Short Horror: The Bench

After several years of avoiding the genre altogether, I have decided to come back to horror with this new short story. This one was originally intended to be published by a horror magazine. Instead I have chosen to make it free to read. It’s good to be back.

Without further ado: “The Bench”.


It had always been her.

She couldn’t say if there was a reason for it. But she did know that every morning that she went to the park as a child, early in the morning, an older woman, perhaps in her sixties, would come to the park bench right at the big hump in the road near the lamppost. She was always dressed in the most whimsical of outfits, wearing bright blues and pinks, and most often with a nice big hat to block out the sun as she did her work. She did always have the kindest smile to work with, and carried a large bag of “gourmet birdfeed”. At least, that’s what was written on the bag.

Continue reading “Short Horror: The Bench”

Red Moon of October (Part 2)

Due to my desire to put out a genuinely good piece of writing rather than doing them quickly, I have left part 2 until Halloween itself. If you are reading this series for the first time, please see Part 1 here.

Gramma Dolli slumped in the corner, staring at the empty home. It was not empty in the sense that there was nothing in the house. Max had, indeed, let her in. Within moments the wendigo had torn apart everyone in the home, stared directly at Gramma Dolli, and then left. It was in the monster’s leaving that the problem had begun.

No, it was not the empty of a space without any objects, now that their lifeless bodies were left strewn across the home. It was not a colorless empty, now that it was painted in a scattered yet deep crimson across the wallpaper, floors, and all other furniture.

It was empty because it was still.

There was no noise. The wendigo had since gone, its large feet stomping away deep into the forest, leaving a trail of flesh and blood in its wake. But there were no more footsteps. There were no sounds of her grandchild and her friends. There was no sound of the stove cooking, which, although not off, made not a peep as the pot had been smashed to the floor in the terror. There was not the sound of birds chirping, of the wood burning in the fireplace, or even of the trees swaying in the wind. There was not even any wind to be heard, though she felt its subtle presence licking at her bloodstained and wrinkled skin.

It was only still.

Still, all except for her beating heart.

She could feel that for a surety. She could feel it in her fingers, her arms, her legs, her feet, her chest, her head, her eyes – it penetrated her body with the only sound she could find to concentrate on.

She could not even make enough sound to cry. It had only been a few minutes since the thing that had been Madison left her home and neighborhood. She was still in a sort of shock, she imagined. It was empty like that too – she thought no clear thoughts. She saw no movement. She heard nothing but the sound of her heartbeat, and now even that seemed to be silencing itself.

It was an eerie, stagnant, stillness.

The darkened sky was clouded over, and no moon appeared in the sky. There were no clouds, either, it seemed. Where were the moon, the sun, and the stars? She could not see them from her window now as she normally could at dusk. There was no light, not except from an occasionally flickering light source. She assumed it was the neighbor’s lamppost. Even this made no sound.

She looked at the garden. It was dead – not as though it had been trampled, but as though nearly a century had passed. The blooms had suddenly died in a color more wretched than simple brown, and now drooped black and shriveled in their places in the garden, nearly indistinguishable from the darkness of the night. It was like this wherever the once-Madison, the wendigo, had passed.

But it was still… still.

It was not a calming still, as a calming still brings one back to a natural state. This was an unnatural calm, deeper than the calm before the storm. Yet the storm had passed, and yet the stillness remained.

She remembered Mai. She remembered her laugh, her cry, her smile, and her frown… now all she saw was a husk of a human with lifeless eyes and an opened mouth. There was too little of a face left to even recognize as belonging to Mai at all, ripped apart by the wendigo.

There is a stillness, sometimes, that deafens all noise and thought. There is a quiet that sinks its sinewy, spider-like fingers deep into your bones and latches there. There is a silence so loud it is like a scream ringing deep in your soul.

She no longer wanted that silence.

So she screamed instead.

She screamed, and screamed, and screamed, with a sound so sudden and loud it startled even her. She screamed for all the children who would never scream in joy or terror again. She screamed, for she had no other response to the stillness.

And when she had dried her throat from screaming, it was there again. It was a cruel, cruel companion – a haunting, chilling fiend that refused to give way to anything but the stillness.

