Category Archives: Flashes of dark fiction

Paradise

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

 

The sun sparkling on the sea behind him in a dancing promise of hope fed into the lie that is the beach paradise. The breeze barely breathed on the softly swaying palm fronds. It was perfect. Each second we faced off it felt increasingly too perfect. Off.

This man, who refused to give his name, stood resolute in his defection from the normal. His eyes were narrowed in determination, or perhaps against the sun. His face held no real emotion. Not anger or determination. He just was.

“It’s all a lie,” he said. “Your world. The sea, trees, even this.”

He knelt and scooped up a fistful of sand. He stood again and held the fist out towards me as though I should take it. I could only stare at that closed fist. He waved it towards people in the distance, roaming slowly up the beach.

“They are a lie. Toxic.”

“They’re just people,” I said.

He shook his head slowly at my foolishness. He seemed saddened by my failure to see. This man, this stranger in a weakened paradise, thrust his fist toward me again.

“You would take strength from this… this false promise of a better tomorrow. It never gets better. It’s just another today. This earth,” he started letting the sand fall in a slow stream from his hand, “is weak. It’s is poisoned, pale.”

“It’s pale because it’s sand.”

He stared at me, pale sand trickling in a soft sieving from his fist.

My focus on his face and that falling sand, I did not see the twitch of his shoulder muscle preceding his body moving until it was too late. He had me by the shirt, fabric twisted in his fist as he yanked me off balance towards him, holding me up with seemingly impossible strength.

“I will show you then.”

My mouth gaped open in silent shocked protest; he rammed his fist at it. I was certain he meant to punch me in the teeth, but instead he was shoving sand into my mouth. I choked and gagged on the surprise of it, on its crunchy grittiness and the though in my head of its uncleanliness.

The sudden lurching of my heaving stomach felt like a gut punch. My eyes watered and my limbs felt weakened.

He released me then, letting me fall limply to the ground where I mewled and pawed weakly at the sand. The same sand that was inside my mouth, my throat. I coughed and it was sucked into my lungs, choking me with its grainy dust.

The burning foulness set in then, my tongue and mouth on fire, the sand eating through taste buds like dull acid.

Pawing at my mouth only made it worse. Mewling and simpering weakly in the sand, the granules clung to my hands and I only managed to shove more inside my mouth. My throat screamed with it and I moaned, gasped, inhaling it deeper into my tortured lungs. I couldn’t cry out. Could only gasp weaker as the strength and all of my feeble fight left me.

I lay in the sand softly moaning, stomach dissolving and lungs struggling. My nose was pressed against the sand, breathing in its subtle saltiness.

“If you are still here tomorrow you will be dead,” he said simply. “This place will poison you.”

He walked away and did not look back.

I would have swore I was already dead.

The Woods Chapter 1: The Dare (1985) by L.V. Gaudet

The Woods – Coming Soon!

The Woods

Chapter 1: The Dare

1985

 

It is an ordinary forest, as far as spooky looking woods go, filled mostly with craggy twisted oak trees, their gnarled branches reaching like skeletal fingers and deeply wrinkled cracked-bark covered trunks. The trees cluster together, their branches twisted and tangled together, daring any to enter their midst.

The land here lies low and wet in the spring, leaving the stand of trees a small island of stick-like saplings and sparse tall yellow grass invaded by wild roses with their sharp thorns standing in a shallow bath of melt water throughout the springtime months.

They are far from a silent woods. A small stretch of thick growth surrounded by fields of crops interspersed with some areas abandoned to grass, weeds, and stray crop seeds. Against one side of this stretch of trees, amidst the farm fields, is also nestled a small happy community. The woods team with life, red and grey squirrels, rabbits, mice and voles, and a range of birds. With the damp ground, the woods are a haven for frogs and toads, and of course, the ever present blood-sucking mosquitoes.

It is a typical small town community lying nestled against the miniature forest. It grew from centuries old land of grasslands mixed with forests. The old forests and grasslands were slowly chopped down, turned over, and settled as the world slowly populated with mankind; the landscape of humanity changing from hunter-gatherers to farms, towns, and villages.

Eventually towns and communities grew together to become cities, family homesteads populated into small farming communities, and untouched land became rare pockets of unsullied old growth forests scattered about in tiny fragments bordering farm fields and stretches of small community homes.

Some of these tiny pockets of untouched woods still hold secrets. Some of these secrets are perhaps best left that way.

 

The woods sit silent and brooding, an ugly tangle of dead looking leafless skeletal branches that look like they belong in a darker and more sinister world, the world of the dead. The clouds hang heavy, dark, and grey on this day; a suffocating thick blanket hanging low in the sky to cast a pall over this small piece of the world.

The snow lies heavy and wet, crystalline flakes shrinking and melding into a dirty slush as the temperatures slowly warm. In time, the snow will vanish and be replaced once again by the murky stagnant melt waters that will take a few months to dry up.

Most of the rodents, birds, and other small woodland creatures are conspicuously absent on this day, having chosen to hunker down and wait out this gloomy day. Nevertheless, a few squirrels and birds still flit about the skeletal trees, a small rabbit nervously twitching its nose as it sits motionlessly waiting.

Two children playing in their back yard off the woods dare each other to go exploring into the spooky trees.

“I bet you can’t go to the fallen tree,” said the older and taller of the two boys.

