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In the Light of a Grayscale Moon: Short Short Fiction

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.


Author's Note

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In the Light of a Grayscale Moon

Don’t go in the water. Doesn’t that sum up every horror movie ever made? Walk away from the lake, my inner voice screamed. But somehow, the young star of the film digs deep and finds the stupidity to take one step, two steps, three steps.

My foot touched the water. The voice I had heard was so real it drove me on. The sky was dark. I couldn’t see individual clouds, only greyness. But even in that subdued light, I could see well enough to say I saw nothing. But I had heard a voice cry out.


The sky was grey, the light subdued. I saw...nothing! But those were words of desperation. If it was indeed nothing, why was I running away? But if it was something, I might choose to keep running.

I ran back to the water. Sweat rolled down my face that was twisted like a grotesque masquerade. My chilling, incapacitating fear of having any part of my body submerged, let alone my entire body, gripped me with icy fingers.


I heard the screams. I saw the struggle. But all I could think of was being in the water at night when my pals and I thought we were alone. I was swimming across a pond we had spotted from the road. The water was dark. I was treading water when someone or some-thing grabbed my foot and pulled. I could see all my friends on the shore laughing, cheering, doubling over with frivolity. Then they were in the water, grabbing me, struggling with me, doing their best to save my life.

To this day, we don’t know who or what tried to drown me.

I haven’t been in a pool or even a bathtub since.

And here I was, faced with the inevitable death of another human being if I didn’t go into the water. It was a woman, possibly the lone woman hiker I had seen on the trail earlier. I wasted precious time imagining her finding this mountain lake, deciding to swim, floating, treading water, just as I had done years ago. Something had grabbed her leg. She couldn’t break free. Just like me, she kept going under, then resurfacing and under again.


Cold water filled my eyes and blinded me. But the worst thing was that the water was dark. I couldn’t see below the surface. I didn’t know what or who was down there. I think I screamed. Or was that someone else?

Hands grabbed at my face. I fought them off. An arm wrapped around my neck, and we both went under into the surreal. The moon must have come out from behind a cloud because I could see, albeit in grayscale.

Her hair was in constant motion, swirling one way, then changing directions. Our eyes met. I read fear and desperation. When I looked down, I saw the monster, the top of a tree that had toppled into the lake. Her foot was caught in a fork in the branches. I waved my arms and drifted downward. At the instant her foot was free, a gulp of water invaded my lungs.

I wanted to fight, but my body would not obey.


Something was choking me, tightening around my throat. I clawed at my neck and found two hands pulling me upward by the back of my shirt. My head burst into the night air, and I expelled two lungfuls of water into the face of an angel.

We made our way to a pristine shore and lay in each other’s arms. The embrace was not of passion but of the companionship of two souls who had passed as one into the shadow of death.


© 2021 Chris Mills


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 09, 2021:

MG Singh emge, Thank you, I'm glad you stopped by and enjoyed the story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 09, 2021:

No, Shauna, I did not take the photos. Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the roller coaster ride. Just as I intended.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 09, 2021:

gyanendra mocktan, I am very happy you liked the story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 09, 2021:

Thank you, Dora. I hope you can find your way back.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 08, 2021:

This is a wonderful story, very riveting.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 08, 2021:

Chris, this is a chilling story. I would be terrified to be pulled under water in the dark. I think that alone would give me a heart attack.

I almost had to laugh once I discovered the "monster" was a fallen tree. Then my heart raced again as our protagonist felt hands around his throat. Then I drew a sigh of relief when those hands were there to save him.

Quite a roller coaster ride of emotions, Chris. Love the ending. Just think of the story they'll tell their kids about how they met!

Beautiful photos. Did you take them?

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on February 08, 2021:

Fantastic way of telling a story. I enjoyed it. Thank you very much.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 08, 2021:

I haven't read your story as yet, but I'll click on the title as soon as I've done writing here. It may be difficult to find you again, so just know that I'm still following you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

I've just added a link to my facebook page where you can leave comments. See the Author's Note at the beginning of the story.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Brenda, I am glad you felt a part of the story. That is a goal of every writer.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Thanks Ruby. Yes, I was pleased with the photos I found. It can be difficult sometimes.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Peg, I'm glad the beginning was a good hook for you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Thank you Bill, I am well and gathering with family after so long. We are still a very small group, but they want to go to church in the morning. It is difficult for everyone. My best to you and Bev.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Noel, thank you for that short but energetic review.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Pamela, I'm thank you. I am happy that the story was exciting for you to read.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on February 06, 2021:


A captivating story.

Hearing the cry of someone who is drowning...jumping in to save him amid his own fears.

Drawing out each part with suspense.

The ending is so dramatic. I feel like I am part of it.

Great job.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 06, 2021:

Chris, I was spellbound throughout this short story. You kept me in suspense and the pictures were perfect. You are a master at writing short-short stories. Loved it!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 06, 2021:

Reading the rest of this story was not optional once I read the opening paragraph. I had to find out who or what was going on. You kept the suspense up throughout and the ending was perfect. Great writing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 06, 2021:

I have said this before, but it is so true about short fiction: it takes a master writer to tell an entire story in a short version. There are so many boxes that must be checked off in a condensed version, and you do this extremely well.

I hope you are well, my friend. Have a great weekend!

Noel Penaflor from California on February 06, 2021:

Excellent Short!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 06, 2021:

What a fantasti story, Chris. I was on the edge of my seat, holding my breath! The suspense gripping and the end was sweet. You are a masterful writer of suspense.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 06, 2021:

Thank you. Ann. I'm glad you liked it.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 06, 2021:

Wow! This was literally gripping! The suspense and timing were perfect and, as John says, we get the relief of freedom at the end.

I don't like being under water either so this made my heart pump!

Well done!


John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 06, 2021:

Nice writing Chris. Quite a gripping story with a surprise and relief at the end.