Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Torn Asunder, by Amy Grech

Sorry for my absence. My computer was down for a while. Here is a wicked little story by Amy Grech. I hope you enjoy.

Torn Asunder

500 word short by Amy Grech

Shelia Kiernan’s come to a head when Robert, her husband of seven years showers. His iPhone won’t stop beeping, so she while he’s no doubt rubbing one out, she grabs his phone from the nightstand and swipes through his text messages. Her jaw drops when she sees hundreds sexts from Mellanie Montgomery, his Physician’s Assistant. An extremely successful Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon with a Park Avenue office in Manhattan, his day ofen starts at 6:00 a.m. and often ends at 10:00 p.m.

She comes to bed dressed in her silky red teddy, brown curls caress her shoulders; her husband reclines in bed busy with his iPhone, tucked in, all warm and toasty. She slides reaches under the comforter.

“I’m not interested! Can’t you see I’m busy?!” Robert, a fiery redhead, grabs her arm and clamps down with a vice-like grip.

“You’re hurting me!” She drops the comforter and stands frozen at the foot of the bed, like a statue.

“You asked for it!”

Shelia rolls her eyes.

“While you’re up, make yourself useful and bring me a nightcap. Dewar’s, on the rocks.” Robert scowls.

She storms out of the room, grabbing her bottle of Ambien from the bathroom medicine cabinet on her way to the full bar in the living room. Shelia sighs, reaches for a frosted highball glass from the shelf, takes some ice from the mini-fridge, and plunks the cubes in. Clink! She takes four pills from the bottle, slams them down on the bar. Raising the glass, as if making a toast, an overdue farewell. The highball glass collides with the bar, pulverizing the pills into a powder blue haze. Shelia gently lifts the glass and sweeps the remnants in.

A Hooters matchbook, real classy, sits on the remarkably cold, black marble next to Robert’s precious Dewar’s. Shelia pours Scotch over ice, smiling for the first time in months. A quick stir with an orange swizzle stick, also from Hooters, helps this potent nightcap lose its murkiness. She takes the matchbook and makes a quick trip to the garage for some lighter fluid.

Drink in hand, Shelia saunter back into the bedroom.

“It’s about time. I’m dying of thirst!”

Robert chugs it like a frat boy, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and puts the empty highball glass next to his phone.

She hands him the drink. “Bottom’s up!”

“What’s the lighter fluid for?” His eyelids grow heavy; he collapses on the pillow.

Shelia smirks. “I know how much you love barbecue.”

She opens the lighter fluid and douses her husband with it before striking the match against the cover; it hisses to life. Shelia tosses it in Robert’s lap, which ignites with a whoosh! Bright yellow flames hungrily engulf him; a charbroiled Irish bastard gets his just desserts.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Never trust a man who gives into his lust!

About the author:

Amy Grech has sold over one hundred stories and three poems to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Digest, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, Fear on Demand, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Needle Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, The Horror Express, Space & Time, The Brutarian, Zombie CSU, and many others. Damnation Books published her second collection, Blanket of White.

She has a story forthcoming in The Uninvited Magazine, exclusively for the iPad. Amy is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association who lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website: Follow her on Twitter:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Field of Screams, by C. L. Raven

1700 word short by C L Raven

Nobody believes in ghosts anymore.

That’s a problem.

Especially when Jenkins, the ambitious head of the Shadow Council is demanding an increase in hauntings and a decrease in friendly visitations. He says we’re not running a relatives reunited organization. He’s been dead so long he’s forgotten the newly deceased like to check in on friends and family. The only family he can visit occupy the darkest corner of the cemetery. I think they put iron around their vault to keep him out.

“Half-hearted wailing and billowing curtains won’t cut it.” Even his voice was sleep-inducing. I wondered how many people had died at his board meetings. Bored meetings. “Time for blue sky thinking, people.” Blue sky thinking? We’re ghosts, not painters. It wouldn’t surprise me if during one of his meetings, someone rammed his pie charts up his PowerPoints and sent him to the big board meeting in the sky.

I sighed as he droned on about productivity and morale boosting exercises. My morale died long before I did. Its wake was a lively affair with fruitcake, shots and karaoke. There was even pole dancing. That was me.

