Category Archives: Fiction

Shades of Gray: The Deserter

The following is an excerpt of a short story from my book Shades of Gray: Strange Tales from the Old Dominion, now available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Order it today for only $2.99.

A tranquil pond rested near to a cluster of four thick willow trees behind the white, three-story Victorian house. The house was accentuated by dark green trim that lined the edges of every window, door, and trellis. Its black shingles were deceptively well arranged in neat rows on the roof, and the paint peeled on the wood siding. Most of the green, clapboard shutters were drawn, allowing the afternoon light to penetrate the narrow windows. A few yards away, beyond the small grove of willows and the pond, lay a thick wood that had been on the property for several centuries.

The pond’s only confidant, a young woman dressed in a plain blue dress, sat beside its stone edge. The tender breeze blew softly against her long black hair while she reclined in the bushy lawn. Her fate was to be the only child in a family that seemed to have everything. Her family had moved to the outskirts of the prosperous city of Lynchburg after her father had inherited her grandfather’s mining company. Her only friends growing up had been her tutor and the playmates she imagined into existence.

But that was many years ago.

The young woman sighed and stared at her reflection in the cool water. Her face looked tired, and the black rings under her eyes contrasted with her porcelain skin. Her eyes stared back at her from just below the surface of the pond―green, jade green that seemed to cut into the otherwise clear water. She watched a school of goldfish dart playfully and wished she was among them, but then one appeared to stare back at her. She smiled at it before tapping the water with her finger. Ripples distorted her reflection, and the fish vanished behind the rocks and shadows.

“Abigail!” a distant call sounded.

The young woman’s eyes fell downward and her shoulders sunk lower.

“Abby!” the cheery voice sang again.

“Coming, Mother!” Abigail shouted with notable agitation. She rose slowly and headed toward the house. The shadows from the willow trees covered her as she glided past. A rusted swing set creaked in the wind, and the willow’s long, rope-like branches swayed towards her as she went by, gently brushing up against the fabric of her dress.

The white, wooden porch loomed. Its pillars rose high in the air, touching the slate overhang far above. Directly above that was the rounded window, shutters drawn, which looked out upon the yard from her bedroom.

Abigail placed her hand on the wooden railing, which was festooned with ivy, and her shoes clicked with each step on the stone as she pulled herself towards the door. The curtains danced from the inside of the open windows, waving at her as she reached for the iron door handles. She swung one of the two doors wide open, revealing the lavish parlor.

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Coed Terror in the Ivory Tower of Doom

Please enjoy the following short story, excerpted from my book Six Tales of Terror. Originally published in 2005 as a chapbook, it’s now available only on Kindle. When I sat down to write these stories, little did I know one, “Coed Terror in the Ivory Tower of Doom,” would in 2011 become the basis for the indie horror film Headline News. I intended them to be short, campy tales in the spirit of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, and used the card game Grave Robbers from Outer Space to randomly generate the titles, characters, settings, and creatures.

Coed Terror in the Ivory Tower of Doom

six_tales_of_terror_cover3With the exception of a Channel 57 news van and three other cars, Brenham Community College’s parking lot was as empty as it usually was on any particular Friday night. A row of security floodlights illuminated the entrance to the science building, where a reporter named Gerald Waller and his cameraman stood impatiently. A golf cart with “security” stenciled on the door puttered toward them.

They had been waiting over ten minutes before the golf cart slid to a halt next to a row of Juniper bushes that marked the edge of the parking lot. A paunchy security guard with blonde hair and an equally blonde mustache threw open his vehicle’s wire door and strode arrogantly over to the waiting visitors.

“It’s about time,” Waller hissed to himself, unconcerned if anyone overheard him. He marched up to the security guard and thrust his index finger in the air. “I’m here to interview professor Hanft,” he said. “But these doors were locked when I got here.”

The security guard, with a nametag that read “Roy” stitched onto his tan uniform, casually detached a set of keys from a clip on his belt. “Yall just be patient,” he said with a strong Appalachian accent. “I’ll take you to the professor.” He strode over to the glass doors and unlocked them with the speed of a government employee.

Waller motioned for his cameraman to come with as he followed the guard into the well-lit hallway and towards the student laboratories. He had been sent to the community college to cover Professor Robt Hanft’s latest research into using local cave fungus to cure Maripose syndrome, a rare but serious illness of the renal vein. It wasn’t as exciting as covering the miner’s strike a few miles away, but it wasn’t mopping the floor of the men’s bathroom at the TV station either.

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Lair in the Mouth of Evil

Please enjoy the following short story, excerpted from my book Six Tales of Terror. Originally published in 2005 as a chapbook, it’s now available only on Kindle. When I sat down to write these stories, little did I know one, “Coed Terror in the Ivory Tower of Doom,” would in 2011 become the basis for the indie horror film Headline News. I intended them to be short, campy tales in the spirit of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, and used the card game Grave Robbers from Outer Space to randomly generate the titles, characters, settings, and creatures.

Lair in the Mouth of Evil

six_tales_of_terror_cover3Wayne Blagg worked diligently in the bowels of the Lawrence B. Hamlin Medical Research Center, which was located across from the New Dawn Christian Bookstore on the third floor of the Cheapside Mall. He had been hired for an internship there to assist in a cutting edge of biotechnology: reanimating deceased pets, which attracted millions of dollars in grants every year.

He was currently fixing a Golden Retriever some state senator’s daughter lost to a pool-related accident. The process was long and complicated. The dog had been frozen, shipped to the research center, and Wayne was in the midst of replacing its old blood with new, super-oxygenated blood. If he was interrupted for any reason, the consequences could be disastrous not only for the project, but also for his career prospects.

