Logbook of Terror: Dean Can’t Drive Sixty-Five

Russell Holbrook

Startled by the roar of an engine and the screeching of tires, Dean looked up and nearly spilled coffee down the front of his partially wrinkled button-up shirt. He sputtered and coughed as the hot liquid went down the wrong way. The car charged toward him until its driver slammed on the brakes and swerved to a stop mere feet in front of him. The car door flew open. The driver leaped out. Stomping toward Dean, she yelled, “You have to do something with this goddamn car!”

Bewildered, Dean said, “Excuse me, miss, I-”

“It’s the car!” The woman screamed, cutting Dean off in mid-sentence. “You have to get rid of the car!”

Dean examined the woman, observing the fear in her eyes, hearing the sincerity in her voice. He glanced at the car which sat idling before him. He knew it instantly. Holy shit, a Delgorian 130, just like in the movie! Dean held out a hand to the woman. “I’d love to help, if you could just-”

The woman cut him off again. “Just get rid of it! Put it somewhere no one can find it!” She pulled an envelope from her bra and slammed it into Dean’s chest. It was the first time he’d been touched by a woman since his divorce six months earlier. He flinched and spilled his coffee. His eyes watched the envelope fall to the pavement below.

Several potential customers and employees who were milling around the used car lot stopped to observe the commotion.

“You deal with cars,” the woman shouted, “You deal with this one!”

She took long, deliberate strides back to the car, reached inside, and snatched up her purse. Throwing the strap over her shoulder, she glared at Dean, let out a heavy sigh, and then said, “And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t drive it. Don’t let anyone drive it. Please.” She stepped closer to Dean. “Do you understand me?”

Dean fixed her with a blank expression and squinted.

“Do you fucking understand me?!” She shouted.

Dean gasped and stepped back. He nodded. “Y-yes. I understand you.”

The woman stepped within inches of Dean. She lowered her voice. “No one drives this goddamn car, especially not you. Got it?”

A soft wind blew the woman’s scent of perfume and fresh shampoo up to Dean, stirring bleak memories and sorrow within. He nodded again and said flatly, “Yeah, I got it.”

The woman turned and hurried away, the short heels of her shoes clacking harshly against the pavement. Dean’s thoughts caught up with themselves and he realized how attractive he found her. He wondered if she was an actress or a model. He picked up the envelope and opened it. Inside were several folded papers. Dean glanced up, intending to call after the woman, just in time to see her ’round the corner out of the lot and head down the sidewalk. He looked at the car. It idled calmly. Dean suddenly felt like it was staring at him.

“Fuck me, man, a Delgorian 130!” An excited voice declared. “Where the hell did this come from? Don’t tell me someone was dumb enough to fuckin’ trade this in?”

“A woman just dropped it off,” Dean said to his co-worker.

“What?! You gotta be shittin’ me!” The co-worker boomed. Alec was loud, almost all the time.

Dean raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “Yep, she just left it, just like that.”

Alec looked around. “Well, where’d she go?”

“Fucking took off,” Dean said.

“What?!” Alec yelled.

Dean winced at Alec’s volume. He explained, “Yeah man, she roared in here –literally- scared Beelzebub outta me, told me to take the car and get rid of it, slammed this envelope on my chest, made me spill my coffee, and took off.”

“Dude,” Alec said, “She made you spill your coffee?”

Dean nodded. “Yes, that she did.”

The car’s engine revved and sputtered. The two used car salesmen started at the sound.

“A Delgorian 130,” Alec said, his tone nearing reverent awe. “On the shittiest car lot in the shittiest part of town. What the actual fuck, man.”

“I know, right,” Dean said.

The late afternoon sun sparkled off the spotless silver hood of the car. Dean saw his and Alec’s images reflected in the dark, tinted driver side window. Their reflections bent and warped. Their bodies curved in the middle. Their faces melted. Their mouths opened and stretched as if in a silent wail.

Dean jumped back. “Did you see that, man?”

“See what, dude?” Alec gave Dean a look of concern. “I didn’t see anything other than a badass car, man. What’d you see?”

“I…” Dean began. He stopped. “Nothing, man, I think it was the light or something.”

“Alright, man,” Alec said.

Dean cleared his throat and straightened his tie. “Um, let’s get this car moved off the lot before Hinland comes out here and starts giving us shit. We can explain it to him later.”

“Good deal,” Alec agreed.

With a foreboding feeling in his gut, Dean walked toward the car. The engine cooed in a low idle. Dean approached the door, which the woman had left wide open. Get in, a voice said in the back of his mind. Dean’s brow wrinkled. He stopped. The woman’s admonition rang loud in his memory: No one drives this goddamn car, especially not you. He quickly reached in, killed the engine, and tore the keys from the ignition. They dangled loud as he stuffed them in his pocket.

“Um, hey man,” Alec said.

“Yeah?”

“I thought you were gonna move the car.”

“The lady said not to drive it.”

Alec scoffed. “What?”

“Yeah, she said no one should drive it, especially not me.”

“Dude,” Alec said. “Why would she say some shit like that?”

Dean shrugged. “I dunno. She just did. And it gave me this weird feeling too, you know. Let’s just get Tony to move it with the wrecker.”

Alec shook his head and held out his hand. Dean sighed and turned over the keys. “Don’t be superstitious, dude,” Alec said.

Dean eyeballed Alec as he slipped into the car and brought it back to life. He revved the engine and lowered the window. “Hear that?” He shouted over the revving engine. “That’s power, dude!”

Alec stuck out his tongue and hooted. Dean chuckled and felt a bit of his apprehension slip away. Maybe that lady was just some whack job, he thought. Dean watched the car purr its way up the hill to the garage and he walked back to the showroom to get a new cup of coffee.

***

He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the car. When Dean found himself in the garage standing in front of it that evening, he wasn’t so surprised. Alec had hung the keys with all the other sets after he parked the car in the farthest stall of the garage, after which he’d seemed to forget about the car altogether. Inexplicably, none of the other employees seemed to notice that it was there. None but Dean, who now held the keys tight in his right hand.

The woman’s stern words from that morning rang loud in his memory. A feeling in his gut and a fear in his heart told him to heed her warning. There seemed to be something wrong about the car. But what could be wrong about such a beautiful, perfect creation? Was this even a machine? It just seemed so… alive.

Dean’s pulse quickened. His mouth watered. His thoughts raced. It’s just a car. It’s just a car. It’s just a –

A sudden rush of pain registered in Dean’s mind. He opened his hand. He’d squeezed so hard that the car keys had cut into his palm. Blood glistened on the silver metal of the keys. “Ow, fuck!” He said.

Broken from his trance. Dean hurried out of the garage.

***

Dean was late to work the next morning. He slouched into the break room and grabbed a mug from the pantry. Alec stood near the coffee maker finishing the last bite of a doughnut.

“Dude, you look like roasted shit,” Alec said as Dean poured his first cup of coffee.

“Wow, thanks, fucker,” Dean returned.

The two chuckled and sipped on their coffee.

Dean said, “Hey, did Hinland mention anything about the car?”

“Um, which one? We work on a car lot.”

“You know, the Delgorian 130,” Dean said.

Alec laughed. “Yeah right, as if one of those would ever be here!”

“What the fuck do you mean? You drove it into the garage yesterday. Remember, that wacko lady left it here?”

Alec looked puzzled. “Uh, what lady? You alright there, buddy?”

“Of course I’m alright, I’m fucking fine!”

“Hey, dude, no need to raise your voice.”

“I’m not!” Dean screamed.

Alec stepped back and took a deep breath. Exhaling slowly, he said, “Dude, I don’t know what the fuck this is all about, but I think you need to walk outside and cool off, and I think you need to do that right the fuck now.”

“I. Uh. Gree.” Dean said through clenched teeth. He took his coffee, left the breakroom and stomped out onto the lot. Two minutes later he was standing in front of the Delgorian 130, eyes wide in terror, wondering why the front of the car was covered in blood.

***

“Hey Dean, what’r ya lookin’ at?” Tony said.

Dean stuttered. “Th-th-the c-c-car. Th-the b-bl-blood.”

“The what?” Tony said, “There ain’t nothin’ there, bru. That stall’s been empty all week.”

Dean stopped breathing. His coffee mug fell from his hand. The mug exploded on the concrete floor. Tony stepped back.

“Hey, watch it, bru!” Tony exclaimed. “You just got frickin’ coffee all over my new work shoes!”

Dean faced Tony. The salesman’s mouth hung open. His skin was pale and clammy. Sweat was breaking on his brow.

Tony recoiled. “Jeez, bru, what the frick is wrong with you? You need to go to the doctor or sumthin.’”

Dean’s eyes jumped back and forth between Tony and the car, the car and Tony. His lips trembled. He babbled nonsense under his breath.

Tony reached out a hand. “Bru, lemme help you, c’mon.”

Dean yelped, turned, and ran out of the garage.

***

Reaching the showroom entrance, Dean slowed to a brisk walk. Trying to be inconspicuous, he slipped into the building and headed straight for his desk, where he collapsed into his chair and buried his face in his hands. He took deep breaths to slow his heartbeat, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Above the sound of his own breathing, he heard the showroom television. Someone had turned on the news. Dean tuned in to the droning voice of the reporter.

“It was here, in this off-ramp tunnel referred to locally as ‘bum alley’, that a classic sports car roared through the tent city at approximately two o’clock this morning, killing seven and wounding three others,” the newscaster said.

Dean raised his head toward the mammoth television. The screen cut to an eyewitness. A haggard woman dressed in varying shades of camouflage said, “It was a Delgorian 130, just like from the movie. I’d know that car anywhere! It came flying into the tunnel, musta been doin’ over a hundret, and ran everybody down and just kept on goin’. I didn’t see the driva, though, cause the windas was all kinda black. I was lucky I was over here and they didn’t see me and try to get me too.”

Another cut brought back the on-location reporter. “Lucky, indeed,” he said. “Police are asking that any sightings of the car in question -a silver 1985 Delgorian 130- be reported immediately. This is Leslie Keene reporting live for Action News. Back to you, Cindy.”

Dean puked in the plastic wastebasket by his desk. Tears streamed down his face. “What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck oh god oh god what the fuck,” he whispered to himself.

With a trembling hand, Dean opened the top left desk drawer to retrieve the package of tissue he kept handy. Through blurred vision he saw the envelope the woman had left with him the day before. He opened the envelope and removed the car’s registration, bill of sale, and title. Dean frowned. His eyes watered anew. He let the registration and bill of sale fall back into the drawer. He held the title in his shaking hands.

“Oh God,” he sobbed.

