Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » General

12+

A drive into the woods

by Dilbert64


Thomas gazed out from the windscreen of his car. The inky night was clouded over. Without its gleaming stars, it appeared dead, uncaring and empty. The streetlights were like spotlights casting a harsh glare upon him with their pale eyes. Thomas glanced back to his girlfriend in the back of the car, he thought back to the house, had he cleaned everything sufficiently? Surely he had, he was just being paranoid he told himself.

Thomas looked at his meter. His engine was gasping for petrol to continue, he knew he would have to stop, to halt their escape. He moaned with worry. No, no, he couldn't succumb to anxiety now, there was still the note. The note that would tell them all that he and his girlfriend, his beloved Charlotte, had eloped together and were starting a new life, a life free of the pressures that had crushed Charlotte for so long. Her parents never understood her like he had, thought Thomas. He remembered a all the nights she had cried into his arms about her mother's cutting words that stabbed like needles, or her father's constant disapproving stare. They had planned this escape for so long.

The petrol station was just ahead. The cameras that hid on the cold concrete walls would soon document his location. NO! Thomas thought, stop this, they'll forget you as soon as you leave and nobody will ever find either of you. Breathing heavily as he refilled his car, and entered the station. Every step sent spears of dread through him, the lady at the counter would surely notice his skaky movements, the bags that rested beneath his eyes. But she did not react and he left the station shaking like a boy leaving bed at night, afraid of the monsters that might reach out and grab him.

Again on the road, Thomas remembered when he and Charlotte had first met, the snowy day she had moved in next to him. They had so much in common, and despite everything, she radiated joy. He loved her so much, and the day that he found out that she felt the same was the happiest day of his life. Thomas couldn't help but glance back at her and smile at the memories they had painted in their minds together.

Exhaustion grasped at Thomas' eyelids, and his vision began to swirl into a drunken stupor, but he wouldn't stop. Not now. Every driver he passed seemed to be... glaring? Did they know? Why were they glaring? They didn't know. They couldn't know. What right did they to cast judgement on him? They couldn't understand. But why did they watch him like this? And the trees. The Winter corpses whose bodies shone with a ghostly glow in the headlights of his car, like skeletal arms reaching out from the ground. What was between them? Thomas could see dark figures watching him in slips of darkness that lurked between the trees. He knew they were there. They were watching him. No... No. He had to ignore them they couldn't truly be there. 

Thomas needed to distract himself. He recalled his and Charlotte's trip to Oxford, they were so happy, so free. But then the arguments. The blazing rows. Searing red pokers of rage ran through him at the memories, doused with a cold wash of sadness and regret. They had planned so much. They were going to escape everything,  but she backed out, she couldn't do it she said. He was so angry, he thought she had betrayed him. Thomas remembered this morning. The morning he saw sense, he was going to apologise and everything would be okay again. He remembered the packed bags and how she told him she was leaving. He remembered how desperate he was to stop her, to explain himself.

He remembered what happened next.

The car stopped. They were here. Thomas turned to Charlotte in the back. He saw her face pictured her smile in his head. The smile that was now frozen in shock and fear. The red thag dribbled down her forehead clashed with the sickly white shad that her face had turned.

'She's dead.' Thomas said out loud. He hadn't said it before. He hadn't fully accepted what he had done until now. The paranoia had clouded his mind.

Looking into the crystalline lake, Thomas' mind cleared into clarity. Nobody was watching him. Nobody was coming. Not after the note he left. The thought sprung tears to his eyes, tears that crawled down his cheeks like insects on a corpse. He wept with sorrow, a pathetic heap of self-pity. But he was safe. He knew that. Nobody could see him.

Except he was wrong.

Somebody saw him.

A hunter watched as a man dragged a  corpse up to a lake, put rocks in her clothes and threw her into the deep waters. The hunter scribbled down the man's license plate and retreated into the safety of the shadows.

Thomas sat slumped in a chair. He was in a room of the Ridgewood Inn. He hadn't slept in days. He couldn't eat. He couldn't only think of her. What he'd done to her. Thomas heard voices in the hall. Footsteps on the stairs. Coming closer. Closer. Then. A knock upon his door.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
248 Reviews


Points: 11000
Reviews: 248

Donate
Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:19 pm
View Likes
mellifera wrote a review...



Hey Dilbert64! Here for a review on this fine day (I mean,,, I feel like that's pretty clear, but You Know)!


Thomas gazed out from the windscreen of his car.


For an opening line, I can't say this really attracts my attention? There's a character I don't know looking out a window of a car. This is a staple moment in everyday life (unless you don't have/use a car?).
Generally, you want a beginning that hooks your reader in immediately. Especially since this is a short story, and you don't have much time to tell it. So, regarding hooks, the best way to grab a reader's attention is by posing a question. When you do that, the reader has to keeping, well, reading to find out the answer. By the time you answer the question, you should've hooked your reader in by that point (if you haven't, well. That's another beast to tackle).

