S-Drive by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

If you’ve been reading my work thus far, thank you! Your continued readership means more than I can say. Double thank you to all who’ve commented routinely. If this is your first time reading my work, no worries, I love you too. This marks the end of my piece of Coffin Hop 2013, so I’ve decided to go out with a bang.

Today I bring you the opening to a novella I’ve written, and though it’s on the back burner, I do want to revise and publish it, so you won’t be seeing the full story here. In this, I managed to blend all my favorite themes- horror, science fiction, and psychology. You’ll see why I say that…

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Jack Trelawney leaned against a crumbling brick wall, ignoring how the decades-old dust from the crumbling mortar stained his pea coat, and crossed his arms over his chest. Though he kept his ankles crossed and his head pointed toward the ground, pretending to fall asleep from how little he cared, his eyes darted from Zach Burns to Chuck Rawhide and back to the mouth of the alley in which they hid. He thought about their objective, his fingers gently brushing over the metal plate that covered the USB port embedded in his chest, and idly tapped it twice. Zach and Chuck caught sight of this and nudged each other, knowing their boss needed help coming to a resolution.

“Hey, boss,” Zach said, lumbering over. The man had a perpetual slouch, as if as if he had so much muscle that his skeleton could not support its weight. “Who’s this guy again?” He hoped a little Q&A might jar his boss into action.

“Marcus Smith,” Jack said, straightening up.

Zach’s companion glanced over. “But why do we want him again? For research or something? I thought we had enough test subjects.” While he was much more intelligent than Zach, Chuck had a copy of his personality. To be more accurate, they were both copies of some long forgotten person whose personality had been digitized and filed as ‘security personnel type B.’

A gust of wind shrieked to the alley, ripping at Jack’s coat. He smiled knowing that its sleeves covered the goose bumps that raced along his arms. Neither Zach nor Chuck would have questioned him if he showed weakness, but it still made him uncomfortable to know that he might react to things while they sat still, not appearing to have recognized that the wind had blown. Worse still was that the coldness, the way it seemed to penetrate right through to his heart. It was a constant reminder of the monolithic figure whose shadow he had always lived in and whose height he’d always aspired to reach.

Unbidden, his grandfather’s voice echoed in his head. I know you love him, but he will never understand this. He sold his soul long ago and is no longer capable of understanding what it means to love or have family. You need to live for yourself, not for him.

“That’s classified,” Jack said, shaking his head and levering himself off the wall. “Do you see him?”

“Uh, let me check.” Zach leaned out, then pulled back in and began to nod. Jack waved and they stepped out into the deep orange halo cast by the overhead streetlight. Jack looked at it briefly thought of how it looks like the harvest moon, something he hadn’t seen or even looked for since the night he had to say goodbye to the Melissa he loved several years earlier. He followed his escort team, listening to the clack of his dress shoes on the broken sidewalk echo down the deserted Boulevard.

“Marcus Smith?” Jack’s voice was a little sharper, a little colder than he intended for it to be. Maybe it is just nerves, or maybe he was jealous of the smiling man strolling down the street.

“Jack Trelawney? What are you doing out here?” Marcus began to shake as Jack moved behind him. The trio closing in, causing him to press his back against the front of the boarded up toy shop.

“Nothing much, I just been thinking about the Jericho group and all you’ve done to fight my father’s company over the past few months.” Jack remove something sleek and black from his pocket. It only weighed a few ounces, but it was the heaviest thing he’d ever held, as the weight of all that had ever been done with it was dragging it down into the earth. Or maybe straight into hell.

“Yeah, why? So what?” He lowered his hands, flexing them as his voice steadied.

Jack forced his face to grin despite how unnatural it felt. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is why you’ve done all this work for so many people.”

“Why I help those who you’ve destroyed? I don’t follow – do you have something against those who do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do?”

“That’s just it, Mr. Smith. You work for those who can’t defend themselves — for those who you claim have been destroyed by Personex technologies. For those people who willingly and knowingly abused an otherwise safe process, isn’t that right?” Zach looked at Chuck and began guffawing, but was cut off by a sharp look from Jack, who then closed in on Marcus.  His right hand began to shake so he dug the nails of his left hand into his palm.

