Tag Archives: lvgaudet


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



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!

Those Eyes (Part 2) by LV Gaudet

Those eyes…

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



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.

All Stories Are Linked

Sure, you say.  If they are written by the same author they are linked by that.

But, perhaps it is more than that.  A shared experience, for we all share the world experience through social media, printed media, movies and film, art, stories told and written, and living life in general.

Could we, on some deeper level, be tapped into a hive mind?  Is that how all these twisted ideas weirdly get into writers’ heads?

Do I believe hive minds really exist? Yes, in bees.  Maybe in beings living on foreign worlds.  But, every random thought is a possible story twist and every story twist has a potential to be revisited in another story.

Just as the real world is separated by surprisingly little degree of separation, so too can the same be found in stories.

Stephen King’s books hold secrets waiting to be found.  Little bits of connection to other stories.

I like discovering these little connections between worlds that seemingly don’t touch, hidden in the pages of a book.

The Gypsy Queen has connections to two stories.  One published, and one you may find in my brief sharing of short and flash fiction pieces, a story that will come out in fuller length.  The only hint I will give to this second story is always look to the skies when death is near.

The Gypsy Queen is a new release, waiting for your discovery.  Her dark past will not be forgotten.

And while I have ideas that won’t sleep to tell the pre-story, and there is the question of the old man and his beloved Josie, who has fallen victim to the Gypsy Queen’s dark past, I am already finding myself being begged to write a continuation.  Will the Queen prove to be a jealous mistress?  And what of her link to Darius?  What secret does that hold?  Will you discover it in the Gypsy Queen?


Cover Reveal – The Gypsy Queen

Cover by Erskine Designs


paranormal drama thriller


When a young man with an enthusiasm for get rich quick schemes discovers an old abandoned paddle wheel river steam boat he has dreams of the riches and glamour she will bring.

His best friend and unwilling business partner sees only rot and decay in the old boat.

The Gypsy Queen’s dark past will not be forgotten.

Those Eyes by LV Gaudet

Those eyes…

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



Photo by Darkness on Unsplash

Those Eyes by LV Gaudet

As I stand in the damp shadows of the night looking through the muted sheen of drizzle in the night lights, a darker shadow comes into view.

It moves as if apart from the world around it.  Coming slowly towards me.  It cannot be more than four feet high.

I turn and scurry, ducking to hide behind a large tree spreading its darkly leafed limbs in the front yard of a house behind me on the street.  Peeking out, I look up the rain slick street.

The clash of cool rain against the warm night air thickens into a fog, filling the air with its ghostly aura.

The light of the street lamps still glow sallow and mute despite the rain misting them and the fog folding them into its thickening embrace.

The shadow moves, untouched by the dim light, the rain, and the fog.

I am filled with the urge to duck deeper into the tree, to become one with it, hiding like the little grey squirrel who I know lives in this very tree.

Fear breathes from my mouth and I imagine I can feel the little squirrel trembling in fear inside its tree home, holding its breath and listening.

I look again and the shadow is closer now.  It has split into two somehow.  Identical.  Almost.

The urge to laugh at how stupid I must look sits heavily in my chest.  I have no idea why I am afraid.

Swallowing the sick bile of fear in my throat, I force myself to move, darting for the darkened house behind me.

Yanking at the door is useless.  The door is locked.

Ringing the bell brings no solace with the impotent pushing of that little button on the wall next to the door.  No one is there to let me in.

Looking around quickly, I remember there is a shed behind the house.

The shadow twins are still there, closer now, in the middle of the road where the street lights reveal them to be nothing more than two children, a boy and girl.

A laugh bubbles up my throat, filled with the tension of unease.  I feel foolish.  They are just a couple of kids.  The smile that cracks my face is a little sickly looking.

I move to step towards them.  I should greet them and ask what they are doing out here in the middle of the night, in the rain.  Are they lost?

They are staring at me.  I know this by the way their bodies look in the dark and the rain, the dim light glittering with a fiendish wet sparkle that touches everything but them.  They are facing me, staring at me, although I cannot see their faces, their eyes.

