Missing Mousetraps

dead mouse in trap

(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”

The Small-Eyed Children of Cañón del Cristo

mojave desert

(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”

The Black Balloons

blackballoonssite

(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”

I pressed my hands against my eyes for twenty straight hours.

eyes

(Horror stories about freedom.)

The old cliche goes something like, “if you’ve got nothing to live for, you’re able to do anything.” High school kids all over the world write their own versions of it in the margins of textbooks and on bathroom walls. It makes them feel consequential. Or significant. Or free. Or something.

They’re not, of course. But they’ve got enough youthful optimism to keep the bottle of pills away from their stomachs or the razor away from their soft wrists.

Well, most of them. A few can see things for how they are. They act accordingly.

And good for them, really. It’s that youthful initiative the baby boomers say is absent in kids these days. Someone should tell the boomers they haven’t been looking in the right place. If they checked the morgue, they’d see slabs full of proactivity and initiative. There’s a bunch of real success stories cooling and congealing in there. Continue reading “I pressed my hands against my eyes for twenty straight hours.”

The Worst Party In Ten Thousand Years

party

(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”

I should have never broken into my dead neighbor’s garage.

oldtv

(Horror stories about the dead.)

I was seventeen when I broke into the neighbor’s garage. I’d locked myself out of our house and it was pouring rain. My parents wouldn’t be home for hours. The neighbor, Louis Schaffer, had passed away two weeks before. It was a tough blow; he was a good friend of our family and used to babysit me when I was a toddler when my parents were working nights.

If it didn’t seem like a tornado might come through at any minute, I would’ve just sucked it up and walked the few miles back to school. The weather was worsening, though, and as hail started to fall, I knew I had to get inside.

Both the main garage door and the side door were locked tight. I ran around to the back. There was a window. The glass was blacked out. While I initially found that strange, my inquisitiveness dissipated as hail the size of ping-pong balls pelted my head.

I took a rock from his garden, felt a pang of preemptive guilt, then smashed out the bottom two panes. Being careful not to destroy any more than I had to, I pulled the wood out from between the open panes, checked for any remaining glass, and squeezed myself through the hole. Continue reading “I should have never broken into my dead neighbor’s garage.”

The Secret Doctors of NASA: A Surgeon’s Nightmare

OR

(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”