Fiction Horror

“Fly, you --”

“Fools!” Winston booms.

You blink.

His baritone rings loud, too loud, before a heavy silence rushes in.

You wonder, dumbly, if the Balrog has somehow dragged you down too.  Your hand fumbles in the dark for Winston.

“Mom!” the cracking voice of your teen son calls down.  “Did you pay the power bill?”

“Yes.” Your strained voice floats like a tiny island in this blackness.  

Winston’s warm hand finds yours, squeezes reassuringly.  “It’s okay, love, just a power outage.  Where do you keep the candles?”

“Above the stove.”

Just a power outage.  It’s okay.  Not the end of the world.  This stillness is surreal: gone is the whistling wind, the rumble of traffic, the subtle hum from the lights and fridge. You’re reminded of the silent, chilly nights in your old basement bedroom. 

Suddenly you’re transported back to that room, a cowering child in bed as tiny iridescent eyes watch you from the ceiling.   You’re aware of how deeply you exist below the ground.  Your covers feel like sheets of ice.  You’re aware of the heavy snow outside, suffocating any sound.  Suffocating your voice.  There’s awful intention in those eyes -- they want you.

They keep coming, night after night.  Always during the winter.  You’re powerless to stop them, keep them away.  Countless nights of terror.  Until Dr. Sanderson gave you those pills.  Maybe you should renew that prescription.

You flinch as Winston’s phone flares & dings, chasing away old demons.

“Yo Winston, over here!”

You watch the light beam over to the stairs.  Simon thunders down.  “Candles?” he asks.  “My phone’s dead.”

“Yes, follow me.” 

You hear them pad into the kitchen.  You shake your head.  No, you have to stop being ridiculous.  You’re a grown up: monsters don’t exist.  There’s nothing there but familiar rooms.

You hear the cupboard door swish open.  Why is it so quiet?  The storm was shrieking at the windows when the movie started.

You peak around the satiny curtains.  Patches of heavy snow cling to the window, silencing everything.  Frost obscures the rest.  Clearly the storm has stopped. 

A chill runs up your arm.

Something flashes across your peripheral vision.  You look to the right.  One small iridescent eye is reflected back, swimming in the blackness above your left shoulder.  Your throat constricts.

You step away from the glass.  Get it together.  You have to stop imagining things.

Your phone dings.  Dings again.  

You force yourself to swirl around.

Nothing there.  See?  Monsters don’t exist.

You check a group chat with your friends.

Power is off in the north end of the city.  You?

Power off in the south.

Whew!  Not just me.  Power’s down in Central.

It’s everywhere.  You don’t know if that makes it better or worse.  Your eyes snag on a number: -42 degrees celsius.  Your stomach tightens.

The whoosh of a match fills the air.

“We have LIGHT!” Simon cackles.  You exhale then force a smile.  That kid is such a goof.

Winston carries in an orange jar candle, his handsome face softly illuminated.

“Can you light a few more, dear?  The warmth is nice.”

Winston sets down the candle and heads back into the kitchen.  You stare into the dancing flame.  -42 degrees.  Cold enough to freeze a man.  The furnace won’t kick in without power.  Your house doesn’t have a fireplace.  Are a few small candles enough?  The knot in your stomach grows.

Simon flops onto the couch beside you.  “There’s nothing to do,” he complains.  “All my stuff needs power.”

“You poor thing.  How will you survive?” you tease.  Half tease.  Half question.  How long can you survive without power?  The last outage was four hours.  Before that it was two.   You reach out and run a hand through his silky hair.  Touch is supposed to be calming.

He grins up at you and closes his hazel eyes.  You decide to protect him from your terrible knowledge.  Let him be bored but dear God, don’t let him worry.  That’s your job.

Winston carries in two more candles.  “That’s the rest of them.”

You stare at the wooden coffee table.  Three candles, six wicks.  That’s it.  It doesn’t seem like enough.

“Thanks.”  You try to smile at Winston.

His brown eyes become concerned.  Jig’s up.  He’s always been able to sense your moods.  He snuggles up to you and whispers: “Is everything okay?”

You subtly shake your head and glance down at Simon.  His eyes are still closed, basking in the sensation of your fingers in his hair.

Winston nods.

You lean into him, soaking up his warmth.  You breathe in his familiar scent of mint and sweat.  Your boyfriend & son have always run warm.  You have the natural body temperature of an ice queen.  You want to trap his blissful heat.

