Happy Halloween! I'm so excited this day is finally here! (Not because I'm going to dress up or anything, but because I've survived the week! Two writing deadlines--met. One sick daughter--on the mend.)
Okay, enough about me. Today's blog hop, hosted by Wittegen Press, is an opportunity for bloggers, authors, and artists to share something scary--for free! Since I belong to two of these groups, this is a great hop for me. You can join too. Go here for details and a link list of participants.
To start the ball rolling, I will share a true story:
Once upon a time, when I was about eight, I was lying in bed, when all of a sudden, I had the terrible feeling that I had left the basement door unlocked. It was the middle of the night, but I didn't want my dad (who got up early) to find out I hadn't locked the door. He would not be happy with me even though we lived in a safe neighborhood with woods all around the back and sides.
I got out of bed, crept all the way down into the basement where I heard our dog, Benji, barking like mad, like there was somebody or something in the yard. Since there was a window right by the basement door, I didn't dare turn on the light, because I knew if someone was out there, they would be able to see me.
So I crept up to the door, and just as I was turning the tab to lock it (yes, I had indeed left it unlocked), the knob started to turn back and forth, back and forth--from the outside!
Did I go running to my parents, screaming like a banshee? I don't think I did. In fact, I don't remember what happened after that. But there you go.
And next, I have a piece of flash fiction. This story was entered in a contest held by a blogger who had just reached 100 followers. She wanted us to write something scary. I wasn't in the mood to write about vampires or ghosts, so I took a jog to think about what really, truly frightened me. Two things came to mind. One of them is mental illness. If you read Hush, you'll easily guess the second.
Be warned! This is not a light-hearted piece. (But it did win the contest. Strong language advisory.)
Eileen was okay until the crying started. Her neck tensed as the tiny whimpers grew into strident shrieks. Growling under her breath, Eileen pulled into a parking lot by the city park. It was two a.m.
“Godnadit will you shut up!” She wanted to yell but that would only evoke louder screams. The baby heard her anyway and doubled its efforts.
Eileen’s jaw clenched as a sharp stab of pain shot through her temple, landing in her right eye—a precursor to a migraine. Now she was screwed, having swallowed her last Zomig two days ago in a different town. Getting another prescription would be a tit, especially if she couldn’t drive.
Then it started. First one spot, then two. Like a computer screen with missing pixels, black spots took root in her field of vision and grew, fusing into one big splotch. Eileen slammed her head down onto the steering wheel. Take that, you fucking migraine!
The sudden thud vanquished the crying from the backseat. Eileen dragged herself out of the car and opened the left rear passenger door. Leaning over the infant seat, her nose wrinkled.
“Whew!” Eileen waved her hand as if that would help. She returned to the driver’s seat and popped the trunk. Standing up, she spied someone by the lamppost, smoking a cigarette. A black hoodie obscured the figure’s face. Eileen wondered if she would be mugged. Or murdered.
“Go to a head,” she mumbled, releasing the car seat buckles. Make my day. If that guy wanted to do her in, so be it. At least it would stop the pounding in her head.
Eileen took her little bundle back to the trunk. Inside was a soft blanket, an open pack of Pampers, size one, and a plastic tub of wipes for sensitive skin. She laid him on the stained blanket and made sure to breathe through her mouth during the change. God, it stunk!
The baby was gearing up for another audio assault. Eileen picked it up and felt the world tilt to the left. She almost lost her balance, but managed to fall towards the car. Something small and soft hit the pavement. She was too far gone to care. If the kid lost its teddy, that was too fuckin’ bad, Freddy.
Eileen staggered to the front seat, praying she wouldn’t drop the kid, and plopped down. That did it. The wailing recommenced. Eileen reached across the gearshift and grabbed the nursing pillow. The foul cushion brushed against the twenty or so air fresheners dangling in a cloying clump from the rearview mirror as Eileen popped it under the baby. She was in a hurry. If the kid didn’t start sucking soon, Eileen’s head would explode.
While the baby nursed, Eileen scanned the park through the bug-specked windshield. There was no one under the lamppost now. She checked her rearview mirror. Nothing. Then she looked in the side view mirror and gasped.
The hooded figure skittered forward, filling the mirror with a lightening quick speed, too fast to be human. Eileen squeezed her eyes shut and tightened her grip on the baby. He squawked.
When Eileen opened her eyes again, all was still. There was no figure, and the migraine seemed to have backed off. Her vision was clear and the throbbing had settled into a bearable pressure behind her right eye.
It wasn’t very smart, she realized, stopping here to nurse at this hour. Eileen put the baby back into its car seat and decided she was okay to drive after all.
The next morning, retired bank manager Jerry Brandt plunked his wide ass on a park bench for a breather and unleashed his dog, Goodfella. No one else was around this early, so Jerry felt safe letting the chow have a moment of freedom. The big mutt started sniffing and snuffling, tail wagging to beat the band. When Goodfella returned he had something in his mouth. At first Jerry thought it was an old, maggoty chicken leg. Then the dog placed its muzzle into Jerry’s lap and dropped his prize.
Philadelphia (AP): The search for Eileen Conrad and her infant son enters its third week with little hope. With Eileen’s history of schizophrenia, mother and child are feared dead.
Yep, mental illness and the death of a child. Scary, scary stuff. Want more? It's not free, but on November 1, I'm releasing a collections of three spooky tales. The title story, Heartstopper, is about a father, his seriously ill daughter, and the mysterious disappearance of several household objects right before Halloween. Visit my publication page for more information.
What do you find most frightening these days? Zombies? Ebola? Or your bills?