A collection of horror, mystery, and science fiction tales, with contributions from fellow writers, James Darko and Dexter Lynch. If you wish to contribute, I'd be happy to showcase your writing. Just send me a message. The stories are free to read and always will be. Some are better than others (I'm speaking only for myself), but I can't give all my best ideas away for free, ha ha. Feel free to share any stories, but please be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Trouble always stems from living in a small town. The
main dilemma is that your life, your business, personal or otherwise, is on
display for the world to see. It’s not that everyone means to pry or be nosy.
They just can’t help but witness the drama that unfolds. And others can’t wait
to share these spectacles with others.
These people that surround you are your friends and
neighbors; they’re your colleagues and co-workers. As most people do, they
often judge you or gossip behind your back. And if you’re anything like them,
you promptly return the favor in their absence.
All small towns are the same at heart. Everyone wears a
smile, even when it’s just for show. Because you wouldn’t want to lead people
to believe something is amiss. You wouldn’t want to give the gossipers a few
extra rounds of ammunition. So you wear that plastic smile daily, grinning from
ear-to-ear like some mindless jack-o’-lantern.
Reese never had to deal with the discomfort of small town life. He was born and
raised in the big city. He grew up surrounded by towers and skyscrapers that gave
the impression that they extended to the clouds above. He spent his life
encompassed by packed highways and congested freeways.
Reese became accustomed to the sounds
of car horns blaring, ambulance sirens wailing, strangers exchanging vulgar
obscenities out on the streets. This was background noise to him. What he hated
most was absolute silence. That’s when he knew real trouble was brewing.
To a man
like Reese, small towns just mean less work for him. Reese was a member of the
census bureau. When people neglect to fill out and return their census forms, it’s
his duty to track them down and obtain those documents.
particular day, his assignment was Eden Harbor; a sleepy little town in the
center of Long Island. A place that Tyler had no sincere desire to be…and for
ago–when Tyler was still attending high school–it was Bobby Sudrow who made the
trek to Eden Harbor. The bureau never heard from him again.
early morning fog crept in from the bay, slowly enveloping the roads. Tyler
drove at his own leisure; one hand on the wheel of his rental car, the other
hand gripping his morning caffeine fix. The coffee was boiling hot and singed
his tongue with every sip. But it was also the only thing keeping his eyes
focused on the hazy road. Tyler was not, and would never be, a morning person.
car the bureau had reserved for Reese was a 2007 silver Honda Accord. The
interior was worn and beaten. The upholstery riddled with cigarette burns and
beverage stains. But the Honda still had that “new car” smell that Reese found
drove with the windows down, and listened to the radio to keep his mind
occupied and chase the silence away. He tried his best not to think about Bobby
Sudrow was a nice guy by all accounts. A family man. Everything he did, he did
for his wife and two daughters. Every penny he saved went to his daughters
college funds. Every free moment he had, he spent with his family.
enjoyed attending baseball and hockey games, knocking back a few beers with his
buddies, playing racquetball at the gym, watching a good action movie packed
with explosions and car chases. But he sacrificed all those little pleasures to
spend more time with his family. That’s what put a smile on Bobby’s face. And
it was no plastic smile he sported. It was the real deal.
last assignment for the census bureau was Eden Harbor. According to the
reports, he never made it. His red Camry was found abandoned in the town of
Dorchester, some two hundred miles away from Eden Harbor. The police search
turned up nil. They couldn’t find a shred of evidence that proved Bobby Sudrow
ever existed. Even his insurance card was removed from the glove box. The
interior of the Camry had been wiped clean with the skill and patience of a
professional, and not a single useful fingerprint or trace of DNA was
joke among colleagues is that trepidation of visiting small towns alone is
commonly referred to as Sudrow Syndrome.
eight o’clock when Reese pulled into the only gas station in town. At least
that’s what the hand-painted sign strung above the gas pumps claimed.
Reese stepped out of the car, he heard the bells tolling in the distance. An
ominous, unsettling ring that sounded similar to church bells. But Reese, a
devout Catholic, was taught to identify the chime, and these weren’t church
stepped out from the mechanics garage, his hands caked in oil and black
residue. Around his long neck was a faux-gold chain connected to a diamond
shaped locket, which for all Reese knew was stolen. It seemed out of place
amongst his oil stained jumpsuit and canvas shoes.
can I do for you?” the man asked, wiping his greasy hands with a yellow cloth.
can start by filling me up,” Reese said. “And if you’re familiar with the area,
you can give me directions to the Henderson’s place.”
man cackled offensively; a loud, boisterous laugh that made Tyler’s ears sore.
“In the golden age of technology, who stops to ask for directions?”
who’s too cheap to splurge for a GPS,” Reese replied. “Now you know where it
do you want with that old dump?"
name’s Tyler Reese. I’m with the census bureau. The Henderson’s never returned
their census forms, so the bureau sent me.”
sent you all the way here for that?”
man fingered his diamond locket with one hand and brushed the other through his
wavy brown hair. Avoiding eye contact, he motioned down the road with his head.
a mile down the road if you’re heading east,” the man said, opening the gas
tank. He unscrewed the cap and jammed the nozzle into the tank. Then he started
fueling. “It’s an old cedar house, with green mold caked on the sides. Their
front yard is littered with pink flamingos and gaudy patio furniture. It looks
like a trailer park.”
you’re saying it’s hard to miss?” Reese joked, if only to quiet his screaming
nerves. There was something disconcerting about this man’s demeanor, about the
way he spoke and the way he seemed to almost be eyeing Reese up.
be surprised if you passed it by without looking twice.”
glared to the east. It was then he noticed the green smoke. He couldn’t
pinpoint the exact location. It was rising up through a series of tall
your name?” Reese inquired.
the attendant responded. “But everyone calls me Lex.”
