Fiction Mystery Horror

A slight breeze grazed Harriet’s face and made her hair dance in the warm sunlight that shone through the cover of trees surrounding the park. It was a clear, spring day, and birds chirped their happy songs as she walked her bike across a footbridge at the lake. The water was full of geese floating along the shore and the grass was booming with families having picnics under the freshly blossoming trees. 

As she made her way along the bridge, a strange mist rose from the lake and crept along the shoreline. The bird songs seemed further away the closer she drew toward the other side of the bridge. She could no longer see or hear the people convening on the park lawn. The previously clear sky was now overcast and the temperature seemed to drop ten degrees. A faint squeaking noise pierced the silence that the fog had created. The wind picked up as old, decomposing leaves that were left behind from fall were lifted from their once final resting place and whirled around her. The squeaking became louder as she slowly came upon an old, rusty swing set nestled between two old oak trees. The fog wound its way up the bank, thickly surrounding it. Its seat was moving, although there was no indication that anything had been around to disturb it. On the seat seemed to sit the faint outline of a small child. “Hello?” Harriet squinted her eyes, hoping the silhouette would magically become easier to view. Just then, a huge, gale force wind whipped Harriet’s hair around in front of her face making it almost impossible to see; and as quickly as it arrived, the wind drifted off through the park taking the strange, phantom mist with it. The overcast skies cleared and the sun shone as brightly as it did on the other side of the bridge, bringing the temperature back up to normal. The bird songs slowly crescendoed back into existence, chirping as happily as they did before. Squeals of excitement entered her ears as children laughed and played with each other, making new friends and protesting when they had to leave. The swing sat there, still, vines grasped at its legs, while moss covered the seat where the childlike apparition sat. Harriet quickly hopped on her bike and pedaled as fast as she could all the way home. 

She told her parents what happened, excitedly explaining every detail while their faces stared at her in earnest. Their captivation faded, though, with the mention of a ghost child, and her story was then met with skepticism. They chalked it up to her imagination running wild, and all conversation surrounding the incident at the park was squashed. Harriet laid awake that night, replaying the whole scene through her mind over and over. She could still feel the mist tingling her skin and the breeze tickling her arm hairs. Maybe she did imagine the whole thing…

…or maybe not.

The next day, Harriet went to the library to do some research about the park. She seemingly hit the jackpot when she found old pictures in the newspaper archives that suggested that it was part of a playground set that, at one time, was a bustling park accessory. She couldn’t find anything amiss and had all but given up when, suddenly, one headline in particular grabbed her attention. GIRL KILLED AFTER FALL FROM LOCAL SWINGSET. The article was surprisingly brief for such a shocking headline. It merely explained that the unnamed girl fell and was pronounced dead on the scene, passing away from a traumatic brain injury after hitting her head on a large rock located behind the swingset. Harriet asked the librarian to make a copy of the article, and, before leaving, she inquired about the girl. The librarian explained that the little girl wasn’t from the area. She was taken to the hospital, but no one ever claimed the body, and she was never identified. She was buried in the local cemetery that sits adjacent to the park. 

Harriet decided to make her way back out to the old swing, hoping to get a glimpse of the child again. She sat down on an old bench, laying her bike down in the grass beside her. This time there were no other onlookers. Everybody must have had their fill of excitement yesterday. She counted the ducks on the lake and tried to identify as many bird songs as she could. She pulled out the old newspaper article and reread it to pass some time. After about an hour of waiting, she picked up her bike and turned to head toward home. Then, it happened again. Clouds once again filled the clear, sunny sky as the temperature dropped. The mist slowly rolled off the lake along the shoreline. It wrapped its translucent tendrils around the figure of the little girl sitting on the swing. The seat began swaying back and forth, higher and more vigorous with each pass. Finally, the figure let out an ear-piercing shriek as it fell off the back; riding the wind that blasted Harriet in the face with the force of a rocket ship’s exhaust and with a cold that shot invisible icicles through every pore on her face. The newspaper article was ripped from her grasp and carried away with that burst of air. Harriet was thrown back onto the grass amongst the rotting leaves that repeatedly swirled around her and the swing. The breeze settled and the mist lifted once again, while the sun pierced through the dense cloud cover, revealing the rusty swing set covered in moss and old vines. 

Harriet lifted herself up off the ground and calmly brushed her clothes off with her hands. “Finally,” she said. Her eyes narrowed while the rest of her face relaxed. The corners of her mouth curled up into a devious smile as she made her way back to that swing. She examined the seat and chains that suspended it in the air. She blissfully sat down and began to swing; continuing where that little phantom girl left off.

March 04, 2024 00:17

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22:48 Mar 13, 2024

The descriptions were well written. I was able to imagine a lot based on what is provided. Good job showing and not always just telling.


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Kelly Grabovac
15:34 Mar 11, 2024

This story invoked a chill - the eerie tone was well done.


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Alexis Araneta
15:16 Mar 10, 2024

Such a chilling story, Bailey ! Great use of description here. Lovely job !


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Dena Linn
15:17 Mar 09, 2024

Super fun and creepy... I would love to see this story again with a bit more dialogue or even MC introspection to break up some descriptions. Also a good proofing so that words are not repeated and you can even more clearly build the tension then disappointment then excitement this MC feels. Good writing.


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