There’s no realistic way I’m going to be able to get those horror stories done in time for Halloween. Two of the longer ones are first drafts at this point and not really something I’d feel comfortable asking you to purchase. Leaving them out of the collection simply isn’t an option. They’ve probably got another month or so of polishing before they get there.
On an awesome note, our very own ShawShaw wrote a story I’m going to include that is awesome.
There’s just no real way I could do all the stories in the amount of time I have left. I’ve had some unexpected and unavoidable chores to do during my days off and my recently purchased lap top broke and I haven’t had a chance to take it in for repair. Which sucks as it was an enormous boon to my creativity.
Such is life.
I might get them all done in time for November, but I’m thinking Rock Bottom (which has some stuff left to tweak but is largely done) will be done’ish by then. Maybe we’ll have a double November.
Also, how would you all feel about a paypal store? If at least three people want it to avoid the hassle of dealing with Amazon I’ll do it.
Here are some excerpts.
THE SAFE PLACE AND THE DOOR OF THE DARK
Seth considered the bright yellow cover of the book with a grimace, as though contemplating a piece of unsettling and explicit pornography. Like something you’d find in a Las Vegas gutter, crumpled and moist and laid open like a wound in the world. Seth frowned and rubbed a hand back through his long black hair. Finally, he checked all of his car mirrors for any sign of approach and opened the book to the first page expecting an accompanying clap of thunder.
The day was bright and clear. Visibility was limited only by the curvature of the earth. For three hundred yards in any direction there was nowhere to hide. Nowhere significant to hide for double that distance. But a thousand eyes watched him from out of nowhere. A hundred hands poised to grab his shoulder from the shadows. The car was crammed full with ghosts.
“Establishing a Safe Space,” Seth read with a cough.
Again, he checked the mirrors. Again, he scanned the roads. Again, he thought there was no place on earth private enough for such thoughts or such feelings. Not even inside of his own head.
“Many survivors have difficulty feeling safe. In fact, many survivors report having never felt safe in their entire lives. Before you work through the following chapters in this book, it is important that you take the time to establish a place separate from your normal living environment where you can feel safe from harm,” Seth read.
Seth looked out to the parking lot again. He’d come to this spot a lot as a kid. Even then, the factory that had once been served by the parking lot had been long since demolished. All that was left of it was a slight depression in the ground. Out here, it felt like you could see the whole world at a glance.
Best of all, there were almost no shadows.
“What objects make you feel safe? Do you have any best loved books? Any posters or icons or movie heroes or heroines that inspire a feeling of confidence? There is no right answer for what makes a safe space. There is only your answer. Please know that no answer is wrong or too embarrassing.
“However, if you are a suicide risk, it is strongly discouraged you keep firearms in your safe place. While working through the following chapters you may experience extreme distress. You may even have suicidal thoughts. For that reason, please fill out the following list of people you have for support while you go through this process,” he read.
Taking a pen from out of the visor he wrote down names. Lima, from the Group who he could not ever conceive of calling. Jason, his counselor, who he already saw once a week. Uncle Dutch even though he lived two towns away. Matrisse had told him to call her if he ever felt down, but he’d kind of gotten the sense she’d rather not hear from him if that happened. Still, he wrote her name down even though he put her last. He didn’t have so many friends these days that he could be picky just because one happened to hate him.
“If you have trouble identifying people you trust, then consider people with whom you have a close but neutral relationship. If you cannot think of anyone who you trust to wish you well, who do you trust not to wish you ill?” Seth read and snorted.
That description applied to every name he’d written down.
There were more pages. He flipped through them and sighed. Terrible questions awaited. Questions like “Have you ever felt happy?” that a normal person would never be asked to answer. Questions a normal person wouldn’t have to think on for five or six minutes before answering. Questions like “Have you ever committed arson?” like he was a criminal by association.
The questions felt like having his fingernails ripped out, really. Self torture. Seth figured they’d fill out most of the answers at Group tonight so he skipped ahead.
At last he came to a page that said “What do you want to accomplish?”
He thought about that for a long time.
