horror fiction writer

PSA for writers

Recently I discovered some awesome YouTube videos about movies and screenwriting, but I think the lessons from those videos are a great resource for aspiring novelists and short fiction writers as well. So I’m going to share a few that I liked :)

1) The Darjeeling Limited: How Brother’s Communicate

2) Let’s Discuss Horror

3) Andrei Tarkovsky - Poetic Harmony

4) Opening Shots Tell Us Everything (I think this would be super useful for writers to understand how to write opening scenes in their stories.)

5) Dialogue in Film: How Should Characters Talk? and The Social Network - Designing Dialogue (These are REALLY good for dialogue, definitely my favourites.)

My Daughter’s Imaginary Friend

My little daughter Alicia says she has an imaginary friend who tells her to do bad things. She says it lives in her closet and every night just before she falls alseep, it talks to her.

One morning my wifes purse was missing and she found it in Alicia’s room. Alicia said that her imaginary friend told her to take it. Soon after she stuck a rusty screw in her stepbrothers shoe, his foot got infected badly when he stepped on it. Again, she claims that her friend told her to do it. But then my troubled daughter took things farther than I ever thought she actually would…. 

Last week my wife got into a car wreck and was killed. A detective brought me in for questioning. He told me that my wifes brakes had been messed with. Of corse they question the husband first, it’s always like that. But I didn’t do it and he can see that I’m telling the truth. In the back of my mind I know who really did it though, my troubled daughter. But when the detective asks if I know anyone who would want to do this to my wife, I say no……..because I don’t want to lose my daughter.

Now I’m sitting in my room alone. My wifes dead and her son is back living with his father. Meanwhile my daughter is laying in her bed a room away from mine. That reminds me, I better talk to her before she falls asleep.

I layed down on the floor in front of the vent that connects to a vent in her closet and spoke in my usual dark disguised voice,

“Hey Alicia it’s me, your friend. Good job following my instructions on how to cut those break lines. Your a smart little girl. Now you and your father can live happily without your evil mommy and her ungrateful son around. Trust me, You’ll be much happier this way.”


Written by: Sage

short-horror-hits

Eldritch Diabolism

“ Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism. “ -H.P.Lovecraft 

A Brief Synopsis 

 The term “Eldritch Diabolism” literally means “Strange Devil-Worship”. It is defined by classical Diabolism (the worship of demonized gods through the understanding that they were among the first.) coupled with the belief that the gods described in the works, letters and personal notes of H.P Lovecraft were visions and revelations of such demonized gods - making him as a prophet unto us. 

 One may ask: “Is it not foolish to believe in the writings of a horror-fiction writer?” to which it must be rebutted that some 229,157,250 Americans hold a faith based on a book - written by mortal men, and often choose to congregate in large buildings on a particular day to speak and read about the stories contained within said text. Should a scarce few then not be allowed such a privilege, should they hold it in a private and serious manner with those texts they themselves choose, with those texts which at least tell a good story?

It becomes fact to those who choose to work under this system that to be sane is to be ignorant to the world around you. We understand it may be considered outlandish to believe that mankind was formed from mud and the blood of a god, and we revel in the outlandish-ness of such concepts through the acceptance that these stories of old and new, of pious scribes and a horror author, fabulous or not, contain and reveal mysteries of the universe, to be found through the terror or glamour they cast upon us. This universe is to be understood to be but a dream, a series of stories. Make sure your part entertains the ones that dream, and the ones that watch from just beyond the gates of the void.

The revelations of Howard Philips Lovecraft

 From a young age, Lovecraft was prone to vivid dreams, nightmares, visions and bouts of inspired writing. In one 1921 letter to Reinhardt Kleiner, he wrote this:

[…] Amidst this gloom came the nightmare of nightmares - the most realistic and horrible i have experienced since the age of ten […] As i was drawn into the abyss i emitted a resounding shriek … and the picture ceased. I was in great pain - forehead pounding and ears ringing - but i had only one automatic impulse - To write…”

It is then the belief of the Eldritch Diabolist that Lovecraft was receiving the secret names and images of what he titled “The Ancient ones” and “The elder gods” -That is the primordial gods, such as Achlys, Erebus and Tiamat; and the terrestrial gods like Olokun, Thoth, Aries and Dagon.

Many scholars and Diabolists have compiled their revelations over the years since Lovecraft’s death, here are a few interesting selections:

Dread Cthulhu - Olokun, the chained god. Leviathan, serpent of the seas.

