Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 14

The Horrorphiles, Part 14
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,644 words

Need to catch up? 
Here are the other parts:
Chapter 15 (where I give up)

She woke up to terrific pounding on the door and sunlight streaming around the thick drapes.  She groaned. The knocking at the didn’t stop was increasing with urgency. What the hell happened last night and why wouldn’t they let her sleep to get over it?

“Come in,” she said loudly and annoyed.

“Are you ok, Ronny?” 

It sounded like Jordan. She opened her eyes. It was Adam. Opening her eyes was the only easy part of the morning. She tried to push herself up in bed but everything hurt. She fell back in bed.

“What?” she said, rudely, because she knew he wasn’t here to just check out her feelings and she was very tired of everyone if she was ok.

“It’s just that, the discussion panel was suppose to start five minutes ago. Everyone is there except for you. Plus you missed breakfast.”

“Shit.” She sat straight  up in bed and hit her feet on the floor. Her shoes were still on. She still wore her jeans from yesterday but there were holes in the knees now, dried blood around the edges. “What the . . .” She said to herself.

“Are you ok?” Adam asked her again.

She sighed. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll be there in a moment.” She readjusted her tone, she didn’t know why she was sounding like a petulant teenager anyway. “I’m fine. I just need to get dressed and I’ll start the panel in five minutes. Stall them if you want or whatever.” She rubbed her temples, her head was pounding.

“Yeah, ok, if you’re sure?” 

She wanted to snap at him again. Tell him that if she said she was fine then she was fucking fine. Instead she said and calm and steady “Yes.”

As soon as he shut the door she sprang into action or at least tried to. She had to move slower than she wanted to because everything hurt. She took off her sneakers and she peeled off her clothes all from the day before. Her skin was clammy and pale. Her clothes were dry, she felt the bedsheets and they were dry, but she was damp like she’d been sweating all night.

There were scratches across her hands, her knees were scabbed up, her toes were yellow red and purple splotched. Her ribs hurt the most when she tried to breath. Her hand went to them, barely touched across her torso and it hurt worse. She looked in the vanity mirror. Spread across her ribs, just beneath yesterday’s bra, was a huge dark purple bruise. She’d never had a bruise this size or this dark before. What in the hell happened to her?

That last thing she remembered was . . .The last thing she remembered. . . She closed her eyes and tried imagine it. The last thing she remembered was . . . The Creep ’N’ Greet. She had drink, after drink, after drink.  Talk, talk, talk. And then . . . And then what?

“Fuck,” she said. What did it matter? She was probably drunk, she hadn’t eaten a crumb of food but she had kept slamming back cocktails. She probably made a giant fool of herself in front of Adam and Gregory Peabody, kissed someone thoroughly inappropriate again, then tripped and fell badly on the stairs. What did matter was she was late for her own damn panel.

She bent down to get her bag for her clothes only to find it upside down and empty. She turned on the bedside lamp and finally looked around. “God damn it,” she said. Her clothes were thrown all around the room like a poltergeist was pissed about her fashion choices. “Fucking shit.”

She grabbed and tank top and hoodie from the merchandise box because that was easy. The first pair of pants she found were a pair of leggings. Luckily her drunken self (or the angry poltergeist) hadn't been concerned with her underwear and bras folded and tucked in a zippered pocket. So clothes done.
Her hair was stringy, damp, and full of dried leaves. She combed out the debris and twisted her hair into a low bun. She wasn’t satisfied with the look, her hair looked plastered to her scalp, thin, and greasy. 

“Fuck it,” she said. She grabbed a scarf barely clinging to the edge of the vanity. She wrapped the bun with that a la Great Aunt Wanda. She even sort of looked like her now. She just needed a great collection of long beaded necklaces and reading glasses on a string. Did she have a dream of Aunt Wanda? She had the distinct feeling that she’d seen her last night.

She shook her head, which neither cleared her head nor improved the pounding. She dry slammed three tylenol, grabbed her portfolio, and dashed out the room and down the stairs, shoeless and sock-less. She couldn’t care less. It was hard to care when every inch of her body throbbed in pain and she had to go face an always smug Dan Brown.

She opened the door more energetically than she had meant to. She thought a door that size would have to be pushed hard but it opened with ease, slamming into the wall and making the entire audience of Boris Carloff’s Frankenstein stare at her.

She suppressed a curse and said “Excuse me” instead. She went across the hall and opened the right door this time, with timidity.  Dan Brown was tapping his fingers impatiently at the end of the table, the two other panelists, Charlie Frank of The Movie Club, and Travis Barker a paranormal investigator and horror writer, were more relaxed like they’d been to a ton of other panels at a ton of other conventions that had gone exactly the same way, little better than a shit show. This was not how she wanted The Horrorphiles Haunted Halloween Weekend to seem in its first iteration.

Adam stood apologetically in the space she assumed would be hers. “I’m not sure what the hold up is but I’m sure she’ll be here any minute.”

“Sorry,” she said loud enough to make a few people, including the panelists jump. “Sorry, I’m late.”
She made her way to the table as Adam walked around the other way. “I had a. . . Wardrobe malfunction.” Everyone but Dan chuckled at the joke. “Speaking of which, if you’d like a hoodie or a tank top or a tee shirt for yourself, they will be on sale tomorrow. Get one as souvenir, or to show off at future events, so everyone knows you were at the first Horrorphile event, and they were not” (or you know, something better than that). She thought she heard Dan snort at that one.

She scanned the room, it was the same room that they had started in last night, the first room Adam had showed her. The library. How hard she gone in the wrong room the first time? This was the one room she knew how to get to.  A couple of people murmured to each other. One person had a laptop, clicking away, like he was taking notes. Adam and Gregory Peabody were in the back, leaned comfortably in chairs different than the rest of the audience, chairs that looked they had come from the drawing room instead of the library. Kurt, Tom, and Harry waved at her from the middle of the room, probably excited that she and dan were going to have it out again. Jordan was nowhere to be seen.

“Okay, done with the sale’s pitch. Anyway,” she opened her portfolio expecting to find her notes for opening the panel discussion but there was only the notes from last night. “Again, I’m sorry I’m late.” She stalled as she searched again, like the would magically appear the second time. She even looked in the pockets as if (however many pages) were folded into tiny squares and shoved in the pockets while they stayed perfectly flat without a single bulge. “Um, so…” The last thing she wanted to was wing it. Not with the never ending headache, not with Dan sitting beside her, not with Gregory Peabody watching her. “…today’s discussion is about remakes and reboots in the horror genre. I’m going to start off with some generalities and questions, maybe make a few points, then let the other panelists speak on the topic, then we’ll open it up for audience opinion and questions.”

Where was Jordan? Hadn’t he said he wanted to support her? Sure there was screenings in the other room’s: Universal Studios monster films, Hammer Horror classics, and Troma cult films but he said he was there for her. He said he was serious. So he should be here with her.

“But I guess I should really be starting with the introductions. To my . . .” She had to look at Dan first, to be sure he was there, then her hand to figure out where there was. “…right, is Dan Brown the founder of HorrorFanatic.com and…” a huge fucking douchebag “a lifelong horror fan himself. To my left is . . .” 

Jesus Christ, she was losing her damned mind. She had his name and occupation just a minute ago. Her hands shook. She held on to her portfolio. She paused for too long. All the faces of the audience seemed to skew, to shift to greyness, to become skull like, then go back to their normal, if bored faces. She almost apologized and left the room with her tail between her legs when everything came back to where it should be in her mind.

“To my left is Charlie Frank a movie reviewer for  TheMovieClub.com, and Travis Barker, a paranormal investigator and horror writer, who’s latest book An Unnatural Order will be available from his website ParanormalActivityHunter.com on Halloween.”

“And of course, I’m your kind guide through the world of horror and the macabre at TheHorrorphiles.com Veronica Granger, and let’s get this discussion started.”