On the title, on the line marked “New Registered Owner”, Dean saw his name, in his handwriting, written in what looked like dark red ink. He glanced to his right hand. A dark red spot bloomed on the white bandage that covered the gash in his palm. Dean dropped the title into the drawer and slid it closed. He remembered the keys in his pocket, and suddenly, he felt like going for a drive.

Logbook of Terror: Debbie’s Box

Russell Holbrook

A chilly wind brushed Debbie’s hair back from her shoulders and caused her eyes to water as she stared down at the box in her hands. Children and their parents milled around her, exploring the items strewn across the tables at the yard sale. Low thunder rolled across the gray sky and Debbie’s mother appeared at her side.

“Whatcha got there, kiddo?” Debbie’s mom asked.

Debbie successfully repressed the urge to roll her eyes at her mom’s use of the word “kiddo” and replied, “It’s some kind of weird box.”

Without asking, Debbie’s mom took the box from her teenage daughter’s hands. Thunder cracked again and the wind picked up. Her mother squinted at the box, a rectangular chest that looked like it could’ve been built by a high school shop class dropout. It was composed of ill-fitted, matte black planks of wood held together by tarnished silver corners, hinges, and clasps. Both the sides and top were adorned with symbols that leapt and curled in bright, sparkling purple. Painted in pink cursive, the proclamation “Debbie’s Box” was plopped down into the scrawl of symbols that covered the top of the lid.

“Huh, look at that,” Debbie’s mom said, pointing at the lid. “It already has your name on it.” She added sarcastically, “It was meant to be.”

This time Debbie let her eyes roll while her mother laughed at her own joke.

“You want it?” Debbie’s mom asked.

“Yeah, I can keep my tapes in it,” Debbie said.

Debbie’s mom chuckled. “It’s 2020 and cassette tapes are making a comeback. I didn’t see that one coming.”

Debbie frowned. “It’s an underground movement, mother.”

Debbie’s mom smiled and handed the box back to her daughter. “I’m sure it is.”

Another clash of thunder reverberated overhead. Debbie’s mom looked up. “That one was closer. We better settle up and get back home before the rain hits.”

Twenty minutes later Debbie was sitting on her bed, staring at the box, wondering what -if anything- might be inside, and who the other Debbie was; what was she like, and what did she do? Where was she from and where did she go? The woman running the yard sale hadn’t had had any answers to the questions that Debbie asked her. She’d claimed she didn’t even know where the box had come from and assumed that one of the other three yard sale participants must have brought it. There wasn’t even a price tag on it so the lady had just accepted Debbie’s mother’s offer of five dollars.

Debbie reached out and flipped the dull silver clasps. She lifted the lid and leaned over to peer inside. A putrid stench wafted up out of the box. Debbie coughed and recoiled, covering her mouth and nose. With eyes watering from the odor, she slowly moved closer and looked into the box.

There were teeth. They covered the bottom of the burgundy velvet-lined box. They looked human. Debbie’s brow crinkled. She looked closer. Mixed in with the teeth were locks of hair, all blond and all held together with pink bows. Debbie counted the clumps of hair. There were thirteen. Beneath one of the locks of hair was a folded square of notebook paper. Debbie brushed the hair aside and picked the paper up. She unfolded the square and read.

Dear Debbie,

             If you are reading this note, you have found the box and been led to open it. That also means you have been chosen and you are now the new Debbie. The burden and chore which were mine are now yours, may you carry them well until the time comes for you to pass them to another.

             Sincerely,

             All my love,

             Debbie

            

“What in the…?” Debbie gazed at the box and its contents, confounded and bewildered.

Footsteps echoed in the foyer. Debbie’s mom called her name from the bottom of the stairs.

“Yeah, mom?” Debbie answered.

“Soup’s ready!” Her mother yelled.

“Okay, I’ll be right down!” Debbie replied, even though she thought it might be difficult to eat with so many questions brewing in her mind.

******

The soup was terrible, as Debbie’s mom’s homemade soup always was, but Debbie choked it down and felt grateful to have a mother who would cook her something warm to eat. An hour later she was hungry again. She found her mom in the den watching TV and told her she was heading out to the supermarket to get her favorite, frozen cheese pizza. Her mom told Debbie that she was nuts to go out in the storm but handed over the keys anyway, gave her a kiss, and sent her on her way.

The supermarket was empty. The standard pop fare flittered out of dull, hidden speakers. Debbie stood in front of the frozen pizza selection, wondering if she would try a new brand or just go with the usual. She heard a voice next to her. A man. He said, “Can’t make up your mind?”

Debbie turned and their eyes met. He’s cute, Debbie thought, looking into his blue orbs, taking note of his clean, blond hair.  She smiled.

Holy fuck I can’t wait to get this one back home and take my hacksaw to her filthy baby maker, the man thought.

Debbie gasped. Her face hardened. “Excuse me?” She said.

The man grinned and held up his hands. “Woah there, I was just saying it looks like you can’t make up your mind on which pizza to get.” You dirty goddamn slut.

The man’s thoughts and intentions invaded Debbie’s mind, heart, and soul, cutting her, bleeding her spirit. She felt tears well in her eyes. She remembered the note. The burden and chore which were mine are now yours.

Debbie cleared her throat. She chuckled nervously. “Oh, yeah, just trying to decide if I should try a new brand or stick with the old reliable.”

The man grinned again. Suddenly, Debbie saw the smile through the eyes of another woman, and another, and another, and still yet another and another. Blood dribbled from the thin lips, trailing down the chiseled, handsome chin. The smile widened and revealed sickeningly white teeth. Debbie saw what the teeth had done. She blinked. The visions faded.

“I think it’s healthy to try new things,” the man said, still smiling.

Debbie’s mind focused. A bright, new power bloomed inside her. She felt a smile of her own growing across her lips. She opened the freezer door and grabbed the first cheese pizza she saw. It was a brand she’d never heard of before.

“You know,” she said. “I think you’re right.” She dropped the pizza into her basket. “How do you feel about frozen cheese pizza?”

The man seemed to smile even wider. “I think I love it.”

“Good, because I don’t like to eat alone,” Debbie said, simultaneously marveling at the words coming out of her mouth and the confidence with which they were being spoken.

“We can go to my place, it’s just around the bend,” the man said.

“Wonderful,” Debbie replied. “I just need to swing by the hardware section and pick up one last thing.”

“Oh, what’s that?” The man scoffed.

“A hammer,” Debbie said.

“What for?”

Debbie let her own smile widen and fill with mischievous glee. “I’ve got some work to do.”

The man shrugged and followed Debbie out of the frozen foods aisle.

Logbook of Terror: Ranger Danger

Russell Holbrook

The park ranger crouched in the bushes. Moaning voices echoed from a nearby tent. Black clouds collected overhead and the thick aroma of a gathering storm filled the night air. The ranger smiled. Roy had been doing this for years but it never got old. He looked up. A flash of lightning lit up the sky. Roy felt the familiar, electric buzzing in his bones. With stealth that was practiced and perfected, he crept up beside the tent. The mercury fillings in his teeth hummed. Roy stood up straight, right next to the tent. A woman in the tent announced that she was coming. A man testified in agreement. Their voices rose in tandem. They called out to God. Thunder roared. And a furious bolt of pure, white lightning hammered the tent. 

The lightning bolt pierced the tent’s ceiling. Burning heat struck the lovers. Electric waves fried their insides while their screams echoed in Roy’s ears. Flames danced inside the tent, growing and spreading over the thin fabric to create a funeral pyre. The bodies of the man and woman bounced in the fire. Their screams echoed through the mountains. Roy drew his gun. He waited. 

The woman sprung out of the fire, her skinned blackened and her hair ablaze. Roy shot her in the forehead. She stumbled into the brush and collapsed. The man followed. His arms flailed. He shouted and ran toward Roy. The ranger shot the man in the stomach. The young lover collapsed and Roy shot him two more times in the back of the head. Roy looked down at the young man’s charred skin. It glistened in the moonlight. “Barbeque for the bears,” he sneered.  

After watching the burning tent dwindle down to a smoldering pile, Roy stomped out the embers and strolled into the woods. 

***

“Yo, this weed is the bomb,” Mickey said. He coughed out a monster cloud of smoke and passed the joint to his left. Jane handled the fat spliff in her nimble fingers. She took a long drag and broke out in a coughing fit. Mickey giggled and took back the joint. “Damn, you’re gonna be so fried.”

Jane snickered. “I’m toasty.”

The two teens laughed and swung their legs from the tailgate of Jane’s truck. Leaves rustled and twigs snapped in the darkness behind them. 

“What the eff was that?” Mickey said, looking around. 

“What the eff was what?” 

“What?”

“That’s what I just asked you.” 

“Oh,” Mickey said.

“Oooohhhh!” Jane exclaimed.

Guffaws pealed from Mickey and Jane, covering up the rustle and crunch of approaching footsteps. 

Thunder cracked and shook the forest around them. Lightning burst through the sky, lighting up the dark, revealing Ranger Roy standing in front of them, his beady black eyes peering out from behind his thick glasses. His singed ranger hat sat snug on his head. A crooked smile crossed his face. 

Mickey and Jane started with a screech. Pure reaction caused Mickey to toss the half-smoked joint onto the ground. The ranger stepped closer.  

“Hey, kids, great night for a smoke, ain’t it?” Ranger Roy bent down and picked up the smoldering doobie. Smirking, he put the smoke to his lips and inhaled deep once, twice, three times. He held in the smoke and then let out a great plume into the air. The wind blew and carried the white cloud away. Another peal of thunder rattled the pines. “Ah, that’s a fine flavor there.”

Ranger Roy handed the joint back to Mickey and retrieved a cigarette from the pack in his shirt pocket. “Helluva storm brewing,” he said. “You kids might wanna find shelter or head on home.”

Jane stared at the forest ranger through the thin slits that her eyes had become. “Old dude?” She said.

“Yes, young lady.”

She pointed at the black mark that covered the top of Roy’s hat. “What happened to your hat?”

“Oh, that’s just where I got popped with a bit of lightning,” Roy answered.

“Shit, man, I’ve heard of you!” Mickey piped in. “You’re that ranger.”

Roy grinned.

“What, is he like… famous?” Jane asked as Mickey passed her the joint.

“This old dude has been struck by lightning seven times!” 

“No shit?” Jane said.

“Seven times!” Mickey repeated. “He’s like, a fucking legend. You’re a legit legend, aren’t you, old dude?” 

The ranger cleared his throat and spit. “My name’s Roy, young man.” He straightened his hat and pulled his shoulders back. 

Jane elbowed Mickey. A deep, intoxicated smile came over her face. “Seven times… Seven times!” She fell into Mickey, laughing uncontrollably. 

Mickey sputtered and his sputters became wide, echoing booms. He and Jane clutched each other, wrapped in hysterics, oblivious to the lightning crisscrossing the sky overhead. 

