69 comments

Horror

Warning warning warning: This story deals with a violent assault/kidnapping/confinement. It’s not graphic, but it is dark and disturbing. Younger readers should skip this one. Let me know if you think I should take it down.


Bag over head.


Scream.


Rough hands.


Scream.


Cords cut into wrists.


Scream.


Trunk door slams.


Scream.


The bag over my head smells like vomit. Something sharp digs into my back. The car is hurtling down a road.


I can’t breathe.


Still I scream.


I’m screaming as the hands drag me out of the trunk. I’m screaming as they shove me to a hard, cold floor. I’m screaming as the door slams.


I scream and I scream.


And then I stop.


Listen.


Silence.


Such heavy silence.


I pull my wrists to my teeth and tear at the cords, shredding the bag still covering my mouth. I am a wild animal, gnawing and spitting, frantic. Twisting and straining against the cords, caring little if I break my wrists, my teeth. 


They give way and I rip the bag off my head. I’m heaving.


I can’t see.


I’m reaching my arms out, lurching and stumbling. The space is small. I touch rough walls. I’m on my hands and knees, feeling the floor. My hand hits a familiar object – my phone! It must’ve fallen out of my back pocket.


“Thankyouthankyouthankyou,” I murmur.


The screen illuminates and so does my heart, but only for a moment. I turn the light outward only to see four close concrete walls. No windows. A single door. No knob.


I sink to the floor, gasping. My chest is on fire. I’m sweating and shivering all at once.


I clutch my phone and manage to touch Tom’s name with a shaking finger.


It rings. Once. Twice. He answers.


“Hey, babe,” he says.


I can’t speak. I’m sobbing.


“Cara?” he asks. “Cara, is that you sweetie? What’s wrong?”


I am wheezing as I try to speak.


“Cara! Say something! Are you hurt?”


“Someone –,” I manage. “Someone –,” I can’t think. “Someone t-t-took me.”


I dissolve into a heap of sobs.


“Took you? What do you mean? Took you where?”


“I don’t know. I don’t know,” I moan.


“Ok , sweetie,” he sounded gentle. “Please calm down. I don’t understand. I can’t come get you if I don’t understand.”


I try to stop my tears and form words.


“He attacked me. Put me in a trunk. I don’t know where I am. No windows.” I’m weeping again.


“Cara,” Tom’s spoke slowly. “Were you…. kidnapped?”


I throw up.


“Listen to me, babe. Listen to me. You have to hang up and call 911. They can track your phone and find you, but you have to call them.”


“No! Don’t hang up Tom. Don’t hang up.” I’m pleading. My life is over if Tom hangs up that phone.


“Ok,” he says. “Ok babe. Try to calm down. It will be ok. Is he there?”


“Noooo,” my voice is quavery. “I don’t think so.”


“And there’s no way you can get out?”


“No,” I whisper.


“Ok, stay on the line, babe. I’m going to call the police from my other phone.”


I hear him murmuring and then he comes back to me.


“Cara? Good news sweetie. The police can find you. They are working on tracking your phone now. Stay on with me. It won’t be long.”


I sigh and sit against the wall, relief flooding me. 


“Thank you,” I whisper. “I love you.”


“I love you toos. It’s going to be ok. Can you tell me what happened?”


“I don’t know. I don’t know.” My voice breaks and I try again. “I was in the parking garage. I was almost at my car. I even had my keys in my hand. And then someone just grabbed me from behind and put a bag or something over my head and then –” 


It all happened so fast but all feels so slow when I remember it. Squirming, flailing, twisting. His arms locked so tight around me I couldn’t move, Drawstring from the bag tight around my neck. Half-dragged, half-carried a few steps, shoved into a trunk…


“Cara? Cara? Are you there?” Tom was saying. “Are you sure it was a guy?”


“It must’ve been. He was big, strong.”


“He didn’t say anything? Can you remember his voice?


“No – nothing.”


“And no one came to help you?”


“It was empty that late. I was on the bottom floor.”


“The guy in the booth didn’t hear anything?”


“It’s been fully automated since last year – there’s no one there.”


“Cameras?”


“I don’t know.”


“The police are checking now I’m sure. I told them which parking garage you use.”


“Tom?”


“What is it, babe?”


“What if he comes back before the police get here?” I whisper.


“That’s not gonna happen, Cara. Don’t even let your mind go there. The police will show up any minute and you’ll be back home before you know it. Sitting on the couch, watching football, yelling at me for not making the bed.”


