William Blackwell

Dark Fiction Author

Category: Posts Page 1 of 10

Hot off the Press

The culmination of three years’ of research and countless revisions, The Dark Menace, my latest supernatural thriller, has just been released.

Here’s a synopsis:

Noah Janzen is plagued by nightmares and numerous sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a horrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Shadow People and the Hat Man.

Determined to prevent his nocturnal demons from interfering with his successful career and newly formed relationship with Angela Rosewood, he meets her in a local pub. But when he sees a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat eerily watching him through a window, he freaks out and flees.

He soon learns that a hat-wearing psycho has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela suspects Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.

Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of physicist and sleep specialist, Doctor Neil Samuelson. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic doctor informs Noah that an old woman has been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.

As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man escalate, Noah suspects Neil has accidentally opened up a portal from another dimension, unleashing a torrent of  ghostly evil entities, hell-bent on terrorizing and destroying humanity.

He’s thrust into an epic battle to preserve his relationship and sanity and find answers to a strange and mysterious real-life phenomenon that has haunted and terrorized thousands of people around the world for centuries.

If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, click the link below. Or, if you want to learn more about the Hat Man, read on and click the link at the bottom of the page.


Who is the Hat Man? A guardian angel or the devil in disguise?

According to numerous reports, he’s a mysterious spirit entity who often visits people in their bedrooms at night. Sometimes he terrifies them. Other times he leaves them with a sense of peace and calm.

What does he look like? He’s a black, shadowy apparition, darkly cloaked, wearing a wide-rimmed black hat resembling a fedora.

What does the Hat Man want? To some he’s the devil in disguise, a grim reaper of sorts, and a harvester of souls.

Some believe he preys on fear, striking you when your defenses are low and you’re down and out.

Many people report seeing him in their waking lives. Some even claim he’s trashed their houses and tried to strangle them to death in the middle of the night.

According to Heidi Hollis, author of The Hat Man, The True Story of Evil Encounters, he’s not only real, but he is the devil. She writes, “Victims worldwide have reported seeing this man peering into their homes, their bedrooms, their baby cribs, their cars and even—their souls.”

Some have been able to defeat him by calling out the name of Jesus, or having their homes blessed, while others, according to reports, just beat the crap out of him. Some simply order him out of their homes.

But others claim the Hat Man is a guardian angel, whose purpose is to protect them from harm.

The Hat Man is often seen with his band of followers, the Shadow People.

Where did the Hat Man come from? Where did the Shadow People come from?

According to Wikipedia, shadowy entities are “the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit of other entity.”

Some researchers claim shadowy entities date as far back as 300 AD. Wikipedia says, “A number of religions, legends, and belief systems describe shadowy spiritual beings or supernatural entities such as shades of the underworld, and various shadowy creatures have long been a staple of folklore and ghost stories.”

There are other theories about the origins of the Hat Man and the Shadow People.

A neurological theory: Shadow People and Hat Man images occur during sleep paralysis, a mysterious sleeping disorder occurring in that transitional stage between waking and falling asleep during which a person becomes completely immobilized and often sees frightening images. According to the neurological theory, these shadowy entities are merely the manifestation of a sleeping disorder and by extension nothing more than a product of the subconscious mind.

A religious theory: Shadow People are the evil minions of the devil, sent to snatch our souls and drag us down into the bowels of hell.

Another religious theory: Shadow People are guardian angels, sent from heaven to protect our souls and shield us from evil.

The scientific theory: Some physicists believe that unexplained forces are causing other dimensions to merge with ours. This merging of different dimensions would explain why we can only see the Shadow People and the Hat Man as shadowy figures who have the ability to transcend our laws of gravity, float through walls, fly, and change shapes at random.

According to this theory, the Hat Man and the Shadow People are the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe or another dimension. That’s why they can disappear and reappear in the drop of a hat. Or maybe in the drop of the Hat Man.

Regardless of what theory you subscribe to, one thing is certain. The Hat Man and the Shadow people drive terror and fear into the hearts of some, and peace and joy into the hearts of others.

While I was researching The Dark Menace, I posted a blog asking people to tell me their experiences with the Hat Man and the Shadow People.

Needless to say, I received a lot of responses—some terrifying, others heartwarming. Here are some excerpts:


  • Rather frightening:

When I was around four, I think at the time my parents were going through a divorce. I was sleeping on my mom’s bed one night and had to go to the bathroom, so I got up and went to use the bathroom and she was still sleeping. I came back and fell back to sleep. I woke up to a pitch black shadow of a man staring at me at the edge of the bed. It felt like an eternity, he was staring. My whole body was frozen with fear. He started growing in height, almost reaching the ceiling. At this point I turned my body and fell back to sleep. The next night I woke up and felt the urge to walk to the living room. I walked to the living room to see a shadow man at my front door. My dad was sleeping on the couch. I tried waking him up. I tried pushing at him, and to no avail. He wasn’t waking up. I walked back to my mom’s room to sleep, hoping it would go away. I looked back to see the shadow person staring at my dad.


  • On a more positive note:

The Hat Man visits me nearly every week in lucid dreaming. And I have only good experiences with him. We just talk normally and I often ask him questions. For example, I ask how he comes to my dreams, who he is, and so on. Once he showed me his tarot cards. That was funny. I always try to look in his face, and he looks like an Arabian type of man. But I want to mention, that he’s not the only Hat Man. He has a brother, too. They are very different.


  • Somewhere in that mysterious twilight zone between black and white:

Hey, I have seen the Hat Man. He was on the left side of my bed but when I awoke and saw him. I did feel an intense sense of fear. I began to think that fear was created by myself over time. I was sleeping next to my partner and we were going through a troubling time, when I saw the Hat Man I saw it wasn’t me he had interest in but my partner. It’s very strange because I couldn’t see his eyes but I knew he was looking at him. He was there until I managed to panic and turned on the light. I have never saw him again but on occasion I think about him and wonder if he will reappear and why he did. I was scared at first but now I feel he is of some good. I am unsure. This was in maybe 2011. I was sexually attacked by a man that year. I put him behind bars for seven years but I felt strong, like I knew I could do it, but then suffered a year with anxiety and depression. Did he cause this? Or was it a warning? I am unsure. I am mentioning this due to other related aftermaths.


  • Now that’s downright chilling:

He’s from the Void/VALE of DARKNESS. I saw the hooded man/grim reaper. I saw two of them when I was 6 years old and I was shaking and heard whispers and voices and I had a severe high fever. I was hallucinating with nightmares and night terrors. This happened back in 2004 and after that the next day I was blacking out in the morning. I had to go to the doctor. I almost died in that experience.


  • And on the flipside:

I’ve seen the Hat Man four times in my life. The first time I was about 6 years old, and the sighting snapped me awake from a dead sleep. The next two visits followed that night closely (maybe within 4-7 days apart from the first visit). Seeing him the first time, the tall, dark shadow figure, wearing a fancy top hat, absolutely petrified me. The next two times he woke me from a dead sleep, dressed the same (trench coat, top hat, beard, kind features) and wasn’t in shadow form. I wasn’t afraid of him at all, and actually rather drawn to him. I felt like he was an old friend in this form. I won’t go into much detail but these two accounts are drilled into my memory as something spiritual and friendly. Now, the fourth time I saw him was a few days ago (some 30 years later), back in shadow form, just watching me sleep. I wasn’t afraid and felt oddly comforted. My research the past few days has been really surprising because I’m not finding any other stories of people with good experiences with the Hat Man. Surely, I can’t be the only one?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but have you ever thought about this: Maybe how you view the Hat Man depends on your perspective.

Are you glass half full? Or glass half empty?

In The Dark Menace, I take a deep dive into these questions and many more.

Piqued your interest? Good, click the link below and buy now:


New Release just for you

At long last, it’s finally here. Over two years in the making, Macabre Alley, a collection of short horror tales guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of you, is now available to buy.

Without any preamble, here is a synopsis to whet your appetite:

Feeling brave?

Skulk down Macabre Alley and witness a blood-curdling monster lurking in every dark corner. Thirteen short horror stories meticulously crafted to terrorize, educate, and entertain.

A small sampling:

Fear Sells: A conspiracy theorist who believes the pandemic is a hoax realizes—maybe too little too late—that it’s time to heed public health measures.

I Hate That: A woman consumed by hatred is stunned to learn her bad attitude is devouring her soul from the inside out.

You’ll Pay: A man suffers the horrifying consequences of disrespecting Mother Nature.

Lost: An analysis of recurring dreams plunges a troubled man into a spiraling abyss of regret.

Drunk Dialing Demons: A lonely and hard-drinking man turns to drunk dialing in an ill-fated search for companionship and compassion.

The Thought Police: Discover the shocking truth about how smart speakers pry into the private lives of users.

Thinking about Death: A man ruminates on why thinking about life inevitably leads to thinking about death.

Oftentimes facts are stranger than fiction. Feeling fearless? If you dare, try to dissect fiction from fact.

Like what you see?

Go ahead, click the link below, and buy now:


Thanks for your support.


Lunatics. That’s the title of my work-in-progress novel coming soon. In between freelance editing, writing website content, producing audio books, releasing Tales of Damnation earlier this year, and, yes, playing in the forest with friends, I’ve been busy researching Lunatics.

What’s it all about?

Here’s a short synopsis to whet your appetite:

Haunted by demons from his past, an enigmatic psychologist begins receiving shocking messages from his patients, leading him down a dark path of unspeakable horror.

A deviation of sorts from some of my previous novels, Lunatics will probably involve over a year of research. I’ve already completed a university-level Psych 101 course, just enrolled in another online clinical psychology course, and have read cover-to-cover Psychology Basics (Magill’s Choice) and the Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders (edited by David H Barlow).

With a focus on abnormal psychology, I’m studying the four Ds: Deviance, Distress, Dysfunction, and Disorder.

I’m covering mental health disorders, personality disorders, sexual disorders and dysfunctions, stress, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. When I’m done, I’ll be a board-certified armchair psychologist capable of diagnosing all of your psychological disorders.

Or at least my own, lol. But that’s all fodder for another blog post.

Without any further adieu, here’s just a small sample of Lunatics:



Abe was a ten-year-old boy all over again. It was a spectacular summer day and he bounded through the field behind his house, overjoyed at the simple prospect of being able to breathe fresh air, admire the beauty and diversity of Mother Nature, and play all by himself. Just how he liked it. He skipped through the tall grass, stopping occasionally to smell a wildflower or examine a strange insect. At times, he would stop and twirl around with his arms outstretched, shouting with glee as the sun warmed his little body. When he became very dizzy, he would stagger forward, plop down in the tall grass, and focus on something until his dizziness cleared and his equilibrium returned.

Now, after one such spin, he sat down in the tall grass and studied a wild yellow daffodil in the distance. It slowly came into focus. Abe smiled, stood up and took a step forward. His leg wobbled initially but then found purchase and was soon followed by another step, then another and another. Soon he was running through the field, shouting, “I can walk, I can run, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can.”

Lost in his joyfulness, Abe suddenly discovered he had not only reached the end of the field, but was now deep in the Acadian Forest. Breathing hard, he stopped and looked around. Tall trees loomed everywhere, blocking out most of the sun. He peered through the trees, trying to spot the glint of sunlit greenery marking the large field. Nothing. He listened to the sounds of the forest as he felt his heart quicken. Birds chirping. A squirrel chattering in a tree, evidently annoyed by his presence. He heard a twig snap and almost jumped out of his skin.

