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Stranger Danger

Beware of your surroundings and don’t brush off those mystery anomalies

By Colleen Millsteed Published 10 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - September 2023
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Poet In The Arctic invited me to participate in her horror fiction challenge on Medium and I decided to give it a go. 

The challenge thrown down is as follows: 

Your task is to choose either a non-scary/mundane object or task and create a horror story around it! There is no word count or time limit for this challenge.

Poet In The Arctic's original post can be found here. 

So without further ado, here is my take on the challenge.

Stranger Danger

Beware of your surroundings and don’t brush off those mystery anomalies

We have a kind of ritual in our house whereby we fight over the bathroom first thing in the morning. Why? Because we all have this dire need to brush our teeth on rising from our slumber.

Over the vanity, stuck to the tiles, is the toothbrush cup. We don’t use this for rinsing after the deed. No, we use this vessel to hold our toothbrushes.

Most mornings are not too big a deal because I’m usually the first to rise but the drama can ensue if I decide to have one of my hour long baths and my son has yet to wake. Guaranteed he will wake while I’m bathing and the frustration of not being able to clean his teeth is real.

So I got smart!

I’d rise from my bed, head to the bathroom to brush my teeth and then grab my son’s toothbrush, along with the toothpaste and go deposit them on the dining table. He could then brush his teeth whenever he woke using the kitchen sink.

Problem solved!

I woke one morning and commenced my routine. On the completion of cleaning my teeth, I turned to grab my son’s toothbrush. Strange, there’s an extra toothbrush in the cup.

Not to worry. I just believed my son was changing toothbrushes and hadn’t thrown the old one out yet. I grabbed both brushes, deposited them on the table and headed off to a relaxing bath.

Each morning over the next week, I followed the same routine but was getting more and more puzzled by the fact my son had two toothbrushes on the go.

I had to ask.

The look on my son’s face when I asked the question was puzzling as he responded advising that the green toothbrush I kept leaving on the table, right next to his blue one, did not belong to him and he’d been confused as to why I was leaving it on the table.


I was stymied because only the two of us live in this house. So where had the green toothbrush materialised from?

I pushed the mystery to the back of my mind and went about my day, however, that green toothbrush kept playing havoc with my mind.

Surely my son was pulling my leg!

The very next morning, I entered the bathroom and stopped dead in my tracks. The green toothbrush was not in the cup with the other brushes, but was laying on the vanity top, wet as if it’d been freshly used.


I forgot to mention this incident to my son when he woke, but firmly believed he was pranking me.

But then my son went away for the weekend and on the first morning of his absence, I walked into the bathroom and lo and behold I found only my toothbrush in the cup. The green toothbrush was missing.

I laughed a huge belly laugh because this proved it was my son playing games with me.


I walked into the kitchen and there sat the green toothbrush on the kitchen sink. Wet and freshly used.

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as a shiver ran down my spine.

Someone was in the house with me and that someone was not my son.

Goes without saying I searched my house high and low, gingerly opening closet doors, carefully dropping to my hands and knees to check under beds, moving all the boxes from the spare bedroom.

I even seriously considered the job of checking the manhole entry to the ceiling but that was just being ridiculous. No one would be hiding in the ceiling — would they? No, of course not.

I finally put it down to insanity. That’s the only solution that made sense.

The mystery ramped up from there. Day by day I’d find that baffling green toothbrush, freshly used, in some area of the house that I swear I had not previously been those mornings.

Was I walking in my sleep? Was I getting up, brushing my teeth, and then heading back to bed, all while I was still asleep?

Then the crunch come on the morning that my son was due to arrive back home. He was scheduled to arrive in the late afternoon, so again it couldn’t have been a prank he was playing.

That morning I climbed out of bed and began to feel extreme nervousness and anticipation, wondering what had been happening in my house while I was asleep — by me or somebody else.

I still wasn’t convinced it was due to me sleepwalking. I’ve never had that happen before so why would I start now.

I rose and headed for the bathroom. The green toothbrush mystery could wait until I’d cleaned my teeth.

But as I entered the bathroom, I stopped short in shock. Standing just inside the bathroom door, battling to catch my breath, sweat oozing from my armpits and across my forehead, wafting the smell of sheer terror in front of my nose.


There on the top of the vanity unit was the green toothbrush and it was zip tied to my large kitchen carving knife. Impaled on the end of the knife was a recent photo of me, taken while I was asleep in my bed that very morning.

Please click the link below my name to read more of my work. I would also like to thank you for taking the time to read this today and for all your support.

If you enjoy this piece, you may enjoy this one too.

Please visit my website if you'd like more information on my newly published book, Battle Angel : The Ultimate She Warrior.

Originally published on Medium


About the Creator

Colleen Millsteed

My first love is poetry — it’s like a desperate need to write, to free up space in my mind, to escape the constant noise in my head. Most of the time the poems write themselves — I’m just the conduit holding the metaphorical pen.

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Comments (18)

  • Great Information10 months ago

    Nice doing

  • Elena 10 months ago

    Beautifully written

  • Kendall Defoe 10 months ago

    And I actually have to brush my teeth now... 🥺

  • SRenaS10 months ago

    wow. I didn't expect that ending at all. And the suspense it had! But this was so nicely written!

  • Mackenzie Davis10 months ago

    Excellent twist, and great build up to it! Im dying to know what happened next!!

  • Gerald Holmes10 months ago

    Loved this. Great story-telling and very deserving of Top Story!

  • Missclicked10 months ago

    the suspense at the end was OMG!, congratulations on top story :) BTW will there be a second part?

  • Yayyyyy I'm so happy this got a Top Story! Congratulations! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊 This was just so suspenseful and unsettling. And whoaaaa that ending! Lol, it's okay, I was just kidding asking you to continue the story 😋😋

  • Congratulations on your Top Story🎉🎉😉

  • Princess 10 months ago

    Really nice

  • Alex H Mittelman 10 months ago

    That sounds like a cool challenge!

  • Oneg In The Arctic10 months ago

    Yay! Congrats on top story 😄

  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story too!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    Horrific!!! Fantastic horror story, Colleen!!! Left a bloody heart!!!💕♥️♥️

  • Mariann Carroll10 months ago

    Yahhhh! You finally made a story ♥️Mystery of the toothbrush. My stories is the pens and pencils . Thanks for tagging me. I will share this story on True Crime, Horror Story and dark poetry. Can’t wait for your next story, you just needed a prompt thanks to James and Oneg ♥️🥳👍More stories please

  • Omgggggg! You have to continue this story! It's just too suspenseful! Please you can't leave me hanging!

  • I may need to brush up on my vocabulary a bit, but I would say that this was the sheer picture of horror & suspense.

Colleen Millsteed Written by Colleen Millsteed

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