Category Archives: short story

Happy Friday the 13th

Wow, a Friday the 13th and Halloween in the same month. Black cats beware. To celebrate, I have made these amazon kindle short stories free until Saturday the 14th.

Just Desserts is a Halloween short story about the downside of Halloween hijinks.

Playback is a suspenseful short story about a video game.

Mr. Smiley is a series of short stories about a TwlightZoneesque bed and breakfast.

Fragments of Fear: Collection contains all of my kindle short stories except for Mr. Smiley.

The Mall is a novellette about strange goings-on inside a shopping center at night.

The Trail is a suspenseful short story about a group of friends on a hike through the woods with deadly consequences.

 

Please feel free to enjoy any and all of my stories. I only ask that you consider posting a review on amazon. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few lines telling what you liked about the story. If you don’t feel comfortable posting a review, I understand and still hope that you will avail yourself of this opportunity. Have a great day.

BOO!

 

The Journey: Chapter 10

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

 

One by one, the passengers filed back to their seats. They eagerly gazed through their windows, hoping for a glimpse of their destination. But the only thing they saw was their own reflections. Outside was black as pitch. You wouldn’t even be able to tell if the train was moving by looking out the window.

Everyone felt the train was slowing down. The normal excitement and anticipation of arriving at their destination was instead replaced by a subtle dread. No one understood why. They all dealt with it in the same way though, denial.

At last they lurched to a stop.

The iron beast that had pulled them all this way let out a hiss of steam that sounded like a sigh of relief after a long journey.

The conductor appeared in the doorway and announced, “End of the line, please take all your belongings with you.”

They looked in their seats and in the overhead compartments, but none of them had belongings, just the clothes on their backs. This struck a few people as odd, but the rest just shrugged it off. The conductor helped them off the train.

“Watch your step.”

He directed them down the only visible path. It was made of intricate stone-work and lit with antique gas lamps, but the light didn’t extend beyond the path. It was as if they were floating in a sea of darkness.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, they came upon a large set of beautiful brass doors. Both of the doors were marked ’Enter’, but neither was marked ’Exit’. The conductor heaved the massive door open and beckoned the passengers inside. Hesitantly, they followed and were met with a remarkable sight.

The inside of the building was massive. It was Grand Central Station times ten. The ceiling seemed impossibly high and painted to look like the night sky. As Emily stared up, she noticed a painting of the moon. Nothing about that seemed unsettling at first, except the painting was slowly moving across the painted sky. She rubbed her eyes and looked again, just to be sure. Not only was the moon moving, but the stars seemed to be twinkling too.

The passengers moved forward, awestruck by the sheer size of the place. As they struggled to take it all in, one of the passengers said,

“Something’s not right here.”

“What is it?” Emily asked.

“How many people do you think are in this room?”

Emily panned across the gigantic room full of people.

“I don’t know. Thousands, maybe more.”

“A lot more. I would say we’re talking a hundred thousand people here.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is, you could hear a pin drop in this room. How many times have you seen a crowd this big, being this quiet.”

“Never,” she said softly.

“It’s like the worlds largest funeral home.”

“There’s something else,” she said. “Look around, what is it that’s missing?”

He scanned the room. “I don’t know.”

“Everything,” she said. “There’s no ticket counter, no concession stands, I don’t even see a restroom.”

The man looked around and saw that she was right.

“In fact, all I do see is a line. Where does it even lead?”

The man called over one of the other passengers that he had spoken with on the train and convinced him to climb up on his shoulders and look around.

“What do you see?” the lower man asked.

“I see people,” the upper man said. “So many people it’s impossible to count.”

“What else?”

The upper man strained his eyes to see to the other end of the building.

“There’s two escalators, one going up and the other going down. There’s also a man sitting at a desk, reading from a huge book.”

“What is the man wearing?” the lower man quietly asked.

“A white robe.”

The upper man suddenly held on for dear life as the lower man’s knees buckled.

“What’s wrong? What is this place?” the upper man asked, but the lower man seemed to be in shock.

“Why this is your destination,” the conductor said, nonchalantly. “Didn’t you read your ticket?”

He directed them to a sign that said, ‘The end begins here.’

“I wish to thank you all for your stories,” he said, tipping his cap. Then he turned toward the doors.

“Wait!” Emily said. “Where do I know you from?”

“My dear,” he said, with an air of astonishment. “Haven’t you figured that out yet?”

She paused uncomfortably.

“Please tell me.”

He turned back and drew close so only she could hear.

