The thing outside
A little horror story.
Alfred Hitchcock said, it’s the things you don’t see that scare you. I wrote this a few years ago as an exercise on that concept.
We shivered in the dark, listening to it scratch against the door. Turning the lights out had not tricked it. It could smell us.
“Let’s go out the back,” my little sister Anita said, casting a nervous glance behind her.
“It moves too fast,” I said, but I glanced behind me as well. It was worth a shot.
Slowly we made our way backwards, feeling behind us, not taking our eyes off the kitchen door. We could hear it outside, scrabbling against the old grainy wood softly, insistently. We got halfway to the back door and then the scratching stopped.
Anita froze. We stared at the door, waiting for it to do something, but nothing was happening.
“We have to shut it inside. Then we can get to the car,” Anita said, pulling the car keys off of the counter and handing them to me.
“Are you crazy?” I whispered back, risking a glance her way. “That means one of us would have to open the door.”
She didn’t flinch. She stared at the door, her long braid resting on her shoulder, her eyes focused, waiting for some noise or indication of what it was doing now. All scratches had stopped. The other side of the door was silent. Too silent.
“Do you think it’s going around to the back door?” Anita whispered.
Suddenly I couldn’t move. I heard a desperate sort of gasp escape my throat.
“What?” She turned to look at me, alarmed.
“The back door isn’t locked,” I choked out.
Anita never hesitated. She dashed to the back room, and I watched her as she raced, her feet thumping loudly on the hardwood floor. It would hear that, I thought. It would hear that and circle around. I could see everything happening in crystal clarity, but was stricken by a horrible paralysis, unable to speak or move fast enough to prevent her from doing what she was doing.
Anita was a yard away from the door when it clicked open before her. Something pale was coming through. Finding my feet, I turned, unable to look, and ran toward the kitchen, toward the door, toward safety.
Anita screamed and screamed.
I burst out of the kitchen and slammed the door shut behind me, but the thick wood only slightly muffled the sound of my little sister dying.
I called her name through the wood. I cried out into the blank night. I kicked the door and pounded until my fist was bloodied with splinters. All this I did. But I could not make myself open that door.
When I paused for breath, there was a wet noise from within the house. It was lingering, distracted by the blood.
I still held the keys in my shaking hand. But I didn’t want to drive away from here, not if she wasn’t with me. Next to the car key was a smaller key with a cheery owl key cover which Anita had bought ages ago; the key to the shed. Where the power tools were kept.
I smiled joylessly.