Claritin-D gave us a bunch of money to write a sponsored post, but didn’t really specify what they wanted. We thought it might be fun to do some scary stories that involved allergy medicine somehow, so that’s what we went with. It ended up being much harder than we thought, but we tried our best to make it work. Anyway, hopefully Claritin likes it. Prepare for a fright!
Shelly-Ann Winters was 15 years old on the rainy April evening when she went to babysit for a new family down the street called the Russells. They had three kids, ages 7, 5, and 2. The parents told Shelly-Ann that she should feed the kids dinner, let them play upstairs for half an hour, and then put them to bed. “We’re just going across town to a dinner party,” they told her. “We’ll be back by 11.”
Shelly-Ann went through the evening routine with the kids as any good babysitter would. And like good kids, they listened to her and did just as she asked. That was, until Shelly-Ann started tucking 5-year-old Betty into bed. Betty’s eyes filled with tears as Shelly-Ann pulled the blanket over her. “I’m scared,” she said. “The Easter Bunny stuffed animal up in the playroom was looking at me. Please, Shelly-Ann, don’t let it get me!”
The other children stirred in their beds as they heard Betty. “I saw the Easter Bunny look at me, too,” called Jacob, clearly afraid. “Me too!” cried 2-year-old Sara. Shelly-Ann just shook her head. Probably just kids making things up and scaring themselves, she thought. Happens all the time. She told them that a stuffed animal couldn’t hurt them and bid them goodnight. But, despite her own reassurances, she peered suspiciously over her shoulder as she left the kids’ room to go watch TV.
She then realized it was time to take her Claritin-D. Congestion, sore throat, runny nose, and difficulty breathing were all symptoms Shelly-Ann typically experienced in the springtime when her allergies hit. Sometimes it felt like there was no relief, especially when she used leading nasal sprays like Flonase and Nasacort, which weren’t FDA-approved to treat an itchy throat or sinus congestion. Claritin-D could treat both those symptoms, and it also came in a convenient oral tablet. For Shelly-Ann, that was the Claritin-D difference. She swallowed a single 12-hour dose, feeling safe in the knowledge that it would kick in within the next 30 minutes. But one thing was still bothering her—she was thinking about what the kids said about the Easter Bunny toy in their playroom. Surely they were just letting their imaginations run wild, she reasoned as she put away her Claritin-D, which is available at drug stores nationwide. Nothing to worry about.
She took a deep breath and started upstairs to the playroom, where the TV was. As soon as she opened the door, she saw it: The Easter Bunny. She reminded herself that it was nothing but a toy, but her nerves were starting to get the best of her. It was enormous—almost six feet tall with a sinister smile and what looked like actual mud and scuff marks on its plush feet. Shelly-Ann steeled herself and took another step into the room, not taking her eyes off the huge rabbit for a second. Suddenly, she felt a jolt of fear run down her spine. Something inside the Easter Bunny’s eyes had moved, she was sure of it. She darted from the room and back downstairs, where she grabbed her phone and dialed the kids’ parents.
“Hi, this is Shelly-Ann,” she said breathlessly after the mother picked up. “Everything’s alright—I got the kids fed, put them to bed, and I took one extended-release Claritin-D for my allergy symptoms.”
“Claritin-D?” the mother replied. “I love that stuff!”
“Me, too,” Shelly-Ann said with a smile. “But I have just one question. Do you mind if I move that Easter Bunny toy out of the playroom while I watch TV? It’s kind of freaking me out.”
There was a long pause on the other end of the line.
“Easter Bunny toy?” the mother finally asked, sounding perplexed. “We don’t have any Easter toys…”
No Easter Bunny? But she’d just seen it! Shelly-Ann stood dumbfounded for a moment—until a realization came over her like a dark thundercloud. She clutched the blister pack of Claritin-D (with pseudoephedrine) tightly in her hand, her knuckles turning white against the easy-to-open packaging. At that moment, she heard a noise upstairs, a slow, unusual gait on the creaky floorboards: hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop. She inhaled sharply with fear, her nasal passages clear and unobstructed thanks to Claritin-D. The hopping moved down the upstairs hallway, getting closer and closer to the children’s room until, suddenly, it stopped. For a split second she thought that maybe her mind had just been playing tricks on her. Then she heard the screams.
Old Mr. Henderson owned a gas station 10 miles outside of town. He took pride in his work and made a point to fill up every customer’s tank himself. He would show his big, long teeth as he smiled at the drivers, extending his hand to take their payment. “Thank you, miss,” or “Thank you, sir,” he’d croak before tipping his cap and sitting back down on his rusted metal stool.
