Tonight I am thankful that Jonathan Harvey is so understanding during this last minute book anxiety and so won’t throw a vase at my head for not getting the turtle page finished. (He’d have to throw it a long way, or I suppose he could wait until the next Day and Dark conference, but as I said, I know he won’t throw anything at me because he is understanding. Yeah.)
Hopefully the page will be up tomorrow night instead. Thank goodness this is my last book launch for a couple of years. (I’m taking a year off to write short stories only, and then it will be another year of writing a novel length book – so two years of vacation form the panic. Yay!)
Have a panic free day!
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives us cool prompts to use in our weekly blogs. This week’s prompts are:
Ecrits Blogophilia Week 9.10 Topic: Toll Free Calling
Hard (2 pts): Use a line from the band “Garbage”
Easy (1 pt): Mention a Skull
It’s been a bit since I’ve posted. I’ll catch y’all up later because today I have a short story! It’s not vampire related, just kind of fun:
Doing the Smart Thing
“No! Don’t go in there! There’s a killer in there! Don’t…You idiot!” Kathy threw popcorn at the television. Outside, thunder rumbled, and wind howled around her small house. Sandwiched in a neat row at the edge of town, she lived in a housing development that hadn’t panned out.
The movie broke off for a commercial – Get your ever sharp knives today! Toll free calling! – and Kathy stomped into the kitchen for a soda and a cookie. She needed that extra sugar to put up with the stupid heroine.
“Why don’t people in horror movies ever do the smart thing?” she asked the refrigerator. It didn’t answer, not that she expected it to. “It’s not realistic,” she added. “If I heard a noise, I wouldn’t go outside.”
As if fate was tempting her, something clanged in the backyard. She moved to the backdoor, and looked out the window. Rain drove into the glass. Beyond it, she could see the half built houses in the distance, abandoned two years ago. Like empty eye sockets, holes had been cut for windows, but no glass had ever been fit inside. There were only six houses that had been completed, and only four of those had sold. She had one, with the Berbers next door to her. They wouldn’t be bad, if they didn’t have six cats, two dogs, and an assortment of teenagers.
Another bang came. Instead of imitating the TV heroine and slipping outside into the rainy night to see what it was, she just locked the door.
“See? How easy was that? And in the morning, I’ll still be alive.”
The TV announced the movie’s return, so she grabbed her cookie and hurried back to the sofa. The scene picked up where it had left off; the killer stalked the unsuspecting heroine, an axe raised, ready to shop her head off…
“Turn around!” Kathy screamed at the character. “For crying out loud! Can’t you hear him? Are you deaf? He’s right behind you!”
There was a crash outside – probably the neighbors – but Kathy popped up to check that the front door was locked. As she clicked the deadbolt, the girl on the TV turned. She gave a movie perfect scream. The camera closed in on her terror, and the killer swung the axe.
“Run!” Kathy shouted as she took her seat again and grabbed the popcorn. “Run! No! Not out there! There’s a pit out there, remember? You and what’s-his-name dug it as a trap! You’re- Oh. There. She went and fell in it.”
Kathy threw her hands up in disgust. “You just did that so we can spend ten minutes watching you try to get out while he taunts you – yep. Look. There he is.”
As she’d predicted, the killer loomed over the hole. The light hit his face, leaving his eyes shadowed. His voice was like gravel. “Poor little lamb. You fell in a hole. Never mind. I’ll help you.”
“You’ll kill me!” the TV girl sobbed.
“Of course,” he said. “But it won’t be the end for you. Something that you said will stay with me long after you’re dead and gone. It will be like-”
Suddenly everything went dark. The TV, the kitchen light, even the refrigerator wound down and dropped into silence. Kathy sat in the couch, clutching her popcorn and blinking.
“Damn it. Now I won’t know what happened.”
Disgusted, she felt her way to the phone to report the outage. The automated system offered no sympathy to her irritation, but she left her address and the details.
“Probably the damn storm.”
There was no point in waiting for the power to come back – with only four occupied houses, they were the electric company’s last priority.
“Might as well go to bed,” she told the silent house. A rumble of thunder was her answer.
She went to the bathroom by candlelight and changed into her pajamas. The Berbers’ dogs started up, loud enough she could hear them over the rain.
“Oh great.” She checked the time. It was almost ten-thirty. “I guess it’s about time for their usual racket.” Stupidly, she’d hoped the storm would keep the mutts indoors like it had the teenagers.
She trooped to the bedroom with her candle. The barking continued; loud, ferocious. The dogs must be fighting.
Disgusted, she pulled a set of earplugs from her nightstand and popped them in. As the foam expanded, blessed silence fell. Earplugs were one of the best inventions. Without them she wouldn’t have gotten a wink of sleep. Not with the Berbers next door.
She thought about reading, but she wasn’t in the mood for the romance novel. Besides, an early night would do her good. She could use the extra sleep.
She blew the candle out and rolled over. As she closed her eyes, lightning sliced across the sky, throwing a shadow on her window – a shadow that went unseen. Screams came, but they went unheard, silenced by the foam of her earplugs. A figure rattled her front door. Locked, it wasn’t worth messing with.
“Excuse me. You’re the neighbor, right? Were you home last night? Did you see or hear anything?”
Kathy looked at the reporter standing on her porch. The town was on fire today with the story; last night someone had butchered the Berbers. They’d started downstairs and swept through the house, hacking skulls open, leaving a trail of death that ended in the attic. That was where the two youngest Berbers had tried to hide. It did them no good.
Kathy had been turning last night over in her mind, looking for signs that her neighbors were being hacked to bits. “I heard a crash while I was in the kitchen, about ten o’clock.”
The newswoman looked excited and motioned the camera man, making sure he had the shot. “Did you check it out?”
“I looked out the door, but I didn’t see much because of the rain. There was a second crash, just a little bit later.”
“And?” the woman asked eagerly.
“Well, I didn’t want to miss anything, so I just locked the door. The killer had her in a hole.”
“You saw the killer?” The newswoman lit up. “Can you give us a description?”
“Oh no, no,” Kathy said quickly. “Not that killer. The one on TV. In the movie. I was watching-”
“Oh.” The woman frowned. “Did you actually see anything?”
“No. After the power went out, the Berbers’ dogs started a racket, so I put my earplugs in and went to bed.”
“Sorry,” Kathy said. “That’s it.”
The woman muttered and made a motion at the cameraman to cut. Then she turned to Kathy. “There were crashes, the power went out, and the dogs went hysterical, and you never thought to step outside and see what was going on?”
Kathy fixed her with a pointed stare. “Of course not. That’s how people get killed.”
“It’s also how people get on the news.” The woman motioned to her cameraman. “Come on, let’s get a shot of the house. At least that’s interesting.”
Kathy shook her head and let herself into her house. She might not be interesting, but at least she was still alive.
See, horror movie people, she thought. It can be done. It just doesn’t make a good story.