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Townsville Shooting: Good Thing Life Doesn’t Have Auto Aim


First, it’s unfortunate that there was yet another school shooting on American soil. It’s troubling whenever a young teenager is enraged enough to want to murder kids in school as if it would mean something in the end. It’s even more troubling that school shootings have become so frequent that I can guarantee you that there will be another next month. Is it wrong for me to be able to make that claim so coldly, sure? But it serves as a reminder of how fucked America is. More worried and triggered by the reaction to a tragedy versus taking measures to explore the hows and whys that led to the tragedy.

This post will offend you, and it should.

When I heard the news about the shooting in Townville, SC and then heard the death count, I thought I missed something. I though I heard incorrectly. I thought that my ears were playing tricks on me. A school shooting and only ONE person died and it wasn’t a kid at school but the shooter’s father!? Well, I almost wanted to celebrate. Good thing the shooting took place on National Beer Day or whatever (people need a hashtag to drink beer now?). I did release a sigh of relief and thought about how fortunate the whole school was that the shooter was a 13 year old boy whose gun experience came from playing Call of Duty (not the real thing and I bet he didn’t account for recoil). The kids and teachers at Townville were fortunate that life does not have auto aim!

This is Jesse Osborn, the shooter, holding a toy gun. I know it’s a toy gun because his weak arms wouldn’t be able to hold the real thing.

How horrible for me to say that when two kids and one teacher were injured, right? What kind of monster am I? The kind that growing up in America has made. I was in high school when Columbine happened. The Columbine kids were my age and had a similar pattern of favored activities: metal, gaming, and much like me were a social outcast. Though they had a few past time activities that should’ve been a red flag like (I don’t know) make bombs and target practice. The kids harbored so much hatred and needed help from their teachers, family, and most of all their parents. But no help was received and then everyone wants to blame media instead of the dumb as fuck parents. Seriously, how do you not know that your teenager is making bombs in YOUR basement? My point is that America did not learn from Columbine of how to prevent but instead implemented more security measures at schools. But added security doesn’t address the why behind these horrific tragedies. After Columbine came Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and over a dozen others that i haven’t mentioned.

You can say that I’ve been desensitized, and if that makes me a monster, then so be it. But at least I’m not pretending.

School Shooting
Police arrived but it only took one volunteer fireman to take care of the situation.
This is the hero and he deserves more than that lame medal. Honorary lifetime supply of beer to Jamie Brock.

In comparison to other school shootings, Townville, SC is sort of a dud, and it wasn’t just because the kid had like the worst aim ever. No, a huge contributor to the 0 school deaths was a volunteer firefighter that just so happened to be present when the shooting took place. Whereas officers might’ve shot the kid dead, the firefighter tackled the homicidal boy and deescalated the situation. That is awesome, and shows that perhaps we don’t need armed guards, but a few tough All-American 80’s style bad asses stationed at each and every school. Except it didn’t take an 80’s action hero, it took a dude with balls of steel and a willingness to risk his life to save others. Jamie Brock needs to be on a Wheaties box!

I mentioned before that we should concentrate on the whys. The boy used his dad’s handgun so stricter gun laws wouldn’t do a fucking thing, unless you want every gun safe in America to register and log activity to the local authorities. Do you have any idea how unlikely that would ever be? Just as insane as the idea of removing ALL guns. That’s just going to create Civil War part II. Addressing the whys means understanding why the child did what he did, and what could be done to prevent that in the future. A bullying ban is pipe dream. Kids bully. You’ll never stop bullying 100%, because kids love making fun of one another. Honestly, reflect on your childhood and tell me you and your friends didn’t bust each other’s balls once in a while, and sometimes it may get out of control and feelings get hurt. The boy needed open communication with his teachers, counselor, and parents. There had to have been signs that he was troubled. A boy doesn’t just go into a murder spree without giving away signs.

I’m no expert, but I know that if the boy had received help early on that this could’ve been prevented. Yeah, Captain hindsight, but it’s true. We (the system in general) need to foster more of an empathetic approach and help remove the stigma associated to boys seeking help or talking to others about our dreaded feelings.




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Weekly Dose of Unadulterated Horror

Horror zines are a dime a dozen, really. Why? Because it really doesn’t take much to start a blow, site, or a bare bones platform to feature and promote indie horror. But what makes Deadman’s Tome so different?

Deadman’s Tome is a site dedicated to horror fiction (short stories, flash fiction, and poems) with a stance that there is no subject that is too taboo for horror. Horror, whether film, literature, or art, is not a safe space. Horror, in order to be effective, has to challenge the reader, because good horror shatters one’s sense of safety and comfort. Deadman’s Tome  proudly features uncensored and unadulterated content.

The Other White Meat – R. K. Gemienhardt explores a a sexual form cannibalism also known as vore but without any pretentiousness about the subject. Feminists hate this story because the woman is ditsy enough to become the victim, but we all know at least one woman that falls for just about anything.

A Corpse Can’t Laugh by Salem Martin and G. B. Holly  exploits an all to American trend  to tell a demented and relentless tale of a girl that systematically murders her classmates in school.

Of Diamond Tongues and Seaside Tourism – Carson Winter tears into those cliche 50 rules for dating my teenage daughter shirts. The story starts innocent enough, but it will leave you disturbed for sure. Unless you frequent those odd daddy “role-play” vids.

Popcorn – Wayne Summers will gross you out to the point to where you’ll never trust popcorn again.


Deadman’s Tome offers new relentless horror Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!

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Music for Scalpel and Prepared Piano – Brendan Detzner


In the process of removing Susanna’s eyes and tongue, he’d punctured one of her eyeballs and ripped her tongue in half. He could go without the tongue, but not the eye. He hadn’t wanted to hurt Brian. Brian was his best student. But he had no choice. If he took the time to find somebody else, he might get caught before he was finished.

He’d meant to leave him alive, but he was a composer, not a surgeon.


Writing Prompt: I’m very much interested in how other writers would build on this short but horrific flash fiction. I’m sure the author wouldn’t mind an ego stroke and a collaboration.


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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Deadman’s Tome LIVE – Friday @ 10pm CST

Carson Winter and Gabrielle Esposito join with Mr. Deadman to discuss their latest stories.

Carson Winter is the author of Of Diamond Tongues and Seaside Tourism – a morally twisted horror that starts out innocent enough. A story that is sure to generate a very interesting and entertaining discussion about “close” families.

Gabrielle Esposito is the author of Killer Instinct – a demented tale of a child exploring his psychopathic urges. A story that will lead to an interesting conversation about psycho. Killer Instinct is a featured horror short in the upcoming Book of Horrors II.

Watch the LIVE stream here Friday at 10PM CST.

