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Horror Suspense Fiction

I tried to be gentle. I tried to come to you slowly, revealing myself in fragments under the growing dimness of dusk. I stepped ever so carefully into the downward cast of the yellow streetlamp’s sepia light, sending forth first a finger, then, a tentative but eager-to-caress hand. I moved so gently, so slowly that I felt the cloak of darkness removed from my face inch by inch, nose first, before there was no more hiding. I did this for you, as not to startle you, didn’t you see?


I even smiled, those sparks of kindness you all boast so easily, like the one you’d given me, and yet, you still screamed. Shrieked, even. A shrill shriek of survival, one of horror and fear, as if the very sight of me would be your upending. And how you ran, just took off as if the wind came and swept you away, leaving no blame for yourself.


I offered you my most sincere attempt at kindness – an approach akin to that of a person who wishes to greet a cute puppy – and, how was it that you repaid me? Screaming and running away.


Could you see how that would have made me angry?


Do you understand why I had to do what I’ve done?


All I’d ever wanted was to be with you. To be more like you. I just wanted to learn from you. If not for your outburst, things could have been different. I thought maybe you were different. I’d wanted you to be different.


I’d hoped that you would be the one to accept me, welcome me, and show me what it was like to be like you, a glowing firefly in the night, leading me out of my solemn and lonely abyss. I thought you would be unlike the others, who’d taken one look at me and condemned me to hell with a snarl, thrusting a spear of fear between us like a barrier. Me. And them. Water. And oil. Two things that could never mix.


I’d hoped you’d be different. I hoped it with all the blood pumping in my chest. I thought you would see how much I’d longed for us to mix, and how much I’d dreamt of the opening of your arms, wide, like I’d watched you do to so many others around you. Even that bowling ball of a man I saw you squishing faces with, his arms barely able to stretch around his own belly to wrap around you as you rocked slowly together behind your bedroom window. It was such a wonder to me how he was not greeted as I was, what with the cruel things I’d seen him doing. I’d wondered how the fear would gleam in your eyes once you’d finally learned the truth about the man you let stay in your bed, all those dirty and lustful glances he’d given the children at the park when you were not around. Telling you he had late meetings so he could take the long way and feed his devilish desires, window-shopping the younglings as they played.


Yet, you did not look at him as the foul and disgusting monster he was. Instead, it was I with whom you’d shown such disgust and foulness, a violent terror shooting through those eyes at my unveiling this evening.


You were certainly not how I’d hoped you would be. You were just like the others, who saw my burned and battered face, the scarred and charred mask of skin I’d been forced to present. I saw the judgment glinting between your lashes, just like the rest of them. Monster, they’d called me, without even giving me a chance. Without even a hello or a flicker of pity – even that I would have understood, maybe even welcomed. Perhaps, that was what I’d been missing: a sympathizing and tender outreach, a compassionate soul there to guide me towards the light. Afterall, darkness was all I had ever known. All I had ever seen, save for the blinding blaze of the flames my mother tossed me into, spouting about how I’d belonged in hell for devouring my twin brother before he’d had a chance.


I’d heard people say there is darkness in all of us. Perhaps, I’d consumed all of my brother’s when I took his life for my own. Perhaps, we would have been all right if he’d not vanished before his first breath… Though, perhaps not, what with the mother we had. He’d gotten the better end of the deal, I’d supposed. And what had Mother expected? She, the tree. I, the apple.


For years, I tried to be a good person. I tried to be anything but the sum of my scars. Tried to make friends, tried to reach out. But you tell me how much of it one can take before he breaks? One year? Five years? A decade? Try three decades. Thirty. Years.


Monster. You hear it enough, you start to believe it.


No one gave me a chance. No one gave me the time of day. Just gruesome looks and disdained scowls. No hello nods passing on the streets or returned waves. No pleases and thank yous at the shops, just flashes of fear and short silent submissions, anything to end our interactions quickly.


