Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Even More Two-Sentence Horror Stories

Here are some more two sentence stories that I wrote during quiet hours at work. Enjoy!

You can read the other installments of this series here and here.

O’Fallon, MO  12:27 PM
For a moment I saw a boy’s face, mushroom white with empty eye sockets, staring up at me from beneath the ice. Then it flicked its flat, eel-like body and vanished into the depths of the frozen lake.


Salamanca, NY 3:05 PM
Dozens of black, mummified hands, suspended from the ceiling by fishing line, rotated slowly in the sunlight streaming through the attic window. I knew now why my mother had kept me away from this room until my 23rd birthday.


Orono, ME  4:12 PM
Autumn leaves swirled around my in a breeze I could not feel. For a moment they formed the outline of a human figure before dancing away in the red twilight between the skeletal oaks.


Norris, TN  8:22 AM
I’ve been wandering these windowless, wooden corridors for months now with only the puppets hanging from the ceiling to keep me company. At this point, I’ve given up trying to find that little door that leads back to the dollhouse in my grandmother’s attic.


Eleanor, WV 4:44 AM
He threw the knife on the floor and pressed a hand towel to the bleeding wound on his arm.
“Oh, but we aren’t even close to finished,” the tumor whispered as it stared up at him from the sink.


Florissant, MO 9:28 PM
He watched the yellow butterfly explore his hand with its long proboscis. As it took flight, patches of his skin detached and fluttered after it out the open bedroom window.


Des Moines, IA  10:22 PM
On quiet nights like this, she would often dream of the city she’d left behind, outside the comforting blanket of her host’s skin. It had been almost a decade since she’d shed her human limbs and burrowed deep into his warm, nourishing flesh.


????????   3:13 AM
He gazed out the ship’s window to admire the swirling, lightning-lit clouds of Jupiter. The coffin was there again floating just above the storm, its skeletal occupant thrashing and pounding on its translucent sides.


Cody, WY  8:55 PM
While hunting for the wolf that had been killing my cows, I came across a man’s skin hanging from a tree. It was slit up the middle and the interior was bloodless and clean, though it was coated with a shedding of stiff, black hairs.


Tecumseh, MI  9:15 PM
I was almost asleep when the humming started again just on the edge of my hearing. Ice prickled down my back as the long shadows stepped out of the walls and surrounded my bed.


Searcy,  AR  11:23 PM
On Monday Cheryl hired an exterminator to get rid of the spiders infesting her house. On Wednesday, the Quiet Things that the spiders had been keeping at bay began to seep into her dreams. 


Portland, CT 6:12 AM

I kicked the overturned boat and jumped back in horror as a bloated, white corpse struggled out from underneath. It squelched and slipped in the mud for a few seconds, then deflated like a balloon as a horde of black ants poured from its mouth.

Monday, January 29, 2018

More Two Sentence Horror Stories

During some slow days at work, I passed the time by writing some two sentence creepy stories. Creating these feels a lot like writing a haiku. Since there's such a small space to work in, I start with a single, potent image and try to punch it up as much as possible.  You can read my first go at two sentence horror here.

Also, as before I've titled each story with a time and place to give them a feeling of being "grounded". A feeling that maybe if you visited these towns, you might hear whispered rumors of a strange thing that happened to somebody's cousin or best friend this one time...


Groton, OH 2:34 PM
Since the main path was flooded, I had to take a detour through the meadow to get home before dark. As I walked, I did my best to ignore the brush of invisible fingers through my hair.


Bemidji, MN 6:45 AM
He went to sleep figuring he’d have a doctor look at the discolored patch on his arm in the morning. By the first light of dawn, the fungal strands spreading from his dried husk had covered everything in the bedroom.


Aviles, FL
Everyone is careful to never acknowledge the soft, boneless hands sprouting from the ground all over town. Even glancing at them directly makes the faces in the trees sob for a full night straight.


Toledo, OH  8:21 PM
I knew as soon as I opened the door that the thing standing on the porch was not my brother.  It wore his skin, but I could clearly hear the wooden joints creaking inside him and see the grain in his painted wooden eyes.


Ann Arbor, MI  2:05 AM
By this point I’d spent so many nights alone in the graduate library that I didn’t even flinch when the Lady in Green glided past me in the stacks, her feet three inches above the floor. I kept my gaze fixed down at the book in my hand so I wouldn’t have to see her egg-smooth face or the rounded stump where her left hand should have been.


Arco, ID 7:23 AM
That summer Queen-Anne’s Lace flowers sprouted all over the burnt remains of my neighbor’s house. When I dug one up, I found that the thick root bore the face of his daughter who had disappeared the year before the fire.


Port Jefferson, NY  5:46 PM
I saw him at the bottom of the basement stairs again, staring up at me without a sound. He can stare all he wants, but I’ll never tell anyone where I hid his body.


Lahaina, HI  2:53 AM
I turned to look at the hallway mirror. After a few seconds, my reflection turned to look back at me.


Lewes, DE  9:18 AM
After the storm, I discovered that the old oak in the corner of the backyard had fallen down. When I cut open the trunk, I found a hollow shaped like a man curled up in the fetal position.


New Paltz, NY  6:34 PM
My son was super excited to get the pumpkin home from the farmer’s market. That changed, though, when we cut a lid to scoop out the seeds and found a brain inside.

