Echoes

This is a short horror story I wrote for an Engish exercise in school. Sixteen-year-old Lois is walking home from her job in the village's cafe on a rainy night, when sinister events unfold and fall into place. Lois soon realises she's experiencing the biggest shock of her life.

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1. Echoes

It was on a dreary night in November. The rain had been crashing down in relentless, imposing splashes, giving the surrounding area no choice but to surrender to its anguish. Darkness prevented many features of the street to be detectable, but made the feeling of eeriness evident. Every few metres, an amber glow from a streetlight could be identified through the rainstorm.

Lois had just finished her work at one of the town’s cafés. She pulled on her waterproof jacket as her eyes took in the miserable presence outside with reluctance. Lois switched on her mobile phone and darted her eyes eagerly between the ‘Missed Calls’ box and the ‘Unread Messages’. Nothing.  Her heart sank a little into the downpour of rain. She had genuinely thought her dad would consider picking her up.

The nine minutes past seven was replaced with a ten, and Lois decided to start her walk home. The bitter wind whipped her cheeks and caused any sensation in her fingers to disappear. She made a mental note in her head to bring a hat and gloves next time.

She briskly walked through the puddles which were forming on the pavement bordering the houses in the village. She approached a group of teenagers a couple of years younger than her, huddling around one of the streetlights. The bright glare of the light illuminated the teenagers’ intrigued faces.

“Tell us it, Charlie!” a girl with a high-pitched Glaswegian accent pleaded. “The ghost story… You said you would!”

As Lois passed by, the group exclaimed a loud, “Oooooooh!” sound, mimicking that of a ghost in a horror film.

 Lois rolled her eyes. Ghost stories? She thought to herself. People are still obsessed with them? “Absolute nonsense in my opinion,” she tried to reassure herself out loud.  She immediately regretted it. As soon as the words had escaped her lips, a quiet but definite snigger could be heard from behind her. She flung her head around; she was certain it had come from one of the boys in the group. Obviously not; the crowd of teenagers had vanished…

She folded her arms with false courage and continued to walk. She turned the corner and nearly bumped into an enthusiastic toddler, bounding across the puddles.

“Oh, I’m-”

“Jessica! Jessica, come back here now!” a wary voice cut off Lois’ apology. A lady pushing a buggy hurried into view. Lois registered the lady’s wide eyes and partially open mouth as worry. “Jessica! Don’t run off like that, pet, you don’t know who’s out there…” She picked the child up and placed her in the buggy. After offering Lois a pitying expression, she hastily moved the buggy on.

As Lois’ footsteps faded out as she approached the main road’s pelican crossing, the faint splashes which her shoes created appeared to sustain an echo…

She pressed the button on the machine for allowance to cross.

…An echo following one second after…

She pulled her jacket tighter around her body.

…An echo sounding from behind her.

Lois’ mind became a whirlwind of thoughts and dilemmas.

 “Tell us it, Charlie! The ghost story… You said you would!”

“Don’t run off like that, you don’t know who’s out there…”

Should I take a quick glance behind me then run for it? She queried herself. Or should I slowly turn around then proceed to walk normally to look less paranoid?

“Tell us it, Charlie! The ghost story…”

“You don’t know who’s out there…”

Fear and anxiety, vulnerability and exposure, sent a deathly chill down her spine, and sent her heart rate soaring at a sickly rapid pace.

“The ghost story…”

“…who’s out there…”

Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep, cried the crossing, an alarm ordering Lois to choose upon her moment of defining chaos. She acted with a built in defensive instinct, whipping her head around to see what had caused those echoes…

It could not be labelled as a man nor a skeleton nor a ghost, but a combination of all three. It towered above Lois, standing at least seven intimidating feet tall. Its slender face was comprised of pale, sunken skin of which two eyes, penetratingly bloodshot – the colour of red wine - and intensely glassy in the moonlight; a nose which merely consisted of two vertical, parallel lines; and a mouth, whereby rows of pointed, blood-stained teeth were clenched together, were situated. A grey, dripping wet coat hung from its shoulders, and suspended only a centimetre above the ground. On its feet existed two bulky boots; the creators of those echoes.

Lois was too terrified to scream. She sprinted across the road as fast as she could, despite the traffic lights now displaying green. Cars skidded and blared their horns, but all that she focused on was escaping from the ghost. She could not ignore the repetitions of her footsteps still occurring behind her, but she could not bring herself to look back again.

As she ran, tears streamed down Lois’ face. She had never encountered such a startling and frightening incident. She forced herself to run faster against the hurtling rain. She forced herself to run faster against her erratic heartbeat and unsteady breathing. After turning left down a side-street, she chanced a glimpse behind her; it had gone.

Lois reduced her pace and let out a huge sigh of relief. A taxi drove down the side-street and halted next to the sixteen-year-old, as if on cue. Lois opened the back door with the little strength she had left and clambered onto the vacant seat.

She stated the name of her street to the driver, and then chose to explain her eventful night. “Oh you wouldn’t believe it!” she said, shakily. “It was a mixture of a skeleton and a ghost… it was dressed in a long dark coat… it had massive, clumpy boots too… not to mention those horrid, bloodshot eyes…”

Who Lois has thought was her source to freedom, slowly turned his head round to face her. “Like me?” came a long, drawn-out whisper. She gasped in horror as the bloodshot eyes, the slits for nostrils and the blood-stained teeth were once again in front of her.

Whether it be a group of teenagers telling ghost stories, or a lady out with her daughter, the last noise that could be heard by anyone from Lois Williams within that taxi, was a bloodcurdling scream.

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