“That isn’t quite how I’d phrase him it, but yeah, that’s my goal: to seek restitution for everyone damaged by Personex industries him. What of it? What do you want from me?”

“What do I want?” It was the first time anyone had ever asked him that before, and for an instant, he’d almost forgotten what he was doing there in the first place. He heard his grandfather’s voice in his head again. I know you can be a good person. Promise me you’ll be one someday.

Jack shook his head and bit back a sudden sting of tears. Marcus opened his mouth to question him again but Jack stepped forward and, with the soft snick of a blade, sliced away the fabric of Marcus shirt, leaving a thin red line across his chest. Marcus was too surprised to feel the pain and realized too late that his assailant had plunged a Drive into the USB port in his chest. It began to hum as Jack pressed the download button, leeching out Marcus’s personality. The thin black strip was soon filled with glowing bluish white light while Marcus his left with a cold desolation that seemed to radiate further with every pulse of his shuddering heart. Unable to fight the process, he sank to his knees as he gradually stopped noticing the cold air around him, the screaming gale that rushed between the buildings, and the fact that he was being attacked. Soon he was no more afraid of the men in front of him as a fish is afraid of water. There was nothing left of him but memory, a name, and organs. A human in theory but not an application.

Jack remove the Drive from Marcus his chest. “Thank you for your donation to Personex Industries. I’ll be sure to put your personality to good use.” The trio walked away, but Jack stole one last glance at the man they were leaving behind, the scraps of his torn shirt blowing in the wind.

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Sacrifices by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

This is a very short piece that I wrote for a contest once. I didn’t win, much to my disappointment, but I’m still pleased with it. Enjoy!

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The front door slams open, then shut, and I hear heavy, rapid footfalls going up stairs. Damn, I think, looking at the stove, turning the flame down low so that I don’t turn chicken cutlets into charcoal cutlets. I turn on the hot water so it blasts over the carving knife as I dart upstairs, moving past the empty couch that still bears the impression of our father, and find Sandra in her room.

“Hey, Sand,” I poke my head through the door. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she chokes out as shimmering pearls roll down her cherubic fourteen-year-old cheeks and splash down on the rosary necklace our father gave her.

“There’s no lyin’ to me, Sand. Somethin’s up. Tell me?”

Giant amber eyes fix on me, trapping me like a mosquito. She jolts forward and wraps her arms around me.

“M-m-mommy’s gone to re-re-re…” I know this already, of course. I’m the one who talked our mother into it. But Sandra doesn’t need to know what I’ve done.

“Re what, kiddo?”

“Rehab,” she sobs, clutching me tighter. “Why would she do that? Why would she leave us all alone with Daddy?”

“Aw, Sand,” I pull away, looking into her eyes so she focuses on something immediate, something other than our mom. “Sometimes, people do crazy things for those they love. It might mean they have to go away for a while, but it doesn’t change how they feel about you. Things will be better this way, ok?”

She sniffs, nodding vigorously.

“Come on, I’ve got dinner goin’. Maybe you can recite your monologue for me while I get it settled? I always love hearing your perform.”

I don’t really want to hear it again, but hey, that’s what big brothers are for. I graduated last year, so I have plenty of time to do what I want. Well, I used to. I’m not going to have much more.

We make our way into the kitchen and she’s already half-way through a piece from A Streetcar Named Desire. She’s damn good. The girl’s Broadway-bound, even if she doesn’t know it yet. I hope I can go to her plays one day.

She’s just about done when I take the pie out of the oven. Her eyes shoot open as her nostrils flare, breaths coming in quick little bursts.

“Oh! Like Auntie Ruth’s!”

I grin and nod. She doesn’t need to know her aunt’s “secret recipe” is a store-bought mix. We spent a lot of long weekends at Aunt Ruth’s, and I’m not about to spoil those happy memories. An excited look spreads over her face, but it falls as she glances towards the door.

“Do you think Daddy will be home soon?”

No, no I don’t. “Maybe, but let’s eat. He… might be late.” A seat scrapes up to the table as I deliver a steaming plate to her.

