1st Place Halloween Short Story: “Hey, Good Dog”

1st Place Halloween Short Story:

Why on earth did I agree to this? This had to be the stupidest thing I’d agreed to in all my years of being friends with Krissy. Typical of me to fall for the old, “You’re scared, you chicken! Are you a man or not?”

Right, so I caved and got myself into walking through the woods behind Krissy’s house dangerously close to nightfall. I don’t like these woods at all, some shady people live on the other side of them and I’ve heard all sorts of rumors of what goes on in here. But whatever, right? Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I’m doing great.

“Catch up, slowpoke!” Krissy’s voice made me jump. “Hahahaha, are you nervous or what?”

“Shut up.” I hurried to catch up to her.

She shouldered me when I got to her, laughing. “Chill out, Clyde. Nothing’s gonna get you, nothing’s out here. I’ve told you a million times. I come out here all the time!”

“Yeah, yeah…how far is this place you wanna show me? It’s getting dark. I agreed to come out here, but there’s no way I’m staying when it gets dark.”

She laughed again, “It’s not far. We’ll be there and back in no time!”

I had forced myself forward, casting nervous glances at the sky as we walked.

Well, I’ll give her that. We reached the little stream she’d told me about after only a few more minutes of walking.

“Well?” She looked over at me, her cheerful eyes watching my face for approval. “Isn’t it pretty? I took you out here at sunset ’cause it looks best at this time of day! Watch the water, you’ll see what I mean!”

She sat down on the mossy bank of the little stream, patting the ground beside her. I sighed, but with a smile sat down next to her and watched the water, too. I had to admit, it was pretty. The fall air and birdsong around us was calming, and the water slipped and swirled in the stream below, reflecting little light shows on the opposite bank for us to watch.

As the sun set further, and the sky began to reflect vibrant colors into the water, turning the little stream into a masterpiece. Krissy was staring at me when I glanced her way, and I must have looked impressed as I was, because she had that stupid ‘I told you so’ grin on her face.

We sat there for a long time, watching the colors swirl in the stream and the shadows from the trees dance along the banks. I’d temporarily forgotten my fear of the nearing nighttime. I could hear a faint rustling behind me, but took no notice. I also didn’t notice that Krissy had gotten to her feet, and was facing the way the noise had come. The stream of swirling colors had distracted all my attention, and I didn’t realize something was wrong until Krissy made a weird breathy sound like she’d thought about screaming but was cut off when she took off running down the stream bank.

…What?

I scrambled to my feet, scoring scars in the mossy ground in my panic. My heart began to race. Was she kidding right now?

“Krissy! KRISSY! Are you serious?! Where are you going?! Don’t leave me alone out here, idiot!” I took a step forward to go after her, then a strange feeling of curiosity overwhelmed me. I had an awful feeling in my gut, like this curiosity was not mine but some weird forest illusion washing over my brain. Like some outward force was putting it in my head to make me turn around.

That’s stupid. I shook my head, turning around to see what had spooked Krissy into running off out of nowhere.

Very little light was filtering through the trees now, and as my eyes focused on a figure not far from me that awful gut feeling fluttered in my stomach again. I stared at it with wide eyes, trying to force my eyes to adjust to the lighting as quickly as possible. I probably looked like an idiot, slouching forward with my eyes wide as I could make them trying to see what was in front of me.

A dog. It was a dog. Krissy, you moron. As things came into full focus, I could see what looked like a mutt, maybe some sort of wolf mix…nah, it was too small for that. I laughed a little, straightening myself up and wondering why that gut feeling was not gone yet. It’s just a dog.

“Hey, good dog…what are you doing out here, pup? Are you lost?” My words shook, and I felt ashamed that I’d gotten this scared over a dog.

The dog turned around when I spoke, and that awful feeling raged in my stomach and made my face feel hot. There was something very unsettling about this dog. Its eyes, maybe…they were red. But the longer I looked at them the more they looked like empty sockets, with tiny red lights shining froward from somewhere deep inside. I shook myself, thinking again That’s stupid. Must just be the lighting.

But then the dog pulled its lips back, but not in a snarl. That horrible unnerving feeling attacked once more, and I could feel my hands shaking. Its teeth. Its teeth were weird. No, not weird…they were wrong. Those were human teeth. It stared up at me with those wicked red eyes and two perfectly straight rows of human teeth.

I couldn’t bring myself to turn and run. I heard a shuffling in the leaves, and drug my eyes with another wave of dread to see what new horror awaited. In the dim lighting, I could see a little girl making her way towards the dog. She was in a little sun dress, that wasn’t dirty or torn. It certainly didn’t look like she’d been in these woods for long.

“Is…is this your dog?” My voice came out like a belch. My hands were still shaking.

The little girl hugged the dog around its neck, looking up at me with an expressionless face. “Yes, he’s mine. He ran off suddenly a while ago…he must like you.”

I forced a weak smile. “I hope he does.” I croaked, taking a step back. “Well, I’m glad you uh…glad you found him. I gotta get back to my friend, though…gotta go…”

The little girl smiled. I felt like vomiting. All her teeth were gone.

I took off, my feet pounding against the ground, dead leaves fluttering in my wake. I don’t know what kind of weird, sick joke this was, but I more than ready to take my leave.

I hadn’t been running for long when I heard a thick crunching noise from somewhere ahead. I stumbled to a stop, nearly falling forwards onto my face. I could see someone leaning into view from behind a tree. I recognized the bracelet around that wrist.

“Krissy! Jesus Christ, Krissy, why’d you run off?! You idiot, you have no idea what I just–” With a sickening thud, Krissy slumped down into the leaves and stared at me with lifeless, glossy eyes. This time I really did vomit. I felt that build up of unnerving awfulness wretch itself up from my gut and materialize into a splatter of my half-digested dinner.

Her jaw hung loosely from her face, blood and shredded skin oozing and dangling from her destroyed face. All her teeth were gone.

I backed away, shaking violently and jerking forward like I was going to vomit again but nothing was left to come out. I fumbled backwards, twisting over to crawl away from the nightmare in front of me. I clawed at the ground as I tried to regain enough composure to get back on my feet. I lifted myself up on shaking arms to stand again, and when I looked up I saw two little red lights shining from a shady figure that stood in the path I’d come. In the darkness I could no longer fully see the dog, only those weird eyes that cast a dull red glow across his snout and cheeks. Then that disgusting grin slowly showed itself, having a glow of its own. I shook my head violently, backing away unsteadily.

“No…no, no you stay back! DON’T YOU COME HERE, GET AWAY FROM ME!” I whirled around as I shouted, hardly caring that I was running towards Krissy’s mangled body. I gave a weak leap over it, and felt my heart drop as my foot hooked against her arm and I crashed down into the leaves. In a flurry of panic I crawled with more determination than before, much quicker to get myself back on my feet. But I was cut short as a blunt force smashed against my back, smacking me back down. I rolled over, winded and terrified, and felt two little hands grasp either side of my head.

“See, I told you he likes you.” The little girl’s toothless grin and glossy eyes hovered over me, and I felt straight teeth grip my lower jaw. All I felt was a rough tug, and a loud pop resonated in my head.

All they found of us were dead leaves scattered along the path we’d taken and scores in the mossy shore of the stream. That, and the revolting smell of rotting fear rising from that pretty little stream where we mysteriously went missing.

END