Without its gleaming stars, it appeared dead


I would actually reword this, since the stars aren't actually gone, they're just not visible. Perhaps "Without a view of the stars, hidden as they were behind the gloomy clouds, it appeared dead, an uncaring and empty expanse."? Or, however you would choose.
It is fun to run off with descriptions sometimes, but you do have to be careful in instances like this! (Or, at least, when you're reworking it, because nitpicky hogs like me will inevitably comment on silly little literal things like this ;) )

casting a harsh glare upon him


While I really like how invasive this line feels (in terms of them "glaring" at Thomas), I also don't like it because they're "glaring" at him (confusing? I'm great at it). I think you could keep with the uneasy vibe of the sentence if you described them as "glaring from above", or otherwise seeming towering/menacing, without glaring specifically at Thomas (because streetlight typically move the way eyes would).

Thomas glanced back to his girlfriend in the back of the car, he thought back to the house, had he cleaned everything sufficiently? Surely he had, he was just being paranoid he told himself.


I'm not sure I understand this section? Why does looking at his girlfriend prompt thinking about whether he'd cleaned "the house" or not (kinda wondering if it isn't his own though, since you don't refer to it as such?)? Why would this make him paranoid?

Also, grammatically, this section isn't quite correct? "Thomas glanced back to his girlfriend in the back of the car. His thoughts strayed back to the house. Had he cleaned everything sufficiently? Surely he had. He was just being paranoid."
See how some of the sentences should have been separated? (I also changed things like "he thought" or "he told himself", because these are telling? I don't know if you have heard of telling vs. showing, but this would be an instance where it's telling. "He told himself" is unnecessary even if it wasn't telling, because it doesn't add anything to the sentence.

to halt their escape.


Starting to wonder if he's paranoid because it wasn't his house and if he like,, murdered someone or something.

He moaned with worry.


This is actually telling again! You don't have to pad this with "with worry". Just say he moaned! The reader can sum up why he's doing that (though, personally, I would changed it to groaned? doesn't really matter though).

His parents never understood her like he had, thought Thomas.


Once again, this is telling. And since I'm probably just confusing by repeating the same thing over and over, the "thought Thomas" is the telling part. I'm bringing it up because we're in Thomas perspective. This is his narration. You can put out the statement "His parents never understood her like he had", and the reader understands what you're saying. Alternatively, when a character is thinking, you can put those thoughts in italics. This is a universal sort of "rule" for writing like this. In either case, "he thought" is unnecessary, and you're trying to hold your reader by the hand even though they can figure it out (if you've written it well, which it seems you have, so that's not the issue here) on their own.

He remembered a all the nights


"He remembered all the nights"?


OKAY I was actually kind of hilariously wrong about why they were escaping. That's a much better reason lol (I mean, I do have to wonder how old they are? I kind of Assume they're like, early twenties, and hope they're not like.. seventeen or something).


NO! Thomas thought, stop this, they'll forget you as soon as you leave and nobody will ever find either of you.


I won't bring this up anymore, but I just want to gently remind you once more about telling. (Although, for different reason, this sentence kind of runs together oddly? I think it could be broken up to make more sense)

Every step sent spears of dead through him


On the other hand, this is marvellous showing! :D

would surely notice his skaky movements, the bags that rested beneath his eyes.


"Shaky". There should also be an "and" between "movements" and "the bags", and the comma should be removed (Similarly, the comma before that, in front of "the lady" should be a period)

he left the station shaking like a boy


Since I think you meant "shaky" in the last sentence, you want to avoid the repetition from "shaky" to "shaking", so one of them should be changed to avoid dulling your writing.


Okay, I LOVE how you write in Thomas' paranoia and fear, in all the details like the other drivers' glaring at him, the haunting figure of the trees, and seeing dark figures. It's beautiful and creepy and I adore how you've written it.


Thomas could see dark figures


Similarly to the last time I mentioned telling, we're in Thomas' perspective. I know I said I'd stop, but I wanted to bring it up because it's a little different, but same concept. We're in Thomas' perspective. Of course he's seeing them. "There were dark figures" would work better in this instance.

He had to ignore them they couldn't truly be there.


This should be two sentences. "He had to ignore them. They couldn't truly be there."


Also, you don't have to repeat Thomas' name so much? Again, we know who's perspective we're in, so using pronouns works just fine, and especially because there is no other "he/him" in the scene right now, the reader shouldn't think it's anyone but Thomas.


He recalled his and Charlotte's trip to Oxford


I would rephrase this as "He recalled the trip he took with Charlotte to Oxford."

He was so angry, he thought she had betrayed him.


Is he still angry? Because, otherwise, I would change this to "He'd been so angry, believing she'd betrayed him." ?

He saw her face pictured her smile in his head.


This should be "Her saw her face, and pictured her smile in his head" because it doesn't run dependently together.

The red thag


"that"?

Oop something is Not Right.

the sickly white shad that her face had turned.


"shade" (I think I'd have changed this to "that her face had become". "had turned" just doesn't... sound quite right here?)

'She's dead.'


It feels unnatural to me that he would say this aloud?? But I mean, he did just kill his GIRLFRIEND so idk man.

He couldn't only think of her.


I think this is supposed to be "could"?