I cringe. 


“I’m so sorry, babe,” I say. “I’m so sorry for all the fighting, all the bitching. I haven’t been myself lately. But that’s all over, Tom. I promise. If I get out of here -,”


“When. WHEN you get out of there.”


“Yes, yes, you’re right – WHEN I get out of here, it’ll be so different. You can take that trip to Vegas with the boys you were talking about and we’ll build that man cave and …. I don’t know - whatever else you want. No more nagging, none of that. I promise.”


“That’s my girl. That’s the happy voice I like to hear.”


I allow myself a tiny smile.


“Tom?”


“Yeah?”


“Do you think the police are taking a long time? Shouldn’t they be here by now?”


“I’m sure they’ll be there soon, sweetie. Hang in there.”


“Can you call them again? Maybe they need more information to find me.”


Tom sighs. A deeply irritated sigh I’ve come to know well.


“I’m so sorry, babe,” I say, feeling sobs bubble up again. “I’m just really scared. I want to come home. Can you call? Please?”


And then a fumbling at the door. Keys jangling. 


My heart stops. I freeze.


“Tom?” I whisper. “He’s here. Oh my God, he’s here. Call the police. Call them now!”


The door opens and a rush of cold night air fills the cell. It’s dark outside but I see a figure silhouetted against the moonlight.


He carries an ax casually over his shoulder.


He’s still holding the phone to his ear. As am I.


He looks down at me, smirking.


“I don’t think so, babe,” he says.

October 09, 2020 13:00

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69 comments

A.Dot Ram
02:20 Oct 10, 2020

Up until the very end, I thought perhaps he was playing a very sadistic prank on her--an elaborate ploy to get his man cave. Apparently not. The ax...eek. I don't think you need to delete this, though. It has artistic merit, and like you said it's not graphic. It's actually very emotionally resonant.

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Kristin Neubauer
14:30 Oct 10, 2020

Thanks so much! It feels so strange to me to delve into such a dark and disturbing world. It's always interesting to explore new styles and genres, but it may be awhile before I return to this kind of story!

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A.Dot Ram
17:00 Oct 11, 2020

I don't blame you! We authors have to go deep into our worlds to bring them to readers. Really get inside the characters' heads and put ourselves through every detail of their experience. I imagine this was not a comfortable place to hang out last week!

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Bianka Nova
18:11 Oct 11, 2020

I felt the exact same way as A. And no - I don't think there's something wrong with the story or that you have to take it down. I didn't read any comments or know about the Watts family, so in viewing it as purely fictional it did look quite all right to me. Even a bit mild for the genre (there are much crazier things I've seen in movies). It's understandable why you feel this way, considering the history and the emotional connection you have in writing it, but once again - It is fine! I'm glad it served you therapeutically 😊

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Kristin Neubauer
18:54 Oct 11, 2020

Thanks, Bianka! I am starting to feel a little more confident about now after reading so many supportive comments and I really appreciate yours. I see that Netflix just did a documentary on the Watts story (American Murder) - I haven't watched it yet, but I probably will. It feels inconceivable to me that someone can turn like that....and yet it happens all too often. Thanks again!

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Bianka Nova
18:58 Oct 11, 2020

Yes, unfortunately there are a lot of stories like that... far too much. I guess, we have to accept that crazy is also part of life.

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Kristin Neubauer
13:33 Oct 09, 2020

Author's Note: About 20 years ago, Brad did a short film based on this very idea. It was such a horrific twist, that it always stuck with me and I always had it in the back of my mind to change it up a little and adapt it to a short story format. This seemed like the perfect prompt to try it. I also drew on the tragic Watts family murders -murdered by husband/father Chris Watts. A psychologist friend of mine write a book exploring the psychopathy of Chris Watts, which I found fascinating and horrific all at once. I'm glad I wrote thi...

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L.A. Nolan
04:47 Oct 15, 2020

Well written Kristen! I really enjoyed this. One note, and this is purely my opinion. I don't feel the warning at the beginning of your piece is necessary. I never post a "trigger warning" or worry about offending people. This is your art, you shouldn't feel the need to justify it. It's your right as a writer to provoke, effect and offend people. It's your job. If it's starts to upset someone, they should stop bloody reading it lol...thats not on you. I know it's fashionable now to issue those kinds of warnings, and although I personall...

