When the Lights Go Out: Fiction by Olivia Burrell

Darkness has descended on the small room of young Carrie Withers. This had always been the most feared time of day and she dreaded it each evening. Many nights she relies on the bright moon to peek into her bedroom, giving her reassurance that morning will soon come and all will be well. Tonight, though, the moon is well hidden behind a monstrous cloud.

It hasn’t started yet, but it will. She knows it will. It always begins with the eerie tapping on her closet door, then the ghostly flapping of the curtains across the room. She can never see just what it looks like or just what it’s doing, but she still fears it all the same.
She watches the clock perched on her bedside table and as the minutes tick by, her heart accelerates. When the time reads ten o’clock, that’s when it finally begins.

There’s the familiar tapping on the closet door. It creaks open and a slender shadow passes along the wall. The figure was all too familiar now, but she knew somehow that the thing never realized she was there. If she breathed or spoke, it would know; it would see her. She held her breath and clamped her hands over her mouth, wishing and praying that it would go away and never come back.

Tonight, something was different.

The curtains flap just as they always had, but this time, the figure doesn’t slip away. This time, it creeps along the wall until it was in arms length of Carrie’s bed. She watches it carefully, her heart ready to burst. The thing slides silently to the floor and slithers underneath her bed.
Fear grips her stomach and she considers calling out for her loving mother. No, she can’t do that. It would hear her and it would know. Suddenly, it begins to speak.

I know you’re there, Carrie. You made one small mistake tonight, Carrie.

She wishes that it would stop saying her name. It’s gravelly voice sent shivers up and down her spine.

You told your mama about me, Carrie. That was a very naughty thing to do. Are you aware of how disrespectful that is, Carrie?

She sits completely still, unable to move.

Answer me, Carrie.

She trembles at the firmness in its voice. “Yes,” she croaks out.

Good, good. Maybe now can resume as friends.

“You’re not my friend.” Her voice is so weak that she can’t believe it’s coming from her.

Of course we are. You created me. Don’t you remember?

“I would never create a monster.”

I’m hardly a monster at all, Carrie. I’m your deepest fear.

“And what is that?”

Oh, Carrie, don’t be silly. The only thing you truly fear is fear itself.

—Olivia Burrell, Grade 10.