The younger boy blanched, his stomach turning sickly, but stared stone faced at the fallen rotting tree laying nestled within the narrow strip of woods beyond their yard. You can see the tree only because there are no leaves on any of the branches.

“I am not going to let you know how scared I am,” he thinks. He can already smell the mossy rot of the long dead tree, although he has never been near enough to it to catch its odor. It smells in his vivid young imagination like death and decay and something even darker. He watches a small red squirrel flit around the trees, untouched by the dark brooding sullenness and the spooks, ghosts, and monsters his mind screams must surely lurk hidden inside these scary woods. He swallowed.

“Can too,” he said, his voice cracking with fear. “I bet you can’t go stand on that ole’ stump,” he countered.

The old stump is a rotting remnant of an even older fallen tree that has long ago vanished into the mud and scraggly growth of the woods. The stump remains, standing defiant and threatening beyond the fallen tree now laying discarded and tangled in the woods, sharp splinters and points of shattered wood sticking up as though waiting to impale any foolish boy who tries to climb it and falls. Its wood is soft and crumbly now with rot, the sharp jagged edges unlikely to be capable of impaling anything for years.

Kevin humphed at his younger brother. He is just as scared, but certainly is not going to let his little brother know that. He nervously hiked up his pants, which did not need it, and stepped forward on a mission. He marched purposely into the woods, careful to keep his back to the younger boy so he will not see the paleness of his waxy fear-filled face.

With a scuff and a shrug, Jesse reluctantly followed his older brother.

A little red squirrel scampered up to the high branches as they passed, pausing to chitter down angrily at the boys.

They reach the first point, the fallen tree Kevin had dared his younger brother to venture to. It is no victory for either boy.

On a forced march of pride, determined not to reveal his fear of some silly trees, Kevin continues on. He crawls over the fallen tree, its rotting length sagging with a soggy cracking beneath his weight. His forward march slows more the closer he comes to the wicked looking ancient broken stump.

He stops; staring at the stump like it is some otherworldly thing. He dares not touch it, yet also dares not, lest Jesse think him weak or afraid.

Unable to let his older brother face the woods alone, Jesse follows. As he draws near the old stump where his brother has stopped to stare motionlessly at it, he notices something unusual looking at the base of the stump.

“What’s that?” Jesse asked nervously.

Kevin pries his eyes from the stump to look lower.  He kneels down, reaching for what lies there.

“Don’t touch it.”

“It’s nothing.”  Kevin picks it up, turning it over in his hand.

Jesse turns at the sound of a cracking branch.

The boys are never seen again.

 


McAllister Series:

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre?
Disturbing psychological thriller
Learn the secret behind the bodies.
Take a step back in time to meet the boy who will create the killer.
Everyone is looking for Michael Underwood.
Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Other Books:

The Garden Grove project is a hotbed for trouble. Who wants to stop the development?
They should have let her sleep. 1952: the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era. Two men decided to rebuild The Gypsy Queen.
12 years ago four kids found something in the woods up the old Mill Road. Now someone found it again.
Coming Soon!

Snow (short fiction) by L. V. Gaudet

Photo by Nathan Wolfe on Unsplash

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, actually it wasn’t.  That is just so cliché.

It was neither dark, nor stormy.  In fact, it was quite bright and tranquil with the snow lazily falling and blanketing the world in a soft downy blanket.

However, there was a dark storm brewing somewhere, deep within the breast of one fateful soul who will have a rather fate-less effect on those around.  Not so much in a way of lacking chance and destiny, but rather in a way of that destiny being one that is lacking in fortune and future.  It would be a fate resulting in no fate, no future, and ending in a finality of fatality.

To everyone else it was a day as any other day.  It was the weekend, Saturday to be precise; and only days before Christmas.  The muffled scrape of shovels clearing driveways and sidewalks didn’t so much echo in the air as it seemed to be carried on the wings of the very snowflakes themselves as they drifted down, billions of flakes carrying the sound on the faint draught of air that could not even be called a breeze.

The distant soprano rumble of sleds bounding across the fields could be felt more than it could be heard.  The sudden grinding of a snow blower starting rattled off the snowflakes like a lumbering abominable chain saw.  The shlish and scream of children tobogganing down a hill somewhere cut through the downy muffled hush brought on the world by the gentle snowflakes.  Somewhere a dog barked.

A scream bounced from snowflake to snowflake.  It didn’t sound right.  It wasn’t the fun filled happy shriek of a tobogganing child.  It was shrill and desperate, torn violently from the throat, frantic and terrible.

The scream didn’t register though, so lost was everyone in their own activities, in their own private little bubbles of their own little worlds within this winter wonderland, separate from all the other little bubbles, bouncing about each other without really touching.

At least, it didn’t register on the consciousness of any people living within their own little private bubble lives.

The dogs heard it.  All around the little town dogs barked and howled.

It could be some time before one of these little private bubble worlds bounced and touched the little bubble world the scream was torn from, before someone learns the terrible truth behind the scream that everyone heard, yet no one noticed.

Perhaps the next snow fall.

#

            The air tasted crisp, so intense was the cold, biting at fingers and toes within their protected confines, making noses sting and lungs burn with each inhalation of chill air.  It was too cold even for Jack Frost to be out performing his public service of decorating window panes with his intricate artwork.

The cool light of the moon seemed colder, more distant, shining with an ethereal pale light wrapped in ghostly light circles as its light refracted off the invisible frozen air crystals hanging suspended in the atmosphere enveloping the earth.  The stars, their light much dimmer, tried feebly to point their little beacon lights to the ground below, like a distant warning.

