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Crime Mystery Thriller

Falling. Falling through a delirious tangle of dreams, vanishing like smoke, unsubstantial, unreal, and indescribably strange. The world suddenly becoming focused and clear-cut as my steps turn onto a familiar road. The sun is dancing over the pavement, beautiful in the golden light, but my stomach clenches. I have been here before.


I walk on, and an alleyway suddenly looms to my right, deep and dark and cavernous. I hesitate, but my feet pull me into the alley before I can stop them. My eyes adjust to the half-light, and I see an endless tunnel of dirty brick walls and broken windows twisting away into the dark. I have barely moved, yet my heart is pounding. I know what’s coming...


Stumbling through the gloomy maze, on and on through dark passages of wet stone and slimy walls, my dread growing...Knowing that I'll see him soon, knowing he could be anywhere, waiting to pounce. Fear rising and falling with every corner...My heart racing, and my throat dry, waiting to see his eyes gleaming at me in the dark. I turn around. No one is there.Β 


I stand completely still, unable to believe he is gone. I turn back around slowly, studying the surrounding buildings. No sign of him. Not a single one. I slowly let out my breath and turn to go back, limp with relief.Β 


Suddenly, I stop. Was I imagining the noise behind me? Or else...I whip around, but not fast enough. He crashes into me, forcing me to the ground. His large, dirty hand is pressed against my cheek, and I feel his breath on my neck, hot and cold at the same time.


The moment stretches out, agonizing, sticky with fear, heart racing again, dread building in the pit of my stomach, nausea at the smell of his breath. I wait, knowing what will come…I feel the weight of his hand shifting slightly, and out of the corner of my eye, I see him raise his arm. I stiffen, fear rushing over me in torrents. No, no, this can’t be happening, trying to scream, my throat constricting..."Leave me." I scream, as he closes my mouth with his thick hands, and brings the knife down.


My eyes fly open, dragging me awake. For a moment, I lie completely still, shaking all over. I bury my face in the pillow, my eyes hot with tears. It’s alright, it was just a dream...Just a dream...Just a dream. I had broken out in a cold sweat and was now shaking in my pajamas, the same ones I wore when he was about to kill me. I smiled, hugging my soft blanket.


I take a deep, shuddering breath and look up again. As I glance around the familiar corners of my room, I feel my heart begin to slow a little. Everything is safe, familiar, nothing can touch me here. I'm safe here. I repeat. But just then, something flickers in the corner of my room. I sit straight up in bed, biting my lip to keep from screaming. It can’t be him, how could have he followed me into my own room? The thing flickers again, and I realize it's nothing more than the curtains.Β 


That does it; if my own room was turning against me, I'm definitely not staying. I slowly stand up, trembling all over, still recovering from the dream. I look around once again, and stumble over to the door.Β 


Downstairs, in the comfortable warmth of my kitchen, I fall into a chair and sit completely still, my head in my hands. I cannot remember when the nightmares first appeared but they have grown to haunt me every night from the moment I fall asleep. There is no rest from him, no shelter from him, he will forever succeed to haunt me.


I stand, stumbling over half-dead feet, and started walking upstairs to go grab my phone. I convinced myself that the darkness was gone, but still caught myself looking around the door before going inside the room.Β 


I opened the window above my bedside table. The early risers chirping, and the morning sunbeams peeking through the clouds. The birds about their morning rituals, a gentle cool breeze, and beautiful golden light everywhere. Covering the natural and man-made creations, full of beauty and magic, filled with the promise of a new beginning. I smiled, knowing that the darkness was now gone.Β 


I grabbed my phone and scrolled through my texts, as I head back into my kitchen. One catches my eye; an old friend I have not seen in years has asked me to meet up with her at a coffee shop in the town I used to live in. I hesitate before answering; I don’t know her that well, and I do have things I need to do at home. I glance outside, however, and realize that it's going to be absolutely gorgeous. I quickly type a response; I’m not going to stay inside doing housework, just after that nightmare.


A little after noon, I got off the train and started heading into the town. It has been years since I’ve been here, and I suddenly realize that I no longer have the same sense of direction I used to. Everything has changed. "The coffee shop down this street, or the next one?" I hesitate for a minute before deciding to turn down the one on the right.