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Kristin Neubauer
18:16 Oct 15, 2020

Thanks so much, Lee! I appreciate the vote of confidence. I expect you're right about not asking opinions about taking it down. I'd joined Reedsy over the summer and wasn't really sure what the protocol was, but your comment reminds me of when I wrote a story in fifth grade (about 35 years ago) and a teacher told me to never apologize for my writing. I am still learning. As for the trigger warning, I really felt like I needed to put it up there - I didn't actually feel good about this story. It kind of disturbed me writing it and I did...

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L.A. Nolan
02:50 Oct 16, 2020

No worries Kristen. Like I said, Trigger Warnings are a personal choice and if you choose to post one, then do what's right for you. They are a hot topic at the moment and people are hardline on both sides of the issue. As long as you keep writing! My only real concern was you asking if people thought you should remove the story. I would hate to see a nicely crafted and well written piece removed from the public eye because, despite your warning, someone reads it and in THIER opinion thinks its to harsh, or real or whatever. It seems t...

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Kristin Neubauer
13:08 Oct 16, 2020

Thank you, Lee! Very wise words in all that you say and I will definitely take it to heart as I keep on writing!

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Orchid Krizan
20:05 Jun 14, 2021

OMGOODNESS that was amazing!!

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Kristin Neubauer
18:19 Jun 18, 2021

Thank you so much! Apologies for my slow reply....I've been buried under schoolwork lately. it creeped me out while I was writing it....I'm glad it worked for you!

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Raquel Rodriguez
13:52 Oct 13, 2020

Oh em gosh! I actually thought Tom was good! What the heck? Was it because she yelled at him for not making the bed? This was creepy, and I loved it! I can almost smell the bag, and I would throw up if someone put me in that. Great job! :)

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Kristin Neubauer
17:46 Oct 15, 2020

Thanks, Raquel - I was hoping that readers wouldn't know he was evil. The idea I was going for is that there are some serious problems underlying their relationship and that Tom is rather psychotic and narcissistic on top of it. The unmade bed was only a hint of the much deeper problems they had.

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Raquel Rodriguez
17:52 Oct 15, 2020

Yikes, I would yell at someone if they kept reminding me of only my faults, so I probably would've killed Tom first, lol. You definitely fooled me with Tom.

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12:06 Oct 13, 2020

Wow I feel like I need a drink lol. This was so intense and the end. Ugh. So creepy. I loved it. I'm gonna go take some deep breaths now

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Kristin Neubauer
17:06 Oct 15, 2020

Thanks, Sarah! Yeah, I had the same sort of reaction walking away from it. It was one of those stories stuck in my head that had to get out....and I don't intend to revisit it!

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Skyler Woods
14:22 Oct 11, 2020

I've heard plenty of horror stories like this one. This was thrilling and shocking! A popular horror storyteller on YouTube named Dr. Creepen reads stories like this. Some of them are true and some of them are fiction. That twist was so sharp that it cut my heart! I know how it feels to write horror, especially horror with serial killers. It messes with your head and you have to step away and take a breath. You did good with this one! This was tragically magnificent!

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Kristin Neubauer
14:42 Oct 11, 2020

Thanks so much, Skyler! I feel relieved in a strange way that you understand the mixed emotions that came with this story. On one hand, I like exploring a new genre and creating something that inspires such strong reactions. On the other hand, I feel a bit icky about putting something so dark out there in the world. And on another hand, I feel like it does highlight in a way the horror that women who experience something like this must feel. And finally, I suspect that I'm simply overthinking it all. Your comments make me feel better a...

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Skyler Woods
15:00 Oct 11, 2020

You're welcome! 💕

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Orenda .
11:40 Oct 11, 2020

I've been on here for months and I never thought of reading 'horror' stories until Reedsy included the featured stories and more genres and this story is just soooo good! I love the trope of unreliable characters and you've conveyed that brilliantly. The ending had the chills👌 and Tom...he is definitely is a butthole 😂 Well done!

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Kristin Neubauer
13:01 Oct 11, 2020

Thanks so much! I appreciate the kind words as I was definitely exploring something new with this one!

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Orenda .
13:35 Oct 11, 2020

Yup, anytime!

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Julie Ward
17:10 Oct 10, 2020

OMG Kristin. I was screaming (silently so as not to wake up my entire household) "what an A-HOLE" the entire time I read it, thinking Tom was going to be a big hero and ask Cara to marry him or something...but wow, the dark turn. The ending gave me the chills. Really good.

