A rustling noise brought me out of my sleepy trance. I turned toward the sound and jumped. I'd been alone when I had come up to my room, but now there was another person in the space. A tall figure, dressed in what looked like a white robe, stood near my dresser. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed that the white robe had loosened buckles and belts dangling from its arms. While I'd never seen one in-person, it was hard to mistake the item for anything but what it was - the stranger was wearing a strait jacket.
I kept my breathing quiet. I didn’t want the intruder to notice me. Luckily, he was distracted; his attention was turned towards the contents of my dresser.
Even though I was only thirteen years old, I knew an opportunity when I saw it. I inched my way out of bed, and soundlessly exited the room. A weapon is what I needed and I knew just where to find one. Mom kept a collection of chef knives just inside the kitchen. If I could reach the knives I would feel better about protecting myself.
I slowly made my way down the hall. After what felt like an eternity, I reached my goal. The moon light illuminated the kitchen and made it easier to locate the knife rack. But something was wrong. I walked closer, wanting to make sure that what I had noticed was true and not just a trick of my eyes. The empty slot where the sharpest knife should have been verified my suspicion. A knife was missing.
A scraping noise behind me caused my blood to run cold. I didn't want to turn around. I didn't want to confront whatever was making the sound. But my body insisted and I slowly turned to find the stranger from my room sitting on the floor, pressing the missing knife deep into the hardwood. The moon beams shone on the ground. The carving he was working on wasn't finished, but I could make out a face in the scratches. My face.
He stared at me with a smile, his head cocked creepily to the side. He didn't move at all, and held his position like a statue. The staring and smiling made me want to scream, but my terror wouldn't let me.
The silence was broken by laughter. The kind of laughter that only an insane person can create.
He raised his arm, and brought the knife down with a thump. He drove the knife into the carving again and again, his joy growing louder with every movement. Each stab pierced the carving that looked too much like me.
"Get out of our house!"
The shout brought me out of my shock. My mother's voice filled the air.
"If you don’t leave now I’ll call the police." She stared at the man almost daring him with her demand.
The stranger didn’t move, so true to her word Mom dialed 911. Her voice was strangely calm as she spoke into the phone. After the call was over, Mom sat down at the table, waiting for help to arrive. I stayed where I was and wondered how my mom could be so calm in such an awful situation.
It wasn't long before sirens could be heard in the distance. This noise caused the man to finally move. He stood up straight, almost filling the kitchen doorway. His steps were heavy as he made his way toward me.
I made myself as small as I could, but it did no good. The stranger towered over me like a giant, but his height didn't stop me from noticing the grin that was still on his face.
He leaned down, crouching to my level. He whispered words that made me shiver.
"There's nowhere to hide." He was so close that I could feel his breath on my ear.
I tried to back away, but the kitchen wall stopped me. I was trapped.
He reached out, picked me up, and ran toward the back door. His grip was strong, but I could feel something soft between his fingers. It brushed against the back of my leg. I wiggled around, grabbing for the item in his hand.
My movement caught him off guard and he stumbled. The object I was reaching for fell to the ground. The white fabric stood out against the grass. The shape of a sock was visible in the cloudless night. The man quickly reached down and snagged the sock, placing it in one of his pockets.
During this pause, the sirens got closer, but as he started running again, their volume got lower and lower. When we entered the woods behind my house, I stopped hearing them completely. My heart was pounding out of pure fright. I couldn't believe this was happening to me.
His footsteps came to a halt. I looked around and noticed a small building tucked into the tress. The wooden cabin looked abandoned, like no one had been to it in many years.
The smell of rotten wood filled my nose as I was carried inside. It was dark, but I could make out an ancient-looking rug in the center of the room. This rug wasn’t just for decoration, because the man lifted it up to reveal a wooden door. The planks looked newer than the rest of the cabin and there was a lock that secured the door.
After the man entered a code into the lock, he carried me down a short ladder that ended in a dirt floor. He pulled a dangling string and an exposed lightbulb lit up the room. He finally released me when we reached a mattress in the corner of the secret room. Rust-colored stains covered its surface. I tried to ignore them as I looked around.
The room was small so it didn’t take much time to see the whole thing. A map on one of the crumbling walls caught my attention. The map was of my town. I recognized the street names and landmarks.
The strangest part of the map was the socks pinned all around it. There were red socks, green socks, and white socks. Some socks were close to my size, but some were so small that they could fit on a newborn baby.
One of the garments stood out because it was covered in a familiar pattern. Tiny pizzas stood out against a blue background. It was my friend Jacob's sock. But Jacob had been missing for months, and the last time I saw him, he had been wearing these very socks.
I turned toward the man and asked, “What do you want from me?”
He didn't answer.