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Reinforced by Nick Manzolillo


Deadman’s Tome is home to Book of Horrors, a horror anthology loaded with terrifying horror short stories that’ll chill you to the bone!

Available on Kindle

DISCLAIMER: Deadman’s Tome is a dark and gritty horror zine that publishes content not suitable for children. The horror zine proudly supports the freedom of dark creative works and stands against censorship. Hardly any subject matter is too taboo for this horror zine. As a result, Deadman’s Tome may feature content your mother would not approve of. But she doesn’t control you life, right?

Reinforced – Nick Manzolillo


He knows what’s at stake if everything goes to shit, but there’s no planning for a worst-case scenario.  For Tim Sallick, who’s been a locksmith for twelve years, and for anyone that works a job where you’re required to step foot in somebody’s home, there is always a risk that extends beyond the awkwardness of entering someone else’s life.  There is something about being in a stranger’s home that makes you vulnerable.  The street and the walkway leading to the front doorstep, that all belongs to you, to the way the world works and the order you expect people to follow. When you step foot in someone’s home, you become subject to them and their domain, their rules.  You give up all of your control when you leave the road and enter a place you know nothing about.

A homeless man is so curled up beneath his rain jacket on the sidewalk that at first, Tim thought it was just an abandoned coat tossed to the gutter–until he saw the tip of the man’s shoes sticking out from the dripping folds of his only shield against the relentless rain that empties the sky dry. Tim’s windshield is a mess because the rubber on his wipers has run thin and even with them running on full speed, the rain still clogs up his window to the point of near blindness.  Even so, he is positive that he has showed up at the wrong address, and now he’s tapping his fingers on his dash faster than the wipers can whip back and forth. His phone is pressed tight against his ear.  He is waiting for that fucker on the other end of the line to pick up.  

There’s a low guttural moan croaking from the far bottom of Tim’s throat and this part right here, finding the address, it’s worse than anything. Every minute that ticks by becomes a waste of time and using a GPS often leads to more confusion than it’s worth. A banshee’s blast of wind rocks Tim’s truck and then the homeless man amongst the backdrop of run down homes alongside the deli and the closed post office are all swallowed up.   The vortex of rain and shrieking means Tim could be anywhere.  When it all lets up and the sun creeps back into place, his truck could be washed up anywhere in the world.  This strange fear of somehow being swept away from the real world causes Tim to tune out the first few Hellos’ on the other end of his phone call.

“Hi..hi yes, Mr. Allen?  I am with Serenity Security, ah, according to the address you gave us, I’m here, but I was just inside the Golden Deli and they said I must be at the wrong spot.  Are you across the street at all?”

“No, no, ah…” It’s an older man on the other end of the line, maybe sixties, a little younger and less hoarse than Tim’s dad.  Guy’s probably still in the beginning stages of losing his grip on the modern world. “Sorry, I made a mistake, but you’re close, though, your just four streets over.  Easy fix.” The man, a Mr. Joseph Allen, then mumbles his new address and Tim punches it into his GPS, not asking for him to repeat it, already through with dealing with this idiot.  There are still two hours left on the clock but, tonight’s supposed to be a good one, some old friends are finally driving down to visit Tim and his wife from Cambridge.  Like most New Englanders, they picture Jersey to be as distant a drive as South Carolina.  Tim, prior to the rainfall, has already been smiling and chuckling himself all through the day’s appointments.  He anticipates the laughs, roast duck from a Chinese restaurant, musings of old times and light beer that will dictate the evening before an expensive cigar caps the night off.  He can nearly feel that cigar roasting between his lips and pushing his consciousness into the soothing haze of a near dream.

Even with the address punctuated by the client’s mouth, Tim still debates calling the guy back, before trudging through the heavy rain turned cylindrical by the wind to ring the doorbell of the house at the end of the driveway.  The place isn’t what Tim expected, because it’s too nice, with its colonial roofing, pointed peaks and deep red wood lining the throat of a massive porch framed by wooden columns.  At once it’s historical and flamboyant.  The neighborhood is alright, no bums this time. That poor bastard Tim saw goes to show how close the wealthy and the wrecked live almost side by side.  Because of the rain and Mr. Allen’s mistake with the address, Tim won’t say no to a tip if one is offered.  It’s not customary or even explicitly approved of by Serenity, but there have been times in the past where somebody, usually a rich polo shirt and golf short wearing bastard, will walk him to the door after the job is done and whip out fifty bucks that Tim will take with a grin and a humble thank you.  

Unlike all the other homes on the street, this place doesn’t have any porch lights on to act as a lantern, a beacon for Tim to trudge through the rain toward. The other homes are so swamped out, they seem like lighthouses warning him to steer away from the rocks.  This house is also the only one that has twice the yard space on either side of its driveway.  Rich bastards.  It takes Tim a moment to realize, through the rain, that the front door is cracking open and there is a blurry man, standing there raising a hand to him.  Ah, no turning back now.  He should try and get that tip out of his head before he winds up disappointing himself.

With his raincoat tighter than a straightjacket, Tim flips his hood down over his face so that it feels like a mask and then he raises his arms across his mouth and dives, swims his way through the waterlogged air until he’s unfurling his arms, flinging rain drops from himself when he’s halfway up Mr. Allen’s porch.  “What a day!”  Mr. Allen’s energy is nothing like the simple voice during the call.  His voice cracks but still ripples with confidence and energy.  This is the kind of guy that blinks awake at six o’clock every morning and then runs three miles before devouring a plate of pancakes and sausage.  His words are one thing though, for his face is bald and wrinkled like a deviled egg and the hand he sticks out to Tim is so soggy and soft it may as well have been left out in the rain.  “Come inside, dry yourself off, what a day!”  The home beyond Mr. Allen is dimly lit, as if every light bulb is only using half its energy, as if they’re either dying or waiting for one big burst of life.

There’s an earthy smell in the house that reminds Tim of the woods in Massachusetts, after the rainfall, when he was a boy playing with the dogs and throwing storm swept sticks for them to fetch.  Mr. Allen gestures for him to take off his rain jacket but Tim insists that once he sees where he’s going to put the lock, he’ll have to run back to the truck and find the perfect fit.  

“I insist.  You’ll drip all over the place and…some of the wood in the basement is…on the fragile side.” Mr. Allen waves his hands around, emphasizing his caution and Tim’s struck by the unprofessional desire to ask him what he does for a living.  It’s almost too hard to imagine. With a face like that, he’s almost too ugly for any corporate business, unless he struck rich when he was younger.  No, maybe he inherited this place.  He just seems so…soggy, like he’s been out in the rain for too long and he’s done and seen too much in that liquid tundra to ever be dry again.  There’s something particular about the way he moves and his elbows rotate in sync with his shoulders and his feet seem to firmly planted at all times.  Weird, weird, weird.  Tim has set up locks for weirdos before. Makes him wish he had a Purell bottle in the truck.

