The Barlow Clan – Chapter 1

*All characters and places in this piece are fictional and do not reflect anyone alive or dead. Flathead National Park is a real place, but as far as the author is aware, it is not haunted. This story may have content that some readers find offensive or disturbing, so discretion is advised, especially to those under the age of 13.*

I

The rustling leaves of autumn drew Callie outside, filling her distracted mind with the sounds of nature. She sat on the ground and watched them gently dance in the breeze. She heard Ranger Stevens before she saw him. He had a distinctive way of walking. “Hi darlin’ you talking to the trees again?” Callie blushed as she quickly rose to her feet to face him. She was hyper-aware of her hand-me-downs clothes and ancient fleece that had either belonged to Hep’s or the twins. No one knew anymore. “Hi, Ranger Stevens, I was just taking a break. Can I help you with anything today?

Callie I’ve told you it’s ok to call me Mike, I’m not a police officer or anything.” His face lit up as he grinned and Callie swayed a little on her feet. Her homeschooling had limited her interactions with real boys.  She didn’t consider her brothers to be real boys) and Mike happened to be a particularly handsome one, but it didn’t matter, Callie Barlow would have been awkward with any boy. The only boys she really knew were her brothers, Hep, Are and App. “Sorry, Mike, how can I help you today?

Well I’m looking for your father actually, is he around?” He took off his hat in anticipation of speaking to Lucas Barlow. Callie was certainly among the softer of the Barlow family siblings. Her eldest brother was exceptionally rough and ready despite all the classical training their mother Joanne had given them. He was very much a carbon copy of his father Lucas. Who was known as crass, angry and loud.  Yet Lucas Barlow was well regarded in the town of Mirth and the Barlow family had lived in Flathead National Forest for generations. “Daddy will be back soon he was doing his morning rounds of the land. Would you like to wait and have some coffee?” Her voice cracked nervously as she asked this, but she was relieved when Mike nodded almost furiously.

That’s great if any of your brothers are around I might speak to them too?” Callie’s heart sank. If it was a palaver with her brother’s Mike wanted, she wouldn’t get a word in. Mike seemed to notice this, and said kindly, “of course you know these woods just as well as them, so you will certainly have some useful input to give Callie.” Callie blushed again at this. Not just because he was so kind, but because he had noticed her disappointment. Nobody took much notice of Callie when her brothers were around. She nodded and beckoned him inside.

Halloween Horror Stories. The Barlow Clan.
Halloween Horror Stories. The Barlow Clan.

It was early morning and the sun had only just risen in the East, but the Barlows had been up since before dawn. It was the family way even before Callie was born, and she knew no different. They would begin their studies at 9am. Well, she would, Hep and the twins had already taken their SATs. Beforehand the chores would need to be done. Chores from which Callie had been skiving off from. “Callie, are you finished checking on the deer jerky?” Her mother Joanne had an ability to appear from thin air. Both Callie and Mike jumped. They had thought themselves alone in the quiet kitchen. “Yes ma’am, mother. I invited Ranger Stevens in for coffee while he waited for Father.” Joanne folded her arms and took in Mike silently. A silence descended and as expected, Mike nervously filled the gap.

I’m sure you could help too Ma’am, Mrs Barlow, it’s about another missing tourist. Two actually. They went into the forest last night. It was meant to be an overnight camping trip, but when they didn’t call their girlfriends this morning at the crack of dawn as promised, well the girlfriends got frantic and called the police. You know the reputation these woods have so the coppers asked Chief Ranger Makowski if he’d look into it. I thought that since Mr Barlow, and your family have had such luck with turning up missing people in the past, knowing the woods so well…” Joanne finally smiled and Mike trailed off. “No problem Mike, I’m sure Lucas would be delighted to help once he returns from his rounds. In the meantime let me get you some breakfast.

Oh you’re very kind but if you could just let Mr Barlow know we will be mounting a search party down at the ranger cabin that I would be very grateful.” Callie’s heart sank. Mike would have happily stayed for a chat if her mother hadn’t appeared. Callie had been so sure her mother was out back feeding the chickens, but Joanne Barlow had a way of knowing when to appear uninvited. She didn’t like Callie talking to outsiders, especially not men, despite what was thought of the family in town. “Are you sure Ranger Stevens? I was about to start breakfast, the boys always come back from their rounds, ravenous.” Her eyes glinted in the early morning light, and Callie could see Mike audibly shiver.

Much obliged Ma’am, but I best be on my way, thank you now.” He dipped his head and slipped back out into the yard. Callie watched him as hopped onto his bike and quickly disappeared down the path from the Barlow homestead. “So, you think he’s cute do you Calliope?” Callie froze, she could feel her mother’s eyes on her. As if feeling into her mind somehow. “Sure, in an awkward kind of way.” She tried to laugh it off, making her tone light, but her mother always knew. “Stay away from men like that Callie, I’ve told you before. They want what’s between your legs and nothing more.” Joanne began making breakfast, and Callie simply fell into the morning ritual once more.

