This story is by Shelby J McDaniel and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“I don’t feel right about this.”
“Shut up, Ethan. We get it, you’re scared,” Logan mocked.
“I’m not scared, I just don’t think we should be doing this.”
“So what. Old Man Brown is a freak. I swear he’s hiding something up in that old house, and I’m going to find out what it is.”
“I think his keep out signs are a cry for help. He just wants company.” Jane added.
“That’s stupid, Jane. His keep out signs are not an invitation for us to come over for tea.”
“Hey, there’s no need to be rude, Ethan,” Alex said protectively.
“I’m not being rude, I’m being realistic.”
The four teenagers lapsed into silence until they reached the ten-foot high fence littered with signs screaming, Stay Out, No Trespassing, and Private Property.
“Where are the bolt cutters?” Logan asked.
“Seriously?” Ethan hissed. “Now we’re not only trespassing, but we’re breaking and entering?”
“Here you go,” Alex said, handing over the heavy tool.
Logan cut the thick iron chain and carefully opened the gate. The others squeezed through the opening, but Ethan paused, glancing over both shoulders before following.
He found them standing in a line staring up at the formidable stone, Gothic edifice.
“Well, isn’t this right out of a horror movie,” Ethan whispered.
“Be quiet,” Judy hissed.
“Why?” Ethan asked. “The old man left an hour ago. I still think it’s creepy that he goes shopping at midnight.”
“You think everything is creepy,” Alex said.
Ethan gestured towards the house. “And you don’t?”
Alex shrugged his shoulders, but didn’t say anything.
Judy turned on her phone and started recording.
“What are you doing?” Ethan asked.
“Getting evidence. Otherwise no one will know we were here.”
“Yeah, evidence that could get us put in jail. Put that away.”
Ethan and Judy wrestled with her phone until it flew from her hands.
“Really Ethan, grow up,” Judy said, but then they heard a loud snap. “What was that?”
“I don’t know,” Logan said. He dug around in a duffel bag he brought, pulled out a flashlight, and slowly swept the light over the lawn.
“Whoa….” the kids whispered in unison. The flashlight revealed a variety of booby-traps, none of which were well concealed. Bear traps littered the lawn next to rope snares, trip wires were attached to giant logs with nails embedded in them, but the scariest of them all was the pit filled with bamboo stakes sharpened to a point.
“I told you there was something seriously wrong with this guy,” Logan said disgustingly.
“I think we should leave,” Ethan said.
“You know, I think Ethan’s right,” Judy seconded.
“Come on guys, we have to go in now,” Logan argued. “He could be hiding drugs or something.”
“I’m perfectly comfortable allowing the old man to continue distributing drugs,” Ethan said, and turned to leave.
“Oh no you don’t,” Logan said, grabbing him. “We’re in this together.”
The four of them tiptoed carefully around the traps until they found themselves at a downstairs window.
“Will you look at that,” Logan said, pointing at the window. “That dumbass nailed it shut from the outside. That’s not going to keep anybody out.”
He took a hammer from his duffel bag and began pulling out the nails one by one. He slid the window open and jumped lightly into the room.
“Come on,” he said holding out his hand. Judy took it, and gingerly climbed through the opening, Alex followed, and Ethan scrambled through last.
Logan scanned the room with the flashlight revealing a small bathroom. He tried to open the door only to find it locked.
“What the hell? Alex, come and help me.” The two boys shoved against the door while Judy and Ethan huddled near the window.
“What was that?” Judy asked suddenly.
“What was what?” Ethan asked.
“You didn’t hear that?” she said, eyes wide.
Before Ethan could ask what it was she heard, Logan and Alex burst through the door and into a hallway.
“Come on,” Logan whispered, and they followed close behind him down the hall.
“What are we looking for?” Judy asked.
“Anything suspicious,” Logan replied.
Ethan looked around them. “Like the fact that all of the doors are chained shut?”
“What?” Logan pointed the flashlight towards the doors. The light illuminated the door next to them, which was chained shut like a Christmas present. He spun in a circle illuminating the other doors, which were similarly wrapped.
