Not Only the Dead Pt. 5

Posted: October 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


            I woke up the next morning in bed. I had a terrible headache, a bad taste in my mouth, and worst of all, no recollection of coming upstairs. My first instinct was to look through the archway at the end of my bedroom and into the master bath. I sat upright in bed, the sheets and upper edge of my comforter balled tightly in either hand. Then, for a short moment, standing in front of the sink that was made for ‘her’, I saw her; her body long and sinewy, her breasts firm, her legs and ass tight. Like strings of muscle and tendon wrapped around a perfect skeleton.

It was different this time. The sun was up, my headache offered me a slight reprieve from its tortuous grip, and for the first time since she had started coming to me I was not afraid. I braced myself on my elbows and leaned as far as I could to catch a glimpse of her face, a face that my mind had already constructed from glimpses and shadows as something horrible. Something that my mind was desperate to see, but was perceived like a poisonous viper to each and every one of my primal systems.

She turned her head and every muscle in my body tensed. My breath caught in my chest as the last wisps of hair fell from her cheek and onto her perfectly rounded shoulder.

With my mind ecstatic and my body terrified:

I waited.

I dreaded.

I yearned.

I watched her disappear.


            I was startled awake by a loud and terrible noise. My eyes darted open, my pupils instantly dilating to defend against a luminous invasion, and then the sound came again. It was a man’s voice.

“And if you act now,” he boomed, “we will throw in another set for free!”

My eyes finally began to adjust, allowing the familiar landscape of my living room to come into focus. I had fallen asleep on the couch. Again. On the television was an infomercial for the type of asinine product only made available to consumers between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on basic cable.

“But wait- There’s more!” The voice said.

My fingers had been moving, subconsciously scouring the nooks and crannies of my sofa in hopes of finding the remote. Just as this last portion of the man’s pitch ended, my fingers found purchase, and I switched off the T.V.

The man’s last phrase repeated itself in my head:

“And Wait- There’s more.”

I hoped desperately that there really wasn’t “more” in store for me. Not tonight. With some hesitation, I turned my head, so I could see up the stairs and into my bedroom. I had left the light on and as I looked upon the open doorway, the sliver of light grew more slender as the door crept shut. The hinges squealed as loudly as the scream that grew inside of me. The one that I wished I could release.

The door closed with a sense of finality.

She would never come down here for me, but instead of offering me comfort this fact actually made the whole thing seem worse. To me, it made her visits seem more like territorial claims than mere trespasses.

The silent void that I had created by shutting off the infomercial was just as unsettling; the quiet made it to where I could hear the sound of my breathing. Loud, fast, and desperate. I became entranced by my own rhythmic panting, until the sound of footsteps began to resonate from the ceiling of the kitchen; the area directly below my master bedroom.

I cringed, squinting my eyes into an expression that I could only imagine would look like a mixture of anguish, fury, and unadulterated terror. The whooshing sound of running water came next.

From the proximity of the noise, I could tell that it was coming from:

The sink on the right.

The sink that I did not use.

The sink that was made for ‘her’.


            The only numbers that I did not find comfort in were those on the display of my streamline glass bathroom scale. Two months ago, I was scared to get on the damn thing. The scale looked delicate with its seamless stainless steel and glass construction, but the thing had never let me down; even at my heaviest. For the past couple of weeks, my fear of the scale had still been present, but for a different reason altogether; I was losing weight. A lot of weight.

I had been gaining weight from around the time I turned thirty. Not enough to be considered extremely obese or anything, but enough that the body mass index charts at my doctor’s office made me feel like a huge piece of shit. Now, from the shower of my master bedroom, I looked at the shiny flat thing on the tile floor between the ‘his’ and her’ sinks. I pulled down the crisp white towel that I had draped over the glass of the shower stall and used it to dry myself. The pudgy soft resistance that I had grown accustomed to was long gone, now only a lean hardness remained. I looked at my naked body in the mirror above the sink as I stepped out from the shower and then back down at the scale.