From behind a tree, a fox appeared, eyeballed him quizzically for a moment, and then slowly wandered off.

“Yikes, you scared me,” Abe said to the retreating fox.

It stopped, glanced back at him curiously, and then picked up its pace, disappearing into the thick foliage.

“How do I get outta here?” Abe said.

The forest echoed back: “How do I get outta here?”

No, don’t get scared. Don’t get scared. Turn around. Follow your tracks. Abe tried to reassure himself, as he often did as a young boy when he felt frightened. He turned around, guessed at the trajectory of his arrival, and began retracing his steps. Moving along, a hint of panic beginning to take hold, Abe found himself in even denser woods. It was tough going, climbing carefully over large deadfall, pushing back tree limbs, even stepping in a hole at one point and twisting his ankle slightly.

About ten minutes later, he limped over to a large stump, sat down, and began rubbing his sore ankle. Fortunately, he’d managed to steady himself and pull his foot out of the hole before it twisted to the point of excruciating pain, or worse still, broke.

“Somebody help me,” Abe said. “I’m lost.”

“Somebody help me,” the forest echoed. “I’m lost.”

“Oh, shut up,” Abe said.

“Oh, shut up,” the forest echoed.

Abe was rapidly becoming terrified. He put his hands to his face and slumped over, trying to stop the tears from coming. But he felt a few tears squirt through his fingers and dribble down his face. No. Don’t cry. He wiped his face dry and looked up to the sky.

He saw a large bank of black clouds move in, obliterating what remained of the sun and darkening his surroundings. Suddenly thunder roared in the sky and a fork of lightning shot down, crackling and popping as it struck the ground in the distance.

But wait. The flash briefly illuminated the field, not a hundred yards away. Abe was sure of it. He stood up on jittery legs and began plodding forward, searching the sky for more brightly colored keys to his salvation.

But instead, a giant gray-black man, maybe fifty feet tall, appeared in front of him in an instant. Abe stopped and screamed, covering his ears as the forest echoed his horror right back at him. Abe dropped to his knees, craning his neck to the sky to try and decipher the identity of the giant monster who had suddenly confronted him.

But fiery orange glowing eyes was all he could see of the man’s face.

Then a voice, thunderous and booming: “You will not tell. You will forget what happened.”

“What are you talking about?” Abe said. “Forget what?”

Even in his fear, Abe felt some relief that the forest, at least for the moment, had stopped mocking him.

The man raised a large booted foot directly above Abe’s head. “You will forget everything or I will squash you like an ant.”

“I’ll forget,” Abe pleaded. “I’ll forget, I promise.”

But the booted foot descended from the sky swiftly, crushing Abe into the ground and mashing him into a million pieces.


What can you buy for 99 cents?

What can you buy for 99 cents? I’ll tell you. For a limited time, my newly released horror anthology, Tales of Damnation, is on sale for only 99 cents. That’s right, only 99 measly pennies for an ebook copy of terrorizing horror tales.


If you enjoy a nail-biting roller-coaster ride through hell, you’ll love Tales of Damnation, an anthology of short horror stories.

The Spot: Watch a school bully finally get his comeuppance in grisly fashion.

The Cab Ride: Witness a malignant narcissist realize a little too late that it’s time he started caring.

Fire and Fury: Feel the heat when a pyromaniac learns that playing with fire also means getting burned.

The Succubus: Discover the horrifying consequences when a loser succumbs to the seduction of a succubus.

Fake Friends: Learn the shocking difference between real friends and fake friends.

The Stalker: Ride shotgun with a demented stalker as she tracks her prey through the haunted woods.

And there’s more. A total of thirteen finely crafted short horror tales guaranteed to educate, terrorize, and entertain.

Simply click the link below and buy now:


Or, if you prefer, read an excerpt from short story Fire and Fury before you click your way to terror:


                                               Fire and Fury

I don’t know why I felt so much trepidation about venturing into the forest. Normally Mother Nature brings me great joy. Yesterday, I even learned a new word—werifesteria—the human desire to wander through the woods aimlessly in search of magic and mystery. So where was my werifesteria this evening? Sipping a coffee on the back porch of my humble abode on 60 acres of Prince Edward Island paradise—with 2000 feet of pristine oceanfront—I tried to put a finger on the reason for my frayed nerves and jangled senses.

I looked to the sparkling stars and the looming full moon for answers. Nothing. I listened to the hissing of the trees, driven by a 20 mile-per-hour west wind. Still nothing. I looked into the darkness of thick woods, just beyond my manicured lawn. I thought I heard a twig snap. I jumped, spilling hot coffee on my shirt and down my pants.

“What’s wrong with you?” I said, snatching a recycled old t-shirt off the balcony railing and wiping myself somewhat dry. I took a couple of deep breaths and sat down. Waited for relative quiet. What are you waiting for? It’s always quiet. Only wind-blown trees hissing. Not even a bird chirping. No twigs snapping. You’re hearing things. Think, think, think. Why fear? Why now?

Even though it was a cool summer evening, I suddenly felt hot. A bead of sweat exploded on my forehead. Dribbled into my eye. The saltiness stung and I wiped it with my hand. Hot, hot, hot… that’s it.

It came to me in a flash. I have nightmares every night. I remember them at the time, but most of them disappear soon after I wake up. Most of them, I don’t write down. Only the really gory ones. This one, I had last night. I didn’t write it down, but I still remember it. Remember it like it happened yesterday. Remember it like it’s happening right now. In the nightmare, which felt more like a living hell, I woke up in the middle of the night, went outside, climbed into my trusty pickup and drove down a twisted and bumpy road to my waterfront site, about seventy feet from the water’s edge. The night before, I had had a rather large bonfire, along with some friends and a few beers, and I wanted to make sure the blaze was extinguished since I had left the site with the fire still burning quite brightly. Flashlight in hand, I arrived at the smoldering ashes, poked them around a bit, and then let out a deep sigh. It wasn’t out but pretty damn close. Then I heard a whoosh, felt a hot flash singe my eyebrows, and looked up at a large pine tree. About six feet up its three-foot diameter trunk, it branched out into three trees. In the middle of those three trees, a large bonfire blazed wildly out of control.

With a sinking feeling of despair and helplessness, I scrambled over to the tree, watching in disbelief as the fire’s orange tentacles ravaged the three amigos. I knew with a dread certainty that there was nothing I could do. It would burn out of control, burn down my forest, probably ravage me and kill all of my neighbors in that small corner of the island where I live. Then I woke up, heart pounding in my chest, sweat streaming down my face, and screamed at the top of my lungs, “No, no, no… please, God no.” And it was the sound of my own voice that had snapped me into reality, assuring me that everything was fine, the forest wasn’t burning, I wasn’t gonna burn, and my neighbors on the island weren’t gonna die. The fire was out.

Or was it? I wondered. Hell hath no fury like Mother Nature scorned.

I have a confession to make. I’m a pyromaniac. Even as a kid, I loved starting fires. I’m not talking arson kind of fires. Just the ones you have when you’re camping, or the ones you sneak out and light in your backyard when your parents are asleep. Everything about fires has always fascinated me. The glow. The heat. The dancing flames. The magic. The mystery. Even fireworks. Sparklers. Shooting stars. Rockets. Firecrackers. As kids, we used to have firecracker fights, lobbing them idiotically at each other’s heads, and if we got really lucky, shoving them down some unsuspecting fool’s pants and watching them shriek in agony as their asses exploded. Lol. Hilarious, right?

But, as an adult, I developed a healthy respect for fire. My mother used to tell me, “You play with fire, son, and you will get burned. It’s not a question of if, it’s when.”

And of course, Mom was right. Clearing an old logging road and a beachfront site, my disrespect and underestimation of Mother Nature came back to scorch me in the ass. Burns to my hair. My eyebrows. My arms. My legs. More than once my clothes caught on fire. Most of my fireside clothes are pock-marked with burn holes. Fortunately, none of those burns were life-threatening. My ass didn’t explode, thank God. And, believe it or not, the burns to my clothes and flesh were not what terrified me the most.

During the beachfront clearing operation, I hired a logger to help me with the project. I decided to burn some of the logging slash as we worked, telling him I had a safe, albeit makeshift fire pit. His name was Norman but I called him Normandy. He was as big as the country. Watching me pile twigs in an open area, he eyed me with skepticism, concern, and a healthy dose of fear. “Be careful with that, Gary. It’s a hot and dry day. Don’t make it too big.”

I looked at him, oozing arrogance and over-confidence. “Don’t worry, Normandy. I’ve got this.”

Like hell I did.

As soon as I lit the pile of twigs, it went up in a flash. Seconds later, flames shot through the dry moss forest floor like mission-bound streaks of lightning—bee-lining it straight for the nearby trees and stumps. It was like an octopus’s poison tentacles, fanning out in all directions.

Seized by unbridled panic, I started dashing around, stomping out the hot tentacles of fire. Normandy immediately dropped his chainsaw, picked up a nearby shovel, and began frantically pounding out the flames. Fortunately, after about a minute—that seemed like an hour—we had most of it contained. We met at a tree-stump that had ignited, me foot-stomping, Normandy pounding with the shovel until finally we extinguished it.

He dropped the shovel and glared at me, a mixture of disgust, anger, and fear, contorting his grizzled features. “I fucking told you to be careful. I’m not gonna tell you again. You do this when it’s raining. Light it again and I quit. I mean it.”

Normandy didn’t have to tell me again. And I didn’t light it again, until one day when it was pissing rain. I could tell by the look on his face he’d suffered a nasty experience with fire. Someone close to him had died. Burned to death.

Nobody had to tell me. I just knew.

A sound. A twig snapping. Or was it crackling? Or was it popping? Whatever it was, it snapped me out of my reflection. Suddenly, I thought I could smell smoke. I stood up quickly, realizing with a sense of anguish I had not gone down to the beach site this morning to check last night’s fire, in spite of last night’s nightmare. Somehow I’d gotten distracted and frittered away the hours playing on social media, binge-watching the news, and reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Yikes, of all things to read now.

Opening the screen door quickly, I shuddered, reaching for my flashlight and baseball cap. A million thoughts, like a million flashing fireflies, were dancing through my mind. Is it too late? Is the fire raging? Why didn’t I check it today? Am I gonna to die? Are my friends and neighbors gonna burn? Have I pushed the envelope one step too far with Mother Nature? Hell hath no fury like Mother Nature’s scorn.

My mother’s warning reverberated in my head: “You play with fire, son, and you will get burned. It’s not a question of if, it’s when.”

I was gripped by a tingly, adrenaline-fueled paranoia that I was coming to an end, that the world was coming to an end. Beads of sweat popped on my forehead in rapid succession and streaked down my face.

I climbed into my pickup, started it, revved the engine, and veered toward the winding road leading to the beach. By the time I arrived, I was in a state of almost complete and utter panic. Even as I approached the fire pit, I could see an orange glow surrounding the area. I quickly parked the truck, killed the engine, climbed out, scrambled over to the fire pit, and shone the flashlight beam down upon it. Orange embers glowed and small spirals of smoke twirled up. But the night was calm. It wasn’t going anywhere. It would be out on its own in a matter of hours. Maybe less.

I sighed deeply, looking around the site, feeling my heart rate slowly but surely returning to something approximating normal. I set my flashlight down, picked up a wooden poker and jabbed at the hot embers, trying to convince myself my eyes weren’t deceiving me. But, no. Just a few hot embers and a few twirling ribbons of smoke. I carefully placed the poker on a log near the fire, careful not to put the hot end on any loose twigs.

