Feast your eyes on these fiendish tales that we found frightfully entertaining…
Say My Name
By: Alexander Nachaj
You already know my name. I am the whisper in the dark. The subtle clatter from the downstairs kitchen when it’s late at night and you’re home alone the little creak in the foyer after your friends have left. I’m the darkened figure in the yard, watching you from the edge of the garden, hanging around under the canopy of the old dead tree with the aching tire swing. I’m the one who follows you home long after all the neighbours have gone to sleep and the streets are cold and empty. The cold breeze that sends your posters rattling. The voices in your headphones when the song’s playing on mute.
You know me from the shadows. I’m the one hiding under your bed, who makes you drop down to your knees every night and check just to make sure. I’m the frozen visage in your half-shut closet, peeking through the crevice waiting for you to fall asleep. I’m those pale eyes you think you see in your armoire. The breath on the back of your neck and the blur in the mirror. I’m the presence you feel every time you’re in the shower and the curtain blocks out the rest of the room, and you tell yourself it’s all in your head.
You might say that you don’t know me. Tell yourself that I don’t exist, that I’m not real. Maybe you’ll talk with your friends over beers on evening and mention I’m just an emotion, a folk-tale or imagination. How people of old probably told stories about me to explain all the sad things happening to them. Surely, I’m nothing that ever needed to become personified. People simply need to grow up, and stop believing.
You don’t need to fool yourself. I already know that you’re lying. You always recognize me when I come out to play. The way those goosebumps flare and the tips of your hair stands up like static. The way your heartbeat doubles and that little bead of sweat that gently, agonizingly makes cuts a path down your back. All those pins and needles, they’ll always be my gift to you.
Don’t be fooled, I’m no Kris Kringle never asking for anything in return. Where would the fun be if I walked away without saying goodbye? Oh no, I’ll never need to tell you what I want, but that doesn’t mean I’m not already asking for it. Already taking it. Already having it. But I’m in no rush. It’s on my terms, not yours, and I have all the time in eternity.
So, until then, I am the ghost, rescinding before the dawn. I am every haunting that ever was. I’m the possibility of your own every failure and all the faults that will surely come. I’m your greatest fear and wildest thrill. Sometimes both at once. You’re already feeling my touch and taking my gifts. What’s wrong with asking for a little something in return? It’s only fear, after all, not like you have anything else to do with it. Guilt? Pleasure? Joy? Who am I to say how you take your thrills. I’m always on the outside looking in. Maybe it’s your mind that does the rest. There’s really nothing to be afraid of is there? You say you don’t know me, but you sure as hell know my name.
By: Christa Carmen
I slip from the shadows like a wraith, squinting in the sunlight and shrinking back from the first of the revelers to come close enough to bump me. My disgust at having to travel into town is likely etched on a face that I’ve been told is strangely shifty, as if my cheeks are a stage on which the shadows come to dance.
I affix a somewhat-smile to my face and step forward, if not to mingle with the crowd than at least to blend in with it. The first person to approach me, and comment on the sizable Venus flytrap I wear pinned in my hair, is a meddlesome little girl, not much more than eight years old.
“Ooh,” she coos. “Look at your flower! Did you get it at the festival?”
I shake my head, scowling despite the risk of drawing attention to myself. “I did not.”
“A goblin princess gave it to me.”
“A real princess?”
“Not a princess. A goblin princess.”
I try to put some distance between myself and the child, but when I turn to admire some succulents that grew between the spaces of tall wooden slats, there the girl is again, stubborn, persistent, inquisitive.
“Could you take me to the goblin princess so that I could get an alien flower for my hair?”
I sigh. “I cannot. Where is your mother? Shouldn’t she be minding you, keeping you from talking to strangers?”
The little girl looks around. “She’s talking to old Mrs. Pennywise. Besides, I’m eight now. I’m allowed to mingle with strangers in the park.”
I am about to comment that I do not imagine this is how childhood works, when I am granted a view straight across the grass, where a tall woman whom the child resembles is speaking to a bonneted octogenarian with hands like twisted roots.
“Come with me,” I say quickly.
“Where are we going?”
“I’m taking you to see the goblin princess you’re so intent on meeting.”
The little girl hoots with delight. She follows close behind until we reach the spot where the sidewalk leads again into shadow.
“Look down there,” I tell the girl, and point down the darkened alley.
“Where? Is that where the goblin princess lives?”
“She does.” I lean closer to the little girl, gauging the moment when the child will stray fully into shadow.
“Closer,” I command. “And you will see her. Closer…”
The Venus flytrap threaded through my hair gives a great, gargantuan snap, and the child is gone, dispensed with in a single swallow.
I straighten, dust off my hands, and smooth my hair.
“It seems I won’t have to suffer the festival long after all, to have found what I was looking for.” My shifty mouth spreads into a smile, the dimensions of which I know do not fit upon my face. “The goblin princess will be pleased.”
And with that, I give myself over to the shadows, while the Venus flytrap whistles an impish tune from atop my head.
By: Jocelyn Baxter
One. A step forward. Two. Another. Three. Your heart beats inside your throat. Four. Thundering footfalls follow you. Five. You’re running. Six. Your breath, uneven, catches in your chest. Seven. The shadows are expanding. Eight. You can’t outpace what’s chasing you. Nine. You’re falling. Ten. Ah-ah-ah.