Horror Suspense Thriller


      As a thick layer of hazy mist hangs in the air, Avery lifts a pruney hand to her hair, trying to rinse out the last of the pesky bubbles that remain in there. Her lavender bath soak tantalises her nostrils, whilst the bubbles cover up her modesty. The tub is enormous, and she feels as clean as a rubber duck. After spending the last two hours pampering herself in the water, she is surprised, yet not disappointed, that some of the bubbles still remain. Having had enough time in the comforts of her bathroom, Avery slips out of the bath, wrapping herself in a fuchsia-pink towel as she goes.

With legs for days, a petite frame and a mane of long, auburn hair, Avery is one of the few people that would make a good contestant for reality TV shows, but is also one of the few people that would never dream of heading into that lifestyle. Valuing her privacy, she lives alone in the woods in her log cabin, behind double-bolted doors and smash-resistant windows. Cameras surround the cabin sit like swarms of bees, and alert her with a blaring alarm if anyone steps even a foot near her cabin. Locked in a cabinet next to her bed are a plethora of weapons, ready to be used at her advantage.

Heading into her bedroom, Avery glances over all of the bottles of beauty products she has – just because she wouldn’t be a TV star, doesn’t mean she can’t be treated like one. She reads over every label, before deciding on her ‘Sanctuary Spa Moisturiser’, using her hands – which are winkled like raisins – to lather herself in the cream. After that, she finishes off her extensive care routine that she practices every night, before curling up in her bed, and settling down for the night. She turns her lights down low, and reads a few pages of her book, before turning them off completely and turning in for the night.

Normally, Avery is not one to miss out on sleep; she gets at least a full eight hours every night, and sleeps all the way through. Tonight, however, is different. She wakes up to the sound of a scratching at the window, and she quickly leaps out of bed and draws the curtains to see the culprit of the noise.

The wind.

The wind is blowing majestically through the trees, causing them to swerve and sway, clawing at the window. With the streetlamps extinguished, Avery can’t see anything but pure darkness. However, as her eyes become adjusted to the dull night, she can just about see the outlines of various objects surrounding her house. She can make out the poorly-made swing seat that she had tried to build herself, the rusty BBQ in the far corner, and her small little patch of herbs that lies next to the BBQ. In a fleeting moment, Avery is unsure as to whether she can spot the outline of a figure waiting in the garden, but in an instant, it has disappeared. Now, if Avery was someone that felt scared, this would have petrified her… but she doesn’t ever feel scared. She shrugs it off – it is the middle of the night; she must still be half-asleep – and goes downstairs to fetch herself some water.

As she runs the tap to the temperature of her liking, she fishes a glass from out of the cupboard. Her kitchen, unlike the rest of her cabin, is small and quaint, and just to her liking. Never really a fan of being indoors, she spends her days roaming the forest surrounding her, and only ever cooks on the BBQ, so the kitchen is there for societal norms only. The joys of the forest are ceaseless, as there is always a path or two that Avery has never discovered before. She loves the clandestine life she lives, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Content with the temperature, she fills the glass up until it’s half full, and takes a swift swig. She gulps the water down like a dog, and then sets her glass aside. As she’s about to head back up to her bedroom, she notices something out of the corner of her eye. Something so small, so inadequate it hardly seems important… but it is. Having cleaned her whole house the night before – with not much to do in her life, Avery cleans her house at least twice a week – she makes sure the counters sparkles and that everything finds a home. Everything apart from a small polaroid photo that has been left discarded on the counter. Curious, Avery wanders over and picks it up, inspecting the photo.

To her utter surprise, the photo is of her. In the photo, she is leaning over the sink, filling up her glass. As she turns the photo over, the words ‘Don’t be scared’ can be seen written on the back. Flipping it over so she can analyse the photo again, she realises it’s almost like the photo had been taken…

A few minutes ago. Now just remember, Avery never feels scared, but at this moment, unease crawls over her body like flies. She rips the photo up and disposes of it in the bin. She ignores the chill that now surrounds the house, and walks to the bottom of the stairs.

As she is about to ascend them, the letterbox on her front door flies open, a polaroid following straight after. Having nailed it shut almost three years ago, hearing its irritating flap once again sends her into a flurry of anxiety. So many unanswered questions: how did the letterbox find itself open? Where are all the polaroids coming from? And, most importantly, who is taking them? Unnerved, Avery investigates the photo.

It’s taken from the same position, except it captures the exact moment Avery realises the first polaroid was of her. Despite not being scared, the fear on her face is very much unmistakeable. Deeply unsettled, Avery races back up to her bedroom, and is just about to jump into bed, when she hears a snap. Not the snap of a twig breaking, or of a KitKat being broken, but the snap of a camera.

A polaroid.

Tired of hiding, Avery opens the safe next to her bed. She rustles through her weapons, until she finds the one she wants: a pistol. Clothing herself in a bullet-proof vest (just in case; you can never be too careful) she sprints down the stairs, grabs her keys, and lets herself out into the bitter night.

Arriving outside, Avery realises it was a mistake to leave her house. The wind is unforgiving, howling even, and the darkness is hostile. Cold air surges around her, a powerful force to be reckoned with. Even if it wasn’t pitch black, she still wouldn’t be able to see a thing, with all of the dust being thrown about. Shielding her eyes from the particles, she squints through the dark for a glimpse of someone, anyone that might be behind the photos, but after a scan of the garden, she finds it to be empty. Still not satisfied there isn’t someone there, Avery returns to her house, locking her door behind her. Even though she doesn’t get scared, she pushes her dining room table up against the door to stop any intruders. However, when she thinks she is safe, she spots another polaroid on the table.

Picking it up with trembling fingers, the picture on it makes her heart stop beating altogether.

On it, Avery can see herself in the garden. She’s battling through the baleful winds, and trying to see through the cloud that surrounds her. However, it’s not the image that terrifies her; it’s where it was taken.

Quite clearly, the picture has been snapped from somewhere high up, as she looks so small in the photo. More precisely, Avery knows the exact location it was taken: her bedroom. It was the same view that she saw when first looking out of her window early that morning. With a million thoughts running through her mind, Avery realises that the culprit must be in her house.

She feels scared.

After a hot minute, Avery starts to push against the table, frantically willing it to move out of the way so she can escape. Pistol fastened safely in her holster, she pushes and pushes and pushes until the door is freed. Unlocking the door’s several bolts, she doesn’t exactly know where she’s going, but she knows she she would rather take on a wild bear, rather than some unpredictable stranger in her house. Just as she has finished fiddling with the locks, her world stops.

An icy hand is placed across her mouth, making her silent – not that any words would have come out anyway. Another hand pulls her close to the culprit, a bitter frost being omitted by the person. Judging by the anatomy, Avery predicts it’s a man.

It is.

With a row full of teeth that are either missing or charcoal black, the man has a face covered in stubble and flecks of spit, and the hair on his head is sparse, greying all the way over. He’s not in any way athletic, but is sneaky, like a cat. And as he whispers into Avery’s ear, his voice sounds like a thousand chalkboards being scratched upon.

“Ah Avery,” he purrs, his Scottish account causing him to sound even more menacing. “I bet you’re scared now, eh?” He lets that settle for a minute, before looming ever closer still, and whispering even quieter. “Don’t be scared.”

And in that moment, despite never being scared, Avery is terrified. 

July 20, 2021 04:52

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Alex Sultan
09:14 Jul 21, 2021

Fantastic story. Kept me captivated from beginning to end. I really like how you balance the contrast between Avery relaxing, and an unknown threat - especially between the first and second paragraphs.


Abbey Long
13:39 Jul 22, 2021

Thank you :)


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