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  • Category Archives Stories
  • Too Late: Notes on Jumpin’ Jack

    This one, jeez. Sometimes you write stuff, and don’t really remember what prompts it. With this one, I’d written a story set in Whispering Pines (the haunted woods in my fictional universe, in central Massachusetts) already for the Reddit board No Sleep. I’d written one about aliens which had done well, and this one later, which barely anyone read.

    To begin with, it’s an old black guy. I wanted to write as an old black guy. So I did. That’s probably the King influence again. I’ve always had an affinity for stories about old guys recounting sketchy things from their younger days.

    Recently, I reread Ligotti’s “The Frolic,” and while the only similarity is a child killer, I feel that “Jumpin’ Jack” shares a similar tone, and feel, though it’s less cosmic horror, and more folk horror.

    There is an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, “The Tale of Watcher’s Woods.” Had an impact on me as a child, and helped get the mythology of Whispering Pines going. Probably some Blair Witch in there, too.

    The Tale of Watcher’s Woods

    Watcher's Woods


  • Too Late: Notes on Stranded in the Storm

    There’s this one road that leads from Sudbury (where I grew up) into Lincoln, and much like the road in the story, it is serpentine, and hazardous. One time I got a flat around there, and had to change the tire off to the side of the road. It’s right across the street from a few trails leading up a hill, so it’s quite woodsy. This was the genesis of the idea, I’d driven on this road and skidded out a bit, and it had scared the shit out of me. So, just add a supernatural creature, a snow storm, and there you go.

    I was inspired by the film Ginger Snaps, as I enjoy writing about menstruation as it relates to the werewolf mythology.

    gingersnaps

    A lot of the language, of predator chasing prey, was recently inspired by the works of Laird Barron, but in honesty, I wrote the story back around 2010 or 2011, before I’d read any of Barron’s work. So, most likely, I can trace it to Stephen King, and stories like “One For the Road.”

    I’m sure this story would drive Stephen Graham Jones nuts, because he expressed on this episode of Miskatonic Musings how much he hates supernatural werewolves.

    Bigfoot’s Love Slave

    I like them, though. I like the idea that maybe it’s like they turn into a hell beast or something, some sort of possession that makes very little biological sense.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one story from John Langan in “The Wide Carnivorous Sky,” “The Revel.” I think it’s one of the best werewolf stories ever written. But, yet again, I read the story after I had written “Stranded in the Storm.”

    The funny thing about ruminating on where your ideas come from, is they come from so many places sometimes, and you write one of these, and then you’re driving and you go “oh, damn, I was inspired by (insert story name) too! i should have added that!”

    One of the fun things about most of the stories in “Too Late” is I can see myself expanding any one of them into a longer work, jumping off from where the story ends. And this story especially, and a certain character at the end, might get her own novel someday. Who knows?


  • Up to date on Too Late

    I’ve been a busy beaver these past months. I released “Too Late,” at the beginning of October, and since… well, let me attempt to go in chronological order.

    I attended Rock and Shock this year for the first time as a vendor, selling my chap book alongside Matthew M. Bartlett and Tom Breen, both excellent writers, and more importantly, swell dudes. I can’t think of a better crew to have with me for the first time boothing. Had a lot of fun, sold most of the books I brought, and learned important lessons, like, for one, bring stands for your books. Thanks to Scott Goudsward for loaning the table some.

    skepticalshock

    fuckyoutoomatt

    Then I went on Spooklights, Jonathan Raab’s show, at some point. Which, coincidentally, Bartlett cohosts.


  • Too Late: Notes on Fickle Mortality

    Fickle Mortality is the first story in the chapbook Too Late, and tells the story of an unnamed killer on death row for murdering people to use their skulls to decorate for artistic, and other nefarious purposes.

    If I remember correctly, I wrote this story in 2011, and I don’t think I even tried to shop it (a reoccurring theme) and instead threw it up on this blog. In terms of the atmosphere, I was heavily influenced by old King stories, and a few Barker ones, which of course took place in prison settings.

    Strictly looking at the prose, jeez, I guess there wasn’t one thing in particular. I’m heavily inspired by film, and it seemed to be a wonderfully cinematic approach. The story is written in the first person, and is, in essence, a monologue. Since I recently discussed it on The Rants Macabre episode, Killer Pilots ,I must have drawn from the pilot for Tales From the Crypt, consciously or not.

    How could I talk about a story where a woman paints skulls without mentioning it’s obviously aesthetically drawing from the Day of the Dead ceremony, and while I don’t picture the skulls the narrator paints as similarly designed, the comparison is obvious.

    day-of-the-dead-skull

    Not to get into spoiler territory, but the image I had in my head for something near the end of the story seems to have been influenced by this album cover (although it’s not nearly as cool).

    pathsofpossession-cover

    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll edit something new in if I think of it.

    As always, if you want to purchase Too Late, it’s available through Amazon, and Createspace, and follow the links below.

