Everyone loves a riveting horror story, especially this time of year. So if you didn't get enough spooky thrills during Halloween, this list of 20 short horror stories will definitely scare you.
As it turns out the subreddit shortscarystories is filled with talented writers who have mastered the art of writing short scary fiction. Well at least let's hope that these stories are fictional because they are seriously terrifying. Scroll below to read them!
“Now remember, I don’t want you talking to him unless I’m around, you hear?”
“I’m serious. Now tuck in your shirt—he’s here.”
The front door swung open and there stood Uncle Tommy, drenched in sweat from a day’s work in the summer heat.
“It’s a scorcher out there, ain’t it?” he said, putting his bag on the floor and untying his boots. “I appreciate you letting me crash for the night.”
“Just so long as you’re gone in the morning,” my dad replied coldly.
“Now,” Uncle Tommy said, turning to me and lowering himself to a knee. “Where’s my hug at? Been a while since I seen you last.”
I took a couple steps toward him and leaned in for a hug. His tight embrace made me uncomfortable, and I let out a light whimper.
“Don’t you know it’s a hundred degrees out there?” he asked, tugging at my long sleeves.
“I haven’t been outside today,” I recited to him.
“Don’t you have some chores to finish up?” Dad interjected.
I knew that was my cue to leave, so I shuffled off to my room.
Later that night I lay in bed. I tossed and turned, unable to be comfortable, when I heard the thud of footsteps in the hallway outside my bedroom. After several long seconds of silence, the door opened quietly, the dark silhouette of a man entered the room, and the door closed again. For several more seconds there was nothing but unrelenting silence. I might have thought I had dreamt it all if it weren’t for the sound of a hushed breath being carefully released.
I could feel him getting nearer. The warmth of another person in the room was unfamiliar at this hour. I was not prepared for this; I prayed he would go away, to even come back in the morning if he must.
He reached down and touched me. He rolled me onto my stomach and lifted up my shirt. From the corner of my eye I could see two things: the faint beam of a pocket flashlight, and Uncle Tommy’s eyes studying my bare skin. His rough fingers ran up and down my back. Suddenly, he got up and walked to the bedroom door and left. I tried again to fall asleep, eventually succeeding.
He was gone by the time I awoke.
Around noon the phone rang while my father was out.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Yeah. Your dad around?”
“No sir. Went to the store.”
“Good,” he said, sounding a bit nervous. He paused for a moment. “I’m calling about last night. I don’t know if you were awake or not—”
“Well then I’ll just get right to it. I’ve got a question for you, and I need for you to be honest with me. Can you do that?”
“How’d you get all them bruises?”
“Please, I am literally begging you,” I say, but the executioner only sighs and gives me a truly sorrowful look as he slides the IV into my arm.
The chaplain sits beside me. “Once he pushes the button, the drugs will be administered in quick succession. Unconsciousness will occur in roughly thirty seconds, and death soon after that,” he explains, even though I have heard it so many times before already. “Any final words?”
“Just, again, I beg you not to do this,” I say.
The chaplain nods sadly, sorrowful that I do not face my executioner with a clean conscience.
That’s the thing, though. I haven’t murdered anyone. It’s been this way my entire life. I don’t know why, but whenever I would accidentally hurt myself, others near me would receive the wound. I once got a paper cut in class that caused the three people around me to bleed from their fingers. In high school, I was in a car accident, and even though my side of the car was hit, my girlfriend developed a broken leg.
I’m always very careful. I take care of myself, trying to stay in the very best of health. But when I was mugged by that trio and he shot me in the face, their faces exploded, not mine. And when the cops came, they found me kneeling beside their bodies, trying to figure out what to do and stupidly holding their gun.
Around thirty seconds after the execution started, I see both the executioner and chaplain fall to the floor with a hard thump. “I begged you,” I repeat sadly.
Julia knew she was smart. She was one of those clever children, the kind of child who figures out early on that parents aren’t all-powerful and all-knowing.
The first time she realized this was when she got scared. There had been a noise in her room, coming from under her bed, or from the closet.
Julia ran down the hall, crying, “Mommy! Daddy!”
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I huh-heard a m-monster,” Julia glubbed.
She expected them to comfort her, or roll their eyes, or get annoyed. Instead, they jumped up immediately and raced to her bedroom, where they checked under the bed, inspected the closet, and tested the window lock. They poked, prodded, and scoured every inch.
