It’s Getting Dark

📅 Published on October 30, 2021

“It’s Getting Dark”

Written by Heath Pfaff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on 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


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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“I don’t know, man, the cabin is really far out there and you’d be alone until Sunday.”

“Alright, If it’ll help you get over this thing with Sam you can stay at the cabin for the weekend.  Just, you know, you remember what it’s like.  Things are different in the Appalachians.  It’s beautiful up there, but it can be really weird sometimes.  When we were kids my parents handled the weird for us, but now it’s different.”

“Make sure you’re inside after dark.  Once the sun is behind the hills, just call it good for the day.  There are a lot of wild animals out there that wander around in the dark, and I don’t want you getting hurt.  I’m serious about this, Scott. Stay inside after dark.  Don’t even go out on the porch.”

“Sometimes . . . this one is going to sound strange, but sometimes the animals can sound a little like people.  You might think you hear yelling, or screaming, but it’s just animal noises.  Don’t go out looking for whatever is making the noise.  You’re just going to get lost or hurt.”

I was rerunning Brian’s words through my head for the thirtieth time.  It was a weird talk to get before borrowing his cabin for the weekend, and as always I couldn’t quite tell if Brian was joking around or if he was just being cringey. Once he tried to convince us all that he was being hunted by bigfoot.  He was my best friend, but he had his quirks.  This little speech was the pinnacle of Brian theatrics.

“Scot, you can’t let anyone inside. I know this is fucking weird, but don’t let anyone into the cabin, okay?  You’re the only one who is up there, and there is no one else within walking distance.  If someone is at your door, and you don’t see my car parked out next to yours, then they are not someone who belongs at the cabin.  No matter what they say, don’t let them in.  Fuck, don’t talk to them!  Don’t even acknowledge them.  Shut the shutters if you need to.  Pull the blinds.”

“You should be fine if you stay inside after dark.  Anything you forget to do outside can be finished the next day.  Other than that, just keep the place clean, and I’ll come up to see you on Sunday, alright?  There is satellite TV up there, but you’re only going to get cell signal clear enough to make a call from the far left corner of the balcony off of the master bedroom, and sometimes not even there.  There are a shit ton of DVDs up there, books, and there is a beautiful creek out back beyond the patio.  You remember, right?  We used to catch salamanders.  Get your head back together and relax.  I love you, man.

Shit, Brian, what kind of a talk was that?  I’d been expecting something along the lines of “If you use the hot tub, be sure to put the cover back on.” or, “Don’t leave food outside, it might attract critters!”  This warning about people who might show up at the door was not only weird, but a little creepy.  I half-suspected that he was trying to freak me out, but Brian wouldn’t do that while I was hurting, and he knew this break-up with Sam was hard on me.

We’d been together for six years, and things had ended badly enough that there wasn’t going to be a reconciliation.  It was hard to think of going forward without her, but this trip up to the woods wasn’t about that.  It was about remembering what it meant to be me.  I had to remember what it was like to be my own person, and I couldn’t do that in a place where everything reminded me of the last six years.  Brian’s cabin was perfect.

I’d gone up several times when we were younger.  When Brian’s parents had moved out west they’d left the cabin for him, but we rarely went up anymore.  We’d come fishing once, but Brian said the place gave him the creeps, and then he’d made a reference to the bigfoot stuff he’d talked about when he was a kid.

“I keep the place up, and it’s beautiful, but I just don’t feel safe there.  You remember the uh . . . the bigfoot?  Yeah, it can get dangerous.” 

Well, bigfoot or no, I was planning on having a weekend unplugged from the world.  I was going to go for some walks, do some reading, and find some headspace that was distinctly mine.  Then Sunday I’d get drunk with Brian, and we’d sober up overnight and go back to the city on Monday.  The long weekend couldn’t have hit at a better time.

A deer skittered off into the woods as I pulled my car up to the cabin, the rocks of the driveway popping beneath my tires.  The minute I stepped out of the car I was hit by a cacophony of smells that sparked a strong sense of nostalgia.  The woods had a world of smells all its own, a mix of natural decay and natural growth backed by a cleanness you just didn’t get in the city.  Brian and I had some good memories of this place.

I popped the trunk and grabbed my duffle bag along with a box of foodstuffs I’d picked up, and then nearly tripped over a small calico cat with a bad limp and a wheezy rattle to its breathing.

“Damn it!”  I cursed as I took a wider step than I’d meant to in order to avoid putting my foot down on the attention-starved little animal.

It weaved in and out between my legs as I made my way up to the doorway.  “Someone is going to step on you someday, and then you’ll really be limping,” I told it with no real malice.  I reached the front door without killing the cat, and then ducked under the short stairs to grab the hidden false rock.  I pulled the key out and unlocked the door, then put the key back.  Brian had once told me they could leave the key taped to the door and no one would break in up here, but just for the sake of caution it was hidden away oh-so-cleverly.