Keep Reading: Part 15

Thanks for Reading! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 13

The Horrorphiles, Part 13
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,530 words

Need to catch up? Read the previous parts:

Chapter 14 (but I keep writing it for some reason), continued

“That’s a really fucking weird thing to say, man.”

Adam stepped suddenly into the beam of the flashlight, right beside Jordan. Veronica jumped again and moved so have her body was pressed into Jordan’s. Anyone seeing them would think they were couple again but she didn’t care about that, she just wanted to feel safe. She wanted to feel real (I like it but does that make sense?)

“Sorry…man…bad joke.”

Adam still had an inappropriate smile or at least it looked that way to Ronny. He was definitely smiling but it didn’t was jovial or good-natured, it was devilish. Jordan showed no signs of discomfort or fear or of having his hackles up. She was close enough to him now to hear his heart, to feel his lungs expand with air, both in slow steady rhythmic waves.

“I mean, you heard the history, right? Oh, that’s right.. You guys left in the middle.” He looked past Jordan now, to her, his devilish smile turned malicious. “For your lovers’ spat.”

He watched her over Jordan’s shoulder because she was basically completely behind him now. Everything she’d found handsome about his face, everything she thought charming, looked vile now, hateful. Vicious. All of it directed at her. 

Veronica wished she was any place in the whole world. She wished she’d never come here. She wished she’d never thought of this stupid retreat. She wished for her simple little blog and her simple little life where everything scary only happened in the movies and Jordan or Becky or Kurt or Aunt Wanda or her dad, or anyone else was there to protect her or tell her it’s not real. Because right now everything felt too real, too scary, and too much to handle.

Adam crossed in front of Jordan, who followed him with flashlight, and Veronica went the other way so they’d essentially switched places. She clutched Jordan’s entire arm this time, with both hands. She could only see the back of Adam now. When he spoke again, Veronica jumped so hard the flashlight beam shook

“There has been so much insanity in the Greyson line, it’s really hard to say what was reasonable, what was bat shit insane, or how or why they did anything.”

Again she jumped when he turned towards them. He looked normal again. Perfectly calm and pleasant. Handsome. She was crouched against Jordan hiding her face in his shoulder.

“Veronica, are you okay?” Adam asked.

Jordan looked at her like he noticed her clinging to him for the first time.

“I-I’m fine. I-I’m just cold, is all,” she said in a small thoroughly unconvincing voice. She shivered, cleared her throat, and finally let go of Jordan. “I’m just cold.” She tried to say it better but she was’t really successful.

“D’you want to go back inside? I’m sure we’ve seen enough.” He looked at her with sympathetic eyes like he knew the real reasons and was just being polite.

Adam looked at her too, like he knew the real reason too but he was laughing.

How much longer was she going to do this? Pretend she was somebody else? Pretend like she wasn’t terrified down to her tiny sore foot bones in her shoes? And where was the shame in it anyways? Isn’t that the point of all the horror stuff, to scare people? So why didn’t she say it? Why didn’t she say she was scared and she wanted to go inside and further that she wanted to go home and give up The Horrorphiles forever?

She opened her mouth and tried to say something but she didn’t know what the something was and nothing came out.

“Come on, I can show some of the stuff you missed earlier,” Adam said stepping out of the flashlight beam, going further into the graveyard.

Jordan moved closer to her, rubbed her arm with one hand. “Do you want to go back in the house?” he asked softly.

Veronica nodded. She just wasn’t cut out for the cahones grabbing lifestyle.
Jordan looked to where Adam had gone on a head. There was complete darkness.

“Well, I think we’ll have to go get him first though, I don’t know why he doesn’t have a flashlight but we can’t leave him alone without one.”

She wanted to say he did have one but she hadn’t seen him use one since they’d been by the graves. Maybe he dropped his when he fell. Veronica would have to admit she didn’t care much. She didn’t want to go look for him, she didn’t want to find him.

Jordan started walking in Adam’s direction. Then Veronica found her voice. “Jordan!” His name came out like a strangled scream.

He startled and looked back at her. “Wait,” she said her voice shaking. She took his warm hand in hers, tightly. He squeezed hers back. He smiled briefly, then kissed her lightly on the cheek. For the first time since he walked into Greyson Manor, Ronny was actually glad Jordan was here.
They stepped over the low wall she’d ran into earlier and in between tombstones. Ronny winced with each step, between her stubbed toes, the rough denim rubbing her scraped knees, and the throbbing in her ribs, she was barely keeping it together. 

They found Adam several rows in. He made no indication he noticed there approach but as soon as they stopped, he began talking.

“Ruth and Josephine, and Richard Grayson were some of the first people murdered in American witch trials. Harriet and Gerald Richards were some of the last to be tried as witches in the States. Hung in [some year].”

“Hey, Adam, I think we’re ready to head inside. It’s pretty late and cold.”

He continued. “They didn’t spare the children this time, at least the older ones. The newborn, Nicholas, he was saved to be raised by relatives. For a time.”

Adam started walking again

“Dude, what the . . .” Jordan made an exasperated gesture with his flashlight hand. Then followed Adam, bringing her with him.

“Maybe we should just go,” she said.

“I don’t want to leave him out here without a light.”

“I know my way back,” Adam said. He stopped and turned back to look at them just when the flashlight beam reached him. “Do you?”

Ronny turned back to where she thought the house was but there were no lights. She looked in another directions and there were still no lights. Either everyone had finally gone to bed of Greyson manor had fallen off the face of the Earth.

“Shit,” she said.

Adam went back to walking. Jordan sighed/growled and followed him dart the flashlight beam back and forth to get them the most vision so they wouldn’t walk into the memorial stones.

A few minutes more of silence and Adam paused by another set of memorials. “There are so many buried here. Even when they tried to have bigger families, most of them died tragically young. The ones who lived the longest stayed at Greyson Manor. But we all come back eventually.”

Something about the way he said it made the hair stand up on the back of her neck. She paid attention to the gravestone he was standing beside. Adam Newbridge (some year to another year) “Lived life in the fast lane, then crashed and burned.” She had several thoughts at once. Ridiculous thoughts like, “Hey that’s Adam’s name” or “That’s a strange thing to put on a tombstone.” And then the insistent  and repetitive ones like “I need to be out of here now, right now, no delay no politeness. We get the fuck out now” and “Oh my god he’s dead, oh my god he’s dead, oh my god he’s fucking dead.” She started hyperventilating.

Adam moved forward yet again and Jordan followed yet again. Ronny didn’t think her feet would move but they betrayed her and propelled her after them. They walked on longer this time. Past the mausoleum, to the very back of the cemetery.

“We always have room for family,” Adam said.

Jordan was saying something but Veronica couldn’t hear any of it. That loud humming buzz that kept coming into her ears and blocking out all sounds came back. Her eyes were glued to the stones near Adam’s feet. Quite plainly carved in clear, fresh letters the four tombs said four names she never thought she’d see here. Marilyn and David Granger and Wanda Grace Pepperidge. Her vision tunneled down just to those names, the rest of the world didn’t exist. Nothing existed, not her body, not her thoughts, there was nothing. Her mother, father, and great aunt hadn’t been buried anywhere near here, not even in the same state. But there they were. Their names, their birthdates, their death dates. And then there was the fourth tombstone. . .

Veronica couldn’t take it anymore. None of the strangeness. None of the absurdity. None of the insanity. Imagination or not. She couldn’t catch her breath, her vision was just a pinpoint on nothing but the final tombstone. The world fell out from under her feet and Ronny Granger fainted inches from the tombstone with her name on it.

