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For Tom

I hope you will forgive me the indulgence of sharing some personal thoughts with you this week. Don’t worry, it won’t be long before we return to the blood and guts as normal.

This past week, an old friend of mine passed away after a long struggle with an illness. I don’t want to use his full name out of respect for his privacy so I’m just going to call him Tom, enough that family and friends of mine should know who I’m talking about.

I found out this past Friday that he had passed the night before and it was a pretty tough gut shot to hear. Obviously, when someone has been sick for some time, the end shouldn’t come as a shock on an intellectual level. Still, when the moment passes you are inevitably left with the feelings of depressive regret for all the things you wish you had done differently, as if fate grabs you by the head and wrenches it around backward, forcing you to devote all your attention to what is behind, now gone forever.

Essentially, the exact opposite of what I suspect Tom would have wanted from us.

I worked closely with Tom, starting in the mid-nineties. He came into my life in that informative phase, when you are just starting to get some legs under you and figuring out what the hell the world is (as an adult). I think for most of us, if you cast back, you can come across certain key people in your life who, maybe without their knowing it, had a profound effect on your development. Not in the same way children grow but in the sense that you float about in the world, striving for examples of what you think you would want to be seen as, in the prime of your adulthood.

I wanted to have Tom’s mind. He had one of the sharpest, most intuitive intellects I think I have ever had the luck to come across. He could carry on an informed discussion on just about everything. His knowledge of wine and food was unmatched in my experience as well as his passion for culture. He could talk about philosophy or he could talk about sports. What I remember learning the most from Tom is that it can be cool to be smart. And he carried his intellect with an equal weight of humility. I don’t think I ever felt a sense from him that he thought he was special or above anyone else.

I wanted to have Tom’s books. He was an avid reader and I always saw him with a book in his hands, whether it be at work or when he was out and about, walking from point A to point B (in all the time I knew him, Tom never owned a car. Or if he did, he never used it). Tom was well read and well spoken. I saw in tribute that compared him to Bukowski and I think it’s actually a pretty astute comparison. This was a man who struck out into the world and made it his, in turn introducing all of us to the person that could only ever be him. I never had the guts to show Tom any of my writing, mostly because I was sure he would call it out for the unparalleled, putrid shit that it really was. Because if there was one thing that described Tom to the letter, it’s that he was honest. If he thought something, he would tell you.

I wanted to have Tom’s music collection. Before I met him, Tom worked at one of the respected indie music stores in town and I can only imagine how extensive and eclectic his collection might have been. I have always held the belief that flipping through Tom’s records would be like taking a walking tour of rock and blues, probably some country and jazz, most of which I would not have ever heard of. I always thirsted for Tom’s knowledge and awareness of music and on more than one occasion, I tried to pick his brain to get some tips on the cool bands to check out.

I wanted to have Tom’s wine collection. This is the big one because I’m willing to bet those that knew him would agree that there would be some pretty phenomenal bottles in there. He practically built the wine department at our store single-handed, building a network of loyal customers, many of which are still with us to this day. He blazed out with a refined palate and built things of greatness.

Nothing in our life is permanent. We all know this, and we get reminders of it all the time. I can still remember the last conversation I had with Tom, mostly for the triviality of our encounter, more than anything else. How much I would like to drop down into myself in that moment and really tell him how I felt, how important of a friend I had always considered him to be.

I never had that chance, obviously. So, I do the best I can with what has been left behind, to earn the life I have and to enjoy the things which Tom no longer can. I always held Tom in the highest regard and respect. I consider myself privileged to have been able to spend time with him and to take away some of that vast bank vault of wisdom and knowledge contained in that head of his. He was an individual who dared to be himself in a world that often seems to worship normality, a reminder that sometimes it’s important to question things and think about things.

Thank you, Tom. May whatever waters you now sail across be forever a source of peace and comfort to you. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Yours is a mark that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Thank you.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page

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Winward, Chapter One

Chad A. Clark’s newest novella is now available for sale. Take an exclusive look at the first chapter. Follow the link below to get your copy today!

WINWARD COVER

Dianne sprinted through the front door. Her gaze fell on the outline of her car in the dark but before she could fish her keys out of her pocket, she tripped and pitched forward. The rotting wood of the steps splintered, and her arms ripped over exposed nails, drawing blood in deep gashes. The impact at the bottom caused her to bite down hard on her tongue, followed by the rusty taste of blood filling her mouth. She wanted to curl up on the ground, beg for sympathy that she knew would not be offered.

