Tag Archives: writing

No Worries

I used to worry about everything. That’s how I ended up here, in this padded room. They tell me I’m not fit for the outside world. I used to worry they’d never let me out of here, but now I worry that one day they might. That’s my only worry now. They’ve taken all the others away. They don’t know that. I haven’t told them. I can’t let them think they’ve cured me. I can’t risk being released back into that shit hole of a world outside these walls. I’m happy here. Happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Sorry for being away so long, minions. I hope to start posting more frequently for you all. As always, thanks for you support, even though my stories are pretty infrequent as of late.


The Last Line

Jackson walked the streets where he’d grown up. He’d been gone a long time. When he’d returned, he expected to find everything different. Sadly, very little had changed. Even the penny Jimmy Smitts had pushed into wet concrete back when the city had spent a rare dime on that part of town to give the sidewalks a facelift was still there. Now, the sidewalks were cracked and uneven. Some parts were nothing more than patches of dirt, but the penny remained.

The other kids in the neighborhood had made Jackson’s life hell back then. Jimmy was the only exception. Jimmy wasn’t exactly a friend, but he wasn’t a bully either, not like the rest of them. Jimmy usually just did his own thing, but he’d gone missing when he was fourteen. At the time, Jackson had assumed Jimmy had just wised up and finally run away from the wrong side of town to make a name for himself somewhere. But now, Jackson didn’t even dare hazard a guess as to where the closest thing he had to a friend in his youth had ended up, probably nowhere good.

Jackson turned the corner of Pine Avenue and Sycamore Street. He never understood why they used trees for street names instead of numbers, it only served to complicate things and get people lost. Lost is something no one wants to be on the wrong side of the tracks. He looked through the window of McKinley’s barber shop and saw a few familiar faces. Old man McKinley was long gone, but it appeared his grandson, an unfriendly acquaintance from Jackson’s youth, had taken over the family business. Jackson didn’t bother going inside. Instead, he walked on.

For several minutes he walked slowly past the tightly packed houses. It was a wonder they hadn’t all gone up in flames when Vincent Daniels blew himself up building a pipe bomb to celebrate Independence Day.

Jackson stopped in front of the house that he’d grown up in. He’d thought it was run down then, but now it was downright decrepit. The entire structure was cocked so far to the left that a strong gust of wind from the right direction could probably blow it over. He took in the sight of his old home and sighed.

He was twelve when Jimmy disappeared. Inspired, he’d packed a bag and split in the middle of the night less than two weeks later. It wasn’t until he hit twenty-five that he started considering returning to explain why he’d left to his mother. Now that he was there, he didn’t know if he could go through with it.

He swallowed the desire to keep walking and stepped through the opening in the rusted chain link fence where the off kilter gate used to hang. A few steps up the walk he spotted the gate lying on the unkempt lawn–mostly weeds, really–between the fence and the house.

The stairs groaned under his weight as he climbed to the porch. He stood before the door and hesitated with his hand raised. The knot in his stomach clenched so tight the he nearly doubled over. He took a deep breath and slammed his balled fist against the broken storm door–three times in quick succession. No turning back.

A woman, nearly as time and weather worn as the house opened the door. Her eyes narrowed.

“Hi, Ma,” Jackson said.

“You should have stayed away,” she replied, but opened the door and nodded for him to enter. “You was right to leave. This place is poison. It’ll kill anyone stupid enough to stay,” she added as she walked back the hall to the kitchen.

“I was hoping it might have changed,” he said, following her.

“Yeah, well, get used to disappointment if you plan on staying.” She sat at the table and took a sip of her tea.

He sat across from her and tried to smile. She looked like hell, and he felt responsible. “I’m not staying, Ma. Just felt I owed you an explanation is all.”

She shook her head. “No need to explain. Running away from this God forsaken place was the best decision you ever made.”

“Maybe you should leave too,” he suggested.

“This is my home, Jackson. For better or worse, this is where I’m staying. It was nice to see you though. Good to know you’re still breathing.” She swallowed another sip of tea. “I believe you know the way out.”

Jackson stood up and turned for the hallway. Just before he took a step he looked back. “For what it’s worth: I’m sorry, Ma, for putting you through that.”

“Dead or runned away, either way you was better off than living through the hell those boys you hung around with put you through. Nothing to apologize for, boy.” She gripped her teacup with both hands. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to drink my tea before it gets cold.”

Jackson nodded. “Goodbye, Ma.” He let himself out and headed back around the corner of Sycamore and Pine.

The familiar bell on the door of McKinley’s barber shop chimed after he rounded the corner. A voice rose behind him. “Hey, Jackson, is that you, man?”

He didn’t respond, lacking the desire to talk to Danny McKinley, though he probably goes by Dan now.

“Yeah, that’s right, keep walking, pussy,” the voice chided.

Jackson just shook his head and kept walking. He made his way back to the penny–the only thing worth saving in his old neighborhood–and pried it from the cracked concrete with the screwdriver he’d had in his pocket. He left the screwdriver on the ground and slipped the penny in his pocket in the screwdriver’s place, after kissing it for luck.

