Alisa Perne Alisa Perne
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Brilliant build of atmosphere interspersed with humor!

Alisa Perne Alisa Perne
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Really scared now...what is it?!

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Rebekah King Rebekah King
Recommendations: 21

At Night - The Full Story


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Darkness
At Night - Part 1
No End to the Nothing
At Night - Part 2
At Night - Part 3

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For Fools

For those of you who have never read my short horror, At Night, or would like to read it again, I've put all six parts into this one piece. Enjoy.


As soon as I arrived, I could sense that something was out of place. The room felt too cold, too quiet – almost like it hadn’t been lived in for days, weeks even. I looked around myself at the dark room, but I couldn’t see much. I fumbled around on the wall behind the front door, looking for the light switch as my friends filed in the room. David grumbled about the cold and told Maddy to shut the door. I was still fumbling – where was that switch?


“Brr,” Kieran complained, startling me. “It’s freezing out there.”


“Not much warmer in here, though.” Maddy noted.


My fingers finally brushed over the light switch and I flicked it in relief, but nothing happened. I flicked it again, and again and then sighed aggravatedly.


“Power’s out.” I told them.


“Must have been that storm earlier.” David said. “I’m glad we were safe and sound in the pub when that hit.”


“I’d better go check the fuses.” I said, shuffling through the darkness. “Hey, has anyone got a light?”


Kieran pulled out his cigarette lighter and flipped it open; I could see his smug grin in the dim glow of the flame. I rolled my eyes.


“Not that kind of light, you idiot.” I sighed.


“Well, you didn’t say what kind of light.”


I wanted to throw something at him. Kieran could be so obnoxious at times. I looked at the others.


“I haven’t got anything.” David said.


“Me either.” Maddy threw in from the other side of the dark room.


“I think there’s a torch in my room.” I told them, looking around. “I’ll have to go and get it.”


“I’ll come with you.” Maddy bumped into me and I gasped in surprise.


“I think there might be another one in the kitchen. See if you can find that one.”


“Okay.”


“There should be a few more in the shed, guys.”


“Are you kidding,” David whined. “We have to go back out there?”


“Don’t be a baby.” I teased them.


“Hmph.” Kieran grumbled.


They hastily buttoned up their jackets once more, opened the door and shambled back out into the frosty night.


“I can’t see.” Maddy stated.


I took her hand. “Stay close.” I told her, feeling oddly on edge.


We made our way slowly through the darkness in what I thought was the right direction. I did live here after all, so I should know the place inside out. That was the theory – the reality was we bumped into things a lot. I banged my shin into a chair leg in the dining room and swore quietly. I knew Maddy would be giving me a disapproving look – she didn’t like swearing.


I felt my way along the dining room wall, searching for the doorway to the kitchen. My hand brushed over another light switch and I tried that one too – nothing. Eventually, my hand slipped through the doorway and I nearly fell on my face. Luckily, Maddy caught me by the arm and helped me back up.


“Alright,” I whispered to her. “The kitchen’s through here. I think the torch is on one of the benches somewhere.”


“Okay.” She whispered back before proceeding through the doorway.


I continued through the dining room to the back hallway that led to the bedrooms. I put my arms out to my sides and ran my hands along the walls of the narrow corridor, feeling my way down. I put my feet carefully forward with each step, assessing the floor immediately in front of me for fear of hitting my leg again, or something else.


My path was clear up to my bedroom door. I felt my way along the door down to the handle and turned it slowly, trying not to make too much noise. I wasn’t sure why I was trying to be quiet at the time; it wasn’t like there was anyone else there. But I was feeling edgy and the low decibels of my movements made me feel strangely secure. 1 comment


I pushed the door slowly open, knowing it would creak as it always did, damn old houses. The door swung open with a minimum of fuss, though, and I thanked my lucky stars. Then it banged against the wall with a noise that was louder than I would have liked. I bit my lip and listened, expecting there to be some kind of reaction to the sound. There wasn’t, and I told myself I was being silly, and walked into my room.


It was as dark in there as the rest of the house – I couldn’t see anything. I fumbled my way along the carpet, feeling for furniture and other obstructions that were likely to halt my progress. My clothes were all over the floor, threatening to tangle my feet and trip me over. Finally, I reached the wardrobe where I knew the torch was hiding. I opened one of the doors and reached into the empty space, my fingers grabbing for the object and eventually curling around it.