Old Mr. Henderson had been around a long time. He knew the town inside and out—its every back road, its every twist and turn. He remembered the days when there was only one stoplight, only one bar. Back then, a pack of Claritin-D cost a nickel. He liked to tell customers about how, when he used to get the sniffles, he’d stroll down to the general store with a pocket full of nickels and come away with enough Claritin-D to last him years. “My sinuses would be Claritin clear ’til the cows came home,” he’d say with a wink.
Sometimes, a customer would pull into the gas station late at night, when its sign glowed white against the pitch-black sky. The driver would sit there in their idling car, watching as Old Mr. Henderson shuffle over. They would see him pull out the gas pump and fill their car up. They would wave and smile as they pulled away.
They would drive for about a mile or so before their car started to sputter. They would press down harder on the gas as it slowed. They would coast as long as they could until finally rolling to a stop. That’s when they would see another car. And another. And another. All stopped not 20 yards from their own. Some with their driver doors wide open. Some with scuff marks leading away from the open doors. Crushed glasses, fabric torn from shirts strewn along the ground.
Their senses heightened. They would listen alertly as the wind whistled around them like the breath of an allergy-induced asthma sufferer without any loratadine in their system to help manage their body’s histamine reaction. The wind was sinister, desperate, like a sneezing man begging, pleading for Claritin. “Claritin-D,” it seemed to whisper. “Claritin-D....”
The driver would close their eyes and push the gas pedal one more time, praying that it would work. But it wouldn’t. Their car would be dead, still as a rock.
And that’s when they would hear it. The sound of someone approaching in the distance, each footstep accompanied by the muted percussion of coins in trousers. The sound grew louder as the footsteps came closer, and closer, and closer. It was the jangling of a pocket full of nickels, and it would be the last thing they’d ever hear.
The Singing Ghost Of Deerfield
Everyone in Deerfield knows about the ghost of Tina Johnson. She’d been a beauty queen, after all. But you might hear a different story about her depending on who you ask.
Some say she haunts the abandoned house on top of the hill—that’s why the lights sometimes flicker on and off even when no one’s inside.
Some say if you repeat her name aloud three times at midnight, she’ll appear right there in your bedroom singing the same song she sang in the very last beauty pageant she ever competed in. As you’re drifting off you’ll hear her voice, unmistakable in the quiet: “Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine….”
Some say she died of seasonal allergies, and if you leave a box of Claritin-D on your windowsill overnight, she’ll come and take it from you, knowing that it’s the only medicine that can treat all her symptoms without causing drowsiness. If Claritin-D had been invented back in Tina’s day, she never would have died at all. At least, that’s what some people say.
There are a few older folks in Deerfield who knew Tina back in her day and are still around. They’re the ones who fear her the most. They’re the ones who knew her dark side—her fits of rage, her dark temper, her hypersensitivity to pet dander as well as other common airborne allergens that can derail your day with frustrating symptoms. And though they may tell different stories about Tina, they all agree on one thing: She doesn’t like people sticking their noses in her business. And if you read her story, she’ll come find you.
Even if you’re nowhere near Deerfield. Even if you’re reading it decades later, safe at home, on your computer. Even if you only stumbled upon it after googling “Claritin-D” in an attempt to find the appropriate treatment for your seasonal or pet-related allergic reactions.
She’ll come find you.
Can you hear her?
“You are lost and gone forever...oh my darling, Clementine….”
Night At The Hospital
Living with allergies isn’t easy—and neither is being a first-year medical resident. Daniel was doing his midnight rounds, bleary-eyed and exhausted, wondering exactly why he had chosen to become a doctor rather than an accountant or a teacher like some of his friends had. He shuffled past the hospital’s pharmacy, full of remedies for every manner of ailment—including Claritin-D, a medication that he knew could be harmful to those who had recently taken an MAO inhibitor within the past 14 days but that otherwise caused only the mildest and most infrequent of side effects. He entered the break room for a quick sip of water and a moment to himself. Ahh, the break room.
He looked over at the bulletin board, where coworkers sometimes posted fliers advertising nieces’ babysitting services, cousins’ bands, yard sales, or intramural softball leagues. There was Dana’s charity 5K poster, Quinn’s ad for the animal shelter where he volunteered. Then Daniel’s eyes fell on a flyer he’d never seen before. It was all black with tear-off strips at the bottom.
Were his eyes deceiving him? He was exhausted, after all. But no, he checked again, and the flyer only had two words, no bigger than 12-point font, right in the middle of the page: “We’re coming.”
His heart rate increased. His mouth went dry, which might have been nothing to worry about, simply a side effect of the normal adult dose of Claritin-D he had taken to combat his itchy eyes that morning. What did the flyer mean? Who put it there? There was only one tear-off strip left.