Her eyes widened. She could feel her heartbeat moving in her eyeballs, but even the sound of her heartbeat was now more of a vibration pulsating through her body than a real sound to her.

It was there, in the darkness, that she saw something – the faint sight of a thing she had nearly forgotten. When the light of the lamppost flickered, it was there. It stood at the edge of the woods, facing the house. And when the light shone for any length of time, it was gone again. She knew it well.

Staring it down, she slowly, but surely, leaned on her cane, and using the wall as a brace, attempted to get up. It took a few tries, but she finally propped her aged, weary, distraught body on the cane and began to walk into the woods.

She felt it as she left the house. It was deeper here, out in the open. Every crack of leaves underneath her feet was like glass shattering beneath her. But there was no wind here in the woods the further she went. There was only an icy blanket spreading around her, a chill that came with no gust or breath of air to accompany it.

With each flickering of light, the shadows of the trees began to contort, as though they themselves were alive somehow. In the shadows, she swore she saw tall figures walking to and from each tree. Some even seemed to look at her. But they made no sound.

With each moment of darkness in-between the flickers, the thing she had waited for since her childhood seemed to stay in its place – beckoning, taunting… waiting. She hobbled over to it, shivering from the cold and trembling from what she knew came next.

The shadowy figure stood at the base of a towering, knobby tree, twisted like thick grapevine. It was not much larger even than she, yet perhaps that was from its crooked, hunched form as it waddled toward her on all fours, tapping its long cane in one limb as it moved in her direction. It stood in front of her, and she felt its hot breath on her face.

Its face was most like that of a giant black bird, yet gaunt, barely existing outside of skin and bones, with massive, glowing red eyes peering at her. The rest of its body was similarly gaunt, with thin, long feathers poking out at random sections of skin, and a massive cloak covering the sprawling, disfigured limbs. Its back legs seemed to bend backwards as though its entire spine had been snapped around the other way. Its feet were like gargantuan crows feet, with one of its finger-length claws resting only a hands-breadth from her face.

It stared at her.

She stared at it.

After some time of just them and the flickering light, Gramma Dolli handed up her staff.

But the creature only stared.

“Take it!” Gramma Dolli demanded. “Take it! I don’t want it anymore!”

The creature stared.

“Take it!”

The bird creature moved its mouth, pulling back skin the way humans pull back their lips, and for much the same reason. Under its beak were two rows of unnervingly human teeth.

And then its mouth opened. It chuckled.

“Why are you laughing, witch? Take it!” she shrieked.

The witch-monster obliged, moving its claw for the staff – but taking her hand with it. Gramma Dolli was lifted from the ground.

She began to screech as the witch cackled in a voice that seemed almost human, but distorted in the same manner as that of a parrot mimicking a human.

The witch stopped laughing.

“It wassn’t abouuut thhe featherrr,” it crowed. It held Gramma Dolli aloft. “It wasss neverr abouuut thhe featherrr.”

The witch turned its cane-like stick in its claw, revealing a long blade on the other end. It was then, looking up, that Gramma Dolli saw a blood red moon peering through the clouds.

“It wasss abouuut… pleasssure.”

It sliced across her throat without a sound.


Red Moon of October

As is tradition, I am doing a horror story released once every weekend for the month of October. This one is a bit late, but is the first part of a three-parter to be finished the last weekend of October, rather than the separate short stories of last year’s style.


October 27, 2017

Day one of the weekend! Nick, Maddy, Cindy, Mai, and I are going to be with Mai’s grandmother in Upstate NY for the long stretch. Her name is Gramma Doli. She’s quite an intriguing person, really. When we first met her, she was dressed like someone who is still stuck a bit back in her ways. She isn’t really, I promise you. She bakes cookies, and pancakes, and everything. Nick was really appreciative. She even has her own smartphone, and uses it! I think that’s impressive for her age.

Is that mean? Maybe. But honestly, her face is almost completely comprised of wrinkles, so much that you can barely tell her eyes are even there. She’s really the nicest woman you’ll ever meet. She also has this gorgeous walking stick, something straight out of an old western. Knobby old thing with a hand-knitted knitted pattern on it, and it has a few beads and this this big black feather dangling from it. It’s a gorgeous thing, really – makes me want to get my own, even though I’m not Indian in any way. Maybe I’ll convince her to make me one.