“Please let me go”. My voice trembled as I said the words.
He shook his head and charged at me, smiling the whole time. I gathered all the strength I had left and screamed as loud as I could. The sound made him pause. I reached to the floor and grabbed the item that was closest to me. My aim was right on, and the rock hit him in the cheek. The smile finally left his face as blood trickled down, dripping onto the dirt.
I leapt from the mattress, grabbing the light string as I landed. Darkness filled the room, but I was still able to find my way to the ladder. I scrambled up, moving more quickly than I ever had before. A howl burst out of the secret room, but I didn't look back, I just ran.
Red and blue lights greeted me when I got home. Several officers were in my drive way and they rushed towards me, asking questions the whole time. After I told them the details of my escape they searched the woods until they found the run-down cabin. They explored the building and found the sock covered map. The officers also discovered a pile of bones underneath the mattress. Bones that they determined were human remains.
But the most disturbing discovery was a backpack full of Polaroid pictures. Every shot was of a sleeping child. They were even some of me.
One picture stood out from the others. It was of my mom. She was smiling into the camera, and a red heart was drawn around the frame.
While the officers were distracted, I crept into the woods, and headed home to talk to my mother. She hadn't moved from her spot at the dining room table. Her eyes met mine when I walked in front of her.
"Mom, why was your picture in the man's backpack?" I did my best to sound less afraid than I was.
“Which man?” she answered calmly.
“The man who tried to kidnap me!” I shouted.
“Oh, him. That’s my friend." A warm smile filled her face. "I told him to do that. He always listens to me."
I couldn't believe what I just heard. "Mom? Why would you do that?"
“Do you want to play a game?” she asked.
I didn't know what she meant and I wasn't sure if I wanted to find out. "Mom, you're scaring me."
Her grin stretched wider. "That's the point, dear. Now let's play."
She stood up, and her arms dropped to her side. Now I could see her hands. The knife she was holding told me more than I needed to know.
Her next words finally got me to move. "Ready. . . set . . . go!"
She lunged across my way.
I backed into the living room, still shocked that this was happening. The front door was right behind me. I knew I was going to make it outside.
A pounding knock stopped me in my tracks.
“Open up! It’s the police. We're here to help."
I couldn't believe my luck. I flung open the door, grateful for my saviors. Instead, I saw him standing there.
He was dressed in an officer’s uniform and he was holding a gun.
“Where did you get that?” I asked.
“Oh, this old thing?" he chuckled. "I had to do some dirty work to get it”.
“What kind of dirty work?” I forced out.
"Those officers in the woods were messing with my collection so I did what I had to do. I shot them all, got rid of them with their own guns.” He looked down at the stolen clothes he was wearing. "I borrowed an outfit too. Figured it would help me finish the job. And I was right. It sure fooled you."
I backed away on shaking legs. “Why are you doing this?”
I was so focused on what was happening on the front porch, that I didn't notice the person behind me until it was too late. I felt strong arms wrap around my body.
My mom answered my question. "You can tell her, Derek." She giggled. "She won't live long enough to tell anyone else." Her voice sounded happy. My mother was enjoying this.
“Whatever you say, Julie." He nodded at her before he turned his eyes to me. "Don’t you know that your mother hates you?"
I shook my head slowly.
"Well, that’s why she helped me get out of that home they had me locked up in. She thinks you’re the reason your father left. She also thinks you take up too much of her time.” I could see the excitement on his face. "And now it's time to get rid of you."
He raised the gun in my direction.
Mom pushed me toward the monster. I closed my eyes, waiting for the end. My own mother didn't love me. I couldn't believe it.
The moment I heard the gun go off was the moment I tripped over my shoelace. The pain I thought I would feel never came.
Instead I heard a thump. I looked behind me and noticed my mom on the ground. I didn't understand what happened until I spotted the blood coming from her stomach. The bullet had found its target.
Derek dropped the weapon and ran towards her. He collapsed at her side, saying her name over and over.
No one was watching me as I walked to the edge of the porch. No one turned around as I lifted the gun. No one protested as I pulled the trigger.
After I was sure they were both dead, I walked towards them. Derek had changed clothes, but I was guessing that he had kept his treasure with him. I searched each of his pockets until I felt what I was looking for. The white fabric was stained with red, but there was no way I was letting the sock monster keep my property.
Autumn is 12 years old and she describes herself as a weirdo. But her mom thinks she's pretty cool, despite what you may get from this story :)
Story dedication: My name is Autumn Clay. My favorite genre is horror and one of my biggest dreams is to publish one of my stories to the No Sleep podcast. This is one of my biggest dreams because this podcast uses only chilling stories written by random people. What inspired me to write this story is Summer Theron. She is a great mother to me and a great role model.