A collection of horror, mystery, and science fiction tales, with contributions from fellow writers, James Darko and Dexter Lynch. If you wish to contribute, I'd be happy to showcase your writing. Just send me a message. The stories are free to read and always will be. Some are better than others (I'm speaking only for myself), but I can't give all my best ideas away for free, ha ha. Feel free to share any stories, but please be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Monday, June 16, 2014
HEAD BELOW WATER
want to hear a ghost story? Well, every true ghost story begins with an
irreversible tragedy, a senseless death or deaths that could’ve been prevented
if the necessary precautions had been taken.
This particular story takes place in the early nineties, against
the backdrop of the fleeting Gulf War. Operation Desert Storm had commenced on
January 17th, 1991.
January 18th, 1991, three bodies were discovered in the quiet Long
Island suburbs of New York. Danny Miller was found floating face down in his
in-ground pool. Drowning was the official cause of death as ruled by the
coroner. But Miller’s chest and back were riddled with various puncture wounds
and lacerations caused by a serrated hunting knife.
wife, Kristin, was found in the upstairs bedroom. Official cause of death was
blood loss. The coroner counted 39 stab wounds along her neck, back, arms, and
only child, Davey Miller, was still in bed when the killer found him…and stabbed
him to death in his sleep.
The Fairview Police Department never apprehended the
person who committed this heinous crime. As the bank possessed the house
because of the Millers’ mortgage, they seized the property and sold it at
auction to the highest bidder.
The highest bidder was a defense attorney named Calvin
He moved in with his wife, Helen, the next month.
* * *
By February 28th, 1991, the Gulf War had
reached its anticlimactic conclusion. A peace conference was held and a treaty had
been signed by both sides. And just as that document was being inked and dated,
Calvin and Helen Kinnear were settling into their new home on 743 Hemlock
“Did you see the in-ground pool?” Helen asked, sounding
like a giddy little child getting ready to start bouncing up and down like a
jumping bean. “I can’t wait for summer.”
“We had a pool at the old house,” Calvin reminded her.
“And you barely used it then. What’s so different about this one?”
“That was an aboveground pool,” Helen said, rolling her
eyes as if to say her husband was the one who needed reminding. “This is an
in-ground pool. I can’t tell with the tarp covering it, but I bet it’s at least
eight or nine feet deep. And I bet we can get a diving board installed, too.”
“Great, I can practice my belly flops,” Calvin joked.
“And let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is starting to sound like a lot of
money. It costs big bucks to keep up with a big pool like that in the
“So what?” Helen shrugged. “It’s not like we don’t have
the money for it.”
Calvin considered it for a moment. And it was true. They
did indeed had the money to keep up with the pool and install a diving board.
They had enough money to build a second pool if the town granted them the
permits. Shit, Calvin had enough greenbacks sitting in his bank account that he
could’ve converted his whole backyard nightclub without blinking an eye.
But in addition to being one of the wealthiest defense
attorneys in New York, Calvin was always a frugal man, pinching pennies
wherever pennies could be pinched. And at that precise moment, the last things
on his mind were summer or the pool.
He was haunted by two things: The name Vito Corelli, and
the history of his new home.
Calvin was well aware of the macabre events that had transpired.
Helen was the only one not clued in, and keeping this a secret from her was his
top priority. But he had been off his game for days from lack of sleep,
partially due to the nightmares that had assaulted him every time he drifted
off to sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he’d see flashes of crime scene
photos. Photos of victims with white sheets draped over their bodies; the crimson
red blood soaking right through the sheets.
The victims had been placed on their knees and shot
execution style, with a silenced 9MM Luger pressed to the back of their heads.
Vito Corelli’s tumultuous relationship with the victims made him fall under
But Calvin knew the evidence was all circumstantial. They
were missing the three big factors that can make or break any case.
Witnesses, they had none.
Fingerprints, hair samples, blood samples, fiber, DNA;
they had none.
The silenced 9MM Luger; never recovered.
They didn’t have the murder weapon. In fact, they didn’t
have any solid evidence to link Corelli to the scene of the crime. All they had
against him was hearsay and conjecture. But that didn’t change the fact that
Corelli was guilty as sin.
He sat in that courtroom every day with a smug grin smeared
across his otherwise cold, emotionless face. His trial lasted five days and the
deliberation process took less than an hour. The judge and the jury both found
Corelli not guilty due to lack of evidence and he wriggled free from the hook
He’ll never forget the day Corelli came up to him in the
lobby after the trial like Marlon Brando in The
Godfather,and threw his huge arm
around Calvin, giving him a big sweaty bear hug. “I owe you big time,” Corelli
had told him. “Anything you ever need, anything at all, you come to me. No
questions asked. I’ll take care of it for you.”
