Nighttime - the story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
I have a poem that I wrote to go along with this. Look under my other work for it, titled Nighttime - the poem.

Submitted: March 28, 2009

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Submitted: March 28, 2009

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---

It was a full moon.

The forest had fallen silent. The crickets had ceased to sing, the mosquitos had stopped biting, and the animals had stopped their midnight prowling. I was alone.

I could barely see through the leaves of the branches that were hanging down before my face. I'd chosen a stunted scrub oak growing next to a patch of blackberry bushes to conceal me.

I wondered frantically what I was doing - the wickedly long thorns of the bushes would tear my flesh to pieces if it came from the other direction and forced me forward, but wouldn't slow the thing down at all if it came from the direction of the bushes.

It was dark and foggy, and the forest was dense with the growth of summer. I had hoped it would be enough to hide me.

It wasn't.

I heard it before I saw it. The ground was damp and layered with leaves and grass, but the thing must have passed too near a small animal which, terrified beyond any sense of itself or it's surroundings, bolted.

The rustlings began anew then. It seemed that the thing realized that there was no use concealing its movements any longer. It knew I was close enough to have heard the animal flee.

I didn't move. I didn't breathe. I dared not.

It didn't matter.

It knew where I was.

---

I dove into a wide creek, hiding in the reeds on the opposite bank. I wondered belatedly if I'd made a bad decision - I couldn't hear anything over the churning of the water. But the moonlight reflecting off the surface gave me a good view of the direction from which I'd come.

It was then that I saw it.

The thing was tall, emaciated, man-shaped, and naked. It's skin looked as if the thing was composed entirely of a solid mass of vomit. Two soulless amber eyes glowed from the unspeakable face. The clarity of the moonlight seemed to illuminate it with a spotlight, as if seeking the thing out soley for the purpose of torturing my already fragile mind.

Our gaze met.

Time appeared to stop. Our eyes, locked together, seemed to convey information to each other.

It wanted me.

My hand, moving listlessly through the water in accordance with the current, grazed against a root hanging over the side of the bank. It would do to hold my weight as I clambered out of the stream.

I grasped it, turned, and fled.

---

The moon, filtering through the highest branches of the trees, seemed to have dimmed itself of it's own accord, as it was a cloudless and windless night. I had to rely upon my sense of hearing.

I lay in the deep hollow formed by the torn up roots of a fallen tree. I realized that I'd trapped myself, for if the thing came at me silently, I'd not know in time to run.

The depression was at least as deep as I was tall, and oblong - two shorter sides, and the longer side opposite the roots of the tree. If the thing came at me from either of the longer sides, it would have me. But I still had a chance, for if it came from either shorter side, I might be able to climb up the opposite side and escape, barely.

What would happen to me after escaping the hole, I knew not. My strength was greatly flagging, and I felt dizzy after the latest run through the forest. I wouldn't be able to run too far or too fast, the next time.

I neither heard nor saw it this time. It's smell came to me from the left, overpowering me with the rotted odor of death. I knew in that moment that if it was close enough to smell, it was close enough to jump down into the hollow.

I leapt - I've never leapt so high - and grabbed the upper edge of the hole in which I had trapped myself. As I began to frantically pull myself up, I heard a thump from behind me.

The thing had jumped into the hole.

I scrambled with all the speed I could muster, and had just gotten to my knees when the thing's hand slapped at my lower leg. Barefoot, I felt the spongy texture of it's rancid flesh as it closed it's fingers around my ankle.

I screamed, turned over onto my back, and pulled the tiny knife from my belt. Unable to see, the downward stroke of my blade was aimed with a prayer. If I hit it, hopefully the fingers would let go. But if I missed, I was doomed.

---

Glancing back over my shoulder, I missed the rock sticking up at an odd angle. It hadn't been there a moment before, I was sure of it - the moonlight was still bright enough to illuminate the path. It seemed that the forest itself was trying to trip me up, was herding me the way that the thing wanted me to go.

I turned my ankle on the stone, and fell. Down, down into the ravine I tumbled, rocks and sticks and roots poking me and gouging my flesh.

I'm lucky I didn't break my neck.

But as I lay there, stunned, listening without realizing I'd stopped my breath to hear, I wondered if I wouldn't have been lucky to have died in the fall.

Silence.

The air was heavy and still, as if the forest had ceased it's breathing along with me.

The moon went out entirely, as if a heavy veil had been dropped across it.

The tears began anew, flowing down my heated cheeks, the only movement in this dead forest.

I know not how much time passed. My breathing resumed and then slowed, my heart ceased it's frantic racing.

Yet the forest remained silent.

I stirred, and gasped aloud as pain flowed through my leg. I reached downward, and felt the bone protruding from my shin. My entire leg was afire with pain and I knew I was lost. I couldn't stand, much less run. My knife I'd left at the fallen tree, embedded in the wrist of the thing.

I had no defense. Nothing to hide behind, nothing to fight with. No way to flee.

And it was coming again. Not even bothering to conceal the sound of it's movement, it slowly trekked through the forest. Closer.

Closer.

I could hear the sounds of the rocks dislodged by the thing as it climbed down into the ravine. I prayed for a sudden death, which would be better than what the thing had in store for me. Let a bear reach me first, let an snake slither up from under a bush, let a star fall from the sky into my lap.

Closer.

But prayer is useless in the forest of the dead.

Closer.

---

As the tumblers turned in the lock, I awoke with a start, sitting up so fast that a bolt of pain shot through my head, sobbing with relief.

The doctor and priest don't believe me. They say that it was simply a madman from this very asylum who was chasing me through the woods that night last month, and that there are no such thing as monsters. They'd taken me to the recaptured madman's cell. A short fellow, obviously well-fed, he looks nothing like the gaunt thing from the forest.

The woman who opened my door bearing my breakfast tray took one look at me, screamed, and ran from the room. She didn't bother to shut the door - even if my leg hadn't been a broken mess, with a bone protruding from the bandages and blood soaking into the mattress, the restraints would keep me firmly in bed.

The priest prays over me, hoping to dislodge the demon that has obviously rooted itself firmly in my body. The doctor uses the comfort chair, the spinning board, and other modern methods to attempt to drive me back to sanity. I fear that between them I'll become insane well before the dream progresses to the end.

For that's how the thing is after me now. It can't come through the walls, so it comes through my dreams. Every time I sleep I've dreamt a little more of that awful night, the events that led to the madman's search party stumbling across me as the thing turned to flee.

I've tried staying awake. But on my third day of sleeplessness, the doctor bade me to take a sleeping draught. When I firmly refused, three orderlies were required to hold me as I was injected with the potion through a needle which pierced my skin.

The first morning I awoke with scratches on my legs from the blackberry bushes. The second time I slept I awoke soaking wet. The third time I was covered in dirt, with a smear of filth on my ankle that I couldn't even look at without screaming. Today I've woken battered and bruised, with my leg freshly broken.

The doctor seems to think that it's all my doing. He accused me of soaking myself in my basin during the night, and of inflicting the scratches upon myself. He demanded to know how I got the dirt into my room and while they could not explain what the sticky mess on my leg was, he dismissed it as another of my pranks.

I asked him to explain how I'd soaked myself completely with water, when my basin was still half full, and only held a few cups of water at full capacity. He was not amused, and ordered me sedated.

As the orderlies bustled into my room, I wept silently. I received an injection of the sleeping draught every evening at 9 o'clock sharp. I would sleep this evening.

And the thing would finally catch me.


© Copyright 2020 K. Davis. All rights reserved.

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