I step onto the street, and my heart suddenly freezes. It’s the street from my dream. I can’t stop myself; my feet seem to have taken over as they drag me onto it. I can’t stop my eyes from moving, either. I’m looking desperately for the entrance to the alley; I know I will see it soon...


At last, I see dark, ominous, and full of horrible implications. I don’t want to go in, I don’t need to go in...But still, I step inside. The darkness, all too familiar, surrounds me on all sides, deep and heavy and sticky with memories. Memories...I stop short as my brain seems to explode.Β 


I've been here before; not in my dreams, but in the waking world. The day comes flooding back; it was a beautiful, sunny day, just like the one today. I was walking along this street with one of my childhood best friends, Beth. We must have been only eight or nine at the time.Β 


I close my eyes. How could I have ever forgotten Beth? Forgotten her beautiful smile, the smile that could brighten up anyone's day. Her laughter always squeezed up the corners of her eyes. She seemed to walk beside me again, tripping along with that same lively walk.


I remember, too, how we had passed this same alley and how it had struck us with its strange, forbidding darkness. Beth, always the braver of us two, had wanted to go in, but I hesitated. While Beth was trying to persuade me, a man came out of the alley and stopped in front of us.

Even at that young age, I remember how I had instinctively disliked him. There was something sly and untrustworthy in his eyes that made me instantly recoil. Even Beth fell silent and stood watching him uneasily. The man gave us a slow, crooked smile. "Thinking about going in?” His question seemed completely nonchalant and innocent, but I shuddered.Β Β 

Beth nodded slowly. β€œYes, but my best friend doesn’t want to.” She said.

"Oh, doesn't she?" The man turned his gaze on me. "Well, I can assure you both that it’s worthwhile to go in."

"Really?" Beth bent forward, her eyes alight with interest.

The man nodded. β€œYeah. Would you want me to show you?”

Beth was on the verge of answering 'Yes' when I quickly cut in.

β€œNo, that’s fine. We have to go.” I turned away, but Beth grabbed my arm.

β€œNo, please, why can’t we go in? I'm sure we are going to have fun."

β€œNo!” I glanced at the man and lowered my voice. β€œI don’t trust him, and we’re not supposed to talk to strangers, remember?" I finished.

Beth tossed her head impatiently. β€œOh, you’re no fun! You’re just afraid; that’s why you don’t want to go inside." She crossed her arms.

β€œNo, that's not true. I'm not scared!" I looked at Beth angrily.

Beth saw she had touched a tender point. β€œThen, please come with me?"

I looked into the mouth of the alley and swallowed hard. I didn’t want to go; a horrible feeling was growing in the pit of my stomach and I didn’t trust the man at all. But I would not be called afraid at any cost. "Fine."

β€œAmazing!” Beth gave me a quick, but hard hug and turned around to the man. β€œCould you please show us the alley? We really want to go!” 

β€œAlright, little girl. I’ll show you, probably more than you bargained for.”

Beth did not notice the weight he laid on the last phrase, but I did. I looked up at him in alarm, but his face was completely expressionless. With a quick gesture, he beckoned us off the street and into the alley.

We stepped out of the warmth and light of the street into a place so dark and cold we almost seemed to be underground. The gray walls loomed on every side, and leaned so far over the street that we almost seemed to have walked into a cave. On and on we went, always following our strange guide. I felt my apprehension growing with every step, my stomach clenched tight in fear, a cold trickle of sweat running down my spine. I wished I had never come, wished I hadn’t given in. I turned to look at Beth and saw that her normally laughing face had gone very pale. But she still smiled at me when she caught my eye. "I'm scared." She whispered, squeezing my hand.


We had been walking for a long time, but when our guide suddenly stopped, Beth almost ran into him. "What’s going on?” she said, her voice a little sharp with her annoyance over the abrupt halt. The man turned around. "It means, little girl, that this is your end.” Beth wrinkled up her forehead in confusion. β€œWhat do you mean? Are we going to go back now?" She asked. "Not in the way you think.” The man smirked.