“Connor!” I snapped back into the land of the no longer living. His voice grated more than rattling chains. “Do you have something more important to do? A life to be getting on with?”

Someone sniggered. Janice. She kissed his feet like they were the Blarney stone. She sat at the front taking notes. Jenkins hadn’t said a single thing worth remembering. She’d had a sense of humor bypass and died on the operating table.

Jenkins moaned on. “You wasted your life, you’re not wasting your afterlife too. I will not have ghosts turned into cuddly, lovable creatures, the way vampires have been! Is that what you want, Mr. Tovey? People pinching your lifeless cheeks, saying ‘ooh isn’t he cute, all dead and woeful’?”

“No.” Been a while since someone pinched my cheeks. Face or bum.

“Then pay attention.”

“Kill me,” I muttered to my best mate, Ceri. He grinned. “Whoever made him head of the Scare Department should be shot.”

“He was,” Ceri cackled. “Fifty years ago.”

“Boys!” We jumped. Well, I did. Ceri had seen war. Only fireworks scared him. And Poodles. We didn’t need to discuss scaring strategies, they should just send Jenkins into the field with a megaphone and no off button. He made clowns look like cuddly children’s entertainers. “You’re my best agents, but you’re getting slack and stale. Maybe you can develop new ways of scaring the bejesus of the living, because scarings are at a record low. There hasn’t been a crisis like this in the spirit world since Casper the friendly ghost was invented!”

He whipped out pie charts and my mind hibernated. I chose free falling from my office roof over monotonous boredom like this. Now I couldn’t escape. Hell did exist. It was a boardroom run by Jenkins. A PowerPoint presentation followed the pie charts. I slept through most of it until Ceri nudged me with a bicep bigger than my thigh. Ceri made a naked sock puppet from his hand, imitating Jenkins perfectly. I laughed. Sometimes I regret turning myself into the latest 3D pavement art, but if I hadn’t died, I’d never have met Ceri. Someone severed his parachute strings. The ground broke his fall. And his body. In several places, the worst being his neck. He’d had to go before the Decision Committee to prove he’d be an asset to the Scare Department or risk being sent into limbo. Or worse – back to life. Anyone who can bend his head at physically impossible angles has to be an asset to the team. Who could refuse a murdered Para? He was assigned to me. We’d never been apart since.

“What about standing behind people at mirrors?” I suggested. “Horror films love that.”

Jenkins gave me a look that would make Medusa jealous. “Horror films? That’s where you’re getting your ideas? Why not run a survey?”

“Nobody’s tweeted me back.”

His face contorted. I thought he was about to pop a vein. If he’d had veins to pop that is. He certainly turned an unhealthy shade of dead.

“Sweet Jesus of suburbia,” Ceri muttered. “He’s gonna glare himself to a heart attack.”

I shushed him. If I laughed, Jenkins would turn my giblets into windchimes. “We could recreate our deaths. Imagine how freaked out people would be to see me plummeting then vanishing before I hit the ground.” With my real jump, the only things I’d frightened were the pigeons and they soon got their revenge. “Modern day white ladies.”

“He’s onto something,” George, an elderly poison victim said. He was the Treasurer. “Seeing me writhe and die all over again would certainly scare the folks at my old luncheon clubs. Might even get some new recruits. The old dears love a good funeral. It’s like a school reunion.”

“I like it,” Jenkins cracked a smile. It was as rare as a party in a graveyard. That’s the image they should send into the field. “Now get lost and get scaring!”

We trooped out, slightly more enthusiastic than when we entered. Scaring people always cheered us up. Being dead was samey and boring. It wasn’t an escape from life, it was an extension with added invisibility. Ceri and I slipped through the wall and ran into the street.

“Boo!” he shouted at a small child, who screamed and bawled.

“Jenkins would be proud,” I high-fived him.

“Scaring kids is so easy it’s almost boring,” he sighed. “Shame Phillips isn’t here. He was blown up by a landmine. Recreating that would furnish our penthouse.”

“I’ll take you to the building where I jumped.”

