The Clearing

Submitted for Contest #87 in response to: Write about a mischievous pixie or trickster god.... view prompt

21 comments

Mar 28, 2021

Suspense Thriller Sad

Lost in his own thoughts, John Wallace stood in solitude staring at his sister’s grave. His black trench coat was flapping in the chilly night air. He could feel the first droplets of rain splatter on his freshly shaven head. Despite his overwhelming grief, he felt a sudden sense of joy. The rain would provide the perfect cover for his tears of sorrow. A man is not supposed to cry - that’s what his father always told him. Never one to listen, the emptiness in his heart was almost too much to endure.

The rain was a good omen. When someone you love dies, their spirit passes over into the next life. The Angels of Heaven weep so fiercely that it spills over into the realm of the living. John lifted his head to the sky, and the rain became a deluge. John smiled. 


April Wallace was a kind and gentle soul. She spent her life helping others. Her good deeds were known all over Forest Hills City. She wanted to make a difference in people’s lives despite the cruelty of this world. She would always say that if a person had the power to lend a helping hand, it was their responsibility to do so. 

One day, April was working at the downtown homeless shelter serving food. Her beautiful grace caught the attention of many men. Mark Whitmore became obsessed to the point of insanity, and lusted for her. He made many advances towards her, but was rejected multiple times. Rage grew in his black heart, and evil intentions were born. 

Later that night, Mark waited for April to leave, and followed her step by step to her car. He confronted her - confessing his undying love, and was rejected again. Mark decided that if he couldn’t have her - no one would have her. April put up a valiant fight, but she was no match for his overpowering strength. He strangled her to death. April’s murder sent shockwaves throughout the city, and despite a widespread manhunt, Mark Whitmore was no where to be found.


The rain falls harder now...


A lonely silhouette beneath the moonlight, John wept in great agony. The wind was blowing harder now, causing the rain to smack against his body like an unseen force. The pine trees surrounding Forest Hills Memorial Cemetery were bending over, almost in unison. John decided that it was now time to leave. 


He bent down and placed his hand on April’s gravestone. He spoke in a soft whisper, “I miss you sis, I’ll be back to see you tomorrow.”


He turned to leave feeling the ground squish beneath his shoes. With another gust of wind, John heard a high pitched howl. The sound chilled him to the bone, and he stood frozen in time. He focused all of his energy to the surrounding environment to see if he could hear it again. 

Sure enough with the next gust of wind, a lonely howl pierced his senses. John turned his head frantically searching for the source. The howl came again, and again, louder each time. John followed the howls to the edge of the surrounding forest. The trees were thick, and it was hard to see within the darkness. The howl came again. John mustered all of his courage, and boldly stepped into the forest to search for the unknown sound.

John grabbed each tree with every step he took. He could feel the soggy leaves beneath his feet, and didn’t want to fall down. The trees provided a little cover from the unrelenting rain - allowing John to focus more on the mysterious howl, which now grew louder. 

John journeyed deeper into the forest, listening intently with every step. At long last, the moonlight provided some visual clarity, and revealed a small clearing in the distance. He heard the howl again, and it was coming from the openness of the forest. 

John wiped away the wetness from his face, and squinted through the last remaining trees just beyond the clearing. He saw a woman standing on air. She was dressed in black, and each strand of her dark hair magically floated all around her pale white face.

The mysterious woman outreached her arm, and motioned for John to step forward with her claw like fingers. John felt very apprehensive, and despite the rain - he stepped forward with terror in his eyes. As he approached the woman, he could smell a foul stench in the air.


“Who are you?” he asked. 

The woman gave him a weary smile. Her voice was soft and warm. “I know what you seek.”

John felt a sudden sense of ease. It was a calming feeling that erased his fear. “I think I know what you are. You're a pixie fairy, right?” 

The woman stared into John’s eyes and said, “What you seek is in the cave!” She pointed over to a massive opening in the mountain side just beyond the clearing. 

“What’s in there?” John asked. “I’m not sure if I want to go in there. I’ve heard stories about you pixies. You like to trick people don’t you? What are you up too?”

The woman turned her head towards the cave and said, “Go in...or you will regret it if you don’t.” 

John's eyes darted from the cave back to the woman. “So...if I don’t go in you will kill me?” 

“No harm will befall you…” she replied. 


With a heavy heart, John nodded his head in agreement and trudged towards the cave. The woman followed close behind, and John was careful to keep an eye on her. The opening of the cave was massive, and John noticed a flickering light dancing with the shadows - deep within. John took a big gulp swallowing his anxiety, and stepped in. The woman did not follow him, choosing to wait by the entrance. 

