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Story Critique / Re: "Wrath"
« on: 02:45 PM, 07/ 1/21 »
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Story Critique / "Wrath"
« on: 02:40 PM, 07/ 1/21 »
Wicker branches cut into Andrea’s soft flesh as she ran through the dense forest foliage. Her flashlight bobbed up and down as she sprinted through the woods. Andrea ripped her revolver from the holster in one swift motion and fired three rounds at the creature chasing her. The only discernible features of the beast were its dozens of luminescent cyan eyes. Its clicking and clacking filled the woods. Andrea hurdled over a rotten, moss-covered log. She fired three more shots; two missed and last hit one of the creep’s eyes.

Blue, shiny blood cascaded down the abomination’s face. An ear-piercing shriek exploded from the freak’s mouth. Tree branches and bushes shook like a strong wind passed through them. “You can’t run forever; Khorgakh wants you to come back,”

“The only way you’re taking me back is if I’m dead.”

“So be it,” the abomination growled.

“Hey, over here!” A tall muscular ginger holding a shotgun called from the porch of a nearby cabin.

Andrea sprinted for the cabin with the fiend hot on her trail. She somersaulted through the cabin door to safety.

The ginger stepped in front of oddity and blasted it in half. Blue blood splattered all over the outside of the cabin.

The ginger blew the rising smoke from his shotgun barrel. “You okay?”

Andrea removed dry leaves from her auburn hair. “I’ve been better.”

The man extended his hand. “The name’s Wes. What’s yours?”

Andrea grimaced at the sight of the gore covered hand. “Andrea,”

Wes noticed his gore-stained hand and wiped it on his jeans. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Mouse droppings covered the floor; blood and green spots littered the ceiling. The air tasted like wet socks and
spoiled beef.

“Hungry?” Wes asked.

“No,” Andrea said.

Wes opened a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of vodka. “Thirsty?”

“No, I’m fine, thanks.”

Wes uncapped the bottle and swallowed three big gulps. “You’re welcome to join me in the living room.”
Andrea followed Wes into the living room. The room smelled like fungus. Wes gestured to a stained purple couch; the piece of furniture had several rips and tears that exposed the yellow foam beneath. Wes leaned his shotgun against the sofa, plopped down on the couch, and wrapped his arm around Andrea. A terrible, stale onion smell assailed her nostrils. Bile forced its way up her throat. She swallowed the puke and inched away from the sweaty, unwashed man.

Wes took another swig from his bottle. “So, what were you doing running around the woods by yourself?”

Andrea picked at her nails. “I was just passing through, and that thing jumped me,”

“Where were you headed?”

Andrea wrapped her slender arms around herself and rocked back and forth. “Anywhere safe, I guess,”

Wes winked. “Well, looks like you found a safe place.”

“What about, what’s your story?”

“I’ve just been trying to survive.”

The fire crackled, and the warmth emitted from the fireplace and warmed the room. Andrea glanced at framed photos that hung on the wall of Wes and what seemed to be his wife and kids. “Cute family.”

Wes’s eyes filled with tears, and his face became sullen. “Yeah, they were,”

“I’m sorry,” Andrea said.

Wes sniffed and wiped tears from his eyes. “Don’t be those damn Scorps took everything from me,”

“We’ve all lost a lot since S-Day.” Andrea gestured to a picture of Wes on a Harley with a blonde-haired woman seated behind him. “You ride?”

Wes glanced at the photo. “Yeah, I used to. I still have the bike; my old lady bought that for me as a birthday present one year.”

Andrea rested her hand on Wes’s shoulder. “Maybe you’d let me take it for a spin sometime,”

Wes scooted closer and groped Andrea’s thigh. “Ya know, it’s been so lonely here. I don’t remember the last time I touched another human.”

Andrea pried his hand off and gripped her weapon. “Yeah…”

Wes grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back. “I saved you. I think you owe me something.”

Andrea pulled away and sprung to her feet. “No, I don’t!” Andrea brandished her gun and yanked the trigger. Click. She looked at her weapon incredulously.

Wes took his shirt off. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be, honey.”

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Wes smirked. “I counted your shots in the woods. You’re out.” Wes grabbed the barrel of Andrea’s gun and punched her in the nose. Cartilage crunched beneath Wes’s knuckles; Andrea wilted to the floor like a dead flower. Blood poured down Andrea’s face. Wes hoisted her off the floor and threw her on the couch like a rag-doll. Wes pulled the dazed woman’s pants off and mounted her. He forced her legs apart and pushed himself between them.

“Kiss me,” Wes growled.

Andrea’s mouth dropped open, and a scorpion stinger launched out of her mouth and into Wes’s eye. Wes clutched his face as blood gushed from his eye; Andrea grabbed the vodka bottle and smashed it over his head. Broken glass and booze covered his body. He collapsed to the cold, hard floor. The sound of rushing water filled his ears. He could see a bright white light out of his bleeding eye. His one working eye’s vision was blurry, and he saw double. Pain gave way to rage when he saw Andrea standing over him with a grin plastered on her face. He shakily clawed his way to his feet.

“You’re a fucking Scorp!”

He charged Andrea, but she moved out of the way at the last second. Wes landed in the fireplace. Orange flames consumed his body. Quickly, his body became charred, and he stopped moving.

Andrea picked up the shotgun and considered it. Looks like this is mine.”

She walked to the garage and found the Harley Wes mentioned. Hopped on the bike and drove off into the night.

Story Critique / Re: "Khatgakh"
« on: 01:57 PM, 06/12/21 »
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Story Critique / "Khatgakh"
« on: 01:13 AM, 05/ 3/21 »
Nick stood outside of Shannahan's, smoking a cigarette. The cruel winter air stung his eyes and froze his face.

   Ring Ring.

   "What's up, sweety?" Nick asked.

   "Hey, babe, I'm sorry to bother you, but there's brown water pouring out of the sink, and there's a large wet spot in the ceiling that's dripping water,"

   "I'll call the landlord tomorrow,"

   "Okay, see you when you get home."


A wave of heat washed over Nick, thawing his nose and cheeks. He pushed past the crowd of drunken patrons staring at the football game on the TV. The combination of drunken chatter and boisterous cheering made it hard for Nick to hear himself think. The smell of sweat, beer, and liquor assaulted his nostrils. Nick ordered two beers, then took a seat at a table in the back.

Pictures of famous athletes hung on the dark brown walls, along with football helmets and a framed signed Tom Brady jersey. A fat man with short blonde hair wearing a Patriots jersey that hardly covered his gut sat next to a tall skinny man. The thin man's Super Bowl fifty-three cap almost covered his entire face. He picked at the nachos in front of him.

"Ya think Brady screwed the Pats by leaving?" The fat man asked.

The thin man popped a jalapeno in his mouth. "Probably not. Brady's washed up; the Bucs probably won't go very far in the playoffs."

The fat man shifted in his chair uncomfortably. "You know what's weird?"

The thin man wiped his mouth with a napkin. "What?"

"Those missing person posters hung up around town. Did you hear anything about that?"

"Something strange is going on. A friend of a friend had a job in Burningham and never came back,"

"No one looked for them?"

"The guys were here illegally. No one knows about them except for a handful of family members,"

A heavy hand landed on Nick's shoulder, breaking his focus on the conversation. Nick glanced up at Jack; he had a shit-eating grin plastered on his face. The lights reflected off his domed head; his double chin bulged like the throat of a bullfrog, a trickle of blood ran down the "X" shaped scar on his forehead.

"Ordered you a drink," Nick said.

Jack sat down and sipped his drink. "Thanks; how are things with your family?"

Nick took a napkin from the holder and handed it to Jack. "Your forehead's bleeding."

Jack wiped the blood away and crumpled the napkin. "Thanks."

"I'm trying to get Chante and Adrian out of the slum. I've been working my ass off, but it feels like no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to dig us out of the hole. I'm just worried we'll be in that apartment forever. I don't want my son to grow up as I did. I want to give him a better life,"

Jack killed the rest of his beer. "I have a job for you if you're interested,"

"What are you talking about?"

Jack leaned in so only Nick could hear him. "There's this place in the boonies, it's abandoned. A guy at the scrap yard told me about it today. The house belonged to an old rich married couple. No one's knocked the place over yet. Are you in?"

"I want to stay on the straight and narrow from here on out. I want to be there for Adrian. Growing up, my dad was in and out of jail, and I didn't have anyone there for me. I want Adrian to have it better than I did,"

"Your family can have it all and more with this score,"

"I just don't feel right about stealing people's stuff anymore,"

Jack placed his hand on Nick's shoulder and grinned. "Look, kid, this place is deserted; there's jewelry and other shit for us to steal. This place is in the sticks; no one will see us, so you don't have to worry about being sent back to prison. We could make a killing, and you and your family can move into a decent place. So, what do you say?"

"I can't let Chante down. If I get locked up again, it'd kill her,"

Jack sighed. "Kid, if you pass this up, you'll be passing up a big opportunity. This score could help lift you and your family out of the poor house, but I can't force you,"

   Jack's words bounced around Nick's mind. He thought back to earlier in the night at his apartment. He sat at the edge of his bed with Chante behind him wrapped up in a blanket, tufts of black hair poked out from the edges of her bonnet. She massaged his shoulders.

   "What's wrong, babe?" Chante asked.

   "This is no place to raise a family," Nick said.

   Chante wrapped her tiny arms around Nick. "I want to get out of here too, but it takes time. I don't want Adrian to struggle."

   "I don't either; I remember going days without food and having to sleep on a mattress with bed bugs,"

Chante kissed Nick on the cheek. "We'll figure it out, baby."

Jack's snapping fingers brought Nick back to reality. "Are you gonna answer me or not, kid? I don't have all night."

Nick stared into his mug as if the beer could decide for him. "I'm in,"

Jack patted Nick hard on the back. "Attaboy," Jack fished his keys out of his jacket pocket. "Wait for me in my van while I take care of the tab."

Nick watched from the van as Jack flirted a bit with the blonde-haired, blue-eyed bartender. She fake laughed at his stupid jokes. Jack's old enough to be that girl's father. Jack gave a wave and left the bar. A dark-haired server joined her at the bar. Nick couldn't hear what they were saying, but by how their lips moved, he could tell they were talking about Jack. The pair erupted into laughter as soon as he left. Jack opened the door, a gust of ice-cold wind hit Nick in the face like a sucker punch. He scooted into the driver's seat, and the engine roared to life as Jack turned the key.

