Rain poured down as Gloria ran down the sidewalk, her hefty backpack bouncing as she willed herself forward. It was only her first week back at school, she couldn’t dare show up late. The breeze hastened, a strange charge filled the air, goosebumps rolling down her arms. Sprinting the last mile, she finally slid into the classroom just as the bell echoed announcing the start of class.
Ms. Eckart peered at her through the top of her glasses, with a permeating scowl. Gloria found it difficult to concentrate throughout the lessons, her thoughts continually wandering to her strange experience that morning. She’d been asleep when she began to feel the blanket being pulled off her. Clenching onto to it she immediately felt a strong tugging which jolted her awake. She sat up, eyes wide, surveying the room, but unable to discern anyone’s presence. The silence soon gave way to a peculiar scraping sound that emanated from underneath the bed, a soft green glow oozing from the area.
She sprung off the bed, running into the kitchen where her father and mother sat drinking coffee by the oversized window that provided a view of the stormy weather.
“There is something underneath my bed!” Her mother laughed, while her father rolled his eyes. “I am serious. It tried to pull my blanket off, then I heard a weird scratching-”
“Stop it.” Her father commanded. “We are not playing these games. You are so fixated with your scary books and television shows that you are attempting to make them reality. Well, your mother and I have no time for such silliness. Get your act together, focus on your studies. Or else we won’t allow you those things anymore.”
Gloria pouted before sitting at the table and forcing some orange juice down. Perhaps she had been partially asleep when the events happened, just her imagination at work. Yet they were so realistic, she couldn’t seem to move them to the back of her mind. She ran into her room to fetch her bag and umbrella, not daring to dillydally, and most certainly not taking a peek under her bed.
“Gloria? Have you not been paying attention?”
“I…” Gloria shook her head, her awareness back in the classroom. A few of the girls in the back snickered. She heard whispers about her frizzy hair and strange clothes before the teacher continued.
“This day has long been considered a harbinger of bad luck.” She raised her voice and eyed all the students studiously. “It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday, it happens at least once every year, but can occur up to three times in the same year. I would like you all to do a creative writing exercise. You have thirty minutes to come up with a short story revolving around this day.”
Gloria eagerly opened up her notebook to a fresh page and began to scrawl down a story. She loved to write, creating new worlds and unique characters were an adventure to her. Letting the occurrence from earlier be her motivation, her story quickly unfolded onto the pages.
“Gloria.” Rochelle whispered. “We still spending the night at your house today?” Gloria nodded. Liliana gave a thumbs up. Gloria worried that the girls only wanted to hang out at her house because she had a pool, but she’d never had a sleepover and thought it could be fun. She’d already picked out some spooky movies and even garlanded her room with some macabre decorations, much to her parents’ dismay. Her mother had insulted her, once again telling her the story about how when she’d been pregnant, she’d daydreamed about writing books about her wonderful daughter. ‘Glorious Gloria,’ the books were to be titled. Instead, I just ended up with an eerie little brat who is an embarrassment to me. Why can’t you just be like other girls? Collect Barbie's and play dress up.
The three girls walked together afterschool, the downpour had calmed down to a mere sprinkle, a whispering wind whipping between them. A man worked upon a ladder clearing old branches from a large tree, decaying wood dropping to the ground. Rochelle walked directly beneath the ladder whilst busy reciting the story of how she’d received her first designer handbag, something she found a savvy accomplishment for a fourth grader. A cagy black cat jumped from the bushes crossing Liliana’s path before darting back within.
Upon reaching her house, Gloria immediately knew something was afoot. Both of her parents sat with their arms crossed on the porch. “Sweetie.” Her mother started in a stomach-turning phony voice. “Why don’t your friends come with me into the kitchen? I have made muffins and lemonade. Your father would like to have a word with you.”
Her father led her into the backyard, beginning to whisper sternly. “You mother and I took it upon ourselves to try to set things right. We have gone through your room and gotten rid of all of your horror movies, books, decorations. We’ve had enough.”
“What?” Gloria felt tears beginning to form. “You didn’t? Those were mine!”
“You did not pay for them young lady. From now on you will play with normal toys and do ordinary things for girls your age. Not talk of vampires and swamp monsters whilst wearing dreadful apparel that makes you look like a ridiculous Edward Scissorhands.”
“No buts! Get in there and be a good host for your friends. Stop humiliating the family for goodness sakes.” Her father rubbed his temples in exasperation.
Gloria wiped her tears and regained her composure, refusing to cry in front of Rochelle and Liliana. The girls swam for a few hours before sitting upon the floor of her bedroom. They played Candyland and discussed puerile topics. Gloria mostly nodding whilst Rochelle and Liliana chatted away.
“Is something wrong Gloria?” Rochelle questioned.
“Yeah, you’re not very talkative.” Liliana conceded. “Why don’t you tell us a story about something going on in your life?”
