Our creative writing students – Ella Dewing, Alex Mustafa, Holly Weafer-Kemp, Frank Calnan, Noah Springthorpe, Lily Wiltshire, Olivia Baker nd Monika Grigaite – were given the task of writing a ‘scary’ horror story for Halloween. These are their contributions:
Run, Baby, Run
By Alex Mustafa
Why did I agree to this? I could already feel myself running out of air. God damn me, why do masks have to look so cool? I would rather get out of here looking my dorkiest than die looking cool. Well…that’s debatable most of the time, but at this moment I know exactly what I prefer. I feel my hot breath bounce back onto my face, gripping the blade in my hand. I have to stop shaking. I’m making too much noise.
She can sense my fear, I just know it.
I can hear her humming from about a floor up, the rhythmic crunching of gravel and glass telling me she was skipping across the floor above me. She’s enjoying this. The lullaby she’s humming is unsettling me to no end.
“Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop, hop,” she sings.
Each ‘hop’ is accompanied by a bang against the wall, most likely from the mallet I saw her wielding at her side when I first caught a glimpse of her. A beat for her siren’s song.
I’m confused. She’s essentially giving me her location by making as much noise as she was. Isn’t the whole point to track me down and get me when I least expect it?
“Shall we go and gently wake them with a merry tune?” she continues, the battering of the wall following the same beat.
Her skipping steps start to get closer. More purposeful. More determined.
I slam one of my hands over my mouth, muffling any sound it might give off. Shit. This can’t be good. I have to keep moving.
I place my weight on my tip toes and cautiously creep forward, holding my knife in front of me as I scan my surroundings. A cross to ward off the demon that resides here. I curse the condition of this place. Could it not be more considerate of those having to be stealthy? Admittedly, I’m not doing myself any favours. My feet are too heavy. My heart is pounding so hard I’d be surprised if she couldn’t hear it. My breathing is far too loud behind this fabric mask. That’s it.
I pull the mask from my face and take a deep breath in, allowing my eyes to close for what may be a fatal moment. It isn’t. Thank fuck for that. This is so much better, I have more to use to my advantage.
I can almost feel the adrenaline pulsing its way through me at the speed I should be running from this place from. I honestly should never have come here. Nothing good ever comes out of going to an abandoned building aside from a mediocre horror movie or riveting newspaper article. I don’t know how I feel about those being the options for my fate now. The things people will do to avoid boredom.
“They’re so still, are they ill?”
I hear her voice carry the tune of the familiar lullaby. What would provide me with so much comfort as a child was now the soundtrack of my demise. How the universe likes to make jokes of my life.
The words she’s singing are correct, I’m still. Too still. I have to keep moving.
I carry on forward, ignoring the screaming voices in my head telling me to give in. To make it easy for her. To minimise the pain of the inevitable. But who says it has to be me who dies today? I brought this knife with me for this kind of scenario. …Well, maybe not exactly, but I brought it to defend myself. To fight for my life if needs be. Granted, I mostly intended to use it to cut through any overgrowth that may have reclaimed this building, but now I have a new use for it.
I’m not going to take this lying down.
I hear footsteps stop behind me.
“Hop, little bunny. Hop. Hop. Hop.”
Maybe giving in isn’t such a bad idea.
I snap myself out of my head as I hear her stalking me. The head of her mallet drags against the wall to create an extremely unpleasant sound that makes me flinch. What am I doing? Why am I just standing here?! I need to run!
I take off, not even daring to look back as I sprint for the closest open area. My instincts chose flight on this occasion, and I have no choice but to trust them. It’s almost primal, prey trying to escape predator and live another day.
I hear her close behind me.
She isn’t one to give up so easily. The sound of her laughter echoes off the disintegrating walls, surrounding me and trapping me in her grasp. This is all part of the game for her.
I’m not sure why this is surprising me, I should know her well enough to guess her thoughts.
She loves a good chase.
We manage to keep some distance between us for a while before a misstep almost costs me my life. A stray slab of glass cracks and slides under my feet and prevents me from progressing forwards. I fly backwards, feeling the shards embed themselves into the skin of my back. I groan in pain as I try to scramble to my feet, but it was too late. A foot on my chest prevents me from getting up. I gulp. Looking up, I finally face my attacker.
A grotesque mask takes up most of my vision. Only her head is covered, a large bunny mask obscuring any of her features. The fur is shaggy and dirtied with what I assume to be blood and grime, the teeth sticking out of the front almost looking yellowed in this lighting. She holds the mallet at her side, grip tightening around the handle.
Then, she drops it.
“Oh my god, are you okay?!” she asks as she kneels on top of me, seeing a small patch of blood leak out from under me. She immediately removes her mask to show a worried face, cradling my face in her hands as she checks me over.
“I’m fine, my love,” I assure her with a chuckle, “Just fell on some glass.”
She shakes her head, moving backwards so I can sit up. I groan as I move a hand to my back, feeling the warm red liquid coat my fingers.
Her face contorts into a frown as she stands up, extending a hand to me.
I take it.
“I’m sorry,” she says, turning my around and picking any stubborn glass pieces from my back, “I just wanted to have a bit of fun. Like in the movies.”
“I know, I know,” I say with a small smile, trying not to wince too much, “I should’ve watched where I was stepping.”
I turn back to look at her, catching her gaze.
“Did you have your fun?”
She looks to the side for a moment, a shy smile curling her lips before she nods.
“Then we did good here,” I say with a nod, “But I think it’s time we get going. I don’t want to leave this untreated for too long.”
I motion to my back.
She nods in response, moving her bloodied hand to hold mine as we start to find the exit.
“I’ll run you a bath when we get in,” she says, “Then we can clean you up properly.”
I lean in, planting a kiss on top of her head.
“That sounds perfect, love.”
Take it to the grave
by Ella Dewing:
The ground started to shake as the air changed. The dirt crumbled apart, and the floor cracked, leaving a gap. Everything fell silent and a few seconds passed before the silence was filled by a hand breaking through the gap, closely followed by another. The girl who the hand belonged to dug her fingernails into the soil to get a better grip, before hiking a leg onto the surface and hauling herself out of the unmarked grave. With her feet firmly on the ground, she rose to full height. Her white strappy heels sinking in the mud below her. She looked down to see her once white corset and skirt stained with mud and the angel wings on her back were crumpled. She took them off, flattening out the creases before sliding her arms back through the strings and putting them back in place. Fixing what was last year’s Halloween costume.
“For fucks sake” she said, attempting to scrub the mud off her outfit.
She lifted her hand and ran her fingers through her hair, it was matted together. She looked up to take in her surroundings. She was in the middle of the forest.
Confused, she looked around. How did I get here? This isn’t where I died.
That’s when she located where she had been trapped for the last year. The unmarked grave. Her unmarked grave. Bastards. They must’ve moved her body after they killed her, dug her grave and buried her here in the hopes no one would ever find her. They thought they had gotten rid of her forever, but she was back. And she would have her revenge before the night was over.
If she could find the lake, then she could find his house. Turning her head, she surveyed her surroundings, looking for any clue to find where the lake was. And that’s when she heard it. A splash. And cheering. The sound was coming from her left, and without hesitation she followed it.
An hour later:
“I’m bored.” Sam said, throwing his head back on the sofa.
Paul didn’t bother looking up from his phone as he said, “We know.”
“How?” he asked curiously.
“Because you’ve not stopped fucking going on about it for the last half hour” James piped up.
Sam fell quiet and no one spoke for a few minutes.