A crackling sound startled me. I jumped, jerking my head toward the beachfront, obscured partially by a seventy-foot tree bluff. Then I saw it. An orange glow near the water’s edge—about six feet off the ground, right smack in the middle of a three-foot diameter tree, fanning out along the tree branches into the night sky and wreaking destruction on everything it touched. An apocalypse. Armageddon. Just like my nightmare. Seized by panic, I grabbed the flashlight and charged to the water’s edge. About ten feet before the blaze, I stopped, the realization of the reality of what I was witnessing striking me like a bucket of cold water upside the head.

It was the moon rising up above the ocean, looming large, a fiery orange ball peering through the trees.

“Get your shit together,” I said, taking several deep breaths in an attempt to replace déjà vu with reality.

That crackling sound. Again. I looked around, trying to determine its origin. Nothing. I looked out to sea, taking in the magnificence and stunning beauty of the glowing moon rising above the water. Then I saw it. A large bank of dark rainclouds rolling toward shore. The crackling again. But this time I knew what it was. It wasn’t the snap, crackle, pop of a fire. It was the bone-cracking sound of thunder…

Thanks for your support. Click the link below and buy now:



Fear Sells

Fear Sells.

That’s the name of a short story I wrote during the pandemic. I have to admit, writing during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. At times, I’d sit at my desk and sometimes nothing would come to me, so overwhelmed was I by the isolation, fear, and at times debilitating loneliness of this so-called new normal.

But I had to find a way. If only to have my words act as a kind of therapy to help me through the real horror of what we’ve been living through for the last year. And maybe I did go a little crazy during the pandemic. If I didn’t have my words, the idyllic forest and beach where I live, and the support of a handful of close friends and family, I don’t know where I’d be right now.

I don’t wanna think about it.

Instead, I’ve been focusing on doing what I do best, writing stories.

After I release Tales of Damnation in a few months, I’ll be releasing Macabre Alley, my latest collection of short horror stories.

Macabre Alley Synopsis:

Feeling brave?

Wander down Macabre Alley and witness a blood-curdling monster lurking in every dark corner. Thirteen short horror stories meticulously crafted to terrorize, educate, and entertain.

A small sampling:

Fear Sells: A conspiracy theorist who believes the pandemic is a hoax realizes—maybe too little too late—that it’s time to heed public health measures.

I Hate That: A woman consumed by hatred is stunned to learn her bad attitude is devouring her soul from the inside out.

You’ll Pay: A man suffers the horrifying consequences of disrespecting Mother Nature.

Lost: An analysis of recurring dreams leads a troubled man into a spiraling abyss of regret.

The Thought Police: Discover the shocking truth about how smart speakers pry into the private lives of users.

Thinking about Death: A man ruminates on why thinking about life inevitably leads to thinking about death.

Oftentimes facts are stranger than fiction. Feeling fearless? If you dare, try to dissect fiction from fact.


                                                      Fear Sells Excerpt

“Fear sells,” Andrew Robinson said. “Fear over nothing. It’s all a bunch of fake shit politicians invented to rile the population.”

The words hit Jamie McIntyre like a punch in the face. He had to bite his tongue to avoid smashing his friend in the face. They sat in Jamie’s garage on the man-cave couch in suburban Calgary, Alberta, on a wintery Sunday afternoon swilling a few beers and trying—and evidently failing miserably—to solve all the world’s problems.

Shit had splattered the fan when the subject of the global pandemic surfaced. And Jamie knew only too well the deadly seriousness of it.

COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus that originated in China. It produces mild flu-like symptoms in some, no symptoms in others, and dire symptoms and quick and horrible death in others. It had hit the world by storm early in 2020. It took everybody by surprise. Over 80 million people worldwide infected. Over two million dead. Worldwide lockdowns. Hospitals overwhelmed. A new normal where social distancing, self-isolation, mask wearing, and regular hand-sanitizing was practiced.

Most countries, including Canada, were ill-prepared to deal with the pandemic. Many politicians implemented Band-Aid temporary measures, short lockdowns or no lockdowns in an effort to balance political and economic interests with public health. In large part, these measures failed. In January, 2020, Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said, “The risk of an outbreak in Canada remains low.” Ten months later, Canada saw over 500,000 COVID-19 infections and over 18,000 deaths. Now, Canada was breaking records, averaging over 2,000 new cases per day. There was no comprehensive national pandemic management strategy to speak of. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for the most part, had left it up to the individual leaders of individual provinces to manage their fates. Some succeeded marginally; others failed dismally.

The United States had fared the worst in the world. Over 25 million infections. Over 400,000 deaths. Some states averaging a coronavirus death every six minutes and the US averaging over 1000 coronavirus deaths per day.

Unprecedented economic devastation crippled economies worldwide. Massive government bail-outs, huge deficits, and thousands of businesses went bankrupt.

How dare he? Jamie thought, regurgitating the facts over in his mind in far less time than it takes to explain them.

This fool with his smug know-it-all attitude and greasy blonde hair has the gall to call the pandemic ‘a bunch of fake shit politicians invented to rile the population.’

Jamie drank the remainder of his beer in three gulps, tossed the can into a plastic garbage can, and reached into the cooler for another. He had a feeling he was gonna need as much liquid courage as he could pour down his throat for what was about to transpire.

“Why would governments want to rile the population?” Jamie asked.

Andrew burped loudly, tossed his empty in the garbage can, and reached for another. Popping it open, he said, “Fear sells, like I said. People get riled and scared, buy into it, and the government uses their fear to manipulate them. Control the population.”

“Are you saying the pandemic is a hoax?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s fake. If I knew someone who had tested positive, just to prove my point, I’d hug them, kiss them, and even lick their face. Just to prove it’s all fake.”

Jamie had known Andrew for over ten years and had never known his friend to be a conspiracy theorist. A digital marketing graduate, Andrew earned his living working on computers. But, he supposed, it took something like a global pandemic to bring the fucking morons out of the woodwork. Not only that, since Andrew was on the computer for at least ten hours a day, he was certainly susceptible to all the misinformation and disinformation floating around about the pandemic. Conspiracy theories were rampant. The sad and dangerous fact was people had access to them with the click of a button. And they were believing them. And that was deadly-dangerous, especially when it led to disregarding and even flaunting public health measures designed to curtail the spread of the virus.

Jamie was awfully close to exploding, but for the hell of it, he decided give his friend—not for long—a little more rope to hang himself. He wanted to know exactly what hare-brained conspiracy theory Andrew was buying into.

“If it’s a hoax, and the government created it, then why?” Jamie asked.

“Here’s the deal,” Andrew said. “Governments around the world have banded together—conspired—to create an elite population. The pandemic is a way for them to cull the masses. They get people believing that the pandemic is real, then they develop a vaccine—as you know Canada has purchased millions of doses already—and inject the population with it, killing off all the idiots.”

“I’ll give you a little more rope. What else do you think?”

“If a person dies of a heart attack, drowning, even a car accident, doctors around the world call it a COVID death. If you have any lung issues at all, you would be considered to have the virus. If you end up in the hospital and get put on a ventilator, the ventilator will kill you. This whole mask-wearing measure is nothing more than fearmongering. A mask won’t protect you from a virus. It will only protect you from a bacterial infection.”

In spite of his best efforts to control his temper, Jamie exploded, picking up on one of Andrew’s brain-dead points: “If the government is trying to cull the population—kill the idiots—they should start with you. That is the fucking stupidest shit I’ve heard all day.”

Andrew slid clear to the other end of the couch, far away from Jamie. His eyes narrowed and his face whitened. “You’ll fucking find out. Wait until we start vaccinating on a massive scale and you’ll see tons of people dying.”

“I can’t believe someone as seemingly intelligent as you are is buying into this shit. And I suppose, even though we are in lockdown right now because cases of COVID are skyrocketing in Alberta, you’re flaunting health measures. Probably not wearing a mask, not washing your hands, and sure as shit not social distancing.”

“Why should I bother,” Andrew said. “It’s all government manufactured bullshit. Let me ask you this: Do you actually know anyone who has contracted COVID?”

Jamie balled his fists and wracked his brain. He didn’t have a large social circle. His mother and father, brother and sister, lived in Ontario and he had a handful of friends whom he saw occasionally. None of them had it as far as he knew. Wait. His job-site, a high-rise construction project in downtown Calgary, had recently been shut down because of a COVID outbreak. Two contractors had contracted the disease, although they worked five floors above Jamie and he didn’t actually know them.

That wouldn’t do.

Or maybe it would. He had to try to penetrate this fuck’s thick skull. “My construction job was shut down recently due to an outbreak. I can’t say I know the guys who tested positive but I know who they are. It’s only a matter of time before someone we know either dies of the virus or gets really sick from it. And, before you try and sidetrack me, I have to warn you. Don’t fucking flaunt the health measures. They were put in place to protect us and keep us safe.”

“Like fuck they were.”

“Your complete disregard for public health measures is scary. You could easily get infected, maybe have no symptoms, and walk around spreading it to everyone you come into contact with. Let’s say you infect an elderly person or someone with underlying health conditions. You could kill them. Never mind that, even young and healthy people are dying from this disease. To my mind, that would make you a murderer. It’s reckless negligence. Criminal negligence. There should be a criminal charge for that. People like you should spend your fucking life in jail to pay for your stupidity.”

Andrew rose quickly, the color draining from his face. “I see you’re not gonna listen to reason, so it’s time for me to fuck off.”

Jamie also rose, clenching his fists, his face reddening with rage. He stepped toward Andrew, raising a fist.

Andrew’s eyes widened with fear and he backed away.

Jamie suddenly lowered his fist, stepped back, and sighed. Beating the shit out of Andrew wouldn’t accomplish anything. Violence never solves anything. A few blows to Andrew’s head would probably only serve to make him stupider than he already was, and that was hard to beat.

“I agree,” Jamie said. “It’s time for you to fuck off from my garage, and fuck off from my life. Forever!”


To be continued…

Screw Xmas

Whoa! Wait one second. Before you get all bent out of shape and start accusing me of being the Grinch who stole Xmas, please read on. Screw Xmas is actually my little Xmas gift to you, dear reader. That’s right, it’s a complete story from Tales of Damnation, my collection of short horror tales scheduled for release in early 2021. And, I’m not gonna throw out any spoilers, but I think you just might enjoy it.

Here’s a synopsis of Tales of Damnation:

If you enjoy a nail-biting roller-coaster ride through hell, you’ll love Tales of Damnation, a collection of short horror stories.

Watch a school bully finally get his comeuppance in grisly fashion.

Witness an insensitive narcissist realize a little too late that it’s time he started caring.

Feel the heat when a pyromaniac learns that playing with fire also means getting burned.

Learn the shocking difference between real friends and fake friends.

Ride shotgun with a demented stalker as she tracks her prey through the haunted woods.

Discover the horrifying consequences when a loser succumbs to the seduction of a succubus.

And there’s more. Fourteen finely crafted short horror tales guaranteed to titillate, terrorize, and entertain.

And here’s Screw Xmas:

Screw Xmas

“Screw Xmas,” Hank Weimer told his sister Andrea. “And, no, I won’t accept your Xmas dinner invitation.”

“You shouldn’t talk like that,” she said.

“Why not? That’s how I feel. It’s a stupid holiday.”

“Why do you say that?”

“People you never ever hear from and never talk to send you stupid Xmas cards. What a bunch of bullshit. Phony bullshit.”

