#AtoZChallenge Visitors from Beyond – The Bannik in the Bathhouse

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According to Wikipedia, the bannik is the bathhouse spirit in Slavic mythology. It was believed, among other things, they had the ability to predict the future. If they caress you, it means good luck, but if they scratch your back, trouble lay ahead.

“Stop it,” Abigail giggled.

Jeremy had her pinned against the wall and proceeded to cover her in kisses despite her protests.

“I can’t wait any longer,” he complained, caressing the long silk strands of her blond hair and letting it tangle around his fingers as he planted feather light kisses against her neck.

Abigail gave him a gentle push, forcing him to let her go free. He collapsed onto the bed and propped up on one elbow as he looked at her. The look in his eyes was pure lust and fire and she wanted desperately to crawl after him and give in.

“It’s been a long, tiring day and I want to get cleaned up.”

“I’ve missed you.”

“I won’t be long. Promise.”

Abigail dug through her suitcase looking for her toiletries bag and a fresh change of clothes, something that would entice Jeremy when she returned. She wasn’t surprised at all when Jeremy came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He was nothing if not persistent.

“I could come with you.”

“Not this time.”

“Seriously,” he said, “You shouldn’t go alone. It’s dark out there and we’re in a secluded area.”

“I can take care of myself. You know that. You, stay here and keep yourself occupied. Just, whatever you do, don’t fall asleep because I have plans for you when I get back.”

“I’m counting on it,” Jeremy said letting her slip from his grasp.

Abigail gave him a wink and grabbed the key to the bathhouse. When they’d made the reservations for their romantic getaway at the odd bed and breakfast, she had thought the idea of having a separate bathhouse to be quaint, but now that it was dark and she was tired, she was starting to wish they’d settled for the Holiday Inn instead. This place had history, though, and it was close enough to some great hiking spots she and Jeremy wanted to explore, if they ever managed to get out of the room, that was. She also had a pretty good idea this was the weekend Jeremy finally expected to propose.

The bathhouse was much nicer than Abigail had expected. The area was lit almost entirely by scented candles and as soon as she entered the steamy room, she relaxed. Everything about this weekend was going to be perfect. She let the thick terry cotton robe slip from her shoulders and drop to the floor and stepped into the bath. The quiet was such a contrast to the usual noise that surrounded their little apartment in the city. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, already feeling the tightness across her shoulders ease.

The thud of something hitting the floor brought her attention away from her daydreams and back to the bathhouse.

“Is someone there? Jeremy?”

It must have been her imagination, she thought, or perhaps a bottle of moisturizer slipped off a shelf. She let her thoughts trail back to Jeremy waiting for her back at the room and smiled. She would make sure it was a night they would not soon forget. Already her stomach felt jittery as she contemplated it.

Her smile quickly faded when she caught a glimpse of a shadow forming in the steam. She sat up abruptly, holding her arms over her chest.

“Who is there?” she called out. “Jeremy, it isn’t funny to scare me.”

Retracing her steps, she tried to remember locking the bathhouse behind her. She was almost certain she had but would it have been enough to stop someone determined enough from opening it?

“This bathhouse is occupied,” she said.

The form in the steam wavered and returned but didn’t respond. It was close enough now that she could almost reach out and touch it. She leaned forward, convinced that her imagination was getting the better of her and she was seeing something that wasn’t really there.

Abigail reached over and grabbed her robe as she stood up and quickly slipped into it. A strange feeling came over her, a foreboding of the future, as she stepped out of the bath, and in her vision she saw Jeremy standing over her, covered in blood and shouting words she couldn’t comprehend. On shaky legs, she made her way back to the changing area and went for her bag but it wasn’t where she had dropped it.

Frantic, she began searching the small room, convinced now that someone had come in and stolen in while she was preoccupied.

“Of all the things,” she said out loud, “who would want to steal my clothes?”

The figure of a small man with long hair and a long beard materialized out of the steam. Abigail screamed and stepped back, feeling for the doorknob just as the creature’s claws reached out to strike her back.

Danger.

She struggled to unlock the door, flung it open, and ran back toward the room.

“Abigail? What’s wrong?”

Jeremy caught her in his arms before her legs gave way.

“The bathhouse. There was a … man …”

Jeremy sighed and held her tight. “I warned you not to go there alone, Abi. Didn’t you ever hear of the bannik?”

“No,” she said trying to regain composure. She needed to report the incident before another one of the guests suffered the same.

“Trouble lies ahead.”

**

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. Each day I am posting a ‘snippet’ based on a paranormal creature that begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I am using this as a fun writing exercise which I am hoping will also be enjoyable to read, but keep in mind that due to the fact that I must post a new snippet each day in April except Sundays, the posts may be a bit rough. I’ll do my best, however, in the limited time I have available to me. 🙂 Let me know your favorites or the posts you find most intriguing because I plan to develop those into a full story later in the year!

Check out the other participants in the A to Z Challenge.

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26 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge Visitors from Beyond – The Bannik in the Bathhouse

  1. kalaravi16 says:

    Wow, this was fantastic! The best I have read all of today! Your imagery and narration was brilliantly vivid! Bannicks….huh? Scary….but tremendously fascinating read! I’ll be back for your C story 🙂
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

  2. Melfka says:

    Nice post 🙂 I enjoyed reading about it, I even went to check how these were called in Polish, as I never heard of a “bannik” (and due to my birthplace, I know bits of Slavic mythology/folklore) – and no wonder, Polish Wiki suggests it’s a Russian spirit, so most likely it never made its way to the Western parts of Poland where I lived. 🙂

    • Stephanie Ingram says:

      How interesting! Before this challenge, I had never heard of them so admittedly, I relied heavily on google to spark my imagination. Thanks for reading and sharing your knowledge. 🙂

  3. racheln92 says:

    I’ll admit, this really isn’t usually my type of thing to read. but that was actually pretty good. Your description was thorough and your story was interesting enough. Thanks for sharing!

  4. A J says:

    Ok, with the apparent calmness with which Jeremy replied to Abigail when she told him that there was someone in the bathhouse, I think he is in cahoots with the bannik. Also, now I’m creeped out and will ensure that I won’t go into a bathhouse alone again…

  5. Roshan R (@pythoroshan) says:

    oh wow… I loved the story but even more love the concept of your theme… A to Z on the paranormal is pure genius. And amazing that you have one for each letter.
    I am gonna do my best to be around for the remaining letters too.

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