Tag Archives: scary

Kilt – Part III

“Mister Kilt,” Dr. Kernz said with a certain level of matter of factness, “Paul, if I may. This is our third meeting. I can’t prove it of course, at least not yet, but it’s clear that you are not being one hundred percent forthcoming regarding the reality of your injury.”

Kilt looked down at it right hand and stared at the way he ran his thumb back and forth over his finger tips in a soft circular motion. If he had his other hand, he was sure he would have clasped all of his fingers together to accommodate his thumbs tapping each other gently in assured defiance, but his thumb tapping days were over for sure. And with that, some level of his confidence.

“As I explained in our first meeting, we need to figure out what exactly led to your injury. Your insistence that it was a dog, sounds, as we agreed, unlikely to impossible. I surely find it implausible. So if you expect to head back to your home upon your release, instead of a cozy room in the Starkton facility, I suggest we try to explore some new ground. It’s for your own good and the good of the community.” The doctor paused, “I’m here to help.”

Kilt jerked his head away from the oddly calming and near hypnotic thumb movement as if the doctor made a loud noise. His breath quickened as he caught the other man’s gaze.

“Help,” he said, nearly spitting out the p. “How will you help?”

“I…”

“You don’t believe my story. And if I tell you what I think really happened, at least how I remember it, I’m pretty sure you won’t believe that one either. So, it seems a stint in Starkton is probably inevitable. But since you’re so keen on ‘helping,’ I’ll give it to you, warts and all.”

The doctor silently leaned back in his chair, implying in part that he was happy enough to have reached this point. He waived his hand before him as a gesture to Kilt that he was welcome top proceed, please…go ahead.

Kilt swallowed hard, turning his gaze back to his thumb and fingers.

“It was a weird day to start with. I wasn’t feeling well and I’m never sick, but I was off enough to call off work for the day. The reports of a possible storm that evening started early as I recall, but I don’t think they had any idea what type of storm was heading our way.”

“What do you mean?,” Kernz broke in, “Type of storm.”

Paul nodded his head at the doctor as if to look, but kept his eyes trained on his thumb moving back and forth, back and forth. “Aren’t you from around here doctor? Couldn’t you feel it? This storm was going to be different. Different before it even got here. Most storms are stirred up by weather patterns controlled by Mother Nature to help her take care of her business. But this was no Mother Nature storm brewing. You could feel it in the air the closer it got. It wasn’t like electricity or anticipation. It was more like…dread.”

“Dread?”

“Yeah,” Paul said, not realizing how much harder his thumb was pressing against his fingertips. “Dread. Like Mother Nature stepped away for a moment and something else jumped in to steer the storm machine that day.”

“What kind of something?”

“Something…dark.”

“Go on.”

“The clouds…the storm system didn’t just roll in like most storms do. It crept in. It changed the air. It, it, didn’t cover the sun, it was more like it…absorbed the light causing the darkness to increase. And when it got here, it seemed to lock this town down as if it meant to stay a while. Even when the street lights went on, they seemed to have to fight to share enough light to hold back the darkness, at least until the power went out. Even my headlights had a hard time cutting into that blackness.”

“You weren’t home then?”

“No,” Paul said, watching his thumb move. “I was coming off some double shifts, so the cupboards were bare as they say. Even though I felt bad, I would have felt worse with no food in the house and I tend to think storms are better when accompanied by the welcomed comfort of a twelve pack. My plan was to skip to the grocery and get back before things got bad. I left my house just as the winds were picking up and damned if I couldn’t tell something was off the moment I stepped out of that house.”

“The dread?”

“Yeah…,” Kilt’s voice trailed off for a moment. “But not right away. Like I said the air felt…different. The moment I closed my front door, I don’t know if it was a smell or how thick the air seemed, but that first deep breath was nearly like a brick to the head. I had to steady myself for a moment before I moved to my truck.”

“What happened next?”