“Well, aside from its religious significance, it’s also a special time to get together with family and friends. You know, share special moments and all that.”

“And all that,” Hank said. “And all that bullshit. It’s a terrible time of year. The malls go crazy, retailers go crazy. Commercialism runs rampant. People buy shit for people they normally wouldn’t even talk to. A pair of socks, a pair of underwear, a box of chocolates. They max out credit cards and spend money they don’t even have.”

“You don’t have to focus on the materialistic part of it,” Andrea insisted. “That’s why we draw straws.”

Maybe she had a point, Hank thought, but he wasn’t willing to acknowledge it. This year, from his family of three brothers and two sisters, he’d drawn Andrea’s straw; technically that meant only one gift. But could he really ignore his sister Karen’s three toddlers? By the same token, could he ignore his brother Brandon’s twin ten-year-old boys? Could he reasonably expect to ignore his mother and father, knowing most of his other siblings wouldn’t? No, the whole thing was just fucked.

“I just don’t like Xmas,” he said. “Actually, I hate it.”

“Well, you should try and change up your attitude a bit. And I know your reasons are much more deep-seated than what you let on. You should learn to get over it. And, I know why you always pronounce it Xmas even though it’s Christmas. You want to make a mockery of the holiday. Stop that, will you.”

“Merry fucking Xmas,” Hank said, pressing END CALL and slamming the phone down.

Feeling angry and irritated, he went into the kitchen of his modest one-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver, snatched a Coke from the refrigerator, and returned to the living room. He went over to the window and looked outside on that dreary Saturday afternoon. It was December 14th, and there was a steady and insidious drizzle that was coming down. It had been raining all day today and all day and night yesterday. Welcome to the west coast of Canada in the winter. On the busy street below, a few umbrella-holding pedestrians moved along, going about their daily tasks, whatever the hell they might be. Cars swished through puddles, grinding slowly down the busy street. Even on a Saturday, it was wall-to-wall traffic.

He sat down on his favorite tattered armchair, popped the tab on his Coke can, and briefly thought about doing some channel-surfing. He moved his hand toward the TV remote but abruptly changed his mind. He’d torn a lower back muscle at his shipper-receiver warehouse job two weeks ago and had been practically doing nothing but staring mindlessly at the Idiot Box for the last ten days. Laid up indoors on sick leave, he was fast becoming bored out of his mind. Worse still, due to the severity of the injury, he was under doctor’s orders to rest for at least another two weeks before even attempting any exercise.

He ran a hand through his thick black hair and adjusted his glasses, which lately had started to slide down the bridge of his nose. Time for an adjustment, he knew. But not now. Now he could only do short walking stints around his apartment before the pain would stab his lower back, protesting loudly for him to sit his thirty-seven-year-old skinny ass back down. He grabbed a nearby pill bottle, popped the tab, and stuck two Ibuprofen pills in his mouth, washing them down with a mouthful of Coke and burping loudly.

Finally it began to occur to him that he might have upset his sister. Andrea had just gotten married to a successful lawyer. They’d just purchased a brand-new home in the suburbs and were now planning a family. She had just married the love of her life, had just started a new career as a radiographer. She had everything to look forward to. Especially around Xmas, a holiday he knew she loved. As a child he remembered how she could barely contain her excitement on Xmas Eve, eagerly anticipating waking up to all those presents under the tree. She would wake shouting with glee, and all ear-to-ear smiles. Her enthusiasm and happiness were infectious and in no time at all would spread through the entire family.

But not today, Hank thought glumly. At least not for the moment. I just pissed in her cornflakes.

He reached for his cell phone, suddenly feeling guilty and remorseful, like he owed Andrea an apology. After all, she’d done nothing wrong. All she’d wanted to do was cheer her brother up for the holidays. What was so wrong with that?

He started to punch in her number and stopped. Fuck it. She’ll get over it. She always does. He set the phone down and tried to think of other things to think about, other things to do. Maybe he could call a friend to come over and watch a movie? Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters.

Hank’s friend list wasn’t exactly extensive if you didn’t count family. There was Mitch Silver, who, at 46, worked as a carry-out boy at a local grocery store. He’d just left for Ontario to spend Xmas with his family and all he really liked to do in his spare time was play video games and watch chick flicks. Strange combination, but it worked for Mitch.

There was Ryan Boddington, who’d lately taken a fancy to drinking excessively and trying to get laid on internet sex-hookup sites. How’s that working for ya, Ryan? Pick any hotties up while you’re shit-faced? He doubted it. In his last conversation with Ryan, Hank learned that five of the eight sites Ryan had once subscribed to had banned him for lewd and offensive behavior. Not a good role model to say the least.

Then there was Deborah Brasher, a likable and good-looking thirty-something woman, who had expressed some interest in Hank after he’d met her in a downtown coffee shop almost a year ago to the day.

However, even her interest had begun to wane after Hank mentioned to her a week ago over coffee that, “Xmas was for kids. Period.”

And that was Hank being polite.

After reminding Hank that Christmas represented the birth of Jesus Christ, she called it “a special time to express your love and devotion to friends and family.”

Then she continued to gush over the holiday. Maybe it was his dead-pan expression while listening to her parade of positivity. Hank wasn’t sure. Whatever it was, she’d stopped abruptly in mid-sentence, frowned, and said, “I don’t think you really care about any of this. I think it’s time for me to go.”

So clearly, contacting Deborah Brasher, especially in the mood he was in now, wasn’t a good idea. He extended his fingers, ready to count down all the digits of his other good friends. But no one, besides family, came to mind. The sad fact was that Hank no longer had a lot of friends. Many of them had moved away, and others he’d just lost contact with, as people often do.

And family wouldn’t work right now. They were all crazy-happy over Xmas and Hank wasn’t in the mood for any Xmas cheer right now.

So he dimmed the lights and wallowed in self-pity. Pity over the overwhelming depression that settled over him every Xmas. Pity that he was suffering way too much chronic pain to even go for a long walk and stop for a coffee or a drink. Even if he was well enough, who wants to go out in this soup?

Absently, Hank picked up his cell phone and scrolled though the contacts. Nothing, no one, zero, zilch, zip, nada.

Even though it was only 8:30 in the evening, he decided it was time to call it a night. He slowly rose, wincing as sharp pain stabbed him in the back. Pretty bad when you’re so bored and depressed and in so much pain that all you want to do is sleep. What a life. Fuck life. Fuck Xmas.


Hank was nine years old all over again, playing in the backyard of his suburban home with his sister Lisa, born a year behind him. She was the one who looked so much like him and acted so much like him. Many people had commented that they could’ve been twins. Lisa was really a more refined and feminine version of himself, he realized as he watched her swing back and forth in the swing set.

He looked around the snow-covered backyard on that bright and sunny mid-December day. Where were his other siblings? Why weren’t they out playing? But did it really matter? He always had the most fun with Lisa.

He stuck a twig in the nose area of the snowman he was making and turned to Lisa. “What do you think?”

Lisa laughed. “Use something else,” she said. “It’s too big and skinny. It’s like a Pinocchio nose.”

Giggling, Hank stood up. “You’re right. I’ll wait for you to help me.”

“Push me,” Lisa said with a wry grin. “I want to go high. Way, way high.”

Hank approached Lisa and positioned himself behind her on the swing. He started off slowly, but soon had her soaring high in the air.

Back and forth. Back and forth. Higher and higher.

She giggled with delight. “Now I know what I wanna be when I grow up.”

“What do you wanna be?”

“I wanna fly a plane and be a pilot. I love going higher and higher. Weeeeeeeeeee… I love it… weeeeeee…”

“A pilot? That’s dangerous, isn’t it?”

“Weeeeeeee… it doesn’t matter. It’ll be fun. Don’t you think?”

“Sure, it’ll be fun, just like this.”

“Make me go higher, Hank. I wanna go higher.”

“I’m getting scared. I don’t want you to go too high.”

“Come on, don’t be a chicken. Just a little higher.”


Hank backed up a little, allowing himself more pushing and pulling power, and soon had Lisa swinging a good four feet higher.

“How’s that?” he said.

“I love it… I love it… weeeeeeeee…”

The back door of the house opened and Hank’s mother poked her head out. “Come in now, kids. It’s lunch time.”

Hank took his eyes off Lisa and looked at his mother for a fraction of a second but that’s all it took. On its backward momentum, the metal seat of the swing smacked him in the head and knocked him down. As a constellation of concussive stars danced around his head, blurring his vision and dulling his senses, he saw Lisa flying through the air. As the lights of consciousness dimmed, he felt warm blood trickle into his left eye, and he saw his sister plummeting to the ground head-first.

“No… Lisa!!”

He heard a loud blood-curdling scream and then everything went black.


He opened his eyes slowly and brought his hand to his head. What? It was wrapped in gauze. His eyes slowly adjusted to the powerful white light and he tried to focus. For a moment he saw only a shadowy image, undulating and indistinct.

Then the image changed. Blue eyes. Soft, pale skin. Shoulder-length golden blond hair. A small and dainty nose. And lips pursed in an expression of concern.

Then a voice. “Hank, you had a little accident. You’re gonna be okay.”

Confused, disoriented and precipitously terrified, he bolted upright in bed. “What happened? Who are you?”

As soon as she smiled and those two dimples danced across her pretty face he recognized her instantly. But she had aged. Albeit, gracefully, but aged nonetheless. She must be at least as old as he was. No, right. A year younger. How could that be? She was dead, had died in that terrible swing accident that Hank could never stop blaming himself for.

“Lisa,” he said. “Is it really you?”

She bent over, hugged him warmly, and pecked him on the cheek. Then she backed up and sat down on a chair that magically appeared bedside. “It’s me, dear brother, and I want you to know something.”

It took a moment for Hank to overcome the incredulity of the situation and get over his shock. It took another moment for him to compose himself enough to speak. He was being bombarded by strong and powerful feelings of love and well-being.

Finally, Hank said, “What… what do you want me to know?”

“I’m okay, brother. I have a different life in another otherworldly dimension, but I’m okay. I’m happy.”

Hank sighed as a heavy wrecking ball of guilt began to float away from his shoulders, making him feel as light as a bird. “You’re not dead? But I thought I killed you in that swing accident.”

“That was never your fault. You must learn to accept that. It was an accident, nothing more. It ended my earthly existence, but gave me another more divine purpose outside of the mortal realm.”

“So, there is life after death?”

“I’m living proof, if you’ll pardon the expression.”

Hank watched the wrecking ball float higher and higher until it disappeared into a cloud of white, powdery dust. Then, he said, “It’s a miracle.”

“That it is, my brother. But the Supreme Being works in mysterious ways. I’m here to save you. I’m here to assure you that I’m okay, it was never your fault, and from this day forward you have to get over the guilt, stop blaming yourself, and start living your life and begin living up to your true potential.”

Hank was overcome with emotion. Tears of joy began streaming down his face. “Thank you, sis. I… I love you.”

“I love you, too, dear brother,” Lisa said. “Please, change for me, change for yourself, and change for the positive contribution you can still make to the world.”

Then Lisa rushed into her brother’s open arms and embraced him in a tight hug. “Don’t worry,” she whispered into his ear. “I’ll never leave you.”


“Don’t ever leave me, sis. Don’t ever leave me.”

The sound of his own voice startled Hank awake and he bolted upright in bed, looking left and right, right and left, frantically before it registered that he was indeed in his own bed, in his own bedroom, in his Vancouver apartment.