Monday, January 22, 2018

New State Cryptids Post!

After a busy season of other writing projects, I'm finally adding another entry to my Cryptids State-by-State blog. Eventually, I'll have entries for all 50 states, plus US territories like Peurto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, etc. You can read past cryptid entries here

Today's cryptid comes from Arizona. It's the infamous... 


In 1886 a most unusual photograph appeared in an issue of the Tombstone Epitaph, the local newspaper of Tombstone, AZ. The photo depicted the carcass of a gigantic, leather-winged, knife-beak monster nailed to the side of a barn. Several men stood in front of it to show just how wide its wingspan was. According to European settler folklore of the Southwest, the creature was a Thunderbird- a being from the mythologies of many Native American nations that was said to create thunder with its wingbeats. Thunderbird or not, the creature also bore a striking resemblance to a prehistoric pterosaur and may, according to some, have been a living example of the group. Supposedly the animal in the photo had been shot by ranchers.

Many people believe they have seen a version of this mysterious picture somewhere, either in a magazine or on TV. But no one can say exactly where and when. And despite diligent searching, no one has yet been able to find the original photograph or even the copy of the issue of Epitaph that it supposedly appeared in. Has the photo been completely lost to history? Or is it possible that it never even existed? Perhaps the Thunderbird photo was just an urban legend. But then how could so many people recall having seen it?

 For one thing, it is quite possible that some people are actually recalling one of the numerous fake Thunderbird photos that have cropped up over the years. Photos produced either for movies, as attempts to recreate the alleged original, or as outright hoaxes.  

It’s also possible that people are hearing the legend and unconsciously attaching vague memories of some other picture they have seen. The image of a gigantic winged monster nailed to a barn is quite striking and evocative, so perhaps human minds have simply filled in their own ideas of what it looks like. In psychology, this is called confabulation, defined as the unconscious creation of distorted, fabricated or misinterpreted memories. In pop culture, this is also referred to as the “Mandela effect”, based on the false memory many people have of Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. As another example, many people claimed to recall a kid’s movie from the 1990s starring comedian Sinbad as a genie named Shazam (this confabulation has been made murkier by the creation of a spoof scene from this non-existent movie, which you can see here). Or the fact that people can remember the title of the children’s book series The Berenstain Bears as being spelled “Berenstein”. Memory is malleable and spotty. The brain will often fill in blank spots with its own concoctions. So in the case of the elusive Thunderbird photo, it may be that many people’s brains are simply taking a brief glimpse of a fake Thunderbird photo- or a photo of something else entirely- and welding it to the urban legend that has been built up over the years?

It’s significant that this report of a flying monster is not an isolated incident. Newspapers of the 1800s- particularly papers from the American West- were rife with tales of dragons and other flying beasts. The majority of these tales were outright fabrications designed to drum up sales during a slump. It’s quite possible that the Thunderbird story started off as one of these tall tales and was repeated over the years until it fell into collective memory, creating an air of mystery and authenticity.

As to the picture of the beast on the barn itself, it should be noted that newspapers of the late 1800s did not actually use photographs since the technology of the time could not do photo transfers to cheap paper stock. Instead, newspapers relied on drawings of events to illustrate their stories.  If there ever actually was an original Thunderbird photo, it more than likely did not come from a newspaper.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: The Haunted Chamber by K. B. Goddard

The Haunted Chamber is a quick read. Just a few short tales done in a deliberately old-fashioned writing style in homage to classic ghostly writers such as M.R. James, Elizabeth Gaskell,  Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and others. Goddard’s stories will ease you into the spooky wintertime spirit (I suppose you could read them at any other time of year,  but a Victorian- or Victorian pastiche- ghost story is most effective on a dark, cold night with a light snow falling outside the window). 
The ghosts in these works are more mysterious than monstrous, less The Grudge, more The Haunting of Hill House- though the phantoms of  “Shadows” and “The Inn at the Crossroads” are very real threats to those on this side of the Eternal Door. 

Each story features a different species of Victorian specter. The titular Haunted Chamber, as its name implies, revolves around a series of mysterious events that occur whenever someone spends the night in a particular room in an enormous mansion. Although the happenings are clearly supernatural in origin, the exact cause of the haunting is left ambiguous.

The specters of The Inn At The Crossroads, by contrast, are much more clear and hostile towards the Living. A warning to those who would trifle with beings from the Other Side.

The spirit of Sir Henry’s Folly, however, is much more benign. Though she does play tricks on her mortal neighbor, it is only to make sure he does not transgress the ancient- and sometimes forgotten- pacts that humanity has made with the land.

The Crying Ghost is one of those apparitions whose lingering sorrow keeps her attached to her old dwelling. The solution that finally grants her peace is unusual but ultimately a happy ending for both the living and the dead.

Shadows, on the other hand, features a much more malevolent wraith- though not precisely what one would consider a conventional “ghost”, for it comes from a very mortal source.

Lastly, Lifting the Veil delves into the Victorian obsession with the Afterlife and communicating with those who have passed on. And with the possibility that sometimes that journey may be only temporary. 

 Goddard’s tales are a satisfying read if you’re a fan of classic ghost stories or even if you’d just like a quiet night of spectral tales by the fireplace (or at least some crackling fireplace sounds from Youtube playing on your phone, which is what I used).

You can get a copy of The Haunted Chamber on Amazon.