The following is another collection of short stories I wrote for my Creative Writing course in high school. Unlike the first collection, these stories aren't related and don't have to be read in any particular order.
As the harsh Saharan winds blew the sand in all directions, a mound slowly eroded to reveal the corner of an old, leather suitcase. Abdul wasn’t expecting it, but at the same time he wasn’t that surprised. It could simply be a piece of luggage that fell off unnoticed during travel. Or, more morbid, someone died out here with it. Either way, the suitcase was Abdul’s now; no one was coming back for it. Climbing onto his camel with his new find, Abdul set out for his camp.
Abdul was a nomad, with no one but his trusty camel Melwah for companionship. It was hard at first, being so alone all the time with no one to talk to, but the peacefulness of the desert made up for it. Plus, what with all the people that had to travel through this particular stretch of desert, Abdul could always find people to talk to if he really wanted. These days, however, he preferred the solitude.
Arriving at his camp, it was easy to see that the suitcase was not the first of his finds. Another benefit of the frequent travelers in the region meant that there was a higher chance of people leaving things behind, meaning that there was always something for Abdul to discover and occupy his time with. Over the years, he grew a large collection of all sorts of items, from small tchotchkes that tourists bought at markets, to forgotten cellphones and clothes. Once, Abdul even discovered a television but decided against bringing it back to camp, considering its size and the fact he’d have no way to power it.
However, despite all the things he had found before, there was something decidedly different about the suitcase. It called to Abdul. He felt a need to open it, but it was so very subtle he believed it to be his own thought. Dismissing the feeling, he put the suitcase on a table and went to prepare himself some food.
After eating his fill, Abdul returned to the mysterious container and tried to view its contents. As Abdul expected, the suitcase had a lock, and he had neither the knowledge of lockpicking nor the patience to try guessing. Grabbing a hammer, Abdul tried to force it open. Yet the suitcase resisted hit after hit, the lock remaining intact. Switching to a new method, Abdul tried to slide a knife into the seam of the suitcase, but to no avail. Readjusting his hands and applying more pressure, Abdul felt the suitcase about to give when he accidently cut his thumb on his knife. Hissing with pain, Abdul dropped both suitcase and knife to inspect his thumb. The cut wasn’t that deep, but his thoughts were interrupted by a sizzling noise coming from the suitcase. Picking it up again, Abdul saw that some of his blood had landed on the lock, and was somehow boiling. As bubbles formed and popped, the little droplets of blood formed a pool at the lock’s keyhole and disappeared inside. A second later, Abdul heard a click as the suitcase opened.
The suitcase carried only one item, a strange red crystal in the shape of a crooked crescent. The inside of the case was padded, explaining why Abdul hadn't heard anything moving around inside it. Staring at the crystal, the sensation he felt earlier returned, stronger now. He realized it was the crystal calling out to him, to pick it up and learn its secrets. How could he resist? Abdul reached out towards the gem, now glowing. As he made contact, he felt a surge of energy as everything became known to him.
A few months later, a small group of tourists travelling via camel came upon a small camp in the middle of nowhere. Sprinkled throughout the area were various objects, all having no relation to each other other than their location. With no one tending to the camp in sight, the travelers ventured inside the large tent to find an owner. Presented with even more junk, they found nothing of interest, save for an old, leather suitcase sitting atop a pile of ragged clothes.
Mirror in the Dark
Have you ever tried looking into a mirror in the dark? You see weird shit. Apparently, when you look into a mirror and there’s not enough light, your brain tries to fill in the details of what it thinks should be on your face. But our brains aren’t so good at that, and what we end up seeing isn’t always pleasant. The first time I tried this was at Eric’s house. We had just finished our Saturday night routine of watching a horror movie, but we weren’t tired enough to sleep. Jeff told me to try looking into the mirror that was propped up against the wall, and I figured why the hell not.
At first I just saw my silhouette, but I jumped back in surprise when I saw that my reflection had no eyes. There was just skin, as if my eyes were wounds that healed over. Before I could process the image any further, I felt a sharp pain in my back as I tripped over a skateboard. After recovering, I inched back towards the mirror to see if I could make out anything more. That time, it was almost the same, but it seemed as though my reflection was softly moving, as if it were made of smoke. It was definitely way too spooky at 2 in the morning, right after The Conjuring no less. I moved back toward the light, regained my composure, and quickly fell asleep.
I didn’t think much of what I saw in the mirror, and to be honest I kind of forgot the whole thing for some time. It wasn’t until about a month later, when I was home alone and bored that I thought back to the mirror. It was around 10pm on a Thursday night, and my parents were out having dinner. It being a Thursday, most of my friends were either finishing their homework or already asleep. I was lucky that night, homework-wise, and as usual I couldn’t bring myself to sleep before midnight. So, I figured why the hell not and went to the mirror in the bathroom.