But everything was not the same. It was pretty far from the same. He jumped out of bed with the exuberance and enthusiasm of an overly rambunctious teen and began dancing around his bedroom singing, “My sister Lisa is alive… my sister is okay… my sister is happy… my sister is healthy… my sister loves me… and it’s not my fault… oh, no, not my fault…”

He stopped suddenly, thinking for a split-second that perhaps he’d taken leave of his senses. But it was more than that. Something wasn’t right. In his explosive bliss, he’d forgotten all about his aching back. Yet it wasn’t aching anymore. He ran his hand down to the injured spot. Feeling for the swollen area. It was as smooth as silk.

“Yippee,” he shouted, jumping for joy and resuming a little dance number around his bedroom, “It’s a miracle. Lisa cured me. The Supreme Being cured me.”

“There’s still hope for you,” he said to his grinning reflection in the bathroom mirror a little later. Even his face looked fresher. Gone were the dark circles under his eyes. Even his deep blue eyes, identical to Lisa’s, looked brighter and more alert.

As he reached for his shaver, he caught another glimpse of his reflection. Disbelieving, he moved closer to the mirror. Over his left eyebrow, he noticed a drop of blood. Sure enough, the three-inch scar resulting from the head injury he’d suffered from that fateful swing accident so many years ago had started to bleed.

He wiped it with a clean facecloth and examined it closer. It had been sliced almost surgically yet superficially. A much greater understanding of what had happened to him began to sink in and his body began to twitch with the epiphany.

He hadn’t been dreaming at all. He’d dream-teleported, gone back in time, and then shot forward to another dimension where he’d been saved by Lisa. And now, here he was back in the so-called real world.

“It’s a miracle, all right,” he said to his refection. “It’s a bloody miracle.”

After showering, and then cleaning, disinfecting, and bandaging the small cut, which he was confident would heal in no time, he made a pot of coffee, finished one cup, and then decided a few calls were in order. He could barely contain the urge to start dancing around his apartment and singing his heart out again, but he wasn’t sure his neighbors would appreciate it. And one part of him thought this was all a dream and he’d wake up, be in severe pain, and everything would be as miserable as it had been when he’d gone to bed last night.

He dialed Deborah and got her voice mail. “Hey, Deb, first of all I wanna apologize if I offended you with my scrooge attitude about Christmas the other day. Merry Christmas to you, and I hope I get the chance to see you before the holidays.” He thought the Supreme Being would forgive a small white lie. “I bought you a Christmas present and I’d love to give it to you before Christmas. Bye for now. Take care.”

Overflowing with excitement, Hank then got his sister Andrea on the phone.

“I didn’t think I’d hear from you today, of all days,” she said.

“What do you mean, sis?”

A long pause. Then, “You do realize that today is December 15th, the anniversary of our sister’s death? Usually you go into complete hibernation mode around this time.”

In the fog of his earlier self-pity, depression, and self-loathing, it actually hadn’t dawned on Hank. But it struck him now as the divine intervention of the Supreme Being, as Lisa had called Him. Or Her.

“I saw Lisa,” Hank said. “I mean really saw her. She’s okay.”

“You saw her?” Andrea’s voice cracked with emotion. “I wanna hear all about it.”

“And I know the perfect time to tell you. Is that Christmas dinner invitation still open?”

“Of… of course. It’s always open. You’re my brother, and I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Hank felt his cheeks moisten with tears. “Please forgive me for being such an asshole yesterday.”

“Forget about it. I know you hate Christmas.”

“Not anymore, Andrea. I think from now on I’m gonna start loving it.”

“Oh my God. This is a miracle.”

“Merry Christmas, sis. Merry Christmas.”


                                                             The End

If you’re still here, that probably means you enjoyed that little tale of redemption. And, if you enjoyed Screw Xmas, I’m sure you’ll love In Your Dreams, my new release.

Teaser: A zombified TV and junk food addict discovers vicarious carnal comfort in his dreams only to confront the grim prospect that the escapist fictional world he’s so meticulously constructed might actually be a terrifying reality.

If you feel so inclined (of course you do), click the link below and buy it before Xmas. Or, should I say Christmas?

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks so much for your support, and stay safe.


Over a year in the making, my newest release, In Your Dreams, is finally here. And just in time for Christmas. The culmination of  extensive research on psychological disorders, a series of bizarre and terrifying nightmares, and more than a few sleepless nights, my new horror novel is now available for purchase on Amazon. Without any further adieu, here’s a short synopsis:

A zombified TV and junk food addict discovers vicarious carnal comfort in his dreams only to confront the grim prospect that the escapist fictional world he’s so meticulously constructed might actually be a terrifying reality.

A more detailed synopsis:

Alienated from humanity, Oliver Gimble is a self-indulgent sloth who finds vicarious comfort in binge-watching horror movies and gorging on junk food. During sleep, he escapes into a meticulously constructed dream world where he discovers carnal delight with an enigmatic woman called Stella.

His bizarre lifestyle begins to unravel when he meets Carmen Weathersby, a lonely woman, who in Oliver’s mind’s eye mysteriously transforms into Stella, the woman of his dreams. But soon Oliver realizes Stella is actually interfering with his new relationship and will go to any lengths, even murder, to possess him.

When Carmen’s elderly mother suffers a heart attack, fingers point to Stella.

Suddenly, people close to Carmen start dying—brutally and inexplicably.

Careening helplessly down into a cryptic and otherworldly realm somewhere between reality and perception, Carmen and Oliver struggle to try and solve the macabre mystery before it’s too late.

A multi-layered, horrifying journey of self-discovery, In Your Dreams examines the powerful and shocking connections between our conscious and subconscious worlds—boldly questioning the very nature of reality.

Here’s what one reader says: “This is an amazing book. Great ending!”

So, before you go gallivanting around Christmas shopping in the middle of a pandemic, why not shop from the comfort of your home and buy In Your Dreams with just a few clicks?

I knew you’d say yes. Click the link below to find a store near you:

Thanks for your support.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


As the countdown to 2020 begins, many of us like to take stock of our lives. Reflect on what we’ve accomplished (or lack thereof) in 2019 and make our 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Eat less junk food. Get more exercise. Travel. Be more compassionate and caring. Get organized. Learn to manage money. Save more. Forge new friendships. Find a soul-mate maybe. Buy more William Blackwell books, lol.

You get it.

Whatever your plans for 2020, from the bottom of my heart, I hope it’s productive, healthy and happy for you and yours. Happy New Year!

As part of my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to bring in 2020 by starting a new full-length novel. My God, how time flies. I can’t believe I’ve been scribbling stories for over eight years.

In any event, here’s a short summary of IN YOUR DREAMS:

A zombified TV and junk food addict finds vicarious carnal comfort in his dreams only to face the grim prospect that the escapist fictional world he’s so meticulously constructed might actually be his terrifying reality.

To whet your appetite, here’s the prologue for what promises to be a wild and entertaining ride. Enjoy:


Stella, or that’s what she thought she was called, watched the opaque image appear from a black void, devoid of passion, absent of feelings, empty of emotion. A bleak nothingness. She blinked a couple of times, watching it take shape and color. It slowly morphed into the form of a large gray man, bulbous and ballooning as he neared. It didn’t arouse her curiosity much. It was the seventieth time she’d seen it. For the first twenty times, the specter had given her faint hope of a better life, a love-filled union, and a consummation of souls. But the hope had always vanished before it ever turned into anything tangible. In the past, she’d tried desperately to communicate with the apparition, but had only been met with a sad, sad silence. On three occasions, it had opened its mouth to speak, but no words had emerged, and a few seconds later it had vanished with a pop and a fizz.

Right now, Stella knew one thing. She’d had enough. “Get the hell out of here,” she said. “You’re nothing more than a figment of a lonely imagination, here to taunt and tease me. Leave, will you?”

She closed her eyes and curled up into a little ball, hoping against all hope that when she opened them the Goodyear tire man with no discernable facial features would be gone for good.

Inside the black void, the temperature rose rapidly and Stella began to perspire. A salty bead of sweat dribbled into her open mouth. She licked and swallowed it, wincing at the taste. Hadn’t her past tears tasted salty when they’d flowed, so many times before? She thought so.

She wrapped her hands around her knees tighter, burying her head in her bosom and wishing she too could just vanish into thin hot air. So much sadness. So much disappointment. So much loneliness and despair. It was high-time to end it all.

“I feel your pain,” a voice said. “I feel your sadness. I feel your despair.”

Its compassionate tone sent hot flashes radiating up her spine.

She convulsed, jerking her hands free from her legs, and looked up. The gray image had thinned noticeably and for a second she thought she saw facial features on its head. But she blinked and they were gone.

“Who are you?” she asked. “And what do you want?”

“I’m her to tell you that there is hope. Hope for you. Hope for me. Don’t give up being. Don’t give up wanting.”

Overwhelmed with a rush of loving emotions, Stella tried to stand. But the surface on which she stood was spongey like quicksand, and she felt herself sinking into it. This time, I’m the one disappearing, just when it matter the most.

“No, she said, now up to her neck in the black ooze. “Help me.”

“I can only help you if you help yourself,” the voice said, distant now.

Helpless, she watched the form shrink as it faded into the black nothingness that was her life. “No, no, please, no. Come back. Heeeeeelp me!”

As a tidal wave of negative emotions bombarded her—fear, sadness, hopelessness, and a debilitating loneliness—she closed her eyes and succumbed to the inevitable state of being which she had so uncomfortably grown accustomed to.

Black nothingness.

It was as if time and space had no relevance in her life, but it felt like a long time later that Stella again opened her eyes. Seeing only the black void of despair, she closed them again and repeated in her mind the questions she’d so often asked herself.

Why is my life so black? What am I doing here? Is there any hope?

Where usually the same answers flowed, this time there was a slight derivation from the previous theme of helplessness and misery. Why? Because the voice had spoken. For the first time.

Is there a chance for me? A chance for happiness. A chance for a soul mate?

But those questions only produced troubling answers and more disturbing questions.

I’ve seen the same thing over and over and over again. Why the change. Why now? Why me?

Is this a dream? Is my life a dream? Am I even alive?

Yes, I must be alive. I think, therefore I am.

Stella closed her eyes again, giving slight hope to the possibility that when she opened them, all the blackness would be gone and, although she had no recollection of it at all, that she would find herself living some wonderful, productive, loving and happy life in an ideal and pastoral setting.

But when she opened them to the black void, the tears started flowing freely again, salty, sure enough; and suppressing any notion that she actually had a life, any life at all.



Ever wonder who are your real friends and who are your fake friends?

To celebrate the completion of the first draft of Tales of Damnation, my collection of short horror stories, I’m giving you a little gift. It’s a creative piece of fiction, but it just might help you solve that little conundrum.


                                                  FAKE FRIENDS

“Fake friends,” Michael MacDonald said to a dark and empty house. “That’s all they are.”

He’d just arrived at his inner-city Calgary home after leaving a dinner party at a suburban home. He’d been an invited guest of Mila and Dennis Steinweister, his friends. At least they called themselves friends. Three months earlier, he’d gifted them a paperback copy of his new novel, practically begging them to read it and post a review on Amazon. At that time they’d seemed interested, asking Michael to summarize it.

He’d spent weeks polishing The Dark Presence short synopsis and proudly regurgitated it: “Mysterious and terrifying attacks by the Shadow People and the Hat Man lead a nightmare-plagued man to suspect an enigmatic doctor has accidentally opened a portal to hell.”