Keep Reading: Part 14

Thanks for Reading!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 12

The Horrorphiles, Part 12
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,641 words

Read the previous parts to catch up:

Chapter 14 (but for some reason I keep writing it), continued

A full moon peeked through the thick clouds blocking out the all the night’s light from the universe (galaxy? Maybe delete the entire description?) For a brief moment she could see the entire yard of prickly shrubs, naked trees, bare woody vines wrapping around crumbling statuary, and dark spots and shadows everywhere. In the quick glimpse she could see nothing that looked like a mausoleum or tombstones. But anything could be hiding  in the darkness where the moonlight didn’t reach. She wished she hadn’t thought that. The instant the clouds swallowed the moon again and the darkness surround them once again, her imagination went into overtime inventing terrors she couldn’t see, waiting for her just beyond the beam of flashlight.  Big disfigured men in dirty overalls and pockets full of knives and torture implements. Crouched horned creatures with sharp fingers and an appetite for flesh. The devil waiting for her to get just close enough to reach out capture her soul. An entire field of ghosts and poltergeist waiting to get their revenge or posses her body.

Fear and panic mounted in her making it difficult to breathe. She could feel them all around her now. Eyes watching her, slick , slimy tentacles squirming nearly grazing her, the dead, flat moans of the living dead walking once again. Adam walked just ahead of her like he felt, heard, and saw nothing. His face was set with the determination of working their way through tricky landscape. She wanted to say something, make some kind of normal conversation, empty her head of the ridiculous thoughts and fears, but her voice refused to come out of her throat like it was too scared itself to leave her vocal cords.

“Hey, watch ou…” Adam started to say but he fell out of site and all she heard then was pained grunts.

She still couldn’t make a sound but she could run like a shot in the opposite direction from whatever had got Adam. A blast of cold air barreled over the grasses and weeds, pushing them into her, trying to push her back, slowing her forward progress, ripping through the seams of her clothes filling up her hoodie stealing her warmth. It shrieked all around her but she could still hear her unseen pursuer stomping behind her. 

She couldn’t see where she was going. She turned her head in every direction. She pointed her flashlight randomly around her. She was desperate to not be caught off guard, not to be caught at all, that she wasn’t looking in front of her. She had no idea if she was running towards the house, or away from it, or going completely into the wild surrounding the manor, which is how she ended up running into a shin high garden wall, stubbing her toes, scraping her knees, ripping her jeans, dropping her flashlight, and banging her ribs on some random stone statuary.

A powerful arm grabbed her by the waist and prevented her from falling further and hitting her head on more stone by pulling her back forcefully. Whatever was chasing her had her now, it’s arms around her waist and across her chest, strapping down her arms. She twisted and turn in it’s cold unrelenting embrace. It was fully dark now, her flashlight must have broken when she dropped it. The wind was still violent, noisy, and cold but she could hear her heart pounding her ragged breath, and the strong steady one of whatever had got her. She closed her eyes, opened her mouth, and the screams she’d been threatening to unleash all night finally released it sell from her throat in a high pitched, blood-curdling blast.

The thing dropped her and she landed with a thump on her butt. She ignored the sharp shocks of pain that were coming from everywhere now and immediately starting kicking at it in the legs and shins if she had to guess by the feel of it through her shoes.

“Fuck, Ronny, what the shit!”


Adam’s flashlight beam cut through the darkness and back lit Jordan’s hunched shoulders. Veronica stopped kicking and leaned back on her elbows trying to catch her breath.

“Seriously, what the hell Ronny?”

“I thought you went to bed,” she said breathlessly.

“I couldn’t go to sleep so I thought I’d come see how grave walk was going. It is dark as shit out here, I couldn't see where you guys were so I was going to go back in the house. Then out of nowhere you were running like a bat out of fucking hell. I kept calling your name and trying to catch up with you. Didn’t you here me call you damn name?”

Adam was still jogging up his light bobbing back and forth behind Jordan. He was wincing in pain rubbing just below his knees.

“I couldn’t hear anything,” she lied. “I was too scared.” She had been scared but she still clearly heard growling and snarling, stomping and breathing. She heard something, something not human chasing her. 

“Why were you running anyway?”

Adam was finally caught up with them. “What are you doing here?” he asked Jordan. Then he saw Veronica on the ground. “Are you okay, Veronica?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Both men extended a hand to help her and she took them both because she wasn’t that fine. Everything from the chest down sung out in dull bruised pain. Her ribs practically screamed when she tried to breathe deeply.

“Why’d you take off like that?” Adam asked.

“I don’t know,” she lied again. There was no rational explanation for why’d she’d run, only crazy, deranged ones and she wasn’t going to start repeating those. “It just sort of happened.”

Jordan had this look, a mix of knowingness and I told you so, but he didn’t contradict her.

“What happened to you?” She asked Adam as she watched him knock dirt off his wool coat.

“There was just a sudden ledge, I stumbled on. I think the remains of a retain wall. I knew it was coming up, I was trying to warn you. . . I just didn’t realize I was right on top of it.”

While Adam was talking, Jordan dug around the on ground. He found her flashlight and picked it up. He knocked it a couple of times and the light beam back on.

“Hey why were you guys walking over that way,” He shone the flashlight in the direction Adam had come from, “when the cemetery is over here?” Now he shone the light on the thing Ronny was pretty sure by now she’d actually broken her ribs on.

In light barely there letters carved onto a simple stone block was the name Ruth Greyson, the dates (um whatever), and the words ‘Here Lies a goodwife and loving mother who was done great wrong after her death and was layed to rest at home on’ (some date) (seriously?). 

Jordan moved the light to next stone piece, what Ronny almost hit her head on. This one was a column topped with an urn that looked like once upon a time some kind of plant grew in. Now, it was filled with a greenish-brown water that dead plant matter was floating on. Beneath the earn was a plaque: Here rest the remains of Reverend Richard Greyson and his second wife Josephine Goodbody who lived their whole lives in righteousness and were killed and mutilated by ignorant and suspicious townfolke (that’s a wordy plaque).

Suddenly Veronica was very, very cold and didn’t want to be here.   The wind still whipped around them, whistling past her ears. She shoved her fists into her hoodie pockets and hugged it closer around her. Her adrenaline had not fallen back to normal levels but were closer to a yellow alert. She glanced at Adam at first and then did a double take. He was practically rocking back on his heels, a smile played around his lips like he was surprising a giggle, a fiery light in his eyes. When they darted to meet her eyes, she quickly looked away again.  Her adrenaline soared to red alert levels again. She had the feeling being at the center of this man’s attention was a very bad place to be and she’d been in practically all day. She moved a little closer to Jordan. She no longer cared about being rude to Adam, she wanted to get the fuck out of there. 

“But I thought they were buried in some old churchyard, or at least their heads were.”

“One of the crazy forefathers insisted on having what was left moved here and reburied, yet again. He had the notion we all belonged together, forever.”

Jordan moved the flashlight over the other headstones and memorial statuary. It was bigger than she supposed, much bigger, she couldn’t see the end of it with just the flashlight. There was one building like structure, basically the size of a tool shed that she assumed was the mausoleum. The flashlight buzzed and blinked off, Veronica jumped and moved even closer to Jordan. He hit the flashlight a couple more times and it buzzed back on.

There wasn’t light from Adam’s flashlight, not that she could see, and she didn’t want to look back at him again, afraid of what she would see this time.

“It must have been a lot of work to the permissions to exhume the bodies,” Jordan said.

“Didn’t always have permission.”

Jordan turned to the side to look at Adam. Veronica moved closer and grabbed his elbow for security. She knew she was holding him tighter than she should, she shouldn’t have been holding him at all, but Jordan made no notice or comment on it. “Grave-robbing?” He said to Adam.

“Is it grave-robbing? Is it kidnapping? If you’re just bringing a person home?”

Keep Reading: Part 13

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 11

The Horrorphiles, Part 11
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,592 words

Chapter 13 (I don't think any of this is any good either), continued

If he’d wanted her to talk to or see something else the disappointment didn’t show on his face. He followed, happily enough drink his manhattan, to her group of friends.

“Hey guys,” she said enthusiastically relieved. “I hope you’re having a great time.”