The clouds rolled in, shrouding the ground below, hiding it from the moon’s view, shutting off its pale light.  The snow started to fall.  Barely at first, scattered tiny flakes drifted down, growing bigger and thicker, multiplying in number, and turning into a dreamy soft down gently touching every surface.

This time there was no scream bouncing off the gently falling snow, just a wet sort of gurgle, low and quiet, and the pristine white virgin snow slowly turning bright red.  This time even the dogs didn’t notice and the people mostly slept, safe in their own little lives and oblivious to the other little lives all around.

#

            A dog snuffled about in the snow, having  escaped the rope tethering it in its yard.  The dog walked as if on a mission, purposeful, intent, tail and body tense, sniffing and snuffling at the snow as it went.  Deep tracks followed the dog through the thick blanket of snow.  The dog stopped, snuffling deeper, nose digging down, snorting.  The dog startled with a yip, turned tail and ran away, its trail following like a shadow.  The snow in the hole dug by the dog’s questing nose was stained crimson.  Like a soft sigh, snow began to fall.

People moved about, safely cocooned in their private little bubble lives, each doing their own thing and oblivious to the lives around.

Without a sound one of these little bubbles popped.  The woman walked with some difficulty through the snow along the edge of the trees where the snow was less deep.  She looked about her keenly, every now and then cupping her hands to each side of her mouth and calling.  She was looking for the family dog that had escaped off the rope tethering the animal safely in the yard.  At last she came across a track leading away from the trees and through the field.  Just beyond it lay another track, less defined as though made by less careful movements.  This trail led into the trees.  She thought for a moment and decided to follow it into the woods.

She didn’t get far before she found the dog.  What was left of the dog.  Her heart thudded hard and fast in her chest, her breath caught as her chest constricted, eyes widening in horror.

Something slammed into the woman, knocking her sideways a few feet and down into the white downy snow.  A crimson stain slowly began to spread across the pristine whiteness.

 

Knock on Ginger (short fiction)

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

The doorbell chimes, its ring bouncing merrily off the walls.

The old woman pushes herself from her chair with difficulty, dragging her walker to her to use for support.  In the slow shuffle-walk of the infirm, she carefully places the walker ahead then shuffles three little steps.  Thump shuffle shuffle shuffle, pause.  Thump shuffle shuffle shuffle, pause.

When the old woman at last pulls the door open with shaky arthritis knobbed fingers and looks outside, no one is there.  She looks up and down the street in confusion, rheumy eyes squinting to see.

From behind a bush around the corner of the old woman’s little house comes the sound of giggles and snickers of children.

Her eyes blaze with anger and her face turns red.  Feebly, the old woman raises one gnarled hand, trying unsuccessfully to make it into a fist to shake.  She shakes it anyway, the loose skin of her arm flapping below the bicep.

“You kids leave me alone,” the old woman yells in her croaky old crone’s voice, spittle flying with the anger of her words.  “Leave off my bell!”

She shambles backwards with some difficulty and slams the door closed, muttering and shaking her head angrily as she does so.

Great guffaws of laughter burst from the bush and kids roll out from behind it, holding their stomachs as they roll, so hard are they laughing.  One, two, three, four kids; three boys and one girl.

One boy gets to his feet, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

“That was great,” he exclaims.

“Did you see her face Billy?” another boy grins eagerly as he joins the first boy.  Billy just nods enthusiastically.

The girl, Samantha, Sam for short, joins the boys with a sheepish grin on her face.  She doesn’t feel right about doing this to the old woman, but that old woman always yells at the kids when they play in front of her house.  Besides, it was fun!

The third boy, Justin, finally stops rolling on the ground and joins the other kids.

“Billy, Evan, Sam… that was great!” he exclaims.  “Did you see?  I swear she was gonna have a stroke, the old lady looked so mad!”  He looks at the other kids, eyes blazing with excitement.

They all stand around grinning at each other.

“So, who’re we going to knock-on-ginger next?”  Justin asks.

Just then, Sam’s mom comes walking down the sidewalk towards them.  The kids all freeze, staring at each other nervously.  Did she hear?  Did she see what game they were playing?  They are all in trouble now, they think.

“Hi, kids,” Sam’s mom says as she pauses on her way past.  She looks at them, then at the old lady’s house, then back to the kids with a strange knowing smile hovering on her lips.

“Kind of weird, isn’t it,” she says, looking at each child in turn.

The four kids just blink at her, fidgeting with nervousness.

“Yes,” Sam’s mom says, answering their unasked question, “old Mrs. Wierdar has been part of this neighborhood forever.”

She looks at the house with a strange look, almost as though a vague sense of unease fills her.  “The house seems so… empty… since they took her away.”

“Um, took her away,” the kids ask in unison, staring at Sam’s mom with very strange looks on their faces.

“Yes,” Sam’s mom says, “didn’t you know?  She was taken away yesterday.  Her home care worker found her…”  She swallows, a little uncertain now if she should be telling the kids this story.

“They think she might have been dead for two days before her worker found her … possibly a stroke.”  She reddens, embarrassed by the looks on the kids’ faces.  “Um, I have to go now,” and she hurries off down the street.

The four kids stare at each other, their faces white and eyes filled with fear.

