Footsteps in the Mist

cockroach in the mistThis short story, written while I was in High School was inspired by Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” My Dad would drop me off at school around 7am on the way to his work. I would wonder the corridors, all alone, and on one particular day it was very foggy. That’s how this story was born.

It was ten after four in the afternoon. The rain had finally slowed after a month of storming.

A lonely girl walked the corridors of the temporarily abandoned school. Waiting. Waiting for five o’clock to roll by, when her father would pick her up.

It was sprinkling and the fog was thick. She walked from hall to hall, feeling the dankness and loneliness seep through to her bones. Everything was dark. She heard the droplets falling from the roof and landing in the ivy below.

She heard footsteps behind her. She turned around. No one was there.

She looked out at the courts where trees had been planted. She listened to the soft rain drifting like delicate spider webs to the ground. She stopped to watch the fog flow wistfully through the tree branches, leaving dew daintily upon the leaves.

The thick mist only made the dark crevices of the building gloomier.

She heard the footsteps. She turned to see who was there. She saw only the shadow of a movement that was there for only a second and then was gone.

She took a step; she heard them again. She looked again. A shadowy form moved deeper into the mist. She couldn’t be sure if it was her imagination or not.

She walked on, slowly. She heard the steps following slowly behind her. She quickened her pace, to see if she was really hearing the steps or not. The steps moved quicker. She stopped, turned around. The steps had stopped. She could barely see the silhouette of an immense form. Her pulse became rapid. She could feel her heart coming up into her throat. She blurted out fearfully, “Who is there? Show yourself!” A pause. “Stop it! Show yourself!” Frantic.

She turned and ran wildly away. The steps followed swiftly behind. Tired, she finally stopped to face this unknown terror. With her back turned, she summoned up all the courage she could muster. She slowly turned around.

A young man walking by the school heard her helpless and pathetic scream.

Cautiously he called, “Hello? Does anyone need help?”

Carefully, he walked into the maze of buildings. He didn’t have to look far before he found the frail body of the girl. He ran to her. She was unconscious.

She opened her eyes slowly. Suddenly, her eyes filled with terror as she remembered what had just passed. She muttered something about a huge, ugly monster with many arms and then fainted.

It was five o’ clock. Her father drove up. Instantly he knew something was wrong. His daughter wasn’t in front of the school; she must be doing that again. He walked into the school looking for her.

The young man picked up the fragile body of the girl. He saw a man.

“What are you doing to my daughter?” cried the man.

“Nothing. I promise. I found her laying on the ground. She mentioned something about a monster and then fainted. I was taking her to a phone so I could call an ambulance.”

“I’ll take her, now. She’s my daughter, Tia.” The youth put the delicate figure of the girl into the arms of her father.

The father watched the young man disappear into the deep, thick mist. When he thought that the youth was out of earshot, he sorrowfully replied, “Monsters again? Oh. Tia. My sweet Tia. I thought you were cured of your disease. Oh, why does such a beautiful, young girl like you have to be insane?”

Published in the Spring ’83 issue of Metanoia, Montgomery High School’s creative writing magazine.