“Nothing, really. I brushed off the feeling because I didn’t really have anything to connect it to. I just wrote it all down as maybe being sicker than I thought. I got to Barner’s. I got what I needed. I paid and started to leave. In the short time that passed between entering the store to when I stepped on that pad to open the exit door, the light was gone. The darkness had taken over and it was just starting to rain.”

Boys – Part XIII

The beast stepped forward and leaned in on Taddy, forcing him to inch back further into Gunther, pushing him enough that it caused the other boy to moan. It’s skin was red and taught like Carlo Farinni’s The Burned Man from 1967, but this…creature was much bigger.

He moved his face close enough to the boy that Taddy could smell the foulness of its breath; a mixture of sour fish, bad milk, garbage and earth. And still, it was the eyes, that caused the boy the greatest amount of discomfort. Deep black and gleaming, yet hollow as if looking into a well where there was no way to tell where the bottom started, if there was one.

“Your friend is useless to me,” the beast said. “He lacks a certain…quality that I require for what I have in mind. He reached his hand forward and placed it on the boy’s head. “I need someone, with courage, someone with strength, someone with…spunk.”

The last word sprayed from the beast’s mouth and into his face causing him to flinch and making his stomach turn, even worse than the time Cody Trentwell spit on him just because he could. The hand on his head sent a trickle of energy through his body, making his skin tingle and his fingers flinch.

“I need someone, who is… ,” the beast continued as he searched and probed. “…healthy. And…you…will…do…nicely!”

The beast moved faster than Taddy could imagine. Before he knew what was going on, his head was clamped between two giant hands. The initial trickle of energy jumped to a sizable pulse that forced him to quiver and jerk. He bit down hard and his eyes rolled up into his head as the energy surge grew and grew.

Once again, the beast felt the energy exchange of the transformation rage through his entire being, albeit slower than before. He never had to initiate the transformation twice in such a short period of time before. And he was already diminished by the ones who came before. If this didn’t work, it would be eons before he would have the strength and the fortitude to try again.

Despite being slower, this new vessel was already proving to be superior, absorbing his energy like a rag soaking up blood.

Taddy twitched and jumped as the heat filled him. The sensation of burning from the inside out was too much. He wanted to scream. He needed to scream but the hands that held his head covered him almost so completely the he could barely move, but less scream. And still, the energy seemed to transform him. The beast before him seemed to diminish in some way. He felt as if he were almost growing…gaining strength against what was before him.

“Sooooon,” the voice of the beast purred, but not like he was speaking. Taddy felt the voice in his own head. His hands clenched as he tried to fight back from inside. A new pain sprung up from his back.

“AAAAAAAAAARRRRGH!”

The beast recoiled, as the flow of energy dropped. Taddy felt the grip on him loosen. Another sharp pain shot into his back. And yet another shot into his thigh and again into his back.

“You can’t have him!” a voice cried, part howl, part shriek. “You can’t have him! He’s broken! He’s BROKEN!”

The beast’s hands released Taddy as he fell backward along the ridge of hole in the backyard.

Taddy dropped to the ground and  onto his stomach. Shaking, Gunther slowly pulled the kitchen knife from Taddy’s back. The blood mixed with the rain that started to creep back into the beast once commanded.

Gunther sobbed as he let the knife fall to the ground. “He’s broken. He’s broken. He’s broken.”

The beast lay on the ground, breathing heavily, yet still clawing at the dirt reaching for the boys. Taddy was right. He was smaller. He looked frail and grey and old. He fought for inches with determination and rage. If he could not transform, then he would certainly take these two to where they would suffer…immeasurably.

Taddy rolled over in great pain to where Gunther sat. “C’mon,” he said grabbing onto his friend. “We gotta go.”

The two helped each other up wincing and groaning, but making progress.

The beast continued to scratch and claw.

Taddy tried to lead Gunther away, but with a renewed burst of energy, Gunther broke free and stood watching the beast.

With what was left of his energy, the beast lunged to grab the defiant boy, but fell short.

Gunther kicked out hard and caught the beast in the head, forcing him to tumble back into the hole from which he emerged.

