Tales of Terror: “The Rising”

The Rising Short Story

Kayden removed his headphones and ran his hand through his unkempt, greasy brown hair.  He looked at the bottom right corner of one of his computer monitors and saw that the time was creeping up on 3 AM.

“Not a bad effort for a Friday night” he thought as he signed off from his account and plopped on top of his bed covers.  It was the middle of summer in Pontiac, Michigan and although the air conditioning was blasting throughout the rest of the house, Kayden preferred the warm night’s air coming through the open window in his bedroom.  The sound of crickets from the park nearby created a peaceful melody that settled his mind after an evening filled with tense gaming.

Just as Kayden was about to fall asleep, he heard a noise coming from outside his window.  He continued to listen, the crickets’ chirping becoming fainter as he realized that someone was crying in his backyard.  Kayden got up from his bed and looked out the sliding glass door that led from his bedroom to the pool in the backyard.  He turned on the patio light and saw a woman knelt over one of the lawn chairs.

“Are you okay?” he asked, opening the sliding glass door and making his way toward her.

The woman turned around, startled.

“I…I’m sorry. Is this your home?” The woman appeared to be a few years older than Kayden, probably in her early-20’s, and was covered in dirt.

“Yeah.” Kayden stopped a few feet away from her and crouched down to meet her at eye level. “What are you doing back here?  Are you hurt?”

“I don’t know. I…where am I?”

“Um,” Kayden was struggling to maintain eye contact, having noticed that the woman wasn’t wearing anything under her loose-fitting, transparent white gown.  She had long, dark blonde hair and the blue in her eyes was so light, they almost looked white. “Stonegate Estates,” he managed.

The woman stared blankly at him.

“Pontiac…Michigan.” He added.

“I’m in Pontiac?” she half-asked, looking around dazedly. “That’s where I died.” Her voice faded as she stood up and made a half-hearted attempt to brush some of the dirt off her arms and legs.

“You did what??”

“I died,” she affirmed, “in the Pontiac State Hospital.”

Kayden wasn’t familiar with the hospital she was referring to, but judging by the woman’s appearance and mental state, he suspected she could be referring to a local mental institution.

“I’m not supposed to be here,” she said under her breath.  She looked down at her feet, her mind drifting into an abyss of forgotten memories.

“Where are you supposed to be?” Kayden waited a few seconds for her to respond, but the woman remained lost in her thoughts.

“How did you get here?” He tried again.

“I…I climbed out of my grave.  Over there.” She pointed toward the back corner of the yard next to the small tool shed.  Kayden thought he could make out a small pile of dirt and sod near the area she had indicated.

The woman’s eyes made their way back up to Kayden, slowly inspecting her own body along the way. “My body…it’s as if I never died.”

Kayden didn’t believe for a second that the woman had actually dug herself out of a grave in his backyard.  He knew there had once been a mental asylum called the Clinton Valley Center located where the neighborhood now stood, but that place was torn down over 15 years ago.  Kayden only knew this because he had looked it up on Wikipedia after a few kids from school had teased him about living in the ‘haunted subdivision’.

“Is there someone I can call for you?”

The woman laughed under her breath. “I suppose you think I’m crazy.”

“No…maybe a little confused?”

“That’s all right.  Everyone thinks…thought,” she corrected herself, “that I’m crazy.  My mother had me committed.  She thought I suffered from a terrible mental condition.”

“Did you?”

“No.  I just really liked having sex.  I don’t know why.”

Kayden suddenly felt very awkward.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to embarrass you.” She turned away from him and looked up at the stars in the night’s sky. “That’s exactly the kind of thing I used to say that got me put into the Hospital.  What year is it?”

“2015.” Kayden couldn’t take his eyes off her.  The young woman’s naked form had become even more visible as the moon’s light shone down through her gown, exposing her ivory white skin.

After several moments had gone by, Kayden started to feel sorry for the young woman.  Clearly she needed help, and his staring at her was starting to make him feel like a pervert.

“Would you like to get cleaned up?” Kayden took a couple of steps toward her.  He could smell the musty scent of fresh mud on her.  He figured she came in through the side gate, which his dad never bothered locking, and must have just started digging the hole with her own bare hands.  He wanted to get a closer look at the supposed grave, but didn’t want to give her the impression that he didn’t believe her.

“My sister is at a friend’s house tonight so we can go raid her bedroom for some clothes.  She’s only a Freshman, but I think her stuff will fit you okay.” Kayden tried to be subtle as he evaluated if she could fit into any of his sister’s clothes.  She was curvier than his younger sister, and a few inches taller as well.

“Okay.”

“What’s your name?” Kayden asked as they began walking back toward the sliding glass door.

“Elizabeth.” The words appeared foreign to her as they rolled off her tongue. “And yours?”

“Kayden.”

“Thank you for your help, Kayden.”

“You bet.” He slid the door open for her and they walked into his room. “We’ll just need to be quiet since my parents are asleep.  Their bedroom is upstairs on the other side of the house so we should be okay.”

Kayden escorted Elizabeth into his sister’s bedroom across the hallway.  She chose a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt from the closet, and then he showed her to the downstairs bathroom.

“I’ll get you something to eat while you get cleaned up.  Any requests?”

“Anything will do,” she responded, allowing her gown to fall to the bathroom floor. “I’m absolutely famished.”

Kayden turned around immediately, though he had already gotten an eyeful.  He quickly decided that the synthetically enhanced women he was used to viewing on the internet didn’t come close to the real thing.

“Okay,” he said shyly as he closed the door behind him. “I’ll, um, see you shortly.”

It took Elizabeth a couple of minutes to figure out how to work the shower, but she eventually got the temperature to where she wanted it.  She slowly washed away the dirt and grime off her body while trying to recall details about her previous life.  Memories of her childhood and the psychiatric hospital flooded her mind, though she couldn’t organize them into any kind of timeline that made sense.

As she stepped out of the shower, the hunger pains in her stomach became severe.  She hurriedly dried off, put on the clean clothes, and made her way down the hall into Kayden’s bedroom.

“I have pizza rolls, hot pockets, Doritos and Mountain Dew.” Kayden motioned Elizabeth to come over and sit with him on his bed. “I know it’s not very healthy, but…”

“It’s wonderful.” Elizabeth said as she sat cross-legged on Kayden’s bed and stuffed a pizza roll into her mouth.

“So, what year did you die?” Kayden asked nonchalantly.

“1952, I think.” Elizabeth took a drink of Mountain Dew. “This is interesting,” she said with a slight wince.

“You’ve never had Mountain Dew?”

“I had a bottle of Coca-Cola, once.  My mother never allowed me to drink soda or eat anything with sugar in it.  She believed it made my ‘condition’ worse.  But one time I snuck over to the drug store with my friends after school and drank one.  I liked it!”

Kayden chuckled at Elizabeth’s enthusiasm over a bottle of pop.  As they continued talking, he couldn’t help but start to believe her story.  He knew it was completely ridiculous, but the way she responded to everything he was telling her made it appear as though she really hadn’t been alive since the 1950’s.

“Oh my God!” Elizabeth’s eyes got wide.  She bolted from the bed and ran back into the bathroom.  Kayden quickly placed his can of Mountain Dew on the bookshelf and followed.

“Are you okay, Elizabeth?” he asked, standing outside the door.

After a couple of minutes he heard the toilet flush and Elizabeth opened the door, her face appearing pale and drawn.

“I’m sorry,” she said moving in toward Kayden for a hug. “This is a little embarrassing but I’m afraid I just ‘lost’ everything you fed me.”

“No worries.” Kayden took a moment to enjoy the feel of Elizabeth’s body next to his.  He was 17 years old and had never had a girlfriend. “Would you like something different to eat?”

“No, thank you,” Elizabeth released Kayden from her embrace and headed back into his bedroom. “I think I’ll take a break.”

She started looking around at all of the things in his room, trying to distract herself from the pain in her stomach.

“Why do you have so many televisions?” She pointed to the two computer monitors on his desk and then over at the large television standing on his dresser.

“Oh, well the two you’re standing next to; those aren’t televisions.  Those are computer screens.”

Elizabeth looked back at him, clueless.

“Would you like to watch a movie?” Kayden asked, changing the subject.

“Sure, I guess that would be…” Elizabeth grabbed her stomach and fell to her knees in pain.

“Are you okay?” Kayden rushed to her side.

“I…I guess it’s just hunger pains, but…the food you gave me. It’s just not…”

“No worries, I’ll get you something better this time.”

After a few minutes Kayden returned with a sandwich and some orange juice.

“This should work better.”

The smell of the food turned Elizabeth’s stomach, but she knew she had to eat.  She was just about to take a bite of the sandwich when suddenly they heard screaming coming from outside the house.

“Help!” they heard someone yell out.

“Help me!” another shouted.

More and more screams filled the air as Kayden and Elizabeth ran to the living room so they could see what was happening.  It sounded as though the entire neighborhood was shouting.  They flung open the drapes to see dozens of people dressed in white gowns walking up and down the streets.  Many of them were holding their sides, no doubt experiencing the same kind of hunger pains Elizabeth had been.

“Did you all come from the same place?” Kayden asked.

A look of terror grew in Elizabeth’s eyes. “Oh, God.  I’m not the only one.”

“It’s okay. I’m sure we can help them.” Kayden placed his hand on Elizabeth’s.  Her hand was ice cold.

“You don’t understand,” Elizabeth squeezed his hand. “Some of those patients…they were dangerous.”

“Well, I’m sure the authorities are on their way to lend assistance.” Kayden glanced at the front door to make sure the dead bolt was secure.

Elizabeth fell to the ground holding her stomach again.  Kayden quickly moved in, placed his shoulder under her arm, and helped her to the couch.

“Oh no,” Elizabeth began crying hysterically. She scooted as far away from Kayden as possible.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I know why everyone’s screaming.” Elizabeth began shaking her head back and forth.

“Are they all hungry? Is the pain that bad?”

“Those screams aren’t coming from the patients…they’re coming from your neighbors.”

“What?”

“Kayden.  My hunger…the reason the food you gave me didn’t work is because my body doesn’t want it. The only thing that smells good to me right now…is you!  I literally want to hurl myself at you and sink my teeth into you.”

Kayden’s temporary crush immediately vanished.  He slowly stood up from the couch and backed away from her. “That’s not funny, Elizabeth.  I mean, you’re joking right.” Kayden’s mind rushed through all of things he knew about zombies.  Elizabeth certainly didn’t look like one.

“I’m not supposed to be here, Kayden,” Elizabeth’s voice became very stern. “None of us are.”

“Don’t worry, Elizabeth.  I’m going to get you help.”

“I don’t think you can, Kayden.” Elizabeth began shaking feverishly, her eyes fixed intensely on Kayden. “I don’t know that I can hold myself back.”

Kayden looked at the fragile woman in front of him and figured he could hold her off if he really needed to.

“I’m going to go get my parents.  Stay right here.” Kayden turned toward the stairs and began to call out for his parents.

As soon as Kayden placed his foot on the first step, he felt the weight of Elizabeth’s body on top of him.  He was surprised by her strength as she held him face down on the stairs with her left arm while she bit into the right side of his neck.

“Elizabeth!” Kayden gasped, his blood gushing all over the stairs and the wall.

The hunger had taken Elizabeth over, her body and mind no longer her own.  As she sunk her teeth deeper into Kayden’s neck, the memories of her past life suddenly disappeared, along with her humanity.

“Please, Eliz…beth,” Kayden choked out of desperation.

Annoyed that her prey was still attempting to talk to her, Elizabeth quickly flipped him on to his back, and ripped his throat out so that she could continue to feed on him in peace.

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Tales of Terror: “The Scary, Hairy Monster”

The Scary Hairy Monster

“Oh my God! Pull over!” Sherry shouted.

Bryan whipped his BMW over to the side of the old country road as dust and gravel flew in all directions.

“Jesus! What the hell, Sherry?”

“Check that out!” she cackled in wicked delight, pointing to a sign a few feet in front of them.

“The Scary, Hairy Monster Vineyard,” Kiera read out loud from the back seat.  The weathered sign featured the picture of a monster that bore some resemblance to ‘Bigfoot’, though the teeth were much sharper and the eyes much scarier than the standard depictions of the mythical beast.  Zach leaned over Kiera’s lap in order to get a better look for himself.

“We’ve got to stop here!” Sherry told Bryan, placing her hand on his thigh. “This is the perfect place to finish our little wine tour before the party.”

“Are you fucking nuts?” Bryan said, his voice still raised. “Next time you want me to pull over just ask like a normal person for crying out loud!”

“Oh, you would have totally missed it if I hadn’t been so dramatic.” Sherry laughed off Bryan’s attempt to scold her.  They had been dating for almost a year now, and Bryan never stayed angry at her for more than a couple of minutes.