“Dude, this place is amazing, Dan is going to flip his shit when he get’s here tomorrow,” Tom said.

“He’s already foaming at the mouth with jealousy.”

“You know, that’s his own fault for leaving like he did and generally being an asshole,” Kurt said with an air of coming to her defense.

“Ah, come on guys, I don’t hate him for starting his own group, he had definite but different idea about what he wanted and I respect that. I’m excited for him, and grateful he’s going to be apart of the panel tomorrow.” She wasn’t any of those things but she couldn’t very well say that she was glad to be rid of the oppositional sexist jackass and hated that his splinter group was doing well enough to be a small draw for the panelist event tomorrow. “Anyway, lets not get into group politics. I wanted to introduce you guys Adam, I know we all saw his presentation today, but (idk something that makes sense that I’ll have to think of later). Adam this Tom, Kurt, Harry, and Jordan, all horrorphile friends from back home. Guys this Adam, Gregory Peabody’s nephew and a big part of the reason we could be here this weekend.

“’S’up, man?” Said Tom. “So, d’you have to grow up in this place? That’d be pretty twisted. You ever see any spooks?” She couldn’t tell if he stopped talking to hear an answer or just to take a drink and nibble of his refreshments.

“I can hear them but I rarely see them,” Adam said with a wink and a laugh. “Only on special occasions.”

“Awesome, man,” Tom said with a mouthful of finger food.
Ok. . ..insert more conversation here but not too much.

Chapter 14 (but for some reason I keep writing it)

Eventually the conversation included more or less people, it meandered away from and closer to horror topics or the mundane, different people brought over different cocktails but Veronica still never got any food. Time passed, her longing for Jordan receded, her overactive imagination took a break, and she was having fun. Before she knew it, the drawing room was half empty and catering staff was clearing away food scraps and tablecloths. At the end there was just Jordan, Adam, Veronica, Gregory Peabody —she couldn’t think of him only by his first name, it seemed so odd after knowing him as Mr. Peabody for so long-- left lingering alone.

The fire burned nearby, half the size it was when the Creep ’N’ Greet started. Veronica didn’t know what time it was but knew it had to be late and they were shutting the place down, yet she didn’t feel anywhere near sleep. She’d lost count of how many cocktails she’d had and the garnishes were the only thing she’d gotten to eat. She was sure she should have felt more sleepy, or more drunk, or more hungry but instead she just didn’t want the party to end.

“So,” Jordan stared in that slow way as if he wasn’t sure he should really continue the conversation.

“So will there be a tour of the grounds? Anything creepy out there, like a garden maze?”

“It’s mostly overgrown weeds but there is a small family cemetery,” Adam said. “I wouldn’t call it creepy though.”

Every time he’d spoken to Jordan tonight there was a coldness about it, almost a malice, at least compared to the overt friendliness he had towards everyone else.

“Don’t dismiss it so quickly, Adam. Just because you’ve been around it so long it doesn’t look like much to you. Ronny and Jordan might find it pretty interesting,” said Mr. Peabody. “And everything looks different in the dark.”

“Maybe Uncle, but I don’t Veronica would enjoy it very much.”

“That’s true,” Jordan said. “ And I didn’t mean we’d have to go have a look now. Tomorrow afternoon would be just as good.”

In truth she wouldn’t enjoy it, graveyard of any size was plenty creepy enough without being night but she didn’t like being spoken about again as if she didn’t have her own voice. “No, it sounds great, I haven’t done anything to scare myself in a few hours. And I’ve never been on a night time graveyard tour. Should be fun.”

“Like a real life horror movie,” Gregory Peabody laughed.

“But without the machete murderer,” added Jordan.

“One would hope not,” said Adam unamused.

“Well, kids,” Mr. Peabody said. “It’s been a fun evening but I think I should be heading off now. Veronica, it’s been nice to meet you… and you too Jordan,” he added though he didn’t sound like he meant it. “And nephew, be good.” He said with a wink.
Everyone said their goodbyes and the conversation paused for a few moments as Gregory Peabody left. 

“So, what about this cemetery tour, Adam?” Veronica asked.

“You know, it is pretty late, Ronny. With the panel tomorrow, you have to get up early for breakfast, shouldn’t you be getting to bed soon?”

“Oh c’mon don't’ be a party pooper Jordan, the scariest thing that’s happened all day was losing cell signal.” 

“I think you’ll be disappointed but I’d be more than happy to show you. Just have to grab some flashlights, it’s very difficult to find the path in the dark,” Adam said.

“Yeah, ok,” Jordan acquiesced unenthusiastically. “Let’s at least get some jackets though.”

They agreed to meet back at the bottom of the stairs in fifteen minutes. Ronny kept repeating “big, hairy cahones” as she climbed the stairs and dug out a hoodie from one of her merchandise boxes because she didn’t really want to go on this grave tour but she didn’t like that Adam and Jordan both insisted she shouldn’t go. Maybe she’d been more jittery and on edge than usual but she didn’t need to be coddled by men or anyone else, no matter how handsome or well dressed. She wouldn’t have chosen a haunted house, not that she believed it was haunted, if she couldn’t handle it. She wouldn’t be a horror fan if she couldn’t handle mild heart palpitations from occasional jump scares. Besides she’d had enough cocktails to knock her out the second she closed her eyes, she still wasn’t tired but when she did sleep she would have no dreams, not even nightmares, after so many cocktails even going to an old presumably crumbling cemetery wouldn’t change a thing. (Um, could that sentence be anymore long, repetitive, and awkward?)

She checked the clock on her cellphone; it was nearly 1 am. Breakfast was available from 8am til 930am before the panel started. Jordan was right, she should be getting to  bed but now she’d already opened her big mouth and signed on for the walk. There was still no signal or new messages that somehow got through. She tossed back in her bag and headed downstairs.
Adam was there with two large flashlights. For the first time since she’d arrived he wasn’t smiling at her (double check if this is true).

“Where’s Jordan?”

“I guess he changed his mind, said he was too tired and he was going to bed instead.”


She lingered on the last step. Suddenly without Jordan, she wanted to go even less. But it was her idea and suddenly losing interest when Adam was the only company would be rude, especially since she had neither sleep nor hunger nor anything else to use an excuse.

“Well, then, Lay on MacDuff,” she said.

“And damned be him who first cries ‘Hold!’” his smile returned and he took her arm in his again, like they were skipping off to the land of lollypops and gumdrops instead of traipsing through cemetery in the dead of night.

Instead of going down the left or right wings of the mansion as they had all they had gone  for all the other rooms, they went behind the foyer staircase and through the main structure of the building. There were a lot more doors and crazy hallways in this part of the house and Veronica made mental note to ask for a copy of the maps Adam had handed out earlier. Eventually they came to small, innocuous door that looked like any other back door for any other normal house in the world. And it opened onto a regular, if uneven and in need of mending, paver patio. Neither seemed to belong to the grandeur and opulence of the rest a of Greyson Manor. Then again what needed to be spectacular about a back entrance.

There were a few lights on in the house, guests who hadn’t quite gone to sleep yet, but the fires and lamplights indoors barely escaped the drapes and hardly touched the inky darkness of the early morning hours. There were no porch lights or path lights, there was no path to speak of. Once they left the 6x6 patio there wasn’t a patch of concrete, brick, or gravel to indicate they were going the right way.

Their flashlights darted across brown, dried, and dead knee high grasses. Empty seed husks and pecked clean flower heads snapped as the passed. Unseen foliage crunched underfoot.

“It sure is wild out here,” Ronny commented.

“My uncle, he isn’t much for landscaping.”

“He keeps the house immaculate enough though.”

“Well, the house pretty much takes care of itself.”

Keep Reading: Part 12

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Part 10

NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 10
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,694 words

Chapter 13 (I don't think any of this is good either), continued

“Oh, how long was I asleep?”

“Not long, not long at all.”

