On Fridays, Chuck Wendig takes a moment out of his busy schedule of writing, parenting and defying time itself, to distract his many fans with a Flash Fiction challenge. This week’s challenge is to write something that scares you.
This isn’t an easy one for me. The usual phobias (rats, mice, snakes, bugs, heights, depths, open spaces, small spaces, clowns, ventriloquist dolls, the Dread Lord Cthulhu) don’t apply (though I’m not fond of gerbils). My fears tend to be a little more visceral: “Oh shit, I took that corner too fast on my bike and nearly ended up with me and my Kawasaki strewn all over the road!” But that one’s kinda manageable (slow down on that corner, idiot) and not so much something that scares me, as a niggling concern for my health and my bike.
So, this is what I came up with.
(Warning: due to the implied violence, some readers may find this short story distressing. Please use your discretion if you believe reading about a violent/victim situation may have a negative impact on your mental health.)
A river of crimson flows from my body, a lake of sticky, metallic warmth pooling around me. There had been pain; sharp, biting, stabbing, tearing. Gone, now, but the memory of it remains, a sensation branded into my brain. Now, it’s cold that I feel the most, a chill creeping over me, turning my skin to ice despite the heat of the blood pouring out. A deep, pervasive, bone-coldness, and I can’t feel my toes.
The footsteps draw closer. I close my eyes, but still feel the shadow’s kiss as the figure stands over me. I want to run. To jump up and flee, or fight back with fists and feet. I want to, but I can’t move my legs. Trapped. A prisoner in my own body, at the mercy of the stranger’s shadow. Play dead, they say—but that’s for bears. Does playing dead work for the deadliest creature of all? Will this monster be fooled?
It takes forever for the footsteps to move on. A whimper escapes my lips, and I open my eyes once more. In the forever it took for the monster to leave, the sun had set. Dark, now, and growing darker by the minute. I try to move my arm, to reach out to my pocket, to the phone nestled there. If I can reach the phone, I can call for help. If I can reach the phone, I will be safe. Somebody—the police, the paramedics, my mother—will come and save me. That’s what they do.
My arm moves by less than an inch, then fails. Tears leak from my eyes as my world grows colder, and darker. “Help!” I wheeze, too tired to shout. “Help! Help me, please!” I cry it into the dark over and over again, but silence remains my only companion. Now I’m so cold that I don’t feel the warm of the river or the lake caressing my skin. The world is so dark that not even the sun could penetrate its depths. Shadows claw at me, their vicious fingers sinking into my mind, drawing me down into the darkness. And in that moment, I finally realise.
Nobody is coming to save me.
So, this is something that scares me. The idea of slowly dying alone, feeling my body fail and being unable to even call for help. I used the concept of an aggressor, but really, it could be in any number of situations; car crash, terrorist attack, aviation accident, and so forth.
Check out Chuck’s blog to read what are sure to be some scary short stories this week.
(Original image by stuart anthony, modified and used under terms of CC licence.)