A grin spread across his face. "I've got a date with a couple of ripe young things next week."

Ring Ring.


"Hey, do you mind picking up the baby formula on your way home?"

"Yeah, no problem,"

"Thanks. I love you,"

"Love you too."


Jack made a whipping motion with his hand and a whipping sound with his mouth.

Nick shoved his phone back in his pocket. "Whatever, man, at least I'm getting laid, unlike you. How old were those girls you were hitting on, sixteen?"

"They're old enough,"

"They laughed at your geriatric ass as soon as you turned around,"

Jack pulled onto the road and started driving. "Watch your mouth, kid. I like you, but that doesn't mean I won't whoop your ass."

"In your dreams, old man,"

"I was kicking people's asses before you were born, kid."

Nick rolled his eyes. "So, this place is in Burningham? I overheard the guys at the table over talking about a work crew going missing there,"

Jack scoffed. "People love to make up bullshit."

Nick gazed at the pine trees as they sped down the road. He hadn't been this close to nature since a field trip to Yellow Brook Trail when he was in grade school. The van turned down the long icy driveway. The house was so tall it nearly touched the sky. Jack reached behind the seat and grabbed two duffle bags. He unzipped it and handed Nick a pistol and flashlight.

Nick considered the gun. "You said they abandoned this place,"

Jack tapped the scar on his forehead with the barrel of his pistol. "Experience dictates never go into a job unprepared. Trust me, there's nothing worse than being caught with your pants down and with your dick in your hand."

Nick tucked his gun away. "What tricks do you have in that bag?"

Jack reached into the bag and pulled out a crowbar and hammer. "Just tools. Let's get moving. I don't want to spend any more time out here than I have to."

They trudged through ankle-deep snow toward the front door. Jack tried the door, but it wouldn't budge. Nick stepped back, then kicked the door. He took a few more steps back, rushed at the door, and kicked it off its hinges. They strolled around the door into the kitchen.

Jack flicked on his flashlight. "Good job, kid."

Mouse droppings littered the yellow flower-patterned linoleum floor. A green substance coated the walls and porcelain countertop. Black mold covered most of the ceiling. The air tasted like dead leaves. A black leather-bound notebook with a symbol of a scorpion on the front caught Nick's interest. He opened it and began to read.

Entry 1
My husband has cancer. I knew something was wrong when Henry started skipping meals and losing weight out of nowhere. In the forty years of marriage, I've never seen that man miss a meal. Henry complained about his back and stomach hurting. After being a doctor for thirty years, I could easily spot the signs of cancer. I forced Henry to make an appointment after I found him writhing on the floor in agony.

"We didn't come here to read their diary, kid," Nick said as he pulled a box of cornflakes off the fridge.

"You're going to steal their cornflakes?" Nick asked.

Jack opened the box and pulled out four wads of money. "You do this for as long as I have, kid, and you learn all sorts of crap about people," Jack threw two wads into his bag and tossed the other two to Nick. "People think they're clever with their hiding spots. There's no hiding spot I haven't seen."

"I'll search upstairs,"

"I'm going to search the bathroom,"

"When you're finished, meet me in the living room."

Nick's flashlight illuminated the darkness. Blood covered the smashed tile floor. Nick squeaked open the medicine cabinet, revealing the floss, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and perfume bottles lined the shelves. Coming up with nothing, he shut the cupboard. Something black landed on Nick's foot. Nick shined the light on his shoe to see a small scorpion staring back at him with its pinchers raised. He kicked his foot, launching the creature into the hallway. He crouched down and opened the vanity. Empty plastic shopping bags, an old hairdryer, and a tampon box filled the cabinet. He grabbed the box and pulled out a wad of cash.

Entry 2
During breakfast this morning, wads of money fell into my cereal bowl. Henry laughed as I put the fake cereal box back on top of the fridge. That man thinks he's so clever with his hiding spots. I didn't have the heart to tell him that a cereal box is one of the most obvious hiding places. It felt good to see him smile; I can't remember the last time he smiled since he started chemo. To cheer him up, I took him to the antique shop we frequented before he got sick. While Henry browsed, I spotted an odd statue. The statue had a scorpion's body, batwings, snake's head, rubies for eyes, and an emerald in the center of its forehead. The thing was dreadful, but there was Something about the bizarre work of art that intrigued me.
I asked the owner about it, and he said that the statue was a depiction created by a follower of the Cult of  Khatgakh. As odd as it sounds, the idol's beauty captivated me. To Henry's dismay, I bought the sculpture.

"Are you done in there?" Jacked called.


Nick returned to the living room to find Jack tearing up a black leather sofa. He sunk his hands into the gashes and pulled out clumps of yellow foam. "Find anything in the bathroom?"

Nick gazed at the pictures of an elderly couple on the wall. "I found more cash also, and I found a scorpion in the bathroom,"

Jack stretched and cracked his back. "I found it in the bedroom and found a shit ton of jewelry too. Don't worry; you'll get your cut. See what you can find in here."

Entry 3
I had the most peculiar dream last night. I woke up in a dark abyss, cold, naked, and afraid. Two red orbs hovered in the sky next to each other. Above the orbs was a green glowing rhombus shape. The smell of rot and decay assailed my senses. Hissing and clicking filled the air. As my eyes adjusted, I realized the bizarre shapes belonged to Something my fragile mind could hardly comprehend. It promised that if I worship him and offered sacrifice, he'd heal Henry's cancer.

Entry 4
The following day I woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs. I followed the scent to the kitchen, where there was a plate of food waiting for me. Immediately, I caught Henry eating a mouse. Even more disturbing was his appearance. His skin had turned a blackish-green color and had a rough exterior like a body of a scorpion.

Entry 5
Last night a man tried to break into my house. He pounded on the door, demanding to come in, and there had been a terrible car crash outside. Stupidly, I cracked the door open; the man forced his way in and shoved a gun in my face. As he demanded money, I noticed Henry crept up on him and impaled him with a large stinger that burst from his back. Henry dragged the dead man away without saying a word.

Jack pointed to a lever attached to the bookcase. "What do you think that does?"

Nick pulled the lever, but it didn't budge. "Shit, I'm going to need a hand with this."

Jack chuckled. "Oh, come on, put a little elbow grease into it,"

"Just come over here and help me!" Nick barked.

Jack strolled over. "Never send a boy to do a man's job."

Jack grabbed the lever, and they pulled it. The sound of gears clicking and shifting rang in their ears. Nick pushed the shelf aside, revealing the spiral staircase behind it.

  Jack cracked his neck and stretched his arms. "Alright, let's check this out."

"I'm not going down there," Nick said.


"Man, I think it's time to get out of here,"

"You know what I see?"



"Opportunity? I see a trap."

"Think of what else could be down there. I won't force you to go; you can leave,"

Jack grabbed his duffle bag and wandered into the darkness. "See ya on the flip side."

Entry 6
Henry told me he needs to eat. Rodents aren't cutting it anymore; It's hard to look Henry in the eye. I hate how he looks at me, and I feel like he sees me as a piece of meat rather than his wife. Deep in my heart, I know I should leave, but where will I go? Henry's the only family I have, and I have faith the man I married is still in there somewhere. Forever or worse, right?

Nick ran his fingers through his hair, then followed Jack into the darkness. The bottom of the staircase was a small chapel. Torches fastened to the stone walls brightened the room. Mutilated men laid against either side of the border, some of them impaled through their midsections as rats fed on their organs, small scorpions crawled in and out of the gaping holes where the men's eyes used to be, and the rest had their arms or legs torn off—a dying man laid on an altar.

Entry 7
I deserve to die for what I've done. I hired a crew to build an extra room. Once the crew finished, I locked the men down there so Henry could feed. I'll never get their screams out of my head. I can't do this anymore; I have to leave Henry for my sanity.

Nick stared at the corpse in horror. "Jesus…"

"Jesus doesn't exist here," Jack said.

"We need to get out of here now,"

Jack pointed at the statue. "Opportunity."

Nick pointed at the pile of bodies. "Death."

Jack removed the hammer crowbar from his bag. "Those gems are worth money. If you don't want to help me, that's fine, more cash for me."

"See if that guy has any cash on him. I'll get to work on the gems," Jack said.

Greenish-yellow ooze dripped from a hole in the man's chest. Nick pulled the dead man's wallet from his pocket. He flipped it open and pocketed a one-hundred-dollar bill. An icy hand clasped around Nick's wrist. The man was still alive; hampered breaths left his mouth.

"Kill me..." He croaked.

The rubies fell from the statue's eyes. "Come to poppa," Jack forced the crowbar into a crevice that surrounded the emerald. "Now, it's your turn, my shiny little friend."

 The smell of death and rot got stronger.
Nick tore away from the dying man's grasp and pulled his gun out. "Hurry. I don't want to be here more than I have to."

A heavy thump resounded from behind the two men. Nick looked over his shoulder to see the horror. Its flesh black plated armor, a large stinger protruded from her back, its mandibles clicked and clacked as drool dripped from its mouth onto the cobblestone floor, two red eyes were on her forehead, and two sets of five blue eyes were on either side of her cheeks, the stinger that protruded from the beast's back squirted green ooze, its pinchers snapped open.

Nick pointed his gun at the monster. "Jack, we have a situation."

Jack pried the emerald from the statue and tucked it away. "Hold on,"
He turned around to see the terror that stood before them. Without a second of hesitation, he brandished his pistol and opened fire.
Arches of blue blood sprayed from its body as bullets punched holes through its abdomen. They fired until their guns clicked. Cautiously, Jack approached the corpse. He balefully kicked the body. "She's de-"

The stinger sprang to life and speared Jack through the stomach. He gripped the slimy appendage as he dropped to his knees. Jack pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. Tears cascaded down his face. He opened his mouth to let out a sob, but blood erupted from his mouth, followed by gurgles. He pathetically aimed the gun at the abomination. In one swift motion, the atrocity tore Jack's hand off with its pinchers. Jack's eyes widened as crimson spouted from his stump.

Nick slung Jack's duffle bag over his shoulder then picked up the crowbar. He rushed the freak from behind and smashed it over the head. It let out an ear-shattering wail and dropped to its knees. Nick raised the bar, ready to deliver the killing blow, then the stinger came to life and buried itself in Nick's knee. Shockwaves of pain traveled up and down his knee. The appendage violently ripped itself from Nick's leg; he clasped his hands around the wound as blood gushed down the limb.

