The Grayland

spectral

© Sue Vincent

At first Alise Egan thought she had been trapped in a cursed painting of herself facing an ocean wave, but then she realized it was an interdimensional gateway to another reality. In the painting, the twenty-two year old MIT graduate looked much as she appeared in real life, tall, what her billionaire benefactor, the painting’s owner Keyne Harlan and men of his generation would call “curvy,” long, blond hair streaming behind her along with her extravagant crimson gown, a ostentatious gift from said-benefactor, the man who adopted her after her parents died.

But once across the chaotic field of alabaster and sapphire, she entered the realm of the dead. Well, that’s what they had wanted her to believe, all of the non-corporeal entities who inhabited that realm. Two of them had initially passed themselves off as her dead parents, but then she saw them for what they truly were, invaders intent on using her as a bridge from their world to hers for reasons unknown and undesired.

But one of them said, “Physical laws don’t apply here. There’s no difference between science and magic.” That’s when she realized she could do anything, and so she did. Alise pushed back, at first driving a few away from the threshold, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally all that there were, millions and tens of millions.

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Meg: A Story of Deep Terror – Book Review

meg

Cover art for the 1997 novel, “Meg: A Story of Deep Terror” by Steve Alten

A few days ago, I came across something about a movie due in theaters in a few weeks called The Meg starring Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, and Rainn Wilson. It’s based on a 1997 novel written by Steve Alten called Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror. Yes, it’s about a shark, but an extinct species called Megalodon, something about the size of a school bus, but a lot meaner.

I doubt I’ll go see the movie, but curious, I found the first novel (in a series of five) at my local public library.

Not to sound cliché, but it is a real page turner. One of those “I can’t put it down” novels. Our hero is paleontologist Jonas Taylor, a former deep-sea diver and marine biologist who, after a brief encounter with a Meg fifteen years before, and having caused an accident that caused the death of two Naval personnel, has never been able to get into the water again. His ambitious, career-minded wife has written him off as a failure and is having an affair with his millionaire best friend.

In spite of the more “soap opera” aspects of the book, which fortunately are held to a minimum, the story is full of “pulse-pounding action,” and, as far as I can tell not being a shark, ship, or submarine expert, seems to be full of pretty accurate and well-researched material.

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The Lady in Black

woman in pool

Image credit Mari Lezhava via Unsplash

The lady in black, as the tabloids dubbed her, had drowned in Victor Fountain’s swimming pool five years ago and now she was back. Marcela Saenz was twenty-eight when she died. Mr. Fountain, CEO and President of one of the top software engineering companies in the world, was on holiday with his family at the time and had no knowledge about how the personal assistant for his company’s Marketing director had gotten onto his property.

The coroner declared the case death by misadventure. Based on the contusion on the back of Ms. Saenz’s head, and the amount of water in her lungs, he determined that she must have fallen into the pool, struck her head against the side, rendering her unconscious, and subsequently drowned.

Her body was found by Johnny Morales, an employee of a pool cleaning service, some forty-eight hours after she died. The nineteen-year-old quit his job the next day.

Marcela Saenz drowned in Victor Fountain’s swimming pool five years ago today. The pool had temporarily been drained to repair a cracked drainage pipe.

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Death by Squirt Gun

bike

© C.E. Ayr

It’s so hot and humid here, you can only go bike riding in the morning. At least I’ve traced him to one of those two people ahead. Have to be cautious, though. If I spray the wrong one, the Jinn will get me before I can reload.

Have to wait until he makes his move, which should be soon. The demon can never quell his thirst for murder for more than a few weeks. He slaughtered my brother ten years ago, and I’ve spent every day since then learning about them and tracking this spirit halfway around the world.

Last month it was Melbourne, and now Port St. Lucie.

They’re turning into that gate to the left. It’s opening.

Ducked in just as the gates closed. That’s him now. He’s pulling out a garrote. I’ve got my gun right here.

“Hey, Jinn.” He spins as I pull the trigger and spray him. What a stupid weakness, but it’s working. The possessed body is collapsing and the Jinn is oozing out his orifices. Really disgusting. The other person’s bending over him.

