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Cracked Stucco

Part One

By MatthewKuszaPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 6 min read
Photo by Jeff Dubay on Dreamstime.com

A hulking young man and a petite young woman stood at the end of a desolate road beneath a flickering streetlight. Before them, a rusty sign declared the surrounding area private and promised unlawful entries would be prosecuted. Empty nip bottles, tire tracks, and a well-worn trailhead into the woods spoke differently.

Shaking his head, the young man retreated a couple steps, turned, and adjusted a thick pair of glasses to gaze back down the road.

“Think we parked the car far enough away?”

The young woman gently turned him around again toward the path, taking his hand in hers.

“Yeah, relax,” she said. “Just focus on the pictures I showed you. You’re going to love the place. What do you call that décor again, the one you’re studying now in your design class? I’m sure this place was loaded with it.”

“Art Deco.... oh, Zoey! Stop trying to distract me from legitimate worry! You know my parents will kill me if we’re arrested for trespassing.”

“I think the cops have better things to worry about, Ben.”

“It’s still illegal,” he said.

Zoey gestured to the duffel bag she shouldered.

“If anyone questions us, we’ll just explain we’re conducting scientific research.”

“You know investigating the paranormal is considered pseudoscience.”

“Says who?”

“Real scientists.”

“That’s because no one’s captured convincing evidence.”

“I don’t want to be around anything convincingly paranormal, Zoey. Besides, isn’t this place surrounded by razor wire now. How do you expect to get in?”

“They haven’t finished. There’s still one section of old fence left.”

Zoey tugged Ben forward, but he resisted.

“And that helps us get in how?” he asked.

“The old one had lots of holes. Hopefully, we can find one big enough. Help me look, Ben.”

Pulling his hand free from hers, Ben crossed his arms, planted his feet wide, and stared silently down at Zoey.

“Please,” she said.

“Why are you so obsessed with stuff like this?”

Drawing close, Zoey laced her fingers with Ben’s, rested her chin on his chest, and peered up.

“Benny. You know how important stuff like this is to me. Can you just humor me on this? Do you think I want to get in trouble? I wouldn’t drag us out here if I thought anything bad could happen.”

Sighing, Ben hugged Zoey.

“Okay, fine, you win, but you’re not playing fair. You know I can’t say no when you use that voice.”

“Thanks, Benny.”

Zoey led them down the path for several minutes before turning abruptly into the brush.

“What are we doing?” Ben asked.

“Off to the side here, there’s still some old fencing,” Zoey said.

“How in hell do you know that?”

“When I scouted things out last week, I noted that split tree trunk marks the spot where the fence’s closest to the path.”

“How can you see anything? It’s pitch black out here!”

“It’s not that dark.”

“Zoey, I’m not clinging to you just because I like you. I can’t see a damn thing.”

“Really? I knew you’re nearsighted as a bat without your glasses; you should get that checked out.”

“I have; it’s called nyctalopia. My eyes have always been shit.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll lead the way.”

Ben followed close behind Zoey as she inched through the brush and briars.

“Here it is,” she said.

“Now, what?”

“I’ll use my phone light.”

“No! Someone will see.”

Photo by Ondrej83 on Dreamstime.com

“Fine, we’ll run our hands along the chain links until we find a broken spot.”

“That’s a good way to get tetanus.”

Clucking her tongue, Zoey began creeping along the fence. Ben huffed and followed until he suddenly yelped.


“Did you find a hole?”

“No! Brambles!”

“That’s why I suggested we use a flashlight,” she said.

“Someone will see us.”

“No one’s out here but us, Ben. Honestly, this is going to take us all night. I’m going to turn it on.”

“Do that, and I’m leaving.”

“Then stop complaining about every little twig and stick poking you.”

Ben scowled as he chewed at one of his fingers.


Zoey turned from Ben and returned to searching. A few seconds passed before Ben sighed and followed. They carried on in this fashion until Zoey stopped short.

“Ah! Finally!” she said.

“What?” he asked.

“There’s a break here.”


“It’s small, but maybe we can fit through.”

“Oh, come on, Zoey. It’s getting late.”

“I need to try, Ben.”

“Fine. But if it’s too narrow, we call it quits.”

Zoey didn’t respond as she probed the damaged fencing.

“Hey, listen. I mean it. Trespassing’s one thing, but breaking and entering is another.” Ben said.

The fence rattled, and links of rusty chain screeched as Zoey tried to wiggle through.

“Okay, Zoey? If it’s too small, we leave. Okay?” Ben asked.

“You’re such a buzzkill,”

“One of us needs to be level-headed.”



“Okay. Okay. If I can’t get through, we’ll leave. Besides, I don’t have my wire cutters.”


“What? They’re tearing it down. Does it really matter?”

“Come on! You can’t get through. Let’s go!”

“Wait! The bottom’s half-buried. If I…”

A twang reverberated through the fence as Zoey popped through.

“Yes! I knew I could do it! Here, let me help you through.”

Zoey pulled one side back, using her weight to widen the hole for Ben. He swore and muttered something about hating haunted houses as he fumbled forward before pulling back with a grunt.

“It’s too narrow.”

“It is not. I did it.”

“I’m bigger than you are.”

“Quit stalling.”


Metal links whined as Ben crammed his body into the gap until the fence refused to stretch any further.

“I’m stuck!”

“Okay, okay. Don’t panic. I’ll help.”

Zoey adjusted her grip and tugged harder.

“That hurts!”

“Sorry! Maybe if I pull here…”

“Forget it. This isn’t going to work.”

Ben tried to back out, but the jagged edges of the hole held him fast. He scrambled furiously to free himself by going forwards and backward, but to no avail. He stood catching his breath between bouts of frenzied laughter.

“Why do I let you talk me into doing these things?”

The darkness hid the alarmed look on Zoey’s face as she bit her nails.

“Because you love me?”

“Yes, I suppose I do, but I need to set better limits. You and your plans are going to get me killed someday.”

Zoey kissed Ben.

“Does that help?”

“Do you seriously want me to answer?”

“Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“How long have you known me? I don’t have a sense of adventure.”

Zoey pulled out her phone.

“Okay. I think it’s finally time for some light.”


“Do you want to get out or not?”

“Of course, I want to get out!”

“Then let me have some light. I’ll just use the lock screen. It barely glows. No one will see anything.”


With illumination, Zoey managed to painstakingly untangle Ben, one wire at a time, until he stumbled free onto her side of the fence. Ben sat to catch his breath, and Zoey joined him, putting her arms around him.

“Are you hurt?”

“Nope. Just my pride.”

“Oh, Benny.”

The couple rested quietly as the minutes dragged by until the crack of a snapping branch broke the silence. Ben and Zoey froze, listening as something big disturbed the brush nearby.

“It’s the cops!”

“Ben, don’t be stupid. Hello?”


“The police don’t roam the woods in the dark. It’s just some animal.”

“Or a serial killer.”

“One way to find out.”

Zoey held out her phone, using its feeble light to probe the darkness.

End of Part One.

Click here for Part Two

Photo by Winterling on Dreamstime.com


About the Creator


Star Wars Fan! Dungeons & Dragons Geek! Love history! Probably born a hundred years too late, I relish anything from 19th and early 20th century. View world through lens of Tolkein's mythology. Pretty simple, I write about what I love.

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Comments (2)

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  • Test4 months ago

    Brilliant work MatthewKusza

  • Andrea Corwin 6 months ago

    Part 1 what???? I love the conversations, so real and perfect! Can’t wait to continue.

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