The world is a scary place. Every day we’re forced to make choices, no matter how small, that may be leading us along a new path. Whether that path is heading towards something good, like a promotion or meeting some special, or towards something bad, like an accident, or even death, we can never know. In the end, that’s possibly the scariest thing of all.
That’s why I need your help to guide a character, or characters, through the possible dangers that await them in #YourHorror, an interactive horror story that will be shaped by the choices you make. Even I don’t know what will happen, and I’m the writer…
From Monday to Friday, at roughly 8pm GMT each day, there will be a new Twitter poll. These polls will ask you to choose between a number of options, each of which may take the story in a new direction. Sometimes a decision will give a bit more insight into the character, setting, or backstory, while other times the decision will solely focus on driving the narrative forward.
Excited? Intrigued? A little bit terrified of the unknown? Yeah, me too. Get involved.
As much as she was sure she’d suffer for it later, she didn’t feel like she could go to sleep at that moment. The sun was rising outside, and she would only lie in bed, the light creeping into her eyes, mulling over everything that had happened in the past 24 hours.
She’d have loved the old cliché of everything feeling normal at the light of a new day. Considering that her burned hand stung every time she tried to forget about it, and there was a bruise growing deep purple on her left buttock where she’d landed after being thrown from inside the mirror, it wasn’t likely.
Admitting what had happened felt crazy. Not admitting it, at least to herself, seemed equally crazy, and maybe even a little dangerous. She tried to find strength in the fact that she knew she was a level-headed, rational, sane person that could not only be honest about the unworldly events taking place in her life, but also think about them in an objective way. Of course, there was another part of her, growing stronger by the day, that just wanted strip off all her clothes, adopt hundreds of cats, and walk around town pushing a trolley of felines with a wild look in her eyes; ala, “Crazy cat lady.”
Before succumbing to that life, which she felt was always where she’d end up, she decided to call a close friend from home. Hearing a familiar voice would help. Even just for a few minutes of small talk. There was nothing more normal, and boring, than small talk.
She found her phone nestled between sofa cushions, where it must have fallen from her pocket the night before. 10% battery. Of course. Somewhere between centipedes crawling from coffee, nightmares burning into the real world, and being forcibly dragged into her bathroom mirror by a pale version of herself - for a warning she still didn’t understand - she’d forgotten to charge her phone. Somehow, she thought she’d forgive herself.
It would do the job. She selected her friend from a list of contacts, most of whom she’d stopped speaking to before she’d moved away. She hit ‘call.’
The phone rang for so long that she was sure it was going to go unanswered. It was still pretty early. Far too early, in fact, for her to answer a call if it had been the other way round. She was about to hang up when the line cleared. The phone had been answered.
She started to apologise for the time of the call when a voice spoke. Her mouth snapped shut, and she broke into a cold sweat.
It wasn’t her friend.
There was no real reason to panic. Anyone could have picked up the phone on behalf of her friend, but it felt wrong. The voice could have been male, female, or anything in-between, so raspy was it that she hadn’t even been able to pinpoint the gender, only the intent. With only a greeting, the voice had told her that she wasn’t going to speak to her friend this morning, or maybe ever again.
Without speaking it said:
“They can’t get to the phone right now. Maybe they’re still asleep, maybe not - maybe they’re being tortured.” She gripped the phone a little tighter. No matter the reason, she knew then that there had never been any chance that this call would connect her with a comforting reminder of home and friendship. Even the words themselves seemed far away.
Finally, she replied, and struggled to hold the tremor in her voice as she asked, “What do you want?” Her phone beeped. 5% battery remaining. Fine. She didn’t think this was a call she wanted to stay on for long. Not at all.
When the voice replied, it had a sickly-sweet quality to it. It was as if its words threatened to ooze through the phone and into her ear. Whoever it was, whatever it was, she could tell they were smiling.
“Nothing, my dear. Nothing at all. We don’t want anything from you. You’re already giving us so much…”, it paused, and she was sure she heard it smacking its lips together, “entertainment.”
(Can they see me?)
She tiptoed to the window, not wanting the stranger on the phone to know she was spooked, and peered through the blinds. Everything outside was still. After the chaos of the stormy night before, it was as if the town was trying to regain its strength. It wasn’t the only one.
“Silly girl. You won’t find us out there.”
The blinds shut with a rattle as she reeled backwards, too quickly, and fell onto the sofa. She landed heavily, but didn’t even notice the aching from her bruise.
(Shit. Can they see me?! Surely not. They heard the blinds. They must have.)
A crackle ripped through the phone and she thought the line was breaking up. Then she realised that the stranger was laughing. It began as a chuckle, but grew and grew until they were bellowing laughter down the phone, so loud that she had to hold it away from her ear.
Each time they laughed, a new wave of goosebumps rolled across her skin and she started to think that she could actually see it happening, like a distressing Mexican wave. She couldn’t take it anymore.
She hung up.
“Fuck you…” she spat at the phone.
Then she threw it to the other end of the sofa, not even wanting the phone near her.
It landed face up. Bzz bzz. Someone had sent her a text.
The ever-growing ball of dread residing in her stomach returned. There was nothing she could do but lean over and read it. Luckily, she didn’t have to touch the phone, because the message was short and the preview revealed everything. The message read:
“We’ll be watching.”
The screen faded to black, battery finally depleted of life. So drained was she from the night before, and so shocked at the disconcerting events of this new day, that she did something very similar herself. She left the phone where it was, lay back onto the sofa, and shut her eyes. Sleep was calling for her.
Since it was a call that she’d missed last night, she decided to answer, and let herself drift away from her worries. They’d find her again when she woke up, she knew, but that wasn’t of her concern now. She slept, undisturbed, as madness wove its foul web in the shadows of her mind.
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Thank you to everyone that has been voting and sharing in the weekly polls - without you, there would be no story to tell. If you haven't been, there's always next week!