You’d probably recognize where the inspiration for this one came, but just to put a hint- you can see it while reading Four Past Midnight. Better read it after 04:00 AM as I did :D
Just to make it clear the sudden appereance of the name “Jack” in the middle of the story is not a spelling mistake, it was put there on purpose , and it worked it’s purpose very well :)
So there it is, just a short horror story, hope you enjoy it, as much as I did when writing the final words :)
Glimmer in the night, Footsteps from the dark
- Wait for me guys! – Zack’s voice shouted on the street as he rushed to catch up with his friends.
It was late, too late, way past the time for him to be home. He was the youngest of the group, but no one treated him differently. They’d make some friendly jokes about it, yes, but other than that he was equal to the rest. John and Katie were both 16, Matthew and Lenny 14 and 15, and he was 11, soon to be 12.They were best buddies, always together, taking care of each other. They lived in the same neighborhood, just a few streets separating them and knew one another since they could walk and talk. Through summer, past autumn, into winter and waiting for spring again, they were always up to something, some new game, or new adventure. John could have been their Peter Pan, Katie their Wendy and the rest The Lost Boys. It felt like that sometimes, because all of them looked up to John. He was smart, and had outgrown his age. He would usually think of a game, make up the crazy rules and give everyone parts, and roles and tasks in it. And the games they played, were ones that triggered their imagination, made the invisible-visible, the unknown -familiar, the unbelievable- believable. The neighborhood was their playground, and everyday it was a different set, a different scene. It was like Halloween, only that the costumes they putted on were visible only in their minds. The five of them grew up to love many things, and to always be curious.
One of the reasons Zack could hang out with John and the others up this late today- it was past eleven o’clock PM and he usually was strictly home by nine- was that his parents trusted John, and when John had said they were working on a new creative project in his house three blocks away, which would take some more time, but he will bring Zack back home by 23:30, they were suddenly ok with that, and allowed Zack to stay and participate.
They were more than three blocks away from Zack’s home and not really working on a project at John’s place.
They had been investigating their new playground, an old factory near the railroad. It was unused and according to John would make the perfect setting for a scavenger hunt. He insisted they visit it by nighttime, to feel the place more real, to create the perfect environment for a hunt in their heads. And as John had told them “to take a good look around, and see where the items from the list he’d make might be hidden”
Zack was a bit afraid of the place, but he reckoned it wouldn’t look as scary as now in daylight. And he was excited about the game. John had said there would be a prize in the end for the winner. Nevertheless everyone was a winner in their little games.
Now the group was walking past the elementary school, in the cold autumn night, streets silent, trees silent, all lights off, except for those of the traffic lights and some of the street lamps.
Zack’s shoelaces untied themselves again, for the sixth time and he kneeled down to tie them up, while his friends continued walking up ahead, laughing and singing some scavenger motivating song, unnoticing the lack of his presence. He felt uncomfortable being alone just kneeling there, but the fact that he could still hear and see his friends, made him feel more secure.
Some wind blew from across the street, and made the boy shiver. He was still hearing the loud voices of his friends, but they sounded somehow distant, unfamiliar for a moment, as if the wind was blocking them. Zack stood up, ready to run and rejoin the group. He gave the fence of the school a random look just to reassure himself he doesn’t want to see it at this time of the night again just like the old factory.
The building resembled a massive rock, black, with windows like blind eyes, barely reflecting the light from the lamp across the street. The trees in the yard seemed like tin giants with twisted bodies, reaching out to the starless night. Zack shivered again this time from his own imagination, creating this terrifying vision of the school in his head. The quietness of the hour contributed to these horror themed thoughts of his.
The boy was about the shout out to Jack and the rest to wait but the words died in his throat, and he stopped walking. His body froze because his eye had caught the glimmering of something in the school yard. Now that he was looking straight at it, the glimmer steadied itself and became a glow, that of two big yellow eyes illuminating in the dark, like two flames. They were piercing him through the fence. It was too dark to tell whom they belonged too, but the only reasonable conclusion was that they were dog’s eyes. Zack thought for a moment they belong to some fairy tale beast, to a dragon, or a werewolf. This thinking ceased momentarily when a great, big, black dog walked out of the shadow that the school casted, and stepped into the dim light of a street lamp. It was bigger than any dog Zack had ever seen, even too big for any known to Zack dog breed. Its fur was rough and dirty, but despite that the structure of its body was all muscles; its paws were as big as a horse shoe, its snout wide and long, ears sharp and pointy. Zack’s mind gave a new description to this character of the night- to him this dog looked a bit like the Egyptian god Anubis, only much more massive and impressive. But the only feature Zack couldn’t make a word about was those eyes. They were enchanting, staring right into Zack’s eyes. And they were delving into the boy’s soul and mind. The shimmering was more golden than yellow, and still illuminating through the darkness. It seated, but continued to watch the boy. Zack found that too bizarre. Did it want food, or to play? It didn’t seem aggressive to him, nor was it growling. But still Zack’s heart was going to burst out of his chest, and the cold air was touching his cheeks with its cold kiss, but he did not dare to move. There was something about this dog, something out of the ordinary and a kid at his age could sense that easily. Zack wanted to speak out, call for John and the others, but instead of that he made a whispering sound, addressing the dog:
- Hey boy, it’s ok. I’m not going to hurt you. I don’t want to scare you so please don’t scare me. I will just go now and leave you alone ok? – His voice was shaking with every word he pronounced. He just hoped the dog would understand his good intentions and would just walk off to somewhere. Instead of that it stood up and made a few steps towards Zack. In his terror, he made that which every child or grown up would make- he ran as fast as his feet allowed him, his heart racing even faster out of fear from the terror which could be following him. So he shouted out, waiting for a friendly replay:
- Wait for me guys! – His voice was tin and too loud. He dared not look to see if the dog was following. He didn’t hear heavy footsteps from behind or any movement on the fallen leaves except for his own running shoes. It wasn’t following him, and there was a fence between them, so there was no reason for Zack to worry. A few steps more and he stood beside John and Katie and Matthew and Lenny. He didn’t tell them about what he saw. He didn’t dare. They were braver than him, and would probably want to see the dog too. Zack kept it for himself hoping he’d forget about this terrifying night. Despite his wanting, he would never get rid of the memories of it, nor would ever forget the glimmer of those burning yellow eyes, not now, at age 11 or later at 16, or 18, at 25. He might have not accepted that now, but truth was he would still see the eyes of the beast as his own close on his dying bed. Zack shook his head, casting away the image of the dog for the time being, and started singing the made-up scavenger song with his very best friends on their way home.
The great black dog growled a little, but with joy of the forthcoming hunt and his grin showed many and sharp teeth. It stood up, and stretched its body. Its eyes were changing color, the yellow was fading away making place for a crimson red. His nostrils were filled with the fear of the boy. Terror was in the air, in the night, in the threes. It howled as if it laughed. The hell spawn started walking after the group of friends, slowly, patiently imagining the taste of their souls and flesh in his mouth.