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View Full Version : Mischief Night - Part 1



Elsey2
September 27th, 2015, 02:43 PM
Crisp, autumn leaves danced over the asphalt in the parking lot at West River High School. Tori Lane fiddled with the keys to her silver Oldsmobile and hugged her body as a gust of wind washed over the campus of the small New England town.

She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up to cover her wavy, brown hair and glanced over her shoulder at the building as if she was attempting an elaborate escape from prison. It wasn’t overly difficult to sneak out of last period study hall, and as far as Tori was concerned it was worth the risk to begin the weekend just a few hours early.

After all, it is mischief night, she thought to herself.

A smile crossed Tori’s face and she hurried the last few strides to her oversized and outdated vehicle that was parked in the far back left of the lot. While the walk wasn’t the greatest on rainy days, it was perfect for afternoons like this one.

A gate that was never locked, but worked as the perfect placebo effect, was Tori’s easy way out without being spotted. She never minded parking spot 407 because a simple push of the gate and she was out onto a desolate back road without having to wait in the typical after-school traffic. As far as she knew, no one else knew of her little trick.

Tori didn’t hesitate; she went ahead with the scheme she had regularly been performing since getting her license and whisked the gate open without a hitch before quietly slinking the Oldsmobile out of the lot undetected.

No sooner than she turned the car onto Old Mill Hill, the road that passed by the school’s back entrance, Tori’s phone jingled and she couldn’t help but look down.

Tori sighed and eyed the rearview mirror before pulling the car to a halt on the side of the road to read the text message her friend had sent.

“Out yet?” she read aloud to herself.

Tori smirked and shook her head. The message was from her best friend Kayla who she knew was currently rotting away in her last period chemistry class.

“I’m free,” Tori said aloud again as she quickly typed the message into her IPhone. She thought for a moment before concluding the message with: My house with coffees by 3:00?

Tori slumped back in the seat for a moment and waited for a response as the song Closing Time by Semisonic played lightly on the radio. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, emphasizing a heavy foot on the brake to secure the car in its place.

After nearly a minute and no response, Tori opened her eyes again and was about to venture forth on her grand escape when she turned her head to the left and jumped. A dark green station wagon with tinted windows sat beside her unmoving.

Tori felt her cheeks grow a deep shade of crimson, and a rush of adrenaline radiated from her stomach and filtered into her limbs.

Her mind went in two different directions. The first was hopeful in that maybe the person thought her car was broken down and wanted to help. The other was much darker and it kept telling her that she was in trouble.

Tori stared intently, squinting in an attempt to see through the deep tint that masked the driver but it was impossible.

“I’m okay,” she said aloud, waving her hand to instruct the car to go by. She held up her phone to signify that she was just taking a phone call.

The car didn’t move. In the parked position it rattled and hissed lightly and for whatever reason caused Tori to feel all the more uneasy.

She glanced ahead of her at the road and thought maybe she could sneak around the station wagon and get back ahead of it on the road. From the way it was parked, however, she knew the task wouldn’t be easy.

Tori locked the door, but hesitantly rolled down the window a few inches before calling out to the stranger again.

“I’m fine!” she took a deep breath and decided to use some possible scare tactics of her own. “My friends will be here any second!”

The car remained still and the unpredictable nature of the situation began to plague her mind with hundreds of ‘what if’ scenarios.

The phone went off again and Tori jumped, grasping onto her chest for a moment as another jolt of adrenaline struck her.

She glanced to her left again and was about to tell her friend what was going on when the station wagon pulled forward and slowly crept down the road and out of sight.

Tori’s mouth hung open for a moment and she still felt frozen. There was nothing but woods for at least a half-mile in the direction that the mysterious car had just traveled. She knew he could easily be waiting for her around a bend.

A part of her wanted to go right back into the school parking lot the same way she had come out, but that meant she would have to get out of the car to open the gate. If the station wagon was to turn around and she was on foot, whoever was behind the wheel could easily jump out and grab her.

Tori’s knuckles grew white as she gripped the steering wheel and she went with a third option.

She promptly whipped the car around, doing perhaps her best three-point turn, and cruised down the road in the opposite direction.

The IPhone’s ringtone sounded off another time but Tori didn’t look. Her eyes alternated from the road to the rearview mirror all the way down the road until a series of houses came into play and she was able to turn right onto another residential street.

I should have stayed in study hall, she thought.

An eerie feeling lingered in the pit of her stomach. She wished she knew the person’s intentions for scaring her half to death so she could possibly put the incident out of her mind. Unfortunately, she was sure she would never know the truth and decided to embrace the reality that nothing bad had happened.

Tori glanced around at the rows of houses on either side in an attempt to calm down. Pumpkins, scarecrows and ghosts were strung about in festive, Halloween décor on each house in the neighborhood. To the right, a middle-aged woman was seating a skeleton in the center of a barrel of hay on one side while her young child played in a pile of leaves closer to the house. Down farther to the left a man in a suit was walking toward his front door while loosening his tie.

“You’re okay,” Tori told herself. She took in a heavy deep breath and pressed on down the street. She didn’t mind taking the longer ride home if it meant she would arrive there safely.

The normalcy of her current surroundings lowered the rate of her rapidly beating heart. Tori took a few extra right turns before finally reaching the main road that passed by Old Mill Hill.

