Adding the finishing touches to my short story anthology
Tentative Release Date
Early Summer 2013
Don’t Check Those
in the Night
Short Stories, Lyrics & other Writings
I Fear No Evil (but other things scare me)!
I rolled over and noticed the clock on the nightstand flashed 3:16. I rubbed my eyes and then slid out of bed stumbling to the kitchen. I prayed there was one more Coke in the fridge.
As the light buzzed to life, my eyes fell to the small side window next to the back door. A face stared at me in it as I stepped into the kitchen. My heart leapt in my chest and thumped so hard I thought it would burst from my chest with one more beat. My feet seemed stuck in quicksand.
I convinced my body it had to move to see if something was about to attack, kill, or eat me. I took one-step back and shook my head, and shut my eyes in an extended blink. When I finally braved them open, the face still stared at me, but it blinked, changed, and then again went back to staring at me.
As I stared, words formed across the face when it finally dawned on me that someone had left the television on in the downstairs living room. A character from a DVD looped on the screen and reflected in the window. I sighed, thankful it wasn’t real. My over active imagination once again. It got me to thinking about a question I’m asked all the time.
“As a horror writer, what scares you?” My first response is typically, there is nothing that scares me. I’m not sure if that is my machismo talking or a response that I’m supposed to give—a man response. However, after this episode I realize there just may be a few things that do scare me. Perhaps my invincibility has some chinks in its armor. I decided to sit down and have a more honest look at things that scare me and some that do not.
For most people, death seems to scare them. At least what might happen to them after the fact. I’ve never been one on that list. I don’t want to die, but if it’s time, I’m ready. Am I scared of going to hell? No! Am I scared of messing up and doing something of which God will strike me down with lightning? No. This goes back to my perception of God in the first place. I don’t view Him as some over-sized, authoritarian bolt thrower who sits around and waits for us to mess up just to rain fire and brimstone on our heads. That’s not to say I don’t believe in God’s wrath, judgment, or the rewarding of His followers. I’m just saying those thing do not scare me.
Am I afraid of monsters or aliens? No. It’s hard for me to fear something I don’t believe exists. However, for some people their concept of a monster may entail a demon or something to do with the devil. Am I afraid of the devil or demons? Again the answer is NO. I believe that as a Christian, every demon must submit to me, especially when I use the scriptures to fight against it. I must admit during the times, I’ve met someone possessed or felt the presence of an evil spirit it raised the hair on the back of my neck. I believe demons have power, but it’s more important to realize that the weakest Christian with a knowledge and belief in scripture is more powerful than the strongest demon.
Since I live in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, if I walk down the street at night, it’s down a darkened path (very few streetlights). Does that scare me? Maybe sometimes because of the wild animals that may lurk in the shadows. Anyone that has read my first Whisper novel may think I have a phobic fear of snakes. But it isn’t really the case, as a clinical definition of phobia is one that interferes with the activities of daily living. I’m not going to pick them up by the tail and play with them, but I’m not afraid to kill everyone I find. If there is a snake around my house, I will take my murder shovel, hunt it down, and decapitate it. The murder shovel got its name from the bloodstains of about twelve poisonous copperhead snakes I’ve killed in the last two years. So, being without a weapon, I’d be somewhat afraid to walk down the street at night.
At the beginning of this post, I described a true account of the face in the window that admittedly scared me. Does that mean I am afraid to look out my windows at night? Before I answer this particular question let me say this about the town in which I live.
Retselville is scary period. Perhaps, it’s the urban legends that everyone swears are true. Maybe it’s the abandoned buildings and houses emitting dread and creepiness. Maybe it’s simply because it is home to the spookiest looking woods I’ve ever seen. These woods surround the whole town, and crouch at my backdoor. They make for great inspiration for horror stories, but they are so real the horror stories come alive within them.
Okay, so I am not ashamed to admit it the Retselville Woods scare me. So much that I’ve only been in them once at night. That’s another story all together, but the short version is this; my daughter and her friend had gotten their ATV stuck and me and my son trekked four miles in the dark to help them. All I could think about was walking unarmed in the woods with cell phones as flashlights accompanied by three teenagers, two of them girls. Talk about a live slasher film.
As in the case of any self-reflecting essay, I realize there are a few things that scare me. My justification is that I write horror stories that involve this town, these woods, and the native inhabitants. I write stories that have a sense of dread tinged with speculations of truth.
In essence, I scare myself.
Listening to Whispers
May 17, 2011 by Pete Turner
I never chose to be a writer. Writing chose me. It’s always been in my blood. Sometimes it came out as poetry, as essays, as song lyrics, sermons, short stories and finally on the pages of novels! It was just who I was, as much as the DNA that created my personality and physical make-up, writing came naturally like speaking. However, inspiration is still needed. And with any writing, inspiration sometimes comes like the twists and turns that a good story entails. Yet, you have to listen for inspiration and recognize its voice as sometimes it’s only heard as a whisper.