I picked it up and pushed the button. The light was dim, but it worked. Then I heard the most unnatural sound – a guttural growling noise that had me shaking and breaking out in a cold sweat instantly. I gasped and dropped the torch and it landed on the carpet with a dull thud. Then I heard something else; the shuffling sound of feet on carpet heading in my direction.


I started to panic. My head screamed at me to hide. I jumped into my wardrobe as quickly and quietly as I could and shut the door. I sat panting in the darkness as the sound came closer and into the room. I controlled my breathing so it was nothing but a whisper as whatever it was searched my room. Then I heard a sound that sent chills down my spine – blood-curdling screams of pain. David and Kieran. The thing shuffled up to the wardrobe and bashed loudly on the doors. I screamed.


At least, in my head I did. Outwardly I was too terrified to make a noise, and I knew that any sound I did make would mean my end. I just sat silent in the darkness of the wardrobe and waited, listening. Whatever it was did not bash on the doors again, so it must have been checking to see if anyone was hiding here. I heard another of those guttural growls coming from right outside the door. The sound sent chills down my spine and a tear silently rolling down my cheek. I continued to listen as the thing moaned and shuffled about.


It seemed like hours had passed, though it was probably only minutes, before I heard the thing growl one last time and shuffle out of the room and onto the wood floor of the hallway. I waited until I heard it shamble its way back down the corridor where it had come from before I allowed myself to move. I turned my head to the side to try and see out of the crack between the wardrobe doors. It was dark, so the view was poor, so I decided to risk a little noise. I reached out with a shaky right hand and pushed gently on the door, inching it open. I thanked my lucky stars as the door opened smoothly without a creak or a groan.


I was comforted by the soundless motion of the door, and tested it by pushing it open further. It still went without a complaint, so I pushed it all the way open with only a small squeak. Somehow I knew this the thing would not hear, or I at least hoped. I leaned out of the open door, being careful not to make more audible noise as I did so. The coast looked clear, from what I could see, so I carefully climbed out of the wardrobe and onto the carpet. I stood for a moment, completely stunned by what had just happened. I let out a small whimper and hugged myself. I was shaking violently, as if I were very cold. But I felt only the warmth of the adrenaline pulsing through my veins.


I simply stood for a moment and tried to catch my breath. I felt sick – sick to my core. I knew that those screams I’d heard meant that I could not try to save David and Kieran, and I didn’t know what had happened to Maddy. But if she was still in the kitchen, and she heard the screaming and the growling and the shuffling, she may have had the sense to leave the house. She may still be alive and on her way to getting help. But, if those screams had meant there were more of those things... I had to get out of there.


I thawed out suddenly, a mission on my mind, and looked around the room for something that could be helpful. Then I remembered the reason I’d come in here in the first place – the torch was sitting on the carpet, right next to my right foot. It was still on dimly. I reached down and picked it up, shining it around the room, being careful not to point it out the door. The light wasn’t enough to illuminate the room, but it would have to do. And maybe that was a good thing anyway.


I started searching the room for something – anything that I could use to help me escape. After several minutes of silently turning the room upside down, I had found another small torch that was quite bright, my mobile phone which I had accidentally left on charge whilst at the pub, my Swiss army knife and a small shoulder bag to put it all in. I packed the items into the bag and decided I would use the dim torch inside, as the light seemed to be what attracted that thing in the first place, and that was something I didn’t want.


I sat and thought for a moment – I knew that the nearest help was roughly a twenty-minute drive away, which meant that it would be about two hours walk if I ran as often as I could. I would need sustenance. Water was essential and I knew where the empty bottles were, but I worried about the noise the rusty kitchen faucet would make. Then I remembered that I had placed a bottle of water in the fridge before I went to the pub as I did every night for the following day. I was pretty sure there were some trail bars in the pantry, too.


I worried that whatever that thing was might decide to come back up the hall soon, but there was nothing for it, I had to leave right now. I half-crouched and walked as quietly as I could without being too slow. I decided that if it came back, I would crouch low in the darkness and hope that it wouldn’t see me. I prayed that the wooden hallway floor wouldn’t creak under my weight. I took a deep, silent breath as I stepped out of my bedroom and onto the floorboards.


