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.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
OBLIVION: PART ONE
has a smell.
smells like copper, like a dirty penny.
the first thing Stephen Rhodes smelled when he awoke in what could only be
described as a river of blood.
was quiet and dark. But he could feel it all over him. He could smell it. He
could taste that bitter, metallic sting as it assaulted his senses. And that’s
not all he smelled.
eyes adjusted, he identified the source of all the blood. He saw the bodies,
piled up in the center of the room, stacked atop one another, like a human plateau.
He could smell their rotting, maggot infested corpses as the stench of decay
permeated the room. The smell of death. Deaths pungent perfume lingered in any every nook and
darkest corner of the room, he saw a tall figure in a faded polyester suit, its
back turned to him.
Not a man, not exactly. Its shape resembled that of a
human. But there were irregularities in its shape and size, and the length of
hands were at its sides, with its symmetrical fingers visible. All ten fingers
were exactly the same length, roughly seven or eight inches long if Stephen had
to guess. Its angular legs were bent at the knees and turned out to the sides,
resembling a spiders curved appendages.
figure turned and all that was visible in the shadows were its eyes. Orange
flames danced in its hollow, otherwise empty sockets. It crept forward, blood
splashing with every step it took. It reached out with its long, ragged fingers
to touch Stephen’s face. Then–
Stephen snapped awake. He looked around and breathed a heavy sigh of relief
when he realized he was in his own bed.
dream,” he said, breathing laboriously. “Just a dream,” he repeated to reassure
glanced out and window and groaned at the sight of falling snow. The weatherman
had been predicting snow for weeks. Who would’ve guessed that he was actually
right this time?
a bitch,” he muttered. He sat up in bed and threw off the covers. It took a few
seconds for him to shake off the cobwebs. His eyes were still crusted with
sleep glue. He got up and slowly got dressed, making sure to put on a pair of
thermals before he put on his pants. Then a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and
finally his jacket and gloves. He saved the boots for last. Stephen inched closer
to the window and saw how much snow had already accumulated. He groaned again.
He had his work cut out for him.
pierced him to the bone and took his breath away. But Stephen Rhodes kept
shoveling and scraping away, long after his toes went numb inside his boots and
his fingertips started turning a frosty blue under his gloves. Falling
snowflakes stung at his face like pesky insects. He was on the verge of turning
into a human Popsicle.
effort was an exercise in futility, but he had to try and keep up with it. The
snow was knee-high, and they would be waist deep in it by the afternoon. Soon,
the Starlight Inn would be buried and they’d be trapped inside for days.
Stephen would survive as long as he had his tunes and his stash.
teeth chattered like the novelty teeth you buy at a joke store as he watched
the snow fall and mount at a rapid pace. If he stayed outside a few minutes
longer, his bones would freeze and shatter like delicate glass. He sighed,
admitted defeat, and called it a day.
walking up to the front office of the Inn when he saw Ms. Tremont blocking the
doorway as she gazed skyward.
Tremont was a widow and she’d been living at the Inn so long that Stephen
thought of her as a permanent fixture. Stephen’s mother worked out a deal with
her children. She was only charging 100 a week. Cheaper than a nursing home,
Tremont gave no sign she recognized her home. More alarming, was the fact that
she was standing outside in nothing more than her bathrobe and slippers. Her
teeth chattered and Stephen couldn’t tell if she was muttering to herself or
shivering in the cold.
Tremont,” Stephen said, quiet enough not to startle her. “What are you doing
hiding,” she said. Oh no, Stephen thought. Her mind is slipping.
Pretty soon Ms. Tremont won’t recognize our faces.
nothing to hide from, Ms. Tremont. It’s just you, me, my sister, my mom, and
Mrs. Ambrose and her granddaughter. And Mr. Spiegel. But he always keeps to
himself. The last guests left before the storm hit.”
hiding from him,” she trembled. “The man in the mirror. He tells me things,
Stephen. Horrible things. Things I don’t want to hear.”
And does this mirror man have a man?”
Oblivion,” she leaned in and whispered it, and her eyes lit up with fear.
