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The Thunderhead[]

“As you can see, it’s going to be a wonderful Halloween night, no clouds in the sky, and a perfect full moon! Stay safe, Fallbrook-”

The rays of sunshine cast shadows throughout the room. Shirts strewn across the floor, socks hung on the windowsill, and a just barely visible alarm clock that starts to chime underneath the fresh laundry plopped haphazardly upon it. Groaning, I rubbed my crusted eyes. Slowly shifting in my sheets, I sat up only to be blinded by the burning light. Another beautiful day. Fantastic.

Plopping down the old, dilapidated stairs, I stumbled on a loose board, tripping into the kitchen. In the adjacent dining room, Dad lowered his paper, then rolled his eyes before looking back. Mom didn’t even look up from her morning coffee. The TV was broadcasting the news. “Good morning,” I say, not quite able to hide the crack in my voice. No response. Walking over to the table, I snatched an apple from our small fruit bowl before walking to the front door. “I’m heading to school!” I said, slinging my backpack over my right shoulder. “Love you,” they say in a monotonous voice. Walking outside, the fresh, brisk October air slapped me in the face. The cicadas were chirping in the forest, the birds were singing the beautiful melody of autumn. Walking down the fractured, cracked driveway, the trees swaying in the early morning breeze, the bright yellow bus came to a halt. Picking the furthest seat back, I set my backpack down next to me and pulled out my earbuds. Sliding them carefully into my ears, I plugged in the cord. Suddenly the noisy, rambunctious crowd of talking children drifted away, leaving behind the pleasant noise of Lofi Girl’s latest video. Sighing contentedly, my head drifted to the window. Watching the trees and neighbor’s houses speed by, feeling the soft, yet loud rumble of the bus’ engines.

On Halloween Night, one fateful evening,
Trees rustling, adults sleeping.
An abnormal cloud from above,
Pushed the full moon out with a shove.
From that thundercloud could be seen,
A creature with an unusual sheen.
Don’t go out, better to stay in bed,
But if you do, avoid the Thunderhead.

“What a strange poem,” I thought, looking at our assignment. I had to take it and make it more abstract? This was gonna be a long night. Riding the bus back, I looked through the poem a little more. “The Thunderhead?” I thought, “I’ve never heard of a story like that before.” The teacher probably wanted to give us an assignment that seemed really spooky for Halloween. Figures.

The bus squealed to a stop at my driveway. Walking to the front porch, I opened the door. Dad was watching the news. Mom was on her gaming computer. “I’m home!” I said, eyes darting frantically between the two. No response. “Err… I’ll just be going to do homework then…” I muttered. No response. I trudged up the stairs, and locked myself in my room.

“This just in, a massive cumulonimbus cloud is rolling in from the west! This cloud has been reported to be even bigger than the last thunderstorm a week ago! Whatever you choose to do tonight, please be careful leaving your children outside during this storm! Now, over to you, Dahlia, as we report our next big story…”

Looking out the window, the sky gets darker as the clouds roll in. Sighing, I went back to reading my assignment. A quiet, but clear “Dinner” sounded from downstairs, and I left the room. Sitting at the table, Mom brought over the plates of gruel and set them down. “So, when are we going Trick or Treating?” I asked Mom. She looked up from her food and grumbled, “We aren’t.” Silence. “Er… how was your day?” I asked Dad, Looking up from his phone, he replied, “Fine.” Nothing. The atmosphere was empty. “I… I need some air…” I muttered, getting up from my seat and putting on my raincoat. No response.

“...That’s right, Darren, it’s time for our next big story! We just received notice from the police that a bright, red haired girl went missing last week. Her name is Laurel Daniels, and her last known location was the South Fallbrook woods. If any of you see this 5 foot tall, 15 year old girl, please contact the authorities. Back to you Darren, for the spooky story corner!”

The rain started dripping. Pulling my hood over my head, I walked down the now empty street. Normally, I’d expect the kids to all be trick-or-treating by now. The rain probably scared them away. As I rounded the corner, I looked back at my house. Nothing. No reaction, no “Please don’t!”, no “Wait, come back!” The rain started to pour. Lifting my hands to my face, I crumbled to the ground. That’s when I heard a sound from the forest behind me. Pivoting, I came face to face with a red-haired girl. She had freckles all over her face, and bright blue eyes. However, something felt… off. She looked familiar somehow. Before I could muster the strength to speak, she giggled and then ran off into the woods. “W-wait, come back!” I yell, before following her. As the trees and brush darted past me, I started to slow down. The girl kept pushing through the wood, while my chase descended into a slow crawl. Stopping to catch my breath, I looked around. The rain was coming down in bullets. I… I should probably head back. Glancing through the birch trees, my stomach started twisting. “Where… am I?” I asked no one. Ok, don’t panic. They’re probably going to look for me. My teacher always said that the best thing to do when you get lost is to stay where you are and wait for assistance. I looked for a small alcove to hide from the rain, and sat down. Yeah, I’ll just… wait… here… *yawn*. Why was I feeling tired all of a sudden…? As my eyes closed, reaching a blissful rest, I thought I saw a black, relatively shiny figure approaching me.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Fallbrook! Darren – and Dahlia – here, bringing you the daily news! To begin our segment, a report on missing person Laurel Daniels. Police just found her body hanging from a birch tree in the South Fallbrook woods yet the body appears to have died by drowning. Surrounding the weird circumstances of her death, authorities are left to wonder if this has anything to do with our more recently missing person James Kidd, having gone missing in the exact same region of the forest. Keep tuning in for more information on these two, and stay safe, Fallbrook…”

SaladTopping (talk) 04:21, 3 November 2023 (UTC)

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Cheeselover405 05:15, 10 November 2023 (UTC)[]

Hi SaladTopping,

Your story seems to have a lot of cliches. Not only does "Thunderhead" seem to be a spin on Sirenhead (spinoffs aren't allowed here so you need to be careful), your story uses a "monster in a forest" formula, which has been used multiple times. In addition, the story is frequently interrupted by quotes from a news broadcast, which is one of the cliches on the list, and is also not attributed to any characters, so the device doesn't seem very impactful on the story. Perhaps you could have a section of the story from the lens of another character, acknowledging that the protagonist went missing.

Your description of your cryptid also isn't very detailed. We know nothing about the monster, other than the fact that it is black and shiny. Why exactly is your monster called Thunderhead? Perhaps give your monster a unique feature and some background lore that other monsters don't have so that it's more memorable.