She gets texts from a dead loved one.
In: 5000 Writing Prompts by Bryn Donovan
The last few days had been a nightmare for Jessi. Not only did she fail her final exams and lost her day job. Her long term partner had broken up with her. The rent was due in two days, and she just had spent her last dollars to buy a cheap whiskey and a pack of cigarettes.
Smoking, she sat on the floor of her empty apartment. Most of their stuff had been Sharon’s, so she had taken it with her when she left. Jessi already felt dizzy, but the pain had stayed. The open half-emptied bottle of whiskey stood next to her on the floor. Staring into the night, she reflected on what was left of her life.
Her cell phone vibrated and blinked. An unknown number was calling. Jessi didn’t bother to pick up and lifted the bottle to her mouth. Then she got a message from said number.
Hi, how are you doing?
Perfect. Just what Jessi needed now.
Wrong number lol
I told you I’d be always there for you
A strange feeling twisted her stomach. Whoever that stranger wanted to reach, they didn’t give Jessi a positive vibe. Another message came in.
Are you okay Cupcake?
Jessi would have ignored it. But that’s what her mother had called her. Jessi got angry. Her mother had died years prior.
“You think that’s funny? You’re a despicable piece of shit!”
She was sure that it must have been Sharon playing some kind of sick joke on her. She was the only one Jessi had told about her childhood.
That’s not how I raised you
Cut it out
Jessi was done with her and wouldn’t engage any longer with that toxic person. But the next message had caught her eye.
Do you remember the summer after Daddy had left us?
The one on the other side kept typing.
I couldn’t bring it over me to tell you the truth. So you assumed that someone must have taken him. You were so scared that they would come back for me. The whole summer, you wouldn’t leave my side. At night I had to sing you your favorite song over and over again until you finally fell asleep. I’ve never told you that, but without you and your Mr.Bear at my side, I wouldn’t have made it through that time.
Jessi had never told anyone about that summer. It was impossible. Wasn’t it? Tears started to cloud Jessi’s vision as she typed a response.
Is that really you?
Mommy, I can’t go on…
Once her walls were finally torn down, Jessi kept crying. All those years, she had forced herself to be strong. But now, even if it was just a prank or a weird illusion, she felt like a child again.
You have always been so strong and happy
It hurts me to see what they have done to you
I don’t know what to do anymore
Come to me
I’ll help you
Jessi hesitated. A weird sensation crept up her spine.
Where are you?
In your room
Jessi put her phone down. She could hear her own heart hammering inside her chest. She had been alone all day and only left the house to go to the store across the street. She struggled to get to her feet. Her vision was blurry, and her head was spinning. She leaned with one hand on the wall and made her way over to her bedroom. When Jessi put her hand on the door handle, she hesitated.
A tiny voice inside her head shouted at her to leave as fast as she could. But she also wanted to know what was going on. Probably it was nothing but a sick joke, and the room would be empty.
Jessi opened the door. And screamed.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Writing time: 20 minutes
Editing time: 40 minutes
I enjoy writing spooky stuff. There is a lot of things projected in the things we find scary. Playing around with those stories is a great practice to understand characters. I don’t know if my stories ever turn out to be creepy at all, though. They don’t really scare me. Thinking about writing, editing, and putting them out does. A lot. But the story itself? I mean, I don’t know…
Anyway, my thoughts with this prompt were pretty straight forward. First, I asked myself who would be calling that it would have any effect on the character at all. If great great aunt Gertrud is calling you and your first question is ‘Who?’. That’s not really scary. But that might have been a funny alternative to approach that prompt if I think about it.
I settled for a parent. Why her mother? I don’t know. That was just a split-second decision, and I rolled with it.
The prompt already told me to work with a female-identifying character. So, I imagine that a person who lost their parents early on in life, one way or another would have to toughen up in this world. But losing control over your life, having taken what you value most, would be a situation of breaking down.
That resulted in the situation for the story. What is worse than losing your job, failing your exams, and having a break-up? Yes, creepy ghost texts!
I tried to recreated the look of text messages. But that had looked better in my imagination than it finally worked out. And there should have been more typos. Drunk texting is hard. And I can’t imagine that some ghost zombie thing has the best physical conditions to write without mistakes. I mean, I would be impressed and feel terribly inadequate myself. But I wanted to keep it somewhat readable.
Characters in horror scenarios mostly make stupid decisions. No way I would have checked that room. But Jessi did. Should she have made the sensible choice instead and left? It would have turned the story on its head, but it might be interesting in breaking with some cliches.
What waited for her in the bedroom? I like to leave the scares unseen. Building tension, working off that, is what I really enjoy with horror stories. My mind is most active when the story leads the way and then, just in the right moment, gives my imagination the freedom to go wild.
But that’s just me. Do you read or write horror stories? What do you like about them?
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