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The Thing That Went Bump In The Night

wooden-floor-dark-flash-fiction-campfire-horror-stories-the-thing-that-went-bump-in-the-night

I was startled by the sound of a bumping through the wall. The kind of startled where your whole body jolts you awake. It was very jarring, and as you can imagine, I was instantly as wide awake as I would have been after a triple-shot cappuccino.

I could hear my daughter whimpering from down the hall. In the 3a.m. darkness, I walked softly up the corridor. The wooden floor was cold on my bare feet, and a breeze swept passed me, sending a tingle up my naked spine. I peeked into my daughter’s room and saw her figure shivering against the wall, in the corner of her bed. Her knees concealing her chin and mouth. Shivering, but not the kind of shiver you get from the cold. The kind of shiver you get from overwhelming anxiety. That unwelcome adrenaline-shiver. As I sat on the bed with my arms open, she leapt into my chest and clung to me. She looked up with a face that screamed for solace. I wiped her moist eyes with my thumb, “did you have another nightmare, Darling? Tell me what it was about.”

“It was about the monster, again,” she spoke in a whisper, and rather slowly. Almost cautiously. As if she was weary of who might still lurk in the shadows. I couldn’t see them clearly enough, but I imagined her eyes darting around the room as the words escaped her lips.

“Look, I’ll show you: there’s no monster in your closet. Just your coats and shoes and the dirty socks you threw in the back. Which is also why you haven’t been able to find any socks this week.” I made a point of standing to the side of the door so she could see the inside of the closet. Despite the darkness, this gesture usually seemed to render reassurance.

“It’s not in my closet, Daddy,” she said so mater-of-factly, shaking her head from side to side. “The monster is in your closet.”

“Darling, there are no monsters in any closets. Don’t worry your sweet little munchkin head about it, okay? I will be just fine.”

“. . . okay, Daddy.”

“Now go back to sleep, okay? Goodnight, princess. And how about we dream of unicorns this time, hmm?” I kissed her firmly on the forehead as I pulled the blanket up under her chin.

After returning to my own room, I let out a sigh of relief. Relief that my daughter once again felt safe and secure, but also relief that I could get back to my own slumber. I fell backwards onto my bed. It was now cold. It felt silly, but I briefly scanned the dark recesses of my room and glanced at my closed closet door. A smirk flashed across my face and I quietly chuckled at myself as I wriggled under the blanket, pulled it up under my chin, and shut my eyes.

Bump

I opened my eyes and there in my closet stood my daughter. She had no eyes, no mouth and no ears. But she could smell my fear.

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A Good Nights Sleep

image-of-a-man-enveloped-in-darkness-for-creepypasta-short-story-a-good-nights-sleep-by-salmon-slammin-s-j-kearney-shadow-man

I opened my eyes. Laid in bed, enveloped in darkness, I heard it again. The same SKRCHH SKRCHH scratching I hear every night. It hasn’t always been every night. I used to only hear it occasionally; in fact, I almost didn’t notice it at all. I would wake up in the middle of the night every so often, maybe once a week. Either to go to the toilet if I had been a tad ambitious with my water consumption that day; or to get a glass of water, having awoken parched, to quell the feeling of heavy sand overwhelming my gums, cheeks, and tongue. I couldn’t tell you when it began, because I couldn’t tell you for how long it went unnoticed. I also could not tell you the first time I noticed it, because when I got up in the middle of the night, I was often still half asleep. But at some point, I did notice it.  One night, having returned from the bathroom, I was shuffling through the thick black that remained after flicking off the blinding-white bathroom light. I froze somewhere in the middle of my room, about half-way or two-thirds of the distance from my door to my bed. I heard it.

SSKRCHH SKRCHH

There was an unusual familiarity about it, as if I had heard it before. I suppose the feeling was similar to one you might feel when being introduced to a twice-removed cousin. Certain you should have met them at any numerous family gatherings or reunions, but cannot, for the life of you, remember where or when. I stood in my room with my weight on one foot, leaning awkwardly to one side with my head cocked. In hindsight, had the lights been on, I’m sure I would have looked like a demented side-show act. But that sound, was it new, or had I heard it countless times before only to be too tired or half-asleep to take note? I was sure I’d heard it before, yet I still could not move. I stood there, paralyzed, for what seemed like hours, as I tried to pinpoint the origin of the peculiar sound. I didn’t hear it again, and went to bed with a sore leg, feeling like a complete dumb-ass.