Julia caught on quickly. She knew what they were doing. By taking her fears seriously, they were showing their little girl that she was safe and loved. They had probably read about it in some book.
But the lesson Julia learned was that she had power. Thereafter, waking her parents became a nightly event. Julia would scream and cry, they would rush to her bedroom, and Julia would hide her grin behind tears. But not once did they ever complain.
One night she could stand it no longer, and she burst out laughing when Daddy fell down while examining the light fixture, as if a monster could fit up there.
“What’s so funny?” he asked, rubbing his backside.
“You,” Julia smirked. “You always believe me.”
Daddy wasn’t angry. He just looked at Mommy.
“Once,” he said quietly, “just once, we didn’t believe your brother.”
And Julia, an only child, did not sleep well that night.
I checked my watch as I walked up to the door. Ten minutes late. I had been babysitting for them for six months, I was sure they wouldn't mind.
Mr. Lopez answered the door. "Hey! I'm sorry I'm late, I..." I started to say, but stopped when I saw him. His face was soaked with sweat and he looked slightly agitated. "No problem. No problem at all." He said, ushering me inside.
In the kitchen, there was only a single light on, above the table. At it, Mrs. Lopez was writing something feverishly on a slip of paper. "I'll...be right back. I have to say goodbye to Denise." Denise was their one-year-old daughter, who I had been watching for them. She dissappeared into the darkness of the hallway, heading up the stairs.
"What movie are you seeing tonight?" I asked, setting my bag down on the table. The pad of paper had holes punctured through it, as if Mrs. Lopez had been pressing the pen down hard.
"Uh? I don't know. I guess we'll decide when we get there." Mr. Lopez was shifting from foot to foot, looking more worried by the minute. I noticed a pretty sizeable cut on his right cheek, dribbled with dried blood.
"Are you okay, Mr. Lopez?" I asked, but before he could answer, I heard Mrs. Lopez returning from upstairs. "We...we should get going. Goodbye, Katy." She said, pulling me into a hug. She tigthened her grip for a moment and I could have sworn I heard a soft sob. "Thank you...for everything." She said with great difficulty.
She began to say something else but her husband grabbed her and dragged her out the door. Before he closed it, he gave me a mournful, almost apologetic look. Then he closed it, and I was alone in the dark house.
I thought about going out and talking to them more or maybe even just leaving but in the end I decided to stay. Not turning on the lights so as to not startle up Denise, I climbed the stairs in the dark and headed into her room. I approached the crib and was about to lift her up when I saw a note laying on top of the blankets. I read it by the streetlight that glared feebly through the window.
Katy, I'm so sorry. He broke in while we were getting ready. He said he was going to kill us. Do horrible things to Denise . He asked if anyone knew about us and we told him about you. It's an exchange. I'm so sorry. I hope that God will forgive me one day.
Looking out the window, I saw them pulling out of the driveway. They were crying. Perched in Mrs. Lopez's lap was Denise.
Behind me, in the darkness, the door creeked open.
The deal was simple; we’d get to ask him a couple of questions and he got to ask us a couple of questions. A bit odd if you ask me. What could The Devil possibly want to know from us? I couldn’t tell you.
“Is heaven real?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied, his voice like dying embers in a fireplace, “and so is hell.”
“Who goes to heaven?”
“Whoever God wants there.”
“I’m afraid that’s much too vague for us.”
“What’s that like?” he asked, his eyes perking up.
“What’s it like to be afraid?”
A bit confused, I tried my best to describe the feeling of fear. My explanation was a bit clumsy but he appeared to be satisfied with it.
“Why’d you want to know that?” I asked.
“Because when God made me, he didn’t give me the ability to feel fear. I can’t feel lots of things.”
“What can you feel?”
I got us back on track.
“Can you elaborate on your answer from before? About heaven?”
“Of course. Heaven is open to all of God’s creations, whatever they do.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. When I was called in, the people in charge told me that my primary objective was to secure information on how humanity could get to heaven. With that sorted, anything else I gathered was a bonus.
“Are you going to heaven too? Since you were created by God,” I asked.
“I could, but I won’t,” he replied.
“Because I committed the most egregious sin. I did something only God was supposed to do.”