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Kristin Neubauer
17:36 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you, Julie! I was thinking "what an A-hole" Tom was the whole time. That story about Chris Watts murdering his family has been on mind so much lately and that really seeped into my writing for this one. I appreciate you taking the time to read and let me know what you thought!

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Rayhan Hidayat
10:51 Oct 10, 2020

This reminds me of a story I did a while back (also involving a 911 call) and I love it! God, this was creepy. You can just tell the boyfriend was enjoying every second hearing her sob and letting him build a mancave and whatnot. And the axe—classic horror imagery! Exquisite job as usual Kristin! 😙

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Kristin Neubauer
15:51 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you so much! It felt strange to go this route, but I think good to explore trying other genres. Maybe I will try the creep factor again someday!

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:52 Oct 11, 2020

I think you have what it takes! This one really has the same feel as those bone-chilling horror stories you find on reddit

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Vicky S
03:43 Oct 10, 2020

I enjoyed it as it was different to most stories I usually read

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Kristin Neubauer
14:42 Oct 10, 2020

Thanks Vicky! It was different to most stories I usually write. If felt strange to venture into this kind of darkness, but it was interesting!

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Yolanda Wu
22:32 Oct 09, 2020

This story gave me the literal chills. I have a morbid fascination for these kind of horror stories with spectacular twists, and oh that twist. Even though it is pretty common in this type of story, but I still didn't see it coming. It makes sense how you drew from the Watts family murders, I just watched the documentary about that on Netflix, and it is truly horrific. I haven't written horror in so long, that used to be my go-to for short stories, so this story brought back some memories. Maybe I'm just weird, but I love writing all the gor...

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Kristin Neubauer
14:05 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you so much, Yolanda! If I'm going to do horror, I think this psychological horror is what I'm best-suited for. Gore rattles me a bit. Not reading about it, but seeing it in films. I'm watching Westworld now and find myself covering my eyes half the time - I'm a wimp! Thanks again - your comments always mean so much!

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Yolanda Wu
21:38 Oct 10, 2020

You're always welcome, Kristin! Horror movies are my guilty pleasure, none of them really scare me though, lol.

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Yolanda Wu
10:14 Oct 12, 2020

Hi Kristin, I've uploaded a new story, it's pretty short, but I would love to hear what you have to say about it. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
20:10 Oct 14, 2020

I am so sorry for the delay! I've been buried under school papers, panel discussions and Supreme Court hearings. I don't think I'm going to get a story in this week. But I am curious to read yours! Heading over to it right now - thanks for letting me know!

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Yolanda Wu
21:07 Oct 14, 2020

Wow, that certainly sounds busy, don't worry, I totally understand. I've got exams coming around the corner as well.

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Yolanda Wu
05:57 Oct 16, 2020

Hi Kristin, I have another story up, as usual, your comments always make my day, so I would be delighted to hear your feedback. Of course I know you're super busy, so it's totally fine if you don't get to it right away. :)

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Ryan Dupont
22:02 Oct 09, 2020

I absolutely loved it! The beginning was very intense and well written and the twist at the end was fantastic. The way you ended it allows the reader to envision their own gruesome conclusion which is very powerful. Her asking for forgiveness on the phone and swearing things will be different unveils a possible underlying reason for the ending. Her wanting to stay on the phone with his comforting voice and not wanting to hang up and call 911, I thought was very realistic. It was so good! This is the dark stuff I like and if it was to...

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Kristin Neubauer
14:00 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you so much, Ryan - I really appreciate your words and encouragement. My story for next week is going to have to be light because I need to pull myself out of this dark space. When I write, I tend to put myself into the character's shoes. Like most of my writing is me staring off into space, experiencing all the sensations and emotions of my character's story - which means I've either got a good imagination or I'm completely nuts. I did that with this one too, which is why I think it got to me so much. I will take another stab at ho...

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Ryan Dupont
19:12 Oct 10, 2020

I've liked all of the stories I've read from you. I would guess, if you swing the pendulum to the brighter side of things and write a story about unicorns and rainbows, it will be good as well.

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Kristin Neubauer
12:45 Oct 11, 2020

Hah! Thank you! The vote of confidence means a lot!