They’d both promised to read it and post reviews if they liked it.

Leading up to the dinner party, Michael had tried to keep his expectations in check. He kept repeating the wise stoic philosophy: “Expect nothing, for thou shalt not be disappointed.”

The Dark Presence had already garnered many rave reviews from book-buyers whom he didn’t even know and hadn’t even solicited. Five-star reviews, many from readers who’d said they couldn’t put it down until they’d finished it. Shouldn’t that be enough? Maybe, but it was nice to get a little support from your friends. Nice to know they took an interest in your passion and would give you a little positive feedback and encouragement once in a while. A little validation for all of your blood, sweat, and tears.

But that’s not what had happened a few hours earlier at the dinner party. Washing a mouthful of delicious lasagna down with a sip of white wine, Michael had asked, a hint of trepidation in his voice,” By the way, have you guys read The Dark Presence yet?”

Mila had given Dennis that look. That rolling-eyed look. That picture that meant a thousand words. Then she’d said, “No, I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Sorry, I can’t even remember what I did with it.”

To which Dennis had added: “I haven’t had a chance to read it. I’m too busy right now.” Turning to his not-so-lovely wife, he added: “I think you put it upstairs in your office, honey. On the bookshelves with all your other books.”

“Or maybe you used it to line the kitty litter box,” Dennis had added, turning to Michael with a wide grin, nudging his shoulder, and causing him to spill wine onto his steaming lasagna. “Just kidding.”

Michael had almost choked on his lasagna.

Removing his winter jacket and hanging it in the closet, he tried to put it out of his mind, pacing around his large empty house, trying to work through the sadness and disappointment. The bitter rejection. Exercise always cheers you up, right? But not this time. Michael’s mind kept returning to the dinner party rejection. The dinner party debacle. He plopped himself down in a chair at the kitchen table.

“Not any fucking more,” he said. “I’m not hanging around with those fuckers anymore. Fuck their dinner parties. Fuck their fake support. Fuck their fake friendship. Fuck them!”

Michael sighed deeply, the litany of expletives going some way to making him feel a little better. Trying to cheer himself up, he went through a mental checklist of friends and family who had supported him on his writing endeavors.

Out of six immediate family members, including his mother and father, three of them had actually read and enjoyed his novels. And, although none of them had posted reviews—the elixir of life that authors rely on to survive and thrive in the industry—they’d all offered words of encouragement.

He counted up his friends. Good friends, not fake friends. He covered ten digits. Not bad. Most people are lucky to count their good friends on one hand.

Michael then went down the list of who’d read some of his novels and who hadn’t.

Five of them had. Four had posted favorable reviews. After reading a horror novel, one friend, Dianne, had said, “I’m sorry, the book was well written, but it’s just not my genre. I can’t handle all that blood, guts, and gore. I was so disturbed and scared after reading it, I couldn’t sleep for two nights.”

Michael thought about it. Little did Dianne realize, she’d paid him the highest compliment he’d ever received. He was a horror writer after all. Sure, he was on a mission to educate, influence, and entertain. But, he was also on a mission to scare the hell out of his readers. It was nice to know he’d accomplished that with at least one reader.

And he’d made a point to thank Dianne for reading On Death’s Doorstep, explaining to her that true horror fans get a thrill out of being scared. He’d also apologized to her, and advised her not to read any more of his novels—if indeed she found them too disturbing. That was not his intention as a writer. To fuck up his reader’s health.

Michael absently flicked on the TV, a small smile beginning to purse his lips. His reflections were beginning to cheer him up. And really, should he expect all of his close friends and family to take an interest in his writing? That was unrealistic at best, downright stupid at worst. In the end, he’d received more support, more positive feedback, more free promotion, and more five-star reviews from people he’d never met. Legitimate book buyers who really enjoyed his novels.

Everyone has their own lives, their own problems, and their own shit. It was foolish to think that all of them would take an interest and encourage him in his work. He thought of something he’d read on people’s ability to even listen to others, never mind having the capacity to encourage, read, and support them in their work.

It went something like this: We listen to half of what’s being said. We give a shit about half of that. We understand half of that. We believe half of that and we remember half of that. Now, what was it you were saying?

Michael watched five minutes of Anderson Cooper slamming President Donald Trump over what he claimed was his insensitive handling of a recent mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, and then turned the TV off. A seed of doubt was growing in his mind. He needed to chop it down before it festered into an infectious weed of hate and negativity.

Fake friends. If they don’t give a shit about my passion in life, do they really give a shit about me? Probably not. Maybe I’ll just cross them off my fucking friend list then. Chop off a few digits maybe.



Michael awoke from a nightmare-filled and fitful sleep early the next morning still troubled by the dinner party debacle. He’d dreamt of visiting many homes as a spectral entity, a ghost who could walk through walls, watch and listen to conversations, unseen and unheard. He’d visited the homes of his critics and had heard what they were saying behind his back.

None of it was good.

“He’s probably a hack. Not that I’ve read anything, so maybe I shouldn’t say. But, he probably should’ve kept his day job.”

“I couldn’t tell him to his face but I hated the novel.”

“When God was giving out brains, he thought He said trains and took the caboose.”

The last stop on the nightmare train was the home of Mila and Dennis. They were having dinner, discussing Michael and his work.

“I don’t really care what he writes,” Dennis said. “I’m just not that interested.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the book anyway,” Mila answered. “So I couldn’t read it if I wanted to. Not that I’d want to anyway. I doubt Michael can write at all.”

“Exactly,” Dennis said, stuffing his face with potatoes. “We’ve got enough of our own shit to deal with without worrying about what someone else is doing.”

“That’s right, baby. But, to shut him up, maybe we should just say we read it and loved it.”

“Can’t do that. What if he asks about specifics?”

“True enough. Let’s leave it then, and hope he doesn’t mention it again.”

“I don’t think he will. He only brought it up once in three months. Did you see the look on his face when I said we used his novel to line the kitty litter box?”

Uproarious laughter.

Michael frowned as snippets of the nightmare played over and over in his mind like a chilling horror movie. He knew a phone conversation with his mentor and close friend Stephanie Bower would set him straight. An accomplished horror author in her own right, she was brilliant at helping him view things in the proper perspective. Maybe it was better to discuss it face-to-face with her. Over coffee.



Stephanie had listened intently while Michael told the story. He’d watched her small features darken and her blue eyes harden. As he spoke, her cheeks had turned from white to bright pink.

“You wanna know what I think?” she said with narrowing eyes. Her hand tightened around her cardboard coffee cup. She frowned, noticing her firm grip squeezing too hard, threatening to explode its hot contents. She loosened her grip.

“That’s why I’m here,” Michael said. He knew he didn’t have to tell Stephanie not to sugar-coat it.

“If they don’t care about your passion it usually means they don’t give a fuck about you,” she said. “It’s really easy to spot the ones who fully support and hold a true interest in what we do and easy to spot the fake bastards who wear a mask of bullshit.”

“My sentiments exactly.”

“I’ve had total strangers offer positive comments on my books and buy them because they wanted to. To get compliments and positive feedback from people I don’t know has been far more rewarding than anything I’d expect to get from a friend anyway. Maybe a friend doesn’t want to hurt your feelings so they don’t tell you the truth. They could easily lie and say how grand the book was when really they thought it was a piece of shit. So, I never ask friends anymore. Or family either. Not that any of my family has ever showed any interest in my writing. I’d rather a stranger read my works; that way I have a better chance of hearing the truth instead of a pile of sugar-coated bullshit!”

“Or worse,” Michael said, his mood darkening. “They never find the time to read it or have no interest in doing so and make all kinds of excuses. Like they used it to line the kitty litter box.”

Stephanie was aghast. “Is that what they said?”

“That’s what Dennis said. And they both grinned. Holding back laughter, you ask me.”

“The lies, excuses, and jokes people conjure up for why they haven’t read your book is mind-blowing.”

“What do you think I should do?”

“I don’t know these people. Never met them, and from what you say, I don’t want to. Are they close friends of the inner circle kind, or just garden-variety friends?”

“I don’t see them a whole lot. I don’t call them much. Once in a blue moon I see them at a dinner party, either at my place or theirs. These happen maybe once a month and they’re planned well in advance. You know me, I hate making plans. I’m more spontaneous. They’re not the kind of friends I could call if I really had a problem, not the kind who would give me the shirt off their back if I was desperate.”

“More like acquaintances or casual friends then?”

“Fake friends.”

“That’s more like it,” Stephanie said. “I think you should distance yourself from them. You have to ask yourself, do they really add anything positive to your life?”

“It’s not all black and white, but for the most part no.”

“It’s never black and white. I have friends who just don’t read for that matter. It would be stupid to ask them to support me or read one of my books. I have others that’ve told me it’s not their genre, so fair enough. Still others feign interest, but I don’t always blow them off. I have one friend who is going through so much emotional turmoil of her own right now I don’t think she’s capable of bringing herself to a calm place where she actually can see outside of her own messed up bubble.”

“That’s true,” Michael said, starting to feel a little better. “I have family members who said they would read my books but never have. But otherwise they’re pretty good people. I don’t take it personally nor do I blow them off. I just recognize I’m not gonna get the kind of support I want from them and move on.

“Same here. As I said, I don’t ask family or friends anymore. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. But in your case, you’re dealing with fake friends, as you say. Not even paying lip service to supporting you and probably even criticizing you behind your back. There is no mask of deceit there, it’s all out there festering in the open from what you tell me.”

Michael’s nightmare flashed through his mind. He felt downright depressed all over again.

And evidently Stephanie could read him like an open book. “Don’t worry about it, Mike. I’ve read your books. I know you’re a good writer. Not to mention all the people who’ve praised your work over the years that you don’t even know.”

“I guess you’re right. But it still hurts.”

“Don’t worry,” Stephanie said with a grin. “Karma’s a bastard. One day maybe they’ll both get torn a new asshole.”

Michael admired that about Stephanie. She didn’t mince words.



Mila looked at Dennis with concern. “Did you hear that?”

He washed down a mouthful of bread with a gulp of wine. “You mean the wind whistling? Yeah, I heard that. There’s a storm coming, honey. Remember?”

Mila’s eyes narrowed. “I know there’s a storm coming, silly. We watched the news together. Remember? I’m not talking about the whipping wind. I heard a crashing sound outside in the backyard.”

Dennis stood. “Probably the wind knocked down a garbage can or something. I’ll go check.”

Dennis went to the back door, put his boots and winter jacket on, and went outside. As soon as he stepped onto the back porch a strong gust of wind slammed him into the door, blowing off his Budweiser cap and sweeping it into the neighbor’s backyard. He watched it twirl in the air and disappear in the heavy snow. Fucking white-out. Gonna be a nasty one.

“Fucking bastard,” he said, gripping the door handle with both hands and steadying himself until the wind abated somewhat. Ferocious winds and driving snow pounded him for a few seconds. Finally the wind let up and he scrambled down the stairs, trudged through a foot of snow, and arrived at the detached garage. The garbage cans were in the alley on the other side of the garage so he had to go into the building and press the automatic garage door opener before he would be able to see if the trash containers had been blown down the alley or not.

He opened the man door quickly and slammed it shut behind him a second before another strong gust of wind plastered the garage with a fresh sheet of snow. He flicked the light on and pressed the door opener. More lights came on and the garage door whirred to life and began rising. When it reached the top, he approached the vehicle entrance and looked outside. Three trash cans were halfway down the alley and garbage was strewn all over the white snow, assorted pieces spiraling around in the air like mini tornadoes.

