The Creeping Shadows

Reads: 286  | Likes: 3  | Shelves: 4  | Comments: 15

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
The third story in my Pits of Fear Short Story Collection. Along with The Beast of Stone and The Fluttering Heartbeat, The Creeping Shadows have been put into publication in The Ronin Express: A Literary Journal Volume 2 by Ronin Publications! Check out the book on Amazon.com witht the link on my profile page!

Submitted: January 29, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 29, 2017

A A A

A A A


I ran.

I felt pain erupt along my face. Branches raked through my skin, leaving trails of red along the pale flesh.

Still, I ran.

Its getting closer. Breathing in exertion, as if my lungs, my windpipes, had turned to acid. As if each breath was like a thousand needles piercing the viscera.

Still, I ran.

I couldn’t see anything. It was dark. So dark. I felt the trees only when I scraped against them. Gory bruises peppered my arms and legs, the pain nearly overwhelming.

The trees seemed to be whispering among themselves. Or maybe that was just the wind.

Still, I ran.

I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. Felt the forest shifted. Patches of darkness where moonlight dared not shine.

I smelled it. The distinctive odor like the rotting of a million rat carcasses.

I tasted blood within my mouth.

Still, I ran.

I felt my legs wobble, weighted, as if by lead. I felt my mind go fuzzy, dragging me down toward the rotting earth. Yet my heart was threatening to tear itself from my chest. I bit my tongue harder, and tasted blood erupting in my mouth.

I must go on.

I stumbled, tripping over a hidden stone. My jaw hit the earth with a sickening crunch. I felt my head swim, threatening to drive me unconscious.

I feel it getting closer. Cold sweat trickling along my back, driving me forward with a fear worse than death.

With my fingers I clawed my way through the dirt. I felt my nails snap, fingers cleaved and torn by the jagged rocks. The pain was blinding, and I grunted through clenched teeth.

I couldnt do this. A wave of desperation flooded my mind.  

Its getting closer. I could feel the forest make way. With that was a low, guttural, inhuman sound.

The shadows With a final heave, I pulled myself into the hollow space of a rotten log.

 

The world became darkness as I am slowly crushed from all sides. I squirmed forward, afraid to leave even a bit of me out in the open air. A worm wriggled into my eye, and I desperately try to shake it free. Insects crawled across my bare flesh, and I try my best not to scream.

I remember my Cecille, my lovely Cecille, drowned in a pool of her own blood. I remember the remains of my parents, torn and mangled upon their own beds. My friends and neighbors, their skulls smashed in, their faces barely recognizable. I howled their names in agony, but they could no longer hear it. Their eyes were cold, glazed, staring straight ahead in shock and terror.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I struggled to bit back a sob.

That was when all went quiet. The insects stopped their movements, then wriggled back into their holes.

A chill crept into my bones. The shadow thickens. I could hear the forest parting. I hold my breath. Listening. Waiting. Drenched in a terror as dark as the night.

The sound passes overhead. My heartbeat slowed, and I let out a breath in relief.

Its gone now. Its over.

I squirmed toward the end of the log.  I glanced downward, checking the ruined condition of my hand. I looked up,

And it stared right back at me. Eight humongous eyes like blood rubies, amidst a sea of formless shadow.

I screamed at the top of my lungs. With my heart throbbing in terror, I forcefully yanked myself out of the log. My arms and legs sheared against its wooden surfaces, splinters of wood embedding into the wound.

I ran, my deaden legs a step away from collapsing, propelling me away from the shadows. The shadow that devours men and beast. The shapeless horror.

With each and every step, I could feel it getting closer. Feel it catching up.

One of its legs grazes the back of my neck.

I tripped, and rolled down the side of a steep hill. The world became a mad jumble of twigs and fallen stones. I hollered, trying to grasp a foothold in vain.

I rolled until the end of the slope. I plunge down a hand, trying to slow the descent. All was futile. I didn’t have time to cry out as my head cracked against a wall of timber.

My vision went black…

 

 

The Man

I woke up with a gasp, my bare flesh drenched in a sheen of cold sweat. Feeling a certain stiffness, I glanced down. My body was covered in bandages, from my scraped and torn fingernails, to the cuts and bruises that peppered across my body.

