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.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
NIGHTMARES IN THE WITCH HOUSE (Revised Version)
NIGHTMARES IN THE
By Daniel Skye
never fancied himself as anything special. He was just another average Joe, a
yellow-collared slob who appreciated a cold beer after work. He enjoyed
watching hours of mind-numbing sitcoms and indulging in copious amounts of junk
fathomed that something as paltry as a dead car battery would drastically alter
the course of his future. But as the song says, it goes to show you never can
left the office late that crisp October evening. Of course, John didn’t really
work in the office per se. He occupied one of the many studios located behind
But when he got to his car and twisted the key in the
ignition, the Plymouth refused to start. He tried the headlights but they were
dead. Not even the overhead lights inside the car worked.
have any jumper cables handy, so John caught up with one of his co-workers in
the parking lot as he was leaving.
Dean,” John called out as Dean Pittman trotted to his red sports car. John
caught up with him and asked if he had any jumper cables.
brah, can’t help ya,” Pittman told him, got into his car quickly, and peeled
out of the parking lot. Right before he sped away, John peeked through the passenger
side window and saw a pair of jumper cables in the backseat.
Pittman was the bane of John’s existence. The first issue of Dean’s comic, Hell Warriors, sold 3.5 million copies.
The publishing company was so impressed they give him his own private, all
inclusive studio. The biggest one on the lot.
first comic, Bad Chemistry, had
barely sold 50,000 copies. He brainstormed day and night, trying to come up
with the next big thing. The one idea that would launch his career as an artist
and get him the recognition he felt his work deserved.
spotted Nino Corelli leaving and caught up with him after Pittman took off.
“Hey, Nino, got any jumper cables on you?”
not,” Nino said. “Your battery die?”
John sighed. “You think you can give me a lift home?”
just gotta drop Simon off first.”
Simon Cantwell worked together in one of the many studios adjacent to the
studio that John occupied, and they often carpooled to work. John didn’t mind though,
even if it meant squeezing in the back of Nino’s tiny Trans Am. At least he had
a ride home.
just one little detour,” Nino informed John as he started the car and they felt
the engine vibrating. “Simon’s been hounding me all day to swing by the witch
house on our way home.”
house?” John asked, one eyebrow arched at a quizzical angle.
you’ve never heard of it?” Nino asked as they pulled out of the lot.
that I have.”
“How long have
you been living in Eden Harbor?” Simon asked from the shotgun seat.
not long enough,” John said and shrugged his shoulders.
believe you’ve never heard of the place before,” Simon said, shaking his head
as if to emphasize his disappointment. “Well, you’ll see it when we get there.”
John’s heavy eyelids fluttered, and if it wasn’t for the
cylinder misfires causing the car to shake every time Nino stepped on the
accelerator, he would’ve curled up on that backseat and called it a night.
“You look like deep-fried shit.” Nino said from behind the
wheel. It wasn’t eloquently stated, but it was an apt description. John hadn’t
slept a good night’s sleep in five days. His eyes, dark and unfocused, were
crying out for rest. The reoccurring nightmares of his own fiery demise were enough
to induce many sleepless nights.
In some nightmares, the accident occurred during the day,
sometimes at night. But the outcome was always the same; John died.
The accidents always occurred while John was driving his
Plymouth alone. That’s why he actually felt relieved riding in Nino’s shaky
Trans Am. He recalled most of them vividly. He’d wake up in a cold sweat,
remembering how it felt when the steering wheel slipped from his hands and the
Plymouth would careen off the road, crashing into a ditch or over the side of a
bridge. In one nightmare, his car rammed head-on into a utility pole. He could
feel the impact as his Plymouth collided with the pole and burst into flames
suddenly, giving him no chance to escape the burning wreckage.
And these weren’t the only nightmares he’d been having. Some
nights, he’d find himself in a dark house, staring at one end of a long, narrow
hallway. At the end of this pitch-black hallway, there was a door, slightly
ajar. A source of bright light emanated from that room. But he’d wake up with
the chills before he ever got a chance to investigate and see what was waiting on
the other side of that door.
“I haven’t been sleeping too well,” John muttered, trying to
“You should try Xanax,” Nino suggested. “Knocks me right
out. I take it whenever I need a quick nap.”
Nino grew up in Brooklyn, as if his accent wasn’t any
indication. It really showed when using particular phrases For example, instead
of saying “you guys” in reference to John and Simon, he would say “youse guys”.
It was an annoying habit, but it was a habit that John could tolerate.
What he couldn’t tolerate was Simon constantly referring to
himself in the third person. “Simon says this”, “Simon says that”. It’s funny
and clever the first few times you hear it, and then after the tenth time you
hear it, you want to knock his frigging lights out.
Nino had John’s respect. He was a talented artist who
dedicated all his time to his work. Simon was another story.
A rich kid in his mid-twenties, Simon didn’t need to draw
comics for a living. He had a trust fund that could buy him a private island,
and he’d still have cash to spare. While Nino was doing most of the work, Simon
was busy partying and fooling around on his sailboat half the time.
