Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Horror

12+

Shadow

by Elfboy


Shadows choke me alley by alley as I tear through the streets of this god-forsaken city. My legs move like pistons against the coal-dusted asphalt, muscles tense as bridge cables, every moment ready to snap. I hear his footsteps as they slowly shuffle around me, I don't know which direction his easy breath is coming from. He's so close, I can feel his every heartbeat, his veins pumping, every drop of--

Blood. Something wet trickles down the back of my neck. I didn't even feel the blow but I know what hit me. Who hit me. I can't take much more of this. I can't let him touch me again.

I can feel every ounce of adrenaline in my blood as I somehow manage to push myself harder. I'm moving like a bullet but somehow he's still so, so close. This accursed highway seems to stretch on forever, no end in sight. If only there were somewhere to hide, somewhere to escape to, but his laughter follows me everywhere. Everywhere I go, everywhere I am, everywhere I've ever been. That voice haunts my memories, not one moment in my life when I didn't hear him laughing, howling, screaming--

Screaming. My leg sears with pain as he cuts me, I tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land. My hands bleed from where they hit the blazing hot street, but it doesn't matter, I can't stop moving.

The shadows seep from the alleys into the street, drowning me in his dark tides. I hold my breath, not daring to let him inside me. Whatever I do, I can't let him inside me. My lungs burn, but I can't, I won't let any more of his dark soul into me. He's already infected me, his spores multiplying in my head. I just have to keep moving, just don't--

Breathe. I inhale like syrup as my lungs burst, the darkness fills my chest. Suddenly I don't want to move, I don't want to fight. I don't want to do anything, just collapse and let his sickly sweet smog fill me, kill me.

Why not? There's nothing else to do, nowhere else to go. Nothing, nowhere, no one. Lethargy overwhelms, I let my body fall like lead, let my spirit darken. Let everything darken. Darken, darken, everything darkens, my vision dims, my soul dies, my heart fails, the world blackens, there's no light, no light, no light, no--

Light.


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
22 Reviews


Points: 26
Reviews: 22

Donate
Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:50 am
View Likes
Ken95 wrote a review...



Good morning/day.
Ken here for a short review.

I enjoyed reading this piece and I'm particularly a huge fan of horror.

"*Screaming* My leg sears with pain as he cuts me, I tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land. My hands bleed from where they hit the blazing hot street, but it doesn't matter, I can't stop moving."*

"*Breathe.* I inhale like syrup as my lungs burst, the darkness fills my chest. Suddenly I don't want to move, I don't want to fight. I don't want to do anything, just collapse and let his sickly sweet smog fill me, kill me."

I used the asterisk sign to point out those words since I'm not sure if you were trying out new styles or something.

I like this piece but I expected more to be Frank. I know you can do better, you know like when the reader is reading the supposed horror story and the imagery of the story will send chills down the readers spine.

Overall it was an interesting piece and I expect more literal works from you.
Keep writing. Kudos!




Elfboy says...


Thanks for the review, Ken!



User avatar


Points: 252
Reviews: 1

Donate
Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:38 pm
View Likes
CaseyDiamonds wrote a review...



That that was truly amazing. I want more of that. It was like a movie that you want to see more but the movie ends way to soon. Your just left thinking but what if he survived and just passed out or, he gets brung back to life by some force telling him to wake up.

What could happen:
(Wait what is that sparkle its so far off he gets up starts making way torwards the shine as he gets closer realizes its a door theres more doors there are millions of them to different spots in time he wanders how much he can learn about HIM.)




Elfboy says...


Thanks Buck!



User avatar
200 Reviews


Points: 14056
Reviews: 200

Donate
Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:14 am
View Likes
LittleLee wrote a review...



Hey Ethan,

I see Tuck and mel beat me to reviewing this, but I'll share my thoughts anyway. :D

Overall, I'd give you a thumbs-up. I don't read flash fiction very often, but this was fairly good, although I would have liked more horror in it. It's supernatural and mysterious, but I didn't feel a sense of fear until the part where the narrator breathes in the darkness. I can't say it was particularly thrilling either; starting with the narrator running from something unknown partly contributed to that. A slightly longer story, with a more "normal" beginning, where the narrator isn't just running; that would make everything chilling.

every moment ready to snap.

