**This is a personalized short story written for Stacey J.
Branches rushed past her face as Nancy ran as quickly through the trees as her feet would carry her. Twigs scraped at her skin with unforgiving violence as she pushed her way through the overgrowth of the forest. There’s no way she’d just seen what she thought she saw. Surely, this was some weird dream. She never should’ve taken that dare. Damn her adventurous spirit. Her friends had scattered the moment the ground began to shake, but not Nancy. Never Nancy. She needed to see what would happen. She knew the legends about the Fairy Rings. She knew they should never be disturbed. But they’d dared her. In front of Alec, no less. She basically had to do it, then.
She systematically went around the circle of mushrooms, kicking them one by one, until there was only a circle of perfect, light green grass but no mushrooms. Except, about halfway through, there was a slight vibration in the ground they could all feel through their shoes. The others had run away as soon as one of them pointed it out, Alec included. But Nancy kept kicking until the job was done. She wasn’t going to be accused of wussing out on the dare. They were all around fourteen years old and you never bale on a dare at fourteen. The others would never let you live it down.
The problem wasn’t the ground shaking, of course. The thing that finally made Nancy run was the high pitched scream followed by an actual fucking fairy bursting up out of the soil as it turned from the unnatural shade of light green to the darker green of all the surrounding grass. The fairy wasn’t at all what she’d pictured from the stories in children’s books. Not at all. It was dark colored with streaks of yellow on its wings, perfectly matched to its dark yellow eyes and red lips. The thing reminded her of a giant hornet that was mad as hell and screaming.
The legend said that disturbing a Fairy Ring closed that gateway into their world from ours. Fairy Rings were always a perfect ring of mushrooms with lighter colored grass inside of it. They were pretty rare to find so when the kids had stumbled upon it, of course they wanted to mess with it. Kids being kids. Now that the mushrooms were all destroyed and the grass color had darkened, this fairy was pissed. The moment it plowed through the grass, Nancy had taken one look and ran in the other direction. Now, she wasn’t sure where she was running to. Just so long as she was putting distance between her and that thing. She dared not turn around to check if it was following her. She needed every second to put more space between it and her.
All of a sudden, she broke free of the forest and was standing, panting, in the middle of a country road. As she moved to the shoulder of the road and struggled to catch her breath, she heard a faint buzzing. It sounded as if a swarm of bees were making their way toward her and she knew exactly what it must be. The fairy. Angry and looking for revenge.
Nancy panicked and started running down the side of the road when her friends pulled up beside her. The eldest of the group was old enough to drive, hence how they’d gotten to that forest on the outskirts of town in the first place. Her first reaction was relief as she jumped into the car before it even came to a stop. As soon as she was in the back seat, her second reaction began. Regret. They immediately began relentlessly teasing her for running through a forest and looking so terrified of imaginary fairies. But they hadn’t seen what she’d seen. They still thought the world was simple. Cut and dry. Black and white. Monsters were fake. Ghosts were fake. Fairies were fake. Nancy knew better.
“Would you just drive, please!” Nancy called from the backseat of the beat up, old sedan.
“Why? Something chasing you, Nancy?” they teased.
“As a matter of fact, something came out of that circle. Like a pissed off wasp or something.” she lied. She couldn’t tell them what she really thought it was. They’d never let her live it down. She’d have to move to another city to escape the tormenting. Or maybe farther. The old car finally began down the road as Nancy looked back behind her for the first time since seeing the thing come out of the ground. Hovering above the road was the creature. She imagined she was safe now as they pulled away and left the fairy behind. That’s the thing, though. A strong imagination can, in some instances, be a dangerous thing.
Tansy drifted in the air as she watched her target move away in the human machine. She thrived on the idea that a human thought they could escape her. She knew this human now. They’d made eye contact. She could find her anywhere in the Earth Realm. And she would.
Tansy was particularly vengeful, even compared to most of the Fae Folk of her realm. She, herself, was a pixie but even other Fae of her world, considered more evil than pixies, knew not to cross her. The truth is, most humans thought of sweet, pretty, little fairies when they thought of the Fae Folk. That was not an accurate portrayal of the Fae at all. Most were, at best, mischievous. At worst, they were down right wicked and took pleasure is causing pain and suffering. This was Tansy. The Fairy Ring this human destroyed was where she spent most of her time. An offense such as this from a lowly human would not go unpunished.
When her friends finally dropped her off at her home, Nancy wanted nothing more to do with fairies or any other mythical creature for that matter. Her friends had been steadfast in their teasing of her and even pretended they saw a fairy following them, which obviously had worked on Nancy the first few times. That just fueled their torment of her even more. They could see she was jumpy and nervous.