II

Listen this is official Park Ranger business, you know I can’t tell you that information. Besides, they aren’t technically missing persons yet, they’ve only been incommunicado for 3 hours or so. Really, any information we have from their girlfriends and the state coppers is private.” Chief Ranger Makowski was an imposing specimen. Standing at 6 foot 4 and about as broad, it was difficult for most people to argue with him. Of course, Jacob had known Ingrid Hanson since she was a small girl, and her tenacious nature had always endeared her to him. Although he admired her spirit, he was protective of the Ranger service which he had served for decades. It had increasingly come under fire for their inability to locate the mounting missing persons list. He would enforce the rules and regulations, in public at least.

Ingrid, as soon as I get the go-ahead, you know I’ll call you, but right now it’s a private matter.” He smiled a rare smile and Ingrid rolled her eyes. “Alright curmudgeon, but I’ll be back.” Makowski huffed. “No need to throw your fancy college words at me, young lady.” He was still smiling in spite of himself though, as she flounced off.

landscape-2268775_1280
Halloween Horror Stories. The Barlow Clan.

Ingrid was thinking about how good a large coffee would feel to ward off her sleepiness and the cold of a Montana morning when she bounced off Chief Stevens. She landed on her ass and looked wearily up at into his face. There she observed in him the same equally dazed state. She simply groaned. “I’m not caffeinated enough to process this yet.”

Oh Ingrid I’m so sorry are you ok?” He tried to help her up but she shooed him away. “I’m fine Mike, no worries, it was my own fault. It’s an early start and I skipped my morning coffee to get here. Chief Makowski won’t talk to me yet though, so I needed have bothered.” Her keen eyes studied the slumped posture of a man who usually stood proud in his newly earned Ranger uniform. “You ok Mike? You look like you could use a pick me up yourself.” Mike nodded gently. “I was just up at the Barlow homestead…” Ingrid normally wouldn’t have to ask for details, she knew the Barlows as well as anyone else from Mirth. However, her inquisitive nature was the story and she decided this might as well be included. “Let’s grab a coffee and have a chat, Mike.

III

So that’s all she said? That they would be ravenous?” Asked Ingrid doubtfully. Mike looked wounded. “I know but it’s the way she said it, and her eyes…” Ingrid nodded in understanding. Although it didn’t seem like much, Ingrid knew the look Mike was talking about. She had known Mike for most of his life too, she’d palled around with his older sister Mary in school, and he wasn’t a liar. No, there was definitely something weird about Joanne Barlow and it wasn’t her choice of words exactly. It was the emphasis she put on certain things that gave kids the creeps. Her sons were similarly weird if not more rambunctious. Yet Lucas was a typical Montana man. Quiet, hard-working and private. Well respected. The match between them had always struck people as odd.

Some had even gone so far to say that Joanne had used witchcraft, learned from her native ancestors, to trap Lucas. Ingrid always thought that was bullshit. Plus she’d always been uncomfortable with how old-seed Montanans had used ‘witchcraft’ as to describe a woman behaviour when they acted in a way they didn’t like. Ingrid had often thought if a man acted the way Joanne did they would just be labelled as unusual or strange. Joanne Stone had gone to university, which had been unheard of in her day. She’d studied the ‘classics’ whatever that passed for these days, and she’d insisted from day one that her children would be educated at home with her. It had worked so far. Though the boys had only gone to the local college for the environment or natural science, word on the street was their SATs scores where something to be very proud of.

              Joanne had named her children after the Greek gods. Hephaestus was her eldest, Ares and Apollo were her twins and her youngest and only daughter was Calliope. This was the one and only thing that Lucas had pushed back on. He’d wanted to give his children family names. So the compromise was that their middle names were Greek, and first were good old fashioned Montana names. Yet they’d never gone by their first names. Heck Ingrid couldn’t even remember what they were. There was a good chance they were John, Joseph and Thomas, but she couldn’t be sure. She would need to look that up…

She snapped back to her conversation with Mike. Why would she need to look the names up? The Barlow family weren’t the story. The missing men were the story, and the rest of the missing in their droves. Flathead Park had a 78% higher missing persons rate than the national average. She’d found that out from intensive Google searches. “It really seems like Callie is the only ‘normal’ Barlow and I say ‘normal’ very lightly. She was listening to the trees when I arrived at the house this morning.” Ingrid tilted her head and frowned. “What do you mean listening to the trees?

