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Dark Corner

The art of strange and omnious

Stop, breathe, relax… you are safe for now

Everything Will Be Okay

It started with the usual. Waking up in different places on smaller scales. Fall asleep on the couch, wake up in my bed.
“Oh Randy, I was the same way at your age,” My mother used to say, with smiles and turn-aways that marked the end of discussion.
Sometimes I thought it was my parents, but to what motivation would they do this? When I’m soundly in my bed, pick me up and lay me gently on the kitchen floor? No. This was me. It was around when I was sixteen that they started to see it.

My older sister Anne, eighteen at the time, would be dozing by the TV when I’d saunter in and so very purposely sit beside her. Sometimes she thought I was awake, only to have me not recall it the next day.
Then the talking started. I’d walk into her room one late summer night, while she’s up on her computer and stare blankly at her. She’d question me, and I’d answer yes to every question. Open-ended and all.
“Ran’, you okay?”
“Yes.”
“What’s going on?”
“Yes.”
Sometimes she’d find me in places, usually asleep. On several occasions her walk-in closet. She’d yell at me and throw me out saying,
“Even with your fucking narcolepsy or whatever, that’s private!” She was a very reserved person, and I always respected that in my waking life, even after she moved out. But it was all different asleep. Nothing was relevant, and none of it mattered.

I’d tried everything. For a while I’d slept in a sleeping bag, zipped to the neck, with mittens. It never really worked. And I was beginning to wake up in stranger and stranger places. Granted, I never went too far from home, but it was becoming a regular thing that I’d wake up outside. Forests, streets. I was sleepless for days at a time and it made me delusional, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be normal.
My best friend, Daryn was very supportive, always calming me down when I was so sleep deprived I felt like my mind would implode. He’d coax me to sleep and promise to watch me, and for the most part, he did. Sometimes I’d wake up to little notes from him. Little affirmations, like,

“Everything will be okay- Daryn.”

I’d find these notes in the cracks and rifts of my home, folded neatly and creased tight. Telling me it’s okay.
Daryn and I didn’t always get along, though. Sometimes we’d fight, and he’d leave. The guy had a lot of problems, maybe some form of manic depression. That’s when I’d find the malicious notes. The notes that told me to “fuck off” and “get over myself,” Which eventually progressed into darker territory. I’d find them around and it was as if they’d interact with me.

“Nobody loves you, all you do is destroy- Daryn.”
“But I try so hard to be good!” I’d think to myself.
“And every time you try, you fail.- Daryn”
“I’m so sorry…” I’d whisper faintly.
“Kill yourself. -Daryn.”

I should’ve just stopped hanging out with him, but he was all I had, then he’d leave me cold. I’d wake up in the dirt under cold sweat, with blood on my hands that I stole from myself in my slumber.
“This is why you’re worthless – Daryn.”

Annie was leaving soon. Going off to college. Over the course of a week her room faded to emptiness as she took all her things to her dorm, and then only she was left. She said she’d be out in a week. It’d been months since I’d gotten a note from Daryn. He hadn’t been over to supply them.
I was happy. Alone, but happy. He couldn’t bother me anymore.

And the night before Annie left, I went to sleep happy. I dreamt of beautiful things. Waterfalls and meadows, places where everything was in its right place.
That time I woke up midday. No cars in the driveway, nothing too unusual, but my room was distraught. Dents in my wardrobe and a door off its hinges. Must’ve been a crazy night, but at least I was still in my bed.

I went down the hall to check if Annie was still there, she never said when she was leaving. Her room was empty as usual, but something was off this time. Her closet was open a crack. She never left her closet open, not even the slightest bit. It was her private zone, her sanctuary.
That’s when I saw the little drops on the floor. Smeared like crimson pastels, like someone had gone over to spread them. I followed them to the closet. looking down the whole way. I reached the door and wrapped my fingers around the edge. Slowly pushing forward.