    Too Late on Amazon

    Too Late on Createspace


  • It’s Just Another Day: The Release of My First Book

    Here’s the fucking awesome cover Mark Richards drew, and that Scott R. Jones helped me design.

    toolatecover

    I always wondered how I’d feel when I finally had a book out.
    I know from experience that a lot of milestones are really just normal days. You don’t feel any damn different. When I finished my first book, even after a slogging march of two years, I felt the same.

    Man, talk about a drag, right? Here you are expecting me to say it’s the most magical day of any writer’s life. It really isn’t. It’s just another day.

    No, the excitement is to come. Not the first plunge, but knowing that at the end of the swim there might be an island. And on that island, well, who knows? That’s the fun part.

    You can’t predict how you’ll feel, any more than you can predict how things will shake out. Still, you’ll never know until you try.

    Below are the links to my first collection, a chapbook called “Too Late.” I hope you like it.

    Too Late on Kindle

    Too Late in the flesh


  • The Demon By Sean M. Thompson Part 1

    PROLOGUE
    July 22, 2016

    She paced the room, trying to gather her thoughts while it was still possible. The quality of the light spoke of broken people soon to be lost forever. Every sound was excruciating, from the ticking of the clock on the wall, to the faint splashing sounds of the cars on the street outside.
    She needed to do this while she was still in control. While her grasp was tight, effective, true.
    A car horn startled her, made her scan the room, frantic, desperate to find the space remained as ordinary as seconds before. Never had she been so cognizant of the passage of time, of the effects of perception.
    A cursory look confirmed the kitchen, the bathroom, the furniture, everything in the apartment was normal. Haphazardly strewn like clothes after a night of heavy-drinking, sure, but not in completely different places as she’d found it so many times before.
    This was important.
    This was very important.
    Her sense of reality of late had grown thin as early spring ice, and she needed the room she sat within to stay, to remain as it was, as it always had been; before this whole mess had started: before the very world around her began to constrict tight as a boa, cold -blooded, ravenous.
    She sat at the desk, opened a tab in her web browser, went to Facebook, and started to type a new post. Outside, rain beat a steady rhythm on her window, and set her confession to a tune.

    Katiefbprologue(1)

    She shut her eyes tight, leaned back in the leather chair. Gritted her teeth. Pushed the breath out of her lungs like focusing her energy, like meditation: a gathering of all her sanity into one last stand.
    One final push.
    To reach out.
    To stop this thing.
    She wasn’t strong enough to do it on her own, anymore.
    She was about to click the trackpad to post the status, and stopped.
    In that moment she knew all that she had been, all her hopes, and dreams, loves, and hates, everything that formed her, made her unique, all of it, all of the memories, and the photographs stored in her mind, every aspect…
    It was all lost forever.
    Where she had once seen a full status, many words, now there were only five.
    She posted the status, grabbed her coat, and left the apartment.
    Out into the storm.
    On the bright screen in the empty apartment, the five words shined through the darkness.

    katiefbprologue(2)

    CHAPTER ONE
    July 27th, 2016

    Cort sat on his leather couch, the humm of the air conditioner mingling with Alice Cooper screaming about being eighteen, and liking it, loving it. He had his phone open to Twitter, as he so often did after work in the evenings. A half eaten chicken parm with ziti sat on the coffee table in front of him, beside an empty can of cheap light beer.
    Thirty-one years of age, single, and a relative loner save for a handful of friends, Cort thought his lot in life was, more or less, acceptable. His apartment was in a nice part of Boston, close to the waterfront, which he could afford mostly due to a mutual friend of the family who owned an apartment complex in this location, and cut him a discount.
    Not that he couldn’t have afforded it without the discount, but it made life a little easier, and provided him with a monetary cushion having a few hundred hacked off the rent every month.
    He didn’t have any pets, and for the time being, he didn’t have much of a desire to rectify his lack of cuddly creatures hovering by his legs. Maybe, someday, he told himself, he’d get a dog, or a cat, or both, but as it stood currently the half-listened to television was good enough.
    Cort was scrolling through his Twitter feed of friends, celebrities, and strangers posting out their thoughts about the upcoming election, food they’d just eaten, or memes of cats, when he came upon one of his friends, Scott, or rather @ScottiBGood, and a tweet which alarmed him.

    katietwitterch1(3)

    There were a few comments under the tweet, one of which was from a mutual friend named Abie, saying she hadn’t seen Katie, and stating she’d read a weird status from her a few days before her disappearance.
    Cort opened up his Facebook app, and searched for Katie’s profile. He went back a few days, reading through posts, hoping for a clue as to either Katie’s whereabouts, or what Abie meant about Katie posting strange things.
    Right away, it was obvious what Abie was talking about. There were posts about “the things in the basement,” posts about “the people in the walls” and about “furniture rearranging itself.” And some of the posts were even less cohesive: hard to pin down in the way a piece of abstract art is hard to interpret, which is a good thing when it comes to paintings, and a bad thing when it comes to reflections of the human psyche.

    katiefbch1(4)

