Saturday, October 30, 2010

#fridayflash: Initiation

By Louise Dragon

Rusty hinges ground on the screen door. His friends laughed. “No such thing as ghosts,” he recited & pushed open the door.
Neal Dodge looked back at his new friends and forced a smile.
I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.  The words played in his brain like a neon sign.
“There’s no such thing as a haunted house!” Neal shouted through the rusty screen.  “Meet me back here tomorrow, same time, same place.”
Ted Atwood looked nervous, so did Frank Damon, Louie Clutterfield, however, was still grinning. 
“See you,” Louie called back and the three boys turned and headed down the deserted street.  None of them looked back.
Neal gulped, left the door open, and turned to inspect his surroundings. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention.  Perhaps this initiation stunt to be admitted to The Torros was not worth it.  He shrugged, took of his yellow baseball cap, and wondered if it was against the rules to spend the entire night huddled by the front door waiting for morning.
Neal’s eyes moved cautiously about the room, but his feet stayed put.  He’d heard all of the scuttlebutt about the Caserton House.  Old Jonathan Caserton had collected children like some people collect stamps.  People in town say kids still disappear in or around the Caserton house, empty or not.  Nobody knows where they go – they just seem to come up missing.
Neal placed his back against the door jam and slid his butt down to the floor.  He felt relatively safe this close to the door.  He was thinking that if any ghosts or ghouls came at him, he’d be able to outrun them right off the eerie property – membership or not.
From this vantage point, Neal caught site of a huge portrait of Jonathan Caserton placed jauntily over the mantle in one of the front rooms.  The painting showed a stooped, mustached, old man with a cane.  All about him were children, all gazing up at him with sad eyes.
Neal found that he couldn’t take his eyes off the likeness.  He’d pull them away, but they always swung back to the canvas.  It was mesmerizing -- like a magnet for his stare.  At last he just gave up and turned to study the images in the painting. 
Abruptly Neal found himself standing before the portrait – he could not recollect walking over to it, yet here he was, inches from the fascinating depiction.  He wondered why anyone would have had sad-eyed children painted into his portrait when rumors were that he stole, tortured, and murdered dozens of kids during his life as a teacher. 
Ted Atwood had said that no bodies were ever found.  Frank Damon had confided that old man Caserton had disappeared also.  People thought he was still in the house – at least his ghost was – still murdering children whenever one was dumb enough to wander into his path . . .
Louie said it was all crap.  Said the missing kids were just runaways and old man Caserton was probably fish food.
Neal returned to his spot by the front door and hunkered down.  He did not think he would get much sleep tonight, but his eyes got heavy and he dozed briefly. 
In his mind Neal heard screaming.  Was it a police siren?
Neal jerked awake.  An eerie keening noise echoed around him.  Was it wind, sirens, cats fighting?
A beam of fading sunlight shone in through a front window lighting up the Caserton Portrait.
Neal rubbed his eyes and gawked at the canvas -- which had changed.
The old man now held his cane above his head like a crazed executioner.  His murderous eyes blazed with purple hatred and his gape-toothed mouth opened wide into a black tunnel of horror.
The sad-eyed children around him now cringed in terror; their mouths open in keening screams of unimaginable fear.  Their sad eyes seemed to focus on Neil as he shook the prickly needles and pins from his legs, rose shakily, stumbled, grabbed his hat and . . .

Rusty hinges ground on the screen door. His friends laughed and called to him, but Neil did not answer.
In the front room, in an old portrait, a painted tear ran down the face of a sad-eyed boy wearing a yellow baseball hat.

The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories


Dragon Chronicles L.

L. The faction strengthens inside the Honey’s shelter
A voter reassures the newest smelter
Across the exploited explodes success
Only then will the chaotic hesitate or confess

Red Faction Guerilla Official Strategy Guide (Official Strategy Guides (Bradygames))


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

#TuesdaySerial: Such A Fine Son (Conclusion)

Such A Fine Son (Conclusion) by Louise Dragon

The remaining months of Wendy’s pregnancy took an unbelievable toll on the teenage girl.  Her grossly distended belly seemed to drain the life from her young body. 

In all of his years of practice, Lyle had never encountered such a devastating pregnancy. 

What little remaining flesh she possessed hugged Wendy’s skeleton much like pictures he had seen of starving children in Africa.  Her once glossy chestnut hair was straw-like and brittle.  Large blue-gray eyes had faded to the drab color of dishwater.  While the fetal heartbeat was strong and regular, Wendy’s blood pressure had dropped alarmingly as the final days of her gestation approached.

