towards the window, the room still completely black. More thunder bellowed above, causing Claire to jump a little but she maintained the little composure she had. Reaching the window, another flash of lightening revealed, for a mere second, a pair of bright blue eyes staring in. Claire screamed.

    The bedroom door swung open. she turned around as fast as she could as a pair of arms wrapped around her.

    "It's ok Claire, it's ok." Said Erin. "What's going on?"

    At that moment, the bedsit light came on. Claire turned to the window again, the streetlights outside were back on but she could not see the pair of eyes that had been staring back at her seconds before.

    "It's nothing." Claire said, turning back to Erin. "Can I sleep in beside you tonight?"

    "Of course you can."

    The next morning walking to her desk at work, Claire felt like she was moving in slow motion, as if towing a caravan. She was mentally and physically exhausted. Reaching her chair, she noticed Rachael pointing to the direction she had just come. Here we go again she thought. But as she turned around, Claire found the managing director of the company looking at her rather than Michael or Brian.

    "Claire, could you follow me please?" He asked, his voice stern.

    Following behind him, they entered an empty office nearby. He closed the door. "Listen Claire, first of all, I'm not saying you know anything about this or it is in any way your fault." He gulped before continuing. "This morning, two employees of this company were involved in a serious and violent confrontation with one another. They've both been suspended pending an investigation."

    Claire started panicking inside but tried her best to hide it. "I'm not sure what this has to do with me sir, I'm only just in."

    The managing director nodded. "I know. But both men were screaming your name and making all sorts of insinuations that I won't go into. I just think it makes sense to suspend you for the time being until the investigation is complete. It'll be with full pay."

    There was a brief awkward silence before Claire responded. "I don't really have much choice I guess." The feeling of fear haunting her since yesterday was replaced with anger.

    Claire left the office and went to collect some items from her desk. Rachael was standing waiting. "Claire, what happened?"

    "I've been suspended. Those two idiots got into a fight this morning and now I have been suspended. I barely slept last night." Claire sighed. " I am done with this, I'm going to arrange to meet them and sort it out."

    "I don't think that's a good idea. I've been doing research this morning on the spell and I found a forum from years ago. Someone was warning people not to do this spell on two people at once. Her friend did and."

    Rachael was interrupted by her boss. "Rachael, we need to go this meeting now, bring the charts."

    "I'll be right there Janice, just two seconds." Rachael turned back to Claire but she was gone.

    Rachael had been stuck in the meeting for two hours. She ran across the canteen towards Lisa sitting at the usual table. "Lisa, we have to find Claire and I mean right now."

    "Slow down Rachael, what is going on?"

    "Michael and Brian got into a fight this morning and were both suspended. Claire was also suspended and left work two hours ago to go meet them and sort this mess out."

    "That seems the best approach to be honest, just hit the nail on the head." Said Lisa.

    "I don't think so. I've read up on this spell online and someone described the same situation happening to their friend seven years ago. I tried to warn Claire but I had to go into a meeting and I am just out but now I can't get a hold of her."

    "Right ok, calm down. I'm sure everything is fine. We can go find her." As they made their way towards the canteen exit, Lisa turned to Rachael. "What happened to this person's friend?"

    "Apparently, one of the guys she cast the spell on ended up killing the other guy, her friend and then himself." Rachael replied.

    Lisa's face turned chalk white. "I'm sure this is all nonsense. Especially that story, folk lie on the internet all the time."

    Reaching the car park, they both jumped into Lisa's red hatchback. "We can try Claire's house first." Said Lisa while reversing her car out from the space.

    "I'm trying to call her but it keeps going straight to voicemail." Rachael replied. She started dialling again. "I don't know if Claire would volunteer where she lived to them, do you?"

    Lisa thought about it for a minute before answering. "Nah, but she likely went there before doing anything, maybe they were already there?" Rachael looked at her before mimicking a shudder action.

    It normally took twenty minutes to reach Claire's house from their work but Lisa managed to get there in half the time through a combination of quiet roads and excess speed. As they parked up, Rachael pointed to Claire's yellow mini sitting in the drive. Both women got out the parked car and made their way up the front path. Lisa spotted the door was slightly ajar. She put her arm out to slow Rachael down. Gently, she pushed open the front door and peered her head through.

    "Hello, Claire?" Lisa asked, just below a shout.

    There was no reply. Lisa entered the house, taking her time with each step. Rachael followed in behind. There were no signs of anyone downstairs. As Lisa was about to turn around, she spotted something that sent a shiver down her spine. Stopping dead, she grabbed hold of Rachael's arm, pointing towards the kitchen entrance until she could see it too. Rachael gasped at the realisation she was looking at a pair of legs lying motionless inside the kitchen.

    "Who is that?" Rachael whispered.

    Lisa shook her head then slowly approached the kitchen entrance while Rachael stayed back. "Oh God, it's Brian. He looks, looks dead." Leaning down closer to the body she placed two fingers on his neck. Nothing. A pool of blood covered the floor around him. Lisa turned back to Rachael. "He's dead."

    "Christ." Rachael said, covering her mouth with both hands.

    "We need to call the police. I hope Claire is ok." Lisa said. A bang from upstairs echoed through the room.

    "What the hell was that? Let's get out of here." Said Rachael, heading towards the front door. Lisa made after her.

    "Rachael, wait. What if Claire is up there and she needs us?"

    A teardrop trickled down Rachael's cheek. "You are right, oh Christ, you are right".

    Lisa turned to the stairs and began to go up them with Rachael following. Reaching the top, Lisa cautiously pushed open the door facing them. It creaked opened, taking what felt like a lifetime but in reality was seconds. The bathroom was empty.

    They turned to their right, Claire's closed bedroom door now facing them. Putting her hand gently onto the door knob, Lisa turned it and pushed. As the door swung open, Rachael screamed, before turning and running down the stairs. The sight of Michael hanging was too much for her. Lisa was shaking, terrified, but she did not run. She looked down to the side of the bed to find Claire rocking back and forth, hands and dress covered in blood.

    "Claire, are you ok?" Lisa asked, scared to get too close.

    "They said I'd never be alone now." Claire replied without looking up, still rocking back and forth. Lisa reached into her pocket, pulling out her mobile phone. She dialled the emergency services number.

    Rachael, Lisa and Suzy walked down the corridor of Leveston State Hospital accompanied by Dr. Andrews. Screams echoed from inside the secured rooms. There was a chill in the air.

    "It's good that you girls are coming to visit Claire" Dr. Andrews said, a clipboard in her hand.

    "How long does she have to stay here for?" Lisa asked.

    The doctor moved her head side to side a little before answering. "It really depends, every case is different. Claire's situation is also complicated by her upcoming trial although I doubt very much she will be deemed fit enough to stand."

    "She didn't do anything" Rachael replied, defensive.

    "It's not for me to judge ladies, I just want to help Claire get better." Dr. Andrews stopped outside room number nine. "I must warn you all now, Claire hasn't made much progress as of yet. She still displays behaviours indicating heightened stress such as rocking back and forth. And she still suffers delusions and makes reference to magic spells."

    The three women awkwardly looked at each other as the doctor pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the steel door in front of them.

    "Be positive ladies, I won't be far away if you need me."

    Dr. Andrews left them to it and Lisa pulled open the door. The women cautiously entered to find Claire sitting on the floor, facing a wall, while rocking back and forth.

    "Hi Claire, it's me, Lisa. Rachael and Suzy are here too."

    Claire did not respond for a few seconds then turned her head in a whipping motion to look at them. "They said I'd never be alone now and they were right, can you see them?" She asked, pointing to the empty bed. "Michael and Brian, say hello."
  12. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    The Cold Pale Hand of Fear (1,731)

    The small, pale, lifeless hand moved slowly towards the whimpering young woman. Fear had long ago rooted her fast to the cold cobblestone alley. Shutting her eyes tight she tried to will away the… the what? Monster? Ghost? Child? Heavens, this had to be a dream, she thought.

    Victoria swallowed hard and pried a single eye open.


    There was nothing there. Alas, just my dear imagination running away with me. She released the breath that was stuck painfully in her chest. Cursing the corset laced tightly around her frame, she tugged at the garment seeking even just an inch of relief.

    Turning around slowly now, she half expected to see the apparition to be waiting behind her. She blushed and laughed nervously to herself when she saw that she stood alone. Quickly she hurried off to get home and away from this cursed alley.

    She rounded the corner and stopped suddenly. How odd. The alley she stood in now looked identical to the alley she stood previously. The same dark cobblestones lined the narrow street. The tall stone buildings on either side blocked out all outside light except for the bright whitish blue glow at its terminus.

    Panic creeping back now, she scurried back towards the way she came.

    “No.” She gasped in disbelief. The same strange alley stood before her. She turned away again. Back around the corner, she moved as quickly as she could; the tall heels she wore preventing her from running. The same alley again greeted her as she turned the corner.

    Tears in her eyes now and gripped fully by fear once again. She stared at the light at the end of the alley. Somehow it both was impossibly bright and yet did nothing to illuminate the dark stone pathway.

    “Turning around again she was inches away from the apparition behind her. The small cold hand of the ghostly child reaching up to grab her face. Rawr!” the old man bellowed as he chased his granddaughter around the living room. The little girl squealed in terror and ran as fast as she could to hide behind the woman who was just walking into the room with a fresh bowl of popcorn.

    “Stop Dad!” The woman only half-heartedly admonished, taking a little delight in seeing her daughter scared the same way she used to be at her age. “You’re going to give her nightmares.”

    “Gee, Diana, you can be a real party-pooper sometimes. It’s Halloween!” The old man wiggled his fingers in the universal sign for spooky.

    “Well, Halloween or not our little princess here needs to start getting ready for bed.” Go give your grandpa a kiss goodnight and head up to the bathroom and brush your teeth. All that candy is going to rot your teeth. I’ll be up there in a minute to come tuck you in”

    The little girl kissed the man lightly on the cheek. “Goodnight Grandpa.” She said and bounded up the stairs.

    “Goodnight Princess Amy!” He called up after her.

    Diana made her way over to her father and gave him a peck on the top of his bald head. “Goodnight Pop. Enjoy the popcorn.” She said and followed after Amy up the stairs.

    As she made it up to the landing the hallway was dark. She fumbled for the light switch. Where was it, she thought. Panic grabbing hold she swiped around the wall until finally her fingers landed on the switch. Feeling silly for letting the old man’s stories get to her, she flicked the switch.