I carefully put my foot down and slowly applied pressure. I tensed, ready to run or hide if I had to. Eventually, I transferred all my weight onto that foot and all without a sound. I breathed a low sigh of relief, then pulled my other foot from my bedroom carpet and onto the wood as carefully as I had the previous one. Again, the floorboards did not creak, so I decided I would move faster. I needed to reach the kitchen before that thing decided to come back up the hallway and find me in the darkness.


Still bent over in a half-crouch, I tiptoed down the hallway as quickly and silently as I could. I made it to the end without too much noise, then turned right and headed through the kitchen doorway. The floor here was slate, so I could move faster without worrying about making a lot of noise. I headed straight for the fridge and found the bottle of water in the door. Thank God I was so obsessively organised. I then went to the pantry and searched as quietly as possible for the box of trail bars. I found it hidden behind the biscuit tin. Two left – they would do.


I stuffed the water and the bars in my bag and replaced the box in the pantry. The last thing I wanted was to leave evidence behind that someone had been in here. I doubted that thing would be swabbing for fingerprints, but an empty box left out would be a dead giveaway. I ransacked the rest of the kitchen for anything useful. I found my mum’s good butcher’s knife which had its own blade cover – perfect for not cutting its own way out of my canvas bag.


“Hello?”


I gasped and my breathing was instantly out of control. I yanked the cover off the knife and spun around towards the bathroom. Panicked as I was, it took me until the voice sounded again to realise who it was.


“Is someone there?”


It was Maddy. What was she doing?! Was she trying to get that thing to come after her? Then I realised that she didn’t even know it was there. I wanted to tell her to shut up, but I knew that any noise I made would only make it worse.


“Hello?”


She sounded more desperate now, like she knew I was here and was begging me to answer her. Her voice was getting louder – the thing would surely hear. As if to confirm my fears, I heard the sound of feet shuffling from down the hallway. I whimpered quietly and crouched low in the darkness, moving over to the corner of the room.


“Who’s there?”


Jesus, Maddy, please stop talking. But it was too late, the thing had heard her and begun to run up the hall. My eyes now being adjusted to the darkness, I saw its shape sprint past the kitchen doorway and out into the lobby, then saw it again as it approached the bathroom door and bashed loudly on it. Maddy screamed aloud and I knew that she was doomed. The thing bashed on the door over and over again, shaking the entire frame with each strike. I could see the door weakening – it was going to break through for sure. I wanted to do something, anything to save her, but I could only crouch there, frozen by fear. 1 comment


With one final strike, the thing broke the door down and it landed on the bathroom tiles with a great crack. Maddy screamed the most horrifying scream I’d ever heard as I saw the thing disappear into the bathroom. I didn’t want to hear this, I knew, but I couldn’t cover my ears. I couldn’t do anything except listen in horror as I heard Maddy’s screams cut off by that guttural growling and a slashing sound. I heard everything, I heard the sound of Maddy’s flesh being ripped apart and her blood splattering across the tiles; her gurgles and moans of pain and horror and fear.


“Emily, help me!”


My heart, my very soul, sunk at the sound of her last words, begging me for help, before the monster ripped her apart one last time. All was silent for a long moment, then the monster left the bathroom and returned the way it came. Its growls somehow seemed triumphant, although they had not changed in tenor or pitch. I remained frozen even after I was certain that the monster had returned to the back of the house where it had come from.


I was riveted in place, too shocked to comprehend what had just happened. It was a long time before I could even blink, then I realised that tears had been flowing silently down my cheeks the whole time. Or perhaps that was just due to my eyes being exposed for too long. I couldn’t believe it – I didn’t want to believe it. I had just heard my childhood friend being ripped to shreds in the next room by a monster I hadn’t even seen. It was the stuff right out of horror movies and Halloween tales. Shocking, horrible, terrifying. I collapsed sideways into the stone kitchen wall and sat there for a long moment, trying to think through the haze of shock. Even now I knew I could not rest.


I had to get out of there.


I hauled myself up off the kitchen floor back into a crouch. I was shaking like a leaf and panting like I’d run a marathon. I took a few moments to control my breathing before I allowed myself to move. I started to cross the kitchen floor towards the lobby, but stopped once I reached the doorway – the bathroom was to my right and the door was down. I knew that if I looked into that bathroom I would have an emotional breakdown and lose my resolve entirely. Something, as harsh as it sounds, that I could not afford to do.


