Tag Archives: creepy

The Smilers: A Horror Story About Happy People

The first incident happened at the liquor store.

I had a bottle of pinot noir in one hand and tub of Peppermint Bon Bon in the other. I had taken my time settling on the wine. The ice cream had melted down my palm and puddled on the floor. It seeped through my slipper and pooled between my toes. By the time I felt it I’d already slipped.

The bottle rolled down my hand and up my fingers in an arch. I dove to catch it. It clinked on the linoleum, but it didn’t crack. It would’ve been a great save had it not been for the shelf I’d knocked over in the process. Cans popped out of six packs, rolled down the aisle, and spouted leaks.

I crawled around in my pajama pants collecting craft beers into my hooded sweatshirt. I wobbled up to the front counter with arms overloaded with aluminum and pockets oozing with ice cream and beer foam. Continue reading The Smilers: A Horror Story About Happy People

Dream Detective: Audio Short Story Collection

Here are 8 Dreams and Nightmares turned into 8 works of flash fiction, all in 18 minutes of audio. Each one is something straight out of the Twilight Zone: haunting, surreal, and filled with twists. Stream for free or download and pay whatever price you want.

Rude Awakening (Audio Short)

What happens when an evil spirit is impervious to desk lamps, and decides to linger long past its jump scare?

The title photo is a spoof of the poster for Friday the Thirteenth Part 2
The title photo is a spoof of the poster for Friday the Thirteenth Part 2


(Download the instrumental version here)

I love horror stories that toy with the audience’s expectations. The ones that set us up for a scare, but give us a far more rewarding payoff. The stories that zig when we think they’re going to zag. This short was written to play with the age old disappearing silhouette gag. Our hero wakes up to find a figure leering at him from the shadows. He reaches for his desk lamp, and decades of horror cinema tell us what to expect, but instead of an empty room our hero gets a good look at a truly nasty creature, a knotted mound of flesh that doesn’t fit into a convenient monster mold.

With the audience’s expectations ripped out from under them, the real scene begins.

The soundtrack for this short lays the atmosphere on thick. In the spirit of a radio play, there’s a sound effect for the monster’s every footfall. The progressive piano score rises with the tension to a throbbing synth, and a stomping beat.

Listen to it late at night, with a light switch at arm’s reach.

Cue the Psycho Strings

“My favorite jump scares toy with your expectations.”

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Cue the Psycho Strings

In horror movies, jump scares make teenagers lose their popcorn, while veteran viewers hold onto their Milk Duds. Veterans know the rhythms of the genre. They know what it means when the score fades beneath a howling wind. They watch the victim tiptoe through a long uninterrupted shot. They know when to expect a cat to jump out, and when to expect a killer. While teens wince at the simple sight of blood, vets yawn at all the spiritless slaughter. If they’ve seen one hook pop out of someone’s throat, they’ve seen them all.

They’ve been exposed to far too many cheap chills, generic gotchas, and bargain BOO’s. Without good storytelling, panic feels passé, alert seems antiquated, and carnage seems commonplace.

Veteran viewers have been inoculated against these dated daunts. They lean back in their seats, with comfortable dry pants, secure in their immunity. What if there was a new strain of jump scare, one that resembled those creep show clichés, but broke through their resistance? Continue reading Cue the Psycho Strings

The Boogeyman in My Basement

Bloody Door

There was a peck on the door. Not a knock, but a gentle rapping that wasn’t sure of itself. This was not the beak of a raven, but that of a hummingbird. Yawning in the hallway, I thought I’m not putting my pants on for that.

The tapping stopped, whoever it was. The Jehovah’s witness had second thoughts about sharing their beliefs with someone with such an unkempt hallway. The vacuum cleaner salesmen doubted his product would do me much good. The petitioner doubted someone with that many bottles on their porch cared about wildlife preserves.

The stairs creaked as the mysterious solicitor slunk back to the sidewalk from wince they came. I shuffled over to the kitchen to attend to the pressing matter of eating ice cream straight from the tub.

My roommate had asked if I’d borrowed any of the cash on his desk. I’d helped myself to some of his razors, deodorant, and clean socks, but I wasn’t aware that he’d left any money out.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye; a shadow beneath the back entrance. A key clicked into the lock. There came a rapping, so faintly came a tapping, and my ice cream hit the floor. I squeezed my knuckles into fists and positioned myself in front of the door.

It screeched open to reveal an intruder. His face was slick with sweat. His skin was sun dried, red enough to hide the cysts along his hairline. He was shirtless, an emaciated golem. His skin left none of his rib cage to the imagination. His shorts were a patchwork of grass and blood stains.

His hand shook, wielding the key like a prison shank.

I stepped forward. “How’s it going?”