    She flicked the switch down and up again. Still nothing. Pop’s new radio probably blew a fuse; she tried to rationalize, refusing to let the panic grip her again. He loved the new shows like the Lone Ranger; the old man was forever a kid at heart.

    She slowly made her way down the pitch black hallway, her feet sliding slightly with each step on the hardwood floor. Her fingers traced the wall lightly, refusing to remove them as if the touch of the wall gave her something firm and real to believe in.

    The bathroom door at the end of the hallway slowly started to open. The light on the other side of the door shone a brilliant whitish blue but did nothing to illuminate the hallway. A lone figure stood awash in the glow.

    “Amy? Honey, what’s going on in there?” Diana called out. The figure didn’t move.

    “Amy baby, what’s wrong?” Diana stopped approaching.

    “Amy?” Her voice broke, her mind frantic.

    In the blink of an eye the figure went from standing in the doorway, to standing now just inches away from Diana. The cold, pale hand of the ghostly child the only thing visible in the pitch black hallway, reach out to grab Diana’s face.

    The music blasted loud from the theater speakers and made the group of teenagers jump.

    “God Trent! I hate these spooky movies. I’m going to be up all night, you know.’ The young girl said grabbing white-knuckled to the tight leather jacket of the man seated next to her.

    “Maybe that’s my plan, baby-girl.” Trent said throwing a knowing glance to the man’s friend seated next to the couple.

    “Yeah, mellow out, Tiffany.” Brad said. Taking his arm from around the girl he was with, he reached into his jacket and pulled out a joint. “Here maybe this will help.”

    “Will you two guys shut-up, you’re going to get us kicked out of here.” Brenda said, now turning to Brad she continued. “And put that away, I swear you love that stuff more than me.” She turned back towards the screen, leaving now doubt that the conversation was ended, and returned to cracking her gum loudly.

    The irony lost on Brad, he simply said “I gotta take a leak.” He stood and made his way to the back of the theater.

    Once through the door, he quickly light the joint and took a long drag; holding the thick sticky smoke in his lungs until he burst into a coughing fit.

    “Man, that’s some good shit.” He said to himself as he went for a second drag. Pulling from the joint he suddenly realized how dark it had become in the hallway outside the theater room.

    “Whatever, man.” He said to the darkness and took another defiant pull to prove the abnormal darkness didn’t scare him. The darkness was not fooled.

    Brad nipped and palmed the roach, not wasting time to stick it back in his jacket. Quickly he grabbed the theater room door he hurried through and found himself in the hallway outside once again. He looked down at the roach in his hand in disbelief, shook his head out and made his way through the door again.

    Finding himself in the hallway once again, Brad now panicked. He checked the door on the second entrance to the theater room and plunged through. Out in the hallway again, Brad looked around franticly searching for an answer. There. Down at the end of the hallway was a flashlight. Brad quickly made his way towards the light.

    “Hey man!” Brad call out. “There’s some freaky shit going on here with the doors. I’m just tryin to get back inside.”

    The whitish blue light at the end of the hallway loomed larger the closer Brad got to it. Closing the gap between the light and himself, Brad now stood right in front of the eerie glow. He squinted his eyes as a reflex, not because the light was actually blinding him. Brad hesitantly reached out towards the light. No glow was cast on his fingers. He touched the light and recoiled at the icy chill that ran down his finger.

    “What the fuck?” He mouthed more than said. He placed his hand into the light, fighting the urge to pull it back against the cold. Further now, he continued, he moved his arm into the light. Stopping briefly once it reached his shoulder, he held his breath inexplicably and plunged his head through.

    On the other side was a dark cobblestone alley, slick with icy condensation. Something pale moved in the darkness. Brad strained to see what. The pale shape was small, child sized, and suddenly aware of Brad’s presence. The shape moved quickly towards Brad. No longer interested in its identity, Brad quickly backed out through the glow into the dark hallway of the theater.

    He was breathing heavy now and adrenaline was coursing through his body. Brad stood there, willing the shape to stay on its side of the bizarre light.

    10 seconds… 20… 30 seconds now? It felt like an eternity.

    Only after a full minute did Brad relax and turn to walk away.

    The cold, pale hand of the ghostly child reached out to grab Brad’s face.

    The shrill shriek of the YouTube screamer made Justin’s heart pound and he pushed away from his computer desk and threw off his headphones. God, he hated those videos.

    Clicking off the video and returning to the desk top, Justin looked over at the clock. The green LED glow told him it was 1:56AM and time to get some sleep.

    Justin was always amazed at how the time could just disappear when you get lost in the internet. This Halloween found Justin reading up on ghost stories and watching spooky videos. He always liked that feeling of fear that crept up the back of your neck when you were properly scared; not those stupid screamers that use loud sound to make you jump.

    Plugging in his iPhone, he checked his twitter feed one last time before turning in. It contained mostly just Halloween themed tweets and nothing of any real interest to Justin. Tossing his phone on his nightstand he returned to his desk. He pushed the chair back into place and clicked the shutdown button for his computer. He watched until the shutdown process began and then bent down to retrieve the headphones he tossed earlier.

    Finding the headphones he placed them on the desk and almost looked away from the monitor until something caught his attention. He peered closely at the monitor. A bad pixel? He leaned in closer. It didn’t make sense. If the monitor was off why would there be one pixel lit up? A feeling of fear crept up the back of his neck.

    He looked closer at the pixel.

    A whitish blue glow.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2016
  13. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Her Story (1676)

    It's a story that's been told a hundred times before, in different guises and by different people but always with the same theme, but it's a story that deserves to be heard, because she's here just like us and just like us she deserves to heal, and even though she's nervous and her story is jumbled we sit and listen, because listening is as much a part of the healing process as talking is, and besides it's polite to listen.

    and it was in her first year at Durham, the girl is saying, or rather the first week of the second term of her first year, and she had just been home, Norwich, for the Christmas holidays, where she had broken up with her boyfriend, not a bad split, only he was going back to uni in London and it was too hard with the distance and all, and although that doesn't have much to do with why she's here now, she thinks, maybe it does, because she supposes she was feeling kinda lonely when she returned to Durham, and she guesses loneliness can lead to dependence, to which we in the room with her all nod, because we all have similar stories.

    But rather than sit in her room and be lonely, she decided to go the Welcome Back! party, or was it the Christmas Isn't Over party? and she was wearing, she remembers this, a blue dress that her mum had got her for Christmas, and the dress had tiny white swallows printed on it, and she remembers looking at her reflection and thinking how nice the dress looked, how nice she looked, and though she guesses she was still feeling a little lonely this fact did cheer her up, and by the time she had finished a couple of drinks she was feeling positively happy.

    She hadn't particularly wanted a guy that night, she says, but her friends had convinced her that the only way to get over a past guy is to get on a new one, and anyway she had sort of had her eye on this one guy, Joe Denton, since practically the first week of the first term, when they were in the same induction group, and though they hadn't said much to each other during that first induction week they had spoken enough so that it wouldn't seem too strange or creepy on her part if she were to approach him at the party. A philosophy student, she remembers, with a swimmers body and great blond hair that was swept deliberately over the right side of his face but in a way that made it look almost casual, and she remembers thinking how it wouldn't be so bad, that actually it would be quite nice, if Joe were the one to help her forget her loneliness.

    So anyway, the girl says, she saw Joe at the party, sitting on the steps outside the building, and he was smoking, so she walked outside to him and asked for a lighter, even though she had her own in her dress pocket, and she asked him how his Christmas was, and then they were inside with another beer, and the Arctic Monkeys or maybe The Killers were playing on the speakers, and he was talking about Sartre, or maybe it was Foucault? She can't remember who, she says, but anyway the who wasn't important, it was the what, and the what she does remember, because the what was about power, and how, like, power is everywhere, and comes from everywhere? And, like, power isn't a negative, or a coercive, or a repressive thing, but actually is necessary and positive? And although she didn't really understand what he was trying to say, she still found herself agreeing with him, with everything he said, and she remembers thinking how profound it all sounded, how important it was that Joe Denton was talking to her about the nature of power, and all the while she was thinking how great he is, how suddenly she wasn't so lonely anymore, how she really wanted him, and then she was drinking another beer, maybe it was her seventh? more than five but definitely less than ten, but really the amount doesn't matter because she felt good, the beer was making her feel good, Joe was making her feel good, and its funny, she says, the little things she remembers most about that day, stuff that seems so small and insignificant in comparison, but that sticks with her most vividly, like the fact that she was drinking Carlsberg all night, not her usual Peroni, or that someone had posted a handwritten sign on the toilet door asking the 'phantom shitter' to please be so kind as to wipe the toilet seat after him or herself, and once again we in the room with her nod in agreement, whilst some smile wryly, because we well know how these things work.

    After her eighth (ninth?) beer, the girl thinks she went to the toilet, or maybe for another fag, but anyway she remembers leaving Joe alone for a bit, only for a minute though, whilst she maybe took a piss, and then she hurried back. And it was the funniest thing, she says, and she laughs in a way that makes you think that maybe this story isn't so funny, but the girl continues to talk, and it was funny, she says, because there Joe was right where she left him, with the same carlsberg tin in his hand, only he wasn't on his own anymore, he was standing there with Claire Colbeck, and she remembers that Claire was wearing this great black dress and kept touching Daniels arm and laughing, and the girl was just standing there, looking on like she was watching some shitty tv show while Joe leaned over to Claire's ear, and even though the girl was too far away to hear she knew exactly what he was saying, and then she watched on as Joe took Claire by the hand and led her away, and suddenly the beer didn't taste so good anymore, the girl wasn't feeling so good anymore, and she remembers tearing herself away from that awful scene and running straight to the toilet.

    And then she was in the bathroom, the girl says, and she was staring at her reflection in the mirror, and the swallows on her dress looked silly and childish, and she was angry at herself, she remembers, at her naivety, her stupidity, her loneliness, and she kept looking at the mirror, at herself, at the white splash of what she assumed was toothpaste in the bottom left corner, and all the time thinking how much she wanted to see her ex boyfriend, the one who was now in London, stare back in the mirror's reflection, and she tried calling him but it rang straight through to voicemail, and she remembers the loneliness, how it came flooding back, washing over her and she couldn't stop it, couldn't do anything about it, destined to always be lonely, always be alone.

