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: Life of the Party

“Raymann! Good to see ya!”

Raymond grinned and bumped Thomas’s extended fist with his own. “Sup Tommy. Sorry for being so late.”

“Hey, no worries man! Ain’t no rush over here!”

Thomas clapped a hand around Raymond’s shoulder and led him into the large drawing room. The party was already in full swing. Several clusters of people were spread out around the room, drinks in hand. There was a group in the center several shots into an intense drinking game.

“You’re the odd one out, bud!”

Raymond laughed as Thomas handed him a glass. He downed it one long gulp, ready to mingle with the crowd.

Thomas called for attention and the whole room went silent.

“Alright, guys. Raymond’s here!”

Several drunken cheers erupted in response.

“Now the night can really begin!”

Everyone cheered again, but their voices sounded really far away to Raymond’s ears. He was smiling, but couldn’t feel any sensation in his face. Thomas smiled back at him, but there was no warmth to his smile.

“Let’s get him ready!” he yelled. Several hands grabbed Raymond, pulling him toward a large door at the back of the room. They were chanting, but he couldn’t understand them. It was a language he had never heard before. They led him through the door into a darkened room that smelled vaguely of smoke and rotting eggs. He was placed on a stone table on his back and tied down.

Through his blurring vision, he saw Thomas approach, holding a jeweled dagger. Everyone was looking down at him now, smiling identical cold smiles.

“It’s party time, Raymond…” were the last words he heard before the dagger pierced his throat.

A to Z Challenge: Soap

s

 

This is the story of Sybil St. Clair, heiress to the vast St. Clair publishing fortune. Her father, Gerard St. Clair, is the owner of several newspapers, magazines, two new channels and a website. Her mother, Virgina St. Clair, passed away when Sybil was a young girl. A despondent Gerard threw himself into his work to cope with his loss, leaving Sybil to be raised by their family butler Clarence and housekeeper Mrs. Finchley.

On the eve of Sybil’s 15th birthday, Gerard met a beautiful young woman named Tabitha. Within months, they were married, and Tabitha, who wasn’t really the maternal type, begrudgingly accepted Sybil as her stepdaughter. Whatever helped her hold onto Gerard’s fortune.

Sybil kept a distance between herself and her stepmother while yearning to be closer to her father. But, she also had to navigate adolescence and school life at the Frampton Academy with her two best friends, Allison Davenport and Deirdre Holliday. Plus, there was her unrequited crush on Kyle Barlow, future inheritor of Barlow Hotel Group. Sybil had fawned over him for almost five years now, but in spite of some nudging from her friends, she never said anything to him. And perhaps she wouldn’t get her chance, thanks to the arrival of the new exchange student from Switzerland, Gretchen Friedman.

Gretchen wasted no time in climbing the teenage social ladder to become the most popular girl in school. And of course, she dug her claws deep into Kyle’s heart, so that Sybil became nothing more than a shadow to him.

Tabitha, meanwhile, was growing increasingly impatient. Along with her brother Talbot, she agonized over the fastest way to take over Gerard’s media empire. A skiing accident? A poisoning at a charity benefit? Perhaps a boring old home invasion? She knew she had to think of something fast. Sybil was becoming a woman, after all. At last, Tabitha formed a plan. A car crash. Simple, but so very effective.

And so it came to pass. Gerard St. Clair was involved in a fatal car crash. Sybil’s entire life was upended. Clarence and Mrs. Finchley did what they could to console her, but it was no use. Tabitha put on the guise of the dutiful widow. Gerard’s funeral was attended by hundreds, from extended to family to friends to old business associates. And there was another unexpected guest. Gerard’s estranged twin brother, Jerome.

It had been twenty years since Gerard and Jerome had last spoken, yet there he was, paying respects to his dead brother. That wasn’t the only reason, of course. He wanted his share of his brother’s inheritance. And more…

Who will win in a clash between Jerome and Tabitha? Will Sybil ever tell Kyle how she feels, or will she lose him to Gretchen forever? Will Deirdre ever solve the mystery of her haunted mansion? Will Clarence be rescued from his alien abductors?

Stay tuned to find out!

A to Z Challenge: Lady Luck

l

 

Larry licked his lips in anticipation.

The little silver ball bounced its way across the face of the spinning wheel, looking for a spot to settle in. Thirty-three black. That’s the spot it needed to occupy. Larry watched with unblinking eyes as it continued on its wild trajectory. As the wheel slowed down and came to a stop, the ball found its resting place. Twenty-five red. It was over. The last of Larry’s earnings were gone. He couldn’t even drown his sorrows in a drink.

“The gentleman would like to place another bet. Thirteen red.”

