Tag Archives: Horror

It Came From the Comic Book Shop

I am a self-proclaimed horror nerd but it’s not the only kind of nerd I claim to be. I’m pretty multifaceted in my nerdhood, but one particular thing that rivals my love of horror films is my love of comics. I’ve been reading them since childhood and the love has only grown deeper while working in a comic book shop. Thankfully I don’t have to choose between horror or comics because there are many, many cool horror stories in comic book form. Some big screen baddies like Freddy, Jason, and Pinhead, have all had their appearances in the funny books (including the fantastic Freddy vs Jason vs Ash), and great comics have become movies like 30 Days of Night. But this article isn’t about those. My goal for this article is to pair horror films (and TV) to horror comics, like a fine wine and cheese, to help bridge the gap for film fans to jump to the page or vice-versa, and find some horror stories they might not have heard of before.

 

Night of the Living Dead / Afterlife with Archie

Where better place to start than with the King of Zombies, George A. Romero (RIP), the birth of the modern zombie film, and Archie comics. While most people either know Archie from the squeaky clean comics or the Riverdale TV show, Afterlife with Archie is a criminally underrated comic. Not too long ago Archie Comics rebooted their brand, bringing Archie and friends to more modern settings with great creators behind them such as Mark Waid (Daredevil), Fiona Staples (Saga), and Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals). None of that would have happened without this book, which takes the idyllic town of Riverdale and turns it into a bleak, zombie apocalypse that rivals The Walking Dead. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa knocked it out of the park with this one, so much so that he became Chief Creative Officer of Archie comics. His writing along with the phenominal art of Francesco Francavilla make this a must read zombie comic. If there’s any horror comic that can hold a place next to the original zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, it’s this.

Hannibal / Nailbiter

I love Hannibal. I grew up watching the films (probably way too young), and the television show remains one of my favourites long after cancellation. I do admit that I did find the second half of the third season a little weak (the Red Dragon storyline is great but Hannibal is much less entertaining when he’s stuck in a prison cell). The first season particularly was fantastic, starting each episode with another messed up crime scene with human mushroom gardens, corpse totem poles, and man-made angels with flesh wings. If you like those episodes with their cast of creative killers, you’ll love Nailbiter. I can’t shut up about this comic and have shouted at people to read it. Nailbiter (Written by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson) takes place in Buckaroo, Oregon. Buckaroo has a unique problem, it keeps creating serial killers. Sixteen of the worst serial killers in the US. The FBI has been sent in to figure out the mystery, sometimes seeking the help of the Nailbiter, Edward Charles Warren. Warren is the Hannibal of this series and he’s just as charming. Nailbiter recently finished, so it won’t take long to consume all six graphic novels.

Teeth / Insexts

Out of all the horror films I could pair with a comic, I doubt you would have guessed I’d pair something with Teeth. The 2007 horror comedy about the girl with Vagina Dentata seems like a pretty unique premise that would not be replicated, and that’s true. Insexts from indie publisher Aftershock is also a comic with a unique premise. A lesbian romance in Victorian England, the couple have become more than human. Insectoid, fairy creatures that take on a vigilante role against both those that seek to destroy them, and a Jack The Ripper style villain stalking the streets. I’d pair these two together for their shared themes of women reborn as powerful killers, as well as weird body horror.

The Witch / Harrow County

It’s interesting to see witches coming back in vogue as horror villains, both in films and in comics. What was once just green skinned women with big noses and boils, has now become something much darker and more interesting. The Witch, the 2015 film by Robert Eggers, is definitely one that has brought the sub-genre back into the light (although some would say films like The Lords of Salem, and Blair Witch also helped), and specifically the period-set horror witch. The Witch is a moody, isolated film that for the most part focuses on the paranoia of an exiled-family, afraid they have been cursed by the witch in the woods. The film is mostly ambiguous about the reality of the witch, and for the most part it could be thought that there is no witch and this family are creating a supernatural scapegoat (sorry Black Philip) for their suffering. Harrow County is another period-set witch story, although in this case there definitely is a witch, there definitely are monsters and demons, and it all comes together for a fantastic story. Emmy is a young girl, born of the witch who once terrorised Harrow County. Her powers manifest on her 18th birthday and Emmy just wants to make things right between the town folk and the creatures that lurk in the woods. The writing by Cullen Bunn is great but it also includes the artwork of Tyler Crook, artwork that manages to be skin-crawlingly creepy and also charming. Alternatively, check out The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the horror reinvention of Sabrina the Teenage Witch from Archie comics, which also includes mind-blowing art from Robert Hack.

These are just a few comic/film combos that I recommend, although while writing this I realised there’s much more. Well I guess you’ll just have to wait for the sequel “Return of the thing from the Comic Book Shop”.

The Office Party

It’s a new year and here’s a new short story. I intend to write more fiction on Horror Every Day, with more of my articles and reviews are going up on UK Horror Scene. This is another of my Dice stories. Dice stories are randomised, a list of 20 starting emotions and 20 horror sub-genres, decided upon by rolling two D20s. This story is “Drunk” and “Monster”.

The Office Party

It has become a bit of a tradition to get recklessly drunk around the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s just because everyone else uses the same excuse, or that I’d rather be drunk when dealing with all the damn social obligations, but I still ended up wasted. I was on the spirits, a vodka here, a whiskey there, and not a care to be found. It’s so much easier getting fucked up when you don’t have to pay for your drinks so the company party wasn’t as hellish as I thought it might be. They had booked out the function room of a moderately fancy hotel, and we were getting reimbursed for our rooms, they were expecting things to get a little wild. My double vision glared around the room, the office drama unfolding. Petty squabbles slowly boiling over into booze-fuelled feuds. Unrequited love becoming less the subtle hand movements under the tables. I had stationed myself by the bar, knocking them back, content with watching my co-workers like the animals at the zoo. My solitude was in danger as my drunken anthropology was being noticed. Janice, a girl I vaguely remembered from reception, had staggered over to me. Her glazed eyes were similar to my own, but there was something else. She wanted something.

“You’re looking lonely Dan” she mumbled. I felt her hand on my arm. She gripped at my bicep a little too tightly. I assumed she was trying to be seductive but I felt more trapped than seduced. “I know how that feels…”

“I’m okay, really. Just getting my buzz on. Tis the season, right?” I looked around to see if there was anyone I could pawn her off on but the crowd was getting sparse. People were sneaking off to hotel rooms or heading outside to air their grievances with their fists.

“How about you buy me a drink and we can get a buzz on together?” Janice tried to punctuate this proposal with a wink but it was more of an awkward blink. I weighed my options in my head. Janice is attractive but I wasn’t drunk enough to ignore the fact that there would be repercussions. The workplace gossip, the discussions of what the night really meant between us. It would be a hassle I just didn’t want.