It’s a quaint old place. It’s a small brick house, probably the third of the size of most houses, with only about six rooms. Three of them are bedrooms. She already had a fire going by the time we got here, and cookies, and a whole dinner ready. Nick was really appreciative, but that’s because the guy has no actual stomach. I swear he has a black hole in his torso. Anyway, It’s got a huge garden out front, a creek out back down the hill, and it’s surrounded by trees otherwise. I actually really appreciate that Mai took us out here, even though she hasn’t been here herself in about three years. I could spend the rest of my life here, honestly.

I take that back. It’ll have to be a lot warmer here before I consider that one. Probably not having a high in the forties and all the wind. Otherwise, I’d be down.

Everyone else is asleep, including Cindy, who was already well asleep by the time night came. I nearly fell asleep on the rocking chair in the living room myself. I almost got to see a deer while I was here too, which I don’t really get to see back at university. Gramma Doli closed the blinds on me. So now I’ve seen the shadow of a deer’s horns. At least, I think it was a deer. Either Gramma Doli is very afraid of deer, or it was something else, because she was shaking.

Maybe she shakes normally? I don’t know.

Will start homework tomorrow.


Oct 28, 2017

I was right. It was not a deer. I should have figured something was wrong with the house, I should not have let Mai take us here. I should have asked if there was something wrong with her family, I…

There really was no way I could have known. I thought Maddy was just tired. Everyone was tired. We drove for hours and hours and Maddy works three jobs. I didn’t think anything was wrong. I thought she was fine. We heard a scream and then the window was broken. There’s this massive crimson trail going down all the way to the creek. There’s deep scratches, like that of a massive dog, all across the inside of the room. There’s still a lock of red hair on the bed.

Grandma Dolli, she says she took something she shouldn’t have. It was the feather on the staff. I thought it was for decoration, but she took it from someone when she was a kid – I didn’t catch what she said, it wasn’t English. But I could tell that it was a very bad someone. I figure it must be the thing that’s here, hiding away in the trees.
She won’t let us out of the house.


Oct 29

Gramma Dolli set up traps late yesterday, sprinkled things around the house, drew symbols. She doesn’t want it to get in the house. I don’t want it in the house. No sane person wants this thing in the house.

Nobody walks outside of the house.

Nobody walks outside of the house.

Nobody walks outside of the-

We’ve been hearing screams from outside all day. Gramma Dolli says not to walk outside, that we can’t do anything anyway. She still shakes at night, and twitches every time someone screams.

She cries quietly when they stop. She knows why the screams stop, after all.

We don’t know how she’s lasted this many years without anyone to watch over her. Mai says she remembers getting earplugs and putting wood over the windows every Halloween. She thought it was just a strange Navajo tradition, and says Dolli used to talk of evil spirits. She had always assumed the strange screams were really coyotes. They are fairly common up here, and with earplugs in, even I admit it sounds like one sometimes.
I do not dare open the door.
Oct 30

We put wood against all the windows, and some furniture. Gramma Dolli says we have to wait it out, until the weekend is over. She says we cannot let anyone know what happened. We cannot even tell Maddy’s mother. The police will make up a story, she says.
But they know.

I heard it pacing outside. I heard its giant footsteps, walking back and forth. It nearly shook the house with its massive strides, just going around the house, over and over again. It won’t stop walking.
Occasionally, I hear something like Maddy’s voice. She begs me to let her in the house.

She’s hungry.

She’s tired.

She promises she won’t hurt me.

She doesn’t know what‘s going on.

She needs me to let her in.

She wants to go home.

She’s hungry.

She needs me to let her in.

Don’t I know it’s her?

She needs me to let her in!

I ignore her, even when she starts to cry. She screams for a few minutes. I keep quiet and wait for her to stop. I only sleep during the lulls.


O 31

I saw it.