Ever sensitive to his patient’s needs, Lyle monitored the girl continually. He spent increasing amounts of time in Wendy’s room, which had taken on a vile, sickly odor no matter how frequently it was cleaned.

As Wendy’s time approached, Lyle’s uneasiness increased.  Power naps seemed no longer necessary as some deeply hidden strength kept the doctor vigorously attuned to his surroundings.  Unfortunately, with his newfound energy, Lyle was experiencing surges of uncontrollable anger:  a rage that was in constant combat with his rationality.

Anger with the police who had let this travesty happen to Wendy in the first place.

Indignation towards Wendy for allowing herself to be so totally violated.

Wrath for himself and his inability to restore her.

Rage against the unborn child who was whittling away at the essence of its helpless parent.

Even an unwonted hostility surrounding Maggie’s inability to keep Wendy’s sick room fresher.

“Dr. Canthrop, isn’t this your night off?” Maggie asked placing herself in his path with hands on her hips.  “I swear, you’re just going to wear yourself out if you don’t take a break.”

Lyle ran a hand over his freshly shaved chin.  “Just wanted to check on the patient,” he said evenly, hands clenching.  “Pressure’s low, have you increased those supplements, like I asked?”  He forced his hands to relax.

Apparently sensing his mood, Maggie nodded and returned to the nurse’s station. 

That tiny look of fear in her eyes was not lost on Lyle but rather seemed to incense another of those increasing rushes of fury.

Inside Wendy’s room, the birth of the child was imminent.  While the girl’s vital signs were almost nonexistent, the fetal heart monitor was singing with life.  The large mound that was Wendy’s abdomen churned and squirmed between contractions. 

Nervously, Lyle scratched his chin.  Feeling angry stubble, he knew he must work fast.  With steady hands and a sharp scalpel, Lyle performed an efficient Caesarian Section on little Wendy.

The healthy baby boy was a joy to behold.  Tiny clawed feet and hands waved wildly once the cord was cut.  Little sharp teeth clamped down on Lyle’s finger as he cleared the airway.  Lovingly, Lyle wiped the bloody mucous from the down covered little body of his son.

Tap, tap, tap.

“Dr. Canthrop, Detective Steiger wants . . .”

The infant let out a sharp howling wail as Maggie entered the room.  Standing in the open doorway, her face a study of perplexity, Maggie opened her mouth. Lyle, sensing the forthcoming scream, immediately slashed through her vocal cords with the silver scalpel held awkwardly in a taloned fist.  A fleeting feeling of remorse crossed his rapidly mutating brain as a bright stream of crimson quickly transformed Maggie’s white nurse’s dress into a red nightmare. 

Suddenly, the face of Detective Hans Steiger appeared in the high patch of glass seizing Lyle’s full attention.  Maggie’s prone body across the bottom of the door began to slide jerkily as the detective pushed fiercely from the other side.  Steiger, with all the grace of a beached walrus, stumbled over the dead legs of the nurse and landed face first, his drawn gun skittering under Wendy’s bed.  

The squalling infant, as if sensing danger, became suddenly quiet.  The thing that had been Lyle Canthrop, MD, emitting little grunts of exertion, used its dagger-like claws to rip out the detective’s throat insuring his silence for eternity. 

As the remainder of Wendy Wheeler’s precious blood drained out of her abdominal incision, her breathing became sharp little gasps.  The Lyle-monster, cradling his beloved little offspring, paused at her bedside. 

With a raspy voice from its fang-filled mouth, the beast grated out the last horrible words that Wendy’s tortured ears would ever have to listen to.  “Thank you for sssuch a fine ssson.”

With an awkward gentleness uncommon to this beast, the monster clumsily closed the blue-gray eyes for the last time. 



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dragon Chronicles XLIX

XLIX. The enlightened composer tables the primitive recipe
An anecdote schools a new digital remedy
The first key clashes against the bias
A cellular fossil despairs all the pious

The Ghost of Fossil Glen (Ghost Mysteries)


Saturday, October 16, 2010

15 Days to Halloween

Devoted Readers,

First of all -- thanks for all of the great comments, e-mails, and face book praise concerning my #TuesdaySerial – Such A Fine Son.

I will, unfortunately, be out of town this upcoming Tuesday (10/19) and unable to get the conclusion printed on my blog at the usual time.

However, the following Tuesday falls on Halloween Week and I think it is only fitting to air my conclusion on Tuesday, October 26th.