This was poorly constructed; how about, "ready to snap at any moment?"

I hear his footsteps as they slowly shuffle around me

I didn't like this; it made the monster or whatever he is seem a lot less scary. "I could hear his footsteps all around me" would get to the point without removing the fear factor.

That voice haunts my memories, not one moment in my life when I didn't hear him laughing, howling, screaming

Taking this into consideration, why didn't this monstrous person ever try to hurt the narrator before? It doesn't make sense. And a constant presence, again, removes the fear factor.

I tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land.

That's just not possible. You can't crawl unless you're already ON the ground. I mean, how would you be crawling through air? And that's when you're falling.

The very ending was quite nice; I like how it didn't have the cliche of "and then there was darkness."

General overview; the whole thing is rushed. This is a style and I appreciate it, but not when the entire story is like that. Again, if you had started with the narrator doing something and THEN being pursued, the rush would have been received better. Now, everything is over before we know what's happening, which also means... no thrill.

But grammar, diction, everything else is good. You just have to figure out how to make it more horrific.

I hope I didn't offend you.

- Lee




Elfboy says...


Thanks Lee! That's a lot of really helpful feedback, I appreciate it!



User avatar
525 Reviews


Points: 27067
Reviews: 525

Donate
Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:38 am
View Likes
Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey Ethan! I am here partially because of the checklist challenge and partially because I love a well-written flash fiction story, and I love reviewing them. Let's jump into it!

I can feel every ounce of adrenaline in my blood as I somehow manage to push myself harder.
This seems to be based around a fundamental misunderstanding of how adrenaline works, and as a dedicated scientist, I feel an obligation to point it out. You wouldn't really feel adrenaline itself so much as the effects of adrenaline (most famously, accelerated blood flow and shaking limbs). Saying something like, "I feel blood pumping through my veins" or "I feel my heart pounding, shaking as if about to explode" would be more scientifically correct while still communicating that same idea.

I inhale like syrup as my lungs burst
I didn't feel that this metaphor was effective, mostly because it was hard for me to understand as a natural description.

I applaud the way you used so much figurative and descriptive language throughout your piece! That being said, there are some areas I think it could be tightened up. Let's go through your first paragraph:
Shadows choke me alley by alley as I tear through the streets of this god-forsaken city. My legs move like pistons against the coal-dusted asphalt, muscles tense as bridge cables, every moment ready to snap. I hear his footsteps as they slowly shuffle around me, I don't know which direction his easy breath is coming from. He's so close, I can feel his every heartbeat, his veins pumping, every drop of--

Shadows choking someone is not an intuitive image for me. When I try to picture that, I imagine someone being completely enveloped in darkness, so much so that they can never escape because they are being suffocated by the darkness. Since your main character is still sprinting, I assume that there is still some level of light, so this may communicate the wrong image.

Bridge cables also communicates something inflexible yet strong to me, which isn't super accurate for legs. I'd use an image here that communciates both strength and flexibility, but I'll allow you some creative freedom to figure out what that is for you!

And one last point about this paragraph: footsteps slowly shuffling seems to be at odds with the idea of a high-speed foot chase. While I understand your desire to imply omnipresence, it seems like too much of a contradiction to me.

I really enjoyed your transitions from paragraphs with the italicized single word that connected two separate ideas. It fit really well with your style of writing long, flowing sentences by creating somewhat of a jar and moving the reader fluidly throughout your story. A small critique of this is that it may be more effective to end the story with darkness as the italicized word rather than light. My reason for this is that ending the story with light places the emphasis on the idea of light, when in fact the predominant theme in the last paragraph is darkness. Just a thought!

If only there were somewhere to hide, somewhere to escape to, but his laughter follows me everywhere. Everywhere I go, everywhere I am, everywhere I've ever been. That voice haunts my memories, not one moment in my life when I didn't hear him laughing, howling, screaming--

There's nothing else to do, nowhere else to go. Nothing, nowhere, no one. Lethargy overwhelms, I let my body fall like lead, let my spirit darken. Let everything darken. Darken, darken, everything darkens, my vision dims, my soul dies, my heart fails, the world blackens, there's no light, no light, no light, no--

These are two instances of repetition in your story, and I felt that in both of these cases, it was not the best choice of utilizing your limited word selection. Normally, I wouldn't bring this up, but in flash fiction, every word matters. Repetition is something that can be used, but only when it drives home a point the reader wouldn't otherwise understand as important. I don't believe that's the case here, but if you disagree, feel free to keep it.

