Category Archives: author

Fragments of Fear is Free!

That’s right. My collection of short Suspense/Thriller/Horror stories is free until 1-25-18 on kindle. Don’t miss this chance to pick up a copy. This book contains the stories I have posted on WordPress over the last year and so much more. If you have any doubts, just click on one of these stories for a glimpse of what’s in the book.

Puzzled

The Journey

Crash

The Test

Haunted

The Exam

Eyes

Avian

and many more. If you’re still not convinced, check out this author interview.

I hope that you avail yourself of this offer before it runs out. If you do, please consider posting a review on amazon. It doesn’t have to be much, just a few sentences telling how you liked the book, but every review counts.

Thank you very much.

Enjoy.

The Journey: Chapter 5

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection’

 

Emily stood alone in the darkness. Her only source of light was an antique, gas powered, street lamp. She couldn’t remember how long she had stood there or why. Somewhere deep in her mind, she knew she had no choice.

What is this place?  

The lamp had become important to her, it was her only companion, in fact, it was the only light in this desolate place. It was her protector, her shining knight, holding the horrid creatures at bay that she imagined lived in this darkness. This place seemed familiar, like some half remembered nightmare from long ago. Emily was sure she had been here before and the thought still gave her chills.

The light also provided her sound, the occasional flicker of the flame burning the wick and subtle hiss of gas was all she heard in the deafening silence. There were no night sounds in this place. No crickets chirped, no owls hooted, no distant mournful wail of a wolf. The thundering of her heart and the rushing wind of her breathing were all she heard, until …

What was that?

She frantically searched the darkness looking for the source of this new sound.

A train?

Finally, a pinprick of light emerged, getting stronger. Soon she could hear the ‘chuff, chuff’ of the approaching engine. She knew it was coming for her.

All at once, she felt the excitement, the exhilaration of a trip to the unknown. Just as quickly, fear settled into her mind. What new horrors would the train hold? But most of all she didn’t want to leave her lamp, her protector, and friend. As the train slowed, the massive engine lumbered by, followed by the first few cars. She had fought with herself and decided to stay at the station.

And no one will change my mind.

The train came to a stop as she stood, arms folded, resolute. She refused to leave. As the engine blew off its excess steam, a strange wind whipped around the platform. It grabbed the steam and carried it toward the lamp, smothering the flame, and casting everything into darkness. Emily’s heart leaped into her throat. It was all she could do not to scream. Panic washed over her like an ocean wave. Just when she thought she couldn’t stand it, a light appeared.

She was so overjoyed, she ran to it. Any light had to be better than this soul-crushing darkness. She approached this new light with a sense of dread. Some tall, thin old man in a uniform was holding up a lantern. She was drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. She paused when she reached him, but he held out his hand and said,
“Come along now, child.”

He sounded so much like her grandfather that she took his hand without hesitation and followed him into the train. He led her to an empty seat, punched her ticket, and turned to leave.

“Excuse me,” Emily said, making him pause. “You seem familiar, do I know you?”

“That’s quite possible young lady. You seem somewhat familiar to me as well.”

“Could I trouble you for your name?” she said.

“No trouble at all,” he said. “My name is … ”

But his words were drowned out by the blowing whistle as the train lurched forward, starting down the rails again.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other passengers to attend to,” the conductor said, then continued punching tickets.

After his duty had been done, the conductor sat in a room that seemed much larger than the size of a train car. There were no decorations, no windows, only book shelves. Floor to ceiling, the walls were covered with book shelves. On the shelves were thousands of large books, each one looked identical to the other. There were no markings on them, no title, no author, only a number.

The conductor sat at his desk, writing the latest story in his newest edition. He finished, then sat back to review his work. He was restless, and he knew exactly why. The last passenger, Emily, was one of ‘those’ passengers. Every once in a while he would get one. He knew them immediately, even though they had no idea that they were different. He tried to treat them no differently than any other fare, but personal feelings sometimes crept in.

He made a mental note to treat her the same, but a subtle feeling was crawling around in the back of his mind. It wasn’t quite fear, but maybe trepidation. She had done it to him before, and even though he was certain he had her this time, doubt clawed at him like a hungry predator. Needing to clear his mind, he put away the current book and pulled out one that seemed much more worn than the others. It automatically fell open to a certain page, as it had innumerable times before. He sat back in his chair and re-read his favorite tale.

