SHORT STORIES TO KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT
“I write in my spare time as a hobby, specializing in horror/thriller stories. This website is constantly updated with more stories for you to read.”- Willow Hewett
- Time is precious
- Night Stalker
- The Writer Of Death
- The Good Day That Went Bad
StoriesThatSpook Main Short Stories
The 200-Year-Old Cold Case By Willow Hewett
The wind howled outside, slashing pellets of rain against the old museum’s windows on a cold and blistering evening. Inside the museum, two women sat at a desk next to a shelf brimming with artifacts and books. Their clothes looked very similar, with a pale-looking complexion to go with them. They both had long brown hair, and the only difference between their appearances was that one of them wore glasses. Two stone-cold teas sat on the table next to them, untouched for some time as they read through pieces of handwritten notes dating back to the eighteenth century. With only a few small lamps to light it, the museum gave off an eerie vibe. The floor gleamed from the last cleaner’s polish residue that remained on the surface. The museum was closed to the public, but the door remained open, allowing rain to fall inside the main entrance.
“Isn’t it strange that you’re holding a letter written by a murderer from over a century ago?” The woman in the glasses asked.
The second woman burst out laughing. “It doesn’t bother me at all, Jane. At the very least, we know he’s dead by now.”
Jane smiled back at her. “Maria, just look at the writing details. With a few of the letters, you can see where the nib dug in a little deeper. I must say, whoever it was, they had lovely handwriting.”
“These murders sound eerily similar to the ones that are currently taking place.” Maria cast a glance at Jane. “Take a look.”
Maria handed the documents and letters to Jane. She inspected the old police records and nodded. “A copycat killing, maybe? Everyone knows that these murders were never solved, so maybe it’s someone who is obsessed with cold cases?”
Maria stroked her chin in thought. “Could be.”
They both fell into a comfortable silence as they went about their business, carrying on with their tasks.
The front door was blown open by the wind, causing both of them to jump and turn towards the sound. A wet-looking figure stood in the doorway, wearing a dark blue raincoat that reached below the knee. The two women stood motionless as the man in the coat approached them quietly. He walked with a slight limp while holding a large brown envelope wrapped in plastic.
He handed Jane the envelope. “I found a few family letters in the attic that you might be interested in.”
Jane looked at him, baffled. “We don’t just take in any old rubbish.”
“Please excuse my colleague’s impoliteness. What she really means is what kind of letters?” Maria asked, shifting in her seat to face the man.
He pulled down his hood, so they could see his face. “They date back to the eighteenth century and were written by my great-grandfather to his mistress. The letters were about their love affair.”
The hood ruffled his brown hair, making it look unkempt. His dark eyes were eerie, but they also had a charming quality to them. It could have been the museum light twinklings in his eyes, making both girls admire his charisma, or it could have been the way he held his posture. But there was one thing the girls were certain of: he was strangely attractive.
Jane raised her head from her desk, this time more intrigued. “An affair?”
The man gave a nod. “Yes, he had several affairs, but this is the only proof my family has ever discovered. He served as a vicar in one of London’s churches.”
Jane smiled as she looked at Maria. “We’ll look into it. Could you please leave your name and phone number so that we can contact you if necessary?”
“Of course, I can. Do you have a pen and paper?”
Maria tore a piece of paper from her notebook and handed it to him. He leaned over the desk and began scribbling down his details.
He left it on the table and walked away without saying goodbye, which they both found odd. Maria picked up the letters and began to read them, skimming over the boring parts to get to the more interesting parts.
Jane glanced over at the letters and giggled. “Oh, how times have changed.”
“These letters have been meticulously crafted. The handwriting, in particular. I like how some of the letters are curled, making them appear delicate. I’m curious who this man was.”
“It’s odd, though. These letters, like the others from the cold cases, were written around the same time.” Jane muttered as she began reading the ones in Maria’s hand.
Maria frowned. “You’re completely right, and if you look closely, you’ll notice that both sets of letters have nearly identical handwriting.”
A dense sensation began to form in the pits of both girls’ stomachs. They exchanged nervous glances, unsure whether to proceed.
The handwriting was identical to letters written by a serial killer who had never been found. The letters were written around the same time as the murders all those years ago.
“I don’t like this, Maria. I have an awful feeling about this.” Jane admitted.
Maria nodded and flipped through the remaining letters, holding one of the love letters and one from the killer and inspecting them carefully.
“From what I can tell, the ink on both letters is the same. Jane, I believe we’ve just solved a nearly 200-year-old case.” Maria raised her head from the letters, a worried expression on her face.
“So far, we only have the vicar’s first name; there is no second name. Do you believe that man was aware of this?” Jane asked.
Maria shook her head. “How can he possibly know that we were investigating an eighteenth-century case that could potentially involve his great-grandfather?”
“But what about the murders that are currently taking place? You stated that they were nearly identical.”
“Are you saying that we might have met the murderer?” Maria expressed her angst.
“It’s entirely possible. Pass me his contact information, and I’ll look into it.” Jane said as she extended her hand to Maria.
Maria took the piece of paper and handed it to Jane. As she read it, blood drained from her face. Her hands began to shake uncontrollably until Maria snatched the paper from Jane’s grasp, inflicting a paper cut on her. There had only been one sentence written, and it chilled both girls to the bone.
‘I’ve given you a head start.’
The Scuba Dive ©
It was the height of the summer’s sweltering heat. For our second wedding anniversary, my partner and I had planned our first scuba dive as a couple. It had been a spur-of-the-moment booking a few weeks before, and now the scuba dive had finally arrived. The dive site was on the outskirts of the Caribbean islands, surrounded by lush beaches and tall, inaccessible cliffs that loomed dangerously over dog walkers passing by.
By the time we rolled out of bed in our hotel room, it was midday, and the sun was shining brightly down onto the busy street below, with loud music blasting from one of the speakers from a nearby shop.
We hurriedly threw on some clothes and rushed into the jeep that my partner had decided to rent just for this occasion. Our faces lit up as David shifted the jeep into gear and drove us down the road to our destination. The road seemed to be littered with holidaymakers rushing around, buying souvenirs to take home.
An elderly couple emerged unexpectedly from a shop doorway. They stepped out into the road without looking, causing David to slam on the brakes angrily.
I ignored David’s curses and turned on the radio, turning it up loud so I wouldn’t hear him yelling at the elderly couple. A song I didn’t recognise came on the radio and blared through the speakers.
As we made our way over a large hill towards the beach, the beat of the music drowned out the noise of the busy street.
“And now for the latest with Daniel Sole…” A loud crackling sound was heard through the speaker, followed by the voice of another man. A large manhunt has been launched in search of Diana Tool, who has been missing for five days. She was last seen on July 21st while on a scuba dive with her classmates. Her friends were the last people to notice her in the water before she vanished. Any sightings of her must be reported to the authorities as..” The man’s voice faded out and was replaced by static.
“That is not something you want to hear while driving to go scuba diving.” David laughed a little nervously.
I turned off the radio and leaned back in my car seat. “Isn’t today the twenty-first of July?”
He nodded slowly, his gaze fixed on the road. “It had to be a mistake.”
“It couldn’t have been an old news story, could it? It’s just odd, or perhaps a coincidence, that it’s the same date as today.” A cold shiver ran down my spine, causing me to shuffle in my seat uncomfortably. “Spooky.”
“You believe everything is eerie.” He laughed. “Now just sit back, relax, and take in the breathtaking view ahead of us.”
I smiled as I looked up to see where he was pointing. “It’s lovely.”
The scene resembled a photograph from the front cover of a holiday brochure. While David drove down a sandy lane towards the docks at the far end of the beach, I stared in awe at the scenery.
With many beachgoers enjoying the hot summer sun, towels and belongings littered the area. Wave after wave erupted from the sea, dumping debris from the night before onto the beach.
The surface was covered in golden sand as far as the eye could see, with clumps of fresh-looking seaweed dotting the ground.
I could smell the strong scent of sun cream as I watched a group of children screaming in pleasure while they dug deep holes into the sand, searching for pieces of long-lost treasure.
There was a lot of activity going on in the area. Volleyball games had taken up the majority of the available space. Queues for hot and cold food from beach huts lined the beach. My nostrils were tantalised by the rich aroma of herbs and spices mixed with the salty sea life scent. Palm trees swayed gently in the breeze, their vibrant green leaves gleaming in the summer sun.
I shaded my eyes from the sun and looked out to the clear-looking ocean while David drove even slower down the dusty track so I could take in more of the scenery. I could feel the pulsing heart of the sea as it rippled like a blanket towards the beach. My stomach jumped with glee while I watched a group of dolphins flipping through the air and landing gracefully back into the ocean.
A small dock to the left of the beach was lined with the bodies of boats and yachts. To the right of the dock, a large white sign read, ‘Scuba Diving Check-in.’
That was where we were going.
David came to a halt next to the dock and turned off the engine. “My lady, we’ve arrived.”
As I punched him lightly on the arm, a small, nervous laugh escaped my lips. “Well, I can see that.”
He got out of the jeep and dashed off to the check-in area, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
The car radio suddenly made a loud crackling sound as a man’s voice spoke through it. “A large manhunt has been launched in search of Diana Tool, who has been missing for five days. She was last seen on July 21st while on a scuba dive with her classmates. Her friends were the last people to see her in the water before she vanished.”
