Monday, January 23, 2012

Sorry, but the show's over, folks. Some of you may be aware that, unfortunately, our blogsite has been plagued with technical problems for quite some time now. Could it be that perhaps the spooks that haunt our internet objected to being discussed? We were forced to shut down this site for major repairs back in August and after we were given the go ahead again, we started it back up for a few months only to find more difficulties lying in wait. With frustrations galore standing in our way, we've made the sad decision to close permanently. We're disappointed to be going, but sadder by far to wave farewell to our lovely authors who've been the highlight of our time editing the submissions. Since Dorothy Davies kicked off the blog back in November 2010 with her wonderful story, "Forever England," we feel it's a just and fitting finale for Spook City that we end with one of hers as well. Please sit back and enjoy, "The Tourist." Bye bye, everyone.

"THE TOURIST" - Dorothy Davies

He was just like any other mark, you know? Scruffy sort of guy, tweed jacket, slacks with not much of a crease, bit of a stubble thing going on. Balding a bit but who isn’t? Big nose, I remember the big nose. Washed out sort of eyes, not much colour there. Looked like he hadn’t got two pound coins to rub together, if I were truthful with you.
           
He gets in the cab at Liverpool Street Station, wants a trip round London.
           
OK, I says, let’s go! Where do you wanna start, sir?
           
He says, that thing near the river, that tall thing you see from the sky.
           
I says, do you mean the Monument?
           
He says, I do that.
           
So we goes to the Monument. I sits in the cab while he climbs the 300 odd steps to the top, I sees him go round the viewing platform, I wait while he climbs back down the 300 odd steps and I think, rather him than me. I’d rather sit here in comfort, off me feet, watching the meter tick on. This is the good one; I remember thinking, the rare good one. The one we all talk about getting and few of us do. Go round London seeing all the sights. Usually from the windows, mind you, this one was different, getting out to see places, leaving the meter running.
           
Oh be sure I kept the meter running. I might have had Princess Diana in my cab and I would have kept the meter running. Fat chance of that, before or now. Oh but I loved that woman...

Enough! Just gotta say no one would have made me drive that fast and kill the one true beauty who walked our planet. Oh hell, here I go again...
           
Forget it. Let’s get back to the weird one.
           
I’ve been driving a cab in London all my working life, me. Love it, I do, all the people, the sights you see out the window along the streets, them’s as wanna talk to you about London and all it has to offer, them as hates it, only here on business or ‘cos they gotta be.
Not this mark, though, he was - different.
           
He wanted the Tower next, so we went to the Tower. And I sat outside and waited while he did the tour round, seeing those – what do you call them, the ones in the outfits? Can’t remember. Anyway, he went there.
He wanted the London Eye after that, wanted to see, what was that strange new building called? Can’t remember. Well, we went there.
He wanted Buckingham Palace, wanted to see the – damn it, where’s my memory gone! The men in red outfits and tall hats? Well, we went there.
           
And we went on like that. All day we went round and round London and all day ... I just realised ... my memory got worse and worse till I could hardly remember how to get from one place to the other. Like I was in a fog, you know?
           
And come to think on it, he got –
           
Smarter and smarter as the day went on, clothes got better, he got more hair, he got less beard. His eyes got more colour. And I got – older.
And I forgot things. It was like – he was some kind of vampire and he was draining me of all my knowledge.
           
Next thing I know he’s driving the cab and I’m in the back, watching the world go by, wondering where the hell I am.
           
We went back to the Monument and I got out and he drove off. I opened the door and climbed up the 300 odd steps to the top and when I got there, I thought, how odd, he said ‘the thing you can see from the sky.’ How did he see it from the sky, I asked myself. And I asked myself who he was to drain me like that.
And I found myself on the viewing platform of the Monument and everyone who came up walked right through me and I knew I wasn’t human any more.
Then I realised he wasn’t human either or he wouldn’t have been able to take over like that and put me in the back of my own cab and then drive off in it and I’m lost, lost, lost and only you’ve seen me in the last ten years.
I’m right bored with the view, but that ain’t the real problem.
It gets damn lonely up here, I can tell you.

BIO: Dorothy Davies is a writer, editor and medium, who lives on the Isle of Wight (Isle of Spirits) where she writes her strange stories and channels books directly from spirit authors.