“Fuck me,” he said, balling his fists. He was tempted to forget about the garbage cans, return to the house, and tell Mila he’d cleaned everything up. Of course, come morning he’d then have to explain three missing garbage cans. And he knew. Hell hath no fury like the wrath of Mila.

So he trudged off down the alley, managed to retrieve two garbage cans, and began making his way back to the garage. When he arrived he placed one inside, setting it inside and rolling it to the front of the garage. He lifted the second one high over his head with the intention of setting it on his workbench. But as he was putting it down, a strong gust of wind caught it and slammed it into the back of his head, catapulting him forward violently. He released the can, watched it teeter and roll and collide with the front fender of Mila’s new SUV.

At the same time, he fell forward, slamming his head on the corner of the workbench. As a dizzying constellation of stars danced around his head, he fell on his back on the concrete floor.

A gust of wind blew a blanket of snow on him as his head slowly began to clear. After unleashing a litany of profanity, he got up slowly, deciding wisely to forget about the other can. “And the fucking garbage.”

He stumbled to the door, pressed the automatic garage door opener, and let out a deep sigh as he watched it wind down mechanically and clunk to a stop on the garage floor. He rubbed a growing goose egg on the back of his head and felt fresh warm blood. He brought his other hand to a spot above his right eyebrow, grimaced and winced as he felt another rising bump. At least there was no blood on that injury.

“What the hell happened to you?” his wife said as he staggered into the kitchen.

Dennis went over to the sink and stuck his bleeding head inside. “Help me, honey. I got attacked by a garbage can. Got attacked by my workbench. Got assaulted by the fucking wind.”

Mila rose quickly, fetching a clean towel and wiping the back of his blood-soaked head. Ten minutes later she had him cleaned up, bandaged up, and sitting comfortably, albeit dizzily, on the living room couch.

He’d explained most of the story to her. Then, through a slowly clearing fog, he noticed her right index finger was bandaged. “What happened to you?”

“Oh shit, just bad luck. While you were outside, I cut my finger with the butcher knife while I was trimming the roast.”

“Are you okay?”

Mila nodded. “It was bleeding like crazy but it’ll heal. What about you? Do you want me to take you to the hospital?”

Raw fear wrinkled Dennis’s brow. “What, in this? Are you kidding? I’m okay. Just a minor concussion I think.”

“We’ll see how you feel tomorrow then.”


“Did you recover all the garbage cans?”

“No. One got away.”

“That’s okay.”

“And one more thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Your SUV?”

Mila’s face tightened. “What about it?”

“I think there’s a pretty nasty dent in the front fender. One of the garbage cans got away from me.

Mila’s brow crinkled and she didn’t say anything for a full minute. When she did open her mouth, Dennis was sure he’d be getting a tongue-lashing.

But all she said was, “I think I’m gonna turn in for the night. You’d be wise to do the same.”

A few minutes later, when they were all tucked into their Queen-sized bed, Dennis cautiously put his hand across Mila’s stomach. She tensed at first and he almost withdrew it. But then she relaxed and he left it there.

“Sorry about your SUV,” Dennis said softly, his voice punctuated by windblown snow slamming the bedroom window.

“Don’t worry about it,” Mila said after a brief pause.

“Why do you think we’re getting so much bad luck lately?”

“I wish I knew, Dennis. I wish I knew.”



Michael hung up his coat in the hallway closet and set his snow-covered boots in a rubber boot tray inside the closet. He’d driven home white-knuckled after dining by himself in a nearby Chinese restaurant. Visibility had been reduced to almost zero as a result of the storm and he’d narrowly avoided a four-vehicle collision. It’s only gonna get worse. Wouldn’t be surprised if I lose power.

He lived by himself in a five-bedroom bungalow on a cul-de-sac in an upper-middle class neighborhood. After making a hot herbal tea, he went into his main-floor office, knocked off 563 words on his latest novel, and decided to turn in for the night.

Curled up in bed a few minutes later and listening to his 1959-built home creak and groan with the force of the storm, Michael felt strangely vindicated. He didn’t understand why but nor did he wish to analyze the feeling for fear of stirring up more mentally deleterious memories of the dinner party debacle. Probably just Stephanie’s pep talk. Leave it at that.

Fifteen minutes later he fell fast asleep.

In the dark of night, lit faintly by numerous dots shimmering below him, Michael wiped blinding snow from his eyes and walked effortlessly down a city street. He was a giant on an evening stroll in suburban Calgary. But it was more than a stroll. It was a mission. And he didn’t question whether his mission was real or fake, only knew it had to be done. He found the house, knelt down on one knee and peered into the window. He saw them sleeping not-so-peacefully, tossing and turning under the glow of a purple nightlight. He tapped on the window with his knuckle and it shattered, blowing snow and glass into the bedroom.

Mila leaped from the bed, grabbing a housecoat and throwing it over her slim body. Her eyes were wide with terror. Her tongue hung from her mouth like a rabid dog. “You. What do you want?”

Dennis merely lifted his head from the pillow, screamed and fainted.

“Karma’s a bastard,” Michael said with a satisfied grin. “It tears you a new asshole when you least expect it.”

“No, no,” Mila said in a high-pitched voice. “I’ll read your goddamned stupid book if that’s what you want.”

“Too little too late,” Michael said. “You had your chance.”

He reached over and grabbed a power pole with a streetlight mounted on top. With a rubber-gloved hand he tore it from its concrete foundation, snapping it like a twig and smashing it through Mila and Dennis’s bedroom window. As the power pole sizzled and crackled with electrical sparks, he stood up, wiped his hands and grinned, pleased with his handy work.

“That should do it,” Michael said, as the house burst into flames.

As he floated away, he could hear the horrifying screams of Mila and Dennis as their home went up in flames.

It was music to his ears.



It took him more than two hours the next morning to shake off the powerful feeling of dread. The nightmare felt so real; unlike anything he’d ever experienced before. When he’d finally calmed down and convinced himself it was nothing more than a bad dream, he showered, dressed, and peered out his front window.

At least three feet of snow. And the storm was still raging. Fortunately it hadn’t killed his power last night. Michael went into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee, went into the living room and plopped himself down on the sofa. He flicked on the TV and quickly surfed over to a local news station. He was anxious to see what kind of devastation the storm had caused and still was causing.

A clean-cut male anchor sat in a news studio reporting on a number of school closures, adding that all federal government offices would be closed for the day due to the raging storm. He went on to list three storm-related traffic accidents, one of which had resulted in two fatalities.

Then the blue-suited man picked up a piece of paper from his desk and his spectacle-framed eyes widened, magnified comically by thick lenses.

He cleared his throat. “This just in. Last night the storm knocked down a power pole in the suburban district of Somerset, smashing it through a home occupied by Dennis and Mila Steinweister.”

Michel froze, spilling hot coffee.

“Fire fighters and paramedics rushed to the scene but…”


The TV died. The lights went out.

Michael suddenly heard a loud BOOM and saw sparks fly from a nearby power pole. He rushed to his bay window and watched in terror as a large transformer explosion sent electrical wires flying everywhere. The wires sizzled along the snow—cracking, snapping and writhing like poisonous snakes before fizzling out and growing still.

His body convulsing with fear, he paced the floor frantically, trying unsuccessfully to convince himself that he had nothing to do with Mila and Dennis’s…death? But are they dead?  And if they are, how could I have done it? How could it be me? I was home sleeping.

His right eye strayed to the small foyer at his front door. On the tiled floor stood his water-soaked winter boots. Beside them, his crumpled winter jacket.

A rush of fear-fueled adrenaline shot through his body and he convulsed as if struck by a bolt of lightning.

In the rush of emotions that followed, he didn’t know what was real, what was fake; what was true, what was false.

But it didn’t take him long to realize that one thing was true. Last night, he’d hung up his coat in the hallway closet and set his snow-covered boots in a rubber boot tray inside the closet.

Oh my God! Did I kill them?

An hour later, he still didn’t have any answers. To try and make sense of the nerve-rattling experience, he went into his office and powered up his laptop. He planned on using what battery life that remained to document the ordeal. At the very least it would be therapeutic. At the very best, it would make a damn fine horror tale.

The title came to him in an instant.



The Spot: A Short Horror Story

Good day, my friends,

For those of you who’ve been following my blog posts, you’ll know I’m in the throes of creating a finely crafted collection of short horror tales, tentatively titled Tales of the Damned. I had earlier decided to take most of the summer off, but my muse crashed one of my beach parties, kicked me in the ass, and said, “Get back to work!”

Don’t worry, the party wasn’t exactly stuffed to the brim with guests. Unless, that is, you count my mannequins, squirrel and seagull friends.

So here I am. In the office again. Writing. That is, at least until Mother Nature invades my office and invites me to another wonder-filled and raucous beach party.

I guess it’s not a question of if. It’s when.

Until then, it’s back to work.

As a teaser for what’s coming down the blood-soaked pipe, I present to you, dear readers, The Spot, a short horror story that will form part of my haunted collection.

It’s a freebie and I hope you enjoy it. Enjoy your day and thanks for your support.


                                      TALES OF THE DAMNED


                                                            The Spot

Balboa, or that’s what he liked to be called anyway, moseyed his way through the raucous house party. A stop here. A pretty blonde. A wink. A flexing of the six-pack abs. A look from her. That should equal a little fun in the midnight moon later on. He moved smoothly through a gregarious laughing crowd, making his way over to the rum punch bowl, but not before another stop, another wink, and this time flexing his right bicep to an attractive brunette. Blonde or brunette, it mattered not to Balboa. He was built like a brick shithouse, and very proud of that fact. It got him attention. It got him respect. It got him laid, which was what was on his mind now. He reached the punch bowl and, using the oversized serving spoon, refilled his plastic cup.

He noticed a scrawny, nerdish-looking dude loitering around the punch bowl blinking furtively at the throngs of revelers, evidently lacking the self-confidence to approach anyone.

“You too shy?” Balboa said, extending a meat hook. “I’m Balboa.”

The man’s eyes widened at Balboa’s imposing, muscle-bound physique. “A little bit.” Then he hesitated, spilled a little rum punch onto a pencil-stuffed shirt pocket, and nervously offered his hand. “Ralph.”

Balboa squeezed, grinning as he watched the little man’s face flush with pain. When he released his iron grip a few seconds later, a few seconds too long, Ralph quickly withdrew his hand, set his drink down, and began rubbing his knuckles.

“That’s a vice-grip you have,” Ralph said, a single tear sprouting and glistening on his lower left eyelid.

“Oh, that,” Balboa said, looking approvingly at his massive forearm and bicep. “My old man always told me that a firm handshake is a sign of self-confidence and strength. Nobody wants a wet rag. Right?”

Ralph wiped his eye, studied his reddening hand, picked up his drink, and gulped two large mouthfuls. “I guess so. You… you look familiar. Is Balboa your real name?”

“No. Brad Powers. But everyone calls me Balboa.” He racked his brain trying to remember where it was he might have met this little twerp before. In the cavernous space between his ears, nothing materialized.

Ralph took a few steps back as two women approached the punch bowl. “You mean as in Rocky Balboa? From the movie, Rocky.”

“You got it, Einstein,” Balboa said, a spark of recognition flashing across brain circuits but sizzling out before producing a mental image. As the giggling women stepped up to the punch bowl, Balboa scooped up the ladle and pushed the punch toward the ladies.