“I swear I turned it off.” I muttered to myself as I turned it off.
As I approached David, the strange feeling that I had felt before crept back up my spine. I couldn’t shake the dreadful feeling that something terrible was about to happen.
When I arrived at the check-in area, David had already completed our forms and was waiting to be instructed on what to do next.
“I can’t wait for this!” He beamed. “Can you?”
I plastered a fake smile on my face and nodded. “Of course I am, but from the looks of it, I don’t think it’s just the two of us who are going scuba diving.”
David turned, his face suddenly dropping as he saw a group of people approaching us. “I assumed it would just be the two of us. I wanted to make it romantic.”
I took his hand in mine and gently squeezed it. “Don’t worry, we’ll still have a good time.”
“Everyone gather round!” A voice bellowed from behind us.
We both turned around to see a large man in a white, pristine captain’s uniform. He had a fisherman’s cap resting underneath his armpit as he held out a clipboard in front of him. His hair was slightly ruffled and his ginger beard still had bits of his lunch in.
He cleared his throat and waited for everyone to finish speaking before continuing. “I need everyone to sign in so I know who is and who isn’t here. On board, everything is ready and waiting for you, and everyone has their own equipment. We’ll be gone in five minutes.”
Another man in a slightly less important uniform rushed up behind him and waited for the captain’s orders.
The captain turned to him and whispered in his ear loud enough for us to hear. “Get everyone on board and divide them into smaller groups.”
The man gave a nod. “Could I please have everyone’s attention? I’d like everyone to board and be divided into groups of six. You will remain with this group until we return from our trip.”
A woman raised her hand to be noticed. “Why do we have to do that?”
“The reason you’ll be divided into smaller groups is that when you return to the boat after the dive, you’ll be asked to count your group, and if there are fewer than six, it means someone is still in the water. It is easier to ensure that no one is left behind this way. However, due to a lack of participants, one group will only have five of you.” The man elaborated.
I looked up at the gleaming forty-foot boat with dread rather than excitement, which I knew I shouldn’t be feeling.
There were two decks. One where the captain would reside, and the other one held five rows of white glossy benches where we would sit. A small canopy hung over the benches, shielding the sunlight away. A table sat at the far end, holding glasses of champagne and plates of snacks.
The man assured all of us up the gangway and onto the boat quickly, before splitting us into groups of six.
Three men and one woman joined me and David, while the rest of them divided into smaller groups.
David reached for two glasses of champagne and handed one to me. He then introduced himself to the three men before turning to face me, a sheepish smile on his face. “Do you mind if I spend some time with these guys? I promise to return as soon as possible.”
I forced a smile, despite the fact that he could tell I was irritated. “You certainly can. I’ll stay here and talk to the other member of our group for a few minutes.”
He gave me an odd look and laughed, as if he thought I was joking. “I don’t always understand your jokes. I promise I won’t abandon you for too long.”
I sat down next to the woman who was also in our group and turned away from him. She raised her head and gave me a timid smile.
Her skin was pale and waxy, and her eyes were piercing blue. She wore only one earring and had her blonde hair tied back into a ponytail. She was dressed in a black vest and white shorts, exposing her long gangly legs, which disappeared into a pair of scruffy-looking trainers.
I returned her smile and pointed to her ear. “By the way, you’ve lost an earring.”
She touched her earlobe and muttered something under her breath, which I couldn’t quite hear.
“My name is Grace. What’s yours?” I asked, trying to start a conversation.
She glanced at me and held out her hand. “I’m called Di.”
I took her cold, clammy hand in mine and shook it quickly. “”Are you here with anyone? Or is this a spur-of-the-moment adventure?”
“I was here with someone, but now I’m all alone.” She responded.
I sipped my champagne while listening to the whirring noise of the boat engine, trying to figure out why she had responded in such an unusual manner.
I shook off my uneasiness and asked her another question. “Do you live nearby or are you on vacation?”
Her face was filled with a sad smile. “I was on vacation with some friends.”
“What happened to them? Did they abandon you or something?” I asked.
“I suppose it’s something along those lines.” She responded. “Who brought you here?”
I gave her a concerned look, wondering why she changed the subject on me without fully answering my question. She appeared to be about seventeen years old, far too young to be out here on her own. But because I didn’t know who she was, I couldn’t press her for more information.
I pointed to David, who was still happily chatting with his new friends. “I’m here with David, my husband. This is his wedding anniversary gift to me.”
“I wish I had the opportunity to marry.” She spoke quietly, as if she was speaking to herself rather than to me.
“You have plenty of time to get married. Do not rush into marriage, believe me. You must first find the right one; otherwise, there is no point.” I was cautious.
David appeared beside me and, without a glance in Di’s direction, drew me to my feet. “Come on, we’re all getting our pictures taken at the same time.”
I turned around to find Di, but she had already left. “Hmmm… Odd.”
“What’s odd about that?” David asked as he led me to the side of the ship, where everyone else was congregating.
“I didn’t notice Di going ahead of us. That’s it.” I stated.
With a puzzled expression on his face, he looked at me. “Who’s Di?”
Now it was my turn to frown. “The woman who I was talking to while you went off with the boys.”
He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t notice you hanging out with anyone.”
He walked away without waiting for a response. I looked around the small crowd waiting for their photo to be taken, but I couldn’t find Di.
She can’t have simply vanished from the ship; she has to be somewhere.
Unless, of course, she never existed in the first place…
Something strange was clearly going on, and I didn’t like the creepy feeling that was creeping up my spine.
I shook it off and joined David in the group photo.
While we waited for one of the crew members to take a photo, the group huddled closer together.
“Are you sure you didn’t see Di at all?” I spoke softly to David.
He shook his head. “No, I didn’t. Are you sure that she’s real?”
“Yes, David. I spoke to her for at least half an hour. You must have seen her.” I urged.
He shrugged his shoulders and faced the camera, ready to smile. “Just drop it for now.”
I turned to face the camera-wielding crew member and forced a smile. A flash went off, taking my sight for a couple of seconds.
“Okay, everyone! Please pay close attention because this section is critical.” The captain appeared and motioned for us to join him. “You can put on the equipment now. I must remind you that while in the water, you must all remain in your groups. Our diving instructors, John and Mark, are here to keep you all safe, so please follow their instructions.”
Two men smiled as they approached the Captain. “Hello, my name is John, and this is Mark. Please follow us so that we can show you where to find your diving suits.”
Half an hour passed as we all crammed into our wet suits and hoisted the equipment onto our backs. John went around the groups, making sure everything was secure and functional.
Di was still nowhere to be found.
At this point, I was beginning to believe David was right and that I had imagined her. She was nowhere to be seen.
Mark stood in front of the group, explaining the dangers and what we should do if there was an issue while diving. I couldn’t pay close attention to what he was saying.
All I could think of was that I could have spent half an hour talking to myself, which was particularly embarrassing.
I could already feel my cheeks turning crimson.
“Did you get everything?” David hissed in my ear, jolting me back to the present.
I scratched my head and nodded, knowing full well that it was a complete lie. “I did, indeed.”
“Could the first group please proceed to the boat’s stern?” Mark asked while John was still inspecting the equipment.
Several people took a step forward, ready to jump into the water. John had completed his inspection of everyone’s equipment and moved forward to join the first group. He pushed his way to the front of the line and then jumped in.
His head reappeared after a few seconds. “Can the first group jump in first, then the rest of you?” Could you please form back into your groups after you jump in? Everyone must remain safe.”
Everyone obeyed and jumped in, including Dave, who was almost pushing me overboard with excitement.
As my body plunged into the sea, the water was cold but refreshing. I could feel David next to me, frantically kicking his legs in an attempt to stay afloat.
“I require everyone’s undivided attention! Can you please put on your oxygen mask and goggles right now? Then it’s time for some scuba diving! I’ll be at the front of the group, and Mark will be at the back.” John explained as he attached his goggles.
The goggles were uncomfortable against my skin, and the oxygen mask was suffocating. I wasn’t enjoying this one bit, but I could tell David was.
The oxygen tasted metallic, reminding me of being in the hospital after breaking my leg; it had the same chemical odour. The equipment was weighing me down and dragging my body deeper into the water.
As we all made our way towards the reefs at the bottom of the sea, I felt someone grab my hand. When I turned around, I saw David trying to smile through his oxygen mask. He then pointed behind me, causing me to turn around to see what he was looking at.
A swarm of small, colourful fish swam alongside us in unison, closely circling the group, curious to learn who we were. Reefs of all colours flashed before my eyes everywhere I looked.
I was astounded by the incredible beauty that existed beneath the sea’s surface. It was secluded, but there was freedom all around. There was freedom to roam, to move as I pleased.
My body felt weightless here, gliding in any direction, letting the water gently pull me along with the waves.
As we approached John, I could see the soft, diffused glow of the sun streaming through the water.
John motioned for everyone to divide into groups and go exploring. Everyone swam around for half an hour, watching the ocean come to life with different species of fish.
John and Mark gathered everyone back into a group and swam deeper into the water, with everyone close behind.
It was obvious that I wasn’t the best swimmer. Everyone else swam away, leaving me to kick my legs as hard as I could. The sea’s glassy appearance transformed into a swirling white mass, with bubbles appearing everywhere and surrounding my entire body.
I couldn’t find David anywhere. He’d vanished along with the rest of them. I swam on, attempting to catch up, but it was futile. I couldn’t see anything, and my legs were already tired.
