Swallowed by Darkness

Matt Krizan

Oct 28th 2022

The house has no lights on. No jack-o’-lanterns grin at the four of us from the porch, no Halloween decorations of any kind. Still, Jenny insists we ring the bell.

Marcus starts to object, but Layla elbows him in the ribs and I shake my head. They’re the only words beyond muttered thank-you’s Jenny’s spoken all evening, and a glimmer in her eyes has replaced her usual distant gaze. I shoot her a questioning look, but she ignores it.

A dark-haired, dark-eyed woman answers the door, her black dress merging with the shadows so I can’t tell where they leave off and she begins. She eyes Marcus’ super-hero suit, Layla’s fairy wings, my wizard’s robes. Her gaze settles on Jenny, who hasn’t bothered to dress up–unless “sullen teenager” counts as a costume.

The woman smiles kindly, sadly. “Welcome, daughter.”

Tears well up in Jenny’s eyes. She tugs at the sleeve of her hoodie and rubs the wrist with the fresh scar she refuses to talk about.

“He won’t stop,” she whispers.

“No,” the woman agrees. “He won’t.”

“Can I come in?”

“Of course.”

“Wait. Jenny…” I say, but she’s already started forward, the shadows enveloping her.

The woman looks at me, her sad, kind smile tugging at my soul. She gestures, and–

“Told you nobody’s home,” Marcus grumbles as Layla rings the bell again. When no one answers, the three of us continue on.

A feeling goes with me, like I’m being watched. But, when I look back, there’s nothing there but shadows.

Author Bio: Matt Krizan is a former certified public accountant who writes from his home in Royal Oak, Michigan. His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including Daily Science Fiction, Martian Magazine, and Dark Moments. Find him online at mattkrizan.com and on Twitter as @MattKrizan

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