As we face off in the rain glistening in the street lamps dark of night, the warm air loses its clash against the chill air brought by the rain, and the fog thickens.

The other night shadows recede, but somehow the two children seem to be shadow and real at once.  An aura of shadow that is a part of them.  They are untouched, somehow, by the street lights.

Fear oozes through me, slithering dark and oily.

They move towards me in perfect unison, taking a slow step, unhurried.  They have all the time in creation of the planets and the universe.

I don’t know when my feet moved.  I only know that somehow, inexplicably, my feet are moving beneath me.  Running.

It feels like I cannot take my eyes off those children.  I feel bad that I am not offering to help them.  They should not be out here.  Yet, I know I cannot be looking at them because the house passes to my right in a fear-fogged blur.  The driveway moves beneath the slap of my feet. The rain soaked grass of the back yard dampens the bottoms of my pants legs.  I see the shed coming at me, the hand that moves as if it is not a part of me reaching, grasping, and pulling the door open.

The darkness of the shed’s interior with its lawnmower squatting like some strange alien bug, the rakes and shovels, and the spindly spokes of a bicycle rearing suddenly before my eyes, hanging from the roof or the wall, I am not sure which.

My breath is panting raggedly out of my mouth and I am certain I can smell my own stink of fear sweat.

The two kids are outside of the shed as I pull the door closed, jamming a gardening utensil into the handles on the inside to lock the doors closed, even as my displaced thoughts wonder why those handles are even there on the inside of a small shed.

Utter blackness fills the shed with the closing of those doors.

I can feel them out there, staring at me.

The last image of them is burned into my eyes, my mind.  Their faces, so strangely devoid of emotion, of life, of whatever it is that magically makes the living feel animated.

Their eyes, twin orbs of blackness staring out of twin pale moon faces.  Expressionless.  Lifeless.


Their eyes are all black.  The pupil, the iris, the sclera, the part that is supposed to be white.

Their voices come through the rough wood door, close on the other side; hollow, surreal and weirdly dreamlike.  As if they are speaking to me through some strange mutant sound muffling and distorting mist from far away.

“Please, let us in.  We only want to come in.”

“Let us in out of the rain.”

“It is dark out here.  Please let us in.”

Everything that is human and decent in me tells me that I should open that door.

The slithering dark oily fear filling me holds me prisoner.  I cannot move.  I cannot scream.

I somehow manage to look down and wonder at my bare feet.  The bottoms of my now wet pajama pants.  I am dressed for bed?  Did I go to bed?  I don’t remember.

How did I get outside?  I don’t remember.

I can only see those black eyes.  Strange and lifeless, staring at me without expression.

The all black eyes.  Football shaped marbles of black that do not, cannot, glisten in the light the way eyes do.  Light cannot touch them any more than it can touch the strange children or the shadows that became them.

They are the absence of light.  Of life?

I want to scream.

I can only see the eyes.


14 The Woods – The Buyer (2015) by LV Gaudet

1The buyer stands alone in the living room. His new house. That’s what they called it.

He looks around. The house has a forlorn feel to it. A family home abandoned by its family, waiting, every book, every knickknack, every fork waiting for them to come back. Like an abandoned dog who waits for his family in the very spot they dropped him off on the edge of the highway to die.

His name is Cody Bradshaw.

Cody stoops down and picks up the comic book and moves to the couch.  He starts to flop down on the couch and catches himself. He grimaces.

“Thirty years of dust, I don’t think so.”

He drops the comic down on the coffee table and goes out to the car, pulling a vacuum from the trunk. There probably is one in the home, but at thirty years and counting, the odds of it working are probably against him. He lugs the machine into the house, intent on giving the couch what might possibly be the most thorough vacuuming it has had in its life.

Turning the vacuum on, he frowns.

“Forgot.  No electricity.”