“Do I really want to know?” I asked myself.

It turns out that I did. I stepped onto the thing and looked down as the digital 0’s rotated and the machines tiny computer brain processed my weight. I sighed as the thing continued to work, for what I felt was starting to seem like way too long. Then the numbers came. Saying they were low would not suffice; they were fucking ridiculous. I had not weighed 150 pounds since high school, but sure as shit, there the numbers stood in the dark and inarguable fashion only achieved by numbers and sharp capital letters written in thick red ink. My breath caught in my chest as all of the odd looks and off-handed comments that had been made to me over the past several days really began to sink in. Before I could allow myself any more of a reaction, something in the mirror caught my attention.

Over the right shoulder of my reflection was the darkness of my master bedroom. I rarely kept the lights on while showering, save for the non-offensive halogen style light bulb affixed in the center of the adjoining bath. I stared at the black space over my shoulder as my eyes desperately searched for movement in the inky void. When they found it, my mind kicked up to full-speed, just trying to make sense of it.

The woman was standing behind me, her features mostly obscured by shadow. I had no doubt that it was the same being that had been coming during the night. She was early tonight, and I was sure that the thing did not intend to engage in one of its ritualistic attacks. Not yet. As it sensed my eyes upon its reflection, it sank deep into a shadow in the corner of the room. I knew that if I was brave enough to turn and rush the corner in pursuit, that my hands would only find the semi-glossy and lightly textured walls of my bedroom.

She hadn’t come to attack me.

Just to remind me that she was here.

And the more I came to accept her presence, I feared that there may only be one way to escape it.

‘Not Only the Dead’ Part 2

Posted: September 7, 2015 in Uncategorized


            As I sat at my desk, I felt relaxed for the first time in recent memory. I can’t figure out exactly what was different or what was allowing me to let loose a bit, but I’m sure that the little adrenaline spike I had experienced, care of good old Mr. Levone was mostly to thank. I reviewed the numbers of one of our larger accounts, like I did every day in some way, shape, or form. I have always regretted my chosen line of work; movies like Wall Street and The Insider made business look so damned cool. Sure, some of it was, but those parts were not my part. At least not now. I was head of accounting, which was a big deal for my relatively young age, but I’m pushing 40 now and I definitely feel like I would have been happier had I chosen a profession with a little more physical activity. The sedentary workplace had contributed to my expanding waistline, which often comes with age anyway, but I couldn’t help but think that the job helped to speed things along; that was until a few weeks ago at least. When she had started coming to me during the night.

I first noticed the glances from some of my work colleagues, and then that they were growing longer and longer. Over the last couple of days, I had even noticed some looks of concern and one, from a young woman that was fairly new to the department, that I’m pretty sure could have only been disgust. I had noticed the fresh young face, framed by neatly styled blonde curls, about a week ago. Staying true to my shy nature, I ignored the woman for the first few days, but then, a couple of days ago, I had noticed her giving me one of the aforementioned glances. I chose on that morning to return the glance with a smile and a nod, to which the woman seemed to recoil. I was taken aback, but again staying true to my nature; I lowered my head and continued walking to my office.

Now, the recollection of the woman’s reaction seemed to have less of an effect on me. I reviewed and recalculated balance sheet after balance sheet, taking comfort in the regularity of math. As my fingers hit the worn numerical keypad of my ergonomic keyboard, I reflected on my long-time affinity for numbers in a way that I had never done before. My brain craved rationality, order, and predictability; I knew now that the lack of these things in my home life had driven me to seek comfort in my work, in the cold hard figures of the balance sheets, and in the safe well-lit confines of my office.

“What will happen when I got home?” I thought.

I shuddered when the answer came to me as quick and absolute as any pre-programmed formula on Microsoft Excel.

She would be back:



For the rest of my life.