“Seven times!” Mickey shouted, doubling over and nearly falling off the truck’s tailgate. “How does that even happen?”

Ranger Roy felt indignant. “Just an occupational hazard, that’s all.”

“Maybe you should get a new job, idiot!” Mickey howled.  

As the teens made fun of Roy, he felt the same, reliable buzzing in his back teeth. A pulse of electricity tickled his veins. The rolling chortles from the stoned teenagers punched him in the heart. He screamed, “Shut up!” 

 A monster bolt of lightning shot down from the clouds, forking just above Mickey and Jane, striking each of them in the face. Like melons under a jackhammer, their heads exploded. Blood and flesh and gore showered ranger Roy. Spewing blood from their necks, the teens’ headless corpses swayed and fell off the tailgate. 

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Roy shouted at the sky. He cackled triumphantly and skittered off into the trees. 

***

“Really, seven times?” The man asked.

Ranger Roy nodded from across the campfire that burned in the center of the small clearing. The man on the other side appraised the ranger.

“How’d you get all that blood on you?”

“Exploded teenagers.”

“Yeah, that happens.”

The man wore a careless, disheveled appearance. Roy figured him for either a weekend camper or someone on the run from the law, or, maybe even one of those hippie vagrant types. Ugh, hippies. The man took a long swig off the whiskey bottle and passed it to Roy, who allowed himself a generous gulp. He winced as the liquor burned its way down. Thunder struck above them, close. 

Ranger Roy glanced up. “Storms almost here.” 

The camper joined Roy in gazing up into the night sky. “Yep,” he added. 

Roy handed the bottle back to its owner. The man gripped the bottle and turned it up before setting it down at his side. He coughed and cleared his throat.

“So,” the camper began, “If you don’t mind me asking, why are you still out on the job if you’ve been struck by lightning so many times? I mean, considering the probability, seven times is a high number.”

“I’m just doin’ the lord’s work,” Roy sighed. “Someone’s got to, you know.”

The camper snorted. “The lord, yeah right.” He spit into the fire. “I always wondered about you rangers. Are you protecting nature from us, or us from nature?” 

Roy grimaced. “Nature don’t need my protectin’, I’m just doin’ what’s asked of me, that’s all.” 

“What did nature… ask of you?” The camper said. His eyes glazed over as the whiskey took hold and slowed the man’s words. 

Roy looked at the man with hard, serious eyes. “Just to help maintain the balance. That’s what I do. I help.” Roy pulled out a cigarette and lit up.   

“Sure you do, old-timer, sure you do.” The camper eyeballed Roy’s cigarette. “You got another one of those?”

Roy reached into his front shirt pocket. The camper leaned forward and reached out his hand. A crack of low thunder bounced through the trees. A jagged streak of lightning shredded the darkness. The white-hot bolt stabbed the camper’s outstretched hand. A second flash lit up the pines and a ribbon of light nailed the man in the back. He cried out in agony. Electrical currents filled his body. Foam poured from his mouth.  

A third firebolt struck the camper on top of his head. Bright bolts of electricity bounced over the man’s convulsing body. He surged forward and fell face-first into the campfire. Ranger Roy stood up slowly. The camper’s body spasmed and became still. Roy threw his cigarette down on the man’s burning corpse. He removed a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it. He grimaced.

“I thought I recognized you,” Roy said, looking from the paper in his hand to the man in the fire. 

In stark black and white, the leering face of the camper stared up at Roy from the flyer. Above the photo, bold letters announced that the man was wanted for the murder of a family of four. Roy tossed the flyer into the flames and watched it change form. He reached into his pants pocket and retrieved a short newspaper article. The headline read: After Killing Five Year Old Child in Hit and Run, Marijuana Using Teens are Released on Technicality. Roy thought of the teens’ exploding heads. He grinned and dropped the column of paper into the fire. For a third time, Roy reached into his pocket. Another article. A malicious husband and wife burned down a nursing home and eluded police. “They didn’t elude me,” Roy muttered. He tossed the paper into the fire. 

Roy lit another cigarette and listened to the quiet of the forest, of his home. He smiled and looked up into the dark sky. “Nice workin’ with you tonight.” 

A bright star peeked out from behind the cloud cover. It glimmered in the dark and seemed to wink at Roy. The tired old ranger laughed to himself and shuffled into the darkness, satisfied with a job well done. Once he was deep under the canopy of trees, the first drops of rain began to fall. 

Logbook of Terror : The Tree That Shot Henry

The Tree That Shot Henry by Russell Holbrook

Al had seen a lot in his three-hundred and eighty-seven years. Too much, he felt. But, such was the life of a tree; besides watching and occasionally swaying, there really wasn’t much else to do. Of all that Al had observed in his life, the creatures called humans were what fascinated him the most. As repellant and absurd as he found most of them to be, he couldn’t help becoming enraptured in their daily dramas. There was one human Al found particularly fascinating. His name was Henry, and Al lived in his yard. It was a nice yard on a nice farm and Henry was a nice enough man. One day Henry brought home a very nice girl, who had long blond curls and called herself Carrol.

Henry and Carrol spent many summer afternoons in the cool shade of Al’s branches, laughing and talking, having picnics, and enjoying each other’s company. One night when the moon glowed bright and full, the couple gathered under Al’s arms to play with the Ouija Board. Carrol had been talking about it for weeks but Henry had protested, saying that he thought the Ouija board was boring and pointless because most spirits were bad conversationalists who talked too slow. Still, Carrol persisted until Henry relented and on that night of the full moon they sat under their favorite tree, their hands on the planchette, looking into one another’s eyes. And Al looked down from above. 

After several dud attempts at communicating with whatever spirits may have been around at the time, Carrol and Henry got a response. Carrol gasped. Her bosom heaved. 

Henry felt a stirring in his groin. Hmmm, heaving bosoms

A peal of thunder sounded in the far distance, and Carrol began her questions. 

As it turned out, the spirit didn’t want to talk about their favorite color, their favorite food, or whether or not they liked Ferris wheel rides on brisk, fall evenings. The spirit said their favorite color was hate, they preferred murder over pancakes, and the only ride they liked was the ferry over the river Styx. Henry was both aghast and offended by the spirit’s sarcastic answers which did not produce any further bosom heaves from Carol, who simply felt disappointed. 

“This spirit is a smarty-pants jerk,” Carrol said.

Henry nodded in agreement. 

“Why don’t you ask a question,” she said to Henry. 

Henry sighed but agreed. After a moment’s contemplation he said, “Spirit, is there buried treasure in my yard?”

The planchette moved. Yes 

The couple’s eyes lit up. They smiled together. 

“Spirit,” Henry said, “where is the treasure buried? How did it get here? Can you provide exact coordinates?” 

And the planchette began to move as the spirit began to speak. 

Long, long ago there was a farmer who lived on this very land. The farmer was very poor, and being poor made him very, very sad. Although the farmer had a loving wife and a kind-hearted son and a working farm, he wanted money and riches above all else. One day the farmer’s teenage son came home from the market with a large goat who had a coat blacker than a starless night, a fierce gray beard, burning red eyes, and long, gnarled, pointy horns. The sight of the mysterious animal filled the farmer with trepidation. Upon the father’s inquiry, the boy revealed that the goat had been given to him by a fellow farmer, a haggard man whom the son had never seen at the market before. Happy that the farm would have a buck, the son gladly accepted and brought the goat home. He named the goat Black Francis and gave him his own room in the barn. 

A week later the farmer was watching Black Francis wander around the yard. When the goat stopped to poop, the farmer noticed something peculiar: Francis’s waste seemed to sparkle in the sun. The farmer went over to inspect and discovered that Black Francis had expelled a small pile of gold. He was a very special goat indeed. 

The farmer became obsessed with Black Francis. He neglected everything and everyone but the goat, and spent every day following him around the yard. And every time Black Francis made a pile of gold, the farmer would bury it where it fell. 

Henry interrupted the spirit’s tale. “But why would he do that? Why not collect all the gold and store it somewhere safe?”

The planchette moved, spelling out: I do not know; I was not there.

“Spirit, you don’t have to be rude! Please finish your tale,” Carrol said. 

Okay, the spirit replied, and the planchette resumed its slow movement over the board. 

For days and weeks and months, the farmer stayed by Black Francis’s side, barely eating, hardly sleeping, simply watching, waiting, digging, burying, hoarding every single drop of the golden dung. The farmer became consumed with paranoia, believing that everyone was out to get his gold, even his family. His dear wife, frightened and having lost all hope, took her teenage son and fled to her parents’. 

The following evening the farmer sat beneath a grand old tree that stood in a corner of the yard. While trembling in his delirium, the man had a sudden and striking moment of clarity and he knew what he had to do. The time had come to claim his rightful fortune, to leave the farm and his family and start a new life where no one would bother him or try to take his riches. Surely there would be so much gold that he would never have to work another day in his life. His mind beamed with the prospect. So the farmer fetched his shovel and he began to dig. 

All through the night the farmer dug for the gold he had buried and when the gray dawn broke, he still hadn’t found a single bit. Exhausted, he saw Black Francis leisurely chewing on grass in the early morning light. The farmer cursed the odd buck and went to the barn to get a length of rope with which to lead the goat back to the market and pass him on to another hapless fool. When the man returned with the rope, the goat was gone. The farmer searched the property and the neighboring farms but the goat was nowhere to be found. Flustered and enraged, the farmer returned home and did the only thing he could think to do: keep digging. And he dug and dug and dug until, after three days of non-stop digging, with his hands bloody and raw, he collapsed in the field and died. And there was never any gold to be found, not even one little bit. The end. Copyright 2020, Azazel Beelzebub Azaroth McAllister-Smith. 

Carrol clutched her side and fell over laughing. “A goat that pooped gold! Ouija Boards say the craziest things!” 

Henry’s eyes were wild with excitement. He panted.

“What is it, Henry?” Carrol asked.

“Gold!” Henry whispered. 

“That was just a story, dear.” 

“No, not just a story!” Henry snapped, “I know there’s gold here. I can feel it! Your magic board was actually telling a truth!”

Carrol sat up. She inched back, looking closely at Henry’s face. His features seemed to blur in the moonlight, as if shadows were gliding over him. Her breath hitched in her throat as a glint of red flared in his eyes. 

“Henry, are you alright?”

Henry dug his fingers into the earth. “Gold!” He whispered again. He laughed to himself. “I’ll be rich!” 

“What has come over you? Why are you…?”

Henry lept to his feet, cutting Carrol off. “There’s no time!” He shouted, adding, “I’ll call you tomorrow!”

He ran to the tool shed to get a shovel.  

“Goodnight, then!” Carrol called out after Henry as he ran away. Then she packed up her Ouija Board and walked home. 

