The Stitcher

📅 Published on June 26, 2021

“The Stitcher”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
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: 9.60/10. From 5 votes.
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“Are we there yet?” Nicole asked sleepily, her eyes still closed. The car bumped along the unlit two-lane country road, its motion answering her question before Corso could reply.

“Welcome back to the land of the living,” he teased gently. “Thought I might have to carry you into the cabin when we got there.”

“You still might. How much farther is it?”

“Nearly there. GPS says twenty minutes, so we’ll be there before midnight.”

“Not worth going back to sleep, then.” Nicole shifted to a more upright position, wiggling to readjust the seat belt. Finding it too tight, she briefly unbuckled the lap belt, causing the console to flash a warning at Corso.

“Need help with that?” he asked, his hand straying to her leg.

“Not the kind of help you’re offering,” she laughed. “Eyes on the road, buster. I don’t want you clowning around when a deer leaps out of the woods or something.”

“Good point. I bet these woods are teeming with suicidal deer.”

An instant later, Corso hit the brakes. Nicole’s seatbelt locked up as she was thrown forward.

“Ow! Not funny, Corso!”

Corso, though, was looking past her, frowning out at the woods. Nicole could not see what had attracted his attention. Everything was peaceful around the car. The headlights showed nothing but the pitted road winding away among the encroaching trees. Bugs danced in the bright beams of light.

“I thought I saw something,” Corso said uncertainly.

“Yeah, suicidal deer, ha ha.”

“No, for real.”

“What was it?” Nicole asked, still not convinced that Corso wasn’t playing a joke.

What Corso had seen, just for a split-second, had looked like a human figure at the edge of the woods. It was obscured by the shadows, barely visible, but he was certain it had been moving toward the road. By the time he turned his head to track it, it was gone—though for an instant Corso swore he’d seen it disappearing upward into the trees, ascending as if it had leapt straight up.

The trees were still, undisturbed. The lowest branches that looked likely to hold a man’s weight were ten feet up or more. Nothing moved in the woods.

“Nothing,” Corso said. “Trick of the light, I guess.”

His foot returned to the accelerator. The car resumed its steady pace between the silhouettes of trees. Minutes passed. The night unspooled before them.

“You want to cook s’mores when we get there?” Corso asked.


“Over the fire pit. There’s a fire pit out back. Do you want to cook s’mores?”

“What, tonight? What about going to bed?”

Corso made a face. “We can do that tomorrow.”

“We can do it tonight, too. Look, by the time we get there it’ll be—I thought you said we’d be there by midnight?”

“Should be, yeah.” Corso cast a glance at the GPS, which now showed an arrival time of 12:30 AM. “Huh. I guess we lost some time?”

“To what? The traffic?” Nicole gestured at the empty road.

“Look, I don’t know. You can read the screen as well as I can.”

“Better, apparently,” returned Nicole.

Corso laughed, shook his head and said nothing.

“Anything on the radio?” Nicole asked, fiddling with the dials before Corso could answer. Alan Jackson began singing about the Chattahoochee. “Excellent! This’ll see us home.”

“You have questionable taste, Nicki.”

“Listen, you don’t like my music, you could have gotten us there on time. We would have been parking right about now. Anyway, you had the chance to turn the radio to whatever you wanted for the last like four hours.”

The song cut off mid-word, abruptly changing to Johnny Cash. “At least pick a station that comes in clearly,” Corso groused.

“There wasn’t any static,” Nicole said. “Maybe they just glitched something at the station?”

“Then find a station that knows how to play music. I’m not listening to halves of songs for the next—oh, come on!” The GPS now displayed an arrival time of 12:51 AM.

Corso poked at the screen, pulling up the trip details. There was no reported traffic ahead, no apparent reason for the delay. He zoomed out to look at the map.

“That’s…weird,” he said slowly, staring at the glowing screen.

“Eyes on the road,” Nicole reminded him. “What’s weird?”

“We’re going the wrong way.”

“Like, you took a wrong turn?”

“Sort of. We’re going the wrong way on this road. We’re headed back toward the highway.” Corso slowed the car, eyeing the ditches on either side of the road. A turn here would be tricky, but he didn’t want to keep going in the wrong direction in hopes of finding a better spot.

“How are we going the wrong way?”

“I have absolutely no idea.” Corso made a cautious five-point turn and began heading back the way they had come. The GPS thought for a moment, then produced an updated arrival time of 12:10 AM.

“Much better,” Corso said. “But I genuinely cannot understand how we got turned around. There hasn’t been so much as an intersection since we got off of the highway.”

Nicole fiddled with the GPS, looking at the map. “Yeah, this is the only road it shows through here. And there are no loops or anything. You couldn’t have—oops. Uh oh.”

“‘Oops, uh-oh’ what?”

“I don’t know. I did something. We’re on a different part of the map now. I don’t know what it’s showing me.”