The door opened into a slightly musty wide open sitting area. The cabin had a main floor with a couple of bedrooms, and then a loft with a couple more bedrooms that overlooked the primary, living room and kitchen.

“Alright, get in and out from underfoot,” I told the cat and it dashed into the house and bounded up the stairs going about some business that was only for cats to know.  I sighed and walked inside.  The switch for the electricity was in a panel on the wall to the left, so I flipped that and some small accent lights came on all over both inside and outside of the house.  I shut the box back up before going around and opening all the windows and turning on the fans.  The solar panels had filled the battery so we had plenty of juice for the weekend, especially with as little as I intended to do.

I went to the guest bedroom and tossed my things on the floor before I flopped down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling.  It was like falling into my past.  Suddenly I was enveloped in a simpler time in my life.  Brian and I had folded board games out across this bed and played them until one or the other of us had started cheating and the game devolved into each of us making new and more broken rules that made the game pointless to play.  It was dumb, but it was also a great way to spend a weekend.  We’d laughed, and it hadn’t mattered who won or lost.  Either way we were going to abandon the game eventually and end up crawling through the creek out back so we could track mud inside.  That was the tradition.

I remembered a night when we had stayed up extra late, tucked into a fort we’d made of blankets, chairs, and pillows.  We’d shone the flashlight out the bedroom window and pretended to see things hiding in the woods until Brian’s parents had closed the shutters and told us to go to bed.  They’d been really angry with us and I couldn’t figure out why.  Brian said we weren’t supposed to be playing after dark, but his parents had never cared when we stayed up late at his regular house.  Once I’d gotten older I told myself that his parents were probably trying to sneak out and fool around in the hot tub out back and we’d been messing things up with our games.

Brian swore it was to make sure we didn’t attract bigfoot.  This was a running theme for him, his perpetual fear of bigfoot at the cabin. We’d gotten so riled up that it took forever to fall asleep that night.  It’d only been after Brian started singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to me like I was a baby that I had finally fallen asleep.

I chuckled to myself.  Nostalgia was a hell of a drug.

My bag didn’t take long to unpack, and then I went to the kitchen and put away the food I’d brought with me.  When I was done the fridge had some drinks and some lunch meat for sandwiches as well as a few other quick snacks.

After this, I checked the time and – seeing that it was too early for Brian to be home yet – grabbed my book to read for a while.  The next thing I knew I was startled awake by the sound of something heavy falling over upstairs.  I jumped up from the couch and looked out the window to see that the sun was on its way down and I hadn’t yet called Brian to let him know I got in safely.  I cursed to myself and headed upstairs to the master balcony to call Brian.  I looked around to see what had fallen while I was up there, and I found that a drawer from the left nightstand next to the bed had fallen to the ground and scattered its contents across the floor.  It wasn’t a large mess but I decided I’d take care of it after I made my call.

I pulled out my cell phone, noticing that the battery was already down to fifteen percent.  Driving up into the countryside was rough on cell phones since they spent most of their time trying to find a signal.  I’d meant to turn it off when I arrived to save charge, but clearly, I’d failed.  I’d have to find my charger. I walked to the far left corner of the porch and watched the bars on my phone.

Two.  Two.  Two.  Three!  Alright, we were in business.  I quickly dialed Brian.

The phone rang and then dropped the call once, and I had to dial him back again.  This time it connected.

“Scot?  Everything…” His greeting was cut off by static.

“I made it safely.  I’m already settled in.  Sorry I’m contacting you so late.  I fell asleep on the couch for a minute.”  I admitted with a small laugh.  “This place just relaxes me I guess.  If your cat hadn’t knocked over…”

“…did…say?”  Scot’s voice popped and crackled.  “Brian…you repeat…”

“I fell asleep on the couch and your cat woke me up!”  I spoke the words at a slower pace, and a bit louder as though the volume of my voice might make the signal stronger.

“…cat?  No, Scot…cat!  Get it…”  I could barely make out what he was saying, something about the cat.  Maybe the cat wasn’t his.

“You’re breaking up.  Do you want me to put the cat out?”  I tried to clarify.

“…no cat!  Get it out of the house now!  Hurry, Scot, it’s getting dark!  When… sun… get out now!”  He was clear for a bit and then it all went to shit again.

“Okay, I’m getting the cat out!  Sorry, I figured it was yours!”  As I finished this last sentence the phone cut off abruptly.  I tried to call Scot back a couple more times, and only managed to get a few words through before the line faltered again.

