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The Ghostwriter

A Short Horror Story

By Stephanie HoogstadPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - January 2024
35
The Ghostwriter
Photo by Editors Keys on Unsplash

Keep typing.

The constant clicking and clacking of the keyboard echoed throughout the room. It was the only noise to reach her eardrums—the only noise that she had heard for days, for weeks…had it been months already? Years?

Keep typing.

Her fingers ached so badly that they nearly cramped, but she couldn’t stop. She couldn’t even stop to wipe the sweat off her brow as it started to drip into her eyes; all she could do was hope to blink the drops away.

Keep typing.

She could feel it hovering over her head, the tip of the sword. Every time that she stopped for the briefest of moments, even to consider a plot point or a character’s reaction, the sword inched closer and closer to her skull. It was very near to penetration now. The last time she had moved a centimeter to adjust her seating position, she had felt warm, sticky blood trickle down her head and neck.

Keep typing.

The story was a disaster. The characters were flat, the plot had no conflict, and the themes…there were no themes to speak of.

Piece of shit romance. Not even good romance, but something that you’d expect to find in some ten-cent bin. But this is what they wanted, and she couldn’t stray. She couldn’t imagine what would happen to her if she dared to stray from their outline.

Keep typing.

Dear God, this chapter…it just wasn’t going to work. It made no sense for the characters, and it had no place in the plot. If only she could have some time to think, to reimagine the outline a bit, maybe she could make this manuscript readable…

She flinched as she felt the sword drop down half a centimeter.

She typed crap. She typed gobbledygook. She backspaced, restarted, and typed crap all over again. Anything to keep the clicking and clacking of the keyboard going. Anything to keep the sword out of her head.

Keep typing.

She wasn’t sure which was driving her closer to insanity: the voice in her head, the cold steel against her scalp, or the echoing keyboard that constantly reminded her of her isolation. She hadn’t heard another human’s voice outside of her mind in longer than she could remember. Even the characters she was writing had lost their distinct voices days ago.

She hesitated, wanting just a momentary reprieve from the cramping hands and the click-clacking. A sharp pain pierced the skin on the top of her head, and she could feel blood running down the side of her head.

Instinctively, she resumed her typing.

Yet a part of her could not help thinking that that was not so bad.

Keep typing.

She continued to type, nothing but a stream of consciousness:

“That didn’t hurt so bad. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much for it to go all the way in. Why should I keep typing, anyway? They don’t control me. They don’t own me. I don’t need to write if I don’t want to. I don’t need to write what I don’t want to. This charade has gone on long enough. All I need to do is sto—“

The clicking and the clacking of the keyboard came to a halt. It was soon replaced by the minute grinding of gears and the crunching of bone. Finally, a thud filled the empty room.

There the ghostwriter sat, slumped back in the velvet armchair that had become her prison. A sword protruded from her skull, stretching up towards the ceiling. Blood flowed from her wound, down her body, and across the floor, towards the oak desk that held the computer stained crimson with the ghostwriter’s fingerprints.

Over a sound system, a voice on a loop continually boomed, Keep typing.

CONTENT WARNINGfiction
35

About the Creator

Stephanie Hoogstad

With a BA in English and MSc in Creative Writing, writing is my life. I have edited and ghost written for years with some published stories and poems of my own.

Learn more about me: thewritersscrapbin.com

Support my writing: Patreon

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  4. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  5. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (23)

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  • Anna 6 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • Kendrick Porter13 days ago

    This is a lovely horror story. :)

  • L.C. Schäfer17 days ago

    Outstanding work, T.S. well deserved!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Thavien Yliasterabout a month ago

    This exemplifies how projects feel. Becoming a ghost writer reminds me of Adventure Time when they dealt with a ghost fly, because anybody/thing that's a ghost has unfinished business. Now, the ghostwriters unfinished business is to finish writing a good story that they can feel proud of for accomplishing.

  • Caroline Janeabout a month ago

    OMG I am going to have nightmares tonight!! "Keep typing" Damn. I can hear those words all around me!!

  • Naveed about a month ago

    Superior effort! Keep the outstanding work—congrats!

  • Phil Flanneryabout a month ago

    So is this an allegory of the inner struggle of the writer or the future of AI, when the system takes over. Either way, a great story.

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Congrats on the TS.

  • kpabout a month ago

    oof this hit so close to home! amazing work. truly nightmarish and oh-so relevant for many of us here.

  • Lindsay Sfaraabout a month ago

    That was incredible, and so intense! Congrats on top story, this is well deserved!

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    That was exhausting but a brilliant read. Your character sounds like me when my work takes over!

  • Shazee Tahirabout a month ago

    ohhh great work please check my profile also

  • Kelli Sheckler-Amsdenabout a month ago

    This was really intense. Great work, congratulations!

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    Holy holes in a batcave, this was incredible writing. Suspenseful and actually very frightening. I spend my time basically ghostwriting...well writing without credit at least...so I resonate with this a little extra hard. I think sometimes when I write the crap I have to make money, a sword to the skull might not be so bad lol! Congrats on a great Top Story, Stephanie!

  • Kathleen Robertsabout a month ago

    Great scary analogy of ghostwriting.

  • Celia in Underlandabout a month ago

    Thought I commented already apparently not! This is so well dones and so disconcerting. Maybe because it is little to relateable! Congrats on TS!

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Oh, this is great. I think I would have given up, too.

  • ROCK about a month ago

    I am officially spooked as I did ghost writing for a chiropractor once; to imagine what he could have done to me is now embedded within and I will have a proper nightmare. Thank you for my enticing introduction into the HORROR genre.

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Gosh this was soooo scaryyyy!! I'd give up and stop typing too if I was her. Getting sliced by a sword is much better than that typing hell! This was so well done! Loved your story!

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    Well, back to work... 😵‍💫 This was excellent...and a little too personal (& Poe-sonal)!

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    That was enough to... well, keep typing! Such a unique tale, Stephanie. I would hate to be in that situation. We all are when 'dead' lines force us to sit, think and write whether we want to or not.

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    Taking, "I hate my job" to a whole new level!!! Well done

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