Posted tagged ‘Nightmares’

The shortest horror story ever written

June 24, 2013

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.

This terrifying tale, Knock, was written by Fredric Brown based on a plot by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. It’s a little story with a big history.

Seeing this yarn as a challenge to myself because I do write exceedingly short stories I wanted to outdo or out little perhaps Brown’s vignette. The bin was overflowing with discarded foolscap of inferior text and threatening to drown me with paper. Struggling to breathe over the sea of A4 at last I finished my saga.

I tap your shoulder. Boo.

These five little words are cinematic in their scope. Consider it, how many times has the camera frightened the audience by giving them a sudden jerk by revealing quickly an unknown entity in their midst. This trick is called in the game- the jump scare. My “jump scare” short story may be filmed, we’ll have to wait and see. The text is frightening enough what will it be like accompanied by creepy music?

My publisher informed me that Quick Books are interested in my work. Quick books are a new company that specialise in condensing major pieces of fiction making them accessible for readers that don’t have time to complete the full novel. Therefore they will be printing an abridged version of my tour-de-force. I am quite happy to re-print the Quick Books adaptation here for your delectation.



5. The Ladies Toilet

November 24, 2012

Ralph and Jeff were dining at a very upmarket restaurant. The talk, inevitably, revolved around toilets. Hygiene and layout were important factors in the most private of rooms.

“Dick Lewis was here last week and he waxed lyrical about the state of the toilets.” said Ralph.

“I’m presuming Dick said conditions were good.” stated Jeff.

“The best, my friend, the best,” Ralph went on “Each urinal has a full length screen. Eh? Eh?” Jeff nodded in agreement. “Civilisation has come a long way since the days of the trough.”

“You got to hate the trough especially if you were at the end with the drain. All that-”

“OK Jeff, that’s plenty. Dick said that the urinal dividers were so high it was impossible for those “peekers” to sneak a peek without being caught. There are so many strange men that haunt toilets.”

“Hate the peekers.”

“Your drinks gentlemen.” The waiter arrived with the refreshments. After thanking the attendant they turned their attention to their drinks.

“This is posh, Ralph. They’ve even put a cut lemon in your vodka. Look at it embedded in the glass. That’s class”

Ralph squeezed the lemon into his glass though chaos theory reared its ugly head as a rogue tributary squirted from the fruit into Ralph’s eye. Lemon in the eye is a painful circumstance that doesn‘t happen often. He was in distress.

“Ralph, go to the toilet and wash your eyes. The toilet is just over there.” Jeff pointed to a set of rooms not far from their table. Half-blinded Ralph walked over to the rest room and entered.

Ralph looked around. This toilet was even better than the one Dick was talking about. This establishment must have two different toilets. From his still hurting eye he could see that there weren’t any dividing cubicles. There were separate rooms instead. This is posh. You can’t beat posh, thought Ralph. At the sink he splashed some water on his lemon-filled eye. Gradually, as his sight got better he adjusted the fly on his trousers. As he was zipping up he saw a woman in the mirror coming out from one of the toilet stalls.

Ralph had deduced that he was in the ladies toilet. The woman started to scream. A loud, terrified shrill. Ralph was a rabbit caught in the headlights. In desperation the first thing he thought of to get out of this mess was to fake that he was sleepwalking. He narrowed his eyes and put his hands out straight in front of him. He was the walking dead walking asleep though he was awake. The woman screamed again and ran out of the toilet in terror.

The commotion made all the diners turn in their seats. Jeff saw Ralph come out of the ladies loo with his arms outstretched like a zombie. The lady from the toilet disappeared into the street fleeing for her life. Jeff went up to Ralph.

“What’s the matter, Ralph?”

Uttering out of the side of his mouth in the fashion of a ventriloquist Ralph told Jeff he was pretending to sleepwalk because he had made a mistake with the toilets. Jeff immediately sprang to his friend’s aid.

“Stand back everyone, it’s OK, he’s only sleepwalking.”

Ralph made a growling noise while he staggered around forcing Jeff to whisper to him “Cut down with the method acting.”

“It’s only three in the afternoon. Why is he sleeping at this time and why is he sleeping in a restaurant?” asked one of the diners. It doesn’t matter where you go there’s always one that gets involved. Jeff holding back the urge to throttle the man who enquired said.

“This is a disease. It can strike at any time. This man has instant sleep and sleepwalking disease. I, S…um, I, S, S, D syndrome.” Jeff was in improvising mode.