“Let me see that,” Corso said, reaching to take the GPS from her. “And would you fix the radio? This is like the third song that’s cut off in the middle.”

“Keep your—” Nicole began, but her admonition came too late. Lights blazed. With a sudden crunch, the car struck something in the road. Nicole and Corso were thrown forward as something large hurtled over the hood, smashing into the windshield and spraying blood. It disappeared over the roof as the car skidded to a stop.

“What was it? I didn’t see it!” Corso slammed the car into park and jumped out, panicked. Nicole followed suit on the other side. Both raced around to the back of the car, but the dark road was empty.

“Where is it?” Nothing was in the ditches. No sound of something fleeing came from the woods. There was not even so much as a blood spatter on the asphalt.

Corso walked around the car in confusion, checking underneath and on top. Not only was there no sign of whatever he’d hit, the blood stopped halfway across the roof of the car. It was as if it had vanished into thin air.

It certainly had been no mirage, though. The front bumper and hood bore sizable dents. The thick blood smeared across the broken windshield had come from something.

“I guess it got away?” Nicole offered uncertainly.

It didn’t make sense. But it certainly wasn’t here, and Corso didn’t have a better explanation. “Yeah. I suppose so.”

He ran his hand gingerly over the dented hood of the car, wincing as he listened to the engine click and rattle. It did not sound healthy, but it was still running. “Let’s get going. The car might die on us and if we’re going to have to wait for a tow truck, I’d rather do it at the cabin.”

As Corso put the car back into drive, the radio abruptly jumped to yet another song. “And would you change that station, please?”

“Yeah, sorry.” Nicole surfed through static and song snippets until she found a top 40 station. Corso kept his eyes firmly on the road, grateful to have the music to drown out some of the grinding noises the car was making. He knew he wasn’t doing it any favors by driving on, but since he wasn’t interested in spending the night in the woods, he didn’t really have much of an option. Besides, it was only—

Corso glanced at the GPS and swore under his breath. The arrival time was now 1:44 AM. It made no sense. How could it possibly have added another ninety minutes to the trip?

The radio station abruptly cut over to a different song, derailing Corso’s train of thought. Before he could complain Nicole said, “Hey, Corso? We turned around, so we’re going back the way we came, right?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Did we cross a bridge before?”

Corso stared. Less than a mile ahead was a short one-lane bridge, its metal guardrails gleaming beneath a series of lamps. It stood out in the otherwise dark forest. Corso was certain he would have noticed crossing it before. It was definitely new. And yet there had been no turns, no forks.

“Maybe that’s on another road and it just looks like we’re heading to it?” he suggested, but the GPS showed a single winding line traveling straight toward the bridge. It crossed over Red Gully Creek, according to the map. The road they were on was the only way across.

With no other option, Corso drove on.

As they climbed the low hill toward the bridge, the car began to make an unnerving groaning sound, punctuated by regular knocks. It lurched, shuddered and finally stalled out just as it reached the pool of light cast by the first of the streetlamps leaning over the bridge.

“Well,” said Corso. He turned the key several times, hoping to coax it back to life, but the engine turned over only reluctantly and refused to catch. He sighed and unbuckled his seatbelt. “At least we’re at an easy landmark.”

While Corso took out his phone to search for a twenty-four-hour tow shop, Nicole climbed out of the car to stretch her legs. She was about halfway across the bridge when Corso heard her calling his name, her voice high with fear.

“What is it? What?” He burst from the car, rushing toward her. Nothing appeared immediately wrong with her. She was simply stopped in the middle of the road, pointing at something on the ground.

As he drew closer, he saw the focus of her attention: a wide slick of blood, fresh and glistening. It ran from shoulder to shoulder on the one-lane road, staining the asphalt at the far end of the bridge. The guardrails were spattered as well. Of what had produced the blood, there was no sign. The only hint was a slight smear to the shape, suggesting that something large had been dragged through it briefly before being lifted clear of the ground.

“I’m calling 911,” said Nicole. She took out her phone and dialed.

“What are you going to tell them?” Corso asked. “We were driving in the woods and we found a puddle of blood? Oh, by the way, we hit something that wrecked our car, but we swear that was somewhere else?”

“It’s just ringing,” Nicole said. “Why aren’t they picking up? Corso, try it from your phone.”

“I really don’t think—”

“Try it!” Nicole’s voice was fearful. Corso capitulated and dialed the emergency services number. He waited as it rang…and rang, and rang.

He checked his phone. Two bars, more than enough for a connection. He called the number of the tow driver he’d found. Again the phone rang without answer.

“Something’s weird here,” Corso said, attempting to stifle his own feeling of unease. “Let’s get back to the car and—”

He turned back toward the car and stopped abruptly. Something stood in between them and the vehicle.

It was backlit by the headlights so only its outline was visible, but it was clear it was no animal. It stood upright on two thin legs, taller than a man. Its body was skeletally thin. Two long arms hung nearly to the ground, huge hands ending in sharp, clawed fingers.