“It was a year ago” Sam said, sounding empty. When no one replied he continued: “Are we all just gonna pretend we’ve forgotten?”
The room fell silent. And the energy in the room changed.
“I don’t want to talk about Hal-“ Paul started.
“Don’t.” James interrupted, “Don’t say her name.”
“What? Are you worried she’s going to magically appear if we say her name?” Paul quipped sarcastically. “She’s dead James, she’s not going to get you.” He continued with a dry laugh.
If looks could’ve killed, Paul would be dead on the floor. Before the argument could continue, they were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“I’ll go.” Sam said, jumping up from the sofa, glad he’d been given something to do.
“Bring some beers up on the way back Sam.” Paul instructed.
Sam responded with his middle finger before exiting the bedroom and walking down the stairs. Through the pane of glass next to the door, he could see a figure dressed in white outside. He leant forward and opened the door.
When he opened the door the first thing I noticed was the way his face fell. God knows what I looked like, I’d been dead for a year.
“Long time no see Sam.” I said dryly, plastering a threatening smile on my face.
“I…you…” Sam stumbled over his words.
“What? Not gonna invite me in?” I asked, clicking my teeth, feigning disapproval and offence as I pushed open the door and shoved past him. I walked down the corridor to the kitchen, hearing Sam shut the door behind me. Once I was in the kitchen, I turned around to face him. He walked towards me hesitantly, his eyes scanning me, taking me in.
“How?” is all he said, the confusion etched on his face.
“Well, I thought I’ve not seen Sam and his buddies in a while, maybe I should pay them a visit.” I replied sarcastically.
He just stood in the doorway, his foot tapping on the floor, and his arms crossed, defensive. The distrust clear and anxiety apparent.
Walking around the counter, I swiped my hand along the surface and brought it away again, before saying “Why did you do it Sam?”
Panic and guilt flashed through his eyes, and he thought for a moment. “I don’t know what you mean.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, sick of his shit. “You took all that time to answer, and all you came out with was a half-arsed lie.” I sassed, rolling my eyes at him.
“Don’t roll your fucking eyes at me Hallie.” he snapped.
“Ooo” I said whilst waving my hands in front of me, mocking him. “Shame you never stood up to the boys like tha-“
I was interrupted when he closed the distance between us and put his hands around my throat. He trapped me between him and the counter. He towered over me. Maybe if I wasn’t already dead I’d be concerned for my safety.
“Nice to see you’ve changed.” I said sarcastically, tilting my head up so I could look him in the eyes.
I don’t know what I was searching for in his eyes. Regret, maybe. Guilt. A shred of fucking humanity or decency. Sam displayed nothing of the sort. All I found when I looked in his eyes was aggression, violence, and spite. I’d changed in the year I’d been dead. I’d had time to reflect. Before, when I was murdered, I hadn’t had it in me to fight back, or to harm any of them. But the knowledge that he felt no regret for what him and his friends had done to me, well, it made what I did next a lot easier.
I leant back, feeling the rage setting in, and I grasped onto the handle of a knife, pulling it out of the block. I gave him a sweet smile before plunging the knife into his neck. Sam’s eyes widened in shock, his hands flew to his throat, desperately trying to stop the blood from pouring out of his neck. He tried to scream but he started to choke on his own blood, before falling to his knees and begging for help.
“I can’t help you Sam, you’re fucked” I explained. I leant closer, looking him in the eyes as I spat “And even if I could, I wouldn’t. You didn’t fucking help me, you let him kill me. You watched me die Sam, and you have the fucking cheek to beg me for help.”
I twisted the knife. His blood gurgled and he coughed. I stepped back, watching him try to fight death. It didn’t take long for him to stop struggling. He fell back and hit the floor. Lying face up in a pool of his own blood, with the knife hanging out of his neck, and a horrified look on his face.
“Are you okay man? You’ve been acting weird all night.” I asked him.
James looked over at me, not bothering to control his attitude.
“Of course I’m not alright. It’s the anniversary of her death.”
“Her murder.” I corrected.
He shot me another death glare.
“What are you worried about?” I asked him, genuinely curious.
James bit his nails before responding. “What if someone finds out it was us?”
“How would anyone find out?” I asked, “Only me, you, and Sam knows what really happened to her.”
“What if someone finds her body? Or if someone saw us do it?” He asked chewing his lip.
“Then we’d be arrested.” I replied matter of factly.
James stopped chewing on his lip to inform me I was a prick.
I tried to reason with him, “Don’t you think if they would’ve found something they would’ve announced it by now?”
He still didn’t look sure, so I continued.
“James. It would be all over the news. The police would’ve launched an investigation. We would’ve been interviewed…. maybe even arrested.” I quipped, not being able to miss out on the opportunity to wind him up.
My comment earnt me another dirty look and insult.
“James. We’re fine alright. We got away with it.”
My phone dinged.
Sam: Come to the kitchen.
“Who is it?” James asked. The paranoia still lingering.
“It’s Sam, he wants help in the kitchen.” I said, rising from my seat. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
I walked out the bedroom and down the stairs. James really needed to get his shit together. If he carried on like that, we would get fucking caught.
I looked up from my phone briefly as I said, “Fucking hell Sam how hard is it to bring a couple of beers upstairs”.
When I got no reply, I went back to apologising to Tayla. She’d found out I took another girl out last week and she hit the roof. I’d be able to keep her sweet though, just tell her what she wants to hear. I dragged my feet, walking alongside the staircase toward the kitchen, still glued to my phone. I entered the kitchen, but before I had the chance to take the piss out of Sam anymore, a girl spoke first.
“Hello Paul. Fancy seeing you here.” I said as he walked into the kitchen, painting a devilish smirk on my face.
He froze, looking up from his phone. I couldn’t help but find this amusing. Especially when they were reacting so perfectly. Paul’s face drained of colour, he went as white as a sheet.
“You alright Paul?” I asked, faking concern, “You don’t look so good.”
“…Hallie…how…how are you here? You’re…” he said nervously.
“Dead?” I finished for him.
He looked awkward, like he’d said something wrong.
“That tends to happen when you’re murdered.” I bit out.
He swallowed, eyes darting around the room nervously. He paused for a minute, taking me in. I looked down with him. My once white outfit was smeared with mud and caked in dark red blood. I looked to my right and I caught my reflection in the patio doors. My hair was tangled and trailed down my back, resting at my hip. My skin was pale, I had mud smeared across my face, along with little splatters of blood. I had scratches and bruises on my arms, and my makeup had run and was smeared under my eyes. I looked terrifying.
“Wait…” Paul said, the penny finally dropping. “Where’s Sam?” he asked. His voice shaking.
I grinned, baring my teeth. I had been standing next to Sam’s dead body the entire time, but he had no idea he was mere metres away from his friend’s corpse.
“Why don’t you come round this side of the counter?” I asked, playing innocent, whilst smiling.
He looked at me nervously, weighing up his options before slowly walking towards me. As he rounded the corner his expression contorted into one of horror and pure fear. His eyes widened and his mouth fell open. Paul steadied himself by placing a shaking hand on the counter, lowering his head, and attempting to take deep breaths.
“Why?” He asked me, raising his head to look at me.
“You know why.” I said coldly.
“You didn’t have to kill him.” he said.
“And you didn’t have to kill me.” I responded with a shrug, “But here we are.”
Paul fell to the floor in front of Sam’s body. He quickly leant forward, ripped the knife from Sam’s neck and plunged it into my stomach. I stumbled back in shock, looking down at the knife, and then to Paul who looked very pleased with himself. When I remained unaffected by his attack he began to panic. He stumbled to his feet and took off down the hallway, desperately trying to unlock the front door. I ran after him. He managed to get the door open, but before he could get outside, I tore the knife from my stomach and I plunged it into his shoulder blade. He let out a deafening cry.