“Let me just go to the bathroom for a sec, and I’ll be back for that drink.” I prayed that she would buy this little white lie.

“I think I’d get lonely here by the bar, how about I come with you?” She attempted the wink again. I forced a smile but I worried about encouraging her.

“I’ll be right back…” I edged away from the bar and walked towards the door of the function room, grabbing my suit jacket from the table I’d been sat at earlier in the night. Time to call it a night. I headed for the elevator but looking at the lights, it was at the top floor and the stair well seemed more suited for a quick escape. My room was on the fourth floor and it didn’t seem that far at first, but I was wobbly on my feet. I swayed a little, gripping the hand rail tight in case I fell backwards. I had reached the second floor when I heard the door to the stair well creak open on the ground floor.

“Daaaaaaaan…” I had been sussed out. I heard the clicking of her heels as she entered the stair well. I quickened my pace. Janice’s flirting wasn’t too bad but I had no intention of feeling her drunken wrath for ditching her. I stumbled up the stairs up to third, trying to take two steps at a time, occasionally missing. I exited into the hall on the third floor. I thought there might be another stair well at the end of the hall that I might be able to use to get to my room on the fourth. I staggered down the hall. I followed it down to the end but it came to a corner, no stair well in sight. I turned the corner to continue my search. I heard Janice calling again back the way I came. “Hold on big boy!” She slurred her words.

The hall was just door after door, but no escape. I felt eyes peering at me through spy holes. I was no longer the watcher. It made my skin itch to feel like a spectacle. I just wanted the safety of my room. That’s when I heard a loud thud from behind. I turned round to look back. Janice lay there in a heap. She must have tripped, The way she landed looked painful and while I had been trying to avoid her I couldn’t help but feel pity. She just wanted a little fun and I felt kind of selfish. I went back to help her up, to get her back to her own room before she hurt herself more. I offered my hand to her. She grabbed my wrist, that too tight grip again. Way too tight. It felt like my hand was falling asleep, the circulation cut off entirely. I tried to shake her off but she clenched on with obscene strength. I panicked and kicked her in the chest, knocking her back to the floor. I looked at my wrist where she had gripped me and there was a large circular welt. A suction mark where her palm had been. My fingers were still numb. I looked back at Janice slumped on the ground, she looked broken.

My brain was working over-time. I was drunk, too drunk and this whole thing was getting too weird to comprehend. I wanted to help her, she was just this flirty women from reception. I couldn’t compel myself to get near her, my fight or flight instincts kicking in. The audience of eyes from behind the spy holes were burning into me. Had I just got drunk and hit some girl? Was I going to get fired? Was she going to sue me? My head spun. Janice got back to her feet, her joints clicking as she stood. It wasn’t her though.

Janice’s skin hung loose, sagging from her arms and legs. Her head was tilted towards the ground and her face followed gravity. Her eyes peered out from the sagging skin, hidden in shadow but still piercing.

“Janice… I’m so sorry…” I stammered. I turned on my heels and ran down the hallway, around the corner. It lead to more and more rooms but still no stair well in sight. I didn’t dare look behind me but I could hear her chasing me, the slap of sagging skin against the floor with every step. The hallway lead to another corner. As I followed it I thought that maybe it would at least loop around and I could get back to where I was before and get up to the fourth floor from there. The slapping foot steps behind me were getting a little fainter so I hoped that I was creating a big enough gap that I could escape up the stairs to safety. The hall was long but even with my blurry vision I was sure I could see the next corner. My breathing was heavy and my legs were burning but I pushed myself harder, the end was in sight. As I rounded the corner I could see the elevator, and the door to the stair well. As the distance between me and the door shortened, that sickly slapping noise grew louder. Sweat was pouring from me as I swung the door open. I tried to keep my composure as I took the first step but I was going too fast, I was way too drunk, my foot slipped. I tumbled in slow motion, my head hurtling towards the concrete steps and the slapping steps just behind me. There was a crunch as my head collided with the steps and the room went black.

I woke up to the sound of bubbling water. The room was dark, the curtains drawn. The hotel room kettle boiled by the TV. I could see my pale skin reflected in the blackness of the TV screen. Naked in a hotel room bed, definitely not the way I planned to end the night. I had vague memories of the party, I expected to hear the worst of it on Monday. I looked towards the door, following the trail of clothes that led towards the bed. A dress, my trousers, some underwear… Some skin. Memories flooded back to me as the bathroom door creaked open.

Monsters of Love

Last night I finally watched Spring, a film that I’ve heard nothing but positive ravings about. “One of the best horror films of the year so far” and I’m not here to say that I disagree, it’s a beautiful film both in plot and cinematography. However I do struggle with the idea that it is a horror film, in the sense that it is not a scary movie (Although a film doesn’t need to scare me for it to be considered a horror film) but it is a monster movie, a romantic monster movie. That in itself is not groundbreaking. Yet I feel like the response, or the response that I’m aware of, is. Why is Spring getting such praise when films like the Twilight series have been heralded as the horror-genre end of days?

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I feel like I should admit at this point that I have never watched a Twilight movie or read any of the books so any points that I make on them should be taken from the point of view that I’m not well educated on the series. What I do know is the vague plot that a teenage girl falls in love with a vampire and that there’s a werewolf who also loves the girl. There’s also something about vampire baseball but I’ll stop before I embarrass myself with my lack of knowledge. Girl loves monster. Monster loves girl. Forbidden love is abound. Spring, as much as I can say without spoilers, also features forbidden love between a human and a monster. After watching it, I must admit that I feel pretty hypocritical about any shit I gave Twilight when it first arrived on the scene. I wasn’t as bad as some but I had strong enough opinions to reject seeing those films.

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Twilight has received harsh criticism in the past due to the nature of the relationship between Edward and Bella, that it is sexist and abusive. Edward is controlling, manipulative and generally a threat to Bella’s safety. These are the sort of criticisms I can understand why people would respond negatively to the Twilight movies. Spring’s romantic elements don’t seem to have these problems, but the relationship between Evan and Louise doesn’t get to that a relationship status where that might become a problem. It’s more of the chase up to the commitment that is seen in Spring and any danger that Evan is in because of Louise, it’s his choice.

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So Spring doesn’t focus on an abusive relationship, which is a step up from Twilight. I have to ask the next question though, do the audience take Spring more seriously because it’s a man romantically involved with a monster rather than a girl? Does having Evan, a young man in his 20s, as the main protagonist rather than a teenage girl like Bella make it harder to dismiss his romantic intentions as foolish? He’s choosing to get into a potentially danger relationship with a creature who could easily kill him. Some might consider him brave and romantic, but he’s in a vulnerable state. He’s drifting in the world. He’s lost and this girl/monster is something he has chosen to love and commit to. If he was a teenage girl I’m sure there would be plenty people willing to point out there are plenty of potential partners out there who won’t accidentally monster-out and eat her. I can understand that a 20 year old has more life experience than a teenager when it comes to making romantic decisions but I don’t think that Evan is making any less risky a decision than Bella when it comes to settling down with a supernatural partner.