She looked behind them and Jordan followed at a casual distance and pace. He wasn’t watching her and Adam with jealous but looked at painting on the wall as if they were his only interest all along. There weren’t paintings there the whole time, was there? She just noticed them lining the whole, portraits of family ancestors she assumed, but she specifically remembered blanks walls before.

“I’m sorry to have left you alone like that, I was enjoying our conversation but I had to set up the movie for the event.”

“Oh, I could have done that, you didn’t have to . . .”

“Like I said before, it was our staff’s mistake, it’s my responsibility to make it right.”

She kept her smile facade up and tried to remember what had happened before she fell asleep. She remembered no interruptions, no excuses. One moment they were discussing their childhoods and the next she was woken up by Jordan. Why couldn’t she remember? She tried not dwell on it or imagine any spooky scenarios. After all, five whiskey cocktails was explanation enough for fuzzy memories.

Once again Adam lead her, and by extension Jordan, to another new room, this one across the hall from the library or near enough across from it. This room was similar enough to the last one to be considered another drawing room, but there was only one giant elephant roasting fireplace this time. It was also lit but surrounded by huge fire-screen. Casual groupings of seating were scattered throughout but the horrorphiles were standing around, chatting, rather than sitting. On the wall across from the fireplace was a massive screen on which was projected Nosferatu, it’s musical soundtrack played softly in the background filling out the quiet spaces. The wall opposite the door was lined with buffet tables stacked with cold finger food and desserts. A bar lined the wall between the doors, a bartender in black satin vest and crisp white button down shook a cocktail in a stainless steel shaker. This drawing room was warmer than the one Adam and Ronny had shared drinks in.

“I’ll introduce you to my uncle, then I’ll get us some drinks,” Adam said.

She wanted to say she could probably use some food rather than (instead of?) another drink, but as Adam guided her Wizard of Oz style toward the center of the room, various horrorphiles stalled their progress with conversation and questions.

What do you think will be the next horror movie trend? When will the Paranormal Activity franchise end and further the entire found film genre? Can it even go much further? What’s your favorite Nightmare on Elm Street movie? Friday the 13th movie? Halloween sequel? Hellraiser? And so on and so forth.

Finally, her smile turned from fake to real. These were her people, interested in the same questions, and real answers. By the time they made it to Mr. Peabody, she ‘d actually loosened up and was having fun. Mr. Peabody was talking more house history and ghost stories to a small cluster of guests.

He looked different in than she imagined. There wouldn’t be any stooped elderly man in shawl sweaters and orthopedic shoes instead she was looking at a tall hearty looking middle aged man. His face wasn’t wrinkled or sagging but handsomely lined and gritty looking like those older men of Hollywood. He and Adam shared some features, prominent cheekbones and a defined jaw, but where Adam’s looked like they were cut of glass or marble, Mr. Peabody’s looked rough hewn of granite. He wore a navy button up with the sleeves rolled up to his elbow, cream sweater vest with dark wood buttons, and charcoal slacks. Surprisingly modern and handsome. Hadn’t Adam called him elderly, quite elderly, in fact? The gentleman in front of her looked anything but, he didn’t look old enough to be Adam’s great uncle.

“Excuse me, Uncle?” Adam interrupted the current conversation. “Allow me to introduce the ‘enterprising young woman’ who arranged all this, Veronica Granger. She’s been very eager to meet you.”

Adam had unhooked his arm from hers and instead had his hand on the small of her back again. From there a creeping apprehension climbed up her spine as he spoke. She had the distinct feeling that they were speaking about her in some secret code, like an inside joke, instead of a normal, if not overly polite introduction. The both smiled similar smiles, like now they were sharing a silent laugh over their inside joke. Veronica wanted to move away from Adam’s touch but there was nowhere to move in the tight circle of people standing around. Everyone was looking at her as if it were her turn to speak but Veronica couldn’t think of what she was suppose to say.

“A-Ha!” said Mr. Peabody, before embracing her. His hug locked her arms at her sides, so even if she’d known what to do with them, she couldn’t have moved them. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting her too. I’m so glad we could work together to make such an intriguing event a reality.”
She wasn’t sure if he was speaking to her directly or still talking to Adam about her but decided it was about time for her to speak up. “Mr. Peabody. . .”

“Please call me Gregory,” he interrupted.

“Oh, uh, Gregory, it’s such a pleasure to meet you, at last. Thank you for hosting us this weekend, you truly have beautiful and unique home.” She felt like her words were tinny and false sounding.

“Well, thank you very much indeed. I hope you all have spooky time.” He changed his voice and moved his fingers like a B-movie hypnotist and laughed.

Everyone laughed except for Veronica. Again, like with Adam, it didn’t sound like joke she should join in on but a joke her expense instead.

Her real smile fell back to a crow-pleasing smile. “Well, I’m sorry to have interrupted, I think you were saying something about a family mausoleum on the grounds?” If she could get the conversation off her, she could slip back into the crowd maybe find Kurt or Tom or another of the local horrorphiles, even Jordan, to feel apart of a normal conversation. She looked around but couldn’t see anyone she recognized, even Adam had disappeared.

“Oh no, you won’t get away that easily,” Gregory Peabody laughed. “Tell us about you, what inspired you to start such morbid little group?” (reconsider morbid wc at a later date)

He towered over her so she had to look at his blazing (?!) blue eyes. “That’s not such an interesting story, really. I ran a horror themed blog for a long time and one day I found myself with more time and decided to put extra effort into building an audience.”

“One day, out of the blue?” he asked.

“Yup.” Then she thought her short but truthful answer was more curt and rude than she intended so she added, “I’m really don’t want to bore you with analytics and SEO’s and all that.”
The other people around kept looking back and forth between the two speakers. They didn’t engage, add, or try to change the subject. Her discomfort grew, she felt like a specimen under a microscope.
“So, you quit your day job and went . . . Internet. . .full-time?”

“Um, well, not exactly. I didn’t have a job.” She desperately tried to think of a topic to change to (seriously this is rough). “What about you? What did you do before . . . Retirement?” She had no real idea if he was retired or not but in none of their emails, or her emails with Adam actually she reminded herself, there had been no mention of work for either of them. She sort of assumed they lived off a trust like she did or some other family fortune.

“Well, once upon a time, I was an archaeologist, of sorts. I got to travel the world to remote civilizations and discovering long-forgotten artifacts, learning of rituals, particularly their death ceremonies and afterlife beliefs.” He didn’t take his eyes off hers as he spoke. The comforting sounds of the party around them had faded, like they were the only two people there. “Do you believe in an afterlife, Veronica?”

“I did, very strongly, for awhile,” She found herself saying. She actually wanted ignore the question, to ask hime something more about his travels, but somehow the wrong words came out. Now she was stuck explaining. “I tried over and over again to make contact with a spirit world. Eventually I gave up. And I stopped believing.”

“That’s a shame,” he said gravelly. “Then again, maybe a weekend at Greyson Manor will change your mind. This old house is so full of spirits, it’s nearly impossible not to make contact.” He laughed again, deep and jolly like a de-bearded Santa Claus.

Suddenly the crowd noise came to life again. Everyone around her was laughing, even she managed a fake one. Adam returned from now where with a drink for her and Gregory.

“It’s a manhattan, this time,” he whispered in her ear.

Gregory took a sip and continued, “But like I was saying, it’s no surprise to have spirits and haunts roaming the halls when you several large family mausoleums on the grounds to accommodate the great tragedy that seems to follow my family through out it’s history.”

Finally other people started to ask questions again, like the’d just woken up and Gregory Peabody’s attention moved back to his small audience instead of focused on Veronica. In fact, now it was like she’d disappeared from the circle and no one but Adam notice she was there.

“C’mon, you don’t want to hear this,” he said, gently taking her elbow. “Let’s mingle.”
She was a little annoyed that Adam kept finding a way to touch her, lead her around, and controlled what she did and didn’t do.