“You bitch!” he screamed, pushing me back.
Knife still in hand, I chased him onto the driveway. He turned and ran down the side of the house, blood dripping on the path behind him, leaving a tempting trail. When he got to the back of the house he turned to face me, walking backwards.
“Please…Hallie don’t do this.” Paul begged.
When I didn’t respond he continued begging “Hallie I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve it.”
I continued to walk towards him. Every step I took forwards, he took one back. Maintaining equal distance between us. He was blindly backing himself into a trap and he was blissfully unaware. These boys were making it so easy for me. Paul took his final step, putting his weight down in the bear trap. Immediately snapping closed, it viciously tore into his leg, cracking the bone. The pressure crushing his leg. Paul let out an excruciating scream, the searing pain ripping through him.
He fell to the floor, screaming and crying. I stood and watched him, the pain eating away at him. Paul looked up at me through tears. There was no way out for him. I glanced around. An axe was lodged in a tree stump in the garden. I sauntered over to the tree stump, grasped the handle, and freed the axe. I turned, smiling, I walked back towards Paul dragging the axe along the grass. He stared up at me from the floor where he was lying, begging for his life.
“Hallie, please, just let me go. No one has to know you were here.” He said between shallow breaths whilst fighting tears.
“That’d be ideal for you wouldn’t it.” I replied dryly.
“Hallie-“ Paul attempted to bargain with me before I interrupted him.
“I’m doing you a kindness Paul” I said, faking a sweet tone, “I’m putting you out of your misery.”
I lifted the axe so I was holding the handle in my right hand and the head of the axe in my left. Paul’s eyes darted between me and the axe. He tried pulling his leg out of the trap but the extreme pain caused him to let out a string of curses, stopping him in his tracks. I stood over him and lined the axe up with his neck. In response he froze in terror. I lifted the axe above my head.
“Any last requests?” I drawled, unable to contain the smirk on my face.
“Go to hell.” He spat.
“I’ll see you there.” I retorted sweetly.
I swung the axe back before bending my knees and bringing it down with all the force I could manage. The axe sliced through his neck. His eyes bulged and his blood splattered up me. His decapitated head rolled a few feet away from the rest of his body. I pulled the axe out and rose to full height before wiping the blood splatters from my face and walking back to the house.
After Paul left, I fished my phone out of my pocket. I had a message from Tayla.
Tayla: Are you coming round tonight? 😉
Me and Tayla had been sneaking around for a few months behind Paul’s back. I wanted to tell him, but I hadn’t found the right opportunity yet. It’s not like he and Tayla were serious anyway, they were always on rocky ground.
James: Can’t. I’m with the boys.
Seconds later her reply came.
Tayla: Is Paul there?
Why the fuck was she asking me about Paul?
James: He went to find Sam like 10 minutes ago. Why?
Tayla: He’s not replying to his messages.
I gave a snappy reply.
James: And what the fuck has that got to do with me.
I threw the phone down on the bed next to me before she could reply. I didn’t have the energy for her shit. I leant my head back against the wall behind me. Paul was going to find out sooner or later, I had to tell him. Another two texts came in, stopping me from wallowing in self-pity.
I let out a deep sigh, picking up the phone.
“For fucks sake, what now?” I huffed.
2 photos from Sam Maclan.
I opened the message, my curiosity swiftly replaced by horror. The first was a picture of Paul lying on the grass, his head severed from his body. His eyes wide open in terror and covered from, separated, head to toe in blood. My hand flew to my mouth, muffling the cry but unable to stop myself from heaving. With shaky hands I clicked on the other picture, a sharp inhale escaping me as the image became clearer before me. The second picture was of Sam lying dead in a pool of his own blood on the kitchen floor, with a massive wound in his neck. It took a minute for the shock to subside before I realised what this meant. Someone was in the house. I began shaking with fear, suddenly feeling like there wasn’t enough air in the room. My phone began to ring in my hand.
Incoming video call from Sam Maclan
I froze. Who had Sam’s phone? I let it ring for a few more seconds before answering it. When the call connected, the camera was facing the floor, where Sam’s dead body laid. I quickly recognised they were downstairs, in my kitchen. I felt my breathing and pulse quicken as the person walked down the corridor, towards the stairs. They slowly began to climb the stairs, the camera panning to where they were dragging a bloodied axe up the banister.
I ran to my door and locked it before walking backwards and standing in front of my bed. My eyes darted between my door to my phone. The fear had paralysed me where I stood. When they got to the top of the stairs they stopped and stood in front of my bedroom door. I waited, unable to move, to see what their next move would be…
And then they hung up.
I stood outside James’s bedroom door before stepping forward and testing the handle. It was locked. I stepped back and lifted the axe, tapping the blunt side on the door.
“Knock knock, James.” I said cheerily.
He didn’t reply but I could hear his laboured breathing. He was panicking. Good. This would make it all the more enjoyable.
“Open the door, James.” I ordered.
No reply. I grasped the handle of the axe with both hands, raised it above my head and brought it down on the door. The first hit broke through the wood, splintering it. The second made a section of wood fall out of the door, leaving a gap. I continued to bring the axe down on the door full force. After a few more hits, a larger chunk of wood fell out of the door. Leaving a big enough gap for me to see James through it, who looked terrified. His hands were shaking, and he had an iron grip on his phone.
I took two steps towards the door, putting my left arm through the gap, reaching for the lock before unlocking it and opening it from the other side. The door swung open, revealing the broken man before me. He was shaking, crying, and his breathing was shallow. He tried to step backwards but he hit the foot of his bed, he had nowhere to go.
“…It’s you” he said breathlessly.
“Miss me?” I asked sarcastically.
“What do you want?” he asked impatiently.
“Now come on James. There’s no need for that.” I said with a smirk on my face, leaning on the doorframe. Axe still in hand.
“Ugh.” I said with an eye roll, “Dry your eyes, James. They deserved it.”
“Why?” He had the audacity to ask me.
It took me a second to respond. I couldn’t quite believe he was playing dumb right now. I had just murdered his two friends and I was holding an axe. It wasn’t the best idea to wind me up, but then James had always been a prick.
“Well James” I started, “Last year, I came to your house for your Halloween party. You and your boys, proceeded to get me drunk. You three took me out to the lake, separating me from everyone else. And when I wouldn’t sleep with you, you threatened to kill me.”
I held the axe in both hands, examining it. Focusing on it to prevent myself from getting emotional. I took a deep breath before continuing.
“You held my head under the water. You-“ my voice broke and I took another few breaths before carrying on.
“You said you were just trying to scare me. Trying to get me to change my mind.” I stopped to look him in the eyes, speaking directly to him. “But the thing is James, I didn’t want to change my fucking mind. I. Said. NO! I FUCKING SAID NO!” I screamed before striding towards him, lifting the axe above my head, and swinging it at him.
He ducked out of the way just in time. The axe landing in the bed frame. I put a foot on the bed frame and pulled the axe out. I spun round, axe in hand. James stood frozen in the doorway, petrified. I took a step towards him, and he put his hands up in front of him, displaying his surrender before he started begging for his life.
“Hallie please. Don’t do this. You can let me go. We can forget about all this.”
I let out a dry laugh.
“No James” I said shaking my head, “You might be able to delude yourself into thinking you did nothing wrong and none of it was your fault. I can’t though. You ruined my life. You ended my fucking life. And you expect me to just, what? Forgive and forget?” I asked.