I came to a halt and waited for the white mass of water to calm down so I could see better.
The water became silent and motionless once more, revealing the numerous reefs that surround the ocean floor.
I noticed the others and moved towards them. They went in one by one, swimming through an arched reef that led into a small cave. It appeared to be a tight squeeze to get through, but everyone appeared to be eager to follow John.
I was annoyed with David for not noticing that I wasn’t with him, but I could see that he was too preoccupied with the fish to notice anyone else.
The others swam through the arched reef, disappearing into the murky depths of the sea.
I swam on and made it to the reef in a matter of seconds, hoping to catch up to them.
The reef’s archway was narrower than I had anticipated, leaving only a small space between my oxygen tank and the roof.
There was a good chance that swimming through this would go wrong for an inexperienced like me, but I had no choice but to join the others.
I inhaled deeply and held my breath, attempting to shrink my stomach to fit through the gap.
I began to kick my legs slowly, taking care not to hit anything.
As I moved deeper into the darkness, I could hear my oxygen tank scraping against the reef’s roof. My heart was pounding, and my goggles were misting up from my sweat.
My oxygen tank suddenly jammed against a jagged piece of rock, trapping me inside the enclosed tunnel.
I was unable to move.
I was unable to scream.
I was trapped underwater with only half a tank of oxygen remaining.
Nobody was aware that I was here.
Something yanked my leg and quickly pulled me back out. There was no one there when I turned to face my enigmatic rescuer.
I searched and scanned the reefs but came up empty-handed. Dave, my husband, was nowhere to be found, and the others had long since gone.
Who was my enigmatic rescuer?
Even though I was still underwater, I could feel myself violently shaking from fear. I was terrified that I had almost drowned.
Something drew my focus back to the present moment. It fell silently to the ocean floor and landed on the sand. I swam over to take a closer look and discovered it was half-chewed tuna fish.
A chunk of its body had been ripped away, releasing a dark, inky liquid into the water.
What could possibly consume a fish and then vanish?
From the corner of my eye, something was swimming towards me. A large dark figure crept through the shadows, blending in with the royal blue water.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t even move. This figure was closing in on me, circling me as if I were prey.
As it got closer, I could see what it was.
Its razor-sharp teeth glistened in the filtered sunlight. Its black, obsidian eyes were staring deep into mine as it swam straight towards me.
Di appeared beside me and yanked my arm away from the sharks’ lethal grasp. By pointing up, she motioned for me to follow her.
I nodded, and she swam away, leaving me in her wake. I kept up with her by kicking my legs hard until we reached the water’s surface.
I yanked off my oxygen mask in a panic and gasped for fresh sea air. The boat was straight ahead, moving silently with the waves.
“You need to get out of the water,” Di said behind me.
I nodded and swam straight for the boat, yelling at the top of my lungs for help. The captain noticed me and immediately came to my aid. He gently lifted me out of the water and placed me on the deck.
“Are you all right?” “What exactly happened?” He demanded.
“There was a shark there.” I yelped. “I freaked out.”
“I’ll notify the others.” He said this as he pulled out his walkie-talkie. He held it to his mouth and pressed the button, requesting that John and Mark return to the boat.
“We shall make our way back now, over and out.” Replied a crackling voice from the walkie-talkie.
“Where’s Di?” I asked. “There was another person with me. You need to get her out.”
“There was no one else with you.” The captain looked at me, perplexed.
“She was the one that helped me escape the shark. She is still in the water. Get her out!” I shouted.
“M’am, please relax.” He pulled out his walkie-talkie once more. “Is there a woman named Di with you, John?”
There was another crackle before a voice spoke. “There is no such person as Di among us. Everyone is encountered, with the exception of the one who is with you.”
“Thank you very much, John.” The captain spoke up.
“But I’ve seen her and spoken to her.” I cried while shaking from fear.
“You’ve had quite a shock. You need to rest.” He pulled me to my feet and led me to a chair, motioning for me to sit down.
I gratefully accepted it and sat down to rest my tired legs. As I stared out to sea, I was perplexed and terrified, wondering why no one else had seen Di.
It seemed like hours had passed, but it was only a few minutes before everyone returned to the boat.
Dave rushed towards me and hugged me tightly. “Where have you been? We have all been looking for you.”
“There was a shark, but Di helped me back to the boat,” I replied.
He looked at me, perplexed. “Who is this woman you keep mentioning?”
“I spoke with her before we left the boat, and she also assisted me in avoiding a shark. ” How come no one has seen her?” I demanded.
In frustration, he shook his head and sighed. “Because she does not exist.”
I stared at him, speechless, not knowing what else to say. She has to exist. She must exist. I wasn’t talking to myself on the boat, and I didn’t escape the shark by myself.
Someone was making fun of me, and I wanted to know why.
“Get out of here, Dave. I’m not interested in speaking with you right now.” I took a step away from him and sat on the opposite side of the boat.
“Grace, please! Come back.” He called after me.
I ignored him and sat in silence the rest of the way back to dry land. My mind was filled with questions, racing back and forth with no answers.
Who was Di and where had she Gone?
Time is precious ©
By Willow Hewett
My friend slammed her car door grinning. “We have to wait for a few minutes. We are here a little earlier this year.”
I looked at her and managed a small smile back as I lifted my backpack onto my shoulders.
“Why do we have to do this walk the same time every year?” I groaned, unable to hide the irritability from my voice.
“Oh, come on, Sheila. We do this every year. It’s tradition for us now and anyway, we get to have time away from our families and enjoy the wildlife. It’s relaxing and we only do it once a year for a few hours. Stop your moaning.” She said while grabbing her backpack from the boot and dropping it onto the stony floor.
“Maybe we can change this tradition to going to a spa instead of a grueling walk through nature, Mary.” My voice echoed across the trees, sending a flurry of birds into the air from the woods.
“We can do that some other time.” Mary checked her watch again. “Let’s go.”
My feet dragged across the gravel as we made our way down the winding path and into the woods.
The path at my feet faded into the dark woodlands. The pine leaves crunched beneath my feet, some were lodged into the wet mud that lined the path. The wind swayed the branches of the trees gently, making some of the autumn leaves float slowly to the ground, adding to the ever growing pile of wet leaves on the sides of the pathway.
I could hear the birds chirping loudly as I gazed up into the blue sky that appeared through the cracks of the tree leaves. The sun felt warm, but the breeze that crept its way down the woodlands pathway was cold, making me shiver in my big blue winter’s coat.
We headed for the core of the woodland area.
The woodland seemed ominously quiet. We paused a little to catch our breath, hearing only our breathing and a slight sound coming from behind.
I turned and looked behind me, noticing a baby deer passing through the trees and heading down a slight hill into the depth of the woods.
“Did you bring the picnic?” I asked, turning back to face Mary.
“It’s all in my bag, including the cups and cutlery this time as you forgot last year,” She chuckled. “At least we don’t have to eat out of our hands this time.”
A smile grew from my lips. “It wasn’t too bad.”
I shifted my backpack a little while we carried on walking. A rattling sound came from Mary’s bag as it bumped against her back.
I looked ahead smiling to myself. It was so beautiful here. The autumn colours of the leaves clashed together, lining the pathway with speckles of orange, yellow and red. Every time the breeze blew a flutter of leaves came down like a colourful rain. The undergrowth made the path look shaggy and the rain from the day before left muddy pools of water, which Mary decided to splash through, sending muddy water flying onto my newly washed jeans.
I grumbled under my breath as we walked on further, dodging the large anchored roots of the trees as they stuck out slightly from beneath the dirt.
“Have you noticed that it looks a bit different here this year?” I asked.
Mary looked around. “You’re right. I think someone has had a clear up here recently.”
“How long have we been walking for now?” I asked noticing the sun moving its way slowly down behind the trees.
Mary took out her phone and looked at the screen. “About an hour and a half I think. We should stop for some food soon.”
She popped the phone back into her jacket pocket. “The good thing about being here is that there is no signal, so my husband can’t ring me up every five minutes asking where something is.” She laughed loudly.
“It’s nice to have time away.” I replied. “Did you ever find out who Anna was in his contacts?”
Mary shook her head. “I don’t really want to talk about that Sheila. That conversation is better left for when we have our monthly drinks at yours.”
I took her hand and smiled warmly. “Whenever you want to talk about it, I will be here waiting and I won’t push you into it, I promise.”
She nodded slightly, in thought. “Thanks.”
The pathway started to open up a little making room to walk side by side. Mary matched her footsteps with mine as we walked further on noticing another little pathway heading west down the hill, deeper into the woods.
“There’s a new path.” I said as we stopped at the beginning of the scruffy looking pathway.
“Looks like someone made a short cut. Let’s go this way and then stop for some food.” She said.
We made our way through the undergrowth and deeper into the woods. There was a small sign up ahead entwined in ivy, making it harder for me to read.
“what does it say?” Mary asked intrigued.
“Some of the letters have faded but I think it says warning and something else but I cannot read it properly.” I replied.
“I wonder what the warning is.” She murmured.
I shrugged my shoulders and carried on walking past the faded sign.
Another hour went by while we sat down to eat the picnic, chatting away, catching up with each other’s lives.
The sun had now disappeared fully behind the trees casting ghostly shadows across the woods.