And my final thought is that I would have loved to see some more intention in your use of sentence length. There are times when your tendency to use long sentences can work in your favor, but there are other times when a shorter, punchier sentence could serve your purpose better. For example:
My leg sears with pain as he cuts me, I tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land. My hands bleed from where they hit the blazing hot street, but it doesn't matter, I can't stop moving.

Since you're attempting to describe quick, brief, frantic motions, short sentences would help communicate that better. Something like this:
My leg sears with pain as he cuts me. I tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land. My hands bleed from the impact with the blazing hot street. The pain doesn't matter. I can't stop moving.

The difference there is very subtle, but I hope that you see how it conveys more of a sense of urgency.

I think I'm going to conclude my review there! I apologize that this got so long; ironically, I tend to write a lot about flash fiction because I love the impact well-written flash fiction can have. This was an excellent beginning and has tremendous potential, and I hope that some of my suggestions are helpful to you! Please feel free to reach out with any questions about this review.

Best,
Tuck




Elfboy says...


Thanks for the review Tuck! A lot of great feedback here!



User avatar
350 Reviews


Points: 14340
Reviews: 350

Donate
Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:55 pm
View Likes
mellifera wrote a review...



Hey EthanHoover!

I hope you don't mind if I drop by for a review today! I'm a fan of shorts, and a bigger fan of well-written horror, so I'm excited to see what's in store for me today!

Shadows choke me alley by alley as I tear through the streets of this god forsaken city


What are you trying to convey with "Shadows choke me"? I think you're trying to say the character is sticking to the shadows, and I'm all for vague and often nonsensical prose, but since shadows aren't something you can actually choke on (unless it's a,,, corporeal/physical manifestation of a shadow???), I try something like "Shadows cloak me".

I also think you meant as this character is running through alleys ("alley by alley" doesn't,,, really make sense?) with your first line, but then you also say they're running through the streets, so you need to decide which one it is (unless they're weaving back and forth), or unless I've misinterpreted this ("Shadows choke me alley by alley" throws me for a loop).
I might suggest something more along the lines of "Shadows cloak me as I weave through coupled alleyways, until eventually I have to break out onto the [haunted? dark? smoggy?] streets of this godforsaken city."
(also, for context, I added a suggestion of a descriptor of the street for atmosphere. Atmosphere is one of your best friends in horror, and I don't mean it always has to be "dark" or "shadowed" or whatever to be spooky. Descriptions that affect the character in a negative way often work just as well. And by that I mean like "smoggy" because it means the air is thick and hard to breathe, or "freezing" because it means the character is cold and uncomfortable)

My legs move like pistons against the coal-dusted asphalt, muscles tense as bridge cables, every moment ready to snap.


I really like this description, and the dual construction-ish/support metaphors ("pistons" and "bridge cables"). It amps up the tension in the scene, which is another one of your best friends for horror.

I hear his footsteps as they slowly shuffle around me, I don't know which direction his easy breath is coming from.


I like that you included "easy breath" because it implies whatever is chasing them is having no physical difficulties with keeping up with the character's running, but "slowly shuffle" is a little more confusing to me? I know horror is great for contradictions, but how is the pursuer moving "slow" if the MC is running? Even if the pursuer is inhumanly fast or has other means of keeping up besides also running, they still wouldn't be moving "slow".

I can't take much more of this. I can't let him touch me again.


So, the MC here has taken blows already from their pursuer. And I understand adrenaline often makes for not feeling injuries. But it would be nice to have some idea of what sort of injuries the MC has sustained, or more specifically the one they have just sustained from their pursuer (how did their pursuer hurt them? where is it, besides being somewhere above the neck? did it jostle the MC? was it blunt force or slashing?). Has the MC already lost a lot of blood? Being vague is fine, and again, I know that adrenaline often muffles pain, but some clarity would suit the scene here.