“Okay, I’m with Ethan and Judy,” Alex said. “I think we should get out of here.”
“What a bunch of sissies,” Logan grunted. “Stay here, I’m going to go look upstairs.”
“Logan…” Judy started, but he was already bounding up the stairs.
The three of them stood back to back until Logan returned.
“Same thing upstairs,” he said. “They’re all chained shut.”
Judy suddenly jumped back bumping into Ethan as something the size of a basketball scuttled past their feet.
“What was that?” Judy exclaimed.
“I don’t know,” Ethan said. “Can we please go now?”
“Fine,” Logan acquiesced. “What a bunch of wusses.” Ethan noticed that even with Logan’s words he seemed shaken, he must have seen the thing too.
They started backtracking towards the bathroom when the chain on the door next to them fell to the floor. They all jumped, and Judy screamed.
“What have you done?” a gravely voice demanded from behind them. They jumped again, Logan’s scream blending with Judy’s.
“What have you done?” Old Man Brown asked again harshly. They hadn’t even heard him come through the front door.
Logan squared his shoulders and said, “We know you’re hiding something.” Ethan was impressed that Logan’s voice only shook a little.
“Of course I am, you little shit. And now you let it out!”
“Let…it…out?” Logan asked.
“Yes! I’ve kept him locked away for six decades, and you snot-nosed brats just doomed us all.”
Ethan’s knees began to shake. The look on the old man’s face was pure fear. He wasn’t joking.
Brown grabbed Logan by the collar and hauled him into the living room. The others followed.
“Are you living in this one room?” Judy asked. There was a cot next to the fireplace, a camping toilet in the far corner, and a pile of food shelved on a bookcase.
“It’s the only safe room,” Brown said, while digging through a large pile of weapons. “Kong’s in the other rooms.”
“Kong?” Ethan asked. “Like King Kong?”
“No,” Brown grunted. “Like Kong Ming Lock. The Puzzle,” he added, when the kids looked at him blankly. “They’re almost impossible to open. That’s what he’s like, you can’t kill him, but you can take him apart.”
“Where did it come from?” Judy asked, her bottom lip quivering.
“Don’t know, don’t care,” Brown replied. He shoved lethal looking weapons in each of their hands, and handed Ethan a flame-thrower.
“You two,” he said pointing to Logan and Alex, “upstairs with me. You,” he pointed to Ethan and Judy, “go to the room at the end of the hallway. That’s where the head is. It’s the last piece he’ll go for, and pray we can stop him before that happens.”
Before Ethan could ask him how he knew all this, Old Man Brown was pulling a white-faced Logan and Alex up the stairs and out of sight. Ethan looked at Judy who was visibly shaking.
They made their way to the door the old man indicated while listening to grunts, bangs and screams emanating from upstairs. It was only a couple of minutes before the screams subsided into silence. Judy panted loudly next to Ethan. She glanced at him apologetically before she ran down the hall.
“Judy, wait!” Ethan called out. He heard her scream, and then nothing.
Ethan’s palms were sweating, and his heart beat so loudly it hurt his ears. Over the pounding he could hear something scraping on the wooden floor. He was wishing they had thought to turn a light when a massive looming figure filled the hallway in front of him.
Ethan’s scream caught in his throat. He raised his flame-thrower over his head, and pressed down hard on the trigger.
A howl like nails on a chalkboard emanated from the creature, and Ethan scrambled under what he thought were its legs, and towards the bathroom where they had entered only minutes before. He dove through the open window and ran, but he had forgotten about the booby traps.
Ethan stumbled over a trip wire and found himself falling before he could catch himself. He twisted in midair, and the next thing he felt was a searing pain ripping through his chest. He vaguely realized he was in the bamboo spike pit. He lay pinned in place, unable to move, and watched bemusedly as the stone house lit up in a blaze.
Nothing could survive that, he thought. But as his vision began to cloud over, he saw the dark creature step over him, horned head intact, and through the gate.