Double Feature: Reader’s Request Story #3 – Silent Black and Reader’s Request Story #4 – Destination

“Don’t do it, Jess!” said Katie. “This is so stupid!”

“Oh, shut up!” Jessica replied playfully. “It’s just a story!”

“I don’t know. I just have a bad feeling about this.”

“Don’t worry. Come on, I’ll show you.” Jessica grabbed Katie by the wrist and pulled her forward. The night was bitter, the hazy air nipping at their skin. A soft glow was emitted from the moon to add just enough light to the flickering streetlights to see by. The lights from the city reflected down onto the river behind them, the ripples and waves distorting it into a pool of swirling color. The only sound heard was the faint, quiet engines of cars in the distance.

The tunnel lie dead ahead, its ominous green-blue glow giving an eerie sparkle to the damp pavement at the entrance. It was, as locals called it, ‘The Cursed Tunnel’.

They stopped cold just before entering. The atmosphere was heavy. It felt as if they were knee deep in a muddy swamp.

“Now,” Jessica smiled manically. “You go first.”

She tried to push Katie inside, but she was stubborn. She pushed back, nearly falling forward as she tried to restrain.

“Stop! I can’t!” she said, nearly in tears.

“Why not, you pansy?” Jessica gasped and laughed at Katie, who stared blank faced and white as a ghost into the long, narrow pedestrian tunnel.

“I can see them,” Katie replied. She appeared to be in a trance, talking in vocal patterns similar to that of a small girl. She smiled innocently, eyes sparkling as she slowly moved forward, descending inside.

“Katie,” Jessica called sarcastically. “If you’re trying to freak me out, it’s not going to work.”

Katie stopped midstride. A cold rush of air blasted out of the tunnel, making the temperature of the dark parking lot seem like a warm, tropical beach. She turned around, smiling with a crazy look in her eye. Her face appeared to have transformed into that of a five-year-old girl, riddled with scars.

“They want to talk to you.” Her voice echoed through the tunnel. The hairs stood up on the back of Jessica’s neck. Her heart began to race with fear. Katie turned back around and slowly disappeared into the dark fog.

“Katie?” she said. Her voice trembled and, one step at a time, she followed. Her knees knocked together, each step slower and less balanced than the last. The lights began to dim, flickering on and off like a sky full of fireflies. The darkness finally enveloped her completely. She couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. The warmth of her breath filled the air around her face. There was no light, no sound. Just silent black.

“Katie!” she cried. She stood in the darkness, waiting for a reply. She became weak, faint. Her mouth was dry, her breathing slowly constricting.

“Jessssicaahh…” a male voice whispered into her left ear. She whisked around, expecting the worst. She couldn’t see anyone. Her bottom lip quivered; tear streaming down her face, a thin layer of sweat covering her back despite the freezing temperatures.

Drip. Drip. Drip. A slow, steady beat sounded next to her. She didn’t want to look, didn’t want to be frightened anymore, but she could not resist. She slowing looked up, her mouth open wide and breathing heavily. A soft, luminescent red liquid leaked from the roof and fell into a small pool by Jessica’s feet. Blood. She tried to scream, but couldn’t. Katie was right. The tunnel was cursed.

“Jessica!” the same male voice screamed from the end of the tunnel. She felt a pressure on her chest. It built and built before finally slamming her against the wall and dragging her to the ground, pushing her head into a pool of blood.

She finally let the scream go. A glass-shattering high pitched shriek filled the entirety of the darkness, echoing and distorting into an evil cackle. A sharp, knife like pain entered her ankle. She rolled herself around and looked at her foot. A long, bony, clawed hand gripped her. She screamed again as the skeletal claws pulled her through the tunnel, dragging her along the gritty asphalt. She scratched at the ground, but she couldn’t hold on. Her fingers slowly and painfully severed down to gory stubs. The nerves in her body screamed as all her bones cracked and fractured.

Jessica was jerked off the ground and violently pulled back against the sharp, cold cliff wall. A pressure on her chest pinned her down, making her whole body pained and paralyzed. A dark figure watched from the shadows. A soft, dim red light shone from behind him. He slowly limped toward her until he was in view. He was wearing a dark, soot black cloak, his face masked by the shadow of his hood.

“Go back.” His voice growled, raspy and dry, the sound of it like nails against a chalkboard. Lightning flashed from behind her, revealing his rotted, scarred face. A giant fist sized gash on his left cheek exposed his jaw bone. Tears of blood streaked down his face. Globs of his hair were pulled out, red dried skin in their place. He stretched his long, bony, clawed finger toward her.

“Go back!” he shrieked. His clawed hand ripped at her throat. Blood gushed from the open wound on her neck. Her face turned blue and she gurgled what remaining air she had left before her vision faded. The last thing she saw was the light afterimage in the darkness of her consciousness. A little girl with a sad look on her face.

She shook her head and said, “Say no.”


9:27 PM

The car slowly shifted into reverse, rolling down the driveway and out into the open road. Zak Riley pressed his hand against the passenger’s windows, watching as his house left them behind. He grinned ear to ear and shifted his glance to the GPS on his Father’s dashboard.

‘Destination: Seattle. 3 hours.’

He leaned his seat all the way back and stared up at the roof of the small car, closing his eyes and imagining what it would be like.

This was a trip they’d been planning for ages, and he was thrilled. He pictured the Space Needle, looking down at the magnificent city below. The EMP museum, where he could live his dream of being a rock sensation, strumming out chords on a real electric guitar. Walking on the docks, eating seafood, reading a book at the library. The possibilities were endless. And he only had 3 more hours.