Unlike the first time, I was alone. I believe that was what made It feel so confident to show itself. When I peered into the mirror, hoping to try and beat my brain by seeing all the details, I once again saw the eyeless face. But it was very, very different than before. The silhouette was much wavier, and, I thought I was going crazy, I saw what looked like shadowy wisps coming off it. I moved in closer to try and figure out what the hell was going on when It’s eyes opened. Despite the lack of light, the space where the eyes should’ve been were the darkest black I had ever seen, seeming to draw in the light around it. Before I knew what was happening, the reflection’s face contorted into a raging howl that invaded my ears. Stumbling into the wall behind me, the reflection moved closer instead of getting farther away, and that brought me out of my shock enough to reach for the door. Yet no matter how hard I pulled, the door would not budge. All of a sudden, an inhuman hand dug into each of my shoulders and I was torn backwards through the shower curtain. Everything went dark.
The next thing I knew my parents were standing over me. They had come home to find the bathroom door open, with me unconscious and mumbling incoherently in the bathtub. I woke after a couple light slaps to the face, and their first assumption was that I had been experimenting with some drugs. sigh. Parents. I figured telling them my side would only validate their claim, so I just went along with it and endured their lecture. While I didn’t pay attention to any of the lessons they were trying to convey, I did learn to be very afraid of mirrors at night. I catch myself glancing at them now and then, and I swear I can still see some wisps...
It had been a long five years. Five weary years since feet had trudged up the hill to the barn at its crest. Five painful years since anyone had entered the old, decrepit building. Five somber years since the barn had seen life.
In days long past, it had been so vibrant. The ambient grunts of animals provided a rustic atmosphere to their caretakers, one old, one young. Laughter was frequent. Joy was constant. Life was good.
Now, the land at the crest of the hill was devoid of life. Winter had taken the leaves from the trees, and biting wind ensured no survivors would endure. The gray skies high above, thundering in the distance, matched the low hanging fog, which weaved between the patchy grass like snakes. The air hung motionless in silence.
The barn itself felt faded. The once bright red paint was dull and cracked, peeling off as if it too wanted to leave. The underlying wood was rotten, devastated by termites, and groaned ominously as it attempted to support the roof above.
The inside was just as battered, with hay strewn about the dirty floor among shards of broken glass. Meager sunlight shone weakly through shattered windows. There was just enough light to make out an old mural, painted by small hands. It too was peeling.
Amid the quiet, a tear was heard softly crashing into the decaying floorboards.
The Light Downstairs
“What the fuck was that?” Serge was looking startled, and to be honest, I was pretty afraid myself.
“I-I have no clue,” I meekly responded, looking around in all directions in an attempt to figure out where that clanging had come from.
“I think it came from downstairs.”
“Do you wanna see what it was? Maybe something fell and broke.”
“Hell no! Have you ever seen a horror movie? That’s how you die! If it’s not a big deal, my parents will deal with it when they get home.”
“I don’t know man, if there is something down there, it’s gonna come up here, and being trapped in a room isn’t the best scenario.”
To confirm my point, I glanced around the room, stopping on the window to my right.
“We should at least get somewhere with an exit that isn’t two stories off the ground.”
“Ugh. Fine. But I swear to god if there’s something down there you’re dying first.”
I left the room and began to slowly creep down the stairs, with Serge following a couple steps behind me. My heart started to beat faster and faster as I reached the ground floor, anticipating an attack at any moment. I can only assume that it was the same for Serge. I pressed forward, scared yet determined to find the source of the noise. I entered the kitchen and screamed. Then I began to laugh.
“Dude what’s there?” Serge asked, standing defensively a few feet away from the kitchen entrance.
“Hah. It was just your dog man. Scared the crap out of me. Didn’t expect him to just be chilling in front of the door.”
“Come on dude.” Serge looked annoyed, then quickly back to scared as he came to a realization. “Wait, Baxter couldn’t have made that noise.”
The realization dawned on me that there was still something in the house that we had no idea of.
“Aw man,” I whined. “Alright, let’s go to your basement and check it out.”
“Orrr we just stay up here. Or leave the house. I’m feeling leaving the house.”
“Dude, come on. Let’s be real here, there’s no such thing as monsters, probably something just fell. We can at least have some peace of mind if we -”
CRASH. Now that we were on the ground floor, the sound was very clearly coming from the direction of the basement door.
“Ok now I’m starting to get a little scared,” I lied. I had been scared, but now I was starting to agree with Serge’s idea of just leaving it be.
“Exactly! Let’s just go!”
“Ok fine let’s get the hell out of here.”
As we crept towards the front, we passed by the basement door, and while Serge was walking swiftly, I was taking my time to make sure I didn’t miss any details before we left, just in case. As Serge reached the front door and was about to leave, I yelled out.
“Serge! You need to see this!”
“There’s something here at the basement door. Please tell me you know what this is.”
Serge ran over to see what I was freaking out about, then started to freak out himself. There was a bright blue light spilling out from the under the basement door. It was not a color of light that people would just happen to have installed in their house, and from the way it shone from under the door, the source must’ve been very bright.
“Dude, I have no idea. Let’s just bail.” Serge was anxious, but I no longer felt scared. Instead, there was this pulling sensation, drawing me towards the door, and before I knew it, my hand was on the knob, and I started to turn it.
“Dude! Don’t open the door! What the hell are you doing?” Serge tried to push me away, but for some reason I didn’t budge. I just kept slowly turning the knob and pushing until the door swung forward. Now Serge and I could see the source of the light. It was mesmerizing.
“It’s...beautiful,” Serge stammered. As I began to agree, it turned to face us, and the light became brighter and brighter until everything was white.