The inspiration behind my debut novel and the launching pad of it as a trilogy came about through various means. These are easily condensed into three sources: life experiences (childhood and adult), a love for scary movies (despite most having a universal ignorance or defiance of authentic spiritual warfare), and a need for a Biblical perspective in them (too many people see misinformation about demonic activity and I wanted to try and tell the truth through fiction. Is that an oxy-moron?).
For Whisper, it began about thirty five years ago. I grew up with a father who pastored in several charismatic type churches. I witnessed several incidents of people entering our church tormented with demons, and displayed otherworldly characteristics, unforgettable things. The fear of these memories imprisoned my mind like a horror movie trailer. I figured the only way to let go of them would be to scrawl them down on paper for others to resolve. Yet, in the midst of my fear, I held a fascination of the power my father seemed to exhibit over these demonic forces. There was not one that escaped him.
This is where I would draw from as a foundation, but the heaviest influence of inspiration happened about five years ago, with a job change and a move. I started a new job in a remote, secluded community, deep in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. I’ve affectionately come to call my new hometown, Retselville. The first thing I noticed about this place is the vast, dark forest surrounding my home, literally like a cottage in the woods. It was and is spooky, but a horror writer’s dream.
During the weeks of that first summer, strange things happened. The first came while mowing the lawn, I literally stumbled upon some cinder blocks jutting from the ground that formed a square in the middle of the lawn. When viewed from my deck it looked like a giant sink hole was eating the ground. I eventually found out it was an old buried home. My first thought was whether or not it had a cellar, and if so was anything cool concealed within. This laid another part of the foundation of Whisper.
A few days later, while disposing of thorn bushes on my hillside, I found a forty year old sign buried under the bramble. My analytical mind collided with my creative one and something definitely began brewing in my brain: a reasoning, a story, a spooky, sinister story had to be here.
I began researching the history of Retselville and any mountain lore associated with it. The abandoned (darkened/ dilapidated) cottage that sits on the hillside overlooking the campus, is at the center of this lore. Everyone from miles around attest to this building teeming with supernatural activity and many alleged ghost sightings, they claim it is an authentic haunted dwelling. And while the building’s use has a somewhat mysterious ending, and gives you the creeps when entering it at night (which I’ve done) nothing has ever happened there.
Around this time as well, I explored the dark woods surrounding my house, and rediscovered other abandoned forms of therapeutic intervention (a team building ropes course and a wilderness type program) in the earlier years of these grounds. They too became a history that needed a story.
As each of these concepts fell into place, it combined with my speculation of how or why a remote area like this would develop a place for troubled kids. Despite the truth, God lead a preacher from New York to move here as a type of mountain missionary, I developed a more evil reason. A fictionalized, sinister reason clawed at my mind. Perhaps, it was because an ancient cult sacrificed children and therefore, the preacher wanted to help kids as a penitence to that.
When the actual writing began, those original exorcism memories from my childhood surfaced readily and it really came together. I leaned on elements from scary movies/novels, and tried to stay true to an authentic Biblical perspective. I sat down one night and the story became a novel, and eventually exploded into a trilogy.
So as the whispers of inspiration beckon thee, make sure you listen (and take notes).
Whoosh! The hotel’s elevator doors slid open.
I jumped slightly, as a ghastly figure’s illuminated face stared back at me. I tried to gulp my heart from my throat as I realized it was merely my own reflection reflecting in the mirror on the darkened wall directly in front of the elevator.
The lights flickered and darkness consumed my surroundings.
Great! The tales must be true—this hotel is haunted.
The lights flickered again and buzzed back to life. “AHHHH!” a voice erupted from my throat as a second face now reflected in the same mirror.
A scraggly haired pirate held a long pair of scissors that shimmered brightly with an otherworldly glow as if dipped in a radioactive forge. My head whipped around, yet nothing was behind me.
“Whew!” I breathed loudly.
As I rubbed a hand down my face and spread out my fingers, I peaked into the mirror, and saw him standing behind me once more. His long skeletal fingers grasped my neck and sank in with a searing heat surely scarring my flesh.
My knees buckled as the pain caused my head to swim. I willed myself to remain conscious, and tried to fight him, but to no avail.
He snarled in a British accent, "You must help me!"
I squeezed my eyes tight and hoped he would be gone when I reopened them... But no prayer answered this time.
He whispered again, "Please help me!"
Even though my inner voice screamed I pushed it aside, "what can I do to help?"
He took a step back and slid his black bandana from the top of his head. There were blotches of missing hair, as if he had the mange. Some of it even sticking to the bandana. He rubbed his other hand across the remaining patches and more clumps stuck to it. "Lend me thy locks—I spare thy life!"