“About four months ago, you were a passenger in a very bad automobile accident. I took the driver right from the scene, but you held on to life. You lay in a coma for a month.”

“Several times I came to take you, but you refused to go. You even boarded my train once. Imagine my embarrassment as you disappeared, having been revived by the doctor. I had quite a bit of explaining to do to that load of passengers. The endless questions I dealt with for the remainder of that trip were something I’d rather forget. Eventually, you recovered, and I had to wait, but not for long.”

“After I took care of the doctor that snatched you from me, I pursued you covertly and allowed you to see me. As you ran down the path, I extinguished the lights, hoping for the result that I eventually got.  So once again, I had the pleasure of having you as a passenger, only this time there was no one to rescue you.”

He smiled broadly, but she felt no warmth, no comfort from it. All the color drained from Emily’s face. She shook all over.

“So that would mean that you’re … ”

“Yes,” he said.

“And I’m … ”

“Yes.”

She recoiled in horror, slowly backing away.

“Well, I must be off,” the conductor said, turning to leave.

“What will happen to us?” a passenger asked.

“I just transport. That keeps me quite busy nowadays, I don’t do the sorting,” he said, pausing. “But judging by your stories, I would say two of you will be going up.”

They looked at the escalators, then each other.

“Which two?” one of them said, but the conductor was gone. They looked all around, but he had vanished.

Off in the distance, they heard a train whistle sound its mournful note.

Emily looked down at her ticket, it said, ‘Afterlife express.’

 

 

The End.

 

Thank you for reading my story. Even though this is the end, I do have one more chapter that I will share next week as a bonus.

The Journey; Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

The Journey: Chapter 7

The Journey: Chapter 8

The Journey: Chapter 9

 

The Journey: Chapter 9

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

 

Some of the passengers took the conductor up on his offer of a drink and departed for the dining car. The rest settled back to sleep. The dining car was decorated as ornately as the other cars. Six tables were set, each prepared for four people, and in the corner was a bar made of mahogany that ran half the length of the car. Seven drinks were already set out, one at each barstool. The passengers appeared amazed to find their favorite drinks waiting for them. The eighth passenger sat down at an empty space. She had no desire to drink but had come along for the walk. Indeed, each of the passengers were glad for an excuse to get up and move around a little.  The conductor sat quietly in the corner as the passengers enjoyed their drinks and light conversation.

“Come on, man, ask him,” one passenger whispered to the other.

“No way, he gives me the creeps. Whatever secrets he wants to keep he can have as far as I’m concerned.”

The conductor, for his part, seemed content to read from an old, leather-bound book that had no title.

Emily kept a wary eye on him while sipping her ginger ale. Something about him didn’t feel right. The answer was buried in her memory, she knew it, all she had to do was wait. Eventually, she would remember.

The conductor was watching her in the same way. This silent standoff went totally unnoticed by the other passengers.

In the meantime, tongues loosened as the passengers sipped their liquid courage. Pointed questions better kept to themselves were asked.

“So, what’s your story?” a passenger said to the conductor.

“Me?” the conductor asked. “You wouldn’t find my life very interesting.”

“Why not?”  he retorted. “Everyone else has told you stories, why don’t you tell us yours?”

The conductor seemed to consider this for a moment.

“Very well,” he said. “But don‘t blame me if you‘re soon bored to death.”

“I think anything is better than sleeping on a train.”

“So be it. I was born long ago, much longer than any of you. My childhood was quite unspectacular, with the exception of a knack for preserving things. Unlike other children who seemed bent on the destruction of everything they see, I wanted to keep things. I suppose that’s when I first started collecting stories. It was the twelfth year of my life when the defining event happened for me,” he said, his gaze drifting off.

“What was that?” the straight-laced woman who couldn’t find her Bible asked, pulling the conductor out his reverie.

“Oh, my pet cat died.”

“That must’ve been horrible,” Emily said.

“You would think so, yes. However, that was not the end of the event,” he said. “I read a book on taxidermy, and used the knowledge to keep my childhood friend with me forever.”

“You stuffed your pet cat?” she asked, repulsed.

“Quite right,” he said. “I continued to develop my skills, practicing on some of the lesser wanted animals around the neighborhood and became quite adept. My efforts were noticed by someone other than law enforcement, and I was offered an apprenticeship in my true calling.”

“Conductor?”

“No, mortician,” he said with a smile that made everyone in the room feel like calling nine one one. “It turned out that the human form is infinitely easier to work with than animals.”

