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Short Stories

Quick & Creepy Fiction

The Man In Dark Places

My son, Sam, has always been such a good sleeper. He’s four years old, so that’s saying something. Once they hit two or three, that’s when the fun seems to start. He’s usually very well-behaved, but he can be a little wild sometimes. Anyway, I’m a single father and with no mother figure in the picture, so raising a son can be particularly challenging.

                When this all started two weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it. We were outside one afternoon, and he was playing in his sandbox in the backyard. He then just stops and stared off into the tree line at the edge of our property. He was smiling and just staring into the trees as if something was there, amusing him. Then, just as quickly, he went right back to playing again. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I did feel a chill, despite it being a warm, sunny day. I didn’t ask him what was looking at in the woods, and now, looking back, I’m glad I didn’t.

                A couple days later, I’m picking him up from my mother’s house in town. After I get him strapped in, he looks at me with sudden concern and says, “The man is gone, Daddy. Where did he go?” Confused, I just say, “What man, Sam?”

                “The man from before. He’s not here.”

                Confused I say to him. “What man from before?”

                “The man in the dark places.”

                I’ve heard stories of little kids seeing ghosts and spirits, but I never believed in it. I’ve never seen a ghost or anything supernatural, so at the time, I just thought he saw something on TV at my mother’s place.

                Later that night as I was tucking him in for bed, I noticed he was grinning at me. Then he started to giggle. Naturally I started to laugh too, and I asked him what was so funny. When he didn’t respond, I realized he was looking not at me, but directly behind me. My smile faded as I looked over my shoulder and into the dark hallway. By blood ran cold, but immediately I just dismissed it. This can’t be real. I’m letting the imagination of my four-year old get the best of me. Then I asked him, “What do you see?” He then looked at me and his face seemed to drop slightly as he said, “The man in the hallway, he’s making funny faces at you.” I turn to look into the empty hallway. I just passed it off as his imagination, though it was pretty creepy, I must say.

                I finish tucking him in and I go out into the living room to watch some TV before bed. Like most guys who stay up and watch TV, before long it was just the TV watching me, asleep in the recliner. Now, the waking mind can do a number on your senses. Hypnagogic hallucinations are when you are at the midpoint of falling asleep or waking up and you either feel like you’re falling, or you hear or see things that aren’t there. When I awoke in the recliner, I was hearing thumping footsteps on the hardwood flooring, heading my way from my son’s bedroom. I turned and looked down the hallway, trying to see in the pale light of the TV glow, but nothing was there. I heard some more steps and then it stopped, and all I could hear was the very low volume of the infomercial for a carpet cleaner. I then heard a deep voice whisper my name, “Bennie”, in my left ear and then everything went cold all over my body. I flung up from the recliner and landed an amazing distance across the dark room. I switched the lights on; nobody there. Of course, why would there be anybody there? I waited for a few minutes and then decided to turn everything off and head to bed. I passed everything off as a trick of the waking mind, though the chill that went through me seemed real enough. I thought I could smell the faint scent of cigarettes as I passed through the living room and into the hallway, but it was gone as soon as I took another breath. I ducked my head into Sam’s room as I walked by, just to make sure that he was alright, and there he was, fast asleep, like he usually is at so late an hour.

                It was quiet for another week after that. Life was going on as usual. Just two days ago, when I picked Sam up from my mother’s, there wasn’t any talk about the “man in the dark places”. That evening, we were outside just as the sun was going down. Unexpectedly, Sam stopped looking for lightning bugs and turned to me and said, “This is where he died.” He was pointing at the ground in front of him. “He wants us to go away. He doesn’t want to be friends.” I honestly didn’t know what to say at that point. Where he received all of this information from, I have no idea.

“Who doesn’t want to be friends?” I asked, with slight trepidation.

“The man in dark places.” This was the answer I was afraid he might give.

I paused for a second, “Come on, Sam.” I ushered him inside with the promise of ice cream.

That night, I tucked him in, but he said he was scared and wanted to sleep in bed with me, so I agreed.

                We both fell asleep rather quickly. Everything was so quiet, so I decided to keep the ceiling fan on, more for the white noise than the air circulation. I slept well, until I heard something very strange. Sobbing or very quiet laughter, one of the two. Upon waking I realized it was Sam. He was sitting straight up and sobbing quietly, looking at the closed door to the bedroom. I sit up and ask him what’s wrong. Before he answers I hear the door knob try to turn. My heart stopped.

                For reasons I don’t exactly feel like sharing, I keep my bedroom door locked. Whoever was out there, wasn’t getting in unless they picked the lock or busted the door down. As quietly as I could, I leaped out of bed and grabbed the baseball bat I keep near the bed.

“Sam, listen to me.” I whisper over to him. It takes a moment before I can get his attention.

“I need you to hide, can you do that for me?” He sniffs and nods and proceeds to climb underneath the bed. Good enough. There’s enough junk under there for him to hide behind.

I leaned against the wall next to the bedroom door, steadily watching as the door knob kept trying to turn. Then suddenly, it stopped. Through the silence I could hear my heartbeat blasting in my ears. I am completely awake at this point. The lock starts to turn, and the door slid open without contest. My blood ran as cold as ice water. Without thinking I leapt in front of the open door and lifted the bat high in the air, preparing for the worst.

But there was no one there.

                As I stepped into the hallway, I noticed that it seemed much cooler than the bedroom had been. I glanced into the dark hallway and could not see a thing, except for the faint glow of the nightlight in the bathroom. I squinted to try to see better, but still nothing. I began to turn all the lights on in the house, only to find nobody there at all. Reassured that no one was in the house, I started to turn the lights back off and walked towards my room down the hallway. Nearing the bedroom, I looked up.

What I saw in the mirror, there, will haunt me until the day I die. I saw myself in my pajamas, but also the large, dark shadow with a pale face, twisted and contorted, grinning in the most maniacal way you can imagine. The eyes were empty, a vacuum, devoid of light and life. As I am recalling this, I still feel the chill go through me. I spun around to see nothing, and as I did, three pictures flew off the wall and into the opposite wall, shattering glass everywhere. I then felt a forceful push on my chest, slamming me into the ground. The deep bellow that I heard sounded like it came from the bowels of hell, because I had never heard anything like it before in my life. The door to my bedroom then slammed shut and my son started screaming. The lights then all went out and all I can remember is Sam screaming and a sound as if the house was caving in around us.

                I felt a fear unlike any I have felt before. This fear was suppressed, however. When a parent hears their child screaming in the face of certain death, something miraculous happens. I am by no means a heroic guy or brave in any sense of the word, but at that moment as I was lying there listening to the screams of my son, I became something different. Something primal.

Whatever this thing was, I knew I wouldn’t let it take my son from me. I burst through the door to find my son gripping onto the bed as if he was being pulled at. I snatched him up and ran out of the house and into my car. I probably left an inch of rubber, peeling out of the driveway to escape whatever was in that house. 

                My son and I are doing fine now, we’re staying at my mother’s place. He has trouble sleeping at night, which is understandable. I am currently having the house blessed and have since found out that the previous owner was a man named Philip Jones. He died in the back yard from a heart attack. After his death, he was linked to the murders of seven children and three women.

He truly was a man in dark places.

Brian CummingsComment