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Whiteout

whiteout-campfire-horror-stories-old-rickety-bed-sweet-corn-writing-prompt

It was the first snowfall of the year. I sat up and my bones creaked as much as the bed did. That old rickety bed made of pine, just like that cabin. Made with my own two hands, mind you. I swung my legs around and lay my knotted feet on the cold, grained floor. As I drew in a deep breath and rubbed my wrinkled face, I thought about building that cabin twenty years earlier. A slight chuckle escaped my cracked lips when I reflected on my oblivion; not knowing all those years ago that I was, in fact, building a coffin.

The windows were foggy, which made it difficult to know at first, but the sight was unusually white. My back was aching as it did the previous day, and the one before that. As hopeful as I was that my old, rickety bed would do it good, my first conscious expression of every day was a grimace. Rubbing the glass with the sleeve of my night-shirt was a futile task, but it did not matter, really, because what else could a white wilderness be, besides snow? Nevertheless, I sought to open the front door and investigate.

The animals in the main room stared at me from their high vantage points upon the pine walls. Each day they detested me more. They looked down their snouts and turned the corners of their mouths toward the floor. Glassy eyes narrowed. I hardly acknowledge them any more. The fire never judged me, though. It enveloped me in a warm embrace and told me not to leave. The embers of yesterday’s fire still glowed a faint orange behind a grey façade. My modest pile of firewood was down to seven sizable logs, or six if you discount the one I picked up and dropped onto the ashes as I hobbled passed. I would have to check the store at the side of the cabin to fetch some more before the week was out.

I don’t know what else I possibly expected to see when I opened the front door. It was, indeed, the first snowfall of the year. The ground was painted a blinding white, and had engulfed the four stairs that lead up to the front porch. Icicles dangled from the eaves in the light morning breeze. One sprung loose and fell out of sight. I scanned the trees and the ground beneath them. The whole scene was still. Not a branch faltered. Not a sound uttered. My view was then obscured by my breath, which rose in front of my face as a cloud. I could feel the sting of winter on my cheeks. They were surely redder than usual, though I had not a mirror or reference to check. The thought of restocking the firewood inside seemed, in that moment, a monumental task after briefly considering the need to put on appropriate attire and the prerequisite of shoveling the snow from the front stairs. I decidedly shook my head at the wilderness and muttered, “not today.” A chilling breeze licked my nape as I shut the door behind me.

Gurgles and rumbles emanated from my gut. I wondered if I had any sweet corn left in the cupboard, or only beans. Some meat would be a welcome change, although I’m sure my house guests would not approve. Besides, I had not seen any signs of life outside of the cabin, so without anything to hunt I would have no meat, anyway. What a waste of energy. I thought about it not a second longer and opened the cupboard in the kitchenette, which was adjacent to the main living area.

I suppose you would call this open plan living. It was all one room, really. The main room had the fireplace, quite central, but not directly in the middle. It was made of stone, mostly, except for the metal grating I had to prevent embers spitting. I scarcely utilized it, out of laziness, I suppose. In front of the fireplace was a small wooden table and two wooden chairs that had on them some cushions fashioned out of deer skin. The deer didn’t like it when I sat on them, though, so I did not often sit. Sometimes, if my feet were too sore, I would sit on the floor between the chairs and the table. It was actually a perfect height for that. On the other side of the fireplace was a small table and two chairs, also fashioned from pine wood. It sat two people. It has only ever had one to use it, however, but even now that is rather rare an occasion. I had been eating only once a day, for I can’t remember how long, and usually do that on the other table, where the face of fire breathes more warmth. There is a washroom off the dining area and a bedroom off the opposite side of the main room. The washroom has no usual plumbing, however, it has a tank that acquires rainwater and I have a bucket and a tub that I can use to clean myself or my clothes. It hasn’t rained for many moons, though, and I wasn’t about to dip into my drinking water before more rain. The animals are yet to complain about the smell, so I mustn’t be that ripe.

The cupboard creaked as it always did. The whole cabin creaked sometimes. Even though I thought I would be used to it after twenty years, I am not. It irks me every time I hear so much as a squeak. Like a claw digging into my temple, the sound, I fear, might drive me mad one day. There were only two cans left. They stood silently at the back of the dark cupboard, like the final two competitors to be picked for their sports teams. One can of sweet corn and one can of baked beans. I was faced with a dilemma. Which was I to choose?