As more time passed, however, Nancy began to convince herself that she hadn’t seen a fairy. Doubting the size of the thing or the colors of it made her feel a bit better. She was pretty shaken when her friends ran away, after all. Maybe this was just a case of seeing what you expect to see. Maybe she thought she saw a fairy because she was wrecking a supposed Fairy Ring of mushrooms. Yes, she decided. That’s all it was. She got too worked up, panicked, and misunderstood what she saw. It probably was some kind of wasp or hornet. Either of those can be on the ground or even nest in the ground if the soil is right. She felt better already.
That night, she readied for bed and laid down. Eyes closed, she replayed the evens of the day and decided it was, indeed, some woodland insect she’d seen, as if she were reassuring herself of it. Indeed, she supposed she was. Drifting off to sleep was easier if one wasn’t worried about an evil fairy killing you in your sleep.
Her mind was wandering off when a loud clatter came from right beside her bed, causing her to jump into a sitting position. It sounded like many little pieces of something falling to the hard wood floor of her bedroom. Without turning on the light, Nancy began to stand up to look for the source of the sound. As her feet hit the floor, she howled in pain and yanked her feet back up, collapsing on the bed where she’d been laying a moment earlier. Grabbing at her feet, she discovered little metal thumbtacks sticking into both of her feet. Recognizing the tacks, she quickly turned on the light and stared at the cork board on the wall beside her bed. Every thumbtack in the board had somehow been pulled out of the board at once and was now on the ground next to her bed or in her feet.
How could every thumbtack be pulled out of her board simultaneously? Especially since she was the only person in the room? She turned this dilemma over and over in her head as she pulled the tacks from her feet, one at a time. Of course, the first thing she thought of was the angry fairy she’d convinced herself that she didn’t see. But do fairies do things like this? Nancy couldn’t be sure. She cleaned up her wounded feet and slept in socks for the remainder of the night.
Tansy looked on with a smile as this stupid human whined and pulled tacks from her feet. This girl had no idea that Tansy had given her a warning shot. The next one would be much, much worse. Tansy hovered in the corner of the bedroom, watching Nancy toss and turn from the terrible dreams she inflicted on her. Dreams of burning to death in a fire and drowning for hours on end without the relief of death.
By the morning, Nancy awoke feeling like she hadn’t slept at all. She wore her exhaustion deep on her face with dark bags and sunken eyes. Every teacher remarked about how tired she looked and asked if she’d had a rough weekend. Nancy told each of them she was fine as she shuffled from class to class on sore feet, ignoring all her friends and normal social routines. Finally, eighth period came where some of her friends from the previous day’s dare were present. She tried her best to avoid them but she was quickly spotted sneaking into her seat.
“Good lord, what happened to you?” one asked.
“Did the fairy keep you up all night?” another inquired with a smirk.
They had no idea how close to the truth that was. She wanted to believe she’d just had a rough night but her gut told her this was no coincidence. Nodding off for most of her history class, Nancy was thankful when the end of day bell sounded and she could escape back to her bedroom for some much needed rest. On the walk home, which felt longer than normal for some reason, she narrowly missed a branch that fell from a tree as she walked under it. Any sane person would think themselves lucky and continue the walk but Nancy was on high alert. She immediately felt she’d just dodged a bullet from the disgruntled fairy from the day before. She had no proof but too much was going wrong to ignore it.
Tansy missed Nancy with the branch on purpose. Part of the fun of tormenting a human was giving them so many near misses that the actual shot takes them completely by surprise. They think they’ll be fine but they won’t. They were never going to be fine. Tansy fluttered along, causing Nancy to stumble every now and then. She even put a bee in Nancy’s path which stung her on the hand when she swatted at it. Shame she wasn’t allergic. That would’ve been a bonus.
Once home, Tansy decided to get darker with her torture of the young human. Nancy was home alone. Tansy took the opportunity to wave her hand and cast a spell on Nancy. When the grandfather clock in her living room chimed, Nancy would become convinced someone was breaking into her home. Yes, that should be fun entertainment for a pixie such as herself.
When the clock chimed four times that afternoon, Nancy heard glass shatter from the living room. She knew her parents wouldn’t be home for another two hours so there should be no one else there. She crept out of her room and down the hall, trying to make as little noise as possible. When she got to the kitchen, she crept in and took a knife from the counter top. Having found no one in the house and no sign of broken glass, Nancy sat in the corner of her closet with the knife held in front of her and hid under a blanket. She was truly terrified but didn’t want to call for help in case this was another fairy trick against her. As the minutes and hours rolled by, she became more and more convinced that the fairy was stalking her. What else could it be? All these strange things happening and her inability to sleep. It was enough to drive someone mad.