    But she was back by the bar, with another beer (eleventh?), and she was talking to some fresher but she can't remember his name (Harry? John?), and she remembers thinking how even though this kid was no Daniel Miller, how he was a bit skinny, how his black hair was a bit greasy and spiked up in a way she didn't really like, he wasn't that bad, maybe kinda cute in a dorky way, and so she followed him up to his room, and on the way she finished her beer and picked up another half empty can lying in the hallway.

    He locked the door behind them. A Beethoven poster was on the wall, next to a bookcase that was stacked so neatly with textbooks and thick volumes. And the girl remembers laughing, laughing at how neat the room looked, how preppy and keen this fresher was, and she couldn't stop laughing, the very fact that she was in this room with this kid was funny to her.

    I've got to go, she thinks she might have said. But the door was locked and the kid was blocking her exit. She tried to move past him but she was too drunk and she fell down, and thats when, she thinks, she realised they weren't alone in the room, that someone else was there, maybe the kid's roommate, and she was on the floor and there was someone behind her, and she remembers wondering whether it was the dorky kid or his roommate, not that it matters so much now, and she could feel a pair of knees either side of her own, and then her dress was being lifted and her underwear pulled down, and suddenly there was pain, like she was being ripped in two, and she was moaning at the pain, but this only spurred the guy behind her on, and he was thrusting harder and faster and asking if she liked that, mistaking her groans of pain for pleasure, whilst the other guy was playing with her breasts through her bra, and the girl tried to close her eyes, to imagine herself far away, back in Norwich with her mum and her boyfriend, but it wasn't working, the pain was too real, too immediate, and she thinks that maybe the guys in the room swapped because the rhythm of the thrusting changed, slower but deeper this time, and she opened her eyes and found herself staring at her reflection in a mirror, and she could see the guy behind her, see the beads of sweat dripping off his hair, the veins throbbing on his forehead as continued to pump, and she remembers thinking for the second time how nice it would be, how all of this would end, if only her boyfriend would appear next to her reflection in the mirror.
  14. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Coming Home [2,859 Words]

    I’ve always found hospitals to be creepy. To me, they’re little more than big, sterile, fluorescent-light labyrinths where people go to die.

    As the son of a doctor, I’ve had reason to visit them more than most.

    St Judes is an old hospital, located on the outskirts of our town. Originally just a converted manor house, the rest of the site grew over the years. The original house is still there, standing ominous and empty for longer than I’ve been alive. I can see it now, peering down toward me as I chain my bike outside the ER department.

    Halloween. An old, abandoned hospital ward. It’s a recipe for every bad ghost story ever told.

    Luckily for me, my mother works in the main hospital building, a good deal more modern and significantly less creepy than its predecessor.

    I walk through the ER quickly, nodding to a few familiar faces. Mom has worked at St Judes for six years so a lot of the staff know me to see.

    I exit the elevator on the sixth floor and make my way toward the nurse's station. The corridor is wide and bright, yet somehow still stuffy. The strong undercurrent of bleach fills my nostrils. The background noise is constant; harried doctors and nurses talking in quick, clipped tones, the rumble of endless trolleys and every so often, the sobs of someone in grief.

    Between me and you, I’m actually a bit of a wuss. But, like I said, I’ve been around hospitals as long as I can remember. At some stage the sights and sounds become second nature. The joys of being a single child to a medical professional.

    Mom has always worked hard to provide for the two of us. She was married at twenty one, had a child at twenty two and was widowed before she was twenty four. Dad had been the free spirited type, until he wrapped his motorbike around a lamppost.

    Since then it’s mostly been Mom and me. Looking back, I’m not quite sure how she managed with a kid, a recently deceased husband and med school.

    To her credit, Mom didn’t just succeed, she flourished. At thirty eight she is now a successful senior doctor. Not that her success didn’t come without hard work and putting herself second.

    When I was a kid I spent a lot of time between my Grandparents house and the hospitals childcare facility.

    We can both proudly say that our relationship never suffered for it. Endless night shifts and missed Birthday parties were a fact of life but I never held it against her. How could I? In my eyes, Mom is one step down from a Saint.

    Halloween was for us, something we always did together. By my early teens, trick and treating had lost its appeal but mom and me always do something to mark the occasion. Usually a scary movie and a ton of candy. This is the first Halloween that I remember her having to work. I think she was more disappointed about it than I was. Hence, why I’m down at St Judes on Halloween night.

    “Miles,” Mom, dressed in dark green scrubs, beams as she looks up from the desk at the nursing station.

    “Hi mom,” I wave.

    My friends always take great pleasure in telling me how ‘cool’, my mother is. Kids can be cruel but it’s mostly good humoured. Apparently, I should take it as a compliment that other guys find my mom attractive.

    She’s a tall, athletic woman who somehow finds the time to run 15 miles a week. Her skin is warm and tanned, evidence of our European heritage. Chestnut brown hair falls to just above her shoulder and her dark eyes crinkle with her smile as I approach.

    Mom taps the face of her watch. It’s a chunky stainless steel Brietling chronograph clasped tightly to her left wrist. Senior doctors are well paid but mom is frugal for the most part. Our house and her car are both modest. Mom dresses well and enjoys dining out but I have never known her to splurge money. The watch is her only luxury buy.

    “Late?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

    “Later than you said,” Mom replies in mock seriousness. “But I’ve got good news, I’m knocking off in ten minutes.”


    “Mm-hmm,” Mom nods. “That’s not all. Got a surprise for you.” She reaches down below her desk and produces a flashlight.

    “Oh,” I say flatly. “You shouldn’t have.”

    She swats at me. “I told Dr Jacobi about our little Halloween tradition. He’s given us permission to go and have a look in Ward seven.”

    Behind Mom, the Senior Nurse, Angela, hoots in surprise. “Ward seven. The pair of you must be touched in the head.” Angela is at least sixty, has seven grandchildren and absolutely no thoughts of retirement. Everyone loves Angela.

    “Ward seven?”

    “It’s the ward next to this one,” Mom explains. “Closed down for a few years now.”

    “Why?” I ask, already picturing the ghost of a crazed killer roaming the darkened corridors, the blood of his victims dripping from the end of his axe.

    “Budget cuts,” Mom replies, giving the boring reason. “But it’s kept in good condition in case the hospital ever needs the space.”

    “It’s also haunted,” Angela replies matter-of-factly.

    Mom holds up the flashlight. “Sort of the point,” she says, a spark of excitement in her eye.

    “You’ve seen ghosts there?” I ask Angela.

    “Been working at this place damn near forty years, honey. Not much I haven’t seen. Ward seven was always a bit strange though, even when it was open.”

    “Cool,” I say, trying my best to stay as nonchalant as possible.

    “Ghosts can’t hurt you, honey,” Angela says kindly, noticing my discomfort. “They’re just lost souls.” She turns to mom, “Doesn’t mean I’d go chasing them either, Hannah. Going after stuff you have no idea about.”

    Mom nods solemnly until Angela turns away before winking at me. I do my best to hide my grin. Mom’s good mood is infectious.

    I hang around the nurse’s station, waiting for mom to finish off writing up a couple of patient charts. She looks up at me as she hands the last one to Angela. “Ready?”

    I nod, picking up the flashlight as mom lifts a set of keys that had been sitting at the desk. She leads the way through the ward. It’s just shy of 10 pm and the ward grows quieter the further we move from the nursing station.

    The door that separates ward seven from the ward where mom works is locked. She fishes the set of keys from the pocket of her scrubs.

    A shiver creeps down my spine and I turn to find us being watched intently by a young girl. I reach out and touch Mom’s arm. She looks behind her and gives a small gasp before laughing. “Oh honey,” she says to the girl. “You scared us.”

    The girl couldn’t be anymore than five. She’s dressed weird; an old fashioned long-sleeved red dress and black leggings. Her dark hair is cut short at the sides but is thick on top with a long fringe.

    She says nothing. Mom takes a step towards her and the girl takes off, disappearing around the corner.

    Mom laughs. I don’t.

    “I thought visiting hours were over?”

    “Hmm?” Mom is concentrating on the lock. “Oh, we allow some people to extend visiting hours if they have a relative about to cr-um, I mean, about to pass.” She gives a small yelp of success as the lock finally opens. Being the gentleman that I am, I allow mom to lead the way. She shuts the door behind me and re-locks it.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Dr Jacobi was clear that I needed to lock the door when we were in here. He doesn’t want any patients to wander in.”

    “Or creepy little girls.”

    Mom’s laugh seems absurdly loud in the darkened corridor. I wince. She points with the flashlight. “C’mon.”

    Ward seven is not quite what I was expecting. It’s deserted, obviously, but everything is neat and orderly. Empty beds sit waiting in each room. I had anticipated overturned chairs, leaking pipes and patient records littering the floor.

    Not to say the place isn’t creepy. The darkness is oppressive, reaching out to envelope us and being beaten back by the bright light in mom’s hand. I stick close to mom. You know, to keep her safe.

    “You believe in this stuff?” I ask her. “Ghosts?”

    “Not really,” she admits. “Every hospital I ever worked in has at least one ghost story. St Judes has quite a few, but I’ve never seen anything.”

    Like mom, I’m not a believer in ghosts either but that doesn’t mean I’m not thoroughly on edge as we creep along the corridor. It’s hard not to be, the darkness presses around us and the utter stillness of everything around us is stifling. The bright lights of the other ward are only a few feet and one locked door away but it might as well be another world.

    The slamming of of a door in the corridor ahead of us sounds like a gunshot in the silence of the ward. We both jump as one as Mom’s hand reaches out to my arm. Her grip is surprisingly strong.

    Neither of us move. Mom keeps the flashlight pointed ahead but there’s nothing there. My heart is pounding in my chest and my legs feel as though they are weighed down by lead.

    I hear mom take a steadying breath. “Just the wind.” She tries to laugh it off but her voice is somewhat shaky. “Cleaners are in here once a week,” she says, more certainly. “Must have left a window open.”

    I’m not sure if she’s trying to reassure me or herself.

    I shiver. The ward is cold. I hadn’t noticed it before. I try to reason that it makes sense, after all, the hospital is not going to spend money heating an unused ward. Then again, It was a mild fall night when I cycled to the hospital. Half an hour later and the cool air is piercing through my sweater.

    My hand brushes mom’s arm. I can clearly feel the good pimples on her skin. Her medical scrubs are a good deal less warm than my sweater and jean combo.

    Her hand falls across my chest. We stop as one and listen. Footfalls. Soft but unmistakable.