About a week or so later, I awoke with a mouth akin to the Sahara. I shuffled through the darkness and down the stairs, opting not to turn the kitchen light on as I fetched a glass from the cupboard and half-filled it with water. I poured it down my throat as fast as it flowed from the faucet. I climbed the stairs one-by-one. About half-way up, one of them creaked – CRR EAKK – as I put my weight on it and lifted it off. Had that stair always creaked? Yeah. Probably. I had returned to my bedroom and as I pulled the duvet up, I heard it.

SKRCH SKRCCH

Was that the stair creaking? No, that’s absurd, who would be in my house? I peered out of my bedroom door, cracked it slightly at first, and slunk my head around the wall. I looked into the blackness and squinted, trying to see further through the foggy absence of light. I listened. Nothing. I returned to bed feeling that anxiety I hadn’t felt since the first time I walked to school by myself as a child. I closed my eyes and tried to forget about it and drifted off to sleep.

I almost had forgotten about it. About a fortnight had passed before I heard it again. I had woken up very suddenly in a panicked sweat, and sat upright in bed trying to catch my breath. I wiped my forehead on the back of my hand and ran my palms down my face from my temples to my chin, holding them there for a moment, with my fingers pressed tightly against my face before I smashed them into my mattress as I heard it.

SKRCHH SKRRCH

My head snapped sideways. I stared into the dark abyss of my room and tried to focus intently on a most unusual, almost darker, spot perpendicular to my bed – where my closet should be. I squinted. I blinked. I tried to widen my eyes. I wanted to get out of bed, but my legs did not want to move. I felt overwhelmingly cold. Pulling the duvet up over my shoulder, I rolled to face the wall as I pushed dreadful thoughts to the back of my mind. Thoughts that a grown man needn’t worry about. Although, it wasn’t long before I threw the covers off of my bed and swung my legs over to meet the floor. I marched over to my closet, which was now quite visible, and paused right in front of it with my hand inches away from the handle. Was I really checking the closet for monsters? I’m not sure what I was checking it for, but I’m certain the sound had come from there. As if someone, or something, was scratching the inside of the closet door. I threw the door open and saw just what I expected to see: my clothes hanging in a motley of disorganized fabrics and my shoes lying motionless in a heap on the floor. I went back to bed, overcome with that same childish unease I had experienced a fortnight earlier.

These strange occurrences began to happen with increasing frequency, and I no longer needed to pee or quench my thirst to wake in the middle of the night. Too often, I began to wake with a fright, or a sudden jolt of my body, or seemingly from an overwhelming sense of violation, like that feeling you get when someone is staring at the back of your head. I felt more alone than I had ever felt since living by myself. Alone in the dark, every hair on my body reached out into the darkness. My fingers restlessly searched for a hand to hold.

A spine-tingle feels more familiar to me, now, than my own bedroom. You should know that I am still unaware of the source of this peculiar scratching sound. It seems to originate from a different dark corner of my bedroom every time I hear it. Sometimes it seems to echo, bouncing around my room. It’s almost as if it originates in the space directly in the centre of my room, like someone is standing there, holding up a small board of wood and scratching it twice.

SKRCCH SKRCHH

Sometimes it seems to emanate from beneath me, which is one of the most unnerving ones, because I can’t help feel like it could be me making the sound. As much as I do not want to, as small as it makes me feel, I always get up, drenched in sweat, and kneel on the floor to check under my bed. Just to be sure. My heart pounding, flooded with adrenaline. Every. Single. Time. There is always nothing under my bed. There is always nothing in my closet. There is always nothing standing in the middle of my room. And there is always nothing outside my bedroom door. You might think this is immature, silly, or that I simply must be certifiable. But you have to understand: I’ve tried to ignore this for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried to make it go away. I’ve tried to not check under my bed, or in my closet, or outside my bedroom door. Nevertheless, the sound still persists. It will not go away. Every fucking night, without fail, for the past two god-damned years. I hear it.

SKRRCH SSKRCHH

WHY DO YOU TAUNT ME SO? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? HAVE YOU NOT DONE ENOUGH? LEAVE ME BE, I BEG YOU! DO WHAT YOU WILL, AND THEN LEAVE ME BE!

