Tag Archives: fiction

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

The Journey: Chapter 1

9-23-13 506copyExcerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear, Collection

 

Billows of steam rose from the iron giant like breath from the nostrils of a war horse, chomping at the bit on a cold battlefield. The steam encompassed the great beast in a surreal mist, as though protecting it from the ravages of time. The station was deserted as if no one wanted to approach the beast for fear it would rouse in wrath. Slowly a shadow formed. At first, they seem bonded, mist and shadow. Then the darkness drifted closer and coalesced into the shape of a man. A trick of the light, I never knew, but he seemed to be wearing a hooded cloak, dark as midnight. As he drew near, I saw it was merely a hat and uniform.

He walked slowly, gazing at this great mechanized monster as lovingly as a rider checks his faithful steed before a long journey. His gaze seemed to pierce even metal, looking for any blemish, any imperfection. This slow, methodical inspection continued over the length of the train’s passenger, dining, and sleeper cars, ending where it began, at the engine. He mounted the steps, heading for the control room. The dials and instruments were subjected to his scrutiny. Finally, his gaze settled on the fire box. His eyes seem to glow as the intense heat turned his sunken cheeks from white to orange. His normally impassive face gave way to the slightest of grins.

The conductor greeted the passengers as they arrived, helped them aboard until all were accounted for … save one.
The whistle sounded its final warning.
The iron behemoth belched smoke as it muscled its load away from the station.
The journey had begun …

The train moved steadily down the tracks. Its swaying and clickety-clack sound had lulled many a passenger to sleep, but not the conductor. He sat in a comfortable chair, eyes closed, but not asleep. To look at him, you would not know how he did his job at all. To call him ancient would be an understatement. His steel gray hair, thin white face, and emaciated body made him look as though he belonged in a pine box rather than collecting tolls on a train that was nearly a quarter mile long. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and stared at the antique wall clock, just as it struck midnight. He rose quickly, put on his conductor’s cap, and left the room.

The conductor stepped through the door into the passenger car. It was richly decorated with beautiful dark red carpet, which perfectly offset the golden fringes and accents of the room. The seats were designed in classic style, two seats faced each other, with a small table in between. Outside, darkness had fallen like a blanket, covering the countryside in its embrace. Most of the passengers quickly grew tired of staring out into the inky black abyss. Conversations had been consummated between strangers and had given birth to stories, lovingly shared. The conductor silently glided up behind the first passenger and paused as the man began to weave a tale …

 

This story continues in The Journey: Chapter 2

Tuesday Photo Challenge: Woods

nikon d3300 5-19-16 012Image copyright 2016 Mike Kelso

As soon as I saw that the theme for this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge was going to be Woods, I knew exactly which picture I would use. 

I took this picture two miles away from my house. It was a foggy morning, and I was hoping that some of that fog would linger until I arrived with my camera. As luck would have it there was plenty of fog left on this little back road, and I was soon happily snapping away. 

I took this picture with a specific purpose. To use for the cover of my short story collection. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it. I darkened it for the book, but this is the original picture. Enjoy.

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Woods

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