Where am I? Before I could voice the question aloud, a young woman emerged from a side room.

“I see you have woken,” She said, a bright smile upon her face, “You had slept for the better part of a day. I was quite worried there.” She was beautiful, her eyes glimmered, and sunlight was in her hair. She was a rare beauty such that I had never seen in a long time. Ever since… ever since my wife had passed away.

She reminded me of Cecille. My eyes refused to glance away from her. Despite knowing that I was staring at her. Despite knowing that I was being rude.

For some unknown reason, she reminded me so much of Cecille. So much, that it hurts...

I turned away, trying my best to avoid her gaze. Filled with so much care, so much love.

“Is there something wrong?” She asked, quickly approaching me, her voice full of concern.

Instinctively, I flinched back.

She seemed pained, but tried her best not to show it, “Are those wounds still giving you pain? I could change those bandages if you want.”

Before she could move any closer, I quickly asked, “Where is this place?”

“My cabin.”

“Do you live alone?” It seemed rather odd, that a young woman like her would be living in the midst of the woods, isolated from the outside world. Surviving in this place, all alone.

After a long pause, she gave a hesitant reply, “In truth, I do.” Her eyes were downcast, her voice solemn. I had expected her to give a longer reply, but she just stood there, her gaze filled with a sense of bottomless grief.

I shouldnt have interrogate her, I felt a pang of regret, She saved me when she could easily have left me out there. Out there for that that thing….

“I am so sorry.” I went over to her, despite my throbbing wounds, “How can I be of help?”

I had planned to stay for only a few days at first, but time seemed to flow by. Days turned to weeks, and those weeks eventually turned to months. As I stayed, I eventually grow accustomed to her company, of that feeling of warmth like that I had never felt in such a long time.

Slowly but surely, I increasingly became fond of her life. Our life. This continues until one day I decided to stay for good, living out the rest of my days with her until we are brought apart by death. I told her, and she accepted. For we had fallen in love with each other, and both of us knew it.

 

 

The Woman

We had been together for a while now, but he still seemed so secretive. He won’t mention his past, no matter how many times I would ask it of him. Sometimes, when I pushed too far, he would become enraged, and then he would hit me. He would really hit me…

Once, while in his cups, he let loose that he once had a lover, who had been killed by that “monster” of his.

There would be times when he would cry while staring out the cabin’s window. Claiming that he saw the monsters out there. The shadowy fiends that had slain his family and his friends. For the first few times, I went out, striding into the midst of the night time forest. To find nothing there, noting out of the norm, not a single trace of the giant shadowy beast that he had claimed to glimpse.
 

Along with that, there’s something else that also bothered me. I had asked him about his village, and he was able to let that go easily enough. My knowledge in these regions, the small villagers that dotted the landscape, were unmatched, but I had never heard the name of his village before. Not once in my life. Nor had I heard tales of his shadowy monster, or any tidings of destructions or havoc that they have caused, much less than the deaths of an entire village.

At the back of my mind, a small part of me seemed to wondered. Wondered if he, this man that I love, could still be trusted…

 

 

In the lone cabin amidst the woods of night, there was an echo,

“I am going to be exposed… I am going to be exposed…”

 

 

 

The Man

I couldn’t believe how closed she still is, after all this time. I had trusted her, told her about my village, about what had happened to Cecille and the others. About the monster that had pursued me through the shadows of night. Still, she remained secluded, walled off whenever I mentioned her private life. Up until now, she had never revealed a single detail, no matter how minor, about her past before she met me.

There were several occasions in which I would just attempt to ask about it, and she would shriek at me. She would screech and threw objects with a violence I had never thought imaginable. Once, a vase shattered just inches beside my face, and their jagged pieces flew and left a deep gash upon my cheek.

Then, in the cabin’s underground basement, I had found a shoe. A man’s shoe, in a size larger than mine.  She rarely went to the basement, and on that day, I had gone to check at the food store. She hadn’t known about it. Hadn’t known that when I saw that single shoe, my world and my belief had almost fallen apart.

