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Horror Suspense Thriller

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

    I remember when the whistling started. Allie had been the first to hear it.

        “Did you hear that?”

        “Hear what?”

        It had been easy for me to disregard. Whenever someone works a late shift, it’s easy for them to think they heard something — to think they saw something.

        “Were you whistling — just now? Was that you?”

        “Why would I be whistling?”

        Before I left that night, Allie never mentioned seeing anything in the stockroom. She was intent on the idea that I’d been whistling as I fixed up the store, but I know that I never made any sound.

        “Must’ve been the ghost, then.”

        The scoff that I made that night had offended her even more than my disbelief. She had said it in a fake, joking manner, but I could tell that she was being serious. Everyone has always been under the impression that the stockroom is haunted. We've all heard our names called by a bodiless voice when we're alone. But, it's like I said: in the middle of the night when you're by yourself in an empty store, it's easy to think you heard something. It's a far too simple task to spook yourself with your imagination. It's much harder to realize the bodiless voice you're hearing is truly your mind. 

    And that's what I had told Jane. 

    "It's just your mind playing tricks."

     First was Allie. And then Jane. 

    "But — I'm telling you — I saw one of the boxes move."

        "It didn't move, Jane. It's late, and you're tired."

        When we checked the security footage for both nights, Allie's provided no more information. With only one working camera in the stockroom, we weren't able to see where Allie went. She was seen on the grainy, black and white video thirty minutes before I left, but after that, she didn't show up again. It's like she'd vanished.

    I hadn't told anyone, but I'd wondered if she had gone insane. She was so convinced that she had heard something.

    But then, Jane happened.

    While it shows what happened to her, Jane's video is more confusing than Allie's. 

    Ten minutes before I left, I had gone into the back to grab my stuff. The security footage shows me crossing in front of the camera to get to my locker. Jane follows after me but stops directly in front of the camera. Although there's no audio, you can make out her mouth moving.

        "Did she say anything important to you? Anything that would help us understand what happened?" 

        "No," I had lied to the investigators, "no, she didn't say anything out of the ordinary. Just told me to have a nice night and that she'd see me for my shift on Saturday."

    Not even fifteen minutes after I had left, the camera shows Jane making her way down the aisle between all the shelves, holding a box filled with new products. As she begins to put them away, she's out of the camera's view for a few moments before returning into the aisle. With her box empty, she turns her back against the wall and starts to head out of the aisle. 

    Those twelve minutes of the recording are so incredibly normal compared to its ending. 

    Just as the time shown on the camera hits 12 a.m, a box falls from the top of a shelf in the back. Jane comes to an abrupt stop as the box she's holding falls from her hands. She looks directly into the camera, dark eyes wide. She stays that way for a few minutes standing completely still to the point where she must be holding her breath. And then, slowly, she turns back around and makes her way to the shelves in the back. 

    She's not even back there for five seconds before she's thrown across the room in the position that the opening employee will find her in the next morning: neck broken, body twisted, with both her eyes and mouth wide open. 

    She had told me, and I hadn't believed her: "I saw one of the boxes move.". 

    And then, there were the lies I told. The investigators weren't the only people I lied to. I still remember when Jane came up to me in the back as I was grabbing my things from my locker.

        "Can't you stay a little later?" Her eyes held so much anxiety, and I could tell that she'd been crying. But why?

        "Jane, I've already been here for ten and a half hours. I'm going home." I closed my locker, ready to leave. But, as I turned to go, I watched Jane's face. Her eyes became wide as fear pooled into them, and her mouth opened in a small gasp. I'd never really watched someone go pale before, but the color in Jane's face bled out of her as she stilled.

        "Did you hear it? The whistling?" Her whispered question would forever remain unanswered as I pushed past her and out of the back.

    I was the last person to see Jane. I was the last person to see Allie. If I had stayed with them, would it have mattered? What good would it have done if I had gone missing along with Allie? If I had died along with Jane? 

    But now, as I stand outside in the dark alleyway, I allow myself to realize that I'm a coward. How hard would it have been for me to say those words to Jane: Yes, Jane. I heard it too.

    I heard it then, just like I heard it a few moments ago in the stockroom. It had been faint from inside, but it was loud enough for me to hear: the sharp sound of a person whistling. It had been high-pitched — as if someone was trying to call their dog.

    Taking a step forward, I pull out my phone. It becomes a spotlight for the empty boxes a few feet away from me. These boxes had been in the stockroom only a week ago Allie and I had moved them out here once we unpacked them, joking around and making a makeshift fort out of them in the middle of the alleyway. Looking at them now, they've all been toppled over.

    Could it have been the wind? It hasn't been windy recently, but maybe even a small breeze would have been able to knock some of the boxes over. 

    Slowly, I begin to move my flashlight over them. The boxes have definitely been tampered withSome have even been deconstructed flattened out as if to hide something. 

    As I take another step forward, my phone illuminates something unusual among the boxes. It's a single pink shoe. 

    My throat constricts as I recognize them. 

    How were we so stupid? Why didn't we check under the gigantic pile of boxes back here? We all knew Allie would never just run away.

    I begin to bend down, planning to move the boxes off her body, but my body goes still as I hear it again — this time, a little louder. No closer.

    The whistle starts out high, but the pitch lowers until it bleeds out into the darkness of the night. It sounds like it's coming from behind me, but I can't be sure as it echoes into the silence. The hair on the back of my neck stands up as I realize it could be coming from the stockroom door.

    Taking a deep breath, I turn towards the door and guide my light over it. No one is there.