I open my eyes. Lying in bed, enveloped in darkness. I can hardly breathe. My throat is tight. My mouth is dry. My eyes dart around the room in a panic as I realize I can’t move my arms or legs. My chest feels heavy. I didn’t hear the sound. I didn’t hear the sound! Oh god, why did I not hear the sound?! Why can’t I move?! My lungs feel like they’re frozen in ice, but my skin feels like it’s on fire. I can’t distinguish whether my sheets are soaked with sweat or urine, but it could be either. My eyes are locked on my bedroom door. The handle begins to turn. It slowly swings open. Nothing. Nothing is standing in the hallway to have opened my door. My eyes dart to my closet, but it is still. I begin to look back at my door, but my eyes dart back to the centre of my room. A figure. I try to focus on it, but this figure, this darkness, seems to be blacker than anything I’ve seen before. The more I try to decipher who or what it is, the more the edges seem to blur into the darkness around it. I try to speak, but my jaw tightens and my teeth begin to buckle. The figure looms over me. Is it smiling? I still can’t focus my vision. My heart is thumping. The pressure on my chest increases. This is it. The end. I’m suffocating in my own bed. At least I’m not alone. 

Gasping for air, I spring out of bed, sprawled on the floor, coughing and gasping. Drowning without water is the only way I can describe what I had felt. I am plenty wet, however. Trying to regain my breath and get a hold of myself, I slowly push myself up off the floor and sit with my back against the side of my bed. Running my hand through my hair, could it really be over? I crawl to the bathroom. I need a shower; I smell like piss. I don’t know how long I sat in the shower, possibly weeping, I couldn’t tell. I don’t remember getting out, or drying myself, but now I’m standing in front of the mirror. Unblinking. Staring at the red, glistening hand print in the centre of my chest. It won’t go away. I can’t scrub it off. Soap doesn’t work. Toothpaste doesn’t work. Bleach doesn’t work. No matter how red or raw I make the skin around it, this hand print just glistens back at me. Taunting me. Screaming “I’m still here.”

Defeated, I stagger down the stairs clutching the hand rail so as not to bail down them all at once. I fall onto my couch. Looking through the glass at the still and silent night outside, I squeeze a cushion tightly in my arms. I don’t feel alone anymore. I look at the stairs. I look at the kitchen. I look at the glass door. I close my eyes. And then I hear it.

SKRRCCHH SKRCHH

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They found a boy in the river

boy, pop pop pop, watery fate

Subject#04: The Drowned Boy
Redacted eye-witness statement
Classified
Security Level: Burn after reading

I was driving home from work and had made a stop at the gassy. It had been a long day and so, peckish as I was, I got myself a Big Ben. Should’ve listened to the gospel, though, because I burned my lip as I bit into the damn thing. The mince spewed out of the pastry as I flinched and cursed. It landed on my crotch. The whole scene was a travesty. Always blow on the pie.

I pulled over into the lay-by while this happened. I didn’t have the radio on today, and I remember thinking that was unusual of me as I took note of the way the rain was ratatating on my car. As if the shock of the burn had awakened my senses, I became more aware of my surroundings and could smell the river in the air-con. That’s when I heard it. Pop. Pop pop pop pop. Pop. There were six “pops.” They were faint, but vivid. And very curious. At first, I had thought it was beginning to hail, but that thought was swiftly brushed aside. Hail doesn’t sound like the popping of bubble wrap. The faint popping was distinctly different from a sound of nature. And that realization made my stomach tighten. Or perhaps it was just the hunger.

I set my pie aside on the dash of my car and opened my door. The thundering sound of the rain poured inside, almost muting the ding-ding-ding dashboard alarm flashing a red door symbol to which I paid no attention. Against my best judgement, I stepped outside. Instantly saturated. Even my briefs felt soaked through. A chill ran up my back, but I shook it out with my arms. That’s when I noticed the lights dancing in the trees just over the ridge. I hadn’t seen them from the lower vantage point of my driver’s seat. Alternating red and blue, irritatingly out of sync with the dashboard dinging. A sense of ease washed over me as I moved around my car to the passenger side, where I could no longer hear it. Just the rain, like sizzling bacon, screaming in my ears. My eyes did not falter from the illuminated trees. I was fixated on them. And curiosity got the better of me.

The smell of the river grew ever stronger as I stumbled up the bank, losing my footing in the mud and grasping naively at the ground. It smelled stagnant, like a musty old home left at the mercy of the elements for decades without a visitor. It was almost acrid. I’d finally made it to the top of the ridge, all hot and bothered, and out of breath. Soaked to the bone. My arms jutted outward one last time to avoid toppling right over. I stared into the void. Into the rain-laden air in front of my face; the scene I had sweated up this bank for blurred just beyond.