“Glenn. What happened?” She’s looking up at me. “What did you do? He’s soaked in pee. Are you nuts?”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

This is a continuation of yesterday’s flash fiction tale The Long Wait for Retribution, which was about demonic possession and murder. I decided to let my demon hunter catch up with his target and eliminate him.

According to Exorcism in Islam, you can harm or kill a Jinn by urinating on it or throwing hot water on it. So the weapon of choice, under the circumstances, is to load a super soaker with urine. Yucky, but it works.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

When Meg Comes to Visit

ferry and birds

white-ship-traveling-through-vast-body-of-water-with-white-birds-flying-beside-879479 Pixel Photo

The Golden Gate Bridge was almost completely concealed in early morning fog as the 6:30 a.m. ferry made its way from Vallejo to the San Francisco Ferry Building. It was a typical Monday morning commute, and a much more civilized way to get into the City, though the crowding on board was still barely tolerable.

It was Erma Carr’s first day traveling to work by water, having given up with both driving and BART, this being somewhat ironic, seeing that she was an Ichthyologist.

“Hey, look at that.”

“Is it a whale?”

“Whatever it is, the thing’s huge.”

The comments of her fellow passengers pulled her toward the starboard side of the ferry, which was facing the Golden Gate and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

“There’s a dorsal fin. Is it an Orca?”

Carr’s blood proverbially froze in her veins. She was a shark biologist working at the Steinhart Aquarium, and had done her Master’s Thesis on extinct shark species. What she was looking at was impossible. The Megalodon species had perished over two-and-a-half million years ago. It was nearly as big as the ferry, and as it breached the water, she knew it would kill them all.

I wrote this for Week #29 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 195.

I found out the other day that a film called The Meg is coming to theaters in August, based on the book series by Steve Alten. Yes, another shark movie, but this time the shark is 60 or 70 feet long. You can read more about Megalodons at Wikipedia or do a Google image search to get some sort of idea of how huge these brutes were.

I wrote this one just for giggles.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

So far, I’m the only one participating in this week’s linkup, so please consider adding your own story. Thanks.

The Halloween Monster

monster

© Liz Young

Arthur stopped off at his sister’s last night, realizing he was too drunk to drive home from the bar. Staggering into her backyard the next morning, he discovered the apparition. Melissa followed him, looking bemused.

“Like it? I’m putting it out front for Halloween tonight.” It was then he noticed she was pointing a pistol with a silencer at him.

“Hey, what’s that?”

“Last year, you got off on that drunk driving charge where you killed a little girl. I’m fixing justice.”

That night, Melissa got a lot of compliments on the realistic display of a monster in a cage.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

For some reason, I thought of a man who was hung over coming across this scene and being totally bewildered. The story wrote itself after that.

To read other tales inspired by the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

595 Hitori Kakurenbo

595 old house

© C.E. Ayr

The Occultist had been a small child when he was last here. He remembered playing in the yard, ringing the now rusted bell next to the forlorn gate, playing behind the trees out back, and eating pizza with his Grandpa on the shaded patio. All of his memories of this home were happy and joyful except for the one that was horrifying.

The house and grounds had been neglected for the past twenty years. When his Dad inherited it after Grandpa’s tragic death, he didn’t have the heart to sell it or have the structure demolished. Raymund stood at the gate, closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer of gratitude. If the house at 595 Hitori Kakurenbo had been destroyed, he would have no hope of discovering the identity of the inhuman being who had slaughtered his Grandfather two decades ago. Raymund had only been seven years old when it happened, and was the only witness to the murder.

His Grandfather’s long career as a paranormal investigator had finally caught up with him. Raymund spent the past decade training for this moment. Tonight, he would discover the identity of Grandpa’s inhuman killer and bring it to fearful justice.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of July 1, 2017 hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

Yesterday, I again discovered the hazards of allowing children unmonitored access to the internet. My nine-year-old grandson showed me a video on YouTube called 10 Paranormal Games You Should Never Play. He wanted to incorporate some of them into a game we’ve been playing (role playing game, so it all exists in the imagination), but after viewing them, I said absolutely not.