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Another reason that the choice of a male protagonist effects the audience response to this film is that there seems to be less of an obvious target demographic. Twilight was definitely marketed towards a female audience, mainly teenagers. I wouldn’t say I’m far off when I say that teenage girls are often stereotyped as being vapid, and that the films that marketed towards them are inconsequential and shallow. It’s an unfair generalisation that is based more on badly written characters written by men than actual teen girls. The marketing for Spring is much more focused on suspense and danger based on the tone of the trailer rather than the romantic story that dominates most of the plot. It’s like they were trying to avoid the romance in fears that it might discredit them in the eyes of a male audience.

Spring

Lastly, I think the loudest argument I heard against Twilight, particularly after the first film came out was that it was ruining vampire movies. That the image of a vampire that sparkled was the most repulsively stupid addition to vampire mythology ever conceived. Okay the sparkling was a bit much but it was a minor thing, Sunlight still kills them (right?) but it’s just a bit of imagery that people who dislike the general idea of romantic monsters have latched onto as their major criticism of Twilight. Vampires have been seducing people forever so I don’t know why it’s such a big deal here. Sure some of those vampires seduced their prey, drank them and moved on, but it’s still part of the mythos. Spring is a lot more vague when it comes to it’s monster of choice. Louise isn’t a particular monster, she’s some kind of shape-shifter. She isn’t a reinvention of some classic movie monster. It’s her ambiguity that makes her a new kind of creature so there isn’t some backlash of monster fans screaming that her sappy romantic sentiments are ruining shape-shifters.

Overall I think that Spring is a great film, and if you haven’t seen it already you should go check it out. It’s a romantic creature feature that shows that supernatural inter-species romance isn’t dead. The monster imagery may just be metaphor for Louise’s baggage, be that emotional baggage or living with illness, and that everyone deserves love regardless of what life has thrown at them. Whether you choose to enjoy this film literally or metaphorically, I hope that you think twice about monsters in love.

Horror and Mental Illness

You don’t have to think long about the genre of horror before thinking of murdering madmen, I’m sure plenty horror fans have been accused of being one more than once just for loving the genre. The idea of a madman, a person unable to control their mental compulsions to kill, is one that has been prevalent in the genre and popularised by films like Hitchcock’s Psycho. Obviously that film didn’t set out to demonise anyone with a mental illness but it didn’t try to defend those people either. With a topic as sensitive as mental illness, how should horror films handle the subject matter.

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The film that I watched recently that inspired me to write this piece was The Taking of Deborah Logan, a found footage possession film that came out fairly recently. The film starts of as a documentary focusing on the horror of living with Alzheimer’s, but the woman they are filming becomes stranger and it becomes apparent that there’s something else going on here. And it’s that plot development that irritated me. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and for the filmmakers to come along and more-or-less say “yeah that’s pretty bad but what if it was ghosts/demons/monsters” makes it’s feel exploitative in my mind. It’s downplaying that seriousness of Alzheimer’s and I just don’t think that’s cool.

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Another film that came out recently was The Babadook, which has subtext about mental illness and the following will contain spoilers if you haven’t already seen the film. So in The Babadook a single mother is suffering while raising her problem child and his boogie-man manifests in all manner of terrible ways. However the implications of what happens to the two is that the mother has some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. The film has an unusually upbeat ending in which the mother has accepted the death of her husband and she has the monster, The Babadook, locked away in the basement. She feeds the Babadook and the son asks if he’ll ever see it again, which the mother replies “when you’re older”. She’s living with mental issues. This kind of film takes the emotions that someone living with a mental illness, the terror and anxiety, and uses imagery to inflict it upon it’s viewers. It doesn’t belittle any victims, it helps us empathise.

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As I said before, horror films have always had maniacs and madmen, some of them have used mental illness in less than tasteful ways. The problem of representation comes to mind again, that perhaps if more functional people with mental illnesses were to be shown in the genre they might feel like the genre was demonising them. I’m not saying to boycott any films with negative representations in them, but encouraging anyone who’s writing or producing to give it a thought.

Feathers in the Night

This story is one of a number of stories I wrote as part of a writing experiment over on my other blog. The rules of the experiment was that I wrote a list of 20 “Starting Emotions” and 20 “Horror Sub-genres” and attempted to write a story based on the combination. This was the combo of Drunk and Animals.

Feathers in the Night

I felt fine before I left the bar. More than fine, fantastic. When I left the bar, not so fantastic. Overwhelmed. The evening air made my head spin and my guts churn violently. I didn’t think I’d feel this bad until the morning at least. Maybe that last vodka was one too many. Odd numbers aren’t good, especially nine. At least I think it was nine. My stomach growled, demanding some greasy late-night food. I thought maybe that will settle my stomach, or at least provide some interesting texture when I see it again, hunched over a toilet bowl. I staggered down the street, glancing in the doorways of chip shops and kebab shops, looking for the perfect one. Perfection being the low bar of 1) Can I get served quickly? and 2) Is it free of drunken nutters who will knife me if I look at their girlfriend?

I finally settled on a chip shop with just a couple customers who were already served, slumped over a table, picking haphazardly at a portion of chips, cheese and gravy. I made my way over to the counter with as straight a b-line as I could muster and with a heavy slur, made my best efforts to order a burger. There were some follow up questions which I answered with a quick series of affirmations before taking a seat at the nearest table. I slumped into a comfortable pose, face pressed against the cold window, arms crossed tightly against my chest. My head was spinning so I closed my eyes to find some reprieve. Opening them again I had the feeling I was being watched, and glancing over at the other two customers I found that I was correct. A young lady was staring at me, face peeking over her boyfriend’s slumped body. I gave her a “what are you looking at?” glare. Apparently it didn’t register because her facial expression, as much as I could see of it, hadn’t changed. I was about to get up and see what her problem was when I heard a noise coming from the other side of the window.

Outside the window there was a good view of the road populated by all the drunken revellers, on their way home, or to the next stage of their inebriated adventure. Not far from where I was sitting there was a guy being hassled by seagulls. Odd but not unheard of, the seagulls were aggressive at this time of night. The number of people staggering about, dropping food, meant the seagulls were out in force. The guy was lashing out at them, swinging his arms, trying to kick any that came near enough. He didn’t seem to be having much luck though, in fact he seemed to be attracting more. Maybe his violent movements were causing him to drop more food. I couldn’t get a good look. What I did see was a big, mean bastard of a seagull swoop down and hit the drunk straight in the face. He stumbled back and lost his footing. He hit the ground hard. The girl behind me gasped loudly. I turned to look at her. She was no longer hidden behind her passed out boyfriend, but was almost right next to my table. She wasn’t alone, One of the chip shop workers was also watching the spectacle.