Stevens, get your ass in gear, we’re heading out in 10!” Came Chief Makowski’s bellowing voice. Mike promptly jumped to his feet. “Sorry Ingrid gotta go, I’ll chat with you later, send me a text.” Ingrid nodded languidly as Mike hopped off to his newfound duty as Park Ranger. “You’re a long cry from playing dungeons and dragons with your friends Mike Stevens.” She sighed as she gathered her things. Now to sneak into the Rangers cabin to listen to the meeting.

IV

Ingrid was met with an eye-roll from Makowski, but he didn’t ask her to leave. Truth be told, he was starting to worry about the increased disappearances and incessant attention it was getting from young people. They were doing over-night challenges in the supposedly haunted forest which they filmed and subsequently uploaded to their social media. We spent the night in a haunted forest and you’re not going to believe what happened. They were putting themselves in danger, and it was up to the Rangers to get them out of it. Maybe if someone like Ingrid covered the story it would prove a cautionary tale for future inexperienced campers.

Halloween Story, The Barlow Clan
Halloween Story, The Barlow Clan

It was customary for the Park Rangers to fall silent when Lucas Barlow entered the cabin. His presence was suffocating. Unlike Chief Makowski, Barlow was not a particularly tall man. It was his energy that naturally pulsated and disarmed you. His blue eyes could freeze, and although he was not considered to be a warm person, he helped each and every person that found themselves lost in the woods.

What’s the 411 Makowski?” Barlow croaked as he lowered himself onto the bench, his sons looming behind him. “Simply put, two college kids approximately 21 years of age, go camping last night in the woods. They promised their terrified girlfriends that they would call in at 5.30am no later, on account of the ‘reputation’ our forest seems to be getting.” Barlow’s eyes narrowed at that. “When they didn’t check-in, they call the police, they called me, I called in the staff.” Makowski moved his arm to display the fine team of men and women assembled. He looked at Ingrid closely when he said the next part.

The girlfriends also sent us a video that the boys sent to them around 3.30am this morning, before daybreak. It’s not very clear, but it appears as though the boys are being attacked. We cannot verify this for sure, or even if it is real, however, we will proceed with caution. If it was a lion attack we will need to be vigilant. I will now show you the video.” Chief Makoswi cast the video onto the large wall projector. Stevens turned off the light so they could get a better view, but the morning sunlight was started to make that difficult.

The video started with content which is common on YouTube or other social media these days. The boys joking around, filming each other. Setting up a poor camp. Chief Makowski skipped along until they got to the pertinent part. Boy number one spoke up in the darkness. “What the fuck was that Aiden?” He panned the camera around in the swift jerky motions. “Did you hear that, what the fuck was it?” Boy number two answered. “I don’t fucking know I’ve never heard an animal make a noise like that before.”

Shuffling noises, like leaves and tent canvas. Silence, all but for the heavy breathing of the boys. Then an inhuman screeching noise, which started out low then built in a horrific crescendo. Even hardened Rangers seemed disquieted by the sound, as they shook their heads, shifted in their seats and even covered their ears. When the screeching came to a halt,  the maddened sound of a predator racing towards the boys and their own version of screeching began. Then nothing.

Now the girlfriends say they received no message with this video as if it was set to automatically send to them. Like I said, we don’t know if this is a hoax or not so I would advise caution. We all know wild animals can make a variety of noises…”

I’ve never heard one that sounded like the damned goat guardians of hell before though!” Called out one of the senior rangers and laughter erupted. When Makowski and Barlow didn’t join them it quickly died down. “Like I was saying. This could all be a joke, but it’s our duty to check it out regardless. However, we do not put ourselves at unnecessary risk so be on the lookout for lions or even bears. Now we will break into the usual parties of 4. Someone is designated as the leader…”

Not that anyone would have noticed, but Makowski and Barlow weren’t the only ones not to laugh at the Ranger’s poorly timed joke. Ingrid’s eyes had glazed over as she began recalling her interviews with those who had been recovered from the forest after being missing for days. She remembered how they had described the exact sound she had just heard from the missing boys’ video.

 

*Chapter II will be available next Friday the 11th of October, until then click here for some more stories to keep you going*

 

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Book Review: Building 51 – Jennifer L. Place

Preamble

Jennifer L. Place is a native of the Hudson Valley in New York. Her most recent book ‘Building 51‘, is based on a real abandoned asylum, in which the titled ‘Building 51″ is part of.

Building 51 - Jennifer L. Place
Building 51 – Jennifer L. Place

Having grown up in an area with this forgotten hospital Jennifer confesses she’s had an interest in it since childhood. It loomed in the background, and although she’d written 3 other successful books, the time came to invest in her curiosity.

