Chuck Wendig started the whole thing with this writing challenge. Lots of short, scary stories take off from the comment section on this page...some occult, some obscene, some gory, some even with comic potential.
I wrote this right away...
...and then clicked, printed, and read all those other stories. All of them are passable, publishable-quality fiction. If you like short scary stories, they'll be a feast. Here's the one by the writer who's offered to tell us how Blake the Grim Reaper crashes the college party...the site has an adult content warning, although this particular post is just leading up to the real horror in the addict's mind, whatever that turns out to be. (I'm sure some Terrible Mind knows enough about addiction/recovery to tell us.)
I'm most comfortable writing about scary things that really happen, so this fictionalized memory of a summer camp panic inspired me...
...And this is how I imagined the panic growing as Fear Trigger 1 drives the panic-stricken characters straight toward Fear Trigger 2 (which may also be harmless) and then Fear Triggers 3, 4, maybe more. Next week, some other Terrible Mind gets to tell us what's happened to the other characters, what's crashing around in the woods, and whether poor old Paddy, the big black Lab who was just running for fun, has actually protected Lori and Mimi from the Real Danger, or...I have no idea.
Fiction Begins Here
We ran blindly.
Lori and I each knew the way back to the cabin where our buddies were supposed to be waiting for us to come in, if we’d stopped to think about it. She would have turned off to the right, and I would have turned off to the left about fifty yards further along the trail.
We forgot, OK? Just like the kids in horror movies always do, we completely forgot. Jake and Dave ran ahead and left Lori and me behind. We could hear that dog behind us, and we kept running.
It might have flashed through my mind as I raced deeper into the woods that almost any dog will run after a person who is running. I was too panicky to think of that, too. I was not about to turn around and go “Nice doggie” when that thing was chasing me.
If I had slowed down to think I might have remembered, too, that at a certain fork part of the trail circled back around to the cabins, while the other branch of the trail sloped down to the lake. That was the branch that looked closer to “straight ahead” as Lori and I pounded on. It was also the part of the trail that wasn’t often used, so it had loose rocks and stuff on it.
Lori skidded on a rock and slid downhill. I slowed down and grabbed at her arm. That took me down, too. I heard something snap as I crashed to the ground.
We felt ourselves and realized that whatever had snapped hadn’t been one of our bones or teeth or anything. However, my arm was bleeding and Lori’s knee hurt.
The dog was gaining ground as I saw the spooky glow from the lake.
I remembered about a kind of fungus growth that can make rotten wood glow in the dark. I’d never actually seen “fox fire” so I hoped that might have been what I saw ahead of us.
It looked sort of human. Humanoid. The head looked more like the mass of roots around a small uprooted tree. I could just make out a sort of face with that creepy red glow your face gets when you shine a flashlight up from below your face, only the face looked more like a big glob of sourdough.
Behind us, the dog stopped, and growled. It had an extremely loud growl.
Ahead of us, the Creature from the Black Lagoon seemed to sway back and forth.
Something whined. It was the dog. It barked a big, loud, growling bark.
“What’s the matter, Paddy?” said the creature. “What do you see?”
As if in answer a bright light flashed out of the woods. Barking madly, the dog charged into the woods.
Now we could see the creature clearly. It reached up and tore off its head.
Under the mass of branches and junk it pulled off, the creature was just a guy…John, one of the older camp counsellors. He looked seriously scared.
“Paddy! Paddy! Come back, Paddy!”
The dog was snarling. Large bodies were crashing around in the woods.
“Paddy! Paddy!” John yelled. He sounded desperate.
Bodies crashed. The dog growled, yelped, then growled again. Then all I heard were heavy feet crashing, and that bright flashlight jerking around, making long dark shadows jump in all directions.
“Lori? Mimi?” John said. “I did mean to scare you. You're late...”
The dog shrieked. That’s the only word. I will never forget that sound.
At least two more bodies were still moving around in the woods.
Lori reached out to take John’s hand as he climbed up the trail. I reached out, too. Instead of climbing up to our level, though, John pulled us down. “Get into the canoe,” he muttered.
He must have rowed out from the docks and tied the canoe to a bush. We waded into the ice-cold knee-deep water and climbed into the canoe. John untied the rope and tossed it toward us as he pushed us off.
We felt around as we bobbed out into deep water. Neither of us could find an oar in the canoe.
The light kept jerking. I could just barely make out the shape of John, crouched down beside the bush, while they—whoever they were—were apparently having a real fight up in the woods.
I reached over the side of the canoe. The breeze felt cold on my wet legs. I didn’t really want to drift all over the lake for however long it took John or whoever to row out to us in another boat, so I started pulling my hands through the water, trying to guide the canoe toward the dock area without making any splashes that might remind those guys—or whatever—in the woods that we were in the canoe.
It was like a nightmare. I pulled and pulled and wasn’t getting anywhere. Behind me Lori seemed to be pulling too, and still we weren’t getting much of anywhere, except maybe a little further toward the middle of the lake. Our floundering and the fight must have gone on for half an hour; it felt like forever.
I wondered whether Jake and Dave were two of the bodies in the woods and, if so, who the other body or bodies might be.
Finally the moon shone down past the trees and I could see Lori's hands working in the opposite direction from mine.
“What are you doing?” I whispered. “I’m trying to get to the dock area.”
Lori said, “I’m trying to keep us close to John!”
Without further discussion we decided to take a rest. The canoe bobbed and drifted a little further toward the middle of the lake as we watched the light, dimmer by now, lurching to and fro in the woods.
Then I noticed that my feet weren’t drying. Water was seeping up into the canoe.