    Halloween, a tour of an abandoned ward, the little girl. If I’m the victim of an elaborate trick, my mother is about to go down in folklore. “You can stop now,” I whisper.

    Mom’s silence tells me there’s no trick here.

    “Who’s there?” she asks, her voice now thick with trepidation.

    The footfalls grow louder. The flashlight is pointed at our feet. Somehow, against every fiber of my being, I reach across and lift mom’s wrist to point the flashlight up.

    The girl who had surprised us in the corridor now stands before us, her blank expression fixed on mom and me.

    I’m frozen in place, unable to move. Something approaching a whimper escapes from my lips.

    Mom turns to run and trips over my foot. I hear her land hard on the floor, gasping as the air is knocked out of her. The flashlight goes spinning along the ground, throwing up random shapes and shadows.

    It snaps me from my reverie. I reach for mom, grabbing a hand and pulling her with me as I begin to run.

    We reach the door in seconds. An eternity crawls by as mom fumbles with the lock. I don’t dare to look around, expecting the see the girl standing behind us.

    Mom gives a gasp of sheer relief as she gets the door open and we spill into the welcoming light of the neighbouring ward.

    I’m breathing hard as mom re-locks the door with shaking hands. She slides down against it once she is sure it is securely shut.

    We take a moment, catching our breath. I try to process what we have just seen. We had ran from a small child. A child that had somehow passed through a locked door and was wandering an abandoned hospital ward.

    Mom is pale. I know I’m not much better. I offer her my hand, helping her to her feet and we walk in silence back to the nurse’s station.

    Angela looks up at us and can see something isn’t right. “You two look like you’ve seen a ghos-oh…” She trails off.

    I fill in Angela as best I can; the little girl, the slamming door, the cold air.

    “Sounds like Sophie,” she says as I finish.

    “Sophie?” Mom asks, the color slowly returning to her cheeks.

    “Little Sophie,” Angela smiles sadly. “Story goes she came in with her mom one night, complaining of fever. She was dead by the next morning. Bacterial meningitis. Now her spirit walks about the wards, looking for her mother to take her home.”

    “And that’s what we saw?” Mom asks.

    Angela sighs, looking over the rims of her glasses at mom. “It’s just a story, Hannah.”

    “Have other people have seen her?” I ask.

    “Maybe,” Angela shrugs. “I know some people have claimed to have heard a child crying over on that ward or shouting for its mother.”

    I try to suppress a cold shiver.

    Angela looks between the two us of sympathetically. “Could be you just imagined it.”

    Mom shakes her head emphatically, “We saw it”

    “Mind has a habit of seeing what it wants to,” says Angela

    “But we both saw the same thing,” I say. “Right?”

    Mom nods. “Little girl, red dress.”

    Angela tuts, “I told you to be careful. You’re chasing after something we don’t know about. Anyone else know you were planning to head over to ward seven?”

    “Just Doctor Jacobi and he isn’t the type to play pranks,” Mom replies, sensing where Angela was going next. She looks down and taps the face of her Breitling, “My watch stopped.”

    You took a heavy fall back there,” I say. “Might have broke it.”

    “I’d hope it was built a bit sturdier than that.”

    “You’ve had it for years.”

    “And it cost a few thousand dollars. They’re made to last.” Mom shakes her head, running a hand through her hair. “I think,” she says finally, “We’re going to go home.”

    That sounds like the best plan I’ve heard all evening. I want nothing more than to be out of St Judes. It’ll damn sure be a while before I come back.

    Mom grabs her bag and leads me to her car. My bike can wait until the morning; I have absolutely no desire to cycle home by myself. Mom is obviously of a similar mind, preferring to leave without changing out of her scrubs.

    By the time we reach the car, our mood has lightened significantly. “It’ll be some story to tell your grandfather on Sunday,” Mom says.

    “My favorite part was when you fell over,” I laugh.

    “Oh? Not when you jumped ten feet in the air when that door slammed closed?” We both chuckle as the tension ebbs away. “So, movie and popcorn? I know it’s late but I want to keep some traditions alive. I don’t think ghost hunting will be one of them.”

    “Sounds like a plan.” I reply. “Can I make one suggestion though?”

    “Not a horror?” Mom says, reading my mind.

    “Got it in one,” I say, leaning back into the seat.

    Mom glances at her watch, “Hey, it’s working again. Isn’t that the strangest thing? Must have been the fall.”

    “Told ya,” I say, trying to keep the smugness from my voice as I watch the scenery roll by. We’re back in the suburbs by now and the trick and treaters are long gone.

    Once home we make a beeline straight for the kitchen. As mom goes to grab a large glass bowl from the cupboard, I fetch the popcorn. She gives an exasperated sigh, shaking her left wrist. “Watch has stopped again. Jewellers first thing in the morning.”

    She turns toward me, holding the bowl out for me only to stop in her tracks.


    A look of utter shock is frozen on her face.

    The bowl slips from her fingers, shattering on the tiled floor. I watch in horror as mom’s eyes roll back into her head and her knees buckle. I jump forward but am too late to catch her as she slumps to the ground.

    “Mom?” Panicking, I crouch down beside her. “Mom!” I shake her hard on the shoulder but receive no response. She’s out cold.

    Trying to keep calm I prop her up against me and place two fingers against the side of her neck, just like she had taught me. I almost sag in relief as I find a strong pulse.

    “Momma?” The voice is soft, childlike.

    I feel my blood chill and my stomach turn to water.

    I look up just enough to see the girl from the hospital in front of us.

    “Momma sleeping?”

    Sophie had come home.
  15. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
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    Your Face In The Mirror [1660]

    People always think it’s weird when I say that Halloween’s ‘our holiday,’ but it’s true. So much more than Christmas or New Year or – God save us – Valentine’s, Halloween is me and you.

    I always have to explain how when I was a kid, my family didn’t really do Halloween. Maybe we’d carve a jack-o-lantern but Mum never went in for guising. In fact I remember her more than once shutting the door on a group of kids who came round singing “Halloween’s Coming.” It was no better than begging, she said.

    You and I hadn’t been together long on our first Halloween. I’d never seen anything like it: the spooky silhouettes you hung in the windows with the plastic pumpkin fairy lights draped around; a CD player in the hall blaring moans and the rattle of chains; a huge fruit bowl filled with black jacks, drumsticks, flumps, tiny bags of rainbow drops – everything a kid could want; and a great plastic tombstone planted in the front garden, with a skeleton draped over it. You wouldn’t think of opening the door without slipping in your vampire teeth. The trouble you went to for those kids. You made this house the number one trick-or-treat destination on the estate.

    So when I got home from work, that last Halloween, I ran to our room, threw on the witchy black dress I’d bought from Barnardo’s, painted my face green, and struck poses in the mirror, pondering the practicality of blacking out a few teeth. Then I went downstairs and routed through my DVDs to line up a classic horror retrospective that would see us through till midnight, grabbed a bag of candy and waited for you and the first of the guisers.

    I expected them about five o’clock: the middle class parents from across the park. You know, the ones whose kids knock politely on the door and have to be coaxed to whisper, “Trick or treat”? They dress as some weird stuff those over-the-park kids. You remember that time I asked a girl what she was and she said she was St. Andrew’s Cathedral? What kid wants to dress up as cathedral? What parent lets their kid dress up as a cathedral?

    I was actually pretty pleased when the hall clock tolled the half hour and they hadn’t shown yet. I thought you’d be home from work around six and I didn’t want you to miss them. I mean for all I knew this year one of them would show up as the Sheriff Court! Can you imagine?

    When the hall clock struck six, I reckoned the parents from across the park had decided to try another street this year, somewhere further from the schemes: a better class of neighbour. “What do they think we’re going to do to their kids?” I wondered. “Don’t take Tarquin down Wilsher Ave, darling. He’ll be standing on a corner swigging Buckfast before you can say ‘quinoa’!” Then again I thought maybe they’d all gone to some event in the city instead.

    You put me in charge of the music this year. I’d done my research: I didn’t want to let you down. I’d spent most of the week compiling the most kick-ass Halloween compilation: Thriller – obviously, a little Rocky Horror, Monster Mash, Tubular Bells – all the classics and a few a wee bit more left field. Well, you’d never have come up with anything as eclectic as Bauhaus and Kanye, would you? You walk the Halloween straight and narrow.

    I texted you around seven. I thought they were keeping you late at work. If they’re going to make you do evening viewings they could at least let you go in late. Anyway, what kind of sad case demands to be shown around a 2-bed in Bishopbriggs at 7pm on Halloween?

    “Started carving my neep,” I typed. “Gonna be a masterpiece. Yours looks shite.” I sent you a snap of my snarling lantern sitting next to the battered turnip I’d saved for you.

    I gave up on the posh kids and put on the sound effects CD for the benefit of the second batch of guisers: the little gangs who come without grown-ups. They’d come knocking soon. Rap, rap, rap. “Halloween’s coming, Halloween’s coming, Witches will be after you…” You always take the party trick element of guising so serious. You have to see whose costume’s best, who sings the best, or tells the funniest joke. If the kids want those sweeties, they’ve got to do something for you first. I like the seven o’clockers best. They do it properly. They dress as scary things, not municipal buildings. I was looking forward to opening the door on ghosts and vampires and witches and Frankensteins. There’s always one or two come as superheroes. I don’t hold with superheroes for Halloween. I love a super villain, but no superheroes, thank you very much.

    I got pretty caught up in carving my neep. I gave him hair and everything. I even dug a packet of rainbow drops out of the sweetie bucket and stuck them on him for warts. I sat there, knife in hand, carving, and chewing a blackjack and wondering how you weren’t back yet. Between you and the neep it was after eight before I realised we still hadn’t had any guisers come around. I worried I might have overdone it with the sound effects and the music. Tubular Bells is a wee bit scary for a nine year old, eh?

    I was gutted to have missed them, but I was having a pretty nice time sat there witchified and eating my own weight in sugar, so I figured it wasn’t a tragedy. I know how much you love seeing the kids in all their crazy outfits though, so I felt angry for you that you’d been kept from them. Now all you had to look forward to once you got in was the wee schemie kids, who come by way beyond any decent bedtime, shouting, “Trick or treat,” and egg your bloody house whether you answer or not. One year they pissed on the doorstep. Do you remember that? You opened the door and some teenager was stood there merrily having a waz – the nerve of him! I don’t know why you didn’t give him what for – I would’ve. He looked you in the eye, zipped up and swaggered off, cheeky wee bastard.