 

 

The Journey, Chapter 1

The Journey, Chapter 2

The Journey, Chapter 3

The Journey, Chapter 4

 

The Journey, Chapter 4

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection‘. 

“The Invisible”
“Spare change mister?  Got a quarter ma’am?  Hey kid, gimme
a dime.”

No one pays attention.  Not even a glance in his direction.
Occasionally someone drops a coin or two, more out of habit than wanting to help.  He is one of the invisible.  They hide in plain sight.  No one knows their name, and no one cares.  They are an inconvenience at best.

He walks out of the terminal after a day of begging and vanishes.  No one notices because they didn’t see him in the first place. He walks down a filthy alleyway and stops at a graffiti covered door. He opens it into an immaculate room in contrast to the alley and quickly closes the door. It is a room that only ‘they’ know about.

“How was your day?”  he is greeted.

“Successful!”  is his somewhat surprising response. He holds out his hand to show $1.55 in coins.

“That’s wonderful,” the other says sincerely.

He closes his eyes, grips the money tight, and speaks so low it’s almost inaudible.  Yet some of the words can be heard through the fervent whispers. “Bless”, “Help”, “Protect”, “Giver”, are a few.  His counterpart also closes his eyes and whispers.  When they are done, they end with a single word.

He opens his hand, and the money is glowing, as though it is made of light.  The other smiles at him as he gently even reverently places the glowing coins into a large bowl that is full of glowing coins.

“Come,”  the other said. “We have much to do.”

Hector Jimenez has stood in the same spot every day for the last five years, waiting for the bus.  It’s become such a habit that it’s a comfort thing now, just part of his daily routine.  If he isn’t in that spot when the bus comes, he just doesn’t feel right.  He’s been the same for five years.  Same wife, same job, same kids, the sameness is both a blessing and a curse.  He wants to try something different.

There have been attractive women on the bus for five years, but he’s always ignored them. He’s happy at home.  Lately, the women seem to be much more attractive, and he’s starting to notice.  He’s slowly making his way closer to a gorgeous blonde when some Jamaican, Rastafarian, wannabe steps in between them.  He has the multi colored hat, and dreadlocks, complete with lice that Hector could see.  He doesn’t seem to care much for personal hygiene either.

This is the first time in five years that Hector is tempted to move from his spot. Instead, he takes a step back and reads his newspaper, trying to ignore him.  In fact, he’s so involved in reading his paper that he doesn’t see the out of control car, careening toward the bus stop.  The other people scatter, but Hector is a split second too late.  As realization dawns on him, he tries to get out of the way but knows it’s futile, the car is mere feet from him. Suddenly, he feels a strong hand push him clear of the careening car. He lands on the sidewalk several feet away.  The car strikes a building and stops its unintentional rampage.  Lots of damage is done, but it seems that no one is hurt, except …

Hector looks back to where he had just been standing and there lays the Jamaican wannabe, his unmoving body was twisted and bleeding.  Five people already had their cell phones out, calling 911.  An ambulance arrives in seven minutes, and the Jamaican is taken away.  Hector tries to say something, tries to thank him, but he‘s unconscious. Hector watches as the ambulance speeds away, he doesn’t know that it will not arrive at any hospital.

Several blocks over from where Hector is reevaluating his life stands fifteen-year-old Alan Decker. Alan isn’t a bad kid or a stupid kid, he just isn’t very popular.  He fell in with some kids that took advantage of him, but he allowed it because he wanted to belong.  Now here he is, standing in the corner store on 23rd street, trying to build up the nerve to rob the place, about to make the worst mistake of his young life.  He doesn’t need the money, (not that he’ll get much here anyway).  He isn’t interested in the thrill of it, (he’s nearly peeing his pants in fear now).  So why is he doing this?  Because his so-called friends dared him to.

They gave him a gun and sent him off to the store.  He walks toward the register, knowing if he doesn’t do this now, he might not build up the nerve at all.  Just before he gets to the counter, a man in a ski mask runs in, points a gun at the clerk, and screams, “Money!  Now!”  Alan stops short.  The robber turns and looks at him.

“What are you doing?  Get on the floor!”

