Nano Fiction, Flash Fiction & Short Stories

This story scares people: Flash Fiction “Danny” Published to Quick Brown Fox Blog

t1larg_terror_tsDo you believe in ghosts?

I’m very excited to announce that my flash-fiction piece “Danny” was published on the Quick Brown Fox Blog today. Click here to read a creepy piece of paranormal fiction that seems to be scaring people.

Let me know what you think of the piece by commenting on the blog. Thanks for reading.

Darryl Foster

Nano Fiction: Prisoner

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Prisoner” as inspired by Joanna Malcolm’s posted artwork.TwoPointsofViewL

Prisoner

By Darryl Foster

The scent of brine and the essence of freedom sail in through my window. I love to watch the sea, listen to the crash of waves and pretend to feel sand between my toes, but I will not venture out there. The burden in my soul is the weight of my own ship’s anchor, a fear that I carry and can not control. It keeps me here in this tortuous mind, a prisoner, a function of dysfunction, and although I feel my spirit is locked away, it’s my ghost that yearns for freedom beyond this body, my prison without walls.

Nano Fiction: Shattered

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Shattered” as inspired by Christine Kim’s posted artwork.christinekim_reckless_mixedmedia_5x7_2014_1

Shattered

by Darryl Foster

Our homes, our lives: shattered. The earth doesn’t discriminate. The shaking, the crumbling of walls, the crushing weight of rock. Many died. The ruins of our village poured over us like a great wave of despair. The young and strong knocked to their knees. The elders, the ones who’d built the foundations before us, didn’t see ruin like my generation. Hopeless. But to the old, they who’d seen wars and the ravages of time, they saw something different: opportunity. And like a sapling springing up between rocks, its roots stretching for water and nutrients, we began to build again.

Flash Fiction: A New York State of Mind

A New York State of Mind

By Darryl Foster

 

Did they dread forecasted pockets of air—too poisonous to breathe? A photo drifted onto my retina; a frame of augmented reality. New York City, 2025 a chaotic place: dead air, depleted oil, food shortages, and they must’ve been horrified when the honey bee became extinct.

I think, and a new photo appears—solar panels and windmill farms, 2031. Too bad the switch to alternate energy wasn’t enough to feed their capitalistic consumption. Must’ve been tough to survive in a crumbling ‘supply and demand’ society. I believe this was their undoing, greed; a path to global wars and famine.

Next frame—not my favourite—a photo of a quarantined home in Harlem, a reminder that humans were not at the top of the food chain. Millions died, and it took a hundred years to find a cure for the Pectin virus, an airborne contagion that gelled blood. I’m not sure how hope survived in their plagued world, nor can I contemplate the failure of concrete. By 2150 most buildings had exceeded their life. The skyscrapers crumbled first. Water rusted rebar had led to the disintegration of whole cities. The good thing was society had to shed its chrysalis and emerge with a new way of thinking.

A final photo appeared—New York, June 16th, 2375. It was today’s celebration commemorating the Age of Awakening in 2175. A time when human consciousness conceded to reform society out of necessity—change or face extinction.

My retina display hibernated. Crowds gathered. Being the Mayor of New York I was honoured to be in New Battery Park removing the last ceremonial brick of an old civilization. It took 200 years, but we did it, we had terraformed Manhattan, replacing all structures with green fields and trees for as far as the eye could see.

Flash Fiction Published on Commuterlit.com: “The Turning”

Are you a Walking Dead fan?

Check out my flash fiction The Turning on commuterlit.com, published today or read on below:

The Turning by Darryl Foster

My eyes flicker open.

A soft ambient glow fills my vision. I strain to focus and what at first appears to be a chalky blackboard sky solidifies to become the moon hovering like an apparition, floating among wisps of cloud. I feel peaceful lying here, somewhere, looking up at the drift of moonlit clouds as they slip through my vision. Each cloud a morphing fractal, a kaleidoscope of changing shapes pushed by the wind, curling, twisting, and then moving far away, leaving me to consider my thoughts and what seems to be my complete loss of self regard and place. The sudden realization that my careless mental drift with the night sky overshadows my current situation trips my consciousness. A tightening in my chest triggers a panic concerning my wellbeing and sends me crashing into the question—where am I?