Suddenly, so quickly that I could hardly react, the man had whipped something sharp and bright out of his pocket. I heard a shrill scream, saw Beth falling to the ground, and crimson blooming out over her pale neck…I cried out and the man turned to face me, his face twisted in a horrible passion and his knife stained red with blood. I stood completely frozen, unable to move, to speak, to think...It was all a horrible nightmare. I would wake up any moment, Beth by my side, pretty and laughing as always. This was not happening, this was not real.


The man looked at me and suddenly began to shake all over. I could not understand what he was doing until I heard a dry gasp escape his throat. He was laughing. I turned to flee, but darkness was falling over my eyes, fading in and out with dimming waves of light. The world spun faster and faster, darkness rushing up-I stumbled, and fell into blackness.


****

Shadows chased themselves across my unconscious mind, vague and irresolute. Suddenly one figure loomed larger than the rest: a man, bent over in horrible laughter and holding a blood-stained knife...I came to with a start, gasping in fright. It was only a dream, nothing more. Dreams can't hurt me...Was I still dreaming?


I looked around myself at the grim walls and broken windows and suddenly everything came rushing back. The man, the knife, Beth-

I looked around wildly. Where was she? I remembered seeing her on the ground, and now-She had vanished. The man had removed all traces of Beth's murder and I was left alone, staring blankly at the dirty ground.


****

My older self suddenly rose over the flood of memories that had come crashing over me and I again awoke to the present day. I realized I was standing on the very same spot where the murder had taken place so many years ago. No one had believed my story; they all said it was the imagination of a frightened child and that Beth had instead probably run away. They waited for her to come back, put out numerous ads, contacted almost every known police station, but it was all in vain. I had known she would never come back, even though I didn’t have a shred of evidence. Eventually, my own memories of the entire event became buried under years of trying to forget the horror - only faint traces still haunted me in my dreams.


I shivered slightly. All those years, I had never known the causes of my nightmares. And now, I almost wished I still didn’t know. Remembering that afternoon felt as if Beth had only recently died, and I had to struggle with a fresh bout of grief all over...I didn’t quite regret it. Perhaps it was better to remember, and feel the pain than to have never ever known.Β 


For a moment, I stood in the middle of the alley, staring down at the ground. I knelt suddenly, and touched my lips to where my last memories of my friend still lingered.Β 

September 27, 2021 08:33

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34 comments

Miles Gatling
09:46 Sep 28, 2021

Really liked the dream sequence

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Thanks Miles! 😁

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Dhwani Jain
08:40 Oct 02, 2021

The post is out guys! I can’t believe it the number of views it has gotten! Please do check it out! I am really happy with the response and would love it if you guys too check the post out!!! ~ Dhwani Jain {02-10-2021}

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Ivy Spade
22:44 Sep 27, 2021

I loved it! I can see by the few stories I've read you seem to like dark tales, which I love to read and write! Though I found one thing slightly confusing, when she got the message from her friend that didn't make much sense to me. There wasn't really an elaboration. A side from that great job!!

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Dhwani Jain
08:41 Oct 02, 2021

The post is out guys! I can’t believe it the number of views it has gotten! Please do check it out! I am really happy with the response and would love it if you guys too check the post out!!! ~ Dhwani Jain {02-10-2021}

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Keya Jadav
16:11 Sep 27, 2021

Oh my god! Akshara!! It wouldn't be wrong to say it is the best work of yours I've read till now. SO AMAZIN'. It impresses me how easily you could drive the readers through different timelines. Fantastic descriptions. I could seriously feel the tension building up and compelling me eyes to keep on reading. Great Work!

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Thank you so much. 😊

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Dhwani Jain
08:41 Oct 02, 2021

The post is out guys! I can’t believe it the number of views it has gotten! Please do check it out! I am really happy with the response and would love it if you guys too check the post out!!! ~ Dhwani Jain {02-10-2021}

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Graham Kinross
09:31 Nov 23, 2021

β€œ I have barely moved, yet my heart is pounding. I know what’s coming...” nice way to build tension. β€œI feel his breath on my neck, hot and cold at the same time.” Hot because it’s coming out of him and cold because the breath leaves damp on her that is cooled by the air? β€œThere is no rest from him, no shelter from him, he will forever succeed to haunt me.” I think that sentence would work better without the word succeed because we can already see that he is haunting her. β€œIt has been years since I’ve been here, and I suddenly realize tha...