When I looked back at the scene, there was two other men trying to help but they were being pecked too and the guy on the ground wasn’t moving. Maybe the fall had knocked him out. The big gull was standing on his chest and smaller gulls were moving in too. I could see blue police lights flashing in the distance, but they didn’t seem to be getting closer. It was a late booze-fuelled Saturday night, the police were probably busy breaking up fights, gull attacks far from their main priority. Trying to look further down the street, towards the flashing police lights, I could see the shape of more flailing people and small swooping figures. I squinted my bleary eyes in a vain attempt to make out more detail and jumped at the sudden sound of a scraping chair. The girl had her boyfriend slumped against her, his arm around her shoulder. They swayed and stumbled as she dragged her lad from the shop. I followed them as far as the door, accompanied by the chip shop guy. We watched as they got maybe 20 feet down the street before the gulls set upon them too. She tried to fight them off, before dropping her boyfriend and making a run for it. His head bounce off the concrete and she didn’t make it much further before the gulls took her down.

I rushed back over to the window. The vantage point was better from there. The flash of blue lights in the distance seemed to have increased but the distance looked about the same. If there was help for this situation, it was too far away to be helpful. I pulled my phone out. There was no way I could walk home with this anarchy going on. I scrolled through my contacts and dialled the number of a taxi company. An engaged tone beep loudly. Thinking little of it, I scrolled to the next one only to be surprised that it was busy. A third and a fourth proved to be equally fruitless. I thought for a minute that I could possibly phone my dad for a lift but I assumed waking him at this hour might result in some grumpiness that I couldn’t deal with in my drunken state. Looking down the street I could see that the rooftops were lined with seagulls. Crows too. I wasn’t much of a bird watcher but I could see a few recognisable birds, magpies, pigeons, blue tits… I giggled to myself at the thought of “tits” and then scolded myself internally for letting my mind go off track.

I only lived a few streets away, it wasn’t that far if I ran. That girl ran and it didn’t seem to go that well for her. I pondered for a second and the thought that I was still waiting for that burger shot through my head. I was going to complain but I reconsidered, there was more pressing matters at hand and there was a bag of frozen nuggets in the fridge that seemed pretty appealing at the moment. I thought that if I was going to make a run for it, I’d need a weapon. Looking around the chip shop there were some potential weapons but I was pretty sure they wouldn’t let me take any of their knives or chairs. My eyes caught sight of something under one of the tables. I staggered over to the table and ducked down, there was an umbrella lying on the floor. It seemed like a good plan, the umbrella would protect my face and I could swing it at any birds that got too close.

With umbrella in hand, I made for the door. I popped open the umbrella and it made a loud clunk as it sprung open. I made it a couple yards up the street when I felt the first bird bounce off the umbrella’s canopy. It’s little talons scratched across the fabric and I heard it squawk as it landed on the ground behind me. There was two more bumps as I made it further up the street. A gull on the ground pecked at my ankles as I passed and while trying to kick it away, I almost stumbled on the boyfriend from earlier. He was motionless and there was a lot of blood coming from a nasty looking head wound. I couldn’t stop to check if he was alright, I couldn’t let my guard down for a second. I ducked and dodged down the street. The umbrella was less practical than I previously assumed. It was catching the wind, slowing me down and after a few more aerial assaults, the birds were making some bad tears in it. I spied a small lane that would take me to the next street over. I tripped on the kerb a little as I ducked into the lane.

It was quieter away from the panic on the street but I could hear various bird calls coming from the rooftops above me. A crow cawed loudly, like it was alerting it’s allies to my location. I crouched as I ran down the lane. I retracted the umbrella as I ran, the lane was too narrow to have it out properly. When I got to the next street over, it was just as manic as the one I had left behind. The flashing blue lights were closer, I could see a police van not too far away. The van seemed deserted, maybe the police had fled. Truncheons didn’t seem too helpful right now. A gull swooped down at me and pecked my ear as it flew passed. I clasped my hand to it and was surprised that the attack had drawn blood. I tried to pop open the umbrella again but the rips in the canopy had got tangled in the mechanism. I clubbed another swooping bird with the ruined umbrella before tossing it and making a mad dash for another lane. I wheezed as I entered the lane, another momentary safe haven from the bird-on-human violence.

My flat was on the next street, about 30 feet from where the lane let out. I was so tired. My head was still spinning and my guts were still making threats of vomiting all over my nice shoes. Whatever buzz I had had was gone and all I had was a hangover and the murderous attention of several hundred birds. I looked round for another weapon to replace my lost umbrella but the most I could find was an empty bottle from a recycling bin. I gripped it tight as I got close to the end of the lane.

I stepped out onto the street, ready to run. Unlike the last two streets however, this one was quiet. There was birds on every lamp post, post box and all around the roof tops. They were all over the street too, some perched on still bodies. My eyes moved between the birds and the glowing sign of a 24 hour shop that was right next to the front door of my flat. I considered running but the eerie calmness of the birds made me think that the worst thing to do at this moment was to startle them. I moved slowly and carefully on tip-toes. The glowing sign gradually growing closer as feathers ruffled around my ankles. I was just inches away from my door. I looked back across the street at the distance I had covered when I felt something under foot. I had stepped on one of them. It called out and the others squawked and cawed. The sound was tremendous and only got louder as they flapped and fluttered. Pecking beaks jabbed at my legs as I bounded towards the door. Wings slapped at the back of my head and I slapped back at them. I pushed my way inside the door and slammed it behind me, falling onto my ass in the process. I lay down on the cold floor of the corridor, listening to the birds scratching and bumping the door. The night was over, and so was the nightmare. I just wanted to go straight to bed, I wasn’t in the mood for nuggets anymore.

Me Time

This story is one of a number of stories I wrote as part of a writing experiment over on my other blog. The rules of the experiment was that I wrote a list of 20 “Starting Emotions” and 20 “Horror Sub-genres” and attempted to write a story based on the combination. This was the combo of Comfortable and Home Invasion.

Me Time

The warmth enveloped me as I lowered myself into the bath, easing into the hot water. It had been a long, excruciating day in at the office. I could already feel the hot water soothing the tension in my back. This was exactly what I needed. The bathroom was lit by two large vanilla scented candles and the flickering light danced to the chill out playlist that was playing on my phone, which lay on the counter by the sink. I felt like I had escaped to a zone of pure relaxation. My phone chirped, momentarily disrupting the music, the rest of the world reminding me that it still exists, pulled me away from the relaxation zone a little bit. I resented that but let it slide. This was my time and I was in no rush to read messages from the outside world. I was much too comfortable to even consider the idea.