Calvin never forgot that day, and he certainly never
forgot Corelli’s final remarks.
* * *
Helen was curled up in the fetal position on her side of
the bed, snoring peacefully with a sleep mask pulled over her eyes while Calvin
lay restless beside her.
Every time he tried to close his eyes, he’d get those
flashes again. Flashes of crimson red blood and two bodies splayed under white
The clock was a newer, digital model that clicked every
time the numbers changed.
2:03 AM. Click.
2:04 AM. Click.
2:05 AM. Click.
It was enough to drive an insomniac insane. Not as if an
insomniac needs any help in that department. Calvin knew the lack of sleep
would inevitably turn his brain into mush and his body into jelly.
At 2:06, when the clock clicked again, Calvin sat up and
rolled off the bed gently so as not to disturb Helen. He walked to the door
when he caught something out of the corner of his eye. He was being watched.
A shadowy figure loomed in the corner of the bedroom. He
couldn’t make out a face. All he could see were two green eyes that seemed to
glow like cats eyes in the moonlight. They weren’t the eyes of a happy camper.
They were the eyes of a man or woman who had suffered undeniable torture. The
eyes of pain, the eyes of affliction.
Calvin leapt back onto the bed, nearly waking Helen as he
crawled underneath the covers and drew them over his head.
He closed his eyes and didn’t see flashes of red.
Instead, he saw flashes of a mysterious figure that was standing a few feet
from the bed. Calvin’s mind was too fried from sleep deprivation to register
the difference between apparition and hallucination.
Though, writing it off as a hallucination would’ve made
things a hell of a lot easier.
When he pulled the sheet down from his head and opened
his eyes, the apparition had faded into the night. It was just him, Helen, and
the warm bathing glow of moonlight that shined through their bedroom window.
And that’s when the voices started…
Cries for help. Agonizing screams. Harsh whispers of the
deceased. All the voices were begging for Calvin’s aid in alleviating their
He tucked a pillow behind his head and folded the ends
over his ears, holding them in place with both hands. But even that wasn’t
enough to dull the voices.
Because the voices weren’t in the room. The voices were
in his head.
At least that’s what Calvin chose to believe at first.
* * *
Calvin had called out of work sick so he could visit the
doctor at two o’clock. He lied to Helen, telling her he stayed home because he
felt a slight touch of the flu.
“I hope you’re not feeling too sick to greet the
neighbors with me,” Helen had said.
“No I think I can manage,” he said, forcing a smile. He
wasn’t her husband at this moment. He was an actor struggling to constantly
retain his character. He couldn’t let her catch on and know that something was amiss.
Most of the neighbors proved to be pleasant, the one
exception being Walter Greco, the cranky man who lived next-door. They
presented him with a bunt cake and he squeezed out a thanks in such way that
made Calvin realize he was speaking with a man who was not accustomed to saying
They saw his wife, Emma, wheeling through the living
room, but she never came to the door and Walter failed to give the proper
introductions. He just accepted the cake, said thanks, welcome to the
neighborhood, and then he shut the door in their face.
“Remind me not to invite them over for pasta night,”
Helen quipped, nudging Calvin in the ribs with her elbow in a teasing fashion.
* * *
doctor’s office was newly renovated. The smell of fresh paint and newly
installed pinewood was overpowering, almost nauseating. Ribbed pinewood wall
panels lined the bottom half of the waiting room. The panels had been stained
to give the wood a slick, glossy appearance.
in the waiting room patiently, flipping through outdated celebrity gossip
magazines until they called his name.
nurse weighed him, took his blood pressure, and checked his heart rate. She
assured him his blood pressure and heart rate was copasetic. And she remarked
he was the perfect weight for his average height.
the nurse excused herself and left Calvin to wait for the doctor.
minutes later, Doctor Crenshaw walked through the door and introduced himself
to Calvin. Crenshaw was on a first name basis with all his patients, but seeing
as how Calvin was new in Fairview, he remained formal for this appointment.
Mr. Kinnear, what brings you here today?”
don’t really know how to explain it without sounding crazy...so, I’ll just say
that I saw and heard things last night that I couldn’t have possibly seen or
auditory hallucinations,” Crenshaw said and chortled. “You should consider
yourself lucky. Most people have to pay for such a thing. But in all seriousness,
I must ask a few questions before I can give a diagnosis. Remember what I ask
you and what you tell me is strictly confidential. I’m not obligated to share
your information with anyone.”
understand,” Calvin nodded.
Kinnear, do you use any drugs, including alcohol or tobacco?”
drink on occasion and I smoke one cigar for every victory in the courtroom as
sort of a reward, but that’s it. I don’t use drugs.”
a defense attorney, right?”
you say you’re under a lot of stress?”
could say that,” Calvin said, thinking of Corelli and those crime scene photos
that had been submitted into evidence.
the voices, the visions, has this ever happened to you before?”
never,” Calvin said emphatically.