I attempt to recall my thoughts, reaching back before I woke: What was I doing? How did I arrive here? Who am I? But nothing seems to snap my memory to attention. I am left to wonder if I have any memory of anything. I search my mind again, trying to recall something that could postulate my being here, and the only thing rising from my thoughts is a taste; a coppery bitterness in my mouth, as if I’d been sucking on a penny for days. It seems, for now, I have regained a tiny measure of feeling as my sense of taste returns to life, and with it, a rising intensity of a thousand pricking needles barrels through my body. It feels like I’m a dead limb waking after hours of poor circulation. And as my body comes back to life I regain some muscle control and turn my head. There at eye level, a curb and sidewalk perpendicular to my perception. I’m on my back. I’m lying down on a road, and my revived nerves send forward my sense of touch. I feel cold, and realize I’m shirtless, my skin pressing against clammy tarmac—get up—that’s all I can think.

I take a deep breath. The damp air quickens my senses, sending a flood of activity that rifles my brain, and all my muscles are sore; throbbing with pain. Something is wrong with me, something terribly wrong. A heavy feeling in my body, as if pinned by gravity, makes the road feel like it’s holding up my weight, and suddenly the tension in every muscle fibre seems to loosen as though waking from a bout of temporary paralysis. In that revelation all the pain is gone as if cast out by miracle, but strangely there is something left behind, not a tangible ache, but an encompassing apathetic clarity. Suddenly I’m no longer consumed by the questions plaguing me. It doesn’t matter who I am, where I am or what I am doing. All that matters is what I feel now; the rise of some new found sense of freedom composing itself in my mind. The sensation is: consuming, euphoric, limitless, and whatever questions I have of my past life lift away. This new life without bonds, without care, is far better, and something else—something growing inside—an instinctive reflex: to be, to live, to feed.

I summon my strength and roll onto my side. I push my hands against the cold asphalt and stand. A survey of my body reveals coagulated blood stains on my blue jeans, scrapes across my chest—as if I’d been dragged across pavement—and I notice my right forearm appears mangled as if mauled by a dog trying to wrestle out the bone. There’s no initial shock, and I can clearly see a streak of moist white sinew deep within the jagged valley of the laceration which extends from my elbow to my wrist. The wound is missing fatty tissue and muscle, and it’s easy to see the torn bloody ends of my arteries and veins, but oddly the sight doesn’t seem to concern me; it captivates me. I’m staring at my injury, observing it, picking at it with the hand on my good arm, and there is no pain. Perhaps I no longer understand pain. It doesn’t seem to register in my mind that I’m, hurt, and I don’t feel a need to seek help.

I take another deep breath; a taut pressure in my head releases, and I feel an unhinging of my mind, a mental bon voyage, and suddenly any emotion, desire or forward thought begins to numb. My original self succumbs, relinquishing its hold on this body and fades into oblivion. There is no sense of before or after, and the present doesn’t seem to register any measure of time—there’s only empty space in my thoughts. Regardless, I know I am something. I am alive, and although I may be absent of pulse, I know I exist in some state of living animation, perhaps as a shell, a vessel for whatever minuscule piece of consciousness I have left. And although that remaining part of me seems suppressed, it’s still able to comprehend my surroundings, and detects far-off screams of terror reverberating in the night air.

Those resounding cries of horror are like a beacon, and I’m attracted to whatever distant chaos is unfolding; the scent of it smells like blood spilt into the ocean to spur a frenzy of sharks. The louder the shrieks the more excited I become, and with the excitement a memory rushes through me—a memory of absolute panic—in which I’m running and trying to stay ahead of a tsunami of hysterical people. We are all being chased, unable to outrun a closing horde of clamouring, rot-smelly things that appear human and decayed. A woman on my heels is picked off, sideswiped by one of the creatures. I recall the hollow thud of her body and the crack of her skull on pavement—the sound of instantaneous death—and in the back of my mind I imagine it like a lion taking down a gazelle. The driving fear of her death—and mine pending—kept my legs moving and my senses sharp as I looked for any escape route—and there, ahead is an alley. I charge right, hoping to evade, but one of those things pursues. Its necrotic scent and sour breath looms over my shoulder. I breakout of the alleyway, dash across a sidewalk and race left onto a street, and the thing digs its fingernails into my neck. I feel its bite and jaw lock onto my arm. My eyes shut, and I cringe in breathless agony. A few last steps and this thing wrestles me to the ground. My eyes are wide, my screams choked by horror, as my nemesis hovers over me: vicious, manic and tearing into my arm. It is a hideous figure, appearing as a mangled man with bloody sores, lacerations and missing layers of skin and hair. Its bite is unrelenting and the sting of an acidic like saliva is mixing with my blood and tissue. I’m the gazelle now, surrendering to the kill, submitting to natural selection, and knowing my place in the food chain—blackness consumes, and the memory is gone.