I took another step towards him, and another, until I was standing right in front of him. I leant forward and spoke right in his ear. No emotion. Cold.
“I suggest you start fucking running.”
She leant back, expression cold. All traces of humanity leaving her. She was going to kill me. I turned and ran down the stairs. I lost my footing and fell, rolling down to the bottom. I landed with my feet on the stairs, facing the top, where I could see Hallie in a murderous rage walking towards me. I pushed myself up so I was standing, but when I tried to put weight on my left ankle, harsh pain shot through it, causing me to walk with a limp. I limped over to the front door where I attempted to open it. Pulling on the handle I quickly realised she must have locked it.
I turned around to find her right behind me. She swung the axe at me, I threw myself out of the way, landing on the floor. I tried to push myself up again, but the pain in my ankle was too strong, I fell back down. I started to crawl backwards when she managed to pry to the axe out of the door. Hallie turned to look at me. Her eyes displayed pure uncontrollable rage. She began closing the distance between us.
I got on my knees and crawled towards the kitchen. Maybe I could get out the kitchen door. Before I could reach the doorway, I felt her foot on my back, kicking me down to the floor face first. The heel of her shoe digging into my back, trapping me where I was. She lifted her foot off me as I rolled over onto my back to face her. Looking up at her I searched for any uncertainty, kindness, or guilt. Anything I could use against her. Something I could manipulate and use to bargain my way out of certain death… I found nothing.
“Hallie I’m sor-“
“Don’t you fucking dare.” I cut him off.
I stared at him, analysing him. There was no guilt or regret there. He was just telling me what he thought I wanted to hear. The boy in front of me ended my life, he tortured me because I didn’t give him what he and his friends wanted. He was a manipulative, selfish, lying, untrustworthy user, and I wasn’t falling prey to his tricks again.
I raised the axe above my head.
“Any last words?” I asked curiously.
“Fuck you.” He spat, looking at me with hatred and fear.
I laughed, “Shame you didn’t get to.” I said coldly.
I swung the axe and brought it down full force, hacking into his chest. Slicing through his rib cage, puncturing his heart and lungs. A harrowing scream escaped him. Blood splattered up the walls as the life drained from him. Lifting my left leg and digging my heel into his stomach, I dragged the axe from him, revealing his mutilated organs. His lifeless body fell back and hit the floor with a thud. I dropped the axe, it landed in front of his corpse. I took a few steps back, so I wasn’t standing in the pool of his blood.
I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over.
I stood for a few minutes, processing the night’s events before striding over to the front door and unlocking it. I paused, door handle warm in my right hand, before stepping into the cool night air. Not looking back.
Less than an hour later I was standing outside my childhood home, the house my family still lived in. I checked Sam’s phone. It was after two in the morning, they would all be asleep. I carefully lifted the plant pot next to the doormat, finding the spare key, before slowly lowering the pot back down. I unlocked the door and quietly slipped in, shutting the door behind me.
Slipping my heels off I tiptoed upstairs quietly. I walked along the corridor to my mum’s room on the left, where her and my two younger sisters were cuddled up in bed. My chest tightened and I blinked away the tears that were threatening to fall. It brought me some comfort knowing they had each other, but it filled me with sadness and rage to know that I had been robbed of a life with them.
I turned and continued walking until I got to my old room at the end of the hall on the right. I turned the handle and pushed open the door, it was exactly the same as it was the night I’d left. I stepped back and pulled the door shut. Unable to go in. I didn’t want to rake up old memories, it would make me emotional. And I didn’t want to wake my family, I couldn’t let them to see me like this.
I tiptoed back down the hall, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. Picking up the pad and pen on the counter, I wrote a note and left it there with the spare key and Sam’s phone, knowing one of them would find it when they woke up. I was startled by a meow from behind me, turning to find my cat Marshmallow walking up to me. I spent a few minutes with her.
“Take care of them for me.” I said before kissing the top of her head and getting up to leave.
I slipped my heels back on before stepping back out, shutting the door behind me, and heading to the lake.
5 hours later:
I sat on the platform at the lake, my legs dangling off the edge. My feet skimming the water as I watched my last sunrise. Incandescent shades of oranges and pinks blended together, soon after giving way to purple, before finally settling at a beautiful clear ice blue. The sun beamed down on my pale, blood-stained skin. I finally felt calm, at peace. And when I was ready, I jumped.
SEPTEMBER 13th – A SHORT HORROR STORY
A loose continuation and modernization of the folklore tale of “The Rake” By Frank Calnan
Local Police Report: 13th September 2013
In the early hours of Friday, 13th September, a local business owner reported the window of his store on Sommerville St. smashed open. After a brief investigation, it was found that no goods were stolen. An eyewitness report taken after the incident states the following:
“I was woken up by this great crashing sound downstairs, and the store alarm going off. I booked it down the stairs, rifle in hand in case of some kind of robber or intruder. When I got into the storefront and flicked the switch, the lights just flickered on and off, as if power wasn’t reaching them properly. I decided it was a good idea to keep going on into the store, poised to attack anything that might be in there with me. As I looked around, I couldn’t for the life of me find anything wrong. That was until I felt breathing on my back about five minutes after coming down. I turned to look at whatever it was behind me, and ███ █ █████ ███ ███ ████ ██████ ███████ ███ ████████ ██ ███ ██████ ██ ████ ██ ██ ████ ███ ████████ ██ ████ ████ ███████ ████ ████ ███ █████. I never got a good look at it.
Police are still researching the significance of the incident and the store, Hernandez General Store on Somerville Street, Bangor, shall remain closed for the duration of the investigation.
Eyewitness Account: 13th September 1993
I was staying in a cabin up in Maine. It was two years ago exactly, to the day. I remember sitting out on the little patio with a glass of wine and a guitar, friends yapping on into the early hours of the morning, not a care in the world. Thérèse sat staring at deep into the forest. I remember seeing her focused so intensely on whatever it was in the distance that she remained completely still, almost as if she were paralysed by it. The rest of us, too care-free or too drunk, naturally took no notice. We were too busy focusing on whatever it was we were focusing on. The fact that I can’t remember probably means that it wasn’t worth remembering anyway.
Eventually, we grew tired of the simple wine drinking, and Phil reached into his bag to reveal the whiskey he had been hiding. Each of us, one by one, took a long slug. When the bottle had been passed around to Thérèse however, she still just sat there, as if she couldn’t even see or hear the rest of us. The level of her existing drink hadn’t changed in all the time we’d been out there.
To this day, I don’t know what it was she could see out there. But this morning, I could hear scratching at my basement door.
Child’s Diary Entry: 13th September 1957
Mommy said not to worry about the man in the forest. She said he wasn’t real, only make believe. I’m not so sure. I’ll leave my night light on tonight. It might help protect me. I believe Mrs DeVeer more. She says her father saw it years ago, and teachers know lots more than parents. I think she knows more about the man than anyone else.
Note Found Inside Family Home: circa 1880s
I pray for you. It spoke your name. By the time you find this letter, I shall be gone. I do not know when, if at all, I shall return.
Yours truly and forever,
Journal Entry (translated from Dutch): circa 1670s
It came for Richard van der Molen last night. By the Penobscot. The river flowed more heavily than usual, the wind howled with raging strength. What exactly it was is not clear to any of us. He is the fifth to go missing this month, we do not know whom will follow.