I can feel every ounce of adrenaline in my blood as I somehow manage to push myself harder.


Rather than describing them "feeling every ounce of adrenaline in their blood", describe how the adrenaline makes them feel. Do they feel like their body is on fire? Do they feel like they're chasing a high? Does it feel like if they push themselves hard enough, they could fly? Describing the intensity of the adrenaline would do more for you here than telling us that he's on an adrenaline rush (also because that's already evident, so putting in prose that he's on an adrenaline rush is unnecessary in the first place).

This accursed highway seems to stretch on forever, no end in sight.


also, as a note for you since I don't know what your intentions are and can't tell you them but can tell you my thoughts, I'm getting big dystopian vibes from this story. There's been no mention of any cars or any other people, so I'm assuming something happened to them rather than you not describing them.

This does bring up a quick point though that I realised as I was writing that paragraph: what time of day is it? I know, I know, it's a fast-paced chase scene, very high action, and you want to drive home the fear and the escape. I was picturing it like, middle of the night with some streetlights on and tall buildings, but nothing else around (which, spooky, what happened to everything/everyone else), but you don't actually mention it, so I might advise you include some mention of the setting.

That voice haunts my memories, not one moment in my life when I didn't hear him laughing, howling, screaming--


not even as a baby?

(as a real note and not a sarcastic goof, before you mentioned the blood on the following line after you were about to include it in the sentence that proceeded it, and also for "breathe" a few paragraphs down, and I would suggest the same thing here for consistencies sake! also I like it haha, so personal opinion)

My leg sears with pain as he cuts my leg, tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land.


"tumble to the ground" doesn't really fit in structurally, so I might suggest breaking it apart? For example: "My legs sears with pain as cuts [also removed repetition of "leg"] right across my calf [<- went for more specificity because it's more immersion and then the reader is pushed into actually visualising what happened]. I tumble to the ground, but pull my shoulder so I roll without as much impact. I'm already crawling. My hands bleed from where they hit the blazing hot cement[<-more specific and avoids another repetition of "street". also I'm immensely curious as to why the road is hot], but I ignore it [<- makes the character more present/active in the moment rather than a passive "it doesn't matter"]. I can't stop moving."

I know my suggests clutter the actual phrasing. I cut it up a little bit 1) so it flows better, but also 2) because during action scenes, while you do still want to deviate sentence lengths, shorter and choppier sentences convey a sense of urgency.

(also, back to my other point, how can he feel the pain in this paragraph but not the one before?)

The shadows seep from the alleys into the street, drowning me in his dark tides. I hold my breath, not daring to let him inside me. Whatever I do, I can't let him inside me. My lungs burn, but I can't, I won't let any more of his dark soul into me. He's already infected me, his spores multiplying in my head. I just have to keep moving, just don't--


this is a horrifying paragraph, I love it.

Breathe. I inhale like syrup as my lungs burst, the darkness fills my chest. Suddenly I don't want to move, I don't want to fight. I don't want to do anything, just collapse and let his sickly sweet smog fill me, kill me.


I love the descriptions here, but I think it would be more horrifying if, rather than accepting the knowledge of a terrible fate ("let his sickly sweet smog fill me, kill me"), the MC accepted it as the correct fate to be given (something like "I don't want to do anything but accept his sweet smog, let it overwhelm me. It's right. It feels like an end." I'm not sure if inhaling this smog alters the mind of its victims in any way, but it'd be more horrifying if we saw the MC fleeing from this unknown threat, only to succumb to it when it overtakes him! That is, of course, up to you though)

my soul dies, my heart fails,


This feels very straightforward in a way that kind of kills the scene because it's telling ("yo, the main character died"). I think I might suggest "my vision dims, my consciousness slips from me. There is nothing but the void. No light, no light, no light, no--" This way it's not overtly telling the reader "yo, hey, I just straight up died" and is a little gentler falling into the death before putting that twist at the very end that there's a light or something kind of second life (however grisly that may be, depending on what kind of antagonist you've set up with what abilities you think it may have). Or it's a final rest/affirmation of the death, in which case I would further my convictions about not overtly saying they have died because otherwise you're essentially saying it twice.


