One knock sounded on his door at 12:01 AM on the first of November, as it had for 250 years. Anthony hesitated, even though the request was familiar. He glanced out the kitchen window at the moonwashed cliff of Beachy Head and the Channel beyond. Then a million knocks, a billion, pounding away in unison, a coruscating knot of sound that quaked his small home. The knocking made dishes rattle in their cabinets and his glass of whisky to dance and crash to the floor.Read more
Greetings fellow graduates, parents, and faculty. No one is more surprised than me that I am speaking to you tonight. When we first walked through the big glass doors of Happy Valley High four years ago, did anyone imagine that this budding goth girl might one day be valedictorian of the class of 2014?
So many students studied more than me. So many worked harder than me. So many were smarter than me. Yet somehow none of them survived the high school gauntlet, so here I am. I didn’t even take any AP classes. In hindsight, that was probably lucky. Otherwise I might have suffocated on the chlorine gas Mary Llewellyn mixed from those mislabeled ingredients in chemistry lab. Or perhaps I would have suffered acute radiation sickness in AP Physics after that unfortunate typo on the laboratory supply form. You probably wouldn’t have found me in AP Biology though. My strict vegetarian principals made me uncomfortable dissecting fetal pigs. Who could have guessed that my squeamishness would save me from contracting flesh-eating bacteria? There’s a lesson about the importance of sticking to one’s principles in there somewhere.Read more
“Dad, I’m feeding the skeleton in the closet.”
My seven-year-old daughter stated this. She wasn’t asking permission.I had to sit up in my arm chair and set down my Kindle.
“Yes. He likes donuts.”Read more
You now have the chance to adopt your very own hellhound puppy!
Due to decreasing demand for eternal damnation over the last two millennia (yes, we’re looking at you, J.C.) we’ve been forced to downsize our staff. That means we no longer have the demonpower necessary to take care of our four-legged friends. And you have the opportunity of a lifetime.Read more
Misty watched Joe pace the living room. Things had been going missing—car keys, loose change, magazines, and now his cigarettes.
“That’s the second pack this week,” he growled, lifting a stack of papers off the coffee table.
“Sorry, Joe,” she said from the couch.
“How does this keep happening?” He stomped into the kitchen and Misty heard drawers opening and banging shut. The edge in his voice told her to stay on the couch, out of his way.
He stalked back out of the kitchen and stood in the living room, fists on hips. Misty watched him take a deep breath in and out as he scanned shelves and windowsills. She supposed he was counting to ten. “Guess I need to get another pack,” he grumbled.
She had to get him out of this mood. “Maybe Chelsea’s swiping them,” she said, reaching over to pet the small, rust-colored tabby curled up next to her. “Maybe kitty doesn’t like smoking in the house.” Chelsea purred and rolled over to expose her soft white belly. Misty looked up at Joe with a tentative smile.
“The cat, eh?” His face was unreadable. Behind her smile, Misty clenched her teeth as he sat down next to her on the couch.Read more
“Fishie?” Little Evan asked over the sound of his mother flushing the toilet.
Ray stepped between Evan and Cecelia, squatting down to look into Evan’s watering eyes.
“I thought you said that Fishie went to heaven.”
Ray took a deep breath, keeping eye contact. “Evan, … Fishie, … well, he did some things… He’s gone to a bad place.”Read more
“They used to be bats, you know. That was before they lost their wings.”
“I beg your pardon?”
It was going to be one of those kinds of conversations.
“The story goes,” the man persisted, “that when Noah built the ark, he sent invitations to the bats, but that they refused. ‘Why should we ride on your smelly old boat?’ they said. ‘Even if there is a flood, we can just fly over it.'”Read more
I didn’t want her to hear me. I didn’t want to disturb her.
Jayleen was kneeling with her back to me. This was the wrong setting for her. I’d tried to make the house look cheerful for Christmas. Tinsel braided the mantle. The few cards I’d received were displayed—robin and holly bright.
But Jayleen should’ve be kneeling on a rush mat, she should have been screened by paper doors as she worked on her shodō. I’d met Jayleen just a few months after Mother’s death. In that grey hopeless fog she’d reached out to me. She was so different from any woman I’d ever known. I could spend hours just watching her.
“I can sense you, Dave,” she said.Read more
The window is smashed but nobody is brave enough to go in and fix it. The town is not filled with cowards, just ordinary people, but ordinary people know better than to go inside. The house, as you are looking at it, stands by itself and was once a good house on a good street. Some hundred years have passed since then, and it is now an empty house on a bad street. It has a creaking mouth with rusty hinges, and a soot-black face and wrought-iron claws and, now, one broken glass eye. It watches you as you walk past. You think perhaps there is another way through this part of town but you never look for it. You are on a bad street, but that does not make it a bad house, after all. It is just empty, and while it is empty nothing bad can happen. Sometimes you walk past the house when the sky is dark and the streetlamps are on, and once you thought you saw a light in one of the windows—a light like a lit candle in a darkened room. You know you can’t have seen it because the house is empty.Read more
Thomas sat in his truck, glad to be out of the cold rain blowing in sheets against his windshield. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, and as he glanced over to the right at the trees and brush, thought he saw a flash of movement. Sitting up now on full alert, he watched carefully through the rivulets of rain pouring down the window. A woman burst out into the clearing and started lurching forward, her arms extended towards him, her expression one of terror.
He threw his truck door open, and as he got out, just for an instant, looked down to where he was stepping. By the time he raised his eyes again to the approaching figure, she was gone.
He thought she must have collapsed into the long grass, until he reached the empty spot where he last saw her.Read more