The Nightmare Begins

One of my first memories of enjoying horror was watching Twilight Zone: The Movie with a friend when I was a kid. It wasn’t terrifying by any stretch of the imagination, but it was unsettling. And yet, it was also cathartic.

When I saw the writing prompt posted on The Prediction this week, my mind drifted to one of the sequences from that movie. Without even pausing to question it, I started pounding out a 100-word ode to the vignette I remember best, which was based on the classic 1963 episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”.

Admittedly, I took some liberties with the set-up. John was way too high-strung to have been working on a crossword puzzle prior to his discovery. But, you know, the prompt.

While I hope you enjoy it, the story below is a nostalgic trip for me and me alone.

How about you? What was the first scary story you remember liking even though it pushed you a bit? Why did you like it? What was the feeling that came with the fear that made it weirdly fun?

Here’s the prompt:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘crossword’, ‘crude’, and ‘itinerary’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

And here’s the story…

the nightmare begins

It started with a scrapping noise.

John sat his crossword to the side. His itinerary said they weren’t scheduled to land for another 30 minutes. He slid over a seat and looked out the window.

There, on the wing, was a figure–a crude silhouette set against the night sky.

Suddenly, he was tumbling. A free-fall of terror brought on by the insane image. And that’s when he heard his own voice irrationally screaming about a man on the wing. He knew they wouldn’t believe him, and he knew just as well it was true.

A nightmare at 20,000 feet.