“Oh, hey, let me introduce you to some of my local fans,” she said, having finally spotted Kurt, Tom, Harry and Jordan near a buffet table.

Keep Reading: Part 11

Thanks for Reading! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Part 9

NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 9
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,694 words

Read the Previous Parts:

Chapter 12 (as it happens), continued

She woke with a start. She was in the drawing room still. Both fires were blazing. Adam was across from her, leaned back in his chair, spinning his mug, watching the burning logs.

“Shit,” she said under her breath. “I’m sorry. How long was I asleep?”

He didn’t look away from the fireplace. “Not long.”

Her fingertips were resting on her mug still, barely holding on. The mug was still warm. Both her feet were on the ground. Both of her shoes were on. She shook her head trying to clear the fuzziness of sleep and dreams and whiskey.

“What were we talking about?”

“Death,” he said. 

“Oh.” She remembered now. She definitely did not want to pick up that topic again. “What time is it? Surely they must be finished with the tour now, we can rejoin the group.”

“There’s another 25 minutes at least.”

He was still engaged with the fire. 

“Oh.” Was she asleep for only a minute? Was that even long enough to dream?

“Well, how about another drink, then? I think I can make a black Russian or maybe a dirty martini?” She was trying to make an offer but it came out like a question. Her cocktail making repertoire was very small. She didn’t make drinks at home very much, a hangover from her days with Great Aunt Wanda who didn’t approve of much drinking except maybe a glass of red wine at night, or a tipple of sherry with cards. If Ronni wanted a drink, she went to a bar. 

“Have you ever thought about what it might feel like?” 

“What?” She was half up from her chair, ready to attempt drink making.

“Have you ever imagined what death might be like? What it feels like to die?”

She shook her head, too stunned to speak.

“When you’re parents died, you didn’t think about what they went through? How their last minutes on earth were? Or better yet the moments on the edge between life and death, just as they slipped to the other side?”

She shook her head, this time it was to stop the sob building in her throat. And the endless, screaming “No” that wanted to follow it.

He finally looked at her. Adam’s face looked lit from within like a Jack O’Lantern but it wasn’t candle light burning his face, it was some other light, lux fiat sulfera, a light made in hell. She’d heard that once but could never imagine seeing it or how it would look different, but there was no other way to describe this fiery light shining out from within him. (Yeah, go ahead and try to make this metaphor/description less clumsy.)

“Would you like me to tell you what it was like for them?”

“Why are you saying these things? Why are you talking like this?” Her voice was so tiny, so soft. Not like she was speaking at all. Or that she was speaking but she was far, far away from her own body, watching, listening from high above.

“It’s cold, Ronny. Very, very cold. So cold it  hurts. It’s a lie to say that death is painless, because it’s colder than anything you’ve ever felt before.”

He was leaned up in his chair too now, the same position she’d been frozen in the last few moments. His face still glowed from some internal inferno but was more skeletal now as if all his subcutaneous fat had been sucked dry.

He reached his hand out for her and she wanted to pull away but either way he was too quick or she was too slow. His grip on her shoulder was crippling, strong than the bony hand of her dream, though Adam’s hand was starting to look the same. He opened his mouth, took a huge gasping inhale, the rush of air nearly knocked her over, then he let out such an unearthly, loud, shrieking howl she though her eardrums wold burst. His breath was like a frozen blast from a glacier.

She wanted to scream, she wanted to pull away, she wanted to kick and punch and twist and shout and pull on her hair and scratch out her eyes. Anything to get away from him, from it, from all of it, but she couldn’t move, not even to breathe. She was stock still as the cold over took her. And it hurt just as he said.

She woke again, with no start, or pronouncement. Only the feeling that she wasn’t alone. Adam wasn’t across from her but his mug still sat on the chair arm. The fires were lit, blazing, crackling like before. Maybe it was the sleep still wearing off because she didn’t notice the hand on her shoulder until just then. She tried to shake it off like it was a phantom feeling leftover from the dream, her imagination again but whoever it was gripped tighter. It was real this time, not another dream, but she couldn’t get the dreams out of her head. 

Panic took over and pulled away, not gently but forcefully like she was fighting for her life. The mug she’d been holding crashed to the floor and shattered,. A scream crawled up her throat. All Veronica could think was “I have to get free, I have to get away. Oh god, he’s got me. It’s got me” (Or some combination of that)

Chapter 13 (I don't think any of this is good either)

The scream was on her lips when Jordan said, “Hey, calm down. It’s just me, I found you sleeping in here.” He crouched down beside her, his hand still on her shoulder.

The scream working its way out died on her lips. Her hearted pounded hard in her chest, she thought this time it might actually be injured or about to burst.

“Oh, God. Oh, God, Jordan.”

She pulled him to her with trembling arms. He smelled like he should: pine shavings, spearmint, and underneath a manly musk. In her dreams, all those sad heart-broken dreams where she thought he’d come back he smelled like nothing. She was sure she was awake now.

“I-I’m sorry.” She let him go. “I’m sorry. I was just having a bad dream, I guess. A weird dream, I mean.”

She got up and went to the bar. Her hands still shook. A whiskey bottle sat on the bar where Adam must have left it. She reached over, found a glass, and filled it to the rim.

“Yeah, I remember you getting those. Not nightmares, right? Just surreal and haunting.”

She looked at him, standing by the chair she’d vacated. It would be so easy to go back to him. Forget a slow reconciliation, just pick up where they left off.

“It’s a good thing you didn’t hear all of Greg’s stories then. You wouldn’t believe the stuff that’s gone down hear, on this land. It’s like, uh, what did they say in Ghostbusters?”
(Figure this out then work it out in here. I know what I mean)

He came to the bar when she didn’t laugh at his joke. She drank half the glass in one swallow, her shaking hands splashing bourbon on the bar. Her heart raced, fluttering at an unbelievable rate.

“Jesus, you’re shaking. You’re really scared. Are you sure you weren’t having a nightmare?”

 He ran his hands up and down her arms. She wanted to let him hold her, let him comfort her. Fall into his arms tell her all her fears and anxieties, spend the weekend, spend forever with him. Something kept telling her too. It would be so easy.

She pulled back from, however. “It was just a dream,” she said. “I don’t even remember what it was about.” Which was true. She only remembered that something was hunting her and something bad had happened but not what or who or how. She finished the rest of her glass and took a moment before she refilled it, her first instinct. She thought she’d at least wait until the first dose of medicine had a chance to work before she went for another, which gave her a chance to say what needed to be said. “Look, Jordan, I wanted to talk to you. About us. About getting back together.


“I’d be willing to try it. When we get back home. D.C., I mean. But we can’t just pick up where we left off because. . .” Because he’d hurt her too much before, she wanted to say. Because her heart had broken so badly for months she believed it would never go back together. But then again that wasn’t entirely his fault. Becky had . . . It didn’t matter what Becky had done. He had been the one to leave. “Because I’m not the same as I was then. And I have this as a job now. And I’m moving out of Aunt Wanda’s. Or planning too.” She was getting off topic. Her hands were no longer trembling but she poured another, smaller glass of alcohol. “Anyway, we’d have to start over, fresh and new. And slow. We’d have to go slow.”

He nodded. “Of course, that sounds completely amenable. Whatever it takes, because I’m serious Ronny. I’m serious about us.”

The door opened behind her. “The Creep ’N’ Greet is starting,” Adam’s sentence trailed off. “Oh, sorry I didn’t know you were occupied.”

“No, that’s all right. We were just finishing.” She downed her drink.

Jordan kept looking at her, not acknowledging Adam at all. Again she had that urging, looking into his eyes, that need to just take Jordan’s hand and start being a couple all over again. Instead she turned away him and towards the door, she found another fake smile to use and adopted a tone of excitement. (Or whatever)

“You’re uncle is there right?  I can’t wait to meet him. Jordan was telling me how great his stories were.”

