Here you are with a short horror story written today and in honour of Black Friday. I started from scratch a few hours ago, and I've worked really hard to bring it to the boil in time to serve it up for you on this day of rampant consumerism.
I've taken the term “Black Friday ” and given it my own special twist and a dash of added darkness. I hope you enjoy it.
Sophie loved living off-grid. Ever since Mum and Dad had brought the family to this blessed corner of Dartmoor five years ago, when she’d been just ten, she’d felt at home.
Tonight, she is running home, leaving the village bus stop behind her, with its gaggle of gossiping teenagers, as fast as she can. She jogs as far as her gate, then lets herself in and dashes through the orchard, her hot breath pulsing plumes of mist into the chill November air. For a moment, memories of her day impinge on the moment: the looks on her classmates’ faces when they’d found out she’d never seen Friends; the taunts and teasing that had lasted all afternoon; the sneering at her clothes, her hairstyle, her failure to own a smartphone.
Sophie pauses by the old plum tree at the edge of the orchard and rests her back on its calloused bark, throwing her head back to gaze up into the twisted web of gnarled branches. A robin tilts its head inquiringly.
“What do those kids know?” Sophie whispers. “They’re like sheep.” Although, when she thinks of it, her dad’s flock of white faced ewes are better company.
Sophie sighs, and the robin takes flight, chirping in indignation. “You’re right,” Sophie says, “it’s time I was home.” She strolls towards the farmhouse, drinking in the sweet scents of damp earth and softly mouldering leaves. At least she has the weekend to look forward to.
After a dinner of shepherd’s pie and cabbage braised with apple, Sophie curls up on the old leather chair in front of the fire and listens to the logs crackle and spit. She opens her second-hand copy of Far From the Madding Crowd, and soon she’s lost in the world of Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak.
When her dad comes in and sinks into the sofa with a sigh, Sophie doesn’t look up from her book.
“Have you shut your hens up for the night?” he asks.
And Sophie moans and hangs her head. “Can’t I just leave it tonight?”
“Of course,” Dad says. “I’ll just ask the foxes to take the night off.”
Sophie rolls her eyes and heaves herself from her warm chair. “Don’t pinch my seat,” she says as she stomps off to find her boots.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Dad replies, though it had been his first thought. “Take a torch,” he calls after his daughter. “It’s pitch black tonight.”
Outside, Sophie cranks the handle to charge her torch, then switches it on and sets off across the farmyard. The white beam bobs across the ground as she picks her way through the puddles. She hums a tune and glances left and right, seeing nothing but inky emptiness, hearing nothing but the wind whistling around the big barn across the yard.
Leaning against the wall, in the shadow of the barn, the man watches the tiny white light flicker and dance through the darkness. You’re late, he thinks, and runs a hand across his mouth.
* The End *
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