He reaches for a cushion, his hand pausing just before making contact, hesitant to touch it.  The house feels untouchable, like any touch would taint him somehow.  He pulls the cushion off the couch.  He resorts to shaking the cushions and pounding the dust out of them.

Finished, he sits down.

He sniffs. The place has an abandoned smell to it. Dust and mildew and something else.

“Like an old person smell, only a house.  Old house smell?”

He leans forward and picks up the comic, leaving a smear of less dirty table behind in the dust. Leaning back on the couch, comic in hand, he flips to the first page and starts reading.

When he finishes the comic, he smiles nostalgically, and tosses the comic on the table. The comic is older than he is.  He looks at the smudge the comic book left in the dust and hangs his head a moment in exhaustion before looking around the room.

“This is going to be a big job to make this place liveable.”

He goes back out to his car and pulls a cardboard box from the trunk. He carries it in and drops it on the couch, the weight of the box making it bounce a little on the cushion. Pulling furniture polish and a cloth from the box, he starts dusting.

Clearing off the coffee table, he gives it a light spray and starts wiping it. Before he’s half done, he is sneezing repeatedly from the dust. Shaking his head, he gives the table a good wetting from of spray polish. “That will keep the dust down.”

Cody spends the next few hours cleaning the dust from the living room and the kitchen.

When he moves on to the kitchen, he pauses in the doorway and looks at the floor, at the footsteps of their earlier passage, intruding where they do not belong. There are only the two sets of footprints. The realtor was lying about showing the house to others, but Cody already knew that. He knew it the way you know when someone unseen is watching.

He does not yet go into the detail of cleaning shelves or cupboards. That would take another day or more, by his guess. For now, he is just cleaning the exposed surfaces. The dust you can see.

Cody checks the other door in the kitchen and finds a broom closet with shelves carefully added some time during the family’s habitation, converting it into a partial pantry. An old straw broom and a mop are standing in the closet, forever waiting for the lady of the house to sashay with them across the floor again in the precise dance of cleaning. A bucket squats on the floor beneath the bottom shelf.

He pulls out the thirty-plus year old straw broom and starts sweeping. He soon finds himself stooping and picking up the ragged remains of the brittle bristles breaking off the broom.

Giving up on the broom, he pulls out the bucket, tipping it to look inside. He makes a face.

The bottom is coated in thirty years of dust that has crusted and yellowed. There is what appears to be the thirty-year-old remains of a dead mouse in the bottom of the bucket. That’s his best guess anyway.

He puts the bucket down, revolted and intrigued at the same time, and picks up the mop. The fat cotton strings are yellowed and even brown in spots, brittle and rotted with age. Some stick to the floor, easily tearing from the mop. Beneath it is the same yellow-brown rot from the bottom of the bucket and the old carcasses of long dead bugs.

“I don’t want to know.”

He puts the mop back.

“I guess it’ll have to wait until I can buy new ones tomorrow when the stores open.”

It’s getting late and he realizes he hasn’t eaten since before arriving.  The realization brings a low rumble from his empty stomach.

“Where do you get something to eat in a little place like this?”

He remembers passing an old run down small-town motel and bar in the last town on the way here. He shudders at the thought of what the food in a place like that might be like.

“It’s that or nothing.”

He leaves.


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




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


11 The Woods – The Boys Appear Back in the Woods (1985) by LV Gaudet



“No!” A swarm of swears bursts through Kevin’s mind, but he checks himself. Mom would lose it on him, especially swearing in front of his brother.

Jesse looks around and crumples to the ground in open-mouthed silent despair.

They are back in the woods next to that ugly goddamned old rotting stump.

Kevin slaps his own head in frustration and anger, spoiled with the loss of hope. A whine escapes his throat, like a small frightened animal.

He slaps himself again and again, harder and harder. It becomes a frenzy. The whine bursts from his throat, moaning and wailing, slipping into insanity.

“Kevin, stop. Stop, Kevin, stop.”

Jesse is on his feet shaking Kevin, more terrified now by his brother’s break into insanity than the impossible madness happening to them.