“We need to head back Mary. It’s getting dark and I don’t want to get lost in here.” I chuckled to her nervously.
I didn’t want to admit to her that I was quite afraid of the dark still.
“I just need the toilet and then we shall head back. Stop getting worried, Sheila. We won’t get lost. I know my way.” Mary said whilst scanning the area for the perfect place to crouch.
“Well hurry up, woman. I want to leave.” I replied.
A loud howl came from deep inside the woods, sending a shudder through my body.
“It’s probably just a wolf. They are known in these woods. There could be bears too!” She laughed.
“Just hurry up and don’t get eaten by animals.” I growled.
She nodded and headed off into some bushes laughing.
A few minutes went by as I listened to the sounds of the woods. More and more animal noises started to venture out from their hiding places.
“Hurry up! Otherwise we won’t be able to see as it’s getting dark!” I shouted at her.
“I’m coming!” She called back.
A loud snap, followed by a horrific scream came from behind the bushes, making my whole body jump violently.
“Are you ok?” I called to her.
Another terrifying scream came from behind the bush, making me spring into action. I jumped up and rushed towards her.
“Mary!” I shouted.
She was leaning against a nearby tree screaming. Her face looked contorted with agonising pain. She was sweating profusely and had beads of sweat dribbling down her forehead. I looked down at her left foot realising that it was trapped in a bear trap. The claws of the trap dug deep into her flesh making blood pour out from the wound.
“Help me!” She screeched.
“Oh no, ok. Ok. Let’s try and release your foot.” Panic arose rapidly inside as I tried to stay calm.
I felt sick.
Her deafening screams sounded like an animal. She was shaking violently while she watched me try and pull back the trap to release her foot.
She screamed even more with her horrible wailing.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” I cried.
“You can’t release it! Go and get help quickly!” She wailed.
“Ok. Ok. But I don’t know where I am going!” I said.
“Just follow the path and hurry up! Find some signal and call someone! Quickly!” She cried.
“I will be back as soon as I can!” I stammered.
I stumbled out from behind the bush and ran back through the way we came. Twigs and branches lashed at my face as I swiped them away whilst running as fast as my body could take me.
The darkness was creeping in fast making it harder to find my way to the main path.
I pulled my phone out from my pocket and dialled the emergency number.
There was still no signal.
“Come on! Come on!” I screeched.
I ran on further through the woods still trying to get through to someone on the phone.
I wasn’t looking to where I was going and I realised just then that there was no footpath beneath my feet anymore, only the woodland earth.
Time seemed to stand still as I looked around in the darkness trying to search frantically for the small path.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, I had gotten through to the emergency services.
I managed to state where we were and what had happened but the signal was very bad. The call had disconnected and I could not get through again.
I just hoped that they were going to send someone.
Now it was time to try and find Mary.
I could no longer hear her screams, only the sounds of nearby animals howling.
“Mary! Mary!” I screamed loudly into the night air.
There was no reply.
I pulled out my phone again and turned on the torch.
It wasn’t much but it was enough to light my way.
My heart was thumping loudly inside. My lungs were burning and my legs felt like jelly.
More time had flown by as I tried to search for Mary’s whereabouts.
The howling and growling from whatever it was out there grew louder and louder.
I finally managed to find the faded sign again and followed the path back down to where we had sat down for lunch.
“Mary! Mary!” I shouted again.
I pushed through the bush from where I had left her and found nothing but a pool of blood.
I pulled the bush back even more to take a closer look, only to find that her leg was still in the trap and a trail of blood looked like that it was moving away from where she last stood. I started to follow the trail of blood which led me deeper into the woods.
“Mary!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
My stomach clenched with fear and panic.
I could hear growling and scurrying from nearby.
I rushed towards the sound while shining my torch in front of me.
The light of the torch was met by an enormous wolf’s face covered in blood. I could see a mound of hair on the floor behind him which was the same colour as Mary’s. His yellow eyes glinted off the light as he glared at me and growled. Four more wolves appeared beside him also covered in bright red blood. Shreds of flesh hung from their teeth. They looked wild and ravenous.
They stared at me, curious to know who I was.
I stepped back carefully, trying not to make any noise.
A twig snapped beneath my foot.
“Oh my gosh.” I whispered.
Night Stalker ©
By willow Hewett ©️
The street seemed eerie and deserted as I made my way towards my apartment, which was situated on the other end of town.
I had attended a friend’s birthday party full of merry-making with a couple of other friends.
The party was fun and full of laughter, but we all had a bit too much to drink, so everyone had decided to order taxis to get home. I didn’t order a taxi as I could not afford to splash out the cash.
I was stupid enough to think that I could walk the 2 miles home by myself in high heels. My feet were aching so much that I had to take them off and walk barefoot for the rest of the way.
I knew I should have ordered a taxi I thought to myself as I made my way down another cold and dark empty street. I only had the street lamps to light my way, giving me only a little comfort and even then they only projected a slight aura of light throughout the deserted street.
My feet slapped against the pavement sending a loud echo throughout the darkened night.
The only signs of life seemed to reside from a few apartment windows above casting an eerie glow across the pavement, making my shadow look elongated and stretched.
The mannequins from the storefronts watched me as I walked past their decorative displays.
Puddles of water from the rain pour the night before shimmered off of the moonlight.
A few of the trees that lined the pavement swayed slightly in the cold breeze, sending a flurry of autumn coloured leaves to the road below.
A car sped quickly past me, its tires screeching across the tarmac of the road, whilst its deafening music blasted from the speakers.
Although the music was annoying, It did give me a little comfort that I was not completely alone.
A few seconds later the music stopped and the car disappeared, sending the street into a lifeless silence again.
I turned the corner onto another secluded street. My feet started to freeze from the cold cracked pavement beneath me as I quickened my pace.
I looked into the reflection of a storefront window as I passed, noticing a dark silhouette on the opposite side of the road staring straight at me.
My heart started to pace faster as the sound of footsteps started to approach me from behind.
I clutched my bag tightly to my chest not looking back and grabbed my apartment keys from the little pocket inside my jacket.
I placed one of the keys between my knuckles for protection as I had nothing else to protect myself in case anything happened.
I quickened my pace again and the footsteps behind me also sped up to match my pace.
I knew the procedure for being stalked by an unknown assailant as I saw a news article about it a few weeks ago.
1- Make sure that they are following you by quickening your pace and slowing down to see if their pace matches yours.
2- If you have nothing to protect yourself then use your keys and place them in between your knuckles in case you are attacked.
3- Find the nearest public place and call for assistance but do not make your assailant know that you know they are following you.
That was all that I could remember from the article, but I knew that that was enough for me to know that the situation I had found myself in was very dangerous.
Unfortunately at this time of night, there were very few open places, which made it even harder for me to find a safe place.
So I crossed the road to the other side of the pavement with my heart pounding so loudly in my chest, that it was difficult to hear the footsteps creeping ever so close behind me.
I was only 10 minutes away from home but it felt more like an eternity for me.
Anything could happen in 10 minutes.
The dark silhouette followed me to the other side of the road, which made it quite clear that I was being followed.
I turned to my right and then to my left, trying to find a way to get out of this terrifying situation.
I knew that if I led this assailant to my house then he would know where I live, which made me panic even more.
Terror and fear coursed throughout my body. My hands were shaking, but not from the cold breeze, it was from adrenalin running through my veins.
Where should I go?
There was nowhere else to go which would be safe for me apart from my home.
Even though he would know where I live, I would be safe and secure, as he would not be able to get in.
I could make out that I lived with someone who would push the assailant away.
There was only one problem.
The only way to get to my apartment is to pass through a narrow alleyway to get to the other side of the street, which was situated at the end of this road.
The pavement ahead looked so unfamiliar in the darkness that it was hard to distinguish the start of the alleyway, even though I walk this way most days to work.
I walked on briskly, trying my hardest not to take a look over my shoulder at him. I could still hear his footsteps from behind, but now they started to sound more like a scuffling sound than footsteps themselves.
My senses start to widen. I listened intently to his scuffling footsteps as I hustled on through the cold night, edging closer towards my safety.
Just another few minutes and I will be there.
The entrance of the alleyway ahead looked dark and foreboding, but I knew that I had to go through it to get home.
I should not have to feel like this. I should not have to feel scared and threatened whilst I walk home. I should not need to carry something for protection, especially in this day and age.
But unfortunately, the world is full of bad people as well as good.
The sound of footsteps came closer.
Anger started to rise inside me as thoughts whirled themselves around inside my mind.
I got to the front entrance of the alleyway and stopped to look over my shoulder to see who was following me, even though I knew that I shouldn’t have taken a look.
Nothing but an empty street lay before me.
Where was my assailant?
Fear groped my throat, as here I was standing in front of a dark alleyway in the early hours of the morning with no shoes on, and only a light jacket over my cocktail dress to keep me warm.
I was a walking target.
I should have gotten a taxi.
It’s too late now.
I must carry on and get home.
Paranoia started to rear its ugly head as I took my first step into the dark and dank alleyway.
The alley looked narrow and exceedingly dirty. There were large dumpsters full of flowing cardboard boxes and other debris falling out. The rank odour coming from the dumpsters assaulted my nostrils, making me hold my breath as I took another step into the alley.
The more steps that I would take, the more the alley would echo my footsteps back to me as if it was mocking my paranoid behaviour, copying the sound of the assailant’s footsteps. It made me look over my shoulder multiple times to see if I was still being followed but it was only the taunting echoes of my footsteps as I walked.