Lex, you mind if I ask you what’s the deal with that?” He motioned to the green
smoke filtering to the sky from an unseen chimney or smoke stack.
that,” Lex started, as if he was accustomed to this routine. He continued to avoid
eye contact. “That’s the Forbidden Zone.”
Forbidden Zone?” Reese repeated, almost mockingly.
you might want to steer clear of that whole area.”
“No one can trespass there. It’s been
forbidden by the local authorities ever since the incident.”
incident?” Reese mumbled, taken aback.
tanks full,” Lex said, disregarding his bewilderment. “That’ll be sixty
paid his debt and got in his car in a hurry. Lex watched as Tyler drove off,
heading east toward the old Henderson place. If Lex’s intention was to stir
Reese, mission accomplished.
drove from the station with two words ricocheting around in his head. Sudrow Syndrome. If there was such a
thing, Tyler had a serious case.
fog began to clear up, Reese passed the harbor and noticed all the boats
remained tied down in their spaces. The docks were deserted on such an ideal
fishing day. And all local stores and businesses that followed the harbor were
seemingly abandoned. CLOSED signs were visible in the windows of every
green smoke continued to curl up from the invisible chimney and ascend to the
minutes down the road, Reese found what he was looking for. It was just as Lex
described it. Pink flamingos and purple longue chairs strewn about the lawn. There
was a mailbox in the shape of a miniature Harley motorcycle. A bird feeder made
out of a beer can. He was staring at a white trash portrait with a pulse. On
the front porch sat a rotting pumpkin that was attended by a gathering of buzzing
flies, probably a leftover from last year’s Halloween.
door was slightly ajar, so Reese nudged it forward and peeked inside. A pungent
odor from inside the house floored Reese, gagging him like a punch to the
throat. He took a deep breath and entered, holding the collar of his white
T-shirt over his nose to stifle the unbearable stench.
Henderson?” he called out. “Mrs. Henderson? Anybody?”
smell grew overpowering as he moved past the foyer and started down the narrow
hallway that connected to the kitchen and living room.
kitchen, Reese saw a man slumped over at the Formica table. The back wall was
stained with blood that had coagulated and dried to a hard red crust. As he
moved through the kitchen, still pinching his shirt collar over his nose, he
spotted the entry wound below the man’s forehead. A single shell casing rested
near his feet, alongside fragments of skull and clumps of grey matter. Reese
flinched when he felt the cold metallic sting of a gun barrel being jabbed into
the nape of his neck.
been waiting for you, Mr. Reese,” a voice said. Reese felt the steam of their
breath on his ear. The man’s thumb cocked back the hammer of the gun. Reese
didn’t see it, but he heard the unmistakable click. “Mr. Henderson’s been
waiting too. Three days now. I apologize for the smell, but you do get used to
it after a day or two.”
are you and how do you know about me?”
from the census bureau, right? Henderson never filled out his form, so they
would send somebody down here. You were the next offering.”
this whole town backwards, or is it just a handful of you?” Reese couldn’t help
carefully. What I’m about to tell you might seem ludicrous, but it will save
your life. I have no intentions of harming you.”
to believe when you’ve got a gun jammed in my neck.”
man drew his gun back and released Tyler from his grip. He spun around and
locked eyes with Frank Cornell, a man not much older than himself. An average
looking fellow with light blonde hair. The only unusual thing about him was the
absence of the middle and index finger on his left hand. Frank wiggled his nubs
in the air, acknowledging his missing digits.
little chemistry accident,” Frank admitted, almost embarrassed to do so. “They
couldn’t reattach them.”
the last question I had on my mind at this moment. You better explain this from
the beginning. And try to make sense."
moved from the kitchen to the living room at Reese’s request. He couldn’t
endure the sight or smell of Henderson’s body any longer. Cornell cracked a
window open to air the place out a bit and suggested Tyler have a seat on the
plaid sofa. He wasn’t sure Tyler’s knees would be able to absorb the shock of
what he was about to convey.
Harbor is controlled by the Minions, servants who worship and appease something
beyond natural description. This thing appeared many years ago, back when I was
just a kid.
appeared from a smoking crater in the town junkyard. I’d like to believe it
fell from space. Or who knows, maybe it rose up from the depths of hell. But
that’s not what the Minions chose to believe.
thought it was a gift from above. They believed it was sent here to guard us
and protect us. To shield us from outside evils, and to bring us good fortune.
And they assumed it wouldn’t leave its place of origin so long as we appeased
it from time to time. Truth be told, it hasn’t.”
you say appease, you mean–”
referring to human sacrifice,” Cornell answered before Reese could finish the
felt as though he had been assaulted. It was too much information to digest.