We moved through the streets, occasionally taking taxis to frighten the passengers. We took it in turns to run in front of buses or trains and scare the waiting passengers. One bus driver actually crashed. We felt bad about that. He was four days from retirement. The scream monitors on our wrists were working overdrive today. A good day at the office. We had targets to fill just like everyone else. The more screams we collected, the bigger our bonuses were. Ceri and I had put last months’ bonuses together and bought a penthouse suite in Terror Towers, a colorful apartment block overlooking the River of Screams.

The taxi took us to the office building where I used to work. We slipped out without paying – an advantage to being dead – and passed through the revolving doors. I sneaked over to the security guard and spilled his coffee over him. He leapt up, shrieking and we hurried past. We made it to the top of the building without being seen. It was windy on the roof. I walked to the edge in the ghost of my own footsteps. We stood on the ledge, staring down at the spot where I’d splattered, taking my monthly projections with me. My boss was devastated. He needed those projections for the important meeting that morning. My suicide really soured the deal and his day. He’d snubbed my funeral.

“Ready?” Ceri asked.

People passed below us. We waited ‘til it got more crowded then jumped. The wind soared through our lifeless forms. People started screaming when they spied us hurtling towards them, pulling frightening faces. They fled like chocoholics to a chocolate cake convention. The screams intensified when we hit the pavement and vanished. From the sewers beneath, we listened to their terrified shrieks and sobs as they tried figuring out what had happened. We simultaneously checked our scream monitors, grinning. The bonuses were ours this month again. We’d notched up top level on the screamometer. The needle was having convulsions.

“We need an ambulance!” someone shouted.

“Might’ve recruited someone else,” I whispered. “That should earn us extra rewards.”

“Maybe we’ll get a company hearse,” Ceri answered.

The screaming eventually died and the sirens grew louder. We waited until the ambulance was above us then climbed back up. We slipped through the pavement, making the people who’d stuck around scream all over again. Yep. Jenkins would be proud. We danced through the crowd, reveling in their fear, our scream monitors recording our success.

The next day, Jenkins was smiling when we slunk into the Shadow Council’s review meeting. For once he didn’t reprimand us for being late. He held up a newspaper.


“I wasn’t a suicide, I was murdered,” Ceri whispered.

“Newspapers always lie. We’ve made front page.” My real suicide got a brief five line mention on page twenty three with adverts for seedy chatlines. And they got my name wrong.

“It’s brilliant!” Jenkins enthused. “Twenty people terrified, one lady dropping dead from a heart attack. There’re rumors of ghosts running amok frightening people. The city’s in a grip of fear! I have you two to thank for that. Come out the front so everyone can see you.”

Ceri and I exchanged bemused looks but joined Jenkins out the front. Janice looked like she was chewing foil. I poked my tongue out at her. We were heroes. Jenkins grabbed our hands, raising them like the ref does to a championship boxer. I was discreetly trying to get the others to start a chant. It wasn’t catching on.

Jenkins’ secretary handed him a piece of paper. He grinned then woke the white screen.

“This was just posted on YouTube,” he clicked on a link. A video of Ceri and my jump streamed. People’s screams echoed around the boardroom. “You hear this, people? These are screams of terror! These are screams of believers! These are screams of success! Right now, forums are arguing about the authenticity of this footage. Experts are dissecting it. Never has footage been so talked about since that famous photo of the ghost on the stairs. The Scare Which Project is a resounding success!”

Everyone burst into applause. Never mind company cars, maybe Ceri and I would get yachts. Or jets. I’d wanted to pilot a jet since watching Top Gun.

“I say move over hoodies, terrorists and growing old, ghosts are the new fear in town!” Jenkins punched the air. “Long live the dead!”

We're identical twins from Cardiff, Wales. We've had one poem and 7 short stories published. One won Writing Magazine's ghost story competition and another is due to be published by Dark Moon Digest in the next couple of months. We also write novels but haven't had any published yet though dream of one being turned into a Tim Burton claymation. We even have the action figures planned. In our spare time we enjoy exploring castles, ghost hunting, caring for our animal army, drinking more Red Bull than the recommended Government guidelines and fixing our classic cars.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween in Jerkwater - 1932, By Carol Gill

There were two of them. None of the other kids knew who they were, but then again, they couldn’t tell who anyone really was.