“Fine.” Bryan took a deep breath and turned the car toward the gravel driveway that lead up to the vineyard.  He ran his hand through his dark blonde hair and glanced over at Sherry, wanting to make sure she knew that she owed him one. “I’ll be collecting after the party,” he added.

“Maybe sooner,” Sherry responded impishly, her green eyes staring back at Bryan with lustful intent. “Depending on how good the wine is, of course.”

Kiera rolled her eyes.  Sherry was her best friend and had convinced her that a double date of wine tasting with Bryan and Zach would be fun the afternoon before their annual Halloween party.  However, Kiera had found Zach to be obnoxious and conceded, and wasn’t excited about the prospect of wasting further time in his company; especially if she was to be left alone with him while Sherry and Bryan escaped into the nearby woods for some ‘play’ time.

“Are you sure this little detour won’t make us late?” Kiera asked.

“Ah, we have lots of time,” Zach said, leaning toward her.  He placed his hand on the back of Sherry’s seat so that he could flex his arm just enough to try and impress her with his physique.  Kiera displayed a look of disgust as she pushed him back.

“Let’s take it one base at a time there, Romeo.” Kiera kept her eyes locked on the vineyard sign as they drove past it.  As if Zach wasn’t already making the situation unpleasant enough, a feeling of anxiety crept up Kiera’s spine.  Part of her wasn’t convinced that the name of the vineyard was meant to be a joke.

The driveway ran about a half-mile up the Napa Valley hillside and ended in front of a small, one-story house.  The red paint on the house looked fairly worn, as did the white picket fence surrounding it.  The parking area was more dirt than gravel, and there were no other cars to be seen.  As the four of them got out of the car, Zach pointed out that there were steel bars in all of the windows.

“That’s not creepy or anything,” Kiera said.

“Oh, come on,” Sherry pleaded to her friend as they walked toward the house. “It’s all for effect. This is so cool!”

A narrow walkway led them around to the side of the house where the garage had been converted into a small tasting room.  There was a rusted “Wine Tasting” sign hanging a couple of feet from the open, barn-style sliding door.  Inside, an older woman in her 70’s stood behind a faded oak counter.  She looked up as they approached.

“Good afternoon,” the woman addressed them. “I’m afraid we’re only open for another twenty minutes.  It’s already 3:40 in the afternoon and I close the tasting room promptly at 4 PM every day.”

“We’ll just have to drink fast then,” Bryan winked as he pulled a $50 bill from his wallet and laid it on the wood counter.  The old woman looked at the bill longingly.  Bryan imagined she didn’t have many customers and that there was an opportunity to buy a little favoritism.

She turned toward the shelf behind her and grabbed four glasses along with two bottles of already opened wine. “We currently have two wines that we’re pouring today; a red table wine and a slightly pricier Pinot Noir.”

Bryan, Sherry and Zach all sat down at the counter while Kiera began walking around, looking at the pictures on the wall.  Most of them were faded photos of what she guessed was their host in her younger years.  There were a fair amount of pics of the woman with two different gentlemen, along with what appeared to be a black and white family photo celebrating the opening of the tasting room.

“When did your family open the winery?” Kiera asked from across the room.

“1941,” the old woman responded. “I was only eight years old when my father moved my mother and me to Napa from Pittsburgh.  My father’s family had worked in the steel industry all their lives, and he wanted something better for us.”

Kiera was about to ask a follow-up question when Sherry jumped in.

“And what of the Scary, Hairy Monster?” Sherry asked, accentuating each of the first letters of the vineyard’s name. “Did he move here with you?” she laughed.

“No,” the woman responded, appearing to take no notice of Sherry’s mocking tone. “I imagine he’s been living here since before our founding fathers even settled this great country.”

“I see,” Sherry said as she took it upon herself to pour a second glass. “And, how did you learn about him, then?  Invite him to dinner one night, did you?” Brian and Zach both laughed like hyenas as they grew more inebriated.

“Sherry!” Kiera snapped, embarrassed by her best friend’s behavior.

“Oh, it’s all right,” the woman said. “I’m rather accustomed to outsiders not believing.  The winery was originally named after my mother, Isabella.  One night, after we had only lived here a short while, my father heard a great commotion in the hen house.  When he went to investigate, he discovered that all of the hens had been eaten, their bloody remains scattered about.  Over the next few weeks, the rest of our livestock disappeared in a similar fashion.”

“So, it was the scary, hairy monster that ate your pets?” Bryan jeered.

“Indeed,” the old woman affirmed. “We don’t have time for me to indulge you with the entire tale, but after my father died at the monster’s hands, my mother re-named the winery in hopes that it would somehow appease the monster.  I also lost two husbands to the beast before I finally gave up and decided that living alone was for the best.”

Kiera suddenly felt very sorry for the old woman.  It was clear to her that the woman believed what she was telling them to be true.

“Have you ever seen him?” Sherry asked.

“Only once,” the woman responded, her voice fading as she reflected upon the memory.

“And was he as scary as you’ve made him out to be on your bottle?” Sherry pointed drunkenly at the label.

“It was very dark the night my father was killed,” the old woman turned her attention directly toward Sherry, “but even in the darkness I could still make out how truly terrible the monster’s appearance was.”

Sherry grew quiet, as did Bryan and Zach.  The woman had spoken with such conviction and authenticity that it had killed their ‘buzz’.

“Why didn’t you just move away?” Kiera inquired, softly.

“I thought about it, many times.  However, something has compelled me to stay here all these years.  Maybe because I know the monster’s secret and I can help keep people safe from him.” The old woman suddenly appeared startled and looked down at the watch on her wrist.

“Oh, dear, it’s after 4,” she said as she began to tremble. She moved as quickly as she could over to the door and began sliding it closed. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to let you stay so long.  I’m afraid you’ll all have to stay here tonight. It’s no longer safe for you to return to your car.”

“What are you talking about?” Bryan rose up from the counter and placed his hand on the edge of the door, stopping the woman’s progress. “We’re not staying here, lady.”

“But you must!” she pleaded. “You could all die if you go out there!” She continued to try closing the door, but to no avail as Bryan straightened out his arm to impede its further movement.

“Listen,” Bryan said, trying to calm the woman down. “We’re just going to take the bottle of wine we paid for and then we’ll all be on our way.” Bryan nodded to Zach to grab the half-drunk bottle of Pinot and then signaled for Sherry to join them.  Kiera was scared that the woman might be telling the truth, but convinced herself that it made more sense to head to the car and get out of there.

“It’ll be all right,” Kiera said as she touched the old woman on her shoulder. “Thank you so much for your hospitality.”

The woman didn’t say anything back to Kiera; instead she just shook her head, and began closing the door again now that Bryan had removed his arm.

“Wow!” Bryan said to Sherry as they walked back to the front of the house. “Nice choice on the winery.”

“Don’t pretend like you weren’t entertained,” Sherry retorted.  In truth, Bryan was annoyed more than anything else.  All he’d gotten for his $50 was a couple of already opened bottles of mediocre wine and a lost opportunity to have sex with Sherry before the party.

The group made their way back to where the car was parked, only to discover that all four tires on Bryan’s BMW had been slashed.

“Holy shit, dude!” Zach walked around the car to observe the damage. “You think it was the old lady?”

“Fucking Hell!” Bryan stormed over to the woman’s house and began pounding on the front door. “Unlock this God damned door!”

“That’s impossible, you guys.” Kiera tried to reason with Sherry and Zach. “She was with us the entire time we’ve been here.”

“Yeah, but I bet she had something to do with it,” Zach said, now drinking directly from the bottle of Pinot. “Lure’s people into her tasting room on Halloween; has someone slash the tires on their visitor’s cars so they can sucker them into staying and spending all their money on her crappy wine.”

“It’s a nice trick, bitch, but I can play that game too!” Bryan grabbed a large rock on the ground and flung it through the window. “You might think those bars can protect you, but I can cause a whole lot of damage if you don’t make this right!”

“What the hell are you doing!” Kiera yelled.  She tried to restrain Bryan from hurling another rock but he just shoved her down on the ground.

“Stay out of my way, Kiera!”

“Hey, Bryan, calm down.” Sherry moved toward him tentatively. “Let’s just call a tow truck.”

“From where?” Bryan responded angrily. “We’re in the middle of nowhere!”

“Uh, guys,” Zach stammered. “I’m not getting a signal on my phone.”

“See!” Bryan exclaimed as he threw another rock into one of the house’s windows. “So you’d better make this right you old hag!”

As soon as the words had left Bryan’s mouth, something growled from behind the large group of oak trees on the left side of the house.

“Real funny, Za….” Bryan’s voice cut off as he turned around to see the outline of an enormous animal charging straight toward them.  Without hesitation, Bryan bolted down the driveway on foot, leaving his three friends to fend for themselves.

Kiera grabbed Sherry and started backing up toward the front door of the house. “Please,” she cried out, hoping the old woman might help them. “Please, let us in.”

Zach was slow to respond to the events transpiring before him, the wine having taken full effect.  Before he had even fully turned around to see what the others had been looking at, the monster had him in his clutches and ripped him in half.

Sherry let out a blood-curdling scream as Zach’s insides spilled upon the ground. The monster continued holding one half of Zach’s body in each of his arms as he stared intensely at Kiera and Sherry.  He then lifted his right hand to take a bite out of of Zach’s entrails.

Kiera squeezed her best friend’s arm, anticipating they would be next if they continued to stand there.  She was just about to pull Sherry away to make a run for it when the front door opened and a pair of arms pulled her and Sherry safely inside.

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Tales of Terror: “Charlie”

Charlie the Clown

“That’s just wrong, Dad,” Stacy said unamused.  She continued to finish her dinner while her father, Gary, stuffed a junior-sized ‘evil clown’ costume with worn-out towels.

“What? I’m just saying your mom and I have always felt bad for never giving your brother and you another sibling. So, I decided to just make you guys one this Halloween.”

Stacy decided to ignore her dad’s teasing and instead focus on the YouTube clip playing on her tablet.  She wasn’t a big fan of Halloween, and especially not of the darker and scarier decorations that had become the recent trend.  Stacy hated being scared.

“I think it’s awesome, Dad!” Stacy’s younger brother, Dustin, chimed in.

“Thank you, Dustin.” Gary took a step back to admire his work.  He had found the clown on a clearance sale the previous year, and decided it would be the perfect addition for their annual Halloween party.  The costume featured a fairly standard clown appearance from the neck down, but it was the blood-stained collar and the horrific-looking mask that had convinced Gary to purchase it.  The clown’s mask was painted white with rudimentary stitching around his eyes, mouth and the sides of his face.  There were also smears of blood on both his temple and around his mouth, and his eyes glowed red with an intensity that made them appear to be on fire.

“What do you think, honey,” he addressed his wife. “Should we call him Pogo?”

Gary’s wife, Nancy, grimaced.  She was not in favor of her husband’s suggestion to name the clown after the infamous serial killer, John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, ‘Pogo the Clown’.

“I don’t think I want that kind of negative energy in the house, Gary.”

“Very well,” he replied despondently. “Dustin, what should we call your new brother?”

“Charlie!” Dustin said eagerly, his bright blue eyes looking into his fathers for the nod of approval.

“Charlie it is,” Gary affirmed.

Nancy was a little nervous that Gary was encouraging their 12-year old son to be quite so enthralled with the darker side of Halloween.  However, she tolerated it since Stacy had never shown the slightest interest and Gary was desperate to have a ‘partner in crime’.  Nancy enjoyed Halloween as well, but left the more morbid details of their décor up to her husband.

After Gary finished placing some black boots on ‘Charlie’, he sat the clown down in an old white chair and placed him in the wall space between Stacy’s and Dustin’s bedroom doors.  The kids’ bedrooms were on the main level, directly across from the bathroom.  Gary took wicked delight knowing that everyone at the party would have to walk by Charlie.

The rest of the evening was spent in typical school-night fashion as dinner concluded and the kids disappeared into their rooms.  Stacy glared at Charlie as she passed by him on the way to her bedroom.  The clown gave off a horrible vibe with his glowing red eyes.  She turned off the hallway light to see if it would help, but the glow remained.

“Dammit dad!” she uttered under her breath.  Stacy quickly walked into her bedroom and locked the door.  Her parents had told her it was against the rules to sleep with her door locked, but she didn’t care.  Tonight, and for the rest of the week leading up to the Halloween party, Stacy decided she’d rather take her chances with her parents getting upset than be at the mercy of some demonic-looking clown…even if she knew, from a logical standpoint, that Charlie was just a glorified stuffed puppet.

