Tag Archives: fear

Brothers in the Fatherland

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Brothers in the Fatherland

The guards never check the back, my brother Kurt had said.

I crouched in breathless darkness, rain Niagara Fallsing down the windows. Kurt was talking to the guard, getting me through security.

I gripped my pistol. Kurt was loyal but I knew that only a bullet in the tyrant’s head would set the nation free.

I heard a command and the van moved forward. We were in. Kurt thought this was intelligence bureau training. This would kill him.

I’m sorry, Kurt.

The van doors flew open. Rifles pointed at me. “I’m sorry,” Kurt said. “It kills me to do this.”

 


Rear Windowed

Rear Windowed

It had started with a skiing accident. Two days and a leg cast later, Phoebe was set up in a chair by her window, ready for some quasi-legal voyeurism. Some people had Netflix; Phoebe had young Mr. Miller washing windows across the street.

Two hours later, Phoebe saw him look over. He’d noticed her. A fearful look came over his face. He was mouthing something at her. Suddenly she understood.

Behind you.

She turned and screamed at the figure looming over her.

“Admit it,” her husband said, when she’d recovered. “You deserved that.”

Across the street, Mr. Miller was laughing.


Life Lessons in a Death Trap

When Sensei said there would be a final test, I was hoping for something multiple choice. Maybe even true/false, if I was lucky. Instead they grabbed me in the middle of the night and stuck me here.

I am alone in a hallway lined with stark white doors. There are hundreds of them and above each, the glowing number 12. I have a small, cold feeling deep down that I will probably not survive this.

My heart is pounding, and sweat is dripping in my eyes. I’m looking for scuff marks, fingerprint smears, anything to will make one stand out.

I spot one with what looks like a slight discoloration above the handle. I open it.

A brick wall stands behind it, taunting me in a stony sort of way.

In unison, the numbers above the doors all change to 11.

Sensei is a great one for thinking outside the box, or hallway in this case. I know I’m missing something, but I’ve already tried to pry up the floor tiles and even tried climbing up through the ceiling.

He’s probably watching me somewhere by camera, laughing at my confusion as he lounges around in his dirty robe and drinks his wretched chamomile tea, which is half honey and milk. I’ll bet Sensei is not even his real name.

I open another door at random.

10.

Crap.

9.

8.

7.

Crap crap crap.

This is probably some sort of life lesson, something about a myriad of choices not equaling opportunity or some such garbage. I try to reach the end of the hallway but I’m pretty sure it curves around slowly to form a loop.

6.

5.

4.

Crap crap crap crap crap.

Uh, how about this one?

3.

This one?

2.

At this point, I don’t even care. Sensei can have his little test. I’m not playing anymore. I open another door.

1.

Nope, I don’t care a bit. Here’s goes.

0.

I was wrong. I care a lot.

A siren begins to blare. Without thinking, I slam myself against the brick wall behind the final door. It collapses in a parody of a real wall. There’s no mortar between the bricks.

“You took long enough,” I hear a voice say. It’s Sensei bending over me.

“Are these even real bricks?” I ask.

“I got them at Toys ‘R’ Us,” he says. “What did you learn?”

“Don’t let perceived obstacles stop you,” I say, trying to keep the question mark out of my voice.

He reaches down and whacks me across the back of the head. “Yes, and don’t be ruled by desperation.” He walks away.

“So did I pass?” I ask.

He stops and takes a long drink of chamomile tea. “Maybe,” he says. “Try it again tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Great, I thought. Just enough time for him to put mortar between all the bricks.


Shades in the Dark

As you may know, I am an English teacher. This last month, our university was host to a group of students and professional from Mexico, as part of the Proyecta 100,000 program. They are gone back home now, I am very sad to say, but while they were here, I was their writing teacher. Among the projects we did were short stories. I asked if I could post them on my blog and they agreed. So here is the first one, Shades in the Dark, written by Frank Soria and Jorge Montesinos.

