Free Fiction: The Lost Tapes by James Goodridge

The Lost Tapes

(c) 2017 by James Goodridge

“I need more time Ross,” pleaded Sully Grunwald, phone in one hand, 32oz Burger King cup half filled with Old Taylor and slowly melting ice in the other. On the other end of the taunt conversation was Laird Ross. A Merit was burning itself out in an ashtray.

 

“Look you old Grunge rock fool. I’ve given you more than enough time to find the tapes. I can’t hold off my people any longer on this investment.

 

The studio has to be demolished so my high rises can go up, time is money in Manhattan. Stop shitting on me bro.” said Ross. The tapes mentioned well a holy grail of the jazz world. Azure Crenshaw’s lost tapes were last seen in 1979, the night Crenshaw walked out of legendary Sound Cave studios on West 52st. He and the tapes disappearing off of the face of the earth.

 

“Please Ross I’ve made progress. I’ve found a cracked wall in the vault, it looks hollow on the other side,”said Sully a silver haired, slim bodied man sitting on a recliner in a tattered New York football Giants bath robe; the lone glow in his living room ESPN on his HD. Over the decades Sully was the go to man for creating audio  music master pieces in all genres,But now in retirement he needed cash to live right. Atlantic City black jack tables had screwed up his savings .

 

“Listen I don’t have time for this MC rap boy Sully. Plus who the hell listens to jazz these days anyway?” said Ross with the constant music genre belittling of the old man.

 

“Why you son of…Listen Mr. Ross, let me explain this to you again, Crenshaw at the time of his disappearance in 1979 was a icon in the jazz world like Miles Davis. You are old enough to have heard of Miles right?” the question was forlorn but Sully asked anyway.

 

“No disco dude.” said Ross to which if Sully could see his millennial indifferent shrug trough the phone he would have punch Ross. Thank god Sully knew nothing about Skype.

 

“At the time of his disappearance Crenshaw was a jazz icon, the tracks I helped him lay down were going to change jazz which was a crossroad. Take it to another level.” Ross listened to Sully while Googling the information on Crenshaw, found it impressed him. Ross smelled money.

 

Sully continued. “The day he stepped out of Sound Cave he was to bring the master tapes to GRT records, but when he didn’t show up GRT was pissed off, and  after so many years GRT folded, the police made  Crenshaw a cold case, and his family had him declared legally dead after so many years. His official work is in public domain no estate. That’s why I need more time.” Sully sensed the hedge fund and real estate mogul must be doing research while they talked. One thing Sully did know was Google. “I got him,” he thought, flipping the bird to the phone in the semi-darkness of his New Jersey home.

 

“Okay heavy metal bro you’ve got two more days. And that’s it!” Cutting off the phone conversation Ross hoped the old fart would deliver.

***

After so many impatient knocks on green tinted glass doors taped over with New York city construction permit notices Sully unlocked the doors to let a frowning young man in a gray single breasted suit, blue open collared shirt, and blond man bun atop his head in.

 

“All right soul man where’s it at?” asked Ross, looking at his Rolex.

 

“Hey, for Christ’s sake can’t you call me Sully?” asked Sullivan H. Grunwald in a wrinkled olive suit under it a black AC/DC tee shirt.

 

“Okay SULLY. Let’s just keep this moving,” said Ross snatching the flash light offered to him out of Sully’s hand.

 

“Follow me. Keep your flash light on the floor at times, the workman have already pulled up some of the carpet,” warned Sully. Leading the business man through the lobby to a door which in turn led to a circular area almost like a second lobby, doors colored and labeled studios: green, pink, ocher, and amber, studios that helped recording artists earn gold and platinum records over the decades; now just a ghost of their musical past. Between pink and amber studios were a bland red door leading to the basement.

“How far down does this stairway go funky man sorry SULLY?” Ross wasn’t uneasy about the tightness of the stairway like Sully but had to wonder how deep down was the basement. Dim neon lights descending like them down the stairways ceiling helped their flash lights. “We’re here,” said Sully.

 

The vault wasn’t a vault but a glorified storage room, yet solid enough to hold a poor soul prisoner in it for an eternity.