Stacy followed her usual pattern of staying up until almost midnight texting her friends while she lied in bed watching TV.  She was just about to nod off when she heard a shuffling sound outside her door.  Stacy placed her ear next to her door to listen more carefully.  The sound of polyester material rubbing against itself filled her eardrums.  Stacy trembled slightly as she grabbed her computer desk chair and placed it under the doorknob for extra insurance that nothing could get into her bedroom.

“Am I imagining this?” Stacy asked herself as she got back into bed, her eyes remaining fixed on the door while images flashed in her head of Charlie walking menacingly up and down the hallway.  After about a half-hour the sounds in the hallway stopped.  Stacy felt temporary relief as she plugged in her earbuds and tried to fall asleep.

—-

Midnight was approaching on the eve of Halloween while Stacy aimlessly surfed the web, waiting for the mysterious sounds in the hallway to start and end.  The last few nights had been the same.  Every night, around midnight, she heard noises in the hallway that lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Stacy felt relatively secure with her ‘double-lock’ system, but was also concerned for Dustin’s safety.  On a couple of occasions, she had asked him if he’d heard any strange noises at night, but he told her “no”.  His responses offered little relief to her, however, since Dustin typically slept like a rock.

Stacy took some solace in knowing that her mom would be taking down all of the Halloween decorations the day after the party to begin decorating for Christmas.  Stacy secretly plotted that she would dismantle Charlie during the day, under the guise of helping her mom take down the decorations, and then stuff the possessed clown costume into the bottom of the garbage can.

It was 12:15 AM and there still hadn’t been any noise from the hallway when suddenly Stacy heard her mother scream.  She leapt out of bed and grabbed the kitchen knife out of her dresser that she had appropriated several nights before.  Stacy stood near her door, frozen in terror.  After only a few seconds her mother’s screams passed, followed by the sounds of something making its way down the stairs and then into Dustin’s bedroom.

The house fell completely silent as Stacy’s heart sunk into the bottoms of her feet.  She knew Charlie had done something terrible to her parents, and she couldn’t bear the thought of letting him hurt her little brother.  A sudden burst of courage entered her as she proceeded to unlock her bedroom door, the knife clenched firmly in her right hand.

Stacy’s heart was beating so loudly that her eardrums felt like they were about to burst.  She braced herself, knowing that Charlie could be waiting to pounce on her, as she flung her bedroom door open and turned on the hallway light.  With her knife held in front of her she whipped around, and to no surprise, Charlie was no longer sitting in his chair.  Stacy rapidly turned her head in every direction as she made her way over to Dustin’s door and reached out with her left hand to turn the knob.  It was locked!

Unsure of what do to next, Stacy decided to check on her parents.  She knew better than to hold on to any hope that they were still alive, but she still felt a pull within her soul to check.  Stacy followed the splatters of blood on the carpet up the stairs and turned on the light as she entered her parents’ room.

Her parents’ entire bed was soaked in blood, their bodies covered with multiple wounds.  Stacy was confused for a moment as to how Charlie got his hands on a weapon like that when she had the only big knife in the house…and then she remembered her dad’s knife and sword collection that he kept in his office.  Stacy considered that not only did the demonic clown kill her parents and now, threatened her little brother, but he also certainly had a more formidable weapon than her kitchen knife.

Still terrified, Stacy made her way back down the stairs and stood in front of Dustin’s bedroom door.  She was determined to save her brother, even if it meant her dying in the process.  She began to lower her shoulder with the intent of breaking down the door, but her instincts told her to try the knob again.  Stacy reached out with her left hand and a powerful shiver ran down her spine like an electric shock as the knob turned without resistance.

Stacy pushed the door open and flipped on the light switch all in one swift movement.  To her surprise, Dustin was sleeping peacefully in his bed, his sheets cocooning everything but his face.  Stacy whipped her head around feverishly to the right and then the left, looking for the clown.  She was about to check the closet when Dustin slowly opened his eyes.

“Shhh….” he whispered, his finger gently pressed against his lips. “Charlie’s sleeping.”

It appeared that Dustin was alone in his bed, but Stacy couldn’t see what was on the other side of it.  She pictured Charlie, crouched behind the other side of Dustin’s bed, waiting to plunge his weapon into her ribcage.  Stacy lowered her stance and side-stepped her way to the other side of the bed, her right arm holding the knife and shaking from the adrenaline coursing through her body.  What she saw next, however, was scarier than anything she had imagined.

Stacy’s eyes began to fill with tears and the breath in her lungs escaped, almost causing her to faint.  Before her lay the empty costume that was ‘Charlie’, covered with blood.  The towels her father had used to stuff him lay in a crumpled pile next to the costume with one of her father’s large knives left carelessly on top of it.

Questions of “how” and “why” flooded Stacy’s mind as her eyes traveled back toward Dustin lying in bed.  She couldn’t move.  Instead, she just stood there, staring at him and wondering why he had done it.

Stacy couldn’t see that Dustin had once again opened his eyes.  A glimmer of red swam through the blue pools of his irises as he waited, motionless, for his sister to make the next move.

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Tales of Terror: “Trick or Treat – A Family Tradition”

Trick or Treat

Elsie watched studiously as her mother, Laura, stretched and pulled a mouth-watering batch of salt water taffy.  It was Elsie’s favorite of all the treats that her mother prepared every Halloween.

Around the kitchen were several more goodies including orange-colored popcorn balls, caramel apples, suckers, peanut brittle and the Holiday themed ‘graveyard fudge’, which featured a gummy worm on each delicious piece.  Even though modern times called for store-bought candy, all of the neighborhood parents fully endorsed Laura’s traditional values and enjoyed the treats along with their children on Halloween night.

“Would you like to help mommy?” Laura asked.

Elsie nodded her head up and down enthusiastically while Laura placed a small piece of the sticky sweet substance in her palms.  The candy felt warm and gooey in Elsie’s hands as she proceeded to mimic her mother’s taffy-pulling method.

“Daddy’s going to be home soon to take you and your brother trick or treating.  Did you decide which costume you’re going to wear this year?”

“I’m going to be a princess this year, mommy!” Elsie replied, her little five-year old hands working the taffy diligently.

“I see.” Laura smiled and reached her hands out to relieve Elsie of her duties. “Why don’t you go ahead and get dressed sweetie.  You can help mommy finish afterward.”

Elsie responded with a huge grin as she tore off through the kitchen and family room toward her bedroom down the hall.  Next to Christmas, Halloween was Elsie’s favorite holiday, and she was terribly excited to see what wonderful candy she could collect this year on her trick-or-treating adventure.

“Devin!” Laura called out to Elsie’s older brother. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah, mom,” he replied from the family room where he was playing video games. Devin was excited about Halloween too, but his first priority was conquering the new “Dragon Masters” video game he had received for his birthday just two days earlier.

Laura turned her attention back to the taffy as she began rolling it into rope-like strands for cutting.  This year, she had chosen to make the taffy cherry flavored so that the red color would seem natural.  Laura had only included a slight amount of Mr. Dumont’s blood in the corn syrup / water mixture she used to make the taffy, but the crimson-red tinge would have made it difficult to use any other color.

“I’m home, honey.”

Laura heard her husband, Gary, walk in the front door and address Devin about the absence of his costume.  She was annoyed with her son’s disregard of her instructions, but soon the situation was remedied as Gary shut off the video game and whisked Devin away to his bedroom to get changed.

“How was your day?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen and hung his car keys on the empty hook beneath the large ‘Countdown to Halloween’ calendar.

“Busy,” Laura responded wide-eyed.  She began cutting the ropes of taffy and placing small, one-inch pieces of it on pre-cut wax paper wrappers.

“Looks good.” Gary snatched a piece of taffy under Laura’s watchful eye. “Cherry.  Nice choice,” he added with a wink.

Laura smirked back at him since Gary knew exactly why she had chosen that flavor.  He moved in closer and gave her a kiss, the cherry flavoring on his lips making for a sweet moment of romantic bliss.

“You know we did the right thing?” Gary said as he allowed for a few inches of space between himself and Laura. “I know our beliefs are our own and we promised never to force them upon anyone else.  However, Mr. Dumont deserved what he got.”

“Oh, I’m in full agreement my dear.” Laura turned her attention back to the taffy. “Mr. Dumont is going to give back a little piece of himself this Holiday to every one of the households he terrorized in some way or another.”

Laura’s mind turned back to the first time she and her husband had met Mr. Dumont nearly 10 years ago.  He was a cranky old man who always seemed to go out of his way to cast darkness over his fellow neighbors.  She couldn’t remember a week having gone by without an incident of him yelling at one of the neighborhood children for playing too close to his yard or making too much noise while he was trying to take a nap.

Laura’s tolerance of Mr. Dumont finally came to an end a few days ago when Elsie came home crying as a result of Elsie’s cat, “Mr. Whiskers”, disappearing.  It was well known that Mr. Dumont made open threats about anyone’s pet that happened to wander on to his property, and over the years many of the pets living around the neighborhood had disappeared under suspicious circumstances.  When Laura confronted him and he did nothing to deny his involvement, she decided it was Mr. Dumont’s turn to disappear.

“What’s that wonderful smell?” Gary inquired.

“Meatloaf,” Laura responded with a devilish grin. “And, it’s ready, so would you please round up the kids? I want them to have something of substance in their stomachs before they indulge in all that candy.”

“Kids!” Gary shouted from the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready!”

Laura rolled her eyes at her husband’s method of summoning their children.  Elsie ran into the kitchen and dove in to her chair wearing her princess outfit while Devin followed closely behind sporting his Darth Maul costume.

“Meatloaf?” Devin groaned. “But, mom, we always have pizza Halloween night.”

“Not this Halloween,” Laura affirmed. “This year, we’re celebrating All Hallows’ Eve in the tradition your father and I grew up with.  A home cooked meal made with a very special and secret,” she leaned in toward Elsie and gave her a slight tickle on her belly, “recipe.”

“What’s the secret, mommy?” Elsie giggled.

“I’ll tell you some day when you’re older.” Laura looked over to her husband to share in the ‘inside joke’.

While Laura and her husband had grown up in more traditional households that engaged in ‘unique’ culinary practices monthly, they only indulged in the family tradition on rare occasions.  The world had become extremely public, making it difficult to get away with anything, especially when coupled with all of the advances in forensic science.  In fact, the only other time in the last couple of years they had participated in such an act was when they ‘removed’ a convicted child molester from their community the previous summer.

“You kids ready to go trick-or-treat?” Gary asked as he stuffed a large bite of meatloaf into his mouth.  Thoughts of vindication for his daughter’s pet, as well as relief from Mr. Dumont’s constant harassment of everyone in the neighborhood, made the delicacy that Laura had prepared that much more savory.

“I am, dad!” Devin responded, as he chugged down his glass of milk.

“I’m a princess, Daddy!” Elsie added enthusiastically.

“And a beautiful one at that,” Gary acknowledged. “Now kids, let’s make sure to invite everyone we see tonight to drop by the house later for our famous post trick-or-treating party.  Your mother has worked extra hard this year to give everyone a very special treat.”

Both Elsie and Devin nodded affirmatively as they jumped up from their chairs to go grab their goodies bags.

“Guess that means they’re ready,” Gary chuckled as he stood up from the table and grabbed his keys back off the hook. “I promise we won’t be too long, honey.”

“Make sure you’re not, my dear husband.” Laura unwrapped a dark red sucker and placed it seductively in her mouth. “Because after all the trick-or-treating and parties are done with, you and I have our own All Hallows’ Eve tradition to celebrate.”

“I love traditions,” Gary added with a knowing grin.

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Tales of Terror: “Don’t Look Back”

Tales of Terror: "Don't Look Back"

The sunlight was quickly fading overhead as my girlfriend, Tiffany, and I made our way back through the forest that covered more than half of my family’s 300-acre property.  My parents and I, along with my two younger brothers, had just moved here a few weeks ago and this was my first true exploration of the new surroundings.  Tiffany thought it was exciting to be out in the wilderness as the shadows began to grow, but I couldn’t help but feel anxious about getting back to the house before dark.

Throughout my adolescence I had always struggled with nightmares and ‘things that go bump in the night’.  Even though I had just turned 17, I was still experiencing recurring night terrors, the most recent one featuring the forest Tiffany and I were now trudging through.  In this dream, there were three beautiful women that lived in the forest by day, but then transformed into horrible trolls after dusk.  The three trolls would wait for my brothers and me to foolishly camp out in the forest at night, and would then capture and eat us.

I estimated that Tiffany and I still had another couple of miles to walk on the barely forged trail when suddenly I heard a branch snap behind us.  I looked around, but all I saw was a fat, brown squirrel scurrying up an old fir tree with a nut clenched in its jaws.  To this point I had been allowing Tiffany to lead as she was the one with the flashlight on her phone, but her pace wasn’t meeting my need for urgency.  I began walking faster and tried to pass her when she stopped abruptly.