    Going through one particularly odd status about a burning sensation (which Cort assumed had to do with some sort of rash) he noticed a guy had commented with a hashtag #TheDemon. Cort Googled “The Demon,” and couldn’t find anything substantial. There was an IMDB listing of a really low budget looking film from 2013, an amazon listing for a book, but the third link seemed to explain what the guy on Facebook was referencing. It was a short Wikipedia entry, and anything read off a Wiki link had to be taken with a grain of salt, but Cort dove in anyway.
    Reading through the article, what he gathered was “The Demon” was some sort of new computer virus. However, there really wasn’t anything of note described, such as how to avoid getting the virus, or what the effects were on your computer, or phone, or tablet. The main thing the entry emphasized was a red flash on the screen:

    wiki chapter 1 (5)

    “Weird,” he said.
    Below this was a curious entry to the page, at the bottom, which appeared to be added only a week prior by what he assumed was another person. This short paragraph mentioned possible “changes in behavior,” and “hallucinations.”
    It had to be bullshit though, and it was just a Wiki entry, so Cort shrugged it off.
    Cort was about to check twitter for #TheDemon when there was a knock at the door.
    “Who is it?” he called out.
    “Scott. Let me in, dude.”
    Cort, annoyed at someone visiting without an invitation, begrudgingly let his friend inside. After all, Scott was someone he’d known since college, and one of the few friends who would actually visit Cort, so why alienate him?
    “I just read one of your tweets about Katie. Any luck yet?” Cort asked.
    “No. None. It’s like she just fucking vanished.”
    “Yeah. What was up with some of that bizarre crap she wrote? Some of it was pretty damn spooky.”
    “Definitely. And that’s what she didn’t delete,” Scott said.
    “She deleted some stuff she posted?”
    “Oh yeah, man. The stuff still up is tame compared to some of the ones I read she deleted.”
    Cort didn’t know whether he should be excited he was getting involved in a mystery, or freaked out someone he considered a casual acquaintance was missing, and may or may not have had a psychotic break. Far off, he heard the horn of a boat coming into Boston Harbor. He’d gotten used to the sound, the way anyone in a city takes for granted certain noises, such as cars outside, or, more accurately, car horns.
    “You want a beer?” Cort asked, already getting up to grab one for himself.
    “Yeah, but just one. I told Katie’s mom I’d ask around at a few places for her tonight.”
    “I’ll come with if it’s close by,” Cort said.
    Cort had been on the fence on whether he wanted to go all in with the search, but it appeared that in a split second he’d decided his docket was empty enough he could get involved in the disappearance of a friend of a friend.
    “Yeah, one’s a few blocks down. Other is near MIT, so I was just going to Uber there.”
    “Is it Stacy?”
    “Hey, don’t get any idea Casanova.”
    They sat in silence for a few, Scott drinking his beer, looking like he wanted to say something, but wasn’t quite sure how to start.
    “You look like a bug crawled up your ass. Spit it out, what do you want to say?”
    “I was just thinking about something Katie told me about two weeks ago.”
    Cort waited, but Scott wasn’t going on. He got frustrated, and moved his hand in a circular motion, the index finger in a wheel in front of him as if to say go on.
    “She told me she got that Demon computer virus.”

    Stacy Danver’s place was only a few blocks from Cort’s. He’d had been trying to get Stacy in the sack for many years, and had only recently stopped his attempts.
    “Hey, Stacy,” Cort said.
    Stacy just stared at him, then turned her gaze to Scott.
    “I haven’t talked to Katie in over a month,” Stacy said.
    Scott thanked her, Cort gave her a wave which was summarily ignored, and they walked down the street to a bench, while Scott used his phone to arrange for an Uber to drive them to Abie’s house.
    “Do you know a lot about computer virus’?” Scott asked.
    “I know very little about them.”
    This was actually an understatement. Despite having grown up around computers, Cort barely knew the ins and outs of the machines, or really about a lot of technology in general. If he ever ran into issues with technology, he’d either call his dad, ask a friend, or browse the web if he still could for an answer.
    “My dad might know a little, he works in a government office.”
    Thinking of his dad, Cort checked his text messages, and saw the one from the day before which read:

    dadtextchapt1(6)