When the robber turns back, he’s looking down the barrel of a sawed off shotgun.  He tries to pull his gun up first but is too slow.  The shotgun goes off, unloading both barrels of buckshot into the robber’s chest, and throwing him backward.  The robber lands in a bloody heap, right beside Alan.  He watches as the life fades from the man’s eyes.  The ambulance driver doesn’t bother with CPR, it’s already too late.  Alan watches the EMT cover the robber’s face and load him in the ambulance, knowing full well that it could be his face being covered right now.  He throws the gun in the river, and never talks to those ‘friends’ again.  The ambulance drives by, reminding him that he has made the right decision.  This ambulance, also, never reaches any hospital.

A little while later the Jamaican and the robber quietly sneak into the same, well-kept room they left that very morning. Their bodies begin to glow so brightly as to blind anyone who might happen across them. When the glow faded, the two are once again dressed as beggars.

They smile at each other, and close the door behind them, on their way back to the terminal.

***

As the woman finished the story, she noticed the conductor did not seem happy. In fact, he seemed downright irritated.

“Whatever is wrong?” she said. “Didn’t you like the story?”

The conductor turned slowly and glared at her with a fire of rage in his eyes. His look chilled her to the bone. Then suddenly, he seemed to regain his composure.

“My apologies,” he said. “Your story was … nice. It just reminded me of a time when someone took something from me.”

“Oh dear,” she said. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

His face softened, and he smiled in spite of himself.

“Dear soul,” he said. “No need to fret. Thank you for being willing to tell me your story.”

Then he quickly moved on to the other passengers.

 

***

 

 

The Journey, Chapter 1

The Journey, Chapter 2

The Journey, Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 3

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection’.

 

“Poor Harold”
Harold was not having a good day. What little hot water he usually had for a shower was already used up by another tenant in the undersized, overpriced, rodent infested, apartment building he lived in. So, yet again, he took an ice cold shower. The shower must have felt sorry for him, and somehow told the toaster to make it up to him.
The toaster obliged by giving him a little extra heat and burning his last piece of toast. Harold choked down the burnt toast, and washed it down with a half cup of cold coffee, as he stumbled out the door, trying to dress himself. He barely made it to the bus stop in time.
He sat down, hoping that his luck would change when a spring from the seat broke and shot up into his leg. It didn’t hurt him, the real problem was when he stood up, the spring caught hold of his pants and ripped a large hole in them. The rest of the way to the office, he had to cover the back of his pants with his tattered briefcase. In the elevator on the way up to his office, he heard snickers from behind him that stopped when he turned around.
He got off at his floor and quickly made his way to his cubicle that was barely big enough to fit his tiny desk. He collapsed into his chair and let out a long sigh.
Harold was not having a good day. In fact, Harold was not having a good life.
He just couldn’t seem to catch a break. He was never popular in school, but he always made decent grades, usually just missing the honor roll.
When he was in ninth grade, his father passed away, leaving him to take care of his mother. She had Alzheimer’s disease that got progressively worse. Some days Harold would come home just to be chased off by his mother, who thought he was a burglar.
On good days, she chased him with a stick, on bad days, a shotgun. His mother passed away just before he graduated high school. The house was left to Harold, but the mortgage still had ten years left to pay it off, and Harold couldn’t afford the payments. He sold the house and had just enough left for a down payment on his pitifully small apartment.
He wanted to go to law school but couldn’t afford it. So he got a job as a clerk for a low-grade law firm, which was essentially a bunch of ambulance chasers. He hoped that he could get some practical experience, study for the BAR, and maybe move up to middle management in the meantime.
Six years later, Harold still sat in his same tiny cubicle. His computer was so out of date he couldn’t even run the internet. His chair and desk were falling apart, and the ‘one’ button on his phone hadn’t worked in nearly two weeks. He tried to call maintenance, but their extension number was ‘221’. Every time he went past their door, a sign was hanging on it saying, ‘On break. Leave a voice mail for any repairs.’
The other clerks were very possessive, and wouldn’t let anyone else use their phone. The display on Harold’s phone said, ‘341 messages, press ‘one’ to retrieve.’ While trying to decide what to do, his phone rang.
“Harold Funston, how can I help you?” he said.
“Funston!” his boss shouted.
Harold jumped, nearly dropping the phone.
“Yes, sir?”
“Where’s my report?” he growled.
Harold floundered.
“What report, sir?”
“The one I needed done two days ago, on last month’s profit/loss margin.”
“Sir, you never asked me to do any report.”
“I left you three voice mails in the last week.”
“But, sir, my phone, it’s … ”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses! Have that report on my desk in one hour or you’re
fired!”
Harold was so upset, he dropped the receiver, comically juggling it all the way to the floor. He hung the phone up and frantically began gathering information to start his report. As much as he hated his job, losing it would be catastrophic. He was already living paycheck to paycheck and falling behind on bills. Soon he would have to get another crappy job on top of this crappy job, just to afford living in a crummy apartment. His only glimmer of hope was a faded postcard he kept by his computer, showing a beautiful tropical beach. The phone rang again. He picked it up while continuing to type.
“Harold Funston, how can I help you?”
“You have just won five million dollars!” proclaimed an automated voice.
Harold’s jaw hit the desk. It was the miracle he had been waiting for. He looked at his picture and started to dream of diving into the clear blue ocean. He was brought back to reality by the voice on the phone.
“The ACME prize corporation has selected YOU as its grand prize winner! You need
only confirm your name and address to claim your prize. If you do not confirm, we will pick another lucky winner.”
Harold was drooling. He knew that from now on, everything was going to be okay.
“To confirm your prize, simply press ‘one’, and an operator will assist you.”
Harold stared at the phone in disbelief.
He started hammering on the ‘one’ button, like he was playing a video game, in the
desperate hope that the button might register just one time.
“Please press ‘one’ to confirm,” the voice repeated.
“One! One!! ONE!!!” he screamed into the phone, as a last, desperate act.
“I’m sorry, we did not recognize your response, better luck next time.”
The line disconnected.