I took another step and then another until I realised that I was already halfway through.
The alley starts to elongate in my mind, making me hurry down the narrow stretch even faster.
Was that another set of footsteps that I can hear?
I stopped in my tracks and listened carefully to the approaching footsteps.
There was definitely someone else here with me and not just the taunting echoes from the alley.
I carried on through the alley but this time I ran as fast as my legs could carry me and didn’t look back once.
I could see the light streaming into the alley coming from the headlamp from across the street.
I was nearly there.
The footsteps behind were getting closer and were now sprinting at full force towards me.
The apartment buildings above me loomed over my head looking dark, oppressive, and shadowy as if they were arching over us, watching to see who wins the race.
I ran out of the ally and straight towards my apartment with haste. My apartment looked so warm and welcoming. It was the only building on my street with a light still on.
I had accidently left the bedroom light on before I had left earlier, which I suppose goes in my favour as it looks like someone is already home.
My heartfelt as if it was about to jump out of my mouth. My throat burned, screaming at me to stop running. I felt nauseous as the cocktails that I had drunk earlier sloshed and turned around inside my stomach, mixing its own form of cocktail.
The apartment complexes in front of me looked like they were moulding into one big building. They looked so pushed together with little room to manoeuvre, apart from a small but neat looking pathway leading out onto the pavement.
My apartment was on the third floor.
I ran up the pathway and yanked open the front door leading into the foyer that led to either the large staircase or to the lifts that were neatly tucked into the corner.
I chose the lift as I didn’t think my legs would be able to take me any further.
I hurried towards the lift and pressed the button which was illuminated with green light.
The foyer door opened behind me.
“Please open!” I screeched to the lift as terrified tears ran down both cheeks.
Finally, the lift doors squealed opened and I ran in. I punched the button for the third floor and waited for the doors to close.
I looked up at the mirror situated at the back of the lift, feeling a sense that someone was watching me.
There he was, standing in the middle of the foyer dressed in a dark hooded jacket and black jogging bottoms, staring straight at me.
The lift doors started to close slowly.
He sprinted towards me at a fast pace with an evil glint in his eyes.
“No!” I screamed.
The lift doors opened on the third floor, but no one was there.
The Writer Of Death ©
By Willow Hewett
The bright yellow cab came to a screeching halt, splashing droplets of water across the sidewalk. I could hear the rumbling of the exhaust as I gave the taxi man his money. He huffed quietly under his breath while he counted the crumpled up bank notes.
The cab felt so warm and welcoming inside, unlike the outside, which was a blistering cold breeze that blew the dying leaves from the trees into the wind. The harsh wind sliced through the open gap of the cab window and whipped into my already dry chapped lips.
I didn’t want to venture out into the freezing cold, nor did I want to stay in here with this creepy looking cab driver.
“Would you like some help with your luggage?” He asked.
His voice sounded so crackly, like dead leaves. He wore an old baseball cap on his head which covered up his greying hair. He wore stained baggy clothes, making him look unkempt and shaggy.
“Yes please.” I murmured under my thick woollen scarf.
He nodded slowly, heaving his podgy body out of the cab and hobbled round to the boot of the car.
I could hear him grunting to himself as I got out and joined him round the back to retrieve my luggage from his grasp.
Crunchy autumn leaves lined the sidewalk, some slightly wet from the rain that had poured down from the evening before.
“Is this your new home then?” The cab driver huffed.
“Yes it is. It’s a shared house. I’m saving up for an apartment here, so for the time being this will have to do.” I said whilst looking up at the old building.
The three storey building looked quite weather beaten but somewhat dilapidated. It was particularly beautiful, yet dark and hulking. The building was of a dark grey and stood out from the rest of the apartments that were attached to each side. The windows looked narrow and dingy, with a slight balcony sticking out from each one, surrounded by an old gnarled iron railing.
The roof was full of stone slates that joined up into the middle, making an unusually high point for this type of building. I could see a small chimney sticking out from the side of the roof, emitting a dark, blackening smoke which was quickly dispersing into the chilly wind. The last of the sun rays glinted off of the small attic window that loomed above us.
It was as if someone had pulled a quirky looking building out of a bohemian gothic painting and plonked it straight in the middle of a modern looking street.
A wooden plaque which was attached above the door stated ‘Built in 1888’ in faded gold letters.
Two dark grey pillars stood before the large black wooden door with a huge iron knocker attached to it. A shiny gold post box on the front door stood out from the bleak colours of the building.
It looked abandoned, yet well kept as if it was a snippet of history caught in time.
This was 1988, so it was very weird to see a house like this still standing, as a lot of them were pulled down to make room for tower blocks.
“I didn’t know that this building was occupied again.” The cab driver stated.
“Well I hope so, otherwise we have the wrong house.” I laughed nervously.
“Better make sure before I drive off as there isn’t a telephone box for a few blocks.” He warned.
I nodded and made my way up the narrow gravelly path and onto the stone steps that led to the front door.
I grasped the large front door knocker and slammed it down as hard as I could. I could see a dark silhouette appear from behind the frosted glass pane of the door whilst I waited outside in the freezing cold weather.
“Come in!” A woman’s voice shouted from behind the door.
I pushed the door open with little effort and walked in slowly. An eerie feeling crept its way up my spine as I made my way into the large open lobby.
The inside of the building looked just as gothic as the exterior outside,.There was hardly a shed of colour throughout the room, apart from different tones of grey. An old chandelier hung low from the ceiling, casting a warming light across the large lobby. A large set of winding stairs was situated in the back of the lobby that must lead to the first floor. The stairs were of a shiny white marble with a sleek looking banister on each side.
A large black wooden mirror occupied most of the wall at the back which bounced back the light that came through the window from the front door. Onto my left was a doorway leading into a room that looked like a dining room and to my right was also another door which was shut. In front of me the lobby led behind the staircase and into what looked like the kitchen, which had out of date appliances. It felt as if I had stepped back in time with a mix of all sorts of era’s jumbled up into a house. I looked around, while admiring the vintage beauty of the place, but I also couldn’t help but think how strange and unusual this place looked.
I did not like the feeling of the house at all. It was as if my senses could pick up on something that my eyes could not see.
And where did the person behind the door go?
They could not have moved that quickly without me noticing them.
A young woman with brown pin-curled hair appeared at the top of the landing with her arms crossed. She wore bright red lipstick and winged eyeliner to show off her elegant face. She pouted her big lips while staring at me suspiciously and I also noticed that she was dressed in clothes that were thirty years out of date.
I looked down at the vibrant mix of bright colours that I wore and noticed how different our styles were from each other.
“Who are you?” She demanded.
“My name is Sara. I’m the new tenant of room 5.” I replied.
“You’re a week early.” She stated. “But never mind as you are here now.”
I stared at her confused, as I knew that this was the right date that she had stated in her letter that I had received from her a few weeks ago.
“I shall be leaving now.” The cab driver said while dumping my luggage into the main entrance of the house.
He didn’t wait for a reply and walked off towards his cab, glancing over his shoulder once with a look of concern etched onto his face.
“Shut the door you are letting the heat out.” The woman moaned.
I did as I was told and slammed the door shut behind me.
“Are you the lady I spoke to over the phone?” I asked.
“I am.” She nodded. “So you already know that the first month’s rent is free and then after that you will pay by cash to me or Elizabeth who is in room 1 at the very top of the second floor.”
“That is fine.” I muttered.
“Depending how long you will stay here for, you may only see Elizabeth a few times, as she keeps to herself and does not mix with the other ladies who also reside here. All you need to do is to slot the rent money underneath her door in an envelope with your name on. You already know my name, so there is no need for me to introduce myself.” She explained.
The eerie feeling that I had felt started to return again as I stared up at Maria while remembering what the cab man had said earlier about no one occupying this house.
Maria had stated in her letter that she and a few of the other tenants had been living here for a while, so why would the cab man say that he didn’t realise that this place was occupied again?
Nothing made sense and it felt like the cab driver knew something about this house that I didn’t know of. It was as if he didn’t want to say anything and he left pretty quickly afterwards. I didn’t like the feel from Maria, or from my new home, but I knew that I could not back out now as this was the cheapest place that I could find within my budget.
“I shall show you to your room.” She said motioning for me to follow her.
I picked up my luggage and struggled my way up the stone marble stairs that led to the first floor.
A large hand drawn painting of a pretty woman dressed in a purple Victorian dress was hung up just outside my room. There was a small wooden plaque underneath the painting that stated ‘Elizabeth 1860-1888’. Underneath the painting was a small table that held a large gold and black vase with fresh blue roses soaking inside.
I didn’t think you could get blue roses, but here they were sending a splash of colour throughout the hallway.
“Who is the lady in the painting?” I asked Maria.
She stopped in her tracks and looked at the painting with admiration.
“That is Elizabeth. She is a relation of room 1. This house was owned by her and She was also a writer.” Maria smiled and stroked the painting lightly with her fingers.
After a few seconds she stepped away from the painting and took out a bunch of old looking keys from her pocket.
“You will have your own key which will be given to you later. The room is all yours and you can also use the facilities down stairs, but I must ask that you clean up afterwards. Dinner is at 6pm sharp.” She said whilst unlocking the room.
“So we all have to eat together?” I asked.