As my stance relaxed, my eyes focused. There were two cop cars and an ambo pulled off to the side of an access road that led down to the riverside. I had figured as much from the lights I had seen in the trees. But nothing had given clue to what I would witness alongside those vehicles. Like I said, curiosity had gotten the better of me. As it always does. Growing up, Mum would always recite, “Curiosity killed the cat, you know? Don’t be the cat, Michael.” Well, they had found a boy in the river. It was an ugly scene.

They must have pulled in mighty hastily, judging by the skid marks cut into the earth. My guess would have been that the cop car on the right got there first; it seemed somewhat parked intentionally, and the treads in the mud were minimal. The other two vehicles were farther from the gravel. Inches deep ditches carved by their tires. With over a vehicle’s length from the road, it was clear they had continued to move after the wheels had stopped turning. The doors were left ajar, and the seats were saturated. Understandable in an urgent situation, but some time had obviously passed since their arrival. Why hadn’t they closed the doors to save their bottoms a watery fate? Because they were dead, that’s why.

All they know now is a watery fate. Floating through the ether of existence down, down, down to the depths below this plane. To feed them. That’s why they’re gone. To feed them. We should all . . . forgive me, I’m . . .

Their corpses lay at the edge of the river. All of them were shot in the head. The paramedics by the officers, I’d say, and the officers by their own hands. This much was unquestionable. Their firearms, however, were left sullied in mud only a few feet from the vehicles. Peculiar, twisting pathways were drawn in the muddy earth, like tentacles leading to the bodies surrounding the boy. The boy stood, ankle deep, in the river. He almost didn’t look like a boy, but his height would have me guess he was about eight or ten years old. That was, before he died, of course. Once that happens, I suppose you stop ageing, right?

His face was mostly missing. His empty eye sockets stared right at me. Swinging in the breeze, his jaw looked as though it might fall off at any moment. His torso was all puffed up, like the StayPuft Marshmallow Man. His skin was pulled tight – where it wasn’t hanging off him – and translucent. The veins looked like a dark web of tar holding his flesh together. God knows how long he had been drifting in the water, but from where I stood, it sure looked like ol’ Davy Jones had done a number on him. And spat him back out, no less.

He had been sent here, that much is clear to me. Nothing else is. I could still only hear the screaming of the water falling from the, now darkened, heavens. No longer could I feel it hitting my face, nor any part of me. I couldn’t feel my own skin. As I was examining the boy with horror and inquisition, I gasped. Not at the sight of his fingernail-less, gnarled hands, but at the sudden knowledge that I was no longer standing atop the ridge I had scampered up so eagerly however long before. I was standing right in front of him, only a few feet away. How much time had passed? I couldn’t tell you. How had I managed to get down there without falling, slipping, tumbling or noticing? I really cannot say. I have absolutely no recollection of it. And although I could not bear to take my eyes off of the waterlogged boy, had I turned my head over my shoulder, I’d bet my life there would have been a peculiar, twisting pathway drawn in the muddy earth, like a tentacle.

I cannot rationalize it. I felt obliged to the boy. Compelled by him. An overwhelming craving to fulfill his every desire of me replaced any sense of self I had. I remember cackling maniacally, as I knelt in the water. The boy swung his arm at me like a cricket pitcher, striking my shoulder and then over my head and down on my other shoulder. It was as if he was conferring unto me a knighthood from the depths. And then I waded into the river.

I was pulled out of the ocean by a fisherman not two hundred meters from the river’s mouth. He kindly brought me back to land, and I walked right here. That’s all I know about what happened. I am truly sorry about your comrades. But they need to feed. And they are very, very hungry.

Witness eliminated.
Fisherman sought for questioning.

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The Panda Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

panda-eats-shoots-and-leaves

The panda sat silently at the bar, pawing at a bowl of salted nuts. The only other patron looking on with a cocked head and raised brow. I don’t think he had seen a panda sat in a human environment before. I sighed. I knew what was coming. The panda comes in here about once a month and eats all my bar nuts. He doesn’t seem to like the gawkers. So, it’s a good thing my bar is always empty. Makes clean-up easier and leaves little explaining to be done.

The panda stands up, shoots the patron right in his stupid looking expression. My face scrunches up into a ball, my muscles solidify. I hold my breath every time. The panda walks out. It’s closing time, anyway. Better get cleaning.