Soon the water began to cool, one of the candles had went out and my playlist began to loop. It was time to get out of the relaxation zone. The bath water drained in a quiet roaring slurp as I dried myself with a towel, warm from the radiator. As I dried one of my feet I heard the unexpected sound of keys turning in the front door. I almost lost my balance in my surprise. My flat mate had been away a few days and wasn’t due to be home for another two hours but I assumed that they had been allowed to leave early. I wrapped a towel around myself and peeked my head around the door. “Kate? I didn’t think you’d be home so soon.” I shouted out. There was no response but I heard a shuffling noise in the kitchen. I tried to think rational thoughts. Maybe she had her headphones in, she often listened to music when she was travelling. I quickly moved through to my bedroom to throw on some clothes before going to see Kate. I put on some jeans and an old t-shirt and I could feel the moisture soaking in from the bits I missed drying.

I flicked on the hall light as I walked through on my way to the kitchen. I flung the door open, a smile ready on my face to welcome Kate home. My smile shrank a little as there was no sign of Kate in the kitchen. I was sure that I heard her. The pile of letters I had arranged carefully on the counter top had been left undisturbed, including a couple parcels from Amazon which I was sure she’d be eager to open. Perplexed I thought she might have gone into the living room. I closed the kitchen door behind me and absent-mindedly walked a few steps down the dingy hall and into the living room. The TV was on but still no sign of Kate. The TV was on the menu for all the shows we had recorded. One of Kate’s documentaries was highlighted and ready to play. If Kate was here, why hadn’t she come to say hi first? I figured she must have gone to get something from her room or maybe I had just missed her and she had went to see me in mine. It wasn’t a big flat but it wouldn’t be the first time we had walked around without seeing each other.

As I turned back into the corridor, I noticed how dark it was, except for the sliver of street light coming through a crack in the front door. I moved quickly and confirmed that the door was open, Kate’s keys still in the lock. Was she drunk? It was a bit early for that, but it would explain why she was acting so strangely. I pulled her keys from the lock, closed the door and locked it from the inside. I flicked on the hall light. Turning away from the front door I noticed that there was something lying in the middle of the hall. It was small. I was hoping that the neighbours’ cat hadn’t slipped in and left us a little dead thing as a present. I winced as I edged closer. I sighed and smiled as the little dead thing was actually a small teddy bear. Grabbing it, I noticed a small tag. It had a note, ‘Just wanted to see you’ scribbled in marker. A bit cutesy for Kate but it was nice. I went to put it in my bedroom when I heard my phone chirp again from the bathroom. The harsh light of the phone screen contrasted with the soft light of the candles as I grabbed the phone. I blew out the candles and checked my phone as I walked to my room. Two messages from Kate. The one from two seconds ago read “Train’s delayed. I don’t want to keep you up. Gonna crash at my sisters. Cya tomorrow :D” The other “Can you see if my keys are in my room? I’m sure I had them. Brainfart. Keep the door unlocked for me? I’ll be home soon x.”

I looked down at the Teddy bear in my other hand as I heard the kitchen door creak open.

It Came From Next Door

This story is one of a number of stories I wrote as part of a writing experiment over on my other blog. The rules of the experiment was that I wrote a list of 20 “Starting Emotions” and 20 “Horror Sub-genres” and attempted to write a story based on the combination. This was the combo of Lazy and Monster.

It Came From Next Door

It was the sort of afternoon that was made for doing nothing. The grass was warm and comfortable, there was a nice breeze blowing and there was just enough clouds in the sky so the sun wasn’t shining right in your eyes. The distant hum of lawnmowers and the chirping of birds was a calming soundtrack for this moment of relaxation. The only thing that could make this moment perfect was a cold drink but the strenuous effort to get one would rob it of it’s perfection. I was content in just relaxing out in the garden. It was just so peaceful.

I must have nodded off because I closed my eyes for just a second and when I opened them the sky was a moody grey. That perfect balance had been shifted by an oncoming storm. A heavy raindrop struck me hard right between the eyes, quickly followed by half a dozen more. They soaked straight through my shirt as I pushed up off the ground. I struggled to get up on my feet, still lost in a post-nap daze. I ran up to the house but when I got to the door, I rummaged in my pockets for keys but they must have fallen out on the grass. I ran back to where I had been lying but after a few minutes of panicked searching, trying to dodge the raindrops with little success, I went back over to the house, shoes squelching with every step.

The overhang of the roof gave me a little shelter but the breeze had turned bitter cold and I was shivering in my wet clothes. I rummaged in my pockets again, just to check that I hadn’t missed my keys the first time. Definitely no keys. My wallet was there, but my phone was also missing. I swore under my breath and gave the door a kick. Even though I was pissed off I didn’t put much force into the kick but my toes stung a little when I struck the door. Did somebody take my phone when I was sleeping? It didn’t make sense for my phone to be gone but not my wallet. If they did take my keys too, were they in my house? I peered through the windows by the door and made my way around the house, peering in through every window. I couldn’t see anyone. I was going to have to phone the police to add to my frustrations, just in case whoever took my keys came back. If anyone took my keys. I felt like such an idiot.

My moment of self-loathing quickly faded when I remembered that I gave a key to my neighbour, Mrs Knowles. She was old and had apparently lived in the house next door forever. She would have probably forgotten where she had put it but the thought of searching for a lost key in a warm dry house was preferable to searching for one shivering in the rain. I squelched my way over to her door and knocked loudly. Her hearing wasn’t the best and neither was her top speed these days so it wasn’t too worrying when she didn’t answer the door immediately. I banged on the door again, just to make sure she heard it and waited impatiently for another minute. I began to suspect the worst, she was old, she could have fallen. It might just be her time. I really didn’t want to find a dead body today but the thought of her lying there while her cat, Freddy, nibbled away at her chilled me. I started my way around the side of the house, checking in through windows, tapping on the glass. I was about to enter her back garden when I saw a figure standing there with their back to me, their face up towards the rain clouds. I stepped back, something wasn’t right and something inside me knew I shouldn’t be seen.

