Be Not Afraid, a Terrifying Tale by John Hansen and Chris Mills - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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Be Not Afraid, a Terrifying Tale by John Hansen and Chris Mills

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

A Short Story Collaboration for Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching I thought it an opportune time to approach my friend and colleague Chris Mills (cam8510) to ask if he was interested in collaborating on another short fiction story together. As our previous partnerships have resulted in tales on the darker side I felt Halloween would be the perfect inspiration for us to create a story.

"Be Not Afraid!" is the result. We hope you enjoy it.

She responded to his gentle encouragement and crept forward, fearful, tantalized, mesmerized. Image by Pexels from Pixabay

She responded to his gentle encouragement and crept forward, fearful, tantalized, mesmerized. Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Be Not Afraid

“Come to me my sweet. Be not afraid. Yes, like that.”

She responded to his gentle encouragement and crept forward, fearful, tantalized, mesmerized.

“Such a lovely being.” His hunger nearly drove him insane. With lightning-quick movements, her neck was in his hands and her head sailed off into the alley. He feasted until not even a bone was left. He was so famished, he retrieved the head.

His diet of rabbits and rats was simply not enough. He needed larger game. There were deer in the park. But they ran so fast, he had no chance of grabbing one. Maybe in the spring he could catch a fawn.

His memory wasn’t very good. He wondered who he was, where he came from. The word Gerald often entered his mind, then vanished. Was he Gerald? Was it even a name? He discarded the thought as he did the rabbit’s head, knowing he’d retrieve it as well.

A few nights later, he was sheltered in the darkness behind a dumpster at the entrance to an alley. A street light illuminated the area which hindered his quest for a meal. A brick lay beside him, the latest to fall from the crumbling roofline. He picked it up and ventured out into the vacant street. The light cast his shadow onto the building’s brick wall, and for the first time, he got a clue about his appearance.

It frightened even him.

He turned back to his task and hurled the brick. It struck the street light with such force, the reflective shield that covered it flew off and landed with a clang in the middle of the street. He retreated to his hideout and waited. His hunger was as real as a constant, unwelcome companion.

behind a dumpster at the entrance to an alley

behind a dumpster at the entrance to an alley

Many of the buildings and stores in this street were now locked and abandoned. Shopping Centers had sprung up nearby attracting most shoppers away from what once was the town hub. Though, none of this crossed his mind as he waited silently. His stomach pained him and grumbled its displeasure at the meagre sustenance it had been provided.

His patience was beginning to wear thin when suddenly his acute hearing detected the “clip-clop” sound of heels on the sidewalk. He crouched behind the dumpster, his legs tense and feeling like coiled springs as he waited for the perfect moment.

Beth Turner had her phone pressed to her ear as she strode impatiently along the street. “Thanks for the promised ride home… not!” she hissed sarcastically to whoever she was talking to. They obviously gave some excuse that didn’t satisfy her and she ended the call in a huff. It was unusually dark in this part of town, she thought, feeling nervous now, and quickened her pace.

As she passed the battered dumpster Beth felt something powerful slam into her back, and she was catapulted forward, face-down onto the sidewalk. She tried to scream but it was stifled by a huge hand clamped firmly over her mouth. Her feeble struggles to no avail as she was dragged effortlessly into the alley.

“Shhh! Shhh! Be not afraid.” he soothed, “Such a lovely creature you are.” Her wide eyes stared in terror, and his stomach growled.

“Gerald?” said the woman.

He flinched. How did she know his word?

Beth tried to run. He grabbed her arm and threw her against the bricks of the building.

“Gerald, where have you been? What happened? My god, look at you. You’re twisted, deformed.”

He backed away. For once, since he had become a conscious being that prowled the night streets of the city, he felt hope. This woman had known him as something other than—twisted, deformed.

He left her and ran back to the dank, dark cellar of an abandoned warehouse. He pulled out a stone figurine. In his darkened mind, he knew all that he had become was tied up in this sculpted rock that featured a grotesquely twisted body, a huge mouth, and teeth that would send a hyena fleeing for its life.