She wasn’t sure if it was morbid curiosity or a type of thrill-seeking teenage mentality, but Tori felt the urge to turn back down the road to see if the green station wagon was waiting for her.

Several cars passed by in the opposite direction and the green side to her right loomed in the immediate distance.

Old Mill Hill; it suddenly felt like the name of a place where some heinous urban legend would have originated.

Tori’s heart began to beat again as her tires rotated rapidly over the pavement. Tightness developed in her throat and spread to her lungs. In that last second before passing by the street she felt as her heart could quite literally explode.

Thump, thump… thump, thump… thump, thump…

The entryway to Old Mill Hill was upon her and it felt like the car was moving in slow motion as she cocked her head to the right to glance down the menacing lane.

There was nothing; nothing but a collection of colors from the oak and maple trees that protected the entryway. There was no green station wagon, no stranger lurking in the woods, no danger; nothing.

Tori shifted her eyes back to the road, recognizing that she had looked away for a dangerously long time, which from what she learned in driver’s education was just a few seconds.

She decided it was much more likely to get into a distracted car accident than to be attacked by some creep in a green station wagon.

Tori decided she needed to let it go and write the incident off as a creepy prank. With it being so close to Halloween she knew people were going out of their way to scare each other. It was a practice that she even took part in.

A more tolerable visual entered her mind; that of three or four teenage boys laughing their heads off behind the tinted windows of the seemingly strange vehicle enjoying a good scare.

The image was comforting, to say the least, and Tori decided she was going to mentally stick with that scenario.

She turned up the volume knob on the radio and began to sing along with a new pop song that seemed to play at least twice on her way to and from school.

Tori consciously pushed the event from her mind before the subconscious took over and she began to enjoy the tunes that echoed from the speakers. She had successfully gotten lost in the moment when a slap in the face from reality drew her back to what had happened only minutes before.

A green station wagon with tinted windows passed Tori’s car and moved slowly in the opposite direction. Anxiety afflicted her mind and body again, sending the same warm feeling across her body and chills down her spine. Tori quite literally felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

She pressed the pedal to the floor and began to speed away in the opposite direction. While she was typically mindful of driving the speed limit, she knew this qualified as at least a moderate emergency. A part of her wished a police officer would pull her over so she could explain what had happened without having to actually report the incident. Nothing had actually happened – not yet.

Tori’s eyes locked on the reflection of the road behind her again in the mirror. She could see the tail lights glowing red on the back of the station wagon in the middle of the road.

The brakes, she thought, he’s putting on the brakes.

She hit the pedal faster, not knowing if braking the car meant that the driver was finding a spot to turn around and follow her.

Tori haired on the side of caution and swiftly turned down the first road she saw. She wasn’t sure if the stranger knew he had passed her or not, or if he had actually turned around. All she knew was she had to maintain her distance to secure the fact that she would never see him or her again.

Harper J. Cole
September 28th, 2015, 11:14 PM
I like the first paragraph, good imagery to set the scene. In fact, you paint the picture well throughout, making Tori's thoughts and actions believable. The sinister vehicle with the unseen driver put me in mind of the Spielberg film 'Duel' from back in the 70's.

There's still one or two moments of maybe using the wrong word: in the final paragraph it should be 'erred on the side of caution', and I think the gate at the beginning is more a deterrent than a placebo effect.

Still, I'm interested to see where you're going with the story; will hope to see more.

HC

ShadowEyes
September 29th, 2015, 09:36 PM
Crisp, autumn leaves danced over the asphalt in the parking lot at West River High School. Tori Lane fiddled with the keys to her silver Oldsmobile and hugged her body as a gust of wind washed over the campus of the small New England town.

She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up to cover her wavy, brown hair and glanced over her shoulder at the building as if she was attempting an elaborate escape from prison. It wasn’t overly difficult to sneak out of last period study hall, and as far as Tori was concerned it was worth the risk to begin the weekend just a few hours early.

After all, it is mischief night, she thought to herself.

A smile crossed Tori’s face and she hurried the last few strides to her oversized and outdated vehicle that was parked in the far back left of the lot. While the walk wasn’t the greatest on rainy days, it was perfect for afternoons like this one.

A gate that was never locked, but worked as the perfect placebo effect, was Tori’s easy way out without being spotted. She never minded parking spot 407 because a simple push of the gate and she was out onto a desolate back road without having to wait in the typical after-school traffic. As far as she knew, no one else knew of her little trick.

Very clever. It sets up the plot well, if not making her instantly likeable.

Tori didn’t hesitate; she went ahead with the scheme she had regularly been performing since getting her license and whisked the gate open without a hitch before quietly slinking the Oldsmobile out of the lot undetected.

No sooner than she turned the car onto Old Mill Hill, the road that passed by the school’s back entrance, This is a tad hard for me to imagine simply because I have my own visions of what a high school should look like from my own experience. We never had a back road.Tori’s phone jingled and she couldn’t help but look down.

Tori sighed and eyed the rearview mirror before pulling the car to a halt on the side of the road to read the text message her friend had sent. Makes her more likeable, but I wish she tried to read the text while she was driving. Simply to give the story a push. Because we don’t know what her plans for Mischief Night are yet. So we’re waiting for the tension to rise a bit.

“Out yet?” she read aloud to herself.

Tori smirked and shook her head. The message was from her best friend Kayla who she knew was currently rotting away in her last period chemistry class. Why didn’t Kayla join her?