*

Henry didn’t call the next day, or the next, or even the one after that. Filled with anxiety, Carrol went to Henry’s house. When she arrived, she found him wearing the same clothes she saw him in last, covered in dirt and sweat, digging in the yard. Small, shallow holes dotted the yard for as far as Carrol could see. She brought her hand to her mouth. Slowly, she approached. 

“Henry,” she said, “what are you doing?”

He kept his eyes fixed on the earth and rammed the shovel down. “Digging. What else would I be doing?”

“Didn’t you go to work today?”

“This is my work,” he grumbled. 

Carrol stepped closer. Softly, she ventured, “Why don’t you come inside and have a rest? I’ll fix you a cool glass of lemon pepper soda.”

Henry grunted and replied, “There’s no time for rest; I have to find it!”

“Find what, dear?”

“The gold!” Henry roared. He turned toward Carrol. His eyes burned a deep red. “Don’t you remember, you stupid bitch!?” 

Tears flooded Carrols eyes. Henry is a kind man; he never speaks to me this way!

“The spirit of the magic board told me there’s gold buried right here and I know it’s true, I know the treasure is here- I know it!”

“Henry, the board, that was just a game!” Carrol sobbed. 

“That wasn’t the game! This is the game- you and me! You’re playing me! You just want all the gold for yourself, you goddamn, lecherous cunt!” White foam and dry spittle flew out of Henry’s mouth. “I fucking hate you! I hate you I hate you I hate you!” He screamed. “You don’t care about me, you just want my gold! My gold!” 

His face turned red. “Get out now or I’ll fucking rip out your entrails and ram them down your throat!” He raised the shovel and stepped toward Carrol. 

She screamed, “Henry, please, I love you!”

“I hate you and I want to fucking kill you!” He howled.  

Henry swung the shovel. Carrol lunged back. The shovel flew past her face, its tip nearly grazing her lips. She whirled, caught her balance, and sprinted across the yard. Henry slammed the shovel’s head on the ground over and over again, screeching curses and insults and horrible, unforgivable words that grew and towered and chased Carrol from the yard. Once she was out of sight, Henry returned to digging.   

*

Carrol burst through the front door, startling her mother, father, and brother who were in the den playing a late-night game of Shark Versus Swimmer. Before her family had time to react, Carrol stood before them with her father’s revolver pressed under her chin. Her father cried out for her to stop, to please, God please put the gun down. She simply screamed, “Henry!” and pulled the trigger. 

Blood, bone, and brain painted the ceiling and walls. Carrol’s parents and brother wailed. Her mother fell to the floor weeping. Her father and brother ran to Carrol’s fallen body. Her father cradled Carrol’s exploded head in his lap, calling out, “My Carrol, my dear sweet child!” over and over. 

Carrol’s brother took the gun from his sister’s dead, still-warm fingers, and promised to bring vengeance down upon Henry’s house. With the cries and protests of his parents ringing in his ears, he ran into the night. 

*

When Carrol’s brother arrived, Henry was digging beneath Al’s limbs, his shovel clanging against the giant roots of the great tree. 

Carrol’s brother raised the gun at Henry. He shouted, “You monster! You broke Carrol’s heart and she took her life because of it!”

Henry looked up from his work. He smiled. “Carl, what are you doing with that little gun?” 

“You’re the reason my sister is gone! It’s your fault!” Carl roared. 

Tears blurred his vision. Carl pulled the trigger and the second bullet of the night hurled straight toward Henry’s head. 

Henry spun and fell face-first into the dirt. Carl trembled. Sweat poured down his face. He’d just killed a man. His vengeance was complete, and since there was nothing more he could do, he turned the gun on himself.  And Al, the great old tree, watched in distress as young Carl blew his own face off and fell to the ground. 

For a long while, Al contemplated how a person so young could end their life in such a rash and sudden manner, especially when Carl hadn’t even completed his task. He had simply knocked his intended victim unconscious; the bullet that was meant to kill Henry was lodged painfully in Al’s trunk.

*

In pain and confused, Henry opened his eyes. The first rays of dawn were puncturing the dark canvas of night. He sat up and touched his face. A bloody gash ran the length of his right cheek. He thought back. He remembered: Carl, the gun, the shot. He tried to kill me. He missed! It was then that Henry noticed Carl’s corpse lying nearby in the grass. He giggled. His eyes flared red. I have to find my gold! I’ll clean that mess of a dead body up later. 

Henry stumbled to his feet and started digging. A breeze blew and a leaf lilted onto his filthy shirt. Henry frowned at the leaf and shucked it off. Another leaf fell. He looked up into Al’s branches. 

“Stop it,” Henry said to the tree. 

Another leaf glided by on the wind. Clouds were gathering, blocking out the morning sun. 

Henry stomped on the ground and glared at Al. “I said stop!” 

A gust of wind blew a handful of leaves out of the limbs. They sailed past Henry. 

“Stop mocking me!” Henry screamed. He flailed and slammed the shovelhead on the ground. He stared up at Al, the old and patient tree. Henry’s eyebrows curled. His chin dropped. “It’s you, isn’t it? You’re doing it; you’re hiding my gold! You’ve got it all under there, under those roots!”

Al’s branches swayed in the wind. Gray clouds turned black. 

“You’re not going to do this to me. It’s my gold and you can’t have it!” Henry shouted. 

Henry struck Al’s great roots with the shovel. He dug fiercely into the soil surrounding the base of the tree. It was no use; he could barely even break the ground. Henry cursed, threw down his shovel, and rushed to the shed. Moments later he was pushing a wheel barrel full of dynamite toward the tree while lightning and thunder filled the sky. 

“You can’t have my gold!” Henry shouted. He tied the explosive sticks together and lined them around the base of the tree. 

Al watched Henry with sad amusement. I suppose this is it for me, he thought. 

The wind died down for the briefest of moments. Henry struck a match and put it to the fuse. The fuse lit and Henry stumbled away. Seconds later, a mammoth explosion shook the sky.  

Shards of wood flew through the air. Al creaked and groaned. His mighty trunk faltered and snapped and a report echoed above the noise of cracking and breaking wood. Henry felt a sharp sting between his eyes. The sting was followed by liquid. The wet ran down Henry’s face. He grabbed at his head and, upon pulling away his hands, saw that they were covered in his own blood. He remembered the sound, the report. He looked up at Al. The great tree was falling straight toward him. “You shot me,” Henry mumbled. 

A great and mighty limb struck Henry on the top of his head. Al put down his full weight and crushed the tiny human into the dirt. Ah, a satisfying conclusion to a glorious life, Al thought as his life-force slipped away and his spirit went back into the earth. And three counties over, as dark rain began to fall, a curious black goat grazed in a farmer’s field. 

Logbook of Terror : Just a Scratch!

Just a Scratch

By Russell Holbrook

Devon’s appearance was plain and unremarkable, and that’s the way he wanted it to be. He believed that blending in helped him move through life without being noticed too much, which made things easier for him. But Devon’s appearance wasn’t what the strangers he met on dark streets were thinking about. They were usually wondering why he was plunging a meat cleaver into the side of their neck. Well, sometimes it was a hacksaw or a plain, old-fashioned butcher knife. That last one was an undeniable classic, and besides, Devon wasn’t too picky about his instruments. He liked having variety in his work. He was saving up to buy a chainsaw.

It was on a Thursday evening that Devon ran into his arch-rival, Mach Tudor, at the local Slurp Fountain and Elixir Emporium. Devon fixed his enemy with a harsh glare. “I thought I told you to stay out of here, Mach.”

Mach returned Devon’s glare with a grin. “I can go where I want.”

“That’s not a reasonable explanation.”

Mach stared at Devon and sucked bright blue Slurp through an orange straw. 

Devon stepped closer. He clenched his fists and whispered, “Get out. This is my spot. It’s where I go to think and right now you’re interrupting my thinking.” 

“I like it here,” Mach replied. 

“If you don’t leave now, I’m going to make you,” Devon said, fire burning behind his eyes. 

Mach leaned his lanky frame against the counter and took another casual pull off his Slurp. “Yeah, I’m sure,” he said. 

Devon fumed. “You arrogant prick! You know how much I need a Slurp after I…” he looked around and lowered his voice. “After, you know… I’ve been out… working.”

“Uh-hu,” Mach said. He took another drink. “I needed one too. I just did my sixth one of the night.”

Devon’s nostrils flared. “Six!? In one night?! That’s impossible!” 

“Not when you’re as good as I am. Everyone knows I’m the best in town.” Mach’s voice lowered. “Maybe even the greatest of all time.” 

Devon frowned. He looked Mach over, taking in the tall, trim man’s swagger and appearance. He’s so cocky, so self-assured, Devon thought. But I have to admit, he really is well put together. Then, something caught Devon’s eye: a bloody rip across Mach’s tight, ironed, otherwise spotless gray slacks. Devon could see through the tear, which was near the top of his right thigh, about three inches across. He pointed at the wound. “What’s that?”  

 Mach looked down, following Devon’s finger. “Oh, that?” Mach said. “That’s just a scratch.”

Devon grinned wide. “They fought back?”

Mach nodded. “Hard.”

“I like it when they fight,” Devon said. 

Mach shrugged indifferently. Devon felt outraged by Mach’s flippant attitude toward the work that he himself had dedicated his life to. He shook his head and plowed into Mach’s personal space. His broad, muscular shoulders edged Mach out of the way. “You take no pride in your craft. You have no respect. You don’t care about anything. Get the hell out of my way.” Devon grabbed an extra-large cup. 

“They’re out of grape,” Mach said lackadaisically.

“Dammit!” Devon cursed. He threw the cup on the floor and watched it bounce away. “I was having such a great night before I saw you!” 

Devon stomped away from the purring Slurp machine and picked up the cup. He slammed it into the trash can. “Six? Really?”

“I have their heads in my trunk if you don’t believe me,” Mach said.

“I thought you drove a hatch back.”

Mach slurped the last of his drink, dragging his straw over the bottom of the plastic cup. He swiped the back of his hand across his mouth, sat the empty cup on the counter for the clerk to clean up, and walked past Devon toward the door. Devon followed. 

Out in the murky night, in the empty rear parking lot, Mach popped the trunk. There, spread out on black plastic trash bag, sat six severed heads. Devon leaned in and inspected them under the trunk’s dim light. Dammit, they’re fresh

“Told ya,” Mach said. His upper lip curled like he was about to do a Billy Idol impersonation. 

For a moment Devon was speechless. He had no idea of what to say. Then, a new perspective, sudden yet welcome, came upon him. He turned to Mach. “You really think you’re hot potatoes, don’t you?”

“The hottest.”

