Chronology of the Apocolypse release

Teaser note related to my  two stories included in this collection.

Chronology Amazon Link

 

Alex My son,

Today, on your eighteenth birthday, it’s time you knew the truth about your father.  Jason, the man you know as your dad, my husband, isn’t your father. His brother, the man you know as Uncle Jason, is your real father.

I’ve loved Auggie from the moment we met, but time, and the laws of our society, forced Jason and I to stay married.

 

 

 

Love you,

Mom.

 

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4_Family Memories: NYC Midnight Round 2 entry.

Genre: Horror.

Location: Foreclosed home.

Object: A rabbit’s foot.

I received zero points for my round one story. I thought well outside the box and I believe that plan worked against me. I went with the most obvious story that came to me this time, let’s see how it does.
As always, thank to my lovely Mrs. Susan for letting me bounce ideas off her and get some good ideas. And thanks as always to Laura Matheson in the wilds of Canada for her editing help.

4_Family Memories

 

A young woman, forced out of her inherited family home, finds something forgotten from her past.

——————————————-

Martha took a last look at the only home she’d ever known. Today, her thirty-fourth birthday, the bank officially foreclosed. She had to leave.

Responsibility for the mortgage had become hers after her father’s death a decade ago. He’d tripped in the shed and been impaled by a pair of garden shears. Ten years earlier, her mother fell while cleaning a second floor window, breaking her neck.

Owing more than it was worth, Martha’d struggled to make the payments. A year ago, she gave up, choosing to stay until the bank forced her out.

“Happy Birthday to me,” she said to the snowflakes falling around her.

Standing on the sidewalk, she tried to recall a happy time. Whenever she tried to recollect anything from her early life, her mind’s eye turned to static. While she clearly remembered a birthday with two cakes, she had no idea why there were two.

Her ‘S-Mart’ brand galoshes left tracks in the snow as she circled the house, determined to find at least one good thought from her childhood. As she neared the garden shed, a neon-green object caught her attention.

She tremored at the thought of the shed where her father would lock her when she was disobedient. After his death, she’d avoided it, hiring a lawn service to maintain the yard. Now, she couldn’t afford to have a neighborhood boy mow the lawn.

As she drew closer, she saw a keychain. A dyed rabbit’s-foot keychain.

The moment she touched it, the static that obscured her memories cleared,an image of her father’s face as the points of the clippers pierced his chest flashed before her. She could feel the thick wooden handles in her hands as his ribs cracked. She’d felt the same sense of resistance and release when she’d used the broomstick to knock her mother off the windowsill.

When her sight returned, any memory of the vision vanished.

Looking towards the shed, she saw small barefoot prints. Martha’s tracks were the only others in the fresh snow.

I can’t just leave a barefoot child to freeze, can I?

A gentle arc of snow, pushed away from the door, hinted that it had been opened. A rusted lock hung from the latch, snow piled in a delicate heap on the top of the loop. Locked, just like her father had done to her so many times.

The neighbor’s boys, Martha thought. It’s a prank.

She looked toward the next house, suspecting that, somewhere out in the falling snow, they were laughing their fool heads off.

As she stepped away from the shed, she heard crying and dropped the keychain.

Martha was unique in the way she felt fear. To some it’s a gripping in their gut, to others a tightening of the shoulders as the hair rises on the back of their necks. For her, all her strength fell away. Her body, sensing she couldn’t control the outcome, would give up trying.

They’re using a radio to make that sound. They don’t want the joke to end.

“You’ll be rid of me soon enough!” Martha shouted into the storm as she took another step away.

Then, in the hush of the snow, she heard a small voice. “Marta, please don’t leave me again.”

Her legs gave out.

Kneeling in the wet snow, her faulty memory finally delivered. Thirty years ago, there really had been two birthday cakes: one for her, and one for the only person to ever call her Marta.

“Berta,” she whispered her twin sister’s nickname into the storm.

How could I forget her?

Pinching her eyes closed, she blocked out the cold, the sound of the wind, the fear that gripped her. Martha focused on the small voice crying out to her.

When did I see her last?

Night, moonless and still. Quiet but for the sound of Bertha whimpering from the other side of their father as he dragged them both to the shed. Even then—we couldn’t have been more than four or five—Martha’d learned to not fight back. That always made it worse.