“Really?”

“Oh yes, I had so much more room to maneuver. Didn’t have to worry about ruining the fur, it was much easier. I was considered to be something of an artist for my profession. I was as happy as I had ever been at that point in my life.”

“If you were so happy, then why did you quit and become a conductor?” the straight-laced woman said.

“Patience, I shall get to that part of the story,” he flashed a mirthless grin. “It turned out that there was another mortician in that town who had been quite prosperous until I began my career. It seemed that his work simply could not match up with mine, and he began to lose business. So, he did the only thing he could do.”

“Find another job?”

“No, sanction my murder,” he said. “You see, this man also had a jealous streak along with a very bad temperament. A dangerous combination you will agree.”

“So, what did you do?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“That’s correct,” he said. “I had no idea the sanction was active until a certain gentleman arrived on my doorstep.”

“So, a hit man just walked up and rang the doorbell?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“What did you do?”

“The only thing I could.”

“Run?”

“No, invite him in for tea,” he said. “I must say, you people just don’t have much of a knack for guessing.”

They nervously chuckled, each one probably regretting that they had asked for this story, but now felt so involved that they didn’t want it to end either.

“Like any proper host, I invited him in and we sat down to discuss our dilemma.”

“Unbelievable.”

“What is even more unbelievable was the solution,“ he said. “It seems my guest was getting ready to retire and needed to provide a replacement. Seeing the great care I took of the recently departed, he offered the job to me.”

“What about the contract on you?”

“Ah, yes, that was a difficulty. He was sworn to fulfill the contract. This created quite a conundrum for him, but in the end, I provided a solution for him that would suit his needs.”

“So, then you became the assassin?”

“Not quite that dramatic, I prefer to call myself a deliveryman. Whatever is needed, I deliver.”

“Did the mortician ever find out?”

“Oh yes, he was one of my first customers,” he gave a wicked grin.

“So what was the solution you provided?”

The whistle blew its long, mournful note, as the train began to slow.

“Ahh, it appears we have arrived,” the conductor said. “You should all return to your seats. We will be disembarking soon.”
 

 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

The Journey: Chapter 7

The Journey: Chapter 8

 

The Journey: Chapter 8

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

 

“The Stranger”

I always liked to run. I never really knew why. I wasn’t running from anything or toward anything, I was just running. It soothed me. There had been times when I had noticed strangers watching me, and these times always brought to mind the same thought.

Pervert.

For the most part, I ran in my little world. I had earphones in, but the wire just ended in my pocket. It was a great way to avoid any conversations I didn’t want to have.

Mostly I ran in the morning or evening. Before or after work always relieved stress. On this particular day, I had to work overtime. I got home late and debated about skipping the run, but the weather was so beautiful I went even though the sun had set an hour before. Twilight had begun and the sky was glowing a brilliant red. The scent of the pine trees mixed with the flowers that lined the path always exhilarated me.

The park was deserted. I only saw a few people and all one at a time. The lights that lined the path had just begun to flicker to life. For some reason, the lights comforted me. I could see just fine without them, I just felt safe when they were on. Like nothing could hurt me near the lights.

As I ran, I approached a spot of darkness amongst the lights. One of them had burned out.

Hmm … nothing to worry about, just a blown bulb.

I tried to convince myself of that, but I failed. Approaching the burned out light, I saw a shadow leaning against the post. It was tall, thin, and dark. I couldn’t make out a face, but his eyes were following me.

It wasn’t the same as when the others leered at me. I felt no sexual attraction, only fear. I hadn’t been pushing myself hard enough to really sweat, but my heart was pumping now, and it had nothing to do with exercise.

My pace quickened as I passed the stranger in the darkness. Aside from his head, he never moved. My pace slowed just slightly with the return of the light on my path.

Just as I was chiding myself for being so stupid, another dark spot inflicted itself on my path. Approaching it I saw the impossible. The stranger was leaning against that pole as well. Again he merely watched. I ran even faster trying to get past this pole.

That’s not possible. How could he get here before me?

My fear abated, but not as much as the first time. A nagging feeling was settling into the back of my brain.

He’s following me.

I glanced back at the pole and I could barely make out the Stranger’s silhouette, still standing against the pole. I nearly fell when I turned back around and the approaching lamp was out. Not only that, but the stranger was somehow leaning against it.

Cold sweat ran down my back. I broke into a dead run. I was near the end of the path where it ended at a street. Suddenly my worst fears were realized. The remaining path lights winked out one by one.

