Six Feet Under
A ghost story
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Tilly had always walked this path home from work at the diner, but never alone; Ollie walked her home every night. Ollie would always say, “Listen Til, us women gotta stick together. You never know what kind of creepers are hiding in the bushes and whatnot. I’m just lookin’ out for the both of us.” Her thick New York accent made it sound more light hearted than it was, but she was right, as per usual. Tilly was much more timid than her fearless best friend. While Ollie preferred roller coasters, horror movies, and true crime documentaries, Tilly would rather stay inside and read her favorite book of the week, or cozy up with a nice blanket by the fire sipping hot apple cider.
Every night, the young women walked together. Every night, they were there to protect each other, but this was the first time Tilly hadn’t heard from Ollie at all. Since she saw the candle in the window, she figured maybe Ollie was exploring the hazardous cabin – it seemed like something she would do to pump up her adrenaline. But why a candle? Tilly thought to herself. It’s so odd. Maybe she just forgot her flashlight or something? Or maybe she’s trying to up the spook factor to scare me. Or herself. That sounds just like her. She let out a soft giggle and decided to go right at the fork in the path, up to the cabin. Her mind wandering, Tilly noticed that the path up to the stairs was overtaken by growth. Ferns, weeds, and all different kinds of flowers were being stepped on by Tilly’s fragile feet. It was very clear that no one had been up this way in years, or even decades. Over to the left was a swing hanging from a tree, only big enough to support a child no older than four or five. Even the tree looked too frail to support Tilly’s weight, and she was so thin that a strong enough wind could carry her away. To the right, a little farther up the path, there was a quaint little garden, likely for vegetables and fruit. The oddest thing was that the vegetation seemed freshly planted, yet they were all rotten. The soil had clearly been recently displaced, but whatever was planted was already being eaten by worms and flies.
At last, Tilly reached the steps to the front porch. With each step, the wooden planks creaked and threatened to snap underneath her. On the last step, it crumbled. She fell through, hitting her head on the porch, knocking her unconscious. When she woke up a minute later, she was discombobulated yet slowly pushed herself back up and regained her balance. Tilly took a moment to note the broken porch swing in the corner. She looked in the window, and the candle had moved further into the house. Assuming that she didn’t need to knock, Tilly slowly turned the tarnished doorknob, and stepped inside. “Ollie?” Tilly shouted. “Ollie, if you’re trying to scare me, it’s working.” Tilly paused for a response. Silence. “Ollie! This isn’t funny!” She paused again. Deafening silence. Then, a creak…upstairs? Is there even an upstairs to this place? Tilly thought. Now even more frightened, “Ollie, seriously! I just want to walk home with you!” Tilly yelled. Suddenly, she heard a soft “Tilly?” Tilly looked around in different rooms to find the voice. “Tilly, you have to go,” the voice said louder. It sounded distorted and far away, but she knew it was Ollie. “Ollie! Where are you?!” No response. Footsteps. Running? Then CRASH! Ollie collided with Tilly in a cold sweat, breathing heavy and hands shaking.
“Ollie, what happened to you?!” a concerned Tilly shouted.
“I’ll explain later but right now, we have to run!” replied Ollie. As both of them were sprinting towards the open door from the opposite side of the cabin, the door slammed shut. A coarse voice cackled and said “Good luck leaving when your only exit is gone.” With that, the door faded away and only left the wooden wall to be seen. All of the windows were ones that couldn’t be opened, and even if they were, they were too small for either of them to climb through. Trembling, Tilly accepted her fate. This was how she would die, but at least she was with Ollie. She took Ollie’s hand, and pulled her in to give her the biggest hug.
“Tilly, we can make it out of here, I know it,” Ollie proclaimed with her charming confidence. “We are not going out like this.”
