(Horror stories about Alexa.)
Two nights ago, I was home alone when Alexa laughed. I’d read about the software issue the devices had been having all over the world, so it wasn’t that big a shock. Thank God for that, too, because I would’ve jumped out of my skin otherwise. Still, I was unsettled. It’s creepy to hear laughter when you think you’re alone.
“Alexa, shut up,” I instructed. The blue ring on top flashed, and the laughing stopped.
I went back to my book.
Twenty minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alexa’s blue ring illuminate – as if she’d received a command. I studied her for a few seconds and shrugged it off. Continue reading “My Amazon Alexa does more than just laugh.”
(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 children.)
“What do you mean, ‘a little girl died here?’” my wife asked, her voice rising with incredulity. “Don’t you have to disclose that before you sell a house? Isn’t that the law?”
“No,” the realtor replied, eyeing his shoes. “Not in this state.”
“Jesus Christ, Tommy,” Ingrid bristled. Why would you even bring it up then? The paperwork’s already through, for f*ck’s sake!”
“Listen,” I interjected, trying to be the cooler head, despite my own irritation. “Hang on. Tommy, seriously, why are you telling this to us? You clearly didn’t have to, but you did anyway. There had to be a reason.” Continue reading “The Giggliest Girl”
(A scary story about technology.)
He’s making me write about what he’s done. Maybe it’s a form of entertainment. Maybe it’s to force me to relive the terrible things I’ve been through. No matter the reason, if you’re reading this, you need to know I am not in control. I’m just his puppet. His slave. He is wearing me.
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I’ve been a camgirl since January 5th, 2016. The first year was lovely, and I say that without sarcasm. I made decent money and developed connections. I networked with other girls and guys and we got to learn the business together. There was little competition among us; it was all very supportive. Sometimes we even collaborated and put on a couples show for our regulars. Clients were happy to pay extra for that kinda stuff.
I learned pretty quickly how to avoid the creeps. The abusers. The ones who’d spam the chat room with requests for dangerous insertions or disgusting, illegal pairings. They could be blocked. Most of the time, they’d move on. Continue reading “Memoir of a Cam Girl”
(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”
(A scary story about humanity.)
“Mankind is the true God,” I’d proclaim. “The universe is our laboratory. Our playground. If something exists, we will learn of it. We will study it. And, through our strength and resolve, we will dominate it.”
My voice, at the time still young and powerful, echoed, day after day, throughout the lecture hall: “We are the third of the three paradigms. The early cosmos was the first; shapeless, protostellar dust, which, through the hardcoded mechanisms of this universe’s physics, yielded pattern coalescence. Stars. Galaxies. Planets.”
“Patterns increased in complexity over billions of years. Physics begat chemistry. Chemistry begat biology. And so began the second paradigm: biological evolution. The complexity seen in evolution dwarfed that of the previous paradigm. Eukaryotes. Fish. Mammals.”
“And finally, hundreds of millions of years later, as all the interwoven complexities reached a critical point, a singularity formed. It was the birth of the third paradigm: human intelligence. A force powerful enough to allow the willful direction of aspects of the other two paradigms, as well as its own destiny. It is a force seen nowhere else in the universe. It commands nature. It imposes its will on nature.”
Continue reading “Of Malevolence; Of Misanthropy”
(A scary story about children.)
I’m a teacher’s aide in a first-grade class outside Tacoma, WA. I brought the kids out for recess on Friday afternoon. It had just rained; the old blacktop was covered in puddles. The kids loved it. They jumped from puddle to puddle, splashing around in their cheery yellow galoshes and rain slickers.
Two minutes in, Lily Yamagata tripped over Sophia David’s backpack and skinned her knee. She was crying. I headed over to comfort her. I picked her up and brushed off the sand and grit. There was a hole in her tights and a little blood seeping from underneath. Nothing bad. Nothing she wouldn’t forget about in five minutes.
“You’re okay, Lily!” I announced, smiling. “Don’t worry, the nurse will get you a nice band-aid. What’s your favorite one?”
Lily sniffled. “Steven Universe.”
“Perfect,” I replied. “Hey Sophia, why don’t you hold Lily’s hand and bring her to the nurse, okay?” Continue reading “Mr. Puddles”
(A scary story about neighbors.)
After her husband left, all she did was cry. Cry, cry cry. Noon: cry. 10:00pm: cry. 3:00am: cry. Her pitiful bleating would pour through the thin wall between our apartments and drive me out of my mind.
I couldn’t sleep. My work suffered. I stared, eyes wide with restless hatred, at the ceiling in my uncomfortable bed as night after night was stolen from me.
Pounding on the wall did nothing but cause her to cry harder. Calls to the obese building superintendent brought castigation; not to my neighbor, but to me.
“How dare you be so heartless,” the super chided. In the rare cases she wasn’t speaking around a mouthful of food, it still sounded as if she were. “Her husband abandoned her!”
“I can’t sleep. I can’t even think!” I protested.
The thing on the other end of the line huffed. “Get some earplugs,” she suggested, and hung up.
This went on for months. Like any man in my situation, I reached the end of my rope. And, in a way, so did my neighbor.
Continue reading “A Pathetic Wretch”
Caroline came into the kitchen the while I was making dinner.
“Mommy, my tooth feels funny.”
I had her open her mouth and I told her to point to the one that felt different. She did. It was one of the bottom incisors. I touched it with the tip of my finger. It wiggled.
“That’s normal, honey. Remember when I told you you’d get big girl teeth? You’re gonna lose your baby teeth and the Tooth Fairy will give you a dollar!”
Caroline smiled. “I’m a big girl!” she announced.
“You can wiggle it with your tongue if you want,” I suggested. I’d read that helps the process along.
Caroline worked her tongue around inside her closed mouth, then scampered back into the living room.
A couple days later, as she munched away on a chunk of apple, she dropped the piece and gasped. I glanced over. There were a few drops of blood on the plate.
“Was that your tooth, honey?” I asked.
Caroline nodded, then drooled a teaspoon of blood and saliva onto her snack, followed by the tooth.
“Congratulations!” I said. “The Tooth Fairy is going to visit tonight!”
Continue reading “Caroline’s New Teeth”
I was nineteen when he visited for the first time. It was very late and the bedroom was pitch black.
“Miles,” he whispered. “Miles. Can you hear me?”
My eyes were wide but only darkness met them. I couldn’t see who was talking.
“Yes,” I whispered back.
“A few more years,” he cooed into my left ear. “Just wait another few years and you’ll learn who I am.”
I reached out, trying to touch the producer of the voice. My hands grabbed the air. I turned over and groped for the bedside lamp and flipped the switch. Pale light poured into the bedroom. I was alone.
I didn’t realize at the time that that would be a constant. A theme.
It’s now been eighteen years since I was visited that night. I’ve spent it by myself.
I wish I could call those years happy and productive. They were, in fact, the opposite. I am depressed. Unemployable. “Mentally ill,” is the official term that lets me collect money for doing nothing but sit at home all day.
Well, not quite nothing.
I daydream. I fantasize about the man who spoke to me that night. I picture him swooping in and knocking on my door, bringing riches and surprises that would heal my ruined psyche. He’d be my guardian angel; a heavenly respite from my day-to-day misery.
For nearly two decades, those dreams went unrealized.
Until last night. Continue reading “A Most Welcome Visitor”