Tag Archive: horror


Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

 

Spider, Spider

by Bea Cannon

 

The black and yellow orb-weaver chose the spot to build her web by instinct. It was secluded and away from wind and weather, and there were plenty of small flying creatures nearby, so it was a good location. She laid her eggs, ensconced them within silk and attached the egg sac near the center of her web, and then settled comfortably in.

It was growing late in the year, fall had arrived, and she would spend the rest of her short life hanging upside down in her web, capturing insects for food and guarding her eggs as long as she could. It was all the mothering her young would get, as she would die with the first hard frost, leaving her egg sac to fate.

At least that was the way it was supposed to go.

The morning after the spider built her home across the sidelight and partially on the front door of the house in the curve of the street, the door opened, ripping the web apart, and a woman stepped out.

“Ah crap!” she cried as the ends of the broken web stuck to her face and caught in her hair. She waved her hands in front of her, sputtering and pulling at the gossamer strands.

The woman caught a movement out the corner of her eye and spun around, spotting the large spider as she swung down from what was left of the web on a strand of silk.

The woman let loose a loud shriek and hopped down from the porch. She grabbed up her garden hose from its container, turned on the water full blast, and let loose at the hapless spider.

The orb-weaver skittered around, unsuccessfully trying to avoid the hard blast. The water washed parts of her broken web and her egg sac from the porch, knocking the spider onto the ground behind the boxwood bush beside the front steps.

Spotting the egg sac where it landed on the bottom step, the woman crushed it under her foot and kicked it off into the shrubbery. She watched the spider to see if it was going to move, and when she saw one of its legs twitch, she tore into the house and came back out with a spray can, which she used to thoroughly drench the spot where the spider went down. Then she glanced at her watch and muttered a curse upon seeing she was running late. She hastily shoved the spray can behind a porch column, jumped into her car, and took off for work.

Two minutes after the woman left, leaves at the edge of the bush stirred, and the orb-weaver pulled herself out from where she had hidden underneath the bush, inching over the poisoned soil. She crawled laboriously up the red brick beside the steps, and onto the porch, coming to rest next to the spray can, where she sat recovering.

She should have died beneath the boxwood because the woman had soaked the branches, and the spray poured down on her. However, this orb-weaver had a unique genetic make-up, part of which kicked in back in the spring when she was tiny and just out of the egg sac. At that time, the woman sprayed her garden, and a small droplet of the same type of spray landed on her. It hurt, but not only had she survived, she’d also gained a certain amount of immunity.

After that incident, being a denizen of the garden subjected her to a variety of chemicals, including insecticides and fertilizers. The insecticides only caused her some momentary respiratory issues, and she’d gotten over them. The fertilizers hadn’t been a problem at all, as she had crawled away without any ill effects.

It all served to toughen her. Still, she would have died with the first frost like any ordinary orb-weaver if it hadn’t been for this last, more pervasive spraying. She felt pain in one pair of her legs and her abdomen, but it gradually dissipated, and again, she did not die. Instead, the ingredients worked into her body, and the rest of her singular genes activated. She became more than a simple creature of instincts. She became cognizant – and much more.

She gazed down at her ruined web and broken egg sac. Her hard work and preparations for the next generation lay crushed on the ground. She could rebuild her web, but it was at the end of the season, and there was no more time for mating and procuring fertilized eggs. Under ordinary conditions, such a disaster as this would terminate the lineage of this particular spider because while orb-weavers usually procreated twice during their time, she had gotten a late start. Hence, this was her first – and only – batch of eggs. She would die at first frost without progeny.

Except, her new changes negated that scenario.

She looked within herself, getting an understanding of what it meant, how she could retain the existence that she wanted to continue. Ordinarily, the orb-weaver was a peaceful creature that went about her way avoiding conflict. She generally ran from danger, hiding until such disruptions went away. And she was not a hunter as she waited for food to fly into her web. But, this behavior no longer applied to her. She made her plans.

First, she went down to the ground where her egg sac lay and carefully chewed the soggy, mud-covered silk open. She examined the unhatched young within and discovered six eggs had survived. Upon further assessment, she determined three – one male and two females – were the same as she was. The others, all females, were ordinary orb-weavers. These three she ate, then she cast webbing from her spinnerets securing the others to herself, and crawled back up.

Her entire life had been lived within the yard and garden surrounding the place where she’d built her web, and only now did she understand that the structure to which she had attached her web was the abode of the gigantic being who crushed her egg sac. Until today, it would never have struck her to go inside. Indeed, until today, she didn’t know it was an abode. Now, she searched the porch until she found a place over the door that was just large enough to accommodate her body with the three tiny eggs attached. She went through the crack and into the house.

