Archive for October, 2012

The Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Writers Group hosted a Public Reading at Writer House last night.  This was the fourth Public Reading this group has done since its begining 2 or so years ago.  The previous Readings have always been well attended, but the threat of Hurricane Sandy seems to have kept many people at home last night.  We did have a small group of listeners.  The stories were good.  We also had wine and gruesome goodies to snack on during the intermission.  It was a fun night.  I wish you could have been there.

Posted below is the story I read last night.  I though it would be fun to create a spooky story around WriterHouse itself.  In fact the three women mentioned in the story are actually connected to WriterHouse.  My apologies to those I killed and maimed in this piece.

House of Writer House


Salon of the Dead


“Hey, Moaner! Look at this! Where the dirt’s fallen away. There’s a brick wall.”

The slab face city worker, nicknamed for his penchant for complaining, stood with his arms crossed, looking down into the utility trench they were digging.

“So what? It’s a foundation,” Moaner said.

“No it’s not! Look. These are old bricks.”

With a huff, Moaner unfolded his arms and lowered himself into the trench.

“Hey, you’re right. These are old bricks. You can scrape the mortar out with your fingernail.”

Moaner pulled out a pocket knife and started digging at the mortar around several bricks. Soon he wriggled one free.

“Get me a flashlight from the truck,” he ordered. In a moment one was tossed to him. “It’s hollow back there. Like a cave. Looks like it goes back under that building. Phew! What a stink! Hey, Moose! Call back to the yard and ask if there’s a basement under 508 Dale Avenue. There shouldn’t be.”

Two hours later the drone of a powerful ventilator fan could be heard from blocks away, and the buildings around 508 Dale Avenue had been evacuated. The large flexible duct guiding the flow from the fan into the underground chambers writhed like an animal alive. Workers in the trench and in the underground passages wore hazmat suits. Spark precautions were taken because the venting noxious atmosphere might be explosive.

Two hazmat suited responders with powerful LED lights slowly explored the warren of passages beneath 508 Dale Avenue.

“Look at this,” one said. “Looks like some sort of kitchen area.” With a probe he touched an open tin of sardines. “Look at this tin. These might have been canned back in the 1950s.”

Indeed, the labeling appeared antique. The responder pushed the tin with his probe, and a cockroach ran out from beneath it and disappeared down the side of the crude shelf. An old percolator coffee pot sat on a gas burner connected by a rubber hose to an old gas line. Stacked wooden crates housed an assortment of old cans, sacks and boxes, all faded and dingy.

“Look over here,” the second responder said. He shown his light into a different chamber. “Looks like some sort of sleeping quarters.”

There was a pallet on the earthen floor, a dark bundle that may have served as a pillow and a filthy rug-like thing that may have been a blanket.

“You know,” the first responder said. “Even in this suit I can feel the stink.”

“C’mon. This passage continues.”

Slowly they made their way down a brick lined passage. It opened into a chamber where their lamplight whirled a kaleidoscope of horror. Three bodies sat on wooden boxes around a makeshift table. One was skeletal. The second was shriveled, mummy-like except for slimy skin. The third corpse was not long dead, just beginning to drip fluids onto the earth floor beneath its seat. Also beneath its seat was an object. One of the responders knelt and poked it with the probe.

“It’s a wallet.”

“Can you see identification,” the other said.

“Yes,” he said, pivoting slightly to shine his light onto the plastic cardholder. “It belongs to a ‘Clifford Garstang’.”

“Look at this,” the other said.

He aimed his light onto the tabletop. In front of the vacant seat was a piece of paper bag. Written on it in fine script: ‘Welcome to the Artist’s Salon’.

“Looks like someone was expecting a new guest.”

A brick in the chamber wall pulled away. A pair of yellow eyes stared out onto the scene.

Several days later at WriterHouse, three members gathered to talk.

“Oh, My God!” Chelsea said. “I can’t believe that!”

“It’s true,” Rachel said. “The body had identification and the family confirmed it.”

“And he was in a room beneath WriterHouse?”

“Yes. There’s a maze of passages beneath us. One of those rooms was set up like a Salon with table and chairs and bodies sitting around it — a vacant place with an invitation.”

“Has Cliff been missing long?”

“Not long,” Rachel replied sadly. “He missed a couple classes he was teaching. We couldn’t get in touch with him. It was odd. Cliff just wouldn’t stand up students.”

Jennifer, who had been listening to the other two, said, “Whatever happened must have happened right here. Someone came in while the door was unlocked.”

There came a sudden clatter from the kitchen. The three women jumped with alarm. They were the only ones in the building. Then Chelsea laughed.

“I put too many dishes in the drainer. Something settled.”

They all laughed.

“I’m going home,” Chelsea said. “Don’t you two stay here long.”

She left the classroom where they had been talking. Rachel and Jennifer got busy organizing WriterHouse materials. They could hear Chelsea puttering around by the front desk.

Suddenly came a shriek! Rachel and Jennifer jumped with alarm and rushed into the main hall.

There, with huge skeletal-like hands around Chelsea’s throat, was a dark figure, tall, wearing some kind of knee-length covering. Rachel and Jennifer both screamed. It swung around, one huge hand still on Chelsea’s throat. Its face was long and dark with filth; yellow eyes, yellow teeth, and long stringy hair draped over narrow sharp shoulders.

With a flick of its wrist it smashed Chelsea’s head into a door jam — then it turned on Rachel and Jennifer. They retreated into the classroom.

Rachel fished around in her handbag. In a heartbeat Jennifer saw there would be no call to 911 — they were both dead. The creature swept in, just steps away from Rachel when she dropped her handbag, and in her hand, instead of a cell phone, was a .327 magnum.


She fired off all six rounds. The blasts froze both women in place. The creature stopped, a pained look about its liver dark lips. It spun and ran towards the kitchen, emitting a yowl that rattled the windows.

“Oh my God,” Jennifer whispered.

Rachel knelt, fished in her handbag, retrieved a speed loader, and quickly reloaded the revolver. She crept on hands and knees into the front hall, surveying the scene.

“I don’t see it,” she said.

Jennifer hopped over her and rushed to Chelsea.

“Oh my God, I think she’s hurt. I’m calling 911.”

Minutes later police and emergency responders were all over WriterHouse – and beneath it. Rachel and Jennifer sat in a classroom, facing a detective.

“Are you going to arrest me?” Rachel asked.

“No. We’ll have you come down to headquarters to make a statement and take more details, but we’re not going to arrest you. You have a permit.” The detective motioned to an officer who was drawing small circles on the floor around Rachel’s spent shell casings. “You weren’t firing blanks?”

“No. Self defense rounds,” Rachel said.

“We’re not finding any holes in the walls. You must have put every bullet into your target.”

“It was close, like from me to you.”

“That was brave,” the detective said.

“How’s Chelsea?”

“She was unconscious when they carried her out of here.”

“Have you found that thing?” Jennifer asked.

“We found a blood trail in one of the passages below this building. It leads to a way outside, but we loose it in the stream next to the railroad tracks. We need to get the dogs in to help. How this ‘person of interest’ ever fit through that tiny hatchway beneath the kitchen sink is beyond me. But until we do find him or her or whatever, I suggest you lock the doors here. It seems to have some affinity for members of your organization.”

Across Dale Avenue from Writerhouse, in a chamber deep beneath the York Building, sat a figure in deep despair, rocking back and forth on a dank and filthy pallet, in total darkness. In rejection, it cried. It cried for the loss of its Artists Salon. It cried with the healing of its many wounds. And it tasted amidst the bile leaking from its bowels the vengeance it bore for WriterHouse.


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