(So long, so long and thanks for all the fish.
Col, Trev, Mark and Gaz.
- Spook City)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Where Am I?

"WHERE AM I?" - Amy Barry

I wake up on this bed,
my hands, my body cold,
Why is it cold in here?
Why do you slice open my dress?

Stay calm.

You’re hurting me

How can I?
You‘re already dead,
pronounced dead eight hours ago,
your body, decomposing,
your brain cells, slowly dying,
your soul, still here.

You’re lying

This is your death certificate.

You’re frightening me.

Don’t be…
soon you’ll find
serenity,
mind clear and empty,
a look of peace,
last memory for your family-
a good memory.

How can you hear my voice?

I have a special gift,
talk to the dead,
prepare them
in transition,
ready for viewing.
 
A clear light arises...........
BIO: Amy Barry is a Public Relations consultant by profession. She writes poems and short stories. She hails from Malaysia and now resides in Athlone, Ireland.

The Mire

"THE MIRE" -  Katherine Wheeler



As the wolf prowls around the perimeter,
thick fogs seeps into my mind,
its tendrils twisting and choking
while its sluggish poison
seeps into the crevasses of my brain;
making clarity illusive.

The dark mire drags me down,
gasping,
fingertips reaching out
for unattainable thoughts,
as they flit away
like so many winged birds;
tantalisingly close,
yet impossibly out of reach.


BIO: Katharine is an Irish writer who now lives in Belgium. Katharine has wanted to write ever since she was a very young child but due to work commitments was never able to fulfill her dream. She was diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years ago and suddenly found herself unable to work and with time on her hands. She has had work published in two poetry anthologies, in local press and online.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Day Of The Rest Of Her Life

"FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF HER LIFE"
- Lily Fox

She stepped out onto the bustling street, and, for a moment, was overwhelmed with the sheer wall of sound: car horns, voices, buses heaving past. For one wild moment, she considered hopping right back on the first train out of London and going home, forgetting she had ever tried such a mad venture. She caught herself, and straightened her tired shoulders. No, this was her opportunity, her moment: this was the first day of the rest of her life.

She stepped, on the second attempt, into the apparently unbreakable flow of people. Not a single one paid her any attention, but she was still vain and naive enough to pause to admire her professional-looking reflection in a shop window. Her face looked pale, even in nothing but darkened glass, but that was to be expected. This was the most important interview of her life, her make-or-break moment. She tried to put it out of her mind. She could be calm and collected and when she walked into that office, everyone would know she was perfect for the role.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she gasped automatically as she nearly ploughed into the back of the man in front. He didn't reply, or even acknowledge her presence, and she frowned for a moment, before giving a mental shrug. People probably barged their way through every street here. She laughed to herself at the wide-eyed girl she still mentally categorised herself as. She wondered if anyone could spot any little tells she gave off, but the further she walked, the more she realised no-one really cared a jot about her circumstances; they didn't even look her way. Maybe she, too, would grow to be like this after a few years in the city.

Was this the right street? Would consulting a map look too...well, touristy? She had to get the part right, like the nervous actor on the first opening of theatre doors, she had to nail it. No slips. No giveaways. And really, she had the fundamentals, otherwise she wouldn't have made it this far. She had an excellent Cambridge degree and she was hard-working, determined and bright. She had a suit that had cost her far too much and heels that were neither too high nor too prudishly flat, and her hair had been tousled into an flattering elegant wave effect. Yes, image mattered, especially in this crowd.

It unnerved her just how little attention anyone paid to anyone else here...or, no, that wasn't quite right...how little attention everyone paid to her, specifically. Leaflets were thrust at the other passers-by; ticket touters hollered in their indifferent faces. She might have been of no more substance than a puff of wind. Nothing was thrust into her face. No-one met her eyes as they leaned on their sandwich board signs. Was she that obvious?
S

he quickened her pace. She was nearly there, anyway. The flow of people was lessening as she reached the banking district. She had worked for this and seen too many of her fellows fall by the wayside, distracted, missing opportunities. She would go for it. She had to.
Last road, oh yes, there was the street she needed. Excitement trembled in her stomach. This was finally, finally it. She inhaled, and stepped into the road.