 


 

Prompt – Facebook post by Sergio Pimenov from a closed writing group (so I can’t link to the post)

Punctuation matters!
Panda eats, shoots and leaves.

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Dear Writer’s Block

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t go on living like this. And I should start being honest with myself. I know you help me get things done, especially around the house. You’re brilliant at helping with the dishes and the vacuuming. My house is always dust free and the lawn is never too long, and that’s all because of you. You’ve helped me learn how to cook exotic cuisines and bake bizarre pastries. You make sure I’m always up to date with the latest and greatest news the world serves up on social media.

But, please, stahp. No more should you insistently refresh /r/all. And I can’t always play video games with you. Your lust for attention is insatiable and, as an icon of our generation once said in front of a green screen, “it’s time to stop!” Stop blindly scrolling the twitterfeed. Stop tentatively trawling YouTube. Stop shouting in my ear, breaking my train of thought. Stop changing the song. Stop constantly giving me new ideas that are better than my current story and stop making me start new stories before I finish the last. Stop telling me what I should have achieved by now, and stop fucking telling me I won’t amount to anything. Stop trying to convince me no one will ever read anything I write and, for the love of Poe, stop exclaiming that I am worthless.

Just get out. Get out of my head and cut out all of the “what if” conundrums. Get out of my head, get out of my house and get out of my life, please and kindly.

You’ll have to find your own way now, and I need to find my Writer’s Feet again. I know you know where they are. But, given the circumstances, I feel it is unlikely you will tell me the location of their grave. I will find them and I will find my stride again. You can do whatever you bloody well please, far away from here.

You’ll see. You will, because I’ll show you. I’ll show ‘em all. I’ll write until my pen runs out of ink and then I’ll buy a new pen. The letters will fade from my keyboard, but you know what? I know QWERTY, bitch, so it doesn’t matter. I’ll write and it doesn’t matter if not one person reads it or if not one person likes it or if it never amounts to anything. Because, damn it, I know what I’m worth and that’s what counts. Damn it all, and damn you, Writer’s Block.

I do wish you all the best in any future endeavours, but don’t be asking me for any references. I’ll be glad to see your tail. I don’t even expect a response from this, just to find the absence of you upon my return home.

Sincerely yours,

SalmonSlammin.

 

 

P.S.  leave the ice cream. I’m going to need it when I’m watching movies at midnight.

 


 

Prompt: Dear Writer’s Block. It’s not you, it’s me…

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The Effigy

the-embers-were-still-glowing-a-bright-crimson

He pulled the body out of the ashes and pried open its charred hand. The cave smelled like seared pork mixed with a lavish aroma of smoky wood and sea-breeze. Most of the walls were covered in a green moss. Some of the embers were still glowing a bright crimson, emitting a comforting, warm aura and revealing a stack of old tree branches piled up against a sizeable boulder. Joanie thought it was a strange feeling, standing in that cave, in the bubble of warmth. A few steps away she could feel a salty chill rush through her bones. Naturally, she wanted to stand in the warmth, but no one wanted to look at the grimace on what was left of the face of the corpse they had stumbled upon. Joanie turned her back to it in protest,

“Aren’t there any other caves? Wh-why do we have to pick the one with a b-b-body in it?” Her voice was shaky and broken.

“Not close by, no. And we can’t get across the marshlands until it stops raining,” Billy told her, matter-of-factly.

A tear rolled down Joanie’s face. She was still shivering despite feeling the warmth of the embers on her back.

Billy had to snap off three of the fingers to see what it was holding. She flinched when she heard it, recalling the sound her dollhouse had made that time when he had pried the walls off of it.

It was an effigy, which was somehow unharmed from the fire. Whoever this was must have held it very tightly as the fire ate their flesh, protecting it, like a last ditch effort to have something of themselves left in this world. The stiff arm was twisted in a peculiar way, after Billy had tugged on it with all of his weight to move the corpse. It was around the wrong way, and the hand remained elevated as he slowly let go, gawking at the effigy in his left hand. It looked just like her. The blue ribbon in her hair, her yellow dress, right down to her red wellingtons. It was uncanny. He glanced back at the hand, missing all but the index finger. Like it was pointing. He followed the finger with his gaze and it was pointing right at Joanie.

Billy was overcome with realisation. He knew what had to be done.