“I tried to create angels. They didn’t work out. My angels were made in my image, so I guess I’m to blame. All they do is cause suffering and destruction, so God said they had to go to hell, to suffer for an eternity”
“You mean the demons?”
“Yes, I guess I do. I couldn’t go to heaven, not while my creations were suffering. So I decided that when the time came, I would travel to hell and suffer with them.”
“Because I love them.”
I checked my watch, “Time's almost up.”
“Yes it is.” he replied.
“I have to go back and get debriefed.” I said, preparing to leave the facility. “They’ll be ecstatic when they get the good news.”
“And what might that be?”
“That no matter what we do, we’re going to heaven.”
“But you're not, or anyone else for that matter.”
“But,” I said, my voice wavering, “You said…”
“Yes, I know what I said my child. But you're not one of God's creations,” he said with a tone I would mistake for sadness if I didn’t know better,
“You’re one of mine.”
I used to live in a small building downtown. One of the reasons I moved out was the bad neighborhood, including this guy in the apartment right over mine. It was a weird looking fella who mostly kept to himself. Around midnight though, there was frequently a strange noise that got on my nerves. It wasn't loud, to be fair, but I have really light sleep so it was hard to get my eyes shut with those little bumping sounds going on and on. It reminded me of high heels walking about, but not as loud, as if the person causing the noise was actually trying to be silent. After a few days, i realized the pattern was always the same, like a recording played over and over with random intervals in between. And that went on for the best part of an year, always the same sequence of bumps, slowly tattooed into my mind, sometimes for hours straight during the night.
It was only several years later, helping my daughter with her homework, that I learned a little bit of morse code. She knocked on the table with her knuckles and a shiver immediately went through my spine as I recognized that exact pattern. When i asked her what it meant, she laughed. "It's the easiest one, daddy" she said. "It's the one to call for help."
After lifetime of being deaf, my best friend just received cochlear implants. When he woke up from the surgery, we all stood around him. His wife was the first one to say anything. He heard her voice and at once began to cry. We all took turns speaking, letting him hear our voices and our names, and with each word we said, he became more emotional. When we were all finished, silence hung in the room.
He looked up at me and asked what that sound was. It took me a moment to understand what he was hearing, and when I understood, I told him he was hearing silence.
He shook his head. “This isn’t silence,” he said slowly, hearing his own voice for the first time. “I’ve been hearing silence all my life, and this is different.”
A sound came from just outside the hospital room, and he perked up immediately. “Isn’t that silence?”
We all exchanged looks of trepidation around the room before I spoke. “No,” I said slowly. “That was the sound of someone screaming.”
I hate it when my brother Charlie has to go away.
My parents constantly try to explain to me how sick he is. That I am lucky for having a brain where all the chemicals flow properly to their destinations like undammed rivers. When I complain about how bored I am without a little brother to play with, they try to make me feel bad by pointing out that his boredom likely far surpasses mine, considering his confine to a dark room in an institution.
I always beg for them to give him one last chance. Of course, they did at first. Charlie has been back home several times, each shorter in duration than the last. Every time without fail, it all starts again. The neighbourhood cats with gouged out eyes showing up in his toy chest, my dad's razors found dropped on the baby slide in the park across the street, mom's vitamins replaced by bits of dishwasher tablets. My parents are hesitant now, using "last chances" sparingly. They say his disorder makes him charming, makes it easy for him to fake normalcy, and to trick the doctors who care for him into thinking he is ready for rehabilitation. That I will just have to put up with my boredom if it means staying safe from him.
I hate it when Charlie has to go away. It makes me have to pretend to be good until he is back.
When I approach you in the park, you look pretty down-and-out. Clothes disheveled, eyes bloodshot, nose running. The holidays can be hard on people. I sit next to you on the bench, the smell of your binge-drinking invading my nostrils.
"How're you doing, friend?" I ask gently.
"Not so good," you reply. "I got fired from my job. Can you believe that? Fired so close to Christmas. My girlfriend keeps saying we're going to get evicted if I don't find something soon. Doesn't she think I know that? I reached out to my friends but none of them will help me because I've asked so many times before. You know, sometimes I think everyone would be better off if I was never born."
You look shocked, as if you can’t believe you unloaded so much on a total stranger. I'm familiar with this effect I have on people.
"Now, I'm sure that's not true," I say. "Listen, you might not believe this, but I'm an angel sent from Heaven to watch over people like you. Why don't I show you what it would be like if you were never born? Then you can see how much everyone needs you."