It didn't hurt as much as she had thought; what really hurt was the driver just carrying on, as if she hadn't just been tossed like so much dead meat over the windscreen, thrown bonelessly to the road and smashed, smashed on impact. The white-hot agony she would have imagined blinding her was just a vague memory-sense. The car had sped on to catch the lights as she lay dying. She tried to force out a sound. Wouldn't someone help her? This was central London, she could see, out of misting eyes, legs and feet moving past. Her mind blurred.

Her blue eyes rolled back in their sockets to meet, at last, for the first time in this damnable city, a pair of eyes, faintly startled, staring at her broken body in the road. She implored the girl to do something, anything, just not to let the blackness take her...she was scared. Something was dragging her away from the flesh, upward, onward. Her lips moved, mouthed, 'help'.

The girl's hands, tucked into the pockets of her bright pink coat, extended, but she didn't have the strength to do more. She was...oh, so tired, so heavy. It was taking her, and there wasn't a thing she could do. The pink jacket, the brown eyes, faded into light and finally, into nothing at all.
"It's so cold," Hannah pushed her hands back into her pockets, eyes fixed on the road. She couldn't, for some reason, drag them away.
"Oh, that'll be the corpse," said Gary casually, pulling one of Hannah's hands free from her pink jacket to hold in his own.
She rolled her eyes towards him. "What?"
"You must have heard the story. It's haunted around here..." Gary pulled a face, waving his free hand in Hannah's face. "Whooo!"
She batted his hand away. "Don't be stupid. It's just a chill..."
"No, seriously," Gary enthused, his face lighting up. Hannah put an exaggeratedly indulgent expression on. "You must have read that story about how that girl got killed here last year - that prodigy mathematician kid from Cambridge, won a load of prizes and scholarships and stuff? Going to work for some big bank over there?" He pointed at a particularly imposing building further down the road.
"Probably," Hannah conceded, although she couldn't remember it.
"Well, she wasn't looking and just stepped out in front of a car here, and got mown down, of course...but get this, people say they can feel a chill here and sometimes, they can hear her walk past and stuff...'cause, you know, ghosts can't leave where they were killed..."
"Sure," Hannah scoffed. "I mean, it's a horrible story, but ghosts aren't real. Not people who've died recently, especially. No-one becomes a ghost any more, Gar'." She grinned. "It's not cool."
Gary laughed easily, pulling Hannah closer, and turning her away from the crossroad to walk on. "Don't see why not...it's not like there's any reason why not..."

Their voices settled into the mildly argumentative tones that meant a debate would ensue as they wandered aimlessly away.

 

She stepped out onto the bustling street, and, for a moment, was overwhelmed with the sheer wall of sound: car horns, voices, buses heaving past. For one wild moment, she considered hopping right back on the first train out of London and going home, forgetting she had ever tried such a mad venture. She caught herself, and straightened her tired shoulders. No, this was her opportunity, her moment: this was the first day of the rest of her life...


BIO: Lily Fox is an MA graduate living in London

.

Out There

"OUT THERE" - Susanna Dunne

                                   

                  howliiiiiiiiing heard

          full moon shining
warewolf emerging






BIO: London born Susanna moved to Ireland at the age of ten and is now married with four sons. She loves to write standard poetry, haiku, senyru and short stories.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Message

From the team at Spook City,
we send our valued authors
and readers the very best wishes of the season and we look forward to seeing you all back here in 2012.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Floating Image

"FLOATING IMAGE" - Amy Barry

I wake up as sunlight forces
its way through the curtains,
I look out the window,
pollution clouds smother the town.

Alone, alone in this silent room,
cold sweat pearls my forehead,
his face comes into view,
I yearn to embrace him.

I can’t break away from staring at him,
I shake my head not knowing what to say,
shiver at his stony eyes,
our eyes lock for a moment.

His face looms in close,
his eyes flicker, my body tenses,
mind races, my ears burn from
the sound of my own scream.

A voice cuts into my thoughts
a sad, forlorn cry,
I suck in a deep breath and he is gone,

Am I awake or still in my dreams?


BIO: Amy Barry is a Public Relations consultant by profession. She writes poems and short stories. She hails from Malaysia and now resides in Athlone, Ireland.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Banshee

BANSHEE" - Susanna Dunne

She cries through' the night
combing her long white hair
and it doesn't quite matter where, either
She'll not be too far away
to warn us that
Death is so very near.

Someone we love very dearly,
shall soon reach Heaven's Gates.
Her wailing and wailiiiiiiing
is ever so frightening!

it'll make our hearts beat
even faster.