The ground shook, forcing the boys to steady each other again. The orange-yellow light diminished as the crack sealed leaving little more than a puff of smoke to show it ever existed. And that was soon washed away by a fresh torrent of wind and rain.

– THE END –

Boys – Part VII

Tears would have been easy. They were building to the brink of release as a sob hung in his throat waiting for permission to go. But Taddy held firm, dropping the doorknob and fiercely wiping his eyes clear with his now dusty sleeve.

For the moment, Gunther was gone, but his words hung with him. “Do you want to be the crier?”

Even at his young age, the catalogue of monster flicks and horror movies the two devoured gave him a substantial amount of data to work from. Real or imaginary, didn’t much matter.

He knew that nothing good comes to the ones that lose their cool. The hero stays focused. The “crier” just ends up being the next on the list. Every movie they saw seemed to have one. Someone so freaked out that all they can do is sob and yell about their impeding doom as if it were some sort of self–fulfilling prophecy. They got in the way of the ultimate resolution and you were relieved to see them go. The boys suspected even the producers were happy to get rid of those annoying characters for they often suffered some of the more excruciating deaths.

He would not be the crier. Cliff from The Cult of the Bleeding Eye might have said it best, when it all starts to crumble and things seems dire, there are always two things to focus on. One – survival. Two – rescue.

Taddy found the flashlight and clicked in on, grateful for even the dim light that it offered. He stepped through the shattered pantry door and into the kitchen. Crouching low to the ground, he moved the small puff of light over the tiles. The markings settled into the crushed ceramics looked like giant – hooves.

“Crap.”

Standing, he made his way to the island, now set askew by whatever invaded their kitchen and began to paw through the utility drawer until his hand brushed against an opened pack of batteries near the back.

He shuddered through a breath of relief and quickly replaced the batteries in the flashlight. Clicking the button, a newly revived and strong beam of white light filled the room. Taddy smiled. Success!

He then ran to the counter and grabbed a large knife from the block of wood on the counter. The sounds that engulfed him were the now familiar sounds of the storm. No more heavy asthmatic breathing. No more stomping and growling.

Taddy burst from the kitchen, ran down the foyer and into the front sitting room. Everything was in shambles. The couch and table were crushed, the front bay window, smashed. Shards of glass and debris were everywhere. The cold autumn wind and sheets of rain whipped at the open space as if trying to climb in.

Taddy dropped back to the front door and slid his feet into his sneakers. He had to remember to tell his mom that this was exactly why he never untied them. He swung open the front door and stepped out onto porch. The fierce storm welcomed him to its realm by nearly blowing him over. The rain was hitting him so fast it was hard to keep his eyes open.

“Gunther!” he yelled, trying to brush the rain from his face while working to shield himself from stinging, cold, wind-charged droplets.

“Gunther!”

A bolt of lightning crashed hard and bright nearby and the following thunder marked the strike with an earth-shattering rumble. Through the wind and rain it was difficult to define, but out back, or along the side of the house, there was a substantial crack and a crash.

Taddy ran to the far end of the porch, leaping over a couple of the giant hoof prints that had crushed their way into the wood. Even with a renewed life, his small flashlight just didn’t have the power to give him enough beam to see down to the back of the house.

“Gunther!”

He waved the flashlight urging it to go farther, but it was at its limit.

“Graww!”

The now familiar growl fought its way through the storm to Taddy’s ears from the backyard.

Shoving the knife through his belt loop, he grabbed the porch rail as he had done hundreds of times and vaulted over the edge to the increasingly soft, rain-soaked ground. After the initial cold and uncomfortable shock of the icy water draining into his shoes, Taddy tore out for the backyard.

Doll

Despite the waves of rain thrashing the window panes, the brilliant flashes of lighting and the resounding cracks of thunder, Chalmers Elk slept in his overstuffed easy chair. The winds of October howled, making sure that summer knew its time was done, that fall was here and that winter would soon follow.