Oh.  Layers!  Between candles, cuddling and comforters you might stand a chance.

You decide to downplay your worry with some friendly competition.  Your son has a natural drive to win.

“Hey Simon.  Race you upstairs?”

“In the dark?”

“Yeah.  Family room camp out: we need blankets and warm jammies.  First person to get up there, fumble some together, and race down with them gets a cookie.”

He’s up and sprinting off before you finish speaking.  Cute kid.  You grin and wander over to the stairs.  

When you get to the top you pause.  Simon’s banging around in his room.  You fumble blindly down the hall, focusing on the sounds.  Thankfully his room is right across from yours.

Your door squeaks as you swing it open.

You follow the old plaster wall to your bed.  How many steps is it?  Five?  Fifteen?  Why does everything seem impossibly far in the dark?

Your toe smashes against the edge of the bed.  You swear.

“I heard that!” Simon crows.  “You said it so I can too!”

“Don’t you dare!  You can’t say it because you’re not hurt.”

“I COULD be hurt.  What if I fall down the stairs?” he jokes.

“Then you’re on your own.  I’m not ploughing through a storm to take you to the hospital if you break your leg.”

“It’s okay; I’ll just swear.”

You sigh.

He giggles.

You snatch up two comforters and some sweatpants from the bed.

You hear Simon grunt as a heavy mound scrapes over the rough hall carpet.

“Buddy, what are you taking downstairs?  A dead body?”

He chuckles.  “Kinda.”

“Guess I’m gonna win that cookie.  There’s no way you’re dragging that bundle downstairs before me.”

“Unless you get stuck in the hall.”  You hear the mock innocence in his voice.  Dang it!  You never should have made this a competition.  Simon loves pranks.  

Stuck in the hall. What trap has he laid?

You stumble towards the doorway as he slowly drags his haul away.

Five steps.  Ten.

You bump against the door frame.  Your calves prickle from a draft.  Strange.  Your bedroom is the warmest in the house.  It’s never drafty.

Your door squeaks as you open it.

Two pairs of shimmering eyes watch you from the hall ceiling.

Your eyelids smash shut.  It’s not real; it’s not real.  Monsters don’t exist.  You force yourself to breathe.  It’s not real.  Look.

You glance at the ceiling.

Six eyes look back.

Your heartbeat roars in your ears.  The chill creeps up to your thighs.  You imagine snow seeping in on that draft, crawling up to freeze your voice.  Just like when you were a child.

“You’re not real,” you croak.  Why do you sound so terrified?

The eyes glitter with need.

Why did you stop taking those pills?  No, you can’t give in to this.  Come on, one foot in front of the other.  Move past them.

Your legs refuse to budge.  Why can’t you feel them?  A chill washes over your spine.  You don’t know if it’s from dread or this unnatural cold.

Come on legs!  Your hands move to check on them.  

Four more sets of eyes open above.

No.  NO.  Your legs are unyielding columns of ice.  This can’t be happening.  Bodies don’t morph into ice sculptures.

Your hands freeze into place.

“Don’t do this!” you plead with the creatures.

Glittering eyes appear everywhere.  Whispering voices flutter like demonic butterflies inside your brain.  You can’t understand the words.

The cold clamps over your throat.  You gasp as your heart slows.

You’ve always had the body temperature of an ice queen.

Your brain starts to untangle the whispers.

Don’t fight . . . join us . . . feed . . . eternal winter

Why can’t you hear your heartbeat any more?

Millions of razor sharp icicles sprout around those hungering eyes.

Thoughts frag m e n t.

So col--


May 07, 2021 16:13

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H L Mc Quaid
19:01 May 12, 2021

Freaky, and I liked it. The writing was good, and the dialogue was believable. Also impressive use of second person POV. I suppose for a short story, maybe a little bit more info on the creatures and what the 'stakes' are should they catch her, would be helpful. There is the nice tension of wondering whether she imagining them or not, but then it seems like they are real, and if they are real, then some kind of hint/foreshadowing of what might happen to the narrator would dial up the tension more. I mean, I like a cliffhanger as much as a...


Jewel Robbins
19:20 May 12, 2021

Excellent feedback, thank you! That's definitely something I'll work on. This was my first foray into horror.


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