The stranger leaned against the pole, but was no longer still. He was coming toward me. Somehow I reached deeper into myself and found a little bit more speed.

Come on, come on. I goaded myself to go faster.

Glancing over my shoulder, I could see the stranger gaining on me. My eyes must’ve been playing tricks on me because it didn’t look like he was running. If I had to put a word to it I would say he was floating.

I was running for all I was worth. The street was only fifty feet ahead. I could see the street lamp bathing the sidewalk in beautiful light. I redoubled my efforts to reach the safety of the lamp. But my pursuer was gaining on me so fast that I would never make it.

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod!!!

Desperately I clawed at the air, trying anything to move one iota faster. I could feel his hot breath on my neck, I knew he was just about to

*BAM*

At first, I wasn’t sure what happened. I remember flying through the air, landing hard, feeling a snap, and incredible pain.

I was staring up into the night sky, I could feel something warm running down my cheek and into my eye. I remember feeling helpless. I looked over to see a metal bumper hovering over me. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, but I could hear just fine.
Shadows surrounded me, I could barely make out what they were saying.

“Did you see that?”

“She came out of nowhere.”

“Someone call an ambulance!”

“Give her mouth to mouth!”

“How? Her face is smashed in.”

The voices started to fade away like someone was turning down the volume on my hearing. The last thing I saw was the stranger step into the crowd of onlookers …

***

“That was a harrowing tale.” the Conductor said. “Are you alright my dear, you seem to be sweating.”

Emily looked down and sure enough her palms were wet.

“I … I’m fine,” she said unconvincingly.

“Perhaps you could use a little refreshment, why don’t you come to the dining car and I’ll get you a drink.”

“That would be nice.”

“Everyone is invited of course,” the conductor said, starting toward the door.
***

 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

The Journey: Chapter 7

The Journey: Chapter 7

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

 

The passengers had settled in for a long ride. The conversations had died down, and one by one the clickety-clack of the rails lulled them into different levels of unconsciousness. The lights in the passenger car seemed to dim on their own, but no one was alert enough to notice. The conductor stood at the back of the train, leaning on the railing. The wind whipped his steel grey hair as he stared out into the inky blackness.

What he saw, no human eye could tell, but it seemed to please him. He wore a small grin as a raven appeared out of the darkness, caught up with the train, and landed on the rail beside him.

“Hello old friend,” the conductor said to the bird. “How’s your unkindness?”

The raven looked at the man and cocked his head as though pondering the question, then let out a harsh cry.

“Really?” the conductor said. “I’m sorry to hear that, do send her my regards.”
The bird whistled and clicked his beak.

“Me? I’m fine,” he answered less than truthfully.

The bird eyed him dubiously and squawked.

“I never could fool you could I?” he said. “One of ‘them’ is on board.”

The bird hopped to the side and peered into the passenger window, chirping.

“The young woman on the left, third row up,” he said.

The bird quickly chirped out a question.

“I’m going to go about my normal routine, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The bird clicked its disapproval.

“What would you have me do?” the conductor asked. “Accost her in front of the other passengers? Throw her off the train? Neither is going to accomplish our goal.”

The bird croaked out a question that made the conductor wince ever so slightly.

“If it happens again, then it happens again,” he said. “She can’t torment me forever.”

The bird hung its head.

“Your concern is touching, but we have business to attend to, my friend,” the conductor said. “What are the numbers for the day?”

The bird emitted a series of chirps in answer, causing the conductor’s brow to furrow.

“I may have to make an extra trip today,” he said with a sigh of resignation.

The raven let out a long, mournful cry. The man looked at him and smiled.

“I appreciate your sympathy, but I knew what I was getting into when I took the job.”

The bird chirped softly.

“I hadn’t thought about it much,” the man said. “I suppose I could use a holiday, but who would take my place, you?”

The bird flapped its wings wildly, screaming and snapping at him. The conductor fended off the playful attack.
“You’re probably right,” he said, laughing. “You could do a better job than me.”

But the bird was on a roll. He cavorted about the railing, snapping and whistling, beating its feathers against the rail.

“Calm down old friend,” the man said, chuckling. “There’s no need for such language, I was just having a joke with you.”

As the bird settled, suddenly the night air was shattered by a woman’s piercing scream. The bird flew off and the conductor ran inside. When he arrived at the scene, all the passengers were awake, and several were crowding around the young woman. She was pale and shaking.

“What happened?” the conductor asked.

“I had this incredibly vivid nightmare,” she said, staring at him blankly.