“You’re an idiot,” Devon spat, “an arrogant, reckless, idiot. You think you’re invincible, but you’ll get caught and that’ll bring the heat down on the rest of us, and then everyone’s work will be in danger.”

“Shut up! I’m never gonna get caught!”  

Devon sighed. “We’ll see.” 

“I’m too good to get caught,” Mach asserted. 

Devon walked away to begin the long trek back to his basement apartment. He hung his head and mumbled to himself, “We’ll see.”

Mach considered yelling a sarcastic remark or an insult at Devon’s back, but then felt that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. He reached down and plucked one of the heads out of the trunk. It had belonged to a student who was taking night classes at the community college. Her name was Sandy. She had been pre-law. Sandy’s mouth was locked in the scream position. Her canines protruded out beyond her thin, bloodless lips. Mach held the head up to eye level. “Hey there, little fighter,” he said, just before he shut the trunk and hopped behind the wheel with Sandy’s head cradled in his arm. The night clerk of the Slurp Fountain and Elixir Emporium found Mach’s empty cup and cursed the lazy customer’s insolence just as Mach squealed out of the parking lot. 

Cool night air rushed in through open windows. Sandy’s head rested in Mach’s lap. His favorite band, The Power Trippers, came on the radio and he turned it up. As the chorus kicked in, Mach felt something cold and slimy sliding across the wound on his upper thigh. Ugh, what the… His eyes left the road and shot down to his lap, where Sandy’s head was tonguing the gash in his leg. He screamed. The car swerved. Reflexively, Mach’s leg bounced. Sandy’s head sunk her canines deep into Mach’s flesh. His scream turned to a wail. He slammed the break and slid the car off the road. He lept from the car with Sandy’s teeth still buried in his leg. Running into the woods, with a howl Mach tore Sandy’s teeth from his leg and threw her head into the trees. Pain radiated through his leg and lower body. 

“I give you the honor of being a part of my work and this is how you repay me!?” Mach shouted into the woods at the severed head which he could no longer see. “You can just stay out there all alone forever!” 

Grumbling to himself, Mach got back into his car and drove home. When he reached his house, he carefully placed the other five heads in the freezer and went to sleep. 

Five Days Later

The headline surprised Devon so much he had to read it twice. House of Horrors Discovered on East Side. Devon’s eyes jumped down to the front page article. Gripping the paper between shaking hands, he read:

When local, award-winning jewel thief Kristen Calle’ entered 618 Maple Street on a routine heist this past Friday night, she found something most people hope to never see during the course of their lives. It was a sight so grisly, so macabre, Ms. Calle’ ran from the residence and didn’t stop running until she burst through the front doors of police headquarters in tears. Officers and CSI units were immediately dispatched to the scene and, following a routine survey, investigations began in earnest. Over the next five days human remains in varying stages of decomposition were discovered throughout the home, which CSI veteran Pauline McCabe called, “A museum of grotesque depravities.” She went on to say, “In all my thirty-seven years on the force, never have I witnessed such a vile display of human carnage.” 

Devon was spellbound. He read on. 

To date, the remains of three-hundred and sixteen victims have been discovered, having been found buried in the backyard and cellar, boxed up in the attic, hidden between walls and beneath floors, and stored in the refrigerator. The kitchen pantry was full of dried and cured skin, and a bedroom had been converted to a walk-in freezer which was dedicated entirely to the preservation of severed heads.  

“Nice touch,” Devon said to himself. He turned the page and straightened the paper. 

Investigators have linked the crimes to the home’s owner, local tennis shoe model MachTudor. Mr.Tudor was found unresponsive in the master bedroom, the apparent victim of an infected leg wound. As the number of remains discovered continues to grow, investigators suspect that Mach Tudor will go down as one of the most prolific serial killers of all-time, if not the most prolific, ever. Lead investigator Saul Grey stated, “All he needs is a spooky nickname and he’s ready for the true-crime history books. This guy was a true sicko; clearly, he really loved his work.”

Devon’s face turned red. Trembling, he ripped the paper in half and threw the pieces to the floor. He fell out of his easy chair and rolled across the floor, beating his fists against the hardwood floor and screaming, “Dammit!” over and over and over again. Disturbed by the violent outburst and annoyed by the noise, his upstairs neighbors called the police. Half an hour later, two officers knocked on Devon’s door. 

Logbook of Terror : Call Before You Dig!

 By Russell Holbrook

Jay squinted his eyes and stared at the small sign and its simple admonishment. Know what’s below. Call before you dig! He turned to Carl.

“Management approved this dig site, yeah?” 

Carl nodded. “And our coordinates are correct. This is the place.”

Jay stepped toward the sign. He scratched his chin stubble and looked closer. The sign, attached to a bright orange pole, suddenly looked like an almost perfect imitation. 

“This isn’t an official county notice,” Jay said.

Carl huffed and looked the sign over. “I think you’re right. The number’s 611. Shouldn’t it be 811?”

“Yeah, it should,” Jay answered.

“Call it,” Carl said.

Quickly, Jay punched 6-1-1 into his company cell. It rang. A pleasant female voice picked up on the other end. Carl watched his partner inquire about the signage. Jay shot Carl an incredulous look. He shook his head. “This is a joke, yeah?” 

“What is it?” Carl whispered.

Jay waved a hand for Carl to be quiet. 

“Sorry,” Carl said.

Jay gripped the phone. “I understand that miss, but we’re official employees of the County Archeology and Treasure Hunting Division and we have our work orders.”

Jay listened. He closed his eyes and sighed. “I appreciate your concern, miss, but our work is very serious. If we don’t dig -now, today- we’ll be in deep with our employers.” 

Jay listened again. His eyes rolled. Carl stood by, tapping his foot, watching, and waiting. Finally, Jay said a word of thanks and hung up. 

“So?” Carl asked.

“So, this is some bullshit,” Jay replied. 

“What kinda bullshit?” 

Jay kicked a rock and mumbled under his breath.

“Come on, man, what?” Carl said.

Jay sighed. “The woman on the phone said we’re on consecrated ground that can never be disturbed.” He stopped and raised his eyes to his partner.

“And?” Carl said.

“And…” Jay shook his head.

“And…” Carl repeated.

“And that anyone who digs here will be cursed, even official county workers.”

Carl scoffed. “What the hell? Why?” 

Jay felt his face flush with embarrassment before the words even came out of his mouth. “Because a powerful child wizard, who just happened to be her only son, buried his collection of two-thousand plastic toy soldiers here on this very spot before he ascended to heaven at the age of thirteen.” 

A second of silence breathed between the two men before Carl burst into an exaggerated belly laugh. Jay smiled. 

“Now that is some serious bullshit!” Carl bellowed. 

Jay began to laugh. “It really is, yeah?”

“Hell yeah!” Carl shouted. “Gimme my goddamn shovel!” 

The two men laughed heartily and began to dig. Thirty minutes and two feet later, Carl brought up a shovel full of dirt and tiny, green plastic soldiers. 

“Look at that!” Carl said. “They’re just shitty little toys like you get from the dollar store.”

“I used to melt those kinds when I was a kid,” Jay said as he heaved up a pile of the plastic soldiers and tossed them to the side. 

Carl pulled up two more hefty clods of dirt and little plastic men. “Say, what’re we supposed to be digging for anyway?”

Jay shrugged. “Dunno, man; didn’t ask, don’t care.”

Carl added his own shrug and he and Jay plunged their shovels into the dirt. 

The fabric of Carl’s white t-shirt ripped. A massive wound appeared across his belly. He screamed and fell back as his insides fell out in a torrent of blood. 

Jay’s eyes went wide. A scream tore halfway out of his throat, cut short by the deep gash that appeared in his neck. He gargled as his head lopped to one side, held on by mere strands of flesh and sinew. 

The two men shared a final glance at one another and collapsed into the freshly turned earth. 

Moments later a black SUV arrived at the dig site. A woman, a man, and a young boy exited the vehicle and eagerly stepped to the blood-soaked bodies of the dead county workers. The trio wore lab coats and the woman carried a clipboard. The man smiled wide and surveyed the scene while the woman hastily scribbled observational notes on a legal pad.

“Brilliant!” The man said. After donning plastic gloves, he pried the shovels from the hands of each of the dead workers and held them up for the woman and the boy to inspect. A toy soldier was impaled on the end of each of the shovels, one through the stomach area and the other through the neck. 

“The curse is a success!” The woman said with a note of triumph in her voice. 

“Yes! This will surely give us the competitive edge over Mallocorp and their simple machines!” the man added.

The man and the woman placed their hands on the shoulders of the young boy. 

“We’re so very, very proud of you, Jeremy,” the woman said. 

The boy smiled. “Thanks, mom. I like making curses for you and dad. It’s fun!”

The man and woman laughed heartily and drew their son in close for a hug. 

“That’s my special boy!” The father said with pride. 

And the little family hopped in their giant black SUV and drove away, filled with the excitement and joy of another successful experiment.

Logbook of Terror: Ruins Of Castle Rocca Sparviera!

The ruins of Castle Rocca Sparviera!

After a frightful and dreary travel in which I mistakenly visited the wrong location and was chased from a decaying castle by the rotted corpses of a mob of re-animated skeletons, I finally arrived at my destination: the ruins of Castle Rocca Sparviera. A chilly night had fallen and a storm brewed overhead, hiding the moon and stars behind layers of thick, foreboding clouds. Thunder cracked nearby and with only the light of my electric lantern to guide me, I set out to explore the ruins. 

I walked the perimeter of the formerly grand castle, treading carefully over rocks and desolate mountain terrain, wondering what lonely spirits might be left wandering these hills. After hiking to what seemed to be the edge of the property, I turned and strolled along the inner side of a disintegrating wall. After several minutes I halted to take stock of my surroundings and, up ahead, saw a spot of soft light swaying in the darkness. Could it be a fellow explorer making camp and a fire for the night? I hurried on my way to find out. 

Upon drawing closer, I saw that the light was pouring out through a doorway in another crumbling wall. I stepped through and found myself in a great dining hall. My head swam in disbelief, for the hall and all its contents were in pristine condition. The stone walls and floor were clean, polished, and intact. High wooden beams secured the solid ceiling and the entire room was alight with the soft glow of a myriad of candles. The luscious aroma of fresh cooked meat, bread, and vegetables drew my eyes to the huge table in the center of the room. A disembodied voice called out to me, welcoming me home, inviting me to feast. The ghostly voice spoke in French, a tongue completely foreign to me, yet I understood the voice’s every word.  

Smiling guests materialized around the massive banquet table, their regal clothes in tatters and covered in dust and cobwebs. Their gray skin was spotted with deep holes, from which worms wiggled in and out, and blood and pus trickled in rivulets over decaying flesh. With loud, hollow voices the dinner guests beseeched me to join them. Entranced, I approached the table. 

