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Category Archives: Horror

Ooo, scary.

The Unfinished Chapter (story #83)

Well, it has been over two weeks since I have written a “weekly” story for you, my dear readers.  Sorry about that.  I felt too busy the first week, and too sick the second.  I hope you will forgive me, although I have been reading many horror comics of late and a short novel from the same genre this evening, so – my influences usually rearing their heads with little subtlety – I may not make you smile this week.  Hopefully the story will be a good one, but I’d best get started if we are to find out.

THE UNFINISHED CHAPTER

The pain in Rothschild’s chest did not subside as he walked slowly from the bureau and sat on the edge of the bed.  What was it he had just felt?  What was it he had just heard?  He was in the middle of packing, and he turned to gaze at the shabby old suitcase on the bed.  Shirts, trousers, and a selection of underthings looked back at him.  The book.  Where was the book he had only just thrust on top of the pile?

His thoughts drifted back to the last time he had packed this very suitcase.  The last town.  The last wedding.  What was her name?  Sheila?  Shirley?  Why, it had only been last year.  It should not be so hard…

Shirley.  Yes.  That was it.  Shirley Evanston.  Evanston when he met her, but not when he left.  Not then.

It had been spring then, too.  When he first met a young Shirley Evanston who would, in mere weeks, take the name Rothschild.  Young, beautiful, and, of course, very, very wealthy.  It was an old game that Rothschild played, but he played it well.  Every time.

He had learned of young Shirley and her inherited wealth before ever going to that town.  Where had it been?  Somewhere in New England?  Why was it so hard to remember?  And why was he suddenly so cold?  So very cold.  Just like the weather there in Maine.  Yes, it had been Maine.  She had lived in a large house near a place called Somes Sound.

Rothschild had read of her inheritance and her beauty and her reclusiveness, none of which, as it turned out, had been exaggerated.  But he had found a way.  He had kept all his facts about her written down in his little book, his “lover’s journal,” as he called it.  Notes from his readings and his own observations littered the pages in chapters.  That chapter, of course, had been named after Shirley.  There were others from his past.  Shirley Evanston had been chapter 13.  He would write in the book on every rare occasion when she would leave her house for some reason, to go to the store alone, to go to the library alone, a movie, a walk.  Alone, always alone.  Broad-rimmed hat, sunglasses, darkly pretty dresses.  Alone in manner as well as company.  Her parents had passed away in a boating tragedy.  Her life had apparently passed with them.  But Maxwell Rothschild sought to change all that.  Some times took longer than others, but when he set his mind to change a woman’s manner and her company, he never failed.

Once he had learned her habits, he began to insinuate himself into them.  Running into her here, crossing her path there.  Always polite and deftly ignored, but only at first.  How many weeks that time?  Longer than usual, perhaps.  But the lonely never forgot how lonely they were, no matter how hard they tried.  The veneer fell in time, and Shirley Evanston no longer went to the store or the library or the movies alone.

Sitting on this bed now, pain in his chest, two minutes worth of mystery clouding his brain, he wondered for a moment why he was thinking of Shirley and not of Denise.  Denise who he had been at work on here in upstate New York for the past month.  Chapter 14, Denise Ingals.  This was, after all, the room Denise had paid for.  But he was only staying here until their wedding the following day.  Proper Denise.  No living together before the wedding.  That was fine with Rothschild.  Anticipation was a powerful tool, and there would plenty of living – and dying – once they were wed.  But here he sat, thinking of Shirley Evanston-Rothschild.  Perhaps it was what he had heard mere moments ago?  What had that been?

“Lover,” she had called him back then, although they, too, had never actually made love at first.  In their hearts they were lovers, she had said.  He had promised that once they were wed and lovers in body as well as spirit, then she would have his heart completely.  Striking through the carefully placed shroud of grief, piercing her own heart of loneliness, his words worked wonders.

“Now,” he had said after their first night together as man and wife.  “Now you have not only my heart, but all of me.”

“But it is your heart I treasure most,” she said.  And then she cried.  He had stroked her face and kissed her tears and professed his love over and over while he was already thinking of ways to kill her.

Stairs were always convenient, and there were plenty of those in her enormous house.  But Maxwell Rothschild was not one to rest on the uncreative solution, nor one to ignore his own vicious sense of irony.  And so a boating tragedy was arranged.