Paler, we'll be.
Too scared to move a single muscle
Any hair upon our heads
will instantly stand to attention! Like soldiers.
Skins shall crawl sending shivering sensations
right through us
Feelings of terror! so, overwhelming.


Cats meowiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing so viciously

But she doesn't mind that does she?
they do keep her company after all.
It isn't a good idea to take a peek

out through our windows
if or when she may pay us an unwelcome visit
although it might only, be cats growling,
making quite a fuss outside our dwellings

But then this lady who wails
and cries like a child in the night
Yes, the Banshee.
Beware! Be very aware
try not be too tempted too take that peek
just to see if it is she, this creature
who roams in the dark.

Picking up that lonesome comb
With its missing teeth should be left well alone.
'Cause that indeed
wouldn't be a very wise thing to do
now would it?
or one may well regret it


Meooooooooooooooooooooow........

BIO: London born Susanna moved to Ireland at the age of ten and is now married with four sons. She loves to write standard poetry, haiku, senyru and short stories.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If only things were different

"IF ONLY THINGS WERE DIFFERENT" - Eamon O Cleirigh


It was the eyes that woke him, sweat streaming down his face and the sheet stuck to his back. The eyes, piercing black in a sea of rancid yellow, like pus from the ulcer on his old mother’s leg before she gave up the ghost and died screaming in the back room.

The eyes, glowering at him, but only from the side, as if lurking from a dark corner, so when he’d turn to catch that glare, there’d be nothing but the darkness of shadow, of memory, guilt, the  weight of which he felt on the back of his neck, pulling at those thoughts and deeds he’d worked so hard to banish.

He wiped sweat from his brow with the duvet cover, closed his eyes and ran the material along deep-etched lines borne of graft and worry, fear and guilt. And age. He was of an age where such things shouldn’t matter, where the peace of night – every night – shouldn’t be sliced open, disembowelled by accusing, knowing eyes, black in a festering sea of bile, a rank cancer filling his dream life, from dusk to dawn, every night, without fail.

Maybe things would change if he confessed. But that would mean admitting – accepting – that it was down to him. He stumbled to the basin and pissed, with pain, not caring if his aim was true. There wasn’t anything worth caring about, anyway. All was lost and gone, and life ran empty, like his bladder, shrivelled and wasted. Respite, hard-edged and alien, hid out of sight, akin to the dragon’s eyes, giving no rest, whether light or dark.

He could take himself away. Pack a bag and disappear. Who would know? There was nothing left to find – the years had passed and sound and smell no longer lingered, though he was certain, almost, that those leering eyes knew all that had been – remembered her cries from the back room – smelled the rotting leg left unattended – a witness to the horror of those final moments.

Those eyes, never there when he looked, yet always felt, would prove a constant reminder, a strangling weight, a rusting ball and chain, ensuring there could never be the safety of distance between deed and drowning guilt.

He shuffled back into bed and pulled the duvet up to his chin, exhausted but afraid to close his eyes. If only things were different.

BIO: Eamon lives in Sligo, Ireland, but hails from Dublin.  From an acting background, he now prefers to spend his time writing poetry and long fiction. He's busy coming to terms with life as a realist.
 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glendalough

"GLENDALOUGH" - Máire Morrissey-Cummins


An austere life
of poverty and prayer,
weeps from wet,
moss grown granite.
Ritualistic chanting
echoes church ruins,
circling gravestones
of nameless souls.

Dark spirits
cloak the forests,
casting eerie shadows
on a quivering lake.
The evening mist
drifts the mountains,
sighs through the valleys,
as dusk descends
on a long forgotten past.

(Glendalough is a 6th Centuary Monastery in County Wicklow, Ireland.)

BIO:  Máire was born in Ireland but has lived throughout Europe and presently moves between her homes in Ireland and Germany with her husband of 30 years. Being very creative, she enjoys painting with watercolour and acrylic mediums, and is a published poet with the Irish Haiku Society and Haiku Ireland. Máire has also had a number of standard poems published in local and foreign poetry anthologies, journals, e-zines and online forums.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mist

"MIST" - Rachel Sutcliffe





ghostly skeletons
shrouded in mist
winter trees








BIO:  Rachel's creative writing took a back seat when she spent two years teaching abroad but personal circumstances have led her to focus on her writing again.  She's had the pleasure of seeing her poems and short stories published in various anthologies, e journals, magazines and newsletters such as Forward Press publications, HaikuJ, thefirstcut and Static Movement. Rachel recently set up her own blog which you can investigate further, here: http://projectwords11.wordpress.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Presence

"THE PRESENCE" - Dean Farnell 



Footsteps on your landing is a very scary sound,
Creaking on the staircase when you know no-one's around,
"I'm sure this house is haunted", my mother always said,
"We are definitely sharing with a presence that is dead."