    “Do you think that’s even possible? A computer virus making you go nuts?”
    “I think it’s kind of nuts to assume that’s even possible,” Cort said.
    “But, think about it. We’ve got this huge influx of information coming at us all day nowadays with these fuckin’ things,” Scott said, shaking his cell phone over his head.
    “But I think people just have shitty attention spans from that, Scott. People don’t go nuts like Katie because of it. Maybe she just had a history of mental illness, have you ever thought about that?”
    A blue sedan parked by the curb, and Scott got up, made his way to the car. After confirming this was in fact Emmanuel, the right driver, they got in and the man, smiling, told them to buckle up.
    Some alert or another set Cort’s phone to vibrating in his pocket, but he ignored it. He was content to stare out the window at the city as they drove, and lose himself in his thoughts for a while.
    Cort had always liked Boston, despite having only lived in his apartment for a little over three years. He found the city to be clean, and enjoyed that it didn’t quite reek as much like piss as some of the bigger ones did. Sure, the rent was absolutely outrageous, and a lot of the people could be aggressive and standoffish, but it was a place which felt as natural to him as breathing.
    His job was fairly mind-numbing, but it paid the bills, and he was getting by, despite living alone, or perhaps because of it. And really, nowadays, did anyone like their job?
    Dusk crept over the brightly lit office buildings across the Charles river, and the view was postcard perfect. Even with all the craziness with Katie going missing, Cort was enjoying his week, despite it being only Wednesday.
    He’d always enjoyed the summer, probably run off from when he was a kid. Summer meant freedom: meant fun in the sun, bikinis, and doing stupid shit you hoped wouldn’t lead to lasting injury or a short, stern talking to by the cops. Summer meant food that would likely give you a spare tire, and perhaps a drunken hook up with someone who never called you back even after you’d left several messages.
    Cort had grown up in the suburbs roughly twenty minutes outside of Boston. His father was of Mexican descent, and his mother was Irish. His mom always liked to joke that it was a role reversal of sorts, as she’d know a lot of latin women who got hitched to Irish men. Of course, come to that, his mother didn’t always exercise the most tact when it came to discussing… well, anything, really.
    He was glad his parents still got along, despite the divorce. Thankfully, they’d stuck out the marriage until Cort had graduated from college. Well, thankfully for him. The holidays were difficult, but he understood, and still loved and got along with both of his parents the way they still loved and got along with each other.
    “We’re here,” Scott said.
    Cort pulled himself out of the past, back to the present.
    “Let’s go see if Abie’s home,” Scott said, and they exited the sedan, waved back at Emmanuel as he waved, and drove off.

    “Come on in guys.”
    Abie’s place was small, but it was cozy. She made them tea, and offered them Girl Scout cookies, which Cort declined due to a diet he was more or less failing to adhere to already. Scott grabbed a handful of cookies, and Abie deposited the box back in the kitchen, then grabbed a stack of papers, and handed them over to Scott.
    “What are these?” Scott asked.
    “I screen-grabbed messages on Facebook and Twitter Katie deleted.”
    “Jesus… these are fucking horrendous,” Scott said.
    Scott handed Cort a page of Facebook posts.

    fbch1(7)

    “Holy Christ,” Cort said.
    He read further.

    katiefbch1(8)

    “I can’t read more of this shit right now,” Cort said, thrusting the papers back to Abie.
    “Oh, it’s really wretched stuff. Katie loved animals. I’m telling you, that’s not Katie,” Abie said.
    “Did she have any mental illness in her family?” Scott asked.
    “No. Both of her parents are still around, in their eighties. Both sharp as tacks, neither one had any obvious mental stuff. I mean, her dad gets anxious sometimes, but not enough he ever got treatment. I’m telling you, I’ve been friends with Katie since middle school. She’s as stable as they get.”
    They sat in silence, neither of them willing to speak first. Finally, Cort broke the silence.
    “Do you think she actually did this stuff?”
    “I honestly don’t know,” Abie said, and ran her hand through her auburn hair, a nervous gesture.
    “Shouldn’t we call the cops?” Cort asked.
    “Already did, and they can’t find her. Also, you know, they got more to worry about than a fully grown woman who might just be in a motel on drugs for all they know.”
    “Did she do drugs?” Scott asked.
    “No. She’d have a drink every once and awhile, smoked pot a few times in college, but that was it,” Katie said.
    “So do you think there was any sort of trigger that set her off? Anything really stressful she’s been going through?” Cort said.
    “No. She loved her job, she was single but had been seeing a new guy, and they seemed to really be hitting it off. “
    Abie stood, made her way to the window, as if the sight of human beings was too much for her at the moment. She stood with her back to them, and stared out at the street.
    “I just keep thinking how she told me she got that computer virus.”
    She turned back to face them, slowly.
    “That’s ludicrous, right? There’s no possible way something you see on the internet can make you go insane, right?”
    Cort got up his nerve, and grabbed another paper, this one with a list of tweets. He scanned down to the last one on the page, and felt like the temperature in the room drop twenty degrees.

    katietwitterch1(9)

    To be continued every month on the 13th! The rest of the parts are over at THE CONQUEROR WEIRD! GO THERE!


  • Shadows of the Past with a story by Yours Truly

    “Shadows of the Past,” is currently in ebook for a buck ninety-nine, and will soon be available in a hard copy, with flippable pages, and the like. The anthology is a collaborative effort on the part of members of the Arkham Horror Book Club, which has a definite penchant for the works of one H.P. Lovecraft, though discusses other works of horror fiction.
    “Shadows of the Past” is filled with stories of history, and horror. My story in the antho is entitled “A Smile Too Wide.” The story takes place during the Haitian slave revolt, and explains the origin of the vodun cult mentioned in Louisiana in “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft.

    Check out the cover, made by one Farah Rose!

    shadowsofthepast

    You can purchase the ebook here.