Thunder crashed over the high ceiling. A fierce flash of lightning lit up the table and I saw before me, two children, their flesh roasted, their small bodies chopped in pieces and placed carefully on garish silver platters. Their heads were intact. The two dead little girls turned their eyes to me. Help us! Help us! They pleaded. 

Lightning and thunder exploded. Rain poured from the ceiling. The pieces of the children joined and melded together, forming the hacked children into morbid wholes. Once reformed, they rolled off the great table and crawled toward me. The dinner guests sang a church hymn while their bodies melted in the rain. I felt the children’s small, dead hands grasp my ankles. Feast with us! They screamed at me. Feast with us! Their small eyes burned bright red with horror. I gasped. Shocked out of my trance, I broke the children’s hold and ran. 

Once out of the banquet hall, I ran to the path at the edge of the property. There, I saw a woman in royal dress. She stood upon a large rock. Tears stained her face. She held her arms high and screamed a curse into the night. I felt a sudden surge of heat behind me. Turning, I witnessed what surely could not have been: a fully intact castle engulfed in flames of grief and fury which were so intense, not even the deluge of rain could quench their angry burn. The royal woman turned her fierce eyes on me. I knew at once –it was Queen Jeanne! With terror in heart, lantern in hand, and my satchel over my shoulder, I sprinted away down the mountain, desperately hoping to outrun the curse that the queen was casting. 

I do not know how long I ran. Dawn seemed to arrive without warning and I was back on a road with the warm sun drying my sopping clothes. Not far into the morning I was able to secure transport with some locals who were en route to a nearby village. They spoke clear English and we began to converse. When I remarked on the previous night’s storm their faces turned grim. They inquired if I had been at the ruins during the night. I confirmed that I had. The driver shook her head and said that the region had seen no rain for over a week. The driver’s companion held up her left hand. Her skin was maligned, covered in burn scars. She said that she too had seen the queen, apparently too closely. 

After the kind couple dropped me off, I acquired proper food and lodging. I have resolved to stay in this quaint and pleasant country village until I receive my next assignment. The past several nights have been difficult. Sleep eludes me, for whenever I close my eyes, I see those of the dead children staring up at me.

Logbook of Terror : Doll Island

A fictional representation of a real Cursed Location – Doll Island

I never should have taken the doll down from that twisted, blackened tree. I wish to heaven that I’d left its decayed, plastic corpse where I’d found it. But I’d promised my dear niece Tabitha a truly unique character to add to her growing collection of morbid and obscene figurines, and I would be damned if I was going to leave this cursed island without it. Taking a doll, just one of hundreds of thousands, seemed an innocent offense. I assumed that surely no one would notice its absence. Alas, I had been wrong… Dreadfully wrong.

The tourist group was easy to break away from. I waited in the shadows of a dense grove of tangled trees, observing until the last ferry boat had returned empty and the employees were gone for the night. Apparently, not even a single one of the workers had the courage to stay on the island after dark. When the last failing rays of sunlight gave way to the deep purple glow of sunset, I left my hiding spot and walked among the dolls. Thousands of eyes of every color and type stared at me, tracing my every footstep. Vegetation rustled beneath my shoes. Insects sang and welcomed the oncoming night. I breathed in the humid air, the odors of age and neglect, of rot and decay, that floated around me. A voice whispered behind me, high-pitched, like a whistling in the wind. I stopped. I shuddered. My eyes darted back and forth. Smiling doll faces, half-melted and faded by the sun, glared back at me. Cold fear slithered down my spine. Hairs rose along my neck. High, hollow laughter echoed through the trees.

I quickened my pace. I had to find a suitably awful doll and escape this place before I ended up in the trees myself.

In the steadily increasing dark, I rounded a curve and walked along the edge of the canal. Another laugh flitted through the air. I froze and looked into the trees. There, above me, I saw her: a most wretched, withered dolly hanging just within arm’s reach. Thin blonde hair covered in green mold, weaved itself over a grime-covered, cherubic face. A tattered and faded pink dress clung to the doll’s body. Her eyes pierced my heart with their cold stare. It was then that I knew. She was the one. Tabitha would surly adore her!

Retrieving the dolly from the tree proved to be as easy as I’d hoped. The twine holding the toy in place practically disintegrated in my fingers as I unwound it from the doll’s limbs. Night had fully fallen and I held the doll up, inspecting it in the moonlight. She was wonderfully awful–a truly unholy relic indeed!

After carefully placing her in my roomy satchel, I set out to find shelter for the night, as after a good night’s rest I planned on blending in with the first tour group of the morrow and taking the boat back to Mexico City as if I’d been with them the whole time. Nary had I taken a dozen steps when I heard the sound of quiet splashing among the lilies in the canal.

I stood in place and listened. My mind told me that any creature of the water could have made that sound but my heart told me that it must be something far more sinister. A trickle of sweat broke on my brow. I turned. With eyes wide, I saw her standing atop the lilies–the girl whose legend told of her drowning in the canal so long ago. She pointed a ghostly finger at me. Her black eyes stared like the marble eyes of the dolls. A thin, watery whisper crawled from her throat.

“Llevar a su espalda, ella me pertenece a mí!” The girl floated across the water toward me, her phantasmal form radiating a soft white glow, illuminating the mud, moss, and slime that clung to her tattered dress.

My mind told me to run but my feet would not obey.

“Llevar a su espalda, ella me pertenece a mí,” the girl repeated, her dark eyes fixed on the satchel slung over my shoulder.

Although I needed no translator to know that the girl from the water wanted me to fix the doll back in her resting place among the tangled tree limbs, through my limited Spanish vocabulary I knew that she was saying, “Bring her back, she belongs to me.” However determined as I was to bring a gift home to my adored niece, I would do no such thing.

Fueled by purpose and terror, I ran along the canal. The words of the girl floated on the wind and stung my ears. Still, I did not stop. A feeling of some strange possession came over me, warping my sensibilities. With my feet and heart pounding, my voice wailed in my mind, repeating, “She will never have her back. The doll is mine!” I then determined to commandeer my own vessel and leave the island at once after which point I would trudge back to the city on foot. I had lost all sense of reason. Onward to the docks–like a madman–I ran.

The drowned girl’s voice grew from a singular moan to a choir chanting a miserable command. Voices assailed me from every angle. I saw them in the trees. Small mouths of porcelain and plastic moved in their ghastly cadence. My eyes watered and my skin grew cold.

All the island’s dolls cried out, “¡Traerla, ella nos pertenece a!” Again and again they demanded, “Bring her back, she belongs to us!”

I shrieked at the dolls to cease their infernal wailing. Then, running across a tangle of roots, I lost my footing and crashed to the ground. I writhed about as if one stricken with demons, the rising chant of the dolls’ voices bearing down on me, enveloping me, tearing at my collapsing sanity. Cold, wet hands grasped my collar. The girl from the canal shook me and screeched. Her mouth stretched wide. Fetid brown water–mixed with blood–gushed onto my face, filling my gaping, scream infested mouth. I choked on the vile liquid.

The girl gazed deep into my heart with her pitch black eyes as water rushed from her mouth, pounding onto my face. Instead of splashing off my skin, the water held place and rose as if the girl were submerging me in a body of water.

I cried for mercy. Bubbles floated up through the water. The grim visage of the girl swam above me, fading, becoming murkier by the second. I felt my satchel slip from my shoulder. I sank deeper into the water, the pale moonlight barely visible above. I echoed a final plea for the girl to let me live before the water entered my lungs and my eyes fell shut.

What may have been moments or mere seconds later, an old man was beating on my chest and shouting at me in Spanish. Gasping, I rolled to my side and spewed bitter water from my mouth. I was on the bank of the canal, the full moon shining down. A young boy who carried towels and wore a shocked expression stood at the old man’s side. The old man sighed, shook his head, and helped me to my feet.

After leading me to their hovel, while drinking tea and drying off by the fire, the young boy explained in broken English how he and the old man lived on the island, that they were the keepers of the dolls, and that they had found me face down in the canal, on the verge of drowning. In return, I told them my tale of the girl who had pursued me and of the voices of the dolls which had driven me to the brink of madness. I inquired to the man and the boy if they had my satchel, and that’s its contents were of great import. They simply nodded and told me to try to sleep.

Dawn broke early on the morrow and cast a brilliant, sweeping glow over the island. Although the sun was warm and welcoming, it could not wipe away the previous night’s terrors. I shivered as I followed the old man and his young companion along the path to the docks. While en route, I dared look up into the trees. There the doll sat on her perch among the gnarled limbs, precisely where I had found her the night before. Upon seeing me, her eyes brightened and her lips curled. A faint laugh echoed from her chest and I fell to the ground screaming.

Two days later I regained consciousness in a hospital in Mexico City. I was informed that an old man and his grandson had admitted me and that I had been in a most fearful state, raving about dolls that wanted to kill me and destroy my eternal soul. I had been subdued and placed under watch. The physicians had seen this before and were apparently not surprised.

The next day as I rode the bus out of Mexico City, I vowed to never again trifle with dolls. Although I surely wanted to bring a present home to my dear Tabitha, she would have to grow her collection of foul figurines without my assistance.

 

Logbook of Terror : Plague Island | Poveglia Island, Venice, taly

Plague Island!

Pressing the sharp tip of the chisel hard against the young woman’s temple, I screamed at her to settle down and hold still. I was her doctor, I knew best. I kept telling her this, over and over, my voice rising in pitch and volume, my patience diminishing, my contempt for these unruly patients increasing. Didn’t they understand that I only wanted to help them? As I’d told her, I just needed to get inside her brain. If I could remove the plague infected section which caused her insanity, she would be cured, and then we could all leave this god-forsaken island. I steadied the chisel and raised my mallet high to strike.  

The male patient on the gurney to my right struggled against his restraints, spouting off some rhetoric about not hurting her. Oh, the cries of the insane, how they bore me! “Leave her alone, don’t hurt her! Please, doctor, please!” Always with the begging and pleading. Such weakness; how it sickens me! I am far above this station –a genius such as myself has no business in these wretched climes. How did I get here?

I felt my hands shaking. A sudden, agonizing jolt wracked my brain. Static, as if that of an olden television set in between channels, spit flurries of white across my vision. The well-lit operating room became a dirty, decaying chamber full of cobwebs and ruin. The female patient in front of me was tied to a grimy, rust-covered gurney, held tight by some type of colorful rope that I did not recognize. The man beside me was also strapped down with a similar colorful rope. He wore strange clothes which I’d never before seen: a coat made of a material unknown to me, orange and shiny and slick, that made odd swooshing noises when he turned beneath his restraints. As well, his shoes and trousers were indeed not from a time familiar to me. He howled at me in protest, his face turning red, spittle flying from his mouth, clenching his fists and struggling. I shook my head and blinked my eyes. It must be the ghosts again, I thought. When will they cease with their torments?