“I’ve gotta pee,” Tiffany said.  She jumped off the trail and started heading into the mass of trees that hugged our path.

“Jesus, Tiffany, I’ve seen you naked.” Thoughts of our sexual escapade earlier that afternoon rushed into my head as I pictured her on top of me.  “Don’t wander too far off the trail.”

“A girl needs her privacy,” she laughed. “Turn around!”

“For crying out loud.” I turned toward the opposite direction though I could barely see the blonde hair on the top of her head as it was.  I was now feeling extremely nervous as I heard another branch snap in the distance.  I’m sure it was just a deer or a raccoon, but I regretted not having brought a flashlight.

“Tiffany, hurry up!” I shouted, all too aware that the sunlight was now completely gone, the summer moon barely yielding enough light that I could just make out the trail I was standing on.

“Tiffany?” I called out. “Tiffany?  I realize you probably think it’d be really funny to scare a guy in his own forest, but…”

“Run, Jake!” Tiffany screamed.

“Tiffany!” I cried out.  I frantically turned in the direction of her voice, but I couldn’t make out anything in the darkness.  I began crashing through the foliage, making my way toward the last spot I had seen her, when suddenly I heard what sounded like a pig snorting.

“Jake, Go!” Tiffany shouted, though this time it was from a much further distance.

I ran toward her as best I could, my body taking abuse from every tree branch and stump along the way.  After a few minutes I stopped to catch my breath and listen for any movement that could guide me in Tiffany’s direction.  There were no signs of her, but the snorting sounds I heard earlier seemed to be getting louder.  I searched the ground nearby and armed myself with a medium sized branch.

“Run, Jake, Run!” The words echoed in the forest, only this time, they weren’t Tiffany’s.  Instead it was a horrible, gnarled dialect that appeared to be mocking my girlfriend’s warnings.

“Tiffany!” I called out.  Thoughts of my ‘troll nightmare’ flooded my mind and caused me to abandon my common sense.  Could there really be trolls living in the forest?

“Run Jake Run.” A voice from the shadows croaked.

“Keep going, Jake,” mocked another, which I recognized as a statement Tiffany had made earlier while we were having sex.

“Don’t stop, Jake” the first voice growled in jest, again referencing Tiffany’s and my lovemaking session.

I realized whatever it was that was making its way toward me had been following Tiffany and I for the majority of our time in the woods.  I grew incredibly frustrated with myself as I began backing up toward the trail.  I wanted to believe that I was the ‘hero’ type, but in reality, I was a coward.  I continued to make my way back to the trail, convincing myself that Tiffany was most likely beyond my ability to rescue, and that the best thing I could do was to go get help and bring back the authorities to search the woods for her.

The pace of the mysterious creatures in the woods picked up as they made their way toward me.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  As soon as my feet hit the packed dirt of the trail I turned in the direction of the forest’s entrance and bolted.  I could only run so fast as the trail was half-covered with debris and overgrown trees, but the sting of branches hitting my face and limbs didn’t deter me.  My lungs heaved, grasping for deeper breaths from the night’s cool air to aid in my escape.  I was only a few hundred feet away from the entrance when I heard the creatures close in behind me.

“Run Jake Run,” they taunted.

I didn’t dare look back.  It would only slow me down, and I had no desire to see what kind of terrible things were chasing me.

“Come here lover boy!”

This time the creature’s voice was only a few inches away from my ear, and I could smell the stench of its rotten breath.  My heart sank knowing that my efforts to run away had been futile.  I felt a sharp pain on the side of my head and then everything went dark.

—–

I slowly opened my eyes to dim candlelight, my head throbbing from where I had been struck.  I was inside of a cage in the middle of a musty smelling room with no windows, though I was fairly certain I could make out a door several feet from where I was…hanging!  My eyes moved upward and I could see that my arms were chained above me from the ceiling, which was only a few inches taller than I could stand.  I also noticed, to my dismay, that I had been stripped of all my clothing.

I rolled my head to the left and my stomach turned as I witnessed the sight of Tiffany, naked, hanging next to me.

“Tiffany,” I whispered.  She just hung there, motionless.  A good amount of blood was seeping from her forehead into her long, blonde hair, and I feared that she might already be dead.

“He’s awake, he’s awake!”

My head shot up in the direction of a dark corner of the room from which three hideous looking monsters came. They appeared the same in real life as they had in my dreams. Scraggly black hair covered the tops of their green heads with small horns poking out a few inches above their ears. I guessed their height to be less than five feet, but their bodies looked strong and powerful, like wart-covered tree trunks.

“Hello lover boy,” one said to me as it moved toward the cage.

“What do you want,” I said, surprised that the words came out as calmly as they did. I was absolutely terrified.

“We wants you to serve us,” it replied.

“Yes, yes, serve us…tasties,” another one added with a twisted grin that exposed her rotting teeth.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I shouted at them.  Even though I was tied up and naked, the cage in between my captors and I was granting me inexplicable courage to raise my voice to them.

“Ladies,” the tallest of the three said as she moved past the other two and placed her face within a few inches of the cage. “Humans are stupid. You must explain things to them slowly and clearly.”

The creature’s hallow black eyes gazed into mine and I froze in terror.  I gathered she was the leader by the way the other two acknowledged her authority and became quiet.

“We’ve been watching you, Jake,” she said in a less-gnarled, eerie tone. “We wants you to be our new servant.  The humans who dwell in the house below our forest are always to be our servants.”

Suddenly the circumstances surrounding my parent’s acquisition of our new home made complete and horrible sense.  The previous owners of the house had abandoned it, leaving it to the banks to repossess and auction, my parents having successfully submitted the winning bid.  I now feared that I knew what happened to the last residents.

“Did you kill them?” I asked.

“Ay,” she affirmed.  “Looks like this one isn’t as stupid as most,” she said to the other two.

“Listen here, Romeo.” She reached out with a key and unlocked the cage.  I shook with trepidation as she walked up next to me, her eyes remaining fixed upon mine. “You will deliver a human to us every week that the moon is at its fullest.”

“Can we makes requests?” interrupted one of the others.  She was the slightest built of the three and appeared to have a third nostril.

“I likes the young ones,” added the other.

“Silence!” the lead beast commanded.  She leaned into me and placed her fat, index finger from her right hand upon my waist line.  I almost threw up.

“It doesn’t matter how old, or the gender, or any of that.  Just know, should you fail us, we will force you to watch as we devour your entire family.  Then,” she slid her finger from my waist down my inner thigh, “we’ll eat you bit by bit while your heart still beats.”

She went to exit the cage when I heard myself ask her one more question.  I was so overcome with fear that the sound of my own voice at this point startled me.

“What are you?”

“Heh, it wants to know about our curse, it does,” cackled the one with three nostrils.

“Nymphs by day, trolls by night!” the other hollered.

The banter from the two creatures outside the cage subsided as soon as their leader answered.

“Looking for answers are we?” She took one step back toward me and any charm that she had been attempting to use on me vanished. “It doesn’t matter what we are or how we came to be.  We own this land and everything that lives on it.  Serve us or be served!”

She quickly turned toward her fellow ‘trolls’ and exited the cage. “Let him go!” she barked.

I wanted to be strong as they loosened the rope so that my feet could touch the dirt floor.  I even thought about standing up to them, maybe even trying to fight the beasts and save Tiffany.  Instead, I just went through the motions of putting my clothes back on and walking through the door from their hut into the forest.  I wasn’t sure that Tiffany was even still alive, but it really didn’t matter.  I knew what the trolls had planned for her.

As I walked back home under the fully risen moon, the shock wore off, and I was faced with the daunting task of saving my family.  I couldn’t bear the thought of having to watch my brothers or parents being eaten by those monsters.  Slowly, my mind gave into the darkness of the evil task that had been forced upon me, and I began creating a mental checklist of those whom I could invite for a walk in the forest.

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Tales of Terror: “Allison”

Allison - Twisted Tales of Terror

Dear New Harbor Times readers,

My name is Sally Christenson, wife of author Luke Christenson, and I have purchased this full page ad in an effort to honor the memory of my late husband. I’m sure you’re familiar with the events that transpired at the Dennison home in September 2011 which claimed my husband’s life. The following are the six journal entries recorded by Luke leading up to the day he disappeared.

From the Journal of Luke Christenson…

Saturday, September 7, 2011

Sally and I arrived in New Harbor today to visit with her sister and family for the week. While I haven’t always been a fan of the dreary Washington State coastline, I do enjoy spending time with my wife’s family. I’m also hoping to find some inspiration for a new book; something edgier, darker…perhaps even a horror story. Sally often reminds me to be careful not to alienate my readers with something too dark or scary, but I’ve grown tired of writing science fiction. Perhaps it’s time for me to find a new audience. Regardless, I will let ‘Spirit’ dictate my path as I go for a run tomorrow through the town’s old neighborhoods. I find that the best roads taken in life’s journey are those that come when I am open to listening to the world around me.

Sunday, September 8, 2011

I had an interesting jog today. I began by heading toward the harbor, which is only a half mile away from Dawn’s house. From what I’ve been told, New Harbor used to be a thriving community back in the 80’s, but the decline of the timber industry and the recent recession has taken its toll. I passed by a lot of sad looking homes with broken down porches, leaking roofs and unkempt lawns. On my way back, I took a path that followed the railroad tracks, leading me through some of the oldest neighborhoods in town. Most of the houses appeared to still be occupied with the exception of one.

As I ran toward this particularly ran down home, I felt as though a darkness was permeating from its lot. The shed on the side of the house was missing its door and there was a large “No Trespassing” sign posted on it. The house still had its windows, but the white paint was horribly worn and it appeared that no one was living there; at least, that’s what I thought. I had just about passed by the house’s front door when I noticed a young girl looking out the large window of what I gathered was the living room. She was staring at me, her deep, hazel eyes following me as I continued by at a slow jog. The girl’s hair was long and brown and she was wearing a dingy white nightgown. Time almost seemed to stand still until I tripped over a crack in the worn out sidewalk and nearly fell. I shook off the moment and continued on my way home at a slightly faster pace.

It’s nearly time for bed and I still haven’t been able to shake the feeling I experienced from that house nor the image burnt into my mind of that little girl. In spite of my better judgment, I’m going to take the same route tomorrow.

Monday, September 9, 2011

It’s almost midnight and I don’t have long to write. I ran by the house again today and this time, when I passed by, I heard the screams of what I guessed was the little girl. I immediately ran onto the porch to look through the living room window. Despite the rain that had begun to fall and impair my vision, I was certain that I could see a man in a white tank top running through the living room after the girl. I ran over to the front door and, without thinking, kicked at it right below the knob. The door flew open and I raced into the living room, preparing myself for an altercation; however, all I found was an empty room.

The nauseating combination of mold and urine entered my nostrils as I looked around at the yellow-stained plaster walls and warped hard wood floors. It was obvious that no one had lived in this house for a very long time. As I continued to observe my surroundings, chills ran up my spine as I noticed that all of the windows were boarded up and that it had suddenly become very dark inside. Fear took hold of me as I rushed back through the front door and on to the street, only to discover that the late morning had turned to dusk.

When I returned home, Sally was in a panic. She said that I had been gone for nearly 9 hours. I didn’t understand what had happened so I just told her that I must have gotten lost in my thoughts…in our 13 years of marriage I have never lied to my wife…until tonight.

Tuesday, September 10, 2011

I am at a loss. After spending an entire morning convincing Sally to allow me out of her sight, I ran directly to the house. Once again there were windows where the boards had previously been and the same scene played out before my eyes as I watched a balding man in his late 40’s chase after the brown haired, hazel eyed little girl. Not wanting to risk another visit to the ‘Twilight Zone’, I approached the door with no intent to actually enter. The door showed no signs of me having broken through it yesterday as it remained closed and locked.

The girl’s screams grew louder and I could hear the man shouting angrily at her. It took everything in me to resist trying to save her. After a few moments, I returned to the sidewalk and walked away. As I turned the corner on my way back home, I could have sworn I heard the little girl whisper “Please Luke, save me.” The girl’s voice was soft and eerie. I believe enough in ghosts to now think that the house is haunted.

Wednesday, September 11, 2011

I didn’t have time to go on a jog today, though even if I had, I’m not sure I would have gone back to the house. I’m beginning to think that the inspiration I was looking for to write a new book is more than I can handle. Sally and I spent the day out at the beach with Dawn’s family, during which I was able to research the history of the house using my phone.

Evidently, about seven years ago, the family who was living there disappeared. Rumors circulated that Riley Dennison, the father, had murdered his wife, Deborah, and daughter, Allison, in a drunken rage. It was well known that he had a horrible temper and he’d been arrested twice on domestic disturbance charges. Despite the police’s best efforts, they were never able to uncover anything about Riley or his family’s disappearance.