“It’s not as if I’m asking you to take your clothes off.”  Mr. Allen smiles good naturedly as Tim takes his coat off. A weird interpretation of those words is unavoidable.  Tim’s set up locks for some real freaks before.  Sex freaks, primarily.  All sorts of fetish cages and bars and contraptions rigged along the walls and ceilings and in bathtubs.  When you do your case filing, it’s the kind of thing you choose “other” for.  Tim almost wants to insist on tips from freaks like that if only because he has to actually set foot in their homes, but it’s the unspoken norm of the business.  People want locks and security, and people want to get off on the power of simplistic technology.  People want to submit, and give up control.  

“So, where do you want me?”  Tim tries to put some warmth into his smile but today’s already thrown off, pretending to enjoy himself until he gets home is almost a waste of effort.

“Oh, the basement.”  Mr. Allen gestures through the gloomy half shadows of the house around Tim.  While extravagant on the outside, it feels like some kind of countryside hotel in here.  Mixed with that earthy smell is pine, leaking off the wooden cabinets and polished dining table in the living room.  House is neat, which is rare.  There are paintings of mountains and deer with lamps made partially of antlers.  Before a stone fireplace in the corner of the home is some kind of animals skin splayed out as a rug.  This place is a lodge, far from the real wilderness.  The theme is overbearing.  There are half a dozen plates, set on the long dining table and the designs etched around their rims are of moose drinking from streams and wolves beneath full moons.  Nearly blending into every corner Tim can see is some kind of rifle.

Without comment, because that’ll only delay the process, Tim follows Mr. Allen’s shuffling footsteps to an open door that seems to lead to the source of the earthy smell.  Not pressing but rubbing his hand almost affectionately against the wall, Mr. Allen brings forth the light, as he leads Tim down the narrow basement steps.  The subterranean level is surprisingly modern.  A pool table with a red, velvet interior catches Tim’s eye.  There’s a short stub of a bar table with a humble liquor cabinet propped on the wall behind it and there are trendy, plush barstools scattered around the basement that look like silver metal poles stabbed into beanbag chairs.  You never know what to expect.  Maybe Mr. Allen has a batty wife that went overboard with her great American wilderness theme and this little man cave down here is his true hideaway.  No wonder he needs a locksmith.  Tim can’t imagine sharing his life with somebody that forces him to go underground.  Him and his wife Marissa only disagree on the quantity of hot sauce that goes into their meals and whose turn it is to scrub the toilet.

“It’s right over here.”  Mr. Allen’s shuffling along a violet curtain that runs along the same wall as the stairs.  His mushy fingers rub across the material before they rapidly clench and rip the curtains aside in a enthusiastic whirr that reveals a bronze….well…it’s more like a jail cell than a cage, except there’s a dark red leather couch inside along with a short bookcase that doubles as a side stand.  The back wall of the cell features a darker, almost crimson curtain.  Without the bars, it looks more like a quirky VIP booth or something.  Oddly enough, Tim’s come across this before.  

The cell, or cage, seems professionally crafted.  The bars are sturdy and gleaming, brand new.  There’s just a hole on the half-open cell door where a good lock belongs.  You’d think whoever built the cage would throw something together themselves but these kinds of people, like Mr. Allen and whoever the hell he’s married to, they want professionalism.  They want security.  When the submissive whoever (maybe it’s Mr. Allen himself) is locked up in there, they have to feel that it’s the real thing.  That they are utterly helpless.

“I’ve been assured this shouldn’t be a problem…” Mr. Allen sounds more nervous that he’ll have to call somebody else than he is embarrassed.  Hell, Tim can respect that.  Life’s too short to be ashamed of yourself.  Still, a pair of fuzzy handcuffs thrown into the mix of things is a kinky as he’s willing to go when things need spicing up with Marissa.

“Not at all sir.  Done this before believe it or not.”  Tim suddenly has the idea, the impulse to go and say “You’re not a werewolf or anything are you?” but that might encourage Mr. Allen to actually tell him why he has a cage in his basement. Tim sleeps better with the limits of his own imagination and sanity protecting him.  Witty comment or not, Mr. Allen’s smiling at him in a slow to form, almost spacey manner that’s immediately giving Tim the willies.

Tim focuses on the cage. “Who put this together for you?  They know what they’re doing.” He’s impressed by the glass paneling along the floor that rises about knee high, though it’s the biggest mystery of all.  What, so nobody can pee through it?  Hell, with the glass panel surrounding the bottom of the cage you could fill it with water and keep an alligator or something in there.  Oddly enough, Tim never figures that some of theses cages and cells people have are for animals.  That would be almost too normal.    

“I forget…” Mr. Allen stares almost longingly at his reflection in the bronze bars.  The lights in the basement are fluorescent, in contrast to the nearly useless things upstairs. They probably keep it so dark upstairs so as to better obscure the flaws of their rather corny decor.   

“It’ll be thirty minutes tops.  I can get everything together right now, should be a breeze and hopefully the rain lets up, huh?” Tim makes his own way upstairs as Mr. Allen just turns and continues to smile at him.  Only when he reaches the rain, falling and filling the air thicker than ever, does he realize how clogged up his nostrils are with the earthy scent.  Maybe the cell had to be dug out beneath the foundation?  That’s risky considering how close it is to being beneath the center of the house.  

Fumbling with his tools and rummaging through the boxes in back of his utility truck is every bit as miserable as he anticipated. When Tim re-enters the house he tilts his head back and just stares up at the dry ceiling.  Every part of him wants to scream a string of curses up towards the heavens and their ceaseless piss but Tim gets himself together.  Sometimes his job is too easy.  This is the universe course correcting itself.  On his way back to the basement, Tim takes a closer look at one of the mountain paintings on the wall. There’s a weird, black orb dangling over a mountain range.  It stuck out even with all the dim lighting in this place.  It’s almost like the artist spilled a bunch of ink on his work and tried to cover it up by adding more and making a shape.

Mr. Allen watches while Tim works, offering him a glass of water to which Tim responds; “I’ve had enough water for one day.”  He receives not the slightest murmur of laughter in return.  Putting his head down and working his trade grinds away the time and awkwardness easily enough, however.  After a bit of tinkering, it’s time for the key test and everything clicks and unhinges as Tim opens and closes the door several times.   

From behind Tim he hears the dry words: “How about you step inside?”  

“What?”  Tim turns around, not getting the joke but that’s what it must be.  