Hope to see you there . . . I promise that you’ll not be disappointed!

Halloween, to me, is more of a feeling than a holiday. The chills and thrills that I get from watching those old horror movies flit across my television screen just make me feel alive! Call me twisted if you must but I just know that there are many other horror fans out there like me who shiver at the thought of all the cool horror stuff spewing from our televisions at this particular time of year.

It was my love of watching old horror movies, reading scary mystery books, and never missing my favorite science fiction television shows that spurred me towards some spooky writing of my own.

For those of you with inquiring minds, Such A Fine Son is based simply on the random meandering of my twisted imagination. I hope you’ll come back next week to see how the story ends . . . Dr. Canthrop would really like that!

Until next week then . . .

Halloween - Unrated Director's Cut (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)


Dragon Chronicles XLVIII

XLVIII. The exposed theft lowers the supreme value of an export
The wide circle biases but the option sells short
Golden gateway forks a discriminating starter
A northern reckoner insists on bruising the common martyr

Martyr Rock [Explicit]


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

#TuesdaySerial: Such A Fine Son (Part Five)

Such A Fine Son (Part Five)
Louise Dragon

Joy Wheeler’s bitter words dogged Lyle for a fortnight.

Get rid of it—get rid of it—get rid of it.

When he found time to power nap between emergencies, his dreams clouded with grisly images: fearsome monsters chewing and clawing their way through the womb of helpless Wendy Wheeler.

Spots of anemic pink blood spattered on white . . .

Dark hollows circled Lyle’s eyes like smudged ink but he refused to allow his lack of rest to affect his work. With steady hands he continued to save the battered lives of trauma victims rushed into his care from dusk until dawn. When he wasn’t scrubbed and engaged in the ER, Lyle made rounds to check on his patients or attempted power naps in the intern’s quarters.

Tap, tap, tap.

“Doctor, Detective Steiger is asking for you.”

The squeak of a door hinge and Maggie’s anxious face emerged haloed in a slice of light from the hall.

“Doctor . . . there’s been another incident. The police need to talk to you.”

“I’ll be right there, Maggie.”

Wearily, Lyle rubbed his aching eyes and ran a hand over his raspy shadow of whiskers. Gathering his hair back into the ever-popular tail, Lyle took time to run a toothbrush over his gummy teeth and slosh a little water over his haggard features.

Striding into his office, Lyle could find no sign of Detective Steiger’s presence except for a faint whiff of spearmint. Puzzled, Lyle backed out and gave Maggie a questioning look. She quickly pointed toward Wendy’s room before returning silently to her med. charts.

Through the patch of glass imbedded high on the door, Lyle could see Detective Steiger. The rugged young cop had hold of one of Wendy’s tiny hands. His lips were moving but Lyle couldn’t hear the words through the heavy oak door. The sight of Wendy spurred Lyle’s emotions. The normally slack blue-gray eyes typically gazed straight ahead. Those eyes, still quite dull and lifeless, now seemed trained on the face of the babbling detective. Concern gushed over Lyle. His hands clenched and unclenched. A gout of anger pushed him through the door.

“You were looking for me, detective?”

“Yes, can she hear us?”

“We believe that, yes, coma patients do hear and remember what goes on around them. You were talking to Wendy just now when I came in. Tell me, did you get a response from her? Anything at all?”

“She seemed to be paying attention to me, although she never moved a muscle.”

Lyle sighed. “I thought as much,” he replied scratching his raspy beard.

“Has she said anything since I brought her in?” the detective inquired.

“I’m afraid not, it’s still too soon after her ordeal. Shall we talk in my office?”

As he followed the detective from the room, Lyle glanced back at Wendy’s prone shape, little potbelly just beginning to make a dent in the blanket. The expressionless blue-gray eyes stared straight ahead.

“What seems to be the problem?” Lyle asked, holding open his office door and motioning Detective Steiger inside.

“Doctor, I’m sure you’re familiar with Wendy’s mother, Joy Wheeler,” the detective began speaking carefully around his massive wad of gum.

“Yes, quite,” Lyle returned, expressionless.

“Well, we found what was left of her scattered about the foot of Coca-Cola Ledge.”

“Suicide?” Lyle questioned.

“Hardly,” the detective shot back. “She was literally torn to pieces. Chewed up and spit out like an old hamburger.”

Lyle noticed that Detective Steiger seemed to be studying his face for a reaction of some sort. Although the detective’s words affected him hardly at all, he tried to compose his features into what felt like a look of shock and surprise. Steiger finally seemed satisfied with Lyle’s facial expression and continued.