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Thanks so much Graham! :) I appreciate those kind words, really. 😊 Thanks for the feedback, though...I like endings that leave a cliffhanger. Thanks once again. I'll make sure to check out your story as soon as possible.

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Danny G
03:08 Oct 15, 2021

Pretty cool story. Well done.

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Elliana Ramirez
17:19 Oct 10, 2021

I agree with your bio, I liked the old Reedsy better too. Before they made the changes...πŸ’— Could you please check out my story "Warmth in winter" whenever possible, please? :)

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Sure! I'll check out yours ASAP! :)

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Akshaya Sutrave
14:40 Oct 10, 2021

Whatever your bio says is just so true!

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Philia S.
13:22 Oct 09, 2021

Hey Akshara! I really loved the story and how you portrayed the MC's grief over her friend's murder. The part where she stands right where the murder took place had me hanging on to every word, lol. A lil critique, lol: *Warning: Could be harsh, sorry* Second paragraph, first line: '...deep and dark and cavernous...' ---> it would sound better if you wrote '...deep, dark and cavernous...' Third paragraph, first few lines: '...my dread growing...Knowing that I'll see him soon...' ---> I don't know about you but I usually like to avoid elli...

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Not at all, this was the critique I've been looking for all day long...and I could take a lot more harshness then this, to be honest. So you don't have anything to worry 'bout. Lol! Third Paragraph - I've never really thought about avoiding ellipses outside of dialogues, but it does makes sense, not in this exact situation but in others. Seventh Paragraph - You're right, the translation did change abruptly. There are many switches in tenses here and there, like you said, so I'm gonna edit them all. (I can) Thanks for this critique, I hop...

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Philia S.
14:04 Oct 09, 2021

Good to know! :) I'm doing alright, I suppose. How about you?

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Rachel Smith
12:34 Oct 09, 2021

Hi Akshara, I thought this was very well written. The sense of dread was powerful, the man made my skin crawl and it was a great twist that the nightmare was actually a buried memory. Can't think of any specific crifique for this one. Well done!

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Thanks Rachel, that means so much to me. I'm glad you enjoyed reading! 😊

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Gip Roberts
20:56 Oct 08, 2021

The mystery and suspense in this put me in a state of tunnel vision where my whole focus was on the story, so good job! I got the feeling the character was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, hence the recurring nightmare? I liked the way you described the contrast between the character having just awakened from that nightmare the next morning and the tranquil beauty of the morning. Through most of the story, the imagery implying the things going through the mind of the character was done very well, but I noticed a few instances ...

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition triggered by a major traumatic event that happened in someone's life, so that's exactly what the character was going through. Thank you for the advice, I'll definitely use that to improve my writing in the future. :)

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Avani Pullela
17:39 Oct 08, 2021

Wow! Your stories just keep getting better and better! I love how you describe the setting. Great job!

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Thanks Avani! Happy to hear that! πŸ’•

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Ivy Spade
18:45 Oct 03, 2021

New comment as you asked! XD Honestly, I get inspiration from usually real-life things or dreams. Sometimes it just hits me. What about you? Also, I can completely relate to the no break lol!

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Dhwani Jain
08:40 Oct 02, 2021

The post is out guys! I can’t believe it the number of views it has gotten! Please do check it out! I am really happy with the response and would love it if you guys too check the post out!!! ~ Dhwani Jain {02-10-2021}

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Elliana Ramirez
06:45 Oct 02, 2021

Unbelievably beautiful to read. πŸ’—

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Thanks for commenting, Elliana. :)

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Woah! So proud of u bestie! This was incredible. I'm so glad I took the time to read it! And the beginning gave me the shivers. The feelings and the way you had all the twist plots were on notch! Overall amazinggg!! Felt like I was watching it happen in front of my eyes!

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I'm so happy to hear that, thanks so much Varsha! πŸ’—

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