She'd sometimes scream out loud, she'd sometimes even cry,
It's not easy sharing lodgings with someone that has died,
She said she couldn't take much more, she never seemd to rest,
It's hard to catch a wink of sleep, in a house you know's possessed.

I wonder what these walls have seen before we came to stay?
My father said he didn't care, as "We're staying anyway,"
"We are not alone," she said, "There's a presence in the hall,"
My dad was in denial 'til a vase smashed on the wall.

Dad was never scared too much, and always chose to doubt,
But it was one October night when something freaked him out,
It was on the stroke of 3am he heard some eerie screaming,
He then told Mum he'd had enough - "Collect our things, we're leaving!"

BIO:  Dean writes quirky songs and poetry as a hobby and is delighted to list over 350 various radio stations and podcasts on which his works have been played. His poetry has been published in horror mags and Trembles & Scream Magazines. “The Monsters Ball" song became the opening theme tune to an internet TV Show series titled "Late Night at The Horror Hotel " which was produced by Horror Shop Films. Dean’s song "666" topped the UK Unsigned artist top 40. You can find more of Dean’s songs here: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=DEAN+FARNELL&aq=f and read his poetry here: http://deanfarnell.typepad.com/blog/2011/06/the-horror-poems.html


Senyru #5

"SENYRU #5" - Marion Clarke
  


Trick or Treat
a stranger uses my face
as a disguise






BIO: Marion Clarke from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, has had poetry, short stories and non-fiction articles published online and in print. Two of her stories are included in The Infection Anthology recently published by Pantoum Press and available from Amazon. Marion began studying and writing Japanese short form poetry two years ago and has become passionate about the form.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Echoes

"ECHOES" - Peter Emmett Naughton

Some people swore that the house was haunted.

Others thought it was cursed, and still others thought the building was simply off in some intrinsic way that they couldn’t quite describe, but felt whenever they passed the place.

There were dozens of stories floating around about the former residents and every generation seemed to have a different idea about what went on there. My grandfather told me the house was inhabited by the ghost of the man who built it, having supposedly died of a heart attack the moment he completed its construction.  My mother claimed that it was plagued by the restless spirits of teenage twins who had succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning in the basement, and my best friend’s uncle told him about the accidental drowning of a young boy in the upstairs bathtub.  There was a girl in my homeroom that told a story about a beautiful newlywed bride who had been mysteriously electrocuted after plugging in a lamp in the living room.  Even the quiet boy who sits in front of me in English class and never raises his hand claimed that an infant in the house had been crushed in its crib by a loose board falling from the floor above.

I’m not sure if I believed any of these accounts before me and Brian went to check the house out for ourselves that night, but I believe them now.

It was just after dusk when we approached the front porch.  My mother’s meatloaf was sitting in my stomach like a brick that made me queasy every time I took a step and much of my excitement over investigating the house had started to ebb, but Brian was determined, so we made our way up the steps and went inside.

There didn’t seem to be anything particularly extraordinary about the place.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, something more extravagant and luxuriant I suppose, a gothic manor in miniature.  Instead we found a modest house that looked a lot like our own homes with only slightly more ornate furnishings and appointments.

Everything was coated in a thick layer of dust, but the interior itself was surprisingly well preserved, marred by only the barest traces of age and neglect. We went from room to room looking for confirmation of what we had heard.  There was a bathroom with an old claw-foot tub on the second floor, but that in and of itself proved nothing.  We checked all the outlets in the living room, but none of them had even the slightest sign of scorch marks on the faceplates or the surrounding area.  Likewise all the flooring appeared to be of the same age.  There were no obvious indications that any of the boards had been resurfaced or replaced.

We were getting ready to leave, our adventure an apparent bust, when we heard it.  A low hum rising up from beneath us that shifted the dust on the floorboards and sifted it down through the spaces between them.