‘Not Only the Dead’ Part 1

Posted: September 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

Not Only the Dead

            I saw her again tonight. As I lay, awake in bed, her familiar scent clawed its way into my nostrils. I pulled the covers tight around my head and did my best to keep my breath slow and quiet. Maybe this time she would not see me. Would not hurt me. But, just like every time before, her smell worked itself up through my nose, to my olfactory lobe, and into my brain. And just like before I pulled the blankets down and prepared myself to be eaten alive.


            I woke up today with the hopes of erasing her from my memory, like I have been doing for the last several months. I am thankful to be alive, but that is the only positive sentiment that I can share. When you prepare yourself for death each and every day, only to be left alive and confused time after time, the other things in life inevitably become smaller and smaller.

“You are late again!” My boss, Mr. Lavone, screamed.

To me, his voice echoed like the empty cry of a man stranded at the bottom of some remote and abandoned canyon. My ears were as receptive and sensitive as the swaying branches of oak, or shrub, or cacti. Meaning to say, of course, that his words fell on:

The deaf.

The indifferent.

The heartless.

Just enough of my old self still hides inside of me however; naked and afraid, and raw. The primal or instinctual me watched from behind my blood shot eyes.

“I am here though,” I replied.

I watched as the old pudgy man looked upon me with his wide and surprised eyes. He didn’t know how to handle me lately. Since I had something to fear more than him. Since I wished that every morning would be my last and that I would be allowed to fade into death, hurting only myself.

Mr. Lavone stewed. The tension of building agitation making his jaw flex and expand like a reptile. His arm began to rise, I looked down at it and saw that the pointer finger was extended. His finger, his whole hand, seemed hyper-real. My sleep deprived eyes focusing on each individual pore, wrinkle, and follicle. Without thinking I reached out and grabbed it. The shock on the man’s face was unexpected, but rewarding. I leaned into him, I had never noticed, but I was about an inch and a half taller than Mr. Levone. This newly realized height advantage, despite it being only a slight one, forced the man to lean back to keep our faces from becoming awkwardly close.

“I think I’d better get to work.” I said, turning to my desk, not giving Levone a chance to react.

“I think that you should.” Levone said in an authoritative voice.

I expected as much.

I let him have the last word.  

Hey there horror fans,

After finishing an initial edit on my novel a few weeks ago, I thought I would post a good ol’ scary short story to get the momentum and regularity back on the site.

I had set out to write around 3-5 pages…

Well, it turned out being longer.

And, uh, taking longer.

So, this morning I decided to take a break from ‘Not Only the Dead’ and write some flash fiction to post today. As I saved the file to my one drive, I thought, “the first paragraph DOES tell its own story and actually acts as a hook for the longer work. Why not post it!”

So here it is, ‘Not Only the Dead” part 1/2:

I saw her again tonight. As I lay, awake in bed, her familiar scent clawed its way into my nostrils. I pulled the covers tight around my head and did my best to keep my breath slow and quiet. Maybe this time she would not see me. Would not hurt me. But, just like every time before, her smell worked itself up through my nose, smashed through my olfactory lobe, and burrowed into my brain. And just like before I pulled the blankets down and prepared myself to be eaten alive.

Since the dawn of human culture, a mostly silent debate has been occurring. It is one that transcends religion, cultural expectations, as well as political or geographical boundaries. You as the reader may have some idea as to what the topic might be, and I can assure you that some knew what to expect from this post just from reading the title. Either way, this post may at first seem out of place on my website, but I assure that as the subject matter unfolds, or more appropriately manifests, it will seem as right and familiar as a drinking buddy’s sofa bed.

husband sleeping on the couch

The debate I refer to is that of the existence of the paranormal. This can be considered a somewhat broad and all-encompassing word as it can refer to anything that falls outside the boundaries of normal perception; this could be a spiritual abnormality, an extraterrestrial presence, a crypto-zoological encounter, or a simple glimpse into the world of extra-sensory perception. These topics are almost always laced in obscurity and veiled by a tarp stitched with the thread of cultural taboo. Academics are often shunned or ostracized if they acknowledge any of the aforementioned topics with anything more than a wry comment and a disbelieving smirk.  Then of course there were the classical attacks on the paranormal by organized religions throughout history, including, but not limited to the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials.