She organised a tour of the sprawling campus and this shows throughout the book. Her knowledge of the grounds enhances the atmosphere of the novel. This is further boosted by accurate historical information displayed throughout. Evidence from the hospitals 140 years of life and beyond provides us with the chilling truth. Nothing that despicable ever dies.

Building 51 - Jennifer Place
Building 51 – Jennifer L. Place

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about the author herself, please feel free to head over to her website which can be found here.

 

 

 

 

The Review

As a lover of the horror genre, my initial approach to any novel within its scope is tentative. Unlike softer genres such as comedy or romance, when horror is bad, it’s awful. Therefore I was delighted to find that this story, while formulated in a classic Building 51 - Jennifer L. Placetrope, has new ideas and scares to offer. The opening shot sets group dynamics of 7 friends. They’re young, carefree, and mischievous, perfectly positioned for pain. Place jumps right into the guts of the matter as they plan to explore the abandoned hospital.

While you may make some predictions, you will not fully guess the ending. We are treated to complex character arcs, without an over indulgencing in flashbacks.  You can tell the author’s imagination is well-developed and her days pondering over the dilapidated hospital is apparent.

*Ahead there be spoilers!!!*

The ‘love’ triangle’ which plagues 3 of the characters adds to the story agreeably. I have often found this tool to be cumbersome, however, without it, the characters may have behaved differently. Place directs her characters and ultimately people break off into groups. Which you should never do in a horror story, don’t they know they’re in a book?! Although Place dips into classic horror analogies there are times the characters poke fun at this and do not make the decisions we would expect them to make.

Another theme I really loved was the classic blood ‘wakes’ the beast. It shows Place really thought about ‘the why’ when she wrote this book. The 7(also a classic horror number) friends are not just attacked because they dare to wander the grounds of the hospital. It’s is an incident where blood is spilled which causes the hospital to rouse from its slumber, and welcome its new guests.

The grandmother’s introduction was seamless and the throwback to her at the end was inspired. I think this is a sensational read and you won’t want to put the book down. So make sure you’re sitting comfortably with your beverage of choice before you embark.

Anything Else?

Yes, you can find Jennifer L. Place on all the usual platforms, and I’ve linked much of her media below. She has other books if horror is not your fancy, as you can see, so go buy one of those. You won’t be disappointed, and once again, thanks for reading Moonlings!

Building 51 - Jennifer Place
Building 51 – Jennifer Place

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

 

Granny Phillis

The fire, a welcome contrast to the descending mist outside, was soon obscured by all seven grandkids. As they fought over who would be directly in front, the youngest Seán, decided that he would sit with his beloved great granny Phillis. “Hello granny! Happy Halloween. Would you like a sweet?” Her marble eyes found him, and she squinted. “Is that you Georgie?”

Seán smiled, unoffended. “No, it’s me Granny. It’s Seán. I’m Georgie’s son!” Her solum face lit up. “Ah it’s me little pet Seán, how are you love?”

“I’m grand granny I got loads of sweets would you like one? I have the sucky sweets you like!” As she reached out Seán was already obliging with an orange flavored glazier. “Thanks pet, and by the way, we don’t say happy Halloween.”

Seán, a wise nine-year-old, knew not to question his great granny. His sister Susan however, was a boisterous twelve. “My teacher taught me it’s polite to say happy Halloween to your friends and family.” Granny Phillis sat up straighter in her armchair. Seán often wondered if granny was born in that chair because he rarely saw her out of it. Although in fairness, she had been 85 when he was born.

“Susan, don’t talk to your granny that way!” Her mortified Mother squeaked. Susan gave a familiar look. One that normally resulted in an argument. Tonight, however, Susan had a big bag of sweets and wasn’t about to relinquish them. “Sorry, granny Phillis.” She muttered.

Seán cast his eyes over to granny’s face. Although not as indignant as it had been, she still looked annoyed. “Why shouldn’t we say happy Halloween granny?” He asked gently. Phillis glanced at her great-grandson smiling. His resemblance to her husband in both manner and looks had always given her pause.

“Well, young man I’ll tell you why once your father gets me my Halloween treat.” His father Georgie promptly lept up from his seat and went to the kitchen to get her a double whiskey. Seán offered her another sweet and when Georgie returned with her whiskey she took a good swig.

“Now, Seán. Do you know what Halloween is?” Seán tilted his head. This seemed like a trick question. “Oh, I know this!” Susan shrieked. “It’s a festival to celebrate the harvest.” Waiting for her obligatory pat on the back for the correct answer. Her shocked face, when it didn’t come, was glorious to Seán.

“Listen to me. Halloween is a very dangerous night of the year. Why do you think our ancestors had the bonfires? As a way to be grateful for the harvest? Nonsense. They were trying to keep the light going until midnight when it was safe again.” At that Seán’s mother jumped in. “Now Phillis no need to scare the children, come on everyone I think your Granny Tricia has the tea ready, quickly now, into the kitchen.”

