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.

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: In Her Eyes

In her eyes,

I see love.

I see longing and desire and passion.

We are lovers, young and eternal,

Two hearts with one beat.

In her eyes,

I see bliss.

New beginnings,

Our dreams shimmering into reality,

Souls linked by two rings.

In her eyes,

I see fear.

Gray creeps along a golden horizon.

Our youth slips away,

Lives shift in different directions.

In her eyes,

I see pain.

A storm rises in the distance.

Our love is a faded photograph,

Finding color in another’s arms.

In her eyes,

I see rage.

A broken ring, an unforgivable betrayal.

Our world has crumbled in my fingers,

Both on a road with only one end.

In her eyes,

I see death.

A knife blade flashing in the dark.

My life bleeds out one drop at a time.

As darkness approaches,

Hate is all I see

In her eyes.

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.

 

A to Z Challenge: Unsaid

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Una wanted to tell her husband that she was tired of being taken for granted.

She wanted to tell him that her heart no long beat as rapidly as it used to when she was around him.

She wanted to tell him that she knew about the waitress at the diner, and the girl from the New Year’s Eve party. He was sloppy about covering his tracks.

She wanted to tell him that she had strayed as well (though she’d done a better job of hiding it) and had been enjoying the company of one of her colleagues for almost two months now.

She wanted to tell him that she loved their daughter dearly, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold their marriage together.

She wanted to scream at him, to curse at him until her voice turned hoarse, to let out every frustration she’d dealt with for the past 12 years.

But Una said nothing.

When her husband came home from work, an hour after she did (she knew why), she greeted him with a dutiful smile and a perfunctory kiss.

She let him wrap her in a constricting embrace, her body trained not to recoil from the stink of booze on his breath.

And without a word, she plunged the cold steel blade right between his ribs.

A to Z Challenge: Soap

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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

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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.