And there she was.
Mangled and beaten. The veins in her neck torn out. The carpet was no longer off-white and dry, but moist and crimson. It was as if she were mauled by an animal.
And I saw it.
A little note on her chest, folded with the care and precision Daryn had always prided himself on.
But the signature was different.
And then it hit me, clear as day. Like waves of clarity but still somehow topped with disbelief.
It wasn’t Daryn. It was never Daryn. I squeezed my eyes shut as I declared it to myself.
I opened my lids as I read the note one last time, glazed eyes and trembling fingers.

“Everything will be okay.” – Randy

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Down the misty road…

When starting a story, any story, one must pay great attention to the first page. This is especially important when writing in horror genre. A reader must grasp the feel of the story in the first couple of sentences. This might also be your only opportunity to hook the reader, especially if you are publishing online. The biggest problem of writing stories is loosing the reader on the first page, so this is where you must show enough of your idea in order to make the reader wonder how it will play out.

Enough explaining, lets see how one can go about mesmerizing the reader with his start.

Foreshadowing and expectations

Wether the horrific event had already happened, or is about to, the reader could be made aware of it on the first page.

For the past couple of night I had a feeling i was being watched…”

The thing in my toolshed had gone quiet”

Whenever i go to the park, out of necessity of course, i avoid the large pond in a large circle…”

These are only examples of course, but the idea is to give the reader something to look forward to, so when the time comes, you can go all out with gory details and horrific descriptions…

Setting the tone

Is the story a raving of a mad man who saw something in the world, which was in a dark and cursed place.   

A blessed candle in the dark basement…

To New Friends

I once found a small child’s toy sitting in the middle of a road. It was a doll, that of an infant only a few months old. The eyes were open, the lashes pronounced, and the pink paint which vaguely resembled human skin peeled from the plastic features of its face. I can’t say what drew me to it, but I found it odd that such a thing should be sitting upright, its dress dishevelled and dirtied, left behind only to be crushed by passing cars. A toy which at one time would have meant a great deal to a child.

Picking it up, its limbs dangled like a puppet without a master, held together loosely by thread sewn into a cotton body. It was then that I heard a rattle, something inside the doll. Quickly I realised that the noise was coming from the head, from behind the eyes, as something moved around tapping against the plastic which surrounded it.

I saw no one on the street, and so without thinking I tore the doll open, breaking the head off, ripping it from its cotton shoulders. Peering into the now decapitated head, I could see what had been making the noise. A tooth, human or otherwise, slipped into my hand from the open neck.

‘She used to be my friend’, a voice said.

Looking up, a young girl stood before me, pointing to the broken doll in my hand.

‘She won’t be happy with you now’, she said nervously.

‘And why is that?’, I asked.

‘Would you be happy if someone tore off your head?’

‘She’s just a doll’, I said, pushing the head and body together. ‘I can fix her for you if you’d like?’

‘No, I don’t like playing with her’.

The girl then walked past me, continuing down the street. Looking at the broken doll in my hands, the eyes vacant, I began to feel strangely nervous.

‘Why don’t you like her?’, I shouted.

In response, the child stopped and turned round to look at me from afar, before replying: ‘She steals things’. It was then that she smiled, revealing a toothless grin. ‘She’s your friend now’. And with that the little girl disappeared into a garden nearby.

Twisted tales and strange characters

Bones

How I loved camping as a kid! I loved running around through the forests, I loved airsoft wars with my brother and cousins, I loved quading, but most of all, I loved finding one special rock to take home from each trip. When I was about 14, there was a family wide camping trip that my parents, my brother, and I were attending. All of my cousin, aunts, and uncles would be there.

It was a two hour drive to our little camping area. It mainly consisted of a dirt paty, a little field that barely fit all of our tents and trailers, and a forest. We were the last ones there and as I got out of the car, my 12 year old cousin Madeleine greeted me. Maddi and I were very close as kids. I noticed there was a certain light in her eyes that I didn’t always see in her. She also was grasping something in her hand.

“Look! Look!” Maddi shouted in my face. “Auntie Dana and I just went for a walk and we found all these cool deer bones!”

She held the bone up to my face.

“C’mon! I’ll show ya where they are!” she yelled.

What an interesting thought! Instead of a special rock, I’d bring home a bone! I paced along after her down the dirt road.