“Could be the same perpetrator as that of the girl.”

“Soooooo . . .” Lyle prompted.

“Well, nothing, I guess,” the detective muttered chewing vigorously on his gum.

“If the girl still isn’t talking, I’m pretty much dead-ended here.”

“Like I said,” Lyle stated, “It’s still too soon. While Wendy has healed well physically, her mental state is still working to recover from her ordeal.”

“Well, keep me posted, Doc.” Steiger left the floor in his customary haze of spearmint.

Lyle splayed his hands on his desk blotter to keep them from clenching and unclenching uncontrollably. His head ached from battling the deep-seated fury that seemed about to consume him.

“Control,” he seethed through clenched teeth. “100, 99, 98, 97, 96, control.”

Lyle’s breathing slowed and his head cleared. Incident all but forgotten, the young doctor began his early morning rounds.

Continued . . .

Link to Part One (Such A Fine Son)

In the Heat of the Night

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dragon Chronicles XLVII

XLVII. An eccentric prophet escapes across the concrete lake
Eastern rats battle wetland barons for an awaited quake
An enlightening fire fevers the ghost of a chance
The parked supplier leads a patterned advance

War of the Rats


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

#TuesdaySerial: Such A Fine Son (Part Four)

Such A Fine Son (Part Four)
Louise Dragon

Two months later, Joy Wheeler’s voice still nagged at his thoughts while Lyle read the latest developments on her daughter’s chart. Mrs. Wheeler was not going to take this news well. Not well at all.

“You’re sure about this, Maggie?”

“I was sure about it last month, now it’s a fact,” the nurse stated. “I don’t envy you, Doctor. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell The Dragon Lady.”

Lyle sighed and gazed down at his silent patient. The worst of her lacerations and bruises had faded leaving lifeless blue-gray eyes imprisoned in a parchment shell of a face. Lyle had cared for many such cases while covering his graveyard shift at the trauma center. This particular little girl seemed to touch his heart. He didn’t feel sad for her . . .

“Okay, Maggie, start Wendy on prenatal supplements intravenously. Has The Dra . . . er Mrs. Wheeler been around to visit lately?”

“Funny you should ask, Doctor. We were just commenting, at the nurse’s station, that Mrs. Wheeler’s visits have become extremely irregular. Why back at the beginning, she was here every day; that voice just about drove us all crazy. Lately, she stops by about every other week . . .” Maggie frowned down at Wendy’s still figure. “Can I talk to you out in the hall, Doctor?”

“I didn’t want to say so in front of the patient,” Maggie began, closing the heavy oak door behind her. “But that woman never talks to the poor little thing when she visits. Just sits and stares. I’ve never seen anything like it. Seems she can’t say enough to us nurses—‘this sheet’s too tight—it’s cold in here’ wouldn’t you think she’d talk to the girl? Maybe I’m out of line but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts, once she finds out about the pregnancy, we’ll never see her again.”

“Maggie, your concern is admirable,” Lyle began, his mind a million miles away.

“This may be one of the reasons why the patient is not responding to treatment. Put a note on her chart for staff to begin talking to the girl. Maybe one of us will reach her.”

Ultimately, Maggie was right about Joy Wheeler. When Lyle caught up with Mrs. Wheeler a few days later with the disturbing news of Wendy’s ill-gotten pregnancy, she turned her small bird-like eyes to his face. Her sharp mouth mutely opened and closed a few times.

“Get rid of it!” she finally hissed

“Mrs. Wheeler, Wendy simply isn’t strong enough to withstand surgery,” Lyle said, struggling to keep his anger under control.

Lyle was used to dealing with people of all kinds. He failed to understand why this woman was able to push his buttons so easily.

“Just cut that monster out of her, Doctor. She can’t think for herself, right now. This is what she’d want. It’s for her own good”

She looked down at her motionless daughter, gently stroked a pale cheek, and then quickly bustled from the room nearly colliding with a drug cart on her way out.

Lyle wiped a single fat tear from one of Wendy’s stark blue-gray eyes.

“Don’t you worry about a thing, Sweetheart,” he whispered to the fragile invalid. “There isn’t any reason in the world for you not to have a fine healthy baby. No reason at all.”

Discouraged, Lyle picked up the girl’s chart to make a note on the impending abortion. Instead, with steady hands, he merely ordered an increase in vitamin dosage before striding from the room.

Continued . . .
Link to Part One (Such A Fine Son)

The Night Monster: A Novel of Suspense