It was probably her fathers shoes, I thought, yet unable to convince myself. To think about it, she had never mentioned her father, or other members of her family. Had never mentioned why she came to live alone in these woods, far away from any other towns and dwellings. Far away from anyone else…

Unbidden, my mind wandered back to the those old campfire tales I was terrified of as a kid. Tales of a beautiful lady living alone in the woods. Tales of a wary traveler stumbling upon her lonely cottage, and ending up staying there for sometime. Tales of how the woman turned out to be a sort of monstrosity, a she-devil who lures on men and feast upon their flesh.

How the man-traveler in those stories would run. Cold sweat trickled down my skin, pricking my back like a thousand icy needles.

She is the woman I love, and I wanted to believe in her. But at that moment I’m no longer sure if I could still trust her…

 

In the lone cabin amidst the woods of night, there was an echo,

“I am going to be exposed… I am going to be exposed…”


 

The Woman

There were woman's claw marks on his body. When they first met, I had patched up the various wounds upon him. There were bruises, cuts, and scrapes he had sustained during the hectic run through the forest. However, underlying those, I found a series of claw marks. Women’s scratch marks. They were vicious, covered in dried blood and purple bruises. They were not the marks of some casual love making, but something more... upsetting. I don't know what at that time. They seemed superficial and unimportant compared to the other wounds, so back then I had ignored them.

Now, I wasn’t so sure that it was nothing. He told me about his lover, and how she had been killed by the shadowy monster. But what if… what if that wasn’t the truth? What if those wounds had been her last attempt to defend herself? That as her dying scream was choked off, she had raked her nails against her lover's back, desperately fighting the man who is killing her? Her final message, her final struggle? 

Today it is his turn to gather up firewood from the surrounding forest. I acted normally, as if nothing had happened, as if this suspicion had never clouded my love for him. The instant the cabin door banged shut, I leaped up the stairs. Taking them two at a time, I arrived at the second floor, where the bedrooms are located. With a heart thumping madly, I pushed open the door into his room. It parted with a slow, mournful Creak

I ravaged through his objects, picking through them in a fit of desperation.

I just needed something that will prove he is innocent of all this. Please. Something!

That was when my hand struck against something. It was cold and hard. Metallic. I bent over, reaching my hand deeper into the dark space of the drawer.

It was a locket. Heart-shaped. Covered in blood.

Its lids clasped over a sheet of paper. A letter, its edges slightly torn and tattered.

With trembling hands, I unfolded the wrinkled pages of the letter. They were written in a woman’s handwritings, but the words seemed rush, barely incomprehensible in some places.

 

 

Dear, you know that I love you.

 I would never even imagine betraying you.

You know that I would never do it. I will never leave you.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Im sorry for what I have done. Im sorry I even consider it.

I will never do it again.

Please, let me go

Please.

 

Cecille

 

I clamped a hand over my mouth to kept myself from screaming. That was when I heard the door banged shut...

 

 

The Man

After I banged the door shut, I waited for some moments before sneaking back into the cabin. It had been my turn to go and fetch firewood today, so I pretended to leave, only to return.

There is a room in the basement that I had never been able to enter. The thick wooden door was kept closed by a lock of iron. Whenever I asked her about it, she would always change the subject, if not went outright furious. The only way to access the room is through a key she always kept on her body.

Yesterday night, I had given her a present. A necklace I had made by looping beads of colorful stones along a strand of rope. I felt the sting of betrayal as I saw the genuine smile upon her lips. I clasped the ornament around her neck, then moved down my hand to hold her by the waist.

There, holding her, I slipped my hand into a pocket of her dress and pulled out the key. She didn’t suspect a thing as I kissed her, and told her that I love her.

I really do love her. I just wish, with all the love I have, that I could trust her.

I didn’t see her, didn’t caught even a glimpse, as I crept toward the basement.

She is probably in her room.

Making as little sound as I could, I gingerly lifted up the door leading down to the basement. It opened soundlessly, the oiled hinges gleaming against the light of my torch.

With cautious steps, I made my way downward. Everything is pitch black, and I would have lost my way without the torch.

Holding my breath, I tiptoed toward the locked door at the far end of the basement. Slowly, I slid the key in, and winced sharply as the lock open with a sharp Click.