Shub-Niggurath - Lilith, haunter in the night. Ishtar, The risen Goddess. Tiamat, Mother of Demons, creator of the world.

Dagon - Dagon, god of the seas and fish.

Azathoth - Primal Chaos, Infinite empty nothingness, yet the potential for all creation.

Yog-Sothoth - Enki, god of seed, magic and knowledge. Apollo, God of knowledge, music, healing, plague and prophecy. 

This list is in no means complete, for the interest of time and the attention of the reader it will be left relatively short - but such connections are not difficult to be drawn up by even the novice researcher, and should prove an act of pious devotion. 

I trust that this posting will help people understand and perhaps even delve into this wonderful and misunderstood path. 

Sources: Cults of Cthulhu; Fra .Tenerous. The Satanic Rituals; Anton S. LaVey Cthulhu Cult; Venger Satanis. The Myths of Greece and Rome; H. A. Guerber. More annotated H.P Lovecraft; S. T Joshi and Peter Cannon. Tales of H.P Lovecraft; Joyce Carol Gates. Olokun; Ifadoyin Sangomuyiwa. Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses; Michael Jordan. The Tree of death and Qliphoth; Jon Gee. Devoted; V.A. 

I think Siri is trying to kill me.

I moved to a new area, and the GPS on my phone has been a lifesaver. I don’t know how lost I’d be without it. 

But lately, it’s been…doing some strange things. 

At first it was kind of funny. The GPS would instruct me to take a turn where there was no intersection, like it wanted to run me off the road. Or it would guide me to the rocky overhangs that fall away into the sea - the “scenic overlook” of the highway by the beach. 

But for the most part, it gets me where I need to go, and Siri’s mechanical voice in my car is almost like a friend. 

Which is why I’m so confused right now. 

Because I followed the path the GPS told me to, and it’s saying I’ve arrived at my destination…but this doesn’t seem right. I don’t see a movie theater anywhere. I just see some big, unmarked buildings - warehouses maybe? There’s a big chain with a padlock across the door of one. 

At first I thought the whole area was abandoned, but when I stopped to check the map on my phone and figure out where things went wrong, people started to appear. I didn’t notice them at first; I was busy typing out this text message, because the story’s hilarious, right? 

Ha. Ha. 

They emerged from between buildings and started to approach the car. They’re dressed weirdly, wearing cloaks and hoods, and I thought I saw a bloody symbol carved into the forehead of one but I can’t be sure. 

Some of them are carrying knives. Some of them have ropes. 

Someone jabs a blade into my tire; I feel the weight of the car shift sideways as a low hiss escapes it. 

…If you get this, send help.

You can use the GPS from my phone. 

Diary of a Mad Scientist 28

Copy, copy
How can I avoid being sloppy
Vitals keep dropping
Heart keeps stopping

Beat, beat
Those must repeat
Continual rhythm is no small feat
The skin lacks heat

Test, test
No pulse below the breast
There’s no time for me to rest
This body must bend to my behest

Thought, thought
With many dangers this path is fraught
But this time there’s no chance of being caught
For no longer we seek fresh corpses with little rot

Grow, grow
We make new vessels for blood to flow
Create brain matter for things we know
Like fruit or vegetable that we may sow

Soon, soon
Our time will come like the full moon
Time, now, is but a boon
The specifics I now must fine tune

Crack, crack
The lightning in sky so black
Providing the spark of life they lack
For this profession I have a knack

New, new
When Henry spoke it, I knew
What he said gave me the clue
The last thread I needed to
Bring about our lives anew
The lives that we are due
The way that’s true
A way we no longer have to look grue-
Some

The American and Soviet governments both agreed it would be best if people believed Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. In truth, he was not exactly a pioneer, seven others had attempted to orbit the earth before him — and three had returned. However, he was the only one to emerge from a landing capsule and still be mostly human.
—  excerpt from “Laika Came Home: A Forbidden History of the Space Race”
Bare Branches

From shadow, the owl hooted and somewhere above a baby cried among curving branches. Aneth knew better than to look up, instead holding tight to the thought of her daughter, her rescue from these imperfect creatures. The gentle giggle of a newborn drifted down in the cool night air. She shivered. Walking through the moonlit forest, she heard the chirr of insects, and felt the crush of pine needles beneath her bare feet. Something slithered over her toes and she curled them away from the rasping dryness of an invisible world. On her white shift, mud from the marsh she had come through had dried, but she could not see it in the dim light cast through the boughs. The moon was small and cold. The strange children loped through the bare branches overhead, crying out. Aneth recalled her daughter begging to be held. The urge to call back- overwhelming.