“Here, Joanie, hold this. Hold it as tightly as you can,” he said to her as he placed the effigy in her hand and began to rebuild the fire.

 


 

Prompt: Pull the body out of the ashes and when we pry open the palm…

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Don’t Drink The Water

don't drink the water, drinking water, pink goo, pink ooze, green light, pink glow

Listen to this story on Campfire Storytime:

 

My doctor keeps saying it’s dehydration, that what I’ve begun to see frequently are hallucinations and that if I don’t start drinking water again, I will surely perish. But I feel fine. Allegedly, a man should die after only 3 days without water, though many have been recorded to have survived almost two weeks without drinking water. It’s been six months, and I haven’t touched a drop. I’ve even altered my diet to consist of solely dehydrated and dried foods. I’ve been told it’s a marvel that I am still alive, a miracle that no one can explain. My parents have always insisted that I’m squandering my life, even more so since I seemingly cannot die from dehydration. Although, if dehydration does not affect me, why am I hallucinating? Is it just me, or is dehydration really a myth?

I can’t live my life how I was before; I can’t live it how my parents think I should, or how the infomercials on late night TV. tell me I should, or how my local body elect says I need to. Not after what I’ve seen. Not after what I see every day. But is any of it real? My doctor certainly doesn’t think so, however, he is eight feet tall and has a face full of tentacles. His voice is so loud and pounding, making it near unbearable to be around him and his tentacles, secreting his pink ooze all over everything they touch. It’s repulsive. But it’s unavoidable. He’s not the only one with tentacles, you see.

At first, I would have believed him, everything seemed a bit off, and some things looked a little askew, and these things could easily have been put down to dehydration, although at that point, I had only been without water for a few weeks. I could no longer sleep, and everything was tiresome. I felt incredibly fatigued every day, even small tasks proving rather painful. I stopped leaving my house, and I quit my job. But for whatever reason I had at the time, I still refused to drink water. It was only when I lost most of my strength and energy that I stopped eating hydrated foods, and that was when things began to get better. I could only muster a handful of puffed rice twice a day at first. My strength began to return and I no longer felt so fatigued. Once I had realized this I got rid of all the food in my house that wasn’t dehydrated. I still don’t sleep, but I feel incredible.

After almost a month alone inside my house, I decided to venture out again. I might as well have been leaving my home for the first time in my life, because nothing was the same as it once was, and nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.

As I opened the door and stepped outside I was struck by a gleaming green glow enveloping existence. I could not see the sun in the sky but it was not dark, everything was illuminated by this ominous green hue. Not a shadow in sight, as if there was no light source, the brightness just was. Every tree and plant seemed out of focus and fuzzy, like I was looking at them through a lens smeared with Vaseline. If I’m not mistaken, of course I very well could be, they also seemed to sway slightly, as if in a current. This seemed peculiar because I could feel no wind at all, almost like the atmosphere was devoid of any kind of movement. As I was observing the apparent stillness of my new found reality, I felt drawn to something, and was suddenly compelled to continue walking towards whatever centric force was pulling me in.

Every house and every car paled in comparison to the bright green light that encompassed everything, like they were absorbing the light but not reflecting enough to appear as bright and vibrant as the flora or the sky. If there is a sky, anymore, I am still unsure about that. The few people that I saw on my journey were so oblivious to all of this, just carrying on with their lives as they always had before, only now with what I can only describe as an utter lack of enthusiasm. It was so obvious to me at that very moment: everyone is a pawn and no one is aware, and I am probably in imminent danger.

Is my doctor in on all of this? None of the people I saw on the streets had tentacles oozing pink goo, nor were they abnormally tall. Perhaps he has notified some sort of superior overlord who will mobilise some kind of slimy enforcers to find me and silence me before I can speak out. These ideas are why I have not returned home, and never will. My home no longer exists and I have no sanctuary. Nowhere is safe. I have been doomed to a nomadic lifestyle, constantly looking over my shoulder for a tentacle-bearing stranger to take me away. And I know exactly where they would take me.

When I felt committed to that one place, I should have run the opposite way – as I am now – but you couldn’t possibly understand the feeling. The feeling of being captivated by a location that you must reach. It was merely an intrigue that morphed into a need to find it. Impossible to ignore because the feeling was inside me, it was in my head, it was my own desire. I had thought of it. And that’s how they get you. There is no sanctity any more, your thoughts are not only your own. Right now, none of your thoughts belong to you.