Oblivion,” he repeated. “Sounds like a super villain.”
a super village?”
mind. Let’s get you inside before you catch a cold.”
you helping Ms. Tremont before,” Diana Rhodes told her son. “Is she all right?”
all right. I think its dementia. She was staring up at the sky like she was
waiting for something to arrive. And she didn’t seem to recognize the Inn at
all. She said she was hiding from a man inside her mirror.”
heard her talk about it?”
but I was hoping she’d snap out of it or get better on her own. Clearly that’s
not the case here. Poor Ms. Tremont. I should contact her family. They have a
right to know.”
Starlight had four fulltime residents. Gloria Tremont, Esmerelda Ambrose and
her granddaughter, Lisa. And the enigmatic Simon Spiegel.
least she isn’t talking about ghosts roaming the hallways anymore. She scared
Sara half to death with that story.”
concept of ghosts or spirits didn’t stir Steven. He’d read plenty of alleged
stories about poltergeists causing disturbances in people’s houses. Poltergeists
aren’t real, Stephen thought. And if they were, they don’t seem so bad.
What’s the worst they do? Move things around or knock your stuff over? Cats do
that all the time. Poltergeists are just invisible cats to me.
as if she was waiting for her cue to make a grand entrance, Sara trotted in
with a raggedy looking stuffed doll with black button eyes tucked under her
can I keep her?”
mean the doll?”
last guests left her behind. Can I keep her, please? Please, please, please?”
her mother said. “But if the family comes back to claim it, you have to give it
ever comes back here.”
packed a stiffer punch than a child’s brutal honesty. And Sara was a little too
honest for her age.
don’t need them,” Diana said. “Tell you what, we’re going to make a big fire
tonight and roast marshmallows and watch movies until we all fall asleep. Sound
Sara exclaimed and scrambled with her new dolly in hand to the cupboard where
her mom kept the marshmallows. Stephen excused himself.
are you going?” she asked.
through the registry archives, going back to when Ms. Tremont moved in. He
found no results for a Mr. Oblivion in the registry, not like he really
expected to find anything. It was just an itch he needed to scratch. Perhaps a
Mr. O’Blivion had stayed once. The name could easily be real.
was a Mr. O’Bannon, a Mr. O’Brien, and a Mr. O’Boyle. But no Mr. Oblivion. One
entry in particular caught his eye. About two weeks after Ms. Tremont moved in.
He didn’t recognize the handwriting. It wasn’t his mom’s or his own. The man
had signed his name as Gene Warburton, a name that instantly clicked with
he muttered. “The plot thickens.”
walked to the nearest mirror and got close. “Hey, Mr. Oblivion, you hiding in
there?” he said to his own reflection in the mirror. “Knock, knock,” he tapped
the glass. “I guess you don’t want to talk, huh? Well don’t you go picking on
sweet old ladies like Ms. Tremont. She doesn’t need you bothering her, okay?”
lights flickered, then steadied. Flickered, steadied.
low, high and low, high and low. Dimming and rising. Dimming and rising.
the weather is already messing with the power. We better not have a blackout.
lights snapped back on and he saw the briefest glimpse of a hideous, deformed
man in the mirror. A man in a polyester suit. The thing from his dream.
recoiled, stumbling back and nearly knocking Sara over. She was still clutching
her new doll at her side.
were you talking to?” Sara asked.
apparently. What are you doing sneaking around?”
you come up with a name like that?”
what she told me her name was.”
he said, rolling his eyes. “So are you going to do whatever Zelda wants you to
course. She’s my best friend.”
thought I was your best friend.”
brother is my best friend? That’s sooooo lame.”
get out of here before I bury Zelda in the snow.”
better watch what you say about her. Zelda bites. She has teeth.”
whatever you say, kid. Zelda bites. Real original. I’m shaking in my snow boots.
Starlight Inn had a long and colorful history. Built in the early 1900’s, the
Starlight was originally known as the Redwood Lodge. Its proprietor, Eric
Ainsworth and his family vanished without a trace back in 1924. So did several
guests who hadn’t signed out of the registry. It lied dormant and empty until
the 50’s, when it was purchased by Gene Warburton, who committed suicide in
1984. It was purchased again by a group of wealthy investors who turned it into
the Starlight and tried to erase its dark past.
value dropped and it eventually changed hands and landed in Diana Rhodes’ lap.
