From the moment I got on the train, I felt him staring at me. We were the only ones there. It was 2am.
“Just a random weirdo,” I thought. “Probably harmless.”
It was little comfort. I’d heard enough horror stories about the subway to know that if he wanted to hurt me, there’d be nothing to stop him.
I tried to focus on my phone while knowing he was still focusing on me. His glare was icy and dispassionate. Predatory. Despite it being late July in a hot subway car, I was covered in goosebumps.
“When’s the next stop?” I wondered. The ride felt like it was taking forever. Discomfort and fear began to swell inside my chest.
“Maybe I should sneak a picture of him, just in case he tries something. The cops can go through my phone and find out who hurt me. …or who killed me.” Continue reading “Never Ride the Subway at Night”
(Horror stories about mice.)
About two weeks ago, a new couple moved in across the street. Julius and Bill. I was surprised the house sold, to be honest. It was a hell of a fixer upper. I guess they really liked the place.
It’s an old farmhouse built in 1712 or something. Looks it, too. I mean, it’s better now since they got all the garbage out of the front yard, but the curb appeal is still seriously lacking.
Not long after they moved in, I invited them over for dinner. I figured they’d want to know that their new neighbor was, well, neighborly.
Plus, I was curious.
I’ll come out and say it: I’d never really talked to guys like them before. Maybe I’m old school, but in my day, I wasn’t exposed to those kinds of folks. Even though I know it’s supposed to be a different world nowadays, I still have a hard time believing two men would make the choice to be what they are. I mean, what kind of man looks at another man and says, “hey, let’s be florists?” Continue reading “Missing Mousetraps”
(Horror stories about the desert.)
The deathbed story my grandfather told was not one I initially believed. He’d been in a car accident. There was head trauma. He was in and out of consciousness for a few days before an aneurysm took him out of this world.
During his moments of lucidity, he talked to me. It didn’t make a lot of sense. The doctor told me everything Grandpa said following the crash could be explained by brain damage, and I agreed. It seemed like he was conflating the old scary stories he used to tell me as a kid with real events from his past.
The real event went like this: in 1980, he was patrolling Cañón del Cristo, a spot in the Mojave that had, over the years, become a place where drug cartels went to dump bodies. Despite no bodies turning up in over twenty months, he still liked to give it a walkthrough every now and then.
“Nice scenery and good air,” he’d claim. “Aside from when I’d find a body.”
His trouble started when a rattlesnake startled him, causing him to jump back and lose his footing. It was a bad spot for that. He ended up falling about eight feet and shattering his knee.
That part I already knew. I had vague memories of him in a cast when I was very young.
He was on the canyon floor for hours. Whenever he tried to move, the pain was so intense he’d just stop and scream. There was nothing he could do. His radio was out of reach. There were no cell phones back then. It was only a matter of time before a mountain lion came by and put an end to it.
It turned out mountain lions were the least of his worries. Continue reading “The Small-Eyed Children of Cañón del Cristo”
(Horror stories about the rainforest.)
“Balloon!” Janie shouted, pointing out the window.
Angie and I ignored her. We were arguing with Adrián, the hotel owner.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see your reservation here,” he repeated.
“Typical,” I muttered. “God damn typical.”
I’d spent a year getting this vacation planned out. Angie’s wanted to go to Costa Rica since she was a little girl and saw a documentary about the rainforest. It was our third anniversary. I was hoping it would be a special trip. The start was inauspicious.
“Balloon!” Janie yelled again, giggling and tugging my pant leg. I glanced over my shoulder through the picture windows overlooking the forest below.
“There’s no balloons, sweetheart,” I informed her, and turned back to the hotel owner.
“Look, I have the online confirmation right here. That’s the name of the hotel, yes? And that’s the address? And there, where it says ‘confirmed?’ Can that possibly mean anything else?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but you’re just not in our system. If you and your family would like to go out on the patio and rest for a little while, I will see what I can do. I’ll send over a couple glasses of wine and some fruit juice for your beautiful little girl, okay? Just give me a little time.” Continue reading “The Black Balloons”
(Horror stories about parties.)
“I don’t like him,” Jeri whispered. “He’s weird.”
I looked at the guy sitting alone on the couch in the corner. Lanky. Pale. Brooding. He seemed out of place. I wondered if he was someone’s date who’d gone forgotten.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover, Jer,” I replied. “Haven’t you seen that credit card ad?”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. But I don’t want to be around when he starts shooting up the place.”
“Jesus!” I hissed. “What’s wrong with you?”
“This is a party, Kay. People are supposed to be having fun, not being miserable.” Continue reading “The Worst Party In Ten Thousand Years”
(Horror stories about space.)
“The Secret Doctors of NASA” is a series of memoirs, diaries, and reports from actual doctors employed by an undisclosed arm of NASA between 1970 and 2001. These writings contain true accounts of the unusual and often highly-classified medical conditions experienced by astronauts during and after their space missions. Following the defunding of the clandestine medical program after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the majority of these accounts were left, forgotten, on tape drives in a NASA storage facility. In 2016, a former intern, whose job was to clean out one of these facilities, discovered them. Two years later, he is ready to release what he found.
Thus far, the following reports have been released: A Dentist’s Discovery, A Psychologist’s Suicide.