If you're in Cleveland and find a building with three red doors, there may still be time to save them

Three people are dead.

Countless more are patiently, helplessly awaiting a fate far worse.

I can’t go to the police. The police are a part of this. The police are the ones who killed Darcy. They’re the ones who have Theo – locked in a cell somewhere or dead, I can’t be sure – but either way I know I’ll never see him again.

I can’t go to anyone. The implant, whatever it is they put inside of me, reminds me of this. It bulges, perverting the surface of my skin, moving. It’s alive, it can feel and think, and it won’t let me anywhere near it to try and get it out.

It’s too late for me, but it may not be too late for the others.

There’s a certain sense of sacrifice that you learn to give into when you start caring about more than yourself. I’ve always been a self-absorbed person; I’ll be the first to admit that. I used to say “better them than me”. I was the kind of girl who never really thought that anything bad could happen to her so long as I kept my mouth shut, head down, and eyes averted.

Well, so long to that idea.

Here’s to the sacrament for the selfish, that final acceptance of reality.

I guess I should start somewhere, and the cliche “beginning” usually works.

It was just another day. Another shitty, wasted day in the soggy taint of Cleveland, Ohio. My neighborhood has a playground. A Target. A few parks. I lived just down the street from Lakewood High at Chesterland and Madison. My parents always told me to be careful about giving out my personal information, especially online. That doesn’t matter anymore.

Lakewood is a pusher’s paradise. The parks and alleys may as well have big flashing signs, the kind you see outside casinos or carnivals, saying hey: get your heroin right here buddy, step right up and pump that vein full of pleasure. It’s not like the cops do anything except ruin your life if they dare catch you with a dimebag of bud. And if it’s not H, it’s fentanyl. Beggar’s choice, right here. Between the two, we’re on pace to hit over 500 deaths this year in Cuyahoga county alone and we still have two and a half months left in the year. We’re overachievers of the worst variety.

The problem is, there’s nothing to do. And I mean nothing. My friends and I all graduated highschool, puttered around in college, and most of us dropped out to pursue big dreams of doing nothing.

I landed a job working the register at Tower City cinema, shoveling hulking tubs of fake buttered popcorn for the larded masses. It depresses me to think that the last movie I’ll have seen will’ve been The Girl on the Train. Should’ve gone for Deepwater Horizon like Theo wanted. I will never not think Wahlberg is a hunk.

People will always tell you that your home, your friends, your surroundings, your life; they’re only what you make them. That you have the power to be your own person and forge ahead and not look back, that you have the ability to change the world around you.

What a load of shit. The only thing we’ve managed to change for ourselves is how short the rest of our lives are.

I woke up yesterday morning with an itch, and not my usual one. I didn’t need a fix. I didn’t need a drink. I just needed to get out and do something. I didn’t have work, and neither did Theo or Darcy. One phonecall later and we’re all sitting outside Darcy’s apartment in Kamm’s Corners chainsmoking butts. I’m down to my last three.

“Where do you wanna go?”

I look at Darcy; wearing her sister’s torn croptop, jean shorts, faded black docs, and draped in plastic dollarbin jewelry, she’s got the usual half pound of eyeliner smeared across ever-tired eyes and the red wound of her mouth sneers around a clove. She’s the type of girl you’d drop a trailer on instead of a house and she’d start painting the walls black and call it home.

I take another drag and say, “I don’t know. Somewhere. Anywhere besides here. Let’s drive up to Toledo?”

Theo, from his perch on the back of Darcy’s rusted out Mazda, brays with laughter, “Toledo? Yeah, sure, let’s just trade our plate of dog shit for a platter of slightly more watery dog shit.”

Exasperated, I flick my butt at him, sending a spray of sparks up his pant leg. He brushes them off with a yelp and glares at me. I shrug. Pushing his floppy brown hair aside, he hops down. In torn blue jeans, a studded black bracelet, and too-large flannel shirt resting over a ratty band tee, he’s the angtsy portrait of post-grunge perfection.

“Let’s go break into the Newburgh temple in Miles Park.”

