Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice:
Title: The Dare
This is exactly what Karen didn’t want to happen but knew it would after an entire night of watching horror movies; the dare to enter the old abandoned building on the outskirts of town. And of course, laughing hard at the unimaginable horrors of the victims in the movies didn’t do Karen any favours. She was first to get the dare. It was so banal too, them choosing midnight, with a full moon. But Karen shrugged it all off; movies were movies, full of clichés, made to entertain even from behind the cushion.
The wired fence was easy to clamber over and Karen, with only the moon’s light, waved to her friends with a beaming smile before skipping towards the imposing building. The wooden steps creaked under her weight, breaking the silent night. Her bravado slipped away like a veil as much to her dismay, the door opened slowly. She could hear the jeers and laughter from her friends but didn’t turn to face them. Instead she walked into darkness.
Patches of light forced its way through the dusty windows, revealing avocado and cream walls, peeling in places. Long forgotten pictures hung, the subject obscured by a thick layer of dust and grime. A trolley left in the hallway completed the image of sudden abandonment. If this was a movie, she would expect zombies outside, maybe even behind the large white door. She walked along the corridor towards the door, her gentle footsteps echoing softly, spying the crucifix above.
A shrill scream pierced the silence. Karen jumped, a small scream coming from her as she spun around. She was alone. Again, the shattering scream seemed to fill the whole building. Karen looked towards the white door, reaching out, touching the handle. The screaming stopped. The door wouldn’t budge. Pressing her ear against the door, Karen strained to hear behind it. Silence met her.
“I know it’s you Adrian,” she whispered to herself, “I know you’re trying to spook me! Well it’s not working!” she shouted to the whole building. “Idiot,” she uttered to herself, turning her attention back to the door, fiddling with the handle, wanting to see the other side.
Footsteps, clipped against the tiles, steady down the corridor. Her grip on the handle froze. Gingerly, Karen turned her head. The moon cast odd shaped shadows against the walls but darkness loomed at the end of the corridor. The footsteps continued and Karen waited, holding her breath for the owner to appear in the strips of moonlight. Closer they came. But there was no one. The steps were right in front of her. The hairs on her arms and back of her neck stood on end and a chill shivered down her spine. The screaming started again. The footsteps quickened. A door opened then closed. The screaming stopped. Shaking with fear, Karen realised the only door along the corridor was the white one she was crouched in front of. It hadn’t opened.
She was alone.
Without hesitation, Karen ran, following the corridor round, looking for a way out. Frantically, she tried a door but it stood fast. Continuing to run, she didn’t stop even when she bumped into discarded trolleys that once carried patients. She flew round the corner and stopped suddenly. There in front of her was the white door. It couldn’t be the same one! She hadn’t run full circle. But the crucifix above the door stared down. Footsteps echoed behind her, the steady, clipping against the tiles as before. She spun round but no one was there. Wailing came from behind the door. The lights above her began to flicker on and off. The footsteps grew louder. Karen ran. She followed the corridor again but this time noticing a stairway. She flew up the stairs, turned, ran and stopped.
The same white door.
Even the pictures were now askew. Karen screamed, her heart pounding heavily against her chest, her eyes wide as she hysterically looked for another way, whimpering like a child. She ran towards the white door, shoulder first but she bounced off, hitting the floor, sliding backwards.
She was plunged into darkness as the clouds became her enemy, blanketing her ally. Footsteps started to tap against the tiles as she scrambled up against the door. Closer they came. Slowly, the moon appeared, chasing shadows away. Standing at the end of a corridor stood a suited figure. He began to walk; clipped steps against the tiles. Karen held her breath as the figure approached. A waxen face stared through her. His hand reached out towards the handle, passing through Karen. A silent scream left her lips as he walked right through her, disappearing through the other side. She froze to the spot as the wailing started again, accompanied by a staccato of fearful words . . .no . . . .no . . . leave me. . .
Trembling, Karen slid to the floor, still grasping the handle to a solid, steadfast door. Even the padding of footsteps didn’t make her move; her energy spent, her fear evaporated along with hope.
“Karen!” The voice shouted. Adrian yelled again and again. A torch beam shone down the corridor, falling on Karen. Adrian ran. “Hey, we’ve been looking for you and you’re sitting on your arse as usual. Hey? What’s wrong?” He knelt down beside her, touching her hands. They were stone cold. Unaware that she had been crying, Adrian wiped away a tear from her ice cold cheeks. “What happened?”
“I . . . . I . . . got lost,” was all she could muster. She wasn’t sure what had happened. But she knew Adrian would find out when they tried to leave.
“Lost? Come on. I think you did your dare. You know this used to be a psychiatric hospital. No one ever left so the story goes, unless in a box. But it was closed down as they were using illegal treatments, resulting in death. Some say patients can still be heard screaming.” Karen felt her body collapse under her. “Steady,” Adrian joked as he held her up, guiding her along the corridor. But she knew they would be back right here and then he would understand, his words etched in her mind . . . . . . no one ever left. . .
But the front door was ahead of them, ajar where their friends huddled, waiting. With urgency and self preservation, Karen ran towards the door, afraid it would close on her, falling into her friends. She carried on to the fence, scrambling over where she landing with a thud, staring up at the building. She felt herself warming up by the second but didn’t feel settled, even as they walked away, Karen had a feeling she was being watched, a feeling she wasn’t meant to have escaped. She reluctantly turned her head and at the window, the suited man stood.
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x