Shades in the Dark

by Frank Soria and Jorge Montesinos

It was an October night full of stars, and the moon shone in the high clear sky. There was nobody but the wind blowing outside. Deserted streets seemed to be aware that something unexpected was coming up. Everything was quiet, warm, and cozy. Emily and Kevin had just gotten to their grandpa’s home. He was an old fashioned man, rough of character, but lovely deep in his heart.

The first days passed harmoniously, soft, and warm. One night after having dinner, Kevin heard a slight creaking noise coming from the corridor. Without notice he stood up and went through it to realize no one was there. He felt how the temperature in the room dropped drastically. His legs trembled as he walked away. He was almost voiceless, nobody seemed to be there, but the whisper of a strange entity surrounded his little body, taking him to his deepest scary feelings. The lamp in the corridor flickered, announcing the inevitable encounter with the paranormal event. His heart beat as fast as a horse in the wild field. Suddenly, he felt a hand grabbing his shoulder. His breath stopped for a moment. He turned around to realize that it was his grandpa looking at him. He told his grandpa about the noise, but he said nothing about it.

The following day his sister teased him about the ghost story, laughing at him. Kevin cried for her madness. Night came back. A storm was announced in the papers. The lights went off. It was windy and cold outside. Grandpa took some candles from an old drawer and met the boys for dinner. Kevin was afraid and asked grandpa to take him to bed. Emily stayed for a while in the kitchen. Suddenly, she heard somebody coming to her. She turned around. No one was there, but an empty room in the shadows. She never had felt so lonely and frightened. A gust of wind opened the window blowing the candle out, pulling everything in its path towards Kevin’s room. She ran to rescue her little brother, but she couldn’t open the door. She yelled at him desperately. There was no answer. Lightning lit her frightened face when her grandpa hugged her and calmed her down. They heard a horrible roar coming from the inside of the room, but the door remained sealed. After a few minutes they could open it and Kevin was not there. The room smelled like a rare fragrance. They had a terrible feeling, but they could do nothing.

The little boy had disappeared. Not a single roar, strange sound or shadow was seen from that day on. No one mentioned a word about that event. Emily grew up there with her grandfather and sometimes she woke up thinking that was a weird nightmare and looked for Kevin but he had gone.


I think something is stalking me

It’s out there somewhere, I know it. It knows where I am and I feel it getting nearer, little by little. I haven’t told anyone before this—I’m too afraid of people thinking I’m crazy. Afraid it’ll hurt my career if anyone finds out at the office. And so I go along day by day, trying to ignore the fear, like the man who avoids the doctor because he is terrified of confirmation more than the cancer itself. The truth is, I know something is after me.

If I only knew what it was.

I say “it” and not “he” since I can’t tell if it’s even human. Sometimes it looks like it, but then it moves wrong, or just disappears. I can see it across from my house sometimes, if it moves into the streetlight. I saw it once out my office window, just a flash of something dark moving between two cars. I can’t prove it but I know it wasn’t a person or an animal.

I finally got a picture of it. It was standing there in the streetlight across from the house, almost taunting me with its presence. I turned off the lights and took a picture. It turned out horribly, of course. I shouldn’t have taken it through the screen, for one thing.

I’ll have to use video next time. I’ll let you know if I get anything more.

I thought it looked human, but now I'm not sure.

I thought it looked human, but now I’m not sure.


Mob Mentality – Friday Fictioneers

As a writer, I’m intrigued with situations where there is no easy answer. A story is so much more complex when you can sympathize with all parties and put yourselves in their shoes. As you read this story, ask  yourself what you would have done. I’m curious to know.

copyright Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

Mob Mentality

The mob of infected surrounded the car, their pounding fists turning it into a drum.

“How can you?” they screamed. “Where’s your heart? We’ll die without that medicine.”

Craig keyed the loudspeaker. “There are only ten doses left. We need them to replicate more or millions could die. I’ll return in two days.”

“You expect us to believe that?”

“Sir, I can’t get through,” the driver said. “They will eventually overturn the car.”