Adam smiled, he hooked his arm around hers like they were going to skip down the yellow brick road. “I knew a little break would do you good. Yes, my uncle is looking forward to meeting you a great deal. He’s already asked to meet the enterprising young lady who arranged this all.”

Keep Reading: Part 10

Thanks for Reading!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 8

The Horrorphiles, Part 8 
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,708 words

Chapter 11 (in case you're wondering), continued

“I think the kettle is ready.”

He finished off his drink and took her empty glass from her. She didn’t hear any whistling or any other indication of a kettle but that didn’t bother her or seem eerie. She relaxed further into the coziness of her surroundings. Why was she questioning so much of everything when she should just enjoy such a rare experience? Even amongst the people here this weekend, who else would get a moment like this?

She sunk back into her chair, finally felt the warmth of the fire, and felt as if she’d taken her first lungfuls of air in days. Adam was right, it was about time she enjoyed herself.

He was back with the next drink. “Be careful, it’s hot.”

She was and she took a drink right a way, in a hurry to speed up the warming process down into her toes.

“So,” he resumed after sitting down. “What were you like when you were younger? Were you always into the scary and gruesome?”

“Not really,” she didn’t want to speak on this topic either but she knew she would have to, sooner or later, sometime over the weekend. She can’t become queen of horror fandom without explaining her origin story at some point. “I was always what you could call, generously, very imaginative. I’d send away for see monkeys or amazing x-ray specs. I believed in Santa Clause for longer than I should, more than I even believed in God. I thought magicians were really magical, every movie plot was plausible, if I could just stay awake late enough and look in the right places, I could see fairies, elves or ghosts.”

She held her mug between her two hands to keep them warm, and stared deep into the golden liquid. She wished there was a way she could keep talking without saying the next part, or that Adam would be satisfied with her answer, even though it didn’t explain anything.

“And then?” he said.

She looked up at him now, risking the trap of his caramel eyes, to be serious with him now. Genuine. The most genuine she’d been all day (ugh, garbage, dumb gross).

“When did you stop believing?” he asked.

“When my parents were killed in car accident (or…house fire? Like her dad or mom saves her then dies trying to save mom or dad?). I was 12. It was like the world came clear to me. If there was a Santa Claus, why didn’t he save them? If there was magic, where was it that night? Then even mundane things like firemen and medical science seemed less imbued with their special powers, heroism and life saving measures did no good. IF there were ghosts, how come my parents never came back to visit me? Wasn’t I unfinished business enough?” She was getting too emotional now, too sentimental, too mushy. She broke eye contact with Adam, looking back to the hot toddy.

“Anyway, I was sent to live with my Great Aunt, who was eccentric to say the least.  She taught me all the different ways people had of remembering their loved ones and as a side effect I got into occult films, anything with psychics, ghosts, summonings, hauntings and the like and eventually all things horror. They fit in better with my new world view back then.”

 “Your world view?”

She was sleepy now. Warmth seeped through her body and all around her like she was in warm bath. Her tongue was thick and heavy and so were her thoughts. Her eyelids were closing even as she was talking. Her mug was empty, resting on the chair arm, held in place with the barely there touch of her hand.

Adam leaned forward in his chair, his eyes wide with interest, like he was feeding off her story and the closer he could get the better it tasted. Her eyes snapped open for an instant but she felt no more awake. What a weird thing to think. What movie had she seen heard that from?

“Veronica? Are you okay?”

“What was I saying?”

She hadn’t spoken in a while. She didn’t know how long awhile but she got the sense that it was longer than it should have been.

“You said horror movies fit in better with your world view, after your parents died. I wondered what kind of world view.”

“Oh, right.” She nodded her head, still struggling to keep her eyes open. “I use to imagine the planet or life like it was surrounded by a giant gold net. That was the good magic, God and Santa Claus or whatever. It was there making sure that good people were saved, little girl wishes came true, and nothing too bad happened without some kind of balance. When my parents died, the net turned to black. It wasn’t good anymore, it was death. Death was always there, unstoppable and constant. And the only thing it protected was bad.”

She was talking with her eyes 90% closed. Her head rested on the edge of the chair back, she sat on one leg. Her socked foot rubbed against the back of her thigh. When had she taken her shoe off, or shoes? She wanted to open her eyes and look for them but she couldn’t.
She could barely see Adam now. He was just a shadowy blurry man like shape in front of her.

“And like Jason, Mike Meyers, and Freddy, it didn’t matter where you ran, where you hid, how many times you killed it, the bad, the evil, Death always wins.”

Finally she stopped fighting the heaviness in her eyelids, in her mouth, in her brain. She was too tired to fight it. She had a fleeting thought that she had something important to do but she couldn’t remember what that was.  She had another thought that she was being rude that she should still be talking to Adam, who’d said she had beautiful laugh or he meant it, at least, she thought.

“I did mean that,” he said.

“Mmm-hmm,” she said in response even though she didn’t know what he was talking about. And shortly after that she wasn’t sure he’d spoken at all.

She was very nearly asleep when she heard him speak or maybe speak again.

“Maybe we cannot vanquish death but what if we could cheat her?”

She assumed it was Adam but what she heard sounded like a whisper coming from all around her. Soft hands or a wind went through her hair and across her face.

“What if we could live damn near forever?”

“Then all our problems would be solved for good,” she answered, or thought she answered, with a small smile. 

Chapter 12 (as it happens)

She woke up later in an empty and cold room. Both fires had burned down to embers and Adam was nowhere to be seen, all that remained of his company was his hot toddy mug left on his chair arm. She moved and half expected her neck to  feel stiff or the leg that she was sitting on to be asleep but she moved fine. Her shoes, which she still didn’t remember moving, were beneath her chair. She took them in her hand and slowly left the room.

How long had she been asleep? Long enough for giant fires to burnout, she answered herself.
In the hallway, it was quiet. The entire house was silent and motionless. At first, it was too dark to see. Her eyes adjusted everything was in shadow. The hall looked different than it had before, full of what one would expect to find in an old mansion like Greyson Manor. Dusty, thin hall tables, cobwebbed portraits of long dead family ancestors, strange artifacts, weapons, and what-not hung on the wall, threadbare holes in the runners on the hall floor. Nothing like the fresh, clean, empty house of earlier that day.

She went in the direction she thought the stairs were in, she would’ve have sworn the stairs were to the right. Instead she walked longer than she should have down a straight hall, past many doors, until she reached a “t” intersection. She thought for a moment whether she should go left or right but she couldn’t see far either direction and decided it was safer to go back the other way in search for stairs to her room.

She turned around and once again the hall was different. Still quiet, still dark. Still cluttered with antiques no one cleaned but different antiques. The runner was red now when it was a faded blue a moment ago. She kept walking though because she had the increasing feeling that someone was behind her. Not right behind her but behind her somewhere, possibly getting closer. She didn’t look back because if she looked behind her and saw something, the vague undefined terror could become real, tactile horror. As long as she didn’t look back, she kept the possibility alive that there was nothing behind. Those weren’t soft, padded footfalls behind her. There wasn’t a low growl. There weren’t boney clawed fingers brushing against the end of her ponytail, almost able to grab it now. All of that was just her imagination.

Was it still her imagination that she was running and running as fast as she could but not moving forward? Was it her imagination that what she thought was her shoes was now a crying baby in her arms? She looked down, it was definitely her shoes but she was cradling them like she would a baby, and yet there was still a baby crying some where. And she definitely was running but everything around her stayed the same. She wasn’t moving at all.

Then it happened. A skeleton hand on her shoulder, digging painful with his powerful grip. And burning but cold. Like ice for too long on bare skin. She still didn’t look behind her to see what had got her. She just closed her eyes, pulled her shoes into her chest just in case it was really a baby she was holding because she still didn’t know where the crying was from, and let whatever the thing was close in around her, swallowing her in freezing oblivion.

