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.
Friday, August 1, 2014
VARIABLE: PART ONE
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Bartending does have its advantages. Just ask Dylan Ford.
The hours are flexible, it gives you the opportunity to
socialize and make new friends, and taking home a handful of tips every night
comes in handy when you’re broke and waiting on your paycheck.
But like any job, bartending has its downsides.
For Dylan, the most dreadful aspect of his occupation was
dealing with the rude, surly customers who didn’t tip or would go crazy when he
tried to cut them off if they had too much. That was a judgment call Dylan
loathed being the one to make, but it was all part of the job.
In addition to the cheapskates who refused to tip and the
lushes who tried to put up a fight when Dylan cut them off, he also had to
contend with a series of oddball customers and elderly drunks who thought of
him not as a bartender, but an unlicensed therapist who worked for tips.
They’d come in and vent their frustrations, bitch about
their jobs or their wives, share personal details you could only share in the
company of a stranger you’d likely never see again.
Then there were the regular drunks like Bobby Mac that
always gave Dylan a chuckle. Cross-eyed Bobby Mac used to brag about the fact
that he hadn’t missed a day of work in twenty years. Never showed up late,
never called in sick. Twenty years of perfect attendance.
He’d tell Dylan this every night he strolled in to
Murphy’s Pub for a pint. Then he’d roll up his sleeve and flex his flabby bicep
in a sad attempt to show Dylan what, if anything, comes from twenty straight
years of hard work and dedication. But it wasn’t like Bobby was working steel
mills or construction sites. He was a janitor for the parks department.
But Dylan still reveled in his drunken yarns. But his
favorite customer was his buddy, Rey. Rey was a generous tipper and anytime he
stayed ‘til last call, he’d help clean the place up after Dylan sent the bar
flies on their way and locked the doors.
It was a dreary night back in October of 2013 that Rey stopped
in ten minutes to three for a quick pint. He stayed behind as usual when Dylan
locked the doors and grabbed a broom, helped sweep and then mop the floors
while Dylan tended to the bathrooms. That was one job Rey never volunteered
“You’ve gotta see this,” Dylan shouted from the men’s
room. The door was wedged open and Rey walked over to see Dylan hunched over
“Is there a reason your face is mere inches away from
that disgusting bowl?” Rey asked. “You gonna throw up or something?”
“Look,” Dylan said, not altering his position. Rey leaned
forward and saw the object of Dylan’s interest.
“Yuck,” Rey remarked. “Somebody left a floater. Stop
staring and flush the damn thing.”
“I don’t think that’s a floater, Rey. It’s…it’s moving.
Pulsing like a maggot.”
Rey moved in for a closer look. The small, nearly
microscopic worm was crawling its way up the bowl. But this didn’t resemble any
ordinary earthworm. This worm was black, it pulsed with every movement and left
a clear trail of smile in its path like a slug.
“Who was the last person to use the bathroom?” Rey asked.
“Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure it was Bobby Mac.”
“What the hell is it?”
“I don’t have the slightest clue. It looks kinda like a
worm. But it doesn’t move like a worm. It could be a parasite.”
“Hey, what’s the name of that science geek you pal around
“Langstrom. Harrison Langstrom. Why?”
“Maybe he’d know what it is.”
“It’s possible. Tell you what, there’s a mason jar behind
the bar with cherries in it. Empty the jar and bring it in here.”
As Rey went to fetch the jar, Dylan stood up straight and
glared at the yellow restroom sign that read: Servers, wash your hands after
using the restroom to ensure the health and safety of your patrons. Patrons,
wash your hands to ensure your health and the health of your friends and
The sign was laminated, but easy to remove from the wall.
He pulled the sign from the wall and used it to gingerly scoop the black worm
up from the bowl. It crawled slowly across the yellow sign as Dylan held it
straight, waiting for Rey to return.
When he did, Dylan positioned the jar and gently tilted
the sign, watching the worm slide down into the jar. He sealed the lid on the
jar and wiped the ooze the worm had left on the sign with a bar rag and hung it
back on the wall.
“You should poke tiny holes in the lid,” Rey suggested.
“So it doesn’t suffocate. We don’t even know what this thing really is, how it
breathes, what it eats. It could die overnight inside there.”
“Good point,” Dylan said, taking Rey’s suggestion when he
arrived home with the jar in hand. He poked several small holes in the top and
let it sit overnight.
morning, the black worm had ceased movement. It looked all shriveled and dried
out. He shook the jar lightly and saw there were still signs of life in this
Without so much as a phone call, he rushed straight to
Harrison Langstrom’s place and pounded on the door until it opened.
“Dylan, what the hell?” Harrison muttered. “It’s eight in
the morning. Some people like to sleep more than six or seven hours, you know?”
“I’m sorry, but I have something that might interest you.