He held the figurine in front of his face. The eyes glowed, and he felt the power and hunger surge through him. He quickly stuffed it back into the oilcloth bag and placed it in a hole in the crumbling foundation. He wanted his mind to clear, which meant staying away from the figurine. But the power, the hunger, the desire for flesh was addicting.

His mind cleared as the hours passed. He had visions of himself digging in the dry dirt. He would pick up pieces of stone, some that looked as if they had been shaped. Then, in one of the visions, he saw himself lift the figurine from a hole in the ground wrapped in the oilskin.

One thing was clear to him. The figurine’s power had overwhelmed him and turned him into a living beast in its own likeness. Could he tear himself away? Could he be normal again? Untwisted? Undeformed?

Image by tim striker from Pixabay

Image by tim striker from Pixabay

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Beth just stood staring in shock and confusion as she watched the creature, or the man she once knew as Gerald, flee. Was it him? It had to be … his distinctive hazel eyes and the cleft chin she could still make out, but what had happened to make him so deformed, so grotesque?

She slowly gathered her composure and resumed her journey home without further incident.

Once back at her apartment Beth went through her normal routine. She fed her cat Phoebe, showered and changed, and then began preparing her evening meal, but she couldn’t get Gerald out of her head. They had met while studying Archaeology together at University and quickly struck up a friendship. They had even dated for a year.

The last contact they had would have been about two years ago. She could clearly remember the events of those last few months. Gerald had travelled to Asia (Burma, Thailand and Cambodia she recalled) to pursue his passion and visit archaeological sites. He had even asked her to accompany him, but she had just bought a car, couldn’t leave her part-time job, and couldn’t afford it anyway.

On his return, three months later, he just wasn’t the same person. Initially he was excited about some find he had made and promised to show her, but instead, he became increasingly reclusive and suddenly, just seemed to disappear. His flat became vacant, and all her attempts to contact him failed, his phone saying “The number you have called is no longer available.”

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“Gerald,” that word kept spinning in his head. She had called him that…it must be his name, and the other word, “Beth,” where had that come from? It seemed to conjure vague but pleasant memories, however, and his wide deformed mouth formed into a smile of sorts.

The longer he stayed away from the figurine the clearer his thoughts became and memories began to return. But, with every passing minute, so did the urge to retrieve the oilcloth bag and unveil its contents... and he was hungry, so hungry.

Image by Etienne Marais from Pixabay

Image by Etienne Marais from Pixabay

Other Collaborations by John and Chris

© 2019 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 09, 2019:

Li-Jen, you are never too late. We are so glad you enjoyed this scary tale and hope the next two parts don't disappoint.

Li-Jen Hew on November 09, 2019:

Hi Jodah and Chris. Too bad I missed this during Halloween but I still enjoy scary stories like this regardless. It's a joke thrown at human beings. Humans can also be monsters from being reclusive haha. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Hi Lora, we are always glad to add a little suspense to people’s days. I hope you enjoy part 2.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Thank you Flourish, I hope the rest of the story doesn’t disappoint then.

Lora Hollings on November 01, 2019:

Wow! A great intro to this mystery of what happened to Gerald and his connection to this figurine. Really looking forward to finding out more in part two. Thanks John and Chris for adding some suspense to my day!

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 01, 2019:

Being ravenously hungry and not knowing your own name are not good signs. Excellent start for a scary story!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 31, 2019:

Thank you Lynne, glad it gave you the chills. There will be a follow up part published in the next day or two. Cheers.

Lynne Samuel from Malaysia on October 31, 2019:

Yikes, that's it?? Poor Gerald! I got chills when I came to the part with the figurine. Great story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 29, 2019:

Thank you for reading, Cynthia. I am glad you found it spooky and enjoyed the selection of music accompaniment.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 29, 2019:

This was spooky to say the least, and that music was genius. I won't be walking by any urban dumpsters after dark if I can help it. Good work!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 28, 2019:

Thank you Nikki. Yes, you are right. Chris is the scary one lol.