After about thirty minutes of walking down the narrow dirt road, I began to think we were getting lost but Maddi insisted she knew where they were. I was getting hungry as it was nearing supper time and I hadn’t eaten since a couple hours before I left. I was also thirsty, sooo thirsty..

“Here!” Maddi announced.

There they were. Bones were scattered everywhere. I snapped a few pictures with my camera. I picked up about five that I wanted to take home. Maddi herself had already picked out two that were back in the tent we were going to share for the weekend. My stomach rumbled so without saying another word, I grabbed Maddi’s arm and began stumbling back to our tiny campsite.

That night left me feeling a little creeped out. Maddi was asleep beside me. I felt so vulnerable in a tent with my little cousin. I was scared that a pack of coyotes or a bear would show up and rip us to shreds while everyone else slept in their warm trailers. Suddenly, there was a scratching noise coming from outside the tent and the zipper unzipped from the outside. Maddi awoke with a jolt.

A women, obviously missing some body parts, crawled into the tent.

“Please,” she whispered, “I need my bones back.”

Horrific Climax

The Argument

You’re the manager for a small store. You hired one of your friends, and you just found out that he’s been stealing from the register, stealing stock, abandoning his post to visit with his girlfriend in the back room while he’s the only one on duty, and the argument you had with him at the office just didn’t settle it for you. You pound on his door. When he opens up, he goes pale, soils himself, and staggers back, gasping for breath.

It doesn’t impress you, really; you figure he just thinks you’re showing up with the cops, until you step through his door and glance to the side, where you get a good look at yourself in the mirror.

Or at least, the parts of you that are still recognizable after that shotgun blast that your friend gave you at the end of that argument…

A guide in the dark

Hell

It’s late July. I’m driving around on the back roads in the forests of rural Alabama. It’s early evening and the sun is just beginning to set. The hot, humid air of the day has cooled down, and crickets are starting to chirp. A few small bats fly overhead, snatching mosquitoes and moths out of the air. My windows are rolled down and I’m enjoying the fresh air as my truck meanders down the crumbling asphalt road. I like taking these drives; they relax me and I have time think. I take them often and know the woods well. I look up at the clear sky; there isn’t a cloud in sight. A few stars twinkle to the east.

As the evening shifts to night, I decide to head back home. The air is tense and even more humid than before, and it feels like storm is coming. The deep rumble of thunder from many miles away reaches my ears, and the chatter of the woods lessens. The storm is far off, and I feel no rush to get home. I still have time to enjoy nature. The stars are beautiful.

A massive splat hits my windshield, and then another, and then another. I’m startled by the noise, and soon I am engulfed by a downpour of rain. I can’t see five feet in front of me, so I pull off to the side of the road, roll up my windows, and wait for the storm to pass. These showers usually last fifteen minutes, anyways. I’ll be out of here soon. I swear I could see the stars clear as glass only a minute before. I don’t dwell on it, though. Summer weather in Alabama is unpredictable. Lightning splits the sky above as I wait.

I am still sitting in my truck after an hour of heavy rain, and the storm shows no sign of letting up. Lightning pierces the cloud cover again, illuminating my surroundings. I can see about twenty feet in front of me for less than a second, and I get a glimpse of a figure at the perimeter of my field of vision. Darkness. The steady beat of rain on my truck continues. Another flash, and with no figure in sight. I’m tired now and starting to see things. This storm can’t last too much longer, but the sky keeps emptying itself upon me.

Not fifteen minutes later, my truck shifts in the ground, which is now made of mud. I am awoken from the light nap I had been taking and look around. The rain presses on, and the darkness is dense. I prop my elbow on the car door and rest my head in my hand, planning to try to get some more sleep. The car was just settling into the newly softened ground. It is impossible to see the sky.

The bed of my truck dips and slams into the ground, and the cab jumps into the air. My head flies forward and meets the steering wheel. As I lift my head up, the cab falls back to the soft earth and my head again hits the steering wheel. I do not know how long I am unconscious, but I wake up with a splitting headache, and my whole face feels wet. At first, I think the rain has somehow entered my truck, but the dark liquid on my steering wheel seems to be blood. I can’t think straight and sit still for a while, and then I suddenly become aware of what has just happened to me. I shoot my hand to the light switch and put on my high beams. All I can see is rain in front of me, rain and blackness. I check my rear view mirror. Illuminated by the red glow of the truck’s taillight, a figure stands, unmoving. All I can make out are its eyes, which are pure white. There are no pupils and no irises, only white. A low humming fills my ears, invading my mind. My vision gets fuzzy, and I pass out. The sky glows with lightning.

I wake up in the early morning. The storm has ceased, though a light sprinkle continues to fall. The forest is filled with a dim light, but I see no animals, nor do I see the figure. I look down at the dashboard and my lap. I am caked in blood. Feeling my forehead tentatively, I find no cut or scratch. I am surprised, but my miraculous healing is not a problem and I do not question it. I reach for the ignition and twist the keys, but my truck doesn’t start. I’m not shocked, and it seems my only other option is to walk to the nearest gas station, which is nearly thirty miles away. I swing the door open and step out into the morning air, which is cool and fresh. I sense no danger and decide to inspect my truck before leaving it. My front tires are both flat and are nearly buried in the mud, while the back half of the vehicle is bent inwards. Whatever the figure is, it hits hard. Shaken by the memory, I start trudging down the road. My head still hurts, but I continue on in the rain. Grey clouds roll across the sky overhead.

It is lighter now, and the rain has turned into a mist. I have walked a mile or so from my car, and I am standing in front of a deer. It is lying on its side, and its organs are strewn across the road. The foul iron smell of blood hits my nostrils, and I start breathing through my mouth to avoid the stench. At first, it appears to be road kill, but I see no glass or scraps from a collision with a car, and no other part of the deer is damaged except for its torso, save for the eyes, which are pure white. I squat to get a better look at the deer. It seems to have been ripped open, and only from one side, from which all the organs were removed. Then I notice something and fall back onto the ground, splashing in the pool of blood around the animal. Its heart is beating. I can see the rhythmic jerking of the muscle. I do my best to stand up and step back, and dread fills me to the core as the deer’s mouth starts to twitch. I can see a dark figure out of the corner of my eye. A low humming begins to drown my thoughts again, and then, amid the fear and the hum, I hear a whisper. “Run.” It is impossible to tell the difference between the mist and the sky as I flee for my life.

I can barely hear the sound of a car engine through the beating of my heart and the droning of the hum. I hear someone shouting at me from behind, asking if I’m okay, asking if I need a ride. I turn around, still moving, to see who is yelling. A large truck with dark tinted windows is following close behind me. I cannot see the driver. I stop and run towards the vehicle, with a friendly voice asking me if everything is alright as I near the window. That is when the stench hits me. The smell of blood slams into me, causing me to stop in my tracks for a moment before continuing to the driver’s side door. When I come up to the window, I freeze, and I cannot find the strength to move. The cab of the truck is coated with blood, and I can see the driver’s lungs lying on the dashboard. I look to his face, which is smiling at me, as if I were the man’s close friend. His eyes are white. I am lost in his gaze. Despite the fear, I feel welcome and safe. I begin to walk around the car to get in the passenger seat when I see the figure standing on the other side of the truck. Its white eyes feel like they’re tearing me apart, but I manage to run. I run and I keep on running. I run till I finally see the gas station. I do not know how I manage to run so far so fast, but all I can think about is getting help from another human being. As I enter the gas station, thunder rumbles across the sky above me.

“Hello! Welcome to Gas Central! Beautiful weather out today! I hope you’re having a great day under this wonderful, clear sky! Let me know if you need anything!”

I look over to see a woman greeting me from behind a counter and rush over to tell her my story and to call the police. As I explain what has happened, her smile disappears and her eyes fog over till they are as white as bone. She steps back and stares at me, and gives a deep sigh. The foul smell of blood reaches me, and the humming starts immediately after. Suddenly I am covered in blood, but not my own. The woman’s insides cover the counter and floor, and her body stands before me, opened up. I can see her spine, as well as her beating heart. I see the black hand of the figure rest on my shoulder. I do not have time to run. Rain starts pouring from the sky outside.

“Hello! Welcome to Gas Central! Beautiful weather out today! I hope you’re having a great day under this wonderful, clear sky! Let me know if you need anything!”

The woman is smiling at me as my eyes begin to fog and the humming drowns out all my thoughts and emotions. My fear disappears as a sweet smell of iron floats through my nostrils and a growing pressure in my chest releases. I smile back. The air is warm and the blue sky shines bright outside.

Hell.

Grimm descriptions

The Fourth Child

My mother, my siblings and I moved into this awesome new house a few months ago. It’s a really cool plantation-style home out in what was once a rural area outside of New Orleans. By now the area is a little more built up, so it’s really more like a spacious suburb.

Anyway, it had been about 9 months since our father died. My mom really wanted us to get away from our old house; it was full of too many memories. She wanted us to have a cool, spacious house to play in and give us a fresh start. Apparently we got this place at a decent deal because the former owner was this old woman who passed away and her family wanted to get the extra house off their hands. She died peacefully in her sleep, but it still made us a little uncomfortable so no one moved into her bedroom. We just let it be a guestroom if anyone had visitors.

We have a wonderful neighbor named Miss Leah who lives next door to us (about a half mile away). She’s a small but powerfully built woman who welcomed us to the area with open arms. The former owner of the house was an old friend of hers who she visited all the time, and my own mother soon took on the role of her new friend. They immediately became best friends, always giggling in our kitchen on the weekends.

Miss Leah loves telling tales of Voodoo and even practices it herself (many people in New Orleans do). She mostly practices the “light” voodoo, like charms for good luck and protection. She told me that you can talk to spirits if you write them letters and put them in a place where they know to find them.

I started seeing her every now and then, late at night when I can’t sleep, sticking envelopes into our mailbox (I can see it from my window). When I’d go out in the morning, though, no envelopes would be there. One night I saw her doing the usual mailbox routine, and as soon as she walked far enough away, I ran out to see what she was putting in our mailboxes. I saw a little, silvery, unaddressed letter to Maggie, which turns out to be the name of the old lady who lived in our house before us. I always thought Miss Leah was joking about talking to the dead, but it’s clear she practices it herself. Just to test things out, I stood at that mailbox, watching it for a few hours. Eventually, the sun began to break over the horizon so I figured I had waited ample time. I opened the mailbox.

The letter was gone.

At first I was in complete disbelief, but then I was overcome with excitement. If Miss Leah could talk to Maggie, maybe I could talk to my dad!
I keep a little shoebox under my own bed. It’s full of little trinkets and pictures that remind me of my dad. I go through it every now and then, when I miss him most, as a sort of therapy.
A few nights after trying to rationalize what had happened with the note to Maggie, I decided the best way to test it out was to try it myself. I wrote a letter to my dad, which felt silly at first because I don’t know what dead people like to talk about. I wrote:

“Dear Daddy,
Miss you! How are things on the other side? Mom bought this cool house for us and we have a fun neighbor lady named Miss Leah. We’re all doing ok over here but I especially miss waking up every morning to the sounds of your loud singing in the shower. I hated it back then, but now I realize how funny and charming it was.
Sincerely,
Julia”

I placed the note into my special shoebox and slipped it back under the bed. When I woke up in the morning, it wasn’t there. I wasn’t sure how to handle it. Did he really get the message? Does he write back? What do I do now?

Well, I still needed to go to school that day so the excitement of my supernatural letter-writing subsided and I headed over to the bathroom to get ready. My older brother was singing his lungs out in the shower, something unusual for him, but I figured he was trying to become more like our dad.

I knocked on the door, “hurry up in there! I need to pee!”
The singing continued.
“Jay, how much longer are you going to take?”
The singing continued. Then someone tapped on my shoulder. I turned around. It was Jay. He said, “Calm down Julia. I’m not in the bathroom. Is the door locked? Lemme see if I can jimmy it open for you”
He opened the door with ease. The bathroom was empty. No singing. The shower wasn’t running, but the tub was wet. I walked in and started brushing my teeth, amused by what had just happened. I noticed the mirror was a little bit foggy, as though from shower steam. There was a message written in the mirror. It said “How bad do you miss me?”