Those Eyes (Part 2) by LV Gaudet

Those eyes…

Creepy urban legend of the black eyed kids by The Ghost Diaries

http://theghostdiaries.com/the-creepy-urban-legend-of-the-black-eyed-kids/

 

Those Eyes – Part 2

 

The shed door creaks open, the blazing sunlight outside burning my eyes and blinding them as they flutter open.  My head feels like it had been stepped on.  A lot.

“What the hell are you doing in the shed?” a man’s voice growls at me.

My whole body is stiff and I wonder why I am huddled on the dirty floor of a wooden shed.

Trying to move with the least amount of pain in my joints, I flex gingerly, sitting up and rubbing the blurriness out of my eyes.

It takes them time to adjust and focus on the angry face of Mr. Alfred Gordon, my neighbor from up the street.

“I asked you a question.  What the hell are you doing in the shed?”

I half expected the belligerent “buddy” to be added to that.  But that would have been suggestive of an angry stranger, not neighbors who have shared a neighborly sometimes casual indifference, sometimes aloof friendly relationship for years.

“Sorry,” I manage, wondering why my voice sounds so strange to my own ears.

Filled with embarrassed shame and still with no memory of how or why I ended up in the neighbor’s shed, I manage to stagger stiffly to my feet.  Hanging my head in shame, I apologetically walk past him, wishing I were anywhere else in the world at this very moment.  Ducking my head in further shame as I squeeze by, I avoid looking at him.

I don’t want to see the curiosity.  The weird questioning look.  The irritation at the irrational crazy neighbor he found hiding in his shed.

A vague recollection comes to me of having locked the shed door from the inside.

How did he open it?  I must have dreamt that.  Or only thought I locked it.  It doesn’t seem like the kind of shed that would lock from the inside.

I can feel his eyes on me as I do the walk of shame out of his yard.

He calls after me in a less angry tone.

“Why are you barefoot and in your pajamas?”

I shrug.

“I must have been sleepwalking I guess.”

I feel like this must satisfy him at least a little.  Maybe even salvage our neighborly relationship.

Turning up the street, I walk up the sidewalk.  Ahead is the wonderfully bland world of normalcy.  A tidy residential street with well-trimmed yards, mature shade trees, and nice middle class homes with nice middle class cars parked in their driveways and on the street.

The house ahead has one of these nice mature shade trees spreading its branches to shade the ground beneath it.  With the bright morning sun, its shade stretches across the sidewalk.

I slow, stepping out into the street, keeping my feet to the sun-warmed concrete beyond the reach of the tree’s shadow.  I walk around it on the street.

The rude honking of a car horn startles me, intruding and insistent.  I turn and look, the driver looking at me oddly as he has to swerve to go around me.

I know what he is thinking.  Why aren’t you walking on the sidewalk?

I don’t know.  I just could not bring myself to step into the shadow of that tree.

Or he may be wondering why I am walking down the middle of the street in my pajamas and bare feet.

I don’t know that either.

I am past the shadow of the tree and meander back to the sidewalk, leaving the road to the occasional car.

I can feel their eyes on me.  The drivers as they pass, neighbors in their houses and yards looking at me, adults, kids.  I am sure even the Harrel’s dog, who seems to always be outside rain, shine, or snow, is looking at me like I am some strange creature.

It is a strange feeling.

I walk on, stiffly, pretending to ignore the eyes watching me until I reach my house.

Entering the house, I can’t help but note its sullen silence after the bright sun, gentle breeze, full of life morning outdoors.  The lights are all off; the sun through the windows more than adequate to light the house.

For some reason I cannot fathom the soft shadows behind and under furniture have a subtle threatening quality to them they have never had before.

Entering the kitchen, I flip the light switch and nothing happens.  Frowning at the switch I flip it a few more times, although this never helps in a case like this.  Again to no effect.

“Circuit must have popped.”

I try another light.  Poke at the switch for the coffee maker.  And settle on looking at the dark and silent microwave, who’s green glowing time is not lit.  Pressing buttons there does nothing either.

“Circuit must have popped.”  I say it again as though I only just realized it and did not just say those same words.

Going to the basement door and opening it, I look down at the darkness below me with a feeling of dread that is alien to me.

“What is wrong with me?  I have never in my life been afraid of the dark.”

I have to force my hand to reach for the light switch on the wall just inside the stairwell, flipping the switch.

Relief floods through me sickening and heavy in the stomach with the snapping on of electricity and the sudden glaring of the light below filling the darkness and pushing it to nonexistence.

I start down the stairs and the vague sense of dread hangs around me like a moth fluttering vulgarly against a flame, drawn inexplicably to that which will kill it in a most violent death.

Reaching the bottom, I move across the basement, avoiding even the faintest of shadows, to find the fuse panel.

Opening the panel, I study it carefully, working to read the faded printing next to each of the fuse switches.  The one for the kitchen is slightly out of sequence.  The fuse is blown.

Flipping the switch off and on, it stays put.

Heading back to the stairs, I freeze in the middle of the basement at the very moment the world goes black.

Blinking in the blackness; there is not even the light of the sun filtering in the basement windows; I swallow hard.

Somewhere from far away is a sound I can hear only in my head.  Softly.  Gentle.

“Please, let us in.”  The words are so quiet I am not sure I hear them.  I have a sense that they come from another time, another place, outside the door.

“There is no door.  I’m in the middle of the basement.”