I took a couple of deep breaths before proceeding through the kitchen door into the lobby. I made myself swear that I would not move my eyes from their forward gaze until I reached the front door. I continued slowly from the slate floor to the concrete and headed directly for the front door, which was now in view. I kept my eyes forward, knowing what it would mean for them to wander to the right. As I passed the bathroom doorway, I didn’t look, but I could smell a terrible odour already. It smelled like rust and salt... blood.


I didn’t dare look now. I continued on, a little faster from anxiety. I headed straight for that front door. I knew that once I was through that door and outside, locking the door behind me, I would be safe. There was no way even that monster could bash that door down – a cyclone wouldn’t pull that thing off its hinges. I continued on, faster still, being careful not to make noise, but it was easier on the concrete – my footfalls were discreet.


Eventually, I made it and touched the doorhandle in relief. I unlatched the deadbolt and it went with a rather loud click. I froze, waiting for the monster to come running up the hall at the sound. I was sure that seeing Maddy had made it more alert, suspicious that she wasn’t the only one. Nothing happened, however, and after half a minute of hearing no growls or shuffling, I turned the doorhandle, the frosty night air starting to seep in through the small gap between the door and its frame. I breathed it in through my nose, almost tasting the freedom.


Then I heard growling. I swung around and saw the monster charging up the hallway towards me, very fast. I screamed aloud in surprise and hastily threw open the door and charged through it, pushing the outside screen door open as I went. I turned around and my gut sank – I had to reach back into the room to put the deadbolt back across so the door would lock and the monster was very close. So close that, as I looked back into the house, I saw all of its horrible, mutilated features almost as clear as day. Whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t human.


Praying silently, I reached around the door and flicked the deadbolt hastily back in place, then withdrew my arm and slammed the door shut just as the monster bashed on it with a whack that was loud even with the door closed. I threw the screen door shut and backed away across the width of the front porch. I could hear the terrifying bashing of the monster trying to break through, it growled with each strike. The sounds it made were more terrifying than the imagination could conjure - far worse than anything you imagined when being told the horror stories of your youth. They were the most fear-inspiring sounds I’d ever heard. I started to hyperventilate, my head was pounding, my hands were shaking and I felt like I wanted to laugh, cry and vomit all at the same time. But instead, I turned away from the house, something that took great courage, and faced the night.


It was still freezing out and I was relieved I hadn’t taken off my jacket earlier. It was a new moon tonight, so on top of being freezing cold, it was also pitch black. I was glad I’d grabbed the brighter torch, but I didn’t want to use it unless I absolutely had to, as I didn’t know how many more of those things were out here and where they were hiding. I moved further away from the house onto the gravel of the kind of courtyard between the house and the huge carport that looked like a gutted shed. I wanted to move away from the grunting and groaning and thudding of the monster so I could clear my head and think while I allowed my eyes to adjust to the darkness.


I tried to think back to earlier in the evening, when the four of us had gotten home from the pub. It seemed like another lifetime, though it was probably only an hour ago. The power was out when we arrived and I said I’d go check the fuses, but I needed my torch to do so. I sent Maddy into the kitchen, but where did I send David and Kieran? To the shed? Yes, to get more torches. Then I remembered that the fuses were also in the shed, so I didn’t know why I hadn’t just gone with them. But now I was grateful that I hadn’t thought of it before.


Then something else occurred to me. I knew from the experience in the house that the monsters were attracted to light. Turning on the dim torch from my wardrobe was what had attracted that thing in the first place. So I knew that light drew them. If only I could make some sort of powerful light source to draw them all to one spot so I would have enough time to get away from here.


I had a sudden ‘spark’ of inspiration – the fuses! Of course, I could switch the fuses to turn on all the lights in the house! That would surely attract any other monsters out here towards the house and I could slip by them and escape! But then, there was only one problem – if those screams I heard earlier had been screams of pain and torture and death...


David and Kieran’s bodies were in that shed.


I knew what seeing Maddy’s... seeing her like that would have done to me. Could I handle seeing both David and Kieran the same way? I may not have been as close to them, but they were still my friends. I didn’t think I could go through it, but I didn’t have much of a choice. I simply had to get to those fuses and then get the hell out of there, so there was no other way. I would have to handle it.


My decisions made, I bent over in a half-crouch again and started across the gravel towards the shed. The gravel was noisier than I would have liked, crunch, crunch, crunching under my feet. I cursed the rocks silently and tried to move more quietly without going too slow. I knew very well how sound travelled further at night, especially outside and especially when it was this dark. But I couldn’t waste too much time getting to the fuses or I increased the likelihood of one of the monsters finding me out here.