More distant screams and something begins to pump my heart. I can feel it inside, moving in my chest—something has control of my body. Pressure builds in my veins; a wetness above my lip forms and a drip of blood runs uncontrollably from my nose. My eyes feel heavy as if sunken in their sockets. I feel aged, and decayed. My body quivers then turns with a jerk toward the direction of the screams searching out the scent of death in the air, and my eyes fall upon the streetscape ahead of me. The way forward is littered with the carnage of awkwardly splayed bodies reeking with a stench of soured organics. Maybe some will rise and wake like me. Maybe they will see the moon in the sky as I did, luminous with shape-shifting clouds and perhaps they too will wonder where they are, who they are, and perhaps they too will see the world in a different way, a new boundless way. I stumble forward, lurching toward the sounds of the frantic living, churning with a mindless hunger.

 

 

Do you Believe in Ghosts? Flash Fiction: “Danny”

“Please don’t leave Dad.”

Sitting in the shadowy room on the edge of my eight year old son’s bed seemed routine lately. I had never seen him so frightened. His face, warmed only by the hallway light, was a pageantry of dread: puppy dog eyes, quivering lips, and tears, all pulled at my heart strings. I sensed fear in his voice, and whatever he was afraid of in the closet seemed real to him.

I remember being a kid and the shadows that moved in my bedroom at night. I remember calling out for my parents—all too often. When no one came I froze. I felt paralyzed with fear, lying stiff in bed under my sheets. I would wish for the morning to come; wanting sunlight to warm between the slits of my window blind, driving the darkness and monsters away. I don’t recall if my terror of the dark was legitimate, but older now, my adult mind seemed stripped of any silly childhood fears. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up; you shed that part of you or repress it. But still, to this day, I wonder what had set my imagination so vividly in motion? What was behind those bumps in the night that sent me into sweats of panic?

Witnessing my son pulling the covers up over his head and writhing under his sheets had reminded me of my own childhood monsters. But that fear of creeping demons slithering in the shadows was what my son felt. What I felt was a much different fear—a primal worry—an instinct every parent feels for a child when danger is present, and it’s my job to protect him.

“Kieran, we’ve gone over this repeatedly for the last few nights, there’s nothing in your closet. Now it’s time to sleep. I have lots of work to do tonight.” I moved to stand, but didn’t get far.

“Dad, please don’t go.” He had reached up and wrapped his tiny arms around me. His fleece pajamas felt soft, cozy and had a fresh baby powder scent that released memories of my baby boy swaddled in my arms. I hugged him firmly—holding onto those sweet thoughts—ready to soothe his fears; that’s what dads do.

“It’ll be okay. You’re safe.”

“But Dad, I hate it when he taps on the closet door.”

The blood in my ears began to pound and a spiralling back-chill rattled my superstitious fears. My son had spoken casually, without hesitation, as if he’d spoken a truth. It was the kind of statement any kid could make, seemingly genuine, spooky, and able to drive a stake of horror into the hearts of adults. Phrases like: what’s that man doing in the mirror, and nothing is there, or why is grandma visiting today, although she’s been dead for weeks. Those expressions mean something. Something adults can’t see or understand. Uneasiness fills me, and the child inside was scared—terrified like my son—but I mentally remind myself, I’m the parent, and so I denied my jitters.

“Kieran, quit being silly,” I said. “There’s no tapping, and there’s nothing in your closet.”

“Can I sleep with you tonight, please Dad?”

“No. You’re a big boy. You sleep in your own bed.” I gently laid him back on his pillow and his arms released me. I tucked the covers up to his chin and kissed him on the forehead. “Now go to sleep. You have school tomorrow.” I rose off his bed and my son had a shocked expression as if I’d thrown him to the wolves. “Good night son.” A whimper and he turned on his side and pulled the covers over his head.

To believe bed sheets are an impenetrable shield from the things that lurk in the dark seemed instinctive for a child—and adults too. I remember hiding beneath my sheets as a child. They were my only defence for keeping the Boogeyman at bay and stopping the monsters under my bed from snatching me—but would it be enough to keep the boy in the closet? A creepy sensation prickled and crawled over my skin like skittering spiders. I walked out of my son’s bedroom; side-glancing the closet. The single white door appeared gray in the dark. It was closed, and I thought the door knob turned slightly, but perhaps my imagination—generating kilowatts of trepidation—fuelled the illusion. I reminded myself, nothing is happening here. There was nothing in his room or that damn closet—despite what the history of this house might allude.

After my wife died I had a hard time stabilizing my finances, and the only way to make ends meet was to buy this house. A house with a disturbed past—priced to sell—because of the skeleton in the closet. We had lived here for a week, and there were only two rooms. I gave myself the master bedroom, and had put my son in this room which fanned flames of guilt in the hearth of my heart, and now he keeps referring to a boy in the closet. It was uncanny. My son had no idea what had happened in this house. I tried to convince myself that boys—kids for that matter—made things up in their heads. They role-played, acted out games, told tales, but sometimes the more you tell a story, the more real it becomes. The truth was Danny used to live in this room. He was a boy almost my son’s age.