A picnic?  Out on the Sound?  It would be lovely.  Had there been reports of a storm approaching?  But young lovers fear nothing in the throes of passionate happiness.  They are untouchable.

Out and back, my darling.  Out and back.  The storm will never touch us.

Of course, the storm did touch them.  Rothschild waited for it.  And he waited alone.  Far out on the water, no one had heard poor Shirley’s protests as her husband forced her over the side of the boat and explained, as the grim often do, why they were on the water.  Why he would not be helping her.  How he had met her, and why.  All this as she treaded water and tried repeatedly to scale the sides of the boat.

“You cannot have my heart,” he explained as she finally gulped in water, unable to stay afloat or keep only air in her lungs anymore.  “You never did.”

Art by Josh Judd

And then he waited for the storm.  Taking no precautions, he let the vessel be rocked by the force of it.  “An inexperienced sailor,” he would say, and he made sure to have his own injuries to show how the storm had almost taken him, too.  He hit his own head on the rails and on the deck and he bled in the rain and did not try to find his way back to shore when the fury abated.  He allowed himself to be discovered, groggy of wits and crying crocodile tears for his lost wife.  She was found, she was buried, and he was rich as he left town too “grief-stricken” to remain in her old house.

Was he feeling guilt?  Surely not.  But he dared not look down at himself.  Something was very wrong here in this room Denise Ingals had bought and paid for.  The memory of Shirley Evanston-Rothschild burned him.  Had he not moved on many times before?  Had he not moved on to this upstate New York adventure with Denise?  Denise, Chapter 14.  And where was that book?  He had just tossed it onto the suitcase when something had happened.  What had happened?  What had he felt?  What had he heard?

“That feeling,” a voice said off to his left.  “I suppose it’s shock.”

He turned, and there she was.  Denise was sitting in the chair by the window.  When had she gotten there?  And what was she looking at?  Why was he having so much trouble making sense of anything?  Shock, she said.  Shock?

“So, I’m chapter 14, am I?” she said, flipping the pages of the book she had taken from his suitcase.  She stopped and held up an open page for him to see.  It was the first page of Chapter 13.  Shirley Evanston.  “But you haven’t finished this one yet,” she said.

He shook his head and continued to say nothing.  He was so very cold.  Was this indeed what shock felt like?

“I almost made a huge mistake, didn’t I?” Denise said.  “It’s surprising and it’s awful, but I’m glad she found me in time.  You’d think I would have been scared.  But she made so much sense.  And her story is about as persuasive as they come.”

“Who?” he stammered as the fog grew heavier in his eyes.

Denise grinned a sadistic, satisfied smile.  “The one who really has your heart,” she said.

And then he heard it again.  The sound he had heard just before the spasmodic pain in his chest.  The rib-wracking, blood-covered pain he dared not look at.  The sound came from behind him.

“Lover,” said a spongy, wretched voice filled with bubbles.

Rothschild did not turn before dying there on that bed.  He did not want to see the rotted, sodden thing behind him, or what it was most surely holding in its dead hands.

THE END

Whoa.  Hope you guys like horror stories.  Um, happy Valentine’s Day!  😉

See you soon,

the SotWC

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8 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Horror

 

The Princess and Her Guest (story #73)

Ahhhhhhhhh, that’s much better.  All full of sleep and ready to write a story while I’m still at work (I’m such a rebel).  Actually, I should be editing a lecture right now, but anyone who edits – especially stuff for work that you’re not personally invested in – would almost certainly agree that you have to take some mental breathers while doing this or you go out of your mind.  Can I get a “hey” from my editors out there?

Anyway, I fell like it’s a good day for a fairytale.  Don’t worry about the possible double-entendre that could come with a “fairy tale,” I already did that in the first incarnation of the SotWC fifteen years ago.  No, instead, I plan to be inspired by EC comics “Grim Fairytales.”  Heh heh heh.

THE PRINCESS AND HER GUEST

"When Shall I Marry a Fabulously Wealthy Prince?" Art by Holly Knevelbaard

Once upon a time, there was a princess named Gertrude who lived in a castle named Hanter.  She would often wander the halls of Castle Hanter and ask herself important philosophical and existential questions like, “am I the prettiest princess ever?” and “when will I marry a fabulously wealthy prince?”  Unfortunately, no one else lived in the castle, so there was never an answer to her queries.

