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Cruel, Sweet Smile (Dark Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Short Story, Dreams)

Updated: Mar 24

Falling for a sweet smile can be the last thing you ever do.

Photo by Antoine PERIER on Unsplash

This is a Dark Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Short Story, Dreams

Dre stared at his reflection in the glass, a 19-year-old with blank, hazel eyes where youth and life used to be like he’d been suspended in a void. Surrounded by the sounds of the city but unable to connect with it. Everywhere he went, time moved on without him; he could feel clocks ticking, but nothing changed for him. He was stuck in a perpetual present for far too long.

The park bench near his apartment complex had become his refuge. He’d spend hours sitting there, watching the people around him go about their lives and feeling a strange longing in his heart. Despite having no memory of who he was or where he came from, he felt like an outsider looking in. Each night, he’d lay on the bench, tears streaming down his face, as all he wanted was to find a place where he belonged.

He slumped on a bench in despair, lost in a sea of gray and beige. But something vibrant caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. A girl sits under a tree, surrounded by a cascade of fiery autumn leaves. With each page she turned, her eyes sparkled with wonder and joy. As he watched, he couldn’t help but feel like he was seeing true life for the first time in years.

He stood in awe as he watched her from a distance. She seemed not much younger than him, yet the way she elegantly sat with perfect posture against the old oak, holding her book, she seemed more mature. Her face was hidden in the shadows of her cascading dark hair, yet still, even from afar, she radiated an otherworldly beauty that stirred something deep within him—a feeling he couldn’t quite explain.

He felt his heart racing as their eyes met, and time slowed. He wanted to run to her, his feet twitching, but he could not take a single step. She smiled at him. It was like the sun had just broken above the horizon, yet all he could do was freeze in place. His mind screamed for him to move, talk to her, and get to know her, but something held him back. Before he could act, the spell broke, and she had already gathered her things and left.

With slumped shoulders and a heavy heart, Dre retreated from the park bench he had been sitting on to his small, run-down apartment. He returned day after day, hoping to see her again, and one week later, there she was. Her blanket was spread beneath the same large tree, and she settled into its shade, opening a book with a rustle of pages. Courage failing him again, Dre crept closer, peeking around the tree trunk to gaze at the back of her head. She shifted slightly at his presence, making room for him, and patted the space beside her without looking up. Taking off his shoes, he lowered himself to the ground, but before he could mumble an introduction, she placed a finger to her lips and continued reading aloud.

Dre felt the sweet notes of her voice wash over him like a gentle wave as if they had known each other in another life. His heart fluttered, and he couldn’t help but lean closer to her, silently searching for an answer he knew would never come. When their eyes met again, it was like looking into a mirror; his feelings reflected back at him, reminding him of what it felt like to truly be alive.

After a few moments of reading, she stood, and Dre followed her lead, leaping off the blanket she tugged at to fold up. Her movements were swift and precise, and her expression was unreadable. She gathered her things without saying a word and then began walking away. Dre had the urge to call out to her or follow after her, but somehow, he felt that doing so would make it less likely for her to return. He watched in solemn silence as her form gradually grew more distant, finally vanishing into the middle of the park like a flicker of light. His heart stuttered in his chest with confusion and disbelief. He sprinted desperately to the spot where her body had vanished, only to find the book she’d been reading lying on the ground. Its pages taunted him with their blood-stained words, flapping in the wind like haunting whispers of her laughter that would never be heard again. Only then did he realize he’d again confused life and death.

Rage and anguish gripped him as he realized he had been tricked. His foolish desire for companionship had invited evil into his life again, a moment of deathly weakness that would cost him dearly. Every nerve in his body screamed with scathing pain, the searing heat of anger coursing through his veins as he bent down to pick up the book.

With shaky hands, he opened the book. As expected, he found a message scribbled in crimson stains that read, “You can never escape me.” His mind raced with the memories of his past and of the loved ones he had lost to the cruel hands of evil. With a burst of adrenaline, he threw the book across the park, his heart pounding with fear and anger.

A shrill, maniacal laughter filled the air, slicing through the park's silence and rattling against the blades of grass. Dre spun around desperately, searching for the face of the evil beauty that had bewitched him terribly, but he was met with emptiness.

Dre stood, paralyzed, as the laughter grew louder with each passing moment. The sound clawed at the inside of his head, mocking and taunting him with its wickedness. He’d never felt so exposed and vulnerable in his entire life, and the sudden realization that he had been ensnared so easily hit him like a ton of bricks.

He had to escape the evil's twisted grasp, which had lured him into her trap. But as he tried to move, his feet remained rooted. Panic seized him, and he struggled harder. The more he fought, the stronger the hold seemed to become, dropping him to his knees.

He felt the ground shift beneath his feet, quickly forming around him like quicksand. He kicked and screamed as tree roots snaked from the ground, wrapping around his legs and digging deep into his flesh. His cries for help echoed through the trees, yet no one came to his aid. The soil crawled up his body, squeezing tight against each of his organs until it reached his chest. His lips trembled as he braced himself for the inevitable, and then he let out a final scream that jolted him so violently that he fell out of bed and back into reality. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he wiped away the last traces of his nightmare.

Covered in sweat, his heart racing as he tried to calm himself down. The room's darkness was terrifying, with the only light coming from the moon outside. He took a deep breath, trying to steady himself.

As he lay there, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease. His dreams were never simply dreams. Something was lurking, watching him from the shadows, waiting for the chance to pounce. Waiting for his next weak moment. He tried to shake the feeling off, telling himself it was just the remnants of the nightmare. But the fear lingered, refusing to leave.

He rose and walked to the window, staring at the moonlit landscape. The shadows danced in the light as though alive, and he couldn’t help but shiver.

As he was about to turn away from the window, he spun towards the large oak tree that loomed ominously in his yard. He could feel his breath catching as a phantom materialized from the shadows. There she was, sitting gracefully on her blanket, reading her book with an ethereal beauty that glowed in the moonlight. As she looked up at him with a gentle smile, his heart seemed to beat faster, and he could feel the ripples of fear shrouding him.


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