There’s little doubt in my mind that Allison’s spirit still remains in the home and wants me to discover where her father buried her body so that she can rest in peace. Sally and I are heading back to our home in Malibu on Saturday, so if I decide to help Allison I’ll need to do it in the next two days. With that said, I’m not sure I’m up to the task. I’ve never been one for adventures and at this point, I’m truly scared.

Thursday, September 12, 2011

I rarely cuss in the pages of my journal, but…“Holy shit!” In spite of my fear, I returned to the house today and this time the little girl just stared back at me from the living room window. Her eyes were sad and it appeared that she had been crying. I spoke softly to her, saying “give me a sign and I promise I’ll find you”. A few seconds later, a deer appeared on the front lawn. I slowly turned and watched as the doe proceeded to walk around toward the back of the house. I followed, cautiously, until it stopped in the far corner of the backyard, only a few feet away from a small wooded area through which the train ran.

The deer lowered her nose to the grass and then looked back at me as though she were indicating to me where to look for Allison. As soon as I nodded my head in acknowledgement, the doe bolted into the woods. I ran to the spot in the yard and although I couldn’t see anything, the foul stench of death had suddenly filled the air around me. I had never been in the presence of a dead human before, but I had jogged past plenty of dead animals on the side of the road in my life.

I fell to my knees in the damp grass to see if I could feel anything. After having spent several minutes analyzing the ground and not finding anything I decided to start digging. I hadn’t thought to bring a shovel so I simply plunged both of my hands into the cold, wet soil and began pulling up sod. It only took a few handfuls before I discovered a hard surface about twelve inches under the ground. After a half hour more of digging, I uncovered a set of wood doors that appeared to be to an old wine cellar. The doors were locked with a large, rusty padlock.

I contemplated whether I should leave to purchase bolt cutters that instant in order to finish the task, but I knew Sally would grow anxious over my absence if I were gone for that long. Besides, it appears that I have solved the mystery of Allison’s disappearance, and I should have plenty of time tomorrow to purchase bolt cutters, cut the lock, and place an anonymous call to the authorities regarding the whereabouts of Allison’s body. This has indeed been a surreal experience. I’m looking forward to returning to Malibu and going back to writing science fiction.

A message from Sally Christenson:

My husband Luke was discovered in the wine cellar of the former Dennison residence the evening of Friday, September 13th, having passed away from a massive heart attack. After waiting several hours for him to return from his jog that day, I had begun to worry. I read the journal he keeps on his laptop and quickly made my way to the Dennison home, accompanied by my sister, Dawn. When we went around to the backyard and found that the doors to the wine cellar were locked, we immediately called 9-1-1.

The police found no signs of a struggle or foul play, though no one could explain how Luke got into the cellar since the padlock on the cellar door remained intact. There were, however, several markings carved deep into the dirt floor of the cellar that read “I’m not alone” and “She tricked me.” Based on Luke’s journal entries above, I am lead to believe that Luke’s messages in the dirt were referring to Allison. Along with Luke’s body, the police also pulled out the bodies of Allison and Riley Dennison from the cellar, though to everyone’s surprise, they did not find the wife, Deborah Dennison’s body.

I have not returned to New Harbor since my husband’s passing. However, I’m told that the Dennison home still remains standing despite my letters to the city urging them to have it torn down. To anyone who has read this far, I warn you to please keep your families and friends far away from the Dennison home. I fear there is still evil there.

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Sarah Chase Origins: The Nosferatu Murders

Sarah Chase Origins: The Nosferatu Murders

The following is the ‘Origins’ story of Sarah Chase, the lead character in the “Prophecy Trilogy”.  These events take place about a year-and-a-half before the first book in the series, Hallows End.

Detective Sarah Chase watched in her rear view mirror as the pick-up made its way down the gravel driveway toward an old farmhouse.  She had been following it for nearly three miles along the rural country roads that fell just outside of her precinct’s border.  The vehicle belonged to a couple of young men whom Sarah suspected might be part of the “Nosferatu” murders (as named by the press) that had been plaguing the city of Portland for the last several months.

The first murder had taken place at summer’s end of the previous year.  A female student from the local university was found hanging naked in a tree with the blood almost completely drained from her body.  The killers had attempted to make it appear as though the young woman was the victim of a vampire attack, evidenced by two small puncture wounds in her neck.  Since the initial killing, five more women from the university had all been murdered in the same way, each one occurring when the moon was at its fullest.

Sarah waited until she was well out of sight before parking her Camaro on the side of the road, a half-mile past where the pick-up had turned off.  She took a deep breath and turned off the engine, knowing what she was about to do could seriously jeopardize her career.  Chief Reynolds had denied her request to be assigned the case, making the actions she was now taking a dangerous turn back to the vigilante lifestyle she had tried to leave behind.

It had been almost fifteen years since Sarah was nearly raped and murdered in the front of her apartment building in Eastern Los Angeles.  Following a couple of days stay in the hospital, she soon began training at a local mixed martial arts dojo, determined to never be someone’s victim again.  Sarah spent most of her twenties hiding in the shadows, taking vengeance upon men who attacked innocent women.  Though she was 33 years old now and a respected police detective, there was still a calloused place in Sarah’s heart that called for justice, regardless of what the law permitted.

The grass crunched under her feet as she squeezed through a barbed wire fence and made her way across the frozen field that surrounded the farmhouse.  The low-hanging fog provided just enough cover that it was unlikely anyone would see her.  She promptly spotted the pick-up and three other cars parked in front of a faded gray wood barn, located about 50 feet from the farmhouse.

Sarah crouched down, her heartbeat picking up speed over the realization that she was greatly outnumbered.  To make matters worse, the sun was starting its descent toward the western horizon, causing the already cold air to tighten its wintery grasp around her body.  As she got closer to the barn Sarah recognized one of the cars, a steel gray Cadillac with a slight dent in its rear bumper.  It belonged to Bishop Morgan.

Earlier in the week, Sarah had visited Bishop Morgan’s church, the Brothers of Night, in order to question him about his church’s recruitment activities on the university grounds.  The church was under investigation for providing unlawful incentives to its all-male constituency, including prostitution services and narcotics.  During Sarah’s visit, the Bishop had been extremely uncooperative, citing “religious freedom” and threatening legal recourse if she tried to search the premises.

Unable to secure a search warrant, Sarah instead took it upon herself to follow Bishop Morgan and a few of the other members of his church around town.  She soon discovered that nearly all of the ‘Brothers’ were students at the university.  Sarah also learned that two of its members, the same men she had been following in the pickup, had been identified as close friends of Angelica Ruiz, the third victim in the Nosferatu case.

Sarah heard voices coming from inside the barn as she made her way over to the dilapidated structure.  She swiftly ducked under a broken window and peered through a crack in the warped planks.   One of her suspects, a tall blonde guy with a severe scar on his right cheek was talking to Bishop Morgan.

“Everything is set for tonight, Master.”

“As it should be,” the Bishop replied back, the arrogant tone in his voice grating on Sarah’s eardrums.  Bishop Morgan was a short man, with silver hair that barely covered half his head and a permanent scowl that accentuated his harsh demeanor.  “The moon’s cycles must be observed,” he stated coldly.

Sarah looked around as best she could, counting five men total, her two suspects, Bishop Morgan and another pair of young men who were carrying a coffin into the middle of the room.

“Open it,” Bishop Morgan ordered impatiently.  The lid of the coffin was lifted off to reveal a young woman tied up and struggling.  Sarah couldn’t actually see the woman from her vantage point, but she could hear the muffled cries coming from the wood casket.  There was no doubt in her mind that Bishop Morgan and the Brothers of Night were indeed the ones behind the Nosferatu murders.

‘Scarface’, as Sarah nicknamed in her head, walked over to the coffin and proceeded to inject the girl with a needle full of clear liquid. “That should keep her calm until tonight, Your Excellency.”

“Good.” Bishop Morgan appeared to be quite anxious as he had already taken his black gloves on and off twice in the short time Sarah had been watching.

“I must return to your fellow brothers to make the rest of our preparations.  Scott and Michael will stay with the girl to ensure she stays quiet while you two watch the perimeter.  Call me immediately if you see anyone.” As soon as the Bishop had issued his orders he began marching hurriedly toward the double doors at the front of the barn.

Sarah’s breaths quickened.  She drew her gun and hid behind a couple of rotting hay bales.  Since it appeared that the girl was safe for the moment, she pulled out her cell phone to text for back-up.  Sarah was only half way through her text when she heard footsteps approaching.  She tried to hurry, but before Sarah could hit ‘send’, a pale hand reached over the bales of hay, grabbed her left arm and launched her several feet into the air.

“Detective Chase,” Bishop Morgan snarled as Sarah landed on her tailbone, the cell phone flying from her hand and out of reach. “I thought I recognized your cheap perfume.”

Before Sarah could say a word, the Bishop lunged toward her; his hallow eyes filled with uncanny rage.  She took aim at his chest and fired, but the Bishop moved so fast that she missed his heart, hitting him in his left shoulder instead.  The impact hurled the Bishop back several feet, leaving him sprawled out on the ground, his black robe smeared with dirt and ice.

“Stay down or I’ll shoot you again you son-of-a-bitch!”  Sarah rose to her feet and pulled out a set of handcuffs from the back of her jeans pocket.

“Ha,” the bishop said mockingly as he slowly twisted his body to get up. “Feel free to continue shooting at me, Detective, but eventually you’ll run out of your precious bullets.” He turned toward her with an evil smile, exposing two elongated canine teeth.

“I said stay down!” Sarah yelled, her mind discounting the Bishop’s appearance as nothing more than a psychopath’s attempt to fool others into thinking he was a vampire.  Bishop Morgan stood up defiantly, forcing her to fire another round.  The bullet missed his temple by only a few inches as he soared through the air and grabbed Sarah by her throat.

“Stupid girl!” he growled, slamming her body up against the barn.  With the gun still held firmly in her hand, Sarah tried to point the chamber at him, but the Bishop anticipated her move.  He immediately grabbed the gun with his free hand, breaking two of Sarah’s fingers in the process.

“I think the time has come, Detective Chase,” the Bishop cast aside Sarah’s gun and squeezed her throat even harder as he spoke, “for you to know the truth about me.”  Just as he was about to sink his fangs into her neck, Sarah dropped the handcuffs and reached behind the small of her back with her good hand.  This time Bishop Morgan was caught off guard as she pulled out her spare gun and fired a bullet straight through his right eye.

The Bishop fell back screaming as he held both hands over his bloody eye socket.  Sarah regained her footing and, without hesitation, fired another round into the Bishop’s skull.  His body collapsed in a heap upon the dirt and gravel.

“Mother fucker!” Sarah gasped as she tried to recover from being nearly choked to death.  She knew the ‘Brothers’ would have heard the gun shots, so she quickly positioned herself right next to the Bishop’s body with her gun aimed at the front of the barn.  Sarah looked around to see if she could spot her other gun or her cell phone, but dusk had arrived and her vision was limited.

“Master!” She heard one of the men cry out.  Her attention returned to the barn as she watched all four of the Bishop’s minions filter out of the barn and come running toward her.

“Back off!” Sarah commanded.  All of them paused, though she could tell they fully intended to rush her. “I’ll shoot anyone who takes another step.” Sarah was ferociously working out a plan for her next move when suddenly the Bishop’s body began to stir.

“What the hell?” Sarah looked down and saw the hole in the back of the Bishop’s head slowly starting to heal.  She didn’t believe in vampires or anything of the sort, but there wasn’t any time to consider alternatives.  Instead, her instincts took over as she fired all but two rounds into the Bishop’s head, leaving nothing left to regenerate.

The Bishop’s followers briefly looked at one another and charged.  Sarah recognized the dangerous situation she was in and decided she couldn’t afford to show mercy.  She immediately fired her last two rounds, hitting one of the men in the chest and another in his abdomen.  She then braced for impact as the other two men jumped on her, slamming her to the ground.

Adrenaline rushed through Sarah’s body as she struck one of her assailants with a hard knee to the groin.  Her other attacker, ‘Scarface’, attempted to stab her with a knife which she quickly re-directed into his partner’s calf.  She then thrust her elbow into Scarface, shattering his nose.  He dropped to his knees right away, giving Sarah the perfect opportunity to swing her legs around his neck and snap it.

Sarah picked herself up off the ground and shifted her attention to the man with the knife in his calf.  He was doing his best to run away on one leg, but had only made it a few feet when she caught up to him.  A look of terror came upon his face as Sarah ripped the weapon out of his leg and plunged it into his heart, killing him instantly.