"What?" my voice cracked.
"I need your hair or decapitate you and take it with me."
I gulped, "P-P-Please take it then."
Suddenly the glowing scissors clipped, snipped and it seemed my hair flew around as if part of tornado. I squeezed my eyes tightly together only opening them with the shearing stopped. I cautiously cracked one open and then the other. My shaking right hand instinctively moved to touch my head. My hair was gone!
I peaked in the mirror and the pirate was no longer there. I cocked my head to side looking at this new me. This would take some getting used to!
I have a new look, but at least I got to keep my head!
This was a short story I wrote as a joke when I had cut my much longer hair summer 2010.
a flame in the dark magazine "skh" featured cover short story
Here is the anthology where two of my short stories "Quack" and "Shocked" along with other awesome authors! Due out in February 2011.
"Vociferate"a featured cover short story
Here is an unpublished short story I wrote for my clients' 2010 Halloween Dance. I have meant to put it on here for a while.
On a night like tonight.
Just like tonight.
As a matter of fact, it was THIS same night 13 years ago that Dusty Gee lost his life on this very gym floor. I am here tonight to tell you his story and offer you a warning.
Dusty Gee was a therapist at North Starr. He helped kids just like you. He was devoted to his job and worked hard at helping them overcome their issues with anger and depression. He tried. He cared. He was successful. He was by all accounts a great and awesome therapist.
It was a cold day that Halloween, as he went to work dressed in his typical jeans and long sleeved black and red striped dress shirt. Dusty had forgotten his jacket as he was running late but did not want to miss the preparation of their costume ball later that night. The wind sliced through his shirt tickling his skin like daggers. Of course, up on the hill at North Starr it always seemed colder. Many believe that it is because it is haunted by the past residents and their malevolent exploits they perpetrated on one another. Or possessed by the spirits those residents worshipped.
As he stepped up to the door, he could hear the screams from outside. He stepped inside to find most of the residents arguing with each other about petty things, like the party, like their costumes and who earned too many negative points to go. It seemed they argued about anything with which to instigate one another. They even argued about who was to blame for starting it. Dusty never believed in raising his voice, but things were escalating beyond control and so he yelled for everyone to stop and return to their rooms. A pain shot through his heart and he pawed at his chest. But the moment passed. He breathed deeply and shook his head still trying to shake off the cold as well. He rubbed his arms briskly and wished he would have remembered his jacket.
After a while everyone was calm and relaxed and walked down the hill to the gymnasium for the Halloween dance. They played games, talked about each other’s costumes, danced and were having fun. Suddenly someone threw an apple across the floor hitting his peer in the back of the head. The peer jumped up and ran toward him landing punches to his face and abdomen. At the same time, two other fights broke out on the other side.
Dusty dropped his food as he ran toward the riot quickly forming. The door to the gym flew open and a cold burst of wind whipped through the place causing everyone to lose their breath.
Before he reached the boys, Dusty stopped pawing at his chest again. He could feel his heart thump hard against its bony cage. He lost his breath and balance and fell to the gym floor writhing in pain screaming through his clenched teeth, “I’m cold! I’m so cold! Someone help I’m freezing! I need a jacket!” His screams went unheard. The chaos of the fighting, the cursing and breaking of decorations roared at deafening decibels.
After several long minutes, Dusty stopped flailing around on the floor and lay still gasping for breath. His teeth chattered as he still tried to breathe. One of the other boys finally saw him, rushed over to where he was laying and stood unmoving. Dusty looked up at him and tried to whisper, “Please give me your jacket.” But the boy just stood there.
The director rushed over starting CPR, but nothing seemed to help. By the time the paramedics arrived, Dusty was already dead. They said his body felt so cold, it was as if he had been stored in a freezer. His core temperature was 78.6 degrees, twenty degrees colder than the normal body temp.
Over the years, people have claimed they have been visited by Dusty on campus always asking for their jacket. Some have claimed that they have seen him standing in the front window of North Starr waving at them. Others claimed that they have heard someone ask for a jacket, but saw no one around.
If you ever see Dusty walking around campus offer him a jacket. If you ever see him standing in the window of North Starr waving; wave back at him. But if you ever see him in this gym, DO NOT TALK TO HIM, do not even make contact with him because he may knock you down to the floor; steal your voice box and then take your jacket.
You'll get FROSTED!
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welcome to my Barn of Horrors
we'll turn your nightmares into terror
where every step may be your last
as all your fears become unmasked
at every turn you must beware
of somethin here or somethin there
your body may be drenched in blood
as Death grabs U with his glove
nervousness will steal your breath
as your heart beats from its chest
but if U make it all the way thru
as your nightmares come unglued
U must tell others of all ur fright
and U may live beyond this night
so follow me along this road
if you're brave and if your're bold