Contest #64 shortlist ⭐️

42 comments

Oct 24, 2020

Horror Suspense Thriller

I wrap her tiny body in my arms. A snot bubble around her nose bursts as she sneezes gently into my sleeve. I bundle her up in her sleeper and place her in her crib. She fusses when I set her down, but within a few minutes, she relaxes into a slow, rhythmic breathing.    

Standing over the crib, I smile. It’s been a long day filled with baby boogies, watery eyes, and sick crying. I haven’t been able to calm her all day, but these quiet moments where I can just watch my beautiful baby girl are worth it. The butterflies in my heart beat their wings enthusiastically as I think about my sweet love. My Zoey. 

I lean over and give her one final kiss before retreating to bed. She smells of innocence. I breathe it in deeply, holding onto this moment as long as possible.  

As my lips part from Zoey’s warm skin, I raise my eyes, completely in a mommy daze, and think I see something lurking in the darkened corner by the crib. It stares at Zoey. 

Startled, I fall backward, but catch myself before falling on my back. When I look back up, the thing is gone. 

Instinctively, I rush back to Zoey’s crib and look down on her. She sleeps, undisturbed. 

It looked like the silhouette of a woman. But that’s impossible. The house is locked up. And no one was here when I turned on the lights to change Zoey’s diaper. 

I stare into the blackness beyond the crib. On the wall hangs a cartoonish picture of a tiny bird. Nothing else. 

I’m tired. I just imagined it. 

Shaking my head in an attempt to clear it, I take one last look at Zoey, blow her a kiss, and whisper, “I love you, My Zoey.” 

I examine the area behind her crib, and once I’m assured there is nothing and no one there, I walk back to my room and get ready for bed. 

As I brush my teeth, I hear a bang, followed by the sound of something rolling on the wood floor. 

I tense up. 

It sounds like it came from the other side of the hall. 

Zoey! 

I throw my toothbrush down and scramble to Zoey’s room. 

A light spits out of the crack between the floor and the door. 

It’s too bright to be her night light. 

My pulse pounds in my ears. It’s hard to hear anything else, but I forget my own fear and throw the door open.  

I need to get to Zoey. 

Zoey stands in her crib. Her back facing me. Not a sound. 

As I run to her, my foot smashes into something hard and I fall down. A small plastic ball rolls around in front of me.  

I could have sworn I just put that away in her closet. 

As I have this thought, my eyes slowly wander up the side of the wall toward the direction Zoey is facing.  

A woman floats in the air, illuminating the room.  

Her dark night gown flows as though there’s a breeze in the house. Her long, straight hair is swept to one side, revealing a darkened smudge on her temple.  

She stares at Zoey. Lingering in the middle distance, untethered to the earth. Completely quiet. 

Until she turns her attention on me. That’s when she shrieks. Her mouth hangs open like a pit leading nowhere. 

The sound is wrenching. It makes every hair on my body stand up. Goosebumps explode off my skin. 

Within an instant, she is levitating an inch from my face. The shrieking has stopped, but this new silence is not pleasant. It penetrates, invades my soul. I feel like my insides are screaming.  

Her head sways back and forth as she eyes me. In life, she may have been beautiful, but she’s been twisted into something grotesque. The smudge on her temple drips with phantom blood, landing on her hollow cheek.  

And the eyes, the ones now studying me, are like two fresh wounds from a knife, barely slits on her skin. 

“She is mine. My Zoey,” she says in a hushed tone. 

My eyes dart past this thing and stare at Zoey. 

My baby girl faces us now and smiles. Her hands reaching out toward this woman. 

I lose it! 

“She’s mine! Leave us alone!” I scream. 

The woman doesn’t flinch. 

“My Zoey,” she caws. 

Mustering my courage, I run through this specter, cradle Zoey in my arms, and fly through the bedroom door. 

Zoey cries. 

“It’s okay, Zoey. We’ll be okay,” I say as we run. 

But where should we go? 

I descend the stairs and burst through the kitchen door. Frantically, I search the counter for my keys.  

I hear a noise behind me, but I don’t look. I know she’s coming. 

I carry Zoey in my arms as I make my way into the garage. There’s no time to put her in a car seat, so I gently place her on the floor of the passenger seat. 

Her wails increase along with my panic.  

I ignite the engine and push the garage door opener at the same time.  

It sloths its way up. Slower than I could have ever imagined.  

Come on, come on.  

A voice screeches in front of me. I know I shouldn’t look, but I can’t help it.  

My eyes meet those eye slits of the woman. They seem to rip open, exposing shiny black marble eyes. Her eyes bulge larger and larger as she screams.  

Without looking to see whether the door is open yet, I throw the car in reverse and shoot out of the garage.  