With her chest beating furiously, Sarah paused for a moment to catch her breath.  The sounds of violence that had filled the air gave way to a faint moaning that was coming from one of the men Sarah had shot.  She walked over to examine the bodies and found that while the man who’d been hit in the heart was already dead, the one who’d received a bullet to the belly was still breathing.

Sarah knelt down in front of the young man and stared into his eyes.  He was barely 18 years old, with wavy brown hair and a look of innocence that she seldom saw on the faces of the men she had killed.  He softly pleaded for help, but Sarah knew she couldn’t afford to have any witnesses.  Though her fury hadn’t entirely disappeared, she did manage to soften her eyes as she leaned over him and suffocated the young man with his own sweatshirt.

After taking a few steps toward the barn, Sarah stopped to look back at the Bishop’s mutilated corpse.  His head hadn’t grown back nor had his body turned to ash or done any of the other ridiculous things Sarah had seen portrayed in the movies.  Instead it just lay there like every other dead body surrounding her.

Her mind raced as she considered how to cover up the mess.  No one would understand why Sarah had fired so many rounds into the Bishop’s skull.  And while self-defense could justify her having killed the Bishop’s four minions, she still lacked a valid explanation as to what she was doing there in the first place.

Sarah entered the barn and opened the casket in which the young woman had been trapped.  She was completely unconscious, though luckily, still breathing.  Sarah carried her out of the barn and into the abandoned farmhouse.  There were no furnishings in the house, so the best Sarah could do was lay the woman gently upon the stained hardwood floor in the entryway.

Having collected every bullet she had fired, along with the items she had lost during the fight, Sarah dragged all five of the dead bodies into the barn and set it on fire.  After she felt confident that the fire had burned away any incriminating evidence that could possibly point to her, Sarah used a cell phone she found in one of the deceased men’s pockets to call 911.  Taking extreme care to cover all of her tracks, Sarah made her way back to her car and waited until she could hear sirens before driving off.

About half way home, the reality of what Sarah had just done began to sink in.  Tears formed behind her eyes, but not a single drop rolled down her face.  She felt both frustration and guilt, but neither of those emotions was anything new to her.  What had her truly rattled, however, was the question that continued to circulate in her mind.  Did she really believe she had just killed a vampire?

“Hallows End”, Sarah Chase’s debut novel and the first book of the “Prophecy Trilogy” is available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle.  Please click here for more details.

Tales of Terror: “Let’s Play a Game”

Let's Play a Game

“Kara, this place is awesome!” Jill exclaimed as we walked into ‘Anastasia’s’, a small costume & new age gifts store.  Most of our friends were going to the big Halloween store in the mall to pick up their costumes for the weekend’s upcoming festivities, but I preferred a smaller venue with more authentic items to choose from.  Besides, Michael worked here and I knew Jill had a crush on him.

The costumes were displayed on the main wall in the middle of the store with the more conventional items like tarot cards and witchcraft books in the front, and the more adult-oriented items in the back.  Jill immediately grabbed a gypsy costume and headed for the dressing room.  I wasn’t in quite as much of a hurry as I preferred to savor the ‘costume selection’ process by taking the time to look at each outfit and accessory.  Besides, Jill was sort of high maintenance and I knew she’d need my undivided attention while she tried things on.

“What do you think?” Jill asked me as she came out sporting a purple, pink and turquoise dress that looked two sizes too small for her.  Her hemline looked like it was barely covering her ass and her boobs were spilling out of the top with her long blonde curls resting upon them.  I admit I was a little jealous that I was not as blessed in the boobs department, but at least it kept most of the creeps at school from taking an interest in me.

“Looks good Jill.” Michael said as he walked past her with a couple of masks in his hands.  Normally it would have been odd for a high school football player to be working at a store like Anastasia’s, but in this case Michael’s aunt owned the store.  He was staring so hard at Jill I was surprised he didn’t run into the sales counter as he walked by it.  I was actually not a fan of Michael, but he was athletic and had that whole ‘tall, dark & handsome’ thing going so it was easy to understand why Jill fawned over him.

I could see by Jill’s reaction to Michael that my opinion was no longer needed.  She moved on to searching through the accessories while I headed to the dressing room to try my first attempt at costume bliss.  As I closed the door I could hear a couple of girls giggling from the back room.  I rolled my eyes, mocking their immaturity. “It vibrates too.”  I shouted out, feeling quit clever about myself.

When I came out of the dressing room I looked for Jill to give me the thumbs up or down on the long, red and black Victorian style dress I was wearing, but she was standing over next to the masks flirting with Michael.  I stared at the mirror, somewhat annoyed that my girlfriend had abandoned me, and tried to decide if I should dye my brown hair black for Halloween.  While in the midst of my mental contemplation, I noticed a guy wearing all black enter the store carrying a large duffel bag.

The guy was about our age, extremely clean-cut with perfectly combed, dishwater blonde hair and steely grey eyes.  He walked straight up to the counter, let his duffel bag fall with a ‘thud’ and then waited impatiently for someone to assist him.  Michael said something to Jill that made her laugh, probably mocking the ‘guy in black’, and then walked over to the counter where he was standing.

“Uh dude, I’m sorry but we don’t allow duffel bags or back packs in the store.” Michael’s tone was slightly condescending, probably because this guy had taken him away from his ‘flirt-fest’ with Jill.

The guy in black gave Michael a very confused look. “I, I’m sorry do you think I’m going to steal something?  Is there some law that precludes me from carrying my personal things with me?  Perhaps I’m not allowed to purchase any additional items, either?” Michael wasn’t sure how to respond.

“Dude, I’m so messing with you right now.  My name’s Eric.”  Eric chuckled while he extended his hand out to shake Michael’s.  “I’ve got something I want to show you.”  Eric bent down, unzipped his bag and rose back up with a gun in his right hand.  Michael quickly backed away from the counter and raised his arms half way in front of his chest.  He was about to say something when Eric cut him off.

“Before you speak, don’t.”  Eric leaned forward, pushing the gun even closer to Michael’s face.  “Here’s what’s going to happen everyone.”  Eric’s voice got louder so that all of us in the store could hear him. “First of all, don’t bother trying to leave out the emergency exit in the back because I already locked it from the outside.  Second, I know there are exactly five of you in here so will the two little sluts in the back please come out front before I put a bullet in this guy’s brain.  Same thing happens if anyone uses their cell phone!”

The two girls immediately came out from the back room and joined us.  One was a tall, African-American girl that looked anorexic (probably wanted to be a model) and the other girl, a ‘ginger’, was on the short side with a couple extra curves.  I recognized both of them from our high school, though I couldn’t remember their names.  Honestly, unless they were a close friend or someone on the cheer squad with Jill, I didn’t really attempt to remember anyone’s name, especially if they weren’t in our senior class.

“Wow.” Eric grinned maniacally. “That was fast.  Guess no one wants to see you get hurt.” He said looking at Michael.  Eric confiscated all of our phones, checking them first to see if anyone had tried calling or texting (which no one had dared to), and then ordered the four of us girls to get into the dressing room.  Jill appeared terrified so I held her hand, trying to calm her.  The other two girls were even worse off, both crying profusely and in hysterics.

“You guys need to get it under control or you’re going to get us all killed.” I told them, keeping the volume of my voice low so that Eric wouldn’t hear me.  I understood they were scared and upset, but acting like a bunch of sissies wasn’t going to help the situation.  I had just managed to get everyone quieted down when I heard Eric walking back towards the dressing room.

“Okay ladies!” Eric opened the door with feverish gusto. “Our game is about to begin.” Eric was acting the part of some creepy game show host as he motioned for us to get out of the dressing room with a wave of his gun.  The store was much darker now that Eric had drawn the blinds and covered the glass door entrance with a long, black sheet.  Michael was sitting on a chair in the middle of the floor, tied up and gagged, with a candle placed about three feet away from him on all four sides.

“This evening you will all be part of a new and wonderfully terrifying reality game show.” Eric oozed an excessive amount of sick enthusiasm as he pointed to the webcams he had set up throughout the store.  In addition to the webcams, he was using a small hand-held camera to narrate with.  “First of all, each of you is required to wear a costume for this game.  What are your names?” Eric pointed his gun in Jill’s and my direction.  I immediately responded to him with both of our names as Jill went speechless from fear.

“Well, Jill and Kara, since you’re already in costume, please take opposite sides from Michael and have a seat.  Eric then pointed to the other two girls, “You sluts! Take off your pedestrian clothes; all of them; and put these on.” Eric flashed a perverse grin as he threw a ‘Queen of Hearts’ and ‘Geisha’ costume down in front of them.

“If either of you protest my request, boy toy here will pay the penalty.”  Eric placed his gun in his waist band and pulled out a rather large knife that looked like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.  The blade was curved and serrated with a dragon etched into the handle.  He then walked towards Michael and made a small cut in Michael’s forearm. “Just to make sure you bitches believe me.” Eric snarled.

Eric watched intently as the two girls stripped down to nothing.  The slighter built girl grabbed the Queen of Hearts outfit which consisted of a form-fitting black dress with red hearts.  She cried and trembled as she pulled it up over her naked body.  The other girl bent down to pick up the bright blue and black Geisha robe, and slipped it on over her exposed flesh.

“Take your spots around the chair.” Eric commanded.  He looked at the four of us in a circle surrounding Michael and appeared very proud of his handy work. “You all look quite lovely.” He said in an uber-creepy way.  He then instructed us to pick up our candles and walk around Michael while he began playing freaky Halloween tracks on an iPod.

After we had been walking for what seemed like forever, I decided to break the silence.  “So, judging by the webcams you’ve placed all over, I’m guessing you’re a delusional, sexually frustrated freak who’s watched a little too much torture-porn.  Am I right?” I’m sure the other girls thought I was crazy for provoking Eric, but I had a method to my madness.

“Fuck you bitch!” Eric shouted in a rage as he made his way back into the circle and slashed away at Michael’s other forearm, this time making a much bigger cut.  Michael screamed out in pain through his gag, but I knew he was as good as dead anyway and I was focused on saving Jill and me.

“Listen psycho, why don’t you just get to the point?” My chest was puffed out like some football player with too much testosterone.  Everyone had stopped walking and was watching the scene between Eric and me.  Eric threw down the knife, grabbed his gun and pushed the barrel of it against Michael’s skull.

“You know what,” Eric said, completely unhinged, “if you want the game to go faster then let’s make it happen!”  He then turned around and pointed the gun at the girl dressed as a Geisha. “Pick up the knife and kill him!” Eric commanded.  The girl froze in terror and looked at me as though I would have an answer for her as to what she should do next.

“Sorry, sorry I forgot to explain the rules.” Eric laughed as he scratched the side of his head anxiously with the barrel of his gun.  “The name of the game is ‘Kill or Be Killed’.  You see, ‘Memoires of a Geisha’ can either kill the boy in the chair with the knife or I’ll shoot her in the head with my gun.  If she kills him then she’ll take his place in the chair and the choice to ‘kill or be killed’ will pass on to the next.  One of you lucky kids will get to go free tonight and the rest of you…well, at least you all get to be stars in my show, right?”

“Let me go first.” I said as I began walking towards the knife.

“You’re going last!” He shouted back “Now step back or I’ll just shoot everyone right now.” I had definitely succeeded in throwing Eric off his ‘flow’, which was exactly my intent.  However, before I could make my next move, I was going to have to wait until he was distracted.  I stepped back into the circle so that Eric could once again focus on the Geisha.

“You have ten seconds to make your choice dear; starting…now.”  Eric began to count down from ten while the girl just stood there, scared and crying.  There was no way she had it in her to kill Michael.  The lower the numbers got the more hysterical the young girl became, but she never even made an attempt to pick up the knife. “One” Eric said calmly.  I closed my eyes and heard the gun fire a single bullet.  Jill and the girl dressed as the queen of hearts screamed.

“Shut the fuck up, both of you, or we’ll just skip right to me blowing each of your brains out!”  Eric was yelling at them and shaking his gun in the air.  The dead girl’s brains had projected all over the front counter, leaving a horrific mess of gore and shattered pieces of skull.  Now that Eric had fired his gun I anticipated he would accelerate the pace of his game, not wanting to risk the police showing up before he had finished.

Eric popped his neck from side to side and commanded us to begin walking again. The cracks of sunlight that had been sneaking their way through the blinds were now completely gone as the night had come upon us.  I knew exactly how I was going to save Jill and me from this mess, but unless the police miraculously showed up in the next few minutes, no one else looked like they were going to survive.