“Didn’t you receive my letter of instructions before you came here?” she questioned raising her eyebrows.
“I thought that that was a joke.” I replied.
She shook her head slightly and opened the door.
“No, Sara. That was not a joke. My instructions were quite clear before you agreed to rent this room. We shall all eat dinner together at 6pm, cooked fresh each day by room 2. I am the designated one to collect the groceries from the front porch when they get delivered weekly. If you have any special requirements then please don’t hesitate to talk to room 2. The laundry is done each week by room 5, which is you. Room 1 is always the one to sort out the bills, which is Elizabeth. Room 4 is also a newbie too but her job is to keep the garden out the back tidy. Room 6’s job is to maintain the property. I could go on with the other roommates but you get my gist. I have written all this down for you. Do I need to write it out again?” She warned.
“No, you don’t need to.” I murmured.
“Good. We all have chores to do Sara, so it makes sense for each of us to be designated to one chore each.” She explained.
“I suppose it makes sense.” I replied while looking around my new home.
The room looked quite large with a master four poster bed situated in the middle, entwined with purple fabric that had been tied with gold rope around each post. There were two antique looking wooden bed side tables by each side of the bed with identical porcelain lamps resting on top.
To the back of the room, underneath the dingy looking window a desk lay with a pile of old leather bound books resting on top, sat next to a type writer.
Heavy purple fabric curtains had been tied back with more gold rope which framed perfectly around the window.
The carpet looked old and straggly with dark green faded patterns, mixed with a year’s worth of dark red stains. An old Victorian wardrobe rested against the back wall with a chest of drawers looking very close in resemblance situated next to it. A strange smell mixed with dust and decay reached my nose, making me sneeze loudly.
“It’s not much but I’m sure you can make it more homely for yourself. Every room has been provided with a typewriter, as every tenant that resides here is a writer.” She smiled sweetly and started to walk out of the room before she turned and added. “I have a word of warning to you Sara. The front door will be locked from 9am-8pm as we allow no visitors here, nor do we allow people to come and go as they please.”
“What if I need to go out?” I asked in shock.
“This is Elizabeth’s instructions Sara. Not mine. This was all stated to you in a letter before you accepted the room to rent. You have accepted this room have you not?” She asked sternly.
I could not back out now, otherwise I would be on the streets without a home I thought to myself. I will stay here until I can find another place to live.
I suppose I will have to abide by the rules whilst saving up for a better apartment.
“I shall stay.” I nodded reluctantly.
“At least this will give you time to write as much as you need to. You write for the newspaper don’t you?” She asked, yawning slightly as if she was already bored of our conversation.
“Yes, but I’ve only just started, so it will take a while to build myself up as a proper writer.” I explained to her.
“You will have time here to do your work in peace. Elizabeth only likes to have tenants that are writers, as we spend most of our time working in our rooms and we don’t make a racket. It won’t take too long to get up to speed with New York. I’m sure you will be fine. All you have to do is use the typewriter and write out the best you can for the newspaper. I can then send them off for you” She offered.
“May I ask you something before you go?” I questioned. “Why are there so many rules here?”
“The lady of the house likes to have order and if you are so serious about writing for a living, then the rules would not matter to you.” She said.
I was taken-aback and didn’t particularly know what to say back to her.
“So I have to abide by every rule that this woman that I haven’t even met has made?” I protested.
“If you want to live here, then yes you do. Anyway dinner is at 6pm, so I will see you then” She shrugged her shoulders and walked out of the room, leaving the room in total silence.
Something seemed very strange with this place and I really didn’t like the feel of it at all. Maria was a very strange character indeed, but not as strange as what I’ve heard about Elizabeth. I hope that there was one normal person here who would show me a little kindness.
I sat down onto the edge of the bed and sighed loudly.
This was not what I had imagined of coming to the city. I thought that I would have a sleek modern apartment, where I could use my time to write as much as I needed and to go out when I pleased.
Being here was like being at summer camp when I was younger, with curfews and not being able to go anywhere without adult supervision.
This was the 80’s and the time of keeping women at home was changing rapidly for the better. We had jobs now and we could basically do what we wanted, but this place was as if it was stuck in time.
“Hello?” A voice called out from the hallway.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
A girls head appeared around the corner of my door smiling. She had bleached blonde, straight hair with a long oval face. Her big blue eyes were the first feature that I had noticed, as they were the colour of the deep blue sea. She looked very tall and slender as she walked into my room. She could be classed as a supermodel, especially with the stylish clothes that she was wearing. At least her clothes looked more modern and up to date than Maria’s.
“You must be Sara. My name is Megan and I moved in here a few weeks ago.” She introduced herself.
“So you must know more than I do about the rules here then?” I laughed lightly.
She nodded giggling and came closer into the room while shutting the door behind her.
“There are so many rules, that I have forgotten most of them.” She said.
“What do you make of the place?” I asked intrigued.
Her smile disappeared in exchange for a look of concern.
“Well to put it quite simple. This is the weirdest place that I have ever lived. The room mates are nice enough, but are quite weird and everything in this place is an antique.” She explained.
She came in and sat down beside me on my bed.
“That’s what I was thinking too. Even the phone downstairs is ancient.” I muttered.
“I know right. It’s totally weird, but it will have to do for the time being.” Megan added.
“What do you think of the front door being locked?” I asked.
She glanced sideways at me with a stern expression.
“That is the worst part about living here. I suppose it does help me write more, but it also feels as if we are in prison as well.” She said.
She got up from the bed and looked out of the window to the street below.
“I don’t understand why there are so many rules.” I sighed loudly.
“The rent is cheap though, so it does give me time to save up for another place. The only thing that annoys me is I have to type everything out on a typewriter and then give it to Maria to be sent off. We are not allowed to use the phone downstairs until after 8pm and if we need to search for any information for our writing then we have to ask Maria to be able to go into the library downstairs to use the books. The books are so out of date, that there is no point in using them. Some of them even date back to the early 1900’s.The front door is locked, so we can’t even go to the public library. ” She moaned whilst tracing her finger along the typewriter.
“How long have the others been living here for?” I asked her.
She turned to face me and shrugged her shoulders while leaning herself against the desk.
“Apparently they have been here for years and they love it here. I can tell that Maria hasn’t left this place for ages as her style is so out of date. The girl in room 2 still wears clothes from the 1920’s.” She then added. “Do you want to know what the weirdest thing about this place is?”
I nodded and joined her at the window.
“Ever since I moved here, I have been having nightmares each night about the stories that I write coming true. It’s totally weird and the dreams are always so vivid as well.” She explained.
“That is weird. I would not want to dream about my stories as even though I write for a newspaper, I also write short horror stories as well.” I laughed nervously.
“That’s what the genre of my stories is as well. They are a mix of horror and thriller. That’s why my dreams are so scary and they seem so real.” She muttered underneath her breath.
“I suppose we will just have to save up and then move again as I don’t want to stay here. This place is already giving me the creeps.” I replied.
“ Exactly. We shall just have to deal with the weirdness of this place for the time being. I may even add this place into one of my horror stories!” She giggled loudly.
“That’s a good idea! I may join you on that one!” I laughed with her.
Megan looked at her watch and gasped.
“We need to go downstairs for dinner. If we are late then Maria can get quite upset about it!” She squeaked.
She then grabbed my hand and dragged me downstairs towards the dining room.
Megan stopped outside the door that led into the dining room and spoke quietly “Do not make any jokes and you only start eating when Maria picks up her knife and fork. I was taught that rule the first evening that I was here as she had a massive anger fit when I picked up my cutlery and nearly stabbed her fork into my hand.”
I nodded feeling slightly disturbed with what Megan had just said and followed her reluctantly into the dining room, where they were all waiting for us in silence.
The first thing that I could notice about the room was the huge crystal chandelier that hovered above the main table. The crystals glinted off of the light sending flurries of little sparkles across the room.
The table in the middle had a red table cloth over it, with a silver candle holder in the middle. There were four, red velvet chairs on each side and one on each of the ends of the table. The table was filled with steaming hot plates of delicious looking food and wine glasses filled to the brim with a bright red liquid.
The red curtains at the back were closed tightly, shutting out the remaining evening light from outside.
Maria was sat at the end of the table in front of a large book case, filled with old leather bound books that looked as if they had seen better days.
There were six other women sitting at the table, all looking gloomy and bleak. They all wore the same expression, until they noticed that we had arrived and started to smile in our direction, apart from Maria.
“You are late.” Maria growled.
“Sorry we were talking and forgot about the time.” Megan replied, perching her bum onto one of the chairs.
I was about to pull up the chair opposite Maria until she clicked her fingers loudly, stopping me in my tracks.
“That is where the lady of the house sits Sara. You can sit next to Alicia.” She said pointing to the woman with jet black curly hair.
“When do we get to meet Elizabeth?” I asked as I pulled the chair out and sat down.
“Elizabeth will appear when she wants to. As I said to you earlier Sara, she likes to stay in her room.” Maria stated.
“So why do we have to all sit down for a meal and she can stay in her room?” I burst out before I could stop myself.
“Because she is the lady of the house and she makes the rules.” She said through gritted teeth while glaring at me from across the table.
Megan kicked my leg underneath the table to stop me from talking any more.
“Pick a plate and thank our good chef for the delicious meal.” Maria commanded.
