Happy Halloween! I’ve written a little short story for Halloween 2017, not my best work but I loved writing it! Enjoy 🙂
Mia’s phone battery had dwindled down to single digits. The flashlight drained the battery quicker than any other app and it would not be long before she too was without a light.
Instinctively the girls huddled closer together, every so often stepping on each other’s shoes and bumping legs, arms, and head. The four of them were breathing hard, plumes of smoke billowing out in front of them. Alicia was reminded of a dragon each time their breath curled outwards and began to imagine a dragon stalking in front of them through the night, keeping them safe.
Eventually, Mia’s phone died. As her screen faded to black and the night enveloped them even further, the girls stopped.
“We should go back?” asked Caitlin. Her instruction came out more like a question, exposing her confidence as fake. She coughed and tried again, desperately trying to be authoritative. “We should go back!”
“We only just got here,” Mia half whined. This had been her idea and even though they couldn’t see their surroundings and none of them had any juice left on their phone, she still wanted to complete it. Kind of.
“We don’t even know if we’re in the right place,” Alicia pointed out. “We can’t see a thing!”
“This is lame anyway,” drawled Charley, cutting Mia’s protests off. This was the first time Charley had spoken since they had arrived in the woods. Her expression had seemed bored but there was a hint of terror struggling to escape her cool exterior.
Once Charley had spoken, there was no question about what they would do next. The girls turned in an almost perfect 180 and began to head off the way they came. Though they were still scared, the fact that they were going towards home eased their nerves a little. Their eyes were beginning to adjust to the dark without their phones. The trees, mere black shadows in the dark, loomed above them and whistled in the wind. They tramped their way back through the forest, following the path they had arrived on. Rain began to fall from the sky in slow heavy drops, every now and then a drop splattering their heads.
They reached a fork in the road and stopped dead. Nervous looks passed between the group and Charley’s bored mask slipped entirely for just a second. As they realised they had no idea which path to take, Caitlin could take it no more.
“Whose stupid idea was this anyway?!” she cried, stomping her foot a little, rain splashing. “I never wanted to come out here in the middle of the night. And now we’re lost!”
In that moment, each girl was thrust back to the moment this plan had been formed.
Sitting around their usual lunch table, Mia, Charley, Caitlin, and Alicia were making Halloween plans. It would be half term when Halloween arrived and the girls wanted to make it special.
“Trick or treating?” Caitlin had suggested. Her idea was immediately shot down.
“That’s for babies,” Charley had scoffed. “We need to do something next level.”
“What about a sleepover?” Alicia had offered, hesitantly. For all she knew, sleepovers were for babies now too.
“We can watch scary movies!” Charley said excitedly. “My brother’s got loads, I bet he won’t notice if I took some. Some of them are 18s too!”
“We can have a sleepover at mine,” Mia said. She didn’t have to ask to know that her mum would allow a sleepover, even if it was a work night. “We have to do more than just watch scary movies though.”
“Like what?” Caitlin asked, timidly. She was already nervous at the prospect of watching an 18-rated film.
Mia was quiet for a second and she stared into space thinking hard. Her eyes came back into focus and she spotted the shrine of flowers on a table in the lunch hall.
“You know that old hut down in the forest?” she said, a grin spreading across her face, eyes glittering. “I heard some girls in the toilet saying it’s haunted.”
“So?” Charley said bluntly, annoyed her suggestion of scary movies was being outdone.
“So why don’t we find out? We’ll go on Halloween. My mum won’t notice we’re gone.” Mia’s tone told them their Halloween plans had already been decided.
Caitlin had gone pale. She stared into the shrine of flowers, remembering the events of last year. The hut sat on the middle of a small hill, deep in the forest, abandoned. On Halloween the year before, tragedy struck in the hut in the form of a triple homicide. James Picket, his sister Hayley and their mother Janet were bludgeoned to death with an axe in that hut. Bludgeoned to death by the one man who was supposed to protect them; James and Hayley’s father and Janet’s husband. James was in their year at school and Hayley was the year above. The flowers were a tribute to them both and their mother as time moved on towards the year anniversary. The police reported that Harry, their father, had killed himself along with his family, but the local rumour was that he had instead left himself alive and was now living in the woods surrounding the hut. Caitlin gulped.
“So what do you think?” Mia asked after nobody said anything for a while.
“I guess it could be fun,” Alicia replied. Caitlin felt her heart sink. “It’ll be like those videos on YouTube where people go exploring haunted areas.”
“We could go viral if we film it!” Charley was immediately on board at the mention of YouTube.
“Cait?” Mia asked, voice full of concern but eyes hard as if challenging her to reject the idea.
“Sure,” she managed after a while in a wobbly voice. “It could be fun.”
Back in the present, no one was speaking. Mia had her head down, ashamed. Charley was staring at Caitlin, having never seen her behave in such a way. Alicia was looking uncomfortably off to the side. Rain dripped down their faces into their eyes.
“I think it’s this way,” Alicia said. She took hold of Caitlin’s hand and squeezed. “I remember passing that funny looking tree stump.”
Alicia let go of Caitlin and led the way forward. Mia and Charley grabbed one of Caitlin’s hands each and squeezed a silent apology. She smiled with relief at them both.
As time went on, Alicia became dimly aware she had taken them down the wrong path. Her confidence from earlier had been convincing but utterly false. The path they walked down now was thin and winding with the trees seeming to bend inwards creating an arch. It could have been their excitement stopped them from paying attention or their focus on their phones but Alicia knew deep down that they had just gone down the wrong path.
A gulf of fog descended upon them, not from in front of them or to the side but it seemed to come from below seeping up through the damp forest floor. The fog rose rapidly, much faster than any fog they had seen before and soon enough they could see nothing, not even each other. Their grip on each other’s hand tightened painfully but they didn’t mind. Interlocked, they shuffled forwards trying to find their way through the fog, coughing, and spluttering. The fog broke up just enough to see in front of them and Mia uttered a strangled cry, leaping away from the group.
“This is it,” moaned Mia, voice breaking. “This is where it happened.”
The girls followed her shaking outstretched hand and saw the crime scene tape glittering in the moonlight. It had been over a year since the homicide, how was the tape still here? Not one of the girls, not even Caitlin, could have been prepared for the terror they felt at that moment.
Without intending too, they moved forwards towards the tape, knowing the hut would be somewhere close to it. The closer they got, the less fog there seemed to be. Out of the dark, a shape appeared, looming over them in the darkness. It was the hut. Even from a distance, they could see the once beautiful hut had decayed, the roof was caving in and the door was hanging off its hinges. The windows were smashed and the flower garden surrounding the hut had wilted and died.
Curiosity got the better of them and they reached the edge of the hut. Mia peered in the window and the rest of the girls followed her. The hut was filled with junk, filled with things their sheds at home had. A black shape appeared in the window. The shape’s eyes glowed orange in the dark and it put it’s face right up to the window. The four girls dashed away from the window, panic rising in their throats. The shape disappeared from the window and reappeared in the doorway. They froze, taking in the figure before them. They could see now the black shape was a man, a huge man and in his hands, he held a bloodied axe.
The girls screamed and scattered.