The rest of children, grateful to be finally allowed leave their eccentric great granny Phillis alone, milled out of the room. Seán remained, as unlike the rest, had a soft spot in his heart for the elderly. Phillis knew this, and her heart swelled. “Who were they afraid of Granny?”

Phillis shuffled in her chair so she was facing Seán. Her glassy eyes shone in the firelight. “You see Seán, there are many things out there, especially in Ireland. We have the likes of the banshee, the faeries, and the tricksters. Now most of them, are not much trouble. They live alongside us, as hidden as they may. Now you don’t have to worry about them. The banshee weeps at the dead, the faeries love treasures, and the tricksters are feckin’ annoying.”

Seán’s eyes widened. “Faeries are real!?!” Granny held up her hand. “Don’t interrupt me Ghassan. Now those entities have been around longer than us and will be long after we’re gone. They’re in our world but they’re not, and most of them are happy with that. It’s the dark ones that you need to worry about.”

Granny’s eyes deepened, and she sipped at her neat whiskey. Moments went by and Seán had to nudge her. “Sorry pet, I was just thinking back to when I was your age, now that wasn’t yesterday or the day before.” She glanced down at her hands. “85 years or so now.” Seán’s head comically shook in disbelief. Although he knew her age, he never thought about it like that. He had certainly never thought of her as a child before.

“So when I was your age, Halloween was no laughing matter. We didn’t go around begging for sweets from our neighbours. We battened down the hatches as if there was a storm coming…” Sip. “Yes in those days we feared the dark on Samhain, it’s not like it is now. There is always light available when you go outside these days, but when I was a young wan. Well…”

“Must have been Halloween 1932. No no, it was 1933 I think. Whatever year it was, I was a young girleen, about your age Seán. I was sent to me granny’s to check on her, It was early enough in the afternoon around three or so. I was to be back by five. She only lived down the road sure.”

Seán shifted uneasily in his seat, chewing slowing. Granny Phillis loved to tell him tales of her childhood. This time, however, his arms were trembling. “Getting to my granny Síle’s house was one thing. It was another one entirely getting home. You see, the mad McDonagh woman caught me, unawares. She stopped me and started babbling about things I weren’t in the habit of thinking about.”

Phillis shook her head. “In those days regardless of how mad they were, you respected your elders. She was babbling about the demons, and how on Halloween a young girl like myself shouldn’t be out alone. When she was a girl she would be burning a fire with her family, like it was proper, to ward off the bad spirits.”

“Eventually I had to tell her my Mammy was expecting me, and oh God!” Granny Phillis laughed. “She actually gave me a wallop and said, ‘then what are you doing standing around here for, have you no respect for your mother, get home now you brazen brat!’ Well, I hopped off as quick as I could with my arse stinging from the slap.”

She looked up at the door as if to make sure no one was going to correct her swearing in front of the children. “It was already getting dark then, and although normally I felt safe walking the 20 minutes from me granny’s house to me own, I felt frightened that night.” She sipped on her whiskey, and then looked at Seán directly. “I’m not scaring you lad, now am I?”

Seán held his breath for a moment and shook his head. Although this was a lie, he wanted to hear the story. He wanted to hear what happened to granny all those years ago. She nodded and patted his hand. “You’re a good boy Seán, you remind me of my husband Jack God rest his soul.” She tipped her glass to the sky at this declaration and Seán felt the need to tip the bar of chocolate he was holding. Phillis cackled and she took another sip of her whiskey.

“Ah God, back in those days I was so innocent Seán. I thought nothing could hurt me, because they all told me the monsters in the woods weren’t real.” She looked at him directly now, her vitreous eyes filling up. “I’m saying this because you might get a bit scared pet, but you need to know the truth. There are things we know nothing of only legends and hearsay, and most of it is crap. But some of it, well some of it is real, and it came after me that night while I was walking home alone in the dark.”

Seán shuddered, realising he was still wearing his jacket, but the fire gave him no warmth. A charge spiked down his back, and he seen Phillis looking worried too. “Granny are you ok?” She nodded as firmly as her old neck would allow. “Oh don’t worry pet I’m fine, it still just gives me the chills to this day.”

“Well I was walking down the road just before I turn down the lane to my family’s old farmhouse. That house is long gone now. When from the thickets, I heard someone calling my name. Except they weren’t calling me Phillis like most would. They were calling me Philomena.”

Seán’s brow furrowed. “Philomena?” Phillis nodded furiously. “Sure that’s me full name pet. Bet you didn’t know that. The only people who ever called me Philomena was the local priest Father Martin, and me granny Síle. So naturally, I thought she’d walked behind me and got stuck in the hedges or something beside the road.”