“Run them down,” Craig said finally. As the car bumped forward and the screams increased, he punched the dashboard. “Idiots! Can’t they see I’m trying to help?”

 


Fog Tweets

Fog Tweets

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Jasper’s Lamp – full story

This past Wednesday, I did a Friday Fictioneers story called Jasper’s Lamp. It’s a creepy story about five generations of women and their relationship to a lamp that has something growing inside it. The problem is, that the Friday Fictioneers stories are 100 words and I wanted to say more about it. So I wrote this one to tell the whole story. It’s a bit long, but if you like creepy, then enjoy.

lamp

“I brought it,” my mother says, and with those three innocuous words, a shiver of terror goes down my back. This is the moment I have been dreading since my grandmother showed me the lamp and told me it would one day be mine.

“I don’t want it,” I say. “How dare you bring that thing here?”

Her eyes are filled with the wearied horror that comes from years of caring for a monster. “Look, I promised my mother I would do this. Throw it away if you want. I don’t care. I’m sorry to do this to you, Sarah. God knows I’m sorry, but now I’m done. I’ve fulfilled my promised. I brought the papers too.”

With that, she stands up and walks to the front door. “I don’t want it!” I shout after her. I know it is useless; the front door clicks shut.

I go to the door in time to see her drive away. The lamp is sitting next to the door, covered loosely by a canvas bag. I am tempted to leave it there, but of course that is impossible. What if Evelyn, my daughter, sees it? What if the wind blows the bag off and the neighbors see the monstrosity that is underneath?

It takes all my willpower to knowingly bring that thing into my house; to actually put my hand under the glass globe and lift it, holding that terror so close to my body. A folio bound with a string is next to it, and after I bring the lamp inside, I get the papers and bring them into the kitchen.

They smell old, with a mustiness that reminds me of sickness. I make some coffee and then open the folio. My mother has told me about these papers, which my grandmother collected as a history of the lamp and an ongoing record of it. She loved it, my mother said, although I cannot understand why.

The papers on top are a bundle of yellowed, type-written transcriptions of an interview between my grandmother Ursula and her mother, my great-grandmother Celeste.

Ursula:  Tell me about my father, Jasper.

Celeste: Jasper, he was quite the dashing young man. He was dark-skinned, and my parents didn’t approve of him, but he was a romantic. Always talking about places he’d been all over the world. He said he’d take me with him sometime, but I didn’t want to go. Getting malaria in some sweaty, God-forsaken jungle, no thank you.

Ursula:  And when did he give you the lamp?

Celeste: The lamp. He sent it to me, if you can believe it. I don’t how it didn’t break, but he packed it tight into a crate with straw and paper and bits of rag. It was an oil lamp back then, not the electric lamp you’ve made it now.

Ursula: Can you describe the lamp?

Celeste: Describe it? You know damn well what it looks like! Fine though, I guess it has changed over the years. When I first opened the package, it was a brass oil lamp, with a glass chimney and underneath, a large glass globe. Inside the globe, there was a single eyeball floating, about as big as a cow’s eye. Gave me one hell of a fright. I found the note he sent with it. ‘I need you to look after this for me. Promise you will, it’s important. I’ll be back for it soon, but for now, keep the lamp burning. Keep it warm!’ That’s all he said, no ‘I love you’ or anything.

Ursula: And that was the last you heard of him?

Celeste: That was it. He was heading for Indochina when I said goodbye to him for the last time, but that note and the lamp was the last I got from him. Five months later, you were born. I did as he asked though, taking care of you and the lamp, keeping it lit, although I covered up the bottom most of the time. I couldn’t abide that big, staring eye just looking, always looking. I kept expecting it to fall apart, just decay, but as you know, it didn’t.

Ursula: When did you first notice it growing?

Celeste: you were about three at the time. You were toddling around and you grabbed at the skirting around the lamp and yanked it off. You screamed when you saw the eye first, but then you couldn’t keep away from it. You named it George, I remember. It was then I noticed it was growing, that there was more flesh behind it and another eye growing next to it, though at that time, it was dull and undeveloped.

