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In the Dark

by Lauren Triola 7 months ago in Horror
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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: Story #13

In the Dark
Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

You’re running, ducking the branches as you scramble deeper into the woods. You keep checking behind yourself—is it there, is it following?—only to trip over tangled roots. You get back up, your knee bleeding. But you keep running.

You’re breathing heavily, panting. Sweat is dripping down your face. Your shirt is soaked with it. You can’t keep this up for long. You know that. But you keep running. Because if you stop, you know what will happen.

You just wanted to go for a jog, a hike through the woods. It was late, the sun going down, but you thought nothing of it. Darkness means little to people these days. Streetlights, flashlights, the glowing screens of cell phones, a million points of light fighting against the night. Humans have come a long way since they lived in caves, afraid to leave the lone flicker of the campfire. Now they’ll go anywhere, anytime. You think nothing of it.

This was your first mistake.

You stuck to the trail, your headlamp bobbing and illuminating your path. But the battery died. You’d forgotten to charge it.

This was your second mistake.

You kept running. At this point you had to, you needed to make it back to where you’d parked your car. The trail, though, was long and the sun was gone. You struggled as your eyes adjusted to the gloom.

You ran, faithfully following the trail, staying away from the edge of the trees. You looked unconcerned. Humans no longer fear the night, the forest. The old stories, the old fears ingrained in you that make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck when the stars flare to life among the blackness have been shrugged off, forgotten or disregarded. Nothing but old wives’ tales and foolish phobias.

But you know better now.

You heard the twig snap, heard the rustle of the undergrowth. You slowed down. Then you saw it.

You saw me.

Your eyes widened and you ran. Not like you were out for a jog, but like you were running for your life.

Which you were. You are.

What you saw you could not comprehend. No one ever can. I am what you all pretend does not exist. I am what you tell your children they are safe from when you check beneath the bed.

You run and I follow. I am always following.

You’re crashing through the creek now, trying to get to the other bank. You think water will stop me.

Another mistake.

You keep running, and I keep following. Your heart is pounding. I can feel it. I can taste it, the blood surging through your veins, the sweat sluicing off your skin.

The moon is out, and you catch a glimpse of me in its light. You scream, throwing yourself down a hill, hoping you will get far enough away that I can’t get you. You hit a rock, you twist your ankle. You limp away when you reach the bottom, but you can’t run as fast now. You can barely run at all.

This is your last mistake.

I leap down the hill, still following.

You try to run, but you stumble. You scream, hoping someone will hear you. But you are deep within the woods. It is night. No one is nearby.

You scream again as I near. You don’t know what I am. You will never know what I am. You do not need to understand. Your ancestors never did. But they had known better than to taunt me, to trespass on my ground at night. They knew better than to run.

You humans think you can leave the past behind. But I am still here, in the dark.

I will always be here.


About the author

Lauren Triola

I'm mostly a fiction author who loves Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but I also love history and archaeology. I'm especially obsessed with the Franklin Expedition. Occasionally I write poetry too. You can find me at my blog or on Twitter.

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