TUESDAY: I Dare You

BY GAIL COPELAND

Copyright is held by the author.

I REALLY don’t want to go inside. My friend thinks it’ll be fun. I don’t. It’s dark out here and there are no lights showing from the inside. As a matter of fact, there are no windows on this side of the building. Well, . . . one . . . but it’s boarded up. The entrance stairs are rusted metal and the door is as worn and as tired looking as the rest of the grey aluminum walls.

“Sandy . . . come on. Don’t be chicken! This’ll be fun. I dare you.”

My best friend Sue has always wanted to check this place out. It’s got a reputation of being pretty spooky and for some reason Sue thinks tonight is a good night to test our nerves. But, I’m one of those rare teenagers who doesn’t think that scaring myself to death is high on a list of fun things to do. I won’t watch scary movies in the theatre or even when they come out on TV. I watched a movie once about a blind woman who accidentally locked herself in her apartment with a killer and started to relax because she thought he was outside. I slept with the light on for a week after that one and it wasn’t even gory. No way would I ever watch a slasher movie. Oh yeah . . . there was also that movie that took place in a sorority house and no one knew that the killer lived in the attic. I actually paid money to see that one and again slept with my light on for days. Yet here I am . . .contemplating entering this dark, ominous, building with my friend of 16 years. I’m sure nothing good waits inside for us.

“Sue . . . you’re going first. I really don’t want to do this.”

“We’ll go through quickly just to say we did it.”

We climb the creaking stairs and Sue turns the handle and pushes the door open. Of course the door creaks and of course it’s really dark inside. Well, it makes sense since it’s also really dark outside at 10:00 pm. Night time is supposed to be the “right” time to check out scary places like this. My heart is beating steadily, but way too fast. I don’t like what I can’t see. There are no light switches that we can find. We feel our way along the hall in front of us and see a faint light ahead. The room looks like a small kitchen and the light is coming from an open refrigerator.

Sue is leading the way.

“Sue, why is the refrigerator open? That’s weird.”

We move closer and peer into the faint light from a single small bulb inside. It looks like food has been left there. Meat I think. It’s obviously been leaking because it’s dripped down the inside and is all over the other shelves.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!” screams Sue. “I’m out of here.” She backs up quickly and bumps into me. I look in the direction she was looking. Right in the middle of the kitchen table is a large saw and beside it a severed arm and some other body parts I can’t identify. Next to the table, there’s a body on the floor. Blood is everywhere . . . on the table, on the floor, in the refrigerator and on the walls.

Sue is running ahead of me. I can hear her bumping into things in the dark. She screams again. I hear a door slam shut and then silence.

“Sue . . . are you there?” Nothing. No answer and no sound.

I’m close to panic. I hear the sound of the front door opening behind me. That’s not the way Sue went. I feel the wall and follow the hall away from the front door. I see a faint glow of light coming from under a door ahead of me. Please let this be the back door, please let it be the back door. I almost make it, but not quite.

Someone had been hiding in a cupboard and as I reach it, the door flies open and arms grab for me. I react out of survival and shove against the person with all my strength and run for the door. I pull it open and stumble outside, looking left and right.

Sue is standing at the bottom of a second set of steps. “Pretty scary, huh?”

I feel kind of bad for the guy I shoved back inside the trailer. He was just doing his job. I’m probably not the first kid to hit him. The bright lights of the County Fair were in front of us. There is quite the line up for the House of Horrors that we just went through. Man, I really hate being scared on purpose. Never again.

“Want to check out that ride with the good music and the cute guys that take the tickets?” suggested Sue.

“We can check out anything that doesn’t jump out at me. Let’s get out of here.”

6 comments

  1. Michael Joll

    I loved the build up of tension and the increasing pace of this piece, but I felt let down, almost cheated by the lame ending. The use of the present tense in narrative I find irritating unless handled by an expert, and even then…

    In all, well told I thought. And aren’t we all just a little afraid of what lurks in the dark?

  2. JAZZ

    Ms. Copeland writes well but needs to stretch herself and not rely on scenes that we are all too familiar with. Much like her previous entry, “Subdivsion”, this story lacks originality.

  3. Frank T. Sikora

    I agree Michael and Jazz. I would have been pleased to find that the two girls had encountered a scary man in a scary building on a scary night. It would have made for a scary story and not another “Look I fooled the reader” ending. The writer had me till the end, and then….she lost me.

  4. Nicosia

    ” fooling the reader “- absolutely! The reader will be your friend when you treat them with respect and not let them down .

  5. Moira Garland

    Yes, the initial build up draws you in, that’s good – so use that to develop this piece. I agree with comments about the disappointing denouement. More showing instead of telling required in parts e. g. “I’m close to panic” and “Sue is ahead of me” — perhaps more of the senses to indicate these statements/actions? Thank you for sharing your story Gail.

  6. Dave Moores

    Great fun Gail. I enjoyed the whole thing, beginning to end. Sometimes I think it’s good to lighten up.
    Thank you.

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