“What is this thing you refer to?”
an abomination. That’s the best way I can paint you a picture of it.”
many people know about this?”
in town knows about it.”
why don’t you just leave town? Pack up your shit and bail.”
why I can’t leave town. Everyone knows. The Minions won’t give anyone the
chance to spill their guts to the world. They watch the roads constantly. Those
that have tried to flee never make it past the gas station. Did you hear the
bells? See the green smoke? They knew the second you pulled in to town.”
was the green smoke really about?”
bells and smoke are how the Minions notify the townspeople that a new sacrifice
has arrived or been chosen. To create the smoke, potassium chlorate is added to
a fire. It’s this white crystalline substance. I should know, I showed them how
to do it. And regrettably, that’s not all I showed them. It’s probably the only
reason they’ve spared me.”
let out a long, exasperated sigh. “Say I honestly believe you, what can be
can help me destroy it. Without it, they’re powerless. We can blow the thing
back to hell and then we’ll be free.”
could do that. Or I could get in my car, turn around and get the hell out of
never let you escape. They’ll hand-feed you to this beast. If you don’t believe
me, try it. See how far you get. Think of it as a game. You can even time
weighed the options. He didn’t seem to have many. He knew what Frank was saying
could, on some level, be true. He felt an odd presence the instant he arrived.
Lex seemed to be eyeing him up at the gas station. Maybe he was being watched.
is going to be a long day,” Reese sighed. “The bureau better be paying me
overtime for this shit.”
* * *
spent three years cooped up in this house,” Frank shared. Reese had driven
Frank back to his one-story house with his rental car. Not like he had much of
a choice. Frank had a gun, he did not. “I’ve been waiting for the Minions to
come knocking one day and sacrifice me to their false deity.”
this thing is how you describe it, how do you intend to kill it? It doesn’t
sound the least bit human. It’s not like shooting someone in the head.”
said we were going to blow this thing to hell. It wasn’t a figure of speech. Gather
around and I’ll teach the shit they don’t dare show you in chemistry class.”
are we making?”
mercury,” Frank said. “Used in a wide variety of explosives.”
create fulminated mercury,” Frank explained, “we need to dissolve mercury in a
walked him through the process step by step, which took a total of three hours.
it hardened, it formed a transparent, crystal-like structure. Fulminated
mercury, as Frank knew, is extremely delicate to friction and shock. A slight
jolt can easily set it off. The radius of the explosion depends on the quantity
of fulminated mercury.
this occasion, Frank made three pounds worth. Enough to demolish a shopping
waited for nightfall. The fulminated mercury was secured in the bed of Frank’s
blue pickup. Reese climbed into the passenger seat. Moment of truth, he thought. Either
this guy is a crackpot or he’s telling the truth. Let’s hope he’s a crackpot.
drove at a constant speed of thirty miles per hour. He didn’t want to draw
attention to himself, and didn’t want to speed because of the delicate
explosives in back.
kept his eyes peeled for any looming dangers on the road. But every so often
his eyes would inadvertently drift to the pistol jammed in Frank’s waistband. If this is all bullshit, Tyler thought, you better hope you can wrestle that gun
away from him.
Reese exclaimed before Frank jerked the wheel to avoid the huge dip in the
was a close one,” Frank sighed. Moments later, Frank veered to the right and
stopped in front of a gate that was chained and padlocked. The chain-link fence
was eight feet high and reinforced with razor-sharp barbed wire at the top.
shortcut,” Frank said. “Welcome to the origin of the green smoke. This is the
junkyard, where they stash the cars of their sacrifices. There’s a shack with a
small chimney attached. You met the guy from the gas station?”
is his place.”
exited the truck and Frank gingerly slid the box of mercury from the back. He
gave Tyler a flashlight to lead the way. He rested the box on the ground and
pulled out a set of keys. He unlocked the gate and pushed the chain-link doors
I ask why you have the key?”
people do. This is a place of worship to them. And like I said, I showed Lex
that little trick with the green smoke. Membership has its privileges I guess."
picked up the box and they moved quietly through the junkyard. Police cruisers
and BMWs were buried under UPS trucks and dismantled eighteen-wheelers.
all the vehicles get dumped here?”
all of them,” Frank answered. “Some get dropped out of town, so we don’t raise
suspicion. How many people can disappear in one small town before everyone else
and more, Tyler was starting to think Frank was being sincere. You hear about cults all over the world,
Tyler thought. It’s not that far-fetched
to believe the whole town has been coerced into worshipping a false idol. Is it
possible that some terrible, unspeakable secret is hidden in the center of this
far do we go?”
know when we’re there,” Frank assured him.
mist spurted across his face as the back of Frank’s head exploded with a single
deafening blast. The box tumbled to the ground and Tyler gasped, squeezing his
eyes closed. He expected the blast to throw him a good two hundred feet from
the area. But the mercury had endured the damage of the fall and had not been
came what Tyler feared the most. Absolute silence.
Bobby Sudrow. Bobby Sudrow. The name flashed through
his mind repeatedly. Unarmed and unable to detect where the shot came from,
Tyler was helpless…until he remembered Frank’s gun tucked in his waistband.
Flashlight in hand, he made a move.
even think about it,” a familiar voice shouted and Tyler froze at their call.
heard the crunching of fallen leaves underfoot, a chain jangling around
someone’s neck. As the shadowy figure took form, the diamond shaped locket around
their neck came into focus.
marched from the darkness, rifle in hand. He approached Reese, opening the
locket for him to see a young woman with curly dark hair. She looked to be
anywhere from twenty to twenty-five.
wife, Natasha,” Lex said. He snapped the locket shut callously. “We all have to
make sacrifices here. I want you to meet someone. He was a man who understood
sacrifice. The sacrifices he made for his family alone proved that. And so we embraced
him as one of our own.”