Chances are, all of these are hoaxes, but if you have faith in God, you have to accept that there is a supernatural realm, and the danger of falling into evil.

I borrowed the villain and the street name from the original appellation of one of those games to act as the murderer and the address of the crime scene. Yes, today’s wee tale takes a turn into the darkness, however, I rarely can let evil win, so I’m also planning for redemption.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Tunnel Dwellers

tunnel tour

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Thousands of people had taken the tour of Seattle’s underground, what was left of the original city after the devastating 1889 fire. The city was rebuilt on its ruins one to two stories above, leaving these tunnels as a monument to history. However, only a few realized that just a portion of the original underground was restored in 1965. People had been taking this tour for over fifty years now, and had never guessed the truth.

An old 1907 newspaper story gave him the clues necessary to find his way into the real world under the streets of Seattle. Over a hundred years ago, the tunnels harbored flophouses for the homeless, gambling halls, speakeasies, and opium dens. They’d been cleared out by police anticipating the 1909 World Fair in Seattle, and left to rot. The tunnels were forgotten by most, but once rediscovered, found a new use. Now they sheltered the city’s covert den of vampires who had been preying on its citizens for decades.

Jeff had seen all he needed to see. He would notify the local branch of the Van Helsings, the international and secret Catholic order of vampire hunters. There would be another fire just after dawn tomorrow.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of May 20, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

The image seemed more benign than sinister, just a bunch of tourists walking around, so I looked up famous tunnel tours. That lead me to Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of old Seattle, which I’d heard of. I found the original history of the Seattle Underground, including the fire, and then the other facts I cited in my small story.

It was perfect for horror, which I knew because I’d watched the 1973 television movie “The Night Strangler” starring Darren McGavin, back in the day.

I decided to leverage the world I created in my Sean Becker vampire stories. Now a centuries old banned Catholic order of vampire hunters has found where Seattle’s population of the undead has been hiding. Collateral damage is assured, but in their eyes, it’s a small price to pay for ridding the Northwest of these feared, supernatural predators.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Horror in Straw

straw people

Photo credit: Ellespeth

On a school field trip, third-graders Tony and Martha decided to do a little independent exploring. Slipping away from the rest of the group, they headed into a secluded field.

“I think they’re some kind of scarecrows or something.” The boy wrinkled his nose in thought.

“That seems silly. I mean they look like they’re working, and they’re…” she blushed gazing at the straw women’s attributes. “…women.”

“Let’s have a closer look.” Tony started to run forward.

“Wait! Remember? The farmer told Mr. Pushkin none of us were allowed in this field, and that it was dangerous.”

He turned back toward her. “Oh, come on. We aren’t going to hurt anything. I just want to…”

“Tony! Get out of there!”

He saw the expression of horror on Martha’s face and then spun toward the field. The straw people were moving. One of them was swinging her ax at him menacingly.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of April 24, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 150.

Yes, I noticed the two straw people were supposed to be women, and of course, the first thing I thought of was that they were haunted.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Strange History’s Prelude

seatac

A Delta flight comes in for a landing at Sea-Tac Airport which had record passenger growth in June. (Ellen M Banner/The Seattle Times)

The day Leon Spencer made bail, he followed the instructions of the lawyer who posted it for him and stopped off at his post office box. Sure enough, there was a cashier’s check for more money than he made in a year as a Marine Gunnery Sergeant. Those days were long gone and so, he thought, was his career until he read the email from Carson Everett. There wasn’t much that fazed him anymore, not after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but he could still be impressed.

“Fuckin’ eh.” The six-foot tall, African-American Marine turned merc, turned “security consultant,” stared at the check in his hand and the note that came with it, which repeated Everett’s instructions to take the first flight to Seatac.

He visited his crappy apartment for the last time to pack a few things, noticing the bales of useless papers, magazines, and other junk he’d be happy to part with. Leon took everything that still had worth to him (which wasn’t much), and beat it out to O’Hare, happy to give Chicago the middle finger.

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