The costumes weren’t much for any of the kids. There was a depression going on and people just couldn’t spend on things like that. So, the children wore whatever was at hand, like potato sacks with the eyes cut out.

There were a lot of ghosts in other words.

Suddenly two more little ghosts just seemed to appear from nowhere.

There were a heck of a lot of kids out then and some of the children were curious about the two they didn’t seem to recognize.

Joanie Myles kept stopping the two little ghosts.

“Say, who are you? Do you go to school here? I just don’t know who you are.”

Joanie was only 10.

One of the ghosts said for her to can it and mind her own business.

Joanie didn’t think much of it. In fact, she only waved him off and said if he was going to be silly and not say who he was then she didn’t care.

She never heard the other ghost suggest plugging the kid to keep her quiet.

Eventually, she disappeared into the crowd of children and left the two unidentified ghosts on their own.

They were glad she was gone. That was the last god damned thing they needed — a nosey kid.

Whereas the other children were targeting every house there was, these two ghosts were real particular. It seemed as if they were looking for something special.

The truth was they were.

“Over there, see?”

One of them pointed toward a fine old Victorian house with turrets and a big wraparound porch.

“Let’s go and take a look.”

They hurried over to look inside. The lights were on all over the place and they could see two old ladies. One of them was reading and the other was running back and forth from the kitchen saying how the cookies were almost ready.

The other asked if the money was ready too.

“Money.” The little ghosts nodded toward one another.

A whole pack of children began to descend on the house then, just as the two little ghosties fled from sight.

Sure enough, the children were calling on these two ladies for their Halloween treats.

Though there were mainly ghosts, there were some witches and goblins too, with a few other things which kind of were stupid looking but the old ladies made a fuss over them anyway.

“Why don’t you look adorable!”

“Trick or treat!”

The second old lady appeared and clapped her hands childishly. “I just love when you say that, children! Don’t you love that, Alice?”

“Yes I do,” her sister replied. “We shall indeed give you lovely children some cookies and pennies too, but tell us - though I dread asking,” she laughed. “What would your trick be if we hadn’t a treat?”

The children began to confer then, whispering and shrugging. It was obvious they wouldn’t have done anything, although one boy called out, “We’d throw flour all over your house!”

“Oh goodness, would you really? Why that’s awful. Isn’t that awful sister?”

Sister agreed; it was awful.

Meanwhile, the two strange ghosts that were still hiding began cursing under their breath – their voices a bit deep.

“Well here you are children. Some cookies I baked.”

The children thanked her. “Wow, we never get anything like that!”

The other sister opened her purse. “Here are some pennies too, children.”

They left eventually and the door was closed.

After the group of children walked by, the two ghosts came out of hiding.



They rang the bell but they didn’t say, ‘ trick or treat.’ Instead, when the door opened, they just stood there looking around at all the rich furnishings.

The kindly woman smiled at them and asked teasingly, “Aren’t you going to say anything? Cat got your tongue?”

The two little ghosts just sighed; they had already spotted the purse.

Since neither of them said anything and it was cold, the sisters ushered them inside. It was when they were inside that they said: “Trick or treat!”

They were each given cookies and one of the sisters asked, “What would your trick have been children?”

One of the ghosts produced a razor and cut her throat, turning quickly to finish the sister off. He did so expertly, avoiding most of the blood.

“Grab whatever you see. I’ll get the dough; we’ll clean up before we leave.”

Al and Hank had been employed as midgets in circus sideshows for years. Halloween was always a special time for them. It made up for all the shit they took, and all the pointing and cruelty.

Each had grown up in various mental institutions. Al had a police record but he wasn’t wanted again - not yet.

Their car was where they left it.

“Let’s drive the fuck outta this jerkwater town.”

“Yeah,” Al said. “And maybe we can get laid too; have us a real special Halloween.”


In 2000 Carole was selected by North West Playwrights of England for further development. It was an invaluable experience but Carole found she prefers to write fiction.

She loves to scare herself and others and is widely published in horror and sci-fi anthologies, although horror is her true love.

Her gothic horror novel, The House on Blackstone Moor published in 2010 by Vamplit is her first novel.

The sequel, Unholy Testament will be published by Vamplit later this year.

She can be found at her website or Facebook.