Tyler,” a voice called from the darkness. Reese shined his light on a man who
looked twice his age. His hair was snow white and thin, his skin pale and
weathered. He looked closer to death than Tyler did. But there was something
vaguely familiar about him. He had seen this man’s picture before.
Tyler shook his head in defiance. “It can’t be you. You disappeared ten years
didn’t disappear,” Sudrow explained. “I started a new life, with a new family.
This is where I belong. I wish you could stick around to experience the utopia
we’ve built for ourselves.”
probably overstay my welcome,” Reese quipped. Even in the face of imminent
danger, his dry humor seemed to ease the tension, if only for him.
chitchat,” Lex shouted, still grasping the rifle. “This has gone on long
townspeople, torches in hand, flocked in droves. It was a scene straight out of
the original Frankenstein. There were men, women, and they all had their
children at their sides. Their eyes all told the same story: Let’s just get this over with. This
sadistic mob formed a ring around him, trapping him in the center.
this wreckage, something had emerged. It appeared as a small blotch at first,
like a stain on the sidewalk. But this seemingly inanimate blob was growing
bigger as it moved towards them. When it reached the outer circle of the mob,
its shadow eclipsed the glowing beam of the torches. It was as Frank Cornell
had described it, truly an abomination.
townspeople broke the circle to open a path to Reese. One of the townsfolk grew
startled just at the sight of this beast and dropped their torch in the dirt.
unlike anything he had ever laid eyes on. It was a creature devoid of any
normal human qualities. Its long, dense, oval-shaped torso had grey and
lifeless texture, like that of a slug. No nose or ears were visible amongst the
glowing torches. It had no legs and took to moving like a snake, slithering
along on its ample belly. Wherever it moved, it left a trail of slime in its
mouth was comprised of two hideous rows of jagged fangs that could snap through
a parking meter. Three red glowing eyes the size of baseballs rested upon what
Tyler only assumed was its forehead. Its backside was curved, taking the shape
of a monstrous barbed stinger.
Sudrow extended his arms in welcome. “Please accept this sacrifice we have
presented you here today. We hope this will satisfy you and satisfy those that
have blessed us with your presence.”
had fallen to his knees, accepting his twisted face. His eyes were aimed steady
at the ground, as he did not wish to see it devour him. And so he missed it
when the creature curled back his stinger and pierced through Bobby Sudrow’s
townspeople gasped, moaned. Some screamed. Its stinger retracted and continued
to move at a lightning pace, tearing a gaping hole in the flesh of anyone that
stood in its way.
looked soon enough to see it wrap its teeth around a dying Bobby Sudrow. It
snapped him in two, bisecting the waist from the torso and then swallowing the
top half in one motion.
fire of the fallen torch was starting to grow from the dry leaves spread about
the dirt, forming a straight path to the box that Frank had released.
explosion wasn’t quite what Tyler imagined, but it was enough to send the
townspeople–those that survived the blast–scattering like cockroaches for their
homes. And it wasn’t enough to stop this beast from its rampage. The explosion
didn’t seem to slow it down, or even leave a mark on it.
rifle that Lex had been toting was mere inches away. It was still attached to
his right arm that had been severed from the blast. He rolled through the dirt,
his legs brushing past the orange flames.
literally had to pry it from Lex’s cold dead fingers. When the rifle was in his
hands, the creature was already too close for comfort. Its three red eyes were
staring him right in the face.
call it a change of a heart, because inside that grotesque mass, Tyler
shuddered at the thought of a beating heart resting amongst its entrails. It
showed its true colors when it had ravaged a town that had been so rewarding to
it. This…abomination as only it could be aptly described, it didn’t have a
heart. That’s what Reese chose to believe. However, it did spare his life that
evening. Perhaps so he could live to tell its tale. Or perhaps it was just full
at the moment.
its direction, it crawled its way through the fiery wreckage. It was seemingly
impervious to the fire around it, the flames barely scorching its exterior. It
slithered through the gates, past the Forbidden Zone. It had escaped from its
point of origin, and anything in its path would undoubtedly feel its wrath.
The bureau has their work cut out for them,
Tyler thought. The population of Long
Island is about to be drastically altered.
Carson Ryder: Former
Marine/Former police officer/Has retrograde amnesia/Searching for clues to his past
Damien Albright: Found and
saved Carson/Has no family/Doesn’t seem to care about anything
Kenny Sudrow: Former spa
porter/Happy to be doing something else
Trevor Virden: Former comic
book store owner/His knowledge of useless facts is limitless
Janice Whitfield: Four months
pregnant/Wife of Regis Whitfield
Chuckie Razzano: His only
concern is his Rolex and his hair gel
Chase Crawford: Religious
zealot/Loner/Keeps to himself
Scientist/Worked for the C.D.C./Knows of a cure
Brent Blaze: Mall
survivor/Former police officer
Ally Burton: Mall
survivor/Sister of Eli Burton
Eli Burton: Mall
survivor/Brother of Ally Burton
Vern Sheldon: New ally/Drives
a box truck/Carries a badass flamethrower
Arnold Vesti: Biters got him
Regis Whitfield: Biters got
Devin Morris: Strangled in his
Darren Mays: Shot by Damien
Albright/Claimed that Carson arrested him at one point
Trevor had drunk five shots of Southern Comfort and two
Budweiser’s. Then he proceeded to make a complete ass of himself. When he woke
up on Friday, September 13, 2013, with his temples throbbing and red smears on
his collar that he deduced as lipstick, he just assumed these were the signs of
a good night.
