He had been given the watch on his tenth birthday. It was an ordinary grey plastic wristwatch in every respect except for the fact that it was counting down. “That is all of the time you have left in the world, son. Use it wisely.” And indeed he did. As the watch ticked away, the boy, now a man, lived life to the fullest. He climbed mountains and swam oceans. He talked and laughed and lived and loved. The man was never afraid, for he knew exactly how much time he had left.
Eventually, the watch began its final countdown. The old man stood looking over everything he had done, everything he had built. 5. He shook hands with his old business partner, the man who had long been his friend and confidant. 4. His dog came and licked his hand, earning a pat on the head for its companionship. 3. He hugged his son, knowing that he had been a good father. 2. He kissed his wife on the forehead one last time. 1. The old man smiled and closed his eyes.
Then, nothing happened. The watch beeped once and turned off. The man stood standing there, very much alive. You would think that in that moment he would have been overjoyed. Instead, for the first time in his life, the man was scared.
Did you write the story "hell" because if you did I would love to read any story that you post like that, it is one of my favourite short creepy pastas
I don’t write any of the stories I post here (and source them when a source is available). Sadly I’m not a great writer, art is more of my thing. I am just very grateful there are so many talented people out there writing stories that I can share with my followers.
I don’t know why I looked up, but when I did I saw him there. He stood against my window. His forehead rested against the glass, and his eyes were still and light and he smiled a lipstick-red, cartoonish grin. And he just stood there in the window. My wife was upstairs sleeping, my son was in his crib and I couldn’t move I froze and watched him looking past me through the glass.
Oh, please no. His smile never moved but he put a hand up and slid it down the glass, watching me. With matted hair and yellow skin and face through the window. I couldn’t do anything. I just stayed there, frozen, feet still in the bushes I was pruning, looking into my home. He stood against my window.
Every area in all parts of the world has those area-specific Urban Legends that just refuse to die. Whether the stories are about a haunted asylum on the outskirts of the city, a creature that lives in the nearby woods, or a ghost that haunts a lonely stretch of road outside of town, there is always a common thread within the tales; no one has ever been to these places, seen the creatures, or witnessed any hauntings with their own eyes.
There are members of every generation who will proclaim that they “know someone whose brother’s best friend’s sister went to that haunted house with thirteen floors that used real blood and snakes and spiders and is so scary that no one has ever made it all the way through.” Those same people will swear by these stories without ever being able to provide a shred of evidence or a name of someone who could provide proof of the claims simply because “everyone around here knows that it’s a true story. The storytellers eventually pass the tales onto their children, who modify them just enough to keep up with changing times, and the cycle continues.
I’m as skeptical as anyone when it comes to these stories, seeing as I was like a junkie when I was younger, constantly searching for more terrifying stories about whatever area of the country I was living in at the time. I made up and spread stories about haunted pizza parlors in New York, my “cousin’s” encounter with the Jersey Devil, or how my “grandfather” encountered a feral, human-like demon creature in the woods of Colorado. I even broke the one rule with these stories by putting myself in them; this took guts, in hindsight, because I had to make sure that I always told them the same way. Surprisingly, no one ever called my bluff.
I like to think that I have had some wonderful contributions to various urban legends around the Midwest and northeastern states; I moved around a lot. There was always a surge of joy whenever I would wander the halls at school and hear one of my classmates retelling my stories to another one of their friends, adding little bits here and there like a massive game of telephone. I knew, of course, that the stories were complete fiction, but I stood my ground whenever someone asked me about them; I would even manage to act a little bit, speaking with a shaky voice or looking scared when I would recount a situation that I supposedly experienced myself.
I suppose this aspect of my childhood has led to my current predicament which I will recount, in full, for the internet to take from it what they will. I have laid this little introduction out as sort of a disclaimer, aimed particularly at those who will call my story into question. I have been like the boy who cried wolf for years, but I assure you with every ounce of honesty and integrity that I have that this time, the wolf is real.
From my introduction, it is probably apparent that I moved around the country quite a bit in my middle and high school years. Neither of my parents had anything to do with any branch of the armed forces; they simply didn’t tend to hang around any given place for too long. I suppose it had some sort of effect on me, but I wasn’t hurt by it or anything of the sort. Growing up, I was a complete ham. I made friends very easily, was often the class clown, and because of that, was often disliked by my teachers. Again, this was never an issue, as I was usually in another state by the time the next semester rolled around.