“The masonic place?”

“Yep.”

Darcy and I exchange looks and she nods her head. “Sure, why not.”

The drive should only take a half hour but Darcy drives like a blind grandmother on xanax. On the way, we listen to a cassette, a mixtape an ex-girlfriend made her; its trip through the speakers is belabored and scratchy, the sounds of dying relationships and dead mediums.

Anyone who’s ever been urban exploring before knows that you scope the area in your getaway car once, maybe twice, park as far away from your mark as possible without it being too far to run to, and memorize your route back. That’s where we make our first mistake; we forgot where we parked.

By this time, it’s dark out. Dusk is just about 7 PM, and my watch is blinking 7:13. We probably should’ve waited a little longer to head out, but we’re excited and high on the notion that we’re finally doing something other than watching TV and burning glass or shooting dope. I can see the reflection of my pumping heartbeat in my friend’s faces, lit up for the first time in a long time.

Darcy stumbles over an uprooted piece of plaster and Theo catches her. They laugh. I laugh. We all hush each other; this area isn’t usually patrolled too heavily, but the idea of running from pigs doesn’t sound overly appealing. The temple sits tall and foreboding against the darkened sky and we make our way around the edges, looking for a good way in. Between a set of broken slats in a boarded-up door, we find it.

Footing our way around piles of rubble and trash left by squatters, we find just the right amount of refuse to sate an explorer’s lust. Darcy comes across an upright piano coated in what looks like ten pounds of dust and runs her fingers across a few keys. The sound is dead and hollow, but still rings out through the heart of the empty building, faintly tinkling in the darkness.

Suddenly, as if on cue with the music, a spotlight hits us head on and it feels like the sun is exploding in my face. I shout, but am quickly drowned out as the sound of a deep, booming voice fills the room with authority and my heart with terror, seizing in the cage of my chest.

“Police!” it shouts, “This is private property. Stop where you are.”

We do stop, but only for a moment before Theo comes to his senses for the three of us, and yells, “RUN!”

As fast as our smoker’s lungs and addict’s legs can take us, we bolt for our makeshift entrance, which is thankfully in the opposite direction of the cops. Out the door, past the fence, in between alleys and through yards, we run and run and run. Whether from excitement or fear or a mixture of both, we don’t stop running for at least 10 minutes. Out of nowhere, we all stop as a group, collapsing against a wall, chests heaving, and find ourselves surrounded by unfamiliarity.

Coughing, Darcy looks around and kicks at the crumbling brick, “Fuck. Where are we? Where is the car?”

Abandoned areas all look the same. You could drop me in a factory wharf line somewhere I’d never been before and I would probably easily get lost for hours.

“I have no idea,” I sigh, “But at least we didn’t get caught.”

Theo glances at me, smirking, “Ya gotta admit, that was kinda fun.”

I hold up my hands, palms out, “You don’t see me complaining.”

“Let’s start walking.”

Ten minutes later, dipping in and out of shadows at the slightest noise, we finally come across something that looks familiar, but in a way none of us could place.

A mile-long, short building, tucked away from the rest, hidden far, far away from the street. Brown brick facade, black metal roof, it looks like a million other buildings in this wasted city. No discernible marks, except for the doors.

In the middle of the side of the building sits three red doors. Faded, peeling, the color is reminiscent of the sky right before the nights sips away its last few breaths.

After a moment of sneaking and prodding, curiosity gets the better of us; Theo, a makeshift criminal when he needs to be, was able to pick the lock on the first door. I don’t know what drove us to even look in the first place, but that’s not important now.

The smell hits me first. That sort of heavy, rotten perfume people get when they’ve been sitting for too long. It’s more than sweat, more than shit or piss or anything else that we produce. It’s fear. Fear of the unknown is a real thing, but fear of the present and the real and the right-in-front-of-your-eyes can turn the human body into a sickening kiln of toxicity. Fear filled that room, to the brim, and we walked straight into it without a second thought.

Rows of steel cages with needles sticking into them like thorns from some massive connected vine sit against both walls of a long, narrow room.

Hidden machines beep in a chorus of monotony from behind the cages, which are wrapped in a two layers of interlaced bars.

Each cage holds a girl.

