A couple years ago I posted my first horror short story, “The Red Card.” To kick start my readings I’m doing for Patreon, I decided to read the story. I’ve re-posted the story below in case you want to read along or read it for yourself again (or for the first time). If you enjoy the story, consider sponsoring me at Patreon. Happy Halloween everyone!
Download the PDF version of this story here!
The Red Card by Sheenah Freitas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
The Red Card
They say that when the sun disappears, the monster comes out. No one is safe in this little town. On the outside, we appear to be perfect. But if visitors ever knew what we do to keep the monster in check…What we do to keep the monster from escaping…We would be labeled the monsters.
Today is the day of the red card. Whoever receives it has been chosen to be sacrificed. The monster’s hunt is the only time when its hunger is ever sated.
No one has returned from the hunt alive.
The townsfolk are tense. One by one, they sigh with relief when no card is found. But relief changes to worry. Who will they say goodbye to?
You look in your mailbox and spot the red card. Your hand hovers over it. Many have broken down. But not you. You’ll go with dignity. Snatching it, you show everyone the honor that’s been bestowed upon you.
They look at you with pity and relief that they are spared for another month. Tonight before sunset, a supper will be held in your honor. Like Tom Sawyer, you’ll sit in at your own funeral.
The night is perfect for hunting. Everyone hurries home. Nobody wants to get the monster’s attention for next time.
It starts in the middle of the woods behind town. The moon is full. The hair on your arms begins to rise. Everything is silent.
You close your eyes and feel your heartbeat. It could be your last.
A whiff of vanilla and rusty metal is carried in the wind. You look around. A dark shadow moves. You take a step back. The smell is stronger now, and you realize the smell isn’t rusty metal—but blood. The vanilla must have come from the last victim.
Adrenaline flows through you and you flee as far as you can. You dare to look behind you. Nothing. The smell is overpowering. The mass crosses your peripheral. There is only time to run.
The night wears on. The monster is silent except for a hissing sound like air escaping from a tire.
You stop to catch your breath. The night is almost over and the monster is desperate to catch you. You lean against a tree. The silence is overwhelming—too overwhelming.
A hiss emanates from behind you. Perhaps if you stay still, the monster will pass.
A second passes.
Your body craves rest. Did the others feel like this? Were their hearts caught in their throats? Were their deaths quick and painless or slow and painful?
You try to slow your breathing. The last victim made it to town before the monster caught her. Everyone tried to forget the sound of her screams.
A clammy, leathery hand snatches your arm. You see the eyes of the monster—the thing—boring into your own. You punch and claw out of its reach. Surprised, it releases you.
The town is up ahead and soon, the night will be over. You will become a legend.
Your house is around the corner; your heart swells with hope.
This is it. The end.
It doesn’t follow.
You bolt for your room; wanting, needing sleep. Collapsing onto your bed, you glance at the clock.
Two minutes until sunrise.
The monster would never enter town. There isn’t enough time to return to wherever it comes from.
You close your eyes. The townsfolk will be surprised.
A hiss slithers in your ear.
A dark mass jumps upon you as you open your eyes.
There is no time to scream.