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Midnight's Grip This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Tyler woke with a start, sweat glistening on his skin, wet hair matted against his forehead, still trembling from the dream. Dream wasn't the right word though; nightmare was more like it.

He gasped fresh air into his lungs, still disoriented, and peered through the sleepy fog that covered his eyes. Slowly, he shook the sleep off, sitting up in bed. The blankets and pillows were sprawled across his bed and on the floor. Glancing across the dark room, Tyler felt an uneasy gnawing in his stomach. Something was not right.

He'd had the dream many times before, always waking at the same moment. Yet tonight, he'd woken from the nightmare early, right in the middle. Something must have roused him, releasing him from the grip of the dream. He listened for a moment; the house remained silent, as if it was sleeping heavier than Tyler himself had been. In the kitchen, Tyler could hear the usual hum of the refrigerator, the only sound breaking the din of silence in his ears.

Throwing back the single cover still draped across his body, Tyler slid silently off the bed, bare feet pressing into the carpet. He crept toward the door, careful to avoid anything that had been strewn across his floor over the past few days. His mom had been telling him to clean his room, even threatening to ground him, but he had found other things to do and it had slipped his mind. Now, as he tried to weave his way to the door, he wished he'd listened to her, just this once.

He leaned against the door, listening. For a moment there was only silence. But then he heard a noise, so slight, from the other side of the door. Something scraped across the floor outside, barely audible through the door, though he was sure he was hearing it. The sound seemed to be getting closer. Almost unconsciously, Tyler reached for the door knob, slowly and quietly, so as not to alert whatever was on the other side.

As soon as he determined that whatever was making the noise should be right outside his room, he pulled the door open quickly. A gust of wind pushed past his face, and he heard a brief scuffling noise, but he couldn't see anything. He rushed into the hallway. The noise was gone, and silence reigned again.

Curiosity raged through Tyler, and for a moment, he wanted to push forward, to find out what had made the noise. Yet, he hesitated. This was one of those moments where, if he were in a horror movie, the audience would be screaming at him not to go on, to use his brains. Part of him agreed with the imaginary crowd, but another part understood why the character always does it in the movie. Curiosity is a strong compeller, and he was being irrational anyway. He wasn't in a movie, he was in his house. But maybe that was what the horror movie victims had been thinking though ….

He shook his head, trying to laugh these thoughts off, even if this only half worked. Tyler continued down the hallway. It led out to the living room, the center of the house with several other hallways branching from it. The only light was the moonlight spilling through the windows, and it gave the room an eerie black-and-white effect.

Three other hallways branched from the room, each leading to a different part of the house. Darkness enveloped the halls, so Tyler could only see a few feet down each one. In order to get a good view, he approached the first hallway, glancing around the corner and peering into the gloom. Nothing unusual seemed to occupy it, so he moved on to the next, equally quietly. Once again, fear began to gnaw at his stomach, working its way up into his throat. Somehow, he knew what would be around this corner, he just knew it.

Mustering up what little courage he could, he peered around the corner and saw a shadowy figure at the end of the hallway. None of the figure's features stood out against the shadows around it, aside from its extraordinary height that seemed nearly impossible. The shadows must have been playing tricks on his eyes because the figure stood taller than the door frame behind it, which was seven feet.

From what Tyler could make out, the figure seemed to be drifting toward the door … his parents' bedroom. Panic flooded Tyler's mind, replacing his curiosity. This thing, whatever it was, didn't seem to have a solid shape, or even a definite outline. It couldn't be human, or could it? Maybe it was just too dark to see, and he was jumping at shadows, literally.

But he had little time to lose, because even though he may have been seeing things, this thing was heading for his parents' room. One way or another he had to keep it from getting to them. It just didn't seem right. Here goes horror movie mistake number two.

“Hello?” he whispered through a fear-clenched throat, as he stepped into the entrance to the second hallway. The shadowy figure froze for a moment, hand halfway to the door knob. A shiver ran up Tyler's spine, and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. After a moment, the figure seemed to dissolve into the shadows, and Tyler stood rubbing his eyes and wondering if he had actually seen it in the first place.

Only a moment later, the shadows swirled and the figure stood in the same spot, but now it was facing him.