Suddenly she spotted the stairway, and an idea struck. She was running out of time, darkness was closing in around her and Tilly. This was a different kind of darkness than just the night. This was definitely something evil, something vile. She took a deep breath and bolted for the stairs, Tilly in hand. Tilly was still absolutely terrified, but she felt a sort of confidence when she was with her best friend, the kind of confidence that makes one brave. As they ran up the stairs, the coarse voice roared “NOOOO!” The two girls ran nonetheless. They heard creaking and banging all the way up the stairs behind them, along with indistinct screaming from this mystery voice. Up the stairs was a large loft, one that obviously had belonged to a young child. As soon as they set foot in the loft, all fell silent. The candle was on a small white dresser, adorned with dead flowers and other assorted plants, and a stone lamb on the top next to the candle. Next to the dresser was a bed, not exactly a crib but definitely small enough to be one. Both girls looked for an exit, and Ollie knocked over a tall floor lamp. She tried to catch it, but someone else already did, and it wasn’t Tilly.
Ollie wasn’t the type to scream out of fear, but the horrid sight before her eyes forced her to do just that. The person who had caught the lamp wasn’t living and wasn’t human anymore. They were made of pure darkness, with only a few limbs that were visible, but decayed; like a corpse shrouded in smoke. They let out a terrible screech that shattered the large windows of the loft, creating an exit for Ollie and Tilly. Tilly hadn’t noticed, but Ollie immediately ran for the now open windows, about to jump to the soft vegetation below. Tilly didn’t move, she just stared in wonderment at the person before her. They didn’t seem evil, or vile. Just…sad. With the only bravery she had in her, Tilly slowly glided towards the figure. They hissed, startling Tilly, but she continued on.
“Tilly, what the hell are you doing?!” shouted Ollie, but Tilly only responded with a shushing gesture. “Tilly! We have to leave, NOW!”
As Tilly stepped even closer, the darkness around the figure grew smaller, until revealed underneath was an old man. He now seemed alive, but still a shell of a person. Tilly drew closer, until she was almost touching his hand. She thought she might be able to help him, so she reached out to him, and he looked up at her and seemed to almost smile. No, it was a smirk. He screeched again, the darkness surrounding him once more, larger this time. Tilly ran for the window, reaching for Ollie, but the old man grabbed her by her foot as she jumped and dragged her back to the floor.
“NO!” screamed Ollie. She bolted for the old man with the lamp, perhaps in hopes to scare him. She hit him in what used to be his face, and he belted out another loud roar, letting go of Tilly. “If you want her, you have to go through me!” Ollie said to the man.
“Is that so?” his voice sounded like nails on a chalkboard.
“Yes! Let her go!”
“Very well, I will take both of you then.” He then let out a horrifying cackle, and both girls ran to the window. “JUMP!” they shouted simultaneously. They made it out the window onto the vegetation below, only suffering minor cuts from the thorns. They scrambled to stand and kept running back down to the path they walked on every day. Tilly was a runner back in school, so she was slightly ahead of Ollie. As they approached the path, they stopped running. They got away, they were safe. Tilly turned around to check on Ollie, and she was breathing so heavy she almost vomited. Tilly was about to hug Ollie, but couldn’t touch her. She went for Ollie’s hand, but hers went right through as if she wasn’t even there.
“Ollie?” she said, voice quivering.
“Tilly… I never left the cabin.”
Tilly woke up with a harsh gasp on the steps leading to the front porch. She couldn’t believe the vividness of the dream she just had; her imagination was wild for sure. She pulled herself out of the broken steps and sat on the porch. A single hot tear rolled down her cheek, likely from the after-stress of her dream. She sniffled, holding back tears that were unnecessary. As she sniffled, her nose caught a scent that was so rancid it burned her nostrils. Curious, she stood up and followed the foul scent, and it led her to the garden. At first she assumed it was the smell of the rotten plants, but this was different; it smelled like decay…like death. There’s no way… Tilly thought. It couldn’t be. Nevertheless, she grabbed the shovel that was leaning against a nearby tree and began digging. Before long, she found a hand, then an arm, then a face. “OLLIE!” Tilly cried. “No no no you can’t be dead, please!” Tilly was too late to save her best friend, and that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
About the Creator
I’m just a girl from Arizona who hates the heat, so I stay inside and write :) I’m working on a book, and I will probably post it bit by bit, so please give me feedback!
This is a beautiful piece and I love the characters' friendship! They both seem like great people. Sadly, Ollie is not around anymore.