The whole evening had been a drunken blur to him. It was
a night he’d scarcely remember, until later that day when Kenny “Squeak” Sudrow
would refresh his memory and remind him just what a fool he had made of
But before all that, he glanced at the alarm clock and saw
it was eleven. He was supposed to open the comic book store at ten, but he was
pretty sure he had told Devin Morris to open for him that morning.
He didn’t realize how dehydrated he was until he tried to
clear his dry throat and it sounded like a frog was lodged deep in his
Rolling out of bed, he shuffled to the kitchen and poured
himself a glass of water. He sipped the water, then set the glass down on the
faux marble countertop and massaged his throbbing temples with his index and
From what he recalled, he had drunk twenty-four shots of
tequila and made out with at least three different girls. But this couldn’t be
further from the truth. In reality, he drank five shots and two beers, puked in
a dumpster, dry humped a tree, and reenacted William Shatner’s rendition of
Rocket Man on karaoke. The red smears he mistook for lipstick were actually
ketchup stains from when he conked out at the bar and landed face first in
someone’s basket of French fries.
Kenny had arranged a taxi for Trevor and he managed to
get home safely. Again, all of this was a blur to a hung over Trevor.
He was going to call the store just to make sure Devin
remembered to open, but when he reached for the phone, it started ringing.
“Hello?” Trevor said, lifting the receiver to his ear. He
still had a touchtone phone in his kitchen, cord and all.
“Trevor, it’s mom. I’m calling just to make sure you’re
“I’m fine, mom. How are you?”
“Have you turned on the news today?” his mom inquired.
“Who watches the news nowadays?” Trevor answered her
question with a question. “I get all my news from the internet.”
“Well, you better get over to your computer. Some really
strange stuff is happening right now. I just called to make sure you’re safe. I
want you to be extra careful. Please, Trevor.”
“Ok, mom,” he assured her. Trevor was twenty-seven years
old and his mom still managed to make him feel like an undeveloped child that
required constant supervision. Though, he supposed she wouldn’t make such a
fuss over him if she didn’t care with all her heart. They exchanged goodbyes
and they both said I love you before Trevor hung up the phone. Little did
Trevor know, that would be the last time he’d speak to his mother again.
A heavyset Trevor waddled to the fridge and snagged a
bottle of blue Gatorade from the top shelf. It was the cure for his every
hangover. He ripped the cap off with one twist and started quaffing it down.
When he finished the bottle, it was 11:15 and he remembered he was supposed to
call the store to see if Devin opened up on time.
But when he called, nobody answered the line. The phone
just kept ringing and ring. He hung up, dialed Devin’s cell number, and paced
back and forth as far as the phone cord allowed him to as he listened to the
phone ring and ring. Eventually it went to voicemail and he left Devin a brief
message saying, “Where the hell are you? You better be at the shop. I was
counting on you to open today.”
Trevor hung the phone up and waddled back over to the
fridge, scanning the shelves for another Gatorade and finding none. “I should
really just buy them by the case,” Trevor muttered to himself.
He wondered where Devin Morris could be. He considered
the possibility that Devin’s first job had called him into work on short
notice. The comic book store was not Devin’s regular gig. He just filled in for
Trevor from time to time. His main priority was the Best Buy in Levittown, two
blocks from Devin’s house.
That’s how Trevor and Devin first met each other. Trevor
wandered in looking to satisfy his craving for action movies when Devin
suggested The Raid: Redemption.
After that moment, they became instant friends. Trevor
would visit the Best Buy all the time just to get movie suggestions from Devin.
An avid horror movie fan, Devin turned Trevor on to many
great unknown French and Asian titles that blew most American horror movies out
of the water. They’d talk movies for hours, exchange bits of random cinematic
trivia, and have lengthy debates over their favorite or least-favorite titles.
A huge Tarantino fan, Trevor was shocked to learn that
Devin despised Pulp Fiction. They
argued about the film for hours, and when Trevor finally realized he wasn’t
going to win, he threw in the towel.
Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, GoodFellas, Desperado, Fight Club. These were the movies Trevor
grew up on and loved, in addition to all the horror movies he had digested over
the years. He saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre
and A Nightmare on Elm Street when
he was seven, and had seen the entire Friday
The 13thseries before he was ten. But his personal favorite was
Halloween. That film gave him
nightmares for months to come after watching it late one night alone at the age
of six. For months following, he’d check his closet and under his bed every
night just to be sure Michael Myers wasn’t lying in wait for him.
By the time he ate, showered, and got dressed, it was
past noon. His migraine had started to dissipate and he was praising the
inventor of Cool Blue Gatorade. He tried phoning the store one more time. Still
He figured it’d be best if he went down there himself and
checked it out. He stepped out the front door, and his mother’s words suddenly
filled his head. He realized he had never gone online to check the news his
mother was so concerned about. But he remembered her warning to be extra
But outside, everything was calm and tranquil. Birds
chirped and tweeted, the sky was clear and blue, and there wasn’t a person in
sight. Trevor hadn’t the slightest clue what his mother was so concerned about,
but he’d soon find out…
* * *
me,” Trevor muttered.
where’s the flamethrower?” Carson asked.