John had worked at a marina for a brief period in his teens.
They had a special term down at the docks for sail-boaters. WAFIs–Wind Assisted
“So where is this place?” Nino asked Simon, the only one who
knew the directions by heart.
“Simon says turn left on Oak Street.”
Nino stopped at the end of the block and cut the wheel to
the left, turning slowly onto Oak Street. “Now what?”
“Simon says drive four blocks and make a right on Fir
“Are you going to do that the whole ride?”
“Yup,” Simon said and chuckled obnoxiously.
“So what is this place exactly?” John inquired.
“They call it the witch house,” Nino explained. “It’s on
Rosewood Lane. People say the old bat who owns the place is well over one
hundred years old. I can’t say how old she really is for sure, but one thing is
a guarantee; she always has candles burning in the window. People say the candles
represent the number of passengers traveling in each car. For example, Simon
and I have passed the place ten times. Every time we pass it, there are always
two candles in the window. But the one night I passed the place by myself, and
there was only one candle in the window.”
“What if two cars are driving by in different directions?”
“It’s different for everyone. People have reported seeing
two different sets of candles with two different amounts. If a car of three
passes, they’ll see three candles. If a car of five passes, they’ll see five.
Even if they pass at the same time.”
“Freaky,” John said, trying to play along. But he wasn’t
entirely convinced. “It’s almost like a mirage.”
“Trust me,” Nino said as he turned right on Fir Street,
“It’s no mirage.”
“Simon says make a left on Sycamore Avenue, and then a quick
right on Rosewood Lane.”
John didn’t believe at first, but he grew more convinced
when Nino pulled up along the curb on Rosewood Lane and he saw three candles
glowing in the window.
“What did we tell you?” Simon said, motioning with his head
toward the gleaming candles.
“How… How is it possible for her to know?” John asked,
“That’s why they call it the witch house,” Nino remarked,
peering out at the gothic structure. Everywhere he glanced, the house showed
signs of rust, rot, and decay. Even through the night’s gloominess, the signs
of neglect were evident. It was almost as if the occupant went out of their way
to neglect the property and make visitors feel unwelcome. “I’ve always wanted
to go inside.”
“Maybe if we knock and ask politely she’ll charge us five
bucks and give us the grand tour,” Simon laughed, then stopped abruptly as if
he had reached a sudden epiphany. “You know what, fuck it. What have we got to
lose? We’re here. There’s no shame in trying.”
“I don’t know youse guys,” Nino shook his head. “This house
gives me a bad vibe.”
“Come on,” Simon egged him on. “Don’t be a chicken. Besides,
we got John here. We’ll make him knock.”
“What?” John said, sounding groggy. He just wanted to call
it a day and try to get some sleep.
“Yeah,” Simon said. “Nino was nice enough to give you a
lift. The least you can do is knock.”
“I don’t see you volunteering,” Nino pointed out.
“Fine you bunch of wimps,” Simon said. “Let’s all three of
us go up together and knock. Okay?”
“Sounds alright with me,” John shrugged, just wanting to get
this over with. “Like you said, what have we got to lose? What’s she going to
cast a spell on us?”
Nino sighed and looked uneasy as the three exited his white
Trans Am with his bumper sticker that read ASS, ASS, OR ASS. NOBODY RIDES FOR
FREE. And John was hoping that sticker wasn’t literal.
In the center of the red door was a brass ring that dangled
from the mouth of a metallic lions head. After some slight persuasion from
Simon, John gripped the ring and rapped on the door several times.
A voice boomed from the speaker of the intercom beside the
door. They hadn’t even bothered to take note of it because they were all too
distracted by the candles. And secretly, the three of them were all a bit spooked.
The house gave off a very deterring, unsettling vibe.
“What do you want?” was all the raspy female voice asked.
“Ma’am,” Simon spoke, trying to feign politeness. “My
friends and I were hoping to speak with you. We had a few questions we wanted
to ask you.”
“Are you a reporter?”
“You with the police?”
“Well, come in if you’re coming in. The doors unlocked. It’s
always unlocked… when I want it to be.”
“You can do the honors,” Nino nodded to Simon. “It was your
bright idea.” Simon twisted the loose knob and the door pushed forward.
The house was dark and difficult to navigate their way
through. The floorboards chirped and screeched with every step. The curtains
and fixtures were stained yellow with nicotine. They could smell the stale
cigarette smoke as soon as they walked in. The whole house reeked like a VFW
“Ah,” Simon said, breathing in. “The smell of America.”
They found her waiting in the dining room, arms folded in
front of her.
The skin of her face was drawn back tightly. Purple veins
jutted from her dense forehead, throbbing under the taut skin like writhing
worms struggling to escape. But her dark, shoulder-length hair and lack of astonishing
lack of wrinkles made her true age indeterminable.
“Are you a witch?” Simon asked and Nino’s palm grazed the
back of his head for being such a dope.
