Untitled, semi-suspenseful short story

By lindseyd

This is NOT a final draft; I've been editing it a little bit every day. I'd appreciate any constructive criticism/thoughts! This is the first short story that I've written in almost five years, and I've become too used to journalistic style, so the paragraph seperation might be kind of off. There is still a lot of work to be done on this.
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The room was quiet and still. The exposed brick walls were adorned with posters of silent films, long forgotten and ignored by the general public, but deeply admired by the loft’s occupant. A dim light shone from a lamp in the corner as Brenna sat motionlessly at her typewriter, a blank sheet of paper ready to be stamped with letters in place, and an empty wine glass perched on the table in front of her. All dolled up and no place to go, she thought, silently glancing down at a now pointless outfit – a yellow 1950’s style swing dress, a plain black pair of tights, and a pair of low, muted yellow heels.
She had planned for tonight to be a fun one, a rare evening filled with the stereotypical social behaviors of gossiping, drinking, and dining with a few acquaintances. Her plans had fallen through, however, so Brenna sat – silently, motionlessly, and quite melancholy – at the typewriter that she was so fond of.
Brenna had always loved to write, but had lately been experiencing a great lack of motivation. Even now, filled with so many thoughts and emotions, she could not find the inspiration that she needed to place her fingers to the typewriter’s keys and create something.
Lost in her head, as she always was, Brenna mindlessly fiddled with her necklace, waiting for something brilliant to emerge from her overwhelmed brain. Lost in her head, that was, until she heard a knock. Suddenly erupting out of her comatose state, Brenna stood and crossed the floor, moving gracefully toward the door on the opposite side of the loft. She hesitated to open the door, fearing that it may be one of her all-too-chatty neighbors. She was not in the mood for socializing anymore. When she finally did open the door, though, she found nothing.
No package left by a hurried postman. No note left by a neighbor or impatient visitor. No person waiting patiently for her to respond to the knock. Instead, she found silence, and a dimly lit hallway that was entirely empty.
I must have just imagined it, Brenna thought to herself, bolting the door and trying not to let the paranoia that usually plagued her get the best of her this time. Caused by the unfortunate combination of sleep deprivation and loneliness, paranoid thoughts often plagued the girl, and she didn’t go a day without imagining some kind of strange happening in her apartment. “I hope I’ve just imagined it,” she finally said aloud to herself, breaking the home’s silence for the first time that day. She looked around the shadowy apartment slowly, cautiously, before heading back to her desk.
Brenna began to relax as she sat down again, watching the sun slowly set outside of her favorite window. The city looked beautiful. She could get lost in the view sometimes; in fact, it was most of the reason that she had chosen this loft. She had visited many cheaper and more spacious options while apartment hunting, but she didn’t want to look out of her window and see another simple wall of brick. She wanted a sky. She wanted a skyline. She wanted the bright lights of the sleepless city shining through her window, the faint sounds of traffic and movement and life below bouncing off of the facades of the high-rise office buildings and echoing through her head. The noise and the lights were a perfect distraction from the irrational fears that regularly occupied her mind.
This top floor, roof access, window filled corner loft offered exactly those distractions, but they weren’t always enough of a distraction. Brenna’s anxiety had gotten her in trouble before, for seemingly “crying wolf” when she wasn’t facing any legitimate threat or danger. The police station rarely took her calls seriously anymore, for they had been called to the loft many times, only to find her crouched in the corner gripping the phone and claiming that someone – a stranger, a former friend, or even once, a ghost – had threatened her and was in the vicinity, waiting for the right moment to attack.
Brenna reflected on these events, and questioned whether she should call the station now. She had only heard a knock, but she was sure that it wouldn’t be the last that she heard that night, and sure as well that the sounds would not be a figment of her imagination, but a real and tangible danger.
Awaking from her momentary flashback and suddenly inspired by the city view before her, Brenna began to write. She placed her hands on the typewriter’s keys and let the words flow from her mind and through her quickly typing fingers, forgetting for a moment any hint of fear that had been stopping her before.