I left it in the cab,” Vern slapped his palm across his head as if to say
must’ve smelled the food,” Pickman surmised.
Biters crept past the lawn, their numbers became visible. It was dark and they
couldn’t see all of them, but Trevor lost count after fifty.
need to find something to barricade the windows,” Brent suggested.
time,” Damien said as the Biters made their way to the front of the face,
pressing their bodies against the glass.
chests bloated and distended. The flesh rotting away from their arms, blackened
skin peeling from their faces. Among this congregation of the dead, Janice
spotted a little girl, the skin missing from the lower half of her face, fully
exposing her jaw and bottom row of her red stained teeth. Janice’s heart sank
and she turned away, clutching at her belly, thinking of the unborn child that
was growing inside of her.
“I don’t think the glass is going to hold them,” Kenny
said, taking a few steps back to prepare himself for the inevitable.
Chase Crawford had locked himself in one of the bathrooms
and had no intentions of coming out until the worst was over.
men scrambled for their weapons and extra rounds of ammunition, the glass
couldn’t hold anymore and as it shattered, the mob of Biters began to spill in
Ryder instructed the women, Janice Whitfield and Ally Burton, to seek shelter
upstairs. “Lock yourselves in one of the bedrooms and don’t come out until we
say the coast is clear.”
ladies scrambled up the stairs as Damien made sure both of his pistols were
fully loaded. Carson had his pistol tucked into his waistband, and cradled in
his arms was Arnold Vesti’s Remington shotgun. Brent Blaze had his trusty
service revolver, and Trevor and Kenny were both armed with semi-automatic
weapons that held fifteen rounds each.
was given a piece, which he tucked into his waistband, instead opting to use
the machete that Ryder acquired from their trip to Dorchester.
you two ever fired guns before?” Damien asked Willard Pickman and Chuckie
never fired a gun before in my life,” Pickman confessed.
neither,” Razzano said, shrugging his thin shoulders.
sighed and shook his head. “Just stand behind us and try not to get in our way.
And try not to get bit.”
“Where’s Eli?” Carson asked as he fired the first shot at
an impending Biter. He pumped the mechanism of the shotgun and an empty shell
popped out from the breech.
“Who cares?” Damien replied as he fired the second and
third shots with dual pistols. “As long as the kid stays out of the way. I
don’t think the rich boy is cut out for this sort of thing.”
Trevor, Kenny, and Brent opened fire as the looming
Biters continued to advance. Vern was on the front lines of the battle, slicing
and dicing everything that lurched in his direction. The machete hacked and
slashed away, decapitating the Biters with ease.
When he stopped to rest his arm, he counted about twenty
headless Biters spread out over the house. His arm was getting tired, but as
the Biters continued to crawl and fight their way in, he couldn’t stop. So he
drew the pistol from his waistband and started shooting.
As the Biters multiplied in numbers and spread throughout
the house, the group was forced to split up to try and combat them.
Trevor and Kenny lost sight of one another when Trevor
wandered into the open kitchen and took two Biters down with two deafening
shots. He noticed the backdoor had been left open by someone, and as he rushed
to close it, he found himself cornered by a group of ten Biters that wandered
in from the living room.
He took three of them down with three more shots that
echoed through the house. He squeezed the trigger again, but nothing happened.
All he heard was a faint clicking sound. The gun was empty. As he fumbled
through his pockets for a spare clip, the Biters circled around like sharks in
Just as Trevor retrieved the clip, the little girl that
Janice had spotted with the exposed jawline, sank her teeth into his ankle.
Trevor squealed in pain as he stumbled and fell on his
back. The Biters proceeded all at once, dropping to skinless knees to get a
better grasp on Trevor. He fought for the gun, but with seven Biters tearing,
clawing, ripping, gnawing away, he didn’t stand a chance.
As shots rang throughout the house, an unlikely duo of
Vern Sheldon and Brent Blaze retreated to the dining room, their backs pressed
against the wall.
“Bet you wish you had that flamethrower now,” Brent
“This isn’t the time for chitchat,” Vern chided. “But if
you wanna talk, let’s talk about you putting me behind bars.”
“You were a drug dealer, Vern.”
“I was selling a little pot on the side to support my
family. I still held a job, paid my taxes, went to church on Sundays. Why’d you
do it? Was it just to make an example of me?”
“I did what the law required me to do. But since the law
no longer seems to apply, I see no point in holding grudges. I’m sorry, but I
can’t change the past. Friends?” Brent extended his hand and his face expressed
a look that begged for forgiveness.
Just as Vern reached out to accept his hand, a stray
Biter popped up out of nowhere, sinking its black teeth into Brent’s wrist.
“Fuck!” Brent exclaimed. Vern aimed for the head and
blasted a hole right through it. The Biter sank to the floor as Brent applied
pressure to the wound to slow the bleeding.
When the dust was settled and the final shots were fired,
they had killed over seventy-five Biters. But their victory came at a terrible
price. It was Kenny who discovered the mutilated body of his fallen friend in
the kitchen. And it was Kenny who took on the horrible task of putting Trevor out
of his misery by firing a single bullet into his head, to ensure his friend
would never come back as one of those things.