You sniffle. "Okay."
I produce a tiny bell from my pocket and ring it. Suddenly, we're in front of a magnificent mansion.
"Where are we?" you ask.
"I took you to your girlfriend. Let's see how sad she is without you."
We peek in the window at the impressive interior with expensive furnishings. Your girlfriend is at the dinner table with an exceedingly handsome man, holding his hand. She laughs at something he says and strokes the hair of a beautiful child sitting next to her.
"But... she's better off without me!" you exclaim, horrified.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," I say. "Let's try someone else."
I ring my bell and we're at your parents' house. A young man who bears a resemblance to you walks outside.
"Is that... my brother? But it can't be. He died years ago."
"If I had to guess," I offer. "He may be alive because you weren’t around to influence him to drive so fast."
I watch your face as your parents come out of the house, smiling and hugging your brother in a way they never hugged you.
"Oh God," you say. "Take me back. Please. I can't stand another second here."
I ring the bell and we're back in a world that you know is worse because of your existence. You run away and I wonder how you're going to do it: pills, a gun, or maybe jumping off a tall bridge. I know you won't be able to live with what I've shown you; no one has ever been able to.
None of it was real, of course. But you think it is. And that's enough.
I remove my hat to give my horns some air and keep walking, looking for the next poor soul depressed during this fine holiday season.
BDSM lost its kick a couple of years into our relationship.
Toby and I had always been bored with everything vanilla and predictable when it came to sex, so after I suggested breath play one night and he agreed I was ecstatic. I love him so much, and it's such a rush being with somebody you trust and value in such a dangerous or harmful scenario. I get off on the irony of it alone. The first time we did it I spend the entire night awake, flush with ecstasy and pleasure. So of course we escalated, why wouldn't we? Breath-play turned into choking, that turned into nearly losing consciousness and everything along that line.
It was never physically abusive. We love each other and know what we're doing. It's why I was so calm and comfortable asking him to lock me in the trunk of his car for half an hour. I lay there, bound and trapped in the dark just thinking about what I'd do to him, and when I heard the key turn in the lock I nearly bled as I dug my nails into my palms with anticipation.
F**k. I told him it was amazing. How turned on it made me.
The trunk turned into a box, and eventually that turned into a makeshift coffin in the garage. He couldn't believe me when I told him how turned on it made me, being trapped and powerless and just feeling all I was was a prisoner waiting to be had by a master.
Once Toby started bringing chloroform into it I can't believe how we never even thought of it before. Being half conscious, violated in safety? Oh my God. Some people would never understand.
Last night I told Toby I wanted to swap. He said Yes. I rushed him when he got home, a rag in my hand. I saw him smile as he got a glimpse as I placed it around his mouth.
Putting him in the coffin was hard, I should have asked him to strip beforehand, but it's worth it.
Two hours later I'm covered in soil and I ache. My breath coming out ragged and heavy in the light of the car headlights. Six feet is deeper than you anticipate. But it's worth it. Worth it when he wakes up naked and starts stroking himself in the box, only to find a flashlight and the note I wrote him.
It's an hour drive back home, but it's worth it.
It'll be worth it when I dig a hole next week for that girl of his.
Half an hour locked in a trunk is nothing when you know your Husband's been f**king a girl he met online for the past six months.
Acting like you're into extreme sex and just casually escalating for the past four months, that's a bit harder.
But, I've learned a valuable lesson. If you're going to cheat, don't have your phone password the same as your safeword.
"So... how much for the girl?"
I've dealt with punks like this one before, but I've never been this desperate - it shows in my voice.
"Sorry man, no can do."
"Come on, don't f**k with me - how much?"
Anger spews from my throat, I won't risk losing the girl. She deserves better than to live the rest of her life rotting.
"Look I told you, we ain't sellin'. Now take your ass home, old man!"
My brow furrows, I keep pressing - "Don't pretend there isn't a price; just tell me what it is, I'll pay anything! How. Much. For. The. GIRL??"
"You really think she's special, huh?"
"Well here's the deal, man: we uh, we're about to shove off. And we're all set as-is. So frankly, I think your best bet is to go walk the docks and try to find someone else. The girl isn't going anywhere. Capisce?"