My eyes turned back to the male patient. He was once again dressed in his urine stained gown, his wrists bound with white cloth that held him to an almost clean gurney. I smiled. He screamed. Turning back to my female patient, I raised my mallet once again. 

A hard punch landed in my gullet. I doubled over, dropping the mallet and chisel. My patient had somehow wiggled free of her restraints. Curses! Another blow landed hard on my back, sending me to my knees. The woman was screaming. I could hear rustling cloth. She was freeing the male patient. No! They cannot escape! I must complete my work! I cried out for them to halt, snatching up my surgical tools and rushing after them as they fled the operating room. 

I gave chase to my patients through the corridors of the hospital, dodging pale and dirty patients who wandered the halls, their black eyes staring. Their mouths hung open, emitting a green vapor and filling the air with moans of pain and horror. How strange, the hospital’s residents seemed to appear almost translucent. Had they always looked as such? As we rushed past, the loitering patients turned to follow. 

Determination blazed in my mind –these two would not get away!  We scrambled through another short hallway, down several flights of stairs, and burst through a service entrance, out into the night. I grinned. I had anticipated their steps. As I suspected, they were heading for the tower! 

The sweet smell of rot and burned corpses filled my nostrils as I ran. The moans of the following patients echoed behind me. The screams of the two escapees led the way in front of me. Sweat poured from my brow, raining down my skin, stinging my eyes. I called out, commanding them to halt. I was their doctor, why weren’t they listening? Without looking back, my two patients rounded a corner and disappeared through the arched tower door. 

The ghoulish moans increased behind me, growing closer and closer with every step. I glanced back to see an endless stream of pale, rotted and decomposing patients hurtling toward me. They seemed to move effortlessly, as if floating at an ever increasing velocity, howling, crying out for my doom. Their empty eyes burned terror into my heart. These foul beings were not my patients; these were the cursed apparitions, back to torment me again! But they would not have their victory. I ran on, fleeing into the tower. 

Pursuing the living while being pursued by the dead, I pressed on, up and up the tower steps. Finally, reaching the top, I burst into an open room. Cool night air poured in through the open windows that lined the walls. I cried for my patients to show themselves. Without word, they pounced from the shadows, both assailing me at once. Grappling with one another, we stumbled back and forth. The male patient leveled a blow to my side. He screamed fiercely at me, calling me by a foreign name but speaking as if he knew me, telling me that some ghoulish force had taken control of my mind, begging me to halt my rampage. There was another flash of static –fierce and hot- and a quick, jarring memory filled my mind: A chance meeting at a café in Venice, a boat, a secret trip to a haunted island. Then my wits returned. I knew it was but a ruse, for he was my patient and I, his doctor and there was but one objective: to free him from the clutches of insanity. 

During our struggle, none of us had noticed the crowd of apparitions that flooded into the room. Icy hands gripped my shoulders, neck, and arms. My patients screamed anew, crying out for help. The female patient shouted in my face. I blinked. I saw her. It was Clarice, an American traveler who, along with her fiance Michael, had befriended me two days prior. We had met in the city. I had invited them to join me on my paranormal adventuring. 

I saw my own hands. I saw my own clothes. I remembered who I was. Horror filled my being at the realization that I had attacked my companions. But there wasn’t time to worry about that, for the ghosts were throwing us off the tower.

The three of us fell, screaming into the night. A dense bank of mist which surrounded the tower’s base swallowed us away. I waited for the impact of solid earth and the smashing of my brittle bones but such pain and agony never arrived. I floated in the mist, calling out to my friends, pleading for their forgiveness. Their voices echoed back at me from somewhere deep inside the fog. Then it came- the dreaded crash, only, it was soft. I rolled along the ground and came to a stop. The mist had deposited us at the island’s edge. We three watched in shock as the fog left us, floating out to sea and fading into the night. 

It seemed as if we screamed until we had no voices left. Just before dawn we were rescued by a passing craft helmed by local fishermen who were kind enough to ferry us back to Venice. Upon returning, my fellow adventurers and I vowed to never set foot on Poveglia again, the cursed plague island. May its malignant ruins one day be buried deep beneath the sea!

Logbook Of Terror: A Worker’s Cemetery

 


A Worker’s Cemetery

“All people who enter this tomb who will make evil against this tomb and destroy it: may the crocodile be against them in water, and snakes against them on land.”

I hate sand. And here it is everywhere, on everything. I think that possibly it is everything. In stark contrast to my previous assignment of the lush, humidity-drenched Louisiana, Egypt’s is a parched, brittle landscape, heated beyond belief by a sun whose only reason for existence it seems is to torture me. I arrived at the cemetery grounds with trepidation, fearing what I might encounter there. However, milling around the site with a group of light-hearted tourists soon lifted my spirits; surely, there could be no lurking danger on this oppressively hot and sunny day. 

As the gaggle of sight-seers formed a cluster around an information plaque and the entrance of a tomb, I strayed from the group, lost in my thoughts about what life may have been like for the souls resting at this place. I descended a ramp that stopped at what appeared to be a stone door that led to nowhere. Strange, I thought. Why would they build such a thing? While I pondered the philosophical significance of a doorway to nowhere, I ran my fingers along the carved outline of the entryway. All was quiet. The murmuring voices of my fellow explorers were dim and faded. A soft, hot breeze flitted by, carrying a woman’s whisper. My eyes darted around but saw no one nearby. Again, the hot wind caressed me, and with it, the voice, the sultry sigh, the exotic hush. Was the voice hidden in the wind, or was the woman’s sigh the breeze itself? Could it be the breath of the goddess Hathor lighting across my cheek? Feeling suddenly faint, I leaned against the door and rested my forehead against a stone block. A grating, the sound of stone grinding against stone, resounded. The block sunk into the door, and the door eased open. A putrid current of air flowed out from within, curling around me, wrapping me up in invisible tendrils of the most morbid odors of death and decay. My feet moved against my will and I was drawn into the tomb! 

The phantom limbs pulled me deeper into the tomb. I saw a dim light looming in the darkness ahead. The eerie gleaming grew brighter, taking shape, morphing and transforming until its diabolical metamorphosis was complete and before me hovered a gigantic, all-seeing eye.  The eye of Horus? Perhaps. I had no more time to ponder for a single blinding beam of light like a ray of pure sun shot out from the great eye, striking me in the center of my forehead. Ancient powers and secrets infused my being. The mighty wind continued to swirl around me, taking solid form, turning to cloth that spun and wrapped tight around my arms, legs, head, and torso. Helpless, I could only watch as I was covered in filthy, soiled gauze. Hot breath and a fetid stench filled the dark corridor. Evil laughter bounced off the stone walls. A crocodile’s snarl belched up from some unseen depths of the chamber. 

The eye took its light from me. I stumbled in the purest darkness I had yet to experience, spinning until my newly bound hands struck stone and I steadied myself against the wall. Though my cloth bindings were tight, I began to shuffle along with focused steps, determined to make my way out of this dreadful tomb. The rasps of my shuffling steps were soon accompanied by hissing; a horrid chorus that rose in volume and proximity with every passing moment. It was the serpents of the tomb, coming for my body and soul. Alas, the curse was upon me! 

Straining against my cloth bonds, I ran from the serpents, screaming for my life. Through the gauze that covered my eyes I dimly saw sunlight peering in through the still open door. Salvation was within my grasp! Just as I felt the snakes at my heels, I burst forth from the tomb into the unforgiving Egyptian sun. 

With my arms outstretched, I cried for help. Upon hearing my exclamations, the nearby group of tourists turned my way. Shrieks of horror erupted from the small group as they fled from me. I screamed for them to return, begging for their help, but my words came out a garbled mess, muffled by the cloth over my mouth, turning my words to nothing more than tortured moans. 

I heard the persistent hissing closing in. I glanced back. Droves upon droves of serpents slithered from the tomb. I threw out my hands and again pleaded for assistance. The sight-seers rushed the tour company van in a panic. The tour guide gestured wildly, pointing at me and running away.

My next bout of shouting was due to the pain caused by the armed guards who accosted me and tossed me violently to the ground. I writhed beneath their hold, protesting, shouting to be saved from the advancing serpent horde. One of the guards screamed at me in broken English, admonishing me to hold still while I continued to yell one word over and over: snakes. He leaned down and shouted to me that there were no snakes, only sand and sun and frightened tourists, whose visit to the cemetery I had just ruined. 

Assuming that I had somehow accessed a hidden passageway, dressed myself as a mummy, and reappeared to scare my fellow tourists as part of a “stupid and typical American stunt”, I was held under protest at the gift shop until the local constable arrived. Thankfully, with the help of my official credentials and a phone call on which my dear employer, the ever lovely Emerian, was able to persuade the local authorities that I meant no ill will, I was released under the single condition that I would never, ever return. I assured them I would absolutely do no such thing, and, once freed from my cloth bindings, I went on my way, shaking the dust from my shoes. Now here in this safe space, days later, the hissing of the pursuing serpents, the horrible eye, the stench of death seeped into the mummy’s cloth that bound me –all these terrors torture my mind. Oh Egypt, when will you set me free?

Logbook of Terror: Myrtles Plantation

Myrtles Plantation

Even in the deepest, darkest hours of the night, the summer air of Louisiana is thick and oppressive. It bears down on me with a hot, wet weight that makes me want to sink into the ground and go to sleep. But I am not here to sleep. I stare at the massive Myrtles Plantation house that looms before me, an imposing giant cloaked in bleak black and mystery. A nervous fear trickles down my spine. I’m not supposed to be here, roaming the grounds at night, but I knew that to get the real story, I couldn’t simply tramp through the house in the daylight hours. Despite the rumors, despite what I had read online regarding sightings of spirits and apparitions during the day, the only time for me to visit this cursed abode was while the rest of the world slept.  

I let out a deep, steadying breath. Not a single light burned within the house or on the grounds, allowing me to approach in stealth. As I neared the steps leading up to the sprawling wrap-around porch, planning to seek entry through one of the windows on the lower level, a voice, its tone wrapped in the sludge of alcohol, beckoned to me. I turned. A lone man leered at me, pointing a pistol at my chest. I froze. No longer calling out to me, his pale lips emitted ghostly whispers that I strained to hear. His gaunt framed staggered toward me. The pistol held higher, he steadied his aim. I held up my hands and pleaded with the man to leave me be. His only response was to whisper to himself while his eyes bore into me with their insane glare. I screamed for him to halt. The pistol fired. Then I was looking up into the Spanish moss that swayed gently in the tree limbs above me, my hands clutched against my breast, my blood flowing out between my fingers. My ears rang from the pistol’s explosive shot, and within the ringing, I heard the mad laughter of the gunman. I struggled to my feet and stumbled up the stairs and onto the wooden landing. The insane cackling followed. 