The stinger rocketed for Nick's chest; he rolled out of the way and grabbed the crowbar with his bloody hand, and swung it at the abominations knee. A sickening crack along with a hideous shriek from the monstrosity bounced off the walls of the chapel. It collapsed to the ground with a heavy thud; Nick forced himself to his feet, raised the bar over his head, and brought it down over and over until the creature's chunky, blue viscera covered him. He hobbled over to Jack's corpse, ripped a section of his shirt off, and tied it around his knee. Nick limped to the van with both duffle bags in hand. As he drove away from the house of horrors, he felt himself getting sleepy. He veered off the road and crashed into a tree.

Nick woke up, not sure how long he had been out. He slowly sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. His back was stiff and ached severely. It took him a moment to realize where he was. Blue walls surrounded him, and pictures of him and Chante hung on the walls. Nick hadn't dreamt of that awful night in years; the medicine wasn't helping with the nightmares. He was an old man with a potbelly and gray hair. Nick peeled himself off the bed and limped into the kitchen. A plate of chocolate chip pancakes and a cup of black coffee waited for him at his spot at the table. Jay, his grandson, sat at the table with his head buried in an entomology book. He was the spitting image of his father: tall, lanky, black curly hair. Chante stood at the stove frying bacon.

"Do you want any more bacon, Jay?" Chante asked.

Jay glanced up from his book. "No, thank you."

Nick sipped his coffee. "What book are you reading?"

"It's a book dad brought home from work. I'm reading about scorpions. Did you know scorpions can control how much venom they release when they sting their prey?"

"No, I didn't," Nick said.

Chante turned the stove burner off and joined her family at the table. "Are you excited to start high school, Jay?"
"Not really,"

"You'd rather stay home and read about bugs all day, don't you?" Nick chuckled. "If you ask me, all bugs should die. I didn't like school either, but school is important. Get yourself a good education, and you'll be just like your old man."

Nick felt Something crawl up his leg. He glanced down to see a scorpion staring up at him. His heart pounded, and he sprang from his chair, knocking it down in the process. Nick swiped the arachnid onto the floor and raised his foot to stomp the creature. Flashbacks of the dead bodies, Jack dying, and the grotesque monster flashed through his head like lightning.

"Stop!" Jay rushed over and scooped the scorpion up off the ground.

Nick stabbed his finger in Jay's chest. "What is that thing doing here?!"

"Nick, stop!" Chante interjected.

Jay backed away. "I thought I locked his cage. I don't know how Aiden got out; I'm sorry!"

Nick picked his chair off the ground and plopped down as beads of sweat poured down his wrinkled face. "If you're going to bring your pets here, you need to make sure they can't get out."

           "Okay," Jay said as he walked off.

"It's too bad that the boy doesn't want to be an exterminator," Nick said.

Story Critique / "Green Door"
« on: 12:53 PM, 06/19/20 »
When I was younger, I partied a lot. My college classes were not a priority; I didn’t even wanna be in school. I just went so my parents wouldn’t think I was a disappointment. My life was a flurry of alcohol, drugs, and the occasional one-night stand. One night I lost a part of myself I can never get back.

My friends Lewis, Gage, and I were driving around. Sitting in the back of Lewis’ mini van, I tried my best to ignore the horrible music blaring from the speakers. Gage passed me a joint from the front seat and cracked open a beer.

“Pass me one of those,” Lewis said.

“Not while you’re driving,” Gage said. “The last thing you need is another D.U.I.”

I took a drag. “When’s the acid supposed to kick in?”

Gage shrugged his shoulders. “Soon. It’s been an hour since you took it.”

“Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular, Roy,” Lewis said.

“We can walk around Yellow Brooke for a bit and kill some time,” Gage suggested. “I’ve gotta take piss anyway.”

Lewis took a right down Burroughs Lane and pulled into Yellow Brooke’s parking lot. Gage burst out of the van and sprinted for the forest.

I stared at the forest, the colors of the surrounding trees, bushes, and flowers were amplified. The smell of pine and citrus combined in the air. This wouldn't make sense to anyone who hadn’t taken LSD or other hallucinogens, but I could taste the forest.

“Are you done, Gage? You’re taking forever.” Lewis said.

Gage came running out the woods struggling to button his pants back up.

“What took you so long?” I laughed. “Were you jerking off?”

“I found a trapdoor by a tree. I heard someone from the other side crying and begging for help.”

“Bullshit.” Lewis said.

Gage gestured towards the woods. “Go check it out if you don’t believe me.”

Lewis and I followed the path, the birds chirped their song and the Lilly’s looked like they were dancing. As we walked past them we came across a green door covered in moss, twigs, and dead bugs.

Lewis rolled his eyes. “Are you sure you’re actually hearing someone, or are you just fucked up?”

“Please help me.” A frail, feminine voice pleaded.

Gage went to open the door.  “It’s okay we’re going to help you.”

Lewis grabbed Gage’s arm. “Stop. This could be a trap. Don’t you think it’s a little too convenient that all of a sudden we hear a woman screaming for help? It could be some psycho trying to bait us.”

“Please help me!” The woman cried. “A man put me here. I haven’t eaten or drank for days.”

Gage rubbed his temple.  “We’ve got to do something, we can’t just leave her here.”

“We can go to the cops.” Lewis said.

Gage jerked his arm free from Lewis’ grasp. “What if she’s dead by the time we get help?”

Lewis ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “They’re better equipped to handle this situation. Besides, we’re all high right now, I don’t wanna risk getting busted just cause you think you hear someone begging for help.”

Gage pushed past Lewis and struggled with the door. He cleared away the brush and discovered there was an old, rusty lock on the handle. “Fuck. We’ve gotta break the lock somehow.”

I scanned the area and spotted a large rock next to Gage. “Use the rock next to you to break the lock. It's all rusted.
You’ll probably break it with a couple blows.”

He struck the lock and it broke off easily. Underneath the door was an abyss of darkness. He pulled out his key chain and used the mini flashlight attached to illuminate the dark.  A naked woman laid on the ground. Her hair was caked with dirt and blood, her eyes were sunken, buried in an ocean of  purple and blackened flesh. Her nose was twisted in the opposite direction, dry blood was underneath her nose and at the corners of her mouth where her lips were torn and swollen. Bruises and cuts covered the rest of her body.

Gage jumped down into the chasm and approached the woman hesitantly. “Can you walk?”

The woman wiped tears from her eyes. “No, I think one of my legs is broken.”

“Okay, I’m gonna pick you up and my friends are gonna help lift you out,” Gage said.

As Gage got closer to the woman my heart pounded rapidly, a horrible tightness formed in my chest, my stomach twisted in knots as an overwhelming sense of panic and dread consumed my body. Gage bent down to pick the woman up; she grabbed a hold of his arm and tore it off in one swift motion. He dropped to his knees and clutched the area where his arm had once been. He stared at the once incapacitated woman as she stood over him feasting on his severed arm like it was a giant turkey leg. Yellow liquid oozed from her mouth as she ate, dissolving the limb. A horrible slurping like the someone slurping filled the cavern.

Eight black spindly legs burst from her back, her mouth stretched and contorted growing bigger and revealing two large fangs that were each the size of a traffic cone. Eyelids that I didn’t realize were there before opened one by one, eight red glowing eyes stared back at me. Thick, black hair spread over her entire body, the creature grew larger and kept changing into something inhuman.

Lewis started to run. “Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

The message was delivered, but the rest of my body didn’t get the memo. I couldn’t take my eyes off that thing. The creature shot a silk strand at Gage and pulled him into the darkness. The door slammed shut, I pulled, but I couldn’t get it to budge. I banged on the door until my fists were bruised and cut. Helplessness washed over me as I could do nothing to save Gage. tears spilled down my face as I listened to the  sounds of screaming, ripping of flesh, and breaking of bones. I snapped back to reality and ran for the van.

At the police station Lewis and I were scared shitless. They didn’t care about the drugs, the focus was the woman and Gage. We told them that we found a woman calling out for help beneath a trapped door in the woods. Gage opened the door,  jumped in the trench, and twisted his ankle very badly when he hit the ground. The cops found the door, but they never found Gage or what had taken him. Lewis and I were prime suspects in the disappearance since we were the last ones to see him. Eventually, we were let go because there was no evidence Lewis or I had harmed Gage. Even though we were innocent in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the public we were guilty.

The rumor that floated around campus was that Lewis and I were satanists and sacrificed Gage. Some of my professors were visibly uncomfortable around me, some even suggested that I transfer schools. Gage’s family held a vigil in his honor. I made the mistake of showing up and it was made perfectly clear that I was not welcome there. His family also had the police in their sights, they publicly criticized the lack of effort to find their son and they claimed that they knew what had happened to Gage and were covering it up for some reason.

The family announced if the police wouldn’t help them then they would conduct their own investigation and find out what happened to Gage. Gage’s parents along with a few other family members and friends went into Yellow Brooke determined to find answers. They found no leads, after the failed search the family moved across the country.

After the incident at Yellow Brooke I took school seriously. I needed to pour myself into something to keep my mind off of what happened to Gage. From then on I stayed sober, drugs were just another reminder of what happened. I graduated, got a good job, and started a family. As for Lewis, well we soon drifted apart after everything that happened. He dropped out of college and got a job at a gas station. A mutual friend had a drink with him at a bar a few years ago. Lewis was skeletally thin, about half of his teeth were missing and those that remained were piss yellow and rotten. He was still working shitty minimum wage jobs and had a few illegal side hustles going on. Out of curiosity one day I looked him up and found his obituary. Overdose was the cause, I wish I could have done something more to help him.

Twenty years later, the fear of that night still haunts me. I buried what happened deep inside me for so long. I had almost forgotten about it until I saw on the news that a group of college students went for a hike at Yellow Brooke. They claimed to have heard a woman begging for help beneath a trap door. One student opened the door, jumped in the pit, and the door slammed shut. The other students were not able to get the door open again.  When the police investigated they didn't find the  student nor the woman; the other students are the only suspects in the case. Please, for your safety and my piece of mind  stay away from Yellow Brooke.

Derek was filled with a mixture of anxiety and excitement as Jack’s pickup pulled up to the old abandoned high school. This was the party spot for plenty of teenagers around town, because it was on the edge of town and out of the way, so any parties wouldn’t be broken up by cops.

“Can we roll a blunt now? I haven’t had a chance to smoke all day. I had to babysit my younger brother. Those stupid cartoons they have out nowadays really suck. Cartoon Network used to be great, but now it’s gone down the toilet. “Teen Titans” was great now that have this stupid “Teen Titans Go” Shit. It’s enough to make me cry.” Chloe said.

