Hey, guys! I thought today, I’d share one of my short stories (titled “Don’t Look”) with you 🙂

 As a sidenote, I wanted to give a shout out to my best friend, Tiffany Androsuk, for finally striving toward her goal of becoming an actress! She has a wordpress blog as well, and it would be super awesome of you guys to check out some of her posts and show her some support!

https://actresstiffany.wordpress.com/

On with the story, hope you enjoy it!

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I clutched at my blanket as I heard the scratching at my window once again, an uncomfortable sound sending chills down to the depth of my spine as if someone had dumped ice water on me. I held the blanket over my face ignoring the feeling of the heat trapped to my skin.

Ignore it, and you’ll be okay, I thought.

It was the strategy I had used for a week. While the noises got louder and my fear more intense, I had been okay.

So far.

The scratching sounded louder—more persistent as if the creature outside knew that I was weakening. No matter what I told myself, it was impossible to hold my own. In the back of my mind, I wondered if it could smell my fear…or if it knew the feelings it incited in its victims. I was sure I wasn’t the first to do something like this in its presence.

I’m too old to do this, I thought as I closed my eyes, pulling the blanket over my head as I burrowed into the pillows. My heart raced so fast it hurt. I wondered if it was possible to die of fear.

In my mind, all I could think about was Bethany.

                                                                  ***

I had been walking to school when she found me and talked to me for the last time. Her appearance had been disheveled –hair thick brown hair unbrushed, heavy bags underneath her eyes, ripped clothes, and the worst part; a fresh cut running down her arm. All I could think about were the horrible things that might’ve happened to her.

“W-what happened to you?” I asked her, taking a small step forward as if part of me thought she might not be real. I felt helpless. She was my best friend, and I hadn’t been there to protect her.

“Please, Lizey, listen to me,” she said, looking around. “I don’t have a lot of time.”

“What is it, Bethany? Do we need to go to the police?”

“Whatever you do, don’t look at it,” she whispered, standing still a few feet away. Her gaze was distant as if she stared into a memory.

“Don’t look at what?” I asked desperately as she took a few small steps away from me.

“Be warned,” she said, pushing her lips into a pencil straight line as if she were afraid to say another word.

“Please…tell me what’s going on!”

“I-I’ve said too much.”

“Wait! Bethany!” I called, but she ignored me as she turned and ran from sight.

I threw my backpack down and tried to follow her, thoughts of school were gone from my mind. No matter how quickly I moved, she was faster than me. She bounded through the town as if she could go on forever. The second she disappeared from my sight, I hated myself. I knew she was in trouble, and there wasn’t a thing I could do to save her. I didn’t know where she went after that, all I knew was that was the last time I had seen her alive.

When police converged two doors down the next day, I knew that it didn’t mean well. I ran outside to join my neighbors as they stood on the edge of the caution tape. When I saw two men wearing “coroner’s” jackets, I felt my heart sink as her corpse surfaced. I hadn’t told anyone about the last time I had seen her, and in that moment, I regretted it. When they pulled her out on a stretcher, I only got a glimpse of the mound of ripped flesh that had once been my friend before the police tossed a white tarp over it, sealing her from my life forever.

Her monster, however, lived on.

I took a few deep breaths as I kept the blanket over my head, trying to push away images of her remains. Will they find me like that in a few days after I get ripped to pieces?

The thought made me sick, but it was the only outcome I could imagine in the moment.

 If I don’t look, I’ll be safe, I tried to convince myself. But was I really?

All I had to go on were Bethany’s cryptic last words -a guess about the strategy she had used to survive. It wasn’t a shield—I wasn’t even positive that it would work for long. If they hadn’t been enough to save her, why would I be any different? At Bethany’s funeral, her face had been crafted in a kind of horror that even death couldn’t erase. Whatever had killed her hadn’t just taken her away her life but had scarred her very soul as well.

I couldn’t imagine something of this Earth having the possibility to do that, and for all my thinking, I didn’t want to.

I knew that Bethany had had good intentions that day by warning me, but neither of us knew there would be consequences for her good deed. Her death was just the first. What she hadn’t realized was that her warning had put me in as much danger as she had been in those final days. That night, the scratching sounded at my window, and I didn’t think much of it. I barely lost a wink of sleep, looking back I envied that night.