 

“Bingo, bango, bongo, Ross there they are!” laughed Sully pointing the beam from his flashlight to a hole in a wall four feet by four feet at the end of the room. In front of the small abyss was an old wooden milk create with a Gold Medal Milk logo stenciled on the sides. Inside the long defunct milk company create wrapped in dusty plastic were six TDK reel to reel boxes labeled in sharpie black pen: A. Crenshaw Sound Cave sessions 1978-1979. Yes Bing, bango, bongo was right.

 

“You can go look them over if you like, then we can bring them up to the green studio, I have a reel to reel deck hooked up in there we can sample Crenshaw and I’s masterwork. Azure’s rendition of Sonny and Monk’s ‘Friday the 13th‘ is a killer diller,” beamed Sully, Old Taylor on his breath.

 

“Analog man what do you mean Crenshaw and you? You had Jack bone shit to do with those tapes except turn knobs when he told you to or fetch coffee, maybe a pint of wine,” chuckled Ross. “Plus this is on my property. MY PROPERTY. I tell you what I’ll give you a nice wavy fee for this.”

 

It was then and there both men surmised that a change in plans were in order. Sully’s change was to kill Ross and seal him up in the wall and sell the master tapes and Ross’s change was to tie Sully up in the courts over ownership, until the old bastard croaked. Sully raised his flashlight to come down on Ross’s head, but Ross quickly side stepped him. Flash lights dropped as both men dropped to the floor in a death struggle. Ross’s youth and sadistic force versus Sully’s adrenaline fueled rage. Flash lights rolled around the dusty floor, as a punch from Sully made blood squirt out from Ross’s nose, but Ross threw a fist to Sully’s left jaw, making the old studio worker howl.

 

“What bro what?! Your dentures loose?! I was going to tie you up in court until you became worm food, but now I think you’ll fit nice in that whole back there you old punk rock turd.” Ross straddling Sully on the floor wiped his crimson leaking nose with his suit sleeve while debating whether to continue pummeling Sully or strangle the life out of him. Sully ended Ross’s debate by blindsiding him on  his right temple with one of the flashlights. The sound of the blow cracked like a ball coming off a ball players bat going yard. The man bun Ross wore came loose as he pitched forward on top of Sully dead.

 

“How ya like me now?! K-pop boy!” Sully wheezed at the lifeless Ross as he pushed him off, then staggered up to stand using a blood spattered metal shelf to brace himself. Digging in his blood and dusted suit pocket he pulled out a soft pack of Merits and after flinging a few broken cigarettes out the pack, one found a Merit still intact to smoke. “Just couldn’t put a filter on your mouth Ross could you!” wheezed Sully.

 

“Yo! Still bogarting credit for shit I created Sully?” came a voice.

 

“Screw you Ross!” yelled Sully at Ross’s corpse before realizing there was a third person in the vault the limited flashlight beams showed a shadow moving about.

 

“Who’s… Aaww I know who. I’m not scared of you Azure. Been a while since we last talked.” Sully tried to be fearless but his hand shook, orange embers from his Merit, flying on to his olive suit and down on Ross’s body gave him away.

 

Dragging himself into the light was Azure Crenshaw. Afro and sideburns specter gray from cement and sheetrock dust. Skin once smooth mocha brown,now greenish brown and slowly sliding off his facial bones; mushy in texture. A dark spot on Crenshaw’s right temple showed where Sully cracked his skull open with a silver ashtray forty-two years ago during an argument over a raise and more acknowledgment credits on an album cover. A tattered white three-piece suit hung limply off the missing cold case victim.

 

“You didn’t want to list me as producer Azure.” Sully backed away and up against a wall.

 

“For what damn it! I was the one playing sax not you! Listen Grunwald right about now yo’ ass is grass. Yo’ got a dead man on the floor yo’ ass got’s to explain. And yo’ done went and opened up the wall where yo’ had my damn body buried damn it. All these years yo’ went around like shit ain’t wrong. Baby doll Ms. Grunwald had to push you out hard at birth cause yo’ balls was so big.I could do yo’ ass in right now, just like in those horror comics my bass player Chucky Briscoe read between takes back then, but nah son it will be too easy on yo’ ass. I have a plans for you Sully.” By now Sullivan H. Grunwald had slid down the side of the wall and was sitting; he was a haunted wreck. Azure sat down next to him a placing a ghoulish hand on Sully’s knee. Sully shuddered.