Silence reigned for a split second, and fear paralyzed Tyler's mind once again. He took an involuntary step backward, which seemed to send the figure into action. A sharp, shrill hiss came from the far end of the hallway, and the figure flew forward, becoming no more clear as the distance between them shrunk.

Tyler only had enough time to take another step back before the figure slammed into him. Its shape broke apart as it hit him, but there was enough momentum to lift Tyler off the ground and toss him several feet before he slammed to the floor. The air was sucked from his lungs, leaving him dizzy and gasping for breath.

Once his heartbeat stopped flooding his ears, he sucked in a big gulp of air and pushed himself to a sitting position. The shadow had disappeared, and after glancing around, Tyler lifted himself to his feet. He wavered for a minute, catching himself on a side table. Confused, Tyler tried to piece together what was happening. He'd never heard of anything like this before, aside from the occasional horror movie, which he knew weren't real. And if they were, he'd already made two of the worst mistakes he could.

Glancing across the room, he spotted the light switch. Things are always so much easier to solve in the light. This creature seemed to be part of the shadows, so maybe light would hurt it. Abandoning any attempt at quiet, Tyler rushed toward the light switch, hoping to reach it before the figure reformed. To his left, the shadows began to swirl and form the creature. He lunged for the switch, but the figure hit his side before he could.

He was flung across the floor but managed to roll this time so he wouldn't lose his breath. He skidded to a stop near the opposite wall and pushed himself up onto his hands and knees as quickly as he could, but the shadow was already almost on top of him. Its opaque hands lifted him and slammed him into the wall.

Tyler may not have been the largest kid, but the figure lifted him with almost no effort. Pinned to the wall, Tyler had nowhere to look but at the monster. Even this close, it seemed to be made of pure darkness, and the only place that wasn't black was its eyes, which let off a faint white light.

He glanced at the creature's hands pressing against his chest. Suddenly they began to sink into his chest, cold shooting from the spot and spreading throughout his body. Tyler's heart fluttered for a moment, threatening to give out as the seconds dragged by. Feeling his energy fading and his life slipping into the creature, his mind began to race. He was way too young to die, and he hadn't even seen what this thing looked like.

His vision began to blur. He needed to do something, anything really. Slowly Tyler reached into his pocket, seeing if he had anything in it. Luckily he'd fallen asleep in his jeans, and he found exactly what he was looking for.

He pulled out his cell phone, and slowly lifted it. His strength was seeping out rapidly, but with all he could muster, he lifted the phone in front of his face and flipped it open. A dim light filled the area in front of him, and the figure was repelled instantly. Tyler fell to the floor, unable to stand. The phone cast its light in a small arc in front of him, and the shadowy figure lay just outside the light, hugging the darkness like a cloak.

Tyler knew he couldn't stay like this for long, definitely not all night. His phone battery wouldn't last 'til dawn. He had to come up with a plan quickly.

Knees shaking, he rose to his feet, leaning against the wall to stay upright. The light switch he'd been reaching for was on the other side of the room now, with the shadow in between. That light was out of the question, but the hallway that led to his room was right next to him. There was a light in there, beside his bed. All he had to do was make it down the hallway.

Time seemed to slow so much that Tyler wondered if he was even moving. He slid down the wall, keeping his phone pointed at the figure. It stayed just at the edge of the light, moving forward as Tyler retreated. Finally, he reached the door of his room.

The shadow followed him as he backed into the room. Unfortunately, this was the moment his phone decided to die. Darkness plunged around him, and he slammed his door shut, clicking the knob-lock into place. The door was pounded on from the other side, and Tyler was thrown to the floor.

Fatigue wracked his body, but he pushed himself up and lurched toward his nightstand. His hands fumbled over random objects, searching for the light as he thought, Never again will I let my room get this messy. He glanced at the door and saw a dark mist pouring underneath and rising into the figure once again.

Tyler searched frantically for the light, hands grasping random objects on the table before closing around the metallic cylinder of a flashlight. In a last effort, he rolled over and faced the figure, which had cut the distance between them in half. He clicked the button, and an explosion of light shone across the room.

