I told everyone the truth about what I had seen the day the child disappeared from the park. Much like his mother, I saw him enter the slide, but never saw him emerge.
The only bit I left out is the part I hope his mother did not hear: the awful sounds of chewing and swallowing.
It’s been difficult, learning to live alone. My mother had forbidden me from learning anything that might lead to independence and departure. I was only recently allowed to boil the jug and make tea, which I excitedly did, adding just enough sedatives to seem like an accident.
There were only enough supplies for one of us to survive the winter. We were trapped, isolated in the wilderness at the edge of a harsh winter that would trap us here.
Of course, I was the one who had planned it that way.
The funeral attendees were shocked by the behaviour of the veiled gatecrashers. They had arrived midway through the funeral, chatting and laughing loudly while covered head-to-toe in black. They were far more horrified when the deceased climbed out of the the coffin to join them.
Since my cat learned to push doors open, she often finds herself trapped trapped inside my bedroom, having shut the door herself. As I lie in bed in the dark, I hear her close the, door and feel her snuggle up against me. Minutes later, drifting off, I hear my cat scratching from the other side of my door.
It had been so hard to remember what everyone was allergic to. Nieces with gluten intolerance, grandsons with nut allergies, children with shellfish allergies, yet they all demand that I cook for all of them every Sunday. After hours of thankless work, I finally serve the meal and am certain that no one will ask me to cook again.
There are ten of us, poor beyond belief, but together we have just enough money to pull one of us out of poverty. We have each signed wills leaving everything to a blank beneficiary and we shoot back our drinks at the same time. It should take less than a minute to find out who gets to try a new life and who gets to escape entirely.
Sydney had never noticed the door, despite it sitting between the two windows in her lounge-room. Her attention was only drawn to it when she heard knocking and as she approached, she heard her late husband calling to her. Without thinking, she opened and walked through the door on the 17th floor of her building.
At last, Nate had all the parts to restore the classic car he and his father had worked on when he was a teenager. His father had died midway through restoring it, crushed when the propped car fell on top of him.
Nate still felt that he had been justified to drop it after finding out it was going to be sold and not gifted to him.
She awoke with a start, heart racing as she realised her hands were coated with blood. As she stared at the mess on the bed, spilling from the still figure beside her, she relaxed. After all, it wasn’t her bed.
The princess sat alone in her tower, guarded by a terrifying dragon. It had been many years and the dragon was beginning to show its age after constant assaults. It would not be able to keep the princess contained much longer.
The solo hike had started nicely, until Lilly had come across a stranger ahead of her. No matter how fast she went, she could not overtake them and when she stopped to let them get some distance, they also stopped despite not looking at her. It was only when the wind whipped up the figure’s hair that she saw the eyes staring at her from the back of their head.
It was Hector’s birthday and I have absolutely everything ready for his surprise party. All of his friends and family are positioned and silent as I wait for the door to open.
I see the outside light flicker on and wonder what his face will look like when he sees their smiling, unmoving faces.
“It is time to run for two minutes, Sarah!” the voice in her earphones announced cheerfully, to which Sarah complied, pumping her aching legs and gasping for stinging air.
She had downloaded the app the night before and programmed a daily 6am run for the next month. When she received a phone call this morning, she could hear her daughter crying in the background.
Her date had not drunk any of the wine he had brought over, she realised as she felt inexplicably drowsy. She saw a look of concern on his face as she lay down on the couch, but it was not for her. She smiled as she saw the first drops of blood falling from his mouth and eyes – it was, after all, much easier to hide poison in food than drinks.
When my maternal grandmother died, she willed me her house on the strict condition that I not unlock the basement for the first month. This was easy, as I was out of the country for weeks immediately after the funeral. When I finally entered the house and opened the basement, I was horrified to find that my father had not run away years ago.
It took all night, but I have finally boarded up every window and door. There’s no way that the creatures can get to me now. I just hope that they don’t wake up before the fire consumes their house.
The voice over the speaker tells us that out of the ten of us, only one person will get to leave alive with one million dollars.
Looking around, I see that others are confused as one-by-one they realise there are eleven of us here. I can’t believe they forgot to change the announcement after all the money I paid to get into this.
It’s rare that someone I met online looks exactly like their profile photo.
I thought that when I met him I would be able to bust him for using someone else’s photo, but as he introduces himself I find myself silent. He looks exactly like the last photo that was taken of my friend before he disappeared ten years ago, down to the birthmark on his neck.
He collapsed, panting and drenched in blood that was too dark to be human. The corpse of the monster lay still in front of him with far too many legs curled up around its torso.
It was such a shame that he never had time to realise that it was only a child.
I can hear my children beating at the boarded door and see their silhouettes, backlit by the setting sun. I remain quiet and listen for the approach of the creatures waiting in the darkness. While waiting for the problem to resolve itself, I hug my remaining child and gently remind him that this is why he should always listen to his mother and not stay outside after dark.
Ever since my father died my mother has been locked in their room, talking to herself. It was so lovely to hear her laughter for the first time today that it took me a minute to realise I heard my father’s laugh as well. I wish she would have let us remove his corpse from their room.
There is no light coming in through the windows. There hasn’t been for days, not since the insects began swarming at the windows and doors to my house. I try to calm my children as we hear buzzing and skittering from the chimney.
Grave robbery wasn’t the most immoral job in the world; after all the only real difference between it and archaeology was time. This thought calmed the man as he began prising the coffin lid open. He paused to wipe the sweat and dirt out of his eyes, which stopped him from seeing skeletal fingers reaching from inside the coffin to take advantage of the gap he had provided.
It has been four days since the dead began to rise, to devour and infect the living, and three days since I locked myself and my wife in our basement, with the dead pounding at our door. My wife is sure that she can think of a way out, while I think we face certain death, either by starvation or a much more violent means. I scratch at the bite mark hidden under my sleeve, look at my sleeping wife and remind myself that this will be quicker.
There is a man in the house with a knife, prowling as I hide in the closet. I breathe as quietly as possible, my heart pounding in my ears as I wait for him to turn to leave. I don’t have a weapon, but I’m sure that my reactions will be quicker than a paranoid old man searching for intruders in the dark.
I am unable to sleep at all on this holiday. I thought that staying in a house built into a sandstone cliff would be quiet, but I can hear what sounds like chatter from neighbours late at night. I don’t think it would bother me as much if the voices and laughter were coming from a side that wasn’t supposed to be solid rock.
I sit perfectly still on my bed, cradling my infant son. It’s just me and him in this house, since his mother passed. From the baby monitor on my night-stand I hear a familiar woman’s voice, weeping and calling for her son, and I hear the floorboards creak in the hallway outside my door.
Everyone stopped talking three days ago. One morning I awoke from a dream of horribly twisted creatures hissing truths and, half dazed as I walked outside, I could see in my neighbours’ eyes that he had seen the same. It is a terrible secret we all bear now, and no one is willing to be the first to break the silence, to acknowledge it and to live in the world where we know that God has no love for us.
The walls in my house are moving in my sleep. Every time I wake up it takes me a little longer to figure out how to leave, and every time I fall asleep I awake in my bed again, wherever it has been put. It’s been days now, and I am tired beyond belief but I am sure I’ll find the front door soon, before the walls close in.