When her mom got home from work, Nancy desperately tried to convince her of the fairy and the torment it was putting her through. The concerned look on her mother’s face, however, told her there would be no support or help from her parents. Once her dad was home, she heard her mother recounting Nancy’s pleas for help with a fairy. They both feared some kind of mental break was occurring and encouraged Nancy to go to bed early that night.
Tansy listened with an almost giddy expression on her face. She knew going to bed early would be of no help to Nancy. She could see that Nancy thought that, too. Tansy had a whole new batch of terrible dreams in store for her target human. She liked the idea of Nancy going to bed sooner so she could have more time in her sleeping mind. A blank slate with which to draw whatever terrors she pleased. Nancy argued for a bit but finally laid in bed and quickly drifted off, unable to will herself awake any longer. Tansy watched from her bedside and periodically waved her hands while working her magic.
Nancy found herself in a dungeon of sorts. There were implements of pain all around her as she sat in a warm bath, wondering which of the tools would be used on her first. As time past, she realized the bath was getting too warm for her liking. She looked down to find that she’d been sitting in a bath of hot oil the whole time. Her skin stretched and pulled at her bones, drooping until it finally pulled apart and dropped into the oil, leaving only bare bone where her arms should be.
Suddenly, she was in a field of sunflowers, blooming beautifully and facing the warm sun. Nancy felt a bit of relief, even in her dream, and sat on the grass to rest. After a few calming minutes, she began to hear the flower stalks being disturbed as something moved around in the field. Nancy stood to see above the flowers and could plainly see something moving around her, shifting the flowers as it went. Just as she turned and started to flee, a giant snake with razor sharp fangs lifted up out of the flowers and poised itself to strike at her. She stood frozen, not knowing how to avoid being struck down when the snake’s mouth, dripping with venom, lunged at her. Nancy screamed in her bed as Tansy giggled with delight at the mayhem she was causing.
The dream shifted again and Nancy found herself inside what appeared to be a volcano, clinging to the edge for dear life. The smell of sulfur suffocated her every breath and stung her skin like a thousand needles sticking her over and over. Heat filled the air and burned her chest from the inside out as she fought for air that was entirely too super heated to sustain life. Every inch of her, from her toes to her fingertips, was drenched in sweat and she feared she would lose her grip because of it. As the strength in her hands failed her and she slipped down toward the boiling lava below, the dream changed again.
This continued for the entire night until Nancy’s alarm clock rang out and snatched her back into reality. She wondered which was worse, being transported from nightmare to nightmare or waking to realize her tormentor still had a firm grip on her. Her mom took one look at her and called the school to report Nancy absent for the day. Taking her to the doctor was her mom’s top priority.
Nancy wanted to keep the fairy incident from the doctor for fear of being labeled crazy but she could hardly think straight in her sleep deprived state. Her mother met with the doctor first, while Nancy was in the waiting room, and no doubt filled him in on the situation. Once Nancy was called in, her mother’s look of concern had spread to the doctor as well. Nancy was so exhausted, she just told them whatever they wanted to know. She didn’t elaborate, simply because she didn’t have the mental capacity to do so. She just answered questions as they were presented to her. She knew how insane she must’ve sounded but she lacked the ability to care. After a half hour of talking with Nancy, the doctor sent her back to the waiting room so he could speak with her mother.
Once they were both in the car, Nancy’s mother sat in the driver’s seat for a moment, as if she was gathering her thoughts. “Honey, the doctor thinks we need to take a look at your sleep patterns. There could be an issue that’s causing you to lose sleep.” mom said.
“There is. It’s the fairy. I already told you that.” Nancy said, very bluntly.
“Well, I’m going to take you to the clinic tonight so they can find a way to help you sleep better.” mom finished speaking as she started the car to go home. It really didn’t matter to Nancy where they went or what happened. She was existing and little more. Thoughts were scattered in her mind and reason was slipping away.
That evening, Nancy was loaded into the family car and taken to the sleep clinic. A whole new set of doctors were there, having been briefed on the situation. There was talk of some disorder that blocked stages of sleep necessary for the brain to rest. Tansy was completely amused and excited by the prospect of having an audience while she twisted and contorted Nancy’s mind. This would be the third night in a row that Tansy would deprive Nancy of rest. Surely, her feeble human mind wouldn’t endure much longer.
