Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
As the sun sank low in the evening sky, the residents of Bellmawr were still reeling from the horrors of the night before. Nearly fifteen hours after all hell broke loose at the intersection of Benigno Boulevard and Creek Road, everyone was still asking the same question: who started the devastating fire that leveled the WaWa Superstore, and what the hell happened to Cheryl Meyers, Karen Daniels, and five of the town’s police officers, two of which were found crushed against their own cruiser?
While authorities from multiple jurisdictions spent the day scouring evidence and interviewing witnesses to try and piece together the horrifying events from earlier in the day, answers were slow in coming.
Terrified and confused, the public fed on all the rumors running rampant on social media, especially the one about a mysterious car said to have shot flames fifty feet into the air. A vehicle not only witnessed by at least a half dozen people as it chased Karen into the industrial park, but one caught on a six-second cellphone video recording as it crossed through the Sunoco station parking lot before going airborne, trailing fire and smoke behind it.
Unbeknownst to everyone, however, was the fact that a malevolent force had been awakened when the historical Harrison House was leveled, desecrating graves at the Saint Mary’s Cemetery, and now there was hell to pay. In a town full of secrets and a forgotten past, evil had returned home and it was here to stay.
* * * * * *
It was about 7:58 in the evening when Beth finally realized she hadn’t had dinner yet. Having been off from work, she had lost track of the time spending all day watching the news and monitoring updates on her phone about the tragic events that happened just about a half-mile up the road from her house where the ashes of the WaWa Superstore were still smoldering.
Living alone with her tiny chihuahua, Blue and a pet parakeet named Stickler, Beth usually loved her days off because her house was never a mess. With no big chores to catch up on and no one around to bother her, she could easily spend the entire day binge-watching shows on Netflix without a care in the world.
On this day, however, reality hit a little too close to home. Of the two women missing in this morning’s tragic event, one happened to be a close Facebook friend of hers, while the other was someone she knew from back in high school. To make matters even more concerning was the fact that two of the town’s finest were now dead and three others nowhere to be found.
Taking a pause from the news, Beth muted the TV, then grabbed her cellphone off of the coffee table in front of her. Pulling up the contacts list, she scrolled down to Paradise Pizza and placed the call before switching it over to speaker. As she sat on the end of her couch, waiting for someone to answer, Blue jumped up next to her and laid down while Stickler chirped playfully away in the background.
* * * * * *
Several blocks away at the pizza shop, the owner of the store hurriedly marched from the back of the kitchen over to the front counter. Wearing a white T-shirt, a stained apron and looking a just a little bit sweaty, he reached under the counter and quickly answered the phone.
“Hello, Paradise Pizza!” he declared loudly as he placed it against his ear. “How can I help you?”
As the customer began speaking, the owner hurriedly wedged the phone in place between his head and left shoulder, nodding to himself as he wrote everything down on a thin note pad. At the end of the order, he repeated it back to verify its accuracy. “One large plain pizza and a two-liter bottle of Cherry Pepsi.”
He listened for the reply.
“Pick up or delivery?”
Again he waited.
“Delivery. And your address?”
He wrote the number and street down on the note pad.
“Todd Avenue is practically around the corner,” he replied. “We’re not too busy at the moment. Give us about twenty minutes. Thank you.” As he hung up the phone, his young delivery driver entered in through the front door.
“I got another order for you to take out.”
* * * * * *
Putting her cellphone down on the arm of the couch, she unmuted the television and placed her feet on top of the coffee table. Leaning back into the sofa, she crossed her legs and got comfortable as Blue lied still against her left leg. Unconsciously rubbing his head with her fingers, Beth intently focused on the updates coming across the tube until she became oblivious to everything around her.
Barely a minute had gone by, though, when the behavior of both animals suddenly changed. Raising his head straight up, Blue looked around the room, sniffing the air and growling intermittently as Stickler’s happy chirps turned into panicked squawking.
Jumping off the couch without Beth even realizing it, Blue hurried out of the living room into the foyer. Moving his little paws a mile a minute, his nails tapped loudly across the hardwood floor as he ran up to the front door and stopped.
Growling softly as he sniffed the air, Blue
moved cautiously forward, repeatedly pausing until he got within two feet of the door. Lying on his belly, he focused in on the thin line of daylight shining brightly in from underneath. Almost immediately the fur on his back began rising, causing him to bare his teeth and snarl at something unseen just on the other side.
Right about then a low scraping sound, like that of a heavy cinder block dragging across another began to grow louder. Until, for just a few seconds, it grew into an ear-splitting shriek that culminated with a tremendous thud against the front door as a moving shadow outside blocked all the daylight from shining underneath it.
Instantly Blue backed away from the door, barking and growling at the danger it sensed outside. Brought back into the moment, Beth heard her dog going crazy and immediately looked over in his direction.
“What is it, buddy?”