I remember its piercing eyes. It’s terrific cry. The way it seemed to leap across the forest and down the river bank at a speed unlike an animal. It spoke in Dutch: we could understand every word it said.
“Be not afraid, I am your savior.”
The locals called it “the Wolf”, but its resemblance to such a creature was thin at best – a lack of fur and defined muscle structure meant that we could not bring ourselves to find such a name appropriate. We remain watchful on these hallowed nights by Acadia.
Carving In Tree: date unknown
“BE NOT AFRAID, HE IS YOUR SAVIOR”
“HE IS THE RAKE”
Late Night Horror:
By Holly Weafer-Kemp
Opening my eyes, I knew something was wrong.
The room was dark which is expected when it’s the middle of the night, but the world looked darker. Way too dark. Scrunching my eyes together I tried to clear my vision and adjust to the darkness encasing me, but too no avail my vision stayed fuzzy.
Lifting up I hand I wiped at my eyes, or tried to at least. I found my hand to be stuck, laying on my bed by my side where it had been while I slept, but now I had no power to move it. Not to even wiggle a finger.
My heart begun to beat faster and my breath picked up. What was wrong with me? What was happening? I tried to kick my legs out and stretch them straight, but like my hand they wouldn’t move. I tried to roll over onto my other side but once again it was no use. I was trapped in this shell of a body which no longer felt like mine. I had no control over my own limbs and could feel nothing but the heaviness weighing down on me and the adrenaline fuelling my veins.
Blinking erratically now, my eyes darted around the room trying to see anything other than the vague figures of my furniture, but it was still too dark, my eyes hadn’t adjusted. Still I searched trying to find something to help me.
My mouth was still slightly open from where I had been sleeping and I tried to yell for help. I used all my strength to put into my voice, and counted down, giving me time to prepare and gather any power I could find.
3… 2… 1…
No sound came.
It was useless, I couldn’t do a single thing, only lay there and stare out into the darkness and wait for my vision to adjust. So that is what I did.
As time went on I managed to get bit more of control over my breathing. In for four seconds, hold for two, then out for six. I repeated that breathing cycle again and again and again. My heartbeat became slower and I began to calm down, just a bit. My vision had started to clear out, finally adjusting to my familiar surroundings which somehow looked unknown to me tonight.
I lay on my bed by the far wall looking out on the rest of the room. My sisters’ bed was in front of me, perpendicular to my bed and against the wall with the large window that was covered by the effective blinds. In the middle of our room was the fluffy carpet we bought together which separated my sisters’ bed and the tv stand on the wall opposite it. On the wall farthest to me was the door leading to the passage and suddenly it hit me. The reason it was darker then usual was because the passage light wasn’t on as it usually is, I could’ve sworn I turned it on. Leaning against the wall behind my sisters’ bed was our two wardrobes, towering over everything else and…. what was that?
It stood there towering over the wardrobes, having to hunch forward to stop from hitting the ceiling. How had I not noticed it until now. It stood between my sisters’ bed and the wardrobes. It was watching me. How long had it been watching me? It had no define figure, just pure shadow and darkness. What was it? It was a slender thing and looked stretched to make itself longer. Why was it there? I could make out the average limbs of any animal: arms, legs, head and torso, but no face. What was it doing here? It’s arms also had the strange stretched look, reaching down towards the ground, further then I could see. What did it want from me?
All the time I had spent calming myself down was a waste. My heart instantly began pounding in my ears, banging against them, begging for help. My breathing was rapid and my eyes widened at the sight of it. I tried to scream, tried to beg for help, try to hid my face under my covers. But I couldn’t move, couldn’t shout, couldn’t do anything. So, I was forced to sit there and do the one thing I didn’t want to do. Look at it. Sure, I could’ve closed my eyes, but I didn’t want to be in the unknown here, to not know what it was doing.
I watched it.
And it watched me.
Time seemed to drag on as our staring contest continued. How long had it been? Minutes? Hours? I couldn’t be sure. My heart rate made no attempt out calming down, how could it in sight of such a horrific thing. I just wanted it to go away, to disappear and leave me alone. Suddenly, as if reading my very own thoughts, it did.
My eyes darted around my room trying to found the horrendous figure. How could it go just like that? Was I really in the clear now? I found no sight of it and let out a big sigh in relief, allowing my body time to relax. It was gone. Or so I thought.
It was stupid to let myself feel at ease, I should’ve known it wouldn’t let me off that easy. I did nothing but lay there, that was all I could do, as the disgusting thing came back into my line of vision, and this time it was right in front of me. One mere inch away from my face. It slowly moved from the right until its face, if you could call that void a face, was directly in front of mine.
My heart began to race again as the fear consumed me. I wanted to cry, wanted to scream, I wanted to beg for help and curse the world for doing this to me, for trapping me in this horror. But I could do nothing, nothing but lay there and stare at my doom. I was trapped here with nothing to help. At the mercy of this thing, this predator, this demon.
Time went on again as we stared at each other. What was it even doing? It had made no movements, it was a statue, just simply staring at me. Yet I couldn’t really say it was staring since it had to eyes visible on its face. However, it was clear that its attention was on nothing but me. At least it didn’t seem to be violent. In the middle of all my terror and helplessness it seemed as if I could at least come up with a positive. But I should know all ready this thing knows what I think, it disappeared earlier just as I wished it would, and once again the creature follows my thoughts.
The first movement I see it makes is a slight head tilt as if he was listening to what I was thinking and is now reacting. It was strange seeing its head move. Unlike before where it slid into my field of vision this was a singular movement. God was it frightening. It almost glitched in a way as its head bopped to the side. I thought I was seeing things as its head twitched back a few spaces and then went further down, over and over again. As if it was lagging. Then, it lunged onto me and lifted its abnormally longs arms up, they seem to drag along the side of my bed, they were so long. Its hands snatched at my throat and I felt the pain almost immediately.
It was violent after all
Now on top of me, the ghastly figure leaned in close to my face as its hands squeezed my neck, crushing my windpipes at once. There was no chance of any air getting through to my lungs. I felt as if I was going to explode from the pressure, the pain. It was all too much. Why was this happening to me. I couldn’t even fight back, I still couldn’t move and couldn’t protect myself at all. My whole brain and body were screaming at me to move my hands up to my neck and pull at the hands, but I had no muscles or strength to comply. I was helpless. I could only do what I had been doing all night, accept my situation and stare. Stare back at this demonic presence that is haunting my night.
I felt a cold substance drift down my cheek. A tear. I must’ve been crying. I was so terrified, filled to the brim with excruciating fear. I would rather this creature end my life now than be in this moment any longer. While I had to stay still looking as if nothing was wrong, my body screamed in pain and my brain wailed in pure terror. Please just let this come to an end.
Once again it read my thoughts.
Its hands seemed to become even tighter around my fragile throat, if that was even possible. I was in agony but… my vision was started to black out. It was ending it, ending me. Slowly but surely darkness clouded my vision, starting from the corners and coming in to the middle. Like a static screen of black. I watched as the thing on top of me slowly began to move from side to side as my vision was distorted. And just like that.
I lost consciousness.
A trickle of heat could be felt on my check. The sun. I opened my eyes to greet the world around me. The sun was up and it was the start of another day. I probably needed to get up and start getting ready for-
It hit me. Last night.
My heart dropped to my stomach and I felt physically sick. What was that? Was it a dream. My sister walked in as I started to recall the nights events.
“Are you alright? You look awfully pale this morning?” She asked me in concern. Her mouth had turned down and she looked on at me in curiosity.