Now that I've read the whole thing, I might actually rescind what I said about the "choking shadows" :p though I'm wondering why that wasn't the antagonist's first move, and why there was a chase scene at all if the pursuer could have make the shadows swell and pool in an area like it did (unless it's like a timed level of a 2-D game where the wall chases you and you have to constantly run? that's such a weird analogy I'm sorry lol)?


This is a good short! It leaves a lot up to the imagination, and in this case, I like that. Sometimes you want questions answered, but I think it amplifies the general creepiness of the story if you don't know what's going on (that said, some specificity doesn't hurt on what's going on, just enough so the reader doesn't feel like they're missing huge chunks). I wish there was a little more in the way of the antagonist/why they're chasing the MC or what their goal is. I'm a huge fan of the unknown being scary/the biggest thing to fear are the things you can't see, but again, I just would like enough to understand a little bit more about why the MC is in the position that they're in/why they've been hunted all their life.


Anyway! If you have any questions or comments about anything I said, please feel free to let me know! :D

I hope you have a wonderful day!




Elfboy says...


Thanks for the review!



User avatar
62 Reviews


Points: 800
Reviews: 62

Donate
Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:05 pm
View Likes
Plume wrote a review...



Hey! Silverquill here, with a review.

I'm a big fan of horror, and I really enjoyed this piece. You do a great job at maintaining the action of the scene, and I got what was advertised. It's incredibly... grabby, for lack of a better word. It really hooks you in and doesn't let you go until the end.

One thing that you do amazingly well are your transitions. You create this pattern of stopping a paragraph with an emdash and then continue with a single italicized word in the next paragraph. This really heightens the reading experience (for me, at least) and gives the story the overall mood of high action and survival. The last line was especially striking, as the sentence you have before it is

there's no light, no light, no light, no--
before ending your story with the word light, and this is so incredible on so many levels.

1) People usually say they "see the light" when they die. I assume you used this to tell us that the narrator dies in the end, which was a great way to tell us without really telling us.
2)It also just sounds really poetic, because you've created this recurring pattern of "no light, no light," and then you go into "no-- Light.," which means there is light, and it's cool how you use the same words with different punctuation and have them mean opposite things.
3) The piece overall is called "Shadow," and ending with the word light serves for some pretty awesome irony.

Anyways. I really enjoyed that part, if you couldn't tell.

A couple specific critiques:

Shadows choke me alley by alley as I tear through the streets of this god forsaken city.

You should put a hyphen or no space at all in between god and forsaken.

I hear his footsteps as they slowly shuffle around me, I don't know which direction his easy breath is coming from.

What you have here is a comma splice. You can fix it by making it two sentences, putting a semicolon in, or adding a conjunction.

My leg sears with pain as he cuts my leg, tumble to the ground, already crawling as I land.

The "tumble to the ground" part seems a little disjointed. I think it's the verb tense you're using. I'd make the first part one sentence, and then begin the new sentence with "I tumble to the ground."

I inhale like syrup as my lungs burst, the darkness fills my chest.

The way this is worded now makes it seem like the narrator is inhaling as syrup would. Syrup has never, to my knowledge, inhaled anything, as it is nonliving and does not have lungs. I'd suggest changing it to something like "I inhale through the syrupy thickness." Also, fills should be filling.

Darken, darken, everything gets darker


This suggestion isn't necessary, but I think that since you have this nice pattern going with the word "darken" it would flow and sound better if you changed "gets darker" to "darkens."

A couple general critiques:

I know this is a flash fiction piece, and it's hard to condense an entire story arc into it, but this is something to keep in mind if you do further your quest into this story form. I didn't see any real development in this piece. It chose a point of action (which, fortunately, was high) and stayed there. It felt like a chase scene, and it was a chase scene, but it didn't feel... complete. It feels like it belongs to something. That being said, you do find ways to incorporate various other plot and story elements, like expository information and context, throughout the piece, which is well done.

Overall, I enjoyed this piece. I hope some of the information I included helps, and, as always, feel free to disregard any of it if I misread this piece or made a bad suggestion. Keep writing!




Elfboy says...


Thanks for the review, silver! A lot of helpful feedback here, it's much appreciated <:




Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
— William James