She surveyed the place from atop the doorsill, and then crawled down the wall and climbed into a large potted plant that stood near the door. Her old instincts tried to lead her into making a web within the spiky leaves, but she ignored this. She didn’t sense any danger or that the house had any occupants at the moment, so she carefully wrapped her three eggs into a new sac and attached it on the underside of a lower leaf of the plant. Then, she went exploring throughout the house.

She found the scent of the woman everywhere she went, but it was heaviest in one particular place, so she crawled up on a soft surface, the one with the strongest scent, and spent some time in there making her preparations. Hungry once she finished, she went looking to see what food might be available. She caught seven beetles and two house spiders, which she killed. She ate the spiders and two of the beetles and folded the rest into webbing and took them back to the flowerpot for later consumption. Then she dug a burrow and waited.

A few hours later, the woman returned. She went about her normal routine upon getting home from work. After cooking and eating her dinner, she sat at her computer for a while, chatting with friends on social media and playing a game, then she went to her bedroom where she undressed, went into her bathroom and showered. Then she got into bed and, as was her habit, propped herself up with pillows and switched on the bedroom TV. Tonight, the bed was unusually comfortable, and a few minutes later, she dozed off.

A while later, she snapped awake. She felt constricted and figured she had wound herself up in her bedding. She could hear the TV still going, but when she tried to pull her arms out and reach for the remote to turn it off, she couldn’t move. She tried to sit up and couldn’t. Fear seeped into her brain. Had she had a stroke? She tried to call out, but there was something over her mouth, muffling her voice. That was when she felt the web the spider had spent the morning and afternoon carefully spinning to resemble her bedding. It had slowly contracted around her as she slept. The only things not covered were her eyes and nose.

The woman rolled her eyes downward and in the flickering light from the TV set, saw part of the gossamer strands that encased her. Her eyes frantically darted around and caught a motion above her. The large orb-weaver swung down from above and onto her chest, where it sat and stared at her. She was still trying to scream as the spider rushed forward. It scrambled up one of her nostrils, and into her brain.

The next morning, the spider, having learned everything she needed to know from consuming certain areas of the woman’s brain, kept the body alive and used it and its voice to call in and resign from the woman’s job.

In two weeks, the orb-weaver’s eggs hatched. The hatchlings were not quite as astute as their mother, but they improved when she used the spider spray on them. She spent the winter educating them in the ways of humans.

She used the shell of the woman effectively, handling everything online and turning away visitors, and by early spring, she and her progeny had been quite prolific. Thousands of her children and grandchildren inherited her genetics, and they went forth into the world

In due course, humans learned they were no longer the top predator.

###

(One of last year’s winners in the Support for Indie Authors short story contest)

(Reedited 12/12/2019)

 

Short Reads for Shorter Days

Do you find yourself looking for a book you can finish because your day hasn’t got enough “day” in it and you’ve been so busy that by the time you sit down to read, you either hear a thud and snap awake to find the book on the floor, or, you find yourself wearing it on your face?

Or, did you sign up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and now it’s down to the crunch and you’re running out of time to reach that goal of thirty (or fifty, or twenty, or even ten) books you said you’d read?

Or perhaps you’ve simply decided that you’re going to start reading for enjoyment but you’re intimidated by all the books out there that have two hundred chapters and six hundred pages to get through, and you’re not sure you want to start quite that big

Well, have no fear, short reads are here!

Here are some great ebooks that were written by eleven fantastic indie authors who are also short story writers. Go on, take a look, browse around and pick up one or two – or more because most can be had for only .99 cents and some are free; most can be read in one sitting, and some are so short you can read ‘em in ten minutes!

Take a shot at some awesome stories… there’s something here for everyone!

Enjoy!

Amanda Siegrist

 
(All above are available through Kindle Unlimited)

Jane Jago

 
(Also available through Kindle Unlimited)
(Pre-order for release on Dec 1st)

Bea Cannon

  
(All above also available through other ebook retailers such as Kobo & Nook)

Dwayne Fry

  

 

  
Austism 99¢
(All above are available through Kindle Unlimited)

Kathryn Meyer Griffith

(Also available through other ebook retailers such as Kobo & Nook)

Lyra Shanti

  
(All above are available through Kindle Unlimited)

V.M. Sawh

Cinders 99¢
(Also available through Kindle Unlimited)

David M. Kelly

   
Atoll 99¢
(All above are available through Kindle Unlimited)

Kimelene Carr

(Also available through Kindle Unlimited)

C.B. Archer

  

 

  

 

  

 

 
Vambrace 99¢
Fallin 99¢
(All above are available through Kindle Unlimited)

Christina McMullen

  
Dissonant 99¢
(All above are available through Kindle Unlimited)

Donald was in the process of fixing dinner, or rather, he was opening cans and dumping the contents out onto the two plates sitting on the small table.  The light from the battery powered lamp threw dim shadows on the walls.