He casually sighed and tried to relax, tried to let the long wait go quickly. He drifted to sleep.

10:42 PM

Zak’s eyes slowly began to open. He wiped them with his palms to refresh them so he could see exactly where they were in their journey. Once he had fully regained vision and consciousness, he looked out the window.

It was dark now, the lights of their hometown long passed. The area seemed rural, with only a few buildings scattered throughout the trees. Rain trickled down the windshield of the car before being wiped up by the windshield wipers. Swish, swish. He locked his eyes on them and watched as they smeared the water droplets across the glass.

“Where are we?” he asked his Father, who’s eyes stayed locked on the road ahead.

“Interstate 5, slightly passed Castle Rock.”

“Are we close?” Zak questioned impatiently.

“Closer than when we left.” His father laughed and grinned, still watching the street like a cat watches prey. “Don’t worry. Only about 2 hours left. Go back to sleep.”

Zak nodded slowly and shifted to a comfortable position. He was still slightly groggy, so he fell asleep quickly.

11:19 PM

Once again, Zak awoke from another hour of sleep. He snapped to consciousness faster this time and looked out the window, in hopes of seeing city lights and a sign that said ‘Pioneer Square Hotel’. He didn’t. Instead, he was disappointed by the sight of more trees.

It was pitch black now, like someone splashed black ink on the other side of the window. The dashboard gave a purple luminescence to the inside of the car, allowing him to see a red hand mark pressed into his face from him lying on it. He wiped it off and stretched out, yawning simultaneously.

Something caught his eye from the backseat. He turned around to see nothing there but a couple of yellow lights behind them, presumably a car. He thought nothing of it and turned around, looking down at his Zoo York tee. He traced the design with the tip of his finger, bored to death. He didn’t want to fall back asleep. He knew they didn’t have too much further to go, so he decided he’s stay awake to see the Emerald City come into view.

Something again caught his eye to his right. He looked out the window. A small red dot hovered above the trees, seeming to follow their car.

‘Mars.’ He thought. He closed one eye and covered it with his thumb. He bit down on his tongue out of pure anxiousness. ‘How much longer?’ He removed his thumb and jumped back. The red dot had gotten bigger. It was now about the size of the moon.

He knit his eyebrows together, thinking what the strange object in the sky could be. It’s no moon; it’s no star, no sun, and no plane. Aliens? He snickered at the idea. What a ridiculous notion! There had to be a completely logical explanation. He watched it a while longer, then after about a minute and a half, it changed. The single red dot now spread to five glowing, orange discs, now spinning in a perfect circle. The movements of the objects got faster, and the circle became larger and even brighter than before. The purple light from the dashboard was now covered by the blood red glow of the sky circle.

He reached out to his Fathers seat, trying to get his attention.

“Dad? Do you see this?” He kept his eyes locked on the circle, feeling the seat for his Dad. He couldn’t feel anyone there. His heart stopped, his jaw dropped and he slowly turned to the left. There was no driver.

Thinking fast, he scrambled to unbuckle the seatbelt and move to the driver side, taking hold of the wheel. He was only 13 and knew little of driving, but he knew how to steer. Grabbing the wheel 10-2, he swerved the car back on track, as it has slowly started to drift to the left. Once it was back on the road, the reached his foot down and hit the gas, trying to speed away from the thing. He moved his eyes to the circle.

The circumference began to shrink to a small, concentrated beam of light before expanding and releasing a blinding light from its core. A white streak of light whizzed down toward the car and hit the windshield, smashing a hole in it and leaving a burning hot hole in the passenger’s seat.

Zak began to cry, more alarmed than he’d ever been before. Another light object sped to the car, creating a fist-sized dent in the roof behind him. He couldn’t control himself any longer. He swerved the car to the left so fast, the vehicle flipped and spun into the trees before crashing headfirst into a large oak. Zak flew forward and smashed his head through the windshield.

For a brief moment before losing conciouness, a silhouette of a man starred at him from the other side of the road. The man had four arms. And Zak drifted to sleep.

©Brendan Swogger 2012

My first story, Silent Black, was sent in by reader Katie Schultz. The prompt reads:

“okay let’s see…there’s two girls (different ages) in a dark parking lot at night and one is about to do something terrible, the other attempts to stop her.”

It may not be exactly what you had pictured, but you can’t expect to get something mainstream from me. I’m gonna twist it up as much as I can. The setting of the story was inspired by a real place I enjoy visiting often with very real haunts. Visit the actual haunted OC tunnel on the downtown ghost tour with NW Ghost Tours. Their website is

The second prompt was sent to me yet again by my very good author friend, David Hulegaard. He tweeted this out recently to both me and Tony Healey. It reads:

“A bored kid sits in the backseat on a road trip. Something abnormal in the sky catches his eye. Go.”

Thanks for the second prompt, David! I always need more objectives. You can read David’s version here and Tony’s version can be found here.

Have a prompt you want written? Send me a message at the Reader’s Request page. Just click the tab at the top of the page. Check back often for new material. Happy Reading! 😉

About indiealtpdx

Writer for indie.alt and Vortex Music Magazine

Posted on 27/05/2012, in Short story. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Katie Schultz

    Thank you Brendan, for making me have a nightmare about myself! Haha. That was a really good story, definately not what I was expecting.

  2. Thanks, Katie! Glad you approve! 😉

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