“Do… do you think he’ll be angry again?” I’d gotten used to his volcanic temperance, but Sandra… she still had hope in her eyes, a touch of innocence in her mocha-colored face. If there’s one thing worth saving in this world, it’s whatever’s left of her childhood.

“I don’t know, Sand.” I try not to think about last night, when, for the umpteenth time, I cradled her head against my chest and covered her ears, or this morning, when I had to jump through hoops to keep her from seeing our mom’s bruises. I shake my head, jerking myself into the present, and point to her plate saying, “Eat your Brussels sprouts.”

She obliges, and I look at the cross above the doorway, wondering how God can say he loves all his children when, apparently, he has seven billion. My thinking is, once in a while, he misses somebody.

I hear a knock at the door, but I already know who it is. Motioning for Sandra to stay put, I walk to the door and open it.

“Evening, officers,” I say, keeping my solemn voice low.

“Mark Henderson?”

I nod. “Can I say goodbye to my sister?”

They nod, but follow me. Sandra’s watching from the kitchen doorway.

“What’s going on?”

“Sand, just… just listen. You’re gonna’ live with Aunt Ruth, I already packed your bags. This… this is for the best, ok?”

We hug, and she whimpers a bit as I pull away. I want to explain, but I can’t. Because sometimes, we do crazy things for the people we love, and she doesn’t need to know what I’ve done.

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

“The Dragonfly Story” by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

I wrote this… I’ll be honest, I have no idea when I wrote this or what my intention for it was. The piece is unfinished, but I was so enamored with some of what I’ve said here that, if I get enough positive feedback, I’ll be sure to finish it. Luckily, my past self left me one enigmatic hint by saving this as “The Dragonfly Story.” I don’t know what that means, but, enjoy this snippet, Friends.

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Few humans are ever blessed with knowing what a gift their body is. Most only gain such an appreciation after they’ve lost a part of it. I am no exception

If anyone had attempted to tell me how strange my life would become, I would have laughed aloud and called the police to report an escaped mental patient. If I had been told a mere twenty-four hours ago that I would become like this, I would’ve had the same reaction.

My story begins, I suppose, with an event so mundane that it stands in stark and shocking juxtaposition to the details that are to follow. Almost one year ago, I was riding the bus, which usually took me from my apartment to a stop less than a block from my office at Lexington and West, LLC., when it missed a regular turn and meandered into a less savory part of town.

I pulled the cable to signal that I needed to leave only to find that the driver was new and was not aware of what such a signal meant. I approached the driver and explained the situation; he was courteous enough to stop the bus and kick me out while only shouting a few mild expletives at me.

My boss, Joel Lexington, didn’t seem to care that the error wasn’t mine. According to him, the fact that I had only graduated law school a few months prior meant that I was easily replaced. I hung up in the sad, slow manner of one whose only options are to accept defeat graciously or rebel like a child who tries not to sleep. I sighed, knowing how futile it would be to fight to regain my position.

Though I considered myself a local, I had no knowledge of where I was. I escaped the blistering heat of the sun by vanishing into a nearby Starbucks. I took one look at the woman by the counter and forgot my woes.

I do not know if it was love, but I do know I was utterly captivated. She had the eyes of a wolf– smooth and beautiful yet fierce and unrelenting. I couldn’t look away. My heart began to throb erratically as her gaze fell upon me. I prayed that I would die in that instant so that I could say I passed while looking upon the most beautiful sight in the world.

She noticed me and, upon realizing that I’d been entranced by her beauty, smiled. It was a smile of gentle violence, of a complete, actualized nihilism. It was so beautiful, yet so broken. It startled me to find that she was beautiful because she was broken, as if her mistakes and flaws were greater than the virtue and grace of any other being.

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

The Silence in my Smile @CoffinHop


Hello Travelers,

Today I bring you an excerpt of a story I wrote, the full length of which is roughly 2,500 words. I won’t be including the full text because I don’t want you to spend all your time here. Go, frolic among the other Coffin Hop participants once you’ve finished. If you want me to post the full story, scream your desires in the comment section. Or, if someone would be kind enough to extend a publication offer…

Without adieu, here is The Silence in my Smile.