  • The Crunch of Dead Leaves By: Sean M. Thompson

    They sat around the fire, and felt its untamed heat. Jim, all twenty-six years of him, was off to the side, and they faced him, ready to hear his tale. It was Halloween night, around nine o’ clock, and he’d promised them a ghost story. A local one.
    A bit of ember exploded in the flames, and made a sound like a gunshot. The wind rustled through the trees in the backyard, and caressed their cheeks like a harsh lover.
    On the stone tiles of the porch, circling the fire pit: Debbie, Jim’s girlfriend, twenty-five, Jim’s mother, Abi, none of your business, his father Sam, same sentiment, and his sister Edith, twenty-one, waited. The only sounds heard were those of the forest. Crickets, and off farther into the woods, an owl hooted. Nature’s witnesses.
    “His name was David Arden, and he used to live on this street. He lived right across from this house, in point of fact. He was an unassuming man; not too loud, but not too quiet either. He was one of those people who blend in perfectly. One of those people you more often than not, forget you were even talking to.
    His parents were normal. His father coached his baseball team when he was in middle school, and his mother Maria served on the PTA when he was in high school. There wasn’t any crazy discipline from them. They were responsible parents, and they never hit him, or yelled at him excessively. For the most part he did well in school, getting mostly b’s. David appeared to be completely normal. Unless you knew what he got up to at night.
    He first began to wander the woods at night when he was twelve. One warm summer night, in 1984, the urge became overwhelming; so David put his shoes on, and grabbed a flashlight, making sure not to wake his parents. He was an only child, and often a lonely one. He wandered off into the woods behind his house for the first time that night. They connected to a bit of that conservation land, you know, Raft Pines. Except, we all call them Whispering Pines around here. The name isn’t important, but the rumors about the woods are. Rumors of strange happenings. David didn’t care about the rumors, he just liked to go for those night walks. To be alone with his thoughts I suppose, but then, the man died way before my time, so I couldn’t say his real motivations for sure. He was born in 1972.
    He decided not to go to college, and opted instead to work at the local Laundromat. It was tedious work, but he made enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment in town, and moved out at eighteen. David made sure the apartment was within walking distance of Raft Pines.
    When he turned twenty, in 1992, his parents packed up and moved to Florida. Which part, well, the man who told me this story never said, so I don’t know. What’s important is that when his parents left, without any family around to be with, David changed. An already reclusive man, when his folks left, he stopped talking to anyone. Stopped seeing anyone, save for the customers at the Laundromat.
    In 1993, at the age of twenty-one, David left the laundry to work as a garbage man. From what I’ve heard he’d become rather strange. He left his apartment, and lived in Raft Pines. Just a tent, a sleeping bag, some blankets, and pots and pans were all he had to his name. When he wasn’t hauling other people’s trash into the back of a truck, he was in the Pines, as the locals like to say. I think that started from a folk song, and people from Chesterville just adopted it into their everyday vocabulary. In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don’t ever shine.
    1993 was also when the first of the residents of Chesterville went missing. Old Mrs. Dormund was first to disappear, in April. Next came little Timmy Fredricks, a six year old boy, in May. Two more disappeared in June; a twenty year old girl, Danielle, and her boyfriend, Jim Vitelli, twenty-one.
    By the time September rolled around, the citizens of Chesterville were damn scared. The police didn’t have any leads. The only thing they knew, was that all of the disappearances occurred within five miles of the Raft Pines conservation land, and its twenty mile expanse. Well, that’s the odd thing. No one has ever really gotten an accurate measurement of the area. You talk to some, they’ll tell you it’s a hundred miles, but that can’t be right. Chesterville is a small town, and doesn’t have one hundred miles for the whole town, let alone Raft Pines. So, the estimate is twenty miles.
    One day in early October, a man who worked with David Arden, Tom Jester, thirty-five, went to the police station to report his co-worker had told him some odd things while they rode on the garbage truck. About how David said he had many new friends now, out in the woods with him. David explained how he’d always had lots of friends in the woods, but now he’d found a way to get more.
    And so the story goes that Halloween night rolled around, All-Hallows-Eve, and five people went missing, all from the same street. This street, and this house contained two little girls, Wendy and Theresa Thurgood, both eleven, who disappeared as soon as the sun went down, and they left to go trick r’ treating. Three others, Bobby James, fifteen, from number 52, an old man, Thomas Winter, sixty-seven, from number 58, and a twenty-something who was house sitting for the Marshall’s in 59, Jenny Randal.
    The police went into Whispering Pines, and they found the bodies, all stabbed to Hell. They followed a trail, of blood and viscera, and at the end of that trail they found Dave Arden, with blood on his hands, a bloody knife by his feet, and a lunatic’s smile on his face.
    “So many more friends now,” he said, before Sherriff John Miller fired two rounds into his chest. BAM! (Jim stomped on the ground) BAM! (Jim stomped on the ground) and one final slug to David’s smiling face, BAM! (Jim stomped on the ground a final time.)
    They buried David’s body, and his parents flew in from Florida for the funeral. They left as soon as they were finished being questioned by the police; they didn’t have much desire to stick around. And so the nightmare was over, and people figured that would be the end of the madness.
    But they were wrong. People kept disappearing. More people than ever.
    Two months later, a middle-aged couple hiking through Raft Pines went missing. The town of Chesterville assumed they’d gotten lost on their hike. Many people went missing hiking through Ol’ Whispering, as some of the older residents liked to call it. Still, some thought it strange to have another disappearance so soon after David Arden’s death. There was talk of one of them copy cat killers at work. But not many actually believed the talk. No, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas just got lost in the woods. It’d happened before, and it would happen again. A tragedy, but then, the local police told everyone not to go hiking after dark, and to make sure they had a cell phone on them at all times, and stuck to the paths.
    Folks got more worried when in February, another boy, Freddy Lopez, fourteen, went missing, after he went out to go sledding down a hill half a mile from his house. A little more thought was put into the copycat killer notion. So, after the police searched for Freddy’s body, they searched for evidence of anyone living in the Pines. Not a trace could be found. Not so much as a footprint.
    And so the years went by, and the people kept disappearing, always without any trace.
    In 1994, a total of twelve, in 95, a total of ten, in 96 9. The numbers gradually went down as the years progressed. 5 in 97, 4 in 98, and only 3 in 99. By the time the year 2000 came, only one person went missing, a homeless man who’d drifted into Chesterville, from who knows where.
    And then from 2001 until 2010, there were no disappearances at all. The police were thankful, as they’d called in the FBI, who left, unable to help the local police. People figured the terror was over, that they could stop locking their doors, and going into the house, as soon as the light died from the sky.
    Only, starting in June of this year, the disappearances began again. Margaret Young, twenty-three, went missing, while out for a hike in the Pines. In September, a forty-something couple, the Lewis’, went missing from their backyard. A neighbor talked to them earlier in the afternoon, and confirms they were having one last bbq, as it was a hot day, and they weren’t sure how many more were left.
    And that brings us to October. Five people have gone missing. Three of them from this street. It seems that history is repeating itself.
    And some in our town have a theory. A wild theory, but a theory nonetheless. That David Arden’s soul doesn’t rest in the ground with his decomposed body. The first nations from this area talk about the Pines with reverence. They were the first to name them Whispering Pines. Because of all the whispers they heard among the trees; unexplained noises, as of footfalls, but when inspected, no tracks were to be found. No trace at all.
    And so legend has it that David Arden’s does have his friends now. He has lots of them, to add to the spirits he talked with before he began his ruthless killing spree. Do you know, other than the bodies they found that Halloween night in 1993, they never found a single other body? Not one. Where did they go, I ask you? I guess we’ll never know.
    You should be weary of being out after dark, if you live in Chesterville. Be cautious if you are near the Pines, where the sun never shines. Be afraid if you hear the crunch of dead leaves near you. For what you might assume to be some sort of animal; a coyote, a raccoon, or even a bear, might not be anything of the sort. It might be David Arden’s restless ghost, out to search for some new friends. And maybe on that day you’ll discover where the bodies go. Maybe on that night, you’ll discover what he gets up to with all his “friends.”
    Out in the darkness, where his footfalls, and his friends, leave no trace, and the whispers come from everywhere, and nowhere.
    Hold on, wait a second. I’m serious be quiet. Did you hear that? I thought I heard something rustling, among those trees over there. Maybe we should go back inside.
    Where it’s safe.”