How did she eat, you may ask, with no one living there to prepare her food?  Worry you not, dear readers, her food was prepared daily.  How were her fine dresses cleaned and pressed, you may wonder, with no one living there to tend to her clothing?  Fret not a moment, children, her every need was met.  Why was the stable full of horses if no one lived there to ride them?  And who tended the magnificent animals?  Ask no more questions now, ponder no riddles.  You will discover, as our next character may, that Castle Hanter is full of surprises.

Our next character arrived one sunny and blustery Thursday morning.  As she stood on the parapets, Princess Gertrude saw him approaching on horseback, a standard flying from a saddle-bound flagpole.  He looked to be a knight, young and strapping and strong.  Full of excitement and anticipation, she ran downstairs to meet the approaching stranger.  “Raise the portcullis!” she cried, and the portcullis was raised.  “Lower the drawbridge!” she cried, and the drawbridge was lowered.  With great flair, flapping of flags, and sounding of trumpets, the princess stepped forward into the sunlight to meet her guest.

“Greetings to you, good sir, from Castle Hanter,” she said, curtsying with a royal flourish.

“Castle What?” the stranger said without removing his helmet.  Gertrude immediately grew suspicious of him.

“Castle Hanter,” she repeated, and considered giving another royal curtsy.  She decided against it, however, and was glad in the next moment.

“What a silly name for a castle,” the strange knight said, still astride his horse, still wearing his helmet.

“Well!” Gertrude exclaimed.  “When I spied you from the parapets, sir, I was excited to have a guest.  Now, if you insist on being rude, I shall have to ask you to turn your steed about and vacate my considerably large lands post-haste.”

“I mean not to be rude,” he answered.  “I only and always speak my mind.”

“Your speech may offend,” she replied, “but your manner makes your matter so much the worse.  Had you doffed your helmet as a gentleman may, or removed yourself from your horse, it may have gone some distance to excuse your words.  But I see no merit in your manner, nor wisdom in your words.”

The knight said nothing, but quietly began to laugh under his helmet.  Gertrude grew more furious by the moment.  She had, upon seeing his approach, thought to invite the man not in, but out for a walk about the castle grounds.  The angrier she became, the more she resolved to invite him in instead.  It would serve him right.

“Your anger doth much excuse your attitude,” the knight said finally, “but your reproach doth entertain more than vex.  Is there no king to invite me into this ill-named fortress?”

“I am all who live in this castle,” she replied, not giving a second thought to any danger such an admission might bring upon her.

“Just so?” the knight replied.  “Then if you, as lord and lady of this castle, will invite me in, I will promise to remove my helmet and make such an apology as is necessary to secure your favor.”

“You would enter such an ‘ill-named’ fortress?” she teased.

“And so I may,” he responded.  “If invited.”

“And so you are,” she replied icily, “with all due thanks and anticipation of an eventful visit.”

With that, the knight dismounted his horse and followed the princess inside.  Had he looked back, he may have seen his horse led away in such a manner as to cause him to flee.  He did not turn, however, and what happened next is what happened next.

Entering the dark and cavernous main hall, the knight begged the princess to stop and tarry a moment.  “We are within, now,” he said, “and my helmet may be removed as requested.”  And so he removed his helmet, revealing his pale, white skin, evil red eyes, and glistening fangs.

Gertrude gasped.  “Nosferatu,” she said softly.

He laughed again.  “I am known by many names.”  He stepped closer to her, but she did not flinch.  “Ido so enjoy this age of heavy armor,” he continued.  “It provides such cover even at mid-day as may befit one of my kind, permitting passage as freely in sunlight as any dark shadow.”

“And so may you fool innocent maidens,” she said and, alarmingly, stepped closer to the creature of the night.  “But none such easy prey as a princess with no living relatives in a castle bereft of company, is that not right monsieur vampyre?”

“So you say,” he replied, “and so it is.”  He reached out for her, long fingers splayed out to grab a handful of her throat.

She smiled.

“Father!” she called.  “Are you going to let this beast have his way with me?”

“Father?” the vampire said, recoiling slightly.  “Why do you call someone who is not here?  You yourself told me you live here alone.  Play no fool’s games with me, girl.  I can read your eyes, yet, and see no lie there.”