People saw me and saw a monster. So, I’d said, A monster? That’s what you want? That’s what you get. I’d decided I’d become the very thing deserving of those unpleasant greetings. I’d become the thing people always feared to be true, hiding away, seeking comfort in darkness, making nightmares a reality. What freedom, what relief to finally surrender to myself.


Mother would have been proud, I’d thought. Though, I never did lift the pillow to find out, as she wiggled and writhed beneath my arms. Just a couple of minutes, Mother. You’ll see your son soon. Even then, I wasn’t convinced I was “monstrous” enough for her. After all, I’d done her a favor. Her death, my first, was much gentler than the ones who’d followed. The kindness I’d shown my mother was perhaps the last bit that existed in my body. Or, so I’d thought.


The day that I met you enlivened a remaining ember I hadn’t realized was still burning. There was a weak and muted flicker of something other than darkness that remained somewhere deep inside me. Somewhere you were able to touch. Do you remember? That day at the coffee shop? Your purple polka dot headband, tied primly in a bow. Your hair pulled back into a high bun, with just a few curly strays dancing around the edges of your cheeks. How you’d actually smiled at me before asking for my order. And then how you’d thanked me once I’d paid, wishing me a good day. There was no grimace in your manner, no hesitation at my mutilated face.


You were so pretty, so kind. Not like my mother. Not like any of the others. How had I gone so many years without this perfect human?


That is the most profound thing about darkness. Even a flash of light is enough to change the entire atmosphere. You were that light. So, there was still goodness in the world. There was still hope for me, past be damned. You showed me that.


And, so I’d followed you home that day, and many of the days since then. I watched you. I protected you, like the rarity that you were. I tried to preserve your kindness, study it, waiting in the shadows for our next encounter. And when I’d discovered there was already a man in your life, I’d followed him, too. I had to make sure you were safe, that no one was threatening your goodness. As if your light was already spreading to me, the way fire always does, I cared for you by taking care of him. There was no room for a pedophile in your life. He was a threat to you, a rapid of white waters sure to extinguish you. I couldn’t let that happen.


But after he was gone, you disappeared. The next day when I went into the coffee house, hoping to see you, expecting to see you sparkling with relief and joy, for finally you were free! I did that. I’d envisioned it many times… me waltzing into your shop, you ready with open arms to thank me. Me, your savior. You, my savior.


But you were not there. Then, or the next day. Or the next. Where were you?


I watched outside your house, the lights going on in the morning, then off as the evening turned to night. But you did not leave. You'd disappeared in plain sight, left me alone, locked yourself up in your house as if freedom meant absolutely nothing to you!


Had it been one more day out there waiting, I’ll admit, I’m not sure I could have forgiven you for such ingratitude. So, you can imagine my delight when you stepped out for a walk this evening, the horizon still bleeding its last drops into the twilight, like a sign – you, my last dash of hope.


Monster, they’d called me. They, but not you.


So, why then, did you scream? Why such a vile and repulsive response at the sight of me, as I stepped out into the light to greet you? What had changed between our first meeting?


I did not take you for flighty, and yet, you’d made my breath go raspy and harsh in our chase, as if I were a wolf and you, a delectable lamb. I’d only wished to greet you, to reacquaint ourselves after our unbearable separation, to re-fortify the promise of our union.


That was the moment I’d realized it, those endless, suffocating seconds: you were just like the others. There was no light in you at all. You saw me as they did.


Monster.


Imagine the anger. Imagine the betrayal.


I’d only ever wanted to be with you, to be more like you. But, oh, how you fooled me.


You were much harder to carry to the car than I’d thought you’d be. And you certainly had a strong and fiery fight in you. I suppose, that was the light I thought I’d seen. Because looking at you now as you lay on my table, there is neither life, nor light behind those wide, unblinking eyes. 

