Six tales of the macabre and supernatural.
A mysterious doll appears to haunt an amnesiac who may or may not be a murderer.
A long-forgotten railway carriage is discovered by two young children, but what dwells within the very wood and steel of its structure?
A hapless male model blunders his way to safety in a state-of-the-art shelter as Armageddon looms. Will it be his sanctuary or his tomb?
A tale of magic and loss set on a small Caribbean Island. Where a sea creature seeks revenge and its lost love.
Mysterious things lurk in the old west as a man driven from his town and into the unforgiving desert. What is that strange storm approaching as death threatens?
A rift on a short passage from H.G. Wells' classic the Island of Doctor Moreau. ' The Moreau Horrors!' Just why did the Doctor flee England and what horrors did he leave behind?
Excerpt from DOLL:
First came that discordant tinny chiming again, like a dozen tiny hand bells wheedled by approaching yet unseen nightmares. He didn’t know much about who or what he was, but the man knew what was next.
The room shifted into soft focus for a moment, then a split second later everything around him was nothing more than a blur of light and darkness merging into a murky undulating mass, one thing indistinguishable from the next.
The chiming, which had started in low was now assaulting his senses like physical blows to his skull. He was pretty sure he was hyperventilating, but could not even hear his own ragged breaths as they escaped his lungs like cowards.
Hazy blotches of dull light, almost shapes, cutting through the gloom appeared before his all but useless eyes. Indeed, blindness would be a blessing now, but one he would not be granted. No, for whatever his sins were, he would not be afforded such mercies.
They darted around his throbbing head like insects, sometimes tantalizingly close so that he could almost register a sharp point here, a serrated edge there. But just as quickly they merged back into the unidentifiable. And just as before he instinctively knew they were each suspended from the ceiling on thin wires. Amorphous shapes twisting and dancing before him like hanged men.
He vaguely wondered as lunacy threatened, if they were demons come to drag him to hell for whatever half-forgotten crimes, he was guilty of. Or if this was indeed hell itself. Giving him these moments of clarity only to have them snatched away so that he once more was set adrift in this cacophony of jarring sight and sound.
Then just like a baseball bat to the back of his head, he was out like a light.
When he came to, the man was face down on the musty smelling carpet of the room. And it took him several fitful moments to realize where he was. Just a regular, nondescript hotel room and one he barely remembered booking in to.
He pulled himself to his feet using the large dresser which stood against one wall. And steadied himself there with both hands. He looked into the dresser’s mirror and the haggard, haunted stranger looked back.
The stranger’s name was John Spenser, he knew that much, or at least that’s what the credit cards in the wallet he had found in the over coat he was wearing told him. He had spoken the words out loud to see if that would give them meaning, but it hadn’t. They still meant nothing to him.
A stranger’s name for a stranger’s face.
And despite his recent unconsciousness. John Spencer desperately needed sleep. That much he did know.
He thought back to how he had found himself here. He had booked in, there was a receipt to this effect on the dresser’s top along with the wallet, which had been the entire contents of his pockets when he had gone through them in hope of finding out more.
He had been wearing a smart enough suit, no tie, and the heavy over coat. The pockets of which only contained the wallet and nothing else. No keys, house or otherwise, just the simple black leather wallet. And that was all he had to go on.
He had picked this particular hotel because it was large and out of the way. The night clerk on the front desk didn’t even seem to care that he didn’t have any bags. He had the look of a man who had seen it all before. Lots of faceless guests coming and going, a place where one could easily blend in. John Spencer didn’t know why, but he knew that was important.
Important because of that feeling that buried somewhere deep in the darkest recesses of his subconscious, he had done something terrible. Ever since he had come into consciousness, a lost soul wandering the city streets late at night that nagging feeling of dread was never far away.
Yes, John spencer didn’t know much alright, but what he did know was that he was a monster. He glanced down at his hands, although he had washed them half a dozen times, he could still see traces of dried blood under the fingernails.
He moved away from the dresser and over to the single bed in the corner of the room. The sheets were still in a pile at the foot of the bed, but he didn’t care. He kicked off his shoes and then spun on his heel and fell backwards onto the bare mattress.
And as he laid there waiting for sleep to overtake him, he looked up at the plain ceiling and was thankful that nothing was dangling there.
“John Spencer,” he said out loud.
It still meant nothing.