I turned and looked at Brian, our faces stark mirrors reflecting the same mix of curiosity and apprehension.      

After a long moment I pointed to the basement.  Brian nodded and followed me down the stairs.

The room was black, our flashlights providing only a thin wedge of illumination.  I paced carefully over the unfinished floor until I felt the dirt thrumming underneath my feet. 

We both dropped to our knees and dug into the earth with our hands.  After several minutes of scooping up loose soil, we found the source of the sound.

There, buried beneath the basement, was a small, metal box.

It vibrated in my hands like a hummingbird and I nearly dropped it in surprise.  Brian and I gazed at the box for what felt like hours, neither of us saying anything.

I gestured wordlessly to the latches on either side that held the lid shut, and Brian and I each placed a hand on one of them.

We stared at each other for a moment more and then we opened the box.

Nothing was ever the same after that. 


BIO:  Peter fell into fiction by writing stories to amuse his grammar-school classmates, which helped him overcome his shyness, but led to very few completed homework assignments.  He has an abiding love of cheese in all its gloriously stinky forms, horror movies with a sense of humor and trashy punk and garage-rock. He was raised, and currently resides in, Chicago with his wife and cats. Peter's writing has appeared in The Delinquent, Candlelight and Black Words On White Paper.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Last Picture Show

"THE LAST PICTURE SHOW" - Dorothy Davies

It mattered not that the curtains looked the worse for wear, the hem hanging down a little, the runners showing where the weight of the curtains had dragged holes over the years. The fact remained they were temporarily hiding the reason the building had an existence – the huge silver screen. Fly speckled, marked here and there, it mattered not. The anticipation from the audience in the auditorium was palpable, a hush of unspoken words, a withholding of the rustle of popcorn and other comestibles, that indescribable smell and atmosphere accumulated over many years: bodies' clothes, food, sighs, tears, cries, held breath, screams and laughter. 
           
This was the last picture show. At the end of tonight’s performance the doors would close for the last time. In future, films would be shown in the new multi screen complex across town, bright, glittering place with chrome and fine flooring, with carpet and seats that tilted and did not move when you leaned back. Move as in their moorings had come adrift from the floor. It added something to the ambience of this old, much loved building.
           
I crept in quietly, almost on tiptoe, not wanting to disturb anyone’s breathless anticipation of the curtains gliding open and the screen being revealed in all its tarnished glory. I found empty seats, which I didn’t expect, and sat three in from the side aisle. It was not the best of positions but it would do. There was room for two others if they chose to come and share the rest of the row with me. On my other side someone grunted and shifted, but did not look round.
           
The music blared, the numbers began rolling, white on black and the pre-feature programme began. I allowed myself to submerge all thoughts in the magical moment, the losing of self in the actions on the screen. Someone crept in as quietly as I did and sat down next to me. We nodded to one another in the darkness, nothing said, eyes swiftly turning back to the screen. A sigh seemed to come from my new companion, one I echoed. Contentment. Filmgoers of the world unite!
           
All too soon the interval came and music blared out of ancient speakers. There was chatter and laughter, a sense of heightened emotion, anticipation, eagerness, a mixture of so much unclassified, indescribable. My companion, an elderly man I had seen many times before, nodded in time to the nonsensical piece of rhythm which ended and began again, same record. A few people laughed. It ended, it began again. This time whistles and shouts had erupted, there was stamping of feet and yells of laughter. By the time it began again, when it was obvious to all that the impending closure had left the cinema with just one record, the entire audience was in uproar, laughter shaking ancient dust from ancient carvings and light fittings. I smiled; the sense of the absurd was beyond belief and unbelievably funny. My companion was laughing so hard I feared for his heart.
           
It took a while for the audience to settle down after the nonsense with the record, but the main feature began and the theatre became silent. Clint Eastwood strutted his stuff across the screen many times larger than he actually is –or was – shooting all and sundry, fighting his way out of this battle and that. It was almost a shock when the film finally ended. The credits rolled and we were on our feet, some ready to slide out, others prepared to stand and show respect as the National Anthem was played.
           
It was then I smelled smoke.
           
It was then I realized three things, as I did at this point every Halloween. First, the theatre had caught fire, second, judging by the frantic screams and yells of trapped people, the fire doors would not open and third, recalling the local newspapers I had seen afterwards, not one of us survived.
           