The cave was damp and musty, and streams of water were flowing down the walls. He noticed thick spider-webs covering the ceiling, and felt a shiver race through his spine. John hated spiders, and this fear only quickened his pace. As he inched closer and closer to the source of flickering light, he came face to face with Mark Whitmore. The man who killed his sister. 


Mark was sitting in a fetal position, and was trembling with fear. He looked up at John and said, “Why are you here? Did she follow you!” 

“You!” John yelled. “You fucking bastard! You killed my sister!” 


John reached down and pulled Mark up by his shirt collar. He punched him multiple times unleashing all of his hatred and anger. Mark was screaming as John started pulling him towards the cave entrance. 

“You’re coming with me you son-of-a-bitch! The police are waiting for you!” John shouted. 

Mark grabbed the cave walls to keep from getting dragged. Despite his best efforts, Mark’s fingernails were torn off, leaving scratch marks on the cave walls. He resorted to kicking and screaming, but this had no effect on John’s wrath. 

“You can’t take me out there!” Mark shouted. “She will get me!”

John was blinded by his rage, and did not listen. He hooked his arm around Mark’s neck and pulled him to the entrance. Mark was no match for John’s overwhelming might. When they entered the brightness of the moonlight, the woman quickly shoved John away from Mark. 

Mark fell to the ground, and quickly crawled back towards the cave entrance. He was fast, but not fast enough. The woman grabbed Mark’s foot, and dragged him further out into the clearing. John sat up and watched the scene play out. 

Mark rolled over onto his back, and came face to face with the woman. His eyes opened wide with fear as he saw the woman open her mouth wide. Just then, she screamed a high pitched howl that sent shockwaves through the air down towards Mark’s face. His flesh vibrated away until there was nothing left but his empty skull.

John stood up and rushed over to the woman hunched over Mark’s dead body. She slowly rose up, and turned to face him. 

“Why did you do that? I was going to bring him to justice!” he yelled.

She spoke very slowly, “My justice is finished…” 

“What do you mean...my justice?” he asked. “Who are you?”


The woman looked up towards the moon and a veil of light engulfed her body, revealing her true form. Standing before John was his sister, April. John fell to his knees as tears of shock and joy started to stream down his face. She looked like an Angel - lit up in a mystifying light. She was wearing a white dress, and her hair was perfectly combed just like it was when she was alive. 

“April! Is it really you?” he asked.

“It’s me John,” she replied.  

John shook his head in disbelief. “How is this possible?” 

April smiled warmly and said, “I only have a short time before I must go into the light. I had unfinished business to find my killer.”

“I don’t understand April, please tell me more,” said John.

“You must understand that when I died, my grace transformed me into a vengeful pixie fairy, also known as a banshee. I tracked my killer in the dead of night and chased him into this cave.”

John stood up and asked, “Why didn’t you go into the cave and get him?”

“I can only travel by the light of the moon. I could not enter the darkness of the cave,” she said. “I was lost in despair, and then a miracle happened.”

“What miracle?” John asked.

“You...my dear brother. I heard your whisper at my grave. I felt your presence and called out for you,” she said. 

John nodded his head, “Those howls I heard were meant to bring me here to get him out of the cave...right?”

“Yes, John.”

“April what will happen now? Can you come back with me? I miss you so much!”

“I wish I could, but now that my unfinished business is complete, I feel my grace fading away.”  

“Please don’t leave me again! Please stay!” John said sobbing. 

“My dear brother, I want you to live your life to the fullest. You have so much to look forward to. Never forget that I will watch over you always. I love you John.”  

“I love you too, April!”  

April smiled, and faded away in the surrounding light. John fell to the ground, overcome with emotions. He wept for the loss of his sister, and the life that she never had the chance to live. He searched his heart, and April’s final words echoed in his mind, and heart. He would live his life to the fullest. Starting tonight…


The rain continued to pour down.


The End


Daniel R. Hayes


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21 comments

Michael Boquet
12:15 Apr 02, 2021

This piece has a great atmosphere, a very noir feeling. Very suspenseful too. The howls are a great misdirect. They made me that much more curious as to what John would find in the woods. One spot I noticed: "sent shockwaves through out" - 'throughout' is one word. Also, this is more personal taste than a critique, but 'Bedrock Forest' makes me think of the Flintstones. Does that word choice perhaps also tie in to the Banshee mythos? Great job, my friend. Very entertaining story.

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Daniel Hayes
14:32 Apr 02, 2021

I'm glad you liked this story Michael. I had fun writing this one. Thank you for catching that typo, I'll fix it. It's also a good point on Bedrock forest, I'm not sure what I was thinking about when I came up with that name. Now that you pointed it out, it reminds me of the Flintstones too. Maybe Fred and Barney's remains are lost somewhere in that cave...

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Michael Boquet
14:40 Apr 02, 2021

Ha ha, maybe. Hey, I wanted to ask, I didn't get a critique circle email this week, did you?