There were other stories, some even darker than the ones that were common or
public knowledge. Like the man who had caught his wife in bed with her
co-worker and hacked them to bits with a fire axe. Or the maid who stabbed her
own eyes out with a pair of scissors. God only knows why or what she had seen
that reduced her to such a horrific act.
there was Billy Silverman, the little boy who had gone missing when his parents
were in the middle of a heated argument. They assumed the boy had wandered off
because he didn’t want to witness them fighting, but they searched the grounds
and couldn’t find him. The cops were called and they questioned the staff and
the guests. But there was nothing out of the ordinary. Nobody had seen or heard
the kid on the night of his disappearance. It was like he evaporated through
the walls. Or…got pulled through a mirror, Stephen thought.
couldn’t forget about Reed Bennett. The cold blooded serial killer who was
staying at the Starlight when the police attempted to apprehend him. Like Gene
Warburton, Reed Bennett had taken his own life.
that Mr. Oblivion story really got under your skin. Get ahold of yourself,
dude. Ms. Tremont is off her rocker. Don’t let her drive you crazy too. You’re
going to end up just like her.
God!” Diana screamed.
He ran down the long, narrow oak plastered hallway.
she sighed. “Sorry if I gave you a jump. This is Mr…”
Warren Holly,” the man introduced himself. He had bushy, unkempt hair that was
dented a bit in the middle by a receding hairline and gray, almost silvery eyes
that reflected everything around him.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. There
was nobody in the front office so I wandered through the back, looking for
someone to check in with.”
the wind moaned as it passed through the frozen streets and icy roads.
warmed himself by the fire and sipped hot tea that Diana had brought him.
thank you enough,” Holly said. “I’m so lucky I found this place. I thought I
was a goner out there.”
exactly happened?” Diana asked.
patch of ice and my car slid right off the road. It’s totaled. But I wasn’t
hurt. So I walked in that bitter snowstorm for half a mile. Didn’t see any
other cars or buildings or gas stations. I thought I was going to freeze out
there. Then I saw the Inn. But…”
Diana asked, curious. Something seemed to be troubling this man.
it was just my mind playing tricks on me. But I thought I saw someone standing
outside the Inn.”
Tremont,” Stephen said. “I should go check outside.”
wasn’t a woman. It was a man. At least, I could’ve sworn it was a man. Looked
like he was wearing a polyester suit. I looked away for a second and he was
gone. I guess my eyes were just playing tricks on me.” Stephen tensed, gritted
his teeth, almost bit down on his tongue.
on business, are you?” Diana asked.
I guess I’ll have to stay tonight. Then when they plow the streets, I’ll get my
car towed and I’ll be out of your hair.”
what is it?”
a very small town, kind of forgotten. They usually don’t plow the streets right
away when it snow is this bad. They take forever. Could be two or three days
before they get up here.”
three days? Son of a…”
can give you a generous discount.”
for personal use. But I am one hell of a cook. I’ll whip something up for you.
Let’s get you settled in first and then I’ll fix you something.”
he sighed warmly. “Got to love them.”
Rhodes fixed Warren Holly something to eat and fetched the key to his room.
Then she settled in with Sara to watch a movie.
chose not to join in with movie night. He had other plans for the evening,
which consisted of smoking pot and brooding over the mention of Mr. Oblivion.
Ms. Tremont could qualify for crazy, but what if she was onto something? And
what about the man that Warren Holly had mentioned. The one who seemed to
vanish into thin air. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
had always felt a strange, ominous presence residing in the Inn. The whole
place gave him a Shining type vibe. His mother picked up on it too. Though she
was more of a believer in the paranormal and the supernatural than Stephen ever
was as a child. She’d tell him ghost stories as a kid, some of them occurring
in that very Inn they now called their home.
pass that J. Let me get a hit.”
hell are you?” Stephen exclaimed, nearly leaping out of his own skin. “How did
dude. Name’s Aviana. I slipped away from my parents before they hit the road.
I’ve been hiding in their room and wandering the halls ever since. Nice place.”
