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Chuck Wendig’s latest writing challenge asked for us to share a real-life spooky experience. I decided to write a bit about something that happened about this time last year.

I’ve written a lot about doors. Secret passages, locked doors that contain various secrets, portals to other places… It’s definitely a recurring theme in my work. So imagine my surprise at finding something that wouldn’t be out of place in my work showing up in my apartment.

My girlfriend and I were moving in together for the first time, and we’d finally found an affordable place with enough space in the right neighborhood. We leased the apartment without looking at it, so we didn’t notice it when we first moved in. Not even when we were doing our walkthrough with the checklist the office had given us. Looking for chipped paint, broken blinds, etc. Maybe it was just the shift in lighting after we got the bedside lamp set up. Eventually, though, we spotted a small seam in the wall. There it was. A vertical line, a slight indentation too deep to just be in the paint.

“That’s weird.”

“Oh, damn. Yeah, it is. It’s like they patched the wall over here, and didn’t care that you’d be able to see a gap in the drywall. Weird.”

We didn’t think about it for a while after that. Occasionally, we’d smell smoke, though, like the next door neighbor was enjoying being in Colorado (despite lease clauses). Then, there was a revelation.

“Holy shit.”

“What?”

“Uhh… It’s not just a seam.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a door.”

“What the fuck?”

Sure enough, there was a second line running parallel to the first, about two feet over. Then we followed them up.

“Yeah. It’s a door. There’s frame here too, and look. There’s the lintel.”

“What the actual fuck?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it was a leftover from when the construction guys were building the apartment. A way between this one and the one next door without having to go back into the hall.”

“Then why would they frame it and then fill it in?”

My girlfriend even asked the leasing office about it. The agent who came to look at it had no clue it had ever been there. We pulled the bed away from the wall, and the lines ran all the way to the floor. It was unmistakably a door. Filled with drywall and painted, yes. But a door.

That was when we looked up at the ceiling and noticed the scratches in the popcorn ceiling. Gouges several inches long, spaced closely together, about a foot from the filled-in door. Another group of them a few feet away, nearer to the entrance to the bedroom. Almost like something had crawled across the ceiling from the door to the not-quite-door… Or been pulled…

 

 

 

Happy October, everyone!

 

 

 

 

“An Invitation”

Your gravest error
Was inviting me across
Your threshold that night.

My entry for my Hallowe’en Writing Challenge is here. Thank you participants, and Happy Hallowe’en.

“The Last One”

The fire had died down too much during the night, but it couldn’t be helped. I’d been in desperate need to rest after three straight days of running from them, and Marcus had been caught by them partway through the second day, so there was no one to share the watch. His screams had followed me, even into sleep.

As soon as I woke, I scrambled for a handful of twigs, leaves, and sticks to rekindle the flames, knowing that they were the only thing that would really keep them away. Once the fire was beginning to burn in earnest, I checked the gun I’d managed to grab from the facility guard’s body, a Colt 1911. “Only four rounds left,” I sighed as I checked the magazine. The .45 had been effective against them so far, but there were so many of them. Only one of us, me, now that they’d gotten Marcus. I sighed again, managing once more to hold back the tears that had threatened for the last day and a half, and chambered a round.

“He’s gone. Get over it. Get up, and get moving.” I added a small branch to the fire, watching as the flames kissed and embraced it, growing larger and brighter. As I listened for footsteps in the distance, I reflected on the past few days and marveled at how quickly everything had fallen apart.

We’d joked  for years, about how we couldn’t wait for it, and how our lives as video game geeks had prepared us for this exact situation. Well, let me just tell you that nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for the sight of your best friend being swarmed and eaten by those…things. We said that we’d make it through together, and now…I put my first three bullets into their heads. The fourth went through Marcus’ eye when I realized he wasn’t going to get away, when he realized what would happen if I didn’t.

The fire had scared them away, we didn’t know why, and I still don’t. I had the Zippo Marcus had given me for my eighteenth birthday, even though I didn’t smoke. I told him his habit would kill him. He said my nagging would be the death of him. Well, we were both wrong, but he was closer.

