Paul stands outside the door, frozen in fear. His nightly dreams have held excitement, drama, fulfillment, but never this fear. There has never even been a Halloween which brought such fear. When his friends scoffed at him – “You’ll never last an hour!” “You’ll never even make it through the door!” – Paul had persisted.

The wind outside whips angrily around the building, moaning in solidarity with Paul’s feelings. The sun hides behind clouds, as a frightened child reluctantly disappears behind the back of a glowering parent.

Dark and gloom hold sway over all, the heaviness reflecting the heaviness of Paul’s heart.

His senses begin to overwhelm him. The sounds from behind the door – screeching, high-pitched, unearthly sounds, permeate his brain until his very being is chilled. The odors – not exactly offensive, yet reminiscent of long-buried childhood memories – assail him. Paul can taste fear on his tongue as his eyesight tries unsuccessfully to assure normalcy.

Nothing here is normal.

He knows in his heart that completing this task will not only raise his standing in his friends’ eyes but will bring him one step closer to conquering all other fears. If he can just do this . . .

Taking a deep breath, Paul places his sweaty, trembling hand on the doorknob, opens the door and tentatively enters the room.

“Good morning, students. Welcome to your first day of Middle School.”

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    Julie Harris
    Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
    1 year ago

    Susan, I absolutely love this story. The first reading had me shivering and shaking until the last line when I laughed out loud. But on consecutive readings the line that always gives me the giggles is “The sounds from behind the door – screeching, high-pitched, unearthly sounds, permeate his brain until his very being is chilled.” Years ago, I was composer-in-residence at a Middle School nearby. I worked twice a week for… Read more »

    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    1 year ago

    Your story had me gripped throughout, Susan. The build up in the tension had me on the edge of my seat, all the way through to the immensely fun twist at the end. Nicely done.

    Melissa Taggart
    Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
    1 year ago

    I love the twist at the end, Susan. Heart was racing throughout, I can’t say it stopped at the end for me either. Middle school, and its first day, can be tough. Great work!

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    1 year ago

    Wow! The genius of making and creating the story. I was also trembling with fear as I read your story, Susan. Then I suddenly laughed at the twist of the ending. Good job.

    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    1 year ago

    Great play on our perceived image of a horror story. Great and humorous twist in the last line. Really unexpected, well done Miss Susan.
    Your flash fiction brought back a horrid memory of when I actually had an anxiety attack teaching ESL to adults. Teaching Middle School must be far more scary, though.

    Paul Lewthwaite
    Paul Lewthwaite(@paul-lewthwaite)
    1 year ago

    This Paul was with your Paul every step of the way! Nice build up and then as everyone has said a fun twist that changed perception of everything that had gone on before.

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    1 year ago

    As a retired teacher, I should have been prepared for the twist at the end of the story. But just like everybody else, I was totally surprised. When I read the story a second time, I had a big smile on my face, remembering the horror of entering a classroom filled with noisy kids. Terrible! Great job, Susan!

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    1 year ago

    P.S. I wanted to ask you about the picture, Susan. Is that meant to illustrate Paul’s failing eye-sight?

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    1 year ago

    Well done, Susan. A great surprise ending and one many can identify with as a very scary experience!

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    1 year ago

    The fear in the story involves the mind, but the reader can breathe freely and can feel relief at the end. Excellent!

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    Reply to  Susan Giles
    1 year ago

    You’re welcome.

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