“To see if you can open it up at all…” Mr. Allen gestures.  

“Uh, you can go in there if you want.”  Tim laughs, because this is a joke.

“Well, I’m not nearly as strong as I used to be.  I’d need somebody with more…hop to their step…to give it a try.”  Mr. Allen’s gesturing toward the open door.  Tim’s holding the key in his hands and that thing is all the power he needs, if need be.  Mr. Allen’s reaching into his back pocket for what looks to be his wallet and that seals the deal as far as Tim’s concerned.  He’s got the key anyhow.  Tim steps into the cell and lets the door clang loudly behind him.  His craftsmanship on the lock is flawless.

Without looking at Tim, who rattles the cage and tries pushing, grunting at the cell door a couple times, Mr. Allen eyes the lock.  He runs his slow fingers of mush over it, and then he looks Tim right in the eyes.  “May I try unlocking it myself?”

“There’s no trick to it, turn right and pull.”  Tim closes his fist over the key as Mr. Allen nods, and smiles.  Where did his wallet go?  For fuck’s sake.  This is enough.  Tim reaches through the bars, sticks his key in the lock and then Mr. Allen’s fingers are folding, squishing against his own before Tim can make the lock click and give him up.  Tim’s hand is pulled, jerked downwards with sudden speed and the key…his key is falling from the lock and bouncing across the basement’s black, carpeted floor.  

“Motherfucker, motherfucker what the fuck?”  Tim, whose been lying to himself about uncomfortable this has made him, is erupting into steam and anxiety.  Mr. Allen picks up the key and then stands by the pool table.  This was all too easy…he got too comfortable with these freaks he deals with day in, day out and now what the fuck, what was he thinking going into the cage?  

“What is this?  Seriously?  Come on…I have other appointments…” Tim lies but Mr. Allen’s lips are tight and his face, his whole bald and droopy mess of a head seems to sag further over himself.    

The problem with Mr. Allen giving the wrong address in the first place is that it’s not in the system.  It didn’t seem like a problem, the metals and equipment Tim has in the truck at any one time hardly amount to several grand at best, there’s no fear of there being a robbery, there’s no reason for anybody to track him beside formality and scheduling for his appointments.  This guy doesn’t know this though.  He doesn’t know shit.

“They’re going to come for me…” Tim’s voice feels distant, his mind is whirring and panicking with such frenzy that he can hardly hear himself, feel himself except for his throat going dry and the buzzing vibrations running along his hands.

“Well, then I better hurry up.”  Mr. Allen shuffles over to the bar while Tim pleads with him about how silly this all his and then he picks up a bell from between two bottles of vodka and he gives it a high pitched shake of his hand as the ringing fills Tim’s ears.  The basement is alive with the dizzying frenzy of what’s coming.  There are footsteps upstairs, orderly and flocking towards the basement steps.  As they come down the stairs the cage starts rattling and Tim takes a sprinters start from one end of the cage to the other as he bashes himself into the bars and they wiggle but don’t make the slightest indication that they will give.  He tries kicking out the glass paneling but it’s on the outside of the bars and it’s too thick anyhow.    

Mr. Allen clasps his hands behind his back and stands in front of the cage.  Men and women, all shirtless, file into the room.  They all wear white dresses from their hips down and their chests are thick with spiraling lines of scars.  One of the women is missing a breast.  It almost makes Tim nauseous that his attention immediately went to everyone’s nipples, as he stares at their masked faces and feels something he never imagined before.  Death could be here right now.  This could be what all the people who have ever disappeared and turned up mutilated in a swamp somewhere have gone through.  The seven silent guests in the room wear a variety of wooden masks.  Some are painted in flashy colors and their carved, false faces reveal fangs and flaring dragon’s nostrils.  There are false antlers on the side of blank, triangular faces as well as visors, slashed across buckets of wood plopped over someone’s skull.  The seven form on either side of Mr. Allen and raise their arms behind their heads as if a bunch of police officers are leveling guns at them.  The seven go still as statues, as even their breath seems to cease as their stomachs go tight.  

Tim is muttering an uncontrollable string of curses and incomplete questions.  At last he decides the only thing he can do is just turn away and face the curtain and the couch.  He then hops over the couch and sits with his back against it.  This way they can’t stare at him. This way he’s not so…exposed.  He has nothing on him.  Not even his wallet.  Everything’s safe, dry and useless in the car.   “What the fuck do you want!?”  Tim screams over his shoulder and there is safety, being unseen as he is.  The cell’s so wedged into the wall that the only way they’ll get a good look at him is if they come in here and drag him away from the couch.  

“Huh!?”  Tim shouts again after waiting for a response.  

“Just listen to the rain.”  Mr. Allen’s voice is soft, soothing.  Beyond Tim’s frantic breathing, the rain is roaring and pattering beyond this fucked up place.  Something was wrong the minute he stepped inside and Tim didn’t do anything about it.  He stepped into the fucking cage…how the fuck did that old man hit him that hard?  Tim’s hand still throbs.  His thumb and his index finger almost seem strained, they’ll be swollen soon.

“Shhhhhhh,” Mr. Allen’s voice waivers between soothing and becoming a hiss.  Where did those other people come from?  Tim has a sudden flash to them hiding in the dim light, ducked beneath the dining table and pressed tight around the corners Tim didn’t look closely at.  Those masks mean nothing good is coming.  

“They’re going to come…..They’re coming right now.  If you let me call them…if you let me go…I’ll just…leave….you don’t have to pay, my treat, it’s okay….” If Tim starts screaming and insulting everyone too much they might get offended, and hurt him.             

“The sound of the rainfall is the sky speaking to you.  Speaking to the earth.  It’s telling us all a story, so we should listen.  It’s telling us to stay dry, it’s apologizing for the cold.  It’s telling us to stay together, so we are not washed away.  It is telling the great, great worms to taste our air and bless us for all our toils.”  Mr. Allen, what a preacher.

There’s a popping sound, from just beyond the curtain Tim’s facing.  Is there a breeze down here?  The curtains rippling amidst another popping sound.  Wet, crinkling sounds, like a child’s fingers scooping through a pie.  Something plops to the carpet with a wet, static filled ripping sound and from beneath the curtain wriggles a pail form the size of Tim’s forearm.  A worm, with too many beady black eyes to count peppered along it’s skull as it stretches back and there’s a pink mouth as the thing wrenches itself back and forth.  There’s another plop.  A second worm wriggles into view, covered in mud and oozing something sticky.   “What is this?  What the fuck is this?”

“An exhibit.” Is Mr. Allen’s reply, as the two worms are joined by a third, and then a fourth.