Ursula: What do you think about the lamp?

Celeste: [sighs] I didn’t like it and I still don’t. It still gives me the creeps and if you didn’t have such a connection to it, I would order you to destroy it when I die. But Jasper’s last letter to me made me promise to take care of it and I did it for him. You can do what you like with it. For years, I kept imagining he’d come back and take it off my hands. I don’t suppose he will now though.

The transcript ends there. I heard hints of this from my grandmother, but not everything. The next thing in the folio is a battered,spiral-bound notebook. On the cover, it says, “The Book of the Lamp, by Ursula McIntyre-Willis”. I didn’t know about this.

June 5, 1958: I’ve decided to call the thing Jasper instead of George. Not that it’s Father, but I never met him and this is all I have from him. Sometimes when I look into the lamp, I can imagine those eyes speaking to me as they look unblinkingly into mine. I can almost understand, but not quite. It’s frustrating. Both eyes are full size now and a body is growing behind them.

I flip through a few pages. My grandmother Ursula has made detailed notes about its development and her feelings about it.

August 19, 1961: The body is taking on a definite shape now and I can see a head forming around the eyes. Last night I had the insane thought to open the globe, even though I knew it might endanger Jasper. I pried off the lamp part, but the globe is totally sealed, as if it was made whole. I don’t know how they did it. I will replace the lamp with an electric one, I think.

July 29, 1964: My husband Randy tried to smash the globe with a baseball bat. He’s always hated Jasper,  but the bat didn’t even make a scratch. He knows not to try to touch Jasper again though. I made sure of that.

February 3, 1968: The kids never want to go near Jasper. I don’t care about Brody, but if Rose is going to take care of him after me, she needs to love Jasper as much as I do. An hour a week in the closet together should help their relationship. If she looks into Jasper’s eyes, he’ll speak to her.

March 28, 1970: I got the good idea to record my mother’s recollections of the lamp. She never loved him as much I did. I’m glad she let me take care of him.

July 2, 1973: The area over his eyes has been thickening for almost a year now. At first, I thought they were fading, but now I see it is the eyelids growing. Last night, I saw my dear Jasper’s eyes for the last time. Now they are shut and he is sleeping.

November 6, 2003: I am going into a nursing home tomorrow and I can’t keep Jasper anymore. My heart is breaking, but now it’s Rose’s turn.

At the top of the next page, my grandmother has written my mother’s name: Rose Willis-Hunter. But the pages afterwards are blank. At the back of the notebook, I find a letter from my mother to me. It has been crumpled up, but then smoothed out again. It is dated June 20, 2007, the day after my grandmother’s funeral.

Dear Sarah,

I feel like I’ve been living in a nightmare most of my life and the last thing I want to do is pass it on you. You were there for the reading of the will, but there was a secret clause about it. She left it to me along with her papers and a book of things that the thing inside has supposedly told her. She wants me to pass it on to you when I get old.

My darling Sarah, forgive me. I will keep it away from you as long as I can, but you have no idea what it was like living with her. She broke me, slowly but steadily. I hate that thing, but I can’t destroy it and I can’t abandon it. I dream about my mother even now and about that thing she loved. The hours she locked me in the closet with it before its eyes closed changed me somehow. I hate it and I hate myself for being so weak.

Your mother,

Rose

At the bottom, in red pen, my mother has scribbled, I threw this letter away, but decided to show it to you anyway. It was a moment of truth I don’t think I can bring myself to repeat. I burned the book of things it told her. I made the mistake of reading it and I may be weak, but I couldn’t let that survive. I left the notes she made of its history, so you’ll know the truth and be warned.

I close the folio and go out into the hallway, where the lamp is sitting. With a deep breath, I pull off the canvas bag.