A woman stood by the roulette table. If Larry hadn’t known any better, he’d have thought she was a statue put in to class up the place. She was wearing a light champagne dress that seemed to shimmer around her, its color barely distinguishable from her pale skin. Her golden hair was pulled up into a tight topknot, adding a sense of sternness to her angular features. She was beautiful, the kind of person who could turn every head in the room. For some reason, though, nobody seemed to take notice of her.

“Uhh, look, thanks lady,” he said, scratching his balding pate. “But I think I’m done for the night.”

The woman cocked her head at him, then broke into a disarming smile.

“Just one more bet,” she said, a slight pleading tone in her voice. “I promise, it’ll be worth your while.”

Larry wanted to decline, but it wasn’t every day that a pretty woman sauntered into his regular gambling den and offered to help him win. How could he argue with that?

The clattering of the roulette wheel took up Larry’s attention again, as he saw the little silver ball do its little dance, just waiting for the opportunity to land on any number except the one Larry had bet on. He continued watching it, hypnotized, trying in some way to steer its path with his gaze, until it finally came to a stop. Larry couldn’t believe it.

“Thirteen red,” the croupier announced.

He’d won. Larry had actually won. He looked over at the woman, confused and ecstatic. She smiled and handed him his winning chips.

“Care to try your luck again? I have a good feeling about twenty-six black.”

Larry grinned and made his bet. When the wheel came to a stop, the ball was sitting comfortably on twenty-six black. Larry bet again. And again. And again. His number came up. Every single time.

“You’re my lucky charm tonight, lady!” Larry chimed as he counted his winnings. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bills at the same time before!”

“Just call me Lady Luck,” the woman said with a smile.

“You bet I will.”

“Now, Larry, the night’s still young. How about we celebrate?”

Larry flashed a crooked grin. “I like the sound of that.”

They walked out of the casino and ducked into a little side street. Larry clutched the bag containing his winnings to his chest tightly.

“What’s in the bag?”

A young man stepped out of the shadows, hair a mess, a scruffy beard covering his face in patches. One bony hand was wrapped around a small knife. He eyes Larry’s bag hungrily, ignoring the woman standing next to him.

“Hey, take it easy, buddy. I don’t want any trouble. Look, how about I give you a couple grand and we forget about this, ok?”

Larry kept his eyes locked with the mugger’s and started reaching into the bag. Without warning, the man lunged, thrusting the knife between Larry’s ribs. Larry cried out in pain and let go of his prize, which the man snatched eagerly. He ran off as Larry fell to the ground, gasping for breath.

The woman in the champagne dress knelt down beside Larry. Her face was impassive, showing the barest trace of sadness. She stroked his face gently, speaking in a soothing voice.

“Forgive me, Larry. In the end, luck favors no one.”

There was a scream, followed by the sound of footsteps and frantic yelling. A crowd would gather soon. The woman got up and slipped into the shadows, in pursuit of the mugger.

She contemplated how his luck would play out over the course of the night. Maybe he’d perish in a confrontation with the police. Or maybe he’d be arrested and spend the rest of his life in prison. Then again, he just might get away with it, and spend the next few years with bulging pockets.

She couldn’t wait to find out.

A to Z Challenge: Choices

c

 

California.

That’s where Clive wanted to be. Soaking up the sun. Cruising in a top-down convertible. Eye candy as far as his vision stretched.

That’s what Clive wanted.

It’s not what he got.

What he got was a botched heist that left two of his partners dead, one on the run, and himself buried in three feet of snow with a broken leg. He exhaled slowly, watching his breath dissipate into the night air. The weather was getting worse, and it didn’t seem like any kind of help would arrive soon. He should have just let the cops take him. Prison would be warm. Or warmer than this, at least.

Clive tried to ignore the fact that he couldn’t feel his toes any longer and was starting to lose sensation in his fingers as well. He tried to dig himself out again, but his fingers were too numb and his arms too tired. He yelled, hoping someone would here him somewhere. It was no use. There was nobody there.

There was only the white and the silence and the cold.

As the wind picked up, Clive wondered how things would have turned out if he’d picked a different path in life. If he’d followed in the footsteps of his old man, or actually tried to make something of himself. He could’ve gotten an athletic scholarship maybe, or who knows, maybe he could’ve built up his smarts in school. But he didn’t. Instead, he followed the influence of Freddy and Wheeler, who showed him how to pick pockets quietly, and held the door open for a life of crime. Clive walked through that door without a second thought.