Paulo Mattei, the night manager of the ironically named Majestic Hotel slumped back down into his large comfy recliner chair in the back office and poured himself another drink.
It had been nearly two thirty in the morning when mister no bags had showed up requesting a room. And Mattei had instantly peg him as an office worker burn out type wandering the streets after blowing a gasket due to stress. That, or more amusingly to him, some poor sap who had been kicked out by his wife for being drunk and disorderly.
He sniggered at the thought and pondered, not for the first time, that the Majestic was a magnet for the lost and pathetic souls who could be found drifting through the city on any given night. Drifting, aimlessly, or so they thought. But drifting as they inexorably were, towards the always open doors of the hotel.
He took a large swig of whiskey and instantly regretted it. He was already on that fine line between drunk and downright paralytic. So much so, he had been amazed at how efficiently he had processed mister no bags, getting the right room key and everything. Drunken muscle memory he mused, as he focused as best he could on the small TV until the room stopped spinning.
A grim-faced reporter type speaking to camera appeared on screen and Mattei had to close one eye just to keep him from spinning off into oblivion. It took him a moment to realize the sound was off, but he couldn’t be bothered to search for the remote, so the reporter would just have to open and close his mouth like a goldfish, until the latest wave of alcohol absorbed into his system so he could look for it.
The picture of a young boy appeared in a box to the right of the reporter. The boy was smiling at the camera and playing with a toy fire engine.
The picture then cut to a grainy CCTV clip of someone walking through a shopping precinct.
Now there was a woman at what looked like a news conference, flanked by two female police officers, each with the obligatory looks of concern on their faces. The woman was pleading directly into the camera now and Mattei tried in vain to read her quivering lips.
She suddenly broke down and a million flashbulbs went off.
‘There’s your front page, boys,’ Mattei thought in grim amusement.
The bell at the front desk went off making him jump a mile. He cursed to himself and pushed himself up to his feet. There he paused, to make sure he was steady, then when through into reception to meet the next unfortunate to grace the Majestic Hotel at this ungodly hour.
What Mattei didn’t see was the TV report cut back to the CCTV footage and slowly zoom into the pixilated face of old mister no bags.
If Spencer thought that sleep would bring a welcome respite to his malaise, he was sorely mistaken. It seemed he could not escape it whether awake or asleep.
Now that he was awake once more, he could still make out the vivid yet fragmented images when he closed his eyes for any period of time, as if they were waiting behind his lids.
For better or worse, his dreams had lent some nightmare kind of clarity to what he had seen and heard before. He had finally seen the floating blurs before his eyes for what they really were. Strangely shaped windchimes, hanging from the ceiling of some unknown room.
Although thankfully he could not hear them anymore now that he was awake, as their soft chiming awoke a quiet terror in him. In the dream their tuneless tinkling had given way to someone screaming.
As he closed his eyes again, he could see the chimes in his mind’s eye, and beyond that an open window with bright sunlight flooding through half opened billowing curtains, as if touched by a light breeze. He remembered drifting towards the window and the closer he got, the louder and harsher the screaming became.
“Christ,” he cursed softly and went through into the room’s small bathroom and splashed cold water on his face in hopes if washing the nightmare away.
When he came back into the room, he became aware of how gloomy the place was. He had no watch or phone but had figured it must be mid-morning, judging by the sunlight trying to force its way through the thin curtains covering the windows.
Sunlight, yes, that would surely help lift his mood. The last thing he needed was to be sulking around a strange room in the half light. He took a step toward the window then froze. It looked for all the world like someone was sitting on the windowsill, silhouetted behind the curtains.
Had someone snuck into his room during the night whilst he slept? One of the other residents?
He waited for the interloper to speak, but they didn’t so much as move in response.
Spencer found he was striding over to the window before he realized what he was doing and flung the curtains open. He was immediately blinded by the sunlight flooding in through the window. He took a step back, shielding his eyes until they finally became accustomed to the light and his gaze fell upon the intruder.
A large doll, of all things, was propped up against the window. But this was unlike any child’s plaything Spencer had ever seen before. It reminded him of an unfinished springless puppet. But this one was tall, perhaps three feet from toe to top of the head. It was made from highly polished dark wood of some kind. Its head bowed, its eyes shut. Naked, sexless.
Although at first glance, its joints were beautifully crafted, its down turned face was all but featureless, just the vague hint of a nose and mouth. But even with its lack of detail there was something unmistakably life-like about it.