13 Tales of Terror: October Chill

The night was quiet. Not a whisper among the trees. No chirping crickets. Just the soothing sound of silence. Jacob would have felt content on a night like this, but he knew that quiet wouldn’t last. It was All Hallows’ Eve, after all.

In moments, the moon would hide its face in the clouds. The dead would be roused from their slumber and would climb out of the earth. For one night, they had free rein to do as they pleased. To attend unfinished business, to right the wrongs of their lives, or simply to sate their undying lust for blood.

Most people would not know about it. Most people would write it off as myth or legend, a scary story to tell on Halloween. Any sightings of the dead would be considered a work of imagination or, more simply, a well-made costume.  Any act of violence would be attributed to human brutality. Screams of anguish would be drowned out by shouts of revelry. Death’s macabre symphony would echo through the night and people were too deaf to hear it.

But not Jacob. He knew what was coming, as he did every year. While the fools celebrated the occasion, thinking that they were honoring the dead, Jacob knew that the dead didn’t care for honor. Their desires were much more basic.

He stood over the cemetery, letting the late October chill wash over him, and opened the book. Jacob read aloud from it, speaking the sacred words that would keep him safe. The words that would render him invisible to the shambling army.

As he finished and closed the book, the moon disappeared. The night was dark. The trees were one with the sky. There was darkness, but not silence.

The earth shook, groaning and rumbling under Jacob’s feet. It was time. Hell had opened its gates and the dead were coming.

“Happy Halloween,” Jacob muttered as the first decaying hand tore its way up through the ground.


And there you have it! The final Tale of Terror to greet All Hallows’ Eve! Thanks to everyone that stopped by and read my little tales! I hope you enjoyed them and, more than that, I hope they made you shiver…just a little.

I won’t be posting daily stories now, as that’s hard to manage along with my other tasks (though I just had to do it for Halloween!), but I will try to maintain a regular posting schedule. Probably weekly posts, or two a week. Let’s see how that works out.

But for now, I’ll bid you farewell, dear reader, and wish you a terrifyingly Happy Halloween!

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13 Tales of Terror: Scritch Scratch

Scritch Scratch

That’s the only sound I hear at night.

Scritch Scratch

Scratching away with all your might.

Trying to find a way out

But you won’t scream or shout.

All you ever do is go Scritch Scratch.

 

Scritch Scratch

But I’ll never open that door.

Scritch Scratch

Go ahead, scratch some more.

You’ll wear yourself down to the bone

Doomed to be trapped here alone.

With nothing to do but go Scritch Scratch.

 

Scritch Scratch

The Devil in disguise.

Scritch Scratch

Or simply one of his spies.

In the end, it matters not

Either way, you’ll sit here and rot

As you spend your time going Scritch Scratch.

 

Scritch Scratch

There’s a knock from outside.

Scritch Scratch

I scramble to hide.

Blue shirts and badges all around

Forcing me down to the ground

Freeing you from a life of going Scritch Scratch.

 

Scritch Scratch

That’s the only sound I make at night.

Scritch Scratch

Scratching away with all my might.

Trying to find a way out if this cell

Sentenced to a personal Hell

All I can do is sit here and go Scritch Scratch.

13 Tales of Terror: Vacant

The room was empty, except for a spider skittering across the floor. It didn’t make it very far.

“Damn bugs,” McDermott growled, scraping his boot across the floor boards. He looked around the room, nodded once, then walked to the far end of it and opened the closet. Empty. The boys had done a thorough job.

The old house had been on the market for a while. Richard McDermott knew its history well, including the murders. Three separate families had been killed in this house in less than a decade.

The Richardsons were strangled in their beds. Husband, wife, two kids. Three years later, the Browns moved in. Young couple, planning to build their lives there. Young wife was found in the kitchen, decapitated. Husband disemboweled in the tub. Then came the Dukes. Big family. Died in ways so gruesome that nobody even talked about them anymore. Just tried to scrub them from memory.

Everyone said the house was haunted, or more likely, possessed by the Devil. McDermott didn’t pay much attention to any of it.

There were no ghosts or demons to worry about in this place.

There was only the thing in the basement. McDermott had no idea what it really was, where it had come from or how long it had been in the house. He just knew he didn’t want it to get out. So he kept it fed, as often as he could. Everyone knew about the three families. Nobody knew about the others, the ones McDermott brought in himself.

It had been hungry for the past few months. But that was about to change. A new family was moving in next week.

McDermott walked out of the house and locked the door behind him.

Just one more week.