A crow appeared from out of the last lingering rubble of the factory and twitched its wings and cawed before flying off. Long grasses swayed in the wind. The sun gleamed on his hood ornament.
“To find out what I want to accomplish,” he said and wrote.
And to not be afraid of the dark. Or confined spaces. Or ghosts. Or sex. But the parking lot wasn’t safe enough to write those answers down.
Nowhere was that safe.
THE PANCAKE FAMILY
How’s my complexion? That pale, huh? Hell, I bet I look like a ghost. I think I’m still in shock. There’s not a scratch on me and I feel like I’ve bled two gallons.
I’m sorry to ramble. It’s just that I’m… what’s the word for it?
Strange feeling, detachment. Seen it enough times on other people. After all I’ve been through, I figured if I was ever going to experience it myself then I would have experienced it by now. I feel like I’m floating outside of my body.
Did you see the crime scene?
Do yourself a favor. Don’t. Don’t even look at the pictures. You’ll thank me later.
I can’t get my knees to stop rattling. Is that why you’re holding onto your coffee like that? I’m shaking the table, aren’t I? Hold on a second, let me back up my chair. There, that’s better.
INTERVIEWER: Thanks, Hob. Can you confirm for the record that you’re waiving your right to an attorney?
No, I’m still not interested in an attorney. I mean, yes, I’m waiving my rights. Sorry.
INTERVIEWER: Are you sure?
INTERVIEWER: Let the record show that Detective Hobson Milgate, retired, has waived his right to an attorney.
The facts speak for themselves. I won’t need a lawyer after the DA sees the crime scene photos. There’s no way they’re showing that to a jury. There’s nothing harder than mercy, sometimes. I did the right thing. Or at least I did what I had to do. It just happened to be hard and ugly.
INTERVIEWER: Are you hungry?
No. No, I’d think I’d just puke again if you gave me anything. I can’t keep anything down.
INTERVIEWER: Are you ready to begin?
No, but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
INTERVIEWER: What led you to the crime scene on the night in question?
Would you believe I was planning a fishing trip before all of this started?
It was a reporter. Name of Stacy Bamer. She contacted me a week ago by email and claimed she had new information on the Driscoll murders. I was the lead investigator and I’m sure you know the case had gone unsolved for twenty years. I thought it was a gag at first. If you’ve been in this job long enough, I’d imagine you know how that can be. Most of the time it’s not even on purpose. Everyone thinks they know something that will crack a case wide open. The Driscoll murders were a big case. Over the years, I must’ve gotten a couple hundred fake leads.
I handed the case over to Detective Warren Caroll when I retired, but I didn’t want him to be bothered with any fake bullshit. I know he’s busy with everything else that’s going on. Since she contacted me, I figured I’d check it out for him as a courtesy. I wasn’t expecting it to go anywhere.
I met her for lunch at Puryear’s Cafe. She was a good-looking blonde gal, so she didn’t fit the typical profile of a hoaxer. Not that I put too much faith in profiles, after forty years. She also might have been one of those creepy gals that gets off on death. God knows I’ve dealt with enough of those.
She seemed normal enough, but I still thought she might be pulling my leg, or maybe she had been fooled too, but she had a file with her. It contained what appeared to be a confession by the Driscoll… well, he wasn’t a murderer was he?
I really do wish he had been, you know.
It would have been so much better for everyone.
INTERVIEWER: Can you please fill us in on the relevant details of the Driscoll case?
Let’s see, it would have been twenty years ago now. As I’ve said twenty years ago there was a disappearance. Thinking of all those years… I mean, twenty goddamn years. That’s a long time…
INTERVIEWER: Take your time, Hob.
The Driscolls were a family of six out in the suburbs. Upper middle class. Father was an attorney, mother ran her own business selling pottery out of the house. She even had her own kiln. Four children, all high school age and below. All good kids. Honor roll. No criminal record to speak of. The oldest son was caught smoking dope at his high school once, but nothing much besides that. Just the typical stuff you find when you look at people too closely.
