Unknown Fears (Fiction)

10-9 Grass

Stacy brushed her hand over her bare calf to swat away whatever tickled her skin. They swished through knee-high grasses encroaching on the skinny dirt trail leading to the “perfect camping spot.” Those were her boyfriend’s words- not hers.

At that moment, Kenny turned and smiled. “Keeping up okay?”

She glared, even though he couldn’t get the full effect through her dark sunglasses. “Are we almost there?”

“Another half mile, I think.” He turned and continued on the path.

Stacy shifted the pack and winced when she moved the strap that had been digging into her hip for the last two hours. Her friends thought she was nuts for agreeing to go on this trip, but she had a feeling he planned to propose. After dating for three years, she didn’t want to miss it. Still, she couldn’t figure out what gave him the impression she would enjoy this.

Nearly an hour later they stopped and peered down an embankment.

“I’ll help you down,” he said, offering his left hand.

She shook her head. “It’s too steep. Can’t we just set up the tent here?”

“On the trail?” He laughed. “You can do this.”

“I don’t think my shoes are grippy en-“

He tugged her down the slope before she could finish her protest.

A few feet from flat ground, she lost her footing. Kenny’s body broke her fall. “Sorry,” she muttered before rolling to the side. The momentum flipped her onto her back.

He gasped a few breaths. “There. We made it.” He pointed to the left, toward a thicket of scrub oak trees. “We can camp there.”

Stacy felt like a turtle overturned on its shell since her abdominal muscles couldn’t right her while strapped to a thirty-pound pack. Grateful, she accepted his extended hand and ignored the barely-stifled snicker.

After they pitched the tent, he cooked pork and beans over a campfire. As he cleaned the dishes, she paused to listen to the creek. She watched the water rush over rocks, creating mini whitecaps. She had to admit; it was pretty here. She turned toward a scraping noise behind her and saw Kenny hoisting their packs into a tree with a rope he’d thrown over a sturdy branch. “What are you doing?”

He paused. “Stowing our packs.”

“Why not put them in the tent?”

“Bears.” He grunted as he threw his weight into a pull.

“Bears?” Panic edged into her voice.

Continue reading


Obsessively Compulsive

Vacuuming- what he did well
A floor must not go uncleaned

He only did one thing well.

The overheard criticism bored into William DuMont’s consciousness like a worm to an apple’s core.  Doing what he apparently did best, he rinsed the foaming cleanser from the bathtub.  A satisfied smile crinkled his cheeks when the bubbles pulled the faint gray soap scum ring down the drain.   The anger from Rachelle’s insult dissipated with each sweep, scrub and polish.  As he exited the bathroom, he paused at the door.  His gaze rested on the sink’s water-spotted chrome faucet.  He contemplated leaving it, but the anxiety building in his chest begged him to fix it.  So he did.

 He only did one thing well.

William remembered his first night spent with Rachelle.  For two hours, he had toyed with her senses, her body trembling.  Finally, she collapsed, tangled in his rumpled white sheet.  Exhausted, she paid no attention as he watched her breasts rise and fall.  She seemed unconcerned that he’d claimed her soul as his own.  She breathed easy, despite the demon’s weight on her chest.  Spent, she accepted her fate with a slight smile on her lips.

He only did one thing well.

Her voice shook his thoughts from what he used to do well.  The freshly cleaned carpet wasn’t quite dry, so William tip-toed along the edge so as not to disturb the shampooer tracks.  In the kitchen, he picked up his glass of iced tea and took a long swig.  Before he set it down, he wiped the condensation ring from the counter.  He smirked.  Rachelle had said it was like he always tried to wipe away every trace of himself.  He credited his years in Boy Scouts- “leave no trace,” the outdoors mantraHe never conceded she could’ve been right.

He only did one thing well.

He remembered his other soul encounters.  When Rachelle accused him of cheating, he’d insisted his heart beat for her.  He rationalized it as a half-truth.  At first, his other loves had occupied only dreams, but lately, they begged for more of his attention.  That’s when it first occurred to him that perhaps he hadn’t taken their souls.  Maybe it was the other way around.  Then, with the clarity of sun shining through clouds, he realized he’d dusted around secrets until they nagged him like a muddy footprint on ceramic tile.  He had to come clean.

He only did one thing well.

He checked his watch.  Almost time.  Soon, Rachelle would meet the others.  He counted them off on his fingers; there were nine in all.  He’d promised to love each eternally, but kept them from Rachelle because she wouldn’t understand.  He took a deep breath and released a slow exhale.  The car was ready, and so was he.  She would have to admit he did more than one thing well.

He checked on Rachelle once more.    Not quite right.  He placed her right arm across her waist.  Better.

He closed the trunk.


I wrote this creepy story for Speakeasy #131.  This time, the writing prompt has two parts.  Using less than 750 words, we had to use “He only did one thing well” as the first line.  (I used it throughout the piece because I thought that worked with the obsessive-compulsive theme.)  In addition, we had to make some reference to the art prompt, which is entitled “The Nightmare” (painted in 1781 by the Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli).  I’m not showing the photo here, because to be honest, it seriously creeps me out 🙂

On Tuesday, Speakeasy is open for writers to link their stories.  On Thursday, voting opens for readers to choose their favorites.  Check out the link below, if your interested in reading – or better yet, submitting your own story:


Thanks to everyone who read my story last week.  “Held Captivated” was voted second place.  Click here to check out the other winners (you might want to read them in daylight, though :))