Just go limp, Berta. Daddy will be done quicker.” She tried to teach her sister to be compliant, but Bertha always fought back, she never gave in.

Martha opened her eyes. The boot-prints that led from the house were still there, but where there had been one set of bare prints, now there were two.

She ran back to the shed and picked up the rabbit’s-foot. The lock popped open despite its decade of dis-use.

Berta! Oh, Berta, I’m so sorry. I won’t leave you.” Martha dragged the door open and stepped through, returning to the memory of that night.

Martha stood flaccid, watching her sister struggle, helpless to stop their father as he pummeled her twin. The beating ended only after Bertha too had become limp, the fight permanently squeezed from her small neck.

Martha looked at the workbench, the last place she had seen Bertha alive, and saw her there, face bloody and broken, the purple outlines of her father’s hands visible on her neck. Martha walked to the tool-covered wall, picked a dusty hacksaw off a hook, and clamped the tool, blade up, into the jaws of the vise. Looking at Bertha, she turned her head and placed her neck on the jagged blade.

“Berta, I tried to keep the house as long as I could so we could be together, but the bank has taken it. Remember how I took care of Daddy for you? And Mama? Remember how I pushed her from that window? She should’ve protected us from him. I will never leave you again.”

Martha leaned into the saw, and in a swift sideways motion, tore open her own neck. Blood from the ruptured carotid artery sprayed onto the dark cement floor.

The storm outside intensified, covering the single pair of boot prints that lead from the house. The blizzard muffled the sound of children singing Happy Birthday.

End

Anything Goes Anthology. This contributors perspective.

Anything Goes book
Late last fall, a submission call came up on the Facebook page for the, Fictions Writers Group. It was for an anthology asking authors to participate in something new, a collaborative project for short stories that all the writers would work on their tales with the help of the others in the group.
 This is the official mission statement of Anything Goes:
The goal of this workshop is to give the participants an opportunity to share honest, friendly feedback that can lead to a well-critiqued and edited anthology to be proud of. Remember – Your work may never be seen by the devoted readers, agents or publishers who are looking for good writers, if their attention is lost before they get to your story. It’s in everyone’s best interest to help each other have fun and create stories the readers can’t put down.
 Now that the book has been published, I believe it was a success.
 Renee’ LaViness was our point person, den mother, hand holder, and soother of frayed egos. She did a phenomenal job keeping the 21 writers from around the world on track and informed of what the next steps were.
 We were encouraged to share our stories as they progressed from raw notes, through first drafts, collaboratively edited and critiqued, to finished book. Each of us not only responsible for completing the story we were going to have included, but for assisting with the, seemingly never-ending, job of editing and fine tuning the work of the others. I learned so much in the eight months we worked on this anthology, it would have taken me years on my own to gain the knowledge all successful authors must master. Proper tense use, punctuation basics, story flow and so many other things that I really thought I knew. It was an honor to be included in the group, I hope everyone else was able to learn from me at least one small thing in repayment for the wealth of knowledge I got from them.
Thank you FWG for encouraging new independent writers. Without the support of the entire family of talented people in the group, I wouldn’t have been able to grow as quickly as I have.
 I’ll be posting my thought process on how my inclusion, Natural State, grew from the seed of an idea, to the fruition of a finished story.
Wayne Hills (Miguel A. Rueda) July, 01, 2014.
Links to the anthology:

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.2

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.2

By: Wayne Hills.

‘Coming to you from Warner Brother’s studios…’

 Sidekick Andy Richter begins another nightly episode of, Conan, the same way he has for decades in the living world, as he will for eternity in ours. Sitting in my familiar recliner in the living room of our home, chubby dachshund Lola on my lap, apprehension overwhelms me as I glance toward my wife. Why I am afraid of what I might see puzzles me. Inexplicably, I’m relieved to see that Suzie is knitting her endless ball of yarn into the ‘Never Ending Story’ of sweaters, just as I expected. The garment never got bigger, the wool never smaller, but I can tell she’s content just working away.

But I’m not content; something pulls at my memory.

Why do I think her project is never going to end?

