“Fears” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Sean Lee, The Elisabeth Morrow School, USA.
A sudden movement in the trees startled me. I snapped my neck towards the direction from which I heard the sound, but there is nothing. A hallucination, maybe, I think. Maybe not. I do not know. As I sat tiredly in the pile of dead leaves, I forced myself to figure out how I’ve gotten myself into this situation. My head remained blank. Just then, I heard the crunch of a branch and the rustle of leaves. This time, fear striked my heart and I suddenly became alert, ears perking and eyes widening. Slowly, I crawl up into a ball, hoping that whatever’s behind that bush won’t kill me.
A soft growl suddenly turned into a fierce roar as a huge bear bursts out of the bush in front of me. Its glistening white fangs are coated in reflective saliva and I can smell the scent of rotten meat yards away. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. Cold sweat dripped down my forehead and my hands fumbled on the damp forest ground for something, anything, to defend myself with. Nothing. The bear slowly started advancing towards my direction. Breathing heavily, I desperately back myself up into the tree behind me, thinking it will help me in some way. The bear growled and bared its teeth, making me flinch and think that this is a bad idea. It probably is, but I have to take my chances in order to survive. I looked up at the sky, praying for help to come. Then, an idea pops into my brain. I think this may be able to save me. Or it’ll kill me. Either way, this can come to an end.
I slowly reached my hand up towards the branch above me, making sure not to make any sudden movements and upset the bear. When I finally get a hold of a branch, I shut my eyes close and snap it off the tree, fearing that the sound will trigger something. Luckily, the creature just rears back and growls another time. I took a deep breath and let out a quiet sigh. I thought my plan will work. Slowly, I stood up from my current place on the dirt-covered forest floor. Clutching the sharp branch in my hand, I advanced towards the creature, no longer afraid. Then, I strike, stabbing the bear right in its face. Except, the bear isn’t there. Confused, I jab at the same spot again. Nothing changed. Then, I heard a small squeak and look down to see a small, curious squirrel standing near my leg and munching on a nut. I smacked my head with my palm, realizing that it was all an illusion.
Suddenly, a loud blaring sound blasted into my ear and I scrambled to stop the sound as I reached my arm out and grope the desk next to me to find my alarm clock and shut off the noise. After the wretched sound is gone, I rub my eyes until the realization hits me: it was all a dream. Then, I came to another realization: I had a math quiz that I hadn’t studied for. My heart started pounding and I am beginning to have a mental breakdown when I remember the one thing I had learned from my dream (other than the fact that bears can be scary). Situations can be daunting at first, but not everything is always so scary after you’ve actually experienced it. So, I confidently get out of my bed and walk out my bedroom door, knowing that it won’t be as bad as I expect it to.