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The night was quiet and still, the leaves rustling all around the forest, temporarily breaking the silence that enveloped the place, like a whisper in a church hall. The road was empty — not a single vehicle in sight, and the sky was pitch black, the moon hiding itself behind an endless number of clouds. Mark Freeman walked slowly and steadily, his eyes downcast and a curious air of melancholy and acceptance around him. He wore a black trench coat and his hands were tucked into his pockets. His glasses dangled loosely from his face and he had to push them back up every few minutes. His shoes scraped against the cement of the road creating a rather unpleasant sound, but Mark paid no heed to it. He continued along his way, undisturbed.
Suddenly the silence was broken by a high-pitched noise. Mark sighed and brought his cell phone out of his pocket. Without even looking at the phone to see who was calling him, he answered.
“Hello? Ah…Kevin... I’m, uh...out on a walk.”
Kevin said something that made Mark stop dead in his tracks. His hands went slack and he bowed his head. He softly said, “Thank you for your condolences. I’m glad that at least…at least she didn’t have to suffer for long. It was over quickly.” He hung up, cutting off whatever Kevin was saying. Mark sighed and gazed up at the night sky, wondering why life had to be so cruel.
It had been five days since his four-year-old daughter, Nina, had died in a freak car accident while she was on her way to school. The bus had swerved and tumbled into a gas station. Mark closed his eyes as the memories of that day sprang, unbidden, to the forefront of his mind. He remembered everything vividly — the phone call which told him of the accident, the dumb shock and confusion he felt, the horrible feeling of anticipation and dread as he rushed towards the gas station, paying no attention to the people watching him run. He remembered the overwhelming feeling of grief and despair at seeing the truck overturned, flames licking the metal gently, as people rushed all around him trying to evacuate the area. Most of all, the pain he felt as he realised that he would never see his only daughter ever again still hadn’t faded away. He wondered if it ever would.
Tearing his thoughts away from such matters, Mark continued walking down the beaten path. He was just thinking of what he could have for dinner when he heard leaves rustling next to him. Pausing, he turned his gaze towards them with a look of curiosity. He thought to himself, “There isn’t any wind blowing... so what’s the deal? He chuckled dryly to himself and shook his head.
'Look at this — I’m already going insane. It won’t be long before I get sent to an asylum.' He continued, but he had barely gone ten steps before he heard it again, and it seemed much more prominent and frantic. He turned to the leaves once more, a slight hint of trepidation etched on his face. He edged towards the bushes, his hand timidly outstretched. Upon reaching the bush, he steeled his heart and nerves, grasped it and pulled back.
It was a dog.
Mark stared at it for a couple of seconds and it stared right back. It suddenly barked at him and ran in the opposite direction. Mark smiled and scoffed. ‘I can’t believe I got scared of a stray dog. I really am going senile, aren’t I?' He released the bush and continued walking. However, something else made him stop. He felt an unnatural chill in the air. The night seemed to grow darker and the wind blew gently past him. Mark began to shiver as the chill enveloped his entire body, making his knees tremble and his skin crawl. He started walking faster, fighting the temptation to break into a run. As he walked, he felt some kind of presence form behind him.
A presence that was not human.
Mark was afraid to turn around and look. Instead he just started walking faster. While he didn’t quite believe in ghosts or urban legends, he didn't want to face whatever was behind him. 'Maybe if I run away from it fast enough, it will stop.' However, curiosity overpowered him and he knew he had to see what was behind him. He stopped and turned his head.
Mark spun around, a look of confusion on his face. 'Huh. That's funny. I could have sworn...wow, I am definitely going insane.' He shook his head and turned back around. However, the chill picked up once more, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw something pale behind him. Mark clenched his fingers in his pockets and considered his options. He took a deep breath and turned around. However, what he saw made his eyes widen with horror.
It was Nina, but it wasn't the sweet, innocent looking child he remembered. Her ghostly pale blue skin was wrinkled and charred, and her dress was covered in blood and dust. There was a huge gaping hole in her thigh and one of her ears was missing. However, what Mark easily noticed were her eyes. They were pure white — no pupils or eyelids. They glowed with an unearthly glare and Mark tore his own eyes away from them. He tried to run, but he couldn't move. The ghost spoke in a myriad mix of voices that sounded like the screams of a thousand souls in agony.
“Daddy, you promised to pick me up. Did you forget?
You promised, remember…?
Do you remember me, Daddy?
DO YOU REMEMBER?!"
Mark screamed in horror as he stumbled backwards in fear and confusion. Losing his footing, he slipped and fell backwards into the thick bushes of the surrounding forest. His glasses fell flat on the road as Mark grasped in front of him in an attempt to stop his fall and push himself up. However, he tumbled into the darkness, and his screams soon faded into oblivion.
Nobody knew what became of Mark after that fateful night. Some said that he was cursed by the ghost of his daughter and was killed by her and some said that he committed suicide out of depression and loneliness. However, no matter how many people walked down that road, be it night or day, after that fateful night, no one seemed to notice the pair of glasses that glistened with an unnatural light, almost as if it had seen the dead rise.