Jack reached into his coat pocket and produced a blunt. “Here, I rolled this earlier you can have it. I picked up from my guy earlier. We've got plenty for tonight.”

Chloe took the joint and sparked it up a large plume of smoke rose from her lungs as she exhaled. Derek couldn’t help, but to keep sneaking glances at her. Her porcelain white skin looked so beautiful in the pale moonlight. He always imagined what it’d be like to run his fingers through her long fiery red hair. Chloe's dark purple eye shadow always brought out her crystal blue eyes, and her black lipstick made her lips plumper and more kissable.

Jack turned to Marcus who was sitting next to Derek in the back. “Hand me a beer.”

Marcus pulled a bottle from the twenty-four pack and handed it to Jack. “Here. pass that joint my way when you’re done puffing on it, Chloe.”

Chloe sneared. “Fuck off, get your own this is mine.”

Marcus kicked the back of her seat balefully. “Fuck off? Bitch you stole owe me for that ounce I fronted you.”

Chloe turned around and blew smoke in Marcus’ face. “Yeah, and I had to suck your teenie weenie dick for it. You should eat more fruit and shave down there.”

Marcus sniggered. “You need to learn how to suck. That was the toothiest blowjob I’ve ever had.”

Chloe scoffed. “Don’t talk shit about my head game you cam, you’re just mad I spit your gross ass load out. You would know something about sucking dick anyway you probably sucked dick to get that weed.”

Marcus punched Chole in the arm. “Your momma, bitch.”

“Is your momma the one who taught you how to suck dick? Cause she’s certainly the one who taught you how to punch, my brother hits harder.”

Derek wished that for once Chloe would suck his dick. But she just saw him as a friend even though he was a nice guy. He held the door open for her and was there for her every time someone broke her heart. He wasn’t like one of those jerks she always dated; he was a true gentleman.

Jack opened the truck door. “I’ll roll another one when we get in now shut the fuck up.”

We walked around the school and jimmied open a classroom window and climbed through.

“Careful, Chloe here let me help you.” Derek said.

Chloe climbed through without an issue. “I’m fine thanks.”
Where were we gonna party?” Marcus asked.

“The gym.” Jack answered.

They used the flashlight on their cell phones to illuminate their surroundings. They walked down the hallway, Derek couldn’t help, but notice how clean the floors and lockers looked. Someone was taking care of this place.

Chloe shivered. “I’m cold.”

Derek wrapped his arm around her. “I’ll warm you up.”

Chloe pursed her lips and pushed him away. “I’m good thanks, Derek.”

“Man, she’s not into you, stop it. I’ve seen all the dumb shit you’ve been posting on Facebook about how you’re a true gentlemen and how women are sluts. Pathetic.”

“Don’t be such a dick, Marcus.” Chloe chided.

Marcus snorted. “You know I’m right.”

“Shut up I don’t like you like that either.” Chloe responded.

“You don’t like me?” Derek asked, his eyes were watery as if he was about to cry.

They approached the gym and  Jack kicked open the gym double doors.

“Ladies and gentlemen it’s party time!” He yelled.
Jack took a seat on the bleachers, and pulled a baggie of weed from his jacket pocket then began rolling joints. “Do you guys know why this place is abandoned?”

Chloe cracked open a beer. “Why?”

Jack shined his flashlight on his face. “It happened thirty years ago. A few seniors like us wanted to pull off a big prank before they left. They hated the janitor, he was a dick. The janitor Frank Thompson got one of their friends arrested. Frank found weed in their locker, and the friend was expelled. Revenge was very much on the seniors minds before they would graduate. The plan was to leave a big mess and trap Frank in the gym, then one of them would put a bucket over his head. Then they’d bend him over, pull his pants down and shove a broomstick up his butt.”

“Ew.” Chloe said.

“Well, it didn’t go the way they wanted. They ambushed Frank, but they weren’t expecting him to put up a fight. Right when it seemed like their prank had failed one of the seniors snuck up on Frank and struck him in the head with the bucket knocking him out. The seniors were not content with that, they were gonna finish their mission. They shoved the bucket over Frank’s face and removed his pants, then they humiliated him. They shoved the broomstick so far and deep inside of him. But the story doesn’t end there, A month later Frank would have his revenge. The seniors were found in the center of the gym with a broomstick shoved up each of their butts.

Marcus took the joint from Jack and puffed on it. “Sounds like a lot to digest.”

“Did they spit on it?” Derek asked.

“Shut up.” Jack chastised.
They took it too far, the broomstick was shoved so far it was coming out his mouth.” Jack finished.

“How’d they get away with killing him?” Marcus asked.

Jack smirked. “Well, there weren’t tons of cameras around in nineteen-ninety like there are today. No one knew and no one really cared. Frank wasn’t the most liked guy in the world. You’d think something like that would be a big thing in the paper, but no. It’s a small town and people’s memories tend to be selective around here.”

Chloe drained the rest of her beer and threw the empty bottle into the darkness. “Bullshit. You’re just trying to scare us. This isn’t the first time you’ve tried to pull this shit. Remember the “haunted house”? That place wasn’t even haunted and we got chased out by a homeless crackhead.”

“You’re right, Chloe. Remember when he took us to the woods he said that was haunted? We spent two hours there and we had nothing to show for it, but sore legs and bug bites.” Derek added.

“How’d you hear of this anyway? How do we know you’re not making this up?” Marcus asked.

A heavy sigh left Jack’s lips. “My Uncle was one of those kids. He told me a few years ago when he was drunk. I never told anyone until now.”

Chloe scrunched her eyebrows. “Why bring us here?”

“It’s simple. I wanted to prove to you guys I’m not full of shit and show you I’m right for once.” Jack said.

Marcus pursed his lips. “Well, I don’t see anyone, so this looks like another dud.”

A smile spread across Jack’s face. “It’s not over yet. You’ve got to challenge him first then he’ll appear. Why don’t one of you do it since you think I’m so full of shit.”

Silence filled the air as Derek, Marcus, and Chloe considered Jack’s challenge. This wasn’t like the other times Jack was dead serious and there was an eerie sense of danger that surrounded this place. The three of them glanced at another knowing they all shared the same thought: Why wasn’t the school demolished?

“Why wasn’t the school destroyed then? Obviously no one would want a reminder of what happened.” Derek said.

Jack took the joint back from Marcus and took a drag. “Well, you’d think so, but the demolition crew that was set to tear down the school was found sodomized to death with broomsticks.”

Chloe winced. “Jesus.”

“Jesus is right. Since you pussies don’t have the balls to challenge him I will. Oh, Broomstick Man come out and face me and show me what you’re really made of! Come on pussy!” Jack screamed.

A minute passed and nothing happened.

“Come on.” Jack called again.

Another minute passed and still there was no Broomstick Man. This seemed like just another one of Jack’s ploys to try and scare everyone.

“I knew you were full of shit again.” Marcus said.

Jack ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Fuck you.”

“No man, fuck you. I’m tired of you playing these stupid little games. You wonder why everyone talks about you and thinks you’re crazy. I wonder why I bother to hang out with you, if it weren’t for the free weed I don’t even think I’d be friends with you.”

As Jack stared Marcus down he could see a silhouette moving in the darkness. Jack shined his light over Marcus’ shoulder. It was the Broomstick Man. He held his broomstick like a spear, dark green coveralls covered his body and a metal bucket covered his entire head, two eyes were carved into the front of the bucket and a frown was scratched into the bucket where a person’s mouth would be located.

“There’s someone behind you.” Jack warned.

“Do you really think that’s gonna work on me? What do you think I am six years ol-” Marcus’ sentence was cut off violently.

Jack, Derek, and Chloe all stood in shock as they stared at Marcus. He stood erect, groaning mouth wide open. In the back of his throat just behind his tongue was a bloody end of a broomstick. The stick was violently pulled out. Marcus dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. The Broomstick Man brandished his stick, blood, shit, and other fluids dripped off the end if it.

“Anyone wanna take a ride?” Broomstick Man asked mockingly.

Jack turned for the gym doors and bolted. “We gotta get the fuck out of here!”

“Oh, come on, just the tip?” He called after them.

The trio burst out of the gym door. They ran back to the classroom window where they had snuck in. To their dismay the window was shut.

“Fuck, who shut the window?” Chloe cried.

“I don’t why don’t you go back and ask bucket head if he did it.” Jack said.

Derek tried to open the window, but it wouldn’t budge. “This fucking thing won’t budge!”

Jack picked up a chair. “Move I’ll break it.”

Derek stepped aside as Jack swung at the window with all his might. The window didn’t even so much as cracked. Jack’s face turned bright red in a mixture of rage and frustration. He hit the window again and again and the window didn’t break.

“Just stop, we have to find another way out.” Chloe said.

Jack threw the chair across the room. “Fuck!”

The sound of heavy footsteps reverberated down the hallway. Chloe rushed to the door and shut it. The three all scurried in different corners of the room trying to hide.

“You can’t hide from me.” Broomstick Man said.

Chloe started sobbing, Jack crouched down and got in a three point stance, and Derek just sat there too shocked to feel any emotion. The door knob rattled and turned. The Broomstick Man flung the door open. Before he could do anything Jack tackled him to the ground.

“Help me get this bastard!” Jack screamed.

Derek and Chloe sprang to their feet and began kicking the Broomstick Man while Jack tried to rip the broomstick from his hands. The Broomstick Man’s grip was weakening and it was getting harder to hold onto with all the sweat and blood covering the stick.

Jack had both hands wrapped around the piece of wood, he was so close to wrenching it away from the broomstick wielding freak.

“I’ve almost got it.” Jack said.

With one last desperate burst of aggression the Broomstick Man threw a hard punch square to Jack’s nose. Blood and tears streamed down his face. Derek and Chloe were too stunned to continue their assault.

“Keep him down.” Jack implored.

The Broomstick Man rose to his feet and grabbed Chloe by the back of the neck. “Too late.”

Chloe punched and scratched at his hand, but that did little to loosen his grip.

She dug her nails into his wrist. “Let me go you fucking bastard.”

He bent her over. “Oh, don’t be like that. You and I both know this isn’t the first time you were about to have something hard and big shoved in you.”

Derek charged Broomstick Man and jumped on his back trying to pull the bucket off of his head. Chloe quickly pulled her pants on, but before she could aid Derek in any way, Broomstick Man had thrown Derek to the ground and was getting ready to make his very own Derek kabob.