“I stopped walking. It was dead quiet at this stage. I heard the voice again. ‘Philomena?’” Granny stopped and finished her whiskey off. She placed the glass on the table beside her. “The voice almost sounded like me granny Síle, except, there was something not right about it.”

Seán couldn’t move. He had lost all interest in his sweets, his eyes transfixed on his great granny Phillis. “I looked around. It was dark now, the moon wasn’t quite out yet. It was that great half dark.”

“My eyes were adjusting to the dark, so I looked into where the voice was coming from.” She paused. “When I tell you I can’t truly describe the horror of what I seen. I’m doing it justice Seán. It was a thin white creature, mostly hidden by the hedges, but what I could see was spindly and sharp.”

“Its eyes were the worst though. They were sunken dark holes. No matter how many times I call up this memory, my brain tells me that the creature, whatever it was, was evil. Evil like the demons of hell that Father Martin used to talk about. And it was calling to me.”

“Well Seán I hightailed it out of there. I was sure it was chasing me the whole way back to the house. Even though I stared out my bedroom window all evening I didn’t catch a glimpse it again. A week or so later I finally plucked up the courage to ask my Granny Síle about it. We were very close. I needed an adult to tell me that it was my imagination, and I was safe.” She glanced at her whiskey glass, willing it to be full again.

“She did to some part. She told me I was safe because it wasn’t Halloween anymore. The things in the dark couldn’t get at me any other night of the year. On Halloween though, the walls are soft…”

“They can creep through, and they want a warm body to possess, and sometimes they succeed. That’s why there’s true evil in the world Seán, because that one night a year, God can’t see what they are doing.”

Silence fell on the room. Seán’s imagination ran wild, scaring himself to almost epic proportions. “How do I protect myself granny I’m scared!?” Granny Phillis turned to him with her shining eyes and grabbed his arm. “My dear boy we are doing it now. The fire, the whiskey, the company of another. They cannot reach where light and love is. I just want you to know that there are risks, but you are more than safe here with me.”

Seán’s fear melted away. He was just about to ask Granny Phillis another question when Susan burst into the room. “We’re leaving now Seán say goodbye to great granny Phillis.” Susan came over and made a show of hugging her great granny, Showering her with kisses. “Love you granny Phillis bye now, you mind yourself.” Her flattery didn’t go unrewarded and she left with a five euro note in her hand. “Thank you so much granny!” She curtseyed and left the room.

Phillis turned to Seán. “My young boy, I love all my grandchildren equally. Do you understand that?!” Seán nodded kindly and hugged his grandmother tight. He was rewarded with a twenty euro note, and a small photograph of his great-grandfather Jack. She put her finger to her lips, and Seán nodded gratefully. As he was walking out the door, Phillis spoke once more. “Remember Ghassan. Let the light burn, even if it is within you.” Seán nodded as if he understood, storing these words in his brain forever. He left his almost blind great-grandmother staring into the fire.

 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Want to stay safe? Read this poem.

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/30/consecrate-fire

Consecrate Fire

Bronze dead chattels,

Fading to grey, in the mist. The veil ascends.

Catch it before it clutches you.

 

They are waiting, patiently eager,

Vibrating into view, atrophied senses, madness-inducing.

Dimensional shrouds have their limits.

 

The whiskey slowly warms,

Burn the fire, oxygen combusts, creating florescent beings.

Gatherings create havens for the living.

 

The dead are beyond.

Do not let the Mephistopheles trick you of your elemental form.

Dybbuk will cede your soul.

 

Let the light burn, even if it is within you.

 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Previous poems and stories!

https://thinkingmoon.com/category/stories/

 

Top 5 H.P Lovecraft Short Stories

Preamble

As you may have gathered I am a huge fan of the macabre. The horror genre is my utmost favourite in all mediums. While I can, and have been known to write fiction which is uplifting, action-packed, or romantic, horror is where I feel most at home.

Of course, you must be a reader to be a writer[i] and I am an avid reader of the horror genre. I love the supernatural, the paranormal, unsolved mysteries, unnatural laws, and the foibles of humankind. In this sense, I feel there is only one author who stands up to meet all these criteria and that is H.P Lovecraft.

His is the story of a genius who remained unrecognised in his time. While he did manage to sell and publish stories during his lifetime, it wasn’t enough to keep him afloat. He relied on his inheritance, which upon his death at the age of 46, had been slowly ground to nothing.

His stories are now in the public domain and have influenced writers such as Stephen King to J.C Lynch. (Self-shout out and no I’m not sorry!)

The criteria for this list is as follows: It must be a short story. It must be written solely by Lovecraft. It must be published before his death.

I digress, so without further ado I present to you my top 5 favourite HP Lovecraft short stories.