He seemed really upset about the cat.  Maybe it had fleas or something, or maybe it tore up the furniture?  Either way, he wanted it out, so I had to find the thing and give it the boot. Poor little thing could barely walk.  I decided I’d be gentle about it.  I looked over at the sunset.  The sky was cast in shades of pink, purple and orange.  The top edge of the sun was just above the horizon, and I really couldn’t think of a more beautiful sight, but rather than enjoy the view I had to find and evict a cat.

“Here kitty, kitty,” I called in my most benign voice as I looked around the master bedroom.  Clearly, it had been in here at some point.  It must have been responsible for knocking the drawer from the nightstand.  I bent down and began picking up the scattered items.  There was chapstick and tissues, a bunch of cough drops and a sleeping mask.  There was also a heavy box that I recognized as a gun locker.  It was still secure, so I slipped it back into the drawer and fitted the drawer into the nightstand again.

The sound of shattering glass caused me to jump and curse as I spun on the open door at my back.  The cat was downstairs and breaking things.  Great.  Now I’d have to explain that to Brian when I talked to him again.

“Kitty, come on, don’t be a jerk.  It’s not like I’m the one who wants to evict you,” I said playfully as I stepped from the room onto the loft overhang.  I looked downstairs.  There was broken glass on the floor in the kitchen. It looked like several jars of preserves had been pushed from the counter.  Well, cats were cats, and apparently, this one was letting me know that he was not happy with the decision to evict.

I started down the stairs and was about halfway down when the lights went out.  The hitherto brightly lit cabin was suddenly dark, cast red by the fading light of a dwindling day.  Had the batteries already depleted?  Normally there was plenty of power to last a weekend as long as we weren’t doing anything crazy.  I went further down the stairs and heard the sound of claws scrabbling across hardwood flooring.  It moved from near the front door, just at the base of the stairs, and then back into the kitchen area.

“Did you turn the lights out, kitty?” I joked, momentarily spooked.  You never want to be afraid of stupid stories, but it was getting dark and the lengthening shadows had sunk their teeth into the cabin’s insides, spilling darkness across the once serene landscape.  It was easy to imagine all kinds of horrors under those circumstances, especially with Brian’s paranoid warnings still fresh on the mind.

I hesitated as I reached the breaker panel.  It was open.  Had I left it open after turning on the power?  Maybe. I grabbed my phone to use the flashlight on it, and then remembered I’d turned that off.

“Shit.”  I could turn it back on, but I didn’t really want to just for this.

Something thumped in one of the downstairs bedrooms and I paused for a moment.  Damned cat was still on its path of terror.

I reached into the switch box and felt around.  The natural light, what little of it remained, was fading quickly.  There were three small switches and one main.  I let my hand pass over them trying to figure out what was in the wrong place.  They all felt fine so I clicked each one in turn.  Nothing.  I huffed in agitation and moved my hand down to check the fuses themselves.  I could tell immediately that something was wrong.  The fuses weren’t in place.

“What the…”  I knelt down and felt around on the ground, thinking they must have fallen out or something.

A door shut behind me and I jumped back to my feet, spinning around and slamming my back to the wall.  “Who’s there?”  I called, my hands scrambling for the handle to the exit.  There wasn’t a reply, but I was just startled enough to run out onto the front porch anyway.  I pulled the cabin door closed behind me and stared into the dark front window as though I honestly expected someone else to be in there.

I was shaking a little, and I laughed nervously to myself.  I’d spooked myself.  The windows were open.  A door had blown closed and I’d let myself get jumpy.  Just the same, I took a few moments to catch my breath and walk off some of the nervous energy.  That’s when I saw the deer.

There were two of them in the flatter area near my car.  They stood watching me just at the edge of my field of vision.  I held very still, surprised they hadn’t fled as soon as I came outside.  Their heads were turned in my direction.  I could see the glare off their eyes in the dim light cast from the moon, the light round shimmering like two floating orbs of silver-spun-menace.

One of the deer moved, turning in my direction, and it did so in a way that made me think it might have been hurt in an accident.  The legs bent oddly, and it slumped and shifted as though someone had mixed up all of its bones and muscles and it was just learning to use them again.  It was such a faltering, unnatural motion, that it immediately sent a chill down my back.

Brian’s words floated up through my memory.

I’m serious about this, Scott. Stay inside after dark.  Don’t even go out on the porch.”

I found myself suddenly eager to take his advice.  I quickly moved back inside, locking the front door behind me.  The deer were still watching me.

“Scot.”  The single syllable of my name froze me in place as it swept to me from somewhere inside the house.

This time I reached for my phone and turned it on.  I held up the screen as it booted up, shining the minimal light across the room.  The sound had come from behind the closed door to the guest bedroom I was staying in.  I held still, trying to keep completely silent.  My breathing felt too loud, and then my phone’s boot-up sound chimed and I was startled so badly I dropped it on the ground.

I briefly saw a missed text message on the screen.

“Scot.”  The voice again, this time louder.  I turned, about to run outside again, but then something moved on the porch, a large shadow sweeping across the front windows.