Where we were is a block of flats, ugly, functional, utilitarian and dull. We died because some idiot, anticipating the closing of the cinema, locked the doors. This I knew, this I could accept, if only…
           
…We were not summoned back from our graves every Halloween.
           
I just wish that the dead could be allowed to sleep in peace.
          
Author's Note: The first part of this story actually happened, but not on the Isle of Wight where I now live. Here there was a very old cinema and someone who used to entertain the waiting audience with a glove puppet around the side of the curtain…


BIO: Dorothy Davies is a writer, medium and editor. She writes her strange stories, usually with the help of spirit authors. Dorothy is a full member of the Fictioneers, and editor and contributor to many Static Movement anthologies. She loves to write. You can read more from Dorothy here:www.oneinspecyal.com and here www.circle-of-light.co.uk

Christmas Morning

"CHRISTMAS MORNING" - Rick McQuiston

Jeremy rolled over in bed and glanced at the clock on his nightstand. 5:55 stared back at him in red LED numbers. A tiny red dot was lit next to the a.m. designation.

Not even six o’clock yet, he thought sluggishly. Still too early to get up.

But the anticipation that he harbored for Christmas morning was severely tempered by the memory of what he had witnessed earlier that same night.

Or thought he had witnessed.

It was shortly after two-thirty a.m. when he woke up, as most children do, overwhelmed by the curiosity of what lay under the Christmas tree. With excitement that could only be fostered in a child on that most anticipated of nights, he gleefully crawled out of bed and tip-toed down the stairs to investigate whether or not jolly old Saint Nick had fulfilled his holiday duties.

The Christmas tree in red, green and blue illuminated the room. Jeremy’s father didn’t like leaving lights on at night, but made an exception on Christmas Eve. Making his way through the room Jeremy kept his eyes on his destination…the Christmas tree, or more accurately, the presents underneath it. He was fearful of breaking his parent’s rule about not looking at them before morning, but his curiosity got the better of him.

He paused briefly, taking in the beautiful sight of the room before locking his still groggy eyes on the Christmas tree which loomed directly in front of him in the far corner of the room. It stood there, silently guarding the brightly wrapped treasures beneath it, daring anyone to unwrap them before the morning. It was large, nearly eight feet tall, and was packed with such an assortment of ornaments and tinsel that nearly no green was visible on it at all.

Since Jeremy was an only child he knew that virtually all of the gifts were for him, a thought that increased his excitement ten-fold. It was one of the many perks of not having any brothers or sisters.

Jeremy’s heart raced in his chest as he approached the neatly stacked gifts under the tree. He immediately focused on two of the larger ones, wrapped in bright red and blue-stripped wrapping paper respectively, and slid closer to them for a better look as he reached for the larger one he noticed something out of the corner of his eye.

Something on the tree shifted.

Jeremy looked up from his gifts and watched for any more movement. After a few tense minutes he was satisfied he had imagined it and he continued examining his future prizes.

But a small part of his mind wouldn’t let go of the movement. It tried to rationalize it but failed to attach any plausible explanation.

A mouse in the tree? A loose branch? A faulty light strand?

Possibly, but unlikely.

Jeremy looked at the tree again. It was beautiful, fully lit with shimmering ornaments and dazzling tinsel, but there was something else as well. Something he couldn’t explain, but felt nonetheless.

The angel fastened to the top of the tree gazed solemnly across the room. Her flowing garb of gold and blue obscured most of her body, trailing down to mingle with the other decorations. She was the crowning glory of the tree, standing guard year after year from her lofty holiday perch.

Jeremy looked up at her, momentarily forgetting about the presents. He recognized the look in her tiny glass eyes. Even though they weren’t real they still conveyed the Christmas spirit. But they also seemed different somehow, more detached from Christmas and less concerned with holiday cheer.

Jeremy’s gaze fell upon the presents again. He huddled up close to them, periodically inspecting each and every one as he glanced back at the stairway.

And then he noticed it again.

There was movement in the tree. Only this time it was more pronounced, and in a different area, closer to the top.

Now he was getting nervous. He still wasn’t sure if he were imagining it or not, but the uneasy feeling that was settling over the room was unmistakable. He

scooted away from the presents and stood up, all the while never taking his eyes off the tree. Slowly turning around his only thought was getting back to the safety of his

bedroom. In the morning with the added security of his parents and daylight he could truly enjoy the holiday and tear into his presents.