I feel eyes on me.  Darkness.

I think I can almost see them, those eyes.  But they are wrong.  They are only liquid darkness which cannot shine with the light as eyes do.

“There is no one here.  I am alone, in the dark.”  I whisper it quietly, as if afraid the shadows themselves might hear.

26 The Woods – Henry and June (1985) by LV Gaudet

1

“June,” why did you throw out the cake? Henry asks.

“The boys will want a fresh cake when they come home,” June says, still fussing with arranging the kitchen exactly the way it was before her boys went missing.

With the weight of worrying over June on his shoulders too now, Henry leaves the kitchen.

He goes to the living room and sits down heavily in the chair.  He looks at the silent T.V. and thinks about turning it on.  It seems pointless.  He rubs a hand over his haggard face, letting his head drop in a posture of defeat.

“It’s like she thinks they will walk in the door at any moment.  I wish they would too, but I see the looks the police officers give me when they don’t think I see.  They don’t think our boys are coming back.  They don’t think they are just lost. Thank God June hasn’t seen those looks.”

The ring of the door bell tolls hollowly through the house.

Henry looks up.  He’s not expecting anyone.  The sound of the bell fills him with a sick dread.

He glances at the kitchen.  He can hear June still puttering around in there.

Getting up heavily, he goes to the door and opens it.

One of his neighbours is standing there uneasily, shifting his weight and not quite looking at him.

“Hello Fred.”

“Hello.”  Fred doesn’t look any more at ease at having been greeted.  He looks just to the side of Henry.  He can’t look at him.

“Fred?”

“Yup.”

Fred swallows and shifts.

“I-I just came to ring your bell.”

Henry nods.  This moment is not getting any less awkward.

“You did that.”

A moment of awkward silence hangs between them.

“Fred.”

Fred shifts.

“Fred.  Why can’t you look at me?”

Fred tries to look at him, to meet his eyes.  He quickly looks away, looking just to the side of Henry.

“Fred.”  Henry tries to catch his eye.  “Why can’t you look at me?  Why are you ringing my bell?”

“One of the boys,” Fred starts.  He hesitates, trying to meet Henry’s look and fails again.  He tries again.  “They found something.  In the woods.

Henry’s face loses a little life, turning pale and sagging just a little.

He looks back towards the kitchen where June is puttering around.  He looks back at Fred, catching his unwitting eye.  Fred looks away quickly, but not quickly enough for Henry to see the pained look of pity.

The look takes a little piece away from Henry.

Henry nods.

“I have to let June know I’m going out.”

Fred nods.

Henry turns and walks to the kitchen, feeling Fred’s eyes on his back.

He pauses in the doorway watching June for a moment before he speaks.

Trying to control his voice, he hears the gravity of his own words like a hidden message he hopes June does not pick up on.

“Junie, Fred came by.  The boys want me to come down to the rec center to discuss plans for tomorrow’s search for the boys.”

“I’ll be here,” June says without looking at him.

There is a gulf between them of words that cannot be communicated in a time like this.  Words that show false hope and which might dash that hope.  Words of no hope.

Henry turns and leaves, leaving the house with Fred.

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

Garden Grove: 7 Rusty Plowshare’s Scheme – Rusty by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

“So, the skull wasn’t good enough, huh?  Oh, I’ve got something better than that, much better,” Rusty Plowshare muttered bitterly.

The old man nodded to himself.  His chin, white with unshaven whisker stubble, caught and held a piece of loose straw in the stubble when he came away from the stacked bales of hay he was digging between.  The straw bales were sagging with rot and greyed with age, their fibres breaking down over the years they had sat idle.

He turned away, rummaging through one pile and then moving on to another.  Rusty moved with arthritic slowness, the skin on his thin arms sagging from age and loss of the underlying muscle mass of youth.  His face, leathery from decades of working in the sun and wrinkled with age, gave him a crazy old man in the mountains look instead of wizened with age.

He was in the old barn, its interior packed with an amazing amount of clutter of every description.  It is unbelievable the old man can even move around in there, much less search the place.  The old packrat collected anything.

There are cats everywhere too, cats of every age and description, some looking very unhealthy, all feral strays that had made this barn their home.

“Now, where’d I put it?” he muttered to himself.

It wasn’t in the narrow space of a double wall between two stalls.  He moved on to search somewhere else.

“Maybe behind the loose board in the wall?”  He pried the board off and looked.

“Ah, I know, under the floorboard!”  He moved and stooped over a floorboard, pulling it up to look beneath.  Most of the barn floor is an open dirt floor.  However, one end of the barn, for reasons known only to the old man and his predecessors, has a rough floor of old two by fours that are now soggy with rot.  One part of this section, in the dark shadowed recesses of the corner, hides a small makeshift cellar dug into the ground beneath the floor, the rest of it covering part of the dirt floor that makes up most of the barn floor.  This particular floorboard covered a gouged out section of dirt just deep enough to hold its small treasures wrapped in rotting cheesecloth.

But what he is looking for is not there.

“Damn!”

“I know it’s here somewhere,” Rusty grumbled.

Noticing the carelessly dumped loose soil marking the spot where the skull had been dug up from, the old man reminded himself, “Got to stamp that down some, won’t do to have anyone finding it.”

The old skull had been buried in the barn for a very long time.  Of course, the rest of the body was there too, along with the tool used to kill the man.