“Is that what people say about me?” she laughed; the
laughter turning into a fit of coughing. Simon nodded. When the coughing
ceased, she added, “Then I guess it must be true. And is this what you came
here to ask me?”
“I guess curiosity brought us here,” Nino shrugged.
“You know what they say about curiosity,” she said with that
raspy tone. She never finished her thought but they all knew how the saying
“I’m Nino,” he said, trying to be formal. “This is Simon and
that’s John. And you might be?”
“Call me Sabrina.”
“Like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch?” Simon chuckled.
“Do I look like a fucking teenager to you?” she chided and
that seemed to shut Simon up. It also brought a grin to John’s otherwise tired face.
“What’s the deal with the candles?” Nino inquired.
“Whatever do you mean?” Sabrina asked and smiled peculiarly.
It wasn’t a benevolent smile. It was the way a child smiles when they know
something you don’t.
“The candles in the window,” Nino continued. “What’s the
“There’s no story behind them,” Sabrina said. “I just like
to use candles. Better than running up the electricity bill, don’t you agree?”
“Stop jerking us around,” Simon said, growing impatient.
“You know damn well what my friend is talking about. You’ve been playing mind
games with this whole town for years now.”
“Mind games? Whatever do you mean?”
“Don’t play coy,” Simon snarled. “Every time we pass here
together, there are two candles in the window. Tonight, John is with us and
just coincidentally there happens to be three candles in your window? I’m not
“People see what they want to see,” Sabrina shrugged.
“This bitch is getting on my nerves,” Simon said directly to
“I’d watch it if I were you,” Sabrina said, uncrossing her
arms and standing as if preparing for some ugly confrontation.
“And I’d appreciate it if you stopped fucking with us. Now
tell us the truth.”
“Careful what you wish for,” she warned. John could see her
getting angrier, he could hear it in her voice.
“I know what you are,” Simon told her. “I’ll expose you.
I’ll drive you right out of this town. Do you know who I am? Do you know who my
“I know you might be joining them soon.”
“Is that a threat?” Simon said, the tone of his voice rising
to a feverous pitch. John was ten seconds away from punching this WAFI in the
face and shutting him up for good. “I don’t respond very well to threats. You
don’t know who you’re messing with, you old bitch. I’ll burn this place to the
ground if you dare threaten me again.”
John scrambled for the front door, but stopped when he saw
something all too familiar. He peered down a dark, long, narrow hallway. At the
end of the hall, a bright light emanated from the door that was slightly ajar.
He desperately wanted to know what was waiting on the other side of that door,
but he wasn’t going to risk it.
So John headed out the front instead and was the first to
the car. Nino had to pry Simon away, who was still trying to stand his ground.
As they pulled away, John saw that only one candle remained,
glistening on the windowsill. Simon and Nino had seen it too.
“Fuck is that about?” Simon asked.
“She’s just trying to screw with our heads,” Nino said, his
voice cracking. He was speeding, driving erratically. He kept looking back in
the rearview mirror, half expecting to see Sabrina pop up in the backseat.
John saw it coming before Simon or Nino did, just as he had
time and time again in his nightmares. He saw the high beams flashing in the
distance, heard the wail of the horn as the truck jammed on its brakes and slid
across the wet pavement.
Nino tried to cut the wheel, but there was no time. The
truck and Nino’s car went head to head. The front of Nino’s Trans Am was folded
like an accordion. Broken glass, twisted steel, and debris from the wreckage littered
the street. The airbags were deployed, but not much good it did when the front
of the car was so smashed in that Nino was crushed between the seat and the
Simon had neglected to buck his seatbelt and was ejected
from the vehicle upon impact. Cops found his body fifty feet from the site of
the accident, his spine twisted like an oversized pretzel.
John’s life was spared by his seatbelt and the fact that he
was in the backseat. He walked away with a sprained ankle, a few minor
lacerations from the shattered windshield, and a dull ache in his back.
He lost a good friend in Nino. He didn’t miss Simon half as
much. The way John saw it, if Simon hadn’t gone shooting off his mouth, Nino
might still be alive. The WAFI had sailed off into the sunset, and John found
himself oddly relieved by that fact. And he even published a new comic out of
the whole ordeal. He called it Nightmares
in the Witch House. His company published more than five million copies of
the first issue and it became their highest grossing comic to date.
John never crossed paths with Sabrina again. He went out of
his way to avoid driving past the witch house. He didn’t even feel comfortable
driving around in the vicinity of Rosewood Lane.
But two months later, when John attended the company
Christmas party with his girlfriend, an envious Dean Pittman tried to spoil the
fun. He insulted John in front of his co-workers, made a disparaging remark
about Nino, and even attempted to put the moves on John’s girlfriend while John
was preoccupied with greeting the other guests.
John spent the next morning writing a flattering letter
addressed to Sabrina in Pittman’s name. A day later, Pittman was rushed to a
nearby hospital. Not dead. He had stuffed both of his hands down his garbage
disposal, one at a time, and hacked his fingertips to the bone.