Scary Story

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Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The clock ticked slowly, the sound echoing around the near-silent house. A cruel, emotionless laugh drowned out that familiar, monotone ticking, the only constant thing in this decrepit house since her arrival. “Come out little one, you can’t hide forever,” he called, footsteps soft and muffled against the carpet. She could hear footsteps and the creak of old wood as he climbed down the stairs, coming closer and closer to her location.  

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. 

Harper, huddled in the corner of a closet, was not inclined in the slightest to leave. A mix of cold, icy fear and adrenaline was running through her veins, electrifying her down to the very core. She didn’t mean for this to happen; all she wanted to do was run down to her neighborhood 7-11 for a slushie with some friends. Now she was hiding in a closet, in some run-down house with somebody who was dead set on doing unthinkable things to her. 

She saw what he did to those others. She heard the screams as they died, the metallic scraping of the shovel as he buried them in shallow graves, never to be discovered. 

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. 

“Little one, where are you? I just want to play,” he called out again, and Harper could almost imagine that crazed look in his eyes, that sickening sense of joy that was plainly visible as he switched the knife from hand to hand.  

She recognized his face from the news, the outstanding warrant for him in eighteen different counties in four different states. His mugshot was still emblazoned to her brain, his sadistic grin at the camera. Jack Grey. Career criminal. That mugshot had been taken in a breaking-and-entering case, which he had lost and done time for. His time in prison, unfortunately, had not affected his personality and goals whatsoever. 

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. 

 She checked her watch.  The numbers read 5:59. She had been here for twenty-seven hours already, and Harper felt a sickening sense of dread that her time was almost up, the clock ticking closer every second to her death. She felt like she was a character in The Most Dangerous Game, only instead of an entire island to hide on, all she had was this small, abandoned, house. 

Shuffling footsteps made Grey’s presence known outside the bedroom door, and the brass doorknob rattled as he tried futilely to open it. “Come on, little one, open the door for me, please? I’ll give you five seconds,” he asked her, and Harper peeked out of the closet. There was a window to her left that she had taken into account, but feared the creak of the opening window would alert her captor. But now she was getting desperate. 

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. 

She crept from the closet, shutting the door silently behind her. She fiddled with the window lock, sliding the window up and exposing the backwoods in the rear of the house. Her best bet for now. 

“Harper, open the door please, Harper, open the door!” he was screaming now, and Harper froze momentarily as she realized he knew her name. He’d done his research, and she briefly wondered if that’s who she felt watching her when she was out with her friends. She wasn’t a nameless victim, no, he knew her name, and she knew she had to get out of here now before she became one of those horrifically mangled bodies buried in those shallow backyard graves. “I’m gonna count to three!” 

“One!” 

She jumped out the window, swearing as her shirt caught on the latch. She struggled to undo it, as Grey snarled from behind her, the door shaking as he pounded against it. Harper couldn’t stop the small squeak that escaped her as her shirt ripped and she stumbled back, falling onto the ground.

“Two!”

She got up, ignoring the jolt of pain before taking off for the woods, sprinting as fast as she could. Behind her, Harper heard the crash as her captor smashed through the door like the Kool-Aid Man, the wood splintering under his weight. She didn’t stop, only started pumping her legs faster, eating up the distance between the trees and the raging monster behind her. 

The sound of lumbering footsteps behind her only spurred her faster, and she dove into the woods, leaping over tree roots and small shrubs as she fled deeper into the treeline, the snapping of small twigs under her feet accompanying her heavy breathing. 

She dared to look behind her, only to be met with the sight of one furious Jack Grey lunging after her, a knife in his hands as he ran to catch up with her. Harper veered off to one side, slipping through a gap between two bushes and turning in a random direction again.

Her pounding feet spooked a rabbit, which darted straight towards her former captor, who tripped over it. The resounding crash let her know he had not gone down lightly, and she used the opportunity to cover more distance, her breath no more than a rasp in her chest. 

Harper turned left, fleeing towards the thicker parts of the forest, hoping the thick underbrush and clusters of trees would hide her. The lack of heavy footsteps behind her signaled that she had temporarily lost her captor, but the little voice in the back of her mind nagged her to keep going because if she was caught, there was no second chance. 

When her chest was starting to ache and her throat was dry, she stopped, pausing for a moment to catch her breath. She scaled a tree, pausing when she was just above the lowest branch, and hid in the shadows to wait. 

She didn’t have to wait long. Cracking branches signaled his approach long before she saw him, and she knew by the stream of angry swearing leaving his lips as he stumbled over roots and bushes that he was not in a good mood. 

Grey still clutched that serrated knife, the blade glinting in the sunset. “My dearest little harpsichord, come out. I just want to apologize!” he claimed, and that wicked grin stole over his face again. “I promise.” 

He wandered passedt her, still calling for her to return to him, false promises spewing from him like a river past a broken dam. Finally, when his footsteps and his words faded away, she began to climb down, dropping to the ground with a slight thud. She began running the way she came, hurdling over bushes and generally just trying to get as much distance as she could between him and her. 

Finally, after alternating between sprinting and jogging for at least forty-five minutes, Harper came to a road. Well, not exactly a road, but a dirt path that had a bridge over a small stream. 

She began to follow the winding dirt path and rounded a corner when she smacked into something. Something hard. 

Harper gasped and tried to run, only taking a few steps before a blow to the head sent her sprawling. She groaned and tried to stand, but to no avail.  

“Hello, little one. It’s been a while,”