It’s very possible the man buried so many years ago in the dirt of the barn was old Rusty Plowshare’s great great grandfather.

He did not really know for sure.  There was more than one body buried beneath the old barn through the generations of his family that lived here.

His great great grandmother’s husband, the man whose family name he carried, did not really know for sure either when he bludgeoned the young man to death in a jealous rage in that year after the then young couple was married.

If the rumours spread that day so long ago by a group of busybody old women making trouble where they had no business putting their noses were true, rumours of the wife’s alleged infidelity and possibly questionable pregnancy, then those were the remains of his murdered great great grandfather.

Or, the young man may have been an innocent victim of a husband’s jealousy and a bunch of busybodies making trouble where there wasn’t any.

Only his great great grandmother knew the truth.

She was buried beneath the woodshed some years later, after failing to provide her husband with an offspring that was undeniably his in his mind.  She had given birth to more children after that first boy, but her husband could not let go of his suspicions.

There are many dark secrets in his family’s history, and Rusty Plowshare knows where each one of them was buried.

It also could have been someone else.  Rusty had heard stories passed down about his great great grandfather’s violent temper.

“Ahh, there you are!” he cooed.  “Beautiful.”  He pulled out a round wrapped bundle and held it up as if presenting it to the watching eyes of the dozens of felines witnessing his moment of triumph.

“I know just what to do with you.  If you don’t stop them from digging out those woods, nothing will,” he said.

“I know just what to do with you,” he repeated happily.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

25 The Woods – (Cody) Strange Events (2015) by LV Gaudet

1

Setting the old baseball down on the kitchen table, Cody starts putting away his purchases.  Going to the cupboard, he empties the shelves, pulling out the old tins for coffee, tea, and baking products, and putting them aside to throw out later.

Using one of the water bottles, he fills a bowl and searches through doors for a dishcloth to scrub the cupboard with.  He finds a drawer with dishcloths and tea towels, pulling a few out to inspect them.  They are yellowed with age and the fabric is brittle.

“I don’t think I can use these.”  Tossing them in the trash, he digs out sponges he bought.  Adding dish soap to the water, he scrubs the cupboard shelves.

Finished, he studies the freshly scrubbed shelves.

“Better let that dry.”

Tasting his own foul breath, he sniffs at his armpit and makes a disgusted face.

“My first order of business is cleaning myself up.”

Grabbing another water bottle and a washcloth and bath towel, he goes to the living room in search of his toiletry bag.  In the bathroom he does a perfunctory job of cleaning himself up.

Returning to the kitchen, he puts away his coffee and food and leaves the boxes with the rest of his supplies in a corner.

Cody looks around with a sigh.

“I’m not really sure what to do here.  Where do I start?”

A jangling ringing sound interrupts. It’s a weak warbling of a jangling ring, like a very old alarm or phone that’s almost surprising itself with its own ability to still make a sound.

He turns.

It rings again.  Brrrrddddiing.

“Was that from the other room?”

Brrrrddddiing.

“It sure sounds like it’s in the house.”

He follows the sickly ringing to the kitchen.

He stares in surprise at the old tan rotary dial phone hanging on the wall near the kitchen table.  The phone is coated in an undisturbed layer of dust.  The old curled cord stringing the hand piece to the phone dangles motionlessly; its cord having lost much of its bounce long ago.  It still holds maybe half its original curl.

“I forgot that’s even there.”

Brrrrddddiing.

He almost jumps at the sound of the jangling ring, half disbelieving it’s even ringing and half at the sudden volume of the ringing right next to him.

“Weird.  How is it working?  There can’t still be phone service.  Who’d be paying the bills?”

He walks over to it, watching the phone as it rings again and again.

Curious, drawn by that inane trained need to answer the phone, he picks it up and holds the receiver to his ear.  He listens for a few heartbeats and hears nothing.  Maybe he hears the almost indiscernible static hiss of a live line that you can only hear in the absolute silence of a house with no electricity humming through a multitude of appliances.  Or maybe it’s that trick your ears play on you when you think you hear the distant hissing of the sea in the seashell you hold to your ear.

“Hello,” he says into the phone.  He is met with silence.  “Hello?”  Still nothing.

He tries joggling the hang up button.

“Hello?”  Nothing but silence.  He hangs up.  The house is filled with only dead silence.

He starts second guessing himself.

“Did I imagine it?”  He frowns at the phone and picks up the receiver again. Nothing but silence.  He doesn’t even hear that too faint almost nonexistent silent hissing he thought he might have heard.  It is lifeless plastic, devoid of power or service to give the line life.

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

Garden Grove: 6 Vandals Strike Again – Stanley by LV Gaudet

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

When Stanley returned to Garden Grove he went directly to the trailer office.  Pinching the padlock loop just above the block shaped lock mechanism between the blades of the lock cutter; he squeezed the lock cutter arms together angrily with more force than was needed.  With a little resistance, the blades pinched and cut through the lock, and the lock clattered to the ground.

He picked it up, removed the loop that still held the door latched, and went inside.

His snarl of outrage could be heard across the jobsite.

Inside the trailer was clear evidence someone had gained entry and gone through files.  Files and papers had been scattered everywhere.

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

24 The Woods – Kevin and Jesse (1985) by LV Gaudet

1

Kevin and Jesse run, pushing the bike through the snow, counting to five together and skidding to a stop just before the invisible barrier between their yard and the rest of the world.  They release the bike at the last moment and its momentum takes it from there.  It doesn’t get far, the snow slowing it down.  It falls to the ground just inside the barrier.