“I’m free,” Tori said aloud again as she quickly typed the message into her IPhone. She thought for a moment before concluding the message with: My house with coffees by 3:00?

Tori slumped back in the seat for a moment and waited for a response as the song Closing Time by Semisonic played lightly on the radio. Maybe emphasize her feelings toward escaping school even more. So far, you’ve got the exciting fact that it’s Mischief night, the fact that she’s sneaky with the gate, and the fact that she enjoys the music. Keep on pushing the sense of relaxation. I want to know why she’s doing this.She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, emphasizing a heavy foot on the brake to secure the car in its place.

After nearly a minute and no response, Tori opened her eyes again and was about to venture forth on her grand escape when she turned her head to the left and jumped. A dark green station wagon with tinted windows sat beside her unmoving. For reference, is she on the road or blocking the entrance?

Tori felt her cheeks grow a deep shade of crimson, and a rush of adrenaline radiated from her stomach and filtered into her limbs.

Her mind went in two different directions. The first was hopeful in that maybe the person thought her car was broken down and wanted to help. The other was much darker and it kept telling her that she was in trouble. Personally, I’d focus on one emotion for the full effect of it. Or, instead of stating both, say she suspects one and then give her reason to dismiss it.

Tori stared intently, squinting in an attempt to see through the deep tint that masked the driver but it was impossible.

“I’m okay,” she said aloud, waving her hand to instruct the car to go by. She held up her phone to signify that she was just taking a phone call.

The car didn’t move. In the parked position it rattled and hissed lightly and for whatever reason caused Tori to feel all the more uneasy. You can probably remove “...for whatever reason, etc.”

She glanced ahead of her at the road and thought maybe she could sneak around the station wagon and get back ahead of it on the road. From the way it was parked, however, she knew the task wouldn’t be easy. Right, this confuses me. You said the station wagon was parked beside her, not in front of her.

Tori locked the door, but hesitantly rolled down the window a few inches before calling out to the stranger again.

“I’m fine!” she took a deep breath and decided to use some possible scare tactics of her own. “My friends will be here any second!” Clever, clever. But still, why doesn’t she out-maneuver it?

The car remained still and the unpredictable nature of the situation began to plague her mind with hundreds of ‘what if’ scenarios. What does this mean? Too vague.

The phone went off again Text or phone call? and Tori jumped, grasping onto her chest for a moment as another jolt of adrenaline struck her.

She glanced to her left again and was about to tell her friend what was going on Did she check to see who was trying to contact her? when the station wagon pulled forward and slowly crept down the road and out of sight. We could use more description here. Trees, a bend in the road, cut off by the school, etc.?

Tori’s mouth hung open for a moment and she still felt frozen. There was nothing but woods for at least a half-mile in the direction that the mysterious car had just traveled. She knew he could easily be waiting for her around a bend. Okay, this is better, but it would’ve been unnecessary if you introduced the landscape description earlier. Then we could’ve felt this “shock” for ourselves.

A part of her wanted to go right back into the school parking lot the same way she had come out, but that meant she would have to get out of the car to open the gate. If the station wagon was to turn around and she was on foot, whoever was behind the wheel could easily jump out and grab her. Again, how far away is the bend in the road? Also, this paragraph introduces internal character conflict (“a part of her”) to a situation that’s exclusively external complication conflict. The complication is that she’s trying to get out of this situation. The internal conflict is that she’s trying to go about this Mischief Night business. If the story doesn’t lead to the Mischief Night business, then I’ll feel kind-of cheated.

Tori’s knuckles grew white as she gripped the steering wheel and she went with a third option.

She promptly whipped the car around, doing perhaps her best three-point turn, and cruised down the road in the opposite direction. Which direction?

The IPhone’s ringtone sounded off another time but Tori didn’t look. Her eyes alternated from the road to the rearview mirror all the way down the road until a series of houses came into play and she was able to turn right onto another residential street.

I should have stayed in study hall, she thought. Well, who’s to say this exact situation wouldn’t have happened even if she did stay? Which reminds me, how exactly does she pull this off every day without anyone else noticing her gate trick?

An eerie feeling lingered in the pit of her stomach. She wished she knew the person’s intentions for scaring her half to death so she could possibly put the incident out of her mind. Unfortunately, she was sure she would never know the truth and decided to embrace the reality that nothing bad had happened. I think she’s overreacting. Unless she’s normally like this, in which case I’m not sure why she decided to sneak away on Mischief Night. I empathize with her, but I don’t understand her logic. Even illogic has to be logical in a story, in my opinion.

Tori glanced around at the rows of houses on either side in an attempt to calm down. Pumpkins, scarecrows and ghosts were strung about in festive, Halloween décor on each house in the neighborhood. To the right, a middle-aged woman was seating a skeleton in the center of a barrel of hay on one side while her young child played in a pile of leaves closer to the house. Down farther to the left a man in a suit was walking toward his front door while loosening his tie. Hey, nice scenery. I like it. It calms me down, for better or for worse.

“You’re okay,” Tori told herself. She took in a heavy deep breath and pressed on down the street. She didn’t mind taking the longer ride home if it meant she would arrive there safely.

The normalcy of her current surroundings lowered the rate of her rapidly beating heart. This seems superfluous. Tori took a few extra right turns before finally reaching the main road that passed by Old Mill Hill.