I look at the girl, pretty young thing. Just blossoming into a young woman. Beautiful. I know it'll be wrong if I take her back home with me, it wouldn't be right. But I can't help what I can't control.
"Look, there IS no one else. Now would you please listen to me, listen to reason, for a minute? She's perfect, I love her, I want to take care of her. So F**K! How much for the girl, you son of a b**ch?!"
"Nah, we're done here. F**k you very much, have a nice life gramps. Oh, and - stay safe!"
With numb eyes and a nauseous heart, I watch the boat begin its departure - the final evacuation from our quarantined, plague-soaked island.
"I'm so sorry dear... I tried, but there was no room" I whisper between sobs, clutching my granddaughter in my arms.
Yeah, you read that right. We're by no means requested as much as those feathery d*ck-muffins, but we take our job just as seriously. 'Course, we've gotta go about it a bit differently. No sense in doing the same damn thing - we're summoned for a reason.
Guardian angels work pretty much exactly how you think. They look out for you, having you trip on the sidewalk to avoid getting hit by a car and whatnot. They love tangling with the threads of fate, plucking a string here and tying a loose end there. And while they're great at predicting things short-term, they suck donkey balls long-term.
So for every time someone's told you "you must have a guardian angel looking out for you!" after narrowly dodging that falling AC unit, that same snobby urinal cake won't do jack sh*t about that crushing heartbreak. "They need to learn," they'll say. "Now they'll appreciate the next one more," they'll say. F**kers have a circle jerk on their high horses while you suffer. Moral code my ass.
But that's where we come in. Demons ain't got the same definition of "helping." We torture people for eternity, and we're damn good at it. We're clever. We're patient. And we love revenge stories as much as you people all hate us for it all.
Guy who cheated behind your back? Boom, chlamydia. Snot-nosed nephew hit you in the nuts? Introduce his ice cream to the ground, mother f**ker. But our favorites - what we're known for - is the waiting game.
That teacher who always graded you most harshly? Guess who's the only casualty of the most recent school shooting. The bully who stole your lunch money every week? Now he smokes two packs a day and can barely make ends meet. The pastor who fondled you and said God wouldn't want you to tell? I feed him lava every Tuesday downstairs. What goes around comes around, and we're the ones coming around.
So the next time you get it into your tiny mortal skull that demons are the bad guys, remember we're the ones dishing out the karma. We're the ones putting the smile on your face when your ex's new boy toy runs out on her after knocking her up. We're the ones getting your boss fired for using company funds on h**kers and blow. Oh look at who got promoted! Such surprise, much wow.
You're f**king welcome.
Hell is a room with two doors.
The first shuts behind you as you step inside. It locks into the frame, never to open again. The second door stands at the opposite wall, a solid implacable barrier, its purpose utterly inscrutible.
As soon as both doors are closed, your torment commences. The room houses a single unique punishment, dealt out at the deft sadistic hands of your custodian. You will scream, you will cry, and as you watch your wounds heal just enough to keep the pain fresh, there will be nothing you'll want more than escape.
Once you have endured 24 hours of punishment, you are permitted a day off.
The second door will swing open, revealing a bare, soft lit room. Any time you wish you can pick yourself up and shuffle, unimpeded, through the doorway into the grey stone room. The space is featureless except, as always, for two doors.
As the door shuts behind you, your wounds will heal, your pain will subside and for 24 hours, nothing will happen. There are no special comforts, but in the quiet absence of ceaseless torment you drink every second like ambrosia.
Here's the thing however. When your time is up, when the second door opens and you are pulled inside, you will be in a new room, with a new tormentor and, importantly, your new punishment will be noticeably worse.
Some take a while to notice the pattern. Some notice immediately but just can't take the pain. They dash through the door as soon as it opens, eager for a day of peace. Those people have it the worst. They descend quickly beyond the realms of imaginable suffering, and their yearning for release will only make those 24 hours more inadequate. All of them will start to think of their earlier punishments almost fondly, lamenting that they ever set foot in the grey room but unable to stop.
But the real trick is played on those who learn restraint. Those who realise the bone rending torment they're undergoing is better than anything beyond the grey room. Their heart breaks a thousand times, every moment they decide not to step into that next room. Their soul shatters the moment they decide they're going to stay in that room.
Hell is a room with two doors.
The first shuts behind you as you step inside. It locks into the frame, never to open again. The second door stands at the opposite wall, open and waiting. Reminding you with every agonising second, that this is a Hell you chose.