At the end of his long days, the now 67 year-old Chalmers found very little that could keep him awake once he hit the chair. He still worked full-time at Hatter’s Mill, thanks to a few bad investments and an on again, off again drinking problem.  These days he was finding it hard to keep up. Even as much as a year ago he could run circles around the younger workers. It wasn’t so much his greater strength as it was their lack of motivation and odd sense of entitlement.

And of course, there was the accident. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but unless he stood or moved just right, his knee let him know it was bad enough.

He stirred a bit when a louder than normal set of commercials assaulted him from the television. He laid a lazy eye on the screen as the beautiful people reminded him there are tasty ways to increase his fiber intake and many possible solutions for erectile dysfunction. He smirked and faded back into sleep.

As the storm raged outside, an hour passed.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump … a heavy pounding came at his front door pulling him abruptly from the arms of his rest. He sat up and listed again. What was that? It could have been the storm. Probably was. Nobody came out to see him on a good day, say nothing about one of the nastiest nights of the year. He started to ease back to reclaim his peace.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

The clock in the hallway chimed. It was midnight.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

Chalmers pulled himself up to the edge of his chair. Someone was at the door. It was probably kids. He guessed he was at the age now where kids found it funny to hassle the old guy who lived alone. He stood, nearly giving in to the protest from his knee, and headed to the hallway. He thought about stopping in the kitchen first for some kind of protection, but thought again. Probably just kids.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

He worked his way down the hall to the door clicking on lights as he went. He turned the porch light on last and as he did, the latest bolt of lightning hit threatening to take all the lights with it. They flickered, but held. The rain spattered window made it difficult to see if anything or anyone was outside.

He unlocked the door and pulled it fast and wide hoping to catch any one who might still be running. He winced again at the pinch in his knee.

As he suspected, no one stood at the door. They ran away. He squinted out into the rain looking for suspects and listening for laughter or footsteps or any clue as to who might pester him on such a night.

It was then he looked down, half expecting to see a smoldering paper bag filled with feces. Pathetic, he thought. But while something was left for him, it was not on fire. It was a damp package, brown packing paper sloppily, or hastily wrapped with a thick piece of frayed jute twine. He nudged it with his toe once and again. Then he looked out into the rain. Nothing. He took the package inside.

Locking the door behind him, another bolt of lightning made the lights flicker. Not one for suspense, he untied the loose knot of the twine and peeled back the paper. Inside was a dirty bundle of blue and white gingham cloth, most from the rain. The cloth was wrapped around something. Dropping the paper and twin to the floor, he slowly unwrapped the cloth.

His hands froze the moment the cloth revealed its hidden secret. They clenched tight as his breath caught and his chest began to tighten. His eyes grew wide. A wave of memory and fear churned through him.

Looking back at him from the dirty cloth was a child’s doll. Small, fragile and dirty, one eye sat half-open as the other seemed to pierce his soul. They stared at each other as he stumbled back against the door. His chest expanded, growing tighter.

“Paisley,” he whispered.

The doll stared. His breath grew shallow, but their eyes never wavered.

He slid down against to door to the floor. Sweat poured from his head. His heart pounded in his chest as if it were looking to escape.

It was Paisley’s doll. He hadn’t seen it in thirty years, and why would he? She was buried with it.

A bright burst of light filled the house. This time, the lights were no match, the house went dark. Still holding the doll tight in his grip, Chalmers Elk passed out.

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Warning

In a small town like Cromwell, it stood to reason that the Bronson Family Funeral Home would see nothing but slow weeks. And that was usually that case. Unless there was a service, Thad Bronson, III was generally in his chair at home plodding his way through the newspaper and capping off his first scotch of the evening by 6:30.

This past week however, proved something of an anomaly. Poor Tyler Montgomery came in after a tragic swimming accident at the quarry. There was the John Doe, found dead on Route 32 and if that weren’t enough, one of the town matriarchs, Maggie Crisp passed away in her sleep last night.