    Time was getting on and I was getting pretty fed up. I tried to call you and it went to voicemail.

    There’ve been times here and there, over the years, when you said you’d come over and then you’d end up at The Cross Keys or the pool hall with some of the lads from work, but never on Halloween. Halloween is our thing.

    Nine o’clock rolled around and I was bored of waiting so I put on a DVD. Yes, we watch The Thing every year but I never get bored of it. “Trust is a tough thing to come by these days.” I know – I can’t do the voice, but I try. Me, my grinning neep, and the bucket of sweets that no one seemed to want, all settled down to watch. And it got to that scene…

    Copper applied the defibrillator to Norris’ chest.

    He felt for a pulse: leaned in close.

    He leaned back to apply the electrodes again, pushed down and…


    Christ! As if the movie wasn’t enough!


    Quick, solid sounds from the front of the house.


    I went to the window in time to catch some obscene gestures and indistinct verbal abuse. Bloody kids. I gave it a few minutes then I poked my head out of the front door. The little shites had egged all up the path, the front door. They didn’t even shout, “Trick or treat,” those schemie bastards.

    I poured myself a glass of wine and went back to the film. It wasn’t turning out to be the best night. Ten chimes from the clock in the hall and there was no sign of you yet. We’d all but missed out on Halloween together and we’d have to spend tomorrow de-egging the drive.

    The film was over, I was at the bottom of a bag of Starmix, and I still hadn’t heard a thing from you. I called again: voicemail again.

    I leaned the knife, point upwards, against the grimacing turnip lantern and took a photo. “Mr Neep is nae impressed,” I typed. “Where are you?”

    I poured another glass of wine and looked through the DVDs: The Omen, The Ring, Village of the Damned. What is it with creepy kids in horror movies? I suppose there’s something about innocence corrupted that is inherently terrifying. You know there’s an unwritten rule in horror movies that you can’t hurt kids? Any director who’s broken it has suffered for it: if you hurt kids, the public won’t forgive you. Maybe making the kid into the monster is the closest we dare to go. I decided on Village of the Damned.

    Barbara walked off a cliff.

    You still weren’t home.

    The police officers turned their guns on each other.

    You still weren’t home.

    Alan thought of a brick wall.

    You still weren’t home.

    It was almost midnight when the movie ended. If I’d known you still wouldn’t be back by this time I wouldn’t have spent the night watching scary films. I reckoned I’d read a little to take my mind off it. I went upstairs to get my iPad.

    As the hall clock struck midnight, I descended the stairs, tablet in hand, checking the news. That’s when I saw it: your face on the homepage of The Milngavie Mirror. Your face right next to where it said “Local Estate Agent Arrested.” Your face by the article about how they’d seized all the computers in your office.

    Your face should think hard before it shows itself around here again. If it does, I promise when it leaves your own mother wouldn’t recognise it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2016
  16. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    The Girl And The Door (4,315)

    They've finally allowed me a pen and a pad of paper. I can't even begin to express my relief. I can finally get the truth down. All of the truth, without interruption. They don't believe me. I suppose it’s hard to believe. I pray this reaches someone who will believe me. The day is getting nearer and I need to get this down before they take it away. Please bear with me. I need to put on record everything I can remember regarding the girl and the door.

    Seven months had passed before I first heard mention of her.
    One sentence had suddenly hushed a good-humoured fag break. Terry uttered a choking sound that seemed to be half cough, half chuckle. "Yeah, and make sure you avoid the girl!"
    The other two stopped laughing and looked anywhere but at each other. Sian's face noticeably paled. I will be honest and admit that I am not the most social of creatures. Intrigued, I felt no shame in merely leaning on my broom.
    "Who?" I asked, punctuating my question with a drag on my cig.
    The others remained stumm. I felt the awkward atmosphere, but I was too curious. "What have I missed?"
    "Don't worry about it, lad. She's not real," grumbled Terry, his voice muffled as he gripped the cigarette between his lips.
    "She is. I seen 'er," Sian mumbled. She stubbed her cig out on the brick wall we'd gathered behind and launched it into a nearby bush.
    The sceptic in me burst out. I laughed and disposed of my own cig in the same fashion. "You're saying there's a ghost?" I asked incredulously.
    She snarled defensively: "Yer fuckin' laughin'? I seen 'er! She hangs about down on Marlin Ward.” She spat at my feet. “I know what I seen, dick’ed!”
    She stormed off leaving us stood in an awkward silence. I laughed again. No one joined in.
    “The lady’s mental,” Terry mumbled and threw his own cigarette aside. The other guy said nothing as he dropped his to the floor and crushed it with his boot. They walked away together in silence, only beginning to talk again when they thought they were just out of my earshot.
    “Superstitious twats.” I whispered and laughed again to myself.

    As fate would have it, my next shift on the bank was in Marlin Ward. Marlin was Hark Hospital's storage pen for geriatrics; a dreaded assignment. Many of Marlin's residents were semi-permanent. For someone working in what was known as Hotel Services, it was an attack on the senses. Incontinence and dementia ruled, and it was not a great combination.
    I had forgotten all about the girl.
    It was halfway through my shift, I suppose four-ish. The nights were drawing in, but it wasn't dark yet. However, in the corridors that crisscrossed the midst of the ward, it seemed to be permanent twilight.
    It was at a t-junction that I first saw her. I glimpsed a figure in my peripheral vision, paused mid-step and glanced back. She stood in the centre of the corridor, seemingly staring at the floor between us.
    "Hello?" I murmured.
    She looked up at the sound of my voice. We regarded each other for a few heartbeats. Then, with a mere blink, she was gone. A sharp stab of horror pierced my chest. I stared down the corridor, waiting, but unsure what for. I entertained the notion that this was a wind-up; that Sian would jump out at me, and we'd all have a good giggle about it afterwards.

    I moved on, though the girl haunted my thoughts long afterwards. I couldn’t say that I didn't believe what I had seen. I knew what I had seen. She had seemed a solid, corporeal being; not some ghostly shade. Far from being frightened away, I felt childish wonder. I applied for every Marlin shift I could, hoping desperately for more sightings.
    Damn my curiosity. Fucking damn it.
    I finally got another shift in Marlin five days after my initial encounter. It was a late shift and I'd be at the hospital late into the night. I'd grabbed the shift eagerly but as I walked into the ward, my heart began to race and anxiety kicked in; however, as the manic dinner service began, my initial fears were pushed aside. I worked on autopilot until a patient suddenly grabbed me by the wrist, causing me to slop gravy from the plate I was carrying onto his bed. I jumped like I'd been stung. The patient that clutched my arm in an iron grip pulled me closer. I let the plate clatter to the floor, creating a cacophony of smashing crockery and rattling cutlery: a din I knew would alert a professional. I twisted and looked at my captor, expecting an enraged half-demented pensioner. What I saw was a much younger man than most of Marlin's residents, though he was certainly aged beyond his years. I found his face horribly familiar, but under duress I couldn't work out why. He clutched me with all his desperate strength.
    "Watch where you tread, lad. Watch it!" he growled, not with rage, but effort.
    I could hear a clamour coming from the hall. So did the man I realised, reading the widening of his eyes. Help was on the way.
    With a grunt, he pulled me closer. "There's a hole somewhere around here. I know it’s there but I just … can't … FIND … IT!!"
    An orderly barged in suddenly and pulled us apart. I stepped back, feeling like I'd just been unwillingly dragged onto a roller-coaster. As the orderly pinned the man down and bellowed for help, I heard the man's growls ratchet up into reedy shrieks: "Watch where you step! There's a hole! You'll fall in! A HOLE!"
    His voice disintegrated into weak rasps as his throat gave out.
    Afterwards, a nurse clapped me on the shoulder as I sat down outside. "You okay?" She asked distantly.
    "Fine. Not my first rodeo," I tried to reply coolly, but with a wobble to my voice the effect was shattered. I was obviously shaken.
    She brushed her poorly dyed blond hair back and retied it. She'd clearly been the one to come in and help subdue my attacker. "It’s the strangest thing. As far as I'm aware, he's never been aggressive or violent in all of time he's been in here."
    I nodded, though barely registering the details. "How long is that?" I asked automatically.
    "Not sure. He's been in and out for the whole time I've worked here, and that’s coming up for twelve years now. I know he’d been a regular long before, though."
    Later, after I'd finished helping with dinners and cleaned up, I took myself off and began stalking the halls. I defied my earlier shock, the lump in my throat and the sense that I'd made a big mistake. I held my phone out before me as though I was playing some augmented reality game. The phone’s camera was on and ready. The hours passed. My phone's battery was heavily depleted and my spirits were low. I began to feel like I had been fooled again.
    Then I rounded a corner to see a figure disappear down a corridor in the distance. I jogged as stealthily as I could to catch up. With trepidation, I poked my head around the corner to see the girl, and to my surprise, an elderly lady I had served earlier. The dementia patient was being led by the hand towards a door, seemingly at ease.
    "Hey!" I called out, stepping out of the stealth mode I had adopted. I was more concerned for the lady's welfare than capturing the ghost. She returned to some semblance of sense suddenly, as though she'd been slapped. She looked at me in total confusion.
    The girl looked at me with a blank expression. I got a clear look at her face, but I couldn't tell you now what she looked like at all. Her features almost seemed to blur together, much like how they obscure faces on TV to protect identities. I felt a heaviness in the air. The girl looked blank but I could tell that she was angry; positively steaming in fact.
    I remembered the phone in my hand and quickly tried to get a snap of her. As I pushed the button on my phone's screen, the screen suddenly went black. I stared over the phone's viewer. The girl had vanished once more.
    I helped the old dear back to bed. When I asked, she swore that a lovely young nurse had been guiding her back from the loo; She was hardly a reliable witness.
    My phone turned out to be dead. Permanently it seemed, as when I attempted to charge it, there was no response. With a bricked phone and a few scares under my belt, you'd think my curiosity would have been sated.
    You'd be wrong.