The monster, Grandma Ursula’s Jasper, lays curled up inside. It is more developed than the first time I saw it, that time when Grandma brought me up to her secret library when my mother was away. This is Jasper, she said, as if introducing me to a friend. One day, he will be yours to take care of. Now, I can see a whip-like tail curled around the bottom, curved spines along its back and its hundreds of little legs curled up, each ending in a single claw. Its closed left eye is pressed against the glass now. I have a sudden image of it opening and I throw the bag back over the lamp. Somehow, I get the lamp down to the basement and bury it behind boxes.

I go out to do errands and come back that afternoon to find, with horror, my 8-year-old daughter Evelyn reading the papers about the lamp I have thoughtlessly left out on the table.

“What’s this?” she asks.

“Nothing,” I say, grabbing them.

“Do we have this lamp?” When I don’t reply, she continues, “Where is it? I want to see it.”

It’s like I don’t have a choice. With mute horror, I lead her downstairs and move aside the boxes, aware that I am continuing the chain. Show her now and she will be revolted by it, I think, to comfort myself.

“So this is Jasper. Wow, he’s so cool,” she says, gazing into the globe.

“It’s just a thing and it’s not cool.”

“But great-grandma Ursula called him Jasper,” she says. “He’s almost done, right?”

“Done?” I ask with alarm. “What do you mean?”

“Well, from the notes on the table, he’s been growing for years. So when he’s finished growing, he’ll wake up, right?”

“What makes you say that?”

“I don’t know. I guess I just assumed.”

“Look, Evelyn. Don’t come down here, okay? This thing is evil. I’m going to get rid of it, okay?”

“But I want to be there when his eyes open,” she says and my mind revolts at the smile on her face. Not for this! I want to shout. Not for you, Jasper. You can’t have her.

I lay awake in bed that night, thinking. I am all by myself since my husband left two years ago and I need to do something to stop this. I need to destroy the lamp, carry it to a dump, drop it into the ocean, anything to get it away. I fantasize about doing it, day after day, while I keep the basement door locked and an eye on my daughter. But I feel that time is running out. It’s almost done,” Evelyn said, and I feel it too. So I keep on, think about destroying it and do nothing and hate myself for doing nothing, around and around, in a maddening spiral.

But I have to do something. I have to. Before the eyes open.

lamp 2


Tecumseh’s Pariah – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Renee Heath

copyright Renee Heath

Tecumseh’s Pariah

I haven’t returned to Tecumseh, Michigan since. That hydrant and its sour-sick memories still haunt me: the night 16-year-old me staggered home from partying and crossed the abandoned tracks.

The sudden rush of a steam engine. The scream of a whistle. Hot, sooty wind.

I cowered behind the hydrant—felt it suddenly twist and grasp at me with steely arms. All I could do was scream.

The police found me, jeans wet and hysterical. No one believed me. “Been drinking?” they asked.

I became “that kid”, the one who pissed himself over ghosts.

Sometimes all you can do is leave.

 


The Lake – Visual Fiction

Taken in Gosan, Korea

Taken in Gosan, Korea

It looked so close, he felt he could almost touch it. On hot days, the water looked oh so refreshing. He could be on the shore in an hour if he wanted to.

But this was his domain, up here on the mountainside, with only the snakes, chipmunks, and pheasants as company, and food when he could catch them. There were springs where he could drink but they were small, muddy trickles, fit only for a monster like himself.

His mother’s words spun repeatedly through his mind: “You have a curse, my son. People would not accept you, if they saw you.” She had never shown him to anyone. Even his father, who was an officer in the army and was rarely home, had never known he had lived through childbirth. His mother had made him run and hide in the mountains whenever his father visited. Finally, when she had died of the fever, he had run to the mountains.

He looked down at the water from the shelter of a rock that was cutting the scorching summer wind. He could go at night, but even then he would have to cross the road and there were always cars driving back and forth, as if guarding the lake from his cursed touch.

Someday, perhaps he would risk it, if fear gave him a reprieve and unchained him even for a night. Someday.


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