Nikki Khan from London on October 28, 2019:

I loved this Halloween story by both of my favourites. Though it seems like one writer has written it but there is shadow of Chris Mills as well lurking around to scare us all. Lol. Happy Halloween!

Excellent work.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 26, 2019:

Sean, thank you for the great comment. I a glad you enjoyed the story. It is always an honour for me to work with such a talented writer as Chris. Blessings.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 26, 2019:

Thank you for reading this story Genna, and for the generous comment. Your feedback earns a lot.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on October 26, 2019:

Two of my favourite writers and persons in one story! This is a great gift for us all! Excellent work! You have merged your talents in such a great way that you can feel the "authoring" presence of both of you, but at the same time, you think that you are reading one writer's story! The atmosphere was so vivid! Thank you both, my dear brothers, for this unique offering.

My Love and admiration to both of you!

Sean

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 26, 2019:

I just loved this...from the intro sentence, and onward. And I like how it doesn't fully resolve at the end...for a few reasons. Way cool. Great job, you two.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 26, 2019:

Thanks for the encouragement Shannon but i doubt Chris or I would have time to write a full novel. This was intended to be just a one off story for Halloween but everyone seems to want more.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 25, 2019:

Maybe the two of you should collaborate to write a full-length novel or an entire series of them. My daughter is into these types of stories now and has reached the age when I remember reading the R.L. Stine Fear Street novels and Christopher Pike. You'd be good at something like that, I think.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 25, 2019:

There are many questions, and answers to be found. The wait and anticipation begins.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 25, 2019:

Ok, John and I will begin the rumor mill about this story. Part two is now being written. By whom? About what? Will there be more after that? Good questions.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 25, 2019:

I don't know, Chris. That's why I don't write short stories or flash fiction very often. Funny, though, that the one flash fiction I ever did was more of a Halloween tale for one of Bill's challenges years ago. As for Gerald, I think everyone's big question is what happens to him? Beth too. On the other hand, maybe not knowing is part of the creepiness......it's almost like a Jekyll and Hyde play on the battle for good vs evil within.

Suzie from Carson City on October 25, 2019:

See? I knew you guys would own up to your dastardly responsibility! YOU can ruin my appetite any time, Cutie! I'll always forgive you....LOL......Paula

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 25, 2019:

Paula, frightening the Be-Jesus out of you was John´s and my only concern—well, that and ruining your appetite. I´m with John...you should join our collaboration.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 25, 2019:

Shannon, I suppose John and I could tell more of this story. We might answer some questions and clarify the vagaries. But do you think we could...or would do this without introducing more questions, vagaries—and creepiness? Would Gerald, Beth, or the reader be any better off?

Suzie from Carson City on October 25, 2019:

Jodah..There U go again...pretending 2B scared! Ya big faker! LOL

U crack me up!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 24, 2019:

Paula, you described Chris very well. It's funny how when we work together we come up with dark and creepy stories...not like our real selves at all. Thank you for offering a few alternative directions we could take the story. Maybe, you can join in on the collaboration :)

Sorry to disturb your sleep and your appetite, oh and damnit you scared me with that "BOO!" at the end.

Suzie from Carson City on October 24, 2019:

Chris & Jodah......How have 2 sweet, loving & handsome friends of mine, managed to put their heads together and decide to frighten the Be-Jesus outta me?...not to mention make me lose my appetite!.....Not only am I guaranteed one mega nightmare, but when it awakens me, Gerald will not be the only HUNGRY creature in the mix!

Of course I'm with a couple of the others, curious about a continuation? Or will you force us to solve the mystery and expect Beth to either save "Gerald"....OR....will she be his next meal?? EeeeeeeeK!! You 2 are spooky together.....but then that's what makes this a thrilling tale!

Behave on Halloween.............BOO! Paula

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 24, 2019:

Hi Shannon, somehow your first comment was marked as spam, but I have fixed that and it is back. I am glad you found that the music suited the mood of the story. We have our heads together in the background discussing the story and where to go from here. It seems the natives are restless for closure.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 24, 2019:

Okay, two things. Where did my first comment go?

