Short Stories

Short Story: Skin-Deep

She heard in the distance barking turning into a howl as she made her way home. She didn’t need her sixth sense to tell her to run, but she refused. There were no monsters in the night. Not without her knowing, at least. So she slowed her steps and heart beating down by taking a deep breath in. The howling continued on as more and more dogs joined in. The lights over her began to flicker, and she hated how cliché this was. Still, she had to remind herself not to let her imagination get better of her, not over the facts. If there was a possible encounter with anything really, she knew how to defend herself.

As much as she wanted to ignore the fact that there was a distinctive foot pattern following her, she couldn’t. She nonchalantly glanced over her shoulder, seeing a man in a hoody following her. Part of her reassured the mind not to jump to any conclusions, but the other part, which was buddies to her sixth sense, knew when it saw evil or anything eerie for the matter. The dogs had a good reason to bark and howl. They were trying to warn her, smelling more than a human nose attached to a faulty brain could.

She picked up the speed, ignoring the rational arguments. So did the steps behind her turn quicker. She gasped. There had been reports about women going missing and being found dead in the nearby park. Such a thing had happened just a night ago. She bit her lip and clutched her purse. She shouldn’t have gone out just because she had a hankering for chocolate with her bedtime tea. How stupid one could be.

She looked around. There was no one else except the two of them. Why would anyone go out in this god-forsaken hour when there was a cold drizzle and the city’s fish plants smelled extra strong. No one but her, it seemed. And it wasn’t until few blocks before there were any houses near. She would have to get over the bridge and run a block or two. She quickened her steps to running. The man behind her began to run as well. She could hear his heavy breathing and his feet thudding against the pavement. Fuck, she thought. The lights kept flickering over her, and as her breathing got laborious, they went out.

There was only one option, and she knew it. She shouldn’t, but there was no mistaking the man’s intention any longer. Somewhere there was a knife and intent to kill. So she stopped and faced him. He was startled, but the fright passed away, turning into a grin. That soon melted away as he fully saw her in the darkness. She rarely saw herself in her full form, but the color draining from the man’s face and the body turning wooden told her that she wasn’t pleasant to look at.

The tentacles growing out of her sleeves reached the man, grabbing him to a tight hold. He screamed. She pulled him closer, seeing a reflection of a blurred creature with bright glowing eyes and a row of sharp teeth snarling. Only then she heard the gurgle coming from her throat.

The man gasped, trying to scream, but he just managed to get short, shallow breaths in. And as she peered deeper into his eyes, trying to get a better look, the man went limp. He stopped breathing, and there was only a faint pulse until it even died out. She let go of him, laying the man carefully down. The eyes were still open. Once again, she saw her reflection, the features of her long black hair against the diamond-shaped face with a small nose. The tentacles turned into hands, and the streetlamps turned back on. The barking was gone.

She looked at the dead man, wondering, had she gone out this late and taken this route on purpose? She lowered down next to the man, putting her hands on his chest, tying them together. She pressed against the chest several times, hearing the sternum crack. The sound made her grimace. Finally, she let go, reaching for her phone to call 911.

Thank you for reading, have a happy day ❤

© K.A. Ashcomb

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