But she had to keep moving.

Gripping the keys tightly in her hand, she pushed herself to her feet and staggered to the car. It took several stabs before she scraped the key in, shoving it home as she finally lined it up.

Something was in the lock.

Dianne stared at it, shaking her head. This was the exact same thing she did every day when she left for work in the morning. Position the key, insert and turn. She didn’t understand what wasn’t working. Bending down, she peered into the tiny opening, squinting through the low light. She could just catch a reflection off of metal. Something had been jammed into the lock and snapped off. She ran around to the other side, only to find the lock filled there as well.

“God dammit!” she screamed, looking for anything on the ground she could use to smash the glass. A broken window in the grand scheme of things would be preferable if it meant she could get out of town and stay safe.

A popping sound rang out through the night, one she did not fully identify until she felt the impact. She blinked, suddenly on the ground and on her back as she heaved, trying to catch her breath. Pain flared out from her shoulder and she looked at the burned and collapsed flesh, now oozing darkened blood into her shirt. She reached over to touch the wound but before her fingers even made contact, her head filled with a high-pitched ringing and the pain made the world spin. She tried to move the arm, but the injured shoulder seemed to be blocking all signals as it proved to be unresponsive.

Dianne rolled over onto her good shoulder and pushed up, leaning against the car to struggle back to her feet. There wasn’t time. All she had left was to run. Gravel scraped under her feet as she shuffled towards the road, much slower than she had been running before. The pain flared with every step and she gritted her teeth to keep from screaming. If she could get away from the house, she would have a chance. She might be able to get away from this maniac.

She heard the engine revving before she felt the impact. Half turning, she had just enough time to see the car door swinging open to meet her, lifting her off her feet. She spun in the air, landing on her side. Rolling out of control, she began to tumble down the embankment. From somewhere within herself, she heard a snapping sound and wondered vaguely what she had broken.

On the road above her, she heard the sound of his car coming back. It crunched the rocks and debris as it came to a stop and the headlights speared out into the dark above her as she caught the sound of the door opening.

Broken bones or not, she had to get away. Lying there would only get her killed. She couldn’t just give up. Pain lanced up her leg when she tried to stand and she dropped back to the ground. She rolled over, grabbing fistfuls of grass and weeds as she tried to pull herself away. The will to live propelled her, even as she listened to the sound of his footsteps approaching.

“Son of a bitch.” She heard herself starting to cry. How had she ever thought she could get away from him in the first place? Even if she did elude him, she would likely just end up passing out somewhere.

A work boot came down on her shoulder and applied pressure. Pain surged through her as the wound pulled open. After several seconds, the foot let up, but just enough to hook underneath her arm and roll her over onto her back. She heard the dry click of a revolver.

“Please.”

She knew it was pointless, hated herself for being so weak, for giving him the satisfaction of seeing that weakness. But in the end, her panic forced her to grab for whatever straw she could think of. “Please. Please don’t, I—”

He knelt and brought the barrel of the gun down until she felt the cool metal against her forehead. Her pleading increased in pitch, rushing up towards panic.

“Please don’t do this. You don’t have to…you can’t—”

The single shot drowned out Dianne’s screams and silenced her forever.

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CLICK HERE

 

Winward is available for the Kindle and in paperback. It is also available to read for free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. 

 


Routine Reports, by Chad A. Clark

Routine Reports

“I’m telling you, it was dead bodies.”

Larry looked up from the coffee, now halfway between the desktop and his mouth and decided to set it down.

“You’re going to have to run that one past me again, Gervais.”

“Dead bodies.”

“You mean like road kill? I guess you need permits to transport stuff like that, but I can tell you that stretch of road has been due for a cleanup since—”

“Not animals, you idiot. Human bodies. Flatbed trailer piled high with human bones.”

Larry dropped the pen onto the desk and took his glasses off. He looked around the mostly empty station, wondering why he had passed on the opportunity to go home early when it had been offered. No, he had to stick around for the shit-bird shift, because a few extra hours of crap pay would surely make it all worthwhile. He had taken some crazy complaints over the years, including one person who insisted that aliens had sucked his eyeballs out through his nose, to replace them with new ones that they had made out of melted jello. This was already shaping up to be one of the top five.

“Gervais, just…just go over it again for me, all right?”

Gervais rolled his eyes and shook his head, clearly never having been so put out as this. “I was driving south, down the I-ten. I’m workin’ that graveyard again, so I’m used to pretty much having the road to myself.”

“Okay, with you so far.”

