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Tag Archives: horror

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!

 

 

 

 

I was sitting in bed, just getting ready to go to sleep when my girlfriend got up from her computer, said she’d be right back, and went out into the hallway. A couple minutes later, she walked back in and whispered that she had to show me something, so I pulled my boxers back on, unable to shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Still, I took her hand and she led me into the dark hall, pulling me into the bathroom. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I saw her body there on the bathroom floor.

For this weekend’s Trifextra Challenge, we were instructed to write 33 words about a beast in an unusual place. As it’s nearly Hallowe’en, I decided to write this one for you. Why? Because flash-fiction horror is fun! Here’s “Seeing is Believing.”

“Mom! Can you come look at my eye?”

“What for?”

“It feels weird.”

“Did your brother poke you again?”

“No, Mom. Just come look.”

“Coming. Now, what THE HELL IS IN YOUR EYE?!”

In 1977, Stephen King chilled readers with a tale of a young couple and their son, and the worst winter to ever pass in a hotel in Colorado. That book, The Shining, was King’s third novel, and thanks in part to the brilliant work of Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick, is widely remembered as the basis for one of the greatest horror films ever. Now, almost forty years have passed since The Shining first hit shelves, and we are granted a rare treat from the master of horror. On September 24th, 2013, Stephen King released Doctor Sleep, a sequel to one of his earliest and most famous novels.

One winter, long ago, one of Colorado’s finest hotels burned to the ground after the aging boiler exploded. Four people were at the Overlook Hotel at the time. Jack Torrance (the recently hired winter caretaker), his wife, Wendy, and their son, Danny (a young boy gifted with the titular “shining”, a type of psychic power), were living in the hotel for the season. Also on location was Dick Halloran, head cook of the Overlook, who had returned from vacation in Florida because of a growing concern for the safety of the Torrance family. Mr. Torrance was killed in the blast while the other three escaped with relatively minor injuries. Torrance had reportedly returned to the hotel’s basement in an heroic attempt to relieve the pressure in the boiler, albeit regrettably too late to save the hotel and himself. The truth of that winter is known only to the survivors.

Years later, Danny Torrance is a grown man struggling with ghosts, both literal and metaphorical. Having inherited his father’s propensity for alcohol, Dan tries to hide from his past, locking away the memories of the Overlook and drinking to numb his psychic abilities, always on the move from town to town. After a time on the road, bouncing from bottle to job and back again, Dan realizes that he has to get his life back together. In a small town in New England (surprise!), Dan finds an AA sponsor and gainful employment at a local hospice. Before long, he’s learning to use his shining to help those who are near death to cross over to the other side, earning the nickname “Doctor Sleep.”

Far across the country, a group of people known as The True Knot are stalking people with shining, feeding off of their powers and extending their lives. They soon set their sights on a young girl named Abra, whose latent shining is a blazing fire next to the flickering match that is Dan Torrance’s power. The True intend to find the girl, torture her to death, and feast and rejuvenate on her power, or “steam.” When she learns of their existence and their plans, Abra reaches out via the shining, attempting to find someone who can help her stand against the True, and finds Dan. Soon the two are communicating, planning a way to defend Abra from those who would do her harm and simultaneously lay Dan’s ghosts to rest once and for all.

King has crafted a delightful tale with Doctor Sleep, continuing the story of a tormented young boy as he passes into adulthood. He skillfully weaves new and old, tying details of The Shining into the present-day narrative. It’s not The Shining all over again, but rather a different, more mature type of horror. Dan is sympathetic, and overwhelmingly human, struggling to flee from the gifts that saved his life when he was a child. Abra is a bright spot in his life, reminding him of the hope his family once had.

If you’re a Stephen King fan, odds are that you’ve already at least considered giving Doctor Sleep a read. I devoured it, and as always, I wanted more when I was done. It’s a fascinating opportunity to see the evolution of King’s writing style and technique, and a great story in its own right.

House of Leaves is an editor’s nightmare.

I love it. It’s a jumble of narratives, strange font choices and jarring shifts between them, footnotes that ramble on for several pages, and pages that suddenly switch direction as the labyrinthine house that serves as the main location for the book.

It is riddled with grammatical errors, and seems utterly nonsensical to anyone who picks the book up and flips through it, hoping to find some semblance of sanity within the pages. In short, it is everything that a novel about an eldritch abomination should be.

I recently finished reading the book, and I must say that while it was one of the most dense reads of all time, it was incredibly satisfying to be able to put the book down and know that it was complete. There’s nothing beyond the text whatsoever. There is nothing behind me, growling in my ears now that I’ve completed the book. 

In short, read the book if you’re looking for psychological horror. It’s not a quick read, but it will definitely make you think.

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.