Save Me If You Can

Submitted into Contest #215 in response to: Set your story in a haunted house.... view prompt


Horror Fiction Thriller

The arteries of the house dripped, dripped, dripped. Maia’s steps were hesitant as she stepped further inside. She was distinctly aware that the floor was soft and almost flesh-like, but she was more focused on what she felt rather than the physical features of this dark place. It wasn’t comfortable, but familiar. She’d been here before.

She patted the air, hoping to find something to grab and give her a sense of guidance. She felt like she was trapped in a coffin. Her hands finally slid against a wall but she squeaked and yanked them back. She couldn’t make out the shape of her hands but they felt like they were covered in some kind of thick slime. She gagged as she put her hands out once more. There had to be a switch somewhere.

Somebody ran through the house. Maia snapped her head toward the sound—“Who’s there?” she asked. “Where the hell am I?” she whispered, her voice shaking. A door slammed, and she shrieked at the same time that her hand slid against what felt like a switch. She flipped it and saw she was in her own home. Almost. The copper smell of blood was in the air, emitting from the walls. It didn’t drip like in a cheesy horror movie, it painted the walls. It fell consistently, like a chocolate fountain.


Maia felt like a giant was knocking against her chest. “Who is that?”

“Help me!” the strangled sound came again.

The sound seemed to come from all the space in her home rather than just one hallway. She left the doorway and tiptoed to the living room. That familiar feeling came again and she followed it. She walked through the living room and was about to walk into the kitchen, but instead of seeing the fridge against the wall, there was a door. She toed the line between the living room and the kitchen and just stared. Had that door always been there? No. Of course not.

She took a step forward. Then another. Until both feet were planted solidly against the flesh-like floor. Immediately a sharp pain struck her chest and she groaned. She turned around to walk back into the living room, but she bumped into an invisible wall. 

She tried to scream for help, but the pain was choking her. She turned back, her hand gripping her chest, her steps fumbled, and went to the door. She opened it and walked inside, her pain dissipating as if someone had waved a wand and pronounced her healed. She was in another dark room—a single space lit up. Only this time it didn’t look like any room in her house. Still, she knew she’d been there before.

A record player sat in the middle of the room on the floor. A song she didn’t know began to play. The quality was crisp, but the song almost didn’t sound like a song. Her heart was telling her to walk away, but she couldn’t listen. She stood there, unmoving, feeling entranced. 

The song ended, and it was silent for a moment before it started again. She realized this time there was a bit of a scratch to it. “Help!” she heard again. It was the voice from earlier, but this time, it wasn’t strong enough to pull her out of her enchantment. She stayed in that spot as the song replayed over and over, each time more scratched and warped. It was starting to sound evil.

“S-stop,” she muttered, finally. The music went on. “Stop.” A little louder. “Just stop, please.” On and on and on, the scratches against the record became louder than the music. The music was suddenly screaming. She covered her ears. “STOP!” 

The music stopped. A second passed. A minute. Maybe an hour. She couldn’t tell anymore. 

The screaming blared, louder and stronger than before. Not a single note or melody anymore. Her feet finally moved, not sure why or how, and she turned around to go through the door. She turned the knob, expecting to walk back into the kitchen until she heard the cackling.

Chills ran along her arms like a domino effect. The cackling wasn’t human-like, it sounded like hyenas. She peeked her head further and saw that the hyena's laughter wasn’t coming from the animals but from her friends. Her family. Her college peers and professors. At the front was a young woman on the floor on her knees. Her long hair blocked her as she tried to pick up fallen papers. She was sobbing and hurt but the hyenas kept laughing. Maia no longer felt afraid, just hurt, and before she knew it she was walking toward the girl.

Everyone went quiet. Maia froze, afraid to look up, but she did. Everyone was standing now. But not just standing. They were smiling.

She didn’t hesitate this time. She ran. Hundreds of steps pounded the floor behind her. When she turned back, the girl on the floor was being trampled and squished, but she didn’t have time to save her. There was a door on the other side, and when she opened it she saw a man. He was handsome. A thick head of black hair, a soft beard, big hands. He smiled at her with soft eyes that she’d seen on her mom and dad, fully in love. Her boyfriend.

“Amor,” she said.

“Maia. Are you okay?” his eyebrows furrowed in concern.

“No, I’m scared.”

“You don’t have to be scared now. I’m here.” He extended his hand, and she took it.

“You look so skinny now,” he said, chuckling. He pushed himself against her body and slid his hands on her waist. He pinched the fat on her stomach. “But not skinny enough yet, don’t you think?”

“What?” she said, shocked. But when she looked at his face she saw her mom. “Don’t you think it’s time to leave now, mi vida?” She laughed, her hands still around her waist. “You can’t even afford it, can you? 27 years old and still working at a coffee shop like you’re 16. And not engaged, either. And you still think you’re going to amount to something?”

“Why would you say that?” she asked.

“Ay mi vida. I’m just telling you the truth.”