I peered from around the corner at whoever was standing in Mrs Knowles’ garden. It wasn’t her, I could tell that immediately. The figure was stick thin and looking about five feet tall. It seemed to be naked, lean with muscle. The skin was an unnatural grey, glossy and slick. The rain was rolling straight off of it. It lacked certain human features, genitalia, hair, only three toes on each foot. The creature looked back towards the house. The facial features were minimal. Small black dots for eyes, spaced far apart. A long mouth with thin, almost non-existent lips ran just under the eyes. Small flaring nostrils sat in the middle, two pairs of them, one above the other. I ran my hands through my wet hair as I stared at this thing from my hiding spot. The grey creature hunched down in a stance, prone to pounce, and edged towards the french doors to Mrs Knowles’ kitchen which were open wide, the wind blowing the curtains around the edges. It moved slowly, it’s nostrils constantly sniffing and flaring. That was when I heard it.

It was faint over the sounds of the storm and the beast’s snuffling, a tiny bell was ringing and accompanied by the distinct tapping noise of claws on wooden flooring. I could feel my heart sink with dread as the mental image of whatever that thing in the garden was feasting on little Freddy. The bell rang a little closer and I saw a glimpse of white fur against the green grass. It was inches away from the monster. My heart caught in my throat as I saw Freddy close the gap and rub against the slick grey legs of the beast. He purred loudly. The creature looked down at Freddy, it’s long mouth open wide, baring three rows of sharp teeth. I froze, horrified in anticipation, eyes locked on Freddy. Freddy, however just meowed loudly and strutted off into the bushes. I pulled on my hair and sighed with relief. My hands shot up to my mouth. How loud was that sigh? My eyes darted around Mrs Knowles’ garden but I couldn’t see the creature. I edged closer to the corner of the wall but before I could peek round, that loud sniffing sound. It was right on the other side of the wall. I fell backwards and burst into a sprint. I rounded the corner towards my own house. On the ground, just off the path I caught sight of a bright blue dolphin keyring, jutting out from a patch of grass. My keys. I snatched them up without stopping, running passed the door to my house and instead to the car.

I pushed the button on my keys and scrambled into my car, hammering on the button to lock the doors behind me. I jammed the keys into the ignition when a thud on the passenger door shook the car. The keys fell down into the footwell and I flailed my arms trying to recover them. Another thud at the door made me look up. The grey face of the monster was pushed up right against the window. The skin around it’s little black dot eyes pulled back unveiling large round eyes with fiery orange irises that looked like windows into hell. My hand clasped around the keys and I quickly started up the engine. I looked over my shoulder to reverse out of the driveway, all clear except for Freddy darting across. I glanced once more out the passenger window. The creature had moved. I didn’t care where, I sunk the peddle to the floor and my car bolted out of driveway and I took off down the street. I heard a rattling noise come from under the car. I screamed and sharply turned the steering wheel, mounting the curb, hoping to knock the creature from under the car. I turned my head to see if it had fallen off and turned back just in time to see the back of a parked pick up. I must have blacked out for a second because the next thing I remember was a deflated air bag sitting in front of me, the firemen with big tools cutting away at the door and a sound from the boot that sounded like four nostrils sniffing.

Post Exorcism Drinks

This story is one of a number of stories I wrote as part of a writing experiment over on my other blog. The rules of the experiment was that I wrote a list of 20 “Starting Emotions” and 20 “Horror Sub-genres” and attempted to write a story based on the combination. This was the combo of Drunk and Religious.

Post Exorcism Drinks

A shiver shot down my spine as I sat on the steps outside the back door, drunk but not quite as drunk as I felt I should be. I loosely gripped the neck of a bottle of cheap vodka, three quarters empty. The bottle bounced off my knees as my body involuntarily swayed. Still not drunk enough. My shoes were spattered with speckles of vomit. Not my own vomit either. It was either the girl’s or Father Williams’. The mixture of cheap vodka fumes and the stench of other people’s bodily discharge was making it difficult not to retch. I clumsily kicked off my shoes and staggered back inside the house. This proved to be a bad idea almost immediately because I’d apparently forgot that the floor was teeming with broken glass. All of the picture frames had fallen off the walls earlier and were left where they fell due to more pressing matters at hand. I grabbed my shoes from outside the back door and tried to rinse them off in the kitchen sink. The taps rattled for a couple seconds before blood began pouring out. I frowned, still not drunk enough for this. There was still evil in the house.

I had accompanied Father Williams here with intentions of removing the evil which when Williams had been called, was inside of Macy Gordon. Macy was a student who was renting this house with two other girls, Jenna Reid and Susie James. It was Miss James who had contacted Williams, under guidance from her mother. Susie had let us into the property before taking a taxi to her mother’s house. When we entered it seemed like the usual residence of college students except it was very dark and there was unnatural howling coming from up the stairs. Father Williams led the way as we ascended the stairs. There was a few bedrooms on the second floor but I had quickly assumed that the one we were looking for was behind the door covered in a large number of paper crosses. The howling felt like a physical barrier pushing us back as Father Williams opened the door. My eyes watered and I could feel sweat pouring out of me, like whatever forces of evil were causing all the liquid in my body to evacuate in terror.

When I first saw Macy she was sat in a rather subdued, serene state on the ceiling. The howling didn’t seem to be coming from her specifically but was swirling around the room like a tornado. I was ready to give up at that point. I was only there anyway because I owed a favour to Father Williams for the time last summer when he helped me move house. I had been woken rudely about an hour ago, the old man telling me he was claiming that favour. I was thinking more in the realms of watering his plants when he was out of town or something but it was too late to make excuses. On the drive over he had explained that I wouldn’t have to do much, hold his bag, be a second pair of eyes in case whatever devils were active here tried anything too tricky. I was still half asleep at that point and assumed it was just church humour or maybe he was loosing a few of his marbles.

Father Williams wasted no time and was already chanting out scripture, the kind of anti-satanic smack-talk I recognised from The Exorcist. The Power of Christ compels you… Your Demon Momma so fat… Macy was still sat casually on the ceiling, taking very little mind of what Williams was saying. It was only when he splashed her with some Holy Water that things really took a turn for the worse. Her eyes opened wide and shone like the high beams of a truck, cutting through the dingy darkness of the room. The howling became a booming cacophony as her mouth dropped open, unnaturally wide. The shadows danced in the lights from her eyes, the forms of unseen creatures populating the room. Father Williams screamed his holy commandments loudly, eyes locked with Macy’s high beams. The shadows seems to be reaching for him and I quickly edged towards him to pull him out of there when Macy erupted.

Brightly coloured vomit rained down on Williams. It covered him and entered him through his screaming mouth. I retched from the little amount that had sprayed back towards me. I looked back up to see Williams regurgitating the demon vom along with whatever he had for dinner. Macy dangled from the light fixture. It wasn’t really her any more though, mostly just skin. It fluttered like an empty bag. Father Williams looked at it with an expression that I could only interpret as severe disappointment, before the puddle of bile and evil on the floor rushed up at him and pulled him down. He was covered entirely within seconds and I couldn’t make out the shape of him soon after that. It dissolved Father Williams into nothing before disappearing into the floor boards. I stood in a state of shock for a few minutes, not quite sure how I was supposed to comprehend this. Also I was pretty sure Father Williams had had the car keys in his pocket at the time he was consumed by evil.

