Free horror short story

Offbeat

Based on a true story: In the dead of night, an eerie turn of events betides four blissfully unaware teenage girls.

Estimated reading time: 3.7 minutes

Late past midnight, group of friends hanging out, senseless jokes—for many, those’re the staples of the fun young days. Unfortunately for this group of four teenage girls, they’re going to be thinking twice when hanging out past midnight again.

The four girls are sitting around in their hostel room, cracking dumb jokes, having a fun time. Hours pass, and one of them decides to take a shower before hitting the sack. And if one girl goes, all girls go, so they all gather their shower things—towels, change of clothes, etcetera—and they all leave together.

These girls aren’t rascals, so they’re being considerate when walking the quiet hallway: lowering their voices, stifling their laughs, chuckling quietly, shushing one another if the other’s too loud because, as far as they know, everyone else in this hostel is sound asleep. Most lights are shut; everywhere’s quiet.

The downstairs hall is where all the facilities are—café, gym, and the shower where they’re headed—and just like everywhere else, the entire hall is dim-lit. Only enough lighting for people to find their way around, in the case of someone being awake around this time.

So, they make it to the twin doors of the shower and…

Open, squeeeeak; close, BANG—remember that—these heavy twin doors are not quiet in any way. And take note, this is an echoey place, so every slight movement can be heard. But now they’re in a space where they can talk, laugh, joke, wrestle, do it all loudly.

In this shower, there are cubicles for each showerhead, so every user has their privacy. While talking, each girl enters a cubicle neighboring one another and they continue conversing while bathing, raising their voices so that they can be heard over the pitter-patter of falling water. 

One of them cracks a joke, all four of them laugh. But then…

Just a beat too late, a fifth laugh joins them from outside the cubicles.

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha; pretty much how that’s read, that’s how it sounds and how long it lasted. A laugh without a grin; someone learning to laugh but failing; someone imitating them but can’t get it right.

All four girls know that that voice does not belong to any of them. Unsure of what to do, they remain silent for the remainder of their baths. When one girl turns off her shower, the others follow suit, and they all wrap their towels around themselves, and they all exit their cubicles at the same time.

All in silence, they dress up, eyeing every nook and cranny of the entire shower. They see nobody else, and no occupied cubicles. A tiny sense of relief is just about catching up. “Whoever it was must’ve left,” one girl says and opens the doors.

Open, squeeeak. Whatever sense of relief is lost. Shaking in their shoes, they start walking. Close, BANG.

afterword

Thanks for reading. Aside from a few changes to setting, and a few exaggerations, the essence of this story is true (based on what’s told by one of the girls): a group of girls heard an eerie, offbeat laughter when there was nobody else but them in the shower past midnight.

If you’d like to receive some more free short stories like this one, sign up for our newsletter (form found below). Lastly, and once again, thanks for reading. 

Butterflies

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