Weekly Writing Challenge 03/24/2021

Standard

I know where I want this story to end, and I believe I have a plausible ending figured out, but we’ll see. I do know this will by its nature be a short one. I managed another 409 words and I estimate the story will come in at a little over 1200 words. So next week should be the last segment.

I’d spend my nights dreaming about what could have been. One day Simon’s wife showed up along with their son and my dreams drifted into more erotic territory as I imagined what I’d like to do to her. She was a short little blond with a heart shaped face, full red lips and a pert little nose turned up a little at the tip. She wore a tight-fitting dress that accentuated her curves and fueled my fantasies as I imagined what it might be like to unwrap that present.  

It was Simon’s birthday and she had come to surprise him. Some of us on the line caught a glimpse of her in the hallway that led to the break room. Several of the less couth offered up lewd suggestions of what they’d like to do to her. Going into more detail than was necessary and it made me just a bit uncomfortable. She deserved better than that. Hell, she deserved better than Simon. Were she my wife I’d never let her near this place. But Simon took the comments in stride, and I believe he was a little proud of the fact her presence had elicited such a response. It was sad really. The only way he could earn respect was by letting those on the line talk about he woman he was supposed to love.

There was no love there, and that would be my way in. Get Simon out of the way. It wouldn’t be too hard to stage an accident on the line. Wait till he was distracted and knock him into the rails that carried the work to us. The line didn’t stop for anything, and it wouldn’t stop for him. The more I thought about my plan the more it looked like it would work without a hitch. But it was these thoughts that proved to be my downfall. I became so focused on getting rid of Simon my work started to suffer. My dimes were not as nice as they once were, and I was leaving small gaps I my welds.

It wasn’t long before they pulled me from the line, and I had to endure my first ever quality interview as they tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I could have told them easy enough what was wrong, but they wouldn’t have listened. The inspectors have only one thing on their mind, getting the line moving as it should.

To be continued!

Have you read All Roads Lead to Terror?

Book 1 This Lawless Land

In a chaotic, post-apocalyptic world, an endless night is closing in, and only the strong will survive. In the midst of the turmoil, fourteen-year-old Meat, and his three closest friends, embark on a mission to rescue kidnapped children from the compound enslaving them.

Battling their way through treacherous terrain and immeasurable odds, the boys must learn to lean on each other if they hope to survive. Little do they know fate has far greater plans for them. For they represent the trinity, a symbol older than time itself, that keeps the darkness at bay.

They are three, bound by a fourth, destined to save mankind.

With time running out, and the cloak of eternal night descending, can the boys find a way to turn the tables on evil?

Or will they be the next to join the growing legion of the dead?

You can check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016MLXM32

New This Week 03/15/2021

Standard

Click on the cover image to order.

Howls From Hell (Assorted Authors)Available 05/18/2021

Synopsis: Spacefaring researchers disturb an ancient horror. An enchanted object curses a grieving widow. A haunted reel torments a film student. A murder trial hinges on a chilling testimony.

In Howls From Hell, sixteen emerging horror writers pave the way for the future of the genre. Fans of dark and macabre fiction will savor this exhibition of all-original tales born from one of the fastest-growing horror communities in the world: HOWL Society.

With a foreword by GRADY HENDRIX, this anthology unveils the horror writers of tomorrow with spine-tingling stories from:

P.L. McMillan, J.W. Donley, Shane Hawk, Christopher O’Halloran, Alex Wolfgang, Amanda Nevada DeMel, Lindsey Ragsdale, Solomon Forse, Justin Faull, M. David Clarkson, B.O.B. Jenkin, S.E. Denton, Thea Maeve, Joseph Andre Thomas, Joe Radkins, and Quinn Fern

The Devil’s Mistress: David Barclay Available 03/16/2021

Synopsis: Virginia, 1705

Darkness has come to the town of Blackfriar. The beloved millwright, John Ashford, has been poisoned. His daughter, Isabella, stands trial for murder. Rumor has it that she consorted with the Devil to do the deed. That she’s become a witch.

The worst thing, however, is what the townsfolk don’t know: Isabella is innocent.