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 24, 2019:

I just want to know one thing: Will there be a part two? More frights and closure for Gerald?

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 24, 2019:

What a perfect way to set the mood, gentlemen, with that song. I played that as I was reading. Plus, it just so happens to be an actual stormy night here. Although, the thunder has passed and it's just rain now.

Nice work here. You're good at teasing. Started off creepy and then the creep factor lessened. And then you just leave us hanging with an even creepier ending.

Rodric Anthony from Peoria, Arizona on October 24, 2019:

Don't tease Chris. It is the spooky season and we are looking to read a good scare! This is really good guys. It inspired me to think on a few spooky ideas.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 24, 2019:

Dora, Something horrible and devastating happened to that poor man. That much is clear. Can we describe it? Time will tell.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 24, 2019:

Rodric, you are such and enthusiastic and energetic presence. Thank you for challenging John and me. I am so appreciative that you have read with such insight and imagination. That level of connection is rare.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 24, 2019:

Ruby, This story is full of questions and very few direct answers, I´m afraid. I´m glad you enjoyed it as far as it has gone. Thanks for reading.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 24, 2019:

Liz, No doubt, John´s imagination is a challenge to keep up with. Thanks for reading.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 24, 2019:

Linda, definitely there was a beast involved. I´m glad you enjoyed the story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Thanks for reading, and for the encouragement to write more MsDora. Chris and I are discussing it.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 23, 2019:

Too many setups not to have more of the story. What caused the change in Gerard within that three month period? Looking for more.

Rodric Anthony from Peoria, Arizona on October 23, 2019:

John, I had that discussion for you guys and concluded that you two need to develop that further. I love the foundation the story set. It could be the beginnings of a book. A series even...

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Hi Rodrick. Thank you for such an appreciate and encouraging comment. I a glad you enjoyed the story. After reading all the comments I think Chris and I need to have a discussion about whether we develop this story further.

Rodric Anthony from Peoria, Arizona on October 23, 2019:

This was so nice. There was enough clues here to let me know that he must have retireved some cursed object in his exploits in Asia without telling me specifically. I loved that. It left me wanting more. I want to see if Beth and Gerald are going to try to get back together. I want to know if Beth will call the authorities now that she know what happened to Gerald. She did not call them when she got home! She did not call from her mobile? what was this going back to normal life after finding her deformed Ex? I loved it. Will there be more? If not, why?

I read the other comments. I look forward to both of you chapters apart.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Yes, Ruby, so many questions. I am glad you are concerned for poor Gerald. Maybe, you will find out in future.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Liz, I hope it didn’t disturb your sleep too much. We appreciate your kind comment.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Thank you Linda, glad you enjoyed the story. Beauty and the Beast? Yes, I guess so.Have a happy Halloween.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Haha Clive. Glad you have a little more control than poor Gerald.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Don’t you just love a good cliffhanger Shauna? So many questions. Yes, Chris and I will be sure to discuss this further.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 23, 2019:

Man, this brings so many evil thoughts to the surface. What did he uncover while in Asia? The figurine, how did it change him? This is the kind of scary story that leaves so many questions. Poor Gerald, what happened to him? boo

Liz Westwood from UK on October 23, 2019:

I am amazed at the creativity of your combined imaginations. This is a real 'page turner' although I am not sure I will sleep soundly tonight!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 23, 2019:

Holy moly you guys, that was incredible! A wee bit of Beauty and the Beast perhaps?

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Shauna, Nice to see you. I agree, there are unanswered questions in this story. The main question is this...Is this a legitimate cliffhanger, or does it demand more story? I´m sure John and I will be talking about this.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on October 23, 2019:

Pretty much sounds like me when I wake in the Morning John. But I cook the flesh instead. Nice one.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Thanks, Devika, We consider it a privilege to strike terror in the hearts of our readers/friends. Happy Halloween.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 23, 2019:

Oh, man, you guys left me hanging! Please tell me you'll continue the story. Does Beth succeed in helping Gerald break the spell? Or does he succumb to his cannibalistic hunger and revert to the figurine for fierce strength? What becomes of Gerald?

