Category Archives: short story

Puzzled: A short story audiobook

I know that pride cometh before a fall, but I’m quite proud of this. ‘Puzzled’ is my first short story that I’ve had made into an audiobook/youtube video.

With the help of the amazing narration of Dalan Decker, and the helpful expertise of Mason Carlton, I was able to see a dream to fruition. Having one of my stories turned into an audiobook.

I know it may seem like a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction, and I plan to make as many more steps as I can.

Enjoy.

‘Puzzled’

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

Field of Screams

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

 

I love living in the country, away from all the lights. Over a dozen meteor pictures and I should still have time for more.

I trudge through waist high grass, climb into my car, and listen to the radio as the camera automatically takes another picture. Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ plays softly, causing me to smile and close my eyes.

When I wake the full moon is up, bathing the field in an eerie glow.

The grass undulates as if waving in the breeze.

That’s odd, the wind isn’t moving the trees.

The wave of grass continues steadily towards me, enveloping the car. I stick my head out through the window and watch one of the waves pass right by me. It stops moving and out of the grass I see glowing red eyes.

I throw myself back inside the car and roll up the window, ignoring the sound of something scraping on the door.

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod!

I focus on my breathing to avoid a panic attack.

In my mirror I see the mounds of grass moving away.

I roll my window back down, lean out, look down and see no red eyes.

I think it’s time to go home.

My camera sits a mere four feet away.  I won’t step out of my car, or leave it in the field.

I pull over closer to the camera, reach out through the window, grab the ‘Oh shit’ handle inside the car, all the while shooting furtive glances down at the grass.

Got it!

I sling myself back inside the car, roll up my window, and try to calm down. The longer I sit here the more silly the whole thing seems.

It had to be a dream. I fell asleep and dreamt the whole thing.

I chuckle at my own stupidity, then turn the car around and drive back over the same tracks I used to get here.

I drive out of the field, through my own backyard, and park beside the house.

I head for the backdoor, exhausted.

Two a.m. is late, even for me.

Against my better judgment, I lean down to look at the side of the car door and was surprised to see scrapes in the metal.

Must’ve been a stick or something I brushed against in the field.

I head inside, lock the door, and start looking through the night’s pictures.

Several of the meteor pictures are nicely framed with the field and trees. As the moon comes up, the stars disappear.

This must be where I fell asleep.

As I scroll through, I notice the waves in the field.

So I didn’t dream that?

I enlarge the picture.

My breath catches in my throat.

Red eyes.

I push to the right and see another set of eyes. I zoom back out and count dozens of them. Every hump of grass has glowing red eyes looking out.

Oh my God!

My spine turns to ice when I hear scraping at the back door.

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this story, try one of my others.

Eyes, Avian, The Exam, Open, Haunted, Crash, Stained, Puzzled

Puzzled

Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear Collection’

 

He finally placed the last piece.

For years he had worked on this puzzle. He had bought it at a yard sale, that had some of the most strange antiques. Henry had always been a fan of puzzles. He couldn’t resist when the woman told him it would take a lifetime to put together.

He was surprised and amused when she handed him a large paper bag full of puzzle pieces. He had to dedicate a table only to this puzzle, it was so big.

For the longest time, he barely touched it, having no idea what the picture was, without the box it was nearly impossible to get started.

As time wore on and Henry became less active, the puzzle held more interest for him. He began to make progress on it and soon had it more than half done.

The strange thing was sometimes it seemed like the picture on the puzzle was different from one day to the next. Still, he kept at it. It had become an obsession now. He had to know what was in the picture.

When his wrinkled, arthritic hand put the last piece in, he leaned back to take a look and a chill ran through him. It was a picture of him as a younger man. He was sitting at that very same table and putting together that very same puzzle.

As if that wasn’t unnerving enough, over his shoulder, in the window behind him was a shadowy figure. He leaned closer to the puzzle to get a better look.

The figure was robed entirely in black with a hood covering its face. A skeletal hand held a scythe beside it.

Henry’s eyes grew wide with fear. For what seemed like eternity, he sat as still as a tombstone.

This can’t be real. There’s some logical explanation, but for the life of me, I can’t think of it.

Finally, Henry’s curiosity devoured him like a starving predator. He slowly turned and looked at the window.

