Flash Fiction Challenge: Till Dark

This is where it had been happening. Back in the summer, when Gary Kessler disappeared, everyone had thought he had drowned. When they found his body, they knew differently.

Then there was the little Hamilton girl, Old Tom Billings, and half a dozen more.

Most of the time they never found the bodies. Sometimes they would find parts. The town council didn’t want to hear about it. They stuck their heads in the sand and hoped it would go away. Deputy Aldridge knew differently. He had seen it. He saw it take Sheriff Wilson, and he knew it had to be stopped. He came here tonight to put an end to it. He just had to wait till dark.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Till Dark”

  1. Deputy Aldridge checked his watch. In less than fifteen minutes the setting sun would disappear behind the mountains, leaving the lake bathed in darkness. He had to work quickly. Grabbing the needed items from the trunk of his patrol car, he made his way down the trail, dragging the sack behind him.
    The woods opened to a serene clearing, one of the better camping spots on Lake Zeal, and Aldridge couldn’t help but think of the terrifying last moments of Sheriff Wilson. He may have experienced the same fate had he not gone back to the car for a flashlight battery. He didn’t feel fortunate though. He felt guilty. By the time he made it back to the clearing the screams had stopped. The sheriff’s rifle lay abandoned a few feet from the water, and Aldridge allowed his gaze to follow the ripples, just in time to see…

    He closed his eyes but the image remained, burned forever into the soul of his being. He knew that he would never be able to swim in this lake again, or enjoy fishing from its banks. The monster had stolen this from him and cast a dark shadow over some of his favorite childhood memories of the area. Tonight was about more than protecting and serving the citizens of York County. Tonight was about redemption, and revenge.

    The carcass of a dead deer, attached to a four foot stake was the bait. Darkness had come, and he wouldn’t have to wait long.

  2. ‘Tell me again?’
    We were sat at the edge of the lake by the tree.
    ‘It’s getting cold. Time to get back.’
    ‘Tell me once again, please,’ I whined.
    ‘Just beyond the ridge.’
    ‘Over the lake, as far as the eye can see.’
    ‘How will I know it’s still there?’
    ‘Oh, it will wait just for you.’
    ‘How will it know who I am?’
    ‘It can hear the beat of your heart.’
    ‘How do I get there?’
    ‘You have to learn to fly.’
    ‘Questions, questions, questions,’ said Granddad, wearily. ‘You’ll know what to do when the time comes. But remember, you must never disturb the stillness of the lake, as then it will just go away.’
    I’ve had to wait nigh on eighteen years. I had a plan, you see. I scrimped and saved, and even stole a little. But now I have a car, not much to look at, but it’s a means to get around the lake without creating any wake.
    Tonight, I go on the search for love – in the dark so it won’t get spooked. I’m hoping momma will be there. That’s where Granddad said she’d gone. Wish me luck, as Daddy said there is no coming back from love which has gone away.

  3. I just can’t take one more night of this! They can tell me all they want that it was not my fault. I see it, I see the way they can’t even look at me. Andy’s big sister..What a laugh… All she wanted was for me to play hide-in-seek ! Was that so much to ask! I am living in a nightmare. If you can call it living..

    Now, Sheriff Wilson was missing. Soon, parts of his body will start to show up!

    Deputy Aldridge question me again last night, about Andy’s disappearance. The look in his eyes, he knows, I feel it. Are we the only two who see . No illusion for us..it is a dark and sinister lake..ripples of death as it spews up what it can’t devour..What creatures lies within it’s depths..

    I will know soon enough..Out here in the middle of the lake! A fools
    mission. I’ll take it, better than the insanity of reality. Softly, a loons lonesome call, is it the call of all the souls crying out in anguish? Deputy Aldridge looks at me with concern.”Just the cool breeze”. .Offering me a thin smile and his jacket, He turns his head back toward the setting sun. Our waiting will soon be over..