Through the blood red fog of terror gripping him, Jesse’s cries and shaking him seep through to Kevin.

Jessie is pawing at him, grabbing for his arms, pulling on them, trying to make Kevin stop slapping his head.

Kevin’s head is ringing from his own blows, swimming in disbelief.

He has worn himself out and is worn down. His cries trail off and his hands slip from his head. He finally lets Jesse take his arms and pull them down.

Kevin sags and expels a long deep breath, releasing a world of fear and tension.

He feels empty now.

He inhales, long and slow, trying to push away the panic making his hands and knees shake and his whole body weak.

He is the older brother. The man of the house in the absence of his father. He has to be brave and strong.

He almost collapses, swimming in nausea and trembling weak limbs.

“I can’t do it.”

“What?” Jesse feels a rush of fear that shadows the terror already gripping him.

Kevin shakes his head, shaking it off.

“Nothing, it’s nothing. I’m just talking to myself. Trying to figure things out.”

“What are we going to do?”

“First,” Kevin pauses, trying to think. He can’t. That’s it. They need to think. “First, we need to think.”

They both make faces like they are thinking hard, but really they can hardly think at all. They are stuck in time and in fear.

Kevin tries to put his thoughts into something that makes sense. An order. He tries to put the crazy that has become their world into order.

“Let’s think this out. Everything was normal, good. Mom was going to bake a cake. You got your comic. Then we decided to play outside.  We went out, messed around.”

“You dared me to go in the woods.” It doesn’t matter how small and innocent Jesse’s voice is. It rings as an accusation in Kevin’s ears.

“We dared each other.” Kevin isn’t ready to take the blame. “We went into the woods, to the old stump.”

“Now we’re stuck here.” Jesse spat the words out insolently, moving towards the stump and swinging his foot to kick it.

“I don’t think we should-,” Kevin starts, his face going slack and a sickly grey as the color drains away, reaching out a hand as if to stop him.

Jesse’s swinging foot stops just short of contact.

“We shouldn’t make it mad.” Jesse says the words that are in Kevin’s mind. He turns to Kevin, his expression full of loss and despair.

“Why won’t it let us go? Why won’t it just let us go home? I want to go home.”

“It did.” Kevin is back to focussing on trying to think this through. “We don’t even know if it’s the stump. Whatever is happening. We can go to the house. It lets us go inside.”

“It won’t let us leave the yard.” Jesse finishes the thought.

“It won’t let us leave the yard,” Kevin repeats. “Every time we try to leave the yard, we end up right back here.”

“The house is wrong too, and the yard. The snow is gone and then it’s back. The house feels wrong too. Like it died. Kevin, what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know. Come on; let’s go inside. I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired. I could eat something too.”

Jesse sniffles unhappily and follows, letting Kevin lead the way back, crawling over that fallen tree. They both pause just before going over, before having to touch it. The memory of Kevin being trapped inexplicably under that tree is a raw open wound in both their minds. They both cringe at the thought of touching it, but it’s the only way. They don’t dare venture off that well-beaten path they have taken time and time again trying to leave the woods. The woods that won’t let them go.

“Still snow,” Kevin observes, taking in the snow-covered ground of their yard.

“That’s good, right?”

“At least it’s the same as when it started.”

Jesse pauses and looks back.

“What if the only way out is back? Through the woods?”

Kevin stops, turning and looking at him. He looks at the woods with a faraway look in his eyes.

“We are not going deeper into the woods. Who knows where we might end up then?” His voice has a firm resolve he doesn’t feel. He feels only empty and scared. He wishes their dad is there. He’s tired of having to be strong. So very tired.

“Come on. Let’s see if we can find something to eat and have a rest.”

They return to the house, taking their boots off at the back door. They take their jackets off, tossing them on the couch in the living room.

Kevin heads for the kitchen. Afraid to be left alone, Jesse hurries to follow.

His eyes fall on the comic book splayed out on the floor. The Thing forever locked in battle.

