How did your life collide with the headlines in 2007?
What's your holiday performance story?
The Tales of Terror
The Real Story, by Paul Bibeau
It's a bad night. I've got a cold and a sort throat, and I'm full of Nyquil. I'm a phone repairman, working in this attic when I get locked in. I patch into a line and ring the babysitter downstairs.
"This call is coming from inside the house," I say.
She hangs up and soon the cops come. Later, I tell my boss who laughs so hard he slaps his desk, and gets his hook stuck. He's had that hook awhile. I try not to stare.
"It reminds me of the time I tried to hitch a ride," he says. "That was one bad night."
The Real Story, by Paul Bibeau (0:29).
Accomplice, by M. Rickert
It really isn't so difficult to accomplish a murder.
All you need is a voice on the radio to distract your victim as you approach.
Accomplice, by M. Rickert (0:10).
Hahrabuhgee, by Jimin Han
At 44 Arlington Street, my grandfather broke the ice on the driveway with his bare feet. He's not a black-belt or anything, but he's been in his share of fights. With the woman who married his son, the woman who would become my mother.
He slammed the door in her face when she returned from the grocery store. He watched her through a mirror on the stairs. She could see his eyes in that mirror when she stood at the stove. Then, he died.
At 44 Arlington Street, we still see my grandfather's eyes in the mirror. But my mother won't sell. She sets his place at the table, tells him this is her house now.
Hahrabuhgee, by Jimin Han (0:31).
Untitled by Neil Gaiman
It's lonely where I live, an old house a long way from anywhere. That's why I got a dog. He keeps me company.
Last night the moon was full, and it cast shadows. We took a short-cut through the woods, into the meadow beyond. I let him off-leash to run. He came back holding something.
"Drop it," I ordered, and he did. I felt sick.
Somebody behind me said, "That's mine. Don't turn around."
Then the shadow beside mine was gone, and my dog whimpered in the moonlight.
Untitled by Neil Gaiman (0:30).
Cherry Delight, by Anthony Bruno
"Trick or Treat!" A little girl in a Snow White costume walked into the candy shop.
The owner, Tony Spatola, held out a tray full of his special chocolates to the girl and her father.
"Hey, Detective!" Tony said. "Happy Halloween. Help yourselves. Both of yous."
The detective took a Cherry Delight. "Umm, not bad, Tony. But how come it's not a whole cherry?"
"I don't do it that way. I like to chop 'em up."
It didn't really make a difference, Tony thought. If you put enough sugar, butter, and good chocolate in these things, they always come out right. The detective took another one.
"Say, Tony, you don't happen to know anything about 'Johnny Linguini,' do you? Nobody's seen him in a while."
Tony shrugged. "He was the one who set you up to take the fall for that heist, right? What was it? Seven and half years you did?" Tony shook his head. "Don't believe everything you hear."
Snow White pulled on her father's sleeve. "Hang on, sweetheart," Tony said. He swept a half-dozen foil-wrapped chocolates into her bag.
The detective chewed his second cherry delight. "You sure you don't know anything about 'Johnny Linguini'?"
"I swear on my mother's eyes." Snow White pulled her father out the door. Tony walked to the back room to get more candy for the trick-or-treaters. Dozens of trays were loaded with cherry delights, almond clusters, double-dark crunchies. You put enough sugar, butter and good chocolate in 'em and anything'll taste good, he thought. Right, Johnny?
Cherry Delight, by Anthony Bruno (1:03).
Zombie Cat, by John Moe
Oh, the cat was dead. Had been for a long time. Rotting flesh, the whole thing. Still it waited on my back step. Wouldn't take food. Or water. Didn't seem to enjoy being petted, just stared at me, moaning rrrraaawwrrr.
I adopted it. The ungodly moans keep away the squirrels and raccoons and clergy. No vet bills. Except for occasionally trying to eat my brains, it's a good cat. Deady, I call it. But the zombie army amassing in the backyard is starting to bother me a bit.
Zombie Cat, by John Moe (0:30).
The Visitor, by John Langan
I'd just switched off the bedside light when I heard feet shuffling down the hall. My son had been doing this every night since we moved here … leaving his bed for ours. We thought it was a phase he'd grow out of.
He was early tonight. The bed shifted as he crawled over Ann, wriggled under the sheets. His breathing was heavy, hoarse. I wondered if he were coming down with something. He snuggled against me.
I woke hours later."Come in with Mommy and Daddy," Ann said.
My son scrambled into the empty space between us.
The Visitor, by John Langan (0:30).
The Return of Tony, by Sean Cole
SEAN: So I cut my finger Saturday.
SEAN: Shh I'm talking.
FINGER: What else is new?
SEAN: Could you just shut up for two seconds?
SEAN: This is what it's like... anyway... this is a true story I'm walking with this wine bottle...
SEAN: And it just kind of knocks the radiator and splits at the neck...
FINGER: Yeah right.
SEAN: Gashes my finger, there's blood everywhere, I have to get two stitches...
SEAN: Three stitches and when I take off the bandages a day later...
SEAN: [sigh] Tony...
FINGER: I hungry I wanna taco.
SEAN: Never shuts up.
FINGER: What's the matter a guy can't say what's on his mind.
SEAN: You're not a guy! You're my finger! I want my finger back!
FINGER: [mocking] I want my finger back.
SEAN: And from what I remember you're supposed to be Comforting?
FINGER: That was a movie.
SEAN: A movie that you were in!
The Return of Tony, by Sean Cole (1:10).
The 6th Filibuster Bill Radke
One dark and stormy night, immigration reform received a knock on its door.
Standing outside was a little boy who whispered, "I see dead issues."
It seems the boy had had a vision of universal health care back in the 90s, but no one else could see it. Immigration reform tried desperately to help, only to find out that it, too, had been deceased the entire time.
Hell-Bound Bus by Desiree Cooper
Sam fingered the bills in his pocket. It'd been easy, rolling the old man in the park. A quiet stab between the ribs, a quick hand in the old man's pocket. Pigeons scattered. A hundred bucks for a couple of bags. A bus ticket out of town.
But now, at the bus stop, Sam twitched. Another man approached, his face shadowed by a hood. The old man's smell filled Sam's nostrils... urine... oatmeal. The bus rumbled closer. Sam turned to run, But the hooded man grabbed his arm. The bus stopped, gasping sulphur. The door opened. Sam squinted into darkness.
A voice taunted: "Get in."
Special Web Audio
Writer Paul Bibeau reads his other 30 second tale, The Ranger Story. (0:33).
Writer Neil Gaiman talks about the stories that scare him. (1:44).
Gothic writer M. Rickert talks about how she scares people with her stories. (0:30).
Crime writer Anthony Bruno talks about how reality is sometimes scarier than fiction. (0:17).