Rehabilitation

#9 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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His eyes fluttered open as the bright halogen lights flickered and turned on. Their white glow lit the chamber from top to bottom. It took a moment to readapt to the new environment. The grey walls, scratched and marked by hundreds of desperate hands weren’t familiar. Anton Terrey would know if he had been in here before. He wasn’t frightened. This was his routine now.

They were still at it. These people would never give up. Not until he talked. But he would never break. A few more weeks in this place wouldn’t matter anyway. They were going to kill him. Maybe now, maybe later. He didn’t know exactly what these people did to those who refused to cooperate. Judging from what he had seen them do so far though, it would be prolonged and excessive. The past month he had spent here had been an inescapable nightmare. Anton had no doubts in his mind the next month would be just as unbearable. It was only a question of when.

An unseen speaker screeched and crackled to life somewhere above him. The interrogator. His best friend since this whole things started, or so they told him between beatings. The lights continued to sputter to life right up towards the top of Anton’s cell. It stretched up as far as he could see, with no end to it visible from where he sat. His cell was wide enough to hold him as he lay against the rounded wall, and even then it was still a tight fit.

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Mind Games

#8 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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Vicki Hermanson pushed her trolley across the supermarket floor, weaving around the other shoppers she shared the aisles with. It wasn’t usually this busy here at the Alville Market. It felt far busier than normal to Vicki, with the store packed in comparison to their usual meagre number of customers.

Alville had been Vicki’s home for several months, ever since moving out west after some rather grim events came to light in her old home town. She hoped to put it all behind her, and so far coming to Alville seemed to have worked. Sure, she had left everything and everyone she had known back there, but she needed a new start. And Alville had fit the bill perfectly. New friends had been easy enough to make, after getting involved in the community and various events. And the town itself wasn’t too bad either. Nice and quiet, just what she was looking for

Despite being a bit older than some of her friends, they treated Vicki all the same. She was in her mid-forties, with shoulder-length auburn hair which she kept tied behind her head in a small bun. She could be kind when she wanted to, which was most of the time, but if something irritated her, she wouldn’t let it bottle up. It was one of the qualities her new friends appreciated. She was honest and would stand up for herself and others when necessary.

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Stowaways

#7 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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There wasn’t a single pair of eyes on Willow Beach not fixated on the incredible sight just offshore. Everyone had seen a cruise ship before, but nobody appreciated just how enormous one of these ships were in person.

Beach-goers had spotted the ship off in the distance a few hours ago, and soon noticed it was heading straight towards the beach. Some thought it would change course, but it only glided closer and closer, soon coming to a halt just off the sandy shore.

As Clive Warner watched the motionless ship, he sighed. Perfect, just what I need on my damn vacation. He grabbed his phone and dialed a number. Warner brushed his sandy golden hair from his eyes and held the phone to his ear.

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Anomaly

#6 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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They had never seen anything like it before in their lives. The object consisted of an abnormal black stone which seemed to absorb the morning sunlight. Even while illuminated, the strange stone monolith appeared to be in permanent darkness. It appeared out of nowhere overnight right in the middle of the narrow street, flanked by the apartment blocks of the sleepy little town of Sareen. When morning came, everyone woke to find the anomalous structure just there, sticking out of the road like a spear. Calls were made to friends, relatives and law enforcement personnel for hours after the bizarre discovery. Among the hundreds of calls was one made by Terry Ronan.

Those who knew Ronan were well aware of his hobbies. Rock climbing. Hiking. Urban exploration. He had taken many friends and family members with him on many adventures over the years. He and all his associates enjoyed every second. Nobody ever refused a call from Terry Ronan. He had seen it all, abandoned train stations, derelict factories, unexplored forests.

So when he woke to find an immense black stone tower looming in the middle of town, he snatched up his phone, called up the usual people and asked them somewhat cryptically if they wanted to climb the anomaly of Sareen with him. It got their attention easy enough, just as Ronan hoped. So there they stood, Ronan and three of his closest friends, the sun barely halfway over the horizon yet. Ronan quivered with excitement as he stared at the anomaly, and after fifteen minutes, he couldn’t wait another second.

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Farmers

#5 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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“I don’t think I’ve seen a building for over two hours now. You can’t say we’re not lost, look at this place!”

Jon Hart glanced at his wife in the seat next to him, one eye still on the road ahead. Penny hadn’t stopped with this talk for miles now, although he had to admit she did have a point. The road they drove down had no distinguishing features whatsoever. No trees, no buildings, no signs of life at all. The desolate landscape continued for as far as Jon could see.

Penny sighed, the drawn-out, exaggerated sigh she always did whenever something bothered her. Jon remained silent. “Are you gonna turn around? This isn’t the right way.”

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