The Moonlight Chase

Submitted into Contest #203 in response to: Start your story in the middle of the action.... view prompt

8 comments

Fiction Horror Mystery

“Wait! Stop!!” I shouted, but my words only fueled the boy to run faster, increasing the distance between us. 

The hem of my sundress flapped against my thighs like a flag in the wind as my ankle boots pounded the dry, grassy field. I was running as fast as my lower body allowed. Somehow, though, the boy was faster.

Judging by his size, the young child was about 7 or 8 years old, but I hadn’t been able to get a good look at his face to verify. Either way, I should have been able to keep up with a boy his age, but he was quick as lightning and I was out of shape. 

“Come back!” I heard my roomate, Rose, yell from somewhere behind me. 

I ignored her suggestion, focusing on the little speed-demon ahead. 

“I just want to talk!” I called after the child as I struggled to keep up. I pressed my hand beneath the right side of my rib cage and cursed my decision to eat that second S’more as a side cramp took hold.

Only the boy’s chest and curly brown hair were visible now as he glided through the tall blades with mesmerizing ease. 

I could see the edge of the forest getting closer with every running step. I swallowed hard in between two breaths, knowing that I would lose the moon’s illumination once we entered the forest’s natural oak fence. 

“Please! Wait, please!” I cried out, but only a few moments later he darted and disappeared into the woods. 

Following his lead, I slipped in between two tall Oak trees and into the underbrush, pausing to swat cobwebs away from my face. 

I tried to catch my breath, listening for any indication as to where he’d gone. At first I heard nothing. Either he had simply vanished once again, or he was hiding. 

I placed my palm to my forehead and squeezed my eyes shut. Was this it? Had I missed yet another opportunity to find out why the boy was targeting me? 

Then, only a few feet away, began the rhythmic sound of leaves crunching beneath little feet. My eyes widened and I moved towards the noise, thrilled to have a compass to follow.

Once my eyes adjusted, I realized that thankfully, the forest wasn’t as dense as it had appeared from outside. The light from the full moon reflected through the scattered trees like dulled spotlights. I could see the boy’s dark shadow bobbing in and out of the light ahead. 

“I’m not going to hurt you! Please, stop!” I pleaded. Underbrush stabbed and scraped my bare legs, but I was only focused on closing the gap between us. I pushed ahead. 

“I’m not trying to scare you,” I gasped out, “I just want to know why you’re following me!” 

I shook my head in response to my words. They felt wrong, considering I was the one who was currently following him, first of all. Most of all, though, that wasn’t the main reason I wanted to catch up to him. Truthfully, I didn’t care why he kept appearing to me, not really. I just wanted to know that he was real.

I carefully pushed the branches of a small tree out of my way as I shook my head once again. Of course the boy was real, because if he wasn’t then he wouldn’t be there. Rose had casually hinted at a paranormal explanation last time I saw him, but I immediately quashed that idea since ghosts didn’t exist. 

The truth was that lately, my own mind had started to lose my trust as it became harder to distinguish what was real and what wasn’t. . 

Many strange events had grasped my psyche since Rose and I had moved to the island a few short weeks ago. I had slept walked, lost time, and had terrible nightmares, which were all horrifying enough, but the most unsettling oddity was seeing that little boy. He had appeared in the strangest places, never showing his face directly. He had watched me from the side of the road as I drove by and then vanished when I stopped to back up. He stood outside my window at night, face in the shadows, pale hands sticking through the cuffs of his shirtsleeves. I even saw him in the house one night, standing in the hallway outside of my room before he darted down the steps. I chased after him but when I got to the bottom, the house was empty. Some nights, I could even feel his eyes watching me as I fell asleep. I shivered, thinking about it. 

The icing on the cake of it all was that I had been the only one who was experiencing the unusual occurrences. Not only did I need to know his existence for myself, I also felt it pertinent to prove it to Rose. She had experienced nothing odd besides my own cries of fear, and no matter how many times she insisted otherwise, how couldn’t she doubt me, even just a little? Didn’t she find it odd that her new roomate was seeing things that she didn’t? Especially considering the fact that he’d disappear anytime I tried to point him out to her? 

That wouldn’t happen this time, though. I knew it the moment I saw his brown loafers sticking out from

under the willow tree’s fingers. Rose and I had been sitting in the backyard enjoying a small fire when I noticed him. I didn’t bother trying to get Rose’s attention this time. No, I’d kept my eyes glued to the boy as I jumped up and ran towards him. I had only gotten in a few steps before he darted in the other direction across the timothy grass field, and I’d been trying to catch up to him ever since. I needed to see his face, touch him, or hear him talk; I needed reassurance of his existence. If I couldn’t trust my mind, then what reality did I have left?

My thigh muscles and calves burned as I silently pleaded for my ankles to hold up against the uneven and unsteady forest floor. Nevertheless, I pushed through the vegetation, keeping focus on the child ahead. As I became sure that the distance between us was, in fact, shortening, I felt a second wind take over in anticipation. 

The movement of the boy’s legs tipped me off to when I needed to hop over branches, which allowed me to maneuver the forest quickly and seamlessly; I was gaining on him fast. The wrinkles in his dark sweater gained definition as I reached close enough that I could almost touch him. 

I stretched my hands out and reassured the boy no harm as I prepared to grab him. I quickly noted the full moon through the trees ahead, which revealed the edge of the forest. 

My fingers brushed the scratchy fiber of his sweater as it slid from under my grip. 