    A few days later, whilst on my lunch break, I tracked down Sian. She saw me and scowled, obviously still annoyed with me for laughing at her. I stepped in front of her. "I'm sorry," I said clearly, then added in a lower register: "I've seen her now too."
    My face was solemn enough for her to believe me, it seemed. Wordlessly, we headed out for a cigarette break together. She was spooked already, but as I told her of my two encounters with the girl, her mood darkened further. She was twitchy, I noticed. Like a cornered animal ready to bolt.
    "We need to leave 'er be. Never work in Marlin again," She said eventually, trembling.
    "What? You crazy?” I snapped. “We have definitive proof of the supernatural here. We need to document this!" I still felt that I had some kind of duty to approach the phenomenon scientifically. If it were not for the explorers of old risking their lives whilst venturing towards the finite edge of a flat world, we'd never have found that it was truly a sphere. I felt that the same applied in all scientific pursuits, despite the fact that I wasn’t a scientist by any stretch of the imagination. A little risk was more than worth it for the biggest discovery of our time. It shocked me that she'd think differently.
    Sian fixed me with a haunted stare. "Marlin patients … they disappear … from time to time … it's put down to the dementia, but they never find 'em," She suddenly sobbed. "It's the girl, Craig. She takes 'em!"
    I shook my head, despite what I'd seen, I couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe her. "Come on, Sian … "
    She balled her hands into fists and brought them to her face, crying in a near cartoon fashion. She went to speak but couldn't. Suddenly, she shoved past me and ran back inside. She quit that day and was never seen around Hark Hospital again.
    As far as I'm aware.

    I felt guilty, but had to let it slide. My obsession with finding and documenting this ghost deepened, though I did not believe it an obsession at the time. I researched paranormal investigators and their tools of the trade, but I quickly realised that financially I was quite out of my league. In the end, I simply borrowed as basic a camera as I could, as I theorised that it was the digital aspect of my phone that had caused it to be fried.
    This time, I didn't wait to be given a shift at Marlin. I put on my hospital uniform and headed in, knowing that I could almost certainly come and go unchallenged. I hung around, trying to look busy until late, then set off into the corridors. I knew she would appear eventually, but she once more pushed my patience to the limit. I'm certain that it was well after midnight when our final encounter began. Without my phone, I lost my grasp on time.
    She appeared before me as I tiredly rubbed my eyes. One moment, I was alone. The next, she was there. I jumped back, though reacted with cobra reflexes as she turned and suddenly fled. I gave chase, trying to take a decent photo as I ran. A cat and mouse caper began which to me, seemed to last for hours. Chances are that it was less than a quarter of an hour, but given my lack of fitness I felt like I'd run a marathon. She would run around a corner, only to vanish; then I would hear the soft padding of her bare feet against linoleum, and spin around to see her taking flight from elsewhere. As I write this now, I realise I lived a real-life Scooby-Doo chase sequence. This should amuse me but given the circumstances, the humour is lost.
    Finally, I followed her down a corridor which terminated with a door. I suddenly realised that this was where I had found her leading the elderly woman days before. The ghostly girl stood before the door. She was not fleeing now, instead she stood with a hand outstretched. An invitation.
    "Don't follow her, lad."
    I glanced over my shoulder and saw the crazed patient who had grabbed me before. He stood in his bed gown, his arms crossed and shivering with cold, fear or both. He cut an image of a lost child. I noticed from the misty, almost serene look to his face that he was doped up to the eyeballs this time. I didn't fear him, I pitied him.
    By this point, I still hadn't worked out why this man was so familiar.
    I turned away from him and walked towards the girl. Raising the camera, I took a photo of her. I never saw the image, so I cannot tell you how it came out.
    "Please," He pleaded behind me. He seemed to be agitated by the situation, but was too drugged to do much about it: "She'll lead you down the rabbit hole..."
    I disregarded him. From down the hallway, I heard a distant voice, the voice of a nurse. “Craig! What are you doing out of bed?”
    I disregarded the other voice too. The girl's hand was still outstretched. I reached out and took it.
    I felt a solid, albeit cold hand in my own. A warm, relaxed sensation spread through me. Without knowing why, I merely let go of the camera. It clattered to the floor behind me as the girl opened the door and led me through.
    I heard the man utter a pathetic whining sound, before the door shut behind me and cut him off.

    I beg of you now, reader. You have stayed with me so far, through these mad events I've described. I promise that this has all been the truth as I recall it. Please stay with me a little longer; My tale is about to get much wilder.
    And I promise this is still the truth.

    On the other side of the door, I realised that I was no longer holding the girl's hand. She had vanished and the strange calmness I had been possessed by had fallen away.
    “What the fuck did I drop the camera for?” I asked no one in particular. I swung around to retrieve it from the other side.
    The door was gone.
    I was standing in a dead-ended hallway, dimly lit by a distant orange flickering light, as though there was a fire. I placed my hand on the wall and shoved at it in disbelief. There was no trick; it was a solid wall. I felt as though my throat was being squeezed, as though I were trying to breathe through a straw. I turned and pressed my back against the wall, and desperately tried to control my rebellious lungs.
    I took in my surroundings, my eyes adjusting to the peculiar light. I was in another corridor, though somehow it looked shabbier, perhaps even disused. I wondered if I had somehow stumbled into some part of the hospital I'd never seen, and within my mind I tried to pass off the vanishing door as a product of becoming lost and disorientated in my pursuit of the ghost. I wasn't fully convinced, but after a few moments, I stilled my body and took some deep breaths, fighting off the panic attack. I needed to get out of here and needed my wits about me. Having little other choice, I began to walk towards the fiery light. It seemed to lead me, to beckon me further into this abandoned, linoleum clad labyrinth. It rounded a corner, as impossible as it seems.
    The next passage had windows, also flooding the hallway with the same awful flame colour. I looked through them, growing more and more horror-struck as I went. The scenes I viewed were impossible. The first was of a dense forest, when the closest woods were the other side of town. The second, a little further on showed an ancient stone circle upon moorland, overlooking a valley thick with gorse. A third showed a long shingle beach, reminding me of Chesil Beach in Dorset, though there seemed to be no life there; Hark is very much inland. I don't know if it was this or watching the violence of the orange tinted waves that completely turned my stomach. I moved on.
    I ceased paying too much attention to the windows as I worried for my sanity. I briefly glanced at them as I went; One resembled a tar-pit. One seemed to look like an strip of endless tarmac, bisecting a desert scene. The final one before another turn seemed to be underwater. I lingered briefly but ran along as something moved close to the glass, my heart thudding like a pneumatic drill.
    I rounded this final turn to see a pair of glass double-doors. Their style was completely at odds with the place I'd found myself in, but nothing surprised me anymore. Seeing no point in backtracking, I slowly approached the doors, taking in the final view. Initially I couldn't comprehend what I saw. I stared at it for some time, processing the details.
    I was looking up the driveway of a huge mansion style building. It was surrounded by forest, though there was a large clearing around the grounds of the house. There was an odd dip in the ground close to the walls of the building proper, which I knew was the subtle evidence of a former moat, long since filled in. I knew this building from photographs. This was the Redbrand School. Knowing this disturbed me. Not because I had been on the wrong side of town entirely before my trip down the nightmare rabbit hole.
    It disturbed me because the Redbrand School had burned down in the early 1990s. It was now little more than a skeletal husk, a pile of rubble, all scorched black. I had been up there and seen it myself.
    A hand slipped softly into mine. I didn't need to look to know that the girl was stood beside me once more. I suddenly felt at peace again. This was fine. This was alright. This was where I was supposed to be. I reached out myself and pulled the door's handle.
    Heat washed over me as I forced the unruly door open. The view was somewhat different on the other side of the glass. Redbrand was ablaze. Fire erupted from every window and door, the roof was already caving in. Chunks of hot stone and mortar fired here and there as the flames baked the masonry from the inside and the out. Human shaped figures moved and seemed to dance within the flames. This may have been a hallucination, but I don't believe so. In my tranquil state, it really didn’t seem to matter.
    I walked towards the fire, utterly entranced. I was witnessing one of the most horrific moments in my hometown's history. The boarding school had gone up in flames mid-term, and in the middle of the night. It had been full of boys, from mostly wealthy out-of-town families. There had been no survivors.
    The girl led me by the hand, closer and closer to the fire. This didn't worry or frighten me, despite a hot slither of masonry hitting me in the cheek and leaving a small burn.
    I looked around myself, suddenly distracted by movement in my peripheral vision. There were another five people edging towards the fire. They were all elderly and in hospital gowns. The vanished Marlin patients shuffled towards the fire in a zombie-like fashion. I had started to return to my senses, but the sight of one of the women suddenly igniting as she entered the flames slapped me back to reality. I stopped walking and screamed at the others, but they were too far gone. I noticed that they were holding their hands out as if being led by an invisible entity. They had their own ghosts, I released.
    They all entered the conflagration and they all burned, though they carried on as if the fire did no harm to them. Most fell down and smoldered by the front steps, though one particularly determined man managed to get to the school’s door, despite his blackening skin and melting gown. He stepped inside and vanished from view.
    The girl was trying to drag me towards the fire myself. I tried to pull away, looking down at her. She had revealed her true nature; She snarled like an animal, clawing at my skin with her other hand, desperately trying to get purchase. Spittle ran down her chin in a torrent.
    I reacted instinctively and punched the she-devil square in the face. I felt her nose break as her head snapped back. The creature felt pain it seemed; She let go of my arm and flailed backwards. I took advantage and kicked out, planting my foot straight into her stomach. She fell backwards, hissing like an angered cat.
    I span 180 degrees and ran as fast as my legs would take me. I wasn't at all surprised to see that the door I had arrived here through had gone, and so was any suggestion of a building. I hared into the forest and ran and ran and ran, regardless of stitch and branches and brambles ripping shreds from my clothes and chunks from my flesh.
    I ran like this until I erupted from the forest, onto a road and straight into the glare of headlights. Shell-shocked, I froze like a rabbit even as the vehicle's brakes shrieked and the driver punched the horn. Despite slowing down, the vehicle still hit me hard, and blissfully delivered me from sense.

    I don't know how long I have been in hospital, nor do I know how long I will be here for now. I was in an induced coma for a time, but I recovered quickly. I was transferred out of ICU after a week. I had awoken to what I thought was a retro news report on TV. There had been an earthquake in Cairo, hundreds were dead. Bill Clinton had clashed with George Bush Senior in a presidential debate the day before. Trevor McDonald looked younger than I'd seen him in years. The date was given as October 12th, 1992. When I realised what was happening, I passed out with shock.
    They think me mad. They think that I’m brain-damaged. I was interviewed by the police regarding the Redbrand fire. I tried to explain that I had only been 5 years old at the time, but that made things worse. They wanted to arrest me, but they couldn't tie me to it. Eventually, I made up a story about seeing the smoke and running for help. My apparent poor mental state helped my case, and after a few weeks, it all went away.
    I had believed it was 2016 after all. Twenty-four years into the future. Can you imagine?
    I know the truth though, and if you believe me, so do you. I tried to convince the people around me; I tried to tell them of future events, but the details of these events were fuzzy in my mind. Whether this was a product of my traumatic journey back in time, or some real brain damage from the collision with the car, I can't say. I remember things … something happens to Princess Diana, in France, in '96 … or was it '97? I can't remember what. The 11th of September is significant, but I can't recall why or even when.
    Cruelly, this fog in my memory hasn't touched the events involving the girl and the door, but I have finally deduced something from back then…
    (… not back … but forward … )
    I am Craig. The madman in Marlin ward. I had tried to save myself but after twenty-four years, my sanity was too far gone.
    This time around, I need to make sure I stay sane.
    I must stay sane.