The intruder leapt back. “Is, um, Mike home?”

Shaking my head, “Nope.” I put my hand out, “Can I see that key?”

Feigning to set the key in my palm, the intruder dropped it on the floor. Lowering my eyes, I missed his getaway. The intruder slid down the railing, tapped one foot on the mezzanine, and leapt down the stairs. He was ghost.

So it turned out this was the tenant I’d been brought on to replace six months ago. He’d been stealing DVD box sets and pawning them for drug money. Here he was to make another rental from my roommate’s library.

Running down the stairs, I saw no clear sign that the intruder had left the building. My hunch was that he hid in the basement. Flashlight in hand, I made my way through the cobwebs and the mouse traps. Shattered glass cracked under foot, announcing my position to the darkness. I scanned the abandoned storage closets. There were deflated bike tires, doors stacked against the walls, and circular saws in the laundry room sink.

There was a color crayon picture on the work bench, a crudely drawn man with a handlebar mustache. A series of violent lines sliced through his gut, a gash of black across his middle. A caption down the side read:

I DIDN’T DO IT, BUT I KNOW WHO DID.

He’d been living down there. Who knows for how long? In the coming months, I would jump whenever the wind rattled the doors, put my ear to the walls, listen for bumps in the night, look for silhouettes through the blinds, and drudge into the basement to check for boogeymen.

Though the intruder never returned, the intrusion haunted me. Continue reading The Boogeyman in My Basement

Eviction Notice

What happens when you pit a landlord against a tenant that’s possessed by a demon? Find out who is the greater of two evils.

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Eviction Notice

Dean eased the door open. A funk washed over him, ran down his throat, and turned his stomach. The room stunk like a raccoon carcass cooking in the bowels of an outhouse. There was a silhouette on the bed, a lump beneath the covers. He flipped the light switch. Nothing happened.

Patience waited at the door, double-fisting rosary beads, praying into her knuckles.

Reaching into the Velcro pouch between his keys and his tape measurer, Dean produced a flashlight. He clicked it against his thigh, while his free arm cradled a stack of documents.

Ignoring the bed, Dean surveyed the rest of the room. There were splinters, wood chips, and glass shards in the entryway. Fragments of light bulb led to the scattered remains of four wooden blades. There was a twinkle at the foot of the bed; the gold housing of the ceiling fan, several steps from the motor, and the chrome mounting device.

Dean shook his head. “The floor’s going to need to be refinished, and that fan was vintage.”

Patience mouthed the words. “She did that.” Her breath whistled through her teeth in ever increasing intervals.

Dean shrugged. He shined his light on the gap where the fan had been. A pair of wires dangled from it, waiting for a gust of wind to make them whole again.

“That’s a fire hazard.” He thought aloud.

A stain streaked across the ceiling tiles. It was as black as tar at its thickest point and as yellow as piss at its faintest. There was a clear splatter pattern; an arc of bile from the bed to the closet on the other side of the room.

Dean pinched his nose. “That biological hazard is gonna have to be bleached out.”

Patience motioned to the lump on the mattress. Continue reading Eviction Notice

Playing with Fire

Photo by Keane Amdahl follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

Have you ever had the nightmare where you’re being chased through an endless subterranean maze? You can never put enough distance between yourself and your pursuer. They’re breathing down your neck. They’re hot on your heels. One false move and they’ll bite down on your jugular. How would you like to be on the other side of that chase scene?

Here’s your chance to sneak into someone else’s nightmare, to be the monster on the prowl, to see through its red luminescent eyes. This is your chance to be the urban legend that terrorizes urban explorers, to be the name they’re too afraid to whisper.

“Mr. Soot.”

This was going to be the introduction for an article on mixing genres called Contrast is Cool. My favorite stories defy expectations by merging two elements and making them clash. This was going to be the example that illustrated my point; R rated horror versus a young adult fairy tale. Turns out, it was clever enough to carry itself.

This story owes a debt to @Raishimi who edited it and offered many useful suggestions along the way. Her contributions make this one of my best pieces. For solid writing advice and the stories to back it up, check out her site here.

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Playing with Fire

The caves echoed with laughter, the free spirited cackles of youth. They were too far away for their words to retain any meaning, but their tone bobbed up and down with flirty inflections. One voice was giving, the others were receiving.

This was the wake up call Mr. Soot needed. It was time to go to work. He yawned from his perch among the bats; cracked his neck, and let go of the stalactites. Belly-flopping onto the stones below, the impact was enough to loosen the tinder in his lungs, but not enough to get the fires started. Interlocking his fingers, he stretched his arms out, cracked his knuckles, and brought them down on his solar plexus.

His shoulders quaked as the fires revved up, only to sputter to a stop. The spark had flared, but there was no ignition.