“What about sleeping? Are you getting enough rest?”
“I toss and turn most nights, drift in and out of sleep.”
“And what about food? Are you eating on a regular basis?”
“I usually have breakfast and dinner, I skip lunch unless
I’m meeting with a client or having lunch with a co-worker.”
“Mr. Kinnear, it’s my personal diagnosis that you’re
simply under a lot of stress. When we’re stressed out or distracted, when we’re
not eating right or getting enough sleep, the mind doesn’t function properly.
It can play tricks on you. And in reality, that’s probably what you experienced
last night. Nothing more than mind hocus-pocus. But on the off chance I’m
wrong, I’d like to schedule a series of tests, starting with a CT scan, just to
make sure it’s nothing serious.”
“Whatever you think is best,” Calvin said.
if this happens again, I want you to contact my office immediately. In the
meantime, I’m going to write you a prescription for thirty doses of Ambien.
It’s a sleep aid. It should help you get a good night’s rest.”
* * *
But the Ambien failed to give Calvin a good night’s rest.
He tossed and turned and kept cranking his neck to the side to peek at the
corner of the room, expecting the shadowy figure to suddenly return the minute
he let his guard down.
Helen’s sleep mask was draped over her eyes and she was
snoring away on her back as Calvin listened to the digital clock click every
SAVE ME, a
voice cried out somewhere in the darkness of the room.
“You’re not real,” Calvin said, not even aware he was
speaking out loud. “You’re just in my head. Now leave me alone.”
Help me, he’s got a
knife, a second voice cried out from the dark.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” Calvin shouted and Helen snapped awake.
She peeled the sleeping mask from her face and stared angrily at Calvin.
“What the heck is your problem?” she asked, shaking her
“Nothing, I just had a bad dream,” he lied. He was
becoming an expert at lying straight to his wife’s face. “I’m sorry I woke you.
Go back to sleep. I’m gonna go downstairs for some fresh air.”
A set of clear glass sliding doors led out to the
backyard, where Calvin sat by the tarp covered pool and tried to catch his
He looked up, and beyond the pool, beside a barren oak
tree that had shed all its leaves, the shadowy figure loomed.
Those dead green eyes gleamed in the pale moonlight.
“What do you want?” Calvin shouted. “Name it and I’ll give it to you. You want
us to move out?”
The figure shook its head no.
“You want me to demolish this place?”
The figure shook its head no.
“You just want me to help you?”
The figure shook its head yes.
“Help you with what?”
The figure pointed one bony finger, devoid of all its
flesh, towards the house next-door.
Kill him, a
voice commanded. Make him suffer the same
fate I suffered.
“Are you…Danny Miller?”
The figure shook its head yes once more.
* * *
Before he went through with it, he had to be sure. He had
to know more about Walter Greco and the Miller family. He needed to understand
the connection between the two, establish a motive for Greco’s heinous actions.
When Helen had pulled Calvin’s arm to get him to go
around greeting all their new neighbors with bunt cake, he had been introduced
to Ms. Cobb.
Myra Cobb had been divorced for twelve years, but she
still preferred her husband’s name. Myra was thirty years his senior.
Nevertheless, she was full of energy and spunk. A loquacious woman, Myra could
drone on for hours if you got her started on the right topic. And like most
neighbors, she did her fair share of gossiping.
And that’s exactly what Calvin was hoping for when he
paid Ms. Cobb a second visit, sans Helen on this occasion. She had offered
cookies and coffee, but he declined both.
“Water would be fine,” Calvin said.
She fetched him a clean glass from the cupboard and
poured him a glass from the tap. She had an ice bowl in the freezer that included
a pair of ice tongs she used to drop three cubes into his glass.
He sipped his water and she drank her coffee while they
said in the living room. The sofa Calvin was seated on was plaid, and though it
had been sealed in plastic, he could tell it had been scotch guarded from the
texture. Ms. Cobb sat in old padded rocking chair. The chair had been there so
long the floor was riddled with scuff marks from the wooden legs.
She asked how they liked Fairview, and Calvin lied and
said it was a pleasant place to live. Truth be told, he couldn’t wait to move
back to the city.
“What’s the deal with Walter Greco?” Calvin asked, trying
to steer the conversation in Greco’s direction.
“Whatever do you mean?” Myra asked, and right away Calvin
could tell she was holding something back.
“He seems like a bit of a grump. I hope I’m not out of
line by saying that.”
“Not at all,” Myra said, knowing she had called Greco
worse in the past. “Walter is…well, he tends to keep to himself after the
incident that occurred at your place. I’m sure by now you must be aware of what
happened in your home.”