Tim’s hopping to his feet, running to the other side of the couch so he doesn’t have to see those things anymore.  “What the fuck are they?”

“They deserve respect.  They have noble ancestors in the black ether above, and they have risen from the wretched deep.  They are just trying to find a home.”       

Tim backs up against the cell door as there’s a volley of pops and the worms are wriggling, creeping around the sides of the couch.  “Like the sperm to the egg.”  Mr. Allen says. “There can only be one.  One that may never return to the earth.”  Tim could stomp on these things, bash in their little nubby skulls and black mouse shit eyes.  A hand of mush slips through the bars and grabs Tim’s throat, tilting his skull back so that the back of his head wedges lightly against the bars.  

“Come on, fuck, fuck fuck.”  Tim tries pulling away from the hand’s single grasp.  

“You’ll leave, with company.  You’ll be let out, I assure you.”  The seven spectators are all lined up around the cage to Tim’s left and right.  More arms snake through the bars and join Mr. Allen in holding him still.  The worms inch forwards, their squirms becoming a unified thrust.  One tries latching onto Tim’s boot and nobody’s got his legs, fuck them, he stomps and the worm’s head squishes in just as he hoped but another one of those things is latching on to the back of his ankle and they have little, sharp legs from beneath their tubular bodies.  One is on the back of Tim’s leg and in one lurch it’s behind hi knee and at this point Tim’s shrieking and jerking his body as much as the arms around his torso will let him.  Plop, plop, plop–more come from the curtains as they partially fall from the corner of the wall and there is earth on the other side.  Untamed, unmolded dirt.  As the lucky worm ascends his chest, Tim recalls looking into those scattered eyes and down that pink, steaming gullet as the things legs pierce against his chest like he’s been shot by a stapler gun and it crawls towards his open mouth, his skull.  As Tim looks to the ceiling, he marvels at how peaceful the rhythm of the rain is.


Four hours later, Tim stumbles home and surprises his wife and their guests, who have been waiting nervously in the kitchen for him to return home.  They have the TV on and their night has been ruined, but not entirely wasted, given they’ve drunk some of the beer Tim stocked the fridge with.  Tim ignores the questions, insults and half worried fury that immediately confront him. Still wearing his muddy boots that have tracked all over the white carpet of their dining room, and dripping rain from his drenched sweatshirt because his jacket is missing, Tim grabs his wife by the hips and delivers a long, hot kiss across her mouth.      


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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Dig – Mr. Deadman

beverage-mug-000000Enhance your coffee today

Richwood, Texas. A small town that wasn’t even a blip on a map then, and sure as hell isn’t now. Though, that might have more to do with small town politics, limited economic growth, and a lack of job opportunities than the nasty habit of law enforcement turning a blind-eye to things that didn’t fit in with the status quo. However, law enforcement had much to do with the fact that one would be hard pressed to find an official report of what happened at Hoskins Cemetery on the night of April 16, 2006, let alone accurate information. As one could expect, the news of the event spread through the town like a plague, but as most know facts rarely stay unadulterated when passed along through gossip. For certain, the simple folks of Richwood knew that bodies were found in an open grave, and that among the bodies were two police officers. No one disputed that deputy Johnson and Daniels were found dead. Rumor had is that the officers died of a sudden cardiac arrest, while others claimed that the two boys in blue died of self inflicted gunshots straight to the temple. However, the official statement from the small town press was that they were shot down by a hobo, not just any type of hobo, a homosexual hobo. There’s that small town mindset, so pure, and so engrossed with them good ole fashioned wholesome Christian values. Richwood being such a small town, no one outside couldn’t give less of a shit. Sad, really. Because the oddity of two police officers simultaneously suffering from a heart attack ought to pique the curiosity of a few, especially those interested in the occult. But with so much pretentious assholes and scammers, hardly anyone was willing to put in the time to do basic investigative work. Of course, I’ve heard my fair share of bullshit, but then I stumbled upon someone that not only claimed to have been there, but could prove it.


According to the source, a man was spotted shoveling into a crude, unmarked grave. I was, at first, doubtful of his account. Just about everyone that I had encountered up until now had said a similar tale, though with slight variation, but unlike prior witnesses, this odd elderly fellow produced a police report. Though the report contained nothing more than one line that read “April 16 2006 22:00: 594 – Hoskins Cemetery.” The line proved that something did indeed occur at the old cemetery, but more than that it proved that this man may actually have reliable information. I sat before him in his efficiency that seemed more of a home for roaches than people, at least civilized people, while he gave his account. He stated that the man had spent hours digging.

He dug, and dug, and dug. Frantically, as if every second counted, he dug the shovel into the earth and hurled moist dirt every which way. He dug for God only knew how long, but it was long enough to make it four feet in. A bright light blinded him, but he didn’t even flinch. “Hey,” said officer Daniels, as he slowly approached. “What do you think You’re doing out here?”

“Sorry, officer, I can’t talk right now,” said the man, as he continued to shovel into the dirt beneath him.

“Yeah, I see that, but you need to stop. You can’t just dig up them graves.”

“Oh, but I must,” said the man, paying no attention to the officer. “And I better find it soon, otherwise he’ll get mad.”

“Who the fuck is he?” The Officer sliced through the darkness with his light. “Are there more of you out here?”

“Oh, He is everywhere. He’s behind you, in front of you, and even trying to get inside you.” The scrawny man spoke as he dug into the ground without skipping a beat.

Officer Daniels cast his light through the shadows behind, in front, and even to his sides. A frown formed on his clean-shaven baby face. He leaned into the radio, “Daniels, requesting backup at the Hoskins Cemetery.”

“You’re just going to make him mad,” said the man, as he continued with the digging.

Officer Daniels directed his light right at the scrawny grave digger, “Listen to me. Drop the shovel.”

“I must keep digging,” he said, laughing hysterically. “You shouldn’t stop me.”

With a steady hand maintaining the beam, Daniels pulled a taser out from his belt and readied it. “Drop that shovel or I will drop you.”

“He requires that I dig. So, I must dig,” he said, as sweat trailed down his brow.

Daniels didn’t hesitate. A simple click released three prongs from the taser that caught the man in the chest, and instantly delivered a payload of electricity. The man fell, like they usually do, with pants soaked with piss and shit. The officer approached to get a better glimpse of the man. An unfamiliar face on a scrawny meth-head body dressed in dirty secondhand clothes. Just when the officer thought of climbing down to check for identification, something stopped him. Mr. Piss-pants began to move. The officer pulled the trigger on the taser again, but the man got up on his feet, picked up the shovel, and began digging. Daniels glanced at his yellow device, the power light was on, and he could hear a hum from the device. “Do you not feel this?”