“You see no lie for no lie exists,” she said, her grin growing wider.  “I said that none live here but me, and ’tis truth.  I live.  Others do not.”

The vampire felt a hand fall upon his armored shoulder.  With cat-like reflexes, he spun around, lashing out with his razor-sharp fingernails, sure to spill the blood of anything behind him.

But there was nothing there.

Surrounded by nothing, the vampire felt himself lifted from the ground.  “What madness is this?” he cried as the buckles and straps of his armor were sprung.

“My family protects me, though you cannot see them” Gertrude said as she walked slowly around the writhing figure hovering above the floor.  “They feed me and tend the horses and see to my every need.  And have done so ever since they were all murdered by vampires as I hid in the dungeons.  The very night-stalkers who sought to take this castle for their own were the first victims of my family’s wrath.  Wrath from beyond the grave.”  Stripped of all but the barest underclothes, the vampire hung in the air, staring at his hostess as she stopped and looked him in the eyes.  “Ghosts are here, monsieur vampire.  They live not, but need not live.  Not in a haunted castle.”

The vampire’s screams filled the great hall as he was carried to the front of the castle.  “Raise the portcullis!” Gertrude called, and the portcullis was raised.  “Lower the drawbridge!” she called, and the drawbridge was lowered.  Sunlight streamed in, and her guest was no more.

As she walked outside to visit her new steed in the stables, she asked herself “when shall I marry a fabulously wealthy prince?”

And, as always, the answer returned to her was silence.  She smiled.

THE END

Interesting.  And finished just in time to leave work.  Huzzah and good cheer for all.  Happy “Thursday.”

See you next week,

the SotWC

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Fantasy, Horror

 

Haunting Sue (story #62)

Howdy, friends and neighbors.  And total strangers, too, if you’re out there reading.  All are welcome.

Ha ha, it’s ironic that I should quote “Poltergeist” (am I the only one who got that?) because, having just rediscovered one of my favorite horror comics this evening, and also given the fact that this week’s artist like monsters and such, I’ve decided to write a horror story tonight.  If you’re squeamish, don’t worry.  It’ll probably be a really silly horror story.  But, I promise nothing.  (Soundtrack shuffle from horror movies on, and away we go.)

HAUNTING SUE

Art by Josh Judd

Susan placed her key in the lock and listened to the familiar chatter of old tumblers moving into place.  The library had been closed for over an hour but she often used the time after the readers, researchers and latchkey kids had gone as a time to peruse the stock on offer.  Tonight she had been in the reference section – a clear favorite, for even she was not allowed to take those books home – brushing up on some Latin.  Dead language, indeed; she thought it was beautiful.  She’d taken it for three semesters in college, but when her brother, Charlie, was killed in a car accident, she’d come back home to live with her parents again and given up higher learning.  Until she got the job at the library.  Now she taught herself whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted.

Learning was not all she did, however.  Before starting in on the Latin this evening, she had taken some time not to broaden her education, but to examine a book Charlie used to bring home time and again when they were teenagers.  It bore the same name as their town along with a chilling subtitle – Tidesboro: A Haunted History.  Among the articles in the book had been a particularly colorful anecdote about Eustace Cutler, one of the town founders.

It seems Cutler had been leaving this very library one evening (it was, after all, one of the oldest buildings in town, second only to the Presbyterian church on the other side of the square) when he was apparently struck down by a horse and carriage.  After being trampled, Cutler had managed to crawl back to the top of the stairs, but no one found him there until the next morning and, by then, it was far too late.  He had bled to death laying just outside the doors, his hands clutching the ornate carvings.  Written in his own blood across the doors was the inscription, “ego ago hic iam.”  Roughly translated, the phrase meant “I live here now.”  It was said that his spirit had haunted the library ever since.  This small phrase in Latin had led Sue to her tomes of learning, shaking off the fear of death, blood and ghostly visitations.  But now, as she turned from the library doors,  the horror of the ghost story came back to her.

A wind rose, blowing her hair around her face, and Susan was struck quite suddenly and maddeningly with the certainty of being watched.  She stopped on the top step looking out onto the empty town square, lit only with scattered pools of yellow light from whatever streetlamps were still functional.  She was not so foolish (or in shape, she often lamented) as to have walked the twenty-seven blocks from home to get to work, but her car, parked in the side lot of the building, seemed suddenly very far away.