After visiting the local enchantress for a simple love spell, her life is beset by catastrophe. Her father turns up dead. Her sadistic fiancé spurns her. Now in shackles, Isabella faces torture and death. Her only friend, the enchantress. The old crone offers Isabella a new choice: continue to suffer at the hands of her tormentors, or become the very thing they fear.

Agoraphobia: A Short Story: Rami Ungar Available 03/16/2021

Synopsis: Peyton fears the outside world. It has brought him nothing but pain and misery. He even bought and renovated an entire house to get away. However, when a hurricane threatens his home, he must contemplate leaving for the first time in years. Especially when the hurricane throws something living into his sanctuary. Something with teeth and claws.

Weekly Writing Challenge 03/10/2021

Standard

This week I’ve rolled the dice and I’m starting a new story. No title yet but the roll is as follows.

Character roll: Clock face, time? Maze? Machinery. Is my MC a factory worker? An assembly line drone? Factory worker on the graveyard shift. Infestation? Reminiscent of night shift. Don’t want to go in that direction. Gonna try something different. Main Character is a disgruntled worker pissed at being passed over for a promotion.

Story roll:

Beginning: Question mark / theater faces, happy, sad / Insect, bug

Middle: Moon / Eye / Sleeping figure

End: Fire / Embarrassed expression / Scales

You’re welcome to use the roll to create our own story. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Managed 514 words, I’ve an idea of where this is headed, but I’m not sure if I can pull it off. We’ll see.

It was the story of my life, a day late and a dollar short. Take my job for instance, I’m a welder on an assembly line. I’m the fastest they’ve got and can lay a line of dimes that would make any welder worth his salt jealous. Every weld, every time is as near perfect as possible. Yet when they needed someone to oversee the line, who do they get? Not me. That’s for sure. No, they gave the job to that pencil neck Simon. All he does is wander the line with his hands in his pocket, making sure we do our jobs right. The bastard doesn’t even know how to weld. I’ve never seen him weld anything and I’ve been here since the beginning. Why don’t they give the job to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, instead of a college kid whose only smarts come from between the covers of a book.

In a way you could say I shot myself in the foot. After all those who can do, and those who can’t, oversee the rest of us. I understand why they wouldn’t want to pull me from the line. I mean since I’d been here over ninety percent of my work has come down the line like it’s supposed to. In the beginning it wasn’t like that, we call gotta start somewhere, but I proved to be a fast learner and picked up the knack for welding pretty quick. But now I’ve got this wannabe watching over my shoulder and it more than a little irritating. The thought has crossed my mind to screw up a few times, just to see their reaction, but it’s not in my nature to do that. I guess the best thing I can do is let this all blow over, but still, it irks me no end.

I can’t believe this asshole. He came to me today to tell me, in front of everyone else, that I needed to adjust my welds. They were a tad bit off, he said. Little pencil neck prick couldn’t tell an undercut from an underfill and he’s gonna tell me I need to adjust my welds. I had half a mind to walk right into the CEO’s office and tell the whole board to kiss my rosy, red ass. But I didn’t, I took it like a man, and turned back to the line to adjust my weld as he said. But I will tell you this. If I see the prick outside of work, I’m not gonna be so kind.

One day led to the next and I kept my head down, focused on the work at hand. Simon wandered the line every day, a constant reminder of my failings, and my thoughts, I’m ashamed to say, drifted into more frightening territory. The line’s a dangerous place to work. You’ve got heavy equipment moving about, the line itself moves of its own accord and there have been several instances in the past when hapless workers became distracted long enough for the line to get them. It was never a pretty sight, but I couldn’t help smiling at the thought of Simon falling victim to the line.

To be continued.

Weekly Writing Challenge 02/17/2021

Standard

This week I’ve managed 750 words and the end is in sight. I know exactly where this story is headed now and I’m looking forward to the big reveal. I hope you’ve been enjoying my posts, and I’m always looking forward to your thoughts on my work. It’s taken me years to come to the conclusion of why I write. Before I would always answer that question with, ‘because I must.’ Now I realize I write to entertain. I only hope I’m achieving that goal. Without further adieu, I give you the next installment of Third Times a Charm.

