I will be at Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in Sufolk, Virginia, next Saturday, August 13th. And my collection of horror and dark fantasy stories, Spectre Nightmares and Visitations is one of the books I will have for sale and will sign at the New Author’s Expo at the festival, from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The all day festival is free and open to the public.
I'm sharing one of the stories from the book, teasing you with "What Happens in Chester, Vanishes." You'll need to purchase the book from me at the festival (click the link above to be taken to their website to get the address and more information), or if you can't be there, then from online at GenreConnections.com or AMAZON to read the rest of the stories included in it.
Many things scare us. But the most fearful things are those that infect our nightmares and visitations. Monsters from the closet or from another planet. Ghosts that haunt more than a house. Werewolves are not the only shapeshifters to beware of. Children can be taken from more than the human kind of monsters. Even normal things can be the start of a heart-pounding terror. Prepare to step beyond the door into Spectre Nightmares and Visitations.
Just tell yourself that they're only stories.
Enjoy the story:
"What Happens in Chester, Vanishes"
Okay, that’s weird.
The people that had just been walking and driving their cars in Chester Village Green a few minutes ago had vanished. The beautiful Chester Library and the other buildings stood there silent and empty of life.
Of all the strange things that happened in my life, this one beat them all.
My cell phone! Of course.
I took it out and tried to make a call to my mother in Powathan. It didn't work. And I charged it up fully last night. Now it lay in my hand like a broken toy. Whatever infected Chester had done something to it, too. Upset, I stuck it back in her purse.
The silence felt so . . . unnerving. Nothing moved. Nothing made a sound. Not even a breeze. Nothing, except the noise my car made, loud in the unnatural stillness.
I felt pain from my arms and my hands. With a quick glance, I saw I was gripping the steering wheel so tight that the veins on the top of them popped up. Shoot, my skin gleamed ghost white. Another quick glance in the rear view mirror and I saw how pale my face was, too.
I decided to park the car. So many spaces to choose from, which one should I choose? A giggle rose up hysterically as I drew my car into one and turned the engine off. I couldn’t stop it.
“Oh, God, oh God, oh God,” I began to giggle, tears in my eyes.
The giggling passed, I let go of the steering wheel and just sat there staring out through the car window and unsure what to do next.
Do I get out? Was it safe to do so? Maybe I was asleep and this was all a nightmare.
No, I remembered waking up this morning and having a cup of coffee and some yogurt. I pinched myself just to be sure.
Guess this is not a dream, Marisa.
"What happened here?" I said, letting the sound of my own voice give me comfort. "Is everyone else gone in the rest of Chester? Does that include the rest of Richmond, or even Virginia itself? Is everyone on vacation, or something?"
Like someone would answer me.
It looked like I wouldn’t have to worry about being late for work at the library today. Most likely my supervisor didn’t make it to work today either. Apparently, no patrons neither.
Taking a deep breath, I got out of the car, leaving it unlock if I needed to get back in, and walked slowly up to the front glass doors. I found the doors opened easily and entered.
Okay, does that appear good or not? Why are you even entering the building, you idiot?
I swept my gaze around and found an empty circulation desk, a couple of books on it, one flipped open, along with another one lying under the scanner the library used to check books out. Another glance to my left caught other books lying on the floors or on tables, as if whoever had them had just dropped them, leaving them there like unwanted children. The silence bothered me. I began to imagine that the books were watching at me from their bookcases. Like they were saying, 'How dare you being the only human here?"
Nothing more for me here, I bolted out of the place and ignoring my car, ran down Center Street to Route 10. Same thing there, too. Chester had become a large-economy size version of one of those collectible heirloom villages sold in gift shops, only minus the people, animals and vehicles.
As I looked straight across the street at the Chester Fire Department, I saw that the bay doors stood wide open, bereft of the fire engines. All the buildings suddenly became ominous, like they waited to pounce on any unwary fools.
Fools like me.
I made for the nearby shopping center. It was foolish of me to even have checked it out. Nothing there like everywhere else, not even breeze-tossed scraps of papers flittering across the empty parking lot.
Deciding to be prudent, I headed back to where my car was parked. But like everything else in the madness it had vanished.
Maybe aliens came and took everyone away, like that episode in Twilight Zone.
Yeah, if it were that simple an explanation.
I trudged like a drunken sailor back up Center Street to Route 10.
I prayed. Whatever happened to Chester, please take me too. Being alone the rest of my life like this is something I don’t want to do.
I looked up at the cloud-filled sky above. "Look, I admit that I prayed last night before turning in that I'd like to be alone, with no one to bother me and all, but I was in a blue funk after a day of full of crazy patrons and a smart-mouthed supervisor." I began to cry. "I would love to hear Mrs. Tilt right now yelling at me in her usual nasty way. At least it would be another human being."
Wait. Was that a sound?
It came again. It came from Route 10. Like someone talking.
I ran on shaky legs and hoped that meant there another human besides me was in this god forsaken place. I dropped to my knees on the street when I found nothing but an empty street. I didn’t even notice the pain from my scraped knees. My mind had snapped at that moment.
I yelled, "Stop it, please stop it! If you're going to torture me, then just go ahead and kill me right now.”
I saw it then. Large and bright yellow, its siren screamed in protest as it barreled toward me. Instead of excitement, I found I didn’t care that this might mean I wasn’t alone anymore.
I jumped up and opened my arms, welcoming my death. Within a second it slammed into me. Pain lanced through me, as the bones in my body smashed, flesh tore and my brain splattered within my skull.
"I didn't see her until too late," cried the young firefighter. "Suddenly there she was, like a ghost appearing out of thin air. The woman stood there like a deer caught in our headlights. The worse part is I swear she held her arms open like a woman welcoming her lover back." Tears welled up in his blue eyes and streamed down his cheeks. He looked up from his kneeling position by the body at the chief who had been with him in the engine. They had been returning to the station. "I'll remember hitting her for the rest of my life."
Chief Thomas frowned as he realized the silence all around them. "Hey, where's everyone else?"
The other frowned, confused. "What?" He got to his feet and looked around. There was only him and Chief Thomas and the fire engine. No vehicles, no people gawking at the accident. Even the station was quiet like a tomb. The broken body of the woman had vanished, her smeared blood that had painted the cement gone. "Oh God, what's going on?"
Childish laughter filled the silence. Looking up, both men saw a gigantic child's face peering down at them. Another larger face of a woman appeared next to the child