I watch as her hands nimbly work the long slender needles in her fingers; the soft but surprisingly strong digits I’ve held a thousand times. Her right index deftly pulls the yarn from the ball, slips it over the top of the shiny pink needle, and then quickly, almost imperceptibly, transfers it onto the left hand tool to become a knitted stitch. Or a pearl, one is over the stick, the other under I think. She knows, that’s all that matters to me. Her happiness, her safety, that’s all I care about in life.

Yet there’s something more, a tinge in the back of my mind. Something isn’t done, I have left something incomplete. There’s unfinished business outside.

 Outside? Why would I need to go outdoors?

I stand and walk to door.

I look back at my wife; her gaze alternates between the work in her hands and the TV screen.

“Suzie, I need to check on something outside. I think I left the hose running.”

I don’t know what else to say. I have to go to finish what I’ve started. Even though I’m not sure what it is, I can’t ignore it and stay.

At least I know Suzie will be safe and happy.

Why would I think otherwise? It matters that I feel this way, but I don’t know why.

“I’ll be back my love, don’t worry about me.” I say as I reach for the doorknob.

“OK dear.” She replies without looking at me.

My hand hovering over the knob, I stop, turn, and go back to her. I kneel before her so that she has to look into my eyes.

“Suzie.”

“Auggie?”

“You know I’ll love you always and forever, don’t you?”

“Of course Auggie, don’t be weird.”

I kiss her and hold our lips together for one long breath. I lean back.

“You’ll be all right without me for a while. I’ll be back.” I mean it and know in my heart it is true, but at the same time I am afraid. I don’t know why I have to go or what it is I will do once I leave. I just have to leave.

“I told you not to be weird,” she smiles as she reaches up; I feel the warmth of her fingers touch my cheek. “You know I love you too, I’m just not a nerd about it. Now go shut off that hose, Conan has some good guests tonight.”

She returns to her knitting as I walk to the door.

As I step through the opening, a thought occurs to me, ‘I wonder if Doc’s found his eye yet. ‘

——-End———

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.1

A Ghost’s Story: 9.1

I find Doc outside attempting to rearrange the misplaced parts of his legs. I notice his jaw has reappeared, as well as some more of his, still incomplete, arm.

“Doc, I’ve got to tell you I was a little disappointed with you. I’m hoping that you knew I’d be safe in her bubble.”

“Yes, Auggie, I said you were special. None of the others can leave of their own accord. They must be drawn out or have you with them. I knew that if she went inside, she wouldn’t be able to get out.”
“But why did she want me in there? Her plan was to trap me inside.”

“Her plan was to shred you inside. You would be trapped and out of the picture. That’s what she wanted. If she were to cut you up out here, you would simply return to your home bubble.”

“So Roger and Lucy are okay?”

“They’re safe, I’m sure of it. Roger’s probably getting a lap dance right now completely oblivious to the adventures they’ve been on.”

“But why did you stay here and just float around in pieces?”

“I don’t have a home. When I died I just stayed where I was murdered. I have always been most comfortable in the uncharted space between the living world and this one.”

When he finished putting his legs in order, I helped him up.

“What do I do now Doc? Can I trust you?”

“I know I owe you an explanation Auggie, I’ll do the best I can.”

He told me about the murder of his parents and the hypnotic suggestion put into his impressionable young mind. He told me an eerily familiar story, about seemingly benign strangers asking for help on a rainy night. He talked about his parent’s gory death at the hands of the caped man, and Theo Loddi’s murder from his. That night when he was a boy, Rita was a blond, and the man in the cape was the same man he saw through the tear between realities. When Doc came face to face with him, a moment before he was cut to pieces, he saw the man for what he really was. He saw the demon’s face and knew he couldn’t help them anymore. That’s why he tried to push me into the bubble. He didn’t think he could get Rita in, so he tried to protect me. He hoped I would think of something to help end this.

“Unfortunately, it’s not over, is it Doc? He’s still with the living. He’s still killing.”

“You’re right, he is. We have to try again to stop him; we have to build an army. I’ll get Roger and Lucy back.”

“How, they’ll remember everything that happened to them once they’re outside. Do you really think they’ll try again?”

“We don’t have a choice, there’s nobody to help the living but us.”

“Okay, but I need to go home first. I have to see if Suzie is all right. The last time I saw her…” I had to pause, the horrific image of the last time I was with her still terrified me. “Frankly I miss her.”

