8 Matches

📅 Published on November 6, 2021

“8 Matches”

Written by Christopher A. Micklos
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 8 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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“Goddammit!”

Doc wobbles a moment as pain flares up his ankle. Catching himself, he shifts and shakes his right foot, stomping it once and then again on the uneven dirt path, but the sharp ache persists.

“You okay?” Tessa’s hushed voice asks from somewhere close-by.

“What the fuck are you whispering for?” he demands, irritated less with her than with his own clumsy stumble.

“I dunno.”

A misting of distilled moonlight drizzles down through the treetops. Doc squints, barely discerning her shape against the tangled woods all around them, but the clouds shift again and she’s gone.

“If I had my phone—”

“No phones!” Tessa’s voice rises to a command.

“—a least we’d have some light!”

It’s a sore subject.

Bristling, Tessa resumes their stroll, her footsteps squishing on the fallen leaves as Doc trudges gingerly after her on the rolled ankle.

“Two weeks! I haven’t seen you in two weeks! You’re lucky I didn’t smash that thing when you pulled it out!”

“My phone? Or are we talking about something else now?” Doc teases, but the joke downs in the murk of the night. “Meanwhile, we’re lost out here and our phones are sitting back at my place.”

“Relax, I have some matches.”

Behind her, the tramping of Doc’s feet stutters for just a moment. Craning back, Tessa senses what’s about to come and braces as his footsteps come kicking angrily through the leaves.

“Why have you got matches?”

A dull scraping answers him—flick, flick, flick—followed by a pungent whiff of sulfur as the cardboard match between Tessa’s fingers flickers to life.

Tessa grins through the flame’s faint light, swirls of freckles disappearing into substantial dimples that have disarmed family, friends, and strangers alike for most of her twenty-eight years. Glowering down at her, Doc’s dark eyes don’t mirror her amusement.

“Are you smoking again?”

“Doc—”

“Goddamnit, Tess!” he interrupts, his voice rising with his temper. “Your mom fucking died from—”

“—I know how my mother died, thank—”

“Do you? Really? Because that’s some really stupid—”

“Okay! I get it!” The lovers glare over the blinking flame, a silent clash of lurking resentments that have been suffocating their relationship for months now.

“I’m serious, Tessie,” Doc persists. “I don’t want you sneaking around behind my back.”

“I’m not sneaking arou—SHIT!”

Slithering down the match stem, the fire licks at Tessa’s fingertips before she can pitch the dying match to the ground.

Doc snickers through the returned darkness, “See?”

“That burned!” Tessa sucks on the tip of her finger to soothe it.

“Just light another one and let’s get moving.”

“No,” Tessa shuffles forward. “I only have seven more and I don’t wanna waste them.”

Doc jogs after her, waving one hand in front of his face to swat away the tree branches encroaching on the path. He tries to keep up, not wanting to lose track of her. The two of them have explored these woods before, but their unmarked pathways never seemed so tangled or disorienting to him in the light of day. But Tessa seems to know where she’s going.

“What made you even think of this?” he calls out, unsure if she’s still close enough to hear, but she answers quickly back, closer than he thought.

“I’ve been planning it for a while.”

Just ahead, Doc sees the second match spark, a sudden glow dancing across Tessa’s delicate features and revealing a naughty glimmer in her smiling eyes. “Are you complaining?” she teases, waiting for him to catch up. “We can go back if you want…?”

The sugar in her voice stirs him, recalling a time when their erotic adventures didn’t require such elaborate planning. A breathless coupling just out of view at her cousin’s wedding. Her wet, lingering kisses all over him in the back row of a midnight movie screening. Tessa’s hot breath on his cheek, her legs astride him, as the summer sun beat down on a clearing in these very woods.
But that was all long ago, making tonight’s promise of a secluded midnight swim and carnal renewal especially appealing.

“Fuck no,” His face is close to hers, that sweet breath still delicious nearly a year after he first tasted it. “Just surprised you chose these woods is all…considering what happened here.”

Tessa’s shoulders slump as she fixes him with a scowl.

“Twenty years ago, I think.”

“Jesus, Doc, way to kill the mood.” She puffs at the match—the snaking black smoke stinging his nostrils—and turns to disappear into the darkness again.