My pace increased and I began to jog towards the city, but it wasn’t long before I was in a full-stride sprint. Every person I passed looked less and less human, and every other evidence of humanity within this plane that surrounded me began to glitch and distort. The faster I ran, the closer I got, the less sane I felt. My head started to swirl and ache, but my vision was clearer than ever, aside from the anomalies I was witnessing. As I felt a strange combination of drunkenness and enlightenment, my head was about to burst with the heat of the sun that no longer resided in the sky. But I was so close. I could see the towers in the distance, peeking above the hills in front of me. They curled and flickered, but it was the glow that made me hesitant. That pink glow was the only thing that disturbed the green light which touched everything that could be seen. I slowed down to a power-walk pace as I ascended the hill, my eyes not wavering from that pink glow. As I reached the apex, it took every fibre of my being to halt. The number of creatures that wandered throughout the city, I could not say. Each one far taller than any house, some even rivalled the towers that were twisting in the sky. Too many tentacles to count. So much pink ooze that nothing was spared from their sticky substance.

I began to vomit. To my absolute horror, the bile that was ejected from my body was the same pink goo that covered the city. Although, I cannot possibly be one of them. I am one of you, and you don’t have tentacles, do you? Once I gathered myself together I turned to walk away. I should have just ran then and never looked back. As you can guess, however, I had looked back. When I looked over my shoulder at the slimy city one last time, one of the taller creatures looked over in my direction with one of its many purple eyes and a tentacle extended towards me faster than I had seen anything move before. It let out a great ungodly sound which tore my mind in half. I screamed silently holding my head and barely maintained my footing, tears streaming down my face, my intestines wrapped around my stomach and squeezed it like a noose. I stumbled and fell over, maybe rolled a little bit down the hill, but I managed to get back to my feet and I ran. I ran as fast as I could muster. I am certain it was faster than I have managed to move ever before. I ran and I did not stop until I could not recall just how long I had been running for. It seemed like an eternity. Everything seems like an eternity now. It’s like time doesn’t exist.

So, I found a computer that has internet access and now I’m writing this plea. I know they’ll see it, and I know they’ll find me. But I don’t have to be the only one. I don’t have to be alone. I can find others, if you’ll just listen to me. Please, you must, you simply must listen to me: DON’T DRINK THE WATER.


Prompt: Water is a drug which makes our sight see something different from what is supposed to be there, you have stopped drinking water and now you’re seeing some strange things

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The Boy in the Woods

I’ve known Billy a long time. Most of my life, in fact. We met when I moved here, I think I was 5 or 6 at the time. It didn’t seem like he hung out with anyone, and we were around the same age. I think he lives on the other side of the woods behind my house, but I’ve never actually been to his house. Which I suppose you could consider somewhat odd, because he’s my best friend. Come to think of it, he’s one of my only friends. You see, I don’t find it particularly easy to make friends. Most others think me to be a weirdo, or just strange, I guess. A lot of people like to just steer clear of me. But I don’t really mind that too much, because Billy and I get along so well that we don’t really need other friends. Well, we hadn’t before. I’m not really sure what I mean by that, but maybe I could have made other friends if I tried to. I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently, because I haven’t seen Billy in a while. Maybe he’s been sick or something, I don’t know. I’m sure he’ll call around once he’s feeling better; when I’m raking the leaves out back or playing out in the woods like usual. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen him since that day he freaked out on me. I hope I didn’t scare him by what I was asking, it was just a simple conversation, a simple question, a simple query between friends.

It was a couple of weeks ago. I was wandering in the woods out the back of my house. I’d walked for about twenty minutes in until I reached the part of the woods where it thinned out a bit more, where we used to make forts a few years ago. We made so many over the years, all different sizes and designs. You could even still see the skeletons of some of the more sturdy forts we’d constructed. This part of the woods was kind of an old fort graveyard. Fallen down and half destroyed little huts, decrepit and covered in moss and mushrooms. Big orange toadstools covered the entire solitary wall which was all that remained of one of them. Another was just a crumpled heap of rocks and barren, dead branches. A tattered old sheet, mottled with gaping holes and severely frayed edges clung to an old tree, violently flapping in the mild breeze, almost as if trying to wrestle free from the twiggy branch that it was once tied to, but now only tangled in.