Third Times a Charm

Where could he even begin? Hell, he wasn’t sure where to start, maybe at the beginning. “I grew up in a small place called Borden right outside the town of Frostburg in western Maryland. Me and my friends would sled ride in the winter and play in the woods during the summer. Went to Mountain Ridge high school and served four years with the Marines, joining right after I graduated.”

“That’s a start I suppose, it is nice to know you care enough to not brush me off. So, are we eating at your place tonight?”

What could it hurt? Didn’t Dr. Morrison say Mona’s presence was nothing more than the guilt he felt at taking her life? If that were true, and everything he’d experienced since her death was a result of his own feelings of guilt, why not bring an outside influence into his life.

“Like I said, it’s cramped, but if you’re willing to overlook that you’re more than welcome to come over.”

“Would seven be good?”

“Works for me,” Nick said, following her into the crowded elevator. They silently rode to the first floor, Denise’s arm wrapped snugly around his own. There they parted to go their separate ways. Nick felt a spring in his step as he crossed the lobby and stepped out into a spring day. It was beginning to look like all the despair that had been his life was finally passing, like dark clouds breaking up under the sun a smile spread across his face. Tonight would be the first step into a new life and he was really looking forward to the change.

The day passed slowly, uneventfully, his mind focused on the evening with Denise. For the first time in a long time he was looking forward to the end of the day and that expectation seemed to cause all the clocks to grind down to a snail’s pace. It was so different from the past when the day seemed to speed by him, the sensation Mona was watching his every step never far from his thoughts. Doctor Morrison explained that his feelings were guilt speaking to him the only way it knew how.

Eventually the day came to an end and he was able to escape his office. His takeout order was waiting for him at Mario’s and with a spring in his step he made his way back to the apartment building where he lived. A block away from him, the sidewalk around him filled with pedestrians taking advantage of the early spring day, he was brought up short by a familiar shout. He scanned the crowd ahead of him and spotted her at the entrance to his building. Mona stood with her arms wrapped about herself, her eyes scanning the crowd flowing around her.

No, it couldn’t be, it wasn’t possible for her to be here. She was dead. He killed her. A single shot to the forehead, the look of surprise on her face as death claimed her never straying far from his thoughts. Another thought bulled its way through. Denise? Where was she? Was she okay?

Ducking into the alley he made his way to the service entrance and slipped inside. Impatiently he waited for then elevator to take him to the seventeenth floor.  Once inside he struggled against his panic as the car slowly rode up, stopping occasionally as passengers got on and off. Finally, he reached the seventeenth floor and bolted from the elevator. At his door he slipped the key into the lock, the door behind him opening.

“Hey stranger, is that dinner?”

Plastering a smile, he didn’t feel on his face he turned around to Denise and held up the bag from Mario’s. “Gimme a couple of minutes and we can eat.”

“I can’t wait,” she said.

Nick slipped into his apartment and crossed to the bedroom. From his nightstand he retrieved his pistol and slipped it into the waistband of his pants. As he was crossing back to the door it opened to reveal Denise dressed in a flowing sheer robe that clung to every surface of her body.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“I’ve gotta take care of one little thing. I’ll be right back.”

“You mind if I wait here?” She looked around the small apartment.

“That’ll be okay, I’ll be right back.”

She grabbed his arm before he could get away. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

To be continued!

What do you think so far?

Weekly Writing Challenge

Standard

Third Times a Charm

The story is coming together in my mind. I know where it’s going to end, it’s just a matter of putting my butt in the chair and getting it there. 689 words this week. Pretty good for an hours work. Too bad we can’t do that all the time.

He persisted as was his nature, getting dressed for work, going through the motions of a regular life that was far from routine. Beyond his bedroom window the world continued to follow its own course, seemingly unaware of the drama that was his life. The sound of traffic on third avenue reached his room as he gazed into the mirror, adjusting his tie. He never could get the damned thing to work right.

The thought sparked a memory of Mona reaching around his neck to fix his tie, joking with him about his inability to do something so simple. Can’t even tie a knot, she’d say with a sparkle in her eye as his love for her swelled in his chest until it felt like he was about to explode. Her missed her so much he sometimes wished he would have never pulled the trigger. So what if she killed him, at least he wouldn’t have to live without her.

