The Wail of a Thousand Years

I wrote a short story for a 250-word Halloween story context. One of the nightmares from my childhood that has stayed with me and still makes me shiver, is one where I would wake up and an old hag, like a banshee, would be hanging above me. She would scream, and scream, and scream until I woke up.

So I wrote my story about Banshees, which happened to be one of the categories:


I turned the corner, and there she was. A good way down the street.
The only way I can think to describe her would be “old crone”.
Tattered clothes.
Matted hair.
Grey, sallow skin.
Gaze down-turned.

Somewhere further down, I think I saw the distant shape of Tom walking to meet me.

Oh, Tom…

“Everything okay?” I asked the woman.
Instantly, her head jerked up to face me. I froze.
One slow step. Somehow, it carried her several metres closer.
Two slow steps. She had now closed most of the gap between us. Her eyes! Piercing. Dark. Hard.
Three slow steps. Her breath against my face. Shallow. Rasping. Shuddering.

Her mouth opened wide. Then: that noise!

A wail?
A scream?
A screech?
All three?
I can’t make sense of it now.
All I remember is the pain.

The pain and sorrow and loss and dread of millenia, all at once

“STOP IT! STOP!” I cried. My eyes – shut tight – filled with tears, which rolled down my cheeks. I clasped my ears so hard my nails dug into the skin and I bled, but I couldn’t escape that sound.

Tom’s voice. It was a million miles away.
I dropped to my knees
Tyres scratching hard against asphalt.
A thud. Loud. Harsh. Metallic.

And then the screaming stopped.
Eyes open. Crone gone.

In the crossing; Tom.
Eyes open, unseeing.


Oh, Tom…

Now, I’m a way too wordy writer for 250 words, so I resorted to clipped and single-word sentences for my story, which can be a bit jarring but allowed me to keep to the word count without losing the detail and flavour of the scene. My plan is to flesh this out into maybe 500-1000 words at some point. If I do, I’ll let you know, of course. 🙂 Hope you enjoyed!