And it couldn’t wait.”
“Come in, I guess,” Harrison said, holding the door open.
He didn’t notice the jar until Dylan was inside his house. “What in God’s name
is that thing?”
“I was hoping you could tell me. Rey and I found this in
the pub last night. It was snaking its way up the toilet of the men’s room. I
took it home last night and it seemed to get sick overnight. It was moving like
crazy last night. Now it hardly moves at all.”
“I’ll run some tests,” Harrison assured him. “As soon as
I’ve had my coffee.”
* * *
It took Harrison a day to reach any kind of verdict
before he summoned Dylan to his house for a conference.
“What’d you find out?” Dylan asked as he entered.
Harrison closed the door and didn’t speak above a whisper.
“I confirmed a number of things,” he began as Dylan took
a seat on the couch. “The worm is definitely an organism, a life force of some
kind. Just unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. I did some research,
consulted a few textbooks, and couldn’t find anything useful. I’ve also
discovered our little friend is a pelagic organism, a sea dweller. I conducted
some tests and water seems to garner a positive reaction. It increased its
movement and seems to be doing everything in its power to escape from its new
habitat. I put it in a small tank I used for my snake before he died. Don’t
worry, it can’t escape. There’s a mesh lid at the top. It’s way too big to
“What else?” Dylan asked.
“Nothing. The thing is an anomaly. No one’s ever seen or
heard of anything like it before. We might be looking at a new species here.
But there’s a variable I can’t detect. I’m working on the theory that this
organism might be a parasite. If I’m right, it would eventually need a host in
order to continue to survive. You said you found it in the toilet?”
“Yeah,” Dylan confirmed.
“Who was the last person to use the bathroom?”
“One of our regular customers. A guy named Bobby Mac.”
“Then you need to find this man. If this thing somehow
came from him, he could be in danger. Parasites can be very damaging to the
“I don’t know his address. But I know he works for the
“Well, that’s an excellent place to start.”
* * *
Dylan Ford consulted the parks department. But they
informed him Bobby hadn’t shown up for work that day. In fact, Bobby never even
called in to let them know he wouldn’t be there. And Dylan knew that didn’t
sound like Bobby Mac to him.
inquired about Bobby’s address, but the manager stonewalled him, refusing to
release an employee’s private information over the phone. So Dylan had to get
called Alex, the owner of Murphy’s Pub, and told him the cops turned up at his doorstep
asking questions about Bobby Mac. Said they were looking for him and they
needed his address. Alex hit the panic button immediately. He hadn’t renewed
his liquor license in almost two years, and he couldn’t have the cops poking
their nose around his business. He coughed up Mac’s address right away and told
him to forward the information to the police for him.
said he didn’t want anything to do with the cops, just as Dylan had suspected.
His plan worked like a charm. Now armed with Bobby’s address, he set out to
warn him of any impending dangers to his health.
Bobby refused to answer the front door when Dylan arrived. He could hear
movement from inside the house, feet shuffling past the foyer. But the door
on, Bobby,” Dylan shouted, pounding his fist against the door. “I know you’re
in there. I can hear you moving around. It’s an emergency.”
missed a day of work,” Bobby muttered from behind the door. “First time in
twenty years.” He sounded gloomy, saddened. The sound of a broken man.
please open the door,” Dylan persisted. “I need to talk to you.”
heard the snap of the lock and the door creaked open a few inches. Dylan nudged
it forward and saw Bobby shuffling past the foyer with his back turned to him,
a robe draped over his body.
Dylan passed the threshold, the soles of his sneakers met a sticky, unpleasant
substance that nearly glued his feet to the floor. Dylan gasped as he laid eyes
on the trail of slime that Bobby had left in his path.
where’d you go?”
the living room. I’m not so sure you wanna see this, kid.”
took a deep breath and steeled himself for any horrors that waited. Walking
across the sticky floor, he kept telling himself to pretend he was just inside
a movie theater. That’s what the gummy floors reminded him of anyway. And it
was easier to just write this off as imagination.
nothing could prepare him for what he was about to see.
averted his eyes the second he moved to the living room and saw that Bobby Mac
had discarded his robe.
skin was dry and cracked, oozing puss from every slit. And his eyes…green as
the skin of a lizard. In fact, his entire body was starting to resemble the
appearance of a reptile. When Dylan dared look again, he realized the skin wasn’t
just cracking. It was slowly peeling away to reveal a new layer of skin hiding
beneath. And this new skin was riddled with green and yellow scales.
think I’m sick,” Bobby mumbled, his voice changing along with his skin.
think it’s more complicated than that,” Dylan said, cupping his hand over his
mouth to stifle an imminent scream. Bobby turned away in despair, and Dylan gulped
at the sight of the newest horrific discovery. Something green, long, and scabby
was protruding from his backside.