“He requires that I dig. So, I must dig,” he said, coldly.

Seconds passed by, but what felt like seconds to Daniels was minutes to others. Long foreboding minutes as he stared at the man. His hand was as limp as his pride and was as useless as his shriveled dick. He pulled at the trigger, and the lights flashed on the device, but the man would not stop digging. Again, with the bastard digging.

Another bright glob of light shone from behind him. “Daniels, what in tarnation are you doing out here,” said officer Johnson. The new arrival approached Daniels like a father about to reprimand his own son. “You mean to tell me you can’t handle a tweaking grave robber?”

Daniels didn’t take his eyes off of the man. “He won’t stop.” Officer Daniels casually showed Johnson the taser.

“That piece of shit is defective,” said Johnson, rubbing his chin. “You new recruits are all the same. Afraid to get your hands dirty. Let me show you how this is done.” The officer walked to the edge of the grave, and glanced at Daniels. “He’s really wanting that bone cold pussy, ain’t he?” Johnson laughed at his own joke before leaning into the pit.

“Hey, grave guy, drop the shovel,” he said, chewing on a toothpick.

“He requires that I dig, so I must keep digging,” said the man.

“Who’s he,” asked Johnson, before aimlessly waving his light around.

“Beats me. He’s been saying that since I got here. Lunatic.”

“Well, you stay out here and watch for any onlookers. This might get a little old school.” The officer flicked away his toothpick, and jumped down into the hole. “Aww, fuck,” he groaned. “That’s quite a hole you’ve dug up, grave guy.”

The man paid Johnson no mind and kept digging.

Johnson slowly approached, studying his target. “Now, I know that officer Daniels has been nice about this whole thing, but you’re gonna stop digging.”

“He requires that I dig,” said the man.

Johnson interrupted, “I know. You’ve been saying that a lot. But what you don’t understand is.” Johnson popped his knuckles. “You’re gonna stop with the fuckin’ digging.” Johnson grabbed the shovel, shaking the man from his famous line. “I got your attention now, don’t I?” Johnson closed in and could smell the man’s rotten breath. “You dig one more goddamn piece of dirt, I’ll shove this shovel so far deep into your ass you’ll think I’m digging for gold!”

A man of chances, Johnson let go of the the shovel and watched with amusement. Amusement that was short lived as the man drove the shovel back into the earth as if no concern of consequence.

A man of extremes, Johnson closed his fist and cold cocked the living shit out of the grave digger. The man twirled to the momentum of fist meeting face, and dropped to the moist ground.

“Daniels,” said Johnson, as he rubbed his bloody knuckles. “I think that was my best, yet.”

“Does this go in the report?”

“What report? There’s nothing but the dead all around and the dead don’t tell tales,” said Johnson, as he stepped away from the body. “Besides, this man is clearly a bum. A no good worthless piece of shit bum.” Johnson grabbed the shovel and threw it out of the pit.

“Sir,” muttered Daniels, as he pointed at something in the grave.

Johnson turned around. “You’ve got to be shitting me.”

The man, with a broken jaw and busted nose, pawed the soil like a dog looking for a buried bone. “You don’t quit, do you boy?” Johnson stepped towards the man. Johnson kicked the scrawny meth fiend away. “You think this is a game, don’t you boy?” Johnson stomped on the grave robber’s right hand, and pressed the heel of his boot down into the soil. “This ain’t no game, boy! When I tell you to stop, you oughtta stop. We don’t have time for your faggoty grave robbin’ ass.” Johnson pressed his knee on the man’s chest, and seemed worried by the lack of fear in his eyes. “You really don’t know what’s good for you, do ya?” Johnson pulled out his cuffs. “Guess what? Your digging job is over, and He ain’t around.”

Johnson went to snap on the cuffs when a powerful force hit him in his chest like a wrecking ball, knocking the wind out of him, and planting him on his ass. Without a moment of hesitation, the man crawled back to the spot like it was a goddamn honey hole. Furiously, the grungy and foul smelling fiend dug through the soil, broken hand and all.

Johnson rubbed his ass, popped his neck, and reentered the ring for round three. “You think this is some sort of game, but I’m through playing around.” Officer Johnson drew his firearm, aimed straight at the man, and was ready to send him to his maker.

“Johnson,” yelled Daniels, as he climbed down into the pit. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing!”

“Sending this fucker back to Hell,” he said, cold and steady. “We take this freak down to the station he’ll spread whatever nonsense that’s in his head to the press, and worst of all, he’ll stink up the goddamn place. This junkie isn’t worth the time or the hassle, and it’s convenient that he’s already in a grave.”

“Look, he stopped.”  

The man hunched over a small metallic box. His bloody hands dusted the dirt off of the latch.

“Don’t you dare open that fucking box,” said Johnson.

“Aren’t you curious,” asked Daniels, fidgeting with contemplation as he stood behind Johnson.

“Son, curiosity gets you killed. That box was buried for a reason,” said Johnson. He fired,letting loose a thunderous clap, and sending a slug deep into the earth. “That’s your last warning,” he said.

Officer Daniels stepped between the lion and his prey. “Look, let’s see what’s in that fucking box,” he pleaded.

“Absolutely not. The fucker was tazed, cold cocked, mutilated, and restrained, and yet he still persists on digging. I’m convinced that whatever is in that tin can should stay in the depths of this fucking place.” said Johnson, as he shoved Daniels away. “I’m done with this.” He fired, delivering a ticket to Hell straight into the grave diggers brain. The body slumped over next to the box, latch undone.

Whether it was the coat of blood, or the glow of the flashlight, the source claimed that the box beckoned officer Daniels to do what the dead man couldn’t. Johnson holstered his weapon and had stepped away to light a cigarette. Daniels exploited Johnson’s moment of distraction, and went for the box. The cold, rustic metal resonated through him, forcing him to disobey Johnson’s command.

“Daniels, leave it alone.” Johnson took a drag from his cigarette.

From the witnesses own account, officer Daniels stood in silence with his back turned towards Johnson, indifferent and unresponsive. Johnson tugged on his shoulder, but he didn’t respond. Johnson snapped his fingers in front of his eyes, but it was as if his senses hadn’t even registered.

“Stop fucking around.” Johnson grabbed the grime covered box and tugged. Daniels refused him, and clung the canister to his chest as if it was his precious.

“We must wait. He is coming,” uttered Daniels.

For a moment, a brief moment, Johnson was quiet. He stood fixated on his insubordinate, clinched his fists, and brewed a deep frown. “Please, tell me you’re fucking with me.”

Silence. A cold, heavy silence.

“He’s here.” Daniels looked down at the blood stained box and cracked open the lid. “It’s time to feed him.”