Nicole and Corso stared, terrified and transfixed. The creature took a step toward them and unfolded two shorter arms from its chest. It threw back its head and shrieked, a splintered, broken sound that shook them from their frozen state. Without consultation, both Corso and Nicole turned and sprinted off into the forest in desperate hope of safety.

The forest was not sympathetic to their pell-mell flight. Branches slapped them cruelly across the face and torso, while rocks and roots snapped at their feet. Corso smacked into a tree limb with his forehead, hard enough to stagger him as lights exploded in his vision. Nicole sprinted on without him, forcing Corso to scramble to catch up.

“Nicole!” he hissed, afraid to raise his voice too much. “Nicole, wait!”

His head throbbed. His body stung from a hundred bruises and abrasions. He wanted to slow down, to hide and stop and think instead of just running like a frightened animal, but Nicole was increasing the distance between them and he wanted even less to be alone.

Suddenly lights shone ahead and Nicole was leaping free of the forest. For a moment, flat asphalt lay beneath her feet—and then she was hurled into the air, tossed like a broken doll by a car speeding past.

“Nicole!” Corso cried out in fear and shock, stumbling through the trees. He fought his way to the road and crashed to his knees at her side.

Nicole lay unmoving, her body bent at unsurvivable angles. Bones stuck through at her shin and thigh. Blood gushed from her scalp, pouring across one unblinking eye to pool on the road. Already a large slick surrounded her.

“They didn’t even stop,” Corso mumbled numbly. He reached for Nicole to feel for a pulse, or possibly just to cradle her head, but he never made contact. Another hand beat him there. It was huge, with spindly fingers ending in dagger-like points. The flesh was grey and oddly lit, as if the light was fractured and hitting it at strange angles. It was attached to a long, wiry arm that extended back and up into the overhanging tree. It was the creature they had seen on the bridge.

With a fragmented snarl, the creature closed its grip around Nicole’s head and yanked her body from the ground. It jerked upward with a brittle popping sound, and Corso knew that even if she had somehow survived the car crash she was dead in that instant. He could only watch as her body vanished into the foliage, taken away for the creature presumably to feast.

To Corso’s dismay, he realized that the light above came from familiar lamps. He was back on the bridge. He and Nicole had somehow become turned around in the woods and looped back directly into the creature’s grasp. Even so, the passing car might have been their salvation, if only the driver had seen Nicole. Instead, it had been her ruination.

Corso dialed 911 with shaking hands and a hopeless sensation. As he had expected, the phone simply rang without answer. He sat there by the blood, listening to the phone ring for a minute or more. He might have stayed longer except that a rustling in the trees made him leap to his feet, heart pounding.

He looked around fearfully, but saw nothing. Still, even if that noise had not been the creature, the next one might be. Staying here where it could find him any time it liked was stupid. He had to move.

Corso set off down the road, on the alert for the sounds of approaching cars or of something swinging through the trees. He opened his GPS to get an idea of how far he was from the nearest town or highway, but the app couldn’t seem to figure out which way he was heading or even exactly where he was. The dot lurched back and forth between wildly different spots on the road, the map pinwheeling as it tried to orient to each new direction it believed he was traveling.

Angry and afraid, Corso put his phone away and marched onward in silence. Occasionally his ears perked up at the sound of a distant car, but none of them ever came near. Corso thought about Nicole, and about the creature. He wondered how long it would take to eat her. Maybe it would take all night. Maybe he would be safe.

He cursed himself for these thoughts, for feeling relieved that it had been Nicole and not him. He cursed the driver for speeding off without stopping to help. He cursed the creature for causing the situation to begin with. He cursed the vacation cabin, the GPS, the uncaring universe that had allowed any of this to happen.

Headlights shone around a bend up ahead, followed by the rough burr of a car engine. For a moment, Corso felt as if the universe had heard his complaint and relented, sending help at last.

The car came into view. Corso could see nothing but the headlights, but he stood off to the side of the road and waved his arms, hoping that the driver would see him. Though leery of being hit, he desperately wanted to escape, and so he took a step toward the road for greater visibility.

As the vehicle swept by, a spear of despair and terror pierced Corso. The driver had caught a glimpse of him—but in that same moment he had also seen the driver. It was himself, driving his car as it had been earlier in the evening: unbroken, unbloodied. Nicole sat in the passenger seat, happy and healthy. And even as the red glow of the brake lights washed over him, even as Corso turned to run toward the car, he knew it was too late. He had already seen this hours ago.

The creature, unseen in the branches above, snaked one long arm down. Its talons enclosed Corso’s head like a cage, the sharp points pricking at the underside of his chin. It yanked upward, snapping his neck like a stick of chalk as it hauled his body up into the trees.

“What was it?” Nicole asked in the car.

“Nothing,” Corso told her. “Trick of the light, I guess.”

They drove on into the eternal night.

Rating: 9.60/10. From 5 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards

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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