Johnny – An Original Short Horror

What lurks in the shadows? What frightens you most?

“The dark,” I’d reply. “It isn’t what lurks in the shadows that frightens me. It isn’t what I think might be in the closet, watching as I sleep. It is the shadows. It is the closet that frightens me. The anticipation, staring at the crack in the door. The dark, the sense of not knowing where you are. Of being lost. That is what frightens me most.”


It all started when I was only young, when the things I enjoyed doing often involved the sun, ice cream and the occasional day long addiction to my TV. Most of all though, it was my friends that made it. Ah yes. I remember those days. What happened to those days? They seem like they were…only yesterday. Ah, I remember now. That day. That cursed day. They abandoned me. Every last one of them. They just left. Why? I still haven’t the slightest clue. But I remember what I felt. The aching in my heart. The sweat on my face. The feeling of suffocation. Like I was going to die.

You want to know what happened? I’ll tell you what they did. The ones I trusted. Like I said, I remember it like it was only yesterday.


“Hey, Johnny. Look over there.” They pointed to a dark building, smeared with spray paint and covered in mud and dirt. It looked like no one had been there for at least a hundred years.

I was only 12 then, the youngest in the group. Billy was 13, and Andrew was the oldest. He was 16. He was my idol then. A terrible one now that I think of it.

“What do ya say we go check it out?” Andrew pulled my arm and led me to a large hole in the concrete wall. Billy followed close behind. He was smiling. I recall laughing as well. To someone as young as myself back then, I thought it was all just fun and games. How naïve of me to think so.

“Alright, John. You go first.” Andrew pushed me through. I nodded and smiled, looking back at them.

“Okay. I’ll check it out.” I looked in front of me. It was dark. Pitched black like someone had taken a sheet and covered the entire area. I wouldn’t admit it at the time, but it frightened me. That is when it begun. When I knew something terrible was going to happen. What it was that was going to happen still hadn’t revealed itself. It never does until it’s too late to turn back. So I continued. Billy’s laughs echoed through the empty space I submerged myself into. I still couldn’t understand what it was they were trying to accomplish.

I led myself deeper inside, putting my hands out in front of me so as to not run into anything. My bare feet slowly shuffled their way into the darkness. My heart began to beat faster. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end. I didn’t know why I seemed to become so afraid. There wasn’t anything there with me. At least not that I could see. Just black.

A whisper carried itself into my ear from the soft breeze coming from outside. “Quick! Let’s get out of here!” It said. I thought nothing of it and continued on. I kept walking until; at last, my hands reached a stopping point. It was cold hard stone. It felt like ice on my delicate fingers. I turned around to call back to the others. I couldn’t see them from where I stood. All I could make out was a small pinpoint light where I assumed they were waiting.

“There’s nothing here!” I called out. “Just a wall!” There was no reply. I shrugged and went back the other direction toward the light. Then something peculiar happened. The tiny light at the end of the tunnel vanished. Along with it came the sound of a large metal door slamming shut and locking. That’s when it hit me what the bad thing was. Where was I? The Vault is what we called it. An old abandoned bank vault in the middle of the woods. It was strictly off limits to anyone. Why it was abandoned was that one tricky question that had still never been answered. Some say people died here.

“Guys?” I called out. Which way was I facing? Where were they? Was I alone? Was I going to die here? Am I dead? All these questions raced through me. I couldn’t take the stress. I fell to the floor, crying. My back hurt from the weight of the situation. What was going to happen next? The anticipation shocked me so bad I threw up on the cold, damp floor. The horrible taste lingered in my mouth. I kept on crying.

The pain in my back worsened and my neck began to tighten up. Stress and anxiety was hitting me like a ton of bricks. I began to have images of what could happen to me. Suffocate from lack of air, be locked in and rot to death, eaten by rats. The horrific possibilities struck me with a jolt and I let another cup of puke spill out of me. I cried my eyes dry, screaming.

“No! No! Let me out! I’m going to die! I’m going to die! I can’t breathe! Someone! Help me!”

I fell over, my face soaking in the vomit. I twitched around, my muscles aching. My voice had run itself out, my cries for rescue now becoming a raspy whisper. Then, I stopped.

Just out of the blue, I gave up. I lay there, my head in the puddle and my body curled into a fetal position on the dirty vault floor. My heart began to slow pace, my breathing became steadier. I noticed my eyes had somewhat adjusted to my surroundings. I sat up to see if I could find my way out of this prison. Left, right, up, down. My eyes had adjusted, yes. Enough to see at least a foot in front of me, no. The stress, the fear, gradually began to return to me. For a fraction of a second it seemed, my breathing stopped.

I began to notice how cold it was inside. Freezing really, like a giant refrigerator. I crossed my arms in an attempt to produce some heat. My breathing became heavy.

“Jonathan,” It said. The sound was short, quick and deep. Like that of a male. It jolted me straight, scaring me in such a fashion as to make me stumble back. My arms went out behind me to catch myself from striking the floor. What was it? Was there someone else in there with me? Someone I couldn’t see. My stress rose up. My fear became more pronounced.