“Menopause?!” I blurted out, nearly punching my doctor in the face. He nodded, silently referring to my medical file.
“It’s not uncommon for a woman your age.”
“My age?” I gritted. “Wasn’t my last checkup fine?”
“It was,” he said, trying to calm me down. “Is it rare? Yes, but not unheard of.”
“Maybe it’s stress” I said, praying for a more temporary diagnosis.
“Your body isn’t producing eggs anymore, Rebecca” he said, closing my file.
He lectured on about the female body, but my thoughts instantly went to my five year old daughter, Amelia, and the eventual conversation about why she would never get to be a big sister.
“Try to have a good Easter, Rebecca” he said uncomfortably as I walked out of his office.
I pulled out of the parking lot and my tears were free to fall at will. I wanted to get it out of my system as much as possible before returning home to Amelia and her father, William.
“How am I going to tell William?” I said to myself. That brought on another fall of tears, so I took the long way home.
“Hi, honey” William said before I was fully through the door. Amelia greeted me with a wave from the couch next to him.
“Hi, guys” I smiled. As bad as things seemed, everything I was truly thankful for was sitting not twenty feet away.
“How was your checkup?” William asked, voicing no concern. Why would he? There had been no signs that anything was wrong.
“Fine” I shrugged.
“Ames here was just telling me an interesting story” he said, holding back a chuckle.
“Is that right?” I said, sitting on the loveseat.
“I saw the Easter Bunny!” Amelia shouted, and nearly bounced off the couch.
“Good, honey” I replied - my typical mom-response when I’m distracted.
“In your room the other night.”
I gave her a smile, but hers dropped. I guess my response wasn’t exuberant enough.
I grabbed the remote, turned on Hulu, and clicked the first thing in our Keep Watching list. It was obvious that William was in control of the TV last as it started playing some pedantic documentary about alien abductions and government conspiracies.
“Why was he here so early, Ames?” William humored her. “Easter is a few weeks away.”
She started to answer, but stopped and pointed at the television.
“That’s him!” she belted out.
William and I looked at the TV to see an artist’s rendition of the supposed Gray Aliens. It had the stereotypical, bulbous head, almond-shaped, black eyes, and scrawny frame. We fell literally speechless, waiting for Amelia to laugh at what was obviously a joke.
”Theories abound as to why these beings abduct mainly females,” the narrator spoke, but I tuned him out. “… our physiology… reproductive systems… alien hybrids.”
“He told me something, but I forgot” Amelia muttered.
”In short,” the narrator concluded, “they harvest the eggs of the abductees.”
“Eggs!” she said. “That’s what he said he needed.”
Hi, is this Karen Maitland?
Hey I'm really sorry for calling so late. It's just um... I know your daughter?
Is Anna OK?
Oh um... no I uh, your other... I go to community college with Sarah?
Oh... Ok wow. Where abouts are you?
Hah from your reaction I'm guessing Sarah's always been a bit of a lone wolf character.
Hah uh yes you could say that... But I mean it's great to hear she has friends over there. Can I ask what this is about?
Well, I'm actually calling to ask if you've been in touch with Sarah recently.
Um no... no, not really. She sort of... broke off contact a while ago. I've always told her if she wanted to... I haven't changed my phone number just in case but I uh... I think she's… probably changed hers by now.
I'm sorry. That uh... that does sound like her. Well um, listen I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this but, Sarah's been reported missing.
What? What do you... missing? For how long?
Uh, almost three days.
Three days? Ok uh... ok are... I mean... I mean what's happening, are people looking for her?
Well that's the thing, I uh... I don't think they really are. I mean... you know she likes to keep to herself so she... didn't really have any close friends, and she was always sort of prone to... absences. I mean it's like no one's noticed. I told the police but they've hardly looked into it.
But that's... she was always a little antisocial! That doesn't mean they don't have to... Listen can you tell me the name of your campus? I'll fly over tonight, I can be there by tomorrow morning.
Sure it's the Westgate Campus. I was just calling to let you know but, honestly it's uh... it's really great to hear someone actually take this seriously.
Of course... thank you so much for telling me I... I really really appreciate it.
No honestly it's me who should be thanking you, I've uh... I've done this a few times before but... it isn't fun if no one cares.
I'm sorry? What do you mean?