“When do you suppose this will end?” asked Lacey trying to see out the small opaque, round window.  It was pointless, though.  The window filter wasn’t made to be opened.  “It’s already gone on longer than before.”  It had lingered for a week previously, then stopped for two days before coming back worse than ever.

Donald eyed her.   “Since it’s lasted this long, you know the score as well as I.  Come on, eat your dinner.  It’s time for the daily broadcast.  Maybe there’ll be some news.”  He clicked on the radio.

Lacey settled at the table and they picked at their food in silence, listening to the government announcer.  Neither had an appetite.

“We’re now in day twenty of the crisis,” came the generic male voice of the announcer.  “Again, no one should go outside unless entirely necessary, and all filters should be kept in place.  According to Dr. Horton Sullivan of the Department of Meteorology at the Miller Institute, there is some disagreement among scientists as to how long this will persist.  It is agreed though, that if all citizens follow the directives, they will remain safe and unharmed until the danger is over.”

The radio went silent.  The broadcasts were never long but this was the shortest and the most useless message they’d gotten to date.  Disgusted, Donald reached over and turned it off.

The two meteorologists stared at each other.

“We need to look,” said Lacey, quietly.  Donald agreed.

They got up from the table and went to the door.  Donald gripped the top edge of the filter and when Lacey nodded, he pulled it open.

Lacey stuck her head out, stared up and quickly drew it back in.  Tears coursed down her cheeks, leaving tracks in the sooty film covering her face.  She wiped her burning eyes with a sleeve, smearing the residue.  She held her breath against the foul air being admitted.  Donald looked intently at the sky then hurriedly slammed the filter shut.  He and Lacey stared at each other again, dirty faces ashen.

Some few days had been better than others.  More light, less smog, and easier breathing.  But no more.  With the filters in place, the air conditioning inside their smog survival capsule would sustain them for a while longer, and they had plenty of canned food.  But to what purpose?  The hazy, silvery orb in the darkened, roiling skies told them what they already knew in their hearts: the danger would never be over.  The inversion was worsening, becoming permanent.  It wasn’t clearing.  The moon was gone, and soon, the sun would not be visible either.

And it never would be seen again, as all life expired in a man-made heat death, and Earth became a twin to Venus.

End

Going Green by Christina McMullen – available at Amazon

Over the past year, I’ve accumulated a host of books on my Kindle that I’ve simply not gotten around to reading. I’ve had this one since back in the spring and I’m kicking myself for taking so long to get to it – but glad that I finally did.

I’ve read a few zombie apocalypse stories and I have to say that this one is not what I expected – and that’s a good thing as I like stories that take an old theme and turn it into something new and fresh.

It’s kind of a case of “the road to Hell being paved with good intentions” or maybe “missing Heaven and hitting Hell” would be another way of describing it. It’s the end of the world (as we know it) written in a series of interconnected stories that describe the catastrophic outcome of a wrong-way government official having released a toxic agent onto the world that causes nearly everyone to become a shambling, grunting, flesh-eating zombie. While the book is short, the story is complete and definitely won’t leave you hanging. I don’t want to say a lot because I’m afraid of introducing a spoiler but I certainly liked the twist at the end and felt it was the perfect ending.

I loved the writing style, the satire, and the humor, and I certainly will be reading more of Christina McMullen’s work. (While perusing my Kindle I was happy to discover that I already have a couple other of her books and I’ve already bought her newest one.)

If you like sci-fi and zombie stories (and even if you don’t!) you will love this one!  A solid five stars.

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Click to buy @:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

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Apple iBooks

 

 

 

It hung on a string from the rack in the yarn shop, its red beanie button eyes staring out at the world.  It was constructed of black yarn twisted and wound into the general shape of a person, a boy, I thought.  It’s nose and mouth, such as it was, consisted of red yarn stitched loosely down the face between the eyes.  It was an art project gone wrong.

I knew immediately that I wanted it.

“Mama, may I have the doll?” I asked.

She looked down at me and frowned.  “Why would you want such an ugly thing?”

“Please?”

Her face softened as I knew it would. “Well, let me get my yarn, and I’ll see how much it costs.”

The proprietor laughed when Mama asked, and patted my cheek.  She gave it to me for free.  We left the shop with me happily carrying the doll in my hand.

I set the little figure on the small chair in my bedroom, turning it so that it faced the room door.

“What are you going to name your doll?” asked Mama when she came to tuck me into my bed that night.

“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something.”

She smiled and gave me a kiss, turning out the light as she left.

Later, I awakened to hear the noises that came more often lately; the sound of a raised voice as Papa shouted at Mama, then the terrible sound of him striking her and her quietly crying.  The house grew still for a while after that, but my stomach clenched because I knew what came next.