Thinking that she may have lost track of time, she looked at the clock on the wall, but it was only 8:07 PM, too soon for her dinner to have arrived yet. Standing up, she stretched for a moment before walking towards the foyer. Passing by her pet parakeet, she noticed Stickler was jumping around in his cage, flapping his wings and squawking, clearly agitated by something. Highly unusual for her bird. Tapping lightly on his cage, she shushed him softly, “It’s ok, buddy.”
Behind her, Blue was still barking and growling at the door, seemingly having lost his mind. Turning around, she walked several more steps over to him, scooping him up into her arms, but as she did, she failed to notice the shadow moving away.
“Good boy,” she softly whispered into his ear as she kissed him on the top of his head, but Blue was still going berserk. Seeing her tiny dog acting so ferociously made her laugh.
“What’s the matter, boy?”
Stepping up to the door, she took a peek through the peephole, but there was nothing outside. “There’s no one out there, Blue,” she told him as she turned and went back to the living room.
* * * * * *
Using a long thin paddle to reach deep into the fiery brick oven, the owner of the pizza shop pulled out a large cheese pie and quickly slipped it into a box for carry-out. Placing the paddle down on a stainless steel table, he then picked up the box and carried it over to the front counter. Handing it to the young kid who was waiting to deliver it, he said, “Don’t forget to take a two-liter bottle of Cherry Pepsi with you.”
“You got it, boss,” the teenager replied as he slid the pie into a thermal bag. Then turning from the counter with the pizza balanced on his left forearm, he stopped in front of a cooler stocked with a variety of two-liter bottles and picked up a Cherry Pepsi before walking out to his car.
Leaning in through the open passenger-side window, he placed the order on the seat, circled around the front and got in on the driver’s side. Starting the engine, he then shifted into drive and waited with his foot on the brake until the traffic on Browning Road had cleared enough in each direction for him to make a hard U-turn.
Heading towards the 7-11 store, he made an easy left onto Creek Road, going only two blocks more before slowing down enough to make the hard left onto Todd Avenue, but just as he was about to make the turn, something struck his vehicle from behind, spinning his car around 180° before bumping up against the curb in the opposite direction.
For a few seconds, the teenager sat motionless in his seat, holding the steering wheel with a death grip, dazed and out of breath.
“What the hell?!” he cursed.
Looking to his left, he expected to see some kind of wrecked vehicle beside him, but to his bewilderment, nothing was there. Sticking his head far out the window, he looked all the way back behind him, but there was no vehicle in sight except for the distant flashing lights of several emergency vehicles where the WaWa Superstore had burnt down and the street was closed. Opening the door, he stepped out and looked around, but there was no other car on Creek Road but him.
Baffled, he marched over to the rear of his car, expecting to find it smashed to pieces, but to his surprise, there wasn’t even a scratch. Taking a few steps back, he rubbed his hands across the top of his head, trying to understand what had just happened. If nothing had hit his car, then what the hell caused him to spin around? Kneeling down to the asphalt, he glanced under his car, searching for something out of the ordinary, but nothing was amiss.
Getting back into his car, the teen closed the driver-side door and paused for a moment.
Staring out into nothing, he played the event out in his mind again and again. How could he possibly get anyone to believe what had happened to him when he knew he wouldn’t believe someone telling him the same story?
Taking a deep breath, he glanced over at the order he was still supposed to deliver. He was happy to see that it stayed on the seat and wasn’t damaged in the accident. Breathing a sigh of relief, he put the car into drive and made a right turn onto Todd Avenue.
* * * * * *
Switching the light off as she left the bathroom, Beth could hear Blue growling and barking again as she walked down the hall on her way to the living room. Passing the couch, she marched straight into the foyer to find her dog back at the front door.
Stepping up behind her dog, she watched with dumbfounded amusement as he carried on like a rabid animal, barking relentlessly at something, but what it was, she hadn’t a clue.
“What is up with you tonight?” she laughed. Stepping over her dog, she took another peek out the peephole, but again, nothing was there.
Turning around, she grabbed Blue up off of the floor and carried him back into the living room, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to go after whatever had his attention. Holding him tightly as she sat back down on the couch, she rocked and shushed him like a newborn baby, hoping to calm him.
* * * * * *
At that very moment, the kid pulled up in front of Beth’s house, screeching his car to a stop before throwing open the driver door. A quick look at the clock revealed a time he didn’t wanna see: 8:27 PM.
Not wanting to be any more late than he already was, he leaned over the center console and grabbed the pizza and two-liter bottle of soda off of the passenger seat before rushing up the walkway to the front door.
* * * * * *
Although it had taken a while, Beth eventually got Blue to settle down on the couch beside her left leg, gently caressing his head, until he finally fell asleep.
It was in difficult times like this that her dog was more than just a pet to her; he was her companion. And so was Stickler. In truth, their relationship with each other was symbiotic. While Blue showed her love every single day, Stickler, on the other hand, provided her with soothing song and simple conversation whenever she talked to him. Simply put, she needed them just as much as they needed her.
