This is the first chapter to an anthology of short stories I’m writing. I will try to keep up with them pretty regularly. This is the set up, and I hope you enjoy it…
It was a dark and stormy night, as it is in most stories like this. The kind of story where a group of people make a wrong turn on a back road. Of course that might have not happened had Jeremy not left his GPS at the last stop. You see, Jeremy and his friends were returning home from a long exhausting trip. They had been on a road trip to collecting stories for a book about little known legends. Murderers, Myths, Madmen…anything they thought would get people’s attention. The trip was nearly a success, but there was still something missing. They had all collected some really juicy stories, but they all lacked that special hook. Jeremy just kept thinking over and over in his head about what could make it better. Really he should have been thinking about the fact they were in the middle of nowhere about to run out of gas. This was a fact he was alerted to when the engine sputtered to a halt.
“Good one asshole!” chimed a very unhelpful Steve. Steve had been complaining, as per his usual self, for the last 4 hours. He was the one friend in the group that was there just to be a pain in everyone elses ass. “If you would have left it in the window like I said, we wouldn’t be in this mess! Like someone is really going to smash your window and take it. Everyone has GPS these days Jeremy, even the fucking thieves!”
“Could you please just try to be more helpful Steve…” squeaked a very nervous Alex. Alex was the peace keeper of them all. Mostly because he was so timid, you would feel like the most depraved bully in the world yelling at him. He almost resembled a chihuahua. The kind that would shake and piss itself if you looked at it wrong.
The fourth friend of the group sat quiet. Travis was the mysterious brooding type. Or so he put on for everyone else. You wouldn’t believe the woman you pull in acting like a bad copy of one of those tween-vampire-romance types. If girls really new most of the time he was appearing to look off into space he was playing Poke’mon on his handheld system, he wouldn’t be near as popular. The most he mustered was a killer look to the front seat where Steve continued to run at the mouth.
“Alex shut up before you pass out…I’m just saying if you hadn’t screwed up Jeremy, we could have been home by now!”
Jeremy slowed the car down and threw the car into Park. “Alright Steve! I’ve had enough of your shit! I’m sorry I fucked up your night, but if you would spend more time looking at the map we might know where we are. Ya’ think you can do that!?” barked a very annoyed driver. At the very least keep an eye out for a hotel or gas station…”
Steve looked up with a disgusted look, “You think we’re going to find a hotel out here!? Jeremy, all I’ve seen for the last couple hours is dead trees. Not to mention it is raining so hard…YOU CAN’T SEE SHIT!!!!”
Jeremy went to yell when he was cut off by a yelp from Alex, “YOU TWO…Please…STOP FIGHTING!!!”
The driver looked forward and switched the car back into Drive, “Just keep your mouth shut Steve. If you don’t have anything helpful to tell me…just shut up”
It would seem that this once “rad” road trip had taken a turn for the worst. The quartet stayed quite for another couple of miles before they finally caught sight of a faint light up ahead. It was hard to tell but as they neared the light, it got brighter. Strangely enough the rain seemed to calm down as well. Within seconds it became clear they had found some sort of house in the middle of the woods. Haunted house was really a more accurate description. The house appeared very old and had an odd purple trim over a worn grey wood exterior. The sign outside read “Welcome to the Malicious Manner…Bed and Breakfast.”
Steve exclaimed, “Does that really say ‘Malicious Manner…bed and Breakfast’? Oh Jeremy we have to stop here! Looks like our luck is turning around.” Steve crossed his arms and tried to make it look like he had a positive outlook the whole time.
“Well we do need directions and it is kind of late. Top it off, one last stop for the book might not be a bad thing. I mean it certainly does have that charm. What do the rest of you think?” asked Jeremy.
“I…I think it’s alright. Looks like something out of a horror movie. Might be a nice gimmick for the cover too.” It was the most excited meek little Alex seemed all trip.
Travis looked up lazily until he saw it in all it’s greatness. That was when the melancholy boy’s face turned to a grin. “We need to do this!”