Has it moved?

He shakes it off, jogging to catch up to Kevin.

Kevin is already rummaging in the cupboards. He pulls out two bowls, spoons, and a box of cereal. Count Chocula. The box features the chocolate loving count enjoying his cereal. A cloud in the bottom corner shows a werewolf boy and the offer: “INSIDE! MONSTER DISGUISE KIT AND IRON ON”.

Jesse blanches. “Not that one.”

Kevin looks at him. Count Chocula is Jessie’s favourite cereal, and his favourite cereal character.

“No monsters.”

Kevin nods, putting the box back and pulling out another. It’s a new cereal, and one neither boy was fond of the taste of. New G.I. Joe Action Stars.

“A hero,” Kevin says.

Jesse nods approval and Kevin pours the cereal.

Kevin goes to the fridge and gets milk. He opens it, sniffing it tentatively before pouring.

“How is there milk?” Jesse has always been the one to pick up on things that seem out of place.

“Dunno,” Kevin shrugs. “Enjoy it while it’s here.”

He puts the milk away and sits down. They both inhale their cereal.

“Let’s try to sleep.” Kevin leads the way to the bedrooms, leaving their bowls and spoons on the table.

“Where?” Jesse, always the practical one too.

They pause in the doorway of the first room, Jesse’s bedroom, and look at each other. Jesse shakes his head.

Kevin already knows where this is going. He knows what Jesse wants and thinks he is too old to admit he wants it too.

They stop at the second doorway, Kevin’s bedroom. Again, Jesse shakes his head.

“Okay,” Kevin nods.

They move on to the last bedroom, their parents’ room. The boys curl up together on the bed, taking that small comfort from the ghost of their parents’ presence even in their absence.

Soon they are softly snoring.


The Woods 10 The House – Inspecting the Basement (2015) by LV Gaudet



The buyer has had enough of this morbid shrine to those who are no longer here.


“Is there a basement?”

The realtor pauses, thinking about it.

“I should have read the file on this place,” he thinks, dismissing it almost as quick. The commission wouldn’t be worth the extra time. He thinks fast. Do the other houses in the area from the same period have basements? As far as he remembers some do, some don’t. Some have only a crawl space or a partial basement, an area dug out just large enough for the furnace and hot water tank. He has about a seventy-thirty chance it has at least a partial basement.

“I think so. Yes, it does.”

If he’s wrong, it won’t matter after the auction if this guy bites. If he bites.

“You never did say if you are married, have a family. Do you have any kids? There’s a school not far from here. Playground too. It’s an older neighbourhood, but things circle around, as they say. You know, circle of life and that sort of thing. New neighborhood, young families move in and have kids, fill up the neighborhood with kids. The kids grow up and move out, have their own kids. The neighbourhood gets old, fills with grandparents and empty nesters, no more kids around. The school gets empty. But eventually people move out, go into nursing homes, and new families move in. You get a new cycle of young families moving in and having kids. Lots of kids around again. Circle of life. This neighborhood is in a rejuvenation phase, lots of new younger families moving in.”

“That’s not what they mean.”

“About what?”

“Circle of life. That’s not what it means.”

The realtor is a little annoyed at being corrected. He pushes past it, just wanting to get out of there. He finds the house a bit unsettling. He has better things to do too. The game is on this afternoon and he could be sitting on the couch with a beer watching it.

“You know, if you want this house you could probably skip the auction. The thing is, with an auction, there’s the risk someone will outbid you.

Whatever you are planning to bid, just make an offer now. I think I could convince them at the municipal office to take the offer.  We can go draw up the paperwork right now.”

If this buyer has spent this much time walking around, checking the place out, and hasn’t made any disgusted faces or disparaging remarks, there has to be some interest. If he can pin him down now with a formal offer, he won’t have the time between now and the auction to change his mind.

He makes his move, leading the buyer out of that grisly bedroom with its appalling bedding and towards the door.

They reach the living room, so close, only steps away from the exit.

“So, where’s the basement?”