So as peace and quiet once again returned to her humble abode, Beth found herself totally relaxed on the sofa, channel surfing the news with the TV volume on low. Looking for updates on the tragedy down the street, her heaven was abruptly shattered when her cellphone suddenly began to ring, causing her to jump out of her skin.
“Hello?” she answered breathlessly, hoping
Blue wouldn’t get all worked up again. The
voice on the other end of the line was quick to respond.
“This is Paradise Pizza,” he identified himself. “Has my driver been to your house yet?”
Glancing up at the clock on the wall, she looked at the time. It read 8:42 PM.
“No… not yet,” Beth replied.
“I’m terribly sorry about this,” the owner of the pizza shop apologized. “I don’t know what’s going on. He left here with your order almost twenty-five minutes ago and he hasn’t returned yet. I’ve been calling him and he isn’t answering his phone and now I got more orders waiting to be delivered.”
“Well, I’ll tell him to call you if he gets here,” Beth told him.
“Listen… because you’ve waited so long for your order, your meal is on us,” the owner informed her. “So if my driver gets to your house before I can get a hold of him, tell him what I said.”
“Thank you!” Beth exclaimed happily.
“No,” the owner said appreciatively. “Thank you.”
When the call ended, Beth placed the phone back down on the right arm of the couch and continued watching the news. Not even a minute later, however, a strange, repetitive noise began interfering with her listening to the TV. Thinking she might have been hearing things, she immediately muted the television. As soon as she did, it became apparent she was hearing the ringing of a phone from somewhere nearby.
Turning her head in different directions, she tried to pinpoint the source of the sound. It wasn’t long before she was certain that the ringing was coming from the front of her house. Standing up, she paused to verify the direction again. This time she clearly heard it coming from the foyer. Thinking it must be the pizza man at the door, she went to go greet him, but the moment she left the boundaries of the living room, both Blue and Stickler simultaneously started flipping out.
Alarmed by her animals’ sudden change in behavior, Beth was shocked at the sight of Stickler throwing himself into the walls of his cage, repeatedly squawking, “No! No! No! Don’t you do it!”
Caught off guard by Stickler’s actions, she was startled a second time when Blue raced by her like a bat out of hell, barking and growling at something outside.
“What is wrong with you two tonight?!” she shouted over them. “It’s just the pizza guy!”
Stepping up to the front door, Beth gently scooted Blue to one side with her right foot as she leaned in close to peek out through the peephole. Although the sun was low on the horizon and darkness was closing in, there was still enough daylight outside to clearly see a car parked in front of her house with the driver door wide open.
“I told you it was the pizza guy,” she chided them.
Unlatching the chain lock and the deadbolt, Beth stepped back and opened the door. As she did, Blue backed away, still snarling viciously at something out there.
“Quiet!” she hollered at him.
Looking up from the floor, Beth expected to see the pizza guy standing on the other side of her screen door with her dinner in his hands, but instead, she found a cellphone upside on her walkway, ringing endlessly and her pizza half out of the box, lying in the grass.
“What the…?” she mouthed silently to herself.
As the cellphone continued to ring, she briefly looked across her front yard, but found nothing out of the ordinary. Nor any sign of the delivery guy. Not sure what to make of it all, she ignored the persistent warnings of her pets and slowly opened the screen door.
Stepping out onto her front step, she searched her yard again. Seeing nothing and no one around, she let the screen door close behind her as she took another step outside. Bending down, she grabbed the cellphone and stood back up. Turning it over to see the screen, she immediately saw the contact’s name.
At that very moment, Beth heard a frightening sound that sent shivers down her spine. A loud, insect-like clicking noise just off to her right that made her spin around to see what it was.
Almost immediately she noticed a pair of lifeless legs on the ground disappearing out of sight behind the far side of her house. Suddenly terror gripped her entire being, turning her blood ice cold. Fearing for her life, she darted back to the safety of her house, but just as she reached for the latch of the screen door, an ear-piercing screech came down out of the night sky, as something struck her hard from behind.
In an instant, it was over.
Beth was dead.
An unearthly force had hit her so hard, it sent her crashing through the screen door where she lay face down on the foyer floor, covered in blood, half inside the house, half out.
For once, Blue became silent. Rolling over onto his left side, he cowered before the dark shadowed entity rising up out of the ground by the feet of his former owner. Its clicking noises grew louder as it towered higher and higher in the doorway.
Nervously licking his lips and beating his tail, Blue watched as the entity slowly pulled Beth’s body out the door, until she vanished into the night.
To afraid to move, Blue just laid still on the floor, next to the cellphone that kept on ringing.
Credit: Michael Fright (Facebook)
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A collection of seven short horror stories to keep you on the edge of your seat. Remember, you haven’t known fear until you’ve been FRIGHT-ened.
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