“Can you tell me about it?” he said, inching closer.

“Really? Now?” one of the other passengers asked.

“Yes, while it’s still fresh in her mind,” he said with a hungry look on his face.

“I … I’m not sure … ” she said.

“Trust me,” the conductor said, taking her hand. “Nothing and no one can hurt you here.”

The coldness of his hands seemed to calm her as she breathed deeply.

“It started like this … ”

***
 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

The Journey: Chapter 6

 

The Journey: Chapter 6

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection‘.
“Instant Serial”
Smoke poured from the superheated barrels of his powerful handguns. Brass casings covered the floor, laying in pools of blood. Dead bodies lay here and there, littering the room like trash at a rock concert. The man slowly lowered the empty weapons, sighed deeply, and calmly walked out the door.

One down. He thought with a twisted grin, as he reloaded.  He stepped over bodies, and headed toward the main hallway, but found the door locked.

“Hmmm … ” He turned back into the room, searching for something, leaned down and took the keys from a guard’s lifeless body.

“Thanks, Leonard,” he said to the corpse.

He unlocked the door, and glanced into the hallway, first shooting out the security cameras as he had done before.  Walking down the hallway, he unlocked another door, into a room full of people in orange clothes. The guns opened up, time slowed, bodies fell.  The thump of bullets slamming into flesh and bone, and the horrified screaming, satisfied him immensely.

He went diligently from cell to cell, making sure he didn’t miss anyone, even checking under bunks. When he was sure that no living person remained, he reloaded and moved on to the next room. On he went with his possessed rampage, leaving a bloody trail behind him.

Finally satisfied with his macabre tour de force, he holstered his weapons and climbed up to the escape hatch.  He slipped into the shadows, leaving behind him no reason for the carnage.  His thoughts now were only on escape.  He stood at the edge of the roof, trying to find a way down, when one policeman saw him, then another.  They pointed their guns at him and started yelling.  Then, with a flash, he was jolted awake.

Larry Brahm opened his eyes in shock. He was momentarily disoriented, and couldn’t recall where he was. Remembering his bedroom, and the dream he’d just had, he thought,

Wow!  That seemed so real!

Looking over at the clock, he realized he had overslept. It was time to get ready for work.

“Back to the grind again,” he said, almost disappointed that his grim fantasy had been only that.

The people he had to deal with at his job had become his main source of stress. Try as he might, it just wouldn’t go away. His counselor had told him not to let the job bother him, but how could he? The incredibly vile things those people had done? They deserved to be punished, and not the justice system ‘punishment’, but something more real, more permanent.

As he drove to work, he turned up his favorite song ‘Jeremy’ by Pearl Jam and screamed the lyrics at the top of his lungs as the CD played.

He rounded the corner to the main entrance and was met by a sight that he would never have guessed.

No!  No, this can’t be!

Ambulances lined the front walkway. Police cars surrounded the building. The prison itself was alive with activity, with emergency workers going in and out like bees in a hive.

As he pulled into his parking spot, he could see bodies laying on the ground, neatly placed in rows, like they were being set out for spring cleaning. Each one was covered head to toe by a black plastic bag, but a few had an arm or a leg sticking out enough to see a blood stained orange inmate uniform or a gray officer’s uniform.

He walked up to a policeman.

“Excuse me, I work here, what happened?”  but the officer was too busy, and just ignored him.

He noticed some Corrections Officers from another shift standing, watching it all go on. He tried to talk to them, but they were in shock and didn’t say anything.

“Hey, you!”  a tall, good looking officer yelled to him.  “The Boss wanted me to get somebody, and go inside to see how bad the cops are messing things up.”

“All right,”  Larry said slowly.

They made their way inside. It was beyond his worst nightmare. Everywhere he looked were shell casings, bodies, bloody floors, and bullet holes.

“Wow!  What a mess!” the officer said.

The crime lab photographer, who was still taking pictures of everything, aimed right at him and snapped a picture.

“Hey!  What was that for?”  he said, as he started after her.

The officer grabbed his arm, “Don’t worry about it, she’s just doing her job.”

He looked suspiciously at her, but walked away, as she continued taking pictures as though he wasn’t there. They walked into the control unit, where blood and bullet holes littered the control panels. Suddenly he had a vision of his hand holding the gun, blasting the holes in the panels, and the officer that had been posted there.

He blinked his eyes and the vision passed, but he was now breathing hard.

“Sometimes a scene like this will do that to you,” said the officer.