Soon, she had filled three pages without realizing it. She grinned slightly to herself, glad to be rid of the writer’s block that had been torturing her for weeks.
After writing a few more pages, Brenna grabbed the small stack of word-filled papers, stopping in the small kitchen area to pour herself another glass of wine. She then grabbed a pen from the small cup of writing utensils that rested in its usual place on the counter, heading to her favorite chair to edit what she’d just written. Curled up comfortably on the chair and covered in a warm blanket, Brenna intensely studied the pages, paying close attention to every single word.
Her concentration was interrupted, however, when she heard another noise. Another series of thuds, much louder and seemingly closer than before, echoed against the loft’s walls.
Thump… thump… thump.
She dropped her pen and stood quickly, eyes scanning for any fallen book or displaced piece of furniture that could have caused the mysterious thud. With nerves crawling up her spine, Brenna slowly returned to her seat. Unable to concentrate on her editing any longer, she decided to just sit and watch, to wait for another odd occurrence.
As she sipped her wine, she thought out loud, staring into the deep red liquid that filled her glass. “Maybe the alcohol is just beginning to get to me. After all, this is my third glass of wine, and...”
Interrupting her words, another noise came, but it was not another thud this time. It was a slight scratching sound, and it terrified Brenna.
Scratch… scratch… scratch.
The sound repeated for a few moments, as Brenna sat completely still, paralyzed by fear. Finally, with a shaking hand, she sat her wine glass on the small table that sat next to her chair and stood once again. “Hello,” she said loudly but shakily, though her apartment was small and she knew that she wouldn’t have to yell for anyone who may be present to hear her. “Is anyone here?” No words were spoken back to her, but the noises did not stop. In fact, the sounds echoing through the apartment escalated.
The pitter-patter of small feet travelling across the hardwood floor.
Click, click, click, click, click, click.
A few more small thuds.
Thump… thump…. thump.
And again, more sounds of scratching.
Scratch… scratch… scratch.
Beginning to tremble, Brenna frantically searched for something that she could use as a weapon, fearing that an intruder was hiding somewhere within the deep shadows of the empty loft. Seeing nothing else that could possibly be used to cause harm to an unwanted visitor, she grabbed the pen that she had been using. “HELLO,” Brenna repeated, unnecessarily louder than before.
More noise, but still no vocal response; instead, another series of faint thuds, each one louder than the next, followed by more scratching, more pitter-pattering, a plethora of strange noise that was becoming deafening to Brenna as her fear began to grow.
The sounds seemed to be coming from the other end of the loft, from the corner opposite her typewriter. Slowly walking toward that dark corner, floorboards creaking below her, she suddenly saw something move ahead of her. Feeling a surge of courage and adrenaline, she lunged toward the area where she had seen the movement, pen flying out of her hand and into the shadow cloaked corner. She landed with a thump, catching herself hard on her arms before her head could hit the floor. She felt some kind of squirming creature trapped beneath one of her shins, and knew that she had caught whatever – or whoever – had been causing her paranoia for the past couple of hours.
Pushing herself up to sit on her knees, Brenna turned and looked down to see what she had captured, only to find a fluffy, confused looking Himalayan cat staring back at her. Extremely surprised to find that her intruder was nothing more than a harmless feline, Brenna covered her mouth and laughed. “Well, hello, little cat,” she said with a warm, closed-mouth smile, her fear quickly subsiding. “How did you get in here? Must’ve snuck in when I answered the door earlier. You should have just come out and said hello, not hidden behind the couch.” Brenna giggled once again, picking up the cat and discovering that it had no identification tags. “Poor little thing,” she said sweetly, scratching the cat behind its ear as it purred. “You must be lost,” …or homeless, she thought sadly. “But how could one cat make so much noise?”
Before the words had barely even finished escaping her mouth, another sound erupted through the room, louder than any of the sounds that she had previously heard. She spun around quickly, just quickly enough to see the loft’s heavy, bolted door swing open with force.
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That's all, folks!

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Untitled, semi-suspenseful short story

Created: Jan 06, 2010

Tags: paranoia, suspense, short story

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