The group gathered in the dining room, where Vern broke
the news about Blaze. “You’ve gotta do the right thing,” Brent implored them. “You’ve
gotta shoot me in the head. I can’t come back as one of those things. I won’t.”
“Don’t be foolish,” Pickman said. “There’s a cure. There’s
still hope for you, even if you turn.”
“I’m not taking my chances on some miracle cure you may
never even reach. Just do it, before I lose my nerve.”
Vern approached Brent and rested one hand on his
shoulder. He extended the other hand for Brent to shake, and Brent accepted. “Friends,”
Vern repeated “And I forgive you. Just as I hope you forgive me.”
Vern raised the pistol the group had supplied him, and
one final shot echoed through the halls.
* * *
By morning, the remaining members of the group had moved
on. The house was no longer safe, and they had used up all the food supplies
they had found in the basement. Carson Ryder took the wheel of the van and
Damien Albright, Kenny Sudrow, Chuckie Razzano, and Willard Pickman all piled
Janice Whitfield and Chase Crawford opted to ride in the
back of Vern Sheldon’s box truck, along with Ally and Eli Burton.
They stopped up the road to regroup and strategize. A
vote was held and it was nearly unanimous. The majority voted to pursue the
underground lab in Texas. If there was any hope of survival, it rested in that subterranean
“Do we even have enough gasoline to make it to Texas?”
Chuckie Razzano asked.
“You can take the Interstate-81 S from New York to Texas,”
Vern stated. “We’d have to pass through Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, and
Arkansas. With all the gas we’ve collected, I figure we’ve got enough to make
it at least half of the way.”
“That doesn’t sound very reassuring to me,” Ally said.
“What other choice do we have?” Ryder asked. But nobody
replied, nobody followed up. The decision had already been made. They were
going to press on. They were going to make it to Texas. Or they were going to
Note to readers: This story is
a revised version of an earlier story I published to my blog titled Prank Call.
If you wish to read the original, please browse through the archives on the
right-hand side of the page, or just click this link:
Five simple words echoed through the speakers of Melissa
Alden’s phone and chilled her to the core. “You’re going to die tonight.”
The caller’s voice was distorted, yet she could clearly
make out their tone. They didn’t speaker in a threatening manner, they spoke
sincerely. And that’s what truly disturbed her.
“You’re going to die tonight.” The caller had said it in
such a matter-of-fact way. The same way you’d tell a person where you were born
and raised when asked, or what schools you attended.
There was nothing urgent or pressing about the caller’s
statement. Though, they did seem in a bit of a rush to get off the line once
the message was received.
never even had a chance to respond. The phone rang twice; she answered and
heard heavy breathing, followed by the haunting words, “You’re going to die
tonight.” Then the line went dead.
didn’t try *69, as the number came up blocked on her caller ID. Instead,
Melissa dialed 911, and an operator connected her with Suffolk County police.
The local police worked fast and hard to trace the call, although they were
slightly unsuccessful in their efforts.
were in fact able to trace the number…to a store-bought mobile phone with no
GPS. The caller had used a prepaid phone card to add minutes to the phone and
place the call. And tracing one particular phone card to one particular
location was seen as a major waste of time and resources to the police,
especially when the police were convinced that this was the work of a prank
caller. Four more people had called the station that evening with claims of a
similar call being placed to them.
October 30th, otherwise known as Mischief Night. And the cops were receiving an
influx of complaints from local residents about prank calls, spray-painters,
acts of petty vandalism and wanton destruction.
police said if the creep called her again that she could dial them from a
different phone–her cell phone perhaps–and they would try and pinpoint the
location while she still had the creep on the line.
Alden had no enemies, no crazed stalkers. She was happily married with two kids
in college. She managed a department store and all the employees adored and
respected her. How many bosses can honestly say that?
her husband, was a construction worker whose free time revolved around hockey,
football, model trains, and most importantly, family.
Catholics, the Alden’s attended Mass every Sunday, with or without their
children present. And Shane was always the most generous when it came to the
Why on Earth would anyone want to harm me?
Melissa wondered. Not just harm me. KILL
soon as she finished speaking with the police, she dialed Shane. His cell went
straight to voicemail. She tried two or three more times and got the same
she bravely did a full sweep of the house; she checked every closet, made sure
every door and window was locked. The basement door didn’t have a lock on the
outside and could not be locked by key. But there were windows in the basement
that a person could easily smash and crawl inside if they so desired. So
Melissa grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and wedged it firmly under the
heard the glass shatter, she could be out the front door in five seconds before
an intruder even had time to realize the basement door was jammed.
remembered the Snub .38 that Shane kept loaded in a shoebox under the bed. She
was cursing herself for never learning how to use it. Shane had offered
multiple times to take her down to the shooting range, but Melissa just
couldn’t get into the idea. Guns were never her style. Just the thought of
holding a loaded gun in her hand was enough to make her entire body quiver.
she conducted her search of the house, Melissa sat in the living room for
hours, her back against the wall as she watched television at low volume. Every
light in the house was on. The place was lit up like Yankee Stadium. She had
taken a butcher knife from the knife block on the faux-marble countertop and
was clutching onto handle like it was a new appendage.
mind was racing, her heart pulsing. Where
the hell are you, Shane? I need you here.
knew of Shane’s after-work ritual. Every evening after he punched out at work,
he’d swing by the BBQ Shack with his co-workers for a pulled pork sandwich. And
if they twisted his arm enough, he’d follow them over to a local bar and knock
back a few beers before returning home.
one of the few things Shane Alden did that irritated his wife, but she was
always willing to look past his minor imperfections. And at that moment, all
she wanted was for Shane to be at her side, to assure her everything was going
to be all right.
front door of the house sometimes sticks when you try to open it from the
outside. You have to give it a hard push every once in a while to pry it open.