Keep Reading with Part 9

Thanks for Reading!  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Part 7

The Horrorphiles, Part 7
By Stephanie Thompson; 1,676 words
(Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5, and Part 6)

Chapter 10 (also), continued

“Oh,” she said. “I thought I would go on the tour as well. With everyone else.”

She walked towards the door like she was on her way out, about to leave but Adam didn’t move from the edge of her bed where he was sitting.

“It’s pretty much the same I gave you earlier, with a bunch of malarky about ghosts and satan worshippers added in. I thought we might get another drink. You know . . . Hang out.” He said hang out like it stuck on his tongue and he was having trouble getting it off.

She was at an impasse. She wanted to meet Mr. Peabody, she wanted to be with the other Horrorphiles, but she didn’t want to be rude to Adam, who’d been overly kind to her for the most part, and nor did she want to hear any ghost stories lest she end up imagining her way screaming out the front doors.

“You’ve been tense since you got here. You should relax and have fun. You did it, it’s done. You don’t have to drive this bus any more, just enjoy the ride. Come have a drink or two with me, you can meet my uncle later.”

It was literally impossible to refuse now. He was kind and friendly and quite frankly right. Anyway protestation of her part would be nonsensical and cold hearted. “You’re right,” she said. “Another drink would be nice.” 

Chapter 11 (in case you're wondering)

She went with Adam down the perfectly normal but bright red staircase. She saw the tail end of the ghost tour go down the hall into the same wing as the library but she couldn’t see over the heads of the crowd to catch a glimpse of Mr. Peabody. Adam lead her in the opposite direction to the door she would have sworn should have led to the games room, the same room they’d been in earlier for drinks. Instead of poker table and pool cues in a dimly lit room, they were in bright room lit by two huge roaring fireplaces. There was a grand piano opposite the door, near a wall of burgundy curtains embroidered with gold threads that caught the light of the twin fires and sparkled. There was ample sitting room in the form of chairs, chaises, and couches, each with legs and decorations of a different animal but pillows and cushions of dark red and gold brocades.

Adam stopped abruptly by the door where there was a long walnut bar and endless alcohol bottles lined up on shelves against a mirror reflecting the fires back into the room through the bottles (wow, that’s clumsy sentence). She stood there too, right where they cam in, to stunned by the huge elaborate drawing room, she supposed it should be called, to move anywhere else. Who had started these fires? Did Adam know she would come down here with him? Or forgetting that, maybe he just had the fires lit for himself, but why were these fireplaces built so large in the first place? Big enough to roast a whole cow or two. . .maybe an elephant even? Who had ever sat in all these seats? Who’d played the piano? Was this the kind of info she was missing in the tour?

And, with fires so huge, why was she still so cold?

Adam put a drink in her hand. “Cheers,” he said, clinking her glass.

"What is it?” she asked sounding more suspicious than she meant to but after the effects of the last one, she thought it might be better to ask before imbibing.

He sipped his without hesitation and laughed. “Just an old fashioned,” he said. “With a Grayson twist,” he added.

Then again, when she still wasn’t drinking, “It’s just some fruit juice and sugar syrup added.” He laughed like her trepidation was some kind of joke, meant to be entertaining. “Come on, lets sit down.”

He set in a chair nearest one fireplace, opposite a matching chair, with a low table between them. She sat in the matching chair and took a tiny sip of her drink.

“I have a confession to make,” he said. “I’m the one you’ve been corresponding with, not my uncle.”

He was looking into the ice cubes of his drink instead of at her.

“Really?” she said.

“It was my uncles idea of course, he wanted to fill the house again, like the old days. I mean, like I told you earlier. But he isn’t that up to date on the new technologies, so he asked me to take care of it.”

She didn’t know what to do with this new information or the icy wetness of her drink. The cold condensation of the iced cocktail slipped over her fingers and onto her jeans but she didn’t want to set the rocks glass on the table without a coaster, Adam still held his but appeared to have less condensation.

“So, I’ve been very much looking forward to meeting you, since we’ve already spoken so  much . . . Online. . . But only in a professional manner.” He took another sip and his glass was empty. “You ready for another?” He asked, finally looking at her.

His eyes were so arresting she didn’t know what she wanted. “Um,” she said. She had to actually look at the glass in her hand to know if she was or not. To her surprise, the inside of her glass empty except for the clinking ice cubes and lemon rind. “IT appears so.” She tried to hand him her glass but somewhere between her fingers and his it slipped to the floor. The crash of glass and splash of melting ice against her against her leg, startled her out of the growing numbness. “Oh, shit,” she said. “I’m sorry, that was rude. Do you have dustpan or something? I can clean it up.”

He laughed, again like it was all joke. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll just move to the other side.”

“But the glass,” she said.

“Don’t worry we have plenty,” he answered already half way to the bar.

She hadn’t been that worried about the state of their glass collection but if he wasn’t concerned about someone stepping on shards of glass or the liquid soaking into what looked like yet another expensive probably heirloom what-not’s who-ever’s rug, then she’d try not to be concerned either. She supposed that if she broke another glass over there they could switch to a whole ’nother room if they had too. Then she could forget drinking whatever they drank in there too.

Adam was back with the drinks again. “I put the kettle on for hot toddy’s to warm us up a bit, but we’ve got another round of old fashioned’s in the meantime.” 

It was a strange releif that despite the two noisily crackling fire, Adam was also cold. She was glad at the news that a warm drink would be next as he put another icy rocks glass in her hand.

He clinked their glasses. “Cheers.”

No one said anything as he sat down and for once though the silence didn’t feel weighted. In fact, it didn’t feel silent or creepy. With the fires, the drinks, the handsome company, it was actually cozy, it was nice. So she said so.

“This is actually very nice.”

“What? Did you think something awful would happen?” He laughed. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be antagonistic but you’re so . . . On edge. I didn’t expect the founder of horror fan site to be so jumpy.”

This time she was the one to laugh, a soft chuckle as she stared into the fire. “Jordan said the same thing.”

“Jordan? Your . . . Friend?”

She took a hearty drink of her whiskey. It was cold first then warm, comforting, burning down her chest. “My ex.”

“And you invited him here?”

This time she finished off her drink first. And even though she didn’t remember the first one, the comforting numbness of two cocktails was already weaving its way through her brain. Still…

“I don’t really want to talk about that, him,” she said.

“What would you like to talk about?” 

He was reclined comfortably in his chair, one leg bent over the other’s knee. He held his glass near the rim, resting it on the chair arm, and turning it round and round again.

“How did you come to live with your uncle? Instead of whatever fast-paced bachelor lifestyle people your age enjoy.” 

“People my age? Aren’t we the same age?”

She shrugged. He was smiling and laughing at her still. At some point she thought his constant amusement at her expense would become gratiating but at the moment, she was starting to feel like the most charming person in the world.

“I was a kind of troubled youth as a kid; picking fights, racing cars, stealing. Sending me here was a last resort, keep me out of trouble, look after my uncle. Tone down my wild streak.”

It was Ronny’s turn to laugh, trying to imagine  this straight-laced looking young man in slacks and loafers drag racing or getting into fights in dirty city allies, just didn’t seem possible. People who wore sweaters and bow-ties (didn’t know he did that did you? Well he does now, so put bowtie some place) did not have wild streaks.

Her laughter didn’t seem to bother him. “If I were you I’d be incredulous, too.” He paused to sip his drink. “But I’d tell you ridiculous things all night, if it meant I could to listen to your laughter.”

As her laughter died down, she looked back into the fire to keep from locking with the intense gaze of his eyes. Before she questioned if he was flirting (really? Maybe we should add the someplace too), now she was sure. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Her face was hot and she felt the need to cross her legs but more than that she couldn’t tell. The whiskey had finally fully occupied her mind, concrete thoughts and action no longer exist there.

Keep Reading: Part 8

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