13 Tales of Terror: Creature of the Night

The fat man continues to run, wheezing and gasping for breath. His whole body shakes from the strain. Soon enough, he stops and doubles over, retching onto the pavement. The rancid odor of his puke contains traces of fried meat, beer and grease. His insides are as disgusting as his outward appearance, it seems.

He tries to say something in between wet, gurgling gasps. He probably wants to beg for his life. They always do. It doesn’t matter anyway. This isn’t a negotiation. It’s a hunt.

 Another smell soon joins the putrid bouquet of sweat and vomit: urine. The poor bastard is really in bad shape. Best to just put him out of his misery. Especially before he attracts any attention with his pathetic mewling.

A lunge, more for dramatic effect than anything else. He isn’t going anywhere. A few slashes to deflate that bulging belly and make him bleed, adding a much more palatable smell into the mix. One swipe across the throat to remove his voice. And finally, the big finish. Biting right on the neck to suffocate. He struggles against the teeth, limbs flailing in protest. It doesn’t last long. He’s done.

The hunt is over. Time to eat.


 

Janine sat up in bed, half screaming. Her whole body was coated in a film of cold sweat, her sheets drenched. She hated it when she had the dreams.

She closed her eyes and sat still, wrapping her blanket around her shoulders and waiting for her breathing to slow. Over the years, she’d learned to control her reaction to the dreams, but she still felt sick.

After a few more minutes, when her heartbeat was thumping at a steady pace again, Janine went into the bathroom and splashed some cold water on her face. A haggard young woman stared back at her from the mirror on her medicine cabinet. Dark, bushy hair that was strewn across her head, skin that was almost grayish in the dim light and dark circles under her hazel eyes.

“You look like shit,” she muttered to the woman in the mirror, and she agreed.

Janine downed two glasses of water, though her throat still burned, then walked back to her bed. In the silver rays of moonlight streaming through her window, she saw something glinting on the floor. Had she dropped an earring? No, she hadn’t worn any jewelry that day.

Curious, Janine bent down to examine the object. It was a silver wristwatch, attached to an oversized wrist that was sitting at the end of a severed arm. Janine swore and fell back onto the floor. It was the fat man’s arm.

She quickly scrambled to her feet and flicked on the light. The arm was lying on the carpet, a rusty stain underneath. The rest of the room was clean. No blood, no body parts, no bones.

Janine let out a huge, relieved sigh that almost bent her body in two. She got a garbage bag from the kitchen, put the arm in it, wrapped it around tightly, sealed it, put the whole thing in another garbage bag, and dumped it in the trash can. She’d deal with it the next morning.

She washed her hands and her face again, double checked all the rooms for traces of gore, and finally went back to bed.

Finally, Janine could enjoy a dreamless sleep again. Until the next full moon, anyway.

 

13 Tales of Terror: Doorway

Halloween. A time when life and death dance together in a grim waltz. A time when pumpkins leer at passers-by, perhaps hoping to devour them the same way that their brethren were once eaten (people pie, anyone?).

And of course, a time for stories that make teeth chatter and souls shudder. So it is that we begin our Halloween journey with the first installment of 13 Tales of Terror. As it turns out, this is also the start of the WEP Halloween challenge (lasting till October 21st), so this story will also serve as my contribution to that.

Without any further ado, let’s get right into the story. Happy hauntings!

badge_halloween4

 

We are explorers. We can’t help it. Maybe it comes from our thirst for knowledge and understanding. Or maybe it’s just pure and simple greed, the desire to find more and have more. Whatever it is, it pushes us beyond the boundaries we’ve defined, trying to open locked doors to create new passages.

But some doors should remain locked. You don’t want to knock on them. And if you do, pray no one opens it.

At the Reinbacher Observatory, we looked to the stars in search of undiscovered worlds, but one showed up much closer than expected.

I was working quite late and had the observatory to myself. It was a boyhood dream, spending the night under the stars with a giant telescope. It was when I got up to stretch my legs that I saw the rift.

It was a bright gash cutting across the air, as if a lightning bolt had frozen mid-arc. It hovered near the main entrance, about ten feet off the ground. I didn’t know what to make of it at first, but it didn’t take long to realize what it was: a doorway.

As I approached the strange portal, I realized that the light only existed along its perimeter. Inside, it was pitch black. A strange energy emanated from within the portal, making it thrum with life. For an instant, curiosity overtook caution and I reached my arm out to touch it. The air around my finger tips crackled and sizzled as I got closer, and I could hear my heart beat as if someone were holding it up next to my ear. Shaking, I pulled my arm back. That was a bad idea. But there had to be another way to get through.