Jack tackled Broomstick Man to the ground again. “You guys go and get help!”

“We’re not leaving you!” Derek said.

Broomstick Man grabbed Jack and lifted him up with ease.

"Just go.” Jack eked out.

Chloe grabbed Derek by the arm. “He’s right let’s go.”

Without another word they were gone and now Jack had to face Broomstick Man all by himself. He rose to his feet and bent Jack over. He didn’t stick Jack right away, he was savoring this.

“You’re getting off on this aren’t you? Well, I’m sorry to tell you this isn’t the first time I’ve been bent over.”

Broomstick Man pressed the end of the stick against Jack’s butt. “Any last words?”

“Fuck you, you shit.” Jack spat.

“Fuck me? No, fuck you.” Broomstick Man said.

The broomstick was unceremoniously shoved up Jack’s butt and out through his mouth.
Derek and Chloe ran through the hallways of the school looking for a way out. They ran for the front entrance. They tried to open the door, but like the window it wouldn’t budge. This wasn’t the best time, but Derek needed to confess his feelings for Chloe.
“Chloe, I need to tell you something. I love you” Derek said.

Chloe rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I love you too now help me think of a way to get out of here.”

Derek grabbed her by the shoulder. “No, I really love you.”

He kissed her. Chloe pushed him away coughing and gagging.

She wiped her mouth. “You taste like Mountain Dew and Doritos.”

Derek grinned. “Code Red and Cool Ranch.”

“Look, if we make it out of here alive I’ll let you touch my boobs.” Chloe said.

Derek sighed. “I don’t wanna just touch your boobs I wanna be your boyfriend.”

Chloe chuckled. “You know that won’t happen.”

Derek’s head dropped. “Can I touch your boobs with no bra on?”

“Sure, now let’s find a way out of here.” Chloe said.

The horrible echoes of wet boots smacking against the ground filled the ears of Derek and Chloe. They turned around to face the Broomstick Man. Derek and Chloe ran upstairs with nowhere else to go and ducked in a classroom. Derek and Chloe looked for a place to hide. He opened a closet in the classroom and nothing, but a bunch of crap and a mop fell out.

Chloe wiped away a tear. “There’s no point in hiding, he's gonna find us like last time.”

“The only way we can get out of here is by fighting.” Derek said.

Broomstick Man kicked the door in ready to fill their butts. Derek charged the Broomstick Man with his mop. He raised the mop in the air and brought it down in a high arch. Broomstick Man blocked the attack and kicked Derek in the stomach. Derek hunched over and groaned in pain, but he did not let go of his weapon. Before he could advance Derek rammed Broomstick Man in the balls causing him to clutch them and groan in pain.

Derek raised the mop above his head, but before he could deliver the finishing blow Broomstick Man returned the favor by punching him square in the sack. Derek puked and dropped his stick. Broomstick Man pulled him to the ground and pinned him down. He looked over to Chloe who was crying in the corner.

“Don’t look.” Derek said.

Those were his last words before he was violated. The pain of being sodomized and having his organs pushed around was agonizing. Broomstick Man had pulled the stick from Derek’s body once he was satisfied.

Derek was dead, Chloe and Broomstick Man were the only ones left. As the Broomstick Man approached her she pulled out her pepper spray and sprayed, but she held the can backwards, and sprayed herself in the eyes. She ran around the classroom like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Until she rammed into something solid and collided to the ground. Her vision was blurred. The last thing she saw was the Broomstick Man looming over her.

Story Critique / "Break In" (Flash Fiction)
« on: 02:52 PM, 03/22/20 »
After a long day of dealing with stupid and irritable costumers at work, Ron wanted nothing more than to relax, have a few beers, and watch Monday night football. Three hours later Ron had a six pack in him, half a pizza, and had happily watched the Jets get their asses kicked up and down the field.
After the game the news came on and there was a report of an escaped prisoner who had a history of breaking and entering, battery and sexual assault. The news reporter implored everyone to keep their doors locked, but Ron was too drunk to fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation.

 He turned off the T.V. then went to his bedroom. The alcohol did its job as Ron quickly fell asleep a few minutes after laying down. An hour later he was awakened by his door creaking open. Ron figured it was his girlfriend Mary returning from a late night at work.
She got into bed with him and began tugging at the waistband of his underwear. A second later and her hand slipped in his boxers. Ron’s genitals and ass were firmly gripped in a rough and warm hand. Ron could felt his boxers being removed and butt cheeks being spread. Hot breath wafted in his nostrils, it stank like garlic and rotten meat. His head was pushed into the pillow as his body sunk deeper into the mattress he felt the weight of another body on top of him.

He felt wrong, bile crept up his throat; he was too scared to move, paralyzed by fear. He felt like a helpless fly stuck on a spider’s web. Something cold and sharp pressed against the soft flesh on his throat.

“This is the only thing I’ll miss in prison.” A gruff male voice said.

Story Critique / "Strange Occurrences In Burningham"
« on: 08:47 PM, 03/11/20 »
If you live in Burningham you probably know that there’s things that happen in this town that don’t happen anywhere else. Sure, there’s plenty of towns around the state that have paranormal or strange happenings, but they’re nothing like what happens here. Usually, I don’t pay attention to those oddities. Until a Burningham plane crashed a few weeks ago. A plane was on its way to Italy. The plane had only been flying for three minutes when disaster struck. The plane crashed and everyone on board died. The media ran stories that the crash was caused by pilot error, but that couldn’t be true. Black box audio is usually made public, but the audio for Burningham Airlines Flight 1357 was never released and kept from the public.

Deep on the web, theories came flooding in like water through a broken dam. Despite the best efforts of the government to sweep this under the rug, the families of everyone who died on board demanded answers. They didn’t get any, until the audio was leaked.
The audio started off normally. The pilots were having an ordinary conversation, until  they both noticed something. The next thirty seconds of the audio was completely silent.

 Suddenly, the two pilots said something, but it was inaudible and couldn’t be understood. The last three minutes of the recording were filled with screams.
This wasn’t the only incident that I’ve come across. After discovering the plane crash my curiosity grew and I wondered if there were any similar occurrences. I found an article about an astronomer who killed himself last year. His body was found in his home by a relative, he had hung himself. There was a suicide note, but it was not a ordinary suicide note. The note was incoherent, it was a mess of scribbles and random numbers. Only one sentence was written clearly enough to understand. 

Don’t look at the lights!

Needless to say this incident elicited endless intrigue, theories, and speculation. What could’ve it been? This couldn’t be a coincidence. This article inspired me to dig a little deeper, lo and  behold I found another article from only a few months back. A man called Brent Henderson was at a going away party for a friend. The party started just like any other: booze, drugs, music, strangers hooking up with strangers. Until, Brent caught his fiance cheating on him with someone in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
 Enraged, he broke off the engagement. Brent walked outside and to cool off and smoked a cigarette. He gazed up into the sky and something caught his attention. It looked like flashing lights, but he couldn’t make it out. The report went on to detail how Brent pulled out his gun, then shot and killed everyone at the party. When asked why he killed his friends Brent claimed to have no memory of the massacre. Brent Henderson was sentenced to life in prison.

The last two reports I found were very disturbing. Thirty years ago there was a massive car crash. It was a brutally cold, snowy winter New England night. Everyone was paying extra attention to their driving due to the roads being wet and slick. Dan Stevens was driving a large tractor trailer when he got distracted by something in the sky. He veered off into the wrong lane causing a ten car pile up.

Stevens was the only one that survived. When asked what caused him to veer off into the wrong lane he said that he saw something in the sky, it looked like a bunch of flashing lights and faces. At first the faces looked like animals, then they morphed and twisted into the faces of people he knew. He saw his mother, father, ex-wife, and kids. His mother died in nineteen-eighty-seven and his father died a year after that. His ex-wife and his kids hadn’t spoken to him in two years.

Stevens claimed that the faces were angry and they were telling him all sorts of things, but he couldn’t remember anything. He didn’t remember the crash. He had no traces of drugs or alcohol in his system. After a long legal battle Stevens was fired from the company he was driving for and the families of the victims sued the company.

The last piece I found was a journal from roughly one-hundred years ago. The Whalsh family went missing during the spring of nineteen-twenty while staying at their cabin in the Burningham forest. When found, the journal was gnarled, and had a terrible odor to it. The author of the journal is presumed to be the father of the family, Jacob Whalsh.

Entry 1  5/2/1920

I moved my family here for the spring and summer. The winter was harsh on everyone, so I figured we’d need a change of scenery. I get so wrapped up in my work I miss out on the little things in life. Burningham is so beautiful during Spring. I’m also looking forward to spending more time with my wife Debra and my two children Susan and Henry.

Entry 2   5/4/1920

The first day of our stay was wonderful. This was the first time we really spent quality time Susan and I went for a hike in the woods with our pet dog Molly. Susan picked some heavenly flowers. Henry and I took Molly into the woods and hunted rabbits, then went fishing, after dinner Debra and I spent the night lying by the fireplace.

Entry 3   5/6/1920

Yesterday was odd. While Henry and I hunted squirrels he asked me if I saw the lights in the sky last night. Puzzled I said no. Henry then went on about the lights saying that they hovered over the forest then descended into them. The whole forest was lit up with a mass of red, blue, and green glowing light. Within the light he could see dark shadows and silhouettes of things moving in the dense forest foliage. He said they were communicating with him somehow, he heard voices inside his head that were not his own, also they were showing him dreadful images. As he told me of his experience I noticed he had turned pale. I suggested that it might have been a vivid nightmare, but he remained adamant that what had happened was real. That night after everyone went to bed I stayed up with my shotgun and pot of coffee waiting to see the lights.

Entry 4 5/7/1920

I had the most horrible dreams last night. I dreamt that Debra, Susan, Henry, and Molly had all turned into these terrible scorpions like monsters. I tried shooting them, but my gun would not fire. I woke up screaming. I realized that I was still in the living-room from last night. I looked out the window and saw it was still dark outside, but the clock read 9:00 A.M. Also I saw the lights in the woods that Henry had mentioned. Everyone gathered in the living-room when I called them. They rubbed the sleep from their eyes and yawned.