“Your parents are probably freaking out right now.”
parents argue non-stop. It’ll be hours before they notice I’m gone. And with
the snow, they won’t be able to turn around. They’ll have to wait for the roads
to clear up.”
you can’t stay. My family doesn’t need any trouble here. You have to go.”
where? The snow is up to my waist. I’ll freeze to death. Come on, man. Have a
heart. If it’s about money, my dad will pay for the room.”
not about…never mind. You’re right. It’s too cold outside for you to go
anywhere. You can stay here, for now. But we’re getting in touch with your
parents as soon as the storm lets up.”
like a parent in the body of a teenager.”
left us a long time ago. I’ve been man of the house ever since.”
like man of the motel.”
clever. Oh, by the way, I guess you’re younger sister left her doll behind.”
My parents will probably come back for the doll before they come back for me.”
barely exist to them. To anybody, for that matter.”
sound so melodramatic.”
you gonna share that joint or what?”
only a year or two younger than Stephen, with raven colored hair, a septum ring,
and a pallid complexion. An old fashioned locket was draped around her neck and
seemed oddly out of place.
and talked. Stephen got to know Aviana better, about her family and her
friends, or lack of friends. How cruel the kids at school were. How nobody paid
any attention to her, how she was invisible to everyone around her. She told
him about her grandparents, who she seemed closer to than her actual parents.
Stephen was really curious about the locket around her neck. Necklaces or
bracelets were common accessories for women of all ages, even anklets, watches
or charms. Religious girls wore crosses or crucifixes. But you never really saw
a teenager wearing a locket. It was so archaic, so old fashioned. He kind of
liked that about her. She had an old fashioned vibe, as if time had completely
forgotten about her.
you want to be a gentleman and give me the grand tour?”
on, I want to check it out. This place kind of gives me the creeps, like
something out of a Stephen King story. And I love horror movies.”
you really are a weird one.”
is the new normal.”
you. Come on, let’s go. I’ll show you around. It shouldn’t take too long.”
say that to all the girls?”
already starting to get on my nerves.”
felt like a creep leading her down to the basement. But there was nothing
sinister in his motives. This was the end of the tour. He hit the switch and fluorescent
lights hummed their insipid tune.
behind that door?”
check it out? I’m getting a really weird vibe from this room.”
formed in his throat. He tasted bile, like acid being poured down the back of
his throat. Stephen always got a weird vibe when he walked past that door. And
now he wasn’t too sure he wanted to go poking around in there with a total
fluorescents ceased humming as the light fluttered and faded.
must be from the storm. Or maybe someone hit a utility pole and took down the
power lines. The generator should kick on any second.”
generator whirred and kicked in hard and the lights flickered as the
he called. “Aviana?”
Aviana was gone. And for the briefest of moments, Steven wondered if she was
ever really there to begin with.
talk?” Stephen asked Lisa Ambrose.
her grandmother were fulltime residents at the Starlight Inn, along with Ms.
Tremont and Mr. Spiegel. Esmerelda Ambrose was ancient. But she still had her
wits about her. She was sharper and more coherent than Ms. Tremont, but that
wasn’t saying much.
the matter?” Lisa asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
actually may have. Have you seen Aviana?”
girl, about our age. Dark hair, pale skin. She ditched her family and stuck
around. I was downstairs with her when she took off. Like she–”
into thin air,” she said, finishing his thought.
you seen her?”
name Aviana Phillips?”
didn’t mention her last name.”
Aviana Phillips has been missing forever. We were in high school together. She
disappeared our freshman year.”
she pulled the Batman vanishing act, she wanted to go into the furnace room.”
that’s where we’re going,” Lisa insisted. “But not tonight. It’s late and I’m
feeling some bad mojo in the air. Tomorrow, in the daytime, we’ll check it out.
Oh, and just so you know, I’m bringing my grandma’s Ouija board.”
woke in the dead of night. The first thing he noticed was the precipitous
change in room temperature. The heat was cranked up full blast, but the room
was an icebox. The cold air circulated, wrapping around him like a wet blanket.
second thing he took note of were the bloodcurdling screams from down the hall.
He raced to the end of the hall and saw his mother shaking like the last leaf
on the dying tree. Her mouth was wide, eyes bulging.
it, mom? What’s going on?”
Holly…he’s, he’s…oh I’m going to be sick…”
decided to see for himself, but soon wished he hadn’t. Warren Holly was in Room
11, tucked away in bed, the sheets splattered with blood.
throat was cut, or so it appeared. It wasn’t until he got closer than he
realized his throat had been torn open, the work of a rabid animal.
bites, he remembered his sister’s words. She has teeth.