The passenger side mirror breaks off as I clip the side of the door frame.  

The woman chases us through the air.  

As I enter the street, I punch the car into drive and speed away from the house.  

20, 40, 60 miles per hour.  

I zip through the small suburban neighborhood. 

The woman somehow keeps up with us as I maneuver us away as quickly as possible. 

Finally, I get to a main highway and turn sharply onto the road, barely missing a pick-up truck in the lane next to me. The driver blares his horn. 

My eyes scan the rearview mirror. I don’t see anyone behind us, but I don’t take my foot off the gas. 

I know I shouldn’t be driving like this, but I have to get us away. As I drive, Zoey cries on the floor next to me. 

“Everything’s okay, baby. Don’t cry. We will be okay.” 

She looks at me and screams some more. 

I begin to cry too. I just want her to be safe and happy, but I’m failing.  

I look again in the mirror and twist my head in all directions.  

The woman seems to be gone. 

But will she be back? Will she come for Zoey? 

I won’t let her have her! 

I keep driving until my eyes are sore from exhaustion. Zoey is asleep again, her face matted with streaks of tears and snot.  

I pull into a small motel and park in the entrance. 

I lean over and give Zoey a big kiss on her cheek. Then I head into the office to see whether they have any vacancies. It’s only then that I realize I don’t have my wallet or my phone. 

We’re stranded. 

Panicking, I try to think of a solution. Then an option pops in my head.  

So, I get back into my car and park around the back of the building. It’s dark and quiet. I walk around to the trunk and pop it open. The light on the door illuminates the space. 

The woman stares back at me! Blood matted on her skull, just like the ghost. But her eyes are not the tiny slits of the specter. They’re much more humanlike, yet lifeless. 

Her purse sits next to her body. 

Picking it up, I find cash and pocket it. Then out of curiosity, I rifle through her purse. I find a small picture secured in front of a credit card. Pulling it out, I stare at it and smile. I tear it in half, throwing the half with the woman’s face back into the trunk. The little girl’s face in my hand smiles back at me with trusting eyes. 

My Zoey. 

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42 comments

Mollie Rodgers
15:26 Oct 30, 2020

This was fabulous! It was a stellar take on the prompt. I started the story thinking how much I loved the opening section cause it was so sweet, then the end make me look at that opening section in a completely different light. Ooof, and the descriptions of the ghost woman were killer. Her mouth being a "A pit to nowhere" gave me the heebie jeebies. Great ghost story!

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Daniel Roueche
18:02 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it!

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Orenda ♤
18:30 Nov 24, 2020

i was looking for some horror stories to read, apart from the winning ones and man, reedsy doesn't have much going on under horror, but I'm so satisfied i chose to read this and even happier since I'm reading this in the dark (don't ask me why). This was incredible. Horror's my favourite genre and I'm impressed. It gave me the heebie jeebies. Imagination is very bad when you're reading horror haha... this deserved the shortlist and this's honestly one of the best horror stories I've read here. Hats off! I loove it. Now I'm definitely greetin...

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Daniel Roueche
19:28 Nov 24, 2020

Thank you for your comment! I truly appreciate your support. I hope you didn’t get too many nightmares haha

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Orenda ♤
19:35 Nov 24, 2020

no problem! Um, i can't be sure 'bout that haha

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Mia S
21:46 Oct 29, 2020

Okay, this is amazing. You described the ghost—or specter, as you called it—so well, and the action scenes were fast-paced and made my heart beat quicker. I think you could improve the first paragraph a little—it was a lot of sentences that were structured the same. But other than that, I have no edits. The ending was haunting—I'm still not quite sure about one thing though. Was the ghost-specter-lady-thing the protagonist in a different form, or someone who knows Zoey, or a complete metaphor? Maybe you wanted to leave that open to interpret...

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Daniel Roueche
04:02 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you for reading my story! I’m so glad you liked it. As for your question, I’d say the ghost is the protagonist and Zoey’s mother. The narrator, not so much! And I’m hoping to have another story complete for this week’s prompts. I look forward to reading more of your stuff too!

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Mia S
19:14 Oct 30, 2020

Wow, congrats on the shortlist! Definitely well deserved :)

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Daniel Roueche
02:47 Oct 31, 2020

Thanks! I appreciate the support. It’s been a good day haha

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Amaya Macaulay
00:49 Nov 25, 2020

this is amazing! It's so creative and spooky. I love how you left us to figure some things out for ourselves but didn't make it too hard. deserved a shortlist, definitely.

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Daniel Roueche
01:23 Nov 25, 2020

Thank so much for your comment! I appreciate the support!