He could have backed out of it if he wanted to. Given it all up after his last stint in jail. Maybe he’d have settled down with Callie. His frostbitten lips twitched upward at the thought of Callie. So beautiful and smart and caring. She wanted a better life for him, but he couldn’t let go of the thrill so she ended up letting go of him. She couldn’t watch him waste his life away was what she’d said as she walked out the door. Good thing she wasn’t here now. Or was she?

Clive’s eyes searched the blinding white expanse around him, hoping to find a familiar shadow. But he was still alone.

One more job. That’s all he had left in him. One more job, a big score, and he could retire. He was basically retired anyway, working as a mechanic to make ends meet. He could have refused. But he needed the money, he wanted it. Just one more job.

At least that was the plan. But the one thing he’d learned in life was that plans never worked out the way you wanted them to. You always needed a backup. Too bad nobody had one. Security was tighter than they’d expected. Things went bad. Clive could have just knocked that guard out, but he really didn’t want the risk of keeping a witness around. He did what he had to do. And then the cops came and everything fell apart.

He could have changed his life whenever he wanted. But the truth was, Clive never wanted to change. He just wanted to live life as it was. And he was so close to living the life of his dreams. So close to making it out. And if he did make it out, he knew exactly where he would go.

As Clive’s eyes grew heavier, his breath coming out in weaker gasps, he could picture it right in front of him.

California.

That was what Clive wanted.

It’s not what he got.

Cruel and Unusual

“Guilty.”

That one word wormed its way through Victor’s ears and straight into his heart, where it began to tear pieces of his life away. Judgment had been passed.

The air in the courtroom was thick with hate. The jurors, supposedly impartial, looked at Victor as if he were a stray mongrel that had wandered into their midst. Stern-faced bailiffs led him away, refusing to look him in the eye. One didn’t need robes to be a judge.

Victor’s attorney had at least managed to commute the death sentence to a 25-year term. As he walked out of the courthouse and was confronted by the mob of protesters, he wondered if that had been the right choice. Over two decades of hatred and vitriol while sharing a cell with the overbearing spectre of his own guilt? Death would have been kinder.

Story A Day Challenge – Day 2: The Job

William Fielding walked down the long hallway and entered through the large oak doors at the end. An armed guard searched him and, once satisfied, escorted him  to the balcony where General Kingston was waiting. William flashed his broadest smile and extended the general a warm greeting. The general smiled back, a charmer behind his imposing frame, and business negotiations were underway.

As the general rambled on about his most recent exploits, William thought back to his own past. He had come a long way from that scrawny kid living in the slum known as Butcher’s Row. With no home or family, or at least none that he knew of, he took care of himself. He would put on his sweetest smile and beg passers-by for money. The occasional soul would take pity on him and hand him a few coins, but that majority turned away from him. They were so quick to look away, refusing to pay attention to the details. William learned to use their averted gaze to his advantage, slipping his fingers past their blind eyes and into their full pockets.

He had graduated from there to petty theft, dabbled a bit in smuggling, and eventually attracted the attention of noted arms baron Bobby Trigger. He loved the thrill of the job. People were, as always, neglectful of the little details. That neglect served as a cloak in which William wrapped himself as he moved weapons to gangs and warlords.

When William finally got caught, he cut a deal. Bobby’s entire operation collapsed, and William only got 5 years, of which he only served 2 due to good behavior. He emerged from prion a changed man, using his criminal expertise to star a small security firm. He knew all the ways the law could be broken, so he set about using his skills for good.

The firm grew and Fielding Security became the name to consult whenever anyone needed things kept secure. But old habits died hard.

William would find himself sizing people up, looking for the deficits in their attention that he could exploit. He couldn’t resist the urge to grab little tokens. Watches, brooches, that kind of thing. He’d always return them, claiming he’d found them, that they’d been dropped. Until the day he robbed George Henshaw.

Henshaw was a man of mystery, a former government agent who had set off on his own crusade to change the world. But there was only so much he could do on his own. What he needed was a spy, an infiltrator. Someone that could greet people with a smile while twirling the knife that would end up in their backs. He needed someone like William.

The security firm served as a perfect front for the operation, allowing William access to some of the most dangerous men in the world, men who always needed a little extra protection. William would wine them and dine them, promising them soldiers, and when they had been lulled into a false sense of security, when their attention was dulled, he would strike. Documents, plans, agendas, he’d swipe them all with his skilled hands, ensuring nobody ever suspected him.

And that’s how he found himself in the penthouse summer apartment of notorious warlord General Kingston. Kingston had suffered many losses in a civil war that he had instigated in his country. He was on the lookout for mercenaries to support his cause. William was more than happy to provide him with what he needed. Now all he had to do was wait, and nab the letter that would be the General’s undoing.

He loved the thrill of the job.