Herd Mentality: A Little Touch of Horror


Copyright – Lora Mitchell

The countdown was over and another one had started in my head.  My body was squeezed and twisted; bottom half facing forward,  torso turned sideways.  I was part of a crowd.  A thousand bodies morphed into one; no space, no air.

My friends were scattered.  I was praying they had sobered up by then, begging the Heavens to make them realise that it was all a joke – a drunken bet – not to be acted upon, ever.

But there was a cry; loud, despite the fireworks.

Bodies pressed, panicked. Please think, there’s no fire!

A thoughtless, merciless stampede had begun.

This story is inspired by the Photo Prompt challenge given by FRIDAY FICTIONEERS: Write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle and end.

The first part of this little story is actually non-fiction.  I actually started this year in the middle of a crowd admiring a fireworks show.   I also had one leg hoisted up in the air because I was caught mid-step and had no space where to land my foot back down again! The midnight fireworks were beautiful but I could not see the show on the main stage; the crowd was so thick I couldn’t get past the street corner into the square were the national celebrations were being held; thank goodness the fireworks are usually so high, or I wouldn’t have seen them either.

So I started 2013 on one leg, pressed against other bodies in a back end side-street, and thinking; “Oh my God! How the hell am I gonna get out of here if something happens!” But all ended peacefully and safely and also gave me an idea for this challenge: All is well that ends well, right?

30 comments on “Herd Mentality: A Little Touch of Horror

  1. Kir Piccini says:

    oh my..yes, sometimes when we are in NYC (which is often) I worry about this. I worry that the people around me will REACT and that is when things go bad very quickly.

    plus young people love to see those reactions…that BATTLE CRY of REACTION. You did a great job of showing that here.

    liked it.

  2. This does not sound as though it will end well. Am I correct that her friends yelled “Fire” as a “joke” or am I on the wrong track? Sounds as though the joke has turned deadly and what a nightmare a stampede of that nature would be! Good job.

  3. JazzBumpa says:

    That is a horrible ending. And quite possible.
    Happy New Year.

    • Sandra says:

      I am very sorry for the late reply – the spam folder snatched your comment – Thank you for reading and I wish you all the best for the New Year.

  4. tedstrutz says:

    That story sounded all too real… scary… and I see it could have been. Glad it wasn’t or you wouldn’t be here to write it.

  5. Sandra says:

    You described this beautifully, particularly the part about being twisted in the crush. I once got caught in a crush at a football match, I was at the front of a crowd leaving the ground and someone forgot to open the doors. It was horrifying – hated crowds ever since. And football.

    Great piece, very evocative and very chilling. And all the more so because it all started as a joke…

    • Sandra says:

      While in the crush, I was standing next to my friend who is a foot shorter than I am. She could hardly breath, and I was seriously worried for her. So I understand your fears perfectly!

      Thanks for reading, it is a pleasure having you here 🙂

  6. Dear Sandra,
    On a personal note I can think of few things as frightening as being stuck in a huge crowd. You described my worst nightmare well.

    • Sandra says:

      My brother avoids crowds like the plague and after I described what Monday evening was like he reasserted his happy decision to stay home. I usually never understand why he avoids such large gatherings, but after Monday, I now agree with him!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    All the more horrific when you consider what happened in Africa a few days ago. Too easy to go down in a crowd like that and once you do, it’s over. Well done.



    • Sandra says:

      To be honest, I had not yet read the news before writing this, but too often I hear that people have died in situations like this and it is simply horrible!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂

  8. Hi Sandra,
    Be careful what you wish for. You will surely get it! You took a happy situation and skillfully infused it with diabolical menace. Ron

  9. oh how awful, I felt the panic. I was thinking Times Square and that horrible crush of people and someone yelling, “fire”. Oh my. Great post.

  10. muZer says:

    To be stuck in a stampede and people running amuck wouldn’t be the most ideal of situations for anyone. I could imagine the scene, reading your story. Great interpretation!

  11. rich says:

    i’m having trouble reading this line. “Please think, there’s no fire!” should a certain word be stressed? maybe there’s a regionalism involved, or slang, but i can’t place the meaning of this. even so, it’s well done, but there might be a touch that i’m missing.

    • Sandra says:

      Yes you have a point. I was really trying to keep to the 100 word limit so I had to make some strict decisions. That line is the main character, in her despair, trying to “telepathically” (emphasis on the bunny ears here) tell the crowd to reason; stop and think, look around, see that there is no fire and realise it is all a joke before people start dying.

  12. billgncs says:

    a good story about a prank gone awry!

  13. Parul says:

    That’s my biggest scare at crowded places. I remember being at a very crowded temple on one foot whispering stampede scare to my brother. He rightly asked me to not talk abt it lest someone got an idea.
    I like the title of your story.

  14. writeondude says:

    I hate being in a crowd like that; the feeling of not being able to escape brings on a near panic attack. Made me shiver to read about your true adventure. Well told.

    • Sandra says:

      I will re-emphasise that only the first part is true, thank heavens, or I wouldn’t be here today. But it is true, you don’t realise how scary it is until you are there, unable to breath and with no where to go! Thank you for visiting 🙂

  15. Abraham says:

    Very well done.

    A while back a friend’s brother died in a stadium stampede. There wasn’t even a fire. Something like the match was starting and some gates had not been opened.

    I found the one-leg-in-the-air amusing.

    • Sandra says:

      Dear Abraham,

      I have opened my spam folder today, a chore which was very long over due, and found three comments from you. I am very very sorry for not replying to your comments in time; I must go into the habit of checking the spam everyday!

      I am sorry to hear about your friend. Crowds can be nightmarish, thoughtless and meciless when in panic.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Best wishes


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