OKAY WOW that was a twist I wasn't expecting tbh. Horrifying, I take back what I said about running away being a better option. I was RIGHT ABOUT THE MURDER THOUGH.

This is chilling on a very human level too? Like, he wanted to keep his girlfriend around, he was angry and betrayed and he panicked. I'm not justifying what he did at ALL because ew, but it's scary in the way that it is human.


Overall, A+ for the story! I loved it. Super creepy and haunting. In terms of structural stuff and so forth, there's some scattered grammatical errors, misspellings, and such, which are, for the most part, pretty easy fixes. I mention them, because you don't want them to be weighing down on such a well-written piece.


That's all I have for today! If you have any questions/comments about anything I said, please let me know! I'm always happy to discuss!

I hope you have a fantastic day, and Happy RevMo!

Image




Dilbert64 says...


Thanks for the review, and thank you for being so thorough, it was really helpful!



mellifera says...


you're welcome! I'm happy I could help ^^



User avatar
9 Reviews


Points: 34
Reviews: 9

Donate
Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:27 am
View Likes
kaceymackwriter says...



Woah this is absolutely chilling...




Dilbert64 says...


Thanks!



User avatar
12 Reviews


Points: 32
Reviews: 12

Donate
Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:26 am
View Likes
James565611 wrote a review...



wow... this is amazing. like i was watching a movie. this is well plotted and drafted. you really kept me at the edge of my seat. i have been away for a while and coming back to read this i'm impressed. keep it up.
i'm a great fan of scary or horror poems, stories/movies.
I saw a few things I'd like to point out, first, "He remember a all the nights" The a shouldn't be there. "The Winter corpses" "Winter" shouldn't be uppercased.

Other than that, bravo for an absolutely terrifying short story! Keep on writing!




Dilbert64 says...


Thank you!



User avatar
75 Reviews


Points: 7293
Reviews: 75

Donate
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:47 am
View Likes
Asith wrote a review...



I must say, the unsettling ending was done rather well! I'm a huge fan of these types of short stories -- the types with twitsted and unnerving endings -- but I'm also rather picky on whether they've been done right or not, so I'm very happy when I find one that I love. I adore the way you referenced the note near the end: "Nobody was watching him. Nobody was coming. Not after the note he left."
I thought it was a marvellous way to tell the reader how the note was merely his alibi. Just before I got to this part, I was wondering whether the note even fit in with the twist of the story, but you managed to let that wonder linger just long enough before you introduced clarity. It was very well timed!

The gripes I have with the story would all lie in the first half. While the ending is very good, the set up could use some work. And that's a very common problem with these short stories, so it's not just you :)

Thomas glanced back to his girlfriend in the back of the car, he thought back to the house, had he cleaned everything sufficiently? Surely he had, he was just being paranoid he told himself.

Let's look at this sentence. I see what you're trying to do -- referencing him looking back at his girlfriend seems innocent enough at first, but takes on an entirely different meaning after the reader gets to the twist. That's great! However, the sentence reads incredibly clunky, don't you think? The way it's structured and punctuated makes it read extremely quickly, but Thomas' train of though here should be swift yet heavy. I can understand trying to hide the truth a little, but it could still help to turn the sentence into lots of little sentences, helping to bring out the paranoia. Here's a suggested fix:
Thomas glanced back to his girlfriend in the back of the car. He thought back to the house -- had he cleaned everything sufficiently? Surely he had. He was just being paranoid, he told himself.
Restructuring like this could help with numerous instances in the first half of the story. Read through it again and see where they'd help!

I would also suggest looking into tense. Proper tense control is really really important. In a story like this, where you jump from the present to past memories to the present again, it's easy to get confused, but it's really important to keep the tenses in your writing consistent! Re-read what you write, and see if it makes sense. If this isn't intuitive for you yet, the internet has plenty of guidelines!

Additionally, I'd also avoid throwing in flowery language for the sake of it. Things like "his mind cleared into clarity" are redundant. His mind was clear, we don't need further development of "into clarity". Sometimes less is more!

That being said, your writing is definitely good! A little revision into the first half of the story is all that's needed. You've already mastered twist endings, I'm sure you'll be able to build around it just as well :)




Dilbert64 says...


Thanks for the review! Parts of it do come off pretty awkwardly. This was really helpful, thanks!



User avatar
218 Reviews


Points: 1426
Reviews: 218

Donate
Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:31 am
View Likes
Horisun wrote a review...



Wow... That took a turn... That was NOT what I expected, at all... Like... Wow. That was one of the most well done plot twists I've seen in awhile.
This short story was a very smooth read and you kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire read. So big thumbs up for that!
I saw a few things I'd like to point out, first, "He remember a all the nights" The a shouldn't be there. "The Winter corpses" "Winter" shouldn't be uppercased.

Other than that, bravo for an absolutely terrifying short story! Keep on writing!




Dilbert64 says...


Thank you!




"You're wrong about humanity. They are your greatest creation because they're better than you are. Sure, they're weak, and they cheat and steal and destroy and disappoint, but they also give and create, and they sing and dance and love. Above all, they never give up."
— Metatron