One of the boards fell from the windows, and I saw it at the edge of the trees, standing, staring at the house. It was nearly as tall as the trees themselves. The legs were too long. The arms were too long. The fingers were too long. It was all too long. It was all very wrong. And I realized why I had thought it was a deer. Its face was a deer skull, still stained in a splotchy red from whatever it had been eating, with two huge, huge horns jutting from the top. It also had long hair falling down from the skull – long, red fiery hair.

Maddy’s hair.


She needs me to let her in.



I am proud to show off the first page of The Vengeance Spear, a new fantasy collaboration between another author and myself. He’s fairly new to writing, but has a incredible talent for making great storylines and fun characters. I’m something of a ghost writer for this endeavor. This is the raw and unedited first page of that project.

There are a few hints to this being a fantasy project rather than an early 1900s era historical fictional piece. See if you can find them while reading.

His hammer clanged hard against the railroad spike. Sweat fell down his face like a rushing brook. He hammered a second and third time before taking a quick breather, and then pounded again until the spike was in place. He grinned before continuing on to the next spike.

Kayd had been working here for some time now. The job was hard and the weather was hot, but the pay was good enough that he had a place to live, so he stayed. He’d been a short but strong boy since he was young, so it didn’t surprise his parents when he left the house saying he wanted to help build the intercontinental railways. It was supposedly one of many steps in bringing all the continent’s diverse groups together. It would make a real nation out of them, the government said.

He hoped they were right this time.

He moved to another railroad spike and began pounding it as hard as he could. This time he got it in in only three swings. He laughed to himself.

“What’s funny?” asked another worker right next to him. Kayd was just amazed he’d heard him over the din of the hammers.

He caught his breath quickly before responding, “New record. Three swings.”

“Near the end of the work day?” The worker laughed. “Maybe you should tell those arms of yours to calm down. You’re making the rest of us look bad.”

“Mikk’s gotten three before,” Kayd pointed out.

The worker sighed before starting on his own spike. “Yes, and you’ve been here about half the time he has.”

Just as he’d finished speaking, Kayd caught a glimpse of his boss walking up to the area. The boss looked out over his crew with a cigar in his mouth and a furrowed brow. Kayd instinctively began hitting his next spike as hard as he could.

The boss took his cigar out slowly. He then blared a trumpet, and the crew slowly stopped what they were doing. His gaze softened. It was slight, but Kayd noticed.

“Don’t know how many of you boys were looking at your stop watches, but it was the end of the work day as of about five minutes ago. Now, normally I would be letting you all go home by now, but we’ve got a bit of an announcement.”

The boss rubbed his moustache profusely before continuing.

“With how long and hard you wonderful gentleman have worked, we are now approximately a week way from completing this area of railway. After our team and the next one meet up, that’s going to mean you fellers won’t be working on the railroad anymore. That is, unless you want to travel about a hundred miles to meet up with the next crew. Basically, you’re going to want to find other work.”

The crew stayed silent.

“You’ve been a great team. I’ll be sorry to see you all go. “

The boss smiled, trying to pretend to wipe away a bit of sweat. Kayd knew it was the beginning of a tear. “Well, that’s all I got. You all can pack up now, no dawdling.”

Kayd put away his things and began walking home. As he entered the outskirts of the town, he looked up at the sign above him. UNION CITY, said the sign, and just below it, THE PILLAR OF THE NEW WORLD. It greeted him every day he came and left work. He wondered how it would feel when he saw the sign for the last time.

The Truth Behind “Strong Female Characters”

Today I got to have a chat with a fellow writer who’s just starting out. She and I had a very fun chat that started with a discussion on superhero films. It quickly changed to a discussion on the “strong female character” trope in television and literature. It was easily one of the most informative and revealing discussions I’ve ever had with someone on the topic. If she stays with this way of thinking, I think she could go pretty far in the writing industry.

This is the slightly edited version of her side of the conversation.

*Warning: Occasional Language*

I think that women in superhero movies are often really dumbed down to either two stereotypes:

1.) Helpless or


Strong women don’t always need to be one of the extremes. Here are some examples of “strong” characters that I honestly hate: Michonne from the Walking Dead, Black Widow, Catwoman. [They’re] the kind of sexy but very stone-faced characters. [Michonne] is one of the stereotypical strong women that doesn’t like to feel emotions outwardly, and I’ve just seen that so much. I love Lori and Carol because they’re so dynamic and not just sexy, strong, and stoned-face. That’s just my opinion.