“I’ll gather the rest of myself back together and I’ll call on you when I’m ready. Auggie; you go see your wife.”

We shook hands and we parted ways. He to gather an army, and me to see my love.

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 8.2

A Ghost’s Story: 8.2

 I have a plan, not a great plan I’ll admit, not even a whole plan I’ll confess, but I have to get Rita away from my home, and give Doc some time to literally pull himself back together.

I begin by talking to Rita without any intent other than denying her the opportunity to interrupt, I side-step away from my bubble in the opposite direction from where we had come.

“I’m willing to help you but I don’t know exactly what it is you expect from me. I’m obviously out of my league here, and you have this all figured out. I’m just concerned with what would happen to my wife, Suzie. She doesn’t know anything about what’s going on out here.”

“I told you alread…” Rita tries to cut me off; I keep talking.

“Yes, I know how you feel about marriage and death, but she will always be my wife. After all we were put here together, just like Roger and Lucy were. That must mean something in the grand scheme of things.”

The mention of Roger strikes a nerve, she raises her blade. Quickly, I change the subject.

“It’s crazy here isn’t it? I never was a religious man, didn’t believe in life after death. Still don’t really, I mean this isn’t really life is it?”

I continue to talk, trying not to babble or repeat myself. I go on about her and her love, and how similar they are to Suzie and me. I talk about what it’s like for us in the bubble, being careful to leave out the details about how we got there. I don’t ask any questions, or say anything that will require a reply from her. Amazingly, it works and she follows me away from my home, and the slowly dispersing Roger and Lucy. Rita turns when I turn, walks where I walk. Somewhere along the way, her silver blade reverts back to normal and her demeanor lightens. Maybe all that time waiting for her unnamed lover made her lonely for some regular conversation.

Before she even notices what’s happening, we’re back by her bubble. I steal a glance behind, and as I hoped, Doc’s disjointed mass has followed us.

His pieces have come together to form a semblance of his normal shape. Although there are a few pieces that seem to have not found their way back in place, he has the overall look of a broken vase that had been glued back together, badly. Gaps between his extremities make it obvious where Rita’s sword had sliced him. His right eye, chin, and left bicep are missing; although the rest of that arm seems to be floating in generally the proper position. It also appears that several pieces of his legs are swapped onto the wrong side. They don’t seem to bend in the right directions, he appears bowlegged.

When Rita finally notices where we had walked, her reaction isn’t what I expected.

“Auggie,” she says with surprising calmness. “Are we back at my home?”

“Yes Rita.” I see no point in lying about it. “I brought you home. You were at peace in there don’t you remember?  That’s all any of us want isn’t it.”

I try to stay calm, soothing. I need to maneuver her into a position near her bubble in order to get her inside. I have to convince her that she wants to go back.

Yet another glaring hole in my plan that has yet to have a plug present itself.

“Rita, do you remember how you were when I first met you?”

“Yes, I was waiting for a client. That person turned out to be you.”

“That’s right. I came into your home,” more like a lair actually. “And you greeted me as if I should have known why I was here. But what I meant was, how were you feeling? You seemed calm to me, happy almost, isn’t that right? You were serene.”

She thought about this for a moment before answering.

“Yes. Yes, I liked it in there.”

“And now that we’re all out here, you’re life, sorry, existence is in chaos. Don’t you want to be at peace?”

She appeared to be thinking about it, but it’s taking too long.

I glance sideways, trying to get a better look at Doc. I’m shocked to see him running towards us. At first I thinks he’s going to try to push Rita into her bubble, but at the last second he turns towards me!

“Doc! What the hell?”

I move just in time for him to miss me, he bounces off Rita’s home and falls to the side.

“You missed him Doctor!” Rita screams at him as he’s lying on the ground. I knew you were useless. Her silver arm is back, although this time it has the shape and size of a samurai sword. She easily decapitates the remnants of Doc’s head and kicks it away from his flailing body.

“His purpose has already been fulfilled, he delivered you to me. I kept him around in case he could be of some use, I guess I was wrong.”

Turning back to me, her arm revert to normal.

“That was a very nice speech, Mr. O’Neil. You’re right in that I was peaceful. But only because I am very patient; have been my whole existence. The anticipation of the fun we’d have together would rip me apart otherwise.”

