Bruised Souls & Other Torments:
The Kindle e-book will be live Friday. The paperback *should* be. It will hit Smashwords and everywhere they distribute within the next week
Fear resides in the soul.
A welcoming widow with a twisted appetite; a war-time evil lurking behind the face of a child; a father’s love gone horribly wrong; a deadly government solution; a new job with a demonic pay scale; a woman trapped in a mysterious house with no memory of who she is or how she got there. These are a mere glimpse of the terrors that lie in wait in this collection of horror short stories, sure to grip the psyche and torment the soul.
In honor of Shannon's release of Bruised Souls & Other Torments, she asked that we submit our favorite Urban Legend.
I wrote this flash fiction piece several years ago based on one that's haunted me for years.
The basement, and not the newly remodeled kind. But the old sandstone, coal bin, cobweb-covered, furnace belching, creepy smelling caves that were under the old homes of yesteryear.
While soaking in lavender and vanilla, long-forgotten memories flood Allison's mind.
Her mother's lilting voice beckons her deeper into the past and an incident suppressed for seventeen years.
Her mother's voice floats into her room like the warmth of an angel’s caress.
"Allie, I need you."
Allison hurries to the kitchen.
"Hey, sweetie pie, can you help with dinner?"
"Sure, Mom, what can I do?"
"Go downstairs and get a jar of green beans and pickled beets. To celebrate Halloween, I made Dad's favorites. Hurry, he'll be home soon. Then we'll all go trick-or-treating."
Allison shudders. "But Mom…"
Just one look from her mother pushes her toward the basement, that horrid dark swamp of ghouls. Petrified, she moves closer. The dull chop of steel against wood as her mother continues to slice potatoes follows her. Her hand shakes as she twists the doorknob and opens it, just a crack. Then with the forced confidence she's trying to possess, she opens it fully.
The scent of rot crinkles her nose as she moves closer to the top step, and even though she blinks several times, green eyes glow in the dark. The beast is staring at her, taunting her. She's sure he has horns and enormous flesh-ripping teeth. Frozen in place, Allison hears his voice. He's calling her name. Allison slams the door and runs.
Her mother finds her cowering behind the recliner. Comforting arms pull her close. "Honey, there's no such thing as monsters. I'm in the basement all the time. Besides, Daddy fixed the light. It's much brighter now. No more shadows."
Allison presses closer.
Her mother kisses her head. "We'll go together. I'll prove to you there's nothing to be afraid of."
Allie shakes her head. "I saw his eyes. He called my name."
"It's your imagination. I'll prove it." Her mother pulls her to her feet. Hand in hand, they return to the kitchen.
Despite her mother's reassurances, tears roll down Allison's cheeks. She plants her feet. Not even her mother’s look of disappointment can budge her.
Mumbling in anger, her mother marches to the basement door. "This is the last time, Allie. No more nonsense."
The light clicks on, and her mother starts down, still berating her. "Wait until your father gets home, young lady. I wanted to tell him how you'd finished your homework and helped prepare dinner. Now, what will I say?" Her mother's voice was loud and filled with anger as she descended and gathered the needed jars.
Allison wiped away her tears. Mom's right. I'm eight. It's time to grow up.
She hears her mother's returning footsteps. I'll make it up to her. Tonight, I'll do the dishes without a fuss. Allison bravely stands in the doorway, an apology on her lips. Relief fills her when her mother gives her a smile that says all is forgiven.
Then her mother stops.
Her look of terror shouts run!
The beast's claws are clasped around her mother's ankles. Shrieks of terror reverberate through the house. The jars burst and splatter their contents. Her mother's body thuds to the concrete floor. Her head at that odd angle, but it's the beast's howl that forever haunted her nightmares.
"Allison!" Her husband's voice jerks her back to the present.
They'd moved back into her childhood home two months ago. An inheritance, even though her father had known how much she hated the place. She'd wanted to sell, but Tom insisted on moving in.
"Where are my tools, bitch?"
The back door slammed, and muddy boots stomped across clean floors. "How many times do I have to tell you to quit messing with my stuff?" His voice grows louder with each word. "Damn it, I'm talking to you, bitch!"
He storms into the bathroom. He'd broken the lock a month ago when Allison hadn't answered his call quickly enough.
She pulled her knees to her chest. "They're in the basement."
Tom yanks the plug on the drain. "But that's not where I left them, is it?" He looked around the room. "You spend money on this shit!" With a swing of his arm, Allison's toiletries shatter against the tile floor.
She squeaks out a response, "For your birthday, I had a workshop built. It was going to be a surprise." She stands and grabs a towel as the water circles the drain. "The contractor finished today. The workbench with all your tools already organized." Allison waited for his response, hoping his hand wouldn't add to the colors already on her cheek.
Allison manages a smile. "Happy birthday. It's a day early, but I know you'll love it."
"I'll be damned!" He grabs her by the hair, twisting it around his oil-covered hand until her head and body are at his mercy. He gives her a sloppy kiss, and bites her lower lip, drawing blood. He tears the towel away and touches her roughly.
He'll never, ever touch me again, she vows.
"Don't bother getting dressed," he growls.
Allison watches as his footsteps fade, remembering when she thought his strength was sexy. She waits naked, immobile, body and mind, numb. With the bathroom door open, October's chill circles the room hunting for any remnant of warmth.
Silence. Shaking off her fear and a gnawing foreboding, she washes the grease from her hair and his touch from her body.
Seconds later, Tom screams, "Allison, you bitch!" She returns to that frightening moment from the past, but only for a second.
Taking a deep breath, she smiles and finishes cleaning his filth from her soul. She grabs a robe.
Allison rushes to the telephone, repeating, "Call the police, then the real estate agent." She dials 9-1-1.
Footsteps turn her into a statue.
Covered in blood, Tom appears at the kitchen door. He proudly holds the horned head of the beast. "That new hatchet sure came in handy," he grins.
Then he scowls, ambles forward, the ax rising with each step.
Yolanda Renée © 2020
A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes in her dungeon when her minions allow, often accompanied by her familiar, Cleo. She writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in several anthologies and magazines, including Space and Time Magazine, Dark Moon Digest, and The Literary Hatchet, and her short story collection Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations is now available.
When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings. Though she often misses the Oregon coast, the majestic and rugged Rockies are a sight she could never part with. Besides, in Colorado there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. What more could she ask for?
Shanon's website and social media links:
Do you have a favorite Urban Legend?