“I’m aware,” Calvin said and then thought silently, more aware than you know. “But what does
that have to do with Mr. Greco?”
“Well if you met Walter, I suppose you meet Emma, too.”
“The lady in the wheelchair? We weren’t properly
introduced. He slammed the door in our faces before we had a chance to say
hello to her.”
“Well, there’s quite a story behind Emma and that
wheelchair. I wouldn’t know where to start."
“The beginning is always the best place.”
“Danny Miller and Walter Greco never got along. But no
one in the neighborhood knew why. The truth is that Greco found out Danny was
sticking it to his wife while he was away on business trips. Emma confessed
after he found a prophylactic wrapper under their bed. Supposedly, Walter was
so overwhelmed with rage he pushed Emma down the staircase. That’s how she
ended up in the chair.”
“Do you think Walter Greco could’ve killed the Miller
“If a man could push his own wife down a flight of
stairs, I suppose he’s capable of anything else he puts his sick mind to. The
police certainly questioned him after the murder, but he had an alibi, and
there was no evidence to link him to their house, your house, the night of the
murder. Ever since then, he’s kept to himself.”
“I really should be going,” Calvin got up to suddenly
excuse himself. “Helen has a touch of the flu.” He lied again. He was becoming
a real pro at this.
* * *
March 5th was right around the corner. Every
year, Helen flew from New York to San Francisco to spend her cousin’s birthday
with her. All Calvin had to do was wait a few days. In the meantime, he had
cashed in on Corelli’s promise and acquired his services. He needed Vito to
obtain something a guy like Calvin could never get his hands on. And Vito was
more than happy to oblige so long as Calvin didn’t tell him what he intended to
use it for.
* * *
March 5th, 1991. As Helen was in the air,
Calvin set his plan into motion. He waited for nightfall and watched out a
second floor window behind the maroon drapes Helen had him install. When the
Greco’s bedroom light went out, that was his cue.
He jimmied the backdoor open with a crowbar, which led
him to the kitchen. There, he borrowed a chair from the kitchen table, careful
not to drag it. He positioned the chair under the smoke detector and climbed on
top, sparking a lighter and waving it back and forth in front of the detector until
it started emitting a horrendously loud beep.
He knew Emma would pose no threat with her chair. She
wouldn’t be the one coming down the stairs to see what the problem was. He
dropped from the chair and listened to the descending footsteps from the
When Walter Greco entered the kitchen, the chair was back
in place at the Formica table and the alarm was still beeping. His eyes darted
around the kitchen, trying to find the cause of this disturbance, and the last
thing he saw was the backdoor ajar.
The needle pierced his neck as Calvin snuck up behind and
jammed down on the plunger of the syringe. Hit with about fifty milligrams of
liquid horse tranquillizer, Walter Greco’s world went black and he spilled to
the floor, drifting off into a world of darkness.
* * *
When Walter Greco came to, he tried to sit up, but his
movements were restricted. That was when he realized he had been bound hand and
foot with plastic zip-ties. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the in-ground
Calvin had removed the tarp the moment Helen had left for
the airport. The pool was only half full, but Calvin figured it would do.
The horse tranquillizer was only part one of a part two
request. Calvin had also requested an unregistered firearm, preferably a 9MM
Luger with a silencer.
“What is this?” Greco asked as Calvin approached with the
Luger in hand.
“This is justice,” Calvin said. “I want you to feel
exactly what Danny Miller felt. I want to see you submerged in that icy water.”
“You’re crazy!” Walter screamed.
“We’ll let the courts decide that. I am a defense
attorney, after all. I’m a wiz when it comes to having people found mentally
unfit to stand trial.”
“You expect me to go in there willingly?”
“Not at all,” Calvin said, giving him a hard kick and
letting his body roll over the edge of the pool. His body splashed in the
water, but even with his wrists and ankles bound, he was still able to keep his
head above water due to the level.
“Now let’s see how long you can hold your breath under
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?” he said, brandished the
silenced 9MM Luger.
Walter gasped, not at the sight of the gun, but at the
sight of the shadowy figure that stood beside Calvin. It’s cold, dead green
eyes were fixed on Greco.
“God forgive me,” Walter said and took his final breath,
lowering his head into the water.
Calvin waited until the water stopping bubbling at the
surface. When Greco was no longer breathing, he fished his body from the water
and glanced over his shoulder. To his astonishment, the shadowy figure had
vanished without a trace.
He had given the Miller family peace. And now, like
Greco, like Corelli, he was going to have to live with this on his conscious
for the rest of his life.
But Calvin didn’t think he’d have any trouble sleeping
tonight. In fact, he was going to sleep like a baby.