I left his bedroom, and reached to turn off the hall light. I held my finger on the switch.

“Dad,” his soft voice grabbed my ears. I turned, and saw him peeking from beneath his covers. “I love you.”

My heart floated in my chest. “I love you too. Now go to sleep please.” I flicked the hallway light off.

I had moved to the living room. I had work to do and deadlines to meet. I sat down at my desk to write. I was finishing a new novel—one that my publisher said would catapult my career—and with the mild success of my last horror book, I felt he was right.

I had typed five hundred words onto the computer screen when it happened again, just like last night. My desk lamp flickered. An instinctive feeling of being watched exploded in my mind. I whipped around in my chair—my son stood in the hall.

“He’s tapping again, Dad.”

My son held a bleak and vacant expression. The darkness of the hallway, behind my son, appeared to slither, bubble and swirl in sheaves of shadow; a black void ready to swallow him. My eyes had to be playing a trick on my mind. A few horror movies crept into my head and my imagination was wild with fear. Images of children creeping in the night, or in cornfields, had always scared the hell out of me, and I cursed Stephen King. I’d had enough.

“What are you talking about?” I said in a flat, irate tone—my attempt at denial.

“I’m talking about the boy in my closet. He’s trying to get out.”

I stared blankly at my son. His pajamas hung off his small bony frame. I wanted this nightmare to end. “Son—please, there’s no boy.”

“But Dad, I can hear him asking me to open the closet door and let him out.”

Jesus—there it was again, a genuine expression. The authenticity was like a sprung trap, inescapable, a snare all parents eventually find themselves caught in—having to believe their kid out of pure faith, trusting they’re telling the truth. But I couldn’t allow myself to believe my son’s claim was true.

“Get to bed.” It came out bluntly.

“But Dad,” his eyes begged me to help him.

“Kieran, go to bed. We’ll talk about this in the morning.” My son stood quiet, unmoved. My voice roared, “I said go to bed now!”

His face sank. All the love between us was drained. Had I been too harsh? My fears seemed to be surfacing as anger, but it was the only reaction I had left. How else—at this point—to make him go to bed other than yell?

My son turned and ran back to his room. I swung around in my chair and faced the computer screen. I rested my elbows on the desk and buried my face in my hands. I felt awful. This boy in the closet business had driven me crazy, and I had a whole night of work ahead. I lifted my head out of my hands, reached for my mouse and clicked on the Google icon in my Internet browser. I typed in Preston house murder, and the abhorrent article appeared.

“Creemore, Ontario – June 6, 2012 – Ontario Provincial Police discover gruesome scene at 16 Brody Drive. The body of six year old Danny Preston was removed from the house after neighbours expressed concern over the wellbeing of Elizabeth Preston, mother to Danny. The single mother had been seen alone and rocking vigorously, on numerous occasions, on the front porch talking nonsense. The odd behaviour alerted neighbour Bill Henderson to call police—”She’d been out on that porch rock’n and cradling air. She kept singing ‘hush little baby, don’t you cry’ over and over again. I hadn’t seen Danny for weeks and felt something was wrong.”—Elizabeth Preston was taken into custody for not providing the necessities of life for her son. The boy’s body was found in his room locked in the closet. The Coroner’s report suggested, by the state of decomposition, the boy had died a week ago. Toxicology tests showed rat poison in small doses had been placed in food delivered under the closet door on paper plates, which the boy had stacked together to make a pillow—”

“Dad, Danny’s scaring me!” My son’s voice bellowed from his bedroom.

My eyes shut. I slid my hands onto my head and gripped tufts of my hair between my fingers—this is not happening. My bottom lip trembled. It was all hauntingly real now, and my heart raced. An intense fear rose within me, my ears were hot, my senses spun. I gathered the courage to get up. I had to protect my son. I shoved off from my desk and jumped up from my chair. My slippers squeaked on the hardwood floor as I charged down the hall. I was determined to prove that nothing was happening. I had planned to fling the closet door open and confirm to my son—to me—that nothing was inside. This was all childhood imagination gone berserk.

I raced into my son’s room. I flicked on the light—light always makes bad things go away—my son was crying. My eyes shot to the closet door. The air felt thick and energized. The door was rattling. I became light-headed, terror stricken, and beneath the door a small hand, fingers stretched, clawing at the carpet, a child’s raspy whisper alive in my head—help me.