The day after Bethany’s funeral was odd. It made the town seem still—unreal—as if everyone was in a giant, unscripted play. People barely spoke a word, and when they did it was empty of emotion. I felt like we were all puppets. I didn’t want to go to school and see the empty desk and locker that had once belonged to my friend, none of my classmates did, but the board president thought it would be good for us to get back to a regular routine. Problem was, he had no idea about the creature that plagued the town. Who knew how many other people she had tried to warn in the last day of her life?

If the monster was passed by a single warning, everyone in the school could be on its radar for all I knew.

Who knows how long had she been trying to escape before she died?

Before I learned the truth of her words, I tried to take the advice of every adult in my life and “mourn in a healthy manner”. Everyone had felt her death in their own strange way. I didn’t question it, merely buried myself in the mystery of her death. It was a way to keep her alive…the thought that she was actually dead was too much to handle.

Everyone was quick to offer their advice on what I should do to move on, but none of them felt her death as strongly as I did. I could see the sympathy on the faces of all my teachers, and I felt bitter despite myself. It was easy for them to judge a situation that they had no part of. I could hear them whispering about me when they thought I wasn’t paying attention. They didn’t know that I could hear everything.

I shuffled my books in my arm, considering ditching the rest of the day, as I traveled to my locker. I was sure my parents would understand if no one else did. I purposefully avoided the sympathetic glances of my classmates in the hallway, assuring myself that they would pass with the strange feeling that Bethany’s death had created.

Something had to give eventually.

When I opened the small metal door, I nearly dropped the heavy textbooks on my toe as I froze in place. A lock of brown hair sat on my shelf. A long beautiful hair ribbon was tied at one end, the white edges had been dipped in deep red blood that left an ugly puddle beneath it that stained every book in its path. Everyone would think I was insane, but I knew from the first glance that the hair belonged to Bethany.

I was sure it had been taken after her death.

“Who did this?” I yelled instantly, turning to face the kids in the hallway. A few of them turned at the sound of my voice, but not a single person stopped to acknowledge me. “You think it’s funny? She was murdered, you twisted psychopaths!”

The bell rang in that moment, summoning them to their classes. I laughed to myself for a moment, banging the back of my head against the locker door softly. I felt like I was going insane. Maybe I was. For all the things I could’ve been bullied over, why did they have to choose a tragedy? I sank to the floor, burying my face into my knees for a long moment.

Things wouldn’t be normal for a long time.

I could feel a light touch on my arm, and I sniffled as I looked up at a teacher. I didn’t have her for any of my classes, she was practically a stranger. I hated that she saw me in a broken moment—it made me think of Bethany’s disheveled look once again.

“Hey, are you okay?” she asked.

I wiped at my eyes and looked at the smear of makeup on my skin before I looked back at her. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” I said, managing to put a cork in the part of me that wanted to spill everything.

There was no way I would tell anyone what was going on, it didn’t seem right.

She offered me a gentle smile. “Make sure you get to class, okay?”

I nodded, and she was quick to walk away. I sighed as I wiped at my face again and stood to my feet. I was about to slam my locker door when I noticed the tiny note that sat beside the lock of hair. I glanced around to notice that nobody was watching me. Maybe that’s for the best, I thought. With shaking fingers, I reached out towards the note, eyes on the bloody lock of hair the entire time. I was glad the teacher hadn’t noticed it. I unfolded the note carefully and read the poem inside:

Bethany, Bethany

Why don’t you see,

The monster outside

That’s coming for me

I didn’t waste a second tossing it on top of the hair and closing the door. There would come a time to deal with it, but that hadn’t been the day. On the walk home, my head was reeling. Did the scratching on my window belong to the thing that she tried to warn me about the morning of her disappearance? Somehow, in the midst of my routine, I managed to forget about Bethany’s cryptic words giving myself the last sense of peace I would ever feel. That night, the noises started again, gently almost as if the creature wasn’t sure how to approach me.

Thoughts of Bethany’s remains were enough for me to know that whatever it was, it wasn’t shy.

After sleeping it through it the first night, I felt annoyed as it began a second. I rubbed my eyes before I wandered outside. I checked my window to see the scratching sound was nothing more than a broken branch scraping eerily against the glass. I had been braver on the first few days, convincing myself it was nothing and finding evidence to back it up. Without the crippling fear, I had been able to go outside in the middle of the night to investigate the source of the noise rather than hiding away from it like a four-year-old afraid of her closet. I smiled to myself as I broke the branch and tossed it to the ground without a second thought.

Part of me was ready to face the thing that had taken away my best friend. If it decided I was next then so be it.

