The Visitor

Note: Below you will find a rejected short horror story. The story needed to be under 600 words, feature a post-apocalyptic setting, and have a theme of love and loss. Though it was rejected I enjoyed the process. It was challenging but very rewarding. Enjoy!

The man who hated the world stared out the ash-covered window of his decaying house. Walking up to the house was a raggedy girl wearing tattered clothes. She was no more than 10 years old but she carried herself with great familiarity. The man pursed his lips in thought. 

Why is she here again?

When the seas dried up and the sun faded to an ashy smudge, a sickness fell upon humanity. It did not take long for the world to start eating itself. The rule of flesh was all for one and one for all. So the man would forever watch from the shadows of the house to make sure these murdering madmen stayed away. But sometimes they sent children. 

When the girl entered the house of ruination she did so without fear. The man, hidden in shadow, watched her with great curiosity. Careful to not make a noise, he followed as she gingerly walked up the broken staircase. That is when he saw the crude shiv in her pocket. She was surely one of the flesh-eaters.

He waited for her to reach the top of the staircase. Like she always did, she took a left and entered a room. The man gritted his teeth and followed. 

In the past, he had allowed this little girl the freedom to explore and take, but now, after seeing the knife, he had to but a stop to it. He had to kill her before she killed him. 

Before the greying of the world, he was a man of science and not a murderer of children. But was it not him who gave it to them? Thus, making him a murderer of worlds? The reminder sent a shot of anger and guilt through him as he reached the room upstairs. 

He waited and listened carefully. Was she…crying? 

Of course, thought the man. This little beast was well trained. She knew he was there. This was a trap. The man shifted his view so that he could peer through the crack of the door in hopes of seeing the would-be assassin. She wasn’t hiding. She was sitting Indian style in the middle of the floor, crying and holding something.

He should go inside and strangle her. That’s what he should do. Just get it over with. But, his old-world self could not find the strength to act. But why?

Her crying. It reminded him of what was and what could never be. The floorboards groaned as the weight of this thought made him shift with unease. 

The girl stood up and looked back at the door. The man froze as he saw her dirty and tear-streaked face. 

“Hello?” called out the girl. 

Silence fell between them. The man dare not move. 

“Are you there?” said the girl again. 

A voice from downstairs interrupted.

“Rose, time to go!”

Before the man could move, the girl named Rose opened the door and walked through him. 

Turning, she looked briefly towards the man. Her eyes searching.  

The man, perplexed, watched her leave before turning to the room. It was a child’s bedroom.

His eyes moved to a moth-eaten mattress where a skeleton lay holding a rusted gun. The man’s eyes fell to where the child was crying. On the floor was a picture of him holding the girl called Rose in a field of summer dandelions. 

Suddenly, he remembered the good: the smell of spring rain, the sounds of summer, the goodnight butterfly kisses. 

But then he remembered the betrayal,  the bullet, the loneliness. And suddenly the ghost of the man hated everything once again.  

Neon Ghosts

Kyle Brown came home late one night tripping on mushrooms. These are not the mushrooms that you put in your salad, however you probably can do so. It would entirely depend on how weird you are.

The kind that Kyle Brown took were inter-dimensional. They’re the kind that make time deathly slow as you see everything in neon. It was on Halloween that he came home tripping on these shrooms.

Kyle reached for his doorknob and the doorknob glowed with a brilliance that he could not describe nor truly comprehend. So he laughed in euphoria and entered his studio apartment.

The single pumpkin light in the far corner of his studio glowed in a fiery orange smile much like it had done before but this time it was alive with color. This was no doubt the result of the drugs that he had consumed three hours earlier. With a swift twist of his wrist Kyle locked the door. He was safely inside or so he thought.

Kyle hummed to himself as he slipped off his tired loafers. That’s when he felt it. Something was clogging up the studio apartment atmosphere. Whatever it was Kyle did not like it. He slowly lifted his head up and scanned the room to see a neon glowing sheet ghost sitting on his sagging sofa.

Kyle could hear his heart howling to get out of his chest. He blinked and blinked but the classic sheeted ghost that glowed so brilliantly neon did not go away as hoped. It flashed orange, red, purple, green and blue. It was not in that order. It seemed to have no order in its display.

The ghost reminded Kyle of those freaky fluorescent flashing fish that hang out in the darkest depths of the ocean. The ones that they always showed on ocean specific documentaries for late-night television viewing. Television was something he could turn off. This was not something he could turn off or make go away. Without taking his spiraling eyes off the paranormal intruder, Kyle slowly reach for the light switch.

” DO NOT TURN ON THE LIGHTS!” said a soft childlike voice that slipped out from underneath the folds of the sheeted ghost.

“uh, why?” was the only thing his cosmic lit brain could think to say.

The ghost did not answer but instead swiftly and effortlessly stood up from its sitting position as if it was hoisted up by an invisible string. The ghost was nearly ten feet tall. It’s rounded head scraped the ceiling. The head slowly turned towards Kyle and revealed two black eyes and black moaning mouth.

“You dick!” roared Kyle as he fell on the floor in disbelief.

The ghost started laughing hysterically. He pointed at Kyle and buckled over in glee. Slapping his ghost knee he bellowed out, “I got you, you stupid dink!”

Kyle shook his head and stared at the laughing asshole.

“Booghoulie, I could fucking kill you!

“That’s what you get for doing shrooms without me.”

Kyle looked at his laughing ghost roommate with a face as cold as a tombstone. How could he hate this sad sack of a ghost? After all he was his best friend.

“Besides,” said Booghoulie. “I’m already dead!”

Kyle exploded in a fit of laughter at this obvious truth. The small, drab studio apartment was quickly filled with joy for nothing is better than having a best friend in life and in death.