Releaser’s note: This account is from a post-surgery oral memoir dictated by an unnamed surgeon to an anonymous NASA official. The background circumstances are unknown.
A Surgeon’s Nightmare
Look, I’d been awake for two straight days. You guys have been putting us through hell with all the injuries from the Hephaestus Project, so forgive me if my results weren’t as great as they could have been. But come the hell on – what do you expect when someone comes to me in that condition?
So you want to know what happened in my own words? Fine. But don’t get pissed when I call your practices into question.
The patient was admitted with significant injuries to his legs, torso, arms, and head. On the surface, they appeared to be lacerations, which was strange because their severity would have caused near-instantaneous exsanguination and they would’ve gone straight to the morgue, not to me. Closer inspection revealed the wounds had been sealed by intense cold, as if the patient had been frozen either while being injured or immediately after. He was still clinging to life.
Continue reading “The Secret Doctors of NASA: A Surgeon’s Nightmare”
(Horror stories about limbs.)
It’s been just me and my brother for the last fourteen years. No one else. He’s Randall. I’m Joe.
Randall thinks his leg doesn’t belong to him. I thought he was crazy. He is, of course. We both are. We’ve always been. But this seemed different. Still, I didn’t believe him until his foot started to talk.
“I’m gonna hurt you, Randall,” the foot announced. It was the middle of the night. The voice woke us both up.
“See!” shouted my brother. “See!”
I bolted upright and turned on the bedside lamp and looked across the room. My brother’s fat foot was sticking out from underneath the sheet. His toes were wiggling.
“I’ll walk you off the roof and you’ll go splat all over the sidewalk. Just like your Daddy did.” Continue reading “Randall’s Chatty Leg”
(Horror stories about the unknown.)
“Check this out!” Marcel called.
“What?” I asked, not looking over. I’d been trying to skip rocks, but all I could get were a few hops before the stones were swallowed by the waves.
“It’s a bottle with a note in it,” he replied. “An actual message in a god damn bottle.”
“So open it up,” I said, dropping the flat stones with annoyance. “Whatever’s inside’s gotta be more exciting than anything we’re doing.” Continue reading “A Message in a Bottle”
(A scary story about hunting.)
“We’ve been out here for four hours,” Red complained. I winced as whiskey and gingivitis breath wafted across my face.
“We’re getting this f*ckin’ moose,” I answered. “Dad said we wouldn’t be able to, so that means we’re gonna. I don’t care if we starve to death up here.”
Red belched out another complaint, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was thinking about bagging that son of a b*tch. It’d been tearing up Mom’s garden and sh*tting all over the yard. She’d missed out on being in the latest flower show after all her prize petunias got eaten.
No more. “Never again,” as they say. I’d be mounting that antlered head over the fireplace before the weekend was over.
“What’s that over there?” Red asked, pointing out ahead of us. I followed his finger. Continue reading “The Moose Hunt”
(A scary story about the ocean.)
“What is it?” Charlie asked. He was ten or eleven at that point.
“Not sure,” I replied. I turned my hat forward, hoping the brim would block out some of the glare on that sunny August afternoon.
Something was floating in the water about a couple hundred feet offshore. It looked big. Long, too. I assumed it was the carcass of a whale. They’d been known to wash up every now and again.
“Maybe a whale,” I remarked.
“Yeah. You think it’s gross now, wait until it reaches land and stinks up the beach for a couple miles in every direction.”
Charlie made a face. “I kinda want to poke it,” he said. I grinned. That’s my boy. Continue reading “Beach Bodies”
(A scary story about travel.)
“You never know what’s sharing the road with you after dark,” Dad said as he gave me my first driving lesson. “Whenever you’re driving alone on an empty road, pay attention to what you pass — even if it’s just something you notice for half a second out of the corner of your eye or just out of the range of your headlights. Because even if you’re not looking at it, you can be damn sure it’s looking at you.”
He died in a car accident a number of years later. It happened just after midnight, on an empty road, in the middle of nowhere. The software in the truck notified his dispatcher that there’d been a crash. By the time the sheriff and paramedics arrived, he was long dead. Continue reading “We Share The Empty Roads”
Our company had been tasked with a geological survey of Fallenfield Mountain in southwestern Kentucky. Situated at the intersection of the Cumberland and Allegheny Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau, it stands at the center of a depression in the terrain entirely uncharacteristic of the surrounding area.
Having recently acquired a permit from the state for a fracking exploration, the petroleum company that hired us was anxious to see what they could exploit in this new area. We were to set out as soon as possible.
We began our hike on a Monday morning. The weather was predicted to be favorable and the four of us were excited to cover some ground. We stopped at a small store near the edge of the forest to purchase last-minute supplies and anything else we thought we might need. It wasn’t a particularly difficult journey ahead of us, but we wanted to be prepared.
While we were browsing, an employee began a conversation with Jake Lemont, one of our geologists. Jake was forthcoming, as we were under no obligation to keep our work secret. I walked the aisles and drifted in and out of their conversation, which grew noticeably more animated as time went by. The employee was not keen on the mountain being used for petroleum exploration. It turned out he wasn’t speaking from an environmental standpoint.
Continue reading “Fallenfield Mountain”