They disappeared October 13th, 1994. No trace was found of the bodies. That’s why it made the press go crazy. You still see it show up on some of those unsolved mystery shows. A whole family disappeared and no one saw a thing. No one knew where they went.
A neighbor lodged a sound complaint, which is how we found the scene. Goddamn carbon monoxide alarm wouldn’t stop chirping. Upon entry, there were obvious signs of a struggle in the youngest daughter’s bedroom. The bed had been flipped over and the sheets were torn. We found elevated concentrations of carbon monoxide in the fabric of all the bedspreads except the youngest daughter’s. We knew to look because of the alarm. The neighbor indicated the sound had been going on for a few days, and he’d been unable to get anyone to answer the door during that time. We estimated the time of disappearance at two days prior.
We found several aluminum canisters and some hoses in a dumpster a few blocks away. We assumed at the time the Driscolls been gassed and disposed of at a different location. Excepting, of course, the daughter who woke up at the end and put up a struggle.
The investigation gave no leads. Of course, we figured the father might have done it. We checked it out but he didn’t fit the profile. Same with the mother. Surviving family checked out clean.
The father had a few clients who might have had motive, but the means weren’t there. He was a divorce lawyer, but not for anybody who could have taken out an entire family without leaving evidence. There was a chemistry teacher who lived three blocks away and we investigated him for a while because of the canisters but he alibied out. Same with a dentist who lived nearby.
The wife had a flirtation with some kid over in England but nothing adulterous and he wasn’t even in the country at the time of the murder.
The canisters had been stolen from a laboratory ten miles away and there was no security footage. After three months the investigation went cold. They’d been knocked out and abducted. Like I said, no one ever found the bodies.
Until, well, you know the rest of that. I’d rather only talk about that once.
INTERVIEWER: What can you tell us about how the confession wound up with Miss Bamer?
She’d been following the case for some years, both personally and as a reporter. Like I said, it captured the imagination of a lot of people. Even seemingly normal folks thought it could have been aliens, ghosts or demons. Miss Bamer published a retrospective on the murders given the twenty year anniversary. It caused a renewed interest, which happened from time to time. As usual, I declined to comment citing lack of new evidence. I remembered her asking for my quote though, which is why I accepted the lunch meeting.
After publication of the article, Miss Bamer claimed that she had been sent a file which she wished to have me authenticate. The most pertinent part of the file was a confession. I assured Miss Bamer that such false documents are not uncommon, especially on older cases like this, and that I’d personally heard two dozen confessions of the Driscoll murders. She was insistent. Once I felt she wasn’t trying to pull off a hoax or getting off on the idea of talking about a murder, I agreed to the meeting.
We met for lunch, as I said, and she stated it had been mailed to her in the same envelope she showed to me.
INTERVIEWER: Can you describe its contents?
Newspaper clippings outlining the progress of my investigation from twenty years ago. They seemed appropriately yellowed with age, so I’d guess they were from the trophy book of the perpetrator. There were also six photos alleging to be of the individual members of the Driscoll family, as well as several other photos of the facility where they had been… taken.
Jesus, my hands won’t stop shaking, see? I’m trying as hard as I can and I just can’t make it happen. I’ll have to ask the paramedic for a sedative when I’m done with the statement. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep, otherwise. No, I’m fine for now. I don’t want anything to interfere with my recollection for your recording.
Just carrying it around in my head is like… sorry, I’ll stay focused.
The photos WERE of the Driscoll family, of course. At the time I didn’t know that. The photos had aged poorly and they could have been of anyone. It was very hard to distinguish features. However, given the elaborate nature of the file I figured it did warrant a further look.
As to the confession letter, well, it was brief. It gave an address. That’s the first thing I noticed. I couldn’t locate the address online, which meant it had to be old. The confession letter said, ‘Stop printing lies. I never killed anyone. It just took a while to get them ready for breakfast.’ There was no signature included.
I just remembered something.
We got sent a breakfast menu a month after the disappearance! Someone had drawn a red circle around a picture of pancakes. The letter said ‘They’re not dead, they’re getting ready for breakfast!’ We put it in the junk lead file.