***

Three days later the paramedics found his decaying body hunched over, with his head laying on the table. Bodily fluids had pooled on the puzzle, ruining it.

They never saw the picture of the man or the now empty window.

End

 

If you liked this short story, you may like one of these.

Avian, Crash, Haunted, Eyes, Open, The Exam, Stained

Crash

An excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear Collection’.

 

“Is anyone here a doctor?” I cried, squeezing her neck as hard as I could, as blood still squirted out from between my fingers. “Please, anybody!”

A dozen people stood around on their cell phones, casting furtive glances in my direction as she bled to death. Three minutes later, two paramedics spent one minute working on my wife before telling me the words no one wants to hear, ‘I’m sorry.’

My world faded to black. The last thing I heard was, “Time of death, ten fifty-two.”

 

10:47

“Talk to me baby,” I pleaded in desperation. “Come on, you wanted to talk so bad, now’s the time.”

She gagged, trying to say something, but it only came out as a gurgle.

“Come on, stay with me.” I tried to hold my handkerchief on the wound, but it quickly filled with blood. Her eyes met mine for the last time, then closed forever.

“No! You open those eyes!” I screamed as other people got out of their cars and rushed over to see what had happened.

 

10:44

I opened my eyes, or at least I thought they were open. Everything was so blurry. I felt in front of me.

What is that? It feels like a flattened pillow.

Then it starts to come back to me.

The airbag.

Then the other thought hits me.

Sally.

I look over and can see her outline.

“Can you find my glasses?”

She doesn’t answer.

“Sally, can you find my glasses?”

I see her moving. Suddenly my glasses are shoved onto my hand.

“You don’t have to be so rough,” I said, putting them on. “All I wanted … ”

The words died in my mouth. She was covered in blood.

“Oh my God! Can you move?”

She shook her head.

“Where’s your phone, I’ll call an ambulance.”

She pointed to her neck. The phone must’ve shattered on impact. I saw a large shard of glass sticking out of her neck. I had no idea how long I had been unconscious or how long she had been bleeding.

 

10:40

The little red sports car smashed into my front fender like he was in a demolition derby. I tried to keep control of the car, but at seventy miles an hour it just wasn’t happening.

You know how they say time slows down in an accident, well I think it sped up. The car hit me, my car skidded into the barrier, the airbags went off all within what felt like a second.

We never had a chance.

Was my final thought before my unscheduled nap.

 

10:37

“Are you even listening to me?” Sally said, as I checked my mirror.

“Yes, but this idiot in the red sports car keeps pushing me.”

“Then let him pass.”

“I’m trying, he just won’t.”

“I’m trying to tell you something important.”

“Thank God.”

“So you’re ready to listen?” Sally said.

“No, thank God this guy is passing me.”

She folded her arms across her chest.

“Why do I even bother? What’s it gonna take for you to … ”

The little red sports car’s front tire blew.

 

10:35

“That idiot’s gonna kill somebody,” I said, but she didn’t hear me.

“What?”

“I said that idiot’s gonna kill somebody.”

“What idiot?”

“The guy behind us in the little red sports car. He keeps weaving in and out of traffic.”

“And that was important enough to interrupt my phone call?” she said in a huff.

“Okay, so now, as usual, I’m the bad guy and you have to go running to your sister or your friends and be on the phone for hours complaining about me.”

“Sorry, Ceilia, there’s an annoying gnat buzzing around, making it hard for me to hear,” she said into the phone.

“You were the one who started this. You wanted to talk. So turn that damn phone off and talk.”

She did turn … her head away from me and continue her phone conversation.

“I swear, one of these days you’re going to have that thing permanently attached.”

 

10:32

“Uh-huh,” I said in my road daze.

“Are you even listening?” she asked.

“What?”

“That’s my point exactly. We’ve got all this time to talk and you clam up.”

“What do you want me to say? I’m driving.”

“That’s always your excuse. That’s been your excuse for the last twelve years. ‘I’m driving’, ‘I have to go to work’, ‘I’m tired’ there’s never any time for us to just talk.”

“I’m tired.” I grinned.

“Not funny. You know one of these days I might not be here for you to torment.”

But I was distracted and didn’t hear her.

 

End

 

 

If you liked this story, you may like one of these.

Open

Avian

Haunted

Stained

The Exam

Eyes