The circle expanded over the words: “Leave now.”

Leave now?” she questioned. Her voice felt blunted. She was seated at a cherry wood desk, which had the words “Halloween 1867” carved onto it. Next to her was a grandfather clock bearing only the numbers twelve and nine. The second hand was stuck in a loop, ticking one movement forwards and then one back: tick-tick-tick-tick.

Surrounding her were bookshelves: dusty, white, with no cover. She had no recollection of entering the library, selecting this book, or choosing that desk. Between her fingers the pages felt like parchment, and she had no memory of reading a single word.  “Leave now” were the only words within its pages, which were bound with tough ligaments.

She read the spine: “The Final Hour of Eleanor Watson”. The words were barely readable—they were in bleeding, black, chicken scratch. Eleanor Watson? That name held nostalgic, unknown origins.

“My name?” she asked herself. Scared, she stood and slammed the book down. Her eyes welled up. “Leave now” cycled through her head, emerging with every tick of that clock.

A sudden coldness crawled into her body. She ran down the shelves of books. On either side, the view was identical rows of books, with a cherry wood desk at the end, and a grandfather clock.

Her heart in her throat, that checker floor with its erratic color pattern made her green. Sound was absent, besides that ticking. She snatched all the books she could hold—she pelted them at the clock. Each book was an exact copy of the last. On the final page the words “leave now” were circled by a round, wetted spot. “The Final Hour of Eleanor Watson” was etched into each spine… bleeding, black, chicken scratch.

“Why!?” she bayed. She raced down dozens, possibly fifty aisles, until she found her. A woman, at a desk, with a white book in her hand. A tear fell from the woman’s eyes onto the page. She looked scared. She stood before slamming the book.

“Leave now!” She screamed.

The woman stepped through her and shivered.

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Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
22 days ago

Finding oneself in the pages of another’s story is one thing, but when the story takes on ominous overtones, Eleanor must find a way out. The writer has done an excellent job of leading the reader through Eleanor’s journey out of her own nightmare. Well written!

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
1 month ago

Melissa, I love this story! It is truly scary. It’s amazing how simple, everyday elements – bookshelves, a desk, a book – can become horrifying in the hands of a good writer. Your grandfather clock description alone will haunt me for days – maybe weeks! Excellent writing.

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
1 month ago

I forgot to ask you one question, Melissa. Which “she” screamed “Leave Now” in the next to the last paragraph/sentence? It’s hard to tell, since there are now two women in the tale. I LOVE the last sentence. Perfect. Happy Halloween!

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
1 month ago

Oh my, this puts a different slant on things. I am even more terrified now. This is one of your best stories ever, Melissa.

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

Very scary, Melissa, and you made it so realistic my room seemed to spin around me and I was tempted to check my bookshelves and all the spines! I was going to visit our local library today but I think I’ll leave it until another day! Very well done  😱 

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Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
1 month ago

This is my favourite type of story. The tension builds and little clues are dropped until the climax and reveal with the last sentence. I’m guessing you must really like horror stories because you’re REALLY good at it. Excellent scary writing.  😱  😳 

Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
1 month ago

Yes, another Canadian! I’m living in Victoria, BC and I see you’re in Ontario. So Happy Thanksgiving back to you too!  🍗 

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

Hello, Melissa. Your story is truly spine-chilling. So scary. Well done. 

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
1 month ago

You’re welcome.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 month ago

Now this is what is called a ‘horror’ story! And one of your best, Melissa. The clues you left are so cleverly done and the repetition just adds to the tension. My understanding is that the woman and Eleanor are one in the same. You are a very gifted writer.

Emily O'Leary
Emily O'Leary(@emily-oleary)
1 month ago

Oh I loved this Melissa! This might be my new favourite of yours! I loved the build up and those little clues scattered throughout — a truly great piece of writing and spooky to boot!

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Heather Chrzanowski
Heather Chrzanowski(@heather-chrzanowski)
1 month ago

My favorite line was, “A sudden coldness crawled into her body.” Oh! So good! You have a way with words! Great story.

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

Melissa, a great atmospheric read! I especially liked the description and repetition centred on the clock and cherry wood desk. How scary to run and always find these same objects at the end of each aisle! Your story reminds me of the female protagonist in “Labyrinth” hunting for her baby brother but ending up at the same spot. Cheers, Melissa.

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
19 days ago

Congratulations on a well-deserved win, Melissa. This was probably my favorite story in this contest. I keep thinking of it and shivering …

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
15 days ago

Congratulations on your win Melissa. I can imagine your protagonist trapped in a cycle of terror, eternally warning her younger self to get out. Great writing.

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