    Creative Commons License
    The Crunch of Dead Leaves by Sean M. Thompson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  • The End of Humanity By: Sean M. Thompson

    If you’re reading this, it’s already too late. Just one sentence, but as it’s digested by your mind, know the seeds of evil have already been sown. It will only be a few days now, until they sprout and grow into the demonic thing which controls me so completely. You scoff, you think, how is it possible for such a banal sentence to do any kind of harm? Because that was the way they planned it. The way it has planned it. To trick you into reading, by making it just intriguing enough for you to finish the line. No good putting this down now, the damage is already done. You might as well listen to my tale. Not that it will do you any good.
    I was an author. Horror yarns were my game, except God help me, I’m no longer writing fiction. I’m explaining facts I’ve only now just pieced together. At its surface, that first sentence makes you think of a hack writer, trying to lure you in, and scare you with threats. I assure you, this is not a threat. There are ancient forces at work here, forces which know how to weave their essence in among the words. How to bind with each letter, until you start to read the letters, and the words, and the essence of the thing travels quietly and invisibly through the air, into your very eyes. Up through to your brain, where it lies inside, and grows, ever so slowly.
    It started with a creative slump I was going through. I’d run out of story ideas, as writers occasionally do. I wanted something terrifying to write about, but couldn’t come up with anything. So lucky then, as I was browsing through the web, and found a demonologist who lived a few towns over from my own, in Ostium, Massachusetts. It certainly sounded more foreboding then my own town of Farmingtan. I called the man up, a Mr. Henry Scatherty, and asked if I could talk to him about demons. For story ideas, of course. He sounded excited to talk to me, and quickly agreed. We set up a meeting time, and I hung up the phone with a smile.
    I drove up on a Tuesday, in the late afternoon. It was mid-way through October, and all the leaves on the trees were a lush, golden orange or red. I love the fall. It seems like just the right temperature; not too hot, but not too cold. A final few months of beauty, before the darkness and the cold set in, and take hold. Much as this nameless being has taken hold of my very soul. Much as it will wrap itself around your own, never to be separated again. A snake inexplicably coiled about your insides.
    I should have been weary from the first time I pulled my beat up sedan in front of that old Victorian house. The shutters were dirt brown, and the rest of the house was the grey of sky, just before the storm. Despite my leanings toward the supernatural and the terrifying in my fiction, I found myself instinctively weary of the house. I felt like it was staring at me, as if the house were somehow alive. A huge host of sparrows rested atop the house, chirping one after the other so that their cries filled the air, and blended together into one incomprehensible din.
    I puffed out my chest, filled myself with false courage. I walked up the stone path, and knocked on Scatherty’s door. There was no doorbell. For that matter, there was no outside light, and the sun was setting. Soon its illuminating rays would not be able to help me. After a few knocks, an old man with grey hair, and a red sweater and brown pants, opened the front door. He looked to be in his seventies, but in good shape for his age, with very few wrinkles on his smiling face.
    “Can I help you?” Mr. Scatherty asked.
    “Yes, “ I said, and proceeded to explain who I was, reminding him that we had talked on the phone a few days earlier.
    “Oh yes,” he said. He smiled a toothy grin, and I saw that despite his years his teeth were immaculate, large, and white.
    Had I known then what I know now, I would have read into the gleam in his eyes, and took it for more then a lonely old man’s desire for company and conversation.


    We sat in his living room, a great big room with eight-foot ceilings and a roaring fireplace, of red brick and black iron. A large bookcase lined the wall opposite the armchair I sat in, filled with non-fiction books about the occult and the demonic. Interspersed, were a few thrillers and horror fiction books, all darkly themed of course. Behind me was a large oak writing desk, with stacks of papers and a laptop sitting on it.
    We talked for hours about all sorts of demons, from all different kinds of cultures. Demons of all the different types of elements; water, fire, earth, and sea. The Chinese Niu Mo Wang , and the Japanese Enma Dai-Ō. The Celtic Balor, and the Hyrokkin of Norse mythology. The German Alp, and the Russian Lechies. All the things he told me fascinated me, and I could tell that the old man was greatly amused by this.
    “But my how I go on, would you like some tea?” the old man asked. I replied that I would love a cup, and checked my watch. It was only five o clock, and I’d arrived at about four. To my surprise, what I thought was at least a four-hour conversation with the old man, was in actuality only about an hour. We drank the tea, and turned to small talk. How the weather was, whether I’d written anything lately, how our collective love lives were. All trivial, but it was a good chat nonetheless.
    At six thirty Mr. Scatherty offered to cook me dinner, and I heartily accepted the proposal. I hadn’t been eating well, too anxious about my lack of fiction output. Now I had a treasure trove of notes to go off of, and I’d many a story idea wandering around like an escaped mental patient, inside my noggin.