“The sweet corn, obviously. You’ve been eating nothing but beans for weeks!” Barry exclaimed. He was the boar above the kitchen counter. He was right, too, I had only eaten baked beans for weeks.

I’m unsure just how long I stood there with the cupboard open, but my arm grew sore. I was pondering. Was I saving the sweet corn for an occasion? What occasion might it have been? Was my birthday approaching? It would be nice to have sweet corn on my birthday. “I shall save the sweet corn, and beans are not so bad.”

“Beans are terrible,” scoffed Deidre, one of the deer the cushions were made from.

“No, they’re not that bad,” I retorted.

“They most certainly are!” Dave interjected. He was the other deer the cushions were fashioned from. He stood above my bedroom door. What he had to say wasn’t very important, though, because I no longer respected his opinion. Not since the rug incident.

“You stay out of it, Dave.”

“Oh, he’s okay,” Deidre said in a softer tone than before, “if anyone should stay out of anything, it’s you. What did the beans do to you to be imprisoned in a tin can for god knows how long only to be opened up at such an ungodly hour of the morning and eaten by you. The likes of you.”

“You’re right. I should wait until later. Maybe put it off until tomorrow.”

“Don’t listen to them, buddy, they’ve just got something against beans. I still think you should have the sweet corn though. Do you even know how old you are, today?” Barry was right. The deer were never on my side. Always stirring shit. I swear they only talk to me because they don’t like Barry, either. I should’ve built a bigger cabin. We’re all crammed in here like the can of beans.

I sat down on the floor and held my head in my hands. I felt the callouses scratch my skin. It must’ve been red, if felt red. I was so hungry,

but I didn’t want to upset everyone,

but they already hate me,

but they still talk to me,

but they put me down.

“I don’t put you down, buddy. Just eat the damn beans, at least. You haven’t eaten in days, you’re going to die out here if you don’t eat, buddy.” I hadn’t eaten in days. So I must’ve drank water, which meant that I could put off eating if I drank more water.

I don’t remember eating the beans. Nor the sweet corn, for that matter. I do remember opening the other cupboard and finding the empty water canteen. I held it up to the roof and watched a solitary drop of water cling to the rim of the bore. My tongue protruded further from my mouth than I think it ever had before. It grew sore, like my arm had, and I licked the drop up. I licked the bore over and over. My tongue slipped into it and over it, and yet my thirst would not quench.

The last thing I can recall is crawling to the porch and scooping up warm snow to eat. It tasted better than the beans, too. And felt better between my teeth.


“And, how long did this happen before they found you?”

“I don’t bloody know, does it look like I can wear a watch?”

“Of course, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just better to give the readers some idea of a timeline.”

“Yeah, I get it, the newspapers are always about the times. I’m sorry if there’s a flicker of resentment in my voice, but it must be the exhaustion. The doc said I’ll be fatigued for a while. I am grateful, really. I’m still here, aren’t I? Still kicking, well kind of. I can’t really kick anymore, either.”

I’m starting to realize there’s a lot of things I won’t be able to do anymore.

 


Writing Prompt: It was the first snowfall of the year.

To respond to this writing prompt, join the Facebook group Around the Campfire, where I post other prompts and encourage you to get creative with them. You can also check out all of my responses to writing prompts in the writing prompt category.

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Neptune

neptune empty sky dinner parties

I’ve never felt so alone, as I do on a night of an empty sky. Especially if the night is dead still. Nothing says you are vulnerable and alone like a quiet, still night. No wind in the woods out the back. No mating calls bouncing between the trees. No wildlife, and no sounds of civilization. That’s the downfall of living out in the sticks, isn’t it? On a night of an empty sky, when all is still and lifeless, the sound of the city could be a comfort. Out here, the serenity and solace that comes from isolation changes its face from time to time.

I grew up in this house, and it was far more secluded in my childhood. Then everyone started sub-dividing. It had become the fashionable way to own property. So, of course, my parents went along and sub-divided as well, resulting in this house not being so secluded as it once was, long ago. The nights can still be just as quiet, however. And sometimes, they’re so quiet that you can hear the silence over the laughter and intermingling of friends and family.

The ironic part of this isolated fear I have found myself to have is that I’m not so afraid of being alone, but rather afraid of being not alone. Afraid that none of us may ever be alone. And that we are not alone. Is someone watching us, right now? Are they incessantly observing? Are we really just an equation? 