    They have just moved me to Marlin for a time, and apparently, and if my understanding of my future self’s history is correct, I will be in and out of here for the next quarter of a century. The girl is here. She watches me from the door, even as I write these words; I can turn and look and she's there.
    I think she's grinning at me, but her face never stays still long enough.
    The doorway she led me through has gone, I can't find the right corridor any more. I wander, looking down each hallway in turn. It doesn't do much to convince the staff that I am sane, but I don't care.
    There's a hole somewhere around here. I know it’s there. I must find it.
  17. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Meeting in the Mirror
    1560 words

    The open door wasn’t an invitation; it was a gate to hell decorated with cheap orange streamers. A chill wind sent papery leaves past my rooted feet and over the welcome mat before me.

    “You said you’d come. You can’t back out now,” Ronnie said.

    She was right and I hated her for it. The same way I hated her determination to meet someone new. If she hadn’t bribed me, I would have stayed at home. I scowled down at my new necklace and followed Ronnie into the party.

    The wind shoved the door and I grabbed the pushing handle. It slammed shut before I could stop it and everyone turned to see who would make such a dramatic entrance. I gave them all a limp wave alone; Ronnie was already at the punch bowl ladling through drifts of dry-ice.

    I paused on the polished step between the elegant foyer and the party. The lovely old home’s tin ceiling was obscured with black balloons and rubber bats. Masking tape marred the gleaming hardwood floor with the crude outlines of bodies. I moved down into the living room, glad to be out under from the many-faceted menace of the old, crystal chandelier. Beneath all the tacky terror, the Victorian’s gothic spirit still stirred.

    “Try not to look so horrified,” Ronnie said. She handed me a plastic cup of bloody red punch.

    “I am not in the mood for this,” I told her.

    Ronnie flipped her spider-flecked hair. “You’re always so edgy on Halloween.”

    I clutched my tiger’s eye pendant and tried to mingle. I felt something bad was coming but I forced the premonition down.

    The hostess popped up in front of me with a sickly sweet smile. “Kiara! Nice to see you. Is Mike with you?” she asked.

    “We broke up,” I said.

    Tanya patted my arm with weak sympathy. “That’s too bad, but I’m sure you’ll meet someone tonight. I’ll be your fairy godmother!”

    I cringed at her sudden determination and pulled back to avoid the pointy end of her glittered wand. “No, thanks. I actually think I might be cursed.”

    “My cousin is in town; you should meet him.” It was obvious Tanya was hell-bent on setting me up.

    “I’m not really ready— “

    “Nonsense. You’ll love him. He came up with a great party game for us to play.” Tanya clapped her hands and called the attention of the party. “Listen up, everybody. Kiara is going to test out our first Halloween superstition.”

    An unraveling mummy handed Tanya a jack o’ lantern full of folded scraps of paper and stayed to give me the creeps. Tanya poked her costumed cousin towards me, accidentally tearing some of his loose toilet paper wrappings with the end of her wand.

    “Some people believe that if you look into a mirror while walking downstairs, you’ll see the face of the man you’re going to marry,” Tanya informed the party. “Ready to test it out?”

    Ronnie saw I was the volunteer and she clapped the loudest.

    Tanya vamped for the crowd, disappeared down where the ornate bannister was wound with cheap spider web cotton, and then she jumped up with a silver hand mirror. “Boo!”

    The partygoers laughed and, when our hostess held the mirror out so everyone could see it was real, the crowd cheered again.

    I had no choice. I climbed to the top of the stairs, past an oil-painted portrait of Tanya and her family, and turned around. The foot of the stairs was crowded with gossipy ghouls and I was annoyed at myself for trying to fit in.

    I saw my own skeptical expression in the silver hand mirror and then a spark of light from my tiger’s eye pendant. My feet started to descend but my eyes were transfixed on the mirror. A man’s surprised smile glinted at me from its surface and I stumbled on the last three stairs, pitching headlong down onto the floor of the foyer.

    He was still smiling when I pried my eyes open.

    “Am I dead?” I asked him.

    “You can’t die of embarrassment,” he said.

    He reached out a steady hand and pulled me up to sitting. I let go to untangle my long, black dress and he disappeared.

    “That was hilarious!” Tanya howled where he had been standing. “And I got it all on my phone. Hang on, I’m posting it right now.”

    Ronnie shoved her aside and yanked me up. “Are you all right? What did you see?”

    “Just the portrait on the wall,” I muttered. “Her brother, I think.”

    “You mean my brother Craig? Speak of the devil,” Tanya held up her ringing phone, “Craig’s calling right now. My brother’s driving all the way from Chicago tonight. I’ll have to post your video later.”

    “Craig’s cute,” Ronnie said, peering up the staircase at the portrait.

    “Nice smile,” I agreed.

    Ronnie blinked, then pointed up at the portrait. “He’s not smiling.”

    The party moved back into the living room and left me clinging to my friend. I knew the face I saw, Craig’s face, had not been painted, it was real in the mirror. It made no sense and I searched desperately around the room for an explanation.

    “No, stop messing with me,” I dropped Ronnie’s arm. “He’s right there.”

    Tanya’s older brother, Craig, stood by the bay window in the front of the house, just a few steps from where the party was reading instructions for an Ouija board. He could have easily slipped in during the confusion of my crash.

    “There’s no one where you’re pointing,” Ronnie hissed.

    Craig’s forehead wrinkled with confusion. Behind him the glass was slashed across with trees and streetlights. They sped by as our eyes met again and he disappeared.

    “Did someone spike the punch?” I asked.

    Ronnie looked at her empty cup, then finished the one she had been holding for me. “Just in case,” she said.

    I forced a laugh and let her lead me to a refill. I must have bumped my head when I sprawled into the foyer. I pressed my cold punch cup to my forehead as the rest of the group ringed around Tanya and her next victim. Her cousin fumbled to get his mummy-wrapped fingers on a small planchette next to her glittery purple manicure.

    “Oh, great spirits, tell Edward when he’ll meet his love,” Tanya intoned.

    The first ring of spectators called out letters as the planchette skidded itself across the Ouija board. “F-A-L-L.”

    “Ooo, like right now,” one of Tanya’s friends cooed.

    “Fall in love,” another interpreted.

    Eyes flew to me and looked for a love connection tying me to Tanya’s toilet-paper wrapped cousin. I held my breath. Luckily the crowd groaned in disappointment as the planchette moved on and spelled a different message.

    “Fall asleep?” Ronnie put it together then gave me a questioning glance.

    I tried to answer even as my head tipped back against the bookshelf behind me. My eyelids dropped and I felt my mind dip into a doze. Just as I struggled to gather back my unraveling consciousness, I saw him.

    “Hi,” he said with a curious arch of his eyebrows. Craig shifted his elbow to the window and drove with one hand as he studied me in the rearview mirror. “I’ve seen you before. Who are you?”

    “Kiara,” I said.

    “Kiara, what are you doing in the backseat of my car?”

    “I’m not in your car.” I gripped the leather of his seat. “You’re driving. I’m at your sister’s party.”

    “And, what?” Craig asked. “I’m dreaming?”

    His car drifted over the rough strips of the road’s shoulder, but he kept his eyes on me in the mirror. I felt the wheels swerve away from the paved road just as Ronnie tugged on my arm. Tall grass slapped his front bumper as his tires skidded along the edge of a sharp ditch.

    “Wake up,” I screamed.

    A backlash of shrieking partygoers ripped me from my trance. It was my scream that had frightened them. Tanya, her wand clutched against her chest in fright, couldn’t believe I had pranked her. The other guests laughed in relief and went off in search of refills and snacks. Tanya stood up, her purple glazed eyelashes snapping at me. Just as she lifted her warped wand to curse me, there was a heavy knock on the door.

    “Tanya, the police are here,” her mummified cousin called.

    “Everything’s fine,” Craig claimed as he walked in, holding an ice pack to his forehead.

    The taller officer cleared his throat. “Fell asleep at the wheel. Totaled his car, but he’s all right. Lucky guy. He woke up just in time to slam on the brakes before the the river.”

    Tanya slapped her brother’s shoulder with her broken wand. “Had to make a dramatic entrance.”

    The police officers gave him another warning before they left. As soon as the door was closed, Tanya turned to flounce back to her party.

    “Nice to see you again,” Craig said to me. His forehead wrinkled but he smiled.

    Tanya paused. “Have you two met?”

    I shrugged and gave a clumsy explanation. “I’ve seen you before. In the portrait on the stairs.”

    “In the mirror,” Craig corrected me.

    Tanya’s face went pale as Craig took my hands and drew me close. “Thanks, Kiara. You saved my life.”
  18. Anonymizer

    Anonymizer Contributing Member

    Nov 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    The Old Manor (2531 words)

    The smooth stone surface was cold beneath her feet. She berated herself once again for leaving her slippers behind. She tried to make as little sound as possible climbing the stairs to the first floor of the Old Manor. That didn’t seem so necessary what with her parents’ bedroom being the farthest from the staircase, and a massive living room, the kitchen and several other rooms between them, still she didn’t want to take any chances. After all the warnings by both her Mom and Old Jack against wandering the upper levels alone, she really didn’t want to have to explain why she was...well doing exactly that.

    Particularly since she didn’t have a good reason for it at all.

    She climbed the remaining steps shortly and sighed in relief as her feet touched the thick carpet that covered the the first floor. The carpet was old, really old and probably hand-woven though she couldn’t be sure. What she knew was that it was soft and blessedly warm to her feet. The hallway in which she stood was short and wide. To her left, hung on the wall across was a painted portrait of an important-looking man wearing a medieval outfit. She recognised the clothing from the pictures she’d seen in one her mom’s various history books.