    Dinner was lamb chops with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a lovely old bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. It was delicious, and I remember joking that if I wasn’t so heterosexual, old Mr. Scatherty might have had to beat me off with a stick. The old man’s reply was extremely dirty, and it very nearly made me spit out a sip of wine.
    “Anyway, I would never hit a man such as yourself.” The old man replied.
    “You wouldn’t” I said, eager to see what his next retort would be.
    “Of course not, I have much better ways to deal with people like you.”
    I smiled, though it wasn’t a full one. Try as I might to convince myself it was a joke, I couldn’t keep the chill from traveling up my neck.
    He asked me to stay, after a desert of pumpkin pie, and vanilla ice cream. Told me, that he had something in the basement to show me. I made a joke about how I hoped he didn’t have an industrial sized meat freezer and a chainsaw, and he just laughed. I laughed as well. How could this charming, charismatic, gentle old man be capable of any kind of violent activity? He was simply a man with morbid sensibilities, much as my own. I felt foolish, for being so apprehensive, about going down into the room.
    He walked out of the living room, towards an old wooden door, oak, like the writing desk. It was simply the color of the wood. No new paint was added, and I respected the man for keeping the place much as it most likely looked hundreds of years ago. He never gave me an exact date, but he explained that the house was at least one hundred years old, which was easy to believe.
    He opened the door, and descended down the stairs, only there was something off putting about his descent. He ventured downward, without turning on a light, or bringing any kind of light source. I chalked it up to there being a light switch at the bottom of the stairs, and hence followed, without hesitance. I took the stairs slowly, ever so carefully, as it was pitch black in the basement, and there was no longer any light from the sky as a guide. It was creepy, but I assured myself, this old man is just trying to be mysterious. To give me a little scare, that’s all. I’d read this countless times in terror tales; the man who walks into the dark basement, and then… But this was real life, and in real life old men who live alone seldom go on murdering sprees, or transform into monsters as soon as they are out of the light.
    After what seemed like hours, I made it down the stairs. I felt dirt under my feet, and called out to the old man.
    “To lazy to put some concrete down or some wood, ay Scatherty?”
    He answered from the far corner of the basement. The only way I knew his location was by the sound of his voice, as there were still no lights on, and the darkness enveloped all.
    As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I caught sight of a faint, orange glow at the opposite end of the room. Only, there was something strange about the quality of the light. It appeared to be coming from miles away.
    “How are you doing that?” I said to the old man, as I walked toward the source of the light. He didn’t answer me. With each step, the illusion of the light being from a great distance appeared less and less illusory.
    Without warning he grabbed me by the shoulders, and I felt the old man’s breath on my face. I looked into his eyes, glowing in the darkness, and God help me, there were flames lapping up the sides of his corneas. He whispered in the darkness, in a voice that wasn’t human, which consisted of multiple voices all at once.
    “Foolish mortals”, they said.
    “You never believe in us. You assume we are made up, to explain the nature of man. Yet, we are the nature of man, because we have infiltrated humanity, time and time again. Now, the voices said in unison, we will become a part of you. “
    The old man let out an unearthly shriek, and the hard, concrete walls began to shake with the force. He grabbed onto my hands, and I could feel sharp claws digging into the tops of my hands. “We will allow you a first glimpse”, they shrieked, in their voices of eternal torment. “You will be the first of many”, they told me, and I felt a sensation that burned beneath the skin of my hands, inside my very bones. The pain traveled up my arms, up my shoulders and neck, into my head. It felt, for a blessedly brief moment, like my brain was literally on fire.
    And suddenly, I could see perfectly inside the basement. Could see that there was indeed a passageway that led off for miles into the Earth, leading from a six foot by six-foot hole on the far, concrete wall. Could see that at the end of the long tunnel, was a small entranceway of rock, with flames raging on the other side.
    “Go start your work”, the old man whispered in my ear, and I knew then that the Devil might be a made up construct, but that demons are not. We simply haven’t been afforded the proper glimpses to classify them correctly, to give them their proper names. Because, they haven’t told them to us yet. For before me was no longer a man, but a shifting mass of burnt leather skin, with claws and teeth of timeless rock.
    I don’t remember how I got out of there. I must have run up the stairs, and run out the front door. I remember hearing thousands of sparrows, as I ran to my car, though there was no light. I crunched through dead leaves, and opened my driver’s side door, then started the car. But, how I drove home, and what I did when I got home, I can’t recall.


