Short Stories

On Sable Wings

A twisted fairy tale. A princess is sent into exile with her brother — an elegant Gothic prince with a sadistic streak. With a gloomy palace, tortured maidens, an abandoned cemetery, and strange monsters out of legend, it’s a slow dream-waltz through a black-velvet, candlelit nightmare. For fans of strange romance and those with a taste for delicious, poetic revenge.

An earlier version of this story originally appeared in the now (sadly) defunct vampire magazine, Midnight Times. I was always pleasantly surprised that they accepted it for publication, as the vampires in this story are a little more … unsettling … than what the average, 21st century vampire fan might expect.

 

Sutton’s Corner

Roy Griffin leads a quiet life as a farmer in the rural South. His world is calm, ordinary, until his son has a chance meeting with a stranger in town — one who might be more than she seems.

A slow-burning story, something I call “quiet horror,” for those who like their horror a little more subtle but creepy all the same. This story was a hard sell, precisely because it is a slow-burner; it was eventually picked up by Dark Recesses, who paid me for it and then opted not to publish it after all. Splatter sells, apparently, and this story is splatter-free, but I like it anyway.

 

 

The Ties That Bind

A sick little tale in serial form, the story of a deeply disturbed “romantic” and the girl of his dreams. For mature audiences only.

I have a love/hate relationship with this story. Reactions to it have always been mixed, and seem to depend on how well I am personally known by the reader. It’s a psychological horror tale with subtly disturbing scenes. Among close friends and family (with one notable exception — thanks, Jenn!), the initial reaction seems to be a double-take between the story and me, followed by an attempt to back away from me slowly. Why, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the first-person narrative.

Anyway, this story usually makes readers feel skeevy. It should. An earlier version appeared in Tabard Inn: Tales of Questionable Taste under the title “What It Takes,” thanks to the amazing support of editor John Bruni. The current title was suggested by my best friend, Jenn Overman; I liked it immediately.

 

The Washer at the Ford

Mike Fitzgerald is a small-town boy on his way up, now working as a reporter at the local “big city” rag. He chases a lead into the late summer countryside, where he takes on a colorful guide — and encounters a little girl with an eerie warning.

Down an endless dirt road, the shadows grow long on a hidden creek. Silence broods beneath the trees. The woods seem to wait for nightfall — and for the man unlucky enough to be trapped there once the sun goes down.

An earlier version of this story first appeared in Brutarian magazine. While it exists in the same fictional NC area as my earlier story, “Sutton’s Corner,” many of the locations in this one really exist. The creek, for instance, and that tumbledown dam. The bridge. The long, somber stillness of a summer’s afternoon beneath those brooding trees. This story seems to be a perennial favorite among my readers. Local readers who have visited that creek in real life often refuse to go back; it’s haunted for them now.

 

Red Sky at Night

A re-imagining of a classic fairy tale, but one that pays homage to its original and much darker version: On a lonely beach, a young woman encounters a stranger with a disturbing message.

An earlier (and in my opinion, far inferior) version of this story first appeared in Aphelion magazine. I say “inferior” because I was reading a lot of contemporary, “artsy” fantasy at the time and it heavily influenced the original in a way that makes me cringe. The original version was more graphic and explicit as well, and while I feel there’s a place for that in the right story, this one seemed to want a subtler approach.

The fairy tale should be easy to figure out. I’ve always loved fairy tales, especially those deliciously awful German ones. The idea that fairy tales have far more in common with horror than fantasy is a theme I visit often.

If you have difficulty accessing Wattpad, all these stories are available HERE.