There was no moon in the ink-black sky. The October air was thick with an unsettling
stillness as Jack stumbled home through the narrow alleyways, his heart
pounding in his chest. The ominous silence pressed in on him, amplifying the
echo of his own footsteps.
He had just finished his shift behind the bar, and
the night had enveloped the town in a shroud of darkness. Wasn't there supposed
to be a full moon tonight? The full moon
brings out the "weird" in people. All the customers were acting like
it was a god-damned full moon.
But the only source of light came from flickering
streetlamps, casting long, distorted shadows that seemed to dance with the
rhythm of a dream. This town had always been a quiet place, but tonight, it
felt different—malevolent, as if the very air itself was conspiring against him and everyone else. Bob and
Lara had been fighting and they never fought in public. Bob was rude to him when he came to pay his
tab. Or maybe Jack was just projecting. Maybe he had just had one too
many. Drinking at work was a bad habit
he knew he needed to examine, but it's usually easier not to look too closely.
Jack quickened his pace, his senses on high alert. The distant rustle of leaves in the gutter gave him a slight chill. At least there was a touch of breeze. He couldn't stand the damned oppressive
feeling of stillness. There was also a
feeling of being watched that he just couldn't shake. It clung
to him like a suffocating fog. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw nothing but
the empty, dimly lit streets stretching out behind him.
As he turned a corner, a sudden gust of wind
cut through the narrow alley. At the same moment the feeble light of the flickering streetlamp winked out. Jack's heart skipped a beat, and he fumbled in his
pocket for his phone, the cold metal a reassuring presence in his trembling
hand. The flash on his phone hadn't worked since he dropped it in the sink one drunken night last month, so that wasn't much help. The pale glow of the screen offered little comfort as he scanned the
shadows for any sign of movement. He put it back in his pocket and reached for the hip flask. That's the only place comfort was found anymore.
He took a few quick knocks of the bourbon, put it away tidily in its
accustomed place, then quickened his pace, the rhythmic tap of his boots now
a desperate cadence. He was just ready to get home, have a drink, and not think about his
life. And not think about Lara. Or... her.
In the distance, a sound echoed—a soft, eerie whisper that made his
blood run cold. "Jack," it hissed, carried on the wind, barely
audible but unmistakably there. Panic froze him as he stumbled forward, his mind racing with a hundred horrifying possibilities.
Could it be Bob? Did Bob know about
what had happened with Lara? Is that why
they were fighting tonight? It was a relatively innocent kiss on the cheek, but Jack knew what that meant. Lara was always coming into the bar to blow
off some steam, and Jack didn't mind listening.
She was really a pretty great woman.
The alley seemed to stretch on forever and the walls felt like they were closing in on him, like the jaws of some architectural beast. He could feel eyes on him, unseen but
undeniably present. Every instinct screamed at him to run. But that
was stupid. What good was running going
to do? He was probably too drunk to run
Before he could muster a plan, a sharp chill cut through the air and Jack's breath
hitched as he saw his own frosty exhale. The temperature plummeted suddenly, and a weird mist coiled around his ankles. He saw this and stumbled forward, as if he were trying to avoid being entangled by the fog. He fell flat on his face. The darkness seemed to solidify into a tangible, ominous presence.
Suddenly, a whisper echoed through the alley again,
closer this time. "Jack, why did you do it?" The voice was haunting, full of a lament that froze him in place. His mind raced to
make sense of the words, but reason eluded him as the shadows closed in. The only
dumb thought he could muster was, "Not Bob."
As he found his footing and stood, Jack felt a cold breath on the back of his neck, an eerie sensation that
sent full-on shivers
down his spine. He whipped around, his eyes wide with terror, but there was nothing
there—just the empty alley and the suffocating blackness.
With a burst of adrenaline, he sprinted towards the
end of the alley, the haunting whispers fading behind him. The town square
loomed ahead; its skeletal trees somehow impossibly silhouetted against the pitch black sky. Gasping
for breath, Jack stumbled into the open, praying that the nightmare was over.
The square offered no respite. The wind howled through the branches,
a wall of white noise that drowned out all other sounds. Jack's footsteps echoed
in the emptiness, and he felt the undeniable weight of that still-unseen gaze upon him. He turned in every direction,
darkness for any sign of his tormentor.
And then, a voice—an unsettling amalgamation of
whispers—surrounded him. "Jack, you can't escape. We're always with
you." The words seemed to come from all directions, an omnipresent force
that penetrated the very core of his being. He clamped his hands over his ears,
trying to block out the haunting sound, but it seeped through, a relentless
assault on his sanity.
With each step, the whispers grew louder, more
insistent. Jack felt his mind unraveling, the boundaries between reality and
nightmare blurring. He stumbled to the ground, his screams drowned out by the spectral cacophony that enveloped him.
In that moment of despair, as the unseen attacker
closed in on him, a sudden clarity pierced through the fog of his terror. Jack's
eyes widened in drunken realization,
and he whispered a name—a name that had plagued him in every sober moment since the day it happened.
The whispers ceased abruptly, leaving an eerie
silence in their wake. The shadows receded, and the oppressive chill lifted.
Jack sat there, breathless and wracked with tears, as the full moon bathed the town square in its pale light. The weight of the unseen
gaze had vanished, replaced by a profound emptiness.
And then, in the stillness, a soft, haunting voice
echoed from the night,
carrying a message that sent a chill down Jack's spine.
"Jack, you will never be alone."
As the words hung in the air, the truth dawned on him
with chilling clarity—the unseen attacker, the haunting whispers... were truly ghosts. They were the ghosts of a life he had tried to forget. Sarah and
Little Jack Jr.
The bourbon helped sometimes. He
reached for his flask.