My friendships were often fleeting, as were any positive relationships that I ever had with my teachers. Because of the events that followed, my memory of one teacher in particular is probably slightly skewed, but I will attempt to give the least biased version of our friendship that I can.
Mr. Mays was one of my social studies teachers in the early years of my high school experience. Being older now, I can understand how horrible children are to deal with around that age, and I respect him to no ends for the way that he was able to connect with his students. He seemed like one of us; he talked like us, made pop-culture references that were current, listened to cool music, and sometimes, he would even say “hell” or “damn” while he was giving a passionate lecture about Native American history or something like that. A teacher that swore, even a little bit, was the epitome of cool to a freshman in high school.
My parents constantly try to explain to me how sick he is. That I am lucky for having a brain where all the chemicals flow properly to their destinations like undammed rivers. When I complain about how bored I am without a little brother to play with, they try to make me feel bad by pointing out that his boredom likely far surpasses mine, considering his confine to a dark room in an institution.
I always beg for them to give him one last chance. Of course, they did at first. Charlie has been back home several times, each shorter in duration than the last. Every time without fail, it all starts again. The neighbourhood cats with gouged out eyes showing up in his toy chest, my dad’s razors found dropped on the baby slide in the park across the street, mom’s vitamins replaced by bits of dishwasher tablets. My parents are hesitant now, using “last chances” sparingly. They say his disorder makes him charming, makes it easy for him to fake normalcy, and to trick the doctors who care for him into thinking he is ready for rehabilitation. That I will just have to put up with my boredom if it means staying safe from him.
I hate it when Charlie has to go away. It makes me have to pretend to be good until he is back.
It’s about thirty minutes to midnight when my phone vibrates and starts to blare its ringtone. I jump off the couch and nearly have a heart attack. It’s just another night, one that’s been wonderfully quiet so far. After a chaotic Friday evening that lasted until five in the morning, it’s nice to spend this Saturday alone at home, watching whatever crappy movies are on TV.
I recover and answer it. It’s Mike, though I can barely hear him over the pounding music in the background. “We’re leaving the club now!” he screams. “The girls ditched us and Trent wants to get home early so he can go to church with his family.”
“Sounds good,” I say. “Did you bring enough cash for a cab this time?” Mike’s stories of getting stranded downtown in the middle of the night have become legendary.
“Nah, Jason’s friend has a car. He’s driving us back.”
I frown. “Has he been drinking?”
“Like, one or two beers. He says he’s fine.” He says something to someone nearby, but I can’t make it out. “I’ll be home soon. Don’t worry about staying up for me.”
“Thanks, but I’m not tired. That, and mom and dad told us to always deadbolt the door, and if I do that you won’t be able to get in.”
He laughs. “I’m not sleeping in the front yard again! ‘kay, I’ll be home soon.”
He hangs up and I go back to my movie. There’s something about mindless violence and explosions that just seems so relaxing. Or maybe it’s the fact that school’s finally done for the winter holidays, and my parents wisely decided to go on a cruise with friends for a week before Christmas. Mike and I have the house to ourselves: for him, it means no stern looks when he staggers home reeking of alcohol; for me, it’s no constant reminders to start looking for a job in time for graduation.
The movie goes to its fifteenth commercial and I head to the kitchen for a snack. As I throw a bunch of eggs, cheese and vegetables into a skillet, I hear a loud cracking noise in the backyard. I press my face to the cold, frosty window and look out, but there’s nothing out there but a few bare trees and some fresh-fallen snow. Probably just an animal. It can’t be easy to survive the winter.
My cell phone rings again, so I wander back into the living room to grab it. It’s Mike. I can hear sirens in the background. “Uh, so Jason’s friend kinda, um, lost control of the car.” It sounds like he’s holding the phone half a foot away from his mouth.
“Oh God. What happened?”
“We hit a pole. Car’s totaled, but we’re all okay. I think. Cops are here. They’re talking to the driver.” He laughs. “He’s definitely drunk.”
“They’re ignoring the rest of us, and there’s a bus here so I’m gonna on and get home.”