“Stop walking.” Eric said calmly as the Rob Zombie song that had been playing on the iPod came to an end.  He threw the knife down at the Queen of Heart’s feet.  “Your turn ‘Queenie’…Kill Michael.”  It occurred odd to me that Eric referred to Michael by his name when I didn’t remember anyone having told him that.  The poor girl grabbed the knife and walked over to Michael.  She raised it above him as Eric went through the same count down as before.  Just when I thought she might actually do it, Michael looked up at her and she lost it.  The girl dropped the knife to the floor and another gunshot followed shortly after.

“Well, no surprise there.”  Eric quipped as he kicked the girl’s body out of the way.  “It looks like it’s come down to the blonde versus the brunette.  My money’s on you ‘Sabrina.”  I couldn’t believe he had just addressed me as the ‘teenage witch’; normally I would have come up with a witty insult in that instance, but I needed to stay focused on the whole life or death situation in front of me.

Eric instructed us to once again start walking in the circle.  He grabbed his hand-held camera and shoved it in both Jill’s and my faces for close-ups.  I continued to look forward and acted as though nothing that had just transpired had fazed me.  After a couple more minutes Eric appeared bored and I knew the moment of truth was about to come.

Eric looked up at the ceiling for a split second, rolled his eyes and head forward and then looked straight at Jill. “Stop.” He said with a twisted splendor.  “What do you think blondie; can you do it?”  Eric placed the knife directly in Jill’s hand, the gun in his other hand pointed straight at her skull.  “Countdown begins…now!”

Jill held the knife loosely in her hand and looked at me with tears in her eyes.  Anytime she had ever faced adversity in her life she looked to me, and I was always there for her.  We had been best friends since we were six years old and no one was ever going to take her away from me.  I nodded my head up and down and mouthed the words “you have to” to her.

Jill looked into Michael’s eyes and he nodded his head in agreement that she had to kill him.  Eric’s eyes widened as Jill took the knife, her tears now raining down her face, and stabbed Michael in the heart.  The life in Michael’s eyes vanished quickly.  Jill stepped away from his body and fell to her knees sobbing.

“Ladies and gentleman the girl’s got a will to live after all!”  Eric cheered gleefully into the camera.  He walked over to Michael’s body, untied it, and cast it to the side with the knife still in it.

“And now it’s time for the climax of our show.” Eric said in true game-show host form.  He placed the gun in his waist band again and while holding the camera in his left hand, attempted to force Jill up from her knees with his right hand. “It’s your turn in the chair sweetie.” He exclaimed, as he struggled to get Jill up and into the chair.

With Eric preoccupied with Jill, my window of opportunity had come.  I quickly grabbed the knife out of Michael’s carcass and drove it through Eric’s spine so fiercely that the end of the knife burst through Eric’s rib cage.  Sadistic as it might sound, I wished I could have seen the bastard’s look of shock at that moment.  Before he could turn around, I grabbed the gun from his waist and unloaded several bullets into his chest and skull.  His lifeless body fell to the floor like a sack of putrid meat.

I immediately went to Jill and held her as she broke down in my arms.  We had survived.

After the drama of the endless police questions and the news cameras faded, we went to my house.  Jill was planning to sleep over anyway that night since her parents were out of town and there was no way she could be left alone.  Throughout the night Jill woke up screaming every hour, and every time I was right there to comfort her and help her get back to sleep.  Over time the nightmares would fade, as would the memory of Michael.

I wished I could tell her the ugly truth about Michael; how he had raped me our freshman year and that he had deserved to die; but in the end I decided it was a story that was better left untold.  After all, Jill wouldn’t understand.  Obviously, Eric never understood either since he went along with my whole ‘horror game show’ idea thinking it would be him that ended up with me instead of Jill.  He could never have guessed though that it was Jill that I loved.  And now no one would ever come between us again.

Vince Dawson: “The Island”

Vince Dawson - The Island

My name is Vince Dawson.  The year is 7518 and the universe has remained in a state of relative peace since the combined forces of the Alliance defeated the Krion Empire a decade ago.  While the Alliance won the war, we were not successful in capturing all of the enemy survivors.  Now, the remaining pieces of the Krion Empire lurk in the dark spaces of uncharted galaxies, waiting for the opportune time to once again plunge the free world into a state of chaos and destruction.   These days I am no longer an airstrike commander, but instead a hired gun and bounty hunter who travels the lesser known parts of the universe.  My most recent assignment has left me in a precarious situation on the planet Venus21…

“Honestly guys, I had no idea that the Admiral’s daughter was spoken for.”  I said as I tried to reason with the handful of guards that were accompanying me on our short ride from the Port of Helen to what the locals here simply called “the island”.  Evidently, it wasn’t enough to deny me the reward I was owed after I had rescued Admiral Nupon’s daughter from the Dugg pirate ship.  Now, the Admiral insisted that I be condemned to “the island” where he was certain I would meet my death; all because his daughter, Kaliss couldn’t keep her hands off me on our way back to Venus21.  Not that I had minded her being all over me; the Princess Kaliss was truly a knockout.  I just wished she hadn’t told her father that she no longer wished to marry the guy she was betrothed to because she had fallen in love with me.

I turned to the guard on my left as we continued towards the island on a small hovercraft.  “So, uh, what kind of survival gear you gonna hook me up with?”  I asked him sarcastically.  He was short, maybe 5’8 in his boots, and judging by his youthful appearance I guessed he was fairly inexperienced.  He looked rather nervous as he struggled within himself not to turn my direction.

“I’m a little sensitive to the cold so would you mind packing me an extra blanket?”  I gave him a big toothy grin, but still nothing.  Even with the restraints around my wrists and ankles, I figured I could have easily wrestled his gun away and taken out the rest of the guards.  However, I was concerned that I’d have to kill most of them in the process which would have gotten me into even hotter water with Admiral Nupon.  Instead, I decided to just face the island for the next 48 hours, swim back to the port and hope that the Admiral was too focused on his daughter’s wedding to notice my stealing my space ship back.

The hovercraft stopped several hundred feet short of the island’s shore and I could feel my restraints being removed by one of the guards behind me.  “If you guys wouldn’t mind, could you drop me off a little closer to the beach?  I’m a little worn out after having been with the Princess for all those days.  I know she’s the Admiral’s daughter and that she probably hasn’t been with a lot of guys, but you’d be surprised on how many times she wanted to…”

A surprisingly powerful shove sent me flying off the hovercraft and into the sea below.  The water was extremely warm, like the tropical oceans that I enjoyed during my childhood when we would visit my father’s family on Earth.  My father came from a long lineage of royalty though he seldom ever spoke of them after we left the solar system.  I was a teenager when the Krions first started terrorizing the weaker planets, and my father had to relocate us constantly as he was promoted through the ranks of the still forming Alliance.  I shook my head as my trip down memory lane ended and quickly swam to shore before the local sea creatures discovered my presence.

Looking above at the two suns in the clear, pinkish-blue sky, I considered taking a long deserved nap under one of the palm trees.  My skin was naturally on the darker side thanks to my father’s side of the family tree, but the ladies seemed to really go crazy when I had a nice tan.  Despite the vacation-like scene though, I knew I couldn’t just lie out in the open with no shelter or defensible position; especially considering I didn’t have any idea what I was up against on the island.  About thirty feet from the shoreline, the sandy beach turned into a dense jungle from which a rather large volcano emerged several miles within.  I began my journey into the thick, green foliage in hopes of finding both fresh drinking water and a place I could disappear into for the next 48 hours.

After about two hours of hiking I had made it to the base of the volcano.  There was a modestly sized lagoon with a stream running into it and a small, shallow cave that appeared to be uninhibited.  “Perfect” I said to myself as I went about fortifying my surroundings with a few traps around the perimeter.  I was also able to find a sharp enough rock to use for carving out a couple of spears from fallen tree branches.  The guards had taken just about everything useful out of my flight vest save a few protein bars, some matches and four condoms.  I was pretty sure the condoms weren’t going to be of any use on the island, but I suppose a guy never knows.

Just as I had finished my second spear I heard something approaching towards the stream.  I quickly retreated behind a boulder that stood a few feet from the entrance to the cave.  Whatever it was that approached was intelligent enough to avoid the traps I had set.  About a minute had passed when I saw a figure rush past my hiding spot and into the cave.  It was a woman!

“Hello.”  I said, doing my best to keep my voice from echoing too loudly.  The lagoon was partially surrounded by the side of the volcano making for rather less-than-ideal acoustics when one was trying to avoid being found by whatever it was that inhibited the island.  I moved from behind the boulder, lowered my spear and stood directly in front of the cave so that whoever was in there could see me.  Standing 6’5 and being built like a modern day god I knew I could come off a little intimidating so I proceeded in my most charming and gentlest tone of voice.

“There’s no need to be afraid.  My name is Vince Dawson, Airstrike Commander of the 15th Regiment. (The ladies always seemed to be impressed by the title.)  I’m afraid I’m currently occupying this particular area, but I’m sure we can work something out.”

“This is my domain pirate.  Leave now!”  She said from inside the cave.  Her tone wasn’t nearly as charming as mine had been.  I was tempted to go into the cave and bring her out myself, but I thought I’d give her another chance.

“I’m sorry, but I saw no evidence that this cave was being used by anyone.  Listen, I’m only here on the island for a couple of days so why don’t you just come out of the cave and we’ll talk this over.”  There was a long pause of silence and then a very young woman, barely in her 20’s emerged from the cave.  She had long brown hair that appeared it hadn’t been washed in days and eyes so green they matched the surrounding foliage.  She also had a rather nice form that I probably took a little too much time to admire.

“See anything you like pirate?”  She asked in a tone that I was smart enough to realize wasn’t sincere.  She lunged towards me with a dagger in her right hand and I quickly disarmed her.  She struggled as I held her against my chest with my powerful arms.  “Let me go you bastard!” She screamed.  I released her from my grip having taken her knife, and she turned towards me with fire in her eyes.  “Leave now pirate or I will kill you!”

“Listen honey,” the charm in my tone was gone. “I can appreciate that you don’t trust me and that it’s probably been a little scary for you on this island all alone.  However, I’m not you’re enemy and I’m not a damn pirate. I was just doing a job for the Admiral when I got detoured and ended up here.”  There was a pause in the conversation and I could tell by the way she was looking at me that she was trying to decide if she could trust me.

“Admiral Nupon?”  She responded.  “That makes sense why you’re on the island then.  The Admiral doesn’t like pirates cutting in on his business and he certainly doesn’t care for morons.” I was about to object to her insulting my intelligence, but she cut me off before I could speak.  “We’re not alone you idiot!”  She said as the she brushed a lock of hair from her eyes.  “Ogres roam this island.”

“Ogres?”  I asked, somewhat in disbelief.  I knew very little about Venus21, but my understanding was outside of a few spectacular beasts that roamed the oceans the planet was void of larger life forms.  The girl headed towards the lagoon, placed her cupped hands into the water and drank.  She was wearing a camouflage top and grey cargo pants that complimented her athletic build.  “What do these ogres look like?”  I asked.

“They’re green, ugly and about twice the size of you.”  She continued in between drinks.  “We call them the Hidoki and they are the original inhabitants of Venus21.  Humans murdered the majority of their race centuries ago when the planet was first “pioneered”.  What’s left of their race lives here on the island and the Admiral fancies them as his personal executioners.  Their intelligence is minimal, but they know the island’s terrain, they’re incredibly strong and they like to eat humans.  Of course, the pirates that are sent to this island deserve such a fate.”

“I’ve already told you, I’m not a pirate.”  I responded, quite annoyed with her repeated accusation.  Being called a pirate was just about the worst insult one could receive seeing as to how they had well deserved reputations for being rapists and murderers.  In an attempt to clear my name, I proceeded to tell the girl about my mission to save the princess and how it all was a misunderstanding between myself and the Admiral.  I then asked what her name was and why she was here on the island.

“Myra. My name is Myra, Mr. Dawson, and my being on the island isn’t a result of my choosing the wrong fuck buddy.  My parents were both banished to this island as a result of their opposing the Admiral’s reign.  The Alliance may have won the war against the Krions, but in the process they made deals with hundreds of corrupt warlords in exchange for military support.  I am on this island to rescue my parents and get them back to the mainland.”  As Myra spoke I knew of the “deals” she referred to.  The Alliance was formed out of necessity, not out of principle, and in order to amass the kind of army that could take out the Krions some arrangements and political appointments had to be given to less-than admirable individuals.

I had just asked Myra about her plans as to how she was going to escape the island when I heard the sound of several heavy steps approaching us.  “We’ve been speaking too loudly.”  Myra said as she jumped to her feet.  She began running in the opposite direction of the footsteps, but it turned out the Hidoki had already surrounded the entire clearing.  I quickly scaled up the side of the volcano under the cover of a few boulders and watched as the giant beasts scooped Myra up and placed her in a large vine sack.  There were too many of them for me to attempt a rescue so instead I followed them as they made their way through the jungle and back to their village.