Then I thought of something else – had the monster that had... killed David and Kieran even left the shed? I had no idea, and now I stopped in my tracks, unsure about proceeding. I really didn’t want to be confronted by another of those things, but I had to make this diversion work – it was my only chance of survival. So I pressed on.


The shed was located behind the carport, before the red gate that led out to the barn and then the paddocks. I’d inherited this property from my parents when they’d died, but couldn’t afford to keep it going myself, which is why the others were living with me. We had eight acres of land here, so those monsters could be anywhere. And how did I know our property was the only one that had been invaded? Those monsters could be everywhere. But I decided not to dwell too much on those thoughts, or they would lead me down the path of insanity very quickly.


I was almost at the shed now and I snapped myself out of my reverie and assessed the surrounding environment with my ears. All I could hear was the whistle of the wind and the rustle as it moved through the trees. There were no creatures or critters about – they’d obviously been driven underground by the evil presence lurking here. I was certain those monsters were the work of evil – they couldn’t possibly be good. Good things didn’t attack you and kill your friends.


I reached the shed door and put my ear to it, listening, ready to retreat if I heard a monster on the other side. All was quiet. I put my hand on the doorhandle and began to turn it, then stopped and had to take a few more deep breaths. I had to prepare myself for the worst sight on the other side of that door. Eventually, I turned the handle and opened the door slowly, peering into the darkness of the shed. There was that same foul odour in here, but more pungent, so I was certain the boys were in here and not alive.


I turned away and breathed in a few gulps of fresh air, then proceeded through the door, shutting it most of the way behind me, leaving it ajar only slightly so I could make a quick retreat if I had to. I didn’t believe the monsters were smart enough to notice the tiny change in the door’s position. I continued across the concrete, forgetting to feel my path carefully. My foot got caught on something and it tripped me up. I gasped and moved over to the wall, deciding to risk a little light. I turned on the torch and aimed it at the spot where I tripped. Then I wished I hadn’t – I’d tripped over Kieran’s foot, the once black and white Adidas shoe still attached and now spotted with red.


I turned away and nearly vomited. It was lucky I couldn’t see the rest of him as he was behind one of the various shelves in the room and his foot was sticking out in front of the door. I pulled myself together then as I noticed something. Next to Kieran’s foot on the concrete was a thick smudge of red. Following it with my torch, I found that it led from behind the shelf all the way out the shed door and onto the gravel. It took me a few moments to realise that this was probably caused by a body – David’s body – being dragged out of the shed towards the barn. At least now I knew where the other monster was.


I also knew that I probably didn’t have much time until it came back for Kieran. I turned away from him now and crossed the room to the fuse box on the wall in the corner. I pulled at the latch – locked. Dammit! Where the hell was the key? Oh, wait, I left it on the workbench when I was out here two days ago. I sighed in relief and snatched it from the bench, then unlocked the box. I froze dead when I heard that terrifying sound and the monster’s feet shuffling along the gravel. I forced my brain to work and crouched low in the darkness beneath the box. I looked around frantically for a hiding place or a way out, but there was nothing. I was trapped.


I waited and listened as the monster shuffled up to the shed door. It shuffled right into the room, not seeming to notice the door being ajar. I stared at the galvanised iron of the shed wall, refusing to move my eyes one inch – I knew that one look at that monster would be the end of my self-control. I heard the deep, rumbling, horrible sound of its growling from right behind me. I was shaking and sweating and I could feel my sanity draining with every passing second.


The monster shuffled its way over to the opposite side of the room to Kieran. I didn’t hear it pick Kieran up, but I heard the sound of his body being dragged across the concrete and out the door. The monster gave one last groan before the sounds of gravel shifting under heavy weight faded and I heard the back gate close. I unfroze and craned my neck high enough to see through the shed window. I couldn’t see anything out there, so I stood back up, ignoring the fresh rust-and-salt smell from the disturbance, and continued with my task.


I turned on my torch and shone it into the fuse box. All the fuses for the house lights were off, but not the shed, the carport or the tack room. Odd – it was as if someone had turned them off physically. I decided not to worry about it and concentrate on my plan. Taking a deep breath to prepare myself, I flicked the two top rows of switches to their ‘on’ positions.


