Recess - Horror Short Story with Bonus Audio | Alien | Intense | Apocalyptic
His daughter was all he had left. Can he save her from the darkness consuming all of humanity?
The world has changed, and the shadows truly are something to fear. What can a man do when his young daughter is the only thing left of his old life?
Once more we enter into a world of darkness, with alien beasts slavering at the last vestiges of humanity. Only moments, brief snippets of time, can be spared for a little girl who just wants to play.
Today is the heart breaking and terrifying tale, “Recess.”
We must shelter, stay still and quiet, as the creatures search every corner…
As a bonus, Free and Paid subscribers both get the bonus audio dramatization. It is, as always, done with professional voice work, sound design, and music. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The audio drama… if you dare.
Read the story below:
"Melanie, don't go too far," I said as I watched my young daughter run down the street.
My stomach always dropped a little when I saw her legs moving, in those first few moments of freedom I could allow her to have.
She was four years old, and all I had left in of the life I once knew. The life we all once knew.
These moments of pureness, of when I could allow her to explore, to play, hell, to be a child, were precious and few. She was so special to me, with her long blond hair flowing behind her as the wind caught it up and tossed it all over, as the heavy clothes I had to put her in before she walked out of the front door to protect against the cold that had come on.
She was my gift.
I know every parent has the same kind of words they use for their children. Special, gifts, precious, sacred. But Melanie was different.
I guess all of our children are different, these days.
I watched her pick up a ball and bounce it around, a smile on her face even from this distance. I know I should be closer, should be watching over her like a hawk at a meal, but I also felt the need to let her have a small taste of freedom, to explore what it meant to be alive and, for a time, a kid. Those moments, too, were far and few between.
One of the other children, Max, I think, passed her by at a run, heading off to his own devices. He was a little older, probably wanting to have little to do with trying to have fun with a peer so young compared, but Melanie, at least at first, didn't seem to pay him much mind.
I saw her turn around toward him though, and thought I caught a fleeting glimpse of regret on her face. She went back to her ball, though, the moment passing her by as Max disappeared behind the corner of a house.
I looked around me, trying to see his parents, but they were not in sight. I'm not sure why they were not, but a nervous trill ran through my veins just the same. Didn't they know any better?
Such is the way, sometimes, though, when life is lived on a the edge of a knife so sharp you can lose everything in a heartbeat.
So much loss, so much regret. It weighs on you, a millstone sinking to the unfathomable depths of a sea that never ends. Pain, loneliness, these things become as familiar to you as your own breath, and it is only in the darkest moments of night, those few seconds between waking and sleep that you can have time to actually process it, to think about it in some kind of healing terms.
Healing. There's so precious little of that left to us, too, a word we use to try to convince ourselves things have a sense of normalcy, that there might be some hope for the future, but it's a hollow word.
Hope, too, is a dangerous word, though, as I looked at Melanie playing in the brightest moments of the day, when there was little space for any shadows to be able to exist, I could not help but see hope for the future.
That word though, that sensation of hope can make you lax, can lull you into a sense that all things are right with the world and there's going to be something ahead that will make everything you go through worthwhile.
Will it be worth it, though? Will there be any kind of future, when the bleeding edges of sanity fray more and more by the day?
Hope, freedom, healing, these words are so rarely used, so rarely spoke in our little community these days, and with reason, but as I said, those moments in the night when the fears are the greatest need to have something to hold on to.
Especially when the screams start.
Even in the light of day, when the shadows are at their furthest away, the echoes of those screams can haunt, and I am glad Melanie does not seem to be bothered by them as she plays.
It makes me glad, because recess is, for our children, such a rare commodity and they must embrace it without fear, without regret.
I wish I could feel it, could let go of those sounds that filter through the thin walls of our house as we hide ourselves away in the attic. They stay with me always, even as my eyes roved over the street, looking for any sign that something was out of place.
No, it's not possible to just let them go, to find a way to no longer hear the sound of my precious wife screaming in the night as she was taken away. The sound of her voice as she begged me to save her, plead with them to let her go, the horrific wailing that still wrenches my guts to this day as her flesh was flayed open and the beloved blood that kept her alive in this god-forsaken world we live in was shed across the ground, lapped up by desperate lips and tongues that had no right to exist.
No, those sounds I will never be able to heal from, to throw away. To forget.
So many of us gone, so many lost to the shadows that come, and though I miss many of them, she is the one from which I will never recover.
If it weren't for Melanie and her need for me to be here for her, to protect her and keep her safe in an insane world, I would have put the shotgun to my mouth and pulled the trigger long ago.
I can't do that, though. Melanie needs me and there is no one else who would be there for her without me. There are too few of us, now. Too many who have been lost, leaving us without the ability to sustain ourselves, even, especially with the oncoming winter.
Oh, god, what are we going to do, then?
Already, the two of us huddle in the cold room at the top of our home, the place my wife and I thought would be a shelter from a world we once understood. There is already so little in our bellies, holding off what we can to make it one more day, one more week. One more meal, clinging to the hope that we will be, finally, rescued, set free from these bonds of the shadows that come.
And, yet, I know we're not the only ones. Those around us are going through it too, but I cannot give them any care. I can't. We don't have enough, even as I watch the other children around the street falling into emaciation, falling away bit by bit, day by day.
So few of us left now. Is the rest of the world still spinning? Still going through its' travails as it always had?
Or is everyone else going through the same thing as we few are here? I suspect so. The few rumors we once had coming through our community as one person or another shuffled into the city limits spoke of the horrors they, too, witnessed.
No, we may not be alone in the horrors, but Melanie and I have always been an island unto ourselves, clinging to each other as the rest of the world falls apart.
She's still able to smile, though more infrequently. I would give her one back, but the thought always ran through my head that she might have been doing it just to appease me, to give me something to hold on to, as only the wisdom of a child who has survived a torturous event can do.
My stomach lurches and I jump to my feet again as the loud whistle blows, the watcher pulling the string on the alarm that once was merely to warn of impending storms. Warbling, loud, echoing through the countryside.
Melanie dropped the ball as she ran, her eyes wide and desperate, back to the house, and I watched her legs flying beneath her, the sound of her footfalls against the ground muted by the volume of the siren.
She made it into the house and I slammed the door behind her, swinging the makeshift barricade into place. It always made me feel better, even if I secretly wondered if it did any good.
The ladder to the attic came down easily and I helped her make it up there, checking things over once more before joining her. She was already lighting one of the candles and pulling out one of the few remaining tins of food we had on hand.
Recess was over. The shadows were coming, and there was precious few moments left before the screams would begin again.
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Keep striving to “be the best you that you can be” at this moment. Remember, no matter who you are or what you're going through, you are worthy of being loved. Don't let anyone teach you anything different.