He pushed away the sorrow, refusing the acknowledge its existence, moving through the small apartment to the tiny living room with a kitchen in one corner. At the door he paused, slipping on a happy face to show the world before opening the door and stepping into the hallway. Out here, in the world, the memories were not as strong, and he found he was able to function. The door across the hall opened and Denise stepped out, pulling the door closed behind her.

She slipped her arm into Nicks. “Good morning stranger, what happened last night?”

“I’m sorry, got tied up in a meeting at work, then my boss wanted to have a couple of drinks.”

“I heard you stumbling in around two, did you get enough sleep?”

“You were still awake?”

“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Nick was touched by her concern, had it not been for Denise he might not have made it through those first few months. They’d become fast friends after he moved in across from her and that friendship was slowly evolving into something more intimate. They’d shared a few dinners, and he had slept over in her place twice, but they were far from taking the big step of moving in together. It was mostly a friends with benefits arrangement, but he sensed Denise wanted to take it to the next level.

It was a step he was far from prepared to take. For starters he had yet to tell her the truth about what happened between he and Mona. As far as she knew they were divorced, and nothing more.  He was worried about how she would respond if she knew he killed his first wife in self-defense and he wasn’t entirely sure how to broach the subject with her.

“I’m all right. You want to try for tonight?”

“I’m up for it if you are.”

“It’s a date then, I’ll pick up from Mario’s on my way home, you grab the wine. Some good food, some good wine, we’ll see where the night leads.”

“I know where I want it to go,” she said, tightening her grip on his arm. “The only question that remains, your place of mine?”

“I’m sorry, it’s just so cramped in my place, can’t we eat at your place.”

“Are you sure it’s because your apartment is so small?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re not hiding anything from me are you?”

“What would I be hiding?”

“I don’t know, the fact you’re still married, maybe you have kids you don’t want me to know about. I don’t know that much about you aside from where you work, and what you do for a living. I don’t know where you grew up, if your parents are still alive, does your ex come around. I poured my life out before you and you’ve yet to tell me where you’re from originally.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just.” He hesitated. Denise was right, she deserved to know more about him and his past. But that past included the death of his first wife by his hand. It wasn’t a subject you simply dropped into polite dinner conversation.

So what do you think about the story so far? Keep in mind this is raw, unedited work.

Weekly Writing Challenge

Standard

I managed another 490 words in the hour I allotted myself. A couple of things emerged in my mind while writing. The first is the emotional aspect. Honestly I can’t wait to finish the first draft and get into the rewrites where I can layer in those emotions. Some came through but nowhere near as powerful as what they can be.

The second thing to emerge is a possible title. Third Times a Charm. You’ll see why when you read this segment. Has anybody else tried following along? If so leave a comment, I’d love to read what you’ve come up with.

Without further adieu I give you part two. Tell me what you think, but please keep in mind this is raw work with only minor editing.

Third Times a Charm contd.

He’d had many of them over the past six months, his nights filled with dreams of Mona coming at him with a butcher’s knife. Stalking him while he slept, a ghostly killer lurking in the shadows lying just beyond view. He knew it wasn’t possible for her to be there, but the knowledge never lessened the terror he felt in her presence.

There had actually been a time when they loved one another, when they were first married and the future was bright ahead of them. He remembered looking forward to a long happy life at her side. They hoped to have kids but after her second miscarriage they decided it would be best to put aside that dream. There would always be the option to adopt, and they had even gotten to the point of starting the paperwork.

But Mona was persistent, she wanted to try one last time before they threw in the towel. He was hesitant, not wanting her to go through all that again, but she persisted and in time he relented. Third time’s a charm she always said, and at first it seemed like she might actually make it this time. Each time before she lost the child in the first month. On her last try she made it to the second trimester before everything went south.

The day was permanently etched into his memory. She had a morning appointment with her doctor and he had his own appointment with a new client at work so he wasn’t able to go with her. Maybe if he had things might have turned out differently. But it still wouldn’t have changed what happened.