“I had just passed that big, old oak tree, the one out Cider Lane? Anyway, I’m driving along when all of a sudden, this big ass truck is right next to me, weaving in and out of my lane. I almost pulled off onto the shoulder just to get away from the idiot.”

“Uh-huh.”

Big son of a bitch. The truck I mean. I couldn’t believe it could even go that fast.”

“Yeah, I bet.” Larry paused in the middle of the tiny sketch on his notepad long enough to write, “Big son of a bitch,” saying it out loud to satisfy Gervais.

“It was just a flatbed, no covered trailer and when it passed, I figured he was just hauling firewood or something. But I looked again, and I shit you not, that thing was covered in human bones.”

“Gervais—”

“Just shut up one damn minute. I’ve been hunting these woods my whole life. I know the God damned difference between animal and human bones.”

“Gervais, what are you expecting me to do here, really? I know for a fact that you were at Rusty’s Tap tonight.”

He put out a shaky finger as he spoke, “Hold those horses there, that got nothing to do with—”

“Now you’re telling me you were driving home, probably shit-faced, and that you saw a flatbed truck covered in human bones.”

“It’s what happened.”

Larry let out a sigh. “Gervais, I’m sure you actually believe that. But what do you think is going to happen if I were to put all of that in an official report? I end up eating government cheese and you end up sucking your meals through a straw.”

“I saw what I saw.”

“Can you at least tell me anything about the truck? Make and model? Any markings? Did you get a clear look at the driver? Any logos on the mud-flaps? Flag in the window? Did you catch the plate number?”

“No, but—”

Larry put his hand out again to stop him. “No, to which question?”

“Any of ‘em, I guess. I didn’t see anything else, otherwise I’d tell you about it.”

Larry closed the notepad and clicked the pen shut. He straightened his tie as he pushed back from the desk.

“Gervais, I’m going to do you a favor. I’m not taking this report. No one would believe whatever it is you have to say and to be honest, I don’t want my name attached to it. Go home, sleep it off. Trust me, you’ll thank me in the morning, if you even remember any of this.”

“If I’m even here in the morning,” he muttered.

“What?”

Gervais shook his head, gaze still dropped to the floor. “Don’t matter none.”

“Come on, it’s one thing to come in here, spouting off about seeing dead bodies on a truck, but now you’re saying someone is actually after you?”

“You don’t see something like that—”

“Gervais, you didn’t—”

“You don’t SEE something like that without getting yourself into some bad trouble in the long run, see? They won’t let me stick around, not after what I saw.”

“Who are you talking about?”

Gervais leaned in so close that Larry reflexively winced at the chariot of scotch fumes driven out of his mouth, with the stench of tobacco at the reins.

“Don’t matter who ‘they’ is, you dummy. It’s all the same in the end. As it stands, I’ll do what I can, head for home and grab whatever I need. Then I’m smackin’ pavement.”

“Gervais, don’t do anything stupid.”

“Stupid would be staying here. So, unless you’re planning on arresting me…” Larry shook his head and nodded towards the door. He frowned at the sight of Gervais struggling to stand up.

“Are you hurt?”

“Naw. God damned, son of a bitching prosthetic in my knee. Titanium, my ass. Might as well be made out of paper clips.”

Larry watched him stumble out of the station, fairly sure that it was the booze making him wobble, more than the prosthetic.

The rest of the night was boring, by comparison. More drunks, a few domestics, a dog attack. No trucks. No bodies. Not that he was expecting any.

It was late before he got onto the road, choosing to take the I-ten south to avoid the stoplights. For a change, there was no traffic for him to contend with as he made his way up to cruising speed. His autopilot had kicked in so strongly that he almost didn’t see the truck. He heard it before he saw it, the heavy sound of springs protesting, the flatbed jerking forward and clanking against the cab. He glanced to his left as the truck passed, rust glaring in the moonlight. Somehow, the truck was managing to accelerate past him and in a moment, he felt his jaw start to go slack and he immediately wished that he had taken the report more seriously.

The flatbed was covered in human remains.

Bones and skulls with bits of flesh and blood, clinging to what was left of the their former bodies. He had written off the whole thing as a joke, a drunken delusion and now he found himself having to focus well enough to keep his car on the road. Then, as the back end of the truck passed he saw, perched on the very top of a pile, wobbling as if it was about to fall off, what looked like a leg bone. It lay there, mocking him, polished to a near sheen. The lights from his high beams reflected back at him, off of the titanium prosthetic where the knee had once been.