“You knew I was leading you here, and you still came, why”

“I don’t know, just toying with you. I also wanted to see what that quack doctor would do. I’ve had him on my hook for thirty years. Wanted to see if he’s still loyal.”

She starting laughing at the fallen doctor. He managed to find his head and had placed it back in its proper location. He was trying to stand, but his mismatched legs weren’t cooperating. He slid around on the ground, each attempt at rising thwarted by his inability to get solid footing. His outstretched hand is floating in mid-air, reaching towards Rita for help. Disgusted, I walked over to him.

“Stop, where are you going?” Rita screamed.

“I’m going to help him. Whether his intention was devious or not, I can’t let him suffer like this.”

“He was going to end you. If he pushed you in, you’d be trapped.”

If she just wants to finish me, she could chop me up like Roger and Lucy.

An idea came to me. Everything I’d learned in this realm, told me she was wrong. Doc had been right about me being unique. I could enter and leave other bubbles, and still come back out. I had to call her bluff.

“Why does that matter Rita? Why do you want me locked in your home?”

She hesitated. It wasn’t a long pause, just enough for me to detect a line of bullshit was imminently approaching.

“Because that’s the plan, always has been. You get locked in there and I can go back.”

“Really, go back to the living? I don’t see how that’s possible. You’re dead, I’m dead, Doc’s all hacked up, but still dead. I think you’re lying Rita. I don’t think you want me in there, I think Doc went rogue, and you were just as surprised as I am that he tried to push me.”

I jumped in to her bubble. As I dissolve through the surface, Rita’s screaming confirms I made the right choice.

Back in the tidy basement, I’m not sure what will happen next. I decide I need a drink as I wait so I pour a shot of Rita’s firewater and sip the burning liquid.

I’m surprised when I hear Doc knocking and calling to me as he had when I sat in my own home with Suzie.

“Calling the spirit of August O’Neil. This is Doctor Jordan Bukowski, are you there spirit?”

What the hell is he doing? He’s knows I’m in here.

I stomp my foot once, same way that we started all our conversation back when I was in my own home.

“August O’Neil, come outside and see me.”

I have no doubt that this is a trap. I wonder if Doc’s whole face is back, or if his tongue is just flapping around in the ether. The only way I’ll be able to tell for sure is to go out there, and that’s not going to happen. But maybe I can take a peek?

I move closer to the wall, as I hold my hands and face close to the surface, they start to dissolve. As they begin to move towards the outside, I carefully shift my weight, I must maintain my balance inside Rita’s room.

I’ve always just stepped right through bubbles without pausing, this time though, I’m going to try to slide just my face through. If I’m right, I’ll be able to see what was going on out there.

As my eyes begin to melt through the swirling wall, I’m surprised that although my vision is blurry, I can still see fairly well. I hear the doctor’s voice calling to me as my view of the outside world clears.

The Doc is still lying on the ground, where he’d fallen when his attempt at knocking me into the orb had failed. He still didn’t have a jaw. The voice I heard calling to me was coming from Rita. She’s able to imitate the doc’s irritating séance voice perfectly.

Nice try bitch.

She continues to try to draw me out using Doc’s voice. Even though I can see her, she doesn’t notice that I’m here. The missing part of my plan finally presents itself.

As she moves around the bubble calling for me to come out, I wait for her to get close to where I’ve stopped moving through the thin wall between us.

When she passes by me on her way around, I reach out and grab her long overcoat by the lapels, and yank her back into the bubble with me.

She tries to struggle, but my surprise attack prevents her from stopping the momentum and she falls in on top of me. We tumble onto the cool linoleum. I slide across the floor ending up by the bar under the stairs; she stops with her back against the bed. We stare at each other as I wait in fear of her sword’s reappearance.

“Where are my manners? Would you like a drink handsome?”

Holy crap, it worked. She’s forgotten everything.

I quickly jump to my feet and rush over to help her up, hoping the gentlemanly gesture keeps her in the moment.

“No Miss, I have another engagement, thank you so much for the offer.”

I walk towards the stairs as I say goodbye.

“We’ve had a wonderful time; it’s been a very memorable evening. I wish you all the best.”

She tries to protest, to stop me, but I hurry up the stairs and back into the outside world.