When she heard that hard push, followed by the door bouncing off the inside
wall and swinging back, she screamed loud enough for the whole neighborhood to
Shane said, dusting snow off the shoulders of his jacket as he stepped past the
threshold of the door. He walked over to the living room where Melissa was
cowering in the corner. “What’d you see a spider crawl under the couch or
my name,” he said, shrugging his broad shoulders. “Are you ok, babe? You look
really pale. And are you holding a knife behind your back?”
was your cell phone off? I tried calling you so many times.”
battery died on the ride home from work. Sorry it took so long. I didn’t want
to, but Louis insisted on stopping for a beer. Now what the heck is going on
this weird phone call a few hours ago. Someone threatened me.”
don’t even want to repeat it,” she sighed. “I’m just so happy you’re home.”
come on,” Shane shrugged again. “How bad could it be?”
said, ‘you’re going to die tonight’. Then the line was dead.”
probably just some punk teenager trying to scare you. It is the night before
Halloween, after all. Mischief Night. People love to play pranks around this
time of year. Someone did that to my aunt once. Scared the daylights out of
her. You’ve got nothing to worry about now. You’re safe with me. So put that
knife away before you hurt me accidently.” He chuckled as she lowered the knife
and placed it on the glass coffee table. Then she wrapped her arms around him
like it was the first time she had seen him in years.
so glad you’re home, Melissa reiterated.
too,” Shane said as she released her grip around his waist, and he removed his
gloves and jacket. “I hope you didn’t make too much for dinner,” he said as he
stepped out into the hallway and headed for the staircase. “I’m all filled up
on barbequed pulled pork.”
Shane had removed his gloves and winter jacket, he had tossed them aside on the
floor; an unbreakable habit that irked Melissa every time he did it.
Melissa unwrinkled and neatly folded Shane’s jacket, his phone slid out from
the pocket. But it wasn’t Shane’s iPhone that landed on the beige rug. It was a
cheap flip-cover phone; a brand she didn’t even recognize. One of those drug
dealer phones you’d buy at a pharmacy or a 7-11.
should’ve stopped right there, turned around, and ran straight for the front
door. But Melissa had to know for sure.
dug her hand into the pocket that the phone had fallen from, and her fingers
brushed a thin slab of rectangular-shaped plastic. She drew her hand from the
pocket and held the phone card up to the light of the ceiling fixture. The card
had been recently activated, as the spot where you obtain the code to activate
the card had been scratched away with a coin.
me if this sounds familiar,” Shane crowed from the hallway. Melissa turned and
froze at the sight of the Snub .38 in his hand. “You’re going to die tonight.”
the rest of her body remained frozen, her lip was quivering involuntarily and
her hands were tremoring at her sides.
lowered the gun almost instantly, when he saw all the color drain from face. It
looked as if she was about to keel over.
honey,” Shane said, lowering the gun gently to the floor. “It was just a joke.
I’m so sorry. I guess I went a little overboard.”
sick bastard!” she screamed, running over to bat his chest with her tiny fists.
“You scared me half to death! Why on Earth would you do this to me? The phone
call was more than enough.”
I didn’t make that call,” Shane insisted. “I swear. I just saw how jumpy you
were and I thought I’d have a little fun at your expense. Did you really think
I was going to shoot you?”
found the phone card, Shane,” Melissa said, pointing towards the jacket he
carelessly discarded on the rug. “And I found the phone. You’re not fooling
so sorry, Melissa. I never meant for you to find that. I honestly didn’t make
that call. The phone…I use it to call my supervisor.”
can’t you just call him on your regular…” Melissa trailed off when she
remembered meeting Shane’s supervisor once at a company Christmas party. His
supervisor was a woman, not a man. And that’s when it dawned on her what Shane
was trying to convey.
Melissa could blow a gasket and go off on a profanity-laced tirade that Shane
certainly had coming to him, a noise grabbed her attention. It was faint and
unclear, but it almost sounded like glass crunching underfoot.
you hear that?” she asked.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Shane responding. Then he
added, “Oh, I moved that chair away from the basement door. I guess you did
that when you got that phone call. Well, there’s nothing to worry about now.”
“Shane,” Melissa gasped, her body suddenly quaking again.
Her throat was dry and she was on the edge of shock, but she ultimately managed
to utter the words, “Behind you.”
Alden turned to face what was eagerly waiting behind him. A man, nearly seven
feet tall, his face shrouded by a crude mask of what could only be deduced as
rotting flesh. A butcher’s apron was tied around the waist of this giant and at
his side, his catcher’s-mitt-sized hand grasping at a crimson stained machete.
blade cut through the air with a vicious swipe, decapitating Shane with one
towering figure stepped forward, machete still in hand. “Hello, Melissa,” the
giant spoke, using a small voice box that distorted his speech. “We finally