***

“An equally entertaining story, sir.” The conductor said. “May I collect it?”
“Sure,” the man said, eyeing the conductor cautiously, “as long as you don’t go getting’ rich off it behind my back.”
“No need to worry Mr. Darden,” the conductor said. “I collect these stories only for myself.”
“All right, let’s shake on it,” the man said, grasping the conductor’s hand.
Instantly, shock spread across the man’s face as he quickly released his grip.
“My apologies sir,” the conductor said. “I have poor circulation.”
The conductor moved on to the next passengers, leaving the man to stare at his hand.
“What’s wrong?” his friend asked.
“It felt as if his hand was made of solid ice.”
“How did he know your name?” the other passenger asked slowly.
The woman who sat beside him smiled and shook her head.
“It’s on the ticket he just punched.”

The conductor ambled up to the next passenger. She was an elderly woman, tall and thin who wore a black dress and functional shoes. She sat alone, straight as an arrow in her seat. She seemed to sense that someone was approaching, even though the conductor moved as silent as the grave.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said to the conductor. “Has anyone turned in a large, King James Bible to lost and found?”
“No ma’am,” the conductor said. “Did you lose one?”
“Well, yes,” she said. “I always take it with me on long trips. And now that I think about it, my purse is missing too.”
“Nothing has shown up, ma’am. Are you sure you brought it with you?”
“I’m positive!” she said. “At least, I think I’m positive… I’m pretty sure…”
She trailed off.
The conductor smiled a knowing smile.
“I will look for them with all diligence,” he said. “In the meantime, may I have your ticket?”
“Oh, of course,” she said, handing the ticket to him. “I’m sorry, sir, you must get so tired of the silly ramblings of an old woman.”
“Not at all,” he said, sincerely. “In fact, I enjoy hearing a good story. Do you have any?”
“None of my stories are good enough to tell,” she said.
“You’re just being modest,” the conductor said with a sly grin.
“Well,” she said, starting to blush. “I do have one.”
“As they say…’I am all ears’.”

***

 

 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

Last chance

My newest shory story is free on Amazon for one more day.

I have to say I was rather shocked at having offered my story for free and only having 6 people take me up on my offer.

I feel like one of those poor unfortunate souls who is hired by a restaurant to stand on a busy street corner, dressed like a giant hot dog, and hand out flyers that no one takes or reads.

So once again, I’ll put on the suit, stand on this particular street corner and offer people my story.

I thought up my Mr. Smiley series a few years ago as a way to introduce my short stories. He has developed quite a bit and taken on some unique and interesting challenges.

If you like the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt, you’ll like Mr. Smiley. Give it a try. I’ll be standing here, waiting.

The Journey: Chapter 2

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear: Collection’.

Warning: graphic violence

 

“She”

She staggered awkwardly down the empty street, not really knowing where she was going.
With one arm, she clutched the wound in her side, the other arm was outstretched in front of her, as though searching for something. Never looking back, always moving slowly forward. On and on she trudged, tireless, relentlessly looking for something but not knowing what. She only knew it was out there. It had been there before, but when? Where?