Officer Johnson, as told to me, stood with his firearm ready to draw, silent as stone. Not even a whisper escaped from the man’s rugged mouth. He slid his firearm from its leather holster as Daniels opened the box. The lid dangled from rusted hinges, and revealed a small space of absolute emptiness, bottomless emptiness, an illogical paradox that was as mesmerizing as it was deadly. Apparently, the dark void did more than captivate the officers, it distracted them while their hearts stopped.


Now, don’t think of me as a fool just yet. I too had much doubts about the validity of my source’s account. After all, the spill of anecdotes, even detailed down to the line of dialogue, was only as strong as the facts that supported it, and an incomplete police report did not support the man’s story. I confessed my suspicion with a bit of gratitude for his time, and was about to head out the door when he produced it. A box. Instantly, without the slightest doubt,  I knew that this was the box. Though, it was free of mud, dirt, grime, but the rustic touch and blood splatter remained.

The man smiled maliciously. He told me what I already knew, while I watched him. Deep trenches stretched from his lips, branched out through his cheeks, and formed folds around his black eyes. Features that I first chalked up to age, but as he pushed the box towards me, I began to wonder. I could feel my conscience pull on me, urging me to flee, but curiosity had the better of me. With frail skeletal hands, the elderly man carefully opened the box. I dug into the chair, tried to force my eyes from the strange relic, but like a moth to light there was no recourse. My heart pounded rapidly against my chest, sweat dotted my brow, and I felt a sense of closure coming over me.

But there was nothing. The lid flopped open to reveal an empty box. Not a bottomless void, or an empty darkness, just a simple box. A simple goddamn box. A simple goddamn box with two burnt marks that only remotely resembled two human forms. To claim that the marks were impressions of the two officers was like when Mexican women claim they found Jesus on their burnt tortillas. As you could expect, the geriatrics, depends-wearing mother fucker tried to sell me that exact line of grade-A bullshit! I stared at the dark smudges, shook my head in disbelief, and gave a calm, collected, yet stern, “Fuck you.” 

Perhaps something really did occur at the Hoskins Cemetery that night, but whatever it was, I was no closer to finding the truth than a pale neck-beard was to getting laid. I’ve spent two months in this small, pretentious town of Richwood, Texas trying to discover the truth, or at least something of value. While the truth was out there, and I’m certain that it was, the takeaway from this was that sometimes the truth really does die at the scene. After all, what if no one else was around that night, and it was just three guys in an open grave, then who could I honestly expect to find out. Like the old saying goes, dead men don’t tell tales.


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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.


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Book of Horrors II


Pre-Order Now

Fans of horror, of good scary horror, will be excited to hear that another dose of unrelenting terror is heading their way!

Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors II contains ten scary stories, horrifying tales, demented prose of fading sanity, and is set to release October 1st! The anthology includes the following authors:

Blackmouth by S. Alessandro Martinez

 The Valley of Sex by Joseph Rubas

DOSE by Marc Shapiro

The Chasm Bridged by Carson Winter

An Identity For Sam Piles by Spinster Eskie

 Patty Cake, Patty Cake by Ken Goldman

 The Gates by Lisa De Young

 Killer Instinct by Gabrielle Esposito

 The Woman in Red by B Thomas

The Adler Street Boarding House by Kelly Evans

Pre-order your copy and the gruesome anthology will be delivered to your kindle, phone, or compatible device instantly!

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2016 Horror Olympic Winners!

Banner Olympics 2016

The 2016 Rio Olympics happened and I couldn’t tell you who won or lost, but I’m sure much was celebrated.

During the 2016 Olympics, Deadman’s Tome held its very own horror Olympics. The horror Olympics had stories compete against one another in various categories such as Most Read, Zombie, Best Sex, and Straight-Up Murder. While I made an announcement of the winners via Deadman’s Tome Podcast, let me do a quick rundown for those that didn’t catch it. You can listen to the announcement here:


For the Best of the Most Read:

In this category, Melissa’s HobbyUnbloom, The Way Out, Blackmouth, and The Weapon Collector face off for gold! The Way Out won gold in the category of Best of the Most Read

  • The Way Out by Gary Buller 45.83%  (11 votes) 
  • Melissa’s Hobby by Sean Glasheen 37.5%  (9 votes) 
  • Unbloom by Kristine Hall-Garcia 8.33%  (2 votes) 
For the Best of the Zombie Horror:
This category features The Four of JulyJoining the FamilyThe Night We Aired the House, My 1963 Ford Galaxy and the Maniacs of Dearborn County by Gary L. Robbe and Happy Birthday, Joshie A four way tie. I guess when it comes to zombies, no body wins.
  • Four of July 25%  (1 votes) 
  • The Night We Aired The House 25%  (1 votes) 
  • Happy Birthday, Joshie 25%  (1 votes) 
  • My 1963 Ford Galaxy and the Maniacs of Dearborn County 25% (1 votes)
For the Best Sex:
Deadman’s Tome has featured several very perverse horror shorts and in this category: Sex ToyTouch Me, I’m SickThe Woman in Red, DOSE and Caught in the Act Sex Toy takes the gold for Best Sex.
  • Sex Toy 66.67%  (4 votes) 
  • Caught in the Act 16.67%  (1 votes) 
  • DOSE 16.66%  (1 votes) 


For Straight-Up Murder

Stories in this category are: A Corpse Can’t LaughMad LoveLove Electric, and Confession Confession straight-up kills it for gold in Straight-Up Murder.

  • Confession 43.75%  (7 votes) 
  • Electric Love 31.25%  (5 votes) 
  • A Corpse Can’t Laugh 25%  (4 votes) 

The 2016 Horror Olympics was a spur of the moment thing, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Because the contest was so spontaneous (and because Deadman’s Tome doesn’t have the money), Deadman’s Tome does not have actually golden medals. However, I think the winners deserves some recognition. Perhaps a certificate of some sort. Maybe access to the backroom where the groupies and “party favors” are kept.

The winners received additional readers, and every view is money. The winners will also receive a certificate.

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The Stalker – Elliot Richard Dorfman

beverage-mug-000000Enhance your coffee today  

Howard Thomas was a Social Studies high school teacher who lived in Manhattan with his wife Susan and their 15- year- old twins Brian and Arnold.  When Howard got his certification to become a principal, he started looking for a position in Upstate New York. In that area, the family could enjoy plenty of space and fresh air after living in a crowded, polluted city.                    

Always giving an excellent impression at interviews, Howard was hired as the high school principal at Winfield, a town in the Mohawk Valley near the Adirondack Mountains, starting the next school season in the fall.  