“I’ve never heard of that one.”

“What are you? A Doctor or something?” Immediately Jeff recognised his mistake. If this nosey diner was a doctor they’d be rumbled. Good grief, hadn’t he heard a thousand and one times that a lawyer never asks a question he doesn’t know the answer to. Not that Jeff was a lawyer in the first place. He was a bricklayer.

“No. I’m an accountant.” answered the diner. Jeff breathed out a sigh of relief. Ralph continued on his aimless walk around the room brushing into chairs and grunting out zombie noises. He was in full over-acting mood.

“Right what happens now is I wake him up.” said Jeff playing to the crowd as if he was a magician and Ralph his duped assistant.

“That’s dangerous.” said the accountant.

“What is?”

“Waking someone up while they’re sleepwalking.”

“I thought you said you weren’t a doctor”

“I’m not but everyone knows you don’t waken a somnambulist.” smirked the smug accountant.

This baffled Jeff “Som-what?”

Ralph knew that it was time for him to solve the problem himself as Jeff had ran out of ideas. Ralph let out a mighty AAHHH making the ladies in the room scream once again. Slowly, he dropped his arms to his sides, opened his eyes and with a disorientated voice said.

“Uhhh, where am I?” Jeff came to the rescue again.

“It’s OK now, Ralph, you’re awake. Let’s go sit down. Easy pal, it‘s all over.”

Jeff led Ralph back to their table. On the way Ralph acknowledged a few of the suspicious diners by raising his eyebrows in a pleasant gesture. The pair sat down and looked at the menu.

“The lobster looks a good choice.” said Ralph

“Love the lobster.” agreed Jeff.

Just then the door of the restaurant thrashed open and the lady from the toilet reappeared with two policemen at her side. She was at boiling point.

“Officers, that’s the man from the ladies toilet who was playing with his trousers. God knows what he was doing at the sink. And then he chased me.” The woman singled out Ralph. The accountant sneered. Ralph turned to Jeff who shrugged his shoulders and said.

“What do you think toilets are like in jail?”

Deus ex machina

November 14, 2011

One of the worst things in life is listening to other people’s ailments. Getting told the latest medical report from folk you barely know can be galling for a number of reasons. For one, it’s hard to be witty when someone you’re not that familiar with is giving you a car crash headache and another is that you‘re suffering this barrage of bad news while trying to smokescreen a yawn. The perpetual groaners seem to revel in their pain. I’ve seen myself locked, piggy-in-the-middle, in a sickness session ménage à trois conversation with two swinging whingers trying to outdo each other in the illness stakes. The contest seemed to be who is the nearest to death’s door.

The only thing worse than hearing about the dooms and glooms of others is when someone tells you about the dream they had last night. In the name of Bobby Ewing, go away. Dreams and nightmares are insignificant and instantly forgettable. I can’t remember any dream I’ve ever had and I must have had billions of them.

Then this friend comes up to me and says “Man, I had some dream last night”. Right, very good, see you later. No wait, wait, there was a car chase in this dream. I made an emergency stop as I’m quite partial to car chases in films and maybe his dream was as exciting as the urban chases in Bullitt. He began.

“I’m sitting in my Focus and “Oh Yeah” is playing on the radio. I check my lo-”

“Cut to the chase.”

“Alright, chase then. I’m driving along and I hear this bang. I start to veer sideways and I’m thinking it must be a flat tyre. But there’s no juddering which is what you get with a flat. I straighten her up and there in my side mirror is a dude-”

“Dude? When did you start saying dude?”

“It’s a dude in the dream. This dude is driving a Dodge Viper and he has a shotgun. He’s taking aim at me ready to shoot my Focus. I leans over and picks up a Luger that is on the passenger seat.”

“How’d the Luger get there?”

“Dunno. It was just there. I leans out and shoots left-handed over my right shoulder. From my mirror I can see him spin out of control and down the motorway embankment. I pulls over then crouching down still holding my Luger I move down the slope toward the Viper. It’s all beat-up but there’s no dude anywhere. Next second there must have been a jump, a glitch, something anyway because I’m driving the Dodge Viper along the freeway and there’s not a mark on it.”

He must have been dreaming because everyone knows I am the number one wheelman around here.