“That didn’t work,” Jesse says, puffing out his cheeks.

“I know.”  Kevin sounds more annoyed than he means to.  He is frustrated and lost.

“What do we do now?”

“I don’t know.  Let me think.”

“Maybe-.”

Kevin cuts him off.  “Just let me think!”

Jesse shrugs and starts stomping his feet.

“What are you doing?  That’s distracting and I can’t think,” Kevin complains.

“I’m stomping down the snow so the bike can go further.”

“That’s dumb,” Kevin is about to say, but stops himself.  “No, that’s really a good idea,” he thinks, nodding.

“Good idea,” he says and Jesse grins.

Together the boys stomp down a path for the bike.

“Okay, that’s good.  Let’s try this again.”

They pick up the bike, taking it back to their starting point.  Bracing themselves, they roll it back and forth a few times in the belief this will give it more momentum.

“Ready, set, GO!” Kevin cries.

They run with the bike, going as fast as they can.

“Ready, let go!  Let go!  Jesse!”

Kevin drops the bike, leaping and reaching for Jesse, his grasping fingers just missing his jacket.

Jesse lets go a moment too late.  He and the bike move over the invisible barrier.

Kevin blinks away the tears burning his eyes.  His throat is gripped in a vice-like claw.

Jesse and the bike are gone.

Kevin looks around in a panic.

“Jesse!”  He calls again and again.  “JESSE!!”

“Jesse, where are you?” he whimpers. “I have to look after you.  Mom will never forgive me if I don’t get us both back safe…  I’ll never forgive me.”

Kevin stares at the spot Jesse was just a scattering of heartbeats ago.  He moves as if to take those few steps forward.

“If I step through at the same place I should end up wherever Jesse is.”

He swallows hard.  He can’t do it.

Pasty and pale, shivering and sweating despite the chill air, Kevin feels sick.

He turns and runs, racing for the edge of the back yard bordering onto the woods behind the house.  He stops at that invisible barrier where the snow covered mowed grass stops and the tangle of barren branches of bushes and trees begins.

“He has to be there.”  Kevin’s breath is coming faster, billowing on the chill air, as much from panic as from his short run.

He peers through the naked branches of trees and bushes.  Their twisted spindly splayed out branches seem to be tangled together as if they are creating an impenetrable barrier to stop him.

“To stop me from what?  From going into the woods?  From finding Jesse?”

“You won’t stop me!” Kevin yells into the empty woods.  He can see the stump through the trees, barely, the twisted branches mostly blocking his view of it.

“Jesse!” he screams.  “Jesse, where are you?”

Kevin stares at that old stump hard as if that will somehow make it more visible. He imagines it standing defiant and threatening despite its soft rot of decay, beyond the fallen tree lying on the ground slowly being consumed by the plants and insects.

There is no sign of Jesse.

“I’m going to have to get closer to see if he’s there.”

Weak with dread, Kevin takes that first hesitant step across the threshold into the woods.  Each step takes him that little bit closer to that stump, and a step further from the imagined safety of his yard.

Kevin reaches the fallen tree.  He stops and stares at it.  He can still see where Jesse and he clawed at the ground and tree, trying to dig him out when he suddenly found himself trapped beneath it.

“Dumb old tree,” he complains sullenly.  “I shouldn’t have dared Jesse to go to it.  I shouldn’t have dared him to go into the woods.  We weren’t supposed to leave the yard.”

Kevin feels sick with dread at the knowledge he has to go past the tree … alone.

He steps forward; placing his hands on the dead tree, and leans his weight on it as he climbs over it.  He feels its sponginess beneath him and for a moment pictures the tree caving in, sucking him into its rotting cavity amid the slithering insects slowly devouring it from the inside.

In his imagination, the inside of that old tree is putrid flesh, not wood, and the insects are corpse white worms, not ants or termites.  He pushes the nauseating image from his mind and looks around.

“Jesse!” he calls.  He calls three more times.  The world seems muted, not even his voice echoing off the sky.

“He has to be here somewhere.”

Kevin can see the old stump now, soft and crumbling with rot; the sharp jagged points of shattered wood sticking up as though waiting to impale any foolish boy who tries to climb it and falls.

“You are lying you dumb old stump,” he says insolently, walking the rest of the way to it.  He stops and stands there, studying it.  He reaches out and picks at the jagged points of wood that have softened with years of rot.

“You can’t impale anything now.  You’re too soft.  Soft and rotting.”

Decayed.  The thought lingers in his mind.

He looks around.

“Where’s the rest of you?  Huh?  Where’s the rest of the tree?  Rotten to nothing, I bet.”

He looks around again, still seeing no sign of his brother. Cupping his hands to his mouth to make his voice louder, he calls again, “JESSE!”

Kevin stops and listens.  There is no sound.  Not a single bird or squirrel, not the wind.  Absolute, utter, total and desolate silence.

“What have you done with him?” he whispers.

“Do I go back to the house?”  He looks through the bare branches to the house.  “Every time we tried to leave we ended up back in the woods.  Maybe it worked.  Maybe Jesse got out.”

He frowns.  “That would mean I’m still trapped here… alone.”

He shakes his head.  “I don’t think the woods will give up that easily.  He has to be here somewhere.”