Creature of habit, Thad liked everything in its place, and with three in the cooler, he got to his routine a bit later than he anticipated. Deep in the heart of Fall, it was already dark outside by the time he put the last of the tools away and finished wiping everything down. When he gave the room his last inspection before heading out, he nodded silently to himself in satisfaction.

The Bronson Family Funeral Home had been a staple of the Cromwell community for well over 75 years. It was a fairly simple but effective operation that the people in town seemed to appreciate. Much like Pastor Kirt or Doc Matts, the folks who made their stay in Cromwell were destined to come to the Bronson’s place sooner of later.

Thad took over the family business just over a year ago after his father died. He liked the business overall. It was calming, quiet work that served a purpose. There was a simple level of gratification that came with it, a sense of peace.

Thad washed his hands one last time and wiped the sink out. Slipping his watch over his wrist, he noticed it was much later than he anticipated almost 11:30. He grabbed his jacket from the hook near the stairs and headed up. He was three steps closer to home when he heard the small crash behind him. He stopped, turned and listened. A small frown crossed his face as he stepped back down into the workroom.

A small pile of glass that used to be a beaker lay on the floor. “Hm,” Thad thought with a grunt. He secured the broom and dustpan and cleaned the mess quickly, but effectively to ensure no wayward shards got away. He took a good look around the room, even closer than before to make double sure everything was in its place.

Once more, he headed to the steps, but drew to a stop the moment he heard it…a small, single knock.

Thad turned to face the room again. He squinted as he traced the space from end to end. Sometimes kids like to mess with funeral homes, mostly because they were scared of them. Dares and double dares often led to small and mostly harmless pranks.

Silence.

Thad turned slowly toward the steps as if he was waiting for something to happen. The moment his foot touched the first step, another knock came. He spun around.

“Who’s there?”

He set his posture and decided on one more look, when another knock came and another. They were soft at first, but as the volume grew so did the intensity. Thad’s heart was pounding heavy in is chest. For a moment, he thought of his father who died of a heart attack. The sound of the pounding began to fill the room. It was coming from the cooler.

Thad stepped closer, almost as if hypnotized. The sound of the pounding grew and the cooler door, a good solid and heavy door, appeared to shake and rattle on its hinges. He placed his and on the door to confirm the vibrations. With his heart pounding in his ears, Thad reached for the handle. Taking a deep breath, he pulled that handle and yanked at the door forcing the light inside to click on.

He staggered backwards. Three gurneys sat in a line. All was well, accept for Maggie Crisp who sat upright before him, her drape had slid into her lap.

Thad gulped heavy breaths to try and keep pace with his racing heart. He stared at the woman, his face contorting with disbelief as her head slowly turned to meet his gaze, but with closed eyes. The stiff, deceased muscle made the movement slow and strained. Maggie lifted her hand, again slow and with substantial effort. She began to point at him.

Thad stepped backward. His chest heaved as he gulped in the cold air. His heart beat like a bass drum in his head.

Maggie’s mouth a jaw split open and worked itself a couple of times as if it had just been released from a vice.

Thad had backed himself up against the cooled wall and while he had nowhere to go his feet continued to push.

A long, soft, guttural whisper gushed from the deceased woman’s mouth, “Four Days.” It was then that Maggie Crisp truly expired. Whatever work she was intended to do was done. The corpse collapsed backwards with enough speed and force to knock it to the floor.

It was then that Thad Bronson, III began to scream.

Ghost

Time was indefinable. She no longer marked the days. The sun cycles and the passing seasons simply went on as they always had, one after the other, with little consequence. She no longer wrapped herself in the warmth of sunbeams or reveled in the wonder of the moon. She was…cold.

She no longer sat, or stood, or ran. She did not hunger. She did not thirst. At least, not in a way she could describe. Still, there was a need, a yearning for something long gone. Her desire to embrace it, to possess it stirred a rage she had not known before, for all the yearning and pain, defining the thing seemed beyond her.

Visitors made infrequent stops to the house where she made her home. They often brought with them at least a glimmer of that which stirred her desires and being with them seemed to quell the longing, but not the need. That deep-rooted need and the inability to satisfy the hole it created seemed very much like an insatiable hunger. A hunger that often stirred the rage.