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To see more short fiction like this, take a look at Chad’s collections, A Shade For Every Season and Two Bells At Dawn.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page

 


Ittan Momen, by Chad A. Clark

Ittan Momen

Lillith hadn’t paid the thing any mind at first, just a piece of stray laundry, caught in the breeze that was floating her way. It looked like an elongated sheet, maybe a runner for an end table, something that had pulled free from the line it had been drying on.

The thought that froze her in her tracks was when it occurred to her that the sheet was floating against the wind.

She spun around at the sound of rustling fabric behind her, and she was immediately wrapped up in a flurry of white.

As she threw her arms up to try and clear the thing away, she was lifted partially off the ground and spun around several times, until her head started to swim. Her arms dropped back down to their sides, and the thing quickly wrapped around, pinning them to her body while throwing her roughly to the ground. It was almost funny to think what this must look like to a passer-by, to see her writhing around hopelessly inside of someone’s lost bed linens.

Except that it wasn’t a sheet.

It had looked like white cotton as it flitted about through the air, but as it pulled tighter around her, it felt like flesh. She tried to rip through it with her nails, but couldn’t come even close to breaking through. She tried to scream out for help, but could no longer draw in enough breath to do so. The absurdity of the situation as she toppled over backwards was infuriating. Her legs were now fully tangled up in the thing as it seemed to have unlimited length. All she could feel was the mounting pressure around her body.

Every part of her was now covered, save for her face. She thought that she could hear whispers, spoken softly in her ear in a language that she could not understand. Then, the thing moved up and around her eyes, obscuring the world around her in a translucent fog of white. It continued wrapping around, covering her nose, and now forcing its way into her mouth, down her throat. In that final moment, her last thoughts were of struggling in vain for air that she would never taste again.

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To see more short fiction like this, take a look at Chad’s collections, A Shade For Every Season and Two Bells At Dawn.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page


Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Scream (1996) DOUBLE FEATURE part 1

ScreamIn 1996, the cinematic world was introduced to the first of what would be one of the more successful new horror franchise of the modern era. And interestingly enough, it would spring forth from the mind of one Wes Craven, already responsible for one of the most popular monsters in movie history.

At the time this came out, I was in college and without going into a lot of details, I was going through a difficult time in my life. School was not going well and I had personal issues that were leading to some fairly severe depression and anxiety. I was on break at my father’s house and decided one night to take a spin with a video rental, a new movie release that I had seen advertised but knew very little about.  Continue Reading


Headless, by Chad A. Clark

headless

The screaming of the motorcycle as it raced past the house had been keeping him up all night, every night this week. He didn’t know who in the neighborhood was going through the mid-life crisis, but he was ready for it to stop. It was getting so pervasive in his subconscious that he was noticing motorcycles everywhere. Several times on the way home in early evening traffic, he would spot a lone headlight in his mirror, rushing up on him as if on a collision course. Something else would distract him, and when he looked back, nothing would be there. At work, he would doze off in his cubicle and snap back awake, certain that he had just heard the din of an engine.

Besides the racket at night, he had also been having horrible nightmares. He woke up with images of dark, hulking forms riding down on him, sometimes wielding a human spinal cord as if it were a whip. He might have to break down and see the doctor for a prescription. He needed his sleep.

It was in this half-dazed, half-asleep state that he found himself strolling down the street for a late night walk when he heard the motorcycle again. The sound had become so frequent for him that he barely noticed it, even though it sounded like it was bearing down, directly onto him. He turned, with just enough time to take in the spectral shape standing atop the giant black motorcycle. The towering creature looked down at him as the cycle approached, or at least that’s what he thought it was doing.

There was no head.

He was only vaguely aware of standing there, mouth hanging open as the cycle jumped the curb and raced down the sidewalk at him. The figure bent down as it approached, clutching a severed head in one hand while the other gripped the hilt of a sword, drawing back to strike. The instinct to run came to him, far too late. As he turned to run, he felt a dull, but heavy impact. He fell to the ground, watching from another, diminishing universe as his own headless corpse collapsed onto the grass next to him.

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To see more short fiction like this, take a look at Chad’s collections, A Shade For Every Season and Two Bells At Dawn.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page


Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

silence posterSilence Of The Lambs marked a monumental moment in film history. For me, it was one of those transitions as a teenager where I saw first hand how gripping a story could be and how the villain of a story can be developed just as much, if not more than the hero. Silence Of The Lambs would also lead to a number of unfortunate side effects down the road, something that was completely out of their control and that I will touch on later.