His shoulders hunched against the cold fear gripping him, Kevin does what he did not want to do; he starts making his way deeper into the woods.

“Jesse!” he calls every now and then.

“Kevin!”

Kevin stops, listening.

“Jesse, where are you?”

“Kevin!”  Jesse’s voice cries out again.  He can hear the panic in the younger boy’s voice.

“Jesse!”  Kevin looks around, moving in circles, searching for him.

“Kevin!  Help!”

Finally, Kevin spots a waving hand.

“Come out of there,” Kevin calls.  “Why are you standing behind the tree?”

He arrives at the tree, walking around it.

“Jessie?”

“Here.”  Jesse’s hand grabs his pant leg.

Kevin looks down.  Jesse’s hand is coming from inside the tree.

“What?”  Kevin looks in disbelief, circling the tree again.  It’s a large fat old tree.  Its top half broke off years ago in a storm.  The branches that remain are smooth and barren of the twigs that live leaves would grow from in summer.  The ragged top is scorched and split, possibly from being struck by lightning.  Some distance away, what may be the top half lays on the ground amid the bush growing around and up through it, trying to fuse it back into the ground.

The tree is long dead.

Kevin stops where Jesse’s hand is sticking out from a hole in the tree.

“How did you get in there?”

“I don’t know.”  Jessie’s voice is small and cracking with fear.

Kevin turns at a sudden cracking sound.

“What’s that?” Jesse whimpers.

“I don’t know.”

The sound repeats and Kevin looks up in time to see the bicycle slipping from the branch holding it above in a nearby tree.  The falling bike catches on the branches below it with a bounce of the branches recoiling from the sudden weight pushing them down.

The branches give beneath the bike’s weight with another crack and the bike falls, almost hitting Kevin right next to Jesse’s tree.  It hits the ground with a dull thud and the breaking sound of the bushes beneath it made brittle from drying out.  The bike settles, one wheel spinning as if it too is determine to escape.

“Kevin?”  Jesse’s quiet whimper brings his attention back.

“It’s just the bike.  It fell out of a tree.”

“H-how did it get up there?”

“Same way you got in there, I guess.  Let’s get you out.  Can you move?”

“No.  It’s too tight.”

Kevin inspects the hole Jessie’s hand is sticking out of.  It looks like an old knothole or maybe a hole dug out by some animal that made the dead tree its home.

“How do you even fit in there?  It’s a bloody tree.”

“No cussing Kevin.”

Kevin blinks at him.  “At a time like this you’re worried about cussing?”

“It’s all hollow inside here,” Jesse says, wriggling and feeling around inside his wooden prison.  “I think something must have been living in here.  The wood feels soft too.”

Jesse pulls his hand back inside and starts clawing at the hole.

“Maybe I can dig out,” he whimpers hopefully.

Kevin starts clawing at the hole from the outside, grabbing the edges and trying to break chunks off.  When he makes little headway, he looks around for a stick.  Finding a thick one, he tests it for sturdiness.  He uses the stick as a tool, gouging at the hole and jamming it into the soft rotting wood to use it as a lever to break it apart.

It’s taking a long time with little success.

“Get me out of here,” Jesse cries, clawing frantically at the wood in a panic.

“We’ll get you out,” Kevin huffs, breathing harder from the effort.  “It’s just going to take some time.”  He increases his efforts, even kicking at the tree to try to free Jesse.

“Come on,” Jesse sobs, trying to squirm out the still too small hole, “let me go you stupid tree.”

“Stop it Jesse, I can’t get my hands in there to break pieces off.”

Whimpering, Jesse stops trying to force himself out and watches Kevin grab at the hole with both hands, pulling and managing to break a chunk off.  He goes to work on it again with the sturdy stick until it breaks, then looks for another.  He finds two.

He hands one to Jesse.  “Here, dig at it from the inside if you can.”

Jesse does his best, unable to move very much in the cramped space.

Softened with disease, rot, and insects, the wood gives a little at a time.  The hole slowly grows larger; Kevin attacking it harder when he sees what he thinks is a weak spot.

They finally make a hole big enough for Jesse to squeeze out.  He squeezes through with Kevin pulling from the other side, and falls to the ground.  He lays there panting as much from stress as from the exertion.

Jesse’s dirty face is streaked with tears and his eyes have a hollowed out look like a piece of his soul was taken by the trauma.

Kevin sticks his head inside the tree, examining the space.  He whistles a low whistle.

“How did you get in there?”  He turns to Jesse.  “Let’s go back to the house.”

Looking pale and weak with shock, Jesse nods. Kevin helps him up and they start their way back through the woods to their yard.

The reach the yard and pause.

“Kevin,” Jesse whimpers.

“Yes, I know.  It’s spring.  The snow is melting.”

“So why does it look like fall?”

“I don’t know.  I think it’s messing with us.”

“What is?”

“The woods.”

They hurry across the yard.  The lighting is as muted as the sounds are.  The dry leaves barely crackle under their feet and the color of everything is off.

The door has an unreal feel to it as Kevin opens it. He holds it open for Jesse so he doesn’t have to touch it.  He looks back at the door as he closes it behind them.

Inside the house, Jesse turns to Kevin.  He glances at the door as if worried they were followed and something might be eavesdropping.

“I think there’s only one way to get back home.  We have to try to trick the woods.”

Kevin studies him for a moment, weighing his words.

“How?”

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

In the darkness monsters lie.

%d bloggers like this: