Serial Killers: The Waiting Ruins by Martin P. Fuller

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

The Waiting Ruins. Part 2/2

Davies arrived at Gaunt’s house, finally accepting the invitation to return.

The death of his father still weighed heavy on his heart, and although Gaunt could be pompous at times, his jokes and wit did much to lift Davies’ spirits. 

As he looked out on the garden on the morning of the third day of his visit, he remembered his interrupted quest. A determination settled upon Davies to conquer the hill and reach its summit.

He again borrowed his host’s sturdy walking stick and collected his knapsack. Into this he placed the gardener’s billhook and a light luncheon provided by the cook, together with a small jug of cider. As an afterthought he packed a hand-held oil lamp and matches. He had no wish to walk the rough byways of the area in the dark.  

With his earthly comforts seen to and equipment stowed away, he practically marched to the hill. 

He sought out the previously discovered gate stones at the hills base and commenced to slash and cut a way through the buried driveway. Occasionally, parts of the cobbled surface emerged as he crept around the sides of the hill.

The effort involved was prodigious and Davies blessed the cook who had provided the sandwiches and the cider. After five hours of exhausting work he finally approached another set of gate posts in a less ruinous state than those at the bottom of the hill. Fallen stone spheres lay on the ground, toppled long ago. A partly demolished wall seemed to run from the posts, although the trees and undergrowth were even thicker here than at any time during his climb.

By now afternoon had given way to early evening. Davies prepared the oil lamp and took a rest by the moss-covered stone sphere. 

He had been so engrossed in his task, it was a shock to realise he was surrounded by silence. No birdsong or buzzing from bee. Flies, usually the plague of any walker in the countryside, were absent. Even the trees rustling had ceased. This green gloomy silence was unnatural and disturbing. The first element of fear began to touch Davies’ consciousness. 

Darkness. A deep longing for the non-light, when its malign heart can reach out from rubble filled cellars to trap the spirit of the trespasser. Words of dust and web, incantations of horror and malice, ooze from the mortar binding the hewn rock edifice.

Davies went through the gateway, cutting through thick tendrils of blackberry thorn. The blasted things clung around his legs, wrapping around his ankles like dying men begging for help. The only concession the humid air free of biting insects.    

The remembering. Obsessive lives, the hate and twisted emotions of the long-ago residents who wore away its stone steps, opened gateways to differing hells. The sweet longing for power to trickle through its joints and body. The true corruptions of the creatures who had lived behind its walls, sustained it and gave it such bloody memory.

Twilight gnawed at the dappled light. Davies considered turning back, giving up this mad obsession. But something eroded his doubts, urging him on. 

This combined with a curiosity to see what lay behind the curtain of vegetation made him press on. He swung the billhook into the thin branches, cutting into bramble and leaf, stamping on black green foliage. His reward came as the ruins were suddenly revealed, just as the sun touched the surrounding hills.

The building was more complete than he had assumed. It stood in a rubble-strewn clearing, its façade showing signs of ancient burning. The holes in the stonework indicated battle. He speculated on something from the English civil war but knew of no siege in these parts. 

Davies walked through ruined garden walls to the shattered stones. The door frame had caved in and he was able to walk over the threshold into the house proper. Wooden staircases and panels had long since rotted to sheds of fibre, but the stone remained.

Shadows congealed with the twilight and he lit his lantern slowly walking forwards with his walking stick raised. He realised the strangeness of this place and those fears and intuition started to demand his attention.

Carefully watching his steps on the moss-covered stones and fearful of any holes in the floor that would pitch him into the recesses of the cellars of the house, he explored the structure.

With each step he thought the shadows twitched. There was movement like ink dropping in water. As the heat of day evaporated into the cool of the night, so did Davies courage evaporate as he walked the path towards the hell hiding in the stones.

The sun was near set and the shadows of tree and stone combined into a gloom of fading greys. His path led to a door, its timbers somehow uncorrupted by the elements and age. His heart raced with trickles of perspiration chilling lines of skin under his shirt and down his face. 

Here, before that dark door of oak and iron, it was if two voices whispered into his mind. One he knew was his own self, screaming run, Run, RUN. The other strange, enticing, hypnotic, drawing him to the door, which even now clicked open and slowly to reveal a solid blackness in which something twisted and squirmed like maggots in a corpse. His lamp light refused to penetrate the hateful obsidian portal, merely describing its edges. And the blackness caressed his thoughts.

Wavering, he stood at the dark door’s threshold as the last rays of the sun left the dry silent air, his will being fought over by self-preservation and the darkness beyond. He swayed as almost in a dream he edged towards the sharp line of utter nothingness beyond the door frame.

What brought him out of the trance he never knew, but he snapped back to the real world; a world of murky shades and hard ruined stone.  

He turned and ran, ran through clawing branch, tripping over root and blackberry tendril. Twigs scratched, stones fell in his path, scraping arms and legs. He kept the lantern high, pushed forward like a crucifix to try and dispel the evil of this place. He cleaved to that warm light, his only hope, never daring to look back at that open door, despite the awful sounds he heard.

On he ran, onto the cobbled driveway. Slippery moss and lichen caused him to slip, brushing against the stone gate posts. The stone sang to his mind, a song so cruel he wept at the implied terror. It was here as he sought firmer footing, he glanced backwards into the heart of the ruins. The stones moved like wobbling flesh, and a sick green luminance revealed the silhouette of some creature that must have been the pet of the Devil. The brief glimpse Davies had was of loathsome, corpse white skin, claws and tentacles writhing in agitated anger and red burning eyes. Those eyes scarred his soul, branding his folly and commanding he return to the dominion of death.

He ran, scrambled, staggered away from the vile structure, gripping the lamp in his left hand and slashing at any vegetation seeming to creep into his path. His knapsack fell from his shoulders, but he would not stop. He breathed in the hills stagnant air, the stench of rot and the grave filling his craving lungs. All sense of time withered as he plunged on, falling, stumbling onto the hard cobbles. The trees hid the stars making his lamp the only light in the universe. And all the time he heard it behind him; enticing, roaring, commanding his return and surrender. 

He emerged from the hill’s domain at the foot of the hill, his sides twisted with pain, lungs bursting, blood painting his torn and scuffed skin, his clothing ragged and ripped. Still he clutched the lantern and still he ran. 

Behind him a sigh of some huge beast and a foul breeze grabbed at his hair and clothing. Run, crawl. Never stopping, in case the thing could leave its realm of horror and pursue him through the deepening night.

He reached Gaunt’s front door on all fours, his hands blistered and cut. This feeble pounding on the painted wood was eventually heard by the butler, who upon opening the door and seeing his master’s guest in such distress, raised the alarm.

Davies, half dead with fear and exhaustion was taken to his bed and a physician called. Davies could not be undressed as no matter what persuasion was spoken or force used, the lantern could not be prised from his hand.

 

Midnight’s embrace came to the land and night folded around the hill and its palace of deep wickedness. Plant, root, leaf and branch grew back to keep out the reckless adventurer, who would dally within its malevolent realm. An enchantment of forgetfulness and disinterest is generated easing memory.

Despite it being confined by nature, the hill and house plan new delights to play upon the flesh and creep into their thoughts. Those that stay beyond the realm of day, remain forever in its night.

It grieved about the loss of fresh meat, so nearly brought into its maw.

The ruins could wait however, always damned and always very hungry.

Martin P. Fuller

Martin P. Fuller lives in his shoebox house in West Yorkshire. He was in his previous exitances: –

a beer salesman, a pall bearer, a car delivery driver, and oh yes… a police officer for over 34 years.  

He started to write in 2013 after attending a creative writing class and since then has become a writing course junkie. 

Discovering his dark side, Martin has had a number of stories published in Trembling with Fear and several other anthologies including Deadcades published by Infernal Clock.

 

Trembling With Fear 05/01/2019

Welcome, one and all, to the first 2020 edition of TWF. We had a bumper year last year and I am in no doubt we will repeat that over the next twelve months.

I haven’t really made any resolutions as such, although my youngest asked me what my aims for the decade were. That was easy to answer, to get a couple of novels which have been drifting around for a while, into publication. If I achieve nothing else, except that, in my writing endeavours, I would be happy. I certainly don’t want to tie myself to resolutions for a mere twelve months. I think we all put too much pressure on ourselves as it is. I will continue to take my writing career seriously however, but I will write because I want to and because I enjoy it.

On the announcements front, I caught a tweet by Hailey Piper (@HaileyPiperSays) announcing her debut novel in 2020, The Verses of Aeg from Bronzeville Books. If you want a recent example of her writing, try this excellent bit of flash, Crones in their Larval State over at The Arcanist.

Now to Trembling With Fear where our first story is Drought Demon by Will H. Blackwell Jr is an appropriate piece of all-too real horror. You only have to have caught the news images recently of large swathes of Australia currently burning (my aunt and her family lives in the affected area and I’m hoping they’re ok) plus the fires which seem to crop up in the US also. The personification of drought as a demon, a malevolent force creeping forward, biding its time is beautifully drawn. Poetical language and techniques abound to create a rich and very dreadful, image of the drought demon.

Injured Prey by Radar DeBoard is a warning about taking the tablets … and possible side-effects, or not.

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! by G. A. Miller gives us one of the last lines which makes us laugh on the ‘gross’ scale. Very cleverly done using this notorious chat show setting.

Morgan’s Organ by R. J. Meldrum is an ‘after-death’ revelation and proves appearances can be deceptive. This is a quiet horror, the darkness being in what emerges ‘after the fact’.

Steph

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Hello New Year!

I’ve already written a few of these but I just can’t stress enough that I’m quite excited to see what TWF will be bringing you over the course of the next 12 months.
Hopefully, we’ll have a few surprises to throw into the mix as well!

As for goals this year? I’d love to work on making our Patreon account and the site valuable enough for our contributor count to go up enough to pay the entire staff and possibly raise what we’re now paying for short stories! Personally, I’m hoping to complete some of the novels and novellas that I’m extremely close to finishing up and getting them submitted to publishers.

What are your goals for the year?

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Drought Demon by Will H. Blackwell, Jr.

It has been dry many times before, here in this far-west finger of Oklahoma—lying, almost like an afterthought, above the equally barren Texas-panhandle—I mean prolonged, damaging, dry-spells in which even the most ‘arid’ wheat-varieties didn’t make crop.

But, this time is different—worse—much worse!

There is a kind of strange stillness out there, this time—a nefarious calm, just sitting there, not far in front of the death left behind in its oven-like wake.

I can sense it, out past the toxic, tallow droppings of the far-yard’s last, living chinaberry-tree—beyond the scattered heaps of brittle cicada-shells.

I am becoming increasingly aware of this ‘presence’ in the closing distance—cruel and crouching—inching forward, among the prairie’s remnants of blue-grama and buffalo grass. It stretches from where level land rises into the ambiguous horizon—like some flat joke of a mountain—to, now, disturbingly near the borders of my sprawling property.

But what does one really see out there? Nothing? Nothing, is precisely what one sees!

No matter! I know it’s there—this deceptive, potentially fatal, void—this slowly encroaching, hollow body—is definitely there!—regardless of what’s not seen!

And, it is patient—Oh, so patient!—this pale, diffuse corpus, unfurling, yet hiding in plain sight—and now, with time seemingly on its side. It is as surely there, as anything obviously resident—as surely as the tumbleweeds, that stack up against the fencing.

This insidious, vacuum-like presence—still all but invisible—is so cleverly, perfectly, staged—temporarily perched quietly, but threateningly, in a potentially dangerous position—like some huge, transparent vulture, wings spread wide, on a low limb of a phantom tree. It expands just ahead of a dead-zone, already consumed, trailing back in the prairie-rise as far as one can see.

But within it, now, a centrifugally growing, nebulous ‘substance’—an ominous haze, like some interstellar gas-cloud blocking stars at night—is suddenly making it more difficult to see, through it, beyond it—as it gains its own being—its own life.

Why, I’ll bet it’s even humming its own, inaudible, hideous tune—just waiting—wanting—wanting to suck the life right out of me—like viscous, yellow juice, pressed slowly from the abdomen of a June-bug.

It edges closer still. I can feel its desiccating presence—its unseen, dehydrating tentacles.

The depressingly tabled, fallow fields sense it too; I can tell. But they offer no protection. There is nothing out there left standing, at least that can be seen—no line of cottonwoods, anymore, to break the dry wind that stirs, angrily, then dissipates.

Even the dust-devils—as common this time of year as the orange-dirt itself—are afraid, and have ceased their swirling patrol over the diminished landscape. They turn now only within my mind—the brain’s increasingly lonely expanse—a kind of spinning memory that funnels revolving, powdered silt into static, granular, ever-more-useless gray-matter.

It’s hard even to think! My mind has gone numb, in the awful dryness.

Breezes, only sporadically coming through, lift into the air from the heat, tilting the rusted rooster-vane above the barn-eaves—causing it to creak, and rock awkwardly—sometimes making a squawking sound, almost as if alive. Or…..hell…..

Maybe it is alive!—brought to life, oddly, somehow, by the infusion of this drastic climatic circumstance—or perhaps by the tenuous, apparently supernatural being, gathering—ever-so-slightly coalescing at times—just outside the near-pasture.

Many things that were living here are now dead. No doubt! And yet, it is possible they are being merely altered to another state by this shimmering, surreal environment of heat, light and drought.

Are they being mummified, by such unnatural conditions, even as I attempt to ponder this insane situation?—bizarrely preserved—like human bodies left out in the sands of very-ancient Egypt, before the time of the pharaohs.

Or, maybe some dead objects, recently alive, are even in the process of returning to life?

Perhaps such transformations could occur!—a kind of dust-imbued ‘sea-change’ in the midst of this broad ocean of dry, cracked earth. Who knows?

Maybe my old redbone hunting-hound will come back to life?—or maybe the longhorn-steer that hung itself in bends of barbed wire last week—or, maybe that stray coyote shot near the waterless creek-bed.

I mean, this weird stuff gets to you after a while. Your mind starts playing tricks. You can imagine all kinds of things, while watching—waiting—for rains to come, that never come—a wait that stretches the minor pain of patience into a long plain of deepening frustration—into an anxiety, that turns rain into mirage.

But I tell you, that gaining abyss is out there—still stalking from a distance, but now closer—close indeed! It is a silent, merciless, parching predator that searches, seeks and enters—mind, body and soul, or what’s left of any of these.

I think it has already slipped through the thin perimeter of prairie-dog mounds, and is moving in toward fringes of the yard—or what used to be yard before the lawn-grass, and carefully hand-planted shrubs, dried up—no water left to irrigate! The well went mostly dry some days back. I can only get enough water for a strictly rationed drink.

It is so close, now, I see beyond it again—its swathe through the scorched farm-sections—the accruing squares and rectangles of burned-out rangeland.

It is near enough, that I feel the outflow of its hot breath, beginning to burn my flesh.

There is no doubt, any longer, of the brutally harsh intent of this lucent, protean beast—seemingly born from the margins of hell.

Maybe it is a lobe of hell, that has been secretly rising, perhaps for a while now.

If only I could clearly see it, where it comes from—its devious approach. If I could just take a picture, I could prove its existence, at least to myself.

Or, perhaps it’s better—until that singeing, widening, enveloping maw from Hades finally surrounds me—not to know the horrible truth, for sure.

So I think I’ll just try to savor these last moments, as best I can, and memories of this place in better—if often hard—times.

Will H. Blackwell, Jr. is an emeritus professor (botany), Miami University, Ohio. He presently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, where he is an adjunct professor, Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama. He continues his research on microscopic, parasitic fungi, in freshwater environments. His fiction has been published in: Brilliant Flash Fiction, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Disturbed Digest, FrostFire Worlds, Outposts of Beyond, and 365 Tomorrows. He has poems in Aphelion, Black Petals, Blue Unicorn, Illumen, Scifaikuest, Slant, and Star*Line.

Injured Prey

The noise of someone opening the door to the bedroom brought Louis out of his nap. “Hey babe,” he said, “Is it time to take another pill?” He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and looked towards the door to see his wife smiling at him.

“Those pills are really strong,” he giggled.

The creature ducked through the doorway, licking blood off its claws. It spotted the large cast on Louis’ leg.

“Are you feeling okay, honey?” Louis asked. The creature grinned at its next free meal of the day. It had been awhile since it had eaten a couple.

Radar DeBoard

Radar DeBoard is an aspiring writer who just wants others to find enjoyment in his work. Even though he lacks publication and experience, he hopes his work will have an impact. He has a passion for horror and finds it the most interesting genre to write. 

https://www.facebook.com/WriterRadarDeBoard/

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

Jerry Springer: “Welcome to the show, Tom. What’s going on?”

Tom: “Well Jerry, I’m here to confess to my wife. I ran into my ex the other day, one thing led to another, and we wound up having sex.”

Jerry Springer: “Oh boy, I bet she’s not gonna be happy when she finds out about that!”

Tom: “Oh hell no, she won’t. She might be almost as angry as the cops were.”

Jerry Springer: “The cops? Why would you having sex with your ex make the police angry?”

Tom: “Well, they said I was only supposed to identify the body…”

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences.

His work has been published in numerous anthologies from a variety of publishers, and he’s just released his first novella, “Spirit of the Dead”, now available at Amazon.

https://talesfrommiller.com/
http://gamillerdotblog.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015787309417
https://twitter.com/GMiller666

Morgan’s Organ

John stared at the pipe organ.

“Such a shame.  This was Morgan’s.”

“Morgan?”

“The organist at this church.  He died last year. He designed and built this organ by himself.  People came from miles to hear him play. The music was sublime, the tone perfect.  No-one could work out his secret. When he died, the organ was locked, his will specified no-one else could play it.  So, now it has to be replaced.”

John lifted the crowbar and split open a panel.  Inside, glistening, sat human lungs, hearts and brains, all wired into the mechanics.  Morgan’s secret was finally revealed.

R. J. Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic.  Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010.  He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction.  He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.

Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/richard.meldrum.79
Website: http://wolfstarpublishing.com/meldrum/
https://twitter.com/RichardJMeldru1

Serial Killers: The Waiting Ruins by Martin P. Fuller

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

The Waiting Ruins Part 1

It was a place light avoided and hope had deserted long ago. 

A place of clinging sadness and ill feeling.

A place of lurking worry, purposely forgotten about by all who ever knew of it, excluded from maps and removed from local legend.

From a distance, and a certain viewpoint, the ancient house wore the cloak of romance, wearing a veil of ivy over its crumbling, moss-tainted stones. The undergrowth around the ruined walls should have harboured the rabbit and hedgehog, and its higher walls been playing host to the sparrow and the crow. But nothing wanted its supposed safeties, feeling the evil that soaked its very core.

Albert Davies had first seen the remains of the house on the hill three years ago, during a visit to his old college friend, Sir Richard Gaunt. 

It had been a long and pleasant summer in the country and Davies had spent many a happy hour with Gaunt, reminiscing on old times, shooting and riding. He had developed a great fondness in taking walks around Gaunt’s estate, utilizing footpaths and byways in the surrounding area. He enjoyed the peace of the magnificent countryside and got on well with the local folk, being neither too proud nor arrogant to mix with what his host described  as ‘the common populace’.

It was whilst on one of these rambles he happened to turn right instead of left on a fork in the path. How simple a man’s fate can be decided. 

The path was overgrown but led eventually to a small cliff overlooking a valley which contained the fields of a farm adjoining his host’s estate. Davies sat on top of the rocks, sipping whisky from a hip flask, feeling the warm sun on his face and admiring the view. 

The sky was a clear azure and the sun caused a heat haze over the fields of wheat. Thoroughly at peace with life, as he allowed his gaze to drift across the landscape he was drawn to a tree-covered hill about a mile away along the valley. Through the thick foliage he could just make out the angular structure of a ruin, its dark stones almost completely concealed by the canopy of the woodland greenery. He was puzzled as his diligent examination of the local maps provided by his host, had not, to his recollection, boasted of any ancient monuments or historic houses. 

Indeed, his recollection was of there being only fields and a farmhouse in the area. He had with him his telescope, a favoured relic of his family which he took on his walks for bird watching and observing points of interest. 

Upon focusing on the ruin, he noted that most of the upper story of the building had fallen in but there were enough clues in the architecture to show it was mid or late medieval.

It took a good hour of brisk walking under the hot afternoon sun for him to approach the woods surrounding the base of the hill. Further progress was confounded by thick walls of blackberry, thickets of hawthorn and steep, muddy banks that made progress both slow and painful. Twilight was approaching, and he was forced to return to Gaunt’s estate for the evening meal, resolving to return on the morrow armed with a walking stick and billhook. 

The weather however, intervened. There followed two days of miserable rain and stormy conditions. Davies’ sojourn into the countryside ended and he was forced to return to London on business.

It was a year later that he again journeyed to visit Gaunt and again stay at his country estate. 

He had not forgotten the mystery of the ruins on the hill and instigated numerous enquiries. Local maps showed only the hill on the valley floor but there was no mention of any building on its summit. He spoke to Gaunt’s staff and locals in the nearby village. His questions were met with polite but unhelpful replies. No one had any information, local legend or gossip about the hill’s strange structure.

Now, even more intrigued, he set out early, armed with a stout walking stick and sharp billhook borrowed from Gaunt’s gardener to assail the hill’s curtain of foliage.  

A darkness seeped from the ruins. An oozing malignance which slipped into your mind, scraping your raised senses till fear whispered warnings in your ear.

The ruins were deliberately difficult to get to. The blackberry formed obstinate walls of green pain and the rough paths were mud-bound and marshy. These were not the house’s defences but nature’s scab over the obscenity of the remains. It was nature’s effort to protect the foolish and unwary from themselves. The house desired the visitor, the curious tourist. It yearned for a sacrifice. A victim.

Before attempting to reach the ruins, Davies called in upon Isaiah Flanders, owner of the farmland on which the hill stood. His hope for information on the mysterious prominence was dashed when his questions to Flanders received poor answers.

Yes, of course he knew about the hill. It was situated in an area of poor soil and the only knowledge he had was that it had been used as a depository for stones and boulders found in the fields when the ground was cleared in ancient times.

No, he’d never considered wasting his time climbing through the dense undergrowth and exploring what lay on top. There was no game gave to shoot or trap and so no incentive to frequent its slopes. 

Flanders was a practical man with little use for adventures not concerned with farm work. 

What surprised Davies most of all was his ignorance of any building on top of the hill, hidden behind its curtain of trees. In fact, Flanders was impudent enough to state he may have ‘perhaps dreamed it all up’. Davies realised that the few ‘nips’ of whisky to fortify him on his adventure had been detected by Flanders who had made an incorrect assumption about his sobriety.

Affronted and somewhat confused by Flanders’ lack of knowledge, Davies made his way to the foot of the hill and walked around its base determined to find an easier path into the sloping woodland. 

He made his first discovery after ten minutes of searching. An old trackway appeared to approach the base of the hill running from the main roadway at the head of the valley. A determined few minutes of hacking down brambles revealed the bases of two gate pillars. Piles of smashed stone littered the undergrowth, and he could see the path was a little clearer into the trees at that point. This must be the old entrance to the property. 

Just as Davies started to hack away at the barriers of shrubs and bramble, a breathless stable boy from Gaunt’s household ran up. After much panting, he was eventually able to tell Davies that he was needed urgently back in London where his father had been taken ill. Frustrated but also consumed with worry about his father, he hurried back to the house and hence to London. His father had sickened and eventually died. It was another ten months before Davies could return to the hill.

 

With effort, the curious and determined could approach, hacking at the tendrils of bramble, ignoring the cruel cuts and scratches of the razor thorns and creeping tree roots that sought to strain ankles and trip the unwary. 

The prize of the forlorn endeavour, was the revelation of the ruins. The square dark bones of the old house still stood, its remains leaving an obscure warning to mankind of the price meddling with unspeakable power could demand.

Empty widows that once held primitive glass, stare down like the eyes of a blind demon. Its truncated chimney, sprouts weeds and mutated seedlings that have gained purchase in its decaying seams. Shattered walls that once defied cannon and musket resent the intrusion on their bitter self-pity.

The whole black-hearted house, with its deeper shadows of forever midnight, waits to do you any harm it can. It wishes to lick your face with its stone grain tongue and snap your bones with fingers of rotting oak beam. Any intruder entering rooms now devoid of their doors, is watched and assessed. Broken flagged floors tremble under foot with a rage of damnation. Something watches from the eroded fabric desiring you to linger, to wait till the evening light fades and the old hell can drop its picturesque pretence, showing its true face.

Martin P. Fuller

Martin P. Fuller lives in his shoebox house in West Yorkshire. He was in his previous exitances: –

 a beer salesman, a pall bearer, a car delivery driver, and oh yes… a police officer for over 34 years.  

He started to write in 2013 after attending a creative writing class and since then has become a writing course junkie. 

Discovering his dark side, Martin has had a number of stories published in Trembling with Fear and several other anthologies including Deadcades published by Infernal Clock.

  

Serial Killers: Stilt Walkers. Part 3

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

Where Daylight Meets Dreams

Amber didn’t sleep. The wakesfulness was building up inside of her. She could feel it like a glass of water filled to the brink.

In her house just as dusk was painting the sky red, she laid out a white button-up shirt on the bathroom counter. Mister Jonesy sat on the counter too, watching her work. She picked up a long needle from her mother’s sewing kit. She tried to be careful, but her hands trembled as she weaved the needle in and out of the stiff collar. Then she threaded another. And another. When she added the last one, the whole collar was lined with the longest and sharpest of the needles, all pointed up around the neck like the prongs of a king’s crown. She picked up the shirt and whipped it around her body like a cape. Her arms slipped in the sleeves. Her fingers, numb with fatigue, managed each button all the way up to the top and fastened the collar tight around her neck. The needles rested flat against her skin.

She bent her neck in each direction until she felt the sharp poke of the pins. When she bent forward, one of the longer ones got her good and drew blood.

“Ow,” she whispered. She pressed against the tiny hole to staunch the bleeding. Mister Jonesy looked up at her with his solid unblinking eyes. “One more thing, Jonesy. Just to make sure it works.”

Amber turned off the bathroom light and the room fell into absolute darkness. There, alone, unobserved and consumed in darkness she had a deep and sudden temptation to lay down and sleep. It would be easy. She’d have to take the shirt with the needles off first, but that wouldn’t take more than a few seconds. Then she could sleep, and sleep for a long time. Maybe, after enough rest, all these problems would disappear and she could remember what it was like to be normal again. Did she choose to close her eyes, or was it just fatigue? They closed, and there was no difference. Everything was dark. Still, those dreams were waiting for her just on the other side of the veil of consciousness.

The steering wheel of her car. The dashboard. A text alert from friends since forgotten on her cell phone. A flash of movement above the dash. A guy on a bike. Broken glass and blood.

Amber opened her eyes in the pitch-black bathroom. No difference. Only now she knew she couldn’t sleep. Not yet. Couldn’t play in her dreams just yet.

She exhaled. “Gotta give it a try, Mister Jonesy. Can’t let much out, but I have to know it’s in there,” she said and closed her eyes again. No temptation of sleep this time. She lifted her palms up in front of her face, her neck straight and rigid to avoid the needles. She crammed her eyes shut and concentrated as hard as she could.

The bathroom began to glow a dull red, then a brighter orange like the coils of an electric space heater. The shapeless glow took form behind her closed eyelids. Two palms. Ten fingers spread wide open. Like an image seen through a thermal sensor.

“That’s enough,” Amber said, cutting it off, and flicking on the light. It was instantly bright again, and she had to squint her eyes to see. The stuffed toy mouse—the rat, still sat on the counter. “Got to save it up, Jonesy. For when we need it later.”

***

The needles did their work. Whenever she drooped they stabbed her awake deep into the night.

Amber watched from her rooftop. Over the course of hours, traffic dwindled from steady to sporadic to vaccuumous. The moon crawled up the sky. Mister Jonesy, held close to her, never blinked and never slept. He’d been classically conditioned in his bucket not to fall asleep a long time ago. For Amber, her conditioning was just beginning. Her eyelids felt heavy like cinder blocks, and if she could have laced sewing needles through them to keep them apart, she would have.

Instead, she sat on the slope of her roof with the spikes surrounding her collar prodding her each time she moved. Every time she turned her neck, each time she craned up or down, they rubbed the skin a little redder and a little rawer.

Hours passed without a single sighting, and her invention got its first real test. Reality gave way to delirium and Amber’s head fell forward, hard. Two sewing needles stabbed deep into her skin. The sensation was so instantaneously painful she jerked her head back and got pokes from the needles in the back of her collar almost as deep as the ones in front. That brought her back to full consciousness, as alert as a rabbit in a field full of foxes. She brought her hand up to the skin next to her Adam’s apple. Her fingers came away red and wet.

“Jesus, Jonesy,” she said. “Remind me not to do that again.”

Mister Jonesy didn’t reply. His eyes were sewn open. For him, this was old hat.

Amber sighed and shuffled her butt, trying to get a little more comfortable on the shingles. Where were they? She knew they were out there, already stalking through the housing and picking their victims like quiet kids pressing down thumbs in a classroom; she just couldn’t see them yet. Each hour meant another house infected with their evil. She couldn’t wait much longer. She had to draw them to her. They always came closest to the dawn, when she was the most tired, when she balanced exactly right along the razor’s edge between awake and sleep. It was only when she was her most vulnerable that she could see them, intercept them and intervene. Right at that place where daylight met dreams.

She had to give them something. Had to present to them an easy target. A fragile mind for them to infect. Amber never learned to meditate. Never did yoga or any of that other stuff that might have taught her how to control her mind and set it in the place for a trap. So instead, she talked herself through the Hollywood pseudo-spiritual Jedi/Kung Fu version of meditation.

“Center yourself. Clear your mind. Think of nothing. Breathe. Let the bastards come to you,” she whispered. She wouldn’t allow herself to close her eyes. Just blink after heavy blink. She breathed. Focused. Not so much as to bring out her stored wakefulness, but enough to call out to them with her mind. Weak thoughts. Selfish thoughts. Thoughts that wanted sleep above all else. “Come my way and infect me with your evil. I’m ready for it, you sons of bitches.”

Around her, the crickets and frogs silenced their nighttime anthem. The buzz of a transformer went mute. Cool wind brushed past her ears. Something slow and plodding moved behind her. Amber sensed it more than heard it, but she knew exactly what it was.

“This Will Kill You”

She fixed her eyes straight ahead. Across the housing development, others emerged from the inky darkness of night. Thick bulbous bodies on impossibly thin and sharp legs. A radio tower blinked its warning light and reflected red off their glistening backs. They moved over rooftops like black Nazi zeppelins in the distance. Steady. Silent. Probing each residence for mental and moral weaknesses.

But those stilt walkers didn’t concern her nearly as much as the one creeping up behind her back. The sensation of a dozen whiskers as thick as hemp ropes stretching out to her. They smelled her, tasted her, savored her fear and fatigue, stretched around her arms and shoulders, overwhelming her. But nothing touched her, not yet.

Her breath was caught somewhere mid-throat. Her pours dumped sweat onto her skin. Slowly, she turned her head. A needle caught the loose flesh around one of the wounds and dragged it open a bit more. Blood ran free. She turned around and came to her feet.

The stilt walker loomed just a few feet from her face. The rope-like whiskers made a tunnel between her eyes and its eye clusters. Too many shiny black beads to count. She spotted more with each red flash of the radio antenna light. Hell-red ruby inlays in a leathery undulating body roughly the size and shape of a Volkswagen Bug. It pulsed and heaved as if breathing through lungs and beating an ugly heart, but she wasn’t convinced the thing had either organs. She breathed in its stink. Old food. Dried gym clothes. Dead animals. Burnt hair. Bad dreams.

The injector tube was already dangling from under its body. Now the tip of it snaked over the peak of the roof, its wet macaroni noodle-shaped end groping and sniffing as it went along the shingles till it found her shoe. It worked its way up, slipping along her bare legs up to the hem of her shorts.

Why wasn’t she running? Why couldn’t she move? Why was she letting this happen? She had a plan for this, didn’t she? Why wouldn’t it come to her now? Amber went light-headed. Her vision narrowed down to a white tunnel with just a few of the wet beady eyes at the other end reflecting the red pulses of the radio antenna. She felt that macaroni noodle end of the injector crawling up her, and as much as she didn’t want it touching her body, she knew when it reached her head the real hell would come. Why couldn’t she stop it?

The words of Laura from Lutheran Social Services repeated in her ears, “This will kill you.”

The injector sniffed at Jonesy clutched tight to her chest and pulled back for just a moment. The break in contact let Amber suck air into paralyzed lungs, let a little blood flow into her brain. The white tunnel widened as she got the sense to move away from the stilt walker. One footstep backwards. Only she’d forgotten she was standing on top of a pitched roof, and she didn’t account for the slope. Where she anticipated level ground, there was nothing. Before she could react, Amber was falling over backwards, landing hard on the roof and sliding head-first away from the stilt walker and towards the ledge.

As she went over, one hand reached out and caught the gutter. Her body swung and the inertia ripped her hand loose from the thin metal. Jonesy went flying. Gravity flung her to the ground and she landed hard on the grass next to her front porch. Every pain receptor in her body lit up from head to toe. Her sense of control was gone again. She was nothing but pain receptors now, unable to move or cry or roll off her face. She couldn’t move. Couldn’t make the pain go away. When she saw through the blades of grass that the stilt walker was wandering off, it got worse. This was her one chance, and she was blowing it.

It strode around her house and then down the lane. It dismissed her. Forgot her. Thought as little of her as a piece of wet litter in the gutter. Not a threat and too disgusting to bother with.

Amber moaned and arched and repeated the word “Ow” each time she moved. The pain localized to different parts of her body. Her sides throbbed and each time she tried to breathe the pain turned from dull and generalized to sharp and precise. Her head burned but kept her conscious as she climbed back to her feet. When she brought a hand up to her neck, she found one of the needles had come out of the collar and was buried half way into her skin. She plucked it out and threw it into the yard.

She gasped and something stabbed her side. Her ribs. She’d broken them this time. Still, her eye focused on the stilt walker lumbering away from her and down the street.

“Get… back… here,” she wheezed.

Never Blinking Eyes

Amber took a step and found new injuries and new pain just as overwhelming shooting up the length of her right leg. Bruises, she decided. She could still walk on it. Could still run.

“I said get back here,” she strained out a little louder this time.

The stilt walker didn’t pay any attention.

She jerked and limped and shuffled after the creature. Each stride hurt but she ignored the pain. She was determined now. Focused. Her purpose was set and certain. It’s wasn’t until she reached the street that she noticed her hands were empty.

“Mister Jonesy.”

Spinning back to the yard, she didn’t see him. Panic rushed over her. Without him, she couldn’t do any of this. She’d fail and the stilt walkers would continue to infect the world with their evil. She rifled through the bushes and landscaping. He had to be here. She was sure he fell off the roof along with her. If he was still on the roof she had no choice. She’d have to go back up and get him, but the stilt walkers would be long gone by the time she got back down.

Amber twisted her head around. The needles ripped flesh. The stilt walkers continued their migration through the neighborhood, one or two stopping at a time to inspect and infect, but moved herd-like further and further away.

Turning back to the house, the radio antenna flashed behind her and something reflected the red light from the shadows of the porch. Two tiny red beads. Two never blinking eyes.

“Jonesy,” she said and reached into the shadows. Her hand touched soft plush cloth. She pulled the stuffed mouse out into the moonlight and buried him in a hug. “Oh thank god, thank god, thank god.”

When she took him away from her chest to look in his eyes, he was wet with blood. It was from her shirt. The white button up was now dark from the collar to her stomach. The wounds on her neck dripped and drizzled more spots onto the white material.

Her balance went funny. Her vision turned fuzzy. Standing up and turning to follow the stilt walker migration, she staggered.

“If you keep this up, it will kill you.”

“Shut up, Laura,” Amber said.

They were getting away. Too far ahead for her to catch up with them, not with her equilibrium doing backflips and all of the joints in her right leg protesting with every step. She was failing. She was letting them win.

Amber’s eyes fell on her Toyota Corolla parked at the curb.

“It’s time to end this, Jonesy.”

Inside the car, she found the keys in the cup holder, exactly where she’d left them. She dug them out and jabbed them into the ignition. She cranked and held it down until the starter chugged and coughed. How long had it been since the engine turned over? She knew exactly how long. Not since the spring. Not since the accident.

“Come on, come on…”

One more sputter and it was alive. The engine roared and one unsmashed headlight lit up the street. The spindly legs of the walkers shining up ahead.

“Buckle up, Mister Jones,” she said and threw the transmission into drive.

It was no problem catching up to the creatures now. She passed around the legs of the one that had assaulted her on the roof. One wasn’t enough. Others were ahead. She had to get to the front of the pack if she wanted to stop them all.

And she needed them all. Needed to gather all the hate, all the greed, all the rudeness and impatience and short-sightedness that would build and build into mass murder and war and starvation… she could stop it all. She could save the world.

The Corolla weaved through them like a deer through trees. Some to the left and right. One, she went right between its legs. When she didn’t see any more ahead of her or any more to either side, in one motion, she hit the brakes and cranked the wheel. The Corolla ripped sideways, almost rolled, and left black arcs of burnt rubber on the street. Its one headlamp shined through the living room window of a random house. Amber grabbed Jonesy, threw open the door and stepped out.

Looking back over the hood, she saw the entire herd moving towards her. They converged and funneled through yards from adjacent roads. Still aching, each breath still stabbing bone into lung, Amber climbed onto the hood. Her shoes were wet and slippery against the metal. Drops of blood splattered against the glass and dusty paint job. She put a hand on the roof to stabilize herself as she climbed over the cracked windshield and then onto the roof. She came up to a wide stance, staring down the street toward the oncoming stilt walkers.

“I got ‘em Jonesy,” she mumbled. “This time I got them.”

They stilted closer.

One quick check down to her palms. They were wet with blood but that didn’t matter. Under the blood they glowed like soft light bulbs under lampshades.

The stilt walkers surrounded her. They unfurled their black ropey injector tubes and twisted them through the air towards her head.

Amber stood up straight and shoved out both palms, holding onto Jonesy with one thumb. She clamped her eyes shut tight, focused, and conjured up every ounce of lost sleep and every minute of wakefulness she’d stored up. It boiled up inside of her, swelled in her brain like a pus-filled wound. She gather up the pain and sorrow and hell of each late night until it was so hot inside of her she felt no other sensation. The pain in her leg and ribs went away. Her skin heated up to match the warmth of the spilled blood running down her neck. All that energy tunneled from her chest through her arms to her palms where it pooled up, dammed by the skin of her hands. Light kindled hot against her eyelids.

Here it came. Here is where she ended it.

***

They found her in the morning, lying out on the pavement next to the Corolla. Mister Jonesy sat next to her, just outside of the pool of blood, still smiling.

Laura from Lutheran Social Services stood over the body and shook her head, at a loss. “I mean, I don’t know if you can call her my client. We met once. Yesterday, at her school. Very troubled young lady. I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more than that, officer.” And then as she remembered bits of the conversation, “She wanted to save us all from some sort of evil influence. I didn’t understand it.”

The officer nodded his head knowingly and closed his notebook. She didn’t have anything worth jotting down. “Well, appreciate you coming down anyway. Try to have a good day, despite… well, despite this.”

Laura released a pent up breath. “The day can only get better from here. Safe bet I won’t be coming across any more dead bodies.”

That was the end of her conversation, and the end of her interactions with Amber.

She tried to forget about the strange girl with the strange obsession from that moment forward. Behind the wheel of her car and a few blocks away, she got the first relief from her thoughts of the dead girl. A buzz from her phone in her purse in the passenger seat. Not her habit to text and drive, but she decided she could use something to take her mind off the scene she’d just left.

Laura pinned the steering wheel in place with her knee and reached into her purse. She lifted the phone up and the alert still lit up the screen: a text message from an old friend she hadn’t heard from in ages. What a perfect distraction.

Joe Prosit

Joe Prosit writes sci-fi, horror, and psycho fiction. He has been previously published in Chantwood Magazine, The No Sleep Podcast, and Aphotic Realm Magazine. He lives with his wife and kids in the Brainerd Lakes Area of northern Minnesota. If you’re an adept stalker, you can find him on one of the many lakes and rivers or lost deep inside the Great North Woods. Or you can just find him on the internet at JoeProsit.com or follow him on Twitter, @joeprosit.

Trembling With Fear 12/22/2109

Happy Christmas everybody, those who read TWF, those who submit to us and those who do both. We really appreciate the tremendous support for this corner of Horror Tree over the past year, it’s grown to the extent we are regularly scheduling ahead of ourselves, especially for the longer stories and serials.

During the festive period, many of us will have a few weeks with our family, probably over-indulging, whilst sneaking in not a little reading and writing time. My own Christmas Day tradition is to read my Christmas book after I have fed everybody. I ignore everything, including Xmas telly, until I finish.

If you’re looking for additional Christmas reading, you can’t go wrong with Alyson Faye’s latest release, Christmas Terrors: A Mini Collection of Dark Fiction, available on amazon. Alyson is an excellent writer, particularly of the gothic, and has been extremely supportive of so many writers online, whether reviewing, sharing news or promoting.

Over to Trembling With Fear where the first story is Red Eye by G.A. Miller brings us carnage on a plane. A different setting for a change amongst the submissions – something I always like but don’t experience very often. A nicely-paced dark thriller, it hints at greater horrors to come and in fact could serve as the start of a longer piece.