Just a little closer… 

We were almost to the forest’s outermost trees when I was able to squeeze his shoulder with one hand and then pull him back to stop him. I reached with my other hand across his chest, when suddenly he twisted out from my grasp and darted to the right.

“No!”  I changed my direction as well, but just as soon as I did he dropped down and squeezed his small body through an equally sized gap beneath a fallen trunk, and ran out into the field. 

I turned back on my heels and threw my body out of the forest only moments after he had. I knew hope wasn’t lost and that I could still catch him, so I gained my balance and whipped around in his direction.  

The stillness of the night enveloped my senses, sending a shockwave through my soul, keeping me frozen in place. 

I expected to see the boy there, running through the knee high grass, but there was nothing. 

What in the-? A shiver ran down my spine.

My head turned in all directions, silently begging my eyes to see movement in the grass or evidence of fresh footprints, which could indicate a hiding spot.

I stumbled around for a moment and swept my eyes over the forest’s edge, looking for any movement there as well. 

Aside from a slightly swaying branch of underbrush where the child had exited, paired with the small bounce of the tree branch where I had, there was none: the rest of the trees and leaves were perfectly still on this windless night. 

Where was he? 

For a moment, I wondered if he’d gone back into the trees where he’d crawled out. I would have seen him though, if that was the case. I stepped back into the forest anyways and listened for the rustling or crunching of leaves, or the sound of someone breathing. I heard and saw nothing. 

Realization of the implication of what had happened crept up my chest like a knife. I gasped and placed my hand over my mouth as tears forced their way out.

The boy had disappeared and ghosts didn’t exist, leaving only one option. 

I began questioning everything I’d seen and heard, from the scary stuff to the mundane, wondering what else had only been conjured inside my ill mind. 

I tried to remember when I’d first noticed something unusual - when it all could have begun. Was it right after the traumatic events that led me to move in with a stranger, or had it not happened until I’d actually moved in? Where and why had my mind decided to betray me?

Suddenly, I heard movement to my left and my eyes widened as I swung in that direction. How had he gotten over there? 

I saw nothing at first, just the top of the hill and then a figure with blonde hair ran towards me. 

It was Rose. 

“Fargo!” Rose said in exasperation. Her face fell as she realized the state I was in. “What’s going on? Are you okay?” 

I tried to hide the disappointment on my face as my heart sunk once again. My hope to prove the boy’s existence to her had disappeared into the night just as he had. More painfully, though, was the lost hope to prove it to myself, as it was completely clear now why I’d been seeing him. 

“There is something seriously wrong with me,” I choked out. 

Rose wrapped me into a bear hug as I cried into her. 

“It’s okay. You’re okay,” she whispered into my ear before pulling away slightly to look at me. “What’s going on? Are you hurt? Talk to me.” 

I paused, unsure of what all I wanted to admit. “That- that boy, I saw him again.”  

“Okay, and . . .? What happened?” 

I took in a slow breath as I tried to figure out the words to say. If I told her that the boy had simply disappeared into thin air - again - it would undoubtedly solidify the instability of my mental status in her mind. 

Before I could decide how to say it,  Rose spoke again. “Did he look familiar?”

I shrugged absently, and then realized that wasn’t what she had said. I stepped back. 

“Wha- What did you say?” My heart pounded.

“I said, ‘he looks familiar’. Something about his hair or clothes, maybe. Not sure but I definitely feel like I’ve seen him before. It’s on the tip of my tongue.” 

“You saw him?” 

“Yes, I saw you chase him from under the tree.” She then tilted her head and gave a wry smile. “He’s real, Fargo. I saw him too this time.” 

I closed my eyes as relief washed over me. I may have been having nightmares and lost time from exhaustion, but I wasn’t hallucinating a little boy. Sure, I needed to find out why he had been watching me and what he wanted, but a creepy living boy was something I could deal with later. 

Rose cleared her throat. “You’re not going to like what I say next, though, Fargo.” 

I scrunched my eyes at her, confused.

“I just remembered where I’ve seen him before, and. . . well, I think it’s time you revisit the possibility of ghosts.”

June 20, 2023 15:39

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

8 comments

Chris Brown
15:50 Jun 29, 2023

Love it

Reply

Show 0 replies
L J
02:20 Jun 29, 2023

I was assigned to review your story- only 2 entries so far? This is really good. The suspense was building well. I wish it were longer, because I Want to find out more about the boy. Just one spelling: sleepwalk, not slept. I Can't wait to read more. Well done

Reply

Show 0 replies
01:14 Jun 29, 2023

I had to find out about the boy - and loved the ending - Is this part of a larger work? Your writing is smooth and the timing is good, just when I'd grown tired of 'chasing' the little boy, you switch the scene. Keep on keepin' on!

Reply

Show 0 replies
John Siddham
07:09 Jun 28, 2023

Fargo is fearless, chasing through the vegetation and forest kept me on edge with suspense. Nice work!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Mary Bendickson
01:58 Jun 26, 2023

Action packed story that left me breathless running with her. So much more to discover. Thanks for liking my 'Hour-Glass Figure'

Reply

Krystal Brown
12:36 Jun 26, 2023

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
J. D. Lair
00:33 Jun 25, 2023

You had my heart racing! That ending, especially leaves me grasping for more. Well done! Looking forward to reading more from you in the future. :)

Reply

Krystal Brown
21:01 Jun 25, 2023

Thank you so much!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.