(My first scary story posted online – and still one of my favorites!)
The sun was just setting on a clear and brisk fall evening as Diane began making her way home through the winding, cobbled streets of the city. In the countryside, it might have been a lovely twilight, but much of its beauty was lost here. The tall brick buildings crowded close to both the streets and each other, obscuring the sunset and plunging the ground below into deep shadow. The streetlights had already been on for quite some time. They cast sickly yellow pools of artificial light around their immediate area, but somehow never managed to bridge the gap between adjacent lightposts entirely. They were bright enough, however, to hide most of the stars from view, leaving the sky above the city a dull, undifferentiated gray slowly fading to black. Incidentally, if one were to gaze up at this uninspiring sky while walking between the close-set buildings – and if the haze and shadows were just right – the tops of the structures would seem to lean in and reach towards each other ever so slightly, as if trying to enfold the street like a giant hand and block out the sky completely. It was enough to make even a deserted street seem unbearably claustrophobic.
Diane did not gaze up at the uninspiring sky as she walked home. She also did not gaze left, or right, or anywhere else except forward and slightly downward, fixating on the cracked and uneven brick road immediately ahead of her. Walking the city alone at nightfall could be dangerous, and she knew it. And while it was not quite late enough to mark the transition from mildly risky to downright stupid, it was still plenty late enough for Diane to feel uncomfortable. She walked briskly, ignoring the shadows of strangers passing on either side of her, the lights and laughter from pubs and shops lining the street, and the dark, gaping mouths of the shadowy alleyways in between. She wanted nothing more than to be at home, curled up in front of the fire with a good book; and she silently cursed her poor planning as the streets darkened around her. (more…)