With shock bubbling in my throat and bursting in my stomach, I rush forward to the nearest cage, gripping the outer lattice with trembling hands. Inside is a girl who can’t be a day over thirteen, but her state makes her look years younger. She’s wearing a thin white dress, a hospital gown, and her skin is perforated by a half dozen needles hooked into bags holding liquids of various colors. She sleeps, a deep fretful sleep, and I can see a trickle of dried blood spilled from both her mouth and nose, joined in a deep v down the side of her face.

Behind me, Darcy screams I can hear her retching, breathing hard, trying to not vomit. She loses the battle, spilling her guts against the wall. Theo just stands and stares.

“WHAT THE FUCK?” she shouts, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”

The girl in the cage stirs; her eyes flutter open, and I can see that they’re bloodshot, the veins brought harsh and red to the surface of the membrane with repeated strain. She sees me, sees Theo and Darcy, and she tries to grasp for me through the inner lattice, but her wrists rebound on the steel shackles binding her to the wall. A number is burned into her left forearm, #1. Her mouth twists open in a scream, but nothing comes out.

Behind me, all around, there’s more shuffling, more rustling noises as the rest of the girls come to. More clinking of metal restraints, more mouths hanging open in muted pleas for help.

I slam my open palm on the wall above the cage, my skin burning with anger. The girl looks up, startled, and that’s when I see the jagged, fresh scar across the base of her throat.

The sound of silent screaming is something I have never heard, but can still hear all too well in my head.

Darcy runs to the wall opposite me, grasping at bars, and tries to pull them apart to no avail. I scream for Theo to help us, and he rushes forward. He can’t pick any of these locks. The deadbolts stare back, malicious, hungry, unyielding.

My eyes flit up. The plaque above the girl’s cage reads:

#1 – A. Lange, Saxony, DE – E. 10/08/16 – C. 10/10/16 – S. 10/16/16

I look around, eyes trailing helplessly on the ten cages lining the walls of the room, and they all share a similar plaque. Each has a number. Each has a location and three dates.

I don’t know where the realization comes from, but it hits me like a freight train. Each cage has a name, but not the name of the person inside. The buyer. Entry date. Shipping date. Some date in the middle.

A fire of rage tears through my body and spills out of me in a furious stream. I look around for something, anything I can use to break apart the cells. There’s nothing.

Then, the door bursts open and spotlights hit us once again. This time, there’s nowhere to run.

As the cops pour through the door, slamming Theo into one of the cages and pinning me against #1, the girls rise up in a seething wave around us, straining their bodies against their cuffs until the metal bites straight through their skin. Darcy is screaming, screaming for the cops to look, look around them, but one of them just rushes her and tears her arms behind her back.

She wriggles free and manages to grab his gun. My cry gets caught in my throat as I watch her raise her arm, pointing at the cop nearest me, and she fires off a round, the move catching him by surprise and the round catching him clear in the throat. The force of the shot pirouettes him, turning his last moments into that of a twisted ballerina, and blood sprays across my face in an almost beautiful arc.

As she turns to fire again, a blast goes off next to my ear, deafening me, sounding like the last shot at of the world, and a gaping wound appears in the center of Darcy’s forehead. She falls forward, and for just a moment, everything slows down and I can see the wall behind her, speckled with blood and bits of bone and grey matter, clear as day through the new hole in her face.

The last thing I see before the blow to the base of my skull steals my consciousness is girl #1’s eyes; they’re a soft brown, and they’re full of tears, full of fear. They’re full of emptiness.

I awake, I don’t know how much later, unable to move. My eyes shoot open and I’m temporarily blinded. Everything is freezing cold, smells sterile, and the taste of copper fills the air like it’s got something to prove. I can’t move my head, can’t budge my body. My fingers and toes are the only thing that seem to respond to direction.

As my eyes adjust and the white light begins to fade, I realize I’m looking up into the rude face of a halogen. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see a grey metal edge, the piece that’s holding my head in place. My throat is burning and my lips are cracked and dry. I run my tongue over them, and realize my mouth isn’t bound. I open my it to scream for help, but no sound comes out.

Straining my head up as far as it can go, pushing my chin out without moving my head, I feel the fresh stitches pull taut against the skin above my collarbone.