A crack of a twig breaking snapped me back to the present. They were here. I’d not gotten the fire started in time, and now they were here. “Son of a bitch,” I muttered, grabbing the burning branch in my left hand and the Colt in my right. They were getting closer, surrounding me, but there was no way in hell they could know what my plan was. I knew I wasn’t going to survive, but I was going to take as many of them with me as I could. I fired my first three shots as they came into view. I dropped my torch into the dry leaves and raised my gun to my head.

 

 

Halloween is nearly upon us, with NaNoWriMo close on its heels, and that thought absolutely terrifies me. In the spirit of the season, I’m taking a page from Sonia M and asking my readers to take part in a writing challenge. This is the first challenge I’m hosting, and so it is going to focus on my favorite holiday. Craft a piece of horror-themed microfiction. Think Poe, Lovecraft, King, Machen, condensed into roughly 500 words.


The rules are simple.

1.) Theme: Write a horror-themed piece of microfiction.
2.) Genre: Other than the overall theme, there are no genre limitations. Write a steampunk/horror story, or a horror/romance, or science fiction/horror, just for some examples.
3.) Word limit: 500 words (approximate).
4.) Deadline: October 31st, 2012.
5.) How to submit: If you have a blog of your own, post your story on your blog and share a link in the comments on this post. If you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to post the story in the comments here. If you do this, I will post the story in a separate post and re-link it here.
6.) Prizes: The reward of a job well-done and the knowledge that you managed to finish one more short piece before diving headfirst into NaNoWriMo.

No, not Christmas. It’s Halloween! I love this holiday. What creative twenty-something guy wouldn’t love a holiday that lets him dress up in a costume and ask people for candy? I mean, yeah, it’s not that much of a stretch from any ordinary day…

Yes, that is Neil Gaiman's "Absolute Death" collection in my hand.

Professionalism at its finest.

Today is no ordinary Halloween, though. It’s also NaNoWriMo Eve. I’m pretty stoked, boys and girls. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been doing some planning, and this is going to be to best forward progress I’ll have made on a big project like this in a long time.

One of these days, I’m going to have to get a group of people together to play this. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Everyone is John, a role playing game of sorts, in which every player controls a voice inside the head of an insane man named John. Rules are simple, and apparently this one has been around since 2002. It’s an interesting thought experiment.  It’s probably going to have to wait until after next month, though. I’m going to be busier than ever. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unless, you know, other things that I’m doing started paying me. That, I’d take.

It’s nearly Halloween, which means a few different things. First, it’s the time of year to start watching one of my favorite movies of all time as I gear up for my favorite holiday. I love Halloween. There’s something incredible about a holiday where perfectly responsible young adults can put on crazy costumes and wander the streets in search of candy. Barring that, there’s always barricading oneself in the house with a good supply of booze and hand out candy to the younger ones. Speaking of booze, I finally got to try Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Milk Stout Nitro. Well done, folks. That one’s a winner.

Second, the impending end of October means that it’s nearly November. It’s time to wrap up a couple of projects before National Novel Writing Month officially kicks off. I’d love to be able to use NaNoWriMo to put a coherent draft of my book together. I’m in the process of collecting my notes. I’ve got a couple of moleskines full of them right now.

Third, it means it’s a perfect time to be reading this:

Hellboy by Mike Mignola. Cover of Volume Ten, The Crooked Man and Others

It's always a good time for Mike Mignola.

I’ve been working my way through the Hellboy comics, finally. It only took me, oh, seven years after seeing the first movie. Now, thanks to the sheer awesomeness that is the public library system, I’m holding the first ten collected volumes of Mike Mignola’s greatest bit of genius. Those of you who have not read them (or at least seen the movies) are missing out. Mignola blends classic myths from around the world with his own, unique characters. The adventures of the members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense are not to be ignored.

Anyway, I’ve got another job interview and two more applications to turn in, even though the thought of another Christmas in retail terrifies me. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed. I had an interview on Friday at one of the smaller library branches in town, and it would be better pay/more hours than I currently have. Good luck with your ventures, dear readers.