There was an incident, a somewhat embarrassing one I might add, when I was a child. The night was dead quiet – it was an empty sky. We often had guests over for dinner parties and the such, because we had a large decking looking over the rear of the property to the woods. The woods looked brilliant when they were painted silver in the moonlight. That night, however, they swallowed the light that spilled out from the glass doors that led onto the deck. We had a large, glass dining table on the deck that seated up to twelve people, and a massive grill. With the amenities, it seemed like we were almost obliged to throw all of those dinner parties. I didn’t care for them, really. I mostly kept to myself while the adults swapped stories from work or exaggerated anecdotes about business trips abroad. My brothers would show off their newest toys to the other children before we all sat down to eat the meat and pretended to be a civilized species. I didn’t care much for the meat, either. It always saddened me to think of the potential life it could have lived had we not been eating it. Of course, I was still young, so my perspective was naive.  I didn’t really know where it came from. It still seemed all very silly to me to be having dinner parties in the cold season, but father always insisted.

Father was also a proud owner of a very large telescope. The biggest in our neighborhood, in fact. It always came out on cloudless nights, and that night was no exception. All of the other kids gaped in awe at its magnificence. It was so much longer than any they had at home, but more impressive was its girth. If it were a canister, you could gather all of their telescopes together and store them in it. Pushing and shoving ensued as each child raced to Father’s side begging and grovelling for a chance to see the cosmos through its superior lens. Of course they would, as this was half the reason it came out. The other half was the inevitable “mighty fine piece you’ve got, Harold, good show!”

I had also wanted to see the cosmos through that giant lens, but custom dictated that I let the other kids have a turn first. Father would find a star or a planet, get the lens in focus and hold a child up to the eyepiece. They would squeal in delight at the probably magnificent view. I sighed deeply. My eyes moistened as my lips curled into a frown and my cheeks flared a hot crimson. I knew I probably wouldn’t get to have a go. By the time the other children, and my brothers, had all had their turns it would likely be far passed bedtime and that would be that. I marched inside to continue drawing, as I was before the meal, and took off my coat. Father called out to me just as I had found the right shade of green in my case of colors. “Come! It’s your turn. I found your favorite, Neptune. It’s beautiful, tonight, you really have to see it.”

I was trembling as I pressed up against the eye-piece. I couldn’t see anything. It was very cold outside, and the eye-piece was icier still. My face was trembling more than my body and I was beginning to become frustrated. Raising my eyebrows did not help; nor did widening my eye as much as I could muster. Then, suddenly, I heard a deafening, low-pitched hum. Or did I feel the hum? As I brought my head away from the eye-piece, I noticed all the hairs on my arm were standing on end. Once again, I tried to view Neptune and was met with futility. Something had to be in the way.

It became vividly apparent, as I looked up, why I could not see Neptune while spying through the telescope. Directly in front of our deck, blocking the telescopes line-of-site, was a massive craft. Its hull was a deep green and the windows, of which I counted at least eight, were a burnt yellow. They were emitting a faint glow from inside the craft. The hull looked as though it was spinning, but the windows showed no such signs. Several figures flurried past the windows inside the ship. It must have been the size of our house.

My feet were anchored heavily to the decking. My face was no longer cold. I was weeping sweat from every pore as my core heated to unfathomable heights. I let out a shriek of pain and broke free from my paralyzing fear. Everyone was staring at me, questioning and judging. “What are you staring at?! They’re here, they’re here! They’ll take us all!” I tried to tell them. But no one listened. No one believed me. They all thought I was hysterical. Father told me to go to bed. And just as fast as it had appeared, it was gone again.

I haven’t seen any of them since that night. Not Father, not my brothers, not any of my neighborhood friends or their parents. No one could make sense of it. The newspapers called me Family Killer, but there was no trace of murder. They were there, and then they weren’t. Just like that. No one believed me. They all thought I was hysterical. I still don’t know what happened that night, exactly. I do, however, know where the meat comes from. It’s the only food you can buy in this sector, now. You just have to read the packaging:

Superior prime-cut human calf steak – stair-mastered and tenderized;

John Doe Rack o’ Ribs – finger-lickin’ good, serve with fingers;

Twerkin’ Toni’s Rump – the chewiest bubble-butt-steak you will ever eat!

Even the milk comes from them.  

 

 

 

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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