Stranded, and dumbfounded by what I had just witnessed, I decided that the best course of action was to raid the college girls’ booze supply and try to force some kind of mental repression. I thought about maybe phoning for a taxi but I was pretty sure if I attempted any sort of vocal communication I was just going to either scream or sob uncontrollably until I passed out. I closed the cross-covered bedroom door behind me and made my way down to the kitchen, glass crunching under my feet as I went. Rummaging in the kitchen, I found a half bottle of Bacardi which I necked immediately, and the vodka which I took with me onto the steps outside.

Standing by the sink, watching blood pool amongst unwashed dishes, I pondered the right course of action. Is this the time for me to burn the house down and run screaming into the night? Would that kill the evil? This wasn’t my house. It wasn’t my holy mission either. As an Atheist, although by this point closer to Agnostic, I felt out of my depth. I turned off the taps, put on my shoes and with a final swig from the bottle of vodka, left the house. Walking down the street, I felt tears of frustration streaming down my face as I began to run. I had seen hell that night and I’m sure I’ll see it again.

Little Devil

This story I wrote for Inkitt.com’s The Darkest Place horror writing competition.

Little Devil

The whisky and ice rattled softly in the glass as I stood over Thomas, fast asleep in his little bed. His face hidden under a mass of raven black hair. I took a sip of whisky and sighed. This wasn’t the first time I had watched him at night, drink in hand, pondering just how this little imp got here, into my home. He was almost four years old now and his occasional presence was still a source of confusion and disbelief. I had met his mother in a similar haze of alcohol, and it was under that same haze that I’ve been told we conceived this little gremlin. I stepped carefully out of Thomas’ room, my old gym room. I stepped over his discarded toys, trying not to stir him from his sleep.

I slumped down onto my recliner in the living room, the ice clacking loudly in the glass. I took a long draw from my whisky. I was lost in an existential sea of bad memories and moderately priced alcohol. Caught in a trap with no idea which limb to bite off and escape. If only I fought harder when Thomas’ mother came to me, swollen with pregnancy, with her accusations towards my busy sperm. I didn’t know her, I still don’t, not really. She wore me down, got me to doubt myself and what I might have done. I drained the last of the whisky from the glass and set it down on the floor next to my recliner. Old blues songs rang through my head. Songs of suffering and pain, cheating wives and hopelessness The suffering of others did little to put mine in perspective. I sighed heavily, surveying my living room while I mustered the motivation to get up and pour myself another drink. A pile of toy cars rested on a play mat of streets that had replaced the rug which was now rolled up against my wardrobe. That rug really tied the room together, and now I had a tiny city to walk all over.

I got up from my recliner and laid down on the floor, getting up close to the play mat city. I had one when I was Thomas’ age, it could even be this one for all I knew. I picked up at some charity shop one day in hopes that it would shut him up for five minutes. It was a bit worn out and stained but the kid seemed to enjoy it. I picked up a toy car and pushed it down one of the streets. I crashed it into another at a crossroad and wiped them both out. A dark thought ran through my head, wishing that maybe Thomas and his mother could meet their fate like this on their way home tomorrow.

“Is that what you really wish?” A voice whispered in my ear, a deep voice that slithered into my ear like a snake. I frantically got to my feet from my prone position on the floor. There was nobody there as I looked around the room, or in any of the rooms as I searched for an intruder. I checked the front door, which was still locked, before returning to living room. “I can make that happen for you…” I froze in place, questioning my sanity at that moment. A small flame ignited on the play mat, on the crossroad I crashed the car. I looked at it bewildered for a second before leaning down and attempting to extinguish it with my thumb. When I touched it, my hold arm felt like it was burning, like it was going to melt off to nothing. I reeled and the voice laughed. The little flame danced in time with the laughter. I got back down onto my stomach to have a closer look at the fire, It wasn’t spreading, it just sat there bobbing around as it laughed at my pain. I inhaled deeply and then tried to blow it out like a birthday candle. As the room retuned to it’s darkness, I let out a little shriek as I saw what stood in the place of the flame, a tiny devil.

I could feel his staring eyes like knives as the devil looked up at me. It’s presence weighed heavily on me. “You wish for the woman and child to die in a car accident?” the voice came again, smooth and slithering.

“No, no…” I stammered “I don’t want them dead, I don’t think I could bear having that on my conscience…”

“But you’re happy enough to fantasise about it” I couldn’t see his face but I was aware of the smug grin that came along with his words.

“I just don’t want to be around them, I want my life back. I wish he was someone else’s child.”

“Really?” His voice drew out the vowels as he asked, like he was toying with me.

“Yes.” I felt guilty but there was a feeling of relief that came with admitting out loud. There was a flicker of light as the devil’s flame reignited on the little play mat street, extinguishing again seconds later leaving a small mark like a cigarette burn. I lay on the floor for a while, consumed with my guilty thoughts before making the resolute decision that another whisky was the only way to make sense of this evening. Returning from the kitchen with glass in hand, I sat on the recliner with self-made promises to forget whatever mental break I had just experienced and with the remote in hand, turned on the TV. Channel hopping to find something to take my mind off it, maybe an old movie or if I was lucky, anything with half naked women. I was changing channels rapidly before something took my eye and I tapped the back button. 24 hour news, a woman crying, it hit me like a heart attack. Thomas’ mum. “Someone else’s child” had been my words and now there was someone else’s child asleep in my old gym room. Police were looking for Thomas. I dropped the glass of whisky onto the floor as my brain exploded with panic. Thoughts of life in jail chilled me to the bone.

I rushed to my bedroom and threw on some proper clothes and my jacket before quietly navigating the toys and silently picking up Thomas. I carried him with care out to the car. The streets were quiet, I just had to drive 20 minutes from here to Thomas’ house without any attention. I started the car and I could barely hear the motor over the sound of my heart beating in my ears. I prayed at the lights to stay green. With each one I passed, I felt a little safer. My heart sunk when I noticed that the next set of lights was by a bar. Drunks stumbled outside and I knew there had to be some police nearby to keep them in line. The light turned red and my eyes darted quickly between the lights and a drunk who was edging closer to the car, probably mistaking it for a taxi. He grabbed the door handle and it rattled in his hand. The light turned yellow and I floored the accelerator. The drunk screamed at me as the car drove away. He clutched at his fingers in the rear view mirror. Thomas stirred a little bit but quickly started snoring again.

