AN ATTENDED DEATH
Fifteen Tales of Horror and Suspense
The Rest Stop
A throaty growl cut into the crisp, night air. It scaled upward in pitch, climaxing in a hysterical shrieking then dwindled back to a thin crying, sounding like the whimper of a child. It came again, deeper now and warbling like the purr of a stalking tiger. Steve’s heart felt like a sledgehammer pounding against his sternum. He tried to slow his breathing, drawing air into the panicked thoughts he knew were useless.
The animal’s noises mutated into an aggressive snarling. They drew closer and Steve’s hand blurred, drawing the .38 in a controlled and silent arc.
He stood in a defensive posture, waiting to see what would come.
A loud report of popping metal shot across the parking lot and Steve went into motion, moving fast and quiet beneath the foliage. He sidled up to a large tree, edging slowly around it’s trunk until he could see past its curve. The detective peered with one eye beneath a protruding branch and gasped at what he saw.
An Attended Death
Her body was in the bedroom, and Officer Steve Allen was relieved. Too many times they died in the bathroom, victims of that deadly foe of the elderly, the mighty Number Two and he would find them upside down in front of the toilet, their bare asses high to the wind and their blood pooled faces stuck to the floor.
The Chain Gang
“Most of the guys in this work detail are doing it as a prison job, get me?” Terry said. “They’re still inside and working this deal to finish up. The OTHER guys, guys like you, come from the real world. Once in a while, back in the real world, somebody smacks their wife or runs their car into a pole after a bender and the judge throws them here as a slap on the wrist. But those guys don’t belong in here, get me? You don’t belong in here. Not with us.”
It Sounds Pretty Funny
Doug Stevens sat on the bench and watched his team, the Pittsford Panthers, move the soccer ball down the field. They were playing The Rush Dragons, for the second time that season; all of them, that is, but Doug, who’d been benched. The last time his team played the Dragons, Doug had been caught off guard for two reasons: first, by the size of the school, (who knew there were that many deaf kids in the world – much less the same county!) and second by near-complete silence of the place.
Take Out Order
“God made you big for a reason and slow for a reason. You’ll find out why in God’s time.” She paused and pointed at him. “Remember this Tom; the big can help the little. So help the helpless. But the big can also hurt the little even if they don’t mean to. Never put your hand in anger on another person, Tom. Let the Almighty handle the rest and everything else will work out. You hear?”
More Stories Coming in Book II
THE KILLING TREE
The Killing Tree
Once there was a tree.
And she loved a little boy.
The boy hiked to her every day, leaving behind the pain of his father’s passing and his mother’s distant eyes. She looked like all of the trees in the forest save for an eye-shaped scar that cratered her trunk in a sudden interruption of bark. Creepers hung from her branches and met one another on the ground where they intertwined and rose again, building a leafy cave that encircled the tree.
The Sea Wall
He was a man always holding a phone. Each day you found him squinting into his computer screen reading, assessing, selecting. He wrote company names on a board and jotted percentages next to each. He met quotas, filled pipelines and brought home a thousand deals. Occasionally, a wistful look hinted at an idea that wandered away from business and at night he explored these imaginings writing stories on that same computer screen.
“Anthony,” said the world. “Where are you?”
The Fourth Floor
The young man was well dressed but disheveled. He stumbled into the police station at two am, his face white and wet with sweat and the front of his shirt plastered to his skin.
"You have to help me!” he said. “Right now!”
“Happy to, just as soon as you tell us what’s going on,” said Officer Allen.
The policeman was also young, tall with broad shoulders and thick, brown hair that he kept combed back in a retro 1950's coif.
"There’s no time for that! It’s got Andrew! You have to get over there right now.
I hate my mother.
I said it.
And I don’t mean it in that irritated, temporary, she really got to me this time, sort of way.
I mean, I really hate her, deep down where it counts.
I’ve got reasons.
Well, maybe just one.
She gave me life and that’s all.
It was a hollow reverberation, like a racquetball bouncing against the court wall, or a huge plastic cup turned upside down and clacked against the floor. The sound was coming from the kitchen directly beneath his bedroom. Matthew listened intently. His mind raced to solve the problem. Was it the recent cold snap? Pipes expanding or contracting? Maybe a water leak?
The Blanket Man
The Blanket Man was holding something out to him, something round, gooey and staring. Then Petie remembered the cookies and he smiled. The Blanket Man had saved him the last piece.
Petey cocked back his head and opened his mouth.
"MMMMMMMMMMMMMM," he said.
The Last Ride
Overhead, dark clouds shrouded the sky like a widow’s veil and I squinted into it, as if I might find something on the horizon to attribute it to. The wind kicked up a little, rustling through the pines making the crackling, seesaw noise I knew well and often lulled me to sleep. There was a difference to the sound this time, harsh and swelling, like an angry swarm of bees.