“Who are you!?” I cried out. Was I going crazy? No, it wasn’t possible. There HAD to be another one. He was going to kill me. I just knew it. “Please! Let me out! I don’t want to die!” I pleaded to him. Whoever he was. The man with the knife I saw in my head. I vision he had on torn clothes, smiling as he came closer, the tip of the blade pointed at the back of my neck.

I spun around, my arms straight out in front of me. I fell over.

“No!” I shouted again. I moved myself backwards until I hit the wall, and then stood up. I was blind. I swung my arm out, doing my best to repel him. “Don’t hurt me!”

I put both my hand on the wall firmly behind me. My breathing was short and fast. My heartbeat sped up. I swallowed a large amount of saliva. My eyes weld up with tears.

A scratching sound on the wall came about 5 feet to my left. I ran in the opposite direction, tripping on myself as I moved. My head twitched from the stress in my neck. Tears began to fall on my face. I WAS going to die. No doubt about it now. I moved away from the sound as quickly as I could, keeping myself pointed in its direction to be aware of my presumed attacker. I spun around and face planted into the concrete surface. My nose was crushed on impact, warm blood dripping from my nostril to my upper lip. I put my hands in front of me in order to follow the wall away from the man I presumed was gaining on me and find my way out. Another scraping noise came from behind me, closer this time.

I pictured the long sharp blade in his hand, scratching against the surface of the concrete wall, smiling as he inched closer and closer to my trembling body.

“No! No! Let me live!” My breath was forced out, my body becoming weak. I pounded on the wall, still following it. I needed to escape. I was desperate.

Then, it all snapped. My fear and weakness suddenly became my rage and power. My sadness became an anger, an unquenchable thirst for revenge. I was hurt, now they would pay. It was perfect. That is, if I made it out alive. And I would. I suddenly became filled with the feeling of confidence, of strength and hope. I clenched my teeth and roared. I tore my throat apart and spun around, swinging out my arm. I had scared him now! I was sure of it! In fact, I could already hear his footsteps retreating, fast and soft, like that of a frightened coward.

I smiled, my teeth still gritted together, and laughed maniacally. I turned back toward the wall, scratching my fingertips into the abrasive stone, smearing blood along it as I went. I started with the letter I and kept going until my fingernails had been chewed down to a sharp bloody ridge, until my fingers were in so much pain, my whole hand became numb. I didn’t stop until my goal was completed.

I puffed through my nose and knitted my eyebrows, staring at the wall that I could not see. Admiring the work that was completed but not visible. Then, I turned around and continued through the tunnel of black, confident I’d find my way out.

I slammed into walls with my shoulder forcefully, letting them guide my way out of the vault. I finally found a large round metal door. I pushed at it, pushed at the lock and felt it, trying to break free. It felt rusted, old and easily breakable. I pulled at it, trying to break it off. It was no use with bare hands, but my crazed mind was not ready to accept defeat.

The footsteps returned, leading closer and closer behind me. I screamed a string of curses at them, telling them to “#@&! off!” and “Go die you damned @%^?!” I kicked the wall with my exposed toes, stubbing them and turning them red and purple and throbbing with a dull pain. I didn’t care though. I was invincible! I felt a metal object with my foot and bent over to pick it up. From what I could feel, it was a large metal crowbar. I weighed it in my hands, tossing it around with pride, then made my way back to the lock and struck it. I repeatedly hit it with the rod, swinging it down with a smile on my face. I’d done it!

The lock finally broke, the metal pieces clanging on the ground. I pulled my arms back and shoved the door open, letting a bright, blinding light into the darkness of the abandoned bank vault. I stomped out, my strides long. I stood tall, confident and laughed, swinging the crowbar in my hands as I made my way into the trees and out toward the city.

A voice spoke to me in my head, telling me what I should do. How to succeed and get my vengeance on what they had done to me. I knew that whatever happened, I would come out on top.


I heard that Billy and Andrew came back that afternoon. Oh, the poor devils were probably scared to death by what they found. I do hope they found what I’d left for them. It wasn’t much. Just a little note.


And, they did.

© Brendan Swogger 2012

I have recently been suffering a bit of writers block, which means I’ve been doubting my own ideas. I’d start something, then delete it. After a while, doing different activities, I had to write something. It had been too long. I once again started, and deleted. Then, I had an idea. I took nothing but my laptop and locked myself in a dark room and just sat in silence. An image began to form. A quote which I posted on my Facebook page as soon as it came to me. That was the first part of the story. That then lead into the short story, Johnny. I hope that this longer work will give you incentive to come visit me again often, for I do promise I will have another story out soon. My mind is swarming with ideas just waiting to be put on paper. As always, you can share this on Facebook and Twitter and follow my blog via email. Follow me @BrendanSwogger for updates and more on Twitter. Happy Reading! 😉

About indiealtpdx

Writer for indie.alt and Vortex Music Magazine

Posted on 20/06/2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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