Hearing no sounds of movement from above, I assumed that the sound was muffled enough that she didn’t hear it. I continued forward.

It was a small room. Feeling the walls, I could say that much. From the dim light, I couldn’t make out most of the things in the room. However, it was enough to illuminate an object besides me.

A closet.

With blood roaring in my ears, I pry open the doors of the closet.

Inside were male clothes. Dozens of them. Splattered in red.

Besides this pile was a knife. Its blade crusted with dry blood.

I gasped, drawing back as if I had been slapped. My fingers slipping, I let go of the flaming torch. It clattered against the floorboards, and they caught alight instantly. I cursed and rushed out of the room, banging the doors shut behind me.

 

 

The Woman

I leaped down the steps, taking them two at a time, almost tripping in my haste.

I need to run. To get myself as far away from this place as possible. I raced down the steps, heart pounding, as I finally reached the base of the stair.

That was when I saw him. Emerging from the basement, smoke billowing around him. His face filled with a madness I should have picked out long ago.

“Darling.” He started. His voice was warm and soothing, like they always are, but she could see through them now.

“Get back away from me!” I shrieked, grabbing hold the kitchen knife and pointing it towards him.

At the same instant, he ripped out an iron poker from the flaming hearth. Its tip glowed with heat as he held the rod menacingly with both hands. His arms flexed, ready to strike.

“Darling, calm down,” He said in a tone that was supposed to be gentle. Yet I could hear it. The calmness that belied his suppressed emotions. The rage that boiled dangerously within.

“I will stab you if you get any closer!” I screamed, desperately backing away. “Murderer!” I glanced back toward the cabin’s door. It’s not too far away.

“I’m not a murderer!” He roared, losing all pretense of serenity, “You are!”

“I should have known from the start,” I said, trying to buy some time. “Those monsters that you talk of. The dark shadows among the trees. It never really exists, does it?” I stole a quick glance at the door. It’s closer, but still not enough. “You were the one that killed your lover and the people in your village!”

He flinched visibly, and stared at her with an incredulous expression “You are truly mad, are you? I discovered your secret room in the basement. You lured men here, using your charm and your pretense of kindness.” His voice was shaking, his hands gripped tightly around the poker. “Then you kill them!” I stole another quick glance at the cabin door. This time it’s close enough for me to sprint toward. Curls of smoke rose up from the floorboards beneath, and I saw him glance over his shoulder, fear plain in his eyes.

“Back off!” I yelled, swinging the knife at the man whom I used to love. The blade went nowhere near him, but it was enough to make him back away. With that, I bounded toward the door and kicked it open.

It was midnight, and everything was black as pitch. Gritting my teeth, I sprinted forward into the dark, misty forest.  

 

 

It was so dark I could barely see anything. I stumbled forward blindly, hoping against hope to run into some kind of human dwelling.  

I heard the forest shift. My steps come to a halt.

Its not possible. He was a madman. A murderer. I clutched at the knife’s handle, feeling my hand go numb with the exertion.

I smelled it. The odor like that of a million rotting rat carcasses.

It isnt possible

“Get away from me. BACK AWAY!” I hollered, swinging my knife madly at the surrounding darkness. I turn around,

That was when I see it. Eight humongous eyes, like blood rubies, staring right back at me.

What he said about the monster was true...

I screamed as the shadow launched itself at me. 

 

 

The Man

The flames roared around me, engulfing the wooden cabin like a ravenous beast. I could feel the heat radiating off it, threatening to burn off my skin. Smoke churned and clogged the air. I could barely see. I could barely breathe.  

I stared dumbfounded at the single entrance out of the cabin, the entrance which she had used to escape.

The monster lurked in those woods. Either I die by its hand, or by the flames.  

Pillars of flames blazed around me, dancing like a living thing. The fire had spread through the entire structure now, reaching up to lick at the timber ceiling up above.

A searing beam crashed down from the ceiling, just inches from where I was standing. Completely blocking off my escape path as the door itself burst into a wall of flames. 

Realizing the utter hopelessness of my situation, I laughed.

I laughed madly as I felt my clothing ignite from the flames. Then I screamed.

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 S. K. Inkslinger. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

More Horror Short Stories