 

Once the legal battles ended, Laird Ross’s disappearance was turning the corner into a cold case. The “Azure Crenshaw Lost Sessions” reinvigorated the jazz world. People with no knowledge of jazz at all purchased downloads just to be trendy. Collectors scrambled for the CD and vinyl box sets. Sully parleyed his success into a move down to a nice bungalow down in Key West.

 

“So what do I do now?” Sully looked as if he was conversing with himself in the bathroom mirror of his Key West bungalow. He waited for Azure’s decayed rancid breath reply to emulate from his own mouth. Neighbors started to wonder about the new neighbor, who mumbled to himself and how one minute he has minty fresh breath and the next minute he needs a breath mint; in fact a fist full of breath mints. “I hate this polyester suit nothing for nothing, you know,” said Sully in the white three piece.

 

“You don’t know style, my man. Now we go to step two.” Azure’s image was behind Sully to the left in the mirror.

 

“Step two?” Sully stopped thinking about suicide long ago since Azure was right there in his head.

 

“Listen, Mr. Funk, Texas two-step, house music, ska, bluegrass man. You’re going to help me get my hedge fund back!” said the decomposing head of Laird Ross held forth by Crenshaw, made courtesy of Sully’s body disposal work, grinned from behind Sully’s mirrored right shoulder.


Born and raised in the Bronx, James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing.jamesgoodridge headshotCurrently, he is writing a series of short “Twilight Zone” inspired stories from the world of art, (The Artwork) and a diesel/punkfunk saga (Madison Cavendish/Seneca Sue Mystic Detectives) with the goal of producing compelling stories

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Guest Blog: Not So Hasty, If You Please! By John C Adams

Not So Hasty, If You Please!

By John C Adams

Do you think babies worry about never being born? When you think about the risk of premature burial as a metaphor for our general concerns in life it becomes easier to understand why it frequently appears in horror fiction. There’s something very womblike about being prematurely buried.

The only individuals I can think of, off the top of my head, who don’t seem to worry about premature burial seem to be vampires. In fact, they can’t wait to scurry home to the crypt as dawn breaks over the sky and cuddle back into the womblike environment of a coffin.

The very first vampire story is John Polidori’s The Vampire. It did much to establish the central notion of the vampire rising from the dead after what was later discovered to have been a premature burial. Lord Ruthven, who displayed most of the features readers quickly came to associate with the vampire, is laid to rest by some locals as per his instructions. However, Aubrey his companion finds that Ruthven’s body has disappeared:

“Aubrey was astonished, and taking several of the men, determined to go and bury it upon the spot where it lay. But, when he mounted to the summit, he found no traces of either the corpse or the clothes, though the robbers swore they pointed out the identical rock on which they had laid the body.”

There’s something very infantile about a vampire. Sucking blood from a person to sustain you isn’t so very different from breastfeeding. Perhaps that’s why the baby-like vampire finds being buried alive (as a voluntary act) satisfying rather than traumatic.

For the rest of us, being buried alive is a terrifying prospect, not least of all because in many ways it represents waking up back in a womblike environment to discover the loss of control we have over our lives. The unborn baby lives comfortably in the womb until he or she is ready to be born, and then triggers the labour. It’s the baby’s first act of control as he or she prepares to meet the outside world for the first time and it’s very empowering. But what if that element of control is taken away from us and a mother-like figure reasserts a control from which we cannot escape?

In Edgar Allan Poe’s The Premature Burial the narrator is terrified by the ease with which this disaster could befall him. He provides various examples in the story of how this has happened in the past. Suffice to say, the narrator becomes obsessed with the danger of falling into a fit of unconsciousness and waking up again to discover that he’s been buried alive. He makes elaborate precautions to ensure his rescue:

“I exacted the most sacred oaths, that under no circumstances they would bury me until decomposition had so materially advanced as to render further preservation impossible. And, even then, my mortal terrors would listen to no reason.”

In some ways premature burial can also be interpreted as representing a more general loss of control and helplessness over our own lives and fates. Many of us worry about that quite genuinely on a daily basis and even when things are going well the fear of that happening can be paralysing.

The ‘elaborate precautions’ made by Poe’s narrator to forestall his premature burial as so thorough that one almost wonders if he wants to have it happen:

“The slightest pressure upon a long lever that extended far into the tomb would cause the iron portals to fly back. There were arrangements also for the free admission of air and light, and convenient receptacles for food and water, within immediate reach of the coffin intended for my reception. The coffin was warmly and softly padded.”