As tired as Nancy was, once they got all the electrodes stuck to her head and got her in bed, she fought to stay awake. She had some memory of the nightmares she’d had the night before and wanted desperately to avoid them. However, her exhausted body and mind couldn’t keep it up and she finally laid in the bed and drifted off. All was well at first. And then it wasn’t. Nancy’s eyes became very active behind her closed eyelids, even though she shouldn’t have been in that stage yet. The doctors looked on with increasing curiosity at the information flooding their monitoring equipment. They hadn’t seen anything like this particular brain activity during sleep. It was as if she was fully awake and walking around, even though she wasn’t.
Tansy waited just until she saw Nancy’s body relax and then dove deep into her mind. She wanted to stop Nancy from getting any meaningful rest at all, not even five minutes to lure her into a slumber. No. Tansy was going to push Nancy’s mind until it broke, all while this team of doctors watched. She went straight to work with Nancy, throwing her into the middle of a nightmare before she had a chance to even comprehend the situation.
Nancy’s perspective went from laying in a hospital bed to running through a forest fire. It was so abrupt that she shivered with the transition and whimpered with surprise. There seemed to be a slight path through the burning branches but it was closing fast. Nancy began to run in an attempt to make it to whatever safety might be at the other side of the darkness ahead of her. As she ran through the smoke and ash, she heard a crackling sound that she immediately recognized as a tree, just beginning its irreversible fall to earth. She looked up just in time to see its huge trunk coming down right on top of her.
Now, she was in a ship rocking on a stormy sea. It seemed an old ship, the wooden kind from the days of pirates and hidden treasure. Only, there was no treasure here. Just Nancy on a ship in the middle of what seemed like a hurricane. The boat was moving up and down so much that she had moments of weightlessness followed by feeling double her normal weight. The constant motion of it threatened to make her sick. If she lived long enough. She made it to a cabin window just in time to see a rogue wave coming at her from the side of the ship, something she knew was very bad based on all the movies she’d seen. Nancy braced for impact and felt the entire vessel roll over as water poured into every opening of the cabin. She scrambled for something to hold onto as the water rapidly filled the space. A moment later, she was sucking in what she assumed would be her last breath and then….
Nancy was in a floor length, black dress that was tattered and stained. Her simple cloth shoes were worn and did little more than cover her cold feet. She realized she was standing atop a wooden box with sticks and branches all around her. She tried to reach out and move them out of her way, only to find her hands were tied behind her back. Nancy was bound to a large wooden steak in the ground. Quickly, this new reality hit her. She was about to be burned at the steak. Men, women, and even children stood all around her, chanting “Burn the witch!” over and over again, fists thrust in the air and pure rage plastered on their dirty faces. An occasional stone struck her body and caused her to cry out through the cloth gag in her mouth. A man with a black sack over his head approached her with a lit torch. Nancy fought against the ropes holding her in place, trying fiercely to free herself from this latest version of hell. “I’m sorry!” she cried out in her mind, hoping to avoid any further punishment for whatever had gotten her there. She couldn’t remember anymore. Nancy just wanted to go home.
Tansy was very pleased. Nancy’s body shuddered and shifted in the bed as nurses and doctors tried to tie her to the bed. One of the doctors endeavored to wake her, concerned for her current state, but nothing was working. She was trapped in what the doctors were guessing was a nightmare and they were right. Every time one nightmare scenario played itself out, another began. Tansy’s own imagination was the only limitation and so, there was no limitation.
Nancy’s parents were in the corner of the observation room, crying and yelling for someone to help their daughter. From the corner of the room Nancy was in, Tansy made herself visible, only for a moment, so dear mommy could see her. Nancy’s mom went pale and grabbed her husband’s arm when she saw Tansy in the corner, waving her hands oddly while their daughter convulsed in bed. She screamed about a fairy in the room but the doctors and her husband immediately shifted their concerned looks from Nancy to her mother. They ushered her out of the room as she protested and begged them to get the fairy out of Nancy’s room.
As Tansy suspected, it only took another 10 hours of shifting nightmares to stop Nancy’s heart. Not too long at all, Tansy thought as the nurses rushed a crash cart into Nancy’s room and attempted to revive her fatigued body. With her task finished, Tansy flew back to where her Fairy Ring had been and went to work creating a new one. When her work was done, she definitely intended to pay Nancy’s sweet mother another visit. Everyone was already treating her as if she, too, was as sick as Nancy was. What, with all the talk of seeing a fairy in Nancy’s sleep study room. It wouldn’t be difficult to break her, too. In fact, it would be rather fun, Tansy thought with a smile.
Thank you for your interesting answers to my story prompt questions, Stacey! I had a lot of fun writing this story for you and hope you enjoy your hand bound, signed copy, as well!
If you, too, are interested in your very own Cynthia Seer personalized short horror story, email us at Cynthia@TrueHauntings.com for more information on package options and prices.
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