She wasn’t sure if it was morbid curiosity or a type of thrill-seeking teenage mentality, but Tori felt the urge to turn back down the road to see if the green station wagon was waiting for her. Are you, as the author, sure? This “thrill-seeking” is a character trait. And when a story is pushed by character traits, it’s important to remain consistent. This trait is backed up by her actions of sneaking out, etc. Right now, you have a dual character/complication conflict, which is okay. I think her feeling thrilled, then fearful, then calm, then thrilled again is a good ramp. You might want to push both conflicts a little more, though. More intense.

Several cars passed by in the opposite direction and the green side What is this? to her right loomed in the immediate distance.

Old Mill Hill; it suddenly felt like the name of a place where some heinous urban legend would have originated.

Tori’s heart began to beat again as her tires rotated rapidly over the pavement. Tightness developed in her throat and spread to her lungs. In that last second before passing by the street she felt as her heart could quite literally explode. Overreacting. Or, at least, there’s no sufficient evidence to support her fear at the moment.

Thump, thump… thump, thump… thump, thump…

The entryway to Old Mill Hill was upon her Again, the direction are confusing. and it felt like the car was moving in slow motion as she cocked her head to the right to glance down the menacing How so? lane.

There was nothing; nothing but a collection of colors from the oak and maple trees that protected the entryway. There was no green station wagon, no stranger lurking in the woods, no danger; nothing.

Tori shifted her eyes back to the road, recognizing that she had looked away for a dangerously long time, which from what she learned in driver’s education was just a few seconds.

She decided it was much more likely to get into a distracted car accident than to be attacked by some creep in a green station wagon.

Tori decided she needed to let it go and write the incident off as a creepy prank. It might’ve been if you made it more obvious. Like flashing lights behind her or honking a horn or something. Or boxing her in. With it being so close to Halloween she knew people were going out of their way to scare each other. It was a practice that she even took part in.

A more tolerable visual entered her mind; that of three or four teenage boys laughing their heads off behind the tinted windows of the seemingly strange vehicle enjoying a good scare.

The image was comforting, to say the least, and Tori decided she was going to mentally stick with that scenario. This is a good release of tension.

She turned up the volume knob on the radio and began to sing along with a new pop song that seemed to play at least twice on her way to and from school.

Tori consciously pushed the event from her mind before the subconscious took over and she began to enjoy the tunes that echoed from the speakers. She had successfully gotten lost in the moment when a slap in the face from reality drew her back to what had happened only minutes before.

A green station wagon with tinted windows passed Tori’s car and moved slowly in the opposite direction. Anxiety afflicted her mind and body again, sending the same warm feeling across her body and chills down her spine. Tori quite literally felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

She pressed the pedal to the floor and began to speed away in the opposite direction. Again, I have no idea if this is dangerous because I’m not sure if she’s on a dirt road or a main road or whatever. If she’s on a main road, which kind of road allows a car to pass by slowly? Usually dirt roads are one-way, though, no? While she was typically mindful of driving the speed limit, she knew this qualified as at least a moderate emergency. A part of her wished a police officer would pull her over so she could explain what had happened without having to actually report the incident. Might be more effective if a police officer passed by without doing anything. Or if she headed towards the police station, etc. Nothing had actually happened – not yet.

Tori’s eyes locked on the reflection of the road behind her again in the mirror. She could see the tail lights glowing red on the back of the station wagon in the middle of the road.

The brakes, she thought, he’s putting on the brakes.

She hit the pedal faster, not knowing if braking the car meant that the driver was finding a spot to turn around and follow her.

Tori haired erred on the side of caution and swiftly turned down the first road she saw. She wasn’t sure if the stranger knew he had passed her or not, or if he had actually turned around. All she knew was she had to maintain her distance to secure the fact that she would never see him or her again.

Okay, first, I want to admit I’m not very good at classifying dual conflicts. But for the most part, the conflict is a complication conflict. You have smatterings of the Mischief Night thrill of fleeing school and of being clever, along with the thrill of seeking out the car itself. However, the main conflict is fear induced from being tailed by a vehicle. It’s important to note, though, that fear is not a character trait. Fear is something that compels character traits to reveal themselves, such as her character trait of wanting to seek it out. The fact that she’s afraid, though, reveals nothing about her as a person. It simply says that she’s in a situation that compels action. So far, though, she’s only been avoiding the vehicle.

The introduction of fear is a red herring, so to speak. This lack of character trait revelation is combined with the relatively weak character trait (so far) of wanting to escape from school. We might feel a slight thrill of imagining her friend stuck in school and pleasure at the fact that she’s so clever, but all of this is thrown out the window when she starts to be afraid for her life. Then it’s all about her reaction, and not her pro-action. I would suggest to make this fear more dominant and lessen the effect we’d get from the set-up situation (the Mischief Night business). For instance, maybe make the vehicle more obviously threatening: maybe it’s night out, maybe someone was murdered, maybe she’s low on gas, etc.

Regardless, you write very well and I’m surprised how interesting you made the whole ordeal seem. You have a good grasp on your character and she seems like a real person, as far as her thoughts go. None of them seem to be unrealistic or faked for the sake of the plot. They are reflections that a normal person might have in that situation. I’m not sure that we necessarily need to know this thoughts, but it’s good that you know them, in case you want to make them into more character-revealing action.