September 14, 2023 04:03

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34 comments

Rebecca Miles
20:46 Sep 14, 2023

Hello Sister Scribbler! Well this has more than a hint of Frankenstein's monster in it, raising the same powerful questions which were so important then and still can worry us today: are we born pure, or are we fallen from the start and actually, as we see in that book, are we the victims of how we are treated by those around us? I think it is one of the most haunting and devestating moments in any book when Victor finally succeeds in bringing his creation to life and then flees from it and the poor "monster" is left to cope with life where ...

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AnneMarie Miles
03:10 Sep 15, 2023

I'm actually so happy to hear you enjoyed it as I know you were rooting for a monster comedy from me! I tried to muster one up but this character just kept nagging at me!! And I honestly wasn't sure if he was going to be human or not, and his story felt very close to Frankenstein, especially since I just read Shelley this past summer. This was definitely an experimental piece, much different than I am used to writing so I felt a little out of water, but so far am pleased with the bones of it, though I'll probably be tweaking it endlessly un...

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PJ D
09:43 Oct 10, 2023

EXCEPTIONAL writing! You should start a YouTube channel and do a voice narration of your story, you can check Mr. Creeps on YouTube for reference. I'll subscribe right away.

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AnneMarie Miles
13:21 Oct 10, 2023

Thanks for reading and for the suggestion! I don't spend much time on Youtube but I'll have to give it a look some time.

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Amanda Lieser
05:01 Oct 06, 2023

Hi AnneMarie, Well, after reading your beautiful piece about a mother and child, this story was exceptionally shocking! However, you carried the same beautiful and vivid language into both pieces. You also managed to craft beautiful themes and complicated histories, and to both of them. I also highly admire the way that this story slowly built in creepiness until I was absolutely certain that there was no way we were going to get a happy ending. You picked a very difficult narrator to embody. However, I think that you did this character just...

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AnneMarie Miles
13:34 Oct 06, 2023

Lol, you're right - I certainly jumped ship from the sadness and innocence of Potion-making to this more gruesome and sinister tale, but I wanted to push boundaries a bit and try something new! Thanks for reading!

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Jon Kirkham
09:09 Sep 22, 2023

The world where other peoples psychology can affect our very own, no matter how long we battle against it? Or just how our very root/foundation is created and stays with us no matter how we battle it? Either way I enjoyed your creative flow

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AnneMarie Miles
00:44 Sep 23, 2023

I think it's a bit of both! Thanks reading and commenting! I appreciate your time :)

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Hannah Lynn
21:25 Sep 21, 2023

Scary story! Poor guy, who knows how his life would have turned out if not for those events out of his control.

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AnneMarie Miles
00:44 Sep 23, 2023

Thanks for reading, Hannah!

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J.W. Kimmel
20:14 Sep 21, 2023

Chilling story and amazing writing!

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AnneMarie Miles
00:44 Sep 23, 2023

Thanks, J.W.!

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Jonathan Page
22:08 Sep 20, 2023

Well done! The writing here is exceptional. The backstory of the monster is engaging. You start in the action, then go into the monster's thoughts, before giving us a chilling backstory and moving to the remainder of the action and the climax/resolution--which was well set up and came off as natural and inevitable. The psychological take on the wounds of the monster his hopes, and his justifications for his actions--are both creepy and expertly rendered. Awesome work! Very impressive! I really liked it.

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AnneMarie Miles
15:49 Sep 21, 2023

Hey Jonathan! Thanks so much, I'm glad you liked it. It was definitely different than what I'm used to doing. Trying to experiment with different styles, genres, voices. I'll be around later today after work to check out your story, critique partner. :)

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Natalia Paredes
22:56 Sep 18, 2023

Jesus this was gripping to read! I really liked imagining how the "monster" looked like, and slowly getting bits and pieces of the full story like picking up clues on a trail. Great solution to avoid exposition dumps, which I think I can use from now on in my own writing. Pretty solid prose too. The colors and visuals work together very well, especially at the end when the woman goes out to walk in the afternoon. The orangy colors not only feel hot and passionate (like the emotions of the MC), but they also remind me of Halloween haha. And o...