“Well, it’s decided then…to the Malicious Manner it is!” shouted the leader of the troop. With that they turned into the drive way and drove the dirt road to the creepy manner. Pulling up to the building, they realized it had stopped raining completely. The air around the place was chilly and other worldly. Stepping out of the car, a strange gust of wind blew past them inviting them up the stairs to the enormous domicile.
“Wow, this place is a lot bigger than what it looked from the road!” exclaimed Alex, who seemed to be unusually energetic about going into a creepy looking mansion. “Looks really old too. Like something out a horror movie.” A small smile crossed his face.
The others got out of the car and the four made their way to the door. Stepping onto the porch, a ragged out welcome mat lay in front of the entrance. Upon the door rested a door knocker and a sign that read “Knock Once for Mail, Twice for Tea, Three for Service, Repeatedly for and Emergency…” Half laughed at the silly sign while the other half looked on with curiosity. Jeremy thought it was real neat and took out his camera to take a picture. Travis leaned himself on a porch support as if to wait impressively for whoever may open the door.
“So, I guess I knock three times?” asked Jeremy
“No dumb ass! Knock two times! Let’s have some freakin’ tea! What do you think?” snapped Steve.
Jeremy shot a sharp look back his way before lifting the enormous door knocker and doing as the sign read to get some service. The echo of the knocks echoed loudly through the manor. All four stood in silence for what seemed like eons wondering what would happen next. Steve grew wildly impatient, “Well whats taking so damn long!?” As the words left his mouth he grabbed the knocker and began beating the door repeatedly. “HELLO!!!? ANYONE THER–?” he was cut off as the door creaked open.
As the door grew wider a gentleman in a top hat sat behind a desk. “You’re very impatient aren’t you? You don’t know how to wait for someone to answer the door?” asked the stranger. All they could do was stand there looking inside at who seemed to be the inn keeper. “Well…are you going to stand there all night or are you going to come inside? There are things out there I would rather not let in here and an equal amount of things in here I’d rather not let out there.” as the man said this he nodded his head and motioned his hand for the boys to come in.
The boys moved in to the arch of the door looking at the lavished insides of the house. The house was just as big on the inside as it was out. Everything looked very nice despite being a bit dusty. Still not what you would have expected from the rougher looking exterior. A look around the room revealed a grand staircase to the right of the room that was lined with paintings of different people from different eras. Seemingly this lead up to the rooms. To the left of the room was what looked like a parlor or a den with many pieces of lavished furniture. The shelves of the room were filled with books and other statues and sculptures. In the middle of the room was the desk with the top hatted man now standing looking at the awe-stricken boys. “So….well your all very quiet. Weren’t that quiet a minuet ago…what’s a matter? Cat got your tongue!” the man asked with a grin.
Snapping to himself, Jeremy answered him, “Very sorry sir! We are a little lost, pretty low on gas, and it’s really late so we figured we would see if we could get a room for the night!”
“A room for the night eh? Well you’re in luck! I have a room open.” grinned the man
“Oh, good! You’re a life saver man.” Jeremy said relieved. “Alex you and Travis want to go get the our stuff?”
Alex nodded. He and Travis left the group to go get the bags from the car leaving Jeremy and Steve standing in the presence of the inn keeper. Jeremy, now recomposed to his normal self smiled smugly. “So, what’s up with this place? You some type of road side thing? We’ve been all over the place and never heard of you before.”
The man behind the counter smiled from ear to ear as he leaned across the desk. His furry face an wild hair adding to the effect. “Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of me. I move around a lot from place to place. Never like to stay in one place to long. After all there are only so many things you can learn about an area before it starts to get old. You might say people who come across me, do so by chance.”
The group looked back at him with a mixture of confusion and delight. If this guy was half as interesting as he looked it may be just what they were looking for. Jeremy spoke up for the group, “So you travel a lot? Nice! We are actually writing a book on little known urban myths and legends. More like a grouping of strange or scary stories from around America. Think you know any good ones?”