I walked the fine line between being totally freaked out and super elated that my dad was communicating with me. I wrote another letter that night.

“Haha I miss you more than you can possibly imagine, Daddy! Don’t ever doubt that. But tell me, how are things on the other side?”

That morning I woke up. The letter in the shoebox was gone, but I noticed a new letter near my door. It looked like someone slipped it under there. I opened it up. It said, “what do you want most from me?” I found it weird that my dad wasn’t really carrying the conversation well, but I decided I’d write a quick response and go to school. I wrote:

“Well, I guess what I want most is for you to come back and play with me like old times. But I know that’s silly.”

When I got back from school, I went straight to my room to check on the letter. I opened my door and my dollhouse, which we stored in the attic, was smack in the middle of my floor. My mom had been at work all day, my brother was still at swim practice and my sister went to the mall with her friend after dropping me off at home. I don’t know who could have moved it…except maybe my dad. I saw a note next to the dollhouse. It said, “PLAY WITH ME.”

My body froze. Something was unsettling about this whole setup. I didn’t feel like I was in danger or anything, but I just wasn’t comfortable. I walked to Miss Leah’s house and she was sitting in her rocking chair on the front porch with her cat, Rufus, in her lap. I told her I knew about the letters she wrote to Maggie.

“Ah yes, sweetheart,” she said. “Even though she’s passed, I haven’t stopped talking to Miss Maggie one bit. She’s was my best friend, and I want her to know how much I love her and how much Rufus misses the little tuna treats she’d give him. I write her almost every day, just updating her on my life so that when I pass, too, it’ll be like she didn’t miss a beat.” She asked me if I was thinking about writing to the dead, too.

For some reason I didn’t feel comfortable telling Miss Leah that I had been writing to my dad already. I told her I was “considering” writing a letter to my dad and that I would try it out that night. She laughed, “OK honey. You’ll have to let me know how it goes tomorrow.” I played with Rufus for a little while as Miss Leah talked on the phone with her nephew. The sun started going down and I figured it was about time for dinner so I said goodbye to Miss Leah and Rufus and walked back over to my home.

My mom and everyone else were already back.

“My god where have you been!” my mom yelled. I told her I was hanging out with Miss Leah, which eased her nerves a little bit since she knew I had been home alone for a while, which scared her. My sister was grounded for abandoning me for the afternoon, but she said it was smart for me to go to Miss Leah’s. She then said, “You know that dollhouse was expensive, right?” which seemed like an odd question but I answered, “Yes. I suppose. Why?” and she explained, “Well, I guess I just wish you’d taken better care of it, is all. I saw it in your room when I was looking for you and I could see you picked off all its paint and there were some dings and dents and I just thought it was such a shame. Also, next time you’re getting something from the attic, wait until I get home and I can help you, honey.”

Bewildered by my mother’s comment, I ate dinner in silence. Afterwards, I helped with the dishes and made my way back to my room with apprehension. It seemed like the dollhouse was in great condition last I saw so I knew something must have happened after I left. I prayed my mom was just seeing things, that the dollhouse was, indeed, exactly how I left it. I opened my door.

My mom was wrong. The dollhouse wasn’t a little dinged up. It had been ripped to bits. Its tattered remains were strewn about the floor. Even my little dolls were mangled with their arms snapped backwards and their heads missing. I couldn’t fathom what had just happened. Then I saw the letter…

“WHY WON’T YOU PLAY WITH ME?”

My hair stood on end. I could feel the rage emanating throughout the room. I tried to rationalize. I tried to tell myself that the context made me sense rage, but there was nothing to worry about. But how can you rationalize things when you’re going around writing letters to dead people who break your furniture? I felt terrible that I had upset my father this way. He bought me that dollhouse himself, so it must have hurt to destroy it. I immediately wrote a new letter to my dad saying:

“Daddy,
I’m so sorry for not playing with you. I love you, but I think we need to let go. You belong on the other side and I belong here. I just want to say one more thing to you. Something I never got the chance to say before:

Goodbye Daddy.