“911, what’s your emergency?”
I hesitated on the phone, all of a sudden a little shy. I had never called 911 before, and talking to new people always makes me antsy. I wished Tom were there… but, of course, that’s why I was calling. I took a deep breath, cleared my throat, and answered.
“Hi, um… my name is Terry Millerson and I’d like to report a missing person. Tom Smith.”
“And how long has… I’m sorry, what was that name?”
“No, no - I mean, what did you say your name was?”
I sighed impatiently. “My name is Terry Millerson. Look, Tom hasn’t been home for over twelve hours. That may not seem like a lot, but that’s a very long time for him. He never goes away that long without telling me when he’ll be back. So can you just…”
“Ms. Millerson, can you tell us your address?”
I paused, uncertainty creeping in. “Why do you want to know my address?”
“Ms. Millerson, do you know where you are?”
I covered up my embarrassment with a bit of bluster. “At home, obviously.”
“And what address is that?”
I lost my patience. “I don’t know, okay?! What does it matter? Look, just find Tom so I know he’s going to be okay, you got that?”
“Ms. Millerson, please tell us where you are, your parents are very worried, we are coming to find you-”
At that moment, Tom walked in. I breathed a sigh of relief and hung up the phone just as he spied me.
His face went red, but I didn’t mind.
“What the f**k are you doing? How did you get up here?”
I smiled brightly at him. “Tom, there you are. I was so worried when you didn’t come home! I thought something had happened to you! You left the basement door unlocked. You never leave the door unlocked. Is everything okay?”
Tom closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Did you tell the police where you are?”
“No, sir. I just asked them to find you for me. Did you talk to them?”
He paused a moment, then opened his eyes and smiled at me. “No, but I’ll be sure to tell them that I’m safe and not to worry about it.”
I beamed at him as he took my manacled hands in his, running his thumbs across the metal. He always does that when he’s being sweet. I didn’t like it at first but I love it now. I love a lot of things about Tom now.
“Come on, sweetie, let’s get you back downstairs, hm?”
“Yes, sir,” I said happily as he ushered me towards the basement.
Dressed in a dirtied spacesuit, the astronaut did his best to control his breathing. It was difficult. The confined cabin would have proven claustrophobic even to the most adventurous of individuals. It didn’t help that nothingness surrounded him – a complete absence of light. Even the farthest reaches of space were markedly brighter, with their darkness broken up by the stars.
Heat suffused the cramped little pod. It was piloted by an American, if the markings on the outside of the craft were to be believe. In thick bold letters were the words, “United States”. Plastered underneath that was Old Glory, slightly crooked.
The astronaut reached out feeling for the control panel. No flashing LEDs were there to guide his hands, and he slapped at bare wall.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” he called out, hoping Mission Control could hear him. Only an odd whooshing sound and his own heavy panting greeted his ears. He tried not to let panic overwhelm him. Many a solo mission he’d been on in the past, but this was the first time he’d felt truly alone.
A piercing alarm from someplace he couldn’t pinpoint broke through his reverie. Oddly enough the noise comforted him. He took it as a sign that he was not forgotten, that there was still some connection between himself and the rest of humanity.
“Come in Ground Control!” he tried again. Though the alarm continued, he thought he might have been able to hear the muffled garble of voices.
Sweat poured from his brow, and he tugged at the collar of his space suit. Its heavy material only added to his current misery. He could not see it, but it felt as if the air around him was shimmering with heat waves.
Blackness of a different kind began to swim at the edges of his vision. He tried once more to summon the far away voices, but his lungs no longer had the capacity. Even as numbness overcame him, fear still lingered. From chapped lips spilled the inaudible last word, “Mamma.”
The firefighter shook his head, looking away from the sickening sight before him. The house had been well and truly gutted by flames, but enough of it had remained intact to piece together the scene.
Two victims had been claimed by the inferno. A woman had been discovered in the remnants of the kitchen. Her proximity to the source of the blaze – a toaster – indicated she had succumbed relatively quickly to smoke inhalation.
The second body was much smaller. The kid, dressed in some odd costume, had been nearly overlooked. By some bizarre happenstance the cardboard box he had hidden himself in had remained relatively untouched. The firefighter would have smiled at the vessel masquerading as a spaceship, had it not been for the untimely passing.
He took a moment to mourn the child. Out of respect for the boy's imagination, he noted in his mind the cause of death - burn up upon re-entry.