  1. “The Colour Out Of Space.” Written 1927, Published 1927.

This fantastic horror story documents the experience of a family, living in the hills outside of Arkham after their farm is polluted by a meteorite from space. Futile attempts to study the meteorite by local scientists results in the matter sinking into obscurity. Years later a surveyor is unnerved by the land, prompting a local to tell him the tragic story of the Gardner family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyda5iiGEo

  1. “The Cats Of Ultar.” Written 1920, Published 1920.

Set in Lovecraft’s dreamworld, this simple story tells the tale of a caravan passing through Ultar. A young boy’s kitten is killed by a local couple who are known to despise cats. The young boy, distraught at this discovery, casts his eyes to the heavens and mutters a curse upon the couple. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but in Ultar to this day, all cats are revered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSnhKfV17X0

  1. Pickman’s Model.” Written 1926, Published 1927.

The narrator’s eccentric artist friend Pickman, known for painting harrowing scenes, invites him over to see the works rejected by the gallerys. The daunting scenes of creatures unknown to man causes disquiet in the narrator, however, he takes solace in knowing the beasts portrayed, are nothing more than fiction from the mind of his friend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KT10mIOm3M

  1. The Outsider.” Written 1921, Published 1926.

Set in a decrepit castle, deep in the woods, our narrator does not identify themselves in anyway. They lived in this castle all their lives, and as far back as they remember they’ve never seen the sky. One day,  frustration gets the best of them, and they make a perilous journey. Climbing to the top of the tallest tower they finally see the outside world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH2UefOMx18

  1. The Doom That Came To Sarnath.” Written 1919, Published 1920.

My favourite story of Lovecraft’s is once again set in his auspicious dreamworld. It documents the history of the great city of Sarnath, the shining jewel of civilisation. They become arrogant, conquering the neighbouring city of Ib, simply because they do not like the creatures which inhabit it. They take the city’s stone idol of ‘Bokrug The Water Lizard’, and reign on high for a 1000 years. However as the story goes, doom must play its part in the city of Sarnath.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RdHZSZogfo

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[i] King, Stephen. 2000. “On Writing: A Memoire of the Craft.” Scribner. New York City.

Missing

*warning this contains adult themes*

He didn’t just get lost. Charles ‘Charlie’ Buckton didn’t just lose his children. He also didn’t have favourites, and yet, Billy his youngest was such a sweet child. He loved his Daddy more than anything else and followed him everywhere. Maude hated when he brought the kids camping in the woods, yet so often relented for a quiet house from time to time.

Tramping through the woods, his muscles aching from weariness, Charlie ran the day over in his mind.  He and his five children had been camping in Itasca State Park. An activity they did several times a year. While out hiking, his eldest David, had stopped to help Billy tie his shoe. Charlie and the rest had moved on ahead. He could still hear David, “Alright Billy I’ll race you back to the others. First one to touch Dad is the winner.” The laughter from both boys, the stomping of running feet, then the slowed uncertainty. “Billy?”

Charlie shuddered, his skin crawling. David, while only 13 years old, had blamed himself. “Dad I could hear him behind me the whole time until suddenly I couldn’t, I should have paid better attention.” Maude had held David as he sobbed in their small farmhouse’s kitchen. “It wasn’t your fault David, someone took him. Someone in those woods I’m sure of it.” Maude had looked at him reproachfully, her eyes begging him to stop.

His arm snagged on a tree branch causing him to stumble. Hiking normally brought him peace. Yet today all he could focus on was the day, one month previous when Billy had gone missing. Most people had given up, especially after they found his shoes a week later, sitting on a log in the woods. “Most likely animal predation.” The State cops had declared. They expressed their sympathies and called off the search. They were little Billy’s shoes alright, but they weren’t bloody or torn. So Charlie wasn’t giving up. He trudged on down the same trail from that fateful day.

Ellie had begged him not to go, “Daddy please don’t go back, what if the thing that took Billy takes you?” He looked down at his baby girl, only 1 year older than 6-year-old Billy, and smiled. “Don’t worry Princess, Daddy is big and strong, and nothing can hurt him.” He proceeded to lift her up and give her a good squeeze. “I should come with you Dad.” David had protested. “No Davey, this is no job for a kid…”

“Dad I can help…” David began.

“No. David. I need you to stay here. You’re the man of the house until I get back. You have to mind your Mama, Peter, Mary, and Ellie. You understand?”

He had understood, and although he had wished he had the company of his eldest, he thought it best not to bring him. The things he’d read online since Billy’s disappearance had shocked him to his core. Unexplained mysteries in National Parks all over the country? Not on his watch. Not with his kid.