He resisted the urge to look back as he scurried toward the stairs. He was afraid that he might see something he would regret seeing, possibly for the rest of his life. Within 30 seconds he was tucked safely under his covers trying desperately to fall back asleep.

Jeremy glanced at the clock on his nightstand.

6:17 a.m. Still too early to get up. Not that he really wanted to get out of bed. But the thought that eventually his parents would come into his room and make him wake up frightened him. They would no doubt be curious as to why their little boy wasn’t awake yet on Christmas morning. He would then be obligated to go downstairs with them and open his presents…the ones under the Christmas tree.

Jeremy looked over at the clock again, somehow hoping that time had moved backward.

6:24 a.m. Still too early…

“Good morning big guy,” Jeremy’s dad bellowed as he flipped on the light switch. “”Don’t you want to see what Santa brought this year?” He was gesturing towards the hallway. His mother was standing behind him, beaming from ear to ear, a red and green coffee mug in her hands. Jeremy smiled as best he could and slowly crawled out of bed. Part of him was excited, but another part was scared to death.

“Come on big guy,” his dad continued to urge, no doubt reliving his own childhood through his son. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Santa was generous this year.”

Jeremy pulled his slippers on and rubbed his eyes. Maybe he just imagined it all; it was the middle of the night, and he hadn’t actually seen anything. Excitement began to overtake his thoughts as he stood up and yawned. His parents then ushered him out of his bedroom.

And downstairs, standing in the far corner of the living room, was the Christmas tree. The red, green and blue lights on it, supplemented by a hint of daylight streaming through the windows, filled the room with holiday cheer.

The tree outside a nearby window laid on its side, mostly covered by freshly fallen snow, its pine needles lying on the frozen ground beneath it. It had been discarded carelessly, tossed aside like yesterday’s trash.

The Christmas tree shuddered with anxious excitement when it heard the approaching footsteps in the hallway upstairs. It adjusted the angel at its top slightly, one of its many hunting tactics, and waited.

Jeremy looked over at the clock again, somehow hoping that time had moved backward.

6:24 a.m. Still too early…

“Good morning big guy,” Jeremy’s dad bellowed as he flipped on the light switch. “”Don’t you want to see what Santa brought this year?” He was gesturing towards the hallway. His mother was standing behind him, beaming from ear to ear, a red and green coffee mug in her hands. Jeremy smiled as best he could and slowly crawled out of bed. Part of him was excited, but another part was scared to death.

“Come on big guy,” his dad continued to urge, no doubt reliving his own childhood through his son. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Santa was generous this year.”

Jeremy pulled his slippers on and rubbed his eyes. Maybe he just imagined it all; it was the middle of the night, and he hadn’t actually seen anything. Excitement began to overtake his thoughts as he stood up and yawned. His parents then ushered him out of his bedroom.

And downstairs, standing in the far corner of the living room, was the Christmas tree. The red, green and blue lights on it, supplemented by a hint of daylight streaming through the windows, filled the room with holiday cheer.

The tree outside a nearby window laid on its side, mostly covered by freshly fallen snow, its pine needles lying on the frozen ground beneath it. It had been discarded carelessly, tossed aside like yesterday’s trash.

The Christmas tree shuddered with anxious excitement when it heard the approaching footsteps in the hallway upstairs. It adjusted the angel at its top slightly, one of its many hunting tactics, and waited.



BIO: Rick is a forty-three year old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He's had over 250 publications so far. Rick has written two novels, five anthology books, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors - they are all available on Lulu and Amazon. Rick is also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School, read at various libraries, doing many book/ art shows, and is currently working on his third novel.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

There are states worse than death

"THERE ARE STATES WORSE THAN DEATH" - George Wilhite



There are states worse than death
Hear me before you smugly reject
My assertion

Walking through a neglected cemetery
My fate was woven
Shadows converged
Creating the solicitor
Of my immortality

No Faustian bargains
When the shadows come for you
Life ends swiftly
And the torture begins
You wander the earth
Yourself only a shade
An echo, a husk
Of “once was”


BIO: George Wilhite is the author of the short fiction collection On the Verge of Madness. His work has also appeared in numerous print publications and online at Yesteryear Fiction, MicroHorror, Eschatology Journal and The Fringe.