When I turned to head back inside that night, I felt my heart plummet to my stomach. On my windowsill was the lock of brown hair with the bloody ribbon. I felt as if a thousand eyes were on me, picking up every move I made in that fraction of a second. My heart pounded against my ribs as I ran back inside.

I had been sure that I left it in my locker.

There was no coincidence. It hadn’t been a cruel high school joke, it was a warning; whatever had killed Bethany had its eyes on me.

Whatever you do, don’t look at it, Bethany’s words echoed.

My stomach had knotted itself into a ball. How could I not look if I didn’t know what it was?

I know better than to look, but how can I possibly win if all I do is hide every night? I thought numbly. This isn’t much of a life. The scratching at my glass only seemed to get louder each minute that passed.

I was too afraid to look, to confront the thing that had taken away my best friend. In my head, the image of the beast was a shadow. It sat everywhere, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

It had only been a week since Bethany’s death, and the thought of living the rest of my life like this made me sick. How could I possibly live a normal life if I would be hunted down every night? Would I endanger anyone that I tried to bring into my life just as Bethany had done to me?

Bethany had a different approach to this situation than me, but I have a feeling neither of them are right.

The scratching was deafening as the creature hovered just outside on the fringes of my insanity.

I remembered the poem in my locker once again. I hadn’t recognized the handwriting on the tiny scrap of paper. My guess was it had been a warning by someone close to my deceased friend. I had to wonder who gave it to her. Were they the reason that the beast had gone after Bethany? Were they warnings by the beast itself that it knew I was aware of its existence? I tried to think about the last few weeks’ worth of news. The only death that had been reported was her.

Was it possible that no one noticed when the other person went missing?

I can’t let it win. For Bethany’s sake, I can’t let it win. I have to end it.

A pounding sounded against the glass to join in with the unearthly scratching sound. I bit my tongue, trying desperately to not scream. The sound seemed to echo the blood pounding in my ears. If my parents knew of the existence of the beast, they would be in danger as well. Part of me couldn’t help but wonder how they couldn’t hear a sound.

The scratching sounded once again, and then came the sound that I had been dreading most of all. The glass pane shattered with a loud crash that sent goosebumps across my skin. I could hear every tiny sparkling piece as it landed across my hardwood floor like a hailstorm.

                                                               ***

After a week of torment, the beast had grown tired of waiting for me to crack.

I was sobbing quietly under the blanket as I held my eyes closed. It was my last line of defense. I couldn’t decide what to do. Had this been the last thing Bethany had experienced? Would I be better off making a run for it or staying under the blanket?

My fear made the choice for me.

“Don’t look,” I whispered in a shaky breath. “Don’t look.”

I could hear the creaking of the floorboards as the creature closed in, knowing perfectly well where I was hiding. The sound of footsteps were deep, and I guessed whatever it was weighed a considerable amount. I could feel pressure on the end of the bed as it pressed softly on the corner. A few more steps, and I could feel the indented spot on the bed growing closer to me.

I held my hand over my mouth feeling the strongest urge yet to scream. Tears ran down my face as my body pumped fear and adrenaline through my veins. The beast put pressure onto my back suddenly. I could feel its grotesque hand almost as if it was an eagle’s talon. The odd fingers circled the skin for a moment before claws pierced through the blanket and into my back.

I let out a cry of pain, but my throat was so hoarse from crying that I barely made a sound. The other hand grasped the blanket, and I could feel the cold air splash my face as it threw it aside.

It’s just trying to get your attention, a familiar voice whispered. It can’t hurt you if you refuse to look into its eyes.

“B-bethany?” I whispered, feeling the urge to peek through my fingers.

The claws dug deeper into my back in response, and I cried out again, digging my fingers into the pillow as I tried to wait out the wave of pain. I could feel the tip of each of the three claws. It felt real enough, but I had to wonder if it was all in my head. A second hand put pressure on the bed as the beast leaned towards me. I could hear it breathing as it inched closer to the side of my face.

“Run,” Bethany whispered suddenly. “Run!”

At the sound of her voice, I felt a hurricane of emotions across my heart. Despite my best efforts, I could no longer keep my eyes closed. They opened slowly, picking up the shadowy figure of the nightmare creature beside my bed. Suddenly, large orange eyes stared at me from a face that looked straight out of Hell. I could feel my soul being ripped to pieces as it was pulled from my body.

I had made the fatal mistake –I looked.

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