This film made household names out of both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. And while Foster certainly deserves the credit she receives for her work, the role of Clarice Starling is almost a throwaway for me. You can’t have a movie without a protagonist and she fits that bill just fine. We have a young, talented FBI agent-in-training, one with a bright future, but also with a past just dark enough to be exploited by one Hannibal Lector.  Continue Reading


Reviews In The Machine : Literary Stalker, by Roger Keen

LitIt’s a pretty rare occurrence for me to be scared by a book anymore. And I’m not saying that as a way of bragging, just that after you’ve seen so many horror movies and read or written so many stories, it gets harder and harder to get to that emotional place.
That being said, it’s well within the realm of possibility that I can be disturbed by a book. And this brings us to the topic for today, Literary Stalker, by Roger Keen.
This is the story of a young, aspiring author, Nick, whose current work is a book titled, The Facebook Murders, in which his fictional protagonist goes on a small murder spree, killing people who had wronged him or tried to damage his career. I find stories relating to stalkers to be unsettling enough, especially in the social media landscape. Keen managed to take this concept and make it disconcerting on multiple levels.
As the book progresses, we quickly learn that Nick’s protagonist might not be as fictional as we initially thought. Nick also seems to have an unhealthy infatuation with a popular novelist that he was lucky enough to meet once. His excessive fantasizing about a non-existent relationship leads him down a dark road that causes his real life to spill over into his fiction and back to reality.
The book is told in the first person but there are also excerpts from Nick’s book, seen from the point of view of his character. At times, it was a little confusing to me remembering whose voice I was reading but I think that only served to amplify the experience of the story. A major question you will be confronted with over the course of this book is going to be where fantasy ends and reality begins. The fact that the narrative occasionally feels like unsteady footing underneath you is important to the overall experience.
Another layer of grit to this story is the way it depicts social media and more specifically, how authors make use of the various platforms. As a writer myself, I often have little patience for how writers are depicted as characters, arguing with my book that no one is really like that.
With Literary Stalker, Keen shines a light on a lot of online behaviors in a way that felt very familiar to me. To be honest, even though I feel like my conduct online is above board and legitimate, after reading this book, it’s hard to not feel just a little dirty, fishing around online for sales and making connections in this small, yet elusive community. I saw the petty bickering between people, the contest for likes and shares, the ridiculous fights that blow up into wars because fans and friends of an author take up arms against their hero’s apparent assailant.
This is going to sound like a criticism at first so please bear with me. The format of the book, a sort of nested doll structure with the book within the book was a little hard to follow at times. Especially listening to it with the text to speech feature on my phone, I had to double back a few times to make sure I was straight.
Normally this wouldn’t be a good thing but in this case, I felt like it actually enhanced the experience of the story. This is a narrative where getting inside the mind of the protsgonist is essential. Understanding that perspective is key in order to prevent the entire thing from falling apart like a thin-walled house of cards.
All throughout, as Nick’s delusions become clearer, the nature of the book he is writing becomes less clear. Is this really just a novel he’s writing? Or is it a fictionalized expression of his unspoken desires, with the names changed to protect the innocent? Or is Nick providing an account of things he has actually done, under the cloaking shield of his made-up characters? The protagonist of Nick’s book is also an author so do we have it reversed? Are the so called excerpts from his book actually reality with “Nick” being the work of fiction?
I don’t know the answers to any of these. I think you can make an argument for most of those positions and I enjoy contemplating them. What I think matters is that as you dive deeper into the book, you only get a stronger sense of this account being the product of an increasingly chilling and fractured mind.
This was a book that I wasn’t overly excited for based on the description so I did want to stress that if you might be interested, don’t take the description too much to heart. Because I feel like the way the story is laid out in the copy doesn’t convey the depth of the story or how affecting the protagonist’s outlook is. I use Facebook on a regular basis and even I felt compelled to think about my own online persona as well as the people I interact with. One major aspect of social media is that it creates the illusion of intimate friendship, but how are we to know who is really behind the curtain of the profile pictures we interact with?
If you are an author, I would definitely reccomend checking this out. Whether or not this was the intended message, it shines a stark light on the conventional wisdom that we need to have a presence online. That we devote so much of our time chasing likes and shares and comments that sometimes we forget that we’re supposed to be writing, too.
It’s easy to write off the main character of this book as an apocryphal exaggeration of a character type that could never really exist. The uncomfortable reality is that there are probably more people than we realize who could be on the road to becoming a Nick. Are we doing ourselves any good by handing over our time to this online community? Or are we just spinning imaginary clothes to act as a thin drape over our own whithering self-image and need for acknowledgement and recognition? Are we inviting delusional and dangerous people into our lives out of our need for that fabled thumbs-up? I would like to think that this isn’t the case.
Nick might suggest otherwise.