I rummaged around in my desk until I found a two-way radio set. My colleague Dr. Benson and I would sometimes alleviate long stretches of star gazing by radioing each other, pretending that we’d made first contact. Now I had the chance to try it out for real.

I hurled one of the radios at the portal, watching it sail through the air before the void swallowed it up. There was no crash or clatter. My radio buzzed with static. After a moment’s pause, I spoke into it.

“Hello. My name is Dr. Arjun Mehta. Is anybody out there?”

Of course, I had no idea if whoever was on the other side spoke English or could understand me at all, but I was hopeful that the sound would get their attention. And that they could figure out how to use a radio transmitter.

I sent several messages out into the darkness, but all I received was silence.

Until finally, after what seemed like hours, someone responded.

Some…thing.

It just sounded like more static at first. Then I could make out a sound, but no words. It sounded like yowling, though it would have to be a hell of a large cat to yowl like that. My hands were shaking so much I could barely keep a grip on the radio. My voice was dry, but I managed to croak out another message.

“H-hello? Can…can you hear me?

The radio went silent. No yowling, no hissing of static. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins.

I was about to relay another message when there was an explosion of light from the portal. It blazed all around me, forcing my eyes shut against the intense brightness. I could hear the yowling sound again, but this time it was all around me. Panic pulled me away from the sound, but I didn’t know which way to go. I stood rooted in place, desperately hoping this wasn’t the end.

And then, everything stopped.

I opened my eyes, blinking a few times to adjust to normal lighting again. It was quiet once more, and there was no trace of anyone or anything having entered or exited the portal. The portal was still there, but the light around it had dimmed. It was fading. Within minutes, it had disappeared completely.

My knees buckled and I collapsed into a chair. Had I imagined it? The only proof of the portal’s existence was in my memory, and I was becoming less sure that it could be trusted. After a few more minutes, I took a deep breath, refocused my mind and went back to work recording the non-imaginary phenomena I’d observed that evening.

It was still too quiet for my liking, but I ignored that as I entered the data. The stillness of the night was playing tricks on my sleep-deprived mind.

I went back to the telescope for some more observations, and that’s when I felt the floor give out from under me. Something was very wrong. The display showed images of the night sky and somewhere off to the side, standing out amongst the stars, was a small blue dot.

It was Earth.

The air in the room was starting to get heavy. I ran out of the room, gasping for breath. I kept going until I was out of the observatory, and then my feet stopped moving on their own. Darkness stretched out in front of me. There were a handful of stars twinkling overhead and a gray shifting mass below that could have been land or water, but one thing was for certain: I was far from home.

Slowly, I went down on my knees, trying to catch my breath but with no idea what kind of air I was breathing. I was startled by the sound of the radio, still in my pocket, which began to hiss. It almost fell out of my hands as I pulled it out, and after I had managed to steady myself enough, I held it close and listened.

Through the static, I heard a voice. A high, whining voice that made every hair in my body stand on end:

“I can hear you, Dr. Mehta.

I can hear you.”

A to Z Challenge: Ninnyhammer

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Ninnyhammer, they called him.

The boy who couldn’t do anything right.

Ninnyhammer, they said.

The boy who tripped over his own feet.

Ninnyhammer, they named him.

The boy who was born to be mocked.

Ninnyhammer, they cried.

The boy who carried the flame.

Ninnyhammer, they yelled.

The boy who started the fire.

Ninnyhammer, they screamed.

The boy who turned everything to ash.

Ninnyhammer, the silence echoed.

The boy who would never be called that again.

Literary Lion: Lady of the Lake

As part of my ‘MORE WRITING’ resolution for this year, I’m trying to get in some more flash fiction prompts. There were a few I participated in last year that ended up fading away. I think now’s as good a time as any to get back to those.

One that I really enjoyed was the Literary Lion challenge put out by Laura Feasey. In fact, I’ve written one of my personal favorite stories during one of those prompts. Alas, the Lion went on a small break as life got in the way and then I went on an involuntary hiatus as life got in the way and it all went downhill from there.

The Lion has started roaring again recently, and while it’s taken me a while to get there, I’ve finally answered the call. This fortnight’s prompt is to write a tale in 25 words or less on the phrase ‘Drink Me’. Here’s my contribution:

Drink me. Go ahead. You’ve heard all the stories. I can heal you. Grant everlasting life. A soul is such a small price to pay.