I just get annoyed when I see females like that, because I think that people try to overcompensate for women. They try to make them as strong as possible, but then it makes them the typical “oh look how strong I am, I don’t need a man, I can shut out the world”.

I like characters who are both strong and loving, especially mothers. Honestly, my favorite characters are usually mothers like Molly Weasley. She’s so caring, kind of cute and sweet, but is extremely strong.

Honestly if there’s one thing I’ll say [about her], J.K. Rowling did an amazing job with female characters.

  • Hermione – strong, smart, physically not beautiful, but so loving,
  • Tonks – kinda scrappy and awkward but a fighter,
  • McGonagle – badass but caring.

It didn’t have to be the modern superhero sob-story, sexy angst-fest.

I feel like it almost adds to the sexual appeal when the “strong women” are really stone-faced and emotionless because then it becomes the man hero’s job to try and make her feel again, which is usually what happens. Michonne and Rick, Gamorah and Starlord, Black Widow and Bruce. And it’s funny, because these “strong” women are usually actually very sexualized. When I see a “strong woman character”, I often cringe. If they’re trying to make her strong, chances are they’re trying too hard. I love mother characters. Extreme love, extreme strength.

A lot of other “strong women” honestly are just bitchy.

I do like Rey, too. She’s a strong female that wasn’t over sexualized and didn’t come off as unfeeling. At first I thought she was, but it wasn’t overly so.

Lori was amazing because although I didn’t like her as a person, she was really complex, and often got faced with a lot of moral choices. I would sometimes say “Oh, she shouldn’t have done that!”, but then [I thought], “Honestly, I may have done that.”

Any female character that is badass and knows it and then continues with it, [she] just seems a little laughable to me. Please chill out and stop defining yourself only by your strength.

I “like” Michonne but, honestly, people are like, “wow, she’s so strong and badass”. I’m sorry, but in a woman, badassery is fine, but if that’s your defining quality it gets old. Michonne is the same but she really just becomes predictable. And [she’s] always so bitchy. I’m just so sick of strong female characters. Just make them characters; complex, not as badass as possible.

The Fantasy Genre Returns

So apparently my blog is very popular over this past week due to a post of mine called “A Little List of Lies about Leprechauns”. It’s gotten over 400 views, something I considered impossible for any of my posts. So with this in mind, I’ve decided to discuss the thing that birthed such creatures in the first place: the fantasy genre.

It seems like the fantasy genre is finally making a comeback. With shows like Game of Thrones, the Shannara Chronicles, and the recent success of The Hobbit, the general public is eating up fantasy as intensively as the upper class is eating lobster. But where does the booming interest in fantasy come from?

Continue reading “The Fantasy Genre Returns”

Christianity Sounds Weird

I have come to realize that trying to explain Christianity to someone sounds like a really intense sci-fi style acid trip.

“We worship an all-powerful otherworldly non-gendered and non-physical being who is split into three persons and exists outside the laws of common physics. This entity has these other weird-looking creatures which are also non-gendered and non-physical, and they all come from this non-physical plane/dimension of existence that cannot be seen through natural human vision. Also, this all-powerful otherworldly non-gendered and non-physical being flies around on a giant glass-like seat in the middle of a glass-like platform supported by four gyroscope things. Oh, but this being is also technically everywhere at once while being on that seat.

“Also, there was a war in this other dimension and now there are two factions of these non-gendered, non-physical beings that came on Earth and now fight amongst each other without you being able to see them.

“And after my body shuts down, my consciousness will travel to another plane of existence, where I will be with this incredible all-powerful being forever and ever. Eventually, this same all-powerful entity will terraform the Earth into a new planet. After this point, we will live in a giant multicolored floating cube utopia about 1400 miles in length, width and height. And we will live in peace for the rest of eternity.”

It is incredibly strange. It’s not going to stop me from believing in God and Christianity, but hey, it’s certainly interesting.