Good descriptions of the scenery. Some of it came off as a bit hard to imagine, but I liked the bits where she had to calm herself down the most. It grounded the story in its setting. If you can keep grounded in that setting, and then have things happen to your sympathetic character, for example, then you could show her being brave, perhaps, in conjunction with her trying to calm herself with the quaint Halloween setting. I would recommend, though, that you don’t make the setting force her actions, but rather make her actions reflective of the fact that this is where she’s grown up.

By the way, I love these kind of plots. I enjoyed reading Stephen King's From a Buick 8, but even in that story, the setting is set up to reveal who these characters are. And then you get the mysterious car which sets up the complication. And so it's a conflict between dealing with internal character traits (morbid curiosity) and the mystery of the car (it's paranormal). Am I making sense? :b

Bard_Daniel
September 29th, 2015, 11:56 PM
Shadoweyes covered most, and then some, of the technical things that I was going to mention.

A second revision I would be very interested to see.

ra1902
October 9th, 2015, 04:30 AM
Oh, I'm intrigued and I would love to read more. The first few paragraphs captured me.

As I read through, the areas I found harder then the rest were logistics from where she came out of the gate to her next course of action. I like when directions make sense and I felt confused in where she was while she was driving. Did she just make one big circle? Is the school set at one end of town?

You mention she couldn't go back into the parking lot because she'd have to get out of the car and open the gate. I understand it defeats the purpose of story if she makes it in. Is there too much of a fear? Is there a big space difference between her car and the gate that someone can able to jump out and grab her before she can make it back to the car?


Tori glanced around at the rows of houses on either side in an attempt to calm down. Pumpkins, scarecrows and ghosts were strung about in festive, Halloween décor on each house in the neighborhood. To the right, a middle-aged woman was seating a skeleton in the center of a barrel of hay on one side while her young child played in a pile of leaves closer to the house. Down farther to the left a man in a suit was walking toward his front door while loosening his tie.


This. For some reason this jumps out at me, it's normalcy when just moments before there wasn't. I like that.

As I said before I'm very curious as to what will happen.

Elsey2
October 10th, 2015, 10:19 PM
Thank you all so much for the feedback. I am going to touch up the first part of the story... There is a second half and I have several endings written. I am looking to submit the story to an online horror magazine and it must be 7500 words or less, which makes it a little difficult for me at times but I'm working on keeping it short.

I see most people have s difficult time visualizing the school'so back entrance and I'll redo that portion. I think it's easy for me to visualize because I modeled it after an actual high school in my area. There is a back gate with a quiet back road that leads out of the school. I coached and worked a summer camp there. It appears, though, that it is not the norm for schools so I will try to keep it an easier visual for the reader.

Again, I'm very happy with the feedback and I will post the 2nd part soon (well, one ending at a time).

Elsey2
October 11th, 2015, 04:18 PM
The Oldsmobile finally came to a halt in front of a two car garage that extended off of a quaint raised ranch-style house on a quiet dead-end street.

Tori killed the engine and stepped out of the car, taking in her surroundings as she did so.

The neighborhood was quiet; the skies gray and fading fast with the upcoming closer of the afternoon. For several seconds there wasn’t a sound, and if it weren’t for the weirdness that had recently occurred it would have been peaceful.

Tori put her keys in the pocket of her hoodie as she walked toward the front door. She secretly wished that the garage wasn’t so jammed-packed with random things so she could hide her car from being seen.

A two car garage and it’s not even being used, she thought.

There was still a gut feeling in the pit of her stomach that something wasn’t quite right. Without much hard evidence, however, her brain kept urging her to ignore it and go on with her plans for the evening.

A strong gust of wind sent the trees that were scattered about the yard into a dance. Their branches swayed back and forth sending a pleather of leaves swirling down like little parachutes to the weed-choked landscape below.

Tori shuddered and the crisp air chilled her body and she hurried up the front steps that led to the front door.

When her phone sounded off again she jumped, and the ring tone immediately set her mind back to the image of the green station wagon.

There was another text message from Kayla that read: I’m on my way! Picking us up some pumpkin coffees!

Tori stood by the doorway for a moment and finally responded to her friend with a simple ‘okay’ before sliding the key into the lock and heading into the vacant house.

The silence, again, was enough to give her the chills. What Tori needed was company to get her mind off of the encounter. For whatever reason she felt vulnerable standing there staring down the six or seven steps that regressed into the lower level of the home.

The six or seven stairs that led up were a bit more welcoming, as the windows allowed for some light no matter how gray the sky was outside.
“Grow up,” Tori whispered to herself. She looked up toward the kitchen and headed up the stairs. To pass the time she decided to watch some television until Kayla arrived.

Tori kicked off her Ugg boots and settled into a seat on the espresso colored sofa, tucking her legs beneath her before flipping on the flat screen.

“Talk shows… General Hospital… no.” She flipped through the channels before reluctantly settling on the local news when nothing else caught her attention.

A blond-haired woman with a microphone stood in front of a corn field where children were already lined up with their parents for an evening of fun.

“There is hot apple cider, a corn maze and plenty of fun for people of all ages,” she gushed with a friendly smile. “For those of you just tuning in we are at Jones Farm just off of Route 6 right in the heart of West River. Come down if you would like to get Halloween started a night early.” The woman smiled wide again, “Back to you Chris.”