Let this be a lesson to you, Sue, she thought.  From now on, you stick to Latin. “Is anyone there?” she called out as a black shadow floated, unseen, across the door behind her.  Hearing no response, she continued to not move.  She looked this way and that, trying to see into the darkness, still not looking behind herself.  Had she looked there, she would have seen how the doors seemed to breathe for a moment, how the shadows seemed to ripple.

Thinking that only the very stupid, beautiful but expendable girls in horror movies actually talked to themselves in a situation like this, Susan nonetheless stated out loud, “this is silly.  I’m going to walk to my car and go home.  There’s nobody here.  Nobody but me.”

And then a voice behind her whispered, “operor non verto.”

She screamed and spun towards the sound.  As she faced the doors, she realized too late that some part of her brain had managed to translate the phrase loosely as “don’t turn around.”

The shadow stole across the carvings on the library doors, filling in highlights with darkness and smudging the darkness into itself.  There was a bestial growl and the doors themselves shook.  A long, hideous face took shape atop the larger shadow.  Its glowing eyes glared down at Susan and it’s skeletal nose and mouth were warped with a sneer.

“Stultus mulier!” the face shouted.  “Ego orater vobis!  Operor non verto!”

Unable to mentally translate so quickly, Susan simply turned to run, but was quickly engulfed by the shadow.  Not merely a suffocating darkness, it took physical form and wrapped around her legs, tripping her as she fled down the stairs.  She rolled over twice and smacked her head on the sidewalk, bringing more blackness and stars to her vision.

“Vos teneo mihi!” a voice hissed in her ear.  “Vos lego meus fabula!”

“I don’t know you!” she screamed back, understanding some of what was said.  It was a lie, though; she knew whose spirit haunted the library.  “I haven’t done anything to you!” she protested, sensing the malevolent spirit’s disbelief.

“Vos suscitatio mihi!” the thing said, and she felt hot, rancid breath on the back of her neck.  She turned her face toward the feeling and found herself face to face with a goggle-eyed zombie head, its mouth wide open as if to bite her.

“It’s not my fault!” she screamed.  “What happened to you is not my fault!”

The face above her went suddenly slack, and the voice said,  “ego teneo ut, Sue.”

She knew that. She knew what that meant.  But she needn’t have translated mentally for, a moment later, the face melted into a much more familiar and palatable visage before repeating itself in English.

“I know that, Sue,” Charlie told her.  “It wasn’t your fault that I was in my accident while you were away.  You couldn’t have done anything even if you were here.  I know that.  I just had to make sure you knew that as well.”

“Charlie-bear,” she whispered as he smiled down at her.  “I miss you so much.”

“I miss you, too, Sue-bee,” Charlie said, “but you need to get out of here before he traps you.  Don’t stop for anything.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“It’s time to wake up,” Charlie replied.

Raising her head, Susan looked around herself.  She wasn’t outside at all, but sprawled face first across her book of Latin in the reference section of the library.

“Asleep,” she muttered.  “You fell asleep, you dope.”  Closing the book and replacing it on the shelf, she mused on the dream she had just had.  Of course it made sense that she would dream in Latin after studying it for the past hour.  Of course it made sense that the ghost story she had read earlier would surface in the dream.  But, Charlie…  That part had been very real.  And something she needed.  She smiled to herself as she gathered her things and lingered for a moment soaking in the relief of not being outside on the cold ground.

“Thanks, Charlie-bear,” she said and started towards the front door.  As she neared the front of the building, she heard a noise behind her.  Something fell to the floor, hard.  Turning, she saw a book laying in the middle of an aisle.

What was the last thing Charlie had said to her in the dream?  It was already fading from memory, but it was something that nagged at her as she walked back to the stray book.  Looking down, she felt a cold fear wash through her.

Tidesboro: A Haunted History lay at her feet.

“Requiescat in pace,” a voice said over her shoulder.

THE END

Okay, so it wasn’t a silly story at all.  Sorry.  I dabbled with the idea of having a happy ending, but then I decided (in my sleepless stupor) that I had set out to write a horror story, and it deserved a horror story ending.  Feel free to let me know if this pisses you off.  I’m going to bed.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 20, 2010 in Horror