We challenged our staff to write a flash fiction story from a short, vague and scary prompt!
Here is the prompt: “There were many characters moving around in the dark that night. Too many for most peoples’ comfort; too many to feel perfectly safe. Even in such a small town at a state school, no one could be sure who was who in all their costumes and makeup. Across the street just out of eyesight, a scream sprints through the air, freezing everyone who was enjoying Halloween night in their tracks…”
Before anyone could turn to their heads to ask the person next to them, “did you hear that?” the doorbell rang, making Jessica jump so hard, she fell off the couch where she was sitting with her friends.
Since it was 12 pm and the fraternity house on Frederick Street was completely full of skull-covered faces and blood-stained costumes, nobody was expecting a mysterious midnight stranger on Halloween night.
After about 5 minutes of nobody moving a muscle, Jason, the president of Phi Kappa Delta shouted “Screw it,” and slowly opened the door to an empty porch.
They all shrug it off thinking it was probably just some dumb kids playing ding-dong ditch. The crowd of students go back to their conversations, almost forgetting the whole “is there a murderer at the door moment,” when 20 minutes later they hear three chilling knocks coming from upstairs inside the main bedroom.
The main bedroom was strictly closed off since some members of the football team trashed it at the Homecoming party, so this time they were certain there was definitely someone or something else among them.
“What’s going on, I swear to god Joey, if you’re messing with us!” Shouted Jessica. Joey was known for his semantics at popular parties such as this, but her heart sank when Joey quivered “I’m over here,” across the room from her, almost blending into the wall with his cream-white bedroom sheet on, resembling a ghost.
Everyone was about ready to make a break for it when the lights started to flicker, and before anyone could react they were engulfed in complete darkness. The sound of nails on a chalkboard suddenly pierced their ears as something started to carve its way into the walls of the house. When the lights finally turned back on they were horrified to see “MISS ME?” carved in blood on the sidewall of the house.
I should note that a young fraternity girl died on this property many years ago on Halloween night from answering the door to a stranger.
All of a sudden, I started to feel an odd and cold sensation. I couldn’t move. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. My eyes tried to search for a living soul, but they seemed to have vanished. Was it even possible that they left that quickly? Were they even there at all? I felt a force pushing me down. I wanted to fight it. But as I tried, I was plunged down into the earth. As I lay there paralyzed, a dark shadow figure larger than anything I’ve ever seen floated over me. I muffled in fear. I make an effort to study his face, but there was nothing but a black void. Not even a trace of a costume. This wasn’t a human. This can’t be happening. I realized that those screams I heard earlier weren’t for the show. There was something terrorizing Millersville, and I seem to be its next victim. I noticed the black void consuming me closer and closer. I felt myself sinking.
Instantly, I jerked myself awake. I’m drenched in sweat after what I experienced in my sleep. I’m relieved to know that it was just a dream. I hear a knock on the glass. At first, I thought it was the window. Until I noticed it was coming from the mirror. As face the mirror, I saw my reflection blink and smile.
Frozen, but only for a second,
Then the people fly by and I reckon
I should run too,
So I do.
I’m not sure what they are running from
But my heart is beating like a drum
Another shriek sounds behind me
I rush to find a tree
I hide behind,
Trying to gain peace of mind
Breath catching in my throat
I pulled on my coat
A blur of capes, masks, and wigs rushes past
They disappear into the night awfully fast
Terror grips my heart
I hope I got a head start
From the howls
Echoing around the trees, blending with the owls
Darkness like a cloak and I stand alone
Fearing the coming unknown
“This is the end. Happy Halloween.”
I hear from a voice unseen
I scream, but it’s too late
I’ll probably die at this rate
Black. Moon. Knife. Halloween.
Unfolding before my eyes…
Head Copy Editor
The scream pierced the ears of the trick or treaters, causing the wine-colored liquid to escape one’s ears…wait…that must be…blood. As the children dashed to their mothers and the college students cried to their professors, there was only one thing that could save the day: Miller and S’Ville.
Through the echoes of the piercing screams, was the bellowing honks, disguised as Dr. and Mrs. Wubah they flew into action. Fiercely soaring over Lyle, the SMC, and the Quad, the swans gracefully landed in front of South Village only to find the maniacal MU squirrels circling a young college freshman. Miller and S’Ville counted at least 30 squirrels in a summoning circle around this freshman, five others were to the right building an absurdly large fire with a stake in the middle.
When the leader was questioned, they stated the freshman’s offense was “not rationing their bread handouts to the squirrels, they only cared about the ducks.” Were Miller and S’Ville too late?
A battle ensued between the squirrels and what was supposed to be the MU heroes. However, the swans were no match for the squirrels. Once the swans were defeated, the squirrels picked up the freshman how an army of ants carrying crumbs and brought them to the stake. However, just as they were about to tie the freshman up, Dr. Wubah came running with the only thing to deter the squirrels…freshly baked bread from the one and only Mrs. Wubah.
Once Dr. Wubah threw the bread 1,000 yards with his mighty strength, the squirrels were too distracted by the need for fresh bread. Dr. Wubah came just in time, knowing how to save the students of MU, and the freshman continued with their bachelors, almost unscathed but with a new fear of squirrels.