“Thank you Jessica.” An olive-skinned man with short, dark hair took over. “On to a more serious note, state police are asking all residents, statewide, to carry on with an extra dose of caution this evening; particularly those of you with young children. They would like to inform the public to be on the look-out for a dark green station wagon. There have been several reports from residents in neighboring towns that a vehicle with this description has approached several students walking home from school. There has been no description of the driver, nor has a license plate number been reported. Please contact your local authorities if you have any information. Jessica, back to you.”

Tori sat perfectly still for a moment and got lost in her thoughts. It was as if all of her senses had been cut off at that moment so she could think clearly. Without a moment of hesitation, she began to fiddle through her phone until finding the West River Police Station’s phone number in a Google search.
“Call,” she said, gliding her finger over the screen to select the option to phone the station.

Tori took a deep breath as the call connected. After three rings a woman picked up.

“West River Police,” she answered with a scratchy, smoker’s voice.

“Hi,” Tori said, feeling anxiety creep in. The last thing she wanted to do was sound like a blubbering idiot on the phone with the police. “I, uh, just want to make a report about something suspicious that happened.”

“Okay, what’s your name hun?” the scratchy voice asked me over the phone.

“Um, Tori Lane,” she replied, “Well, Victoria is my full first name, but everyone calls me Tori.” She shook her head and how ridiculous she sounded.

“Okay Miss Lane,” the woman went on, “What happened? Are you safe where you are right now?”

“Yes,” Tori said, nodding as she did, “I just saw a news report about a green station wagon that has approached kids walking home from school.”

“Yes…”

She took a deep breath, “Well, I saw it on my ride home. I’m a senior at West River High and I was driving down Old Mill Hill. I pulled over to the side of the road because I got a phone call and a green station wagon pulled up beside me.”

“Did you get a look at the driver?” the woman’s voice was suddenly more interested.

“No,” Tori informed the woman, “The windows were tinted. I couldn’t see inside.”

“What happened next?”

“He just sat there,” she explained, “For several minutes. I didn’t know what to do because I had my car off to the side.” She paused, “I rolled the window down and yelled to the person that I was alright in case they thought my car broke down or something.”

“And then?”

“It was like a stalemate.” Tori began reliving the moment, “We sat there side by side and eventually he drove off. It gave me a really bad feeling.”
“Old Mill Hill,” the woman replied, “That’s the road that runs parallel to the high school, correct?”

“Yes.”

Tori could hear the woman shuffling papers and there was a small bout of silence before she came onto the line.

“Thank you for your report Miss Lane,” she finally said, “The officers on duty will be notified of your encounter. Are you in a safe place now?”

“Yes,” she repeated.

“If you feel as though you’re in any immediate danger please don’t hesitate to call the station. I can send an officer to your location.”

“No,” Tori said right away, “No, I’m fine. I just… I was sitting her watching the news and it wasn’t hard to connect the dots.”

“Thank you for the report ma’am. If you happen to come across this person again please call the station.”

“I will. Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

Tori stayed on the line until she heard the officer hang up. She felt compelled to get to the bottom of the mystery of the stranger. Most importantly, she had to know if her life had been in danger for those few minutes on Old Mill Hill.

A knock at the door made her scream, and Tori put a hand over her mouth.

“Tor?” Kayla’s voice called from outside. “Hands are full with coffees!"

Tori stood up and hurried down the stairs to greet her friend at the door. When she saw Kayla’s face, a wash of relief passed through her.

“Come on in,” she pushed open the screen door that separated the two of them and accepted a capped, white Styrofoam cup. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Kayla smiled and kicked the heavy, wooden door shut with her foot. She adjusted a big, blue backpack on her shoulders and took a sip of her own coffee. “I love the smell of pumpkin.”

“Me, too,” Tori confirmed with a grin.

“So, how come you didn’t skip school to go with your family up to Maine to see your brother’s football game this weekend?” Kayla asked, “I would have totally jumped all over that.”

She shrugged, “I figured it’d be nice to have the house to myself for a night.”

“Should we call up Charlie Brubaker?” Her eyebrows raised.

Tori laughed and led the way up the stairs. “For what?”

Kayla smirked, “You know, you’re really bad at downplaying your feelings for him.”

She laughed again. “I don’t like him,” then added, “That much.”

“What if we were to get him over here?” Kayla went on, “Maybe he’d bring Dave with him.”

Tori smiled as she took a sip of coffee and the two of them settled onto the couch. “I thought a few of the girls might stop by.”

“Yeah… the more the merrier right?”

She sighed, partially liking the idea of calling the boys but she knew her parents wouldn’t approve if they happened to pop in earlier than expected. On the same note, she wasn’t wholly prepared to pursue her crush.

“Okay,” Kayla gave in, seeing her friend’s body language, “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

“Who else did you ask to come over?” Tori asked.

“Just Shannon, Casey and Erin.”

She nodded. “Okay.” The thought of more people at the house was comforting.

“I, uh, I brought a little something extra,” Kayla confessed, reaching for the zipper on her backpack.

Tori grinned. “Is it the bottle of wine you were thinking of taking from your basement?”

“Better.” Kayla chuckled, “A box of wine.”

The two of them giggled and Tori shook her head. “How did you get that?”

