Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

Ghosted By Lizzie Russell

After so many lies, Dan Harper could almost forget who he really was. But then his mum would jolt him back to reality. “Do you want any tea Daniel?” she called up to him. “No, I’m heading out” Dan said, grabbing his keys and running down the stairs.

His mum was standing by the kitchen sink, listening to the gentle chit-chat of the radio. Dan gave himself one last glance in the mirror then slammed the door behind him. “Be good” his mum shouted, but Dan was long gone.

He spotted his date straight away. She was even better than her pictures – long dark hair and amazing legs. As she leant against the bar, Dan took a moment to admire the view, then made his way over. He thought he’d play this one with humble intellect, as that seemed to work well on Lucy last time, or was it Laura?

“Eleanor? I’m Dan, it’s so nice to finally meet you” he said, as if he placed special significance on the night ahead. “You too” replied Eleanor, genuinely. The conversation and wine flowed easily. Eleanor spoke about her upbringing in the countryside - her dad had run off with another woman, and their home felt dark and lonely in winter. Dan nodded intently, while secretly wondering when they could head back to hers. He got his wish soon enough.

The sunlight streamed in through the blinds, and Eleanor lay sound asleep beside Dan. He got up in search of her toilet, his bare feet padding over the floorboards. He pushed open the door then staggered back in horror. Glued to the bathroom mirror were all five of his Tinder pictures. Thick white candle wax obscured his face in each.

“Shiiit” Dan whispered under his breath, he had to get out. He rushed back to the bedroom, treading lightly and pulling up his jeans faster than he’d taken them off the night before. Eleanor didn’t stir.

As he paced quickly up the road towards the station, he pulled out his phone and performed his usual manoeuvre more hastily than usual – block contact, delete contact. Barely a minute later, his phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out and was puzzled to see a message from Eleanor appear on screen – “Disappearing already Dan?”

How had she made it through the block on his phone? And why weren’t the automatic doors into the station opening? An old man walked through with ease, so Dan slipped in behind him. “Excuse me, when’s the next train to St Aubyns?” Dan asked the train guard, breathlessly. The guard didn’t even flinch, pulled on his gloves, and walked straight past. Dan felt sick, something was very wrong.

Six years later, Mrs Harper stood alone in her kitchen, fiddling with the dial on her radio. In the white noise, she could have sworn she heard a voice, just for a second, pleading “mum”. She sighed, putting it down to wishful thinking, and the Archer's theme tune began.

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