***

It was a night like any other for me. I wandered the dark streets, with so many homes filled with families that were not aware of my presence, cold and alone. Not a single house light could be seen, but after all, 2 A.M. was not an hour in which most people were awake. The night sky was black and the darkness unbroken, except by a few defiant stars. The frigid wind blew through my chest, but no cold nor isolation could ever compare to the hollow emptiness inside me.

On more than one occasion, my friends had attempted to pry me from my shell with invitations to parties, drinking games at the local bar, or other such menial delights. On all occasions, I responded in the negative. One of my few remaining friends, Donovan, brought me aside on such a night.

“Look, I know you’re hurt. I know that you must be going through some really dark times, but you have to get out and live just a little.”

“Why should I?”

“You don’t do anything anymore, and we haven’t even seen you smile. We would know you’re okay if you could just give us one damn smile. It’s rough seeing such a great guy so miserable.”

Well what did they know? I stalked through the night like a wounded animal- desperate for attention, yet ready to snap at anyone who came close. I soon noticed I was coming close to my street, Darnell Court. I didn’t want to return home yet, so I took the sharp left onto Way Street, as if ready to face the creeping memory of death. I tried hard to repress the memories that ripped at my mind, so I shook my head and continued my somber sauntering.

Unfortunately for me, I soon happened upon the town park. I stopped by a thick birch tree, my head suddenly swimming as memories flooded my mind. I fought this, but I could not stop the cruel images from playing in my mind. The colors and sounds mocked me with their unrelenting progression.

I saw the same park, only it was day time. I remembered this scene from just a few months ago; I was pushing my dearest daughter, Emily, on the swings. She had a bright yellow sundress on, and her soft voice was laughing with childish delight. She begged me to push her higher and higher, and soon leapt from the swing, sailing across the play set and landing triumphantly. I couldn’t help but admire her brave spirit. She was always trying to prove she was as mature and as bold as any adult. Sometimes, she actually was, and would prove her bravado despite any danger it might pose to her.

Turning on her feet, she ran suddenly and jumped back onto the swing. Using it like a fulcrum, she swung and jumped once more, this time tackling my chest. I laughed, stumbling, but caught her. She had wrapped her arms tightly around my torso, her narrow arms squeezing tight.

“I love you, daddy!”

That was it. My heart once again shook with pain; my body tensed as I struggled to hold back tears. How cruel must nature be, that I am always reminded of how badly I have suffered? I wrapped my arms tight around myself, praying the other memories would not return as I sprinted for home, unwilling to walk Memory Lane any longer.

My footsteps were loud, echoing through the streets, but I did not care. I shut my eyes, but behind them I saw the darkness in even greater detail. All I could think of was getting home before any other thoughts chose to break my heart again. It almost worked, but I had the growing sense that I could not outrun the pain of my past. I sprinted fast, then faster still, nearly breaking down my door as I slammed into it, but the memory returned regardless.

It had been another bright and warm day. The sun shone brilliantly, with warm air gusting through the streets. Birds chirped merrily, and I smiled up at the pleasant day. Emily and my wife, Elizabeth, had just been out to the supermarket. I couldn’t wait to see them, even though they’d only been gone a short time. I loved them both, and Emily was the spitting image of her mother. They both had wavy, golden hair, a smooth complexion, and an honest, kind, but witty personality. I once remarked that Paradise had nothing on those two.

I waited on my front steps to help them bring the groceries in. I squinted down the road and saw their car driving up Way Street. The bright blue paint sparkled in the sunlight, and I could just make out Emily’s smile from the other side of the windshield. I smiled, stood, and waved to them. I saw Elizabeth laugh as Emily waved back. The joyous expressions were still in place when a black sedan crumpled the driver’s side of their car.

***

Walk with me over the coming week as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Find me @CoffinHop 2013!


Hello Travelers,

I know it’s been quite some time, and I blame school for that, but I’m back with news that I’m participating in Coffin Hop over the coming 8 days. Each day, I’ll be posting an excerpt of previously written work, some of which I wrote when quite young, and giving a variety of prizes throughout.