Charlie felt his breathing grow laboured and worried that at the tender age of 35, he was having a heart attack. He then assessed his surroundings and realised he was back at the spot Billy had disappeared. The air was thick, still, and eerily silent. No wildlife rustling through the grass. No wind whistling through the trees. Sweat poured down Charlie’s back, soaking through his shirt. His eyes darted around the forest.

“Back for your child yes? People are so curious.”

He spun to meet the utterer of this sentence and felt faint. A tall, thin creature, shaped like a man, but was everything but. Its white skin was taut over its bones, it’s eyes sunken and fingernails like claws. “We take you to him, come.” Charlie frowned, patting the front breast of his coat. “Your human weapons won’t work here. We’ve shifted you to our plane now, come.” The creature turned and Charlie had no choice but to follow. Under his trouser leg on the right was his hunting knife. He’d be damned if that didn’t work here, where ever ‘here’ was.

The creature led Charlie to a camp. Surrounding a fire were more creatures. Not many, but enough to make his hand twitch towards the gun again. His eyes assessed the area realising the greyness of everything. It was the same forest he’d entered, but more barren. The trees seemed to droop. The sky though cloudless was grey, and the fire, provided no warmth. “Come, we show you.” It beckoned him to a stone altar where to his horror he was met with the bloodied corpse of his son. “Billy,” he bellowed. “No, my poor boy. My sweet boy. What have they done to you.” Billy’s lifeless eyes stared at the grey sky as Charlie wept over him.

When he finally looked up the creature’s face was covered in a grin. “We need blood. Young blood for the Gods you see, to please them, the dark ones. There is so little blood here on our plane, but so much on yours. You need to share.” Its grin stirred the reptile in Charlie’s brain and he lunged at it. They wrestled on the ground, it’s sharp teeth inches away from Charlie’s neck. He kicked it off him, pulled out his gun and pulled the trigger. Just as the creature had warned him it made but a soft popping noise, like a party item, and then no more. He threw it at the creature as he made for his hunting knife.

The rest of the group had descended on him now. As he brandished the knife, he reasoned. “Let me go, with my boy, and I won’t hurt any of you.” The grinning creature, now with a dark blood spot above its eyes simply shook its head. The others, in their hysteria, had grown all the more terrible. Their eyes darker, their manner more hunched, their claws glinting. “We can’t let you go. You will tell the others.” Charlie violently shook his head. “No, I won’t tell anyone, just please, let me and my boy go. My blood is no used to you, I’m not young.”

The grinning creature simply responded. “No, but your flesh is good to eat.” Charlie fought valiantly, killing one of the creatures in his struggle. He finally succumbed to death as the grinning creature tore at his neck with its teeth. His final thoughts were simply, “I’m coming for you Billy, my boy.”

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

*Inspired by David Paulides – The Missing 411.

Check out my previous scary story:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/09/obsolescence/

Obsolescence

*warning this contains adult themes*

Her skin was frigidly cold now, the pain in her leg was easing. Endorphins flittered down throughout her blood causing her to shiver. The wound still pulsed but the aching was retreating. Although she would have welcomed this relief not an hour ago, she understood what her body was doing. It was giving up.

She drew a blanket around her and limped to the window, the sun was rising in the desolate, ash-filled sky. It cast flickering rays through the clouds of debris. From the window, in the distance, she could see the Atlantic ocean, bobbing as it always had. It worried not about the dead and poisoned marine life. It cared not regarding the polluted rivers joining it at it the coast. It cared not for Lilith who sat on an uncomfortable chair by the window, gazing at it, taking her final few hundred breaths.

Lilith knew last night that death was upon her as the fever had reached maddening heights. Visions of a world free from nuclear winter had raged, her loved ones living, with plenty to eat and drink. Although now she knew that they had been delirium dreams, the pang that it caused her now tormented more than the wound ever had.

As the last of her water streamed down her face her mind grew bitter in the knowledge that she was dying at the tender age of twenty, not quite twenty-one. Twenty years of suffering, death, and violence, ending now in a flurry of anger. Why had they so royally fucked up the world? What did it accomplish? Where were they now? Dead most likely, nothing gained, and everything lost.

Lilith shifted her leg one last time, and the faint web of pain confirmed her suspicions. The sprinkling sun lit up her pale, undernourished face. Her brown eyes flashing in its splendor. She looked at it directly now, for the first time, and the last. Her tears ceased, and although she had determined to die with dignity, all that remained was fear. Fear that this was all there was and all there ever would be for her. She let out a miserable whimper, and was no more.

The sun continued to rise, the ocean continued to flow, and the Earth continued to turn as the last human being, died in the room she was born in, not twenty-one years ago.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Inspiration:

—T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925)

Genuinely tell me, how did this make you feel, on your inside space?

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https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/02/wicca/

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