CLICK HERE AND GRAB A COPY TODAY!


Gorgon, by Chad A. Clark

gorgon

Joey sped up to a jog to keep up with her. She had made blatant eye contact with him at the bar, or at least it had seemed so at the time, since he couldn’t really see her eyes behind the black lenses of her sunglasses. Regardless, he had seen the upturn of those lips, the suggestive nod as she had turned towards the exit.

But now that he had followed her out into the street, she was actually playing hard to get, and that just wasn’t going to fly. He had sacrificed the good money he had spent on that cover charge by following her out here, that was not going to go to waste. Five dollars lost meant that he should get something for his trouble. It was only fair.

He was about to give in, and just call out to her, when he saw a bum come stumbling from around the corner to make a grab at her arm.

“Hey!” he yelled. Maybe he could be the hero and get his foot in the door that way. She clearly didn’t need his help though, as she threw the guy back against the wall like he was nothing. She ripped the sunglasses off, and as they flicked past, he saw a brilliant flash of green light emerge from her eyes, like search-beams. It lit up the alley, and fully illuminated her hair that, in the nightclub, he had taken for tightly coiled locks.

“Holy Jesus,” he muttered at the sight of the snakes, writhing and whipping wildly about her head. The sunglasses returned to their starting position, and she glanced back over her shoulder at him before walking off.

The bum was still standing there against the wall, sort of half leaning over as if he was going to be sick. Joey ran to the guy, just to make sure he was all right. He reached out to grab his shoulder, to try and shake him out of his stupor.

“Holy…” He jerked his hand back as if it had been burned. His fingers trembled as he reached out again, brushing the man’s arm which, along with the rest of him had been turned into cool, solid stone.

 

For more short fiction, check out Chad’s books : A SHADE FOR EVERY SEASON (available in paperback, eBook and audiobook) and TWO BELLS AT DAWN (available in paperback and eBook)

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D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page


FAERIES, a short fiction by Chad A. Clark

Faeries

It was two o’clock in the morning, and she was at the store buying skim milk. It was the cherry topper for this week that had been filled with so much odd behavior, that she was starting to doubt if Jerry was even the same person anymore. He was too sick to go himself, too hobbled to walk all the way down the block and through the park to the big, scary grocery store for the late night beverage. He didn’t even like milk.

Pathetic.

She had just crossed over the foot bridge when the glow from the pond caught her attention. It was hovering over the ice with a brilliant gold color. She set the milk down on the ground and took a few tentative steps out, beyond the shore. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. The light grew stronger as she approached. It pulsated, and resonated with a high pitched, harmonic humming that was like the most glorious choir that had ever taken voice. She put a hand out to caress the brilliance.

With a wet popping sound, the light oozed out and absorbed her hand, crawling up onto her upper arm as well. It moved like liquid all over her, until she was completely enclosed in the glow. She tried to move, but her arms and legs were pinned to her sides, and it took all of her strength just to draw in breath. From the outside, she had seen the beauty of the light and the sound. From this vantage point, all she could see was oozing black sludge and a pervasive smell of rot.

She looked out at the shoreline to see if there was anyone who might be able to help her. A dark figure emerged from the woods and she tried to call out, but could not find her voice. She watched as the figure stepped up to the edge of the pond and began to glow, the same golden luminescence which she had seen before.

The light grew so bright that she squinted against its power and then, in an instant, it cut out completely. She blinked the tears out of her eyes and, by the lights lining the walking path, she saw that the figure had clarified into something completely familiar.

She was looking at herself.

The newly formed doppelganger reached down to pick up the milk. It looked over its shoulder at her before turning towards their street. In that moment she had a sudden explanation for the oddity of this past week. Jerry really wasn’t Jerry anymore. Her thoughts flashed to the image of their two sons, and what was going to happen to them when she realized that a new grip was tightening around her ankles. The black sludge slipped away from her, creating a brief moment of freedom before the ice cracked and she was pulled down into the watery depths far below.

 

For more short fiction, check out Chad’s books : A SHADE FOR EVERY SEASON (available in paperback, eBook and audiobook) and TWO BELLS AT DAWN (available in paperback and eBook)

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Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page