All three of us were silent as we drove past the blank "welcome to" sign and into the town with no name.
The people all watched us with the same slack expression, their heads tilted at identical angles as if listening to a single far-off sound.
For a moment, I heard it too.
For a moment, the people in the car seemed like strangers and I couldn't remember who we were or where we were going, but then we passed the last house and it came back.
We were all old friends. All travelling together. All safe.
All four of us.
John was at his desk typing away. His keyboard seem to solidify and become as hard as granite. He tried to back away from his desk, but the chair was held rigidly in place. He had to lift himself up and climb onto his desk to get free. The office was in a panic. Janis was trapped under a blanket and was screaming for help. Several coworkers were attempting to pull the blanket off of her to no avail. John went back to his desk to retrieve his phone. It too would not budge and he could not unlock it because the power button was stuck. Luckily his keys and wallet were in his pocket and seemed free of this paralyzing curse. He ran to the central elevator and found one of them was stuck open. Two people were inside frantically trying to get the elevator to move. His next option was the stairwells. Most of the doors were closed and wouldn't budge, but finally he found one that was open. There were screams from the floor above. He climbed up the stairs in an attempt to help, but the door there was also immovable. Apologizing, he descended the stairs to the ground level. The doors were all closed. There was no way out.
Trent was in his car. He was talking to his wife on the phone as he was stopped at an intersection. The cars on the main road ahead of him all suddenly stopped in place. The occupants were thrown violently forward while the seat belts held them firmly. No airbags went off and no horns were honking. It appeared as if most of them had been killed or severely injured. There was confusion on the other end of the line as his wife informed him that something was going on and she had to go. Trent tried to unbuckle and open his door to get out but neither would budge. He was strapped in place watching the dead and dying. His only consolation was that he was able to talk to his wife again.
Jennifer was out in a field with her husband and kids. They were playing a game when she felt a sharp pain in the soles of her feet. Her children began screaming and crying. Her feet were bleeding profusely and she reached down to feel the grass. It was impossibly stiff and sharp as razors. Her husband was trying to reach the kids, but the grass tore at his feet with every step. Once they reached the kids, they picked them up and started heading for their car in the distant parking lot. By the time they reached the pavement, Jennifer and her husband were dragging themselves along the ground to reach safety. They were able to get the kids to the curb before bleeding out.
I've been stuck in my dorm room, but at least I have my phone available. How is everyone else doing out there? Where were you when time froze?
71% of the Earth's surface is water.
That's, scientifically speaking, a f**king lot.
You tend to forget that when you haven't had a vacation, or can spend 10 hours driving around the country for work.
I wish that was the only thing that I didn't think about when creating the machine.
I DID think about this nearly all my life, dedicating 20 years since leaving University to the development and construction of it.
I DID think about the moral and ethical laws surrounding such a thing, hence why I made it in secret.
I DID think about testing it on non-organic matter first, and then moving up to fruits and insects and animals, as if going down a 'teleportation testing' food chain.
The 'teleportation' machine was the prestigious moniker I lazily bestowed it as before I'd get around to naming it.
The most important thing was that it worked. And it did.
50 successful transportation tests from my lab to a spot I'd chosen outside of my house.
There was no receiving pod, just a ZAP from one location to another. A one shot trip first, and then if that works, you make sure build another to get you back. Like any transport system worth it's salt.
Finally I gave up standing on ceremony and caved in to my scientific and human excitement and tension.
I'd take a short trip, from my basement to outside my house. Although with far less steps.
Something went awry, naturally, because this was against the biological laws established by the universe thus far.
Seven billion billion billion atoms being shattered like glass and floating in a container between reality, all fighting and screaming to be reassembled. In layman's terms, a grown adult is a lot bigger than a cat.
I didn't do something right, and the machine couldn't cope. It had to throw me somewhere, anywhere, and...well, as I said, 71% of the Earth's surface is water.
Those are high odds.
So here I am, surrounded by a dark canvas of blue trying to drag me down, kicking pathetically in sluggish terror against waves and my chest battered by the mocking percussion of the sea.
The bright sky taunting me as it highlights the complete absence of land, nothing but liquid for me to claw at as I spit out mouthfuls of salt and terror.
I think one last thought before a clenched fist of a wave knocks me below.
At least I got to travel for once.