Like a hellish angel, a face appears above me, blocking out some of the light. Goggles, a surgical mask, white apron and light blue scrubs. Another figure appears next to it, its appearance mirrored. One of them makes a gesture towards the other side of me, and its partner goes to fiddle with a knob on a machine. I feel a strange euphoric sensation rush my body, and darkness comes, blissfully, once again.
_________________________________________

I woke up just past four this morning next to a dumpster outside of the UHAUL near Berea and W. 114th in Cleveland. My body is different. They did things to me, put something under my skin. I assume it’s a tracking device, but every time I get anywhere near it, something inside of my brain stops me. I can no longer speak; I try, but no sound comes out. There is a number branded into my left forearm. I am number 7. Lucky.

It took a little while for me to figure it out, but I think the third date in the sequence, between the entry and the shipment, was the date of recapture. If I’m right, I only have one day left.

My name is Theresa Bell. I’m twenty-three years old. My friend, Darcy Wilson, 22, is dead. My other friend, Theodore Albright, 27, is either missing or dead.

I will not let myself end up in one of those steel cages, strapped to a wall with mystery liquids pumping through my veins, patiently awaiting my shipment off to god knows where. There is no hope for me. I’ve lived my life a selfish person, a wasted person, ready to give into anything that brought me the most minute, instantaneous amount of pleasure.

However, before I take my own life, I can make one final decision; to make this plea in the hopes that the right person will see it, and do something.

If you’re in Cleveland and find a building with three red doors, there may still be time to save them.

The alien missionaries announced their arrival by writing their scripture into the skies over every major city. The sunset colored letters reportedly left a scent like fresh rain. Millions dropped to their knees and converted to a faith they could not read, unaware that it wasn’t a message of salvation but of consecration. First the priests built churches and then the priests built slaughterhouses.
Ghosts encounter our world in flickers of existence. Two sightings that are twenty years apart in the mortal world are experienced continuously for a ghost. It’s little wonder that they can’t help but bump into moved tables and closed doors. Most of the living deceased eagerly await the creation of new ghosts who can carry whispers of information across the veil. They ask about loved ones, especially grandchildren, and about the endings to TV shows.
20 Terrifying Two-Sentence Horror Stories That Will Keep You Up At Night.

1. I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first, I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.

2. The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.

3. Growing up with cats and dogs. I got used to the sounds of scratching at my door while I slept. Now that I live alone, it is much more unsettling.

4. In all of the time that I’ve lived alone in this house. I swear to God I’ve closed more doors than I’ve opened.

5. A girl heard her mom yell her name from downstairs, so she got up and started to head down. As she got to the stairs, her mom pulled her into her room and said “I heard that, too.”

6. She asked why I was breathing so heavily. I wasn’t.

7. My wife woke me up last night to tell me there was an intruder in our house. She was murdered by an intruder 2 years ago.

8. I awoke to the sound of the baby monitor crackling with a voice comforting my firstborn child. As I adjusted to a new position, my arm brushed against my wife, sleeping next to me.

9. I always thought my cat had a staring problem - she always seemed fixated on my face. Until one day, when I realized that she was always looking just behind me.

10. There’s nothing like the laughter of a baby. Unless it’s 1 a.m. and you’re home alone.

11. I was having a pleasant dream when what sounded like hammering woke me. After that, I could barely hear the muffled sound of dirt covering the coffin over my own screams.

12.“I can’t sleep,” she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.

13. I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me. °Daddy. Check for monsters under my bed.“ I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering. "Daddy, there’s somebody on my bed.”

14. You get home, tired after a long day’s work and ready for a relaxing night alone. You reach for the light switch, but another hand is already there.

15. I can’t move, breathe, speak or hear and it’s so dark all the time. If I knew it would be this lonely. I would have been cremated instead.

16. She went upstairs to check on her sleeping toddler. The window was open and the bed was empty.

17. I never go to sleep. But I keep waking up.

18. My daughter won’t stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave and ask her to stop, but it doesn’t help.

19. After working a hard day, I came home to see my girlfriend cradling our child. I didn’t know which was more frightening, seeing my dead girlfriend and stillborn child, or knowing that someone broke into my apartment to place them there.

20. There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone.

The usual walk up to my apartment takes six stories instead of three today, the grey entrances on each new floor are nailed shut by thick boards across their frames. From the other side, I can hear heavy fingers tapping on the walls and and trembling voices sighing my name in unison. The air is cold and carrying the heady odor of old fruit. When I finally reach the floor I know is mine, the stairwell is filled with the noise of the doors below breaking open all at once; my keys nearly jump out of my hands, but I make it inside. Now the voices are at my door and I can see its handle shaking.