He looked closer. It said: “Pull here if you want to live.”
Trembling, he ripped it off.
The lights went out. All Daniel could hear was the sound of heart monitors beeping urgently in unison throughout the halls of the hospital. He looked back at the flyer. The text was bigger now: “We’re coming.”
In The Woods, No One Can Hear You Scream
Danielle needed to get out of the woods, fast. Her evening run had taken her longer than she expected, and it was beginning to get dark. All she had to do was get to her car, but the forest seemed to stretch on much longer than she remembered. She looked over her shoulder nervously—no one in sight on the trail behind her. She sped up a bit, praying that she would reach the edge of the trees before night fell.
Every sense heightened, the hair on the back of her neck standing at attention, Danielle took quick and careful steps in the direction of her car. Just keep walking, she repeated to herself. You’ll be there in no time. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a figure appeared right beside her—a man. How could she not have heard him coming? She looked around wildly, but there was no one else in sight. Staring, she took note of his blue-and-green checkered flannel shirt as he passed, and clutched her car keys, wondering if she could use them as a weapon if need be. To her horror, the man turned his head toward her as he passed, and smiled.
“Get home safe,” he grinned, the skin around his eyes crinkling in an unsettling way. He continued on as quickly as he arrived, his footfalls almost silent on the leaf-strewn ground.
Danielle held her breath. Just a guy on a walk, she told herself. And he’s gone now. Just keep going. She clenched her fists and sped up her stride, feeling increasingly eager to get to the safety of her car.
She moved quickly, but it wasn’t long until she saw something else out of the corner of her eye. Was it him again? No—this was a different man, but there he was, having caught up to her just as silently as the first. She eyed him, near paralyzed, as he matched her speed. He was a bit taller than the man who came before him, his face a bit more haggard. But what Danielle was fixated on was not his height or his face, but the flannel he was wearing: blue and green checks.
Danielle looked to her left and to her right—nothing but the endless curtain of trees, dark and rustling against the fading dusk sky. Nowhere to go. Her pounded in her chest as the man turned around with a smile.
“Getting cold now, isn’t it? Get home safe, young lady,” he rasped as he wandered by.
Two guys wearing the same shirt—probably just a coincidence, Danielle told herself, now walking even faster. I’m only on edge because it’s getting so dark. She was nearly jogging at this point, and she could see her breath in the chilly evening air. She looked back to make sure no one was following her, and just when she’d determined that the trail was empty, a man suddenly appeared at her side, this one taller than the two before.
She wanted to scream, but who would hear her? Even if someone could, she was so deep in the woods that she doubted they could find her.
“Get home safe, now!” the man called as he glided past her, his blue-green shirt fading into the distance, gone as quickly as he arrived. Danielle was truly freaked out at this point, and she started to sprint, her arms pumping frantically as she hurried towards the edge of the woods.
Until—thwack. She ran headfirst into...something. But what? Her head was spinning as she tried to make sense of what she was looking at. It was...a man...a man with a flashlight coming directly towards her. Danielle felt her heart skip a beat, as she looked up at him and saw something glinting on his chest—a silver badge, maybe. Could it be? Yes! A police officer!
She felt an instant rush of relief, just as if she’d taken a Claritin-D. Claritin-D is not only an antihistamine, it’s also a decongestant, meaning it treats both the allergic reaction and congestion symptoms that come with it. In that moment, Danielle felt like her symptoms of fear and paranoia were being treated by an affordable, over-the-counter anti-fear medicine, just like how Claritin-D treats allergies. And there’s nothing like knowing you have a medication you can always depend on! That’s why Claritin-D offers a money-back guarantee. If your symptoms don’t get better in a week, you can get a full refund on your purchase at participating retailers.
“Whoa, there,” the police officer said. “Glad I found you. We got a call about some suspicious guys walking around these parts. I’m officer Daniels. Why don’t you come with me, and I’ll get you out of here.”
Danielle was practically in tears as she thanked him and began to follow him. They reached the edge of the trees, and she felt a wave of calm wash over her as he opened the door of his squad car for her. She was going home! She decided she would call her family tonight—she couldn’t wait to tell them about her ordeal. Surely they’d laugh, and remind her not to go out running so late next time.
She was almost done telling the Officer Daniels her address when she noticed something poking out from beneath the collar of his jacket. She had to be seeing things, she thought. There was no way. But she looked closer, and there was no denying it. It wasn’t a regular undershirt he was wearing beneath his uniform. It was thicker. Flannel. With checkerboard pattern, blue and green.
Before she even thought to move, to run, he pressed a button, and the car doors locked in unison. He started the engine and began to pull away.