I watched fearfully as my door quietly opened, and Papa, outlined in the hall light, edged into my darkened room.

He came and sat on the side of my bed and leaned over me as usual, but this time was different.

I looked past him to see a large dark figure looming over his shoulder, and before he could do the things he usually did, he made a muffled noise as a pair of black arms wrapped around his head and snatched him away from me.

I sat up and watched as he became entirely covered by the huge figure, his struggles getting him nowhere, his voice unheard.

I knew that he would never hit Mama or slip silently into my room again, and I smiled.

The next morning when Mama called me to breakfast, I picked my small yarn doll up from the otherwise empty floor and carried it to the kitchen with me.

Mama’s eyes were red and swollen, and her face was bruised, but she smiled at me as she placed my breakfast before me.  “Did you think of a name for your doll yet?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I told her.  “His name is “Good Friend.”

I was five years old when Papa disappeared, never to be seen again, and life was much better for us afterward.  I’m well-grown, now, but Good Friend protects me still.

 

End

The large black and yellow orb weaver sat in its web.  It had built it in the sidelight window on the front porch of a house.

The occupant of the home opened the door to leave for work.  She brushed a thread attached to the door causing the spider to jitter toward her.  She spotted it, and letting loose a loud shriek, dropped her tote and retreated into the house.

Reemerging with a can, she liberally sprayed the hapless spider and it fell dead.  She retrieved her tote and left for work.

She didn’t notice she’d also sprayed her lunch.

 

The funnel-shaped cloud formed rapidly, as such clouds usually do.  It bore down on the isolated stretch of houses and when folk heard the warning siren they quickly ran to their cellars.

Everybody emerged once the all-clear sounded and immediately headed for their vehicles.  Eyes were tearing up and people were retching.

Zeke cursed through bouts of vomiting as he staggered toward his truck.  He yelled to his wife and kids, “Git in! We gotta git outta here fast!”

“Whut’s that stench, Zeke?” moaned his gagging wife, clinging to a screaming, upchucking baby.

“It wuz a goddamned skunknado!”

END

(With apologies to Sharknado)

Noise

 

I hear a noise and look around to pinpoint its location.  It appears to be coming from the corner by the window.  It’s the chirping of a cricket.

I go to check but it has moved along the wall.  I follow.  I stand still and listen.

Again, the sound has moved, now across the room to the opposite wall.

I am annoyed and determined to catch the cricket, so I continue to follow, flyswatter in hand.

Then, the sound comes from midair, in the center of the room.

Slowly, horrifyingly, it dawns on me.  The noise is in my head.

 

End

Second Coming: It’s all just a game by Andrew Smith

 

This is a very well written mystery/ thriller/supernatural/horror story which also dips into metaphysics.  I know that’s a mouthful, but that’s how I see it.  Not to mention the very interesting historical component involving the Crusades.  This story has a lot of twists, and I’m going to be as general as possible as I don’t want to introduce any spoilers, but it’s definitely not for children or the faint of heart.   There is no fluff involved here.   This is deep and dark with lots of violent action, and a lot of the horror is not of the supernatural variety.

The book starts a little slow, in Jerusalem, with the very pregnant wife of the protagonist, Charles, stopping on a lark to see a fortune teller, or oracle, and immediately getting into a situation that went terribly wrong.  The plot builds up from there, and  I must admit that at first I thought it wasn’t going to be my kind of story or to my tastes at all because of the violence, or the political/religious aspects, and I’m not much into either of those.  If you feel that way, I would advise you to keep reading.  I did, and am extremely glad I did.

The author is so descriptive with his characters that in short order, the reader gets to know them well and they become real people with personalities that are likeable (or not, such as the priest Estevez).  One can get pissed at them for doing something thoughtless, such as Charles’ seeming obliviousness in certain areas of his life which, among other things, strains his relationship with his son, Marcus.

There are plots and subplots, and things are not all black or white; the reader gets a sense of people doing the things they do because they believe it’s their duty or is the right thing to do (even if they’re wrong).  These are not cardboard characters; even the bad guys have layers (though some are what I, or anybody else, would consider to be just plain bad).    We learn a great deal about the revenant, Izz al-Din, and to my shock, there came a point where I found myself actually sympathizing with him, and believe me, I can’t remember a time when I’ve done that before!  And, he’s a truly bad, bad guy.  Trust me: this bad guy’s story has a real twist, in more ways than one.   The author sure knows how to surprise you and how to use words to paint images so you actually see a particular scene, some of which get pretty graphic.

This is a full-length, standalone novel but did leave what can only be construed as some “loose ends”, so I’m sincerely hoping there’s a sequel in the works.  In the meantime, this book is a highly intriguing, thrilling and enjoyable read.

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