Nick didn’t know about it at first, but later, after everything happened, he found out she lost the baby in the doctor’s office. Like many expectant parents they read everything they could find about their growing child. By week sixteen their baby was able to blink, the heart and blood vessels were fully formed, and their fingers and toes had fingerprints. It was at that point it really began to sink in they might succeed, that it was true, that sometimes the third time was a charm. 

Mona even got to the point of considering baby names, she bought several baby naming books and pored through the pages every day in search of the perfect name for her miracle child. She was so excited and some of that excitement found its way to Nick who started looking forward to having a newborn in the house. They’d gone through so much disappointment already he was afraid to hope. Worried that by doing so fate would intervene. He even let his guard down and allowed himself to be dragged along by Mona’s happiness. 

Too bad it didn’t last.

The memories followed him as he started his day. A cold shower did little to alleviate the weariness that consumed him, and coffee couldn’t even begin to touch the fatigue.

End Segment!

Weekly Writing Challenge

Standard

January 20,2021

For Christmas last year my wife gave me a complete set of Rory story cubes and I was inspired to get back into trying to write short stories. I’ve always been a long form writer, able to create novel length works much easier that I can create short stories. Every so often I come up with a good one, but in most cases my shorts need a lot of work.

A couple of years ago I started a weekly writing challenge on my blog. The intent was to create a story whose title started with a letter from the alphabet. The rules were simple. Every week I’d allow myself one hour to write the selected story with the goal of writing at least 250 words. Whatever I accomplished in that hour I would share on my blog that Wednesday. Raw, unedited, and would continue doing so until the story was done.

I managed to finish all the way up to E before real real life forced me to shelve my plans. This year on January 1st, I retired. I still work three days a week but I now have time to jump back into my weekly challenge. This time instead of limiting myself to the alphabet, I’m going to use the Rory story cubes to create each story.

Monday I rolled the dice and came up with the following.

Character roll:  Planting. Burying. Running. Walking.

Opening: Carrying a box.  Turn.  Pushing a button, elevator possibly.

Middle: Two people agreeing, thumbs up, shaking hands. Something broken, something fragile. Throwing a ball, catching a ball, playing sports.

End: Jumping from one level to the next, jumping down. Headphones, listening to music, overhearing a conversation, eavesdropping. Knocking on a door, pounding on a wall, looking for something.

After some thought here are the first 380 words of the yet to be titled work.

Nick was asleep when the sound disturbed him, a crashing rumble that drove him awake and he sat up in bed looking around the cramped bedroom.  Her perfume filled the room provoking the last image he had of her. She came in low across the bed, staring at him with a murderous gaze, the tip of the butcher knife in her hand drawing a line in the sheets. She was going to kill him, he was sure of it, and he rolled away, off the side of the bed. He yanked the drawer of the nightstand open. She lashed out with a furious cry, the tip of the blade passing over his shoulder, igniting a burning line of pain as his hand closed around the butt of his pistol. He bought it to protect them from intruders, unaware it’s eventual use would be to defend him from his wife. The same women he’d sworn to honor and protect, to give his life to, was trying to kill him.

The memory faded into the dark recesses of his mind as he reached out for the nightstand and turned on the light. A soft yellow glow filled the room, casting the small dresser into deep shadows. It was then he realized someone was in the room with him, watching him from the deeper night gathered at the far edge of that small pool of light.

“Who’s there?”

He slid open the drawer of the nightstand and removed his revolver. The police had given it back to him after he was cleared of any wrongdoing in his wife’s death. In the shadows near the window, he saw what looked like a person standing with their arms crossed over their chest.

“Mona?” As soon as he said her name he knew it couldn’t be right. No way she could be there with him. She was dead and buried, her new residence at Parkview cemetery courtesy of the weapon he held in his hand.  

The lid of the toilet slammed down, and he jumped back as the shadow at the window faded into the night. He rubbed his eyes and swung his legs out of bed, noting that it was now a little past three am and it was going to be another sleepless night.

End segment!

So what do you think?

If you’d like to follow along and do the challenge yourself by all means you’re more than welcome, and I’d love to read what you’ve written. If you’d like to grab your own set of story cubes they’re available here.