I told them that we needed to leave because there was something very wrong. At first Debra protested, but once I pointed to the lights and the silhouettes of creatures in the woods she understood. We gathered what we could, but when we headed outside we realized to our dismay that there was a red, blue and red hue surrounding the cabin. Molly broke free from Susan’s grasp. He charged ahead for the woods, but when he hit the colored hue he disintegrated and turned into a pile of ash. Susan dropped to her knees and sobbed. I grabbed her by her shirt collar and pulled her inside, the others followed. I barricaded the door and grabbed my gun knowing that it might not do much good against what was out there. Henry plopped down on the couch and stared at the floor, looking defeated. Susan continued to weep and Debra pulled out a cigarette and sparked it up. When we all decided to sleep, we took our mattresses and laid them down in the living-room.

Entry 5  5/8/1920

Susan is dead, and it’s my fault. When we woke Debra and I rationed the food and water. After a breakfast of oatmeal and water we talked about our options even though they were few. Then, that’s when something tumbled down the chimney. It was a scorpion about the size of a German Shepard. I pointed my gun at it and fired. The bullet did nothing to the creature, Debra and the children ducked for cover behind one of the couches. Susan was frantic and demanded to know what I was shooting at. I was the only one that could see it. The beast hissed, and clacked it’s claws together, venom dripped from its stinger and dripped onto the floor burning a hole through the wood. Susan marched towards the fireplace where the creature stood. I demanded she move, but she did not listen, she just got closer to the beast until she was standing in front of the fireplace. She pointed to the horrible thing insisting that all there was just a pile of wood there. The monster stung her with its stinger. She was infected now. If I didn’t act she was gonna become one of those things then infect Henry and Debra. My nightmare I had a day ago would become reality…

I leveled my weapon at her head, then pulled the trigger. Her head exploded in a mass of blood and viscera. Blood, bits of brain matter, and skull fragments covered the fireplace and the wall next to it. Debra vomited and Henry looked at me with a level of fear I had never seen in his eyes before. I dragged her body down to the basement and cleaned the horrific scene to the best of my ability. Henry still hasn’t eaten or drank anything in hours. Debra locked herself in our bedroom an hour ago and has been crying ever since.

Entry 6 5/9/1920

Henry and I are the only ones that remain. This morning I brought Debra breakfast. When I saw her body  the dish and glass of water slipped from my hands and smashed into a million shards. Debra was laying on the floor stone cold, she was dead. She held an empty barbiturate bottle in her hand. I shut the door and returned to the living-room. Henry barely touched the food I gave him. Henry began muttering something to himself over and over again. Tears dropped from his face, I placed my hand on his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him. He looked at me with vicious anger. He slashed at me with his breakfast knife slicing my wrist. I backed away from him cradling my wrist. He charged at me once more with his knife. I dodged his attack and grabbed my gun. I implored him to stay away, but he continued to rush me. I shot him in the stomach, I could see through the hole that I blasted through him. He locked eyes with me one last time then, groaned, and collapsed to the ground with a heavy thud.

Entry 7 5/10/1920

This is going to be my last entry. I know whoever finds my journal will think of me no more than a madman. Perhaps they’d be right. Maybe, I am a madman, last night was the worst of them all. As I laid in bed trying to sleep after I moved Henry’s and Debra’s bodies into the basement I heard the most frightful noises. There was pounding on the basement door, shock over took me for a moment, then cold realization washed over me like a tidal wave. They had come back to life somehow…

They called my name and told me all the horrible things they would do to me. If this wasn’t real I don’t know what is. Maybe, this was all in my head and I killed my family. Tonight will be my last night on earth. May God have mercy on my soul.

I wanted to know more so I stayed up all night searching for more, but that was the last thing I found. So many questions rushed through my mind, but I didn’t know where to go. I gazed out the window and noticed flashing lights. I chalked them up to being from a plane or a jet.
My stomach growled and I went to the kitchen searching for food. I searched the covered and fridge and only found expired spaghetti and a fridge with only condiments and soda. With no other options I hoped in the car and headed to Burger King. As I drove I noticed the lights again. I began feeling melancholy as I stared at them. I kept my eye on them during my drive back home and sat in my drive and continued to stare at them. As I gazed at the strange alien lights a odd thought popped in my head.

My sister.

I haven’t thought about my sister Kayla in the two years since she died. It wasn’t my fault. That’s what my parents told me, but I knew better. They were right in a way, she was the one that had shot herself. But I was the one who drove her to it. I told her to kill herself, I’ve told her to kill herself several times before during our squabbles and she had never killed herself before. She claimed that she tried to kill herself twice. I always thought that she did it for attention, that stay at that psychiatric hospital was another stunt that she pulled when she was eighteen. Kayla always used her mental illness as a crutch.
A day before Kayla died we got into a fight over my great grandmother. I was her primary care taker when she was dying from Alzheimer's. Kayla accused me of hitting my grandmother when I was helping her up to go to the bathroom. My grandmother was frail and old, so every part of her body ached. I always had to be very careful with her because any slight brush or bump she’d scream like a banshee.

I accidentally bumped my grandmother’s foot when I helped her off the couch. Kayla came charging down the stairs accusing me of hurting my grandmother. Once I explained what happened she called me a liar and repeatedly punched me in the face. I retaliated by throwing a punch of my own, my fist connected to her jaw and knocked her flat on her ass. She didn’t bother to get up from the floor instead she just sat there staring up at me like she wanted to kill me. That’s when I told her to kill herself.

This was unlike the other times I told her to kill herself. She calmly got up and left the house. That was the last time I ever saw her. I’m not sorry for what I did. At that moment as I gazed at the lights I realized something. This thing, whatever it is and wherever it came from, it feeds on guilt and human suffering. The question was: Was the thing here to punish me or torture me? It couldn’t have been some sort of avenging angel; it drove Brent Henderson to kill his friends. He did not mention that lights made him feel guilty before the massacre.
The lights began to morph into the face of my sister. She was enraged. I could hear her voice inside my head screaming at me and blaming me for her death. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

I thought about being anywhere, but there. I applied exercises that I had learned in therapy to combat negative thoughts, or emotions. I imagined my happy place, me at my great grandparents’ house as a boy. I always felt safe there, like nothing could hurt me. The feeling of hate left my body a warm feeling spread throughout my being.

It was love.

I slowly opened my eyes and the lights were gone and I was relieved. I exited my vehicle and entered my home. I laid down knowing that I had won and had escaped with my life. Unfortunately, there were many other potential victims out there that would have the will or the ability to stave this thing off. Maybe, one day there will be a way to thwart this thing for good.

Story Critique / Re: Good Grief
« on: 10:18 AM, 01/21/20 »
I really liked this, the lost comic strip was a nice change from the typical lost episode story. I also liked how this story didn't rely on over the top gore and violence like most lost media stories do. 

I really liked this story. It reminds me of a similar idea I had.

Everyone in Burningham is haunted by something; I would know after living here for thirty something years. For years now, I’ve wondered if I should leave this place for good and start a new life somewhere else, or if I should just try to put my life back together here. It seemed so much easier to start a new life where no one else knows you, but I never wanted to leave my parents behind. As they grew older and older, I found myself more and more reluctant to leave, but now that doesn’t matter. They’re dead.

They didn’t die from health complications; in fact, they were in great shape for people in their sixties. They were driving cross-country when they got into a terrible accident. The worst part was going down to the morgue and seeing their cold, lifeless bodies. I fell apart then and there, that night I didn’t eat or sleep. Two weeks later, I held a small funeral. I was the only one there. As the only living relative left, it was my responsibility to clean up my parents’ house and prepare it for the market. I knew this wouldn’t be an easy task.

As I pulled into the driveway, the house stood before me, a poor copy of what it used to be. What once was a lush, well-kept lawn was now overgrown with dry, yellowed grass. The house and garage across from it were thankfully made of brick; who knows what shape they would be in if they weren’t. Brush was piled into the old, rusty dog cage across from the garage.

As I walked up the path, childhood memories flashed through my mind: Dad tossing the ball to me when I was ten, Mom helping me walk the dog around the house when I was twelve. The memories quickly faded away, and reality sunk in. I’d never be able to make new memories with them. My knees buckled from beneath me, and I fell to the ground. I let out a loud sob.

My parents were gone forever. Nothing I did would ever change that. Wiping the tears from my face, I tried to follow the breathing exercises my new therapist taught me. I took a few deep breaths and counted to ten, and once I calmed down, I stood back up. I unlocked the front door, took another deep breath, and entered the house.

The inside of the house didn’t look abandoned. For a moment, it felt like Mom and Dad were still in their bedroom, as if nothing had changed. It was almost like being inside of one of the Chernobyl houses. Everything in the house looked the same as it did when it was abandoned. Canned and boxed food still sat in the cabinets. There was a smell of rot coming from the refrigerator, accompanying the house’s strong scent of mold and mildew.

I held my breath, and stepping around the mouse droppings, I trudged forward to the bedrooms to look for my parents’ financial information. After a few minutes of rummaging through their drawers, I found the paperwork I needed, but I also found a box. Inside of it were letters written by people I didn’t recognize. Curious, I began to read through them.

Nov. 14th, 1989

Dear Uncle Tony,

Happy Birthday! Love is not something you can see. Love is something you feel deep in your heart. I love you!



Lorraine? The letter is addressing my father, but he and my mother didn't have any siblings. Even if he had a falling out and decided he didn’t want anything to do with his family, why would he lie to me?

Nov. 21th, 1989

Dear Uncle Tony,

I really like staying over and spending time with you and Aunt Pam. I love staying up past my bedtime to watch cartoons and eat chocolate chip cookies. At bedtime, I heard someone whispering my name from under my bed. I was scared. But I peeked over the side of my bed, and my Daddy’s head popped out from underneath. I haven’t seen him since he and Mommy got divorced. I was so happy to see him. Then he asked me to go under the bed with him. His voice was deeper. There was something wrong with his eyes. They were all black. I told him no and rolled back over. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

- Lorraine

Really strange. This probably was just a dream she had; when I was younger I had a similar dream about my parents being under my bed. It probably felt so real to her that she believed it actually happened.

Nov. 28th, 1989

Dear Uncle Tony,

I had lots of fun building snow forts with you and Aunt Pam last weekend. I had more fun when I caught both of you by surprise and nailed you with snowballs. It was fun until bedtime, when the thing that looked like my Daddy called my name again. I told him I wasn’t going to go under the bed with him, and I knew he wasn’t my Daddy. The thing got really mad at me. It grabbed  my foot that was hanging off the edge of the bed and scratched it. I wanted to run away, but I was afraid that whatever was under my bed would come out from underneath it and get me.