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Daniel Hayes
14:43 Apr 02, 2021

Come to think about it, I didn't. That's strange, maybe they went on vacation, I'm not sure why.... I always get them on a Wednesday.

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Tru Sorcerer
12:20 May 08, 2021

A loved banshee..., I'm glad that the end was peaceful. And hopeful. The rain just made it all more magnificent. Happy today

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Daniel Hayes
16:39 May 08, 2021

I always wanted to write a banshee story, and this is what I came up with. I'm proud about this one, because so many things clicked when I wrote it. Thank you :)

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Kristin Neubauer
11:03 Apr 04, 2021

I think your writing is really strong in this story - very clear, vivid, tight and well-paced. Every word, every sentence propelled the story forward . The only change I would make is in the third paragraph .... instead of “April Wallace was a kind and gentle soul, I’d say “April Wallace had been a kind and gentle soul.” I think that change in tense helps clarify that you are talking about the woman who died and makes the flashback more definitive. Nice job!

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Daniel Hayes
16:48 Apr 04, 2021

Hi Kristin, thank you so much for the great feedback. I'm glad you liked the story, and I will be sure to fix that :) That's a good catch, I didn't notice that before, so I'm glad you pointed that out. Happy Easter :)

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Alea G
03:32 Apr 04, 2021

Very captivating story, Daniel! It was quite shocking and suspenseful, especially when we get to the twist and find out that the pixie was actually April! I also love your descriptions. They are so vivid and detailed, fitting the general (sad and gloomy) atmosphere perfectly! Personally, I found that a few sections in the story were a bit rushed or slightly "brushed-over". For example, when April's death is explained near the beginning (although I know this element is not part of the main action (though still an essential detail), I feel th...

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Daniel Hayes
05:40 Apr 04, 2021

Hi Alea, thanks for the great feedback. You're right about the word limit. It can be a struggle to write everything you want. I find that I often have to cut things out to make it fit. I like your ideas and appreciate your thoughts. I'm glad that you liked the story, thank you for reading it :)

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Alea G
11:46 Apr 04, 2021

No problem:)

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19:16 Apr 01, 2021

What an unusual twist on the prompt! She was terrifying, I loved the idea that she could only travel by moonlight, too, and it's nice that she (and John) can find peace now.

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Daniel Hayes
21:54 Apr 01, 2021

Thank you so much Lizzy. I'm glad you liked it. I noticed you wrote a new story, I'll be reading that later tonight ;)

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Geo The Writer
21:42 Mar 29, 2021

The story definitely got me hooked, though I was expecting some other ending :) April being nice and gentle - and then turning into a killer herself? I wanted her to forgive Mark. So the banshee thing came as a surprise. I haven't heard the idea about the rain. It is so full of hope!

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Daniel Hayes
21:54 Mar 29, 2021

Hi, I'm glad you liked this. I like your ideas on the story. I almost always like to lead the reader in one direction and then take them somewhere else unexpected ;) Thanks for your great comment!

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Kelly Kaloo
16:05 Mar 29, 2021

Wow! This one built up speed and intensified with every paragraph! I felt myself reading faster as the suspense built...the flow in this story is perfect! I love the raining background as both a tribute to John's sorrow and also as a scene builder for the thrilling plot twist at the end. Amazing use of the prompt! Also...I love the idea around the rain or snow after someone passes. It sounds lovely :)

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Daniel Hayes
16:27 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you again Kelly, your comments made my day :) I thought this story turned out well, so I'm glad you got caught up in it. I liked how everything connected. That saying is something my mom used to tell me. When she passed away a few years ago...it rained. Thanks again for your wonderful comments :)

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Kelly Kaloo
16:59 Mar 29, 2021

I love that...

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Ryan Lm Colli
19:43 Apr 08, 2021

First of all, a big thank you for such an excellent critique of my story. And coming from someone who's heading the leaderboard this is very humbling. I gave read a couple of your stories, and as I had mentioned I am a huge, huge fan of writing skills. Let me tell you, this is my first attempt at a longer story though I have penned four full length novels besides two books of poems. I wrote this on my phone, and hit the sent button without so much as a second look. Also, it's something to do with my phone button keys- I get confused and at t...

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Daniel Hayes
23:22 Apr 08, 2021

You're welcome! I just followed you ;) Have a great day!

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Daniel Hayes
05:15 Mar 29, 2021

Author's Note: The idea for this story comes from something my mother used to tell me when I was a kid. Like most kids, I didn't understand about death. She told me that when someone you love passes away, it almost always rains or snows. This represents the Angels crying. Oddly enough, it's proven to be true in my case anyway. I also wanted to write a story that has a banshee in it, so I combined these ideas to create this story. Thank you for reading :)

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