“Fine.” I weakly managed. My voice was merely a whisper, and I was relieved it was even working. Relieved I could even move my body. I stretched my hand out in front of me and moved my fingers, checking my mobility. I seemed fine. Was it just a dream?
I refused to believe it. It was all too real, every second. The pain. The time. The look of that thing. But that’s crazy. It had to be a nightmare, there’s no way that could have happened.
Putting it all to the back of my mind I got up ignoring my sisters scrutinising eyes and went into our shared bathroom. Reaching down to the tap I splashed some cold water on my face. It was refreshing, an impression of the real world as my thoughts were crowded with the impossible. I looked up in the mirror and took note of my face. My sister was right. I looked terrible.
My eyes seemed sunken in and I had dark purple circles. My face was ghostly pale. It looked as though I hadn’t slept. It was as if last night really did happen. Then I saw it. Lifting my head up to get a better view I gasped at the sight. This was the confirmation that what I had seen, what I had witnessed was not a dream.
There on my neck were red marks in the shape of hands that were beginning to go purple and bruising. The hand of… of that thing. Where it had strangled me until I passed out.
It was real.
And it was somewhere out there.
by Noah Springthorpe
“The waxed moon hung limply over the darkened, murky swamp water. A smattering of coal-coated ravens sung in a melancholy dirge as the wailing of a rusted whistle emanated throughout the rotting thicket. Gators prowling the deep bog fled at the unsettling groaning and churning that bellowed forth in the stale wind. Unseen by mortal eyes, a pale riverboat with chipped-ivory bow tore the very water asunder underneath its proud hull. Phantom overgrowth overtook the ominous vessel as thick vines billowed from every dirtied window and plague-like moss stretched across the expansive floors of the mighty ship. The occasional squeak and sputter rang out from the ever-turning propeller as the decades of rust proved ineffective at slowing the boat’s eternal cruise. On the side of it, a faded sign from a lost era stuck. ‘Madam Leah’s House of Luck’, it read.
At a glance, one might have mistaken the ghostly vessel as abandoned. However, a closer look proved to reveal a pair of estranged inhabitants that forever took refuge on the riverboat. The first was a ghoul most unsightly, his paper skin hung off of its stunted muscle and bone. Face was rife with maggots and resembled more of a fleshy slurry than anything else, a ragged captain’s hat sat loosely on the zombie’s decaying head as it firmly grasped the termite-ridden wheel. Just like his hat, the rest of his attire bore a multitude of rips and tears that exposed more gut-wrenching decomposition. From time to time, he’d reach upwards towards a gnarled rope and gave it a hearty tug which elicited a haunting, shrill squawk from the ship’s half-broken whistle. The boat’s second guest better resembled the man he was in life, A dusty gambler hat was fitted proudly atop a bed of straw-like auburn hair. The apparition’s face appeared more appealing than the captain’s, albeit still lacking parts that revealed his ephemeral skull. Underneath his ratty goatee, he wore a confident smirk as he constantly glanced at the ornate pocket watch held firmly in his gloved hand. That was his routine; Check his watch, fix his bowtie, dust off his boot, straighten out his trousers, and stare hopefully out into the pitch-black fog of the bayou. He’d do these things in a cycle, over and over again for what seemed to be an eternity. That is, unless something happened to break him out of that wretched cycle. And, that’s where our tale will take us tonight, dear listeners. Tonight, I’ll recount the story of a pair of lost boys where they had attempted to find this phantom barge.”
In the cold confines of an office sat a woman, her black hair shining in the moonlight that broke through her curtains. She wore a typical business attire with a pair of thin glasses over her misty grey eyes. On her desk sat a pile of manila folders, each marked with a bright crimson ‘Confidential’ stamp, the woman sighed to herself at the sight she beheld of paperwork and sense of imminent overtime. At least she had the foresight to request a radio in her office to sate her sheer boredom. What was tonight’s show again? Something about ghosts? She’ll find out after the break.
“Welcome back, dear listeners, to Dell End’s Ghostly Gravestone Tales! Tonight, we have a story I found out recently from some of my sources. Remember the story of that old gambler, Thomas Looms, who stole the riverboat casino he’d lost at out of spite for ‘Lady Luck’? Well, regardless, I’m gonna tell you about two local boys who got lost in that very bayou and tried to find the ghosts of Thomas and the captain of the boat from the story. It all begins about a week ago…”
“It was a gloomy Wednesday night; the boys were covered head-to-toe in thick bayou mud with the only light they had coming from the clusters of fireflies scattered about the swamp. Fear encompassed them after their encounters with snake and alligator alike that lurked in the bayou. They’d gotten lost about two hours ago by their estimation, they were running low on the food and water they’d brought. They felt sluggish, apathetic even, their bodies ached and hurt in many ways; emotionally, mentally, and physically. But, they weren’t going to quit until they’d found those ghosts. Their despair grew by the second, eyelids drooping ever so slightly with each step they took. Suddenly, they heard the hoarse screech of a rusted whistle. The water churned and banks quaked under the pressure exerted by the riverboat, soft chugging from the propeller signalled its slow approach. Until, finally, the massive water faring behemoth stopped in the waters near the pair. At first, excitement radiated from the two as their fatigue faded into the dark night. For a second, caution sprung up; Why did it appear before them now? After all of the searching they’ve done, Why now? It was quickly forgot as they boarded the vessel without a mortal care in the world.
As they stepped on, their noses were assaulted by a myriad of conflicting scents: Sweet floral smells from the plants, ancient dust coming from the old wood, and a rotting smell from somewhere deeper in the boat. The scent was so pungent that they could taste it on the tips of their tongues, salty tears leaked out due to how foul it was. Pushing forward though, they strode passed empty decks and smaller gambling halls until they stumbled across a larger hall that was more opulent than the previous ones. The ever-present moss seemed to shy away from this one room, the vines covered its windows but dared not break in from the outside. The velvet carpet seemed nearly intact apart from a singular, large gash in its centre. The various tables around them hosted a carnival’s worth of games, all rigged black, ranging from simple poker to more wild variations of roulette. Against one of the walls stood an antique bar, bottles of various spirits and liqueurs lined its back shelf. The barstools long worn out as springs started to peek out of the deflated brown leather. The once-golden sconces lining the rest of the walls were a faded bronze colour, it was strange however, their flames were a bright and vibrant as, presumably, the day they were lit.
What caught their attention was the figure of a man stood near the centre most table, right opposite the huge gash in the carpet. He appeared to be dressed similarly to the gamblers that may have once dwelt within the riverboat, granted he was less well kept than the ones in photos the boys had seen. Also, unlike the photos, the man was missing his nose and had patches where his skin was gone. Slowly, the ghoulish gambler began to move towards them, arrogance pouring out of his gait”.
(“Welcome, young gents, to my den”) he exclaimed without losing his wolfish grin (“You seem lost”)
“The pair didn’t know what to think of the guy, of course he was dead. He had to be if he was found there on that boat. What did he want with them? Kill them? Eat them? Or worse.”
The woman in the office perked up when the radio host got to this point in the story. Open in front of her was a file about a pair of bodies found in the swamp, completely intact. The file stated that they had no bite marks present from neither a snake or alligator attacks and didn’t have bruises that lined up with a boar. The lungs were completely dry as well, it was a complete mystery as to how they had died. The woman wasn’t superstitious, only listening to these sorts of things when she had nothing else to listen to. But, what if, these bodies were the bodies of those boys from that story? What if they had died from supernatural means? It would certainly match the state the bodies were left in. She continued to listen on for more clues.