Like most visits, the welcome is only as good as the guest. She believed it was incumbent upon the guest to know when to go. If they could not give her what she needed, she had no use for them. They crowded her. They neglected her. They ignored her. They taunted her with their lives…their life.

The realization strikes like a crushing hammer blow.

Life.

She could not feel in a way she thought she remembered. She could not touch. She sought herself in reflective glass, but nothing was revealed. She sought herself in the residue of daily life, a pile of dirty clothes, a used coffee mug, a well read newspaper, but things remained as they were where she was unless they, her visitors made them otherwise.

Life.

They laughed. They cried. They yelled, and battled, and forced both violence and love upon each other with insurmountable restrictions and self-serving conditions. And all the while, she could only observe and taste the tiny scraps of life’s energy cast off by the fools who knew so little about the value in what they inherently wasted.

She was…or was she?

She was, but she wasn’t.

She was once, but now she is just an echo. A shadow one seems to glimpse behind a door, or that scurries to the corner when the light flickers on.

She once was, but now she only lurks in the mists of time, trapped in an astral plane that is the world she once knew so well, and like them, took for granted.

Into the sea

Candice Wingmare stood before the collected group of 20 second graders, her kids.

Until this moment, they had never met. She knew little about them and she suspected that looking back on this moment years from now, she might realize she knew very little about herself. Still, here they were together in room 110 of the Tannis Valley Elementary School, and from this moment until June 12th at 2:25 pm, these were her kids.

The fresh faces hovered over crisp and clean, first day of school outfits. Some smiled. Some sat expressionless, but their eyes offered a touch of apprehension at the newness of if all. All were quiet. All of them were…waiting.

This was Candice Wingmare’s first day. She was launching a career. She envisioned herself smashing a bottle of champagne on the door of her classroom, like they might do before releasing a new ship into the sea. She was like a ship. The classroom was like the sea. There were maps and charts and plans on how to get across it. There ways to tell when trouble might be brewing, or when one could expect smooth sailing.  She should be fine.

Tricks and tips.

However, like the sea, the classroom held within it mysteries untold and lurking dangers. Like the sea, all the maps and charts and instruments in the world become useless when the forces that lie within decide to assert themselves. Like the sea, we can only prepare for what we know and hope that what we know is enough, and that we are clear enough in thought, and determined enough in spirit to weather any storm the sea may produce.

These 20 strange faces looked at Candice Wingmare with hope, expectation, fear, and anticipation. They silently threw down a challenge.

Teach us.

She drew a deep calming breath and placed her hands on the top of her desk for support.

“Good morning, cla…class,” she said softly. He voice dropped a bit near the end forcing her to say class twice, almost like she forgot what she was going to say. Not at all like she had practiced.

The silence of the room seemed to expand as the sound of her voice stifled the last few shuffling feet and bits of paper.

The heat that worked its way up into her face brought a sort of light-headedness with it that made her clench the edge of the desk a bit harder. She drew another deep breath hoping against hope that she would not pass out.

“My name is Miss Wingmare and I’ll be your teacher this year. I’m so happy to see you all, because I think we have a great year planned and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. We have a lot of special things you’ll get to do this year. We have two new computers in our class. I understand there are a few of you who are new to our school like I am. This is my first year, and I’m so very excited to get to know you and have you get to know me better. Is there anyone who would like to lead us in the pledge?”

By the time she got to pledge, Candice’s head was swimming. She said all that on one breath. She swallowed a deep breath as if she just rose up from a long swim underwater. Her head cleared and she tried to replay the last moments over in her head to try and remember what she said.

The class sat quietly for a second and whatever blurriness that came to her vision during her brief opening rant started to fade. Then, 20 hands shot into the air.

Right, the pledge.

She smiled, she relaxed and as she raised her hand to select the smallish girl in the middle of the third row, the ship of Candice Wingmare’s teaching career headed out to sea.