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From Realms of Darkness: Horror Flash Fiction by cam

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Setting: Cave Country of the Missouri Ozarks

The condensation on the cold water pipe cools and soothes my reddened face. The temperature soared to a hundred and six during the day and now, long after sunset, it’s still in the upper eighties. But I’m not crammed into this damned cabinet below the kitchen sink to escape the heat. Someone is prowling around inside my two story house, and this seemed an unlikely place for an intruder to look. I’m smaller than the average man and flexible, but I almost couldn’t get inside. Why hadn’t I just run outside with my cell phone and called the police? I’m like the captain who isn’t ready to give up his ship.

I’ve left the cabinet door ajar so I can see if someone enters the kitchen. I’ll be happy if it turns out to be a garden variety burglar with his face pressed into a grotesque bulge inside a woman’s stocking. But this tiny bedroom community outside the city has never had much of a crime problem. Lately, there have been strange sightings, but no one knows what to do about the reports of unfamiliar children prowling the neighborhoods at night.

I maneuver to get a better view. The looped drain trap presses against my crotch. Voices that sound like they were formed in sandpaper larynxes wind down the staircase, through the dining room and into the kitchen.

I push down with my feet and try to slide my ass back as far as I can. My right foot slips and slams against the wall of the cabinet with a muffled thump. I cringe at my stupidity. My breathing catches until my lungs burn like two chambers of red-hot embers.

Moonlight filters through the curtains above the sink casting the swaying shadow of an oak tree across the floor and up the walls. My fingers grasp the edge of the cabinet door, and I pull it closed.


Light footfalls enter the kitchen along with gravelly, high pitched chatter in a language I can’t identify. They go silent, waiting for me to make more noise. The drain pipe is pressing me in the worst of all places. My right leg is trapped. I need to reposition, but some very odd people are waiting a few paces away for me to do just that.

The back door opens. Voices and footfalls pass outside. I should wait, but I’ve got to know who they are.

I extricate myself from the sink cabinet. My muscles are stiff, and I struggle to straighten enough to look out the window. A sulfur smell lingers in the room. Outside, the oak tree sways in the breeze while a rabbit nibbles on the lettuce in my garden. No one is there, though they just walked out. In my impatience, I've come out of hiding too soon.

The creaking hinges of the back door match the high pitched giggles. The smell of sulfur recharges the air. I turn.

Their naked bodies are childlike, although the limbs are long and thin. The cadaverous faces seem out of place on living creatures and remind me of something accustomed to realms of darkness. Jagged, broken teeth protrude from twisted orifices emitting phlegm-ish gurgles of laughter.

They are about four feet tall and move around in a hunched over, ape-like fashion, as though they would be more comfortable crawling than walking on two feet. Where would such creatures come from?

All of this, I calculate in a few seconds as they stare at me, unblinking and unafraid. I, on the other hand, am so terrified, I've wet my pants.

The imps, the first word that pops into my mind, amble about the kitchen, grab pieces of bread and fruit, stuff it into their corrupt maws, grimace at tastes with which they seem to be unfamiliar and spit it onto the black and white tile floor. Their demeanor transitions from mischievous to irritated when the food disappoints them. These creatures are hungry and vegetables won't satisfy.

I startle them by being so bold as to walk across the room to the refrigerator and pull out every piece of meat I can find. On the table, I deposit a whole, roasted chicken, sliced baloney and raw fish fillets from my time on the lake this morning.

They rush the table after I've taken only a step away. Bones and plastic packaging fly over shoulders. Fresh fish is the big hit, and the three fight over the tender fillets. I creep toward the back door, taking advantage of their obsession.

The sulfur smell hangs in my nose and tugs at my memory. Of course! Every time I've ventured into the caves that surround my home in southern Missouri, the smell of sulfur is in every breath of air.

I look at the creatures tearing at the meat on my table. They came from one of three places; from space, from the forests or from the caves. Sulfur solves the riddle.

The door creaks on its hinges when I open it. The sounds of feasting cease. I turn around and realize I don't have enough meat in the house to satisfy my visitors. Just a few feet separate us. They are waiting for me to attempt to escape. Maybe I can outrun them, maybe I can't.

Three pairs of unblinking red eyes bore holes into my flesh. I wish their mouths would stop drooling when they look at me. Possibly too soon, they will.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on September 21, 2017:

Ann, I'm happy to supply a little fright to spice up your life a bit. Thanks for stopping by today.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 21, 2017:

Oooh, spooky; I can't bear to imagine what might happen next...!

Great story!


Lawrence Hebb on September 11, 2017:

Great story, had me on the edge right to the very end.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on August 08, 2017:

Creepy and thrilling.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 07, 2017:

Ryan, Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to know this story held your attention. I'm off to check your site now.

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on August 07, 2017:

Good suspense and way to keep my attention. Great story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 07, 2017:

Shyron, I think you are getting warm with that guess. This one is a result of me sitting down with nothing in particular on my mind. I wrote the first line as it now still appears and ended up with the stinky little rascals from hell. Thanks for reading.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 07, 2017:

Tim, thanks for following. I appreciate you checking out my story. Good luck on HP.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 07, 2017:

Yes, I am not thinking aliens from space with that sulfur smell. Nasty little story. What a great read as always, thank you Chris.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 06, 2017:

Sounds like your visitors are straight from hell. You must write a sequel telling of your escape from the creatures.

I was held captive to the story.

Blessings my friend.

TimFilmoore from Los Angeles CA on August 06, 2017:

creepy asf, great hub!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 06, 2017:

John, haha, I just rewrote the whole thing in edit mode. The version Paula read only had about 635 words, so I had a lot of room to add detail. I'm glad for your feedback. It confirms that it works better when I don't try so hard to conserve words, especially when the story is extra short already. I like it better too. Maybe Paula will come back and compare the two versions. Thanks again, John.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 06, 2017:

I have to smile at Paula's comment, Cam. I can understand her point of view, but being a flash-fiction lover I found this story wonderful. It ticked all the boxes of intrigue and horror for me. Great job.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 05, 2017:

Hi Paula, I'm still laughing at your post. No, you of all people, are not clueless. But I believe you have found the downside to the current template being emphasized for flash fiction. That template requires that the action/genre emphasis begins immediately without backstory. I think you were probably looking for a hint of the setting for the story. Flash fiction seems to be requiring more and more of reader participation rather than simply requiring the author to tell the complete story.

It has taken me a while to get comfortable with this format for FF. I still am not totally sold on it. If cramming a whole story into 1000 words is beginning to leave readers in the dark, maybe we've gone beyond the limit to what information can be cut from the story.

The story is what it is. It begins with a guy hiding in the cabinet under the sink because somebody has broken into his house. That's the extent of the backstory. :)

Suzie from Carson City on August 05, 2017:

Cam.....Should I be embarrassed that I'm completely clueless? This does not often happen to me. My comprehension has always served me quite well. Is this tale a segment of flash fiction series? I don't know what I missed.

I'm really sorry. I suppose if you have to explain it to me, it's value will be lost.

I'll say it did definitely scare me and make my heart race....and BTW, I hope your crotch injury heals!! LOL....I'm lost. Paula

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