Night Prowler

January 10, 2011

The old man’s fear of living alone had long vanished. Members of his family had taken turns “sitting” him after his faithful companion, Dot, passed away. Now, they barely looked in and he settled into a lonely routine.

Only early in the mornings did he have any contact with other souls when he called into the greengrocer’s. Subsisting on the most basic and cheapest of food, his day was one long eternity of solitude. Lately, he had been given to waking up in the middle of the night. After a brief visit to the bathroom, his sleep could resume uninterrupted.

He grew to enjoy these nocturnal appointments. From bedroom to toilet he bypassed the hall. Comfortingly, the light on the outside landing shined through the peephole on his front door and it lit the way for him. It saved him electricity.

Over many months this ritual was observed every night and he grew to love the shining light. On a few occasions he had to rein himself back from approaching the light. The navigational aid was confusing him. Instinct had made him complete his task night after night yet the beacon at the door enticed him.

One night he entered the hall and found utter darkness. With no light source the old man became disorientated. This did not help his urinary condition. And an unwelcome thought appeared. Was the light outside still working? If so, was there someone standing at the peephole?

Remorseless Agony

April 29, 2010

This was to be one of those operations that are done without anaesthetic. For that reason the patient was strapped to the bed in the operating room. For reasons known only to the male patient he signed away his right to bite and refused to chew down on a rectangular tube of rubber.

Preparations were under way by the underlings in this surgical procedure. The man in charge of the vital signs monitor was finding it difficult to receive a good transmission so he thumped the top of the screen and righted the picture. The “Keep clear” man had his two hot irons ready and sizzling to uncrease the patient back to life if required and a porter was holding a bucket.

High drama ensued in the theatre as the doctor made his entrance. The bondaged patient sucked in a sharp outtake of breath that, in the natural law of respiration was then blown out. Even though you could cut the tension with a Stanley knife the patient reflected on the difference between sucking and blowing and vowed to experiment on instead of sucking Candy, blowing Candy.

The doctor said. “Magic Sponge.” (more…)

The Eels in the Loft

January 10, 2010

Craving for sleep to spirit you away

For you’re awake with a room gone insane

The clock ticks, ticks on and the wind runs down

The chimney; and it blows open your window

And it lets in somebody.

                                      Afraid under

The sheets you squirm. The sheets cover and crawl

All over you, a mighty planarian worm

You look for respite -escape- the ceiling

Then you remember the eels in the loft

The beating of your heartbeat beats thunder

Below the bed, coiled springs vibrate

A shuffling sound. There’s someone un-der- you

Afraid to stand on the floor in case you

Feel a living carpet. Entombed eyes

Can see scary creatures inside the room

Breathing. Unaware your feet have fallen

Outside the bedclothes. Its gone cold as a

Slimy hand touches your toes.

                                                You explode

Explode into the night. The dark has torn

Your brittle mind apart; Insanity looms

Hair on my Chess

December 17, 2009

My hair was starting to resemble an untidy hedge that was enticing excited feathered birds; therefore it was time for a trim. For a change I decided to change from my usual barber and what the hell I thought, I’ll ask for the whole lot to be shaved off.

Fed up with walking through the tried and trusted streets I took the road less travelled by. This could make a difference and I wasn’t wrong. Frost was on the ground, daylight disappeared and birds of prey swooped in the air above me. Fearing for my safety I found sanctuary in this dark wilderness as I espied a red and white pole which beckoned me inside to a barber’s shop.

There were seven white men sitting on seats getting their heads shaved by seven hair stylists. An eighth coiffeur invited me to sit on an empty chair that was numbered D2. When I was sat in said chair the trimmer went to work at my hair with his bladed hands.

I must have dozed off because when I woke sitting directly in front of me in the mirror were eight black men completely bald. Startled and afraid suddenly I found myself being pushed into the mirror toward the black men. A hairless black man also moved forward so that he was diagonally opposite me at my right side. I could feel his breath on my face.

Then I heard a scraping shuffling noise and the man who was sitting on chair E2 had entered the mirror and looked menacingly at the black man. Strangely his chair now signalled E4 but inside I felt better and thanked my comrade for his help. What a Musketeer he was! All for one and all that.

But my relief was short lived. Angrily the black man on chair E5 lunged at me with a brutal attack and next thing I knew I was back on Elm Street, one of my trusty streets. My first thought was…Englund gambit and I was the pawn that was sacrificed. The wind was biting into my baldy head and so were Nightmares about Freddy Krueger.