“What? I’m serious,” Doc catches up. “Five kids were killed up here. Well, not killed, really. Like, slaughtered.”

“Just shut up,” she scolds, shivering in spite of herself.

“You really never heard this? We actually saw the autopsy photos in my pathology lab last week.”

Tessa stops abruptly and Doc stumbles into her. With a faint crackle, the third match kindles.

“No, I’ve never heard this.”

“They say it was a night a lot like tonight,” Doc begins in campfire tones, just slightly self-serious but solemn in a way that prickles at the back of Tessa’s neck. “Dark. The moon hiding somewhere behind the clouds. And that damp chill just hanging in the air. Like, not just cold, you know? But like something else is going on. Like something’s wrong.”

“Like a bullshit story, maybe?” Tessa shakes the match out and continues on into the waiting woods.

Doc follows.

“The authorities said it was an animal, like a cougar or a bear or something like that…but there’s no way. I saw the pictures. Those kids were torn limb from limb.”

Tessa casts a glance behind her, but the night has entirely cleaved them apart, his voice and uneven footfalls now the only evidence of him in the suddenly more menacing gloom.

“They were gutted…dissected,” he hisses, almost savoring the music of the word in his mouth. The night around them thickens with an attentive stillness.

“When they found the bodies, their eyes were gone. Like, entirely gone. Their tongues had been torn right out of their heads, the skin peeled off their bones. Someone—or something—took its time with those kids. Took care. Enjoyed it. It was like—”

The story ends abruptly, Doc’s words deforming suddenly into a half-cry—an ugly grunt—and then a grotesque gagging and gurgling as a manic rustling of leaves erupts from the darkness.

Tessa twitches around, but she’s sightless in the dense black of night. What her eyes can’t see, though, her ears vividly translate: Doc’s aborted cry, the sudden, intense fracas—

—“Doc!” Tessa lets out a startled yelp—

—but the pitched struggle rattles on amid a jarring cacophony of anguished choking and panicked cries.

“DOC!”

And then silence.

Tessa’s feet root to the damp earth as a shudder rolls up her legs, scales her spine, and titters across her shoulders. Is the air suddenly rancid around her or is her mind playing tricks? Even the crickets seem to have quit their songs to listen.

Her trembling fingers fumbling with the fourth match, Tessa flicks the sulfur head at the red phosphorous strip, but the stick tumbles out of her hand and is swallowed up by the darkness and dirt.

“DOC!”

Tessa steadies herself and peers helplessly into nothing. Another agonizing moment of stillness, and then Tessa tries one last time to harden her voice, “Doc! This isn’t funny!”

But more nothing.

Then something stirs ahead of her, an amorphous shade shifting vaguely against the darkness. The ground rustles under a deliberate, creeping advance.

Tessa catches a gasp in her dry throat, tears the fifth match from the book, and strikes desperately again, this time a flame leaping mercifully to life.

But it’s too late.

A shadow rises in front of her—right there, practically on top of her!—and a harsh roar belches into her face.

“AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR!”

Tessa stumbles backwards, a cracked shriek surging from her lungs. Her body tenses and the match flutters from her fingers.

Darkness again, but swelling with laughter.

“What—?” Tessa takes a tentative step forward, the pulsing adrenaline rattling her, even as Doc chortles at her distress.

“Holy shit! You’re really on edge tonight!”

“Jesus Christ, Doc,” Tessa swats toward the sound of his voice, making glancing contact with his shoulder. “You shit!”

“Stop. It’s funny.”

Another punch, this time closer and more directly into his arm, and then another harder one.

“Ow! Give me the matches.” His fingers pluck the matchbook away from her, ripping free the sixth stick. One strike, two, and then it comes alive.

Tessa’s face hovers right there, her fierce glare searing him with angry heat. Doc notices and softens, reaching to touch her arm.

“Hey, I’m sorry. Are you okay?

Tessa jerks away, still catching her breath, “You’re gonna pay for that.”

Turning again, she looks around through the faint glow of the flame, gets her bearings, and then walks on without him.

Doc allows a moment, watching her recede from the shallow pool of light, before scurrying after her.

