Category Archives: short story

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.


The Journey


The Test


The Exam



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.


The Storm

Author’s note: I wrote this short story a few years ago and it has been collecting virtual dust on my computer ever since. With this current storm brewing on the east coast, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share it. Enjoy.

6-21-12 153copy

Kevin whistled as he walked to work. He loved his job, he was good at it, and there was always a sense of anticipation.
Perhaps today will be the day, he grinned.
He sighed with contentment, as he walked over to a small desk in the middle of the circular room, and touched a button. Instantly, the walls were covered with the most detailed weather map ever seen. He could zoom in as close as he wanted on any location…
Google would be envious, he smiled.
Kevin picked up his clipboard and went straight to work. He checked down the list of priorities, then leafed through the pages. Next, he zoomed in on the central United States, pulled a pen out of his pocket, drew a few clouds, darkened them in, then stepped back to admire his work. Within a few minutes, Peoria Illinois got an extra half inch of rain, just like the clipboard had requested.
He moved to the next item, erased three clouds over Egypt. Again, within minutes, what would have been a refreshing shower, never happened. He continued down the list…
Hail in Russia.
Rain in China.
Sunny in Venezuela.
Hours later, when his list was complete, he sat back to take a break. He watched the swirls and eddies of the world, admiring the simple beauty of it. He knew exactly where every El Nino and La Nina started. He knew the cause and eventual effects of each hurricane, including their names, before they were a gust of breeze. Very little surprised Kevin when it came to the weather, but every once in a while…
It wasn’t even a breeze, yet somehow Kevin sensed it. Somewhere over the Pacific, a bird dipped to avoid a predator, leaving an eddy of wind current in its wake. He could see it in his mind’s eye…
This eddy of wind is just about to die when it meets with a small updraft, which sustains it. The two move along until another breeze adds to their strength. A low flying airplane adds speed to it. It forms a cloud or two and continues to build, now a strong rainstorm. Another storm comes up from the south and joins with this one. Together they build into the most massively destructive force the world has ever seen.
It marches around the world, causing destruction and death on a biblical scale. Buildings are destroyed, entire forests wiped out, islands and beaches disappear. Tidal waves measure hundreds of feet tall cover miles of dry land. The death toll rises like the counter on a video game, as governments try to battle this force of nature. The storm changes seismic stresses, causing dormant volcanoes to erupt. Earthquakes shake the foundation of the world. The Richter scale is rendered moot, as each quake sets a new record. Continents shear away from each other.
Astronauts in the space station record the event, watching in horror as the world tears itself apart, knowing that they will die in the remorseless cold of space. Beneath them, the storm rages on.
Cloud cover, debris, and volcanic ash combine to block out the sun. As the temperature of the planet drops, the polar ice caps grow. Humanity has been reduced to a mere million quivering souls, trying to stay warm enough to survive.
It is a much different planet now, more akin to colonizing another world than surviving on the tattered remains of their former home. A two hundred mile wide temperate zone around the equator is all that keeps the earth from being totally encased in ice. Within ten years, humanity will be extinct. Because of the violence of the storm, and its aftermath, the Earth is thrown off its axis. Within a few hundred years, it will crash into Mars, destroying both planets.
Kevin blinked hard, bringing himself back to reality. He picked up his clipboard, and double checked it.
“Not on today’s schedule,” he sighed.
He erased the small eddy of wind, and the massive storm disappeared. He set down the clipboard, returned the screen to normal, and headed for the door.
“Maybe tomorrow,” he said.
He started home, whistling as he went.


The end?



I hope you enjoyed my story. If you liked it, please read some of my other stories. You may enjoy them as well.


Photo op -1

For those few awesome folks who have seen my other Photo op posts, I say thank you very much for your interest. I will also explain why this particular Photo op is named so peculiarly and why there’s no actual photo in it.

Anyone who knows me knows of my affinity for taking pictures of birds of prey, especially Bald Eagles. I have been fortunate enough to live close to where a few Bald Eagles are occasionally seen. I have been able to capture a few in photos, but the opportunities are few and far between. Most times my success or failure has hinged on having a camera with me and some spare time to go get the shot.

On this particular day, which we will call ‘yesterday’, I was driving through the area they are sometimes seen. I had mentioned to my wife a few minutes previously that I had forgotten to bring my camera, but we were in a hurry and I didn’t feel the need to go home and get it.

This was a decision I would soon regret.

As I drove, I noticed a deer carcass on the side of the road and two large birds ‘tending’ to it. My first assumption was that they were carrion, most likely turkey buzzards that also frequent the area in which I live. As I approached, I realized, much to my chagrin, that they were Bald Eagles and I was about to drive within ten feet of them.

My eyes grew wide with shock as I flashed back to my camera sitting on the table at home.

When I was about fifty feet away, one of the Eagles took off and flew directly in front of our van, which also would’ve provided me with an excellent close-up photo. It flew in front of us for around thirty yards, which would’ve been time to get plenty of great shots. As time slowed, each flap of its majestic wings became a torment to me. I couldn’t even enjoy the spectacle because of the enormous weight of disappointment. Then it suddenly veered off as if to say, ‘You had your chance, too bad you didn’t bring your camera’.

To say that I was greatly disappointed would be an understatement.

This ranks as the number one greatest picture I never took.

I have had several more instances that I may share as time goes on, but this one was still fresh in my mind.

In any case, happy new year. Wishing you all success in the coming year.


Captain Obvious does lunch

IMG_20171227_144613_520.jpgCaptain Obvious, at your service once again. Today I report on a mystery that has confounded me for well over 15 minutes.

It all started after my last mission.

I was quite hungry and my rations had been depleted by the earthworm incident, which is one tale that is too horrifying to tell. I had entered a fast food establishment, which was not living up to the name since it took ten minutes for me to receive my food.

While I waited impatiently, I took my colorful cup to the drink dispenser. Having sworn off soft drinks, because they make my tummy hurt, I perused the choices for something without enough sugar to send me into immediate shock. I was pleasantly surprised to find water as one of the choices. I reached for the button when I noticed there was a secondary choice underneath water which said, ‘water only’. This gave me immediate pause. Was the other water free of dangerous water that I nearly consumed in my ignorance? Does the ‘water only’ have all the essential nutrients of the regular water? Would it be missing some key ingredient of the main water choice?

As I pondered this important decision, people began lining up behind me, waiting for their drinks. What do I do? Do I raise the alarm and warn these people about the potential choice between these competing waters? Obviously on water company was better funded as they had the edge on advertising with the larger logo. But did that mean that the less popular choice was the right one? What if there was some cut-rate system they used to make their water cheaper and couldn’t afford

What do I do? Do I raise the alarm and warn these people about the potential choice between these competing waters? Obviously, one water company was better funded as they had the edge on advertising with the larger logo. But did that mean that the less popular choice was the right one? What if there was some cut-rate system they used to make their water cheaper and couldn’t afford advertising like the bigger company?

In the midst of my turmoil, my order number was called.

Sweat rolled down my cheek as I sold out and pressed my cup against the lever sending water streaming into my cup. As I walked away, I could hear the angry sighs of the people behind me. Were they disappointed in my choice? Did they lose a little confidence in their captain knowing that he had chose the big water company instead of helping out the little guy?

I picked up my bag of deep fried food and headed back out into the world to right some injustice, but all the while, I kept a wary eye on my water.

C. O.



Captain Obvious takes a holiday

The adventures of Captain Obvious

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.



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 … ”


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.”


“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.”


“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?”



“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.”


“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.”


“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