“Nobody knows anything else about what was said between the boys and the gambler that night, but, we do know it led them to partake in a round of gambling. Whether it was for information, freedom, or both, nobody knows. The gambler had set up the game by using his hat to fish out a dozen or so chips from a barrel, each were engraved with different animals. The boys noticed this and recognised some of them; A hawk, tiger, and grasshopper were among the group. He had lain them out in front of the boys as they proceeded to play. Each turn, they took turns picking up either one, two, or three chips at a time and whoever picked up the last chip won that round. Over time, the gambler seemed to win more and more despite the boys working together. The boys’ expressions had grown fearful, the last round began. Expertly, the gambler had manipulated the pair into picking up three each turn before skilfully sniping the final chip.”
(“Well boys”) the gambler spoke as he rose from the table (“Looks like you lost”)
“He snapped his fingers, causing a multitude of ghostly plants to entrap and eventually smother the two. Finally, the plants had receded to reveal a pair of engraved poker chips, one bore the visage of an alligator while the other held the scowl of a cobra.
It isn’t clear what actually happened to the boys, but that was the most common ending people gave. Others included that the gambler ate their souls or that the boys actually won against the odds. Either way, I hope you listeners out there enjoyed tonight’s story and that you tune in more in the future. For now, this is Dell End signing off.”
With a crackle, the radio show ended. The woman sat there for a while, contemplating the ending of that story. The bodies were found so she could hardly believe that the boys were turned into poker chips, but the part about their souls not leaving that boat may be partially true if the autopsy was anything to go by. What was interesting was that one of the bodies had a small photo clutched in its hand when it was found. The reports stated that it was a picture of a man, who bore a striking resemblance to the gambler in the story -minus the decay-, alongside people presumed to be his wife and daughter. How did this all line up? Was that story real after all?
She couldn’t afford to lose sleep over it, with a mighty sigh, she stood up from her desk and began to pack up for the night. As the went to close the curtains fully, she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. Her office overlooked a small part of the bayou, by the sea. Standing on the banks, a pair of boys stood side-by-side, smiling at her.
By Lily Wiltshire
My name is Brie Burrata Camembert. I live at 37 Edam Street, Cotswold, England. This is my confession. If you’re reading this right now, it means I’m dead, murdered by the biggest man in the cheese business… Jalex Aames. It all started three days before Halloween, the 27th and- oh wait, never mind, that was four days ago. I didn’t get four GCSES mate so I’m silly.
Anyways. I was one of the labourers for A Tower of Cheesa Farm – well, the only one that worked there – and the only one that did all the work. Jalex Aames was firm that he didn’t do any work for his company, often saying he built it from the ground up with his own hands: he said because he built the cheese farm he cured world hunger and was a messiah, arguing that his initials were one letter off from Jesus Christ. Notice how I wrote “saying” and not telling; this is because Jalex Aames talked to himself. Nothing wrong with that, by the way, we all do it, but at least make it interesting. God damn.
I was in the backrooms, otherwise known as the Cheese Cave, given this name because it was also Jalex Aames’ breakroom as well as my workroom. It would somehow get even cheesier whenever he Jalex Aame-d into the room; and when I covered my nose to rid myself of the stench, he’d only chuckle and say “whoops, hay fever”. I made everything in the Cheese Cave, and when I asked for a more sanitary and appropriate place to make cheese, Jalex Aames simply shrugged and said “eh, I’ll think about it.”. Now whenever I breach the subject again, he scoffs and tells me I’m making it up and to stop lying because the cheese had to be made in the backrooms (his reasoning for this was that the farm needed a natural cheese aroma – yeah right, it needed deodorant).
But that day was different because Jalex Aames didn’t just waltz in there two, three five times that day to have a break from his “hard day working” – he only Jalex Aame-d into the room once.
His tone was different: unsullied, unadulterated…
…and I lost my thought trying to sound smart taking big words from the thesaurus.
What I was trying to say was that he was devoid of emotion, his face a blank, greasy canvas. Not even the dry rot that was his mouth curved into a smile; and in that moment I wasn’t unnerved but thankful that I didn’t have to see his awful teeth. I always found myself wondering if the tooth fairy refused to take his teeth.
Well, whatever happened in his childhood wasn’t my concern in that moment: he held a piece of paper, already damp with his sweat, the ink swirled into nonsense and told me through gritted teeth.
“New cheese recipe, the ingredients are at the front. You better not waste it.”
Yeah, right, like he could talk. But I held back my eyeroll and took the paper, placing it on my work table before wiping my hand off my apron, not even bothering to wait until he left. I wasn’t scared of him because he couldn’t fire me – I was the only one that would work here. People cared about others more than him, which somehow included James Corden and besides, my Glassdoor reviews already scared the other workers away. I needed all the pay I could get, however little, and I wasn’t about to have my pay docked so some other person could steal it. Get some other job!
For some reason, he still stood there, so I pushed past him and made my way to the front. But I was stopped, as Jalex Aames unfortunately placed his hand on my shoulder, nails dug in, and whispered.
“Don’t wear the hairnet, I need the extra… crunch.”
Crunch? Why the hell should cheese be crunchy? And I never even wore a hairnet anyways, so what’s the big deal bringing up the obvious now? I just shook my head and made my way to the front yard.
I was greeted by Larry Lauring, stood by his bright yellow lorry – a request made and paid for by Jalex, without his permission – another thing for him to cheese-ify. Larry was not pleased, especially with the holes in his lorry; but the company never replaced it, saying he brought it onto himself for offering to work for A Tower of Cheesa Farm.
I think this is what made Larry well… a four lettered word we’re all thinking. I guess it’s a defence mechanism so his kindness is never taken for granted again. But nobody felt sorry for him and we all agreed with his company.
“Jalex said the ingredients were at the front,” I pointed to the bags he dumped carelessly in front of his van. “Is this them?”
“What do you think?” He gave me the stink eye.
“Well, I don’t know unless you tell me.”
He scoffed, watching me with disdain as I scratched my head. “Why’d you have to bring that bloke’s name up? Can’t I have one day where I don’t see, hear or think about that man?”
What… I scratched my head again, this time in confusion. “Larry… this is A Tower of Cheesa Farm… Jalex Aames’ farm… Do you not realise where you’re going? You got early on-set cheese-”
As soon as he heard the word cheese he jumped into his lorry and stepped on it, out the driveway in the blink of an eye. I hope it stayed that way. I went back to itching my head.
I brought the bags with me back inside. I can lie and say I didn’t need to go back outside multiple times to bring the bags in and I was super strong, so I will. I brought all the bags with me at once, and totally didn’t drop them to the floor.
Somehow… out of… nowhere… a mini bag dropped from one of the bags…
It was labelled clippings. But of what?
29th October – Jalex Aames has been cultivating more and more obscene recipes for his cheese. In simple talk, Jalex wanted toe nails in his cheese. Why? I couldn’t be bothered to ask – I wasn’t going to eat it, so it wasn’t my problem. So, I made sure to add a piece to each cheese…
But Jalex wasn’t happy.
“ONE CLIPPING PER CHEESE?!” His face was a red flush. “You call one clipping flavour? Get real, Camembert! In what world is that enough flavour?!”
Woah… “Calm down, man.” I’ve never been shouted at by Jalex before and with his bad breath I hope never again. Jeez, take a mint.
“CALM DOWN? CALM. DOWN.” He then exploded. “THIS IS MY BUSINESS CAMEMBERT! MY HOME! WITH MY BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN, EXCEPT FROM ALONSY! BUT STILL! AND MY HUSBAND MR PERRIN BUT I Call him perry!”