Could anything sound more womblike if it tried?

Our suspicions that we might want to return to the maternal embrace are amply born out by the narrator of H P Lovecraft’s early tale The Tomb. As a young boy, Jervas Dudley becomes obsessed by gaining entry into a vault in the woods near his home. The door is slightly open but he remains frustrated by a complicated padlock. Here, we can be in no doubt that a return to the womb would be welcome:

“In that instant of curiosity was born the madly unreasoning desire which has brought me to this hell of confinement. Spurred on by a voice which must have come from the hideous soul of the forest, I resolved to enter the beckoning gloom in spite of the ponderous chains which barred my passage.”

Perhaps the fear of premature burial increases with age. Younger children in fiction are portrayed as being less bothered by the prospect, that’s certainly true. Although maybe that’s just because they are less fearless in general!

Whatever the explanation, I’m not sure what’s more terrifying: dreading waking up back inside our mother’s womb or secretly longing for it to happen?


John C Adams is an emerging horror and fantasy writer. 

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

 

PR: The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns to the Infamously Haunted Ship September 27 
Tickets to the 23 terrifying nights on-sale NOW
 
Dark Harbor’s newest frights to be unveiled July 29
The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Southern California’s most terrifyingly authentic haunt, will once again rise from the deep, dripping with history of the infamously haunted ship September 27 – November 2, 2018. Tickets to Dark Harbor are available for purchase now at QueenMary.com.

Gruesome and bloodcurdling spirits will descend upon the legendary Queen Mary in Long Beach for the most anticipated, terrifying twenty-three nights of the year. Dark Harbor’s resident spirits: Ringmaster, Captain, Samuel the Savage, Graceful Gale, Half-Hatch Henry, Iron Master, Scary Mary, Voodoo Priestess, and Chef, will raise hundreds of tortured souls and spirits to haunt the grounds of Dark Harbor nightly for an unforgettable, bone-chillingly immersive experience.

The creators and producers behind Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor will reveal the newest frightful features for the upcoming season at Midsummer Scream haunt con on July 29 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Celebrate Halloween in July with Dark Harbor’s panel and get a sneak-peak of some of the terrifying new tricks that are being conjured up for the 2018 season of Dark Harbor.

Named one of the top 10 most haunted places on Earth by Time Magazine, The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor offers the most authentically frightening experience available. Bringing the true haunted tales of The Queen Mary to life, the annual event begins September 27 and continues to scare those who dare through November 2, 2018. Tickets to the 2018 Dark Harbor season are available now. General admission ticket prices start at just $20 online, with Fast Fright, Evil Express, VIP, Ultimate Scream, and lodging packages available. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.queenmary.com/dark-harbor.

Free Words Wednesday: Infested by ReaperScoob

Free Words Wednesday

Guest Writer: ReaperScoob
INFESTED

Alexa woke up in a cold sweat. A reoccurring night terror disturbed her slumber and as usual, the events of said dream escaped her memory as she arose. The coffee started dripping into an awaiting mug in the kitchen. Alexa grabbed the mug, still in a haze, and sat at her kitchen table. With a deep breath, she took her first sip. Before it reached her gut, she spat it out in shock. 2 little cockroaches stood on her table, their antennas flailing this way and that. Her whole body tensed up. She hated roaches and had never seen one in her own abode before. One moved with a jolt toward her and she squealed in horror, rocking in her chair and falling backwards onto the floor. Coffee flew everywhere, covering Alexa and sending the mug crashing next to her.

Alexa’s head thudded off the wooden flooring, dazing her. Wet and somewhat burnt, she gave a frustrated scream and took a deep breath. She rolled to her left, away from the shattered mug, and began lifting herself to her forearms.  Glancing upward, she saw 6 or 7 more roaches on and around her table leg. She shuddered at their sight, tears welling up in frustration and fear. She got to her knees, noticing a trail of roaches leading from the kitchen out to a spare bedroom on the left down a brief hallway. These roaches were rather peculiar in their behavior. Only a few traveled back and forth, the majority acting as roadsigns for the insects traffic. They sporadically twisted and turned, going nowhere. The ones moving followed the mindless like a set of trail-markers. Reaching the door, the trail went right under, while dozens of other roaches covered the door-frame. Alexa crept up to the door. Her mind raced but some deep curiosity kept pushing her forward. Every inch of her crawled nervously as she took note of the roaches on the frame. Heart pounding, she grabbed the handle and opened the door.