“Seriously, though,” he presses, drawing up to her again. “There have always been stories about these woods.”

Tessa spins on him, dumbfounded by his stubborn persistence, “Jesus, Doc, enough—”

“I’m serious—”

“—and don’t waste all those matches! I need—”

“I don’t want you smoking, Tessie!” he barks.

The flame dips at Doc’s flesh, drawing a surprised yip before he drops it.

Once again, they slip into darkness and silence, trudging on in mutual irritation.

Whatever romantic promise the evening once held now seems as remote as the distant country road that brought them here. It occurs to Doc that they’re continuing to march on more out of spite than any sort of amorous inclination.

“Tessie—”

“So what are you saying?” she interrupts again, this time with naked derision, “Something horrible is lurking in the woods, waiting for us?”

“No. I’m just saying that bad stuff happens here.”

“Oh, bad stuff, huh? Like…?

“I don’t know,” Doc bristles. “Bad stuff. Cruel acts. Dark deeds.”

“Oh for God’s sake…”

“The evil that men do.”

Tessa snorts at his claptrap, continuing on for several more moments before surrendering to a petty impulse.

“Oh really? And who told you that…”

Doc sighs, “Listen…”

“…Jenny?”

The mashing of their footsteps ceases abruptly as they both draw to an unexpected stop on the path. Tessa’s last word hangs poisonously in the cool air while a swarm of nerves scuttle down Doc’s arms. He tries to squint Tessa’s face into focus, but the opaque blanket of night denies him.

“What?” he probes blankly.

Tessa only simmers in silence.

Waves of half-formed alibis and excuses rush over him as Doc hesitates, reluctant to concede more than she might already know.

“Tessie, what are you talking about?”

Again, no answer.

Doc’s fingers press over the matchbook, finding a seventh match. He fumbles to tear it free and then, shaky with adrenaline and nerves, strikes it over the phosphorous.

One failed flick.

Then another.

The trembling of his fingers complicates the operation as he fails a third time.

And then a fourth.

And then finally, on his fifth try, a flame dances to life—

—just as the dark figure lunges from the shadows and uncoils a savage blow.

The wooden club—the last thing Doc sees are the letters S-L-U-G-G-E-R flashing towards him—lands with a grotesque crunch just under his nose, crushing the cartilage and spraying splintered bone and enamel back down his throat. Doc’s head snaps back, slamming him down to the cold dirt path as blood geysers from his nose and floods into a crushed eye…and the match falls from his limp hand and snuffs out in the dirt.

Above him, a familiar voice—not Tessa’s—murmurs, “Is he dead?”

Doc answers with a low, pitiful wail—the cry of a wounded animal lying helpless at the foot of a predator—followed by pained gagging as his body reflexively ejaculates the pooling, salty blood from his throat.

“Get it,” Tessa snaps, and footsteps shuffle dutifully away.

A moment later Tessa’s cold, venomous voice is closer, her breath no longer sweet in his face. “You fuck her behind my back. You fuck me behind hers. Here’s a tip, Doc—”

“Te-tessie—” he can barely form the word in his crushed oral cavity.

“—don’t pick two girls who know each other.”

Then it gushes down over him, soaking hair, clothes, and the blood-stained brush all around him. It smells sweet like a summer day but burns his broken eyes like acid.

Convulsing with terror, Doc blinks the blood out of his eyes and impotently tries to object, “Wh-wha-what—?”

But the sharp, decisive snap of a match-strike cuts him off, an orange flame slicing the darkness and illuminating Tessa standing over him again. Her eyes spit disgust down at the trembling, crippled prey at her feet. Behind her stands Jenny, her chin resting on Tessa’s shoulder and her arms wrapped intimately around Tessa’s waist. With the flaring match pinched between her fingers, Tessa leans back into Jenny, who softly kisses her neck.

“N-N-NO-NOOOOOOOOOO—!”

Staring down, Tessa flicks the eighth match at the writhing mass of flesh, blood, and gasoline on the ground, and Doc combusts into a luminous, fetid, screaming blaze.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Christopher A. Micklos
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Christopher A. Micklos


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Christopher A. Micklos:

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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