  4. Deputy Aldridge felt his heart pounding in his ears. He found it hard to sit out on the wooden dock, his back ached to stretch. But the deputy stayed hunched over, his arms resting on the shotgun cradled in his lap. Along with the weapon was a small sack. Aldridge watched the horizon, waiting impatiently for the last of the sun’s light to slip away. He felt like a compressed spring. Ordinarily he was awed when the fading light threw rich colour across the horizon and tickled the clouds, but tonight darkness couldn’t come quickly enough.

    When night finally fell, the sack in Deputy Aldridge’s lap began to glow. The light was muted, little beams peeked through the criss-cross of the fabric. It was his only comfort. Stiffly, Aldridge stood, and raised the sack into the air.

    “Is this what you want?” He demanded.

    For a time there was nothing, only the faint hum of the beacon Aldridge held aloft, and the sound of his misty breath. Then he heard a great rushing of water, thunderous like a waterfall. When the din subsided, Aldridge walked to the edge of the dock, and looked down to see the lake had parted. He tossed his shotgun over the side, and slowly clambered down the slippery supports. On the muddy lake floor was a set of stairs. Before he descended, Deputy Aldridge took one last look up at the sky. The sun was gone, and he suddenly regretted chasing it away.

  5. Deputy Aldridge tiptoed through the underbrush of the forest, making his way towards Lake Blanc. He stepped out from the dense evergreens, greeted with a sunset closer to an artist’s rendition than reality, brushstrokes of orange and twilight blue sweeping carelessly across the sky. The sprawling lake stretched for miles towards the forested mountain horizon, its placid waters dark and mysterious.

    The scene’s beauty was marred by macabre remembrances of bodies—body parts, even—bloody and torn.

    Deputy Aldridge’s assertions of a creature, lanky and gray-furred, living in a dark hole on the lake’s grounds, had been quickly dismissed. Why would anyone believe there to be a bipedal beast with foot-long, pointy ears, vicious buck teeth, and massive, unnatural eyes that gleamed with malicious amusement? If he had not seen the beast with his own eyes, he probably would not have believed it himself.

    Too soon, Deputy Aldridge came within sight of the hole he had seen the creature emerge from just nights prior. Quietly pumping his shotgun, he prepared to bring it a more merciful death than it deserved. No one else would suffer its wrath.

    Not an hour later, the creature rose from its lair, two pointy ears stabbing upwards like daggers. It wore a self-satisfied smirk as its too-large eyes narrowed in on Deputy Aldridge, whose finger lay paralyzed on his gun’s trigger. The last words the frightened deputy would ever hear issued forth from the creature’s whiskered face.

    “Eh, what’s up doc?”

  6. All was quiet in the dimming light. Amber reflections on the still waters belayed the terror that hid there, waiting, lurking, ready to feed on the unsuspecting foolish enough to venture near. More than a dozen had already vanished, but few bodies had been found, mutilated, torn almost beyond recognition. Deputy Aldridge gripped the talisman around his neck, praying for guidance and protection. A faint circle of salt and sand surrounded him, symbols delineating protective spirits and corners. Gary had been the first taken, dabbling in things beyond his understanding and ability. Now it was up to Aldridge to make it right, to banish the ancient evil Gary awoke.

    Darkness descended and with it the roar of boiling water. Shadowy tendrils whipped out of the lake, seeking a new victim to quench its thirst. Aldridge began chanting, calling to the great spirits to send the demon back to the land of shadows. His hands shook with fatigue as he fought off the terror the creature exuded. Water demon, ancient and evil, exiled by his ancestors. Aldridge’s will began to crumble against the demon’s power. Just as he thought all was lost, energy poured into him, drawing him away from the abyss. Aldridge sensed his father, grandfather, and other ancestors standing beside him. Light flashed, surrounding the demon. It roared in pain and fury as it was dragged back into the void, sealed away where it could do no more harm.

    … Until another fool called it back to this world.

