*Short story originally written for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge in which no more than 48 hours and 1000 words could be used to write a story involving the following elements : a ghost story, a motion sensor light, and a gynmasium.
This was only my second attempt at a “ghost story” . While I think it’s way better than my first attempt in this genre, I know it’s not the best. I don’t typically like scary things, so it’s kind of hard for me to try to write something scary. In this case , I chose to focus more on the eerieness of the unknown and unexplainable.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this! Please let me know what you think in the comments – I welcome any and all feedback!
Gabriel awoke on the hard floor of the gymnasium, shivering and alone. His eyes scanned the open space, taking in the other children, most of whom were clumped a few feet away, a circle of sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows.
The room was still and quiet, but for a few snores and steady breathing. Basketball hoops stood at either end of the gym, racks of balls beneath them. On the wall hung a large hand-painted banner that read “Midwest Methodist Youth Camp 1998!”. He liked it when banners had exclamation points in them; they suggested excitement and wonder.
He felt that maybe he should have been more excited than he was now. But he was cold, and he missed his parents; he didn’t like being away from them and he felt poorly equipped for this activity.
Outside the wind howled, rattling the windows and drawing Gabriel’s attention. He stood and tip-toed over to a window low enough for his height. Fingers pressed against the sill he peered out, his breath briefly fogging the glass while he watched leaves blow across the cement parking lot, around a school bus, before lodging against the chain-link fence.
Abrupt movement caught his eye. Something was moving across the parking lot; it was making strange, jerky movements toward the building. Eyes wide, breath quickening, Gabriel watched the shape move in the darkness. Monster? He gulped. Suddenly a light flicked on to illuminate the creepy crawler, which was revealed to be a raccoon.
Gabriel looked back around the room. Did someone turn on the light? No movement. He looked up to see the light fixed above the window then back at the raccoon. He watched it scurry away under the bus and the light flicked off.
Motion sense. In school, Gabriel’s favorite classes were math and science. He loved technology, he wanted to be an inventor when he grew up.
His fascination with the light subsided when he heard the gym floor creak behind him. He flipped around to scan the room, spotting a boy walking towards him. Gabriel froze; he didn’t recognize him, and he was never good at making friends. He did best when kids ignored him.
“Hey.” the boy whispered. “Why are you awake? What are you looking at?”
“Oh, um… nothing. Just, there was something outside.” He gestured behind him.
“Oh.” The boy’s eyes widened. “Was it scary?” excitement elevated his whispers.
Gabriel shook his head hoping to appear tough, normal.
The little boy gave a disappointed sigh. “Darn. Did you hear the older boys talking earlier?”
Gabriel shook his head.
“They were telling stories. Spooky ones. They said there was a murder here before. Some of the other kids were scared.” He sighed. “Not me though.”
Gabriel looked away. He felt scared a lot. He didn’t need stories to make things worse.
“So, what’s your name?” the boy asked him.
“Gabriel Walker. What’s yours?”
“Corey Wilson.” He smiled. “Do your parents send you to these things a lot?”
Gabriel thought for a moment and shrugged.
“Yeah, mine do too. They’re alright I guess.” Corey looked around the room as if suddenly taking in the fact that they were the only ones awake. Unlike Gabriel’s feeling of loneliness and worry, Corey seemed inspired by the freedom it afforded them to look for mischief. “Hey, what’s in this room over here?”
Gabriel followed Corey’s pointed finger to a door tucked back in the shadows. He shook his head slowly.
Gabriel didn’t know what was in the room but he felt a sinking feeling in his gut. Something told him not to go over there.
“Come on, let’s check it out.” Corey walked towards the door, the floor creaking slightly beneath his feet. Gabriel followed him. The fear was real, but the chance of making a friend overpowered it.
They got closer to the door and Corey reached out, his small hand touching the knob. “It’s ice cold.” His voice a surprised whisper.
Gabriel gulped, the sinking feeling growing stronger. “Corey. I don’t think we shou–“
Before he could finish the door rattled as if something was trying to get out. The boys gasped in unison and jumped back.
“Dude, let’s get out of here!” Corey shrieked and together they ran back to the sleeping bags.
Gabriel hesitated just outside of the circle; he didn’t know where his was. Corey waved him over and held up his to share. “Come on! Hurry!”
Huddled under the blanket, the boys caught their breath and marveled at what they had just witnessed. “What do you think it was?” Corey asked, panting with worry and excitement.
“I don’t know. But it didn’t feel right.”
“Yeah, no way.” Corey agreed and poked his head out from the blanket.
“Do you see anything?” Gabriel asked, too frightened to look himself.
“Nope. Nothing there. We’re safe.”
Gabriel liked that idea; safety. And warmth. All his fear and the cold he felt earlier gave way to his new happiness for making a friend, and being safe under the blanket.
Corey woke up to the sounds of kids talking and basketballs hitting the floor. He sat up and looked around for Gabriel, anxious to tell his friends about what they’d seen. But he wasn’t there.
“Mr. Stevens?” he called out to the passing chaperone.
“Good morning, Corey! How did you sleep?” Mr. Stevens asked.
“Um. Fine. Hey, where’s Gabriel?”
Mr. Stevens gave him a confused look and turned around, scanning the room. “Um… do you mean Gavin? He’s over there.” Mr. Stevens pointed to a redheaded kid in glasses.
“No. Not Gavin,” Corey corrected him, frustrated. “Gabriel. He was here last night. We…” He scanned the room again. “I talked to him.”
Mr. Stevens shrugged. “You must have had a crazy dream, pal. There’s no Gabriel in our group.”
Corey looked over towards the door that scared them, but there wasn’t a door anymore. No knob, just a wall.
“Come on,” said Mr. Stevens. “Let’s get some breakfast.”
This post was proofread by Grammarly