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Hi Devika. Thank you for your generous comment. “Surprise” is what we always attempt in horror stories. I am glad we achieved that in this one.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 23, 2019:

A story for this month and definitively a well written one. You have a skill to write horror stories and surprised me with this one.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Jason, If we hadn´t chosen ¨Gerald¨ as the character´s name, I may have suggested, ¨Jason¨. I know it´s been used before, but it is a good horror name. Thanks for reading. I appreciate the comment.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Bill, Thank you for your comment. John and I have a commitment to providing the best writing we can produce. I´m so glad you enjoy reading it.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Ann, You want to know more about what happens to Gerald? Are you sure about that? Thanks for your comment. Good to see you, as always.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Eric, Speech patterns? I have speech patterns? Is that like a lisp? Just don´t tell anyone...I should say, shush. Glad you enjoyed the story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Yes, Jason, he has a few problems. But don’t we all? Thanks for reading.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Pamela, I´m glad you enjoyed it enough to want more. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Tiyasha, Chills and thrills, that´s what we are after. Series? I don´t know. It seems Beth is already in too deep. It can only get deeper, right?

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on October 23, 2019:

Lorna, thanks for reading and commenting. Keep an eye out over your shoulder. This Gerald guy is a little unpredictable.

Jason Nicolosi from AZ on October 23, 2019:

Poor Gerald, the guy sounds like he's real messed up. A very angry, frightening guy. Great Halloween story.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Thank you, Bill. I know I speak for both of us saying we always value your comment.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Haha Eric, game on. You are welcome.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Thank you, Ann. Truth be told, I want to know what becomes of Gerald too. We shall see.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

Two excellent writers at the top of their game. You two never disappoint.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 23, 2019:

The Game is afoot my friend. You do not sit across from a diplomat and not know his English of origin.I am in debt to what you have taught me of your dialectic. Thank you.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 23, 2019:

Superb story! I want to know more about what happens to Gerald! You've both created great atmosphere and sent shivers up the spine. Your collaborations work well.

Ann

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

I look forward to reading more of your insights, Eric. You are a real Sherlock Holmes it seems.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 23, 2019:

Yes indeed John that could be fun for a weirdo like me. But what caught my eye at first was "studying Archaeology together at University" Then the hard part was yours and Chris's international usages. Quite intriguing as you are both so internationally well spoken. But Chris writes for NY competitions I think so he generally stays true to "American". Perhaps an American would use "shush" instead of Shhh. But Chris is basically Eastern American with a bit of Southern. So hard to be sure. I will try to look more.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Eric, can't get much better than an Indiana Jones type scare. As for the Aussie vs American speech patterns ...just for fun, tell me which sections I wrote and which were written by Chris...lol.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

I am glad the story had you hooked, Pamela. Actually, Chris and I were a little torn whether to finish where we did and let the reader's imagination take over, or add one more chapter/part. I will have to discuss with Chris the possibility of a follow-up story.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 23, 2019:

Perfectly twisted. I read it through for impact - horrifying with a cool Indiana Jones scare. But for fun I read again to check the speech patterns between Aussie and American. Very cool.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 23, 2019:

Gerald is certainly a scary figure. This is a very good story and I stayed hooked throughout the story, which is so good for Halloween. The ending demands a followup story!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Hi, Tiyasha, thank you for reading this story and encouraging comment. Also glad it gave you the chills. That was our aim.

Tiyasha Maitra from Gurgaon on October 23, 2019:

Oooooh i got chills. I agree with Lorna, this could be a nice series. Very well written, John and Chris.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on October 23, 2019:

Thank you very much, Lorna. I always enjoy collaborating with Chris and really appreciate your comment. I am sure Chris will too. I hope you don't bump into Gerald either.

Lorna Lamon on October 23, 2019:

This could be a series John and I was engrossed right up to the end. A great read and perfect timing. I will be out over Halloween and I hope I don't bump into Gerald.