“Do what?”

“Knock the wind out of you, from the shock.”

Larry eyed the officer with suspicion.

“I don’t think I ever got your name, and I don’t recognize you.”

“Oh, I’ve been here for a while,” the officer said with a cryptic smile. “You just didn’t notice me until recently.  My name isn‘t important right now.”

They walked down a long hallway, with the occasional blood splatter and chipped concrete from a bullet ricochet.  Everywhere Larry looked, he got the feeling of déjà vu. Each room he entered, seemed like he a picture in his mind of exactly what it would look like, down to the position of the shell casings on the floor.

Twice he caught the officer looking at him with an expression he would best describe as amusement. But the look would quickly disappear as soon as Larry spotted it.

There was so much blood on the floors that the investigators, EMTs, and police had to be very careful where they stepped. In these rooms, they had laid down several plastic tarps to use as walkways, so they didn’t slip or track the blood all over the building.

They entered a cell and Larry looked at the broken body of a young man he knew from the street, who was only in jail for a misdemeanor and nearly broke down.

“What kind of person does this sort of thing?”  Larry asked.

“Lots of people think about doing it. Correcting the world’s injustices is usually how they see it. Most of them lack the conviction, the final push over the edge, to make them act on it,” the officer said.

“You almost sound like you admire this monster.”

The officer looked at Larry with a gleam on his eye.

“You find monsters in the strangest places. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing anything wrong, almost like it’s a dream.”

Larry’s face went pale.

“I need to get some air,” he said.

“Sure,” said the officer, “let’s go up on the roof.”

There were two sentries posted near the roof hatch. They just ignored the officers coming out of the hatch. Larry and the officer walked to the far end of the roof. Larry hesitated when he saw yet another body.  For some reason this one was different. The officer called to him.

“Come on over.  You have to see this.”

“I’ve seen enough,” Larry said.

The officer’s voice changed, it lowered and became menacing.

“No, you must see this!”

Without realizing he was doing it, Larry walked over and looked down at the body. His own lifeless eyes stared up at him. Larry stumbled back.

“No!  This can’t be … ”

The officer smiled a mirthless smile.

“Can’t be what?  Real?” His maniacal laugh sounded like many voices at once.

“You so-called ‘Good Citizens’ are all alike. You love denial. You can deny anything. You denied the truth of this place the whole time we were walking through it. Did any of it seem the least bit familiar to you? Like … oh, I don’t know… maybe a dream?”

Larry’s eyes grew wide with realization. The officer laughed again.

“You don’t seem to realize that you made this happen. You, ‘Mr. Good Citizen’, who should have shown these people compassion at a time in their lives when they needed it most. Instead, you treated them with disdain and hatred,” he smiled. “I am so proud of you. You held on to your hate so tightly that it drove you to this.”

“I didn’t … I couldn’t … It was just a dream,” Larry stammered.

“There’s that wonderful denial again. Have you even thought about guessing my name?”

“I don’t know who you are, I’ve never seen you before.”

“I have had many names, some better known than the others.  One of my favorites that you might recognize is ‘Lucifer.’”

The name hung in the air like an acrid smoke on a calm night. Larry’s eyes and mouth grew wide with fear.

He stammered, not being able to form any coherent sound.  Slowly he worked until his mind forced his mouth to utter a single word.

“Why?”

“Don‘t ask me, you made it happen. Your hate, rage, and contempt for these people was felt and returned. That made it grow like a weed in your mind until you just couldn’t contain it. I live off of hate, so I didn’t mind it one bit, maybe even gave a little nudge here and there, to keep it going. Had you been a real ‘Good Citizen‘, you might have seen what your actions were heading toward and stopped. But your ’high and mighty’ attitude only made people hate you, which made you hate them.”

“A vicious cycle,” Larry said, finally realizing the truth. “So what happens now?”

“Now?” Lucifer said. “A few of your friends are going to take you on a little trip.”

Instantly, every one of the inmates and officers that Larry had brutally murdered, appeared and grabbed him. He tried to get away, but there were too many.

Larry felt as though the roof of the prison had turned to quicksand, as they dragged him further and further down. He looked up through a long tunnel, as he continued his rapid descent. Lucifer was looking down at him, laughing.

“Enjoy the company!” he shouted. “You’re going to be together for a very long time.”

***

 

 

The Journey: Chapter 1

The Journey: Chapter 2

The Journey: Chapter 3

The Journey: Chapter 4

The Journey: Chapter 5

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