“Oh well…” Gloria bit her lip as she contemplated. “I do have quite a story, but I don’t think you guys would believe it. It’s just too crazy.”
“No way, we’ll believe you. Tell us.”
“Yeah please!” Liliana begged.
“Okay.” Gloria’s imagination went into overdrive as she shaped the perfect scary story. “Well, there is this boogeyman who has been visiting me.” Rochelle’s face twisted in skepticism, while Liliana’s eyes widened. “I will just be laying there in my bed and suddenly I will hear something scrawling across the floor beneath me. A green illumination creeps out from underneath, almost in the silhouette of fog, a marshy smell deriving from it.”
“I am not! If you don’t believe me then I am not going to continue.”
“I believe you. Please go on.” Liliana sat with her knees in her hands, taking a glance towards the bed.
“The creature often tries to pull my blankets off. I am always certain not to have an arm or foot hanging off the bed, or he would be certain to clasp it. One night I forced myself to sit with my eyes open when I knew he was crawling around underneath. I stared just off the very edge of the bed and I saw a long jagged black nail reaching towards my pillow. I heard a deep murmur, 'I visit quite often to cause a fright, but only on Friday the 13th do I collect souls.'”
“I’ve heard enough.” Rochelle rolled her eyes. “I guess everyone was right about you being a weirdo.”
“Yeah… I am sorry Gloria, but I don’t want to stay the night anymore. You’ve got me creeped out.” Liliana shivered. “Do you think one of your parents could drive me home?”
“It’s almost eleven, my parents are sleeping. I can’t just wake them up. Come on you guys, let’s just play more Candyland.”
“Are you kidding? After that tale? No thanks. We just came here to use your pool anyway Gloria. Didn’t know it’d come with so much creepiness.” Rochelle grabbed her bag, whilst Liliana shrugged uncomfortably.
“Okay you guys, I made it all up. I was just trying to entertain you. Please don’t wake my parents up. I can go get the leftover pizza and brownies from dinner, and soda. We can eat by the pool.”
“I don’t know.” Rochelle deliberated.
“I think that sounds fun.” Liliana rubbed her stomach. "But… after tonight I don’t think we should hang out anymore. That story… You shouldn’t make up things like that. I’m going to tell my mother. It was an awful thing to do.”
Gloria’s loathing of the two girls bubbled inside as she feigned a smile. They gorged themselves upon the decadent foods, went for a short swim, and shortly thereafter fell asleep. Gloria sat up in her bed examining the two girls in their frivolous sleeping bags sprawled across the floor. Only the light of a neon green lava lamp outlining their silhouettes. She nuzzled herself into her covers, wishing for her life to change.
She had been drifting into sleep when a heavy breathing stirred her back to consciousness. She gulped hearing what sounded like long hideous nails grazing upon the hardwood floor. She slowly cracked open her eyes to see the foggy green light radiating from below. A soft husky voice began, “Gloria, you are glorious. It is everyone else that is not. Now find your way into dreamland while I provide you with the most wonderful Friday the 13th.”
Gloria’s eyes slowly drifted shut, the frightening voice somehow soothing her. She awoke a little later when she had to use the restroom. Her feet slipped as she stepped upon the floor, causing her to fall. She righted herself and carefully walked to the light switch. The light flooded the room revealing a gruesome sight. Rochelle’s lifeless body was flung upon the fan, blood drizzling down onto the floor. Liliana slumped in the corner with large gashes across her body, a mess of her organs nearby. Gloria walked to her parents’ bedroom where she discovered that they had befallen a similar fate. She strode to the pool in a daze, hopping in and floating upon her back, watching the starry night above her. Sirens, yelling, and thumping soon interrupted her tranquility.
“Are you injured?” A police officer yelled, grabbing her arm, pulling her to the edge of the pool.
“No.” Gloria smiled.
“What is your name?”
“Glorious Gloria,” she laughed.
The officer raised an eyebrow, soon recognizing blood on her clothes. He called another officer over and they soon asked her a series of questions.
“Do you know who did this to your family and friends?”
“Hmm… okay and what is this boogeyman’s name? What does he look like?”
“I think he just goes by that, and I’ve never gotten a good look at him, but he has very long furled nails and he came out from under my bed in a green fog.”
The officers looked at each other in a silent communication. “Did this boogeyman provide you with a reason as to why he wanted to kill your mother, father, and your two young friends?”
Gloria frowned. “He always kills people on Friday the 13th, he’s been doing it for centuries.”
The detention facility where they took her as their prime suspect was bland and stuffy. She was filled with exhaustion after being redundantly questioned by various people the entire day. Elbowing the uncomfortable bed that had been provided to her, she twisted herself into a somewhat comfortable position.
“Gloria.” A familiar voice called as she danced with unconsciousness.
“Do you want to come down here? Live in an endless horror land full of frights?”
She carefully dangled her legs off the bed, her breathing quickening as she became captivated by the green light. Dropping onto the floor, she climbed underneath the bed.
She was never to be seen again.