    I think about running from the alleyway and heading for my car. Would I be able to outrun whoever whatever is back here with me? 

    But I've already been a coward twice. I've left Allie here before; I can't leave her body like this now. 

    I turn back to the boxes and begin sliding them off of her one by one. As I take the first few off her, I can already tell: her body is oddly twisted. 

    When I've uncovered about half of her body, the whistles start up again. This time, they come in succession with no pauses.

    I bite the inside of my cheek as I hear them get closer, and as I uncover Allie's broken neck, tears begin to draw lines down my face. The whistling, although it's in no particular tune, sounds off-key. I listen desperately for any other sounds: footsteps, breathing, anything besides the elusive echo that ricochets off the walls. 

    Finally, I uncover Allie's face, and a sob leaves my throat. Her mouth and eyes are wide open. Just like Jane's. 

    The whistling stops.

    I fall to my knees on the asphalt as tears stream down my face. My shoulders shake as the silence envelops me. For a moment, I think that it's over. The whistling has stopped, I've found Allie's body, and now I can go home.

    A whistle sounds from directly above me. My shoulders slump, and I close my eyes for a moment before slowly opening them. Defeated, I look up.

    I'm not aware of my eyes widening or my mouth opening. The only thing I'm aware of is that it is over.

April 08, 2022 21:37

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18 comments

Tanja Riley
15:08 Apr 13, 2022

Very good take on the prompt with this horror/thriller. It kept me on the edge of my seat but I have to ask... what happens next? :D Is it a ghost? I initially thought the POV MC was the killer, otherwise why would they lie to the police? Anyway, good job, I'm invested now

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Ella Kelly
15:23 Apr 13, 2022

Thank you so much! I had actually originally planned for the MC to be the killer, but decided to go a different route (although, I LOVE a thriller with an unreliable narrator) since the last prompt I wrote for also had an unreliable narrator! I'll definitely consider writing a follow-up story to explain the supernatural force!

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Tanja Riley
15:34 Apr 13, 2022

Awesome, I'm there for the sequel when and if you decide to write it!

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Mary Duke
15:44 Apr 16, 2022

Well there goes any hope of having any peaceful sleep for a week! I feel the sudden urge to check my closets. I hope you'll write a follow up. This a good thriller story. Well done!

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Ella Kelly
19:56 Apr 22, 2022

Thank you so much, Mary! I'm currently working on a sequel story to provide an explanation of the supernatural force!

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Olivia Snead
17:17 Apr 14, 2022

Your story kept me riveted from beginning to end. A great mystery. Consider adding another paragraph on the identity of the whistler, and you've got yourself a winner. Good job!

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Ella Kelly
13:58 Apr 15, 2022

Thank you so much for your feedback, Olivia! I'm considering writing a follow-up story with more background on the supernatural force behind the whistling.

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Michał Przywara
21:52 Apr 13, 2022

Good, spooky story. It has a strong beginning and the narrator has a consistent voice. I really like the line "First was Allie. And then Jane." It's ominous. We haven't even finished with Allie yet and now Jane's in trouble.

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Ella Kelly
02:14 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you, Michal! I'm glad that the MC's voice was consistent as that's something I've found I struggle with - I think writing this in one sitting definitely helped with that. I'm also glad that the pacing with Allie and Jane's backstories worked out as it was something I was worried about!

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Sue Hunter
20:19 Apr 13, 2022

Great setting that had me on the edge of my seat the whole read!

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Ella Kelly
02:15 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you so much, Sue!

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18:33 Apr 13, 2022

You’ve created a very sinister setting, definitely had me on edge reading this!

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Ella Kelly
02:22 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you! I crafted the setting based on my own experiences in the stockroom at work - I think the familiarity of it helped me to build it more.

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Felice Noelle
17:41 Apr 13, 2022

Ella I'm returning the read that you so kindly gave me. I admire anyone that even attempts horror stories. I just have no talent at it. But I have read Stephen King and Dean Koontz for their entire careers. So I surely love the genre. This was an interesting read. King is such an expert at adding in all the mundane details that end up turning really creepy. I think you got the main thriller part right, and I imagine it's difficult to develop much creepiness in short story form, just a mere 3000 words. I would need to pick words off...

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Ella Kelly
02:28 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you for returning the read! Your feedback is extremely helpful - I've never read any King or Koontz yet, but they're on the top of my TBR. I definitely struggle with determining how much creepy description to use, but that's something I love about the horror genre: too much description can be almost traumatizing while too little can induce the reader's imagination and cause even more terror.

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Felice Noelle
13:22 Apr 14, 2022

Ella: If you haven't read King you have probably seen some of his movies: The Shining, Carrie (I think that was his first) Pet Cemetery, google him and you'll be astounded at how prolific he's been. I prefer him to Koontz. His favorite of mine is very lengthy, but well worth the read: title is the date of John Kennnedy's assassination. I just admire anyone who can write in this genre. I'm going to try a weak version of it soon, but know it will bomb. Kind is able to take an object like a late model Cadillac and turn it into a living ...

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16:23 Apr 13, 2022

I usually don't read horror (too much of a chicken ;D, but your first paragraphs lured me into actually finishing your story. Great job. I especially love the open ending. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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Ella Kelly
02:34 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you, Gabriela! I'm happy that you enjoyed the story even though it's not your usual genre! I've been trying to improve the hooks in my stories, so it's good to hear this one drew you in. I'm glad you liked the ending as well because I had a few other ideas for it, but decided to try something different.

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