Her boyfriend was back. He smiled at her with soft eyes that she’d seen on her mom and dad, fully in love.

“Maia. Are you okay?” his eyebrows furrowed in concern.


“You don’t have to be scared now. I’m here.” He extended his hand.

Maia backed away. “Why is this happening again?” There was a door on the other side. She walked through it and landed in the hallway of the second floor of her house, but the hallway was wide, like a small basketball court. Right in the middle was a beating heart. Slimy and big and not at all like the cute drawings she did as a child but it was definitely beating. 

“Help me! Please!” she heard. This time it was very distinct. Almost like it was in the same room. And the voice, the voice was still so familiar but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. It was on the other side of that heart.

She took one step forward, then another, and on the fourth step, she stopped. She turned toward the heart, realizing it was getting louder. She gulped, her mouth a desert.

“Help!” She knew for sure now—the voice was coming from somewhere in here. She stepped forward, knowing what was going to happen next. The heart beat louder and louder and louder with every step. She covered her ears and kept walking until it felt as if someone were banging on her eardrum as if it were an actual instrument.

She could feel that the girl was yelling but she couldn’t hear anything other than the heart anymore. 

Maia yelled. “I’m coming! Hold on!” she squeezed her eyes, the pain making screams come out of her without thinking. She felt like she was sitting beside a surround sound speaker at a party. 

She saw a door on the other side and pushed herself with so much force as if walking toward a hurricane that was trying to push her away. She felt something wet touch the palm of her hands against her ears and didn’t have to take her hands away to know it was blood.

She fell to the ground, unable to keep walking. The sound stopped. She breathed heavily, sat in place, and looked at her hand. The blood stained her palms and had seeped through her fingers, painting even the back of her hand. She looked at the door knowing that the girl was in there. She got on her knees and began to crawl.

The beating started again and she realized then. As long as she moves she will try to be stopped. As long as she tries, the obstacles will keep on coming.

She clenched her teeth and stood up, screaming. She walked forward, pushing, bleeding, and she was so close to the door. So close. The blood started seeping through her eyes and nose, but she reached forward and put her hand on the knob. She walked in, crying. But she’d made it. 

The room was small this time. Mostly dark. 4 walls like a solitary confinement. There was a light emitting but she wasn’t sure from where. She touched her eyes and ears but she was no longer bleeding. She wanted to laugh, feeling like she was going insane. 

“Help,” she heard, right there in the room with her. It was small now, quiet and defeated. She walked in the dark, only a few steps until she bumped into someone. She gasped.

Those brown eyes, thick eyelashes, the long dark hair, the small moles under and on top of her lips. It was herself.

“But how—”

“Get me out of here, please,” she whispered.

Maia stared but said okay. She grabbed her hand and helped her stand. “The heart—”

“You can control it.”

“Why would I be able to control it?”

“You built this place.”

Maia furrowed her brows. “No, I didn’t.”

“We don’t have time for this. You can control it so do it.”


“You’ll know.”

Maia looked into her own eyes, more confused and afraid than ever. “Okay.” Maia led her out and the beating immediately started pounding in her eyes. I can’t do this, she thought. 

Yes, you can. Maia looked back at herself, surprised but also not that she could hear her thoughts suddenly. She stopped in the middle of the hallway, the pain already coming on strong. She took a deep breath and saw the heart beating slowly and quietly, at a regular pace. She squinted her eyes and felt the blood coming out of her ears again, but she ignored it. Maia squeezed her hand and told her she could do it. 

She took deep breaths. Inhale, exhale, in and out. Over and over again. She saw the dark room light up. The hyenas stopped laughing. Her boyfriend and her mom disappeared.

The heart stopped beating so quickly, and before she knew it, it was steady and quiet. She opened her eyes and the other Maia was smiling at her. Maia released a sigh full of pain and relief. “You can go back now,” Maia told her. “It’s okay now.”

. . .

Maia blinks. She takes a deep breath and slides her hand over her keyboard, feeling the bumps between the keys and smoothness over them. She brings her hands to her cheeks and slaps them a little. Shakes her shoulders and head. Easing herself back to reality.

Her assignment is sitting open on her laptop. The time reads 7:45 and she wonders how long she blanked out for. She has a tendency of doing that, over worrying, over stressing, about everything going wrong in her life. The bills. School. Her work.

The doorbell rings and she turns toward the window where she can see people waiting outside her door. She opens the door and runs her eyes over bloodied faces, fangs, and a single, tiny ghost. 

“Trick-or-treat!” they yell. Maia laughs and says, “Hey! Happy Halloween!” She grabs a handful of chocolates and puts them in three separate baskets. When they leave she sees the haunted mansion across the street—at least, that’s what it is tonight, according to her neighbors. Full of webs and ghouls and flashing red lights. She turns, unfazed by the ghosts and the decoration.

Nothing could possibly be worse than the haunted mansion run by demons in her head. Nothing could possibly be worse than her overthinking.

She sits down and gets back to her assignment. “Let’s try this again.”

September 16, 2023 01:55

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