“Sure, a pretty blonde said, holding her plastic cup unsteadily above the trickling pink liquid. “Don’t mind if I do, and thank you, Mr. Strong Man.”

“You’re very welcome, my dear.”

The other women, a short-haired bubbly brunette, extended her cup and Balboa seamlessly refilled the ladle and refilled it.

She grinned drunkenly, attempting but failing to curl her hand around his massive bicep. It was like trying to wrap a paper clip around a sledge hammer. “Wow, you’re strong. You’re huge.”

“I am indeed,” he said. “And you’re only scratching the surface.”

Both women laughed.

Ralph backed up a few steps.

“Who’s your friend?” the short-haired brunette said after the laughter had subsided.

“That’s Ralph,” Balboa said. “And I’m Balboa.”

“Ralph?” the blonde said. “He looks like he’s gonna be sick.”

All three of them laughed boisterously. Ralph silently shrank to the size of a mouse.

The brunette hugged Balboa’s bicep with both arms and brought her mouth close to his ear. “We’re over there,” she whispered, gesturing with a finger. “I’m Sarah and my friend’s Sandra. Come and join us and we’ll promise you a little more than scratching the surface.”

She kissed him on the cheek and both women wobbled off. Balboa watched as they joined hands in an effort to stabilize one another, weaved ten feet into the dance floor, spun around and simultaneously winked at him, seductively licking their pouty red lips.

Balboa polished his drink, refilled it, and turned to Ralph, who had returned to the rum punch table and was now leaning on it like it was the only thing in the world propping him up. “Excuse me, I have to go rescue two damsels in distress. Duty calls.”

“You have something on your face,” Ralph said.

Balboa had always prided himself on his impeccably clear complexion and chiseled warrior-like features. “What?”

“It’s a spot. Looks like skin cancer to me.”

“Where?” Balboa said, worry lines creasing his youthful face.

Ralph pointed below Balboa’s right eye. “Right there. On your cheek. I’d get that checked out if I were you. Melanoma’s a bitch. Fast-spreading cancer. Can kill you off in a matter of weeks.”

It was likely just an eerie coincidence, but Balboa felt a tingling sensation exactly on the spot that Ralph had pointed to. He felt his face flush and a vein popped on his temple and snaked its way down toward the spot, creating a slight stinging sensation. Fucking jealous loser.

From his peripheral vision Balboa noticed Sarah and Sandra off in the corner of the large home, seductively gyrating their tight little asses on a table top and waving to him. He knew it was only a matter of time before some other drunken losers would move in and try to take over where he’d left off. No fucking way.

But the fear he was beginning to feel was palpable. He touched the spot on his cheek, took a few deep breaths, and tried to assure himself that it was only the tiny scar left over from a small cut he’d suffered from a brawl a few weeks ago. He’d flattened an acid-witted loser with a straight right to the jaw in the parking lot outside of a bar after the man had upstaged him in front of an attractive woman he had been oh-so close to closing. Surprisingly, the man had gotten to his feet a few seconds after the shot, smashed a beer bottle in half on the lid of a metal garbage can, and swiped at his face. A sharp edge of the bottle had sliced his cheek, before he’d hammered the man with an uppercut and knocked him out cold. After the incident, malignant narcissist that he was, he’d carefully disinfected the wound before applying a topical antibiotic and bandaging it with a small circular adhesive Band-Aid. A week later, he’d grimaced at the small quarter-inch scar in the mirror; yet he’d finally come to terms with it, reassuring himself that “battle scars add character and make you look tough.”

Ralph was grinning at him now. “I see you’re worried about it. As I said, I’d get it checked out if I were you. Melanoma’s a bitch.”

But Balboa found his usual arrogant confidence, seeing Ralph steal a longing look at the gyrating hotties. “I’d invite you over as a wing-man. But who the hell wants a shy, chicken-shit wing-man anyway?”

He spun around and walked purposefully toward his prey. A hunter he was. A hunter he would always be.


More than Balboa’s big head was throbbing the following morning after waking up in a strange and disheveled apartment in Calgary’s downtown core. He blinked a couple of times, gouged the sleep from his eyes, and watched as two blanketed heads bobbed and weaved, expertly working his swollen member. He lay back on the pillow, reminisced about the wild threesome last night, and enjoyed the carnal pleasures of the here and now as Sandra and Sarah expertly sucked him to a shuddering climax.

Sarah pulled the blanket away, licked her lips, and wiped a sticky milky ribbon from her chin. She winked. “I see you enjoyed that.”

“I did. Thank you.”

“You were a fucking stud,” Sandra said, popping out from underneath the blanket and rushing into the bathroom.

Sarah wiped her sticky finger on Balboa’s leg, stood up and held out her hand. “I think you got your money’s worth. That’ll be six hundred bucks. And a bargain at that.”

“Call it eight hundred,” Sandra said from the bathroom as the pitter-patter of water droplets could be heard cascading into the shower. “Two hundred more for the blowjob.”

“Right,” Sarah said. “Eight hundred it is then.”

In spite of the throbbing in his head, Balboa got out of bed quickly and grabbed his underwear. As he put them on, he said, “What? I never agreed to that.”

Sarah stepped forward and jabbed her index finger into his muscled chest. “Oh yes you did. Now cough up. By the way, what’s that spot on your face? Looks like melanoma to me. Melanoma is a killer, you know.”

In a lightning-fast move, Balboa reached out and grabbed her hand, twisting it back at an awkward angle as she winced, groaned, and quickly bent to her knees. Subdued. He applied a little more pressure, comfortable in the knowledge it would be smarting for a few minutes and would give him a chance to get dressed and escape. The other bitch was in the shower. Occupied.

As Sarah shouted and screamed, Balboa scrambled around the apartment, picking up his clothes and dressing. In no time, he approached the door, checking his back pocket, feeling for his wallet, exhaling a deep sigh when he felt the warm and leathery, cash-stuffed mound.

The dim recollection surfaced. Balboa, in his drunken stupor, had agreed to the threesome. Had agreed to the fee. And he had the money. On him. Thanks to a two-million-dollar inheritance three years ago from his deceased mother—he was still angry that his snobby sister had received ten million—he wasn’t hurting for cash. That inheritance had allowed him to quit his security guard job, downsize, invest modestly, and live off the interest. And pursue his dream. Prey on women. Intimidate men. But he wasn’t the kind of guy to throw money around, even if he had agreed to it.

As he opened the door, he heard a loud clang, and felt a sharp pain on the back of his head. Dazed, confused, and indeed seeing stars, he spun around to see Sandra, buck naked and dripping wet, grinning and holding a cast-iron frying pan high in the air. Raising it up. Coming down for another strike. Reflexively, he brought his right pipe up. She slammed the frying pan down hard on it, so hard it squirted loose from her hand, and bounced on the front porch of the house as Balboa, blood dripping profusely from the head wound, staggered out the door, found some momentum, and fled.



Two weeks later Balboa waited anxiously in the skin cancer specialist waiting room. He was dazed for at least a day or two after the blunt force head trauma, but he hadn’t bothered to get it diagnosed, instead taking it easy until the goose egg had subsided on its own. But he had sought a diagnosis for the spot on his face, the one that fucktard Ralph had pointed out. He had called his doctor and gotten a referral to a dermatologist—one Doctor Ray Burman.

He had become obsessed with the spot, analyzing it ad nauseam every day in the mirror. He had even begun to have terrifying nightmares of the spot growing rapidly, covering his entire body and destroying his cells one agonizing cell at a time.

The waiting room was full of patients and he had already been sitting there for well over half an hour. One woman came in and sat next to him. Her face was mostly covered with a white blood-stained bandage.

She focused with one bulbous eye on the spot. “Looks like melanoma to me. That’s what I got. I have to get half my face cut off. Complete facial reconstruction.”

Balboa didn’t respond, looking away as he felt this morning’s bacon and eggs churn in his stomach and start clawing up his esophagus—an acidic puke ball. He swallowed hard, tasted egg, bacon and horseradish, combined with orange juice, and coughed.

“You might be lucky,” the cancer-stricken woman said. “Mine is stage four. There is no stage five you know. Well, I guess there is, but it’s six feet under.” Her mouth opened, exposing rotten teeth. A single drop of blood leaked out, clinging precariously to her bandage-wrapped chin.

Balboa felt a bead of perspiration pop on his forehead, dribble down his head, and lodge in his bushy eyebrow. He wiped it away, tried unsuccessfully to smile, then got up and sat in another chair. She was starting to creep him out big-time.

She tssk-tssked him away with a pointed finger.

He picked up an outdoor adventure magazine and began flipping through the pages, seeing but not seeing the kayaks, mountains, campfires, lakes, rivers and wildlife. Would this be his last chance to really live? Everything’s gonna be okay. It’s nothing. You’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna be fine.

His mind drifted back to where it had all begun. Ralph. His nerdy image had popped into his head a few times over the last few weeks, and he was still dumbfounded as to how he knew the man. If I see him again, maybe I should apologize. Fuck that. Fuck him. Just as a dim recollection of where he knew Ralph from began to settle over him, he heard his name called.

“Brad Powers?”

“That’s me.”

“Doctor Burman will see you now.”

He wiped a sweaty brow and stood. “O… Okay.”

Five minutes later, Doctor Burman, holding a large and sophisticated magnifying glass, stepped back, a pained expression on his face.

“What’s wrong?” Balboa said. “Am I gonna be okay?”

Doctor Burman put the magnifying glass down and rubbed his knee. “My knee hurts,” he said. “The joys of old age. It’s arthritis.”

Balboa felt little sympathy for the aging white-haired man. “What about the spot?”

Doctor Burman slowly removed rubber gloves and tossed them in a wastebasket. He went to a sink, scrubbed his hands, dried them with paper towels, crumpled them, and tossed them into a wastebasket. “We’ll have to cut it out and get it biopsied. That’ll tell us for sure what it is. But to my trained eye, and I’ve been doing this for over thirty years, it’s a very common, slow-moving skin cancer. You’re gonna be fine. Nothing to worry about. Make an appointment with my receptionist and I’ll see you in a week or two.”

Out on the busy street, soaking up cancer-giving rays of bright morning sunshine, Balboa was elated. He felt like he had a new lease on life. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Not too late to turn his self-serving ways around. Track down Ralph. Apologize. Return to Sarah and Sandra’s house. Pay them out, even give them a handsome tip. Say sorry. Write down the names of all the people he’d wronged. Right the wrongs.

“That’s it,” he shouted, jumping for joy, tripping on the cross-walk curb and falling head-first into the busy intersection. He rolled on the pavement, began to spring to his feet, and then his mouth formed a wide O of horror as he saw the speeding bus descend on him.

Crunch… crunch… crunch!

Balboa felt his bones snapping like brittle twigs as the large tires squashed and splattered him into the pavement. He felt his skull caving and cracking, his eyes popping from his sockets.

The bus dragged him along the road for about a half block before the tires spat his crumpled remains curbside.

As the last vestiges of life drained from Balboa, he remembered Sarah, Sandra, and Ralph. He had used and abused the two women in high school, probably devastated their self-esteem and led them into prostitution. One night stands. Dropped them like a ton of bricks. He had bullied Ralph to no end, mercilessly stripping the man of his self-esteem and self-confidence—helping to mold the loser that Ralph had become.

But as the skeletal hand of the grim reaper slowly enveloped him in blackness, he realized three things: It’s too late for redemption. Karma’s a bitch. And then you die.



                                                                The End

Page 1 of 10