Hitting his chest again, he felt a surge of adrenaline, followed by a surge of gasoline. His fingers blurred as his engine came roaring to life. Continue reading Playing with Fire

The Moderator PART 3: Bridge Trolls

Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

Read the other parts here:

1. Epic Burn
2. The Straw Man

This is the dark conclusion to my cyber-bully storyline. It’s the reason the entire piece is called, “The Moderator.” I write flexible outlines to allow my stories to swerve into the kind of dark territory this one lands in. The ending had me questioning if this was one of the worst, or best things I’ve ever written. The jury is still out on that, but the story had an impact on me.

I owe a debt of gratitude to @Raishimi for scanning through the story for grammatical mistakes. If you like intensely clever dark short fiction, check her blog out here.

In part 3, Jeremiah Jenkins has tracked down the cyber bully that outed him online. A man named River. Armed with his target’s whereabouts, Jeremiah has come to San Diego with a plan of his own.

The Moderator PART 3: Bridge Trolls

River walked down the sidewalk with his eyes buried in his phone. It was as big as any touchscreen tablet, except this one made calls. He was using an application that took advantage of the camera. It allowed him to type and see the ground at the same time. With an e-cigarette screwed into his lips, River was a master multitasker. He took a puff. Static crackled inside the pipe. He exhaled. The vapor trailed behind him. Continue reading The Moderator PART 3: Bridge Trolls

The Moderator PART 2: The Straw Man

Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

In the previous installment of The Moderator, Jeremiah Jenkins found himself outed by a fellow cyber bully. He’d made a death threat and his rival The Straw Man called him on his bluff. That night a cyber mob hacked his accounts and warped his online identity. They posted pregnancy news on FaceBook, turned him into a rogue NSA agent on Twitter, and added terrorism to his LinkedIn resumé. They killed his career opportunities, his relationship prospects, and his reputation. The trolls put his head up on a pike for all the world to see.

In part 2 of this 3 part tale, we catch up with Jeremiah in the middle of a psychotic break.

I owe another debt of gratitude to @Raishimi for catching many of my grammatical mistakes (I love it when people point those little buggers out to me).

The Moderator PART 2: The Straw Man

That night, Jeremiah dreamt he was sprinting down cobblestone streets. Oil lanterns passed by in a blur. He swerved as a horse drawn carriage barreled down on him. He dove to avoid being trampled. When the horses past, he heard his pursuers’ feet stomping behind him. Their numbers had grown. Minute men had answered the call. Pedestrians had been enveloped into the horde. Street workers dropped the tools of their trade, and picked up other ones.

The boots came marching out of every entryway. There was a fugitive on the loose. In this police state, every citizen was on call to catch him. Continue reading The Moderator PART 2: The Straw Man

The Moderator PART 1: Epic Burn

Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned
Photo by Keane Amdahl, follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned

I’m afraid of the kind of traffic this story will bring to my blog. There’s some nasty buzz words lurking in these prose. Words I wouldn’t want to show up in a search engine, or across a national security agent’s desk.

The characters who use these words have no regard for their meaning. They sling vulgarities at the wind, with the glee of infants hurling smartphones onto concrete. They make casual death threats. They reference acts of terrorism with the enthusiasm of screenwriters referencing pop culture.

These characters speak their minds with not a filter, but a megaphone. Their real life counterparts have been jailed for things they’ve said in jest. They’ve ruined lives, or worse, played a part in ending them.

If the government makes revisions to the First Amendment, it will be because of something one of these people said.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to berate you with racial or homophobic slurs. These characters have used them so often they’ve lost their meaning. They have to resort to craftier insults to get their points across, to scrape the bottom of the barrel clean through, to mine it for new depths.

They’re a case study for etymologists. Linguists will cite them as the ones who broadened our definition of profanity.

Their real life counterparts will desensitize us to things we hope to never see. They don’t pull punches. If I’m to tell their story, neither can I.

Tragedy plus time equals comedy. The hero of this story has interpreted the quote to mean that making fun of tragedy is funny. He’s about to learn that some words are sacred. Some invocations summon things that won’t go back into the depths. Some threats have consequences.

Especially when he makes his threats here, in the Twilight Zone (sorry I had to do that).

I owe a debt of gratitude to @Raishimi, @FoodStoned, and many others who post under the hashtag #AmWriting. Many of you were eager to let your inner trolls go on a rampage. You helped come up with many of the cyber pranks featured in this story. You’re all very evil people.

I cannot stress how much hair this story had me pulling out. At seven-thousand plus words, I decided to break it up into three different parts:

1. Epic Burn
2. The Straw Man
3. Bridge Trolls

Alright, I’ve built this lumbering monster up enough. It’s time to set him free. Continue reading The Moderator PART 1: Epic Burn