“Scot, let us in.”  A voice that sounded just like Brian’s came from off to one side of the door outside.

I grabbed my phone off the ground and took off running upstairs and I didn’t stop until I was in the master bedroom with the door shut and locked behind me.  My hands were shaking now, and my mind was trying to catch up with what was happening.  What the fuck was outside?  What had I let inside?

I looked down at my phone and read as my eyes passed over the missed text message.

“Get out of the house before the sun is down!  Get in your car and leave,” the message from Brian read.  Then a few minutes later there was another.  “Are you out?”  And then, “I’m on my way.  I’ll be there in an hour.”

I typed up a quick reply and hit send.  “What are these things?”  I asked, and after a few moments the message reported that it hadn’t been sent.  “I’m trapped in the master bedroom.”  I tried to send that as well, though it wasn’t going through yet.

The stairs up to the loft creaked.  I charged across to the nightstand and pulled out the gun lockbox, upending the drawer to try and find the key.  It wasn’t in with the lockbox, but I’d thought that was where Brian kept it.  I turned to cross to the other side of the bed and try that nightstand, and that’s when I saw the deer standing on the second-story balcony looking in through the windows, except it wasn’t a deer.  Not really.

The face appeared to be the right shape at first, but it was too long and narrow, and there was only one antler rising up from the center of its head like some kind of unicorn gone mad.  The antler almost looked like a skeletal hand.  The silver shimmering eyes were perfectly round, and it was standing on its hind legs, nearly eight feet tall as it leaned against the glass with forelimbs that ended in something like a cross between hooves and hands.

“Can I come in? It’s cold,” a little girl’s voice drifted through the glass.  “Cold.”  It repeated, then it shrieked, “Help me!  Help!”  The voice was piercing and loud, like a woman screaming for her life.

I fell over myself backing away from the glass, and the thing watched me the entire time.  I had a sudden understanding that it couldn’t come in on its own.  It was like some kind of shape-shifting nightmare vampire.  It needed my permission to enter, but I had already let one in.  The cat was the same kind of thing.  I knew it.

“Scot, I miss you,” Sam’s voice came from the other side of the bedroom door.

Things clicked in my head then.  Brian’s warning made sense, and all those years he’d told me that there was a bigfoot at the cabin, it had actually been these things.  How long had his family lived up here knowing that these things existed?  Follow the rules and everything is fine, but I’d broken the rules as soon as I arrived.

I huddled up next to the bed on the opposite side from the one at the window, in a place I hoped it couldn’t see me.

“Scot, I love you.  Open up, honey!” Sam’s voice called from the other side of the door again, and it was perfect.  Whatever finesse the horror lacked in physical appearance, it imitated Sam’s voice perfectly.  Where did it even get that from?  She’d never been here.

I didn’t answer.  I wanted it to think that I was already gone.

The door handle jiggled.

Silence fell and I held absolutely still.  I waited in the dark, and time crawled on.  How long would it be until Brian got here?  He’d know what to do.  I wanted to look at my phone, but I was too afraid to move.

The door handle jiggled again, and then something slammed into it repeatedly, three percussive blows that rattled the frame.

“Scot, honey.  Scot.  I love you.”  The voice was sickeningly sweet, almost mocking.  Things grew quiet again, and I stayed huddled in the corner, shaking.

After some time I heard movement across the loft, and then the sound of something moving quickly down the stairs.  A moment later the front door of the cabin opened and then slammed shut.  I didn’t react immediately, but after several minutes I got up the nerve to look over the bed and out the glass window of the sliding door onto the rear balcony.  The deer thing was gone.  I let out a shaky sigh of relief and looked down at my phone.  It had been a little over an hour since Brian said he’d be here.

I got up carefully and moved to the door to see if I could hear anything.  A loud, reverberating gunshot caused me to jump, and without even thinking I ran for the door.  Brian was here, and he’d brought a gun.  I flew down the stairs and could see the light from his headlights spilling in the front windows.

“Brian!” I called for him as I reached the front door and threw it open only to come grinding to a halt.

Brian was lying on the ground a few feet from the porch, his head mostly torn free of the rest of his body. Three of the deer-like creatures hovered over him, shadows strewn from the headlights behind them, swinging their heads down to rip pieces of meat from his body in large chunks.  Their clawed forelimbs held the corpse as they ate, looking up at me between bites.  The shotgun lay to one side, barrel smoking, my friend’s hand still wrapped around the stock, though it was not connected to the rest of the arm.

My bottom lip quivered as revulsion and horror raced through me.  I staggered back a step, and then Brian’s voice came from directly behind me.  It wasn’t his adult voice, but the voice of a much younger Brian.  I still recognized it.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

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

Written by Heath Pfaff
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Heath Pfaff

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on 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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