I recall being distracted by the sight of it. It began its life here as a doorway to the fort we considered our keep. The greatest and biggest we’d ever built. Ironically, this shredded sheet seemed all that remained of it aside the dead tree the fort was built around and the memories that I clung to. The thought that I was holding onto these memories unnecessarily had crossed my mind. I hold onto many things that could be better laid to rest. Like grudges and the sort. I call it sentimental, but maybe it’s something else. Perhaps this sheet exhaustively trying to take flight on the wind was a perfect metaphor of these things, and I, the tyrannical twiggy branch, perverting this natural course. As I was pondering this existential philosophy, I saw his shadow in the distance and it made me feel uneasy. My train of thought was broken, and I felt an urge to turn and run. But I couldn’t, just like the sheet.

Billy walked into view through the light mist, and I let out a great sigh; I must have been holding my breath.

“Billy!” I was strangely shocked to see him. He beamed a smile at me, and I was puzzled because I didn’t do the same.

“What’s crackin’, Click-Clack?”

“Don’t call me that, dude, you know I hate it.” It was a silly nickname he’d made up one day, Click-Clack Cracker-Jack. He even had a weird rhyme to go with it, too. It creeped me out, but he doesn’t usually break it out. We bumped knuckles as he reached where I was standing and leaned on the dead tree next to me.

“Pretty foggy day today, eh, Jack?”

“Yeah…” My voice trailed as I looked up at the sheet again, now above his head.

“You alright, Jack? You look a bit lost, mate.”

“Do you think that some people hold onto things for too long, like memories or notions? Or, like, I dunno, it’s really hard to explain. You know what, never mind.”

“People do lots of things we may never understand, Jack. People are weird like that.”

“Yeah, I guess. But do you think their lives might be better off if they just let go of some of those things? Put it behind them and keep moving forward?”

“Maybe. Some of them, sure. Some people might only be where they are on account of holding onto something. Like a life raft, hahah!” He chuckled gleefully.

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

The smile faded from his face and he stood off the tree, looked at me real intently and narrowed his eyes. The tension was strong, the fog seemed to thicken. I didn’t know if I should say something else, if I should change the subject or ask him again. I don’t even know why I asked him. It was probably the eerie atmosphere that came with the fog, the sheet flapping on a bony branch like a Reaper’s cloak, the skeletons of summers passed surrounding us. All culminating with this idea in my head about things perhaps better forgotten still lingering.

And then, like flicking a switch, he smirked as he slowly turned, pointing to the crumpled heap of rocks over the way.

“Do you remember building that one?”

“That was the sentry tower, right?”

“The keep has to have a sentry tower, you said. Every keep has a sentry tower…”

“Oh, come on, man, I said I was sorry.”

“The rocks shouldn’t be this high, Jack

But a sentry tower must be strong and tall-”

“It was six years ago, Billy.”

“You snapped my leg, Cracker-Jack, the fucking bone was sticking out.”

“Yeah…i-it was intense, but it was an accident. I-I’m sorry!”

“I thought things would be different with you, Jack, but they’re not. You’re just like Simon. I never made it home, Jack!”

“Who’s Simon? We never built forts with anyone else…”

“Click-Clack Cracker-Jack
Always breaks a bone!

Click-Clack Cracker-Jack
You’ll never make it home!

Click-Clack Cracker-Jack
Might be lookin’ at you!

Click-Clack Cracker-Jack
To break your bones in two!”

He said it so viciously, and yet, with a whimper in his voice. He began stepping backwards during the last few lines before turning and scurrying away, enveloped by the thick, grey fog. I was stunned, rooted in place. Once again, I looked up at the tangled sheet. It was hanging dead still.

On second thought, I don’t think I ever will see Billy again. Though, something about what he said still bothers me. I should ask Mr Berensin about it. He’s lived here his whole life and, if I recall correctly, also lives on the edge of the same woods. I’ll ask him if he knows of any other kids building forts in these woods. Maybe he knows Billy and if he had been building other forts with a kid called Simon. I’ll ask him once he’s done speaking with Mrs Kowalski, here.

“Oh, and Simon, can you check over the Bunsen burners and make sure they’re up to scratch for the science class in period 4?”

“Sure, no sweat, Nancy.”

“Thanks.”

Wait, hold on a dang minute. Mr S Berensin is Mr Simon Berensin?

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This, too, shall pass

personification of text in a literary setting

All shall pass in time.

Before we can comprehend

anything, we shall find ourselves

reduced to ashen goblins,

strolling on the face of the sun,

until the sun sets

on our enigmatic 

perceptive

existence.