I heard nothing, as I knew I would, and I went over to the door to stick my head out a ways. I inched my eyes around the door, trying to see without putting too much of my head out there. My eyes widened and I breathed a great sigh of relief and triumph when I saw that every light in the house was on and shining brightly through the windows onto the ground surrounding the house. I actually smiled a bit.


I pulled my head back into the shed, and just in time, too. As I retreated back, I heard growling from the direction of the barn. This growling was different; it was still the same terrifying sound, but it was more urgent, alert. It was a growl of awareness. I crouched low and peered out the shed window, watching in horror as not one, but three of those things shuffled past the shed towards the house. I decided I would wait a bit longer than I had planned before making my escape – who knew how many there were out there?


After several minutes, though, no more came, so I decided I’d waited long enough. It was time to move. I stood up and headed for the door, fearlessly turning the handle and stepping straight out into the night. I didn’t shut the door behind me, knowing that if one of them found it open, it would distract them for a few moments. Every moment was precious tonight.


I turned my head towards the house and saw the three monsters standing at the back of the house, looking in the windows. They were growling loudly, perhaps trying to communicate with the monster that was still inside. I now saw a problem with my master plan – the gate that I had to go through to get down the driveway was shut and the chain was on. It would make a lot of noise and it would surely be within earshot of the monsters.


I decided there was nothing for it, and maybe the best strategy was to sneak right past them; they wouldn’t expect it. I bent over in the half-crouch position again and made my way as quickly and quietly as possible across the gravel. I was feeling a sudden sense of urgency at the sight of the monsters so close to my objective. I hugged the wall of the carport until I reached the open side where the cars were parked. I thought briefly about using one of them, but there was still the issue of the gate. I would never get through it with my Camry or David’s Lancer, and if those things could bash down a solid wood door, then they could surely bash a car to pieces and mutilate whoever was in it.


I ignored the vehicles and continued across the front of the carport until I got to the chook house. I stayed on a path along the outside of the wire until, at last, I reached the gate. I headed over to the opposite side of it where the latch was. It was just a chain that went through the wire of the gate and slipped onto a hook, holding the gate in place. It wasn’t complicated, but it would be noisy. I started to slowly lift the chain off of the hook, making sure it wasn’t banging against the gate. I got that off easily enough, then came the hard part – feeding the chain through the gate. I used both hands to support the chain as I passed it through and lowered it down until it just hung there.


I pushed the gate open in relief and the chain swung over just at the wrong moment and banged into it. The gate quivered and rattled loudly. I heard the alarmed growling and feet running on gravel. I was thankful I was already halfway out and I rushed through the gate to the other side, then I stopped. Close it! Block the path! Close the gate behind you! my head was screaming at me. I wheeled around and pushed the gate shut, then grabbed the chain and shoved it through the gate and over the hook, jumping back just as the monsters reached the gate.


I kept backing away slowly, too terrified to do anything but stare at them as they tried to bash down the gate. I knew they would not be able to bash the metal apart, so, once I was far enough away, I turned and retreated into the darkness. I started off down the driveway at a fast jog, not daring to look back now. Even through my fear, I felt a sense of liberation. I could almost taste the freedom in the air. I knew now that I was close. I stopped for a breather as I reached the end of the driveway and I smiled slightly again.


My euphoria was cut short when I heard growling again. Not from the direction of the house, but from my left and very close. My eyes widened and I turned them slowly to the left, my resolve dissipating instantly as they rested upon my worst fears. There were more of them – lots more. I thought about crouching and ducking under a tree, but it was too late. They’d definitely seen me, their eyes were staring straight into mine, straight into my soul and twisting and blackening it until there was nothing left. They only stood there as I did, not moving or making a sound. They remained still to assess what I would do, I was still from fear. A long moment of nothing passed as my mind raced in panic, until at last, I ran.


I turned away and sprinted down the dirt road as fast as my legs would carry me. It didn’t take long for them to start chasing me. I fished the bright torch out of my bag and turned it on, using the light to watch my path for anything that might halt my progress. I didn’t dare look around – I didn’t want to know how close they were. I could hear the growling and groaning, angry sounds now, and impossibly more terrifying than before. I panted and sobbed as I ran harder than I’d ever run before, praying that my clumsiness wouldn’t be my death tonight.