“My cousin,” she explained, “The scary part was keeping it in my trunk all day at school. I was paranoid about getting caught.”

Tori smiled, and then let it fade for a moment.

“What’s wrong?” Kayla asked. She used a hair-tie on her wrist to put her curly blond hair into a high ponytail.

“Huh?” Tori was caught off-guard, not realizing her expression had changed. “Oh… um…” She sighed.

“We don’t have to drink if you don’t want to,” Kayla assured her friend, “I don’t want you to-“

“No,” Tori began, “It’s not that."

Kayla sat and waited with wide blue eyes for her friend to elaborate.

“Something kind of creepy happened to me when I left school today,” she explained. “I pulled off the road to text you and a creep green station wagon pulled up next to me and just sat there. It was really weird.”

“Who was it? Could you see?” Kayla sat up straight on the couch and her mouth hung open.

“The windows were tinted. I have no idea.” Tori swallowed hard, “But then I saw a news report before you came by that said a car was approaching young kids walking home from school, and it was the same type of car that approached me.”

“Oh my gosh, Tor.”

Tori nodded, “I called the police and reported it.”

“That’s serious,” Kayla said, “And scary. Oh my gosh.” She put a hand on her forehead.

“Hopefully it’s just some creep trying to freak people out or something,” Tori told her, shaking her head, “I mean it was just him and I on that back road. No one else was around. He probably could have done something if he really wanted to… right?” She was trying to convince herself of that.
“I can’t even think about that,” Kayla replied. “He didn’t follow you or anything, did he?”

“No. He eventually drove ahead of me and I did a U-Turn and went in the opposite direction.” She shuddered, “I actually think I passed him again when I was making my way home.”

Fear struck Kayla’s eyes and she glanced out the large, picture window.

“He didn’t follow me,” Tori reassured her. “And even if he’s joyriding around, no one comes down a Dead End to do that.”

“Joyriding?” The thought seemed to strike even more fear in her friend.

“The police are actively looking for him now,” she added, “He’s been traveling around from town to town so I’m guessing he doesn’t stay in one place for long.”

Tori followed Kayla’s stare out the window. She eyed the house across the street, and then let her eyes travel to the wooded area that provided the abrupt end to the quiet street. To the left, a row of high pine trees acted as a natural fence that blocked out a view of the next house over.

“Let’s not think about it,” Kayla suggested, “You’re right; why would anyone come down here? We’re hidden.” She tipped her mouth up in a half-smile.

“Maybe that wine will loosen us up a little,” Tori said with a nervous laugh.

Kayla grinned wider, “Shall we get a pair of glasses?”

She laughed, “Sure.”

The two of them pushed the creepy encounter out of their minds and got started on the low-key shenanigans early before their small collection of friends began to arrive a little later in the evening.

** I have two different scenarios for how this pans out following this portion of story. One of them adds a few more characters while the other focuses just on Tori and Kayla.

ShadowEyes
October 11th, 2015, 06:00 PM
I hope you don't mind me criticizing the piece very briefly. I'm excited to keep on reading.

There was one instance where you switched to first person tense.

Some of the things that were unknown to me were:
1. Stealing wine.
2. Crush on a boy.
3. The situation with her parents and Mischief Night.

While these add to the story, none of them seem to be the main conflict in the story. The main conflict is the green station wagon. Right now, because it has the distinction of being the antagonist of the main conflict of the story, I'm disappointed that it's so underplayed. I don't know its motive. I'm thinking of Buick 8 again, I guess. Stephen King introduces the deadly and mysterious nature of the Buick, but then doesn't dwell on it as the only source of conflict. The conflict is in the fact that someone has to deal with the Buick. Not in the mere fact that it exists. But right now, Tori is safe from the station wagon. And there's no correlation to her escaping school and being stalked. Also, presumably, if she was really as terrified of it as the story might deserve, then she wouldn't take further risks such as the conflicts listed above. So for this conflict to be credible, I need more information about the car, I need a reason that she has to deal with the conflict, and I need a focus on the conflict that, only when this one is made evident, ties in the Mischief Night conflicts above.

I think you have a lot of good material. However, there's a pacing/conflict issue. You need to make the conflict larger, more life-or-death, and not simply imply it. And you also need to make the character Tori more emotional invested in the conflict so that she acts, and not only reacts. Then you can show off her emotional investments in, say, her friends/parents/crush.

Renaissance Man
October 12th, 2015, 06:56 AM
I liked the story. The writing is easily accessible. I'd like to know more about Tori. And? I kind of have the impression that the car's alive.

ra1902
October 20th, 2015, 12:50 AM
Good start to a continuation.

One place a word jumped out at me, I'm thinking you meant another one.


Their branches swayed back and forth sending a pleather of leaves swirling down like little parachutes to the weed-choked landscape below.

Maybe you meant plethora?

The beginning kept me reading, however as the friend shows up, I felt like the story kind of slowed down. It almost seemed like Tori forgot all about her being scared and what happened earlier that afternoon. Then suddenly it just pops back up again.

Can't wait to read more. Will you be posting both of your next parts? Or are you just trying to decide which way you want to go?