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AnneMarie Miles
15:50 Sep 21, 2023

Hey Natalia! Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to read and comment. I am often guilty of exposition dumping so I really tried to avoid overtelling. I wasn't sure how well the visuals would work so I'm happy to hear they did :) Thanks again!

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05:13 Sep 18, 2023

Great writing and an interesting take on the monster theme. Bringing us very close to the mind of the monster, he seems like a violent stalker who justifies his evil actions. All really good villians in fiction have some sort of internal logic they are operating by, so we can have a slight 10% understanding or even empathy of where we are coming from. Just for feedback, I think you could possibly cut a few 'you' later on once you set the scene that the narrator is speaking to the reader. "Imagine the anger, can you? Imagine the betrayal." ...

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AnneMarie Miles
15:57 Sep 21, 2023

Hey Scott! Thanks for your comments and suggestions! I was able to make the switch before approval and I agree that it sounds better. This was a new voice for me and I wasn't sure how much questioning I needed to display the narcissism. So thanks for the help with that! This video/song is amazing 😂 definitely fitting for my MC and his victims. I could see him playing this in the background while he hurts them, a little Buffalo Bill inspired dance, too

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Aeris Walker
20:48 Sep 17, 2023

Fantastic job with this one! You made us feel pity and sympathy for the narrator and then steadily turned the tables until we too, became disgusted with and disturbed by him. And what I love about this is that his behavior makes sense: this character has endured serious trauma his entire life. He doesn't even know what a normal family/relationship looks like, so we can understand why he becomes obsessed over the first person to show him kindness. This line was concisely and powerfully worded: "window-shopping the younglings as they played....

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AnneMarie Miles
16:00 Sep 21, 2023

Aeris! These words mean so much coming from you! Your work is always so polished so I can certainly learn from you :) For whatever reason, I was really attached to this ending. I really considered adding "What a shame." as a final seal on it, but I just loved the image of the lifeless eyes being the last thing.. I'm glad the structure worked! This is so different for me and I really agonized over how to order the information. I appreciate all your thoughts and I'm looking forward to your next story!

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Nina H
21:45 Sep 16, 2023

So who is the monster: the MC or the people who drive him to snap, and to give up and become what they saw? Great story, so very well written and engaging!

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AnneMarie Miles
22:01 Sep 16, 2023

Something to think about huh? Perhaps I should have put this under Speculative.. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Nina!

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Kevin Logue
12:22 Sep 16, 2023

Oh my! This was spectacular, honestly, the story is creepy and engaging, the protagonist is even likable in a sad way when you discover why he is scarred, but the prose. Chefs kisses. So good. I felt like this was horror version of Phantom of the Opera crossed with Lovecrafts, The Outsider, with a added dash of stalkerness. There is so many great lines but this one really spoke out to me >> I tried to be anything but the sum of my scars. And the way you use punctuation to add rhythm I can learn a lot from >>> One year? Five years? A decad...

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AnneMarie Miles
13:38 Sep 16, 2023

Hey Kevin, you've made my morning with this comment! Thanks for taking the time to invest some time into my story. This was such an experimental piece for me, so it makes me smile to know it was enjoyable for you. I did intentionally put a little backstory in there to hopefully elicit a small amount of sympathy for the MC. I mean, you tell me how many angels are going to come from a mother who's willing to throw their child into a fire? That's gotta mess someone up.. I've always been interested in abnormal psychology and personality disord...

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Marty B
02:08 Sep 16, 2023

A great dark story about a MC who just wants to have a human connection, but for some reason impossible. The story gives does not pick a side between nature (She, the tree. I, the apple.) or nuture (No one gave me the time of day. Just gruesome looks and disdained scowls.) but either way the MC is pure selfish evil. It's probably me as a bad reader- but I feel this sentence, a key connection in the story- would be more impactful broken into two. - 'The day that I met you enlivened a remaining ember I hadn’t realized was still burning, a we...