I did as I was told and picked up the plate that was sat the nearest to me. I remembered what Megan had said and waited for Maria to pick up her knife and fork.
“You may begin.” Maria stated while picking up her cutlery.
My stomach grumbled loudly as I shovelled the first fork full of food into my mouth. The rich flavours exploded inside, sending off an earthy vibe from the food. It tasted tangy, yet smoky, making me want to eat more.
I shovelled another fork full in and then another, as if I couldn’t get enough of the flavour.
“I suggest you take a drink before you choke.” The lady spoke up next to me.
I agreed with her and took a large swig of the Red liquid inside my wine glass.
It tasted fruitier than red wine, but it was still very delicious.
“This is amazing.” I said.
Maria looked up from her plate and smiled meekly.
“Jean is our cook, so thank her.” She advised.
“Thank you Jean. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The food is lovely.” I replied.
A small smile escaped Jeans lips as she lifted her glass for a toast.
“To our new tenant.” She announced.
The others also raised their glasses and chorused together. “To our new tenant.”
My cheeks grew red with embarrassment as I lifted my glass joining in with the toast.
“Where is Daisy? Shouldn’t she be here too?” Megan asked.
“Daisy left first thing this morning.” Maria declared.
“She would have told me if she was moving out.” Megan went on. “She wouldn’t just get up and leave without saying goodbye.”
“Daisy had a job opportunity in the next city, so she had to leave as soon as possible.” Maria responded quickly.
“Did she leave a number?” Megan pressed.
Maria slammed her hand onto the table in frustration, sending a shiver of shock through all of us.
“No she did not leave a number Megan. She left and took all of her stuff with her this morning. Maybe she didn’t say goodbye to you because you both may not have been as close as you would like to think.” She smirked.
“I don’t know how close you could be, especially if you were sleeping with them.” Megan spat back.
Maria dropped her fork onto the plate in shock. Her face turned to a ghostly white as she just stared at Megan from across the table in disbelief.
“That type of behaviour is not allowed in this house. Make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” Maria glared at her with cold foreboding eyes.
“There wasn’t anything stated in the rules about it. Besides she would have left her number for me and would have said goodbye, instead of just disappearing like that.” Megan stated.
“That’s enough! She has gone, so deal with it!” Maria screeched loudly.
The room fell into a hostile silence and no one decided to speak for a good few minutes, until Maria clinked her glass with her fork.
“After dinner we shall all retire to our rooms to carry on with our writing. Any finished work should be handed to me first thing tomorrow morning.” Maria spoke firmly.
She pushed back her chair and stood up. Her plate looked only half eaten and her glass was left untouched. She bowed down and did a little curtsey, before promptly leaving the room without saying another word.
“I don’t believe that Daisy would just leave like that. She would have left me a goodbye note or something.” Megan whispered to me.
“What do you think happened?” I whispered back.
“I’m not sure Sara, but this place is starting to give me the creeps. We need to check out her room to see if Daisy did take all of her belongings like Maria stated.” Megan hinted.
“We need to get the key to her room.” I nodded in agreement.
“Maria has a copy of all the keys in the house, so all we need to do is sneak into her room and grab them. Are you up for that?” Megan dared.
I was already starting to get a bad feeling about this plan as it sounded so easy, but I had a strong feeling that Maria was a light sleeper and it could go terribly wrong.
“What if we get caught?” I asked.
“We won’t get caught if we tread carefully Sara. We shall do it tonight, as I don’t think that I could wait until tomorrow.” Megan pleaded with me through her eyes.
“Ok fine.” I reluctantly said.
We both got up from the table and left the other girls chattering away to each other, not noticing that we had both left.
“So the plan is that we sneak into her room whilst she is sleeping, grab the keys and then unlock Daisy’s door. We then put the keys back where we found them, so she won’t notice.” Megan instructed.
“What if her door is locked?” I questioned her.
She shook her head disagreeing and headed up the stairs to the first floor.
“She doesn’t lock her door during the night. She only locks it if she is not in there.” She replied.
“I’m starting to panic already Megan and we haven’t even started yet.” I stammered.
“Don’t worry, Sara. It will all work out, I promise. You panic too much.” She joked.
We stopped outside my door and listened to see if there were any noises coming from upstairs. There was a light sound of footsteps walking back from what sounded like the bathroom.
“We shall wait another hour and then head up there. Wait for me outside your door and don’t make any noise.” Megan ordered and then left me to go to her room.
Although I had an hour to prepare myself, I already felt a low sense of dread creeping its way up from the pit of my stomach. My hands started to shake as I crept quietly into my room. The place was in darkness and it was hard to see where I was going. Whilst I was fumbling for the light switch, I noticed a tall dark figure standing next to the window.
My heart leapt into my throat as I slapped the wall in panic, trying to grasp the light switch. The figure moved into the moonlight that streamed in from outside, lighting the left side of it up. The figure was of a woman, dressed in a long purple Victorian dress with dark brown hair, which was pinned back into a tight bob. I could not see her face, but she looked like the exact resemblance of the woman in the painting that was hung outside in the hallway.
After about a minute of trying to find the light switch, my hand had finally come across it. The room lit up suddenly as I turned the switch on. The figure was gone, leaving only a slight lavender smell behind.
This house was starting to scare me.
Megan was right. This house was creepy and most of the tenants were weird and unnaturally eerie. I think Megan is the only normal one out of all of them.
I decided to sit on the edge of bed, leaving my luggage still in their cases and wait for Megan to arrive. I did not want unpack any of my suitcases in case that if we find something bad in Daisy’s room, then I would want to get out of here as quickly as possible.
The hour went by quickly and before I knew it the time was 11PM. Megan was where she said that she would be, but this time she was dressed in a set of blue silk pyjamas with fluffy slippers that matched.
“Are you ready?” She quietly asked.
I nodded and followed her out of the room and towards the next set of stairs that led upstairs to the second floor.
“I’m hoping that everyone will be asleep by now.” I whispered.
She stopped in her tracks and carefully listened to see if there were any more noises that could be heard.
There was nothing but silence.
“Let’s keep moving.” Megan hissed and carried on walking up the stairs.
The closer we would get to Maria’s room, the more I would start to panic. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and beads of sweat started to appear upon my forehead. I felt very uncomfortable and quite frankly very scared to be a part of this absurd plan.
“You need to quieten your breathing, Sara.” Megan hissed over her shoulder.
“I can’t help it! I’m scared!” I muttered underneath my breath.
There it was. Room 3, which was situated at the far end of the hallway, looking gloomy and unwelcoming as the hallway light had been switched off.
“You need to stick to this side as there is a broken floorboard around that bit and it will creak if you step on it.” Megan insisted as she pulled me behind her.
We crept our way to Maria’s room without making a noise and stood outside, waiting for each other to take the first step into her room.
“You can go as you are the smallest, and if you need to hide, then it will be easier for you as my body is longer than yours.” Megan instructed.
“Uh-uh, no way am I going in there. This was your idea.” I argued.
“I’m too tall! She would be able to see me if she wakes up. I will stand here and watch her for you and if she does catch us then I will say that I had pushed you into it.” She promised.
I reluctantly grasped the handle and twisted it until it opened. I slowly eased the door open and took a step inside. I could hardly see anything at all because the room was in pitch black, so I had to wait for a couple of seconds until my eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“They should be on her desk over there.” Megan whispered behind me.
I made my way over to the desk without making a noise and spotted the bunch of keys sitting next to a typewriter, which looked identical to the one that I had in my room.
I tried to carefully pick up the keys but they made a loud jangly noise which echoed down the hallway. Luckily I didn’t hear Maria stir so I carried on tiptoeing back out of the room. My heart was beating so fast and I was now sweating profusely.
“Hold on a second. She is not even in here.” Megan realised.
She opened the door as wide as it would go and stormed into the room, letting the light from the hallway stream in. She lifted the covers from Maria’s bed to double check that she wasn’t there.
She was right, Maria was not there, nor was she in the room.
“Where is she then if she is not in here?” I asked.
“I don’t actually know.” Megan said looking baffled.
She took my hand and dragged me from Maria’s room with the bunch of keys still in my hand.
“We need to hurry up.” Megan spoke as she observed the hallway, looking for signs of Maria.
She dashed to the staircase with me in tow and hurried down the stairs, whilst trying to not make a noise.
“I really don’t like this Megan. I need a wash because I am sweating so much. That is how uncomfortable I feel with this whole situation.” I pleaded with her.
She stopped in her tracks and turned to face me. She had a look of fear etched onto her face and her legs were violently shaking.
“To be honest with you Sara, I don’t like this situation either but I must know if Daisy did leave with all her belongings. Something doesn’t add up here and I want to know what actually happened to her.” She whispered.
“I suppose you are right but let’s do this quickly please.” I complained.
She agreed and then carried on tiptoeing to Daisy’s old room which was situated across the hall from her own room.
“Which key is hers?” I asked whilst holding them up in front of her.
“I’m not sure. We shall have to try all of them until we find the right one.” Megan said shrugging her shoulders.
I knew that this was a bad idea. I should have listened to my instinct and kept out of it. I would have been snuggled up in bed by now asleep but instead I am outside a girl’s room that I don’t even know like a detective trying to find clues.
“This is a ridiculous Megan.” I scolded her.
“Just hurry up as I can hear footsteps coming from upstairs!” She panicked.