- Lorraine

Dec. 4th, 1989

To Tony:

I’m always happy to let Lorraine spend the weekend over your house. You’re family after all, and I want her to know her Uncle and Aunt. You and Pam have really been there for Lorraine and I ever since Rick abandoned us a few years ago, but Lorraine came home on Sunday with a scratch on her foot. Please keep a better eye on her while she’s playing.

- Susan

Man, it must have been hard for her to take care of a child by herself. It’s a good thing Mom and Dad were there to help her. I had a friend who was raised by a single mother, life was hard for them.

Dec. 8th, 1989

Dear Uncle Tony,

I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas with you! Thank you for buying me a barbie. I love her so much. I was having fun until the monster under my bed started talking to me again. He promised not to hurt me again. He told me if I went under the bed with him I could have all the cookies I wanted. He even held one out for me to take from him. I know it was dumb, but I was hungry and I reached for it, but when I did he grabbed my wrist. I was able to pull back, but he scratched me again and it really hurt this time.

- Lorraine

Dec. 18th, 1989

Dear Pam,

For whatever reason Tony hasn’t bothered to listen to me. I’m looking forward to having Christmas with you, but Lorraine got a big scratch on her wrist. How is she getting hurt so much?

- Susan

Jan. 1st, 1990

Dear Pam,

I really appreciate you and Tony having us over for the holidays, but there’s something really odd that happened when I was there. Lorraine woke me up in the middle of the night. She was crying and telling me that someone was someone under her bed. I walked into the room she was staying in, and there was nothing there. She had fresh scratches on her. What is going on? Clearly, I have not been listened to. I do not think I can allow her over your house if you continue to ignore my requests. I’ll allow both of you one more chance. I do not want to have to do this, but if you force my hand, I will do what I feel is best.

- Susan

Jan. 4th, 1990

Dear Uncle Tony,

I really enjoy seeing you and Aunt Pam, but I don’t know if I wanna come over anymore. I appreciate you letting me sleep in your bed last time, but I’m not safe even with you and Aunt Pam. I could hear the monster calling my name from my bedroom.

- Lorraine

Jan 7th, 1990

Dear Tony and Pam,

I can not allow Lorraine at your house. When she got home from the last visit, she said she never wanted to go back and wouldn’t stop crying. I don’t know what happened, but she is not going to your home anymore. I’m furious that my rules were not obeyed! How dare you undermine me! I think you know how Lorraine got hurt, too, but I’m starting to think it wasn’t just an accident due to your negligence.

- Susan

February 1st, 1990

Dear Tony and Pam,

How dare you try and play the victim. You want me to reconsider? No way! If you guys didn’t hurt Lorraine, then how come you can’t at the very least admit the both of you are negligent caretakers? How dare you throw in my face all the things you did for Lorraine financially, emotionally, or otherwise. Don’t try to spin me a sob story “Lorraine is the daughter I’ll never have.” Cry me a river. Also, never throw my condition in my face again! I’ve been just fine mentally, and I’ve been taking my medicine. My illness has nothing to do with the decision I’m making. I laughed when I read the part of your letter when you mentioned you were afraid for the child’s well-being because I’m unwell. Don’t ever threaten me! You’ll never see Lorraine or me again as long as you live.

I heard my parents calling my name down the hallway. I followed it to a bedroom. The door creaked loudly as I opened it.

“Max.” The voices called again.

As I entered the room, the door slammed shut behind me. It was probably the wind. Cold, stale air nipped at my face. The bedroom looked like it hadn’t been touched in over thirty years. I remember it my parents said it was a guest bedroom, but we never had any guests. The walls were painted pink and the bedspread was littered with bug carcasses and a few mouse carcasses as well. The whole room smelt so strongly of death and decay I could taste it.

“Hello?” I called out.

“Under here.”

The voice was coming from under the bed. Dread filled my entire being. There had to be a reasonable, logical explanation. I haven’t been sleeping or eating much, maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me. I knew I shouldn’t have, but I crouched down to see under the bed. I had to do it; I needed to see who was calling my name. I peeked under the bed expecting to see the face of some unworldly monster, but instead, I saw the faces of my mother and father.
My father’s old, wrinkled face was stretched into an unnatural smile, and his eyes were black and void of all emotion and life. Long, white, wispy hair hung over his face. My mother’s appearance was nearly identical to Dad’s: her wrinkled face stretched into a smile, her eyes all black, and her hair hanging over her face.

“You’re both dead. I buried you. This isn’t real. You’re not real!” I screamed.

My heart pounded rapidly as I backed away from them.

“We’re real, and we’ve come to see you.” They said.

There was a hope for a minute. Maybe, my parents were still alive and the trip to the morgue along with the funeral were all part of a terrible dream that I’ve woken up from. Perhaps, there was a chance that I had my parents back. As I gazed into their strange smiling faces I realized that there was hardly any mirth in their smiles. These weren’t happy smiles, they were deceptive, designed to get me to let my guard down. The imposters looked hungry and ready to pounce. I knew these were not my parents

I dropped to my knees and clasped my hands around my head. Tears streamed down my face. This can’t be real. I did the only thing that I could think: I got up and ran to the door. The door knob wouldn’t turn. I kicked the door and threw myself against it, but it wouldn’t budge.
They crawled out from under the bed and seized my ankles, pulling them out from underneath me, sending my face crashing down to the cold, hard floor. They continued to pull me towards the endless abyss.

“If you don’t come to us, we’ll come to you.”

I tried to sink my nails into the floorboards. “No!”

Their grip was inhumanly tight. As they dragged me, my nails left trails in the wood. Their nails sank into my ankles, drawing blood. Hot, searing pain filled the bottom half of my body.

“Please let me go.” My plea was only meant with cruel laughter, they were enjoying this.

“Please let me go.” Mom mocked.

“Don’t waste your tears, son. There will be plenty of time for tears soon enough.” Dad said.

I made another attempt to pull my feet loose, and their grip loosened as my ankles grew more and more slick with blood. I pulled and jerked, getting more and more control with each try. I pulled my left foot and slipped from Mom’s grasped. She looked at her blood-stained hands in disbelief, and then I freed my right foot. Before they could grab me again, I kicked both of them in the face. My ankles burning, I struggled to get to my feet. I charged the door with my shoulder lowered. The door gave way on impact, falling off its hinges. Dull, agonizing pain traveled up and down my shoulder, but I ignored it. I rushed down the hallway and threw the front door open.

“Come back!” They screamed.

“Fuck you. You’re not my parents!” I screamed back.

Before I slammed the door shut, a horrible, growl filled the house. The house shook as if there was an earthquake. I slammed the door shut and sprinted to my car. I sped off, gunning it down the street with no care for the speed limit. I don’t know what that thing under the bed was, and sadly, I’ll never know what happened to my Cousin Lorraine or my Aunt Susan.

I haven’t been to my parents’ house since and I refuse to go back there alone. The thing that bothers me the most is that the next owner doesn’t know what they’re in for. I could have the house demolished, but my gut tells me house or no house that, that thing will still be there no matter what.

Story Critique / "Skin" Part 9 (Final)
« on: 01:43 PM, 10/14/18 »
The next morning I was awoken by the sound of a hairdryer coming from the bathroom. The noise was giving me a headache, so I went to see if whoever was using it was almost done. I peered through the crack of the door and saw Mom. “Are you almost done? The noise is hurting my head.”

She turned off the blow dryer. “I’m done now. I'm going to Grandma's house soon."

My stomach ached with worry. "Can I go too?"

Mom removed a brush from the drawer and brushed her hair. “Sure, you should put on some fresh clothes. Did you take a shower?"

I let the silence linger in the air; she rolled her eyes and sighed. "Just go get changed.” 

I got changed, and Mom finished getting ready. We went downstairs.

Dad was stuffing his face with candy while Stacey watched cartoons. Stacey got up walked over to Dad, and she put her hand out. "Me too."

Dad dumped some candy in her hand. "Here you go."

“Make sure she gets real food Bill.” Mom said.

“Alright.” He said through a mouthful of chocolate.

As we approached the vehicle, I got that sick feeling in my gut again. I started thinking about what Grandma was talking about the last time I saw her. We pulled into her driveway as we walked up, the walkway, we heard Grandma scream from inside the house. We rushed into the house and found her curled up on the living room floor. There was a small pool of blood forming underneath her body; a bloody knife was laying next to her.

Mom rushed over to Grandma trying to help her up, but she couldn't lift her. “What happened?”

A patch of skin was missing on her hand; labored breaths escaped her mouth, eyes wild as if she had seen something unspeakable. She weakly lifted her head up.  “A man was asking for my skin.”

Mom scrunched her eyebrows in concern. “What?”

Grandma grabbed mom's pant leg. “Skin… I gave him my skin.”

Mom rushed over to the phone. “Jesus Christ.”

She quickly dialed  911. “Hello, my elderly mother fell, and she can’t get up, she cut herself and is bleeding badly!” She slumped in her seat; tears streamed down her cheeks. “I can’t lose another one I can’t.”

I felt like something was watching us. The  scent of smoke filled the room a low clang filled my ears. My legs felt like they were trapped in wet cement and my lungs felt like they were filled with it too. My heart began pounding rapidly, one of the people I love the most was the victim of something awful. Something so evil and hateful it transcends human understanding. This thing wasn't going to stop until it had taken everything from me. A feeling of fear and despair swept through me like a roaring tidal wave. As Grandma laid on the floor, I wondered what would happen to her. 

I didn’t want to skin myself, that’d be too painful, but if I weren’t around would that fix things? Would the ghost leave everyone alone if I were dead? He would. My death would be just as good as my skin. It was my fault all this happened I grabbed the knife laying next to Grandma.

“What are you doing?!” Mom screamed.

I dug the knife into my wrist and dragged the blade down vertically, blood spilled down my arm. "You'll all be safe soon."

Mom rushed at me. “Stop!”

She wrapped her hands around the knife. “Tommy, please stop!”

“I need to do this Mom!” I screamed.

She ripped the knife from my hands and I fell to ground with a thud. I laid on the ground and writhed in agony, it felt like someone had splashed gasoline on my wrist then threw a match on me. I needed to die, my death would make sure everyone was safe.
The smell of smoke got stronger as well as the clanging. I faded in and out, sirens screamed in the distance, as my vision became more and more blurry the man stood over me, grinning, he was muttering something over and over I could hardly make it out.

“No escape.” He said.

Everything faded to black.