What prizes, you ask? Well, because I’m broke, I can’t give away much physical merchandise, but here’s the breakdown:

(You may notice this section has changed; as per some advice I was given by several previous coffin hoppers, I’ve opted to change this section)

Regrettably, I will be giving away one prize, due entirely to the fact that I am broke. One lucky winner, chosen from everyone who comments on my posts throughout the entire week of coffin hop, will receive a signed anthology of his or her choice (out of those I’ve published in, of course). I could give out a variety of eBooks, but I’d rather give one special gift.

There you have it, folks. I hope to hear a lot from you all very soon.

Farewell, friends,

A. Chase

My Love Hate Relationship with Film (Part one of many)


Hello Travelers,

Today I came across this video. Be warned that there’s a spoiler alert below, so you may want to see it first (it’s only a minute).

The good: This is an example high-impact psychological horror. A dark ambiance and haunting surreality make this more than worth the viewing. Maybe not 100% original, but it’s on the right track.

The bad: There are already traces of Hollywood horror corruption visible in this filmmaker.

It isn’t horror or even horrifying to have something lurch out and scream as the camera changes angles. It’s surprising at best and, what’s more,  distracting because the viewer is actively threatened by the image, causing them to be thrown headlong back into reality as their brain checks them over, making sure all systems are go.

Please, if you’re a budding artist of the visual medium, think about this: would it be scary on paper? Consider the following.

Jason crept down a deserted hallway, feeling a bead of his cold sweat drip down his spine. The flashlight his brother Jerry had insisted he take began to flicker, and for an instant, he thought about the beeping of the heart rate monitor, and the instant his father had flat lined. He heard a creak and turned back, only for a hideous demon to jut into his view, screaming. 

Did that scare you, Traveler? I doubt it. So why is it ‘scary’ in film? Because the writers and directors feel shock value and an adrenaline spike are worth more than genuinely terrifying creatures and scenarios.

I’m not saying these films aren’t worth their salt, to certain crowds and for certain reasons, but consider Saw- one of the reasons I really enjoyed the antagonist here isn’t because he leapt out of a closet with a Chucky mask and a bloody knife, but because he single-handedly outsmarted everyone in the movie and was so confident he could do so (spoiler!) that he laid on the floor right in front of his victims, then got up and left at the end without a second thought.

Or, if mental horror is not your speed, consider Jacob’s Ladder, which was terrifying simply because you had no idea what was going on and couldn’t really trust the protagonist. Hell, for a while, it looks like he’s the bad guy.

Dracula (the book) was horrifying because it was almost impossible to kill the eponymous vampire and he was getting stronger every day. He had few concerns and didn’t bother trying to kill the protagonists that were trying to kill him because, for the most part, no human posed a threat to him.

Or Frankenstein (Again, book), which held the scare-inducing notion of a man defying god to raise the dead, and that undead specimen then trying to kill his own father because humanity itself was one giant, heartless monster that drove the creation mad.

Perhaps I’m ranting and raving, but I consider myself a bit of an old soul, and I don’t believe that true fear will ever be inspired by loud noises and sudden screen flickers. Disagree with me if you want, or hate me for bashing your beloved slasher films, but I prefer quality terror to cheap jerks and jolts every day of the week.

Comment, share, and do what you will with my diatribe, Travelers, just be sure to send a tweet my way if you appreciate where I’m coming from. It’d be nice to know I’m not alone on this road.

May the wind be at your back, no matter where you turn your eyes,

A. Chase

Down In A Hole by @tyrkieran @penofthedamned


Hello Travelers,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? These long roads have kept me away for some time as I pursued my various projects. One or two, unfortunately, have been, how shall we say… dead… ends.

However, it is my distinct pleasure to bring you Tyr Kieran’s “Down in a Hole”. At times, we must use all of our power to do what we think we must. But what qualifies as something we ‘must’ do? Is it something that makes us more than human? Or does our doing it make us less so?

Take a moment to see what Tyr thinks of this matter…

Down In A Hole.