With that, the man behind the counter jumped over the desk and stood in front of them with such a look of absolute pleasure. His eyes wide and furry face smiled on for a good minute before he replied back. “Do I have stories?! My sirs, I am Malice Psychotik! Story telling is my passion! Really it’s the main reason I travel so much. I keep my eye on people here and there. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories you come across if you just look…and listen.” Malice was over joyed just thinking about telling a large group his stories, but then he realized a few key things that Jeremy had said. “But…you boys are writers huh? I’m usually not in the practice of telling people my stories so they can run off and write about it. My stories are more meant for word of mouth. I just feel like writing them down takes some of the emotion out of it. Story telling is an ancient art after all. Writing it down takes the story-teller out of it…Sort of just makes it words.”
Steve wasn’t going to let this one slip through their fingers. So he did what he does best, thought up a lie and said what he thought Malice wanted to hear. “I totally agree with you. When we first started this venture that was one of my main problems. But through this whole process, you know what I’ve come to realize? What better way to spread these stories to people across the world than the printed word!? You can’t very well travel around telling everyone these amazing stories right? You just have to make sure that you write it with passion. And that’s what we do…every story treated like it was the thing of legends!”
Malice pursed his lips and gave a sideways glance. He could smell bullshit from a mile away and this guy reeked of a sewer. “Well, I do have a few stories I could hand over for your book. But, I don’t think I’m going to hand over any of my best ones. To a being such as myself though…even the not so good stories are great stories. Tell you boys what, I’ll sign you up for a room for the night. You go up stairs and settle in. Then come down here and meet me in the den. I’ll spin you a few tales by the light of the fire-place, and show you what real story telling is. How does that sound?”
“Sounds great! We’ll take it.” said Jeremy. He looked back a t Steve who smiled in triumph. Malice gave them a key and pointed to the upstairs instructing them which room to take their things. By this time the other two were back and the boys went up stairs. Everything was going seemingly well.
When the boys were done unpacking for the night, they met in the large den Malice had mentioned. A fire had been lit and some drinks were served on the coffee table in the center of the room. The room was just as lavish as the rest of the house with fine furniture and countless shelves of books. Other shelves held odd trinkets from what seemed to be all over the world. About the time the boys sat down, Malice entered the room. They all looked on in amazement, as this was the first time they noticed how he was dressed. From head to toe he was dressed in a top hat with a large purple sash that trailed behind him. Around that was a pair of goggles with purple lenses. He wore a large black coat with purple lapels and cuffs. Under that he had on two shirts. One was a black button down shirt that was unbuttoned to reveal a black t-shirt with a skull on it. On his hands he wore black and purple striped gloves that were fingerless. To finish out the ensemble he had on black pants with white pin stripe. He strolled over to a large arm-chair and poured into it propping a leg on the arm. “Are you boys ready then?”
The group all looked at one another and nodded to their host. Malice grasped his cup in one hand. It appeared to have a cloudy green liquid in it that had an odd smell to it. He swirled it around and took a deep drink. Taking a deep breath he stared intently at he glass and heaved a sigh, “Now that’s good! Let’s get started hmm? It was a dark and stormy night that the group of five travelers found themselves in the company of a mysterious stranger. They all sat by the fire in the grand old mansion. There he….” the story-teller was cut short.
“Hey now! I thought you said you had some good ones. This just sounds like one similar to us. I’ve seen it a million times. Guys sits us down to a story and it’s surprisingly just like us. That crap may work for your average tourist, but it ain’t going to work on us.” snapped Steve.
Malice looked on in amazement. “So it’s my understanding you want something with…shall we say…a little more bite to it?”
“Yeah, you know something with base and substance…” said Jeremy.
“Well…I could tell you the REALLY good stuff…but if you record it or try to use it for your book…I’ll have ta kill ya.’ As the words left his throat and passed his teeth the room grew cold and the lights seemed to dim. Malice looked on at the boys intensely as they seemed to grow nervous until finally he broke the silence with a boisterous laugh! The boys laughed as well, although still shaken. “So we have an understanding then? Good…Take your drinks in deep boys and hold on tight. These stories are not for the faint of heart. They come from the darkest side of your mind and some like to creep from the dark places you would all like to forget. You know the funny thing about fairy tales and horror stories is?” Malice paused, “The best ones start with Once Upon a Time…”
Well that’s was the first chapter. Stay tuned as we will continue with “Edgar Cartwright: The Butcher of Ft. Drum”
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,