Both suns had set by the time we had reached the Hidoki’s village on the other side of the volcano.  There were three moons that orbited around Venus21, but all were shining at a minimum tonight, making for poor visibility.  Rather than risking a botched rescue attempt in the darkness, I decided to remain in the protected rock formations above the village and wait until the first sun to make my next move.

The night had only lasted a few hours before the first sun peeked above the horizon with a magnificent display of orange and purple.  I looked below in hopes that none of the giants would be awake yet, but I was sorely disappointed.  There were already about 50-60 of the green, hairless beasts roaming about the village and unfortunately, Myra was being kept in a pit smack dab in the middle of everything.  The beasts wore no clothes and spoke in a language that was primarily comprised of grunts and groans.  They also had an extra eye in the back of their skulls which made sneaking up on them a rather unlikely scenario.

I searched my surroundings and discovered a large boulder several hundred feet above the Hidoki’s village wall that appeared to be unstable.  I made my way over to the boulder and pushed on it until I jarred it loose.  The boulder went flying down the side of the volcano heading towards the village.  I wasn’t actually counting on the other 20 boulders to follow, but thankfully I was able to jump out of the way before the landslide overtook me.  The Hidoki went into a state of panic as boulder after boulder crashed down upon their village and took out almost half of their outer wall.  All but one of them rushed to the village’s perimeter to investigate the chaos, leaving one solo guard between myself and Myra.

The giant stood at about nine feet tall and was armed with a crudely made spear.  As I made my way towards the pit I picked up a small stone, about the size of a baseball, and hurled it at the giant’s eye on the back of his head.  He screamed out in agony and turned to face me.  I dodged two swings of his spear, but could not avoid his left fist striking my chest which sent me flying back several feet.  The giant stood over me while I was laid out on the ground and raised his spear to skewer me like a human shish-kabob.  I rolled over at the last second, making the giant miss me as he plunged the spear into the dirt.  While he was bent over trying to free his spear from the hardened clay, I quickly swung myself over his shoulders and slit his throat with the knife that I had obtained from Myra.  The giant fell to the ground dead, oozing a purplish liquid from his neck.

I got off the beast and walked over to the pit where Myra was being kept.  “I think your boyfriend underestimated me.”  I teased as I cut through the thick green vines that covered the top of the pit.  There was a pungent smell of death and urine coming from below and I imagined that Myra was probably not to happy that she had just spent the night marinating in it.  As I helped Myra out of the pit I looked down to see if there were any other prisoners, but all I saw were the skeletal remains of humans.

“Thanks” was all that Myra could muster as we escaped from the Hidoki village.  Evidently it had been quite a blow to her ego needing to be rescued by the likes of me.  We forged through the jungle at a rapid pace; following a non-existent path that I was quite certain wasn’t taking us in the right direction.  It appeared that Myra was almost trying to out run me as she progressively built up to a full out sprint through the jungle’s thick foliage.

“Uh, you want to slow down a little.”  I said, trying not to yell too loudly in anticipation that the Hidoki had probably figured out that Myra escaped by now.  She was now out of sight, though I could hear her crashing about the bushes in front of me.  “Hey Myra, I don’t think you’re heading in the right…”  Before I could even finish my sentence I had been whisked up into a large net about twenty feet from the ground.  I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to fall into a trap.  I went to grab the knife from my vest, but it was no longer there.

“Looking for this?”  Myra asked as she looked up at me and held the knife in the air.  “Yeah, I couldn’t have you escaping or they might still try to track me.”  Evidently, Myra must have taken the knife while I was reaching down to pull her from the pit.  “See you around pirate.”  She said as she ran off into the jungle leaving me hanging from a tree.  Fortunately, I still had the sharp rock in my pocket from the day before.  I was able to cut through the net in a matter of minutes and swung from its remains to the base of the tree.

I quickly scaled down the tree and hit the ground running.  Part of me wanted to follow Myra, but she was clearly more trouble than she was worth and I needed to focus on finding shelter and getting some rest before my swim back to the port.  I made it to the island’s shoreline by mid-day and this time I decided it was better to just build a make shift tent and take my chances in the open.  I had taken great care in covering my tracks so that the Hidoki wouldn’t be able to find me.  Besides, I was quite sure they were more interested in getting Myra back than to try and track the scent of another human they hadn’t even seen.

For a fleeting second the thought entered my mind that my own daughter would have been close to Myra’s age if she were still alive.  Mariana had only just turned eleven when her life ended, but I liked to think that she would have been just as strong as someone like Myra had she lived.  It wasn’t often that I allowed myself to think about such things, but the calming sound of the ocean and the tranquil scene of the low rolling tides brought a peace of mind that I seldom experienced.  I spent the rest of daylight building a small tent and took to slumber at the setting of the first sun.

The next day came with the first sun filling the sky with an impressive array of orange and blue shades.  I looked in the direction of Port Helen and sighed as I considered the swim ahead.  Never mind the fact that I wasn’t the strongest of swimmers, I also had no idea what kind of sea life would be trying to have me for breakfast on the way.

As I removed my boots and vest I saw what appeared to be a projectile with a white tail heading for the main land.  Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion and a large cloud of gray smoke formed above the port.  The sky seemed to part ways as a large battleship and several smaller fighter craft rained heavy laser fire upon Admiral Nupon’s city.  At first I thought it might be a Dugg retaliation, but then I saw the battleship come into full view.  It was the Krions.

Tales of Terror: “My Captor”

My Captor

The sliver of light that peeked through the open space above the blacked out window began to fade.  Darkness was coming and soon I expected my captor would be visiting my cell again.  There was no clock in the room I was being held in, but my guess was she came to me around midnight every night.  In fact, on the occasional evening, the faint light would re-appear when the moon was out and the sky was clear.  Those seemed to be the nights that she was most eager to see me.

I hadn’t been outside for several weeks, but I still often pictured what the sun and the night’s sky looked like this time of the year.  It was true that it rained a lot in Portland, but the summers were an exception, providing plenty of warm, beautiful days.  I had only just started enjoying the season’s turn when I was abducted that late night in June at some club downtown.

There were plenty of beautiful women I ran into that evening, so one of them could have easily been my captor or “Angel” as she liked me to refer to her as.  I’ve never actually seen Angel’s face as she always has it hidden behind a white mask, but perhaps if she took it off I’d recognize her…or not.  That night is still such a blur in my mind, mostly due to the amount of alcohol I had consumed as well as whatever drug Angel had slipped into my drink.

Tears started welling up in my eyes as I began to acknowledge, once again, that I would most likely never make it out of this basement alive.  I was only 22 years old.  My life hadn’t amounted to much, but I had really turned things around this last year.  I was now attending Portland State University after finally finishing up a long stint in community college, and I had even gotten an externship working at one of the local advertising agencies.  For the first time that I can ever remember in my life, my parents had told me they were proud of me.

Thank God my parents couldn’t see me right now; naked and chained to a metal support beam in the middle of a basement.  There was a toilet in one corner and a shower in the other.  I had been given very little to eat or drink, but at least there was enough slack in my chains to move around some.  Occasionally I would talk to myself since I had basically no human interaction.  Angel rarely came down during the day, and when she did it was just to feed or shave me.  I’m pretty sure she had only spoken about a dozen words since my time there.  Of course, she visited me every night too, but that was for a much different purpose; no talking was allowed or I would be punished.

Dinner time was here as I could hear Angel unlocking the door.  She walked into the room wearing the usual white mask, gloves and black cloak that covered her entire body.  Angel had a candle in her right hand and a paper plate in her left.  On the plate were a few strawberries, carrots and what appeared to be a small serving of chicken.  I was only fed twice a day so it was no wonder that I had probably lost a good 15 pounds since becoming her slave.

“Hi” I said to her, desperate for any kind of acknowledgement.  She said nothing back and left me in the darkness as soon as she had placed the food down on the cement.  I ate slowly, trying to savor every morsel.  I had barely finished my meal when suddenly the room began to spin and I passed out on the floor.

I could hear whispering as I began to regain consciousness from my unexpected slumber.  I recognized the feeling of my throbbing headache and intense muscle weakness as the same one I had the first night that I was abducted.  Angel had obviously drugged me again.  My vision was somewhat blurred after I opened my eyes, but I could still make out the shadows of several forms.  They were all covered in black cloaks and wore white masks, just like Angel.  I counted twelve of them as they stood in a large circle around me, each one holding a candle.

I realized now I was standing against the metal beam in the middle of the room thanks to several chains that had been used to keep my body upright while I was passed out.  The temperature in the room was unusually warm, almost like a sauna.  I tried to raise my arms enough that I could wipe the sweat from my forehead, but the chains had no slack in them.  I continued to look around in my dazed state, when I noticed Angel walk in.  More whispering from the others in the room ensued.

“My fellow sisters,” Angel addressed the group.  “The seed of our fellow brother that stands before you has fulfilled its purpose.  I have a new soul now growing within my body.”  Angel paused as the rest of the group seemed quite pleased with the news.  The incense from the candles was beginning to fill the room with a burnt flower type smell.  “Tonight,” she continued, “we shall celebrate the spirit of our Mother Goddess as one life is sacrificed so that a new one may flourish.”

As Angel spoke I could feel myself becoming scared.  Not the kind of sheer terror that one would experience if some guy wearing a hockey mask were chasing them with a chainsaw.  Rather, it was more like a calm, sickening combination of helplessness and inevitable doom.  Angel walked towards me, removing her gloves as she approached, and stared into my eyes through her white mask.  Just as when she had come to my room every night, I felt a coldness radiating from her that sent shivers down my spine.  You would think that being forced to have sex with a woman whose body was pretty much perfect would be every young man’s fantasy.  However, there was never any warmth or love present in our “sessions”.  Instead, it was mechanical and left me feeling empty inside every time.

“Please…”  I began to say, but Angel lifted her right index finger and placed it on my lips to silence me.  She then looked around the room and nodded her head.  At that moment, every figure in the room placed their candles on the floor in a tight circle around me.  The smoke from the candles lifted up around me, their scent creeping into my nostrils and making my dizziness even worse.  Each of the cloaked figures then returned to their previous spot and removed their clothing and masks.  They were all women.  I began searching each of their faces, but only received a cold, impersonal look when my eyes met theirs.

My eyes had only made it about half way around their circle when Angel, still standing in front of me, proceeded to remove her cloak and, for the first time, her mask.  The breath from my lungs escaped me in my shock.  It was Angela, my sister’s best friend that stood before me.  Angela was gorgeous, with long blonde hair, green, cat-like eyes and full, pouty lips.  I had always had a crush on her during my adolescent years, though given the current circumstances, I was more inclined to hate her and wish her dead at this particular moment.

I now knew exactly where I was.  Angela owned a home in the suburbs of Portland where I had once attended a birthday party at.  I didn’t remember seeing Angela at the club on the night I was abducted, but I suppose it could have been any of the other women in the room that had actually drugged me.  I swung my head to the left to finish my scan of the other women’s faces in the circle and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  In the far left corner of the room was my sister, Veronica!

Thoughts rushed into my head faster than I could process and I began to feel extremely nauseous, though I was too weak to vomit.  Not only had I been molested and essentially raped by Angela, but my own sister was also apparently involved as well.  I continued to stretch my neck over my left shoulder and tried to make eye contact with my sister.  “Veronica, what the fuck are you doing?”  I yelled at her.  Given recent events, I probably should have shown better judgment with the choice of tone in my voice, but I was beyond pissed off and terrified.  What was my sister doing in some sadistic cult that practiced man-hating “bitchcraft”.

Veronica showed no emotion as she looked back at me.  Angela then touched my face with her hand and brought my eyes back in line with hers.  “It is time, brother, for you to give your light to a higher cause.”  I had no idea what she was referring to as she grabbed a large, gray ceramic bowl and placed it at my feet.  “My sisters, we shall now drink the life force of this soul so that our circle might gain its power and pass it on to the new spirit that grows within me.”  With that Angela revealed a sizeable dagger with weird symbols on it and placed the blade on a region of my body that I’d always felt should never have anything sharp next to it.

“No Angela No!”  I half screamed, half cried, but it was too late.  She removed from my body what she had used so frequently during my imprisonment, and now blood streamed down my legs and into the bowl.  It only took a couple of minutes before she removed the bowl from below my feet and drank the blood from it.  Angela then handed it off to the other women in the circle as they drank from it too.  My will to live vanished.

Veronica and I had such a normal life growing up.  My parents had always been so good to “V” and me.  What happened to her?  I tried to make some kind of sense of what was going on, but the loss of blood was too great for me to overcome.  As the bowl made its way around the room I realized I did not want to see my own sister drink from it.  I closed my eyes and after only a few seconds longer, I felt my soul drift away.