“Sounds like a plan.” I pause and grimace. “Wait. Do you know what bus to get on?”
“I’ll figure it out. Will call you when I’m close.” He’s gone, and I go back to the movie.
There’s a lull in the action, when attractive male protagonist and attractive female protagonist engage in an awkward sexual conversation, which might have worked if they had any sort of chemistry, and my mind wanders to my job hunt. A few of my classmates say they know great companies to work for—apparently mechanical engineers are invulnerable to the bad unemployment rate—but I’m really not sure if I just want to jump into things. Travelling would be fun. There’d be something immensely rewarding about sending Mike a photo of me on the beach while he’d be studying for midterms in the middle of October. Totally worth passing up on an easy job for.
A sudden blaring noise comes from the kitchen. I jump up into the thick smell of smoke. The omelette. Damn it. There’s about a foot of black smoke hovering in the kitchen. I run in, pull my burnt snack off the stove and open every window, letting the chilling air in. My creation is little more than ash, so I open the backdoor and throw it out for whatever animals are trying to get through the night. So much for that.
There’s some leftover pasta in the fridge. I’m happy to eat it cold; at this point, I’m better off not heating anything up. I settle down and continue the movie, but my mind’s going back to travelling. I’ve always wanted to go across the pond, check out Europe, maybe backpack through Germany, see the sights in France, practice my fake accent in Britain. What’s it like there in the summer? Hot, I’d bet, but not any hotter than it is here. Hopefully less humid.
Again, my ringtone snaps me back to the real world. “Now you pick up!” Mike’s shouting, but I can barely hear him. Wherever he is, the reception is terrible. “I’ve been calling for hours!”
I look at the clock and roll my eyes. “You last called forty-five minutes ago. Where are you?”
“I have no idea. The bus is going in the middle of nowhere. I have no idea where any of these stops are. Hell, I don’t even think they’re in English.”
I sigh loudly. Not this again. “How much did you have to drink?”
“Drink? I can’t even…” He trails off, replaced with a loud, harsh static. I pull the phone from my ear. A few seconds later, it disconnects. Whatever. He’ll find a way home.
The movie eventually ends, but it’s just past midnight and I’m hardly tired. Now I’m regretting allowing my roommate to convince me to leave my gaming console at school. This is the perfect sort of boredom for grabbing a sniper rifle and telling twelve-year-olds how great their moms are in bed. And then Mike could have joined right in. He probably spends more time playing than I do, and he doesn’t even live with me. I think my parents are relieved that we’re going to the same school. He’s been trying his absolute best to get his life back on track, and I’m able to be there in case he needs a shoulder to lean on.
A loud scream comes from the backyard. I go back into the now-freezing kitchen and grab a flashlight from the cupboard. I shine it around, but there’s nothing out there. The remains of the omelet are gone, and there are a ton of paw prints around the area. Racoons? Squirrels? Maybe coyotes? Whatever they were, they moved quickly.
The smoke in the kitchen’s gone. I close all the windows and lie back down in the living room. I guess I doze off, because when I wake up it’s one-thirty in the morning. There’s been no contact from Mike, so I give him a call.
“Hello?” Now it’s like he’s talking into a phone on the other side of the room. “Are you there? Please say something!”
“I’m here,” I say slowly. “Have you figured out the way home yet?”
“I can’t.” Despite the low volume, I can hear panic in his voice. “I’ve been riding for days. Maybe weeks, I can’t tell. Transferring from bus to bus. None of them are going anywhere.” I swear, I can hear him whimper. I can’t help but grin. I’m going to hold this against him for YEARS. “I don’t want to get off. There’s something wrong around here. Something dark. It’s waiting for me.”
“Yeah, it’s called the night, and it’s not very friendly to blackout drunks, now is it?”
“Stop it. Just stop…” He fades away.
“Hello? Mike?” I check my phone. It’s still connected. “If you can hear me, just get off and grab a cab, okay?”
He comes back, with a slightly-clearer voice. “We just passed Wedmore. I recognize this place!”
“That’s good, seeing as we drove by it nearly every single day when we were kids.” I sit up, and suddenly I’m feeling groggy. Time for bed. “Anyway, I’m gonna go—“
“No!” he shouts forcefully. “Please stay. Don’t hang up.”