It was then that a whine pierced the air and interrupted his thoughts. “What do ya mean I can’t go in there?” the high-pitched voice yelled. “I can go anywhere I want!”

Wayne growled and tried to focus on the work at hand. The temperature had to remain constant or the animal would start to decay, and it couldn’t be resuscitated if there was any cellular degeneration.

“Ma’am, I can’t let you in,” a man’s voice shouted in the other room. His statement was followed by a series of alternating light and heavy footsteps that came closer and closer.

“I want to watch!” the girl yelled as the door to the lab burst open.

Wayne lost his concentration and bumped the temperature gauge. “Damn it!” he cursed before quickly correcting the mistake.

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Devil Trail Reloaded

Please enjoy the following short story, excerpted from my book Six Tales of Terror. Originally published in 2005 as a chapbook, it’s now available only on Kindle. When I sat down to write these stories, little did I know one, “Coed Terror in the Ivory Tower of Doom,” would in 2011 become the basis for the indie horror film Headline News. I intended them to be short, campy tales in the spirit of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, and used the card game Grave Robbers from Outer Space to randomly generate the titles, characters, settings, and creatures.

Devil Trail Reloaded

six_tales_of_terror_cover3If there had ever been a stranger sight at Camp Lake Totagatic, it was rivaled by the appearance of a black limousine that rolled over the gravel road and under the sign that arched over the main entrance as the sun sat low on the horizon. Birds chirped as the limo pulled up to an aging bunkhouse and idled for a moment, just before a bony woman wearing a black mini dress stepped out. Her stiletto heels sunk into the mud, and she checked the address on the card in her hand for the tenth time.

The bunkhouse door opened before the woman could raise her hand to knock, revealing a young man who was lean, but not muscular. Sunglasses hid his otherwise dusky eyes, and he leaned confidently against the doorframe.

“My name is Karina,” the woman announced. “Is this Camp Lake Totasomething?”

“Yeah,” the young man said in reply. “You can tell your driver that you’re at the right place.”

The woman turned and waved. The limo slowly pulled away in reverse and returned down the same road.

“Come in,” the man said. “My name is Dean. Dean Schuman.”

“You live alone at an old camp?” the woman asked. “I should have charged you more. This place creeps me out.” She swatted away a fly as she slipped past the young man and walked into the bunkhouse. Her heels clicked loudly on the cement floor.

“Actually, I work here,” Dean explained. “I know it’s lame, but it’ll look good on my resume, and my dad said it’ll build character. Anyway, the camp doesn’t open for another week. The only people here are me and the crazy camp counselor, Kincaid. I hope she didn’t see you on your way in, she’s a real stickler for the rules.”

Karina raised her penciled eyebrows and adjusted her swarthy hair as she looked around. Rows of bunks lined the walls, leading back to what looked like a smaller room. “Is that your room?” she asked, motioning towards it.

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Excerpt of Sonic Fear, from Lost in the Witching Hour

Lost in the Witching HourThe following is an excerpt from my short story “Sonic Fear” from Breaking Fate Publishing’s latest anthology Lost in the Witching Hour. Released in August, Lost in the Witching Hour is a collection of 13 ghostly tales from up-and-coming authors including myself, Ryan Tandy, Amelia Cotter, Jason Hughes, Walter Conley, Nicky Peacock, and many more.

Fifth Avenue was empty as well, and only a handful of cars sat in the parking lot of the Fifth Avenue Pub. Not a very inventive name, but this was where James found himself for the past couple of nights. The pub was as dimly lit as the street. Its interior was mostly wood—wood paneling, wooden tables, a heavy oak counter—but decades of patrons had carved messages in the walls and tables until they were colored in red, blue, and black ink. The messages chronicled proclamations of love and hate, phone numbers and addresses, and some were scribblings only decipherable by their long-departed artists. The whole place reeked of the beer soaked into the tables and the body odor of the old men who sat at the same table in the corner, at the same time, every day. James picked an empty bar stool and sat down.

The bartender was a clean-cut black man in his mid thirties, dressed in a silver shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Sweat and oil glistened on his forehead. Every few minutes he spat into what James hoped was a sink or trash can. “What’ll it be tonight?” he asked.

“Don’t you want to see my ID?” James replied as he reached for his wallet.

“Nah, I remember you from last night,” the bartender said. “Haven’t seen you around before though.”

“I just moved near here a few days ago. I grew up on Harlem Avenue, but this apartment is my first place on my own.”

The bartender laughed. “Maybe I do need to check your ID. How old did you say you were again?”

“Twenty-three,” James mumbled. “I’ll take whatever you have on special.”

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“Sonic Fear” in Summer 2010 issue of KILTER

Check out the new issue of KILTER – I have a pretty decent short story published in it called “Sonic Fear” about a guy who loses his mind because he lives too close to the railroad tracks…

From their website: “Number 8 is busting at the seams with great content. Art coverage, movie reviews, An Interview with Voltaire by the Reverend Chicagodom, a review of the Chemlab/16 Volt show, a piece about Latebar, the fashion of Dollface, art by Sinee Misgari, Zmiya, Judgehydrogen, an expanded comics section, Poetry, fiction by Michael Kleen, Cleo LaVamp on the Continuum (including a pictorial tour) SS-Triple-X, and our regular features, Ask Happy, the Horriblescopes and another vegan recipe by Scary Lady Sarah. :gasp: (and so much more)”

Order now ($5 + Shipping) It’s also available in select Chicago stores.