(Author’s Note: This is the first in a month-long series of short scary stories that I’ll be posting every day throughout the month of October. I have never written a scary story before, so these are probably not going to be all that great. However, there is a chance that I’m better at scaring people than I think I am. So, it is highly likely that these stories will either bore you to tears, or disturb you quite a bit, because there is no way that I can write a good scary story without it being dark and disturbing. So, if you’d rather not run the risk of my writing being good and giving you nightmares, you probably shouldn’t read them. Just a warning. *evil laugh*)
Every night I have the same dream.
I am walking down a street. On either side, there are houses. The windows are open. Children play on the lawns. None of them notice me.
As I walk, the leaves crunch under my feet. The wind whistles around me, a chilly finger on the back of my neck. I pull my sweater tighter around my shoulders. As I shiver, anxiety steals up my spine, and I glance around nervously. Still no one even glances at me. I begin to whistle; not a blink. It is as though I don’t exist.
The street is not familiar to me. It doesn’t seem to ever end. I can’t be sure, but I feel I must be miles away from home.
A jumping rope smacks the cement, and I wonder, “How did I get here? Why did I come?”
The wind hushes me. I stop whistling.
It begins to darken outside. Mothers open their doors and call out. Slowly, slowly, one by one, each child disappears into his own house. I keep walking. I want to knock on the doors, ask for food, for bed. Yet something in me laughs at the idea. They would never let me in.
Through the open windows I can see the families eating. It is dark outside now, and cold. Inside, the houses look so warm and bright. But I don’t knock. They won’t let me in.
It’s when the first family turns off its lights that I begin to hear the footsteps.
Slow, shuffling ones.
I look around nervously, and there is no one there. But the footsteps continue. I try to walk faster. The footsteps do not pick up speed. I break into a flat-out run. The footsteps shuffle slowly on. But they don’t fade into the background. They never get farther away. But… no… they couldn’t be getting closer.
On and on, I keep running; on and on, the street goes. The steps seem so loud. I try to cover them up, timing my own footsteps with them. At first it works, and the crunching of the leaves masks the shuffling of… whatever it is — but two more families turn their lights off, and as the windows close the leaves stop crunching. I am still walking, but I make no sound. All there is is the heavy footsteps and the beating of my own heart, which in the silence seems so loud… And then I realize that there is only one more house still lighted, and I have reached the end of the road. It is a dead-end.
The woman in the last house shuts her windows, turns off her lights.
The footsteps stop.
There is a silence. Nothing moves. The wind does not blow. The leaves do not rustle. Even my heart seems to have stopped beating.
And then, suddenly, he’s there. Next to me. I don’t hear him, but somehow, I know.
I snap. With a wild, silent scream, the tension that’s been building up in my throat explodes. And I’m at the lady’s door, screaming screams and shouting shouts that make no sound, pounding and pleading for her to please let me in, please, but why won’t my voice come out, why can’t I hear myself? Of course, no one comes, even though no one could possibly be asleep yet… no one can hear me. No one would care if they could.
I can feel him getting closer. His eyes follow me, pricking the back of my neck as I run from one door to the next, trying, trying to make a sound, and there is still nothing but silence.
But then a footstep. And another. He is walking again, following me as I run down the street that never ends, screaming and screaming, but nobody hears me. There is only one sound. The slow, heavy shuffle.
I stop. I turn around. Because there is nowhere else to run. Nowhere else for me to go.
But the man never does anything. I know he is a man, now. He is a shadow, standing silhouetted against the moon. He stands there, watching me. And now I know why I am afraid: because I know that I will have to wake up soon.
That’s when I wake up. I wake up, and roll over, and there he is. Lying beside me. Watching me, always watching me. I don’t know this man. I knew him years ago, when we first married. I don’t know him anymore. The man in bed next to me is a stranger, with hollow eyes and breath that never seems to smell of anything but alcohol.
I never remembered having the dream before. But I remember it now. I am slipping in and out of the dream. My husband’s face melts before my eyes into the shadowed, hidden face of the man of my dreams. My heartbeats sound as heavy and slow as the footsteps. The hands around my neck are as cold as the wind. It hurts, and I want more than anything to just go to sleep. I scream, but as in the dream, no sound comes out. No one can hear me.
But I’m not scared anymore. I can feel myself falling asleep now. I’m not sure what I did wrong. My husband isn’t the type to tell people what they did wrong. But there is always a punishment. This is mine. He’s not shouting, but whispering. I don’t know what he’s saying. I don’t care.
I’m back on the street that never ends. The man is watching me still. But the moon is setting. He is disappearing. The lights in one of the houses turns on. The door opens and the family beckons me inside, smiling, welcoming me. I can’t tell if this is a dream. It must be. But I can’t find fear in my heart. I will never have to wake up.
“What is it?”
The Inspector looked up at his young assistant, his face pale. He looked so weary. “Just another drunken husband that went to far.”
“Did they find the body?”
“Yeah. He didn’t even try to hide it, he just went to the bar. We’ve got him in solitary now.” He looked down at his papers, frowning in bewilderment.
“What’s up, sir?”
“The poor girl…” He hesitated, trying to force the words out through the shock and puzzlement. “… She was smiling.”