When he’d finished, he headed back to his rusted, white, windowless van. The key slipped into the lock on the back, and he pulled on the handle. The rusted hinges whined in protest, but the door opened. He climbed into the back and sat on the bench he’d built from scavenged scraps of lumber. After pulling the angry door closed, he turned on the overhead light and slid the bench up to the small table on the other side of the van. For a moment he stared at himself in the jagged shard of mirror taped to the wall with duct tape.

After allowing Danny’s insult to sink in, he nodded and opened the makeup case on the table. First, he applied white over his entire face. Next, he created a huge, crooked smile and diamonds over his eyes with black paint. For the final touch, he added a single teardrop on his left cheek. A grin crept up his face as he stared at the demented clown looking back at him. He couldn’t help but laugh at the hideous creature.

He lit a cigarette and took a long drag before slipping the lighter into his pocket with the penny–just in case he ended up needing it–and shouldering the bag on the hook beside the table. He didn’t bother turning the overhead light off. He wouldn’t be coming back. With a heavy kick, the door flew open, and he hopped out into the afternoon sun.

His laughter flooded the street as he picked up where Vincent had left off all those years ago. It was time to celebrate. By the time the police showed up he’d gone through the entire bag of pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails–six of each–lighting all but one with the cigarette dangling from his mouth. He had to resort to the lighter in his pocket for the final one.

He was still laughing, and sucking down a fresh cigarette, when the officers shot him.

The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable.

This story was written for The Short Story and Flash Fiction Society’s Short Story Contest #6.

I’ve been thinking… Scary, I know.

Over the last few months I have found I’ve been questioning my future in the writing world. That’s why my posts have slacked off and I’ve backed away from Friday Fictioneers and my writing challenges.

I like writing. I really do. That isn’t the problem.

It’s the editing and marketing that get me down. I hate both of them (with a fiery passion one might say). I always have and I always will.

Editing in small chunks isn’t too bad, but over the course of a novella or novel I find it to be mind numbing and painful–a headache inducing clusterfuck if you will. I don’t like doing it, but I can’t afford to hire a professional so I’m stuck doing it myself. Last time I checked, the point of life wasn’t to spend countless hours doing things you hate. It’s been awhile since I’ve checked though so that could have changed.

Marketing is a beast of a different color. I hate it because I’m not a people person. I’m shy and awkward and don’t enjoy putting myself out there or shoving my writing down the throats of people. That’s not who I am and I won’t do it. If my books don’t sell because of that then so be it. That’s the way it is. But that also begs the question of whether or not I should even put my writing out there in the world if I’m not going to promote it full force. Currently I don’t know the answer to that so I’m going to keep putting some stuff out there in the ether for all six of you to read. Someday I could change my mind. I really don’t know if or when that will happen, but it might. That’s a warning that someday I might just up and disappear. I’m not saying it will happen, but it’s a possibility.

All of this thinking has led me to a decision, for now anyway.

I’m going to finish the final run through of the Sins of a Father novella, which I’m pushing back to a new tentative release date of October 15th. It was supposed to be Sept 15th, but it isn’t ready yet.  I really like the story, but it has been an unbearable bitch to edit. Every time I think I’ve got things in order more problems pop up that require tweaking. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve run through it or how many hours I’ve invested in those 25,000-ish words. I hope the time and effort I put into it shows, but I’m nervous about it. What if it’s not enough? What if you guys don’t feel the same as I do? What if I put all this time into it and no one even bothers to read it (which would technically be my fault because I don’t like marketing, but it’s still a concern)? Also, just so you’re aware. It’s not horror in the traditional sense, but I don’t know what else to call it. Nothing else seems to fit any better. There are no monsters, just a man whose world is unraveling as he travels down a rabbit hole he can’t escape.

After that my primary focus will be on shorter stories. I’m done with novels/novellas for awhile. I’ll be working on a new project similar to 100 Tiny Tales of Terror. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’ll be either 300 or 500 word stories, the number of which is also as yet undefined, probably somewhere between 30 and 50. After that I’m thinking 15 or 20 1000 worders, but that’s getting ahead of myself. I plan on finding a few anthologies to hopefully get some stories into as well.

After I finish those things I might revisit a longer project, but I’m not making any promises. In fact, I wouldn’t count on it if I were you. I am a man of few words, both in life and in writing. I feel more at home in the world of short stories than I ever felt with the longer ones. They’re almost always better (not to mention way, way, way easier to edit) than anything longer that I’ve written to date.

Anthology Time

Good evening, my dearest minion.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post I’ve got a story in an small anthology that has just been released.

Do be a good little minion and grab yourself and a dozen of your closest friends some copies. You are addicted to my writing aren’t you? What’s that? You’re not? Lucky for you we have a pill for that. Unlucky for you it isn’t a pill of the oral variety. (Hint: it’s a suppository.) Even more unlucky for the minions who have been selected to administer said pill.

Now that we’ve got the unpleasantries out of the way, go buy a copy (or thirty) of said anthology. (Just click on the big ol’ image below and you’ll be taken to the Amazon page. For you paranoid types there’s a link below the image too.)


Murder: Horror Flash Fiction Stories

Happy reading, dear minion.