Talking about his husband calmed him down, if you couldn’t tell from the caps lock suddenly stopping. Totally wasn’t by accident, nuh-uh.
I scratched my head, and his eyes snapped to the movement. The rage grew in them. I saw the vein in his head bulge. His face somehow grew redder into a redder red. Words could not describe his fury, except from the ones I’ve just used.
“AND WHERE’S THAT CRUNCH!” He pointed a blistered finger at me; and I don’t know how it go into that state when he does nothing all day. “I’VE TOLD YOU TO NOT USE YOUR HAIRNET!”
“I NEVER DO!” I snapped back, sick of his complaining. With all the work I do here, this was practically my farm, so he could shut it with his complaining. “WHAT’S MY HAIR GOT TO DO WITH SOME CHEESE CRUNCH?!”
Then, he smiled. But it wasn’t like his others: it was a thin, watery smile. It was barely a twitch of his lips and my blood ran cold when he muttered. “Because you use 3-in-1 shampoo.”
“What?” No way… but how could he have known-
“I always check up on my employees- well, employee. To know what you’re doing outside of work, so I can make sure you don’t tell anyone my cheeselicious recipes.”
“Plus, I get lonely,” Then his smile grew as he realised what I had said. “Dandruff in the crunch we need in our recipes, which 3-in-1 shampoo provides plenty of. Instead, we have hair strands because you’re somehow balding when you’re 23, Camembert.”
He walked closer to me and I was graced with his bad breath – the stench… it was different… less cheesy… something else. It was metallic… I guess he had steak before he came to bother me.
“Now, when you make the cheese, I want it to look like the North Pole, I want a flurry… of dandruff.”
On the next day, I didn’t see Jalex at all. In fact, I hadn’t seen him all day; and because he wasn’t around, I decided to make normal cheese. I wouldn’t know that this was my fatal mistake, until the 31st.
On Halloween, Jalex seemed… off. More than usual. And that metallic scent was growing and growing. I mean, how much steak could a guy eat in a day? Maybe that’s why he was twitchy, I told myself.
I was wrong.
I was in the Cheese Cave, waiting for Larry to park at the front. I know I said I wished I’d never see the guy again but I did actually need him to come on time for the delivery. I thought I scared him off the other day with mentioning cheese, so I messaged him just in case.
Can you hurry up I have a thing called a job I need to do which I can’t do without my ingredients
Wow, I was flabbergasted. He acted like I was being rude. After 10 minutes he decided to be a decent human being, and replied that he’d be at A Tower of Cheesa Farm as soon as he was out of traffic.
I hope I die in traffic before I reach your smelly farm 😊
After an hour, I gave up. I thought Larry wasn’t coming – in fact, I thought he made this whole traffic thing up – and I bet it didn’t exist. I sighed and turned around when-
Jalex. Aames. His face, a waterfall of grease, brown eyes wide with tears gathered because I get he forgot how to blink. His hands were suspiciously behind his back.
I scoffed, too annoyed at Larry to think about the situation. “What do you want, Jalex? Got a new recipe for me to make?”
“Yes,” He grinned, showing his infamous smile with the rotting teeth.
“Oh great,” I rolled my eyes. “And what’s the ingredient for that?”
A flash of steel came behind his back, sharp. “You.”
“You… you? You what- oh… OH!” I tensed up. “Well, what if I say I don’t want to?”
Jalex blinked. “You know, I never thought about that.”
“Well, you should,” I started making my way to the door. “Thinking would do you some good.”
“Ehhhhh,” He stretched the words out for a couple of seconds before his shoulders sagged. “Nah.”
“Shoot. Well, I guess I start running now, right?”
“Yeah, if you could. Would make this thing a bit more fun.”
“Can I at least have a head start?”
“Alright, alright, I’m running!”
So, I dashed out of the Cheese Cave, weaving between hallways and hiding in the worst spots in different rooms. One of them was pulling out the seats on one of the sofas and just putting them on top of me. He definitely wouldn’t have seen me there.
At some point, I ran into his son. The one he didn’t like. The one he hated. I told him that, believing but not knowing that it would be my last time to make a child cry.
The strange thing was that I never saw Jalex the entire time I was hiding inside the farm. I wondered if I glanced around more, or had more of an attention span that I would’ve seen him. Heard him. Or sensed him.
I remember the hope I felt when I ran out the farm, the hope that spiked up when I saw Larry Lauring. I waved my arms as I saw him enter his lorry, shouting desperately.
“LARRY! LARRY LET ME IN! JALEX AAMES IS GOING TO MAKE ME INTO AN ACTUAL BRIE!”
But Larry just sat there. He looked at me, keeping eye contact. Without glancing anywhere else, he started the engine, moved the shift stick and drove off. My heart drowned in the despair I felt, knowing I’d be turned into one of Jalex’s nasty cheeses. A fate I could’ve avoided if only I took that Sainsbury’s offer.
I didn’t need to turn around to know who was wheezing behind me. I knew I could do nothing about it…
Actually, I lied. He was a couple feet behind me and I could’ve started to run again; but I wanted to pull a Larry and have people feel sorry for me. I wanted to be famous, too, even though I’m dead now.
Anyways, that’s how I went from Brie Burrata Camembert to A Tower of Cheesa Farm’s cheese of the day, “A Brie of Fresh Air!” and why Jalex Aames’ favourite cheese is cheddar.
by Monika Grigaite
The castle stood there. In it’s cobwebbed, dim lit glory. The lights flickering from time to time and the moon reflecting onto it. I admired it. It was beautiful after all, so who wouldn’t admire it? I had thought about going in there many times but ended up refusing. However, it changed. Tonight.
As I admired the beautiful night sky for one last time. I took a deep breath, scared it would be my last. I wandered into the beautiful castle. I was in awe.
“Not only was it stunning from the outside but the inside too!” I said to myself.
Then, I heard a familiar voice.
“Did you miss me, Haruki?” It said.
I froze. Was this really Hiroshi? Had he been here this entire time? But I could swear he died, it was in my arms after all. I still remembered his black, long hair still feeling as lovely as it always did and his defeated face going colder and paler in my arms. I sobbed that day. I turned to face the figure that I was so familiar with. Four years of my youth flashing before my eyes. I smiled faintly. Stunned.
“Hiroshi?” I replied, unable to move.
“I’ve been waiting for you!” He said rather upset.
“You have?” I was terrified. I couldn’t believe it. It really was him.
“Come! Let’s dance Haruki, it’s such a beautiful night” He beamed at me
“But such a sad night” I muttered under my cold breath before following Hiroshi to a large, empty ballroom. It was polished clean. You could practically see yourself in the tiles. It was truly magnificent.
Suddenly, Hiroshi’s cold hand took mine as I held his. We waltzed and waltzed and waltzed it had felt like hours Until, I fell to the ground. Seeing my hands were covered in blood. But not a civilian’s blood. Not my own. It was Hiroshi’s. My eyes went blurry from the salty, bitter tears that welled from them. I called out to Hiroshi. I looked up at where I’d been dancing and back down in my arms. It was Hiroshi.
I screamed in horror, before opening my eyes. I was in my bed. I was fine. That was far from the truth. As I leaped out of bed I noticed my abdomen being in excruciating pain. I looked down, to see I was covered in blood, again. But it wasn’t Hiroshi’s. It was mine. I looked around the room panicking. I was going to die, or was I already dead? I pinched myself before falling to the ground and shutting my eyes. My unexperienced youth flashing before my eyes once again. I was alone. This was the end. Then, it all went dark.