William Blackwell

Dark Fiction Author

Tag: short horror tales

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.

Synopsis:

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:

GET IT NOW AT YOUR FAVORITE BOOKSTORE

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:

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Tales of the Damned

Tales of the Damned. What is it? It’s my latest work in progress, and it’ll be a finely crafted collection of short horror tales.

For me it represents a deviation from the norm—full-length dark fiction. For the last seven or so years, I’ve written mainly full-length novels across multiple genres: horror, psychological thriller, supernatural thriller, thriller, paranormal, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction; even a foray into inspirational fiction.

Why a collection of short horror tales? Call it an experiment in form and structure, call it intellectual curiosity, call it whatever you want but for me it represents an opportunity to try something different. Something new.

I like the idea for a number of reasons. Recently I did a little Twitter poll in an attempt to try and determine the level of interest in short horror tales. To my surprise, the response was overwhelming. It’s no secret that global sales of short fiction and short horror tales are going strong. There are many talented short horror story writers in the Twitter #writingcommunity and I certainly see a strong demand.

In today’s complicated world, books compete with so many other things for people’s attention: gaming, YouTube, Facebook, TV, Twitter, the labyrinth of information on the internet, and dozens of other social media platforms—not to mention the myriad of other distractions, tasks, and problems that are just a part of living.

People lead busy, often stressful lives. It’s often easier for them to read short stories than full-length novels. Waiting in the doctor’s waiting room, they can get through one or more stories and not have to worry about losing the thread if, heaven forbid, a distraction prevents them from revisiting it again for another week or two.

The timing is also excellent. Being that it’s summer and summer is short on Prince Edward Island, I can create a story and, depending on word length, probably knock the first draft out in one sitting before escaping outside to enjoy the glorious summer weather. And, of course, there are my outdoor projects and my outdoor pets to attend to.

When I start a full-length novel, I usually write for about five to six hours a day, six days a week until I get the first draft completed. By writing consistently I stay with the thread and, at least to my mind, it makes for a more powerful and better flowing read.

Tales of the Damned (a working title that may change) will contain at least thirteen short horror tales, examining everything from real-life ghostly encounters; actual horrifying nightmares; and completely fictional yarns that will be the product of a dark and twisted imagination.

I’m only half way through the first entry but can already feel the creative juices generating other story ideas. When I write in a particular genre, I generally also read a lot in that genre. I’ve plowed through dozens of short horror tales in an effort to learn something about structure and form.

I generally have a lot of backstory in my novels which I try to weave into the narrative in bits and pieces as opposed to laying it all out at once in one big info dump. I also use a lot of internal dialogue to give readers a really clear idea of what motivates my characters to behave in often erratic, unstable, and unpredictable ways.

But in Tales of the Damned, I won’t have time for a lot of backstory or internal dialogue. The challenge will be to say more with less—much less.

It’s a dynamic form with limitless possibilities.

As British author William Boyd, says, Short stories “seem to answer something very deep in our nature as if, for the duration of its telling, something special has been created, some essence of our experience extrapolated, some temporary sense has been made of our common, turbulent journey towards the grave and oblivion.”

Stay tuned for updates on Tales of the Damned. As always, thanks for stopping by.