    She’d flipped the pages, studying all the pictures depicting people of different time periods, fascinated by their clothing and jewellery. They all had looked so different, beautiful, regal and though all remained of them were motionless depictions frozen in a painting then photographed for the history book, she could almost sense their attitudes, their personalities. She’d read the text trying to learn more about the people in the photographs but the writing was too heavy for her, it being intended for grown ups and all that. But the pictures had remained in her mind, with every tiny detail.

    The man in the painting stood in a field of brilliant green grass that outstretched in all directions. Behind him, at some distance, rose a massive mountain range, its tops almost brushing against the cloudless sky, its deep red color a sharp contrast to the green...wait red mountains? Such an odd choice. Maybe the painter had run out of any other suitable color, maybe he or she just had a wild imagination.

    With a start she realized she’d been staring at the painting for at least several minutes. Shaking herself out of her stupor, she continued on. Through the very short corridor leading to the first floor living room. Smaller than its downstairs counterpart but no less splendid. A very old-fashioned TV set stood at the far left corner, an antique grandfather clock at the far right. She’d expected the furniture here to be covered with sheets or something since only the ground floor of the Manor was supposed to be in use. That was not the case. Not only were they left uncovered, they were also quite dusty. Wasn’t Old Jack in charge of cleaning and looking after the Manor? Apparently he was slacking.

    The fireplace she noticed was in sharp contrast to the plain, long unused one below. For one thing it was carved in beautiful, intricate shapes and seemed to be made of a finer stone; for another, a blue-yellow fire crackled within it, flames dancing wilder and untamed. Her mouth agape, she took a step closer to it, then another, one more steps still. Taking great caution she bent to examine the fire. And it... quite literally...hissed at it. She jumped back, shaking. No one had occupied this floor in a long time, Jack had said so, the thick dust on the furniture and every other surface served as further proof. Then who’d made the fire? Not Old Jack, Definitely not her parents. Who else was there then?

    She considered calling her night adventure short, go back to her bedroom, or better yet to her parents bedroom. But something stopped her. She’d come so far, in defiance to everyone, she needed to see this through. There wouldn’t be another chance, this was her last night in the Old Manor, before flying back home tomorrow. She had to take advantage of that.

    So, in spite of the fear welling up inside her, she pushed on. After all this, she still wasn’t sure what she was looking for, or even why she was so compelled to come up here in the first place. All she had was a vague feeling and blurry images in a dream. Of neither she could make any sense. She had to be up there tonight, that was the only certainty. To search for something. Probably.

    There were a series of rooms across from her. She walked towards them. As she drew nearer, she noticed one of the doors - it’s wood cracked and faded - was left ajar. Glancing inside, she gasped. The room was a massive personal library, impossibly massive. It’s size was simply illogical relative to the Manor itself. It was several stories high, a succession of staircases connecting the multiple levels. She pushed in the door so it would opened wide enough for her to step inside. It resisted her, as though someone was pushing back against it. She tried harder this time, maybe the door was stuck. The door snapped shut, barely missing her fingers.

    To her shock she realized she couldn’t open it again. No matter how many times she turned the knob or pushed against the door. What on earth was happening here tonight?

    Resigned, she moved on to other rooms. Locked. Locked. Locked, every single one of them. Tired, frustrated and more than a little angry, she returned to the living room and slumped onto one of the dusty chairs. It was stiff and uncomfortable but she didn’t care. As she leaned back, she thought she heard something. Yes, it was a tapping sound. And it was growing louder by the second.

    She turned around sharply and saw the cause of the sound. Outside of the window behind the chair a white rope dangled, hitting the window every few second, slightly harder each time. The window was shut and without holding out much hope she made to opened it. It seemed that windows liked her more than doors tonight. This one did at least, as it opened without any trouble. She grabbed the rope, she’d never seen one so white and so perfectly clean. It shone almost.

    As she examined the rope, she felt a tug upon it. Another one, stronger, a second later. Then the tug turned into a pull, one so strong and sudden it threw her out of the window. She screamed, holding onto the rope for dear life. She felt herself going upward, someone was pulling her up. Faster and faster. Looking up she saw where she was going, another window near the roof of the Manor. This one, unlike the rest of the windows of the building, was round and white. She reached a hand and grabbed the windowsill when she got close enough, she expected a hand to reach out and help her inside but none came. With difficulty she managed to do that by herself, her feet slipping several times as she struggled to climbed through the small window, she’d never been so happy to be a kid. A grown up would have gotten stuck.

    When she finally stood firm inside, she realized why no one had helped her. There was nobody there. The rope was simply tied to a metal hoop fixated to the ground. That would’ve shocked her except it was the least strange thing she’d seen all night. She began to look around, getting her bearings, and froze. She stood facing an unbelievably long hallway. A little over three feet wide, the hallway went on and on with no visible end in sight. And it was white. Ground, ceiling, walls, even the doors - countless, on both sides of the hallway - all covered in the most brilliant of whites. Smooth and spotless, the entire hallway all but shone.

    She took all this in, not moving a muscle. Eyes wide, jaw hanging, speechless. Not because of the incredible length of the hallway, not even for the eye-watering white. She was shocked because she knew this place. It was familiar. She’d seen it in her dream. The dream had been hazy before but now as she stood in the white hallway, she remembered it all. She’d dreamt the hallway, she’d dreamt herself in it. This was why she had the inexplicable urge to explore the first floor tonight. This was where she needed to be.

    Her search was over.


    Natalie Colleens stood facing the Van Tobard Manor. The gardens of the manor lay at either sides of her, once awash with beautiful exotic flowers, elegant, impressive; now unkempt, uncared for, aged. Such a perfect mirror for the Manor itself.

    The Van Tobard Manor had stood in this spot as long as the locals, their parent and grandparents remembered. The Old Manor they called it, which to Natalie seemed a much more fitting name. No one even knew what the name Van Tobard referred to. Its builder? The original occupants? The answer was lost to time.

    She started towards the main entrance, Rory at her side, as he always was. She couldn’t have achieved half of the things she had without him. More importantly, she wouldn't have been here without him.

    “You excited Nat?” he asked her.

    She smiled. “Excited, scared, and a thousand other emotions. Seriously, it’s overwhelming”.

    He put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Relax. The hard part’s over”.

    “I really hope you're right Rory”.

    Before He could say anything the front doors of the Manor opened. A boy, no more than eighteen stepped out.

    “Hi, it’s nice to finally see you in person,” he said in greeting, “I’m Devon Thomas. My grandpa told me a lot about you”.

    Natalie still couldn’t believe Old Jack was dead. When she had called to see if she could come visit the manor his son, Devon’s father had answered, telling her of Old Jack’s death. It wasn’t surprising as old as he had been, but it still saddened her. The old man had been kind to her, and more importantly he had believed her. The only person other than Rory to do so.

    They shook hands and went inside, she asked Devon to wait for them downstairs before she and Rory climbed the stairs to the first floor. Nothing had changed in the first floor, frozen in time down to the crackling fire in the ancient fireplace.

    A glance to the windows told her what she already knew, the rope wasn’t there. The two of them went straight towards the library. The door was locked. Big surprise there. But she’d come prepared this time. Rummaging in her backpack she brought out a peculiar-looking device. It was a scanner...of sorts. She handed it to Rory who put on the accompanying headsets, put the cone-like tip of the device on the door and flipped a switch. After several seconds of moving the scanner across the door he stopped and pointed to a specific spot.


    Natalie put the palm of her left hand where he indicated and began chanting under her breath, the words Old Jack had thought her all those years ago. Immediately she heard a clicking sound. The door to the library swung open and they stepped inside.

    The library was even bigger than she’d realized on that night twenty years ago. It continued on both upward and downwards beyond sight. Countless rows of old wooden shelves filled with even older books. Most of these books could not be found anywhere else in the universe, the rest were the completed and original version of their copies out in the world.

    Natalie picked a certain staircase and tapped Rory’s shoulder to get his attention. They climbed the stairs, reached a landing, then continued to climb. Three flights of stairs later, panting, out of breath and her sides burning she reached her destination. They stood facing a solid wall of pure white.

    “Ready?” She asked her best friend.

    Rory nodded.

    Together they reached forward, their fingers brushing against the wall. Eyes closed shut. Counting to twenty, Natalie closed her palm and knew Rory would do same. When she opened her eyes she was holding a white rope and so was Rory.

    She felt a tug on the rope, then another stronger, and then a pull. She shot upwards, holding onto the rope with her left hand, her right keeping her backpack in place.

    “This is awesome!” shouted Rory next to her. His face widened in a huge green as he gripped his own rope tight with both hands.

    She wasn’t sure how long it took them to reach the top, it didn’t matter really. She’d enjoyed the ride and there was no hurry. Two sets of white doors greeted them at the top and swung opened as Natalie and Rory neared them. The ropes ended in two metal rings just below the doors. She didn’t need to worry though as their momentum was enough to carry them safely inside.

    They emerged from a single door in the white hallway. Tears filled her eyes as she regarded the old familiar place. She and Rory looked at each other both grinning, and high-fived each other.

    “So,” he began, “ any ideas which door we should take?”

    “Let me think.”

    She looked about, concentrating, trying to remember all the details from that night along with everything Old Jack had said. It had taken her twenty years two figure out the way back to the white hallway after she left it the first time. She’d tried going back the original way once but she’d failed. She knew now that one's path to the white hallway was never the same. And it wasn’t usually easy to find it either. She’d gotten lucky that night.

    Finally she located the right door, not entirely sure how.

    “Come on” She said.

    Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and they both jumped inside.

    They landed in a green grass field. The field stretched about them in every direction as far as the eye could see. Before them, an immeasurable distance away rose the giant mountain range, proud and ancient, its tops almost brushing the clear sky. its color, a deep deep red. So beautiful, she no longer found it odd.

    “Over There!” Rory said pointing eastward.

    There at the foot of a low hill Natalie saw herself. Her seven-year-old self. Playing happily, carefree. Unaware of the sheer magnitude of her accomplishment, that she'd done what hadn't been done in centuries.

    And now I've done it twice.

    She smiled and waved at little Natalie, the girl waved back. She wouldn’t recognise her adult self and save for a series of vague dreams, wouldn’t even remember the encounter once she went back. Not for many years at least. That was for the best.

    “Let’s go bring me back, Rory,” she said to her best friend as they made their way to little Natalie. “It’s been long enough”.
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