's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Intrusive Thoughts "

Submitted by Chaz Gelf

Intrusive thoughts, my counselor told me. That moment when you're riding in a car and your mind wanders off to places it really shouldn't, like "What if I just open the door of this car and jump out while it's still moving?", or "What if I just punch the driver?". Distressing, but nothing to worry about. Everyone gets them, it's natural, we've been over this before. Great, good, next patient please.

Out the front door of the health centre, I'm too distracted checking my pockets for my wallet, I miss the front step, and I trip. Now I'm falling forward with full force and I smash my teeth out of my face on the pavement I can feel them rattle in my now numb mouth I see the blood and the fragments of -- nevermind, I just wobbled like an idiot and managed to regain my balance. The man across the street chuckles at my antics and reassures me - "Did you have a good trip? Get me a postcard next time!", I laugh, it's an old school joke but it's still my favourite. Onwards to the bus stop.

It's quiet like usual, just me, an old man, and warped dark brown marks in the bus stop's plexiglass where some foolhardy teenagers decided to try and get a high by melting it and huffing the fumes and laughing to themselves like -- "-y day, isn't it?" Oh, the guy's talking to me, I must have missed what he said. "Sorry, I didn't quite catch that", I say. "I was saying it's a helluva nippy day, isn't it?" he says back, slightly louder, as if I'm deaf. I'm not deaf, you stupid old man, I just zoned out for a second and now I'm grabbing you by the collar and punching you cracking your glasses your nose bleeding as you beg and wail for -- oh, you're staring at me, wondering why it's taking so long for me to respond. "...Oh! Yeah, it's pretty cold, isn't it," I say, with a nervous chuckle. He chuckles back. No more eye contact, no more words, back to waiting for the bus.

It's here now. I let the old man hop on first, I have to look for my change anyway. Hey, that's my best friend, he's been driving this bus for a while now. Nice to see a familiar face. "William!", I say, reaching for the change. "Single for back home, man." "Sure thing, mate, that'll be one-fifty." I hand him the change, he prints out the ticket, I sit back, and relax. Calm. Nice and quiet... Might as well check my phone. Local news updates... 'Pensioner dies after being found badly beaten at bus st-' Wait. Wait no. That has to be a coincidence. Full Story... oh god they've got his photo, that's the guy who's on this bus right now. Broken nose, brain damage... I can't keep reading this, I'm putting my phone back to sleep mode. I look around... no sign of the old man. That's a little less than comforting. The bus is pulling up to the stop at my home town. I head out, but that thought nags me at the back of my head. "Hey Will, was there a pensioner who got on just before I did?" "Nope, didn't see anyone. They must've just gone back home." "Alright. Catch you later!". I hop off the bus, I'm feeling sick to my stomach now but I've got my brave face on.

I pass by the pub, it's already getting dark, though there's plenty of christmas lights around. That's the one thing I love about this time of year, the lights. Before I can muse too much on the nostalgia about christmas lights, I catch something out the corner of my eye, and before I can react I'm jumped by a lunatic wielding a shard of glass. It's an intense tussle, but I manage to fight back, taking a couple of cuts to my hand in the process before knocking him down and in my rage and adrenaline overload I start to stamp on him repeatedly and-- Nope, there's just a drunk guy standing there, holding a broken bottle, bleeding from his hand, looking as unsteady as ever. "Oh shit, are you alright? Hang on, I'll call an ambulance." I pull out my phone, and bring it out of sleep mode so I can call for help - Dammit, stop taking so long to load - I haven't heard anything from the drunkard yet, and I'm getting worried, so I look up to see if he's alright-- he's vanished. Back to my phone... local news: "Local man jailed after pub brawl turns deadly." Shit. I'd better get back home before anything happens to me.

I avoid everyone's gaze, they're all looking at me like I've seen some unspeakable horror. Finally I make it to my quiet home street, and enter my house. My parents are there, they greet me cheerily and ask how my visit to the counselor went. "Oh, it was alright. I'm not sure if I'm feeling any better though." They sound disappointed, and tell me they're sorry to hear it. "Thanks, I just hope I can get through this soon." I go through to the kitchen, I get some food out the fridge, and I grab a knife to open the packaging. Oh shit, I've accidentally gashed my hand, and the blood's spilling out and-- Nope, I'm still just staring at the food, holding my knife. I shake the mental image from my head, and keep preparing my food. I hold up the knife one last time before I go to wash it--

Suddenly I'm overcome with that impulse again. I rush through, and stab my parents repeatedly, I can hear their screams, I can smell the blood - This is the intrusive thought that takes my mind most frequently, but my counselor always reassured me - everyone gets them, but nobody acts on them, he said. This is the intrusive thought that always occurs when I hold a sharp object, and by now it's so routine that it hardly shakes me anymore, I snap out of it eventually. But something's different this time.

I hear police sirens outside.