I heard a growl so close that I had to turn my head and see. As soon as I did, I wished I hadn’t – it was right behind me. Somehow, in that moment, I knew that this was the end. I couldn’t outrun them, I couldn’t fight them. All I could do was die. I closed my eyes and slowed in defeat as the monster closest to me lunged forward and drove his sharp claws deep into my back.



I awoke to the sound of my own screaming and sharp voices barking orders at each other. I appeared to be lying down and it was cold. My eyes darted around fiercely, though the images they received were blurry. I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. I thought I was dead – hadn’t the monsters just killed me? And now I was here. How? What’s happening? I tried to focus and observed two people standing over me.


“Who are you?” I demanded in a voice that sounded half-crazed.


“Shh, it’s alright,” A woman’s voice soothed me. “Everything is alright.”


I suddenly heard my own short, panting breaths forcing their way through my clenched teeth. What was wrong with me? I sounded like a rabid animal. I tried to calm my breathing down, but it was as if I had no control over my body at all – like I was paralysed. Then how could I talk?


“What are you doing to me?” I was practically screaming whenever I spoke.


“Just be still now,” The other person, a man, said firmly. “And we won’t have to hurt you.”


“Where am I? What did you do with them?!”


“Your friends are safe, for now,” The woman answered with a snide smile. “And you can be, too, if you give us what we need.”


“I don’t even know who you are!!”


“I am Justine.  And this here is my accomplice, Daniel.”


“What do you want?!”


“You are part of a scientific experiment. We are observing the minds of you and your friends as part of our study of the victims of our little game.”


“Game?! What are you talking about you psycho bitch?!” I had no idea why I’d just called her that.


“But surely you remember the monsters?” Justine smiled.


“Of course I do! THEY KILLED ME!!”


“No. They brought you here to be studied. Along with the others.”


I heard ear-splitting screams coming from somewhere in the room. I looked over to my left and saw something that might have once been human gripping the iron bars of its cell and shaking them violently. Its mouth was open and that was where the screaming was coming from. Though it still had two arms, two legs, a body and a head, none of its features looked human anymore. Except its eyes which were a shade of bright blue. As I looked at the creature more closely, the blue eyes were not the only feature I recognised.


“Maddy...” I whispered in horror as she bashed on the bars, the action reminding me of the monster that killed her.


“Now, now, Madeline,” Daniel said. “There’s no need for violence.”


“What have you done to her?”


“The same thing we’ve been doing to you, my dear,” Justine looked down at me and I wanted to wipe the smug smile off her face. “Forcing you to relive your memories of your last moments of life again and again.”


“WHY?!”


“Well, to see how long it takes you to go mad.”


“The boys have been showing great resilience to our methods,” Daniel wandered over to Maddy’s cell. “But poor Madeline here, it didn’t take her long before she descended into darkness. I’m not surprised – the way in which she died was brutal and surely traumatic. Who would want to relive that over and over?”


As Daniel spoke, my eyes moved around the room at the other two figures laying down on gurneys like I was. They appeared to be sleeping and having a horrible nightmare – their bodies were convulsing violently. One of them was laying to my left, quite near to me.


“David...” I whispered. My head turned to the opposite side of the room where the other figure lay. “Kieran...”


“It will not be long now before she is completely lost to darkness,” Justine continued, regaining my attention. “And even shorter still before the boys join her in the realm of madness. But your experience was very different to theirs, so you seem much more resilient.”


I let out a sustained scream of rage or pain, or both and my back arched with the effort. I couldn’t believe this – I didn’t want to believe it. How could this be possible? How could I wake up and remember that I’ve been through that horror over and over again, but then when I go back in it’s as if it’s the first time?


“I’ll kill you,” I promised them. “I’ll kill you both!”


“Do not fear, Emily,” Justine smiled. “It will all be over soon.”


“No! NO!!”


Justine and Daniel took their leave, going through a door near Kieran and locking it behind them. Maddy continued to shake the bars and scream at the door after they’d left. Still screaming, she turned her head towards me. Her face was long gone, but her eyes... her eyes stared at me with a fear that was beyond words. I wanted to reach out to her and pull her from her prison, but I knew it was too late for that. The only thing I could do to help her now was to kill her. And I would – before I escaped I would kill her. She must want that. I would help the boys, too, if they weren’t yet gone.


“You won’t be trapped like this forever...” I promised them all before I went under again.


As soon as I arrived, I could sense that something was out of place...


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