On Shadowy Ground | An Excerpt

{ 456-word excerpt }

Earlier I had thought it was something scurrying around in the foliage like a raccoon or some nocturnal rodent.  But this time it sounded like something bigger.  The movements were quite sluggish for a small animal.

I snapped my head around, surveying the scene, but in the gloom of night everything was gray and black, covered in shadows.  Naturally my display of alarm had alerted Jess.

“Quinn!  What’s wrong?”

“Shhh! Be quite,” I whispered.  “Did you hear that noise?”

“What noise?” she whispered back, thankfully.

I listened intently.


Then it came again but this time it was in the trees, up above.  And close by.

That, did you hear that?”

Jess wasn’t alarmed.  “Yeah, but it’s probably just some dumb animal.  No biggie, baby.”   I think her hormones were clouding her judgment.  She pulled me in close to her again and started That-Thing-She-Does to my neck.

I wondered if I was delusional.  However, the more Jess did her Thing, the more I just wanted her—spooks or no spooks.  After a while (preliminaries and all) we made the kind of wild passionate love normal teenagers in love did.  To my surprise and utter relief, I didn’t hear the suspicious noises during our tryst, although, that could’ve been because all I could hear was Jess’ ecstasy.

Later, after we got off the ground and straightened out our clothes, I decided we should call it an evening and head home.  But, as we made our way through the woods, something jumped out at us!

I couldn’t see it at first but I knew it was there.  Jess shrieked and immediately froze up.  Apparently she saw our visitor but I could not until . . . the shadow!  No, maybe it wasn’t a shadow.  Something pitch black stood directly in front of us, practically camouflaged by the cloak of night.  It was like a three-dimensional shadow, featureless and totally opaque.

It voiced an eerie squall like that of a tortured bird, and its breath stank and smelled literally of sewage or rotting garbage.

I would have screamed just like Jess, but the sudden icy grip of the shadow’s hand around my neck prevented that.

I struggled to get the damn thing to release its hold on me.  I wanted to tell Jess to run like hell.

{ end of excerpt }

Written in 1997. The full version of this story was previously featured in Thriller! A Young Adult Anthology, a print anthology published in October 2010 by Static Movement, edited by Chris Bartholomew. This excerpt exists here for sampling only – any other unauthorized use or dissemination is strictly prohibited.

This edition is copyright © 2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

Shadows image is copyright © 2016 it’s Respective Owner. All Rights Reserved.

brandonrucker.com | RuckerWrites | @RuckerWrites

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