    When I woke up the next day, I went back online, and tried to find Mr. Scatherty’s website, but it was gone. Likewise, I couldn’t find anything about the man, anywhere else on the web. I drove back to Ostium, drove back to where his house should have been, where its house was, but there was nothing there. Only a small burnt patch of land, where it looked like someone had lit a gigantic bonfire.
    I drove back to my apartment in Farmingtan, and when I got in the house, I noticed a new manuscript lay on top of my kitchen table. It was probably there before I left the house, but I was too focused on finding the thing calling itself Scatherty, to notice much of anything. It was entitled, The End of Humanity. I don’t remember writing it.
    As I’m sure I will forget that I’ve written this. You see, it won’t let me remember, for long. It is guiding my hand as we speak, along this computer keyboard. It wants me to think I’m still in control, because it enjoys toying with me. I was unable to remember much about that night, until I wrote it down just now. I know now, the foul thing has taken over, and corrupted my every thought and action. Whether I will remember this tomorrow, well, afraid I already know the answer to that question.
    I got up just a minute ago, and looked at myself in the mirror. Only, I didn’t see my own reflection. I saw a landscape, with houses on fire, and smoke clouding out the sky. I saw people with guns and knives, shooting and stabbing groups of weaponless innocents, who ran screaming, until they were killed and eviscerated. Men, women, and children, all were chased down and murdered, savagely. And, God help me, I saw myself, reclining on a pile of hundreds upon hundreds of dead bodies. Laughing towards the heavens, as blood soaked into my skin from the pulpy mound of dead flesh, underneath my sprawled and joyous, demonic form.
    I don’t know the name of the thing inside me. I don’t know what it looks like. All I know is soon, there will no longer be any of me left. I will be wholly and utterly possessed by this being, this thing from miles upon miles within the Earth, which lives in the flames. This ancient, damned, eternal thing, that uses me as its puppet. And, in a few days, I’m sorry to have to inform you, you will be taken over as well. You and I will be connected, through this power, able to spread myriad parts of itself through the words. Through that one damned sentence, propped unassumingly at the top of this explanation.
    To all of you, I am so very sorry. I wish this were a joke, but it’s not. Savor the time you still have being you. Savor the time you still have to be human. For, I’m afraid, that time is short. Humanity is on the brink of its total eradication. And it’s all my fault. Go tell the ones close to you how much you love them. You may not get another chance.
    Doom is my new name, and its been a long time coming.

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