I flung myself at the front door, grasped the handle, and turned. Miraculously, the front door flung open. I fell into the parlor and staggered to the steps which led to the home’s second floor. A young woman in an antebellum dress hurried through a doorway. She addressed me kindly and helped me to my feet. My only thought -obsessive, irrational, playing in a wretched loop- was to reach the seventeenth step. I had to climb the stairs, I told the girl. She grasped under my arm and steadied me. I looked into her face. Oh, how horrid was the sight! So pale, so ghastly, was her rotting skin! So foul her aura! So putrid her aroma! She had endless black holes for eyes, maggots and worms fell from her gaping mouth, and brown swamp water trickled from her ears. She shoved me onto the stairs. Horrid screeches creaked from her mouth, creeping out past the maggots and worms that squirmed and crawled on her mouth and chin. 

Seventeen, seventeen, seventeen… the number boomed and echoed in my skull, my final destination nearing as I counted each successive step, crawling with one hand while the other was held tight against my bleeding chest. My breaths were short and full of agony, my vision blurry, and the iron rich smell of my own blood filling the air. Only one more… 

When my hand hit the seventeenth step, an unseen force pulled me into the stair and I plunged into complete and total darkness. Wind rushed through my hair in a deafening roar as I fell and fell and fell, until…

I felt soft ground beneath me. Moonlight floated over my body. I ran a hand over my chest. My shirt was dry. I sat up. I was behind the great house. Glancing over myself, I saw that I had no injuries to speak of. My pounding heart slowed. As I sighed with relief and moved to get to my feet, hands thrust up through the ground, grabbing my wrists, tearing into my ankles. I screamed in terror. More hands shot out of the earth and ripped at my clothes and skin. I writhed in horror, fighting off the fiendish limbs. At last, I tore away, rolled, and sprung to my feet. I turned to run and an arrow pierced my side. I fell to my knees, howling. Blood gushed from the wound. I clutched the arrow to pull it from my flesh. I began to pull and another, deeper, older voice called out to me. 

A band of Native Americans stood before me. It was the chief who addressed me, demanding to know why I had chosen to dishonor his people by building my home on their sacred burial grounds. I pleaded with him, fumbling my words in hopes of explaining that it was not I who had built the house and that I was but an innocent traveler. The natives responded by brandishing their hatchets. The chief pointed at me and, with a dire expression on his face, uttered an admonishment in a tongue unknown to me. With grim faces, the tribesmen set upon me. I closed my eyes, cried for my life, and waited for the blows to begin. 

A soft hand touched my shoulder and I heard myself stop screaming. I opened my eyes to a sunny day and a group of tourists circled around me. A young man, his hand still resting on my shoulder, asked me if I was alright. Indeed I was not, I replied. 

I stood and ran from the plantation grounds. I must have run untethered until I reached the nearby town, though I cannot clearly recall, for the horrors of what I’d seen the night prior still plagued my mind and heart, as they surely will for days and weeks to come. Indeed, this cursed plantation is a home which I shall never visit again.

Logbook of Terror: Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Assylm

Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum, WV

Despite my loathsome misgivings toward any address with the words “lunatic” and “asylum” in its name or description, I agreed to visit this dreaded famed and supposedly “haunted” locale to investigate. I may sound like a cynic, a non-believer, but the truth is that I believe too strongly and that is why I despise such a place as this.

I know beyond any doubt that it is indeed cursed, that even its bricks and mortar waver in an unearthly trance –caught between worlds- and that I chance becoming infected with the lunacy myself.  For madness lingers, defying death, living on past the mind in which it once dwelt. It is in the walls, in the decomposing rot that lines the ceilings, and surely in the lonely apparitions who wander the dank, cob-webbed corridors of this derelict monument to insanity.

I could feel the terror building in my chest even as I approached the massive gothic structure, its peaks looming high above me in the West Virginia sky, looking down with a mocking sneer. Yet, even with the horror filling my bones, I entered this grand monolith to the wreckage of malformed minds. I simply could not help myself, for I had to know what lies behind the veil of sanity, and the tickets to the overnight ghost tour for which I had registered were apparently non-refundable.   

An hour after my entry into the asylum, I found myself on the fourth floor. Dusk had traversed the bridge into night. My senses had registered to the gloom which surrounded and enveloped me and I let the shadows wrap around me like a comforting blanket. Thankfully, I was in the company of a small group of fellow believers, the “tour group”, who walked the halls with me in a shared reverential fear. We whispered among each other as we listened for the moans of the trapped souls, staying close together, hoping for a glimpse of the otherworldly; even as we dreaded its presence.     

We took watchful steps along the corridor. Our eyes darted nervously back and forth. Even in the dank cold, sweat pricked my skin. The gloom thickened. A lonely laugh echoed down the hall. We halted, our small group frozen where we stood. Again, seconds later, the laugh, high and thin, filled with bleak mirth. Another laugh darted out behind us. Heads spun in different directions. Then, a moan, a dirge of confused sorrow and fear, rang out of the last room on the left.

Photo by Amanda Norman

My hands trembled. A cold breeze cut through me. I saw my own breath. It formed a ghastly image near my face, a visage with a demonic smile which hovered within arm’s reach. The image grinned at me, and, as it faded, whispered my name. I twirled and screamed, and I saw that I was suddenly, utterly, alone.

I called out for my fellow paranormal seekers. Answers in the form of moans and giggles from the rooms lining the hall were the only answers I received. I stumbled backward. Pale figures in glowing white gowns shuffled out of the rooms, through thin doorways, turning toward me, their faces fluid, contorting, their expressions waxing and waning between grimaces and grins. They held their arms out to me, beckoning me to them. Closer and closer, the spirits floated and whispered my name. How did they know me? Was I once one of them in another life? Their contorting mouths opened wide. The ghouls screeched in unison. Black, horrid clouds of insanity poured forth, filling the air, surrounding me, pressing in, holding me close.

I fell to the floor, calling out for help with the dark pouring down on me and the dead whispering my name, over and over, picking at my mind, slicing at my soul. The dark, the madness, the whispers, the laughter, the cries –make it stop! Make it stop! Make it stop!! I wailed in the bleak and the black and the dank and the dark.

Hands on my shoulders shook me awake. Or was I ever asleep? I opened my eyes. I was in the center of the fourth-floor hallway. The odor of urine and disinfectant drifted over me. A fly buzzed over my cheek. Harsh fluorescent lights beamed down on me. The faces of two nurses filled my vision. I slid back on the slick, tile floor, retreating in horrified confusion.

One of the nurses smiled at me. “Now, how’d you get out here again? You know you aren’t supposed to be in the hallway.”

I mumbled, attempting to explain. Somehow, my words scrambled and didn’t come out right. Why can’t I speak?!  I shouted something unintelligible. My eyes watered with horror.

“Now, now, don’t you be afraid,” the other nurse says. “Let’s get you back to your room.”

I cried out as the two asylum nurses hoisted me from the floor. My legs went limp and they dragged me through the corridor, all the way to the last room on the left. I groaned in protest, attempting to explain. Why couldn’t they understand that I wasn’t a patient? Why weren’t they listening to me?

***

That was last week or maybe last month or last year, I can’t be sure. But I am sure that I must find a way out of this godforsaken abode. Every day more patients arrive. I now share my room with five others. The nurses rarely walk our hall and whenever I see one I plead my case for release, telling them in the plainest of terms that I was never meant to be in this place, I was just a visitor! In my earnestness I often grab at their arms, hoping to impart my sincerity and the dire nature of my situation upon them. They look at me with disgust in their eyes and yell at me to leave them be and to “stop yammering.”

This written communique may be my last hope. I was able to smuggle it into yesterday’s mail, addressed to our San Francisco headquarters, and it is my most sincere prayer that a fellow staff member will read my account and take immediate action, for I know not in which dimension I now reside, but I believe with all my heart that the skills and imaginations and divinations of the ones in our organization will once again rescue me from certain peril. Godspeed you addicts! You are my only hope!  

Logbook of Terror: Tamerlane’s Tomb!

A fictional representation of a real Cursed Location – Tamerlane’s Tomb

It is a brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoon. Birds are chirping overhead, the sky is a radiant, cloudless blue. A soft breeze carries laughter and conversation of nearby tourists to my ears. It is a beautiful day, and I am scared out of my mind.

I can’t understand how these crowds of people file and shuffle in and out of this grand, horrid mausoleum without a seeming care, visiting the burial ground of a blood-thirsty conqueror, of a state-sanctioned maniac, a psychopathic butcher who brutalized and murdered millions. Yet here they are; the masses, oohing and aahhing in awe and wonder. They don’t know. They can’t hear them, but I can; I can hear the whispers of the deadTimur reconstruction03.jpg

I want to leave but the dead won’t let me. There seems to be an invisible wall or force of some sort keeping me here. Every evening for the past week I’ve followed the train of mindless tourists as they leave to board the shuttles that will take them back to the resorts, and every time I near the property’s edge, I blink and I am back in the tomb. Last night I was able to climb aboard one of the shuttle buses. I didn’t know where it was headed and I didn’t care, as long as it carried me away from this cursed place of blood and murder and damnation. Once I was seated and the bus began to move, my heart was cheered with thoughts that I was able to be gone from this cursed place. About a block away, I was overcome with tremendous weariness and fell into a deep slumber. When I awoke, I was alone on the stone floor of the tomb, my hands pressed fast against the resting place of the bones of Timur the conqueror. I cried aloud into the night and no one heard me or came to my aid. And still the dead, the countless victims of Timur, whispered in my mind, filling me with horror. Their voices swirled around my head, spinning faster and faster. I saw oceans of blood spilling into the tomb. Waves of crimson crashed against the stones. I rose and ran from the oncoming flood. Falling, my head crashed against Timur’s earthly cell and I fell into blackness.

When I came to the sun was high in the sky. I was dressed in clean clothes, in line with a mob of tourists filing into the tomb, with no memory of how I’d gotten there. A tour guide spouted off facts about the dreaded conqueror. My hands shook. Sweat broke on my brow. Immediately, I fetched my pen and pad from my satchel which was slung over my shoulder as usual and began scribbling the words you now read. Please send help immediately, for last night while my mind swirled in the deepest dark, the spirits charged me with a heinous duty which I must carry out for it weighs on me with the weight of immense obsession. I must open Timur’s resting place. I must disturb his bones. I must activate the curse anew and bring chaos, world-wide war, and terror to the earth! The spirits demand their vengeance, I am their servant, and I must obey! Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, please send help now; stop me before it is too late!