Day-breaking

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23 votes

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Upon a hill sat an old estate. It was the type of place that local children would dare their friends to walk up to on Halloween just to risk ringing the doorbell. It was the kind of property that suburban moms would claim had "fixer-upper potential" but later scoff at when they realized shiplap wouldn't fix its problems. It was the kind of house that only someone who had lived there for years could love.

The walls of the estate’s interior were covered in old paintings of imposing historical figures and stone-faced family portraits. If you looked too hard, you could almost feel them staring back at you in the candlelight. Candlelight was necessary as the curtains on the windows were perpetually drawn shut. Sunlight always has terrible effects on relics.

Despite the closed windows, a breeze whirled through the manor and danced across the floors. It brushed past the paintings, tickled the curtains, and twirled around the stacks of the old library, where a small, solitary figure sat in a large red armchair. There, alone in the library, sat little Hope.

Hope shivered from the draft and turned the pages of the worn picture book in her small hands for what was probably the thousandth time. She flipped to her favorite page. In the dim candlelight, she could make out a drawing of children holding hands on a spring day, the flowers seeming to join in their jubilation. The colors of the picture had dulled, and the words were barely legible, but it didn't matter to Hope. She had memorized the words years ago. Besides, it wasn’t the words that made her come back to the page time and time again. What sparked her curiosity was the sun that peaked out of the corner of the picture.

Hope had never seen the real sun. Her parents had always told her that the sun was nothing more than a nuisance to be avoided. Her siblings told her the sun was evil. Hope believed them for a while, but as she grew older, she decided that they were being ridiculous. She knew that they were just trying to frighten her because they thought she was too little. If the sun were so bad, then why could the children in her stories go outside with no problem? Why were they allowed to spend the afternoon dancing in meadows? Why could they go to the morning market or have picnics in the summer heat? Why were they allowed outside if the sun was really so terrible? No, Hope didn’t believe her family anymore. She knew the truth now. That’s why, when her family went to bed for the day, she put her plan into motion. She would prove to them that the sun wasn’t evil.

When she heard the doors to her parents' chamber shut, she darted from her seat. She ran through the halls, past the closed curtains, past old paintings, past the candles that lit the manor walls, all the way to the front entrance. When she stopped, the breeze that she brought with her from the library rushed past her and forced the heavy doors open. She could see that the night sky was blooming into dawn. After she stepped out and quietly pushed the doors closed, she sat in the grass of the hill and waited for the sun to come.

Slowly, the sun began to peak from the horizon as if it knew that she was waiting in anticipation, and it wanted her to hold her breath just a bit longer. The light began to crawl up her legs and tickle her arms until she could feel its warmth caressing her pale face. As the light hit her eyes, Hope was blinded. Whether that was by the sudden radiance or the tears that were starting to well, it was hard to tell. When everything came into focus, she could see the town below begin to wake up. Smoke curled from the top of the bakery's chimney, and the birds flit through the sky looking for any worms that were unfortunate enough to come out early. The wind carried the smell of the fresh dew to her nose. The day was just as she had imagined it.

Hope thought about all the things she wanted to do. She could go into the town and shop at the market or have a picnic and watch the clouds. She could smell the morning glories that the mayor had planted in the town square. She could finally play with other children. But first, Hope decided to tell her family that she knew the truth. They couldn’t scare her anymore. As she walked to the door, she realized that it had locked behind her without her knowing. She didn’t notice the burning until it was too late.

Hope felt a scorching sensation arise on her skin. The blistering pain grew and grew, and she let out a screech of agony. The scream bounced off the stone walls of the manor and blew through the town like the winds of a hurricane. Hope banged her little fists desperately on the massive doors, but they refused to budge. The rays pricked and poked her until the warmth that she once basked in turned into a scorching burn. She collapsed on the stoop with a guttural shriek that was anything but human. She looked to her feet and saw them disintegrating in the light, and the breeze started to pick up the dust that had already begun to accumulate. Hope looked to the morning sun and realized that she was wrong.

It wasn't until her family rose that night to find her that they discovered a pile of ash in front of their door and a pair of pearly white fangs.

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james murphy · ago
scary, hair raising, whoozy, woopsy, wow