Abishai100
October 28th, 2015, 05:37 PM
Why did you make your station wagon green-colored? Did that have any special significance? I liked your decision to make road-panic an element of the spookiness. With road-terror stories you can go one of two ways -- the stalker or the hitcher, and you seem to balance your decision nicely. Have you had a personal experience of terror involving a cell phone in a car (I hate being unnerved while driving by my ringing cell phone!). All in all, I thought it was entertaining. You should work on your suspense elements, since it seems to stir you and stimulate your creativity. I give this story at least 3 out of 5 stars!

Elsey2
October 30th, 2015, 02:54 AM
Thanks again for critiquing my story. I really appreciate it. I actually got some of my ideas from the original Halloween movie, particularly regarding the main character being spooked by a mystery person and then trying to tell herself that everything is okay when she meets up with her friend. My intentions are to start with the suspense, cool down for a bit and get Tori starting to feel slightly more at ease, and then bring back the mysterious/dangerous element with the return of the car.

I am going to post the rest of the story. I'll post one ending first. I'm not finished with the other yet, but it's a totally different angle.

Elsey2
October 30th, 2015, 03:24 AM
Darkness had begun to creep in and Tori continually checked her phone.

"When are the girls supposed to stop by?" she asked, staring across the room at the other couch where Kayla sat beneath an orange and white quilt.

Kayla shrugged and instinctively punched in the code to unlock her cell phone. "Shannon said they were all together, like, a half hour ago."

"Well, no one's texted me back yet."

"They aren't responding to me either," Kayla confirmed.

Tori sighed and shrugged. "They're probably out getting themselves into trouble."

"Maybe if we take a selfie and send it to them they'll see what they're missing."

The girls looked at each other and Kayla's slow-spreading smirk made Tori chuckle. Immediately, her friend hopped out from under the blanket and scurried over to the couch where Tori was sprawled out.

"Come on," Kayla urged, "Smile for the camera."

Tori laughed and rolled her eyes, but straitened up on the couch and smiled half-heartedly while Kayla snapped the photograph of the two of them.

"Let me see," Tori urged the second after it was taken.

Kayla briefly studied the photo and tilted the phone so Tori could view it. "Cute."

Tori chuckled again and shook her head, mainly at her friend's wide-eyed, open-mouthed face that accompanied her plain, toothy grin. She was about to give her friend the go-ahead to send it to their missing pack of friends via text message when something in the background of the image caught her eye.

"Let me see that," she ordered, an urgent ring to the tone of her voice.

Kayla's giddy expression promptly changed, and her eyebrows pressed together in alarm. "What?" she asked.

Tori reached for the phone and examined the photograph, zooming in on the area behind where the two of them sat that gave a view of the front yard through the picture window.

A sinking feeling plagued the pit of her stomach and her chest tightened. The expression on her face must have accompanied what she was feeling internally because her friend's worried plea for clarity was echoed another time.

"Tori, what?" Kayla asked again. This time, her voice was far more shrill and frightened.

Tori almost couldn't speak and she slowly sunk below the view of the picture window behind them, tugging the sleeve of Kayla's shirt as she did so. "It's here," she whispered.

Kayla shook her head, not fully understanding Tori's message. "What is?" she arched her neck to look at the picture on the phone.

Tori swallowed hard and took in a deep breath through her nose in an attempt to compose herself. "The car," she explained, "The green station wagon that pulled up beside me earlier... it's sitting out in front of the house."

Kayla's face grew white and she was about to glance out the window when Tori pulled her back down.

"No!" she urged, "Don't."

"What the hell..." Kayla's eyes were wide and full of fear as her voice trailed off. "What do we do?"

Tori took in more decompressing breaths, feeling her chest heave up and down. "We call the police."

Kayla's fingers clenched the soft fabric of the couch cushion and she appeared to be in a state of temporary paralysis. The way she sat was rigid and statue-like.

Tori made the picture disappear from the phone for a moment and scrolled around on the screen until she located the local police number again from a Google search.

"Are you calling them?" Kayla asked, still not moving from her position on the couch.

Tori nodded and felt a bout of confidence for a moment as the phone began to ring. Before an officer could answer, the sound of the doorbell rang through the house.

Harper J. Cole
November 10th, 2015, 07:18 PM
Nice work, her seeing the station wagon in the photograph instead of simply spotting it through the window was a clever way to reintroduce it. Having just the two of them in the house probably works better than having the whole group of friends come over: fewer people = more fear.

In terms of potential improvements, there's a few times when I think you over-explain what's happening.

Example ...


Kayla's fingers clenched the soft fabric of the couch cushion and she appeared to be in a state of temporary paralysis. The way she sat was rigid and statue-like.

I would say to either compare Kayla's state to paralysis or to a statue. By doing both you're effectively repeating yourself, as they both convey the same image.

I look forward to seeing where the story's going. :thumbl:

HC

TataSweets44
June 17th, 2016, 01:58 AM
I'm not usually a horror fan (I scare quite easily lol) and because of this I usually avoid stories of that genre but your title caught my attention and I was hooked from the very first line. I can't wait to read more even though I'll probably have to keep the lignts on when I go to bed well after lol.

TataSweets44
June 17th, 2016, 02:07 AM
Oh my goodness! Just saw the third part to your story! It was short but it still freaked me out! Lol. Thumbs up!

Elsey2
June 22nd, 2016, 01:57 AM
I've actually revised this several times since the fall. I haven't logged in on this site in awhile but glad to see that there is interest and critiques! This is exactly what I am looking for so thank you! I have written several different endings to this story so I wouldn't know which one to post!