-Julia”

I slept with my brother that night. He was nice about it–didn’t even ask what I was afraid of. He could tell I was disturbed and he didn’t want to push me. Before we went to bed, he did say one thing. “You know there’s no such thing as monsters, right?”
“Yes,” I whispered. At that point I wasn’t sure if I was lying or not. It was still comforting to say it. I didn’t think I was dealing with a monster, or at least I wasn’t sure about it. I didn’t even really know what a monster was supposed to be. A dragon? A Boogeyman in your closet? An angry father?

The next day was Saturday, and I still wasn’t comfortable being in my room for long. I got dressed and walked to Miss Leah’s. I wanted to leave the house without checking the shoebox. It felt like I was leaving an angry parent, and wanted to give them time to cool off before we talked again. Miss Leah was sitting with Rufus, as usual, and they both watched the bluejays hop around in their yard—Rufus slightly more attentive than Miss Leah.

“Well hey there sweetheart,” Miss Leah called out. “How’d it go last night?”

I knew she was talking about the letter and I knew she’d know exactly how to fix things. But before I could begin speaking, she interrupted “Let me guess, it didn’t work.”

“Why would you say that?” I asked.

“Because I know better than anyone else that spirits can’t move physical objects. I have to use my special charm paper to write to Maggie, and I doubt you got any charm paper.”

I felt a little ashamed after that. I’m not sure why. I guess I just felt like I’d been deceiving Miss Leah. I didn’t tell her the whole story. I just told her I thought it worked because the letter was gone.

“Well, Julia. My best guess is you’ve got a prankster in your house. Probably your brother; he’s too silly for his age.”

She went on about all the things she’s told Maggie. She said it didn’t happen often, as it was hard for Maggie’s frail little spirit to do much of anything except read, but Maggie would sometimes write back. Maggie said she hadn’t crossed over yet, but when she did cross over, she wouldn’t be able to get letters anymore. Maggie said that she loved Miss Leah and her letters, but one day, she’d need to move one. She said eventually, Miss Leah wouldn’t have the strength to write letters and they would become fewer and fewer. Once Maggie knew it was too hard for Miss Leah to write anymore, she’d cross over and wait patiently with Petunia, another one of Miss Leah’s cats who had passed away. Maggie said Miss Leah would know when she crossed over because her letters would stay in the mailbox, and no one would take them.

I wandered home later that afternoon wondering if my dad was ever going to cross over. I wasn’t sure how to feel. I know what I saw and what I did. I wrote letters to my dad. I left them where he’d check (our box). They were gone later. I heard him in the shower. I saw his message in the mirror. I saw the dollhouse and his notes. I know no one in the house could’ve moved the dollhouse. I was certain it was Daddy.

I arrived in my room, fragments of the dollhouse still scattered about the floor. I remembered the last letter I wrote. The one that asked my Dad to move on. I was afraid he’d be angry with me. I was afraid he’d accuse me of not loving him enough, of lying to him. I didn’t want to check the box, but I needed to see if he got the message.

I opened it. The letter was gone.

But in it’s place was a new letter. It said “Julia” on the cover, so I knew it was for me. I figured he wrote back. I opened it. And I was horrified at what I saw.

“Daddy isn’t here”

I bolted down the stairs and prepared to run back to Miss Leah’s and explain everything. But I didn’t have to. There she was, giggling with my mom in the kitchen. I started walking toward them, but there was something on the other side of the division between the kitchen and living room, where I could still see it but Mom and Miss Leah couldn’t. We put a framed picture of Dad there in order to remember him. There was a note on the picture. It said, “SAY A WORD AND THEY’RE DEAD”

I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew I needed to keep quiet, but I also knew that something very, VERY sinister was going on. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

My sister and brother were going to a big house party, and my mom wanted to go hang out with her girlfriends that night, so Miss Leah actually came over to take me to her house for the night. My mom tried to apologize for the late notice, but I was so excited to get out of the house and away from…whatever it was, that she didn’t even get to finish her apology.