The realtor falters. “The basement?”

“I’d like to see it.”

“Damn,” the realtor thinks, “more time wasted.” He fights the urge to glance at his watch. Looking at the time makes a buyer feel rushed, as if they aren’t as important a something else. It doesn’t matter what else. It can lose the sale. He loses, glancing at his watch and hoping the buyer doesn’t notice.

He looks around. He has no idea where the basement is. It’s not a large house, so the options are limited. He remembers seeing a closed door in the hallway and another in the kitchen. Halls have closets, kitchens have pantries, and kitchen broom closets were not uncommon for houses built when this house was. It’s fifty-fifty.

He turns to the hallway. The buyer follows.

The realtor opens the closed door they had walked by earlier.

“Linen closet.” He nods as if he meant to show him the closet, doubling back to lead the way to the kitchen. The buyer dutifully follows, letting the realtor be in charge despite his lack of usefulness.

They enter the kitchen and the realtor looks around. The buyer spots the door immediately, but it seems to take the realtor minutes of checking the kitchen out.

The buyer looks at the door, but makes no move to touch it. In the time they have spent in the house, he has touched only one thing, the comic book.

He just stands there staring at the closed door, waiting for the realtor to notice it, as if he somehow is loath to touch the house.

Finally seeing the buyer staring at the door, the realtor realizes it is there and pounces.

He opens it with a small flourish. “The basement.”

The buyer peers down into the darkness swallowing the bottom of the old wooden stairs.

The realtor looks at the buyer, hesitates, and then leads the way down.

The stairs creak under their weight. They can feel the slight sag of the wood with each step. For a moment, the realtor imagines the rotting wood giving way and falling to be injured below. He grabs the railing, but it proves to be less stable than the stairs.

They reach the bottom of the stairs and the realtor is more than happy to get off the rotting wood steps. They look around.

The basement is not in complete blackness. There is no electricity to the home, so there are no lights to turn on. The small grimy basement windows allow some light into the gloomy basement. It’s the typical lower middle-income family home basement.  Crude cement walls and floor, cracking where the years of weather shifting the home caused weak spots to split, are dull and adorned only with shelves and items hung for storage. The unfinished basement is storage for old things the family chose for whatever reason to sentence to the basement rather than throw away.

It is infused with a vague eeriness as basements, particularly unfinished ones, will be.

The buyer steps forward, his shoe making a dull scraping sound on the concrete floor. He shows more interest inspecting the basement than he did the rest of the house.

“He’s looking for something.” The thought flashes through the realtor’s mind. He pushes it away. Silly nonsense.

The realtor moves forward, roaming the basement and pointing out the obvious, trying to make conversation in the too quiet cellar.

“Furnace, hot water tank. They look old, but I’m sure they’re serviceable enough. There’s no rust or water stains on the concrete around the hot water tank, so it looks solid. Probably hasn’t leaked. It has been thirty years though, so you might want to drain it and flush it out a few times before using water from it.

He pictures the sludge that is probably filling the tank right now. Black and slimy with long dead algae that bloomed and ran out of oxygen and died. Putrid and rotted to nothing but oozing black slime. The stench will be foul.

“The basement floor is a bit heaved up, but not too bad considering the house has sat abandoned for thirty years. Check the foundations and the weeping tiles. With proper drainage it might just settle down flat again. You could fix up this basement, finish it, and double your living space.”

“I’ve seen enough.” The buyer heads for the stairs, leaving the realtor to tag behind, taking the lead for once.

“Are you ready to make an offer?” The realtor asks hopefully. “Like I said before, you can make an offer now, skip the auction, and scoop this place up before anyone else can. You aren’t the only one I’m showing this place to. I have someone else coming to look at it later too.”

The lie rings hollow, both on his lips and in the buyer’s ears.

“I’ll let you know,” the buyer says, dismissing the realtor as he heads out the door.  He pauses on the way to his car to take one last look towards the backyard where the yard meets the woods.

In the darkness monsters lie.

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