“Okay…” Now I’m wondering if he took any substances beyond alcohol. It’s like he’s combined the hallucinations of shrooms with the depressants of beer. I grimace. It’s what the old Mike would have done.
“Just… just talk to me. How are things at home?”
“They’re good,” I say. “There’s a bunch of animals outside, making lots of noise. I think they’re racoons, but they could be bears. Might want to watch yourself.”
“Cool.” The connection’s even better. “Just went over the bridge. I’m a few stops away.”
“And there you go. Was there any reason to have been concerned?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.” He pauses. “Man, I cannot wait to get home. I think I can hear my bed calling me.”
“Is it saying ‘Clean me?’”
He laughs, loudly and heartily. “I’m nearly there. Jesus, I’m glad the night is over. Thanks for not hanging up.”
“I’m always here. You know that.”
“It was weird,” he continues, “I couldn’t call or text anyone. I tried to get on Facebook, but it looked really strange. And as soon as you called, I realized where I was. It’s like it came out of nowhere.” His voice rises. “And there’s our street! I’ll call you when I’m near the house. Holy crap, that’s dark…” He hangs up. I go to the front window and look out. All the street lights are on, casting their pale-orange tint on the road. I gaze as far down as I can. No sign of him.
I’m about to go and clean up the kitchen, but my phone rings. “Where the hell is our house?”
I throw my free hand up incredulously. “The same place it’s always been, you idiot?”
“I can’t see it. The street is way too dark. I don’t even know if I’m on the sidewalk or the road.”
“What are you talking about? It’s bright as day out there.” I go over to the front door and flick the outside light a few times, showing off our snow-covered driveway, the one Mike was supposed to shovel before heading out. “There. Can you see—“
“I saw it!” he screams. “The light! Turn it back on!” I do so, even though it adds nothing to the overall brightness of our neighbourhood. “I see it. Okay, yeah, I’m close now.”
I look out the window, but still can’t see him. There’s just a pair of headlights coming down the street. “How close are you?”
“Nearly there. Oh, thank God, I’m nearly there.”
The headlights slow down at my driveway. “Are you in a car?”
“No. Do you know how easy a car would have made all of this?”
I scoff. “I think there’s a lot of things that could have made this easier.”
He’s silent for a moment, and then he sighs. “Look, I know what you’re thinking, but I swear, I only had a few drinks.” His voice lowers. “I’m done with that other stuff. I made that promise, and I’m going to keep it.”
“I know.” The car’s pulling into my driveway. It’s the police. What the hell is going on here?
“I’m steps away. The house has never looked so good,” Mike says. The car stops and two officers get out, both struggling on the slippery driveway. They take their caps off and hold them against their chests.
“What is it?” Mike asks. “I’m at the driveway. Can you see me?”
The world stops around me. This was supposed to be just another night. Everything I’d done—the movie, the omelet, those animals outside, what I’m going to do when I graduate—had been so inconsequential. That was the point. That was the goddamn point.
The officers are walking up the steps. My throat is suddenly very tight, but I manage to get the words out. “Yeah, bro. I can see you.”
“Awesome. I’ll be there in a minute. Thanks for guiding me home.”
“It’s what I’m here for.” I take a deep breath. “See you soon.”
“Can’t wait.” He hangs up. A few seconds later there’s a knock on the door.
I don’t write any of the stories. Most of them are creepypastas I find randomly on the internet, and others are from a subreddit called r/nosleep - where talented people submit original (possibly true) creepy stories.
When I was ten, I played a late night game of flashlight tag with a bunch of neighborhood kids. If you don’t know what flashlight tag is, it’s the same as tag, but you play it in the dark, the person who’s “it” gets a flashlight, and they have to yell the name of the person they see with it in order to “tag” them. It was really cloudy that night, and most people had their curtains drawn, so it was the perfect level of darkness for hiding in.
The side of the street my house was on was skirted by a broad length of woods. That was basically the boundary for our side of the game. You could run through any yard, even go across the street and run through their yards, but you weren’t allowed to hide in the woods, because it was too difficult to find anyone in there, and it was very easy to trip over tree limbs or end up with poison oak. Of course, this rule was frequently and flagrantly ignored when people got too close to being caught. They’d duck off into the bushes for a few seconds, or run behind a group of trees to evade capture.
I don’t remember who was it at the time, but I was hiding in a backyard two houses down from my house. The family that lived there had a little playhouse for their daughter, a swing set and a doghouse but no dog. I would periodically duck into the doghouse whenever I saw the flashlight’s searching beam approaching. Those of us trying to hide from the “it” person liked to spook each other in the dark by jumping out of nowhere and making each other scream, giving away our positions.
I thought I knew where the “it” guy was, but I got comfortable hanging out on the swing set. Suddenly, a person with a flashlight came around the corner of the house and angled it almost directly at me. I jumped and ran for the edge of the woods. When I got there, I hovered in case they saw me and were going to yell at me for cheating. The beam of light seemed to explore the swing set where I was, then came in my direction, but there was no sense of hurry at all to it, and I wondered for a second if maybe I’d attracted the attention of the homeowner. Most people on the block knew we were out playing flashlight tag, but you never can be sure that someone won’t get nervous if you stay in their yard too long. So I crouched down in the grass and waited to see who it was.
They shined the light right in my face and I tried to cover it with my hand to avoid identification. The creepy thing was, they never said anything, just shined that light on me.
"You got me!" I exclaimed, hoping that if it was a homeowner, they’d realize I thought they were the flashlight tagger. Then I realized that two houses down, people were yelling and there was the "it" guy’s flashlight beam chasing them around.
I stood up and tried to see who was shining the light on me. They just stood there, not moving, not saying anything. I felt a little freaked out.
"If you don’t want us playin’ in your yard, I’ll go tell them it’s off limits, okay?"
The person started walking toward me. I didn’t feel right, so I started walking toward the edge of the yard. The person just kept shining the light on me and coming toward me.
So I ran.
When I looked back, the person with the flashlight was running too, and they were an adult, much bigger and much faster than me. I felt scared now, not sure why this person was chasing me. I was running toward where the other kids had been, but they were gone now. It just seemed to be me and the person with the flashlight. So I turned right and ducked into the woods. I dropped to the ground, shaking bushes and stuff to try to confuse the person, then shimmied under a ring of thick bushes and curled up. I could see the flashlight in the woods with me, looking around. I could hear the person’s footsteps breaking sticks and crunching on pine needles. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on, and I just wanted to get back to all the other kids. Eventually, the flashlight wandered deeper into the woods and I crawled quiet as a mouse back to the edge of the trees and then got up and ran toward the street.
I was immediately caught by the person who was “it”, but I didn’t care. He yelled loud that I was now “it” and I tried to tell him that there was someone else with a flashlight wandering around in the woods, but he took off into the dark yelling about “no tag backs”.
"Don’t go in the woods!" I yelled, but nobody responded. Of course, any who heard me would just assume I was talking about not cheating at the game, but I was sincerely worried about that person wandering around in them. Of course, now I had a flashlight of my own, so I thought, I should go and see if I can find out who that was, just to make myself feel better.
I went back behind the house I’d come from and a bunch of laughing shadows scampered out of sight into neighboring yards. I ignored them and headed straight for the trees. I couldn’t see any other light in there, so I thought, maybe he went home. I didn’t know if it was a man or a woman, but I didn’t imagine any women trudging through the woods at night.
So I went about playing the game again, albeit anxious because of the lingering thought that there was someone wandering in the woods who didn’t seem to be playing the game with us. I ran across the street and chased people through the backyards there, but after a while I found the lots empty and realized that they must have gone back across the street. I ran back over and was exploring the Beeches’ backyard. Mrs. Beeche had a clothesline with a bunch of drying sheets on it, and her daughter Charlotte liked to hide among the linens and stay close to home in case she got too scared of the dark. She was only a year younger than me.
I thought I heard something at the tree line, so I went over and was waving the flashlight around into the woods.
"Stay outta the woods!" I remember yelling. I waved the flashlight back and forth a couple more passes, then saw someone off in the distance. I held the light on whoever it was. They were about half a job into the woods, hard to make out, but it looked to me like Charlotte. Charlotte had brown hair that her mother insisted on keeping shoulder length. We always dressed dark for flashlight tag, and Charlotte liked to wear this deep purple sweatshirt, so it was usually easy to tell when you had found her.
"Charlotte I see you!" I yelled. She just stood there. I continued to hold the light on her and call her name, but she didn’t seem to move. She stood there partially obscured by a tree and looked at me. The distance between us was enough that I couldn’t see if she was blinking or not, but she had her head propped at an angle like she was looking around the trunk at me with her mouth hanging slightly open. Every now and then she sorta twitched or squirmed. It was a real freaky kinda movement.
"Charlotte! Come out of there!" I yelled. "Everybody! Charlotte’s it, but she won’t come out of the woods!" Some kids including my friend Dustin appeared behind me and started joining in my yell for Charlotte to come out.
"Do you see her?" I asked.
"Yeah, she’s over behind that tree. Charlotte, get over here!" Dustin said. But she wouldn’t come. "Charlotte, are you okay? Get over here, dummy!"
Charlotte seemed to stand up straighter and then disappear behind the tree. We could hear movement, but it seemed to be going away rather than toward us. Dustin started shouting Charlotte’s name again and trudging into the woods after her, but I grabbed him and gave him the flashlight to take with him. I was scared again, because this all seemed surreal. I went to Charlotte’s house and knocked until her father answered.
"Mr. Beeche, Charlotte won’t come out of the woods, and I’m worried about her," I told him. I wasn’t sure if he’d take me seriously, but he rolled up his newspaper and disappeared into the closet behind the door for a moment before returning with a huge flashlight strapped to a car battery.
"Show me where she is," he told me, so I lead him to the woods and pointed to where I’d seen her.
"She was right there," I said, "by a tree, but she wouldn’t come out and she was acting like she was sick or something." A bunch of the other kids kept calling Charlotte, Charlotte and I could see Dustin’s flashlight beam moving around through the trees. Mr. Beeche went in after him.
They explored the woods for a good fifteen to twenty minutes, and Mr. Beeche started getting real angry. We could hear him yelling very loudly for Charlotte, threatening her with all sorts of punishments if she didn’t get her ass back in the backyard that instant. The game was over by now, and we kids just stood there in the Beeches’ back yard among the linens and watched. Dustin came running back out of the bushes with a dead flashlight. Eventually, Mr. Beeche came back out of the woods.
"Game over, kids," he said, "Get inside. Ask your folks if they can help me and to bring flashlights."
We all ran back home. My dad went out with three different flashlights. My mother went and turned on all the lights in the back rooms and opened the curtains and shades to help illuminate the back yard. I sat on the couch all upset and she eventually came back and hugged me and sat with me while I told her about the person with the flashlight chasing me and how I thought maybe Charlotte had run into him.
Mr. Beeche had gone inside and called them to report a missing child. They brought huge lights and did a march through the woods checking very thoroughly, but didn’t find her. My mother told my dad what I’d told her, he told an officer and I ended up giving a statement. They went to the house three doors down and knocked, but the folks that lived there had been asleep and didn’t know who would have been in their backyard. The police asked all up and down the neighborhood, but nobody claimed to know anything.
The other end of the woods came to a back road mainly used by logging trucks. They found Charlotte two days later, on the other side of the logging road, down an embankment that ended at a stream, stuffed into a drain pipe. Her neck had been broken and she was apparently stabbed multiple times afterward. My parents wouldn’t tell me about it, they thought it would upset me, but Dustin told me all the details at school the next day.
It was the most awful thing our town had ever had happen. The police blocked off the logging road and spent months tracking down loggers and truckers who frequently used it. There was a curfew for months and we were told not to play flashlight tag anymore. We didn’t argue.
What leaves me shaking to this day is the memory of Charlotte’s face, hanging out from behind the tree, looking at me. Sometimes I wonder if at that moment, I had been witnessing her death. And I wonder if that had almost been me.
Still a bit sick, but I'll keep the updates coming!
I’m still dealing with some lingering health issues, but I’m determined to keep updating at least twice a week. If I haven’t answered your ask yet don’t worry, I’ll try getting to them this weekend. I am feeling much better at least, and great bloggers like Sixpencee have really helped me keep my blog active by posting great content that I can reblog (with credit to the original source of course).
Thank you all for sticking with me even though I’m not the best at keeping this tumblr updated consistently. I’m so lucky to have so many amazing followers :)