I parked my car a street away from Thomas’ house and moved quickly while trying not to look suspicious or wake Thomas. I looked around for any signs of being watched as we came towards the house. I seemed to be in luck but I stuck to the shadows. In front of the house was a little fenced garden with a rusty gate that would probably wake all the neighbours. Instead I lifted Thomas over the fence and put him down on the grass. The cold would soon wake him and either he’d let himself in, or his crying would bring his mother. With Thomas safely placed in the garden, I slinked away. The temptation to burst into a run was overwhelming but I kept my cool. I got to the car and I could have screamed in relief, but I held it in, I didn’t feel safe yet. It was only once I was home that I felt safe and after all that I just wanted to sleep.

I don’t know when I managed to drift off to sleep but I woke up in the afternoon the next day. I had missed calls from work which I returned, claiming I was ill. I took a bin bag and collected up all the artefacts of Thomas from around the house before sneaking them into the neighbour’s wheely bin. I checked the TV for news, and breathed a sign of relief as it seemed I was in the clear. Thomas never saw me when he was someone else’s child so I guessed he had no memories of me. A little pang of sadness accompanied that thought but I soon forgot it as I reclaimed my life.

I spent the next couple weeks throwing myself into work, and down at the pub in the evenings. I felt liberated, not a care in the world. I was getting home from the pub late on Saturday when I sat down on the recliner and began flicking through the channels again, too wired to fall asleep. I almost cried when I saw her again, back on the 24 hour news. The reporter stood outside of Thomas’ house, men in white suits and masks behind her, flashes of blue and red lighting the house. She was dead and apparently not the only one. A local man had been found dead a few days before. His photo filled the screen, the drunk. My eyes were fixed to the screen, and my heart pounded when the door bell rang. I sat quietly, praying they’d go away as the bell rang again. I got up and moved quickly to the door, taking a deep breath, trying to think up excuses for the police. When I swung open the door, I thought for a second that they ran off. A prank. Something grabbed my leg and I looked down to see Thomas there, his mass of black hair clung to my leg. I didn’t know what to do, but there was no one else in the street and I took him inside before anyone could see us. He walked his wobbly little walk through to the living room and when I followed him through, he was sat in my recliner. He laughed to himself as he wiggled on the seat and pointed at the TV. It was still on the news, still reporting about his mother’s death. A chill ran down my spine. I rushed over to the TV to turn it off. Thomas’ laughing echoed in the room, gradually deepening into the laughter I had heard two weeks before. “Someone else’s child.”

I bolted from the room and down the hall, out into the street. I didn’t know where to go. Whatever was happening was insane, I prayed I was still drunk, that this was all a bad dream. There was a church a couple streets from where I stood and it seemed like a good idea to run in the direction of it’s spire. I ran down the road frantically but I lost my footing and stumbled face first onto the hard tarmac. Deep laughter boomed from yards away and I felt the stabbing pain of the devil’s gaze upon me. He walked towards me with Thomas cradled in his arms. The street lights blinked out as he came closer.

“Is this what you wished for?” His voice rang with smug pride.

“NO! I JUST WANTED TO GET MY LIFE BACK!!” I sobbed.

“Life is what you are given, we are just God’s play things.” The Devil turned his back to me and began walking away. I started after him when I was surrounded by light, and then pain as two cars smashed into me from both sides.

Failed Rituals

In 2010 I published my second story, Failed Rituals over on Creepypasta.com. It was translated again over on YouTube, This time into Spanish.

Failed Rituals

I really wish I had left that fucking light switch alone. Who would have thought the flick of a switch could mean the difference between life and death. Actually everyone’s thought that. That’s why I turned it on. Stupid little rituals that we take from childhood. The light will chase the monsters away, the blanket over your head will save you from the boogie man. And you just get more of these rituals as you get older. As long as you lock the doors and turn on the home security system, you can rest your head happily in your cozy little fortified home. No killers or psychos, monsters or boogie men.

But it doesn’t work. None of it. We always slip up some how. The one time you forget to lock that door. That’s when they get you. I would have been sound asleep if I hadn’t been woken by the loud slam as the front door blew open. I stumbled out of bed and down the hall to see it swinging back and forth. I moved quickly down the hall to secure it. A moment of panic swelled inside of me. My home felt like a crime scene. It wasn’t my safe little sanctum anymore.

Despite the overwhelming feeling of intrusion, there was no sign of disruption. Just the door. Just my careless mistake. I couldn’t comprehend it at first. It had to be a burgler or some psycho. I looked around the rest of the house. Checking every cupboard, every crevice. Nothing. I felt stupid but relieved. I just wanted to get back to bed, to forget this whole embarrassment. I flung myself back down on my bed, closed my eyes for just a second. I sat back up. There was no way I’d fall asleep unless I double-checked that I locked the door this time. I mean I was sure I had done it this time but I felt this was justified paranoia.

I got to the door and twisted the handle roughly about a dozen times, each time feeling the resistance of the lock. I smiled. Safe. I turned on my heels to go back to bed. But it was just a glimpse, a flicker of something in my peripheral vision that sent me swinging back into a panic. A shadow from the kitchen. I rushed in only to be confronted by my normal kitchen, bathed in moonlight. I sighed, questioned my sanity and decided that this, the longest night of my life must end. I went towards the bedroom once more. Another odd shadow crossed my path. As a shiver travelled down my spine, my tired mind braced apathetic denial and decided that it was probably the neighbours cat passing by the moonlit window.

I sat wide awake in my bed. Trying to lull myself to sleep. Counting in my head until I might eventually nod off. But everytime I closed my eyes that feeling of intrusion was still there. The hands of something unseen looming above my head. Every creak and every shadow filled my mind with the dread of my childhood. Those nights after being tucked in by my parents. Those same fearful thoughts of lurking terror. But it was nothing… right? More creaks. More movement in the shadows. I turned and pushed my face into the pillow. I felt something brush passed my foot which stuck awkwardly out from under my blanket.

I jolted upright, looking deeply into the darkness. Swirling shadows. The monsters. The boogie men. I felt around sheepishly for my phone. The dull light of the screen could put me at ease. Nothing on the nightstand and when my fingers roamed around the edge of the bed, instinctively I retracted them for fear of the unknown. I was alone but in the shadows I saw them, the monsters. Inky abominable beasts.

It was the only thing I thought could help me. I lunged from the bed directly at the switch. My palm slammed down on it and the room erupted into light. My eyes burned momentarily and I glanced round the room. Empty. Safe. Just paranoia. I shook my head and hit the switch once more. Climbing into bed in the pitch black. No shadows without my nightvision. But now I hear them. I can’t see them now. I don’t know what they want but I know I can’t leave. The rituals have failed. They’re on the other side of this blanket and all I can do now is hope that they’re gone in the morning.