A local real-estate agent was hired and quickly found the family an old yellow painted Cedar wood Italianate farmhouse with a stream at the eastern section of a two-acre property. True, the house was built in 1890, but its condition was good and the place maintained a certain charm.

The family settled in Winfield about a month before the school term began. Susan suggested they purchase a portable above ground swimming pool for the boys, but Howard decided first to get a decent tractor first to mow the grounds and keep it from becoming an overgrown field of tall grass, weeds, and wildflowers.

Having lived in Manhattan, Brian and Arnold’s new friends admired them for their trendy way of doing things. The twins liked this admiration and quickly adjusted to their new surroundings.  As for their parents, it took a bit longer, although Howard personally enjoyed the prestigious role of being a high school principal.

The first time Howard experienced something strange happening was five months after moving to Winfield.  Unable to sleep one evening, he lay restlessly tossing and turning in the dark for hours until finally deciding to get dressed and take a stroll in the back of the house.

Most of the trees were bare by now, and the full moon cast an eerie blue light on the grounds.  Nearing the stream, Howard saw a figure staring at him from the other side. The man had long blond hair that framed a pale young face. When he called out to him, the stranger disappeared.  Thinking that perhaps his imagination was playing tricks and no one was really there, Howard returned home.  Once getting into bed, he was able to fall asleep until the morning.


Busy at his new job and adjusting to his new life, Howard soon forgot the incident. However, one snowy winter night when he was at the desk in the den, he saw the same man staring at him from the window.  Getting up, he ran outside, but no one was there

What does this fellow want? he wondered, becoming more angry than fearful.

For the next few days, Howard searched the entire neighborhood to see if the man might just be some nosy neighbor without any success.  Yet, from that time on, he began to constantly see this stranger looking into the first-floor windows in his house or somewhere on the grounds. Oddly enough, none of the other family saw him.

Eventually able to get a bit closer to this figure when outside, Howard guessed him to be in his early twenties. Tall, thin, and dressed in something reminiscent of what men wore in the late nineteenth century, he attempted to speak to this strange person, but all the young man did was respond with an unnerving smile, turn, and walk away.

Naming this weirdo “The Stalker,” Howard became determined to stop him snooping around the premises. The following afternoon he went to the local police precinct and filled out a report on this prowler and asked for their assistance to apprehend him. He was assured they would get right on the case if he would be willing to press charges when the person was caught. Of course, Howard agreed to do this.

For the next few months, the Stalker stopped appearing again, and Howard thought the problem was over. During the Easter weekend, Susan and the twins went to visit her folks in Connecticut.  Since Howard had one of his bad migraine headaches, he stayed at home.

The first evening alone, it rained. There was a short in one of the lamps when he tried switching it on and the house when dark. Unplugging the wire, Howard went down to the cellar to turn on the breakers.  Reaching the box, he suddenly felt a cold hand touching his shoulder. Startled, he stepped back and tripped over something and fell to the floor. Standing over him was the stalker, only this time he glowed in a purplish haze that began fading when he started to speak in a steady deep voice.

“At last, we are able to communicate. This is going to be a glorious night for me!”

Frightened and starting to panic, Howard tried to rise from the floor, but was unable to do so.

  “You’ll get up when I am ready to allow you, the specter shouted, frowning with anger.

“My gracious, am I under his control?” Howard thought nervously.

The specter bent down and looked him with large light- blue eyes that seem to pierce into Howard’s soul.

“If you are thinking that I have you under my control, you are absolutely correct.”

“But why choose me?” the frightened man asked.

“You will find that out when I get my wish. In the meantime, if you promise to cooperate and don’t try escaping, we can go upstairs where it will be more comfortable while I tell you my story.”

Howard nodded. The cellar was so damp and dingy.

Upstairs, the phantom looked around and rubbed his hands gleefully

“My house has held up well.”

 “What do you mean your house?  This place is mine; lock, stock, and barrel,” Howard replied indignantly.  “In any case, just who are you anyway?”

“Better you should ask who I once was,” replied the phantom.  “My name is Cort Van Tassel.  I designed and built this house for myself back in 1890. I was quite a successful young architect then and had everything to live for; youth, wealth, and recently engaged to one of the most beautiful women in this state. Unfortunately, in my time, we did not have the advancement in medicine as you have now. A flu epidemic suddenly struck the town of Winfield shortly after I moved into this house and I was one of the first persons to succumb from the sickness.  After my death, the estate could not bear to keep this house and sold it.

My restless soul could find no peace and kept wandering this vicinity, wishing to try and find a way of living again.  It seemed so unfair to be so unjustly cut off from the prime of life.  Especially since I had always tried doing good deeds by helping aid the poor and other unfortunates  who passed my way. I never missed a church service, praying for peace on earth to which I now have come to a conclusion is an uncaring and unjust god.  Then one midnight, not too long ago, a hooded figure known as the supreme master of the underworld appeared before me.  He promised to help me if I would be loyal to him and find a soul that would become his once I decided to take over that person’s physical body.”

 Howard was aghast. “Why would you make a pact with such evil that spreads unmitigated suffering throughout the universe?”

Cort moved closer to Howard and clasped his shoulders. “Because I will get what I most want!”

“Just what has this to do with you haunting me?” the doomed man asked, in denial of his fate.

The phantom began to lose patience and become annoyed.

“Is your mind so slow as not to understand?   After carefully observing those now living, you sir, are the person I want to take over.  Now, brace yourself, for in a few moments my soul will enter your body and yours will become the property of the master.”

Howard only had time to give one blood-curdling scream as the transformation between the body and their souls took place.

When Susan and the twins came home a couple of days later, they did not notice at first how Howard was glancing at them with such an evil expression.  Working for the master as a living entity on earth had begun.


The town of Winfield had always been a pleasant place to live in, but then during the following spring a series of terrible accidents began to occur. The first took the lives of Howard’s wife and sons when his family went rowing on a lake near their home and the boat’s capsized.  Howard valiantly tried saving the others, but failing, just about managed to swim back to safety.   Despite his grief, people admired how he put even more effort into his job than before.  A year later, while accompanying the most outstanding students in his high school on a bus trip to the city, the vehicle lost control and veered into oncoming traffic, exploding as it crashed into a number of vehicles. Many souls were lost, but luck was with Howard again, and he was the only one there to survive the tragedy.

Continuing to remain focused on his job, Howard gained many influential friends in the county, and was asked if he would run as state senator.

“Ah, yes, I would like to do that. I can be so much more effective when serving in that capacity,” he said enthusiastically, an unholy glare coming from his eyes.

THE END                                   



Writing Prompt: I’m curious what other writers would do with this story. Has a build up for something sinister right before the epilogue. Send me what you come up with. Send to