Editor in Chief
Just kidding. Maybe there was a scream, maybe there wasn’t. Honestly, it doesn’t matter at this point in the night. Just add it to the countless list of other real-and-fake screams that night.
Another scream. Okay. Everyone pays attention again after just getting back their festivities. Yet another scream. Both more blood-curdling than the last. Most realize that it isn’t a joke at this point.
We all somehow collectively run towards the noise to see what had spawned such a sound. The group in the immediate area—which is currently about eleven people—runs across the street, passes an administrative house on George Street and finds something no one would have imagined.
Just behind the Fulton House, a pit had opened up from the ground. Creatures that don’t have much of a shape pour out, mud shaking and spilling off of their forms. Now twelve collective screams ring out in chorus, including the one from the lone girl frozen and staring at the pit.
The tension in the air was so palpable that it almost felt like a blanket encompassing the whole campus. Without turning to look behind me, I started toward the clock tower. I knew what this meant. They were coming and had already started their venture. Stupid. They should have waited but, of course, no one ever listens to the quiet ones. They’ll understand later when everything descends into chaos and they haven’t covered their dirty tracks.
Another scream pierced the air, this one even more frightening than the last. But with this one, the students around campus finally felt the weight of the situation and pandemonium ensued. The fear around me made its way to my person, and I felt their energy pulsing through my veins, making me stronger. This wasn’t exactly the plan, but I could get behind it.
I checked my hand; three distinct scratches pressed into my wrist. I smiled in the darkness. It was time.
Associate Features Editor
“Dante, that’s not funny!” shouted a girl across the street.
Dante laughed through his Jason mask and everyone shook their heads and kept moving. I tugged at my leather skirt as my friends and I approached the party. Conner stood outside of the sliding glass door wearing a black cape and red devil horns.
He turned to one of the guys in my group and said, “name five brothers.”
I stifled a laugh as my friend Kayli gave Conner a playful push and tried to go inside.
“So is that what happens when you get to hell?” she teased.
Conner let us in and I immediately felt the sweltering heat of so many bodies, and the beat coming from the basement was in my ears. My eight friends and I walked down the stairs and I scanned the room hoping the devil himself would come down and dance with me.
“Indoor recess for today, kids.” Ms. Emily called out, her usual cheerful demeanor deadened by the third day in a row of non-stop rain. “Hopefully, the sun will shine tomorrow. Chin up, everyone!” Ms. Emily meant well, but I doubted that she really got what indoor recess compared to outdoor recess was like. She was an adult after all.
I moved to the carpeted part of the classroom where all the books were kept in a colorful bookcase. I felt it was tacky, my Mom said so after every parent-teacher conference. If my Mom wasn’t right who was. I grabbed one of my favorite books, Hatchet, it was from an author named Gary Paulson. I liked it because it was all about surviving the odds, no matter what.
I found my bookmark on page 38, where I left it, and happily began to read. I was engrossed in the book when I heard a loud pop. I looked up, alongside everyone else. The noise was really startling. I was a sixth-grader though so I didn’t allow myself to gasp or yell in surprise, only younger kids did that sort of thing.
“Everyone, get into the corner of the room, now!” Ms. Emily hissed at everyone. I was startled, Ms. Emily never yelled, let alone hissed at us. Her grave expression was puzzling to the other students as well all went to the corner, whispering concerns and worries about that pop.
Ms. Emily locked the door of the classroom and shut off all the lights. There was a storm brewing outside that made the room look eerily dark. Flashes of lightning started and when one of the girls in the class, Susie started to scream, Ms. Emily wrapped her hand around Susie’s mouth, muffling the cry.
Everyone, including myself, was scared. Ms. Emily was acting really strange. I wanted to ask a question so I raised my hand. Ms. Emily looked at me and shook her head no. Confused, I let my hand fall and remained where I was. Then there was another pop. Followed by two more in quick succession. A thunderclap followed and everything was quiet after that.
We all sat there for ten minutes, twenty minutes until finally Mr. Hebner’s voice was heard over the loudspeaker that was in the school.
“Everyone, stay where you are for the time being. There was an emergency and I really need everyone to be brave right now. Stay with your teachers until your parents get here.” He stopped, sounding very strange and continued, “The police are here and they protected us, just please, stay in your classroom with your teachers. We will get this all sorted out.” The loudspeaker turned off and the whole class was full of questions.
Ms. Emily held up her hand with two fingers pointed up, her index and ring finger. The sign that we were to be quiet. I was scared, but my respect and hope that the adults would figure this out suppressed my curiosity.
Later, my Mom, alongside many other parents to the kids in class, all came into the classroom and picked us up. We were all asked to leave the back way out and to avoid the third-grade hallway. The third-grade hallway was the first hall in the school and closest to the entrance.
“Why are we going this way?” I asked my Mom.
She glanced over and said, “We’ll talk at home, for now, I need to get you out of here. It’s not good for you to be here now.” I was bewildered at the time, but when I was older I learned what an active shooter was and I have to say, I’m glad I made it out alive that day.