  7. Although he’d seen terrible things, a pretty sunset never failed to bring a tear to Deputy Aldridge’s jaundiced eye. And this was as pretty as any, down by the lake that lay placid as mirror glass under the warm hues of a fading day.

    No time for sentiment tonight, however – he had come to stop a monster. A thing he called, simply, The Horror. The town had suffered enough. He would wait until full dark, the time it always indulged its predations, and he would end its thrall. Checking his Glock 17, he felt a strange calm descend.

    Crouching in the dwindling light, senses alert to the gentle sounds of evening – the creak of a frog, water sounds, a distant train – he recalled the awful endings already endured by the townsfolk: the Kessler kid, rangy adolescent limbs torn off; old Tom’s unspeakable final minutes; and worst of all, little Lucy Hamilton. His nightmares about her fate alone fueled the raging insomnia he’d picked up after Gulf War 1. No, it would end tonight. Only one of those killings had been prompted by cunning not bloodlust: Sheriff Wilson. His old friend had come so close to solving the mystery.

    Aldridge was tired. No more. All light had leached from the sky, barring a sprinkling of stars. It was time. All was quiet. Even the frog seemed to hold its breath. Deputy Aldridge sighed, inserted the Glock into his mouth, pointed up toward his brainpan, and put an ending to The Horror.

  8. Deputy Lawrence Aldridge studied the tracks. The monster had passed through. He had seen it once, the night the Sheriff had tracked it down. Aldridge shivered at the memories of Wilson’s screams as it tore him apart, piece by excruciating piece.
    The trees seemed to close in around Aldridge as he pushed through the underbrush, following the fresh footprints. Aldridge understood this might be the last time he walked in these woods, but he had to find the truth.
    The wind moaned behind him and rustled the creaking branches of the woods, ghostly, haunting sounds that made his spine shiver. He stepped out of the woods, onto the shore of the lake. A figure stood at the water’s edge, back turned to Aldridge.
    “So glad you could be here, Deputy,” the figure said, his voice floating eerily upon the wind.
    “I know what you are, demon,” Aldridge said defiantly, summoning his courage. “I’ve come to put an end to this.”
    With lightning speed, the figure swept Aldridge up by the neck. Its red eyes burned l in a face Aldridge recognized only too well.
    “Robbie?” Aldridge choked, now completely terrified at the sight of his dead brother’s face on the demon. “You’re dead!”
    “So is he,” the demon whispered, his smiling face morphing into that of Sheriff Wilson.
    “What are you?” Aldridge wondered in rapt terror.
    “Just remember the old saying, Deputy,” the demon said softly as his grip tightened around Aldridge’s throat. “There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

  9. The sun slowly dropped behind the hills. The gloom grew thick. The darkness was broken only by the starlight. And Aldridge waited. He checked his radio and his pistol again.

    “So you’ve come to end this? You’ve come for me?”

    Aldridge slowly turned and looked. There it was, an indistinguishable shape in the dark.

    “Yes,” he replied. “You must be stopped.”

    Laughter rang out, echoing across the lake, full of malice and hatred.

    “And what makes that so funny?”

    The sneer was evident in its voice. “Haven’t you figured it out yet? Don’t you understand? The nightmares?”

    Aldridge’s heart started thumping harder in his chest. His eyes widened and he dashed back to the patrol car. He threw open the door and yanked on the headlights.

    There, on the shore of the lake, wearing nothing but an evil grin, was… Aldridge himself.

    “Those weren’t nightmares, you know,” it said. “They were the bits and pieces that leaked across. They were all your puny mind could handle. Isn’t it obvious now? There’s no way to stop me.”

    Aldridge burst into tears and fell to his knees. It started walking toward him, grinning, eyes sparkling with the cold ice of death.

    Aldridge unholstered his pistol and fired into it, once, twice, three times. Three shots, three hits, and still it came.

    Then Aldridge sighed deeply and turned the gun on himself. Fear filled its face. And as Aldridge pulled the trigger, he knew it was done.

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