The empty streets were slowly disappearing through darkness and late evening mist. Nothing moved except for her, even the air seemed still. Deserted cars, half-destroyed buildings, and rubble were her only companions, and still she kept on going.

‘Reason’ and ‘blame’ were the furthest things from her mind. The beginning didn’t matter, ‘now’ was all that mattered. The few street lights that still worked flickered to life. They gave her a dim, somewhat eerie view of her surroundings, but there was nothing she wanted to see. ‘It’ wasn’t there. So on she went with her endless search.

All around was evidence of chaos and destruction, yet she wasn’t afraid.
How many days, or weeks, had she been silently walking, yet she didn’t feel tired? All that mattered was the search. Whatever it was, she knew, somehow, that she had to have it.

Had something caught her eye, or had her fevered brain begun to hallucinate? She scanned the ruined landscape. There it was again, movement. Her pace quickened. The silhouette of a moving human form stirred a feeling she hadn’t felt in a long time. But what was this feeling?

Joy, at finding another living person?

Fear of what they might do to her?

No, those weren’t it. The feeling grew stronger with every step she took. Finally she recognized it…

Hunger.

She steadily approached, mere steps away, when the man turned toward her with a look of shock etched into his face. She realized that her search was over. Not remembering the last time she had spoken, the sound coming from her throat was more like a feral growl. Struggling, as though the line from her mind to her mouth had been damaged, the word she had waited so long to say attempted to escape her lips.

She looked him in the eyes and said, with a raspy voice,

“Brains!”

She lunged at him before his shock wore off. He reached for the gun on his side, but her inhuman strength was too much. She ripped his arm off and cast it aside like a candy wrapper, then pulled his skull apart, and started eating while he was still screaming.

The body laid lifeless on the ground, she rose from gorging herself, and started walking. Never once did she look back at the shell of a man she had just torn to shreds.

She staggered awkwardly down the street, not really knowing where she was going.

***
After the man had finished his story, the conductor softly cleared his throat. The storyteller whipped his head around quickly. For just an instant, he thought he saw a skeletal hand outstretched towards him, with bones as white as ivory. Blinking hard to clear his head, he looked again and saw merely the milky white hand of the conductor, beckoning for their tickets.

“Pardon me, sir,” the conductor said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“I wasn’t startled,” the man said, “I just thought I saw…”

“Yes?…” the conductor said, expectantly.

“Nothing,” the man said, mentally shaking himself.

The conductor punched the tickets of the four passengers and began to move on, then paused.

“I hope you don’t think it’s too forward of me, but I collect stories, and I was intrigued by yours.”

“Umm … thanks.”

“Would you mind if I wrote it down in one of my journals?”

“Well, the thing is, it’s not actually my story. I just told it.”

“And why did you choose to tell that particular story?”

“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “it just seemed appropriate somehow.”

“They say the eyes are the windows to the soul but I have found that to be false. I believe that the stories one tells hold much more insight into their true feelings,” the conductor said, with a knowing smile. “So, may I collect it?”

“I‘ll make you a deal. I‘ll tell you a riddle, if you guess it you can collect my story, if you don‘t, I get to ride for free.”

The conductor rubbed his pale chin thoughtfully.

“It’s a deal.”

“Okay,” the man said, rubbing his hands together. “A cowboy rides into town on Friday, stays three days and leaves on Friday, how did he do it?”

The conductor smiled. “My dear sir, you take me for a fool. I thought that you were going to offer me a challenge.”

“All right, smart guy, what’s the answer?”

“The horse’s name is Friday.”

The man’s face fell. “You’re the only person who ever got that riddle.”

The conductor merely smiled.

“Just one question, what is your profession?”

“Biochemical engineer, why?” he said.

“No reason,” the conductor said moving on to the other passengers. “I was just thinking about your story.”

“Hey, hold on there fella,” said the man seated across from the storyteller. “Ain’t you gonna write his story down?”

“Yes, when I’ve finished my duties.”

“Won’t you forget it by then?”

“No,” the conductor smiled. “I have an eidetic memory. It helps in my line of work.”

“A what? An electric memory?”

“Eidetic, you would know it as a photographic memory.”

“Well what good is an electric memory on a train?”

“You’d be amazed,” the conductor said.

“Well then, if you think his story was good, you’ll love this one.”

The conductor turned and faced the man with rapt attention.

“It goes like this … ” he began.

***
 

The Journey: Chapter 1