Hundreds of roaches ran over her feet. The walls moved like living tar, pouring out into her home. Blood covered everything and a rotten corpse of a horse lay in the otherwise empty room now that most the roaches had ran out. The smell of death invaded her nostrils and she puked. She fell to her knees and put a hand down which was instantly covered in a swarm of roaches that came rushing from the living room. She flung herself backwards and her whole place was now ablaze. Fire engulfed everything as smoke piled into the room, Alexa began to cough. She rushed towards a window but a burst of flame blocked her path. She choked and began to black out. She ran for the front door, stumbled and fell to the floor.

Alexa woke up in a cold sweat. Her heart pounding and tears ran down her face. She remembered the whole thing. What hell had her conscience sent her to? Finally calming down, she sat up in bed. In the kitchen she heard the coffee begin to pour into her mug. As Alexa got up and headed to the kitchen, there scurried a roach, running rampantly towards the kitchen.


Griffin Mekelburg (ReaperScoob) has had a hand in a variety of jobs, giving him insight into many backgrounds that have lead to his stories. His style is graphic and unforgiving, covering all aspects of horror and thriller. 

Book Review: Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus

Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus

Reviewed by Stephanie Ellis

4 out of 5 stars

Corbin Stewart is a writer, traumatized after the death of his young daughter, the subsequent breakup of his marriage and battling depression. A move to Paris to work on his second novel has proved a failure as he remains in the grip of writer’s block and a battle with the booze. Into his life comes Margot, his publisher’s agent, and, as it turns out, the granddaughter of Gregor, the leader of a powerful and ancient gypsy clan. When Corbin comes to Gregor’s aid during an apparently fatal attack, he absorbs part of Gregor’s soul. From that point on, his life is turned upside down when he becomes caught up in a deadly feud between the gypsies and a secretive group, Les Fantômes de Nuit.

Gypsy Blood calls itself a horror novel but reads like a thriller, pulling you in and not letting up until the final page. The pages take you running across the Parisian skyline against the backdrop of Notre Dame and then sends you down into the depths of the catacombs where bones do more than rattle. A fast-paced and action-packed read, I feel as if it’s horror’s answer to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and could easily be transferred to screen.

A great book to lose yourself in.


Stephanie Ellis can be found at https://stephellis.weebly.com and on twitter @el_Stevie.

When Stephanie is not writing reviews, she is co-editor at The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.co.uk/) a fledgling publishing venture and is also co-editor at The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear online magazine (https://horrortree.com/category/trembling-with-fear/) where they’re always open for flash submissions. She has also had short stories and a novella published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.

Book Review: Jolene: A Ghost Story

Jolene: A Ghost Story by Casey Wickstrom

Review by Ariel DaWintre

Jolene: A Ghost Story is a great story! It starts with four guys, Jacob, Joshua, Billy, and Clyde, moving out together. The story is told in first person with Clyde narrating the story. The four characters are very likable and they are clearly very close. The roommates are all different and you get a true sense of their personalities in the writing. You can relate to the characters because they are young, on their own for the first time, and having fun. They all work and when they aren’t working, they are having lots of fun partying at home.

The roommates start having weird things happen at the house, but they don’t really think much about it and are not sure if they imagined it. Later, when they have people come over, they make light of it and give the ghost a name.  As the story goes on, they start to realize they are all having the same dream and of the same person. She is identifying herself by the name they gave her. The ghost’s intentions seem very innocent at first and she comes off as disarming. Although Clyde starts to have his doubts, and slowly the other roommates do too, all except one. They try to do the basic research and questions about where she came from but don’t really get answers.

As the story takes on a dark twist, the free-spirited guys start to become alarmed, but it’s too late. Jolene starts to divide and conquer. The house and the guys will never be the same.

Don’t expect a happy ending, but for horror lovers, the story keeps your interest and is engaging all the way to the end.

Although we get a little backstory on the ghost, I would have liked even more, even if it wasn’t really needed for the story. I would love to see a part two or a continuation because the author leaves you with wanting more.