The light shot out in a beam, cutting through the center of the creature. Tyler's vision began to fade, fatigue taking over his body. The last thing he saw was the creature letting out a high-pitched screech before its body dissolved. A final burst of the dark mist scattered throughout the beam of light, fading into nothing.

Vision going fuzzy, Tyler gave in to the fatigue that clutched his body, knowing there was nothing else he could do. As far as he could tell, it was gone. He let the darkness of the night envelop him.


*
*
*

The next morning his father burst into the room, ignoring the odd position of Tyler's body on the floor and the flashlight still shining on the wall. His mother had suffered a heart attack during the night, and his father was rushing her to the hospital.

The doctors were baffled, the heart attack had been so severe that she shouldn't have survived. They called it a miracle, but Tyler knew differently. He had interfered with Death's job that night.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 15 comments. Post your own!

AshhKel said...
today at 3:30 am:
I love the detailed descriptions. Well done! 
 
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MistyVentureThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 29, 2013 at 11:40 pm:
Very creative! You kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I must say I had to blink a little bit at the end to see if I'd read it right. The ending was not at all what I expected. Oh and while I was reading it, a fly made a noise and fluttered between the screen and my protruding eyeballs and since I was so in to the story, that one movement literally freaked me out. If you can raise enough tension to make your readers scream because a FLY went past them, you truly have a gift as a ... (more »)
 
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J.E.F. said...
May 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm:
You have a knack at creating the right atmosphere. Nice job with description and choreographing the battle.

I will say that the plot is almost nonexistent and comes suddenly in a rather cliche sort of way. However, as this article focuses on the action and not the plot, it does not hurt the quality. It is a fine piece of writing, even if not a fine story.

Moving forward, I would love to see a creative, juicy story told with your talent of descriptive writing.
 
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Def_Leppard_fan120 said...
Jan. 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm:
Hey come check out my profile when you have extra time. Leave a comment and rate it. Thank you for your time
 
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TouchOfARose said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm:
You have amazing talent! This is by far one of the best articles I've read on TeenInk, yet I noticed this is the only thing you've posted on here...Write more please?! You have such a good grip on how to weave together a thrilling mix of suspense and that feeling like you're there while reading! Please, please, plleeeaaassse write and upload more on TeenInk? (:
 
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LaceyLullabyThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 11:57 am:
I really enjoyed it!! I was able to picture evey last detail in my head. I love it it's so descriptive. The ending was a very pleasant surprise. :)
 
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Garnet77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 13, 2011 at 9:07 am:
That ending was so unexpected, but it definitely had an impact on the story. I really loved it. And I noticed the tense switch in the middle of the story, but it certainly didn't distract me too much. The story itself was really good! :)
 
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IncorrectlyWired said...
May 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm:
One thing that bugged me was  that in the story when he first went for the light, the narrative suddenly switched to present tense. Also, if you've been in the dark that long you can see well enough to turn on your desk lamp. I'm not sure what to think of the creature being death... I guess that's a matter of opinion. Overall it wasn't bad, but there were a few things I would have changed.
 
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PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm:
very well plotted and even better written  you do a very good job with your descriptions, making the story very believable  very good work
 
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Timekeeper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 10:58 am:
Like everyone else said, this was quality work. I was really impressed, you didn't really rely on characters or backstory, but rather just the plot itself, and it still managed to hold together rather nicely.
 
TheGuardian This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm :

The story was hinged largely around a the theme and i just kinda ran with it. I'm glad you enjoyed the turn out!

~Loki

 
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Nikiblue said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 8:50 am:
I loved it. It was so good. The way you described everything was so realistic, and it made me feel like I was actually there. Great job!
 
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Love.Hate.Passion. said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:59 am:

*Applause*

This was amazing. You weave a wonderfull story , storyteller. I can feel this occuring as if it's happening to me. Great imagery and vivid emotion + detail. A fine , fine job.

 

If you have the time , please check out my novel " Rising Swan". It's much appreciated .

-Yessenia

 
TheGuardian This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm :

Why thank you. I'm glad you found it entertaining. I will gladly check out your novel very soon.

Thanks for the comment.

~Loki

 
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sweetdollsarah said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm:
This was really good!! Keep up the good work!!
 
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