Prone to Misinterpretation by John H. Dromey includes an unfortunate accident leading to a person’s worse nightmare. The accident itself is certainly original – and very unlucky.

Lights Go Out by Kim Plasket uses repetition to add a nice creepy effect to this distortion of reality.

Morning After by Robert Allen Lupton gives you the perfect (but terrible) pun as its punchline. Read it and weep!

Before I leave this penultimate TWF editorial of the year, I would like to add an additional thought. One for those, who for whatever reason, struggle at Christmas. They may be fighting depression, battling loss or illness, homelessness or family breakdown or any one of the other myriad problems modern society poses. If you know anyone in this position, please give them a moment of your time if you can or support one the many charities who do so much on our behalf.

Wishing you all peace at Christmas and in the New Year.

Steph

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

What a whirlwind of a week. Star Wars, a Pentatonix concert, a flat tire, Christmas prep, a reprint acceptance.
I want to hibernate for the next 2 weeks and things are only going to be picking up!

At any rate, I just wanted to throw out a reminder that we’re always on the lookout for new fiction and drabble to feature in TWF! We’re also contemplating a separate anthology call this year but it is still a bit early for us to be sure that will be happening.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Red Eye by G.A. Miller

The eastern sky was getting lighter, a velvet prelude to the coming sunrise, of which the control tower offered a generous view. Another slow night on graveyard shift was finally coming to its end. 

A blip on the radar screen brought the air traffic controller’s attention back to the task at hand. He keyed his microphone and called.

“TransGlobal two one seven, this is PVD tower, over.”

Ed Agosto tapped his fingers on his console, waiting for a response. His shift would be over soon, and he wanted to bring this flight in so he could prepare to hand off to the first shift controller. The speaker mounted over his desk remained silent.

“I say again, PVD tower calling TransGlobal two one seven, over.”

Joe Flynn looked up from his desk, one eyebrow raised.

“Something wrong?”

“I’m getting no response from TransGlobal two one seven.”

Joe got up and walked to Ed’s console. Glancing at the radar, he reached over and keyed Ed’s microphone.

“TransGlobal two one seven, this is tower supervisor. Be advised we’re not receiving any response from you here. If you read me, reduce your altitude by 100 feet, over.”

Joe and Ed watched the radar as the aircraft complied and dropped 100 feet on their approach. Joe nodded.

“TransGlobal two one seven, we verify your reception and will bring you in. Tower supervisor out.”

“Ok, bring them in as soon as you can before something else on that bird goes wrong. I believe runway 9 should be clear for immediate approach.”

“Copy that, Joe. I’ll get them home.”

Joe walked back to his desk, waving to Tony Russo, the day shift supervisor walking through the door with his impossibly large thermos of coffee in hand as always.

“Morning Joseph. Quiet night?”

“Hiya Tony. So far yes, mostly shipping runs, but we seem to have an issue in play right now.”

“Oh?”

“Ed has a red eye on approach, appears unable to respond. I verified they can hear us, so he’s going to bring them in on runway 9.”

“Good idea, get them down soon and safe.” Tony murmured as he squinted over at the radar screen, “Have you alerted the emergency crews to stand by yet?”

“Doing it right now,” Joe replied, the phone already in his hand.

Both men knew the drill. They should be able to safely bring the flight in but be prepared for the shit to hit the fan in case it did.

Joe and Tony began their shift handoff, both men watching Ed’s progress carefully as he guided the aircraft safely down onto the runway. There were emergency trucks on the sides of runway 9, but their assistance wasn’t necessary. The plane taxied smoothly toward the gates as all three men in the tower breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The boarding agent glanced out the window at the plane approaching the terminal and paused. Was that paint on the cockpit windows? What could have splashed a plane in flight? She walked to the window to see better and realized whatever was on the glass was on the inside, as there was nothing at all on the fuselage.

She walked quickly to the jetway door, locked it and then went to her desk and picked up the phone to contact security. Something was very wrong on board this airplane.

The emergency trucks made their way to the terminal from the runway as three men approached her desk. She caught the eye of the police officer leading the airport security men and nodded toward the large plate glass windows, not wanting to alarm the few passengers walking past her gate.

The men walked to the window and silently looked out at the plane. The sun was up now and lit the nose well enough for them to see the dark crimson splashes covering the cockpit windows. They walked to the agent’s desk and the officer in charge spoke softly to the nervous agent.

“Your name, miss?”

“Julie. Julie Mills. What is that?”

“We’re going to find out, Julie. I want you to open the jetway door for us and then lock it behind us. Do not open it for anyone but me, do you understand?”

“Y…yes. What do I tell the passengers?”

“The aircraft has a maintenance issue that needs to be checked. Mark the flight delayed until further notice.”

Julie nodded her head as she led the men to the door and opened it for them.

“Remember Julie, I’ll knock and identify myself after we clear the plane. Until then, this door remains locked.”

The men filed through the door and paused as Julie closed and locked it behind them. The officer keyed the mike on his shirt.

“This is Brant, we’re in position to check the plane.”

“Copy that, Brant, we’re covering the perimeter,” came the reply from one of the cars now surrounding the plane below. 

David Brant turned on his flashlight, drew his Glock and led the airport security team down the jetway to the closed aircraft door.

“Either of you boys know how to open this?”

“I got it,” one replied as he moved past Brant and operated the lever to unlock the door. He pulled it open and to the side as Brant swept the empty galley with his flashlight. Brant nodded and the man moved to the jetway controls to bring the platform up against the plane.

“Hello? Flight crew? Airport security boarding,” Brant called out as he walked slowly forward, ducking his head as he entered. He turned to his right to look down the aisle and froze in position, his flashlight held above his Glock.

“Jesus…” Brant whispered.

It was a slaughterhouse. The cabin lights were flickering, adding a strobing effect to the horrific scene he witnessed. Passengers and crew alike had been torn to pieces, dismembered limbs lying haphazardly in the aisle, on seats, wherever they landed when… when what? What the hell could have caused this bloodbath?

He backed up to the cockpit door, not taking his eyes off the aisle, and banged loudly with the handle of his flashlight.

“Captain? Captain, this is the police, please open the door.”

Silence. He glanced at the security officer.

“Can you open the cockpit?”

“Negative. I’ll call my supervisor on the jetway phone and get someone here.”

Brant nodded as he reached for his own mike.

“This is Brant. We have a situation on board this aircraft. I need crime scene and medical examiner forthwith. Also, keep eyes on the exterior and insure nothing gets out, K?”

“Copy… nothing? You mean no one?”

Nothing. I need one or two EMT’s and the M.E. is gonna need backup.”

“Copy. Brant, what the hell happened up there?”

“I don’t know, but we need to contain it on this aircraft.”

Brant heard footsteps approaching and saw the security guard returning with another man in a suit.

“I’m Brant. Can you open the cockpit for me?”

“Yes, I can. I’m Joe Parker from TransGlobal. What’s going on?”

“One minute,” Brant held up his hand, “When you board, look at your shoes. Get the cockpit unlocked, then back out. You don’t want to look down the aisle, trust me.”