I woke up in a hospital bed with Mom, Dad, and Stacey standing at the foot of it. A bandage wrapped around my wrist.
I sat up scratching my head in confusion not being able to remember what had happened. “Where’s Grandma.”

“They’re taking care of her in a different room Tommy.” Mom said.

“Is she gonna be okay?” I asked.

“Yes, you just rest.”

My head started feeling heavier, I let it drop and sink into the pillow. I stared at a plain white wall for what felt like years. The words "No escape" rattled around in my mind. No one was safe, I can’t die, it won’t let me die. I laid there wondering what would happen to everyone else. What would happen with no escape?



Story Critique / "Skin" Part 8
« on: 01:21 PM, 10/14/18 »
We pulled into the driveway and quickly and entered the house.

Mom ripped the door open. “Mom!"

“I’m in the living room.” Grandma replied.

We entered the living room, Grandma was sitting on the couch with her arms wrapped around her, rocking back and forth, eyes wild and darting side to side. “There... was... a little girl on a tricycle”

Mom scrunched her eyebrows in disbelief. She searched the house then returned to the living room. “There’s no one here.”

Grandma sucked in her lower lip and pointed her boney finger at Mom. "I'm telling you there was a girl here riding a tricycle. She was clanging a bell and laughing like hell. I'm not crazy, I know what I saw."

Mom pointed her stubby finger at Grandma. "There is no girl here Mom. I just looked we're the only one's here."

Grandma sat back and crossed her arms. "Bullshit."

Mom placed her hands on her hips. "Stop talking bullshit."

Grandma leaned forward. "Go to hell."

"Go to hell? You call me talking about bullshit, make us worry, and then you tell me to go to hell? You go to hell!" Mom screamed.

Grandma flicked her top tooth with her thumb at Mom. "You're lucky your father isn't alive."

Mom balled her hands into fists as if she were about to strike Grandma. "You're lucky my father isn't alive, he'd be ashamed of have you're acting."

Grandma got up and walked to her bedroom. "Get out or I'm calling the cops!"

"I'm going to checking on you in the morning." Mom said.

We headed out; Mom placed a hand on my shoulder. "I shouldn't have lost my temper like that. I was wrong. She's just harder to deal with now that Grandpa's dead."

We left and quickly drove home. When we got through the door, Stacey rushed toward Mom and wrapped her tiny arms around her. "I'm hungy Mommy."

Mom stormed into the living room. “Your father should have fed you.”

Dad was sleeping on the couch. Mom shook him. “Bill you were supposed to feed Stacey.” He continued to sleep.

She whacked him on the head. “Bill Wilcox!”

Dad 's eyes slowly opened. “Huh, what?”

She poked her stubby finger in his chest. “You should have fed your daughter while we were gone."

He sat up and stretched. “I've just been tired from working.”

She pushed her finger deeper into his pudgy chest. “I don’t wanna hear any excuses; you keep putting everything else before your family.”

Dad got up off the couch. “Okay."

He walked into the kitchen and put something in the microwave. Stacey sat at the kitchen table, after a few minutes the microwave beeped and Dad took a  bowl of  mac and cheese out and placed it on the table in front of her.

Mom pulled out a chair from the table to sit. “I’m gonna have to check on Mom at least once a day ”

Dad handed Stacey a plastic fork. “Why?”

Mom ran her fingers through her hair. “Because she was going on about a little girl riding a tricycle around the house."

Dad pulled out a chair too. “It must be the age.”

Mom sat up in her chair and leaned forward. “I’m going to go over in the morning.”

Dad picked bits of stuff out of his beard. “I’m going have to go in early tomorrow, probably around six.” 

Mom's face sunk. “Bill you need to be here for Stacey.”

Stacey turned to Dad. “I was wooking forward to spwending time with you Daddy.”

She had a smile spread across her face and was looking at him lovingly. Mom scowled at Dad.

He patted Stacey on the head. “I’ll tell Buck I’m gonna be a bit late.”

Mom grinned. “Good.”
I sat there quietly as I thought about what else is in the house with Grandma.

Story Critique / Re: "Skin" Part 7
« on: 12:43 PM, 10/13/18 »

Story Critique / "Skin" Part 7
« on: 10:51 AM, 10/12/18 »
My eyes opened, and I stared at the white ceiling for what felt like an eternity, tendrils of smoke seeped through the cracks of my door, the sweet smell of buttermilk landed on my taste buds. Pancakes weren't enough to get me out of bed.

“Tommy.” Mom called.

I was uncertain about therapy, but it was either this or boot camp. I would have to lie about what was bothering me. If I told the therapist about the ghosts, I’d be locked into a small white room.

“Tommy, time for breakfast.” She called again.

After a few seconds, my stomach started to growl, and I couldn’t ignore the hunger pains so, I headed downstairs. Dad, Mom, and Stacey were sitting at the kitchen table eating. A platter of pancakes sat in the middle of the table along with a bottle of syrup, a gallon of milk, and a gallon of orange juice. I sat down and served myself.

Mom poured herself a glass of orange juice. “Tommy, your father and I have noticed that you have been having issues."

My heart began to work overtime I felt weak, and I felt a knot twisting in my stomach. My appetite was gone, and I wanted to go back to bed for ten years. I placed the syrup down and let my head drop.

“You’re not in trouble son; we’re just concerned is all. " Dad said.

I poked at my breakfast with my fork no longer hungry. I knew he was still pretending to care about me, he was only happy the cops weren't called last night. “I know.”

Mom finished her juice. “You have an appointment with Mr. Warner at nine.”

I looked at the clock hanging on the wall; the meeting was in an hour. “Okay.”

As I finished my breakfast, I noticed a terrible smell. It smelt like someone had just finished a five-hour workout and didn’t bother to shower. I scrunched up my face. “What’s that smell?”

Mom sniffed the air then covered her nose.“That’s you, Tom.”

“Ewww.” Stacey added pinching her nose closed.

Dad slowly got up from the table. “You should shower before you leave son.”

After breakfast, I jumped in the shower. Time must have escaped me because when I came downstairs after the shower, Mom was waiting by the door jacket on and keys in her hand.

Mom opened the door to leave. “Alright, we’ll be back soon.” We got into the car and headed off.

"You can’t tell Warner what happened last night." Mom said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Your father will  go to jail."

I shrugged my shoulders. "Doesn’t seem to be my problem."

Mom sucked her lip in. "He’s just trying to take care of you?"

I whipped my head in her direction. "He tried to kill me last night."

Mom sighed. "He didn't try and kill you, Tommy."

I bit my lower lip almost hard enough to draw blood. "Dad, doesn't care about us. He proved it last night, he never does anything for anyone unless it benefits him or makes him look good. It's always on you or I to take care of Stacey. You're only with him because you're afraid of being alone."

Tears fell from Mom's face. "You need to be the man your father isn't willing to be. I understand that he's hard to deal with, but he's your father and he cares about you. He might not show it in the way that he should, but he cares about you."

Before I knew it, we had arrived at Mr. Warner's office. On the way in we passed by a man smoking a cigarette. A cloud of gray smoke engulfed us. We both coughed violently. Mom scowled at the guy. “Second-hand kills, man.”

When we walked into the building, Mr. Warner was waiting for us outside his office. He wore a black button down shirt with black jeans to match. Red lips parted into a smile exposing white rows of ivory, a neatly trimmed mustache lined his face. For someone who looked like they should have been in their late fifties or sixties, he seemed to be in good shape. He extended his hand outward for me to shake it. “How are you, Tommy?”

I was nervous I didn't want to make eye contact at first. “Good.”

He motioned for me to follow him. “Let’s head into my office.”

I followed him to his room.The room was plain: Eggshell white walls, and a framed degree hung on the wall behind him.

He pointed to a chair sitting across from his desk. “Tommy have -” His face turned black as oil, patches of his face were red as a tomato, the room smelled like a ash tray. That horrible sickening flavor of smoldering flesh filled my mouth and ravaged my taste buds.

“Skinnnnn.” He hissed.

I backed away until my back was against the wall. “No, no, no, no."

He stood up from behind his desk and walked after me. "Skinnnn."

After fumbling with the handle for a second, I looked back the thing that was following me. All burnt and charred, It reached its hand out to me trying to grab me, I tore the door open and ran for the exit screaming.

Mom rushed after me. “Tommy, what’s wrong?”

I curled up into a ball in the corner of the lobby shaking and crying. “He’s trying to take my skin!”

The smelled ebbed, a hand rested on my shoulder, I turned to see Mr. Warner instead of a monster. “It’s okay, Tommy no one’s gonna hurt you here. I’m going to help you.”

All fear left my body. “I’m ok, I think.”

He offered me his hand. “Why don’t we go back to my office and talk for a bit.”

I grabbed it and pulled myself up. “Okay.”

He pushed a bowl of hard candy at me. “What happened to your lip?"

I rubbed where my lip was split. "I fell off my skate board. I was being stupid, trying to do tricks I saw on TV without ever doing them before."

"Gotta be more careful. So, do you mind telling me what upset you so much?"

I popped a candy into my mouth. "It's the smell of smoke that makes me crazy, every time I smell smoke I'm brought back to that night my grandfather died. My Grandpa’s friend Nick killed him. That night I smelt the awful smell of cigarette smoke, when I woke up Nick was standing over my bed with a knife. Anytime, I think about that night I can smell that exact smoke, I can taste it. I feel so; guilty,I feel like I should have died. If I had done something else other than lay there, maybe Grandpa would still be alive."

"And it's only cigarette smoke that makes you feel this way?" Warner asked.

"All smoke is starting to smell the same... also, clanging triggers me too, like the clanging of a tricycle bell."

Warner took a tissue and blew his nose. " I see. You shouldn't feel guilty, It’s not your fault Tommy. You’re only a kid what could have down? If you got up and tried to fight, maybe you would have gotten killed too."

My lips quivered, and mucus rolled down my face. Mr. Warner handed me a tissue. Before I knew it, time was up. On the way to the car, a ringing filled the air. Mom reached into her bang and pulled her Nokia out. "Hey, Mom. What?.. There's no girl on a tricycle clanging a bell.”

My stomach turned to mush, and my legs felt like Jell-O.  "W-what's going on?"

She put the phone back in her bag. “We’re gonna stop by Grandma’s real quick before we go home.”

My heart began to race as I got into the car, I sunk into my seat and tried to calm down, mom pushed the key into the ignition and turned it; the car came to life. We were on the way to Grandma’s house.

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