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Pragya Rathore
16:53 Oct 09, 2020

Oh my god, Kristin! This story gave me chills, it was terribly disturbing. I think that what makes these incidents awfully chilling is that they can happen to and can be done by anyone. I also believe that the fact that it emotionally shook me shows what a fantastic job you did. And the way the kidnapper/murderer slings the ax over his shoulder so coolly is seriously creepy. And the way you described her condition in the beginning was very well done. Also, I enjoy how you put across the couple's love through dialogue. My only critique would ...

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Kristin Neubauer
17:07 Oct 09, 2020

Thanks so much, Pragya! I really appreciate your reading and offering such valuable feedback. I know what you mean about increasing sensory inputs, but the story had me so disturbed myself that I kind of just wanted to get it finished and done with. I'm wondering - and am counting on unfiltered honesty here - do you think I should take it down? I mean, is it too disturbing to be posted? I have some serious doubts about this one. The goal of this story is not to entertain and certainly not to upset anyone - it's more to highlight horror ...

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Yolanda Wu
04:59 Oct 10, 2020

Although some of the details are a bit disturbing, I definitely don't think you should take this one down. And as you said, it highlights the horror of a terrifying phenomenon. So, as someone deeply interested in true crime, I think these kinds of stories are really important, if not for entertainment, for awareness. I think that's what stories are meant to do. Especially with horror and any type of story, there's a line you should tread, but I can't see anything wrong or offensive with this story. You did place a warning, so readers should ...

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Kristin Neubauer
14:47 Oct 10, 2020

Thanks, Yolanda! You're right - there is definitely a line to tread. All these news stories I've read over the years about women being killed by their "loving" partners have always chilled me. The idea that someone can so completely cover up a very violent and sociopathic side of their personality - only to reveal it in such a horrific way. Gosh, that seems like the ultimate in horror to me. These poor women.

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Yolanda Wu
21:39 Oct 10, 2020

I can't even imagine what it is like spending all those years with someone, only to find that they were hiding the worst part of themselves that whole time. That in one moment, they can just snap. It truly is horrifying.

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Pragya Rathore
09:22 Oct 10, 2020

No way, Kristin! I think that horror can sometimes be the hardest genre to write. And you did a fantabulous job with this one, so you can put that traitorous thought of taking it down out of your mind. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
14:48 Oct 10, 2020

Thanks so much, Pragya! Consensus seems to leave it up for now. I appreciate hearing your thoughts!

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Rayhan Hidayat
10:54 Oct 10, 2020

No this story is fine! Trust me, there are way worse things on this site. I know stories like this are hard to write, but it’s our job as writers to take one for the team and shed light on these issues so that others don’t have to. Hope that makes sense 😙

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Kristin Neubauer
15:52 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you! I feel a lot better about it after reading your comment and some of the others. I really appreciate the vote of confidence!

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Namii Day
01:40 Sep 27, 2023

PART 2

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Jack Hillier
14:11 Feb 09, 2023

bad

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Autumn Mitter
21:14 Oct 06, 2022

hfsjfhdndbfdjeufbddskdhskjhdcvbchsjasbnsdkbfhkjdlejsdnaskjc vj ehdja dnkf ndjksnmc

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Autumn Mitter
21:14 Oct 06, 2022

I really liked it! It was a good story

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Daniel R. Hayes
05:46 Mar 16, 2021

Wow, I actually felt like I was Cara reading this story. You brought me in this story world and I could see everything that was happening. This story was terrifyingly good. The ending...amazing. You could even teach me a thing or two about twists. What was your inspiration for this one? I can't believe people actually do this in real life. It is a strange and cruel world we live in. The human psyche can be a scary place to delve into. I think this type of story is more scary than anything supernatural or fantasy, because it actually happens...

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Kristin Neubauer
19:39 Mar 19, 2021

Thanks so much, Daniel! Yeah, this was a disturbing story. I didn't particularly enjoy writing it and don't think I'll go that dark again. The inspiration for this one was a short film a friend of Brad's did. It shared some similarities in the bare bones of the plot, but then my mind took off with how horrible things could be it it took a wrong turn.

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Daniel R. Hayes
20:31 Mar 19, 2021

Hi Kristin, this story was dark. I can see how you didn't enjoy writing it, but you did a good job all the same ;) I've been making my way through your stories and this one is different from your others. I know I still have a lot more to read but I hope to get through them soon. :)

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Emaan Kamran
12:42 Oct 29, 2020

Amazing ❤️ Check out my story as well and tell me how it was

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