Fifty Six. Fifty six entries for my latest writing contest. When will I find the time to read fifty six entries, I thought? The October deadline made selecting the subject easy. Horror. I sat in the comfortable chair beside the fireplace, tea (earl grey, of course) steaming in a mug beside me and began to read.
I decided I would read each story quickly and give it one of three marks Y (yes) N (No) and (M) maybe (as if you couldn't see that one coming). I read through the first ten then got up and brewed a new cup of tea. I tossed a few logs on the fire before sitting back down and picking up the next story in my pile. N. Y. N. N. M. N. N.
On I read. The sun had long since set and despite the fire, the room was getting cold. I stood, stretched, made my way to the kitchen appeasing my dog's incessant need for attention by giving him a good scratch behind his ears, brewed another cup of tea and took up my spot by the fire.
I picked up the next story in the pile. Despite being only two pages (500 word count limit), it had a weight to it that made me question whether I had inadvertently used the card-stock paper by accident. I began to read.
As I ReadMelissa New
J. R. Wagner is a busy man.
Writing me into the story...cute, I thought.
He is particularly busy on this night. He turns page after page searching for the best entry while the fire glows yet, for some reason, is unable to keep the cold at bay.
Creepy. I like it. My dog starts pacing in front of the fireplace. His nails clicking on the stone floor. He ignores my commands to lay down so I attempt to ignore him altogether. Stupid dog. I pulled my sweatshirt from the back of the chair and shrugged it on. Getting cold. I find my spot in the story.
Something doesn't feel right, he thinks. There is a tension -almost palpable- in the air. The house is quiet except for the knowing anxiousness of his dog, Max.
My dog's name isn't Max, it's Sorin. Regardless, my palms begin to sweat as I continued.
The motion sensing lights click on illuminating the woods behind his house. Probably just a deer, he thinks and continues reading.How could anyone know I live near the woods? I must have mentioned it in an interview or something, I think.
The motion lights turn on. My heart rate quickens. Probably just a deer...
He's no longer comfortable in his chair, with his back to the window -exposed to whatever waits in the dark beyond the range of the lights. He turns and looks out into the darkness. He looks with his eyes but he does not see.
How could I not? I turned my head and looked over my shoulder into the night. Nothing. Black. This is silly, I thought. I certainly found the winning story. I should probably finish it, I thought. Not much left.
Sorin begins to growl and moves toward the front door. He crouches there, growling as if the door were alive. The author stands, no longer able to discount the fear.At this point, I was legitimately panicking because my dog is named Sorin and he is growling at the door. I stood, happy to leave the darkened forest beyond the window and stood beside my dog. Truth be told there was something comforting about standing beside a large German Shepherd when a possible stalker was outside my door.
The dog suddenly goes silent. The author realizes his protector has released its bladder on the floor as it moves behind him, cowering. He steps forward, checks the bolt on the door and moves toward the coat closet to retrieve his weapon of choice -a hatchet. As he steps, he slips in the puddle of dog urine and strikes his head on the baseboard. He curses and slowly stands ignoring the indentation in the drywall above the baseboard as well as the puddle of blood on the floor below.
Things are blurry at this point yet a certain clarity comes over me as I realize what an idiot I was being. I made my way to my kitchen counter holding on to pieces of furniture for stability until my phone was in my hand. Who am I going to call? I thought. 911? What will I tell them? A story scared me? The ever growing pool of blood on my counter told me I needed to call someone. I lifted my phone and let out a cry at what I see. It was a FaceChat screen and the image was my bedroom. The smaller window showing the caller's face is black. The image pans until it stops on my sleeping wife. At this point, my instincts took over and I bolted up the stairs to the bedroom. I shouldered open the door and ran in screaming like a wild man. I was not the only one to bleed that night.
~In the book world, word of mouth is king~
the second book from The Never Chronicles
Available now from J.R. Wagner...
A tale of perseverance, strength and redemption.