Thursday, October 9, 2014


In honor of scare-yourself-silly month, I present an excerpt from one of my Halloween shorts. I wove some of my primal fears into it, so hopefully it creeps you out. At least a little.
Creepy Old Ladies & Dolls
Part One

               Ben turned the TV volume up to the level his mother referred to as an “unholy racket.”  It made no difference.  Nothing could cover the sound. 
                 Thump. Thump. Thump.
               The movie on the screen, a healthy mix of murder and mayhem, was less disconcerting than that rhythm repeating over and over.  It burrowed into his brain until it felt as if his mind might crack.  Glancing up at the ceiling, he noted the gentle swaying of the light fixture in conjunction with the banging. 
                Why tonight of all nights?  For the first time in forever, he was on his own.  His parents, dressed as Sonny and Cher, had left over an hour ago. 
                “Everything will be fine,” his mother assured him, planting a sloppy kiss on his forehead and smearing her lipstick.  “The candy’s by the door for the trick-or-treaters, ” she said, reaching the door.  “Call if you need anything, hon.”
             Before she was out the door, he’d formulated a plan: First, wipe off the greasy kiss. Second, switch off the porch light to dissuade trick-or-treaters. Third, pop in a horror flick. And fourth, consume all the goodies. 
                His mother was to blame. She knew Snickers was his favorite. 
                His plan had gone swimmingly. The movie had just reached the good bit—the chainsaw going at full-tilt and dismembered limbs flying every which way—when the noise began.  It had been low at first, perhaps nothing more than tree limbs rustling against the window, or a sprinkler hitting the side of the house before moving on.  But the night was still and windless and the sprinklers wouldn’t come on until early morning. 
                That only left one explanation.  It had to be her.
                Setting aside the half empty bowl of fun-size candy bars, Ben looked up at the ceiling.  They never talked about the old woman upstairs.  Maybe because his mother knew how uncomfortable the subject made him.  All the same, he wished he knew more about the person whose presence brooded over them like a black cloud. 
                Well, he thought, listening to the continuous thumping, I guess it’s time to meet the neighbors.
                Sternly reminding himself that he was six foot two and a buck ninety and had no reason to be frightened of little old ladies, he made his way to the hallway where the sound was louder.  Squaring his shoulders, he reached for the handle to lower the attic steps.  Cool, musty, air rushed over him as the steps unfolded.  With his nostrils full of a scent somewhere between moldy laundry and ancient dust, Ben placed one foot on the bottom stair and began to ascend the steps.  The thumping had abated at the creaking of the hinges, but now it resumed.  
                The room was long and narrow with a peaked ceiling lined with naked beams.   The only real light filtered through four narrow windows from the streetlamps outside.  Pausing at the top of the steps, Ben let his eyes adjust and glanced around at the lumpy piles of refuse scattered about.  Even taking shallow breaths, the scent was noticeably stronger here.  Almost overpowering.
                There in the far corner, bathed in the brightest band of light, stood his mother’s broken rocking chair.  Facing away from him, it moved, seemingly of its own accord, to the strange rhythm.  The bottom of one the front legs and the rocker attached to it had cracked off when he’d over exuberantly leaped into his mother’s lap as a stout ten-year-old.  The chair had been a family heirloom, and his mother had been so saddened by the loss that his father had promised to fix it.  When it proved unmendable, it had been relegated to the attic instead.  The sound, he now realized, was caused by the broken leg striking the floor every time the chair rocked forward. 
                Swallowing, he called out a nervous, “Hello?”  He grimaced when his voice cracked on the second syllable.  
                No reply—other than the continual thumping—returned his greeting.  Cautiously, he made his way around the chair to the nearest window, keeping a good five feet between himself and the rocker.  The light fell fully on the seat of the chair, revealing a small form perched there.  A guttering lantern—emitting much less light than the streetlamps—sat beside her on the floor.  Tangled white hair concealed her face.  Her bony frame was dressed in filthy rags.  She emitted an odd cooing, something between a grumble and a lullaby, aimed at whatever was cradled in her arms.
                “Excuse me,” Ben tried again, but the old woman either couldn’t hear him or wasn’t paying attention.  Taking a couple of steps closer, he spoke the words again, this time more loudly.
                With a flash of sparse teeth and wild black eyes, she turned on him.  “What is it you want, Benjamin?”

* * *

Thanks for visiting! Read Part Two and Part Three if you dare! 

Need something else to read? If you're interested in any more story excerpts, try Barbie's Dream Boat, Interlude in the Rose Garden, Just a Taste, or Woman: The Most Dangerous PlaythingHappy reading!



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Next week is the creepy bit... :) Thanks for reading!

  2. Next week is the creepy bit? I'm creeped already. I like it. And I'm throwing out the old rocker sitting down here in the basement.

    1. Nice. Next week is the uber creepy doll's moment to shine. And I like old rockers...just not the creepy old broads who inhabit them :( Thanks for reading Greg! I'll post the next part in a couple of days :)

  3. OK, I hear this same sound every night after 10:00 PM. Thump, thump, thump... then louder: thump, THUMP, BANG! My upstairs neighbors insist on doing laundry late at night. Makes me crazy. Arrrrg! Not creepy, but annoying all the same.

    1. And then you found out all the neighbors died....dun dun dun!!! Love you auntie! :)