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Kate Reynolds
14:16 Feb 19, 2021

Well I just found my new favorite writer on Reedsy. This is honestly prob the best horror story I've ever read before, I loved it soooo muchhhh!!!!!!! And I've just finished reading all of your other stories, and omg you have an amazing talent for writing. Like it's not just your shortlisted story that's good, ALL of your stories are so interesting and I just loved them sooooo muchhhhhhh I'm gonna go leave a comment/like on your other stories nowwww

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16:09 Feb 15, 2021

Hi Daniel, I loved this story, it really kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and the ending was perfect. I know that you have already had this story narrated on YouTube but I'm just starting a YouTube channel doing horror narration and this story really spoke to me. I would love to narrate it if you would allow me to. Since I'm a woman I hope I can bring it to life. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Stacey

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Daniel Roueche
19:58 Feb 15, 2021

Hey, Stacey! I’m so glad you liked my story. I’d love if you’d narrate it! It would be great to have a woman do it since it’s in a woman’s perspective! I look forward to seeing how it comes out!

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Daniel Roueche
19:11 Feb 17, 2021

Let me know when you have my story recorded and I can post a link to your channel!

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21:01 Mar 11, 2021

Hi Daniel, Thank you so much for letting me narrate your story. It will be a while before I'm able to record and upload it but I will definitely let you know as soon as I have it uploaded.

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Daniel Roueche
01:19 Mar 12, 2021

Sounds great! I look forward to it.

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Amany Sayed
05:11 Jan 21, 2021

Chills! The start pulled me right in, and the ending was interesting . Though it's late, congrats on the shortlist!

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Daniel Roueche
15:56 Jan 23, 2021

Hey thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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Alex C.
17:23 Jan 05, 2021

This is an amazing story! I was definitely not expecting that at the end!!!

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Daniel Roueche
23:54 Jan 05, 2021

I’m so glad you liked the story!

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Kaitlyn Olson
05:47 Jan 05, 2021

Wow! I loved the plot twist sooo much! This was the best scary short story I have read in such a long time! Great job! :)

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Daniel Roueche
23:53 Jan 05, 2021

Wow! Thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story!

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Kaitlyn Olson
04:16 Jan 07, 2021

Of course!

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Kaitlyn Olson
04:16 Jan 07, 2021

Of course!

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Skyler Woods
00:27 Dec 27, 2020

Hi Daniel, your story is magnificent!! I was wondering if I could narrate it on my horror YouTube channel with your permission! I would send you the link once the video is uploaded and it would premiere either Sunday or Monday.

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Daniel Roueche
16:53 Dec 27, 2020

Hey, thanks for your support! I would love if you did that! Just let me know when it is up and I will check it out.

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Skyler Woods
17:32 Dec 27, 2020

It's going to premiere at 5:00 pm today! I'll send you the link! Thank you!

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Daniel Roueche
19:00 Dec 27, 2020

Awesome! I am excited. What time zone is that?

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Skyler Woods
19:30 Dec 27, 2020

It's central standard time. I hope you like it!

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Beth Connor
00:08 Mar 02, 2021

I just happened on this and listened. Skyler, I loved your narration- you do horror well! Daniel What a great and creepy story- I loved the twist at the end

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00:02 Nov 14, 2020

I was scared reading it shivering. It was so good and when writing makes you feel so many emotions you know it's really good. great job I loved it!

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Daniel Roueche
03:47 Nov 14, 2020

Hey, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate your support!

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Maureen Mancini
21:54 Nov 09, 2020

Nothing is more powerful than the connection between mother/father and child. The force that rises when a parent feels the need to protect her/his baby is beyond words. That you have captured so very well. Your descriptions of the specter were fantastic. The pace, the tension, the fear in the protagonist, fantastic. I am not sure I understood what happened there at the end...the protagonist really murdered the baby's true mother? And the true mother came back to haunt the guilty protagonist? Even with my confusion, I couldn't stop reading a...

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Daniel Roueche
17:23 Nov 10, 2020

Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed the story! You got the ending just right. And I still think is shows how powerful a parent’s bond can be with a child. The spector literally come back to protect her daughter.

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Claire Lewis
15:50 Oct 30, 2020

I was 100% not expecting that ending- that was so clever to switch the roles of villain and protagonist at the end. This story is so eerie and you maintain the tension and spooky tone wonderfully! Congrats on the shortlist- this certainly deserves it!

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Daniel Roueche
18:05 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you so much! I love stories with endings you don’t see coming.

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15:48 Oct 30, 2020

Wow! Wonderful job! Congrats on the shortlist! Well deserved!

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Daniel Roueche
18:03 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you! I’m glad you like my little story.

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18:03 Oct 30, 2020

:)

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