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Arthur lay in his bunk - unable to sleep both because of the uncomfortableness of his bed, and the uneasiness which swirled within him. He opened his eyes and turned to look at the bed on his immediate right. The silver glow of moonlight which crept in through the draughty window illuminated the empty bunk - with its covers still missed and the pillow on the floor from the incident that had taken place about an hour earlier.

 'Hah - look at that!' Francis had exclaimed. He was the cool kid with the floppy blond hair and the rich parents, as well as the attitude that he could do whatever he felt like. 'Little dopey Ellis has brought his teddy bear with him to camp! What a baby! Absolutely pathetic! Aw - is the first time that you're sleeping away from Mummy, is it?'

 All of the other boys had laughed, as Ellis looked around at them uneasily with his wide, murky green eyes. He had looked too scared to utter a word in reply - even if he hadn't been mute. Arthur had laughed, too - though he had felt sickened with himself for going along with such cruel taunting. What would his mother - gentle and God-fearing as she was - have said if she could see him? He prayed that - now the other boy had got his laugh, he would simply give it up. Lay down, and go to sleep. But of course, that's never how these things go.

 Malice glimmered in Francis's icy blue eyes as he stepped across the room and wrested the bear forcefully from Ellis's grip. The smaller boy had struggled and fought - receiving only a smack in the face for his troubles. His flattened pillow fell to the floor along with him as he toppled over. Those around him chortled even more.

 'You know, I really think you're too old to be taking a teddy to bed with you,' Francis said, mouth quirked into a smirk. 'I'm doing you a favour, really. And maybe there's someone else who can use this thing instead - like the girl who died in the abandoned cabin all those years ago.'

 There fell a collective hush at these words. Ellis gave a muffled whimper. Arthur's heart hammered.

 'Yes - ' Francis nodded slowly. 'I think she must be pretty lonely. Let's give her a gift, shall we?'

 He darted over to the door and wrenched it open before stepping forth into the dark night beyond. Arthur's mouth grew dry as he watched the figure disappear from sight, being consumed by the blackness.

 'No - ' Arthur croaked, as he saw Ellis scramble up off the floor and dart out of the door in pursuit. 'Ellis, don't - '

 But, it was too late. Both boys had vanished from sight. The rest of them stayed where they were - with the scents of a summer forest drifting in through the open door along with the sound of the night insects - waiting to see what would happen next. It didn't take long -

 A few moments later, Francis came rushing back in - his face flushed, and that manic gleam still in his eyes.

 'Threw the damn bear into the cursed cabin, didn't I?' he replied, in response to the other boys' questioning. 'If that pathetic little baby wants it back, then he'll just have to go in there and get it - '

 And it seemed that was exactly what he had done, for he still had not returned to his bed...

 As Arthur's unease got the better of him, he sat up and eased himself quietly out of bed. The snores of the other boys rolled through the room in one unbroken, endless sound. He crept forth towards the door and slipped through it, out into the night.

 The abandoned cabin squatted by the woods like a watchful beast lurking in the darkness. He approached it cautiously, his heart picking up speed. The stories that the other kids told about this place...

 Even the counselors avoided it.

 But they're just stories, Arthur. Don't be so childish. Someone needs to find out where Ellis is. That place is falling to pieces - he could have fallen and hurt himself...

 So, little though he wanted to, he approached the crumbling shack.

 He made it to the door and pushed it open. It stuck - rusting hinges protesting loudly. Nevertheless, there was enough of a gap for him to be able to squeeze himself inside. The rotting floorboards groaned as he stepped upon them. The smell of mold, dirt and decay permeated the air, making his nose wrinkle.

 'Ellis - ' he called out, in a carrying whisper. 'Ellis, are you in here? Are you okay?'

 A whisper of sound came from within - like somebody moving.


 No response. He took another step inside, his heart pounding faster than ever. The door slammed closed behind him and he jumped.

 Calm down. It's just the wind, that's all. Just find Ellis - the sooner you do that, the sooner you can get out of this horrible place - 

 'Ellis!' His voice was louder now, edgier. He squinted to see through the darkness - a flash of movement caught his eye...

 'Ellis, is that you?' He took another step forward. 'Look, it's really not safe to be in here! Why don't you just go back to bed, then I'll come back here with you in the morning and we can look for your teddy then. Yeah? It'll be a lot easier when it's light out. And we won't run the risk of - '

 He screamed as a hand fastened tight around his left ankle -

 A hand with long, sharp fingernails digging deep into his skin. Hot blood trickled down his foot, and he screamed again - wrenching himself free with a great effort.

 He ran for the door. But this time, it would not open at all. In desperation, he launched himself at the glassless window. The hand grabbed at him once more, trying to tug him back.

 With a shriek, he pulled himself clear and toppled out of the window, onto the grass below.


He ran like the wind, his lungs burning. By the time he reached the sanctuary of their sleeping cabin, his face was coated with cold sweat and pain burned in his ankle.

 He threw himself inside. Moonlight glimmered brightly - by its silver light, he saw Ellis and his teddy bear both tucked up in bed. The boy was sleeping.

 Arthur hobbled over to his own bunk. Inspecting his ankle, he saw thick blood oozing from several puncture wounds. Five in all - deeply gouged into his skin. From one hung a fragment of dirty, rotten fingernail.



Samantha has been writing horror fiction for over a decade, ever since completing a writing course in 2012. Since that time, she has completed three novels, the most recent of which is currently being looked at by agents. She also regularly writes short stories and poetry for magazines, and has had work published in both England and America. Her website can be found at When not writing herself, she is also a short story competition judge on Reedsy.


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