A typical movie night between two girls turns weird when the characters on the screen began to hear them.

Hoi plopped down on their thrift-store-find purple couch. She grabbed a single popcorn from the giant bowl and tossed it at Bree’s face. The popcorn bounced off with no reaction from her roommate. The two worked part-time at a boutique coffee shop and were reasonably immune to each other’s shenanigans. Both considered themselves geeks with Bree being a costume designer and Hoi as a video game streamer who specialized in playing with randomization mods. 

“Put the phone away,” Hoi playfully provoked her friend.

“Just a second,” she replied as she scrolled through the sea of social media comments. “I’m making sure people are behaving.”

Hoi grabbed a hand full of popcorn and started snacking. “Your Geralt cosplay getting a ton of likes and shares?”

“I’d say so. Lots of people like my take. It’s also getting its fair share of haters, but it’s mostly positive.”

“Cool, cool, cool,” Hoi praised with her mouth full. She finished chewing. “So, tell me about this movie you got for us tonight.”

Bree traded her phone for the TV remote on the coffee table. “It’s an indie-flick called The Voices. I brought it from this eccentric couple at the farmer’s market this morning.”

Hoi raised an eyebrow. “Eccentric couple?”

“Yeah, like the dude wore this white suit with pink outlines, and the girl had on a sparkly red dress.” Bree took a sip of her gin and tonic. “Oh, and all their DVDs were in milk crates, and they had this pink door with them.”

“Sounds very Wes Anderson.”

Bree laughed. “Exactly. I thought the movie would pair nicely with our dreary weather. They said the film was about these two guys who hear voices in the woods.”

Hoi waited a moment for Bree to explain more. “And?”

“And that’s all they told me. I couldn’t find anything online about it either.”

Hoi pulled up the fluffy blue blanket around her legs. “This should be fun. Hit play.”

Bree obliged and hit play. The movie began with an establishing nighttime areal shot of a forest. No names or title cards appeared as the drone flew down and followed two young adult men. The guys walked along a gravel trail into the woods, using their phones as flashlights. A lively set of forest sounds accompanied them on their journey. 

“These guys kind of look like us,” Hoi whispered.

Bree shushed Hoi while one of the characters did the same on-screen. The characters stopped, making the girls pause in anticipation of a jump scare. The music shifted to eerie strings as the camera panned around the empty forest. 

“What is it, Marcus?” Anthony whispered. 

“I thought I heard someone talking,” Marcus replied at an average volume. “Come on, let’s hurry back to the cabin.”

The characters started to pick up their pace as the camera flew up and followed them to a small, modern wooden cabin with a chimney. The screen was on a wide shot, showing the guys walking up the cabin as a shadowy figure slipped down the chimney.

The camera switched to a close-up shot of Anthony reaching for the doorknob when Hoi screamed at the TV, “Don’t go inside!”

Anthony yanked his hand away from the door. The camera switched to a medium shot of Anthony and Marcus as they rapidly looked around the area.

“Did you hear that?” Anthony asked, his voice faded. “It sounded like someone said, ‘Don’t go inside.’”

Hoi gasped and briefly covered her mouth while Bree cracked a smile. 

“Now, that’s freaky,” Bree commented in enjoyment.

The guys got close to each other and pointed their flashlights into the woods.

“Who said that?” Marcus shouted into the woods. “Who said, ‘That’s freaky?’”

Hoi slapped a hand over her mouth as Bree’s jaw dropped.

“It’s like they can hear us,” Hoi remarked.

“Yeah, we can hear you,” Marcus yelled, still searching for the voice’s source.

“It’s not like they can hear us, hear us, you know,” Bree vacillated.

“What are your names?” Anthony asked into the void. 

“I’m Bree, and my friend is Hoi,” she joked.

Marcus scanned the forest with his light as he asked, “Now, how about don’t you come out, Bree and Hoi.”

“Shit, they can hear us,” Bree admitted, nearly dropping her cocktail.

“’Couse, we can hear you,” Marcus groaned. “Why don’t you show yourselves?”

“We-we can’t,” Bree explained, fumbling on what to say. “You’re on our TV.”

Anthony and Marcus pointed their lights higher at the house, looking for cameras. Anthony reached for the doorknob again.

“Don’t go inside!” Hoi blurted. “We saw some shadowy monster sneak in through the chimney.”

“A shadowy monster?” Anthony repeated.

“It must be The Devour,” Marcus insisted as he pulled on Anthony’s hoodie, dragging them away from the cabin.

“But what about our stuff?” Anthony pleaded.

“We’ll be dead if we go inside.”

The cabin door burst open. Anthony, Marcus, Bree, and Hoi all shrieked as a massive shadowy monster jumped out, pounding into the ground with each step. It had the appearance of a ravenous black wolf that was the size of a horse.

“Run!” Hoi and Marcus screamed at the same time.

Hoi and Bree held each other as the camera switched to a red-vision viewpoint of The Devour. The guys ran as fast as they could, but they were no match for the monster. The Devour leaped on them, and the screen went black.

After a few minutes of staring at the black screen, Hoi spoke up. “Is that it?”

Bree stood up and walked over to their DVD player. She pressed the eject button, and the tray opened up with no movie inside. Bree moved the other movie cases around, looking for the one the film came in, but it wasn’t there.

Bree turned back to Hoi. “It’s gone. It’s all gone.”

Don't Go Inside - art by Chen Kang at Design Pickle - black and white

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “While watching a horror movie, your friend shouts “Don’t go in there!” as the main characters are about to enter a cursed woodland cabin. To your shock, the characters all begin looking around, asking each other if they had heard that voice as well.”

I thought this would be a fun story to write with how my wife and other people I know love to yell at the characters on the screen, wishing they could hear them.

Story Artwork by Chen Kang at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Thank you for reading and be sure to support indie filmmakers. 😉