She was right and they were heading straight towards us at a rapid speed. I hastily put the first key in the lock and turned it but there was no click.
I then tried the second key and that too was not the right key either.
“Go faster!” Megan hissed.
The footsteps were now heading downstairs and were getting closer and closer with every passing second that I was trying to unlock the door.
My hands were shaking so much from panicking, that the keys slipped through my fingers and jangled to the floor, making a loud thump.
Megan pushed me out of the way and grabbed the keys. She jammed each key into the lock until one of them clicked.
“Who’s there?” A woman’s voice which sounded like Maria’s called out.
“Get in there quickly.” Megan spluttered, shoving me violently into the room while closing the door quietly behind her.
She locked the door and then gave me the keys to hold. She then knelt down and peered through the key hole to see who the footsteps belonged too. The footsteps stopped inches from Daisy’s room and I could hear her whispering to someone who was also outside the door.
“I swear I heard something.” Maria whispered.
“Well, whoever it was isn’t here now.” The other woman said.
“When shall we move the rest of Daisy’s belongings?” Maria asked.
“We need to move them now before that girl Megan starts searching for answers. Did you stick to the story?” The woman questioned her.
“Yes I did, but she was trying to press me for more information. She needs to go soon as well, as she is becoming too nosey.” Maria Cautioned.
“She has only just arrived Maria. We cannot move in that quickly on her, otherwise there will be more questions. You need to keep her sweet until I am ready for her.” The woman warned.
“Ok I shall go and get the keys to Daisy’s room. I will be back in a minute.” Maria said and walked off towards the stairs.
Megan got up from kneeling and backed away from the door gasping. She was shaking uncontrollably and her face looked a ghostly white.
“We need to hide! There should be an empty cupboard over there.” She Mouthed.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the cupboard at the far end of the room. I could hear her weeping quietly under her breath as she leant on my shoulder.
“I cannot find my keys. They should have been on my desk.” Maria’s voice echoed into the room.
“You better not have lost them, Maria, otherwise that would make me very angry and you know what happens when I am angry.” The woman snarled.
“I’m really sorry. I promise I will find them. Please don’t get angry.” Maria pleaded.
“Go and get my set from my room now!” The woman demanded.
We could hear Maria’s footsteps rush off again, but this time she was quicker and had managed to get to the second floor within a few seconds.
“We need to leave this place.” I hissed into Megan’s ear.
She grabbed my hand and held onto it tightly whilst we waited for Maria to return with the extra set of keys.
We didn’t have to wait long as a few moments later we could hear her footsteps appear again with the keys jangling in her hand.
“Give them to me.” The woman ordered.
There was a lot of fumbling and whispering going on from behind the door and then finally the door was unlocked.
I looked through the crack in the cupboard door and noticed that Maria was holding a red candle, which was dripping hot wax onto the carpet.
“Take Daisy’s belongings down to the basement and put it with the others.” The woman said.
I could not see the other woman properly, the candle light was quite dim, making it hard to see, but I did notice the purple dress that she was wearing.
She was the same woman that I had seen in my room from earlier.
Maria appeared in front of the gap in the cupboard with one of daisy’s suitcases in her hand. It looked like that she was placing stuff inside the suitcase.
“What is the new tenant like?” The woman in the purple dress asked.
“You will enjoy her.” Maria replied.
“You say that about all of them and when I finally do enjoy them, they are not as good as you say they are.” The woman moaned.
“You will definitely enjoy her. She is full of knowledge and writes for the newspaper.” Maria promised.
“I see. We have another journalist. I would say journalists are the most enjoyable, and I do like to savour them a bit more.” She giggled.
Maria placed the last of Daisy’s items into the case and then wheeled it out of the room. The woman followed her with the candle and slammed the door shut behind her. We heard the lock click and their footsteps disappear up the hallway.
“I don’t even know what to say.” I stammered.
“I don’t understand what is going on but what I do understand is that we need to get out of here tonight!” Megan declared.
She opened the cupboard door and stepped into the darkness of the room with myself following closely behind.
“I’m so scared Megan. I don’t think that I have ever been this scared before.” I admitted.
“Nor have I Sara, but I am more confused than scared at the moment. What do you think Maria meant?” She asked.
“Well, it kind of sounded like that woman was going to eat us or something, but that sounds ridiculous. Things like that do not happen in real life. That woman looked exactly the same as the one in the painting, but how can that be when the woman in the painting died many years ago? None of this makes any sense at all.” I responded.
“Come on. We shall try to make sense of it after we leave this place. We need to collect our things and sneak out of the front door.” Megan instructed.
She took the keys from my hand and unlocked the door quietly. She then grasped my hand and led me back to my room.
“Get your things together and meet me here within half an hour. I shall be as quick as I can.” She said and then disappeared down the dark hallway to her room.
I already had my belongings packed, so all I needed to do was to wait for Megan to return.
I sat down on the bed and watched the clock above the door tick slowly around. The fear inside felt so overwhelming, that I realised I had slightly peed myself from earlier.
Changing my clothes would have to wait. I just need to get out of here, and I don’t care if I sleep on the streets tonight, as long as I am away from this place.
Time seemed to shift slowly. My eye’s started to close with exhaustion and my body started to feel more sluggish while I waited for the half an hour to be up.
Without realising it, I had accidentally fallen asleep on the edge of my bed.
By the time that I had awoken, it was daylight and I could hear the house come alive with voices and footsteps coming from the other tenants.
I had woken up in a sweat, trying to shake the nightmare from my thoughts as I sat up, still in my clothes, bleary eyed and confused as to why I was here.
The dream that I had or should I say nightmare was about the woman in the purple dress standing over me just staring for a while and then reaching out, her pale hands wrapping themselves around my neck, trying to choke the life out of me.
Wait, where’s Megan?
I should have left last night with her.
I sprang up from the bed and raced towards her room. Her door was slightly open, so I crept inside and whilst looking around her room, I noticed that all her belongings had gone.
There was no trace of her.
Her room was empty of her and her belongings.
Did she manage to escape?
She would not have left me here alone, nor would she just go without saying goodbye. She would have come for me, unless she was taken, like what happened to Daisy.
I needed to know. I needed to find out.
I ran downstairs, taking them two at a time until I bumped straight into a shocked looking Maria, nearly knocking her down in my hastiness.
“Where are you going in a hurry?” She asked.
“I want to know where Megan is. I have something of hers that I need to return to her.” I lied.
She shook her head. “She had packed up her stuff during the night and left, leaving the front door wide open.”
“Why?” I questioned.
She shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea Sara, and if you don’t mind I have some work I need to be doing, so do you.” She warned.
“I demand to know where she is. She would not just leave like that!” I raised my voice, loud enough for the other tenants to hear.
She glared at me. “Get out of my way. I have a lot of work to do.”
She pushed passed me nearly spilling her cup of coffee as she went by, the pile of stuffed envelopes she had under her arm dropped to the floor, spilling their contents all over the stairs.
“Look what you have made me done!” She screeched.
“I’m sorry.” I muttered and picked up her letters.
I noticed Megan’s name on one of them and held it up to her. “If Megan has gone then why are you harbouring her letters?”
“I will mail them to her when I find out her new address.” She said simply.
“You just said that she left suddenly in the night so how will you find out where she has gone if she did not leave a forwarding address?” I demanded.
She looked down at the other tenants that had now gathered around the scene, watching our argument with eager eyes.
“You are asking too many questions Sara.” Maria glared. “It is a shame as you have only just arrived here.”
“WHERE IS MEGAN?” I demanded.
She stared at me, her dark brown, almost black eyes boring into mine. “She’s a part of her now.”
I looked at her confused “What on earth is that suppose to mean?”
She glanced at the door to room 1 nervously “Take her to room 1.”
The others moved forward in haste and I was grabbed from behind by three of the tenants, whilst Maria shook her head in pity at me. She stepped out of the way and let the others push me forward with force, making me stumble and smack my head onto the marble steps. Pain seared through my forehead, making me disorientated and confused. My legs hung loosely as I was dragged up the stairs to room 1. They dropped me and I fell into a heap on the floor outside the door.
Maria tapped lightly on the door and then stepped back. The door slowly creaked open, revealing a room full of darkness, even though it was light outside.
“What’s in there?” I stammered getting up.
“She doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” Maria cautioned.
I touched the cut on my forehead from the impact of the fall and realised that there was blood dribbling down my face.
I looked into the room. “Its total darkness in there. I won’t be able to see a thing.”
“That’s how she likes it.” Maria stated.
She shoved me into the doorway and slammed the door behind me, locking it so I couldn’t get out.
I banged onto the door with my fists shouting and screaming at them to let me out but it was no use, they were not going to let me out.
I could hear heavy breathing coming from behind me. I stood, frozen to the spot, unable to turn around. I couldn’t speak, nor could I move. I could feel the blood draining from my head and fingers as the heavy breather moved closer to me.
I let my eyes adjust to the darkness and slowly turned around, with my heart thumping loudly within my chest.
There before my eyes was a flash of a purple dress coming straight towards me.
She did not look human, nor did she move like a human.
I was going to find out how the other girls had disappeared within the house.
I knew that my time was up as her mouth elongated wide open, revealing a row of pearl white, razor sharp teeth.
“It is done.” Maria said hearing a massive, loud thump against the door. “Take her suitcase and put it with the others. We must make preparations for a new tenant.”
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