That night, Miss Leah let me stay up late with her and Rufus. At around 12 am she started writing a letter on her special charm paper. It was very thin, and glowed a silvery hue. I asked her how to make it and she said that it comes from the soul. We walked to my house together and put the letter in the mailbox. The next day, my mom picked me up and we stopped by the mailbox because someone had pulled the lever up. There was a note for Miss Leah there, and I knew exactly whom it was from. The paper had that same thinness and silvery glow. Mom wrote it off as someone dropping it off in the wrong box and asked if I would run back and give it to Miss Leah.

I sprinted down the street to Miss Leah’s. She opened the letter and began reading while I sat and waited with Rufus. When she was done, Miss Leah’s face turned pale. I never thought I’d see such a white, porcelain complexion on a live human being. All the color was gone from her face and she trembled. She was clearly disturbed. VERY disturbed. She told me not to go home, that she’d call my mom and everyone would come over for lunch. She immediately put down the letter and picked up her phone. Once her back was turned, I took the letter to read it.

“Dearest Leah,
So sorry I’ve taken such a long time to write back to you. It seems that I lack the spiritual power necessary to write. Heck! I could hardly even write when I was alive and had hands.

The lady who moved into my old house with her family is lovely as ever and I want you to know that I’ve been watching y’alls friendship and I’m so happy for you. I miss giggling in the kitchen with you, but watching you and her talk is almost as good.

I’ll bet you met all her children as well. Most of them are sweet as can be. Jay has a heart of gold and seems to really care for the family. Catherine has a great sense of humor. Always makes me and the rest of the family laugh. Julia is a curious little one. She reminds me a bit of you.

Then there’s the fourth child. It’s a vicious little thing. You know the one I’m talking about? The one with the black eyes and the long, dark claws that lives in my old room? It’s always causing a ruckus.

I’m glad I’m dead because that little scoundrel really gives me the creeps. It watches poor Julia as she sleeps and leaves awful little notes around the house.

I noticed the other day that it’s started taking knives out of the drawers at night and bringing them under the bed with it. That mother should really do something about keeping it under control.

Perhaps you could help with that?

Can’t wait for your next correspondence!

Fondly,
Maggie”

I couldn’t breathe. I just sat…frozen…as Miss Leah screamed into the phone.
“Oh god please tell me y’all are ok! Pick up the phone! Please PLEASE pick up the phone!” She decided to call 911. When the police got to my house Miss Leah and I waited outside. They found my mom, my brother, my sister. They found them all over the house lacerated into shreds of flesh. They couldn’t determine how it happened, figured it was a wild animal or something.

But Miss Leah and I knew how it happened. While we were waiting outside the house we both looked up into my bedroom window. Standing there, in the room where I slept at night, was a black eyed child with an evil grin that stretched ear to ear. It raised one long, sharp finger….probably 12 inches long, to it’s mouth as if to say “shhhhhhh…”

The beginning…

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”  

H.P. Lovecraft – “The call of Cthulhu”

Horror stories can be as fun to write as they are to read. A good horror story can gross you out, terrify you, or haunt your dreams. Horror stories depend on the reader believing in the story enough to be scared, disturbed, or disgusted. However, they can be tricky to write well. Like any fiction genre, horror can be mastered with the right planning, patience, and practice.

Be aware of the subjective nature of the horror story. Like comedy, horror can be a difficult genre to write because what makes one person freak out or scream can leave another person bored or emotionless. But like crafting a good joke, crafting a good horror story has been done many times by the masters of the genre. Though your story may not appeal to all readers, or elicit cries of terror, there will likely be at least one reader who will respond in horror to your story.

Think about what scares you or revolts you the most. Tap into your fears of losing family members, of being alone, of violence, of clowns, of demons, or even of killer squirrels. Your fear will then come across on the page and your experience or exploration of this fear will also grip the reader.

  • Make a list of your greatest fears. Then, think about how you would react if you were trapped or forced to confront these fears.
  • You could also take a poll of what scares your family, friends, or partners the most. Get some subjective ideas of horror.

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