The Gauntlet partnered with U of C Confessions for spooky season. Confessors wrote their best Halloween tales and we picked the winner and an honourable mention. Read on for the winning submissions and check out U of C Confessions on Instagram (@uofconfessions).
Winner: Nicole Ton
He was the last man standing, and finally he, too, fell to his knees before the Thing. Minutes before, he was surrounded by people. Now, all but he had succumbed to the mysterious being that stood there, the ominous presence he could neither see nor name. The man, kneeling, tightened his grip on the weapon he had been carrying. Although he could not see it, he could feel the Thing as it silently looked into him, deep inside him, somewhere the man could not reach. What was this Thing? Why did it kill them? If only he could see.
The miserable, ever-present burden that had hung over the man his entire life had once again made him sickeningly aware of it, obscuring his vision in an everyday inconvenience that was now proving itself devastating — the curse of his blindness. The gift of sight that the man once had, the gift that had gradually slid farther and farther away from his grasp during childhood, had finally flickered out altogether in his adolescence and had remained that way ever since. Never was there a time that he so desperately yearned for sight more than he did at that moment, kneeling before this unknown Thing, a wicked presence that senselessly killed all those that surrounded him not a moment ago. A presence that, although the man could not see it, towards which he felt… a sickening sense of familiarity.
The presence started laughing a devilish, nefarious laugh, a horrific sound that was loud enough to fill the man’s head, to fill the entire universe. Then, suddenly from deep within him in a place he could almost reach, it occurred to him, a piece of secret knowledge. It came to him silently, like a distant memory or secret whispered to him across a thousand years, and the answer was so clear it was though he had always known his entire life, this entire time. Gripping his weapon tighter than ever, the man knew what had to be done. Head still hanging down, he gritted his teeth and mustered up all that he had ever had inside him, the bits and pieces of courage he had collected all throughout his long and lonely lifetime, pieces he didn’t even know were still there, hidden in a place deep inside him, just within reach. With these, as the laughter continued to roar deafeningly loud across the sky, the man managed to say what felt like the first words he had spoken in a long, long time.
“I know what you are.”
The wicked laughter suddenly ceased. As soon as the words escaped his lips, the man felt an excruciating pain in his temple, a pain that pierced him deep within his skull and reverberated somewhere in the deep recesses of his brain. Was this the work of the mysterious presence? The man didn’t know, but he knew that it all came down to this. Gripping both his weapon and his courage for dear life, he slowly raised his head to face the monster, facing it in his blindness. But as he looked up, to his shock and confusion… the veil that once shrouded the man’s vision for so many years, the dark veil that caused him so much uncertainty every single day of his life and filled his world with darkness until his last, was gradually… fading away.
The man blinked profusely. Everything looked blurry at first, as though his eyes were filled with tears — perhaps they were. More than that, though, the world looked bright, blindingly bright. It took a moment for him to regain his composure, despite the confusion, and the blur and the brightness. He looked around, trying to regain his bearings. In this blindingly-white world, the man looked ahead. Before him was a dark figure, still hidden in the blur. The dark figure… the mysterious presence that killed everyone that surrounded them just moments before… but where was everyone?
Still gripping his weapon in one hand and holding his head with the other in an attempt to abate to the searing pain, the man struggled to stand. So did the figure.
The man, overcome with fear at this sudden movement from the mysterious figure, pointed his weapon directly at it, trembling. The figure did the same. The man remained perfectly still. What was this? He was getting more and more used to his newfound sight. He squinted. What was this?
When the figure did nothing, the man slowly approached the figure. It approached him. When the man lifted his trembling arm and cautiously reached towards it, the figure did the same. And when they touched hands, the man did not feel warmth or flesh of a person or monster. All he felt was glass.
With his vision restored, the man could see that In this blindingly white world, there was nothing but himself and an infinitely large mirror that stretched boundlessly. There was no one around him, he could see this. He was alone. But in the mirror, surrounding the man that he understood to be his reflection, he could see the desecrated bodies of those that were all he knew in his life, those of his loved ones, his friends, his mentors and enemies. Despite the emptiness that surrounded him outside the mirror, he saw in his reflection a mess of bodies, objects, buildings, ruins and relics from his lifetime — all the things he saw, loved and remembered from the days that he lived on Earth, despite his blindness. And in his hand, both in real life and in the reflection, the man was carrying his weapon — a tremendous black scythe, three times his height and a thousand times as awe-inspiring as anything he could have ever imagined in all his dark, blind years.
In that moment, from a place deep inside him that was finally in his reach, the man knew what he had to do. With a strength that all at once filled his entire being, electrocuting him and charging his veins with a power mightier than a thousand bolts of lightning, the man wielded the monumental black scythe over his head. He paused for a moment, regarding the scene in the mirror one last time, a waterfall of tears flowing down his face — more than he ever remembered crying before in his entire lifetime. And then, with an almighty crash, the man brought down the scythe and smashed his reflection in the mirror as ferociously and violently as inhumanly possible, causing an ear-splitting sound to fill up his soul and mind, and a tremendous quake in the eerily white world in which he was situated. Upon this impact, the infinite mirror, the reflection of himself and the battlefield of his own life’s memories and the entire bright white void in which he was standing shattered into a billion, trillion shards of glass that rained down upon him, falling away and exposing an absolute bottomless nothingness that he recognized to be the mysterious wicked Thing. It was all around him, the strange presence that he had felt not moments earlier, back when he was still blind, back when his humanly senses still mattered, mattered for the very last time.
The man shut his eyes, and succumbed to oblivion, like he had so many years ago as a teenager succumbing to sightlessness. The man never imagined, not once in his entire 77 years on Earth, that he would be the one to reap his own soul. So this was the gateway to the afterlife. Somewhere far away, perhaps a million light-years away or an eternity in the distance, he thought he could hear the nefarious laughter bubble up again, getting farther and farther away… Wherever the blind man was headed next, he wondered if it were as sinister as that laughter, as foreboding as the oblivion he was presently wrapped in, somewhere more empty and infinitely darker than his blindness ever was.
Honourable Mention: Shaylene Froese
One time my friends and I went out trick or treating like 17-year-olds do (free candy is for all ages, and I’m a broke-ass bitch okay?) and they took me to a haunted house. Let me tell ya something here, I’m a fuckin’ pussy. Haunted houses are a big no for me because if something pops out at me, I’m gonna be bawlin’ my goddamn eyes out (side story: I have been escorted out of haunted houses by cast members because I had a panic attack when they jumped out at me).
Anyway, so they took me to the haunted house. We go in, I get the shit scared out of me, I’m crying, the usual — but this time was different. As we were walking down the driveway to leave the house, my nerves already on overdrive, a fucking clown from this haunted house spots us leaving and decides to chase us down the sidewalk. I, being terrified out of my mind already, turned around to see a bloody clown running at us at full speed and I fuckin book it. I’m dashing way ahead of my friends, they’re laughing at me, I’m practically crying and I decided to try and run across the road.
Why did the chicken cross the road? A clown was chasing her and she was moving faster than sonic.
Without looking, I started to run across the road and proceeded to run into the side of a moving vehicle. Let’s just say I’m no longer allowed in haunted houses now.