Now with the broad strokes taken care of, we can take a look at the esoteric meat and potatoes of the subject. Most people have had (or think that they have had) a paranormal experience or at least know someone who has. A 2005 Gallup poll showed that 74% of Americans believe in at least one aspect of the paranormal (which Gallup broke up into the following categories: Extrasensory Perception, Demonic Possession, Psychic Healing, Telepathy, Haunted Houses, Extra-Terrestrial Visitation, Clairvoyance, Astrology, Ghosts, Reincarnation, Post-Mortem Communication, Witches, and Spiritual Channeling). Notice that the pollers did not even mention the existence of crypto-zoological entities like Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, and Moth Man; I would think that this would push the believer percentage up to at least 80%. According to Americans, the most believable paranormal categories were ESP (41%) and that houses can be haunted (37%).

With numbers and percentages like these, the reason that books, movies, and other entertainment mediums often find a reasonable level of success in the horror/sci-fi genres becomes self-evident. People are intrigued by the thought of the “beyond” and many find a sense of comfort and even quasi-immortality in the idea of some sort of existence beyond the grave, whether it be spiritual or  esoteric. I would postulate that many of the writers who choose to express themselves in the supernatural genre have likely had some type of paranormal experience of their own. This makes sense if you think about it; most drug and alcohol counsellors have had experience with substance abuse, most psychologists have experienced some level of psychosis (or have witnessed it in someone close to them), and every exterminator has probably seen Starship Troopers too many times.

Stephen King has sold an estimated 350 million copies of his accumulated and extensive creative works. Nearly all of King’s books at least skirt upon paranormal topics, and some of them would be more accurately described as driving through said topics with a bull dozer constructed with words and driven by fear. King has discussed paranormal topics in countless interviews over the years, and is a believer in ESP (like 41% of America!) and has alluded to some ghostly encounters at the Stanley Hotel, which became the basis for one of his more popular novels, The Shining.

Clive Barker, the spinner of such twisted tales as the film Hellraiser and the novel, Imajica, has never publicly alluded to any personal paranormal experiences. However, when Barker was a young boy, he witnessed the unfortunate accidental death of a prominent sky diver in a grandiose Liverpool airshow.  The experience, although not paranormal, may have set the tone for many of his macabre tales. Understandably so, considering how a young person’s mind often times tries to rationalize death as a point of spiritual transference as opposed to one of finality.

Dean Koontz is another well-known horror writer, who finds himself in the company of the aforementioned authors, but is included in this short list with a slightly different subtext. A quote from Konntz’s  novel, Velocity, is a very good example of how the author may feel on the subject of the paranormal; “Houses are not haunted. We are haunted, and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.” The author is a proponent of spirituality, but in a way that may not be expected by some of his readers; Koontz is a devout Catholic and in reality his personal views on the paranormal are more likely to resemble those of a clergyman than a carver of gory and suspenseful stories. Koontz’s background with his sociopath father and the subsequent attempts that the man had made on his life also were likely contributors to the author’s paranormal lexicon.

The long and short of it: people have different views on the paranormal. Some embrace it fully and like to imagine themselves painted into the pages of some illustrious and terrible tale of demons or zombies or things with long teeth and short tempers. Some see the hope of otherworldly existences as a comfort to their own mortality; while others like to listen, let their imaginations run rampant, and fall asleep with one eye opened just wide enough to let their night lights give them comfort.

To me the question of whether or not the paranormal is real is irrelevant. It is all based on personal and cultural perception, and whether we like it or not, the dark and terrible is here to stay. And it is a part of us.

Until next time horror fans!