“Officer, I represent TransGlobal Airlines,” he said, shaking his head, “I need to know exactly what happened on board my aircraft.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Brant said softly as he lowered his hand and allowed the man to pass and enter the plane.

Parker looked to his right at first class, did an immediate about face and gripped the open doorway tightly as he lost his last meal over the side of the platform. Brant hoped none of his men were standing below. He wiped his face with his handkerchief and tossed it over, not wanting to return it to his pocket. He faced Brant again, his face pale.

“W…what?”

“I don’t know. Please open that door and move back onto the jetway. I haven’t cleared this plane yet.”

He nodded and unlocked the security door as requested. He took care to look away as he made his way back to the platform.

Brant pulled the cockpit door open to an even more horrific sight. There were pieces of the pilot and his co-pilot everywhere in the small space, a strong copper like aroma from the spilled blood wafting out. The captain’s dismembered hand still rested on the throttle and the co-pilot’s head was in his lap looking up, a horrified expression frozen on his face for eternity. Brant pulled the door closed so no one else would see the slaughter inside.

“You three stay put. No one on this plane until I’ve cleared it.”

“Don’t you want to wait for backup?”

“No time. If you hear gunfire, close and lock this door and send for the Marines.”

Brant began the harrowing walk through the plane, one row at a time, carefully stepping around the pieces of human debris as he swept his light to illuminate the momentary shadows cast by the flickering cabin lights. His finger rested on the trigger instead of the safe position above it. He was sweating profusely despite the cool air in the cabin.

“Please,” he muttered to himself, “it’s a red eye, don’t let there be any children on board…” 

The carnage he witnessed was beyond description, yet none of the seats appeared to show any tears or damage, all the overhead compartments were closed… nothing out of place at all except for the human remains scattered everywhere. He lost count of how many times he had to choke back his bile as he checked the entire plane front to rear, unsuccessfully searching for survivors among the passengers. The cabin was silent, the only sound his own strained breathing.

When he reached the restrooms at the rear, he opened the doors slowly as he carefully aimed at the center of each empty opening. He reached inside the second one and took a handful of paper towels from the holder to wipe the sweat from his forehead then stuffed them in his pocket to avoid contaminating the crime scene.

Whatever had done this was gone, but how? He had opened the locked fuselage door, none of the emergency exits were open, restrooms were empty. Not a trace. He looked down at the floor and wondered if the cargo hold was accessible from the main cabin. He’d need to check when he returned to the others.

He carefully made his way back to the front, opening and sweeping the overhead compartments with his light and stepped gratefully out onto the jetway.

“Clear,” was all he could muster. He turned off his flashlight and slid it back into the loop on his belt but kept his Glock in his right hand. He glanced at the security men.

“Close and lock this door back up, please. This aircraft is a crime scene.”

“It’s Brant,” he said into his mike, “Request a SWAT team to sweep and clear the cargo hold. The cabin is clear.”

“Copy. How many ambulances will we need to transport…”?

“None,” he cut in, “There are no injured on board.” The silence told Brant his meaning had been understood. The two airport security men looked confused, frightened… and they hadn’t seen the unspeakable carnage inside.

 “Officer?” Parker had finally regained his voice, “Should I contact FBI or Homeland or…”?

Brant held back a dark laugh. This pencil pusher wanted to hand this off to the same government officials that managed to fuck up the spout on a gas can. Yeah, they’d handle this just fine, no doubt.

“Let’s just wait, Mr. Parker. My command will make any necessary notifications.”

As they all moved back so the jetway could be moved and the door closed, Brant’s mind was spinning.

In addition to the what and why that he couldn’t answer, a new question nagged at him now.

He’d seen the cockpit. Who or what the hell had landed this flight?

Brant put his hand on Parker’s shoulder, turning him to the side to speak in confidence just as the fuselage door blew off the side of the aircraft. One of the security men was hit head on, crushing him against the jetway, the other decapitated by the shredded metal door hinges.

What the hell did I miss in… Brant thought to himself just as a black cloud flew out of the plane with gale force and David Brant thought no more.

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences. His work has been published in numerous anthologies from a variety of publishers, and he’s just released his first novella, “Spirit of the Dead”, now available at Amazon.

https://talesfrommiller.com/
http://gamillerdotblog.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015787309417
https://twitter.com/GMiller666

Prone to Misinterpretation

Multiple axe murder victims were discovered in a cellar room filled with body fluids and parts. How deep was the pile of blood and guts? The first detective on the scene found himself up to his neck in gore after he slipped on the slick floor.

Unfortunately, his forehead scraped the edge of the discarded murder weapon, and he added fresh blood to the mix. He lost consciousness.

The detective awoke in complete darkness. Suffocating. His oxygen-starved limbs refused to move. Worse still, he could not summon enough breath to call for help in getting out of the body bag.

John H. Dromey has had short fiction published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery MagazineCrimson StreetsMystery Weekly MagazineStupefying Stories ShowcaseThriller MagazineUnfit Magazine, and elsewhere, as well as in numerous anthologies, including Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree Publishing, 2015) and the Black Hare Press series of Dark Drabbles anthologies (WorldsAngelsMonsters, etc.)

​Lights Go Out

Darkness falls. The lights in the houses are on but there is something strange. The screams start, the lights go out. One by one around town, you wait for the killer to come home.

You are set to take him out, your guns are fully loaded. Knives sharpened and at the ready. The screams are getting closer as you stand by the door waiting. 

The lights go out, the door swings open. As you confront him you see your own face staring in shock as you pull the trigger. You drop dead as you wonder just where you went wrong.

Kim Plasket is a Jersey girl at heart relocated to sunny Florida. She enjoys writing mainly horror and paranormal stories and lives with her husband and 2 kids. When she is not slaving away at her day job, she can be found drinking coffee with fellow author Valerie Willis and planning the demise of some poor character. Currently she has several short stories featured in anthologies such as ‘Demonic Wildlife’ and ‘The Hunted’, also has a story in an Anthology Titled Fireflies and Fairy dust she also has had a story featured in Shades of Santa  with more to come.

Morning After

Munch Khan, the leader of the Mongols, led his decimated horde through Indochina. He rode a tall horse because he was very short. 

The horde was like a horde of locusts and devoured everything in its path.

They accidentally started a forest fire and elephants, tigers, and water buffalo stampeded, Many Mongols were trampled, but some climbed to the safety of the jungle canopy.

In the aftermath, the diminutive Mongol leader followed an orangutan down a jungle vine.

A child working a rice paddy said, “He looks funny dangling there.”

His father said, “Stop it. That’s a little Khan descending.”

Robert Allen Lupton is retired and lives in New Mexico where he is a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Robert runs and writes every day, but not necessarily in that order. He has been published in several anthologies and his short stories are online at www.horrortree.com and www.crimsonstreets.com. His novel, Foxborn, was published in April. His collection of running themed horror, science fiction, and adventures stories, can be found in Running Into Trouble and Dragonborn, the Foxborn sequel.

 

www.amazon.com/author/luptonra

www.goodreads.com/author/show/15292457.Robert_Allen_Lupton

https://www.hometownreads.com/books/foxborn

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