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AnneMarie Miles
02:12 Sep 16, 2023

Hey Marty! Thanks for reading. I believe most psychological disorders are rooted in a lack of human connection. I'm certain that would mess anyone up. Thanks for the suggestion. This was a new voice for me so it's good to have some feedback on how it's reading. I'll consider tweaking it.

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Belladona Vulpa
15:56 Sep 15, 2023

Engaging, and fast paced. I felt for the coffee girl, just because she did that job she was unlucky enough to meet him. Unreliable narrator that fits the stalker profile, he sounds just like an abuser from the start blaming his actions on his victims, and he has quite a big ego. I like all the complexity you added to the he characters and backstory. The story brought to mind a Criminology lecture from a really long time ago, about how labels affect people. Predictable (based on the character you fleshed out) but also quite fitting resoluti...

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AnneMarie Miles
00:51 Sep 16, 2023

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Belladona! Yes, that poor coffee girl. I think about how stalkers/psychopaths can fixate on strangers and how unlucky those random individuals are. Very creepy. I'm glad the backstories worked. This is quite different than what I usually write so it was a bit of a challenge, but a fun one! Thanks again!

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Lei King
10:02 Sep 15, 2023

I must express my admiration for this story. It was a truly eerie tale, and the conclusion was a fitting resolution. Although the protagonist did not aspire to become a monster, he was ostracized by society and viewed as repugnant. Consequently, his behavior became increasingly monstrous, culminating in his heinous actions with his mother and the cleverly alluded-to gruesome end with his beloved betrayer. This story is a masterpiece of the highest order. Your friend, Lei.

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AnneMarie Miles
00:53 Sep 16, 2023

Thank you, Lei!! It was so different than what I usually write I wasn't even sure what to make of it, or how to value it. I'm glad it worked out!

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Delbert Griffith
12:40 Sep 14, 2023

Creepy! Damn, this was a tale Poe would have been proud to pen. The first-person POV/inner dialogue added to the darkness because the reader could see just how bleak and desperate the MC's thoughts had become over the years. A couple of things: "I offered you my most feeble attempt at kindness – " I don't know if "feeble" is the right word here. Maybe "genuine" or "sincere." Although I loved the POV and the inner dialogue, I felt like you had too many questions in the dialogue, and that you had "I" a little too much. Perhaps this is just...

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AnneMarie Miles
13:10 Sep 14, 2023

Delbert, good morning! Thanks for being the first one to examine this. It was certainly an experimental piece, so there was bound to be a few hiccups here. I love dark, but this voice was definitely very different for me. Though this was the first time I really felt this character approach me and ask to tell his story.. so that was quite neat. Thank you for these points of critique. These specific suggestions are invaluably helpful. I think my intentions with the use of questioning and "I" were to portray the narcissism of this character...

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18:20 Sep 21, 2023

Wow, this was really good. An unfortunate tale of nihilism and how even the most nihilistic and "monstrous" among us still long for love and affection, treating the hint of it as the chance to escape the hell they find themselves in. This felt like John Gardner's "Grendel". Grendel being the iconic villain in "Beowulf." The way he committed horrible atrocities as if he didn't know any better, had a love hate relationship for his equally monstrous mother, the way he lusts after Hrothgar's queen and hates himself and her for the feelings he ha...

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Michał Przywara
21:05 Sep 18, 2023

Great story, and it raises lots of questions, as others have said. Right from the start is the most interesting question of all: who's speaking, and what have they done? "I tried to be gentle." is a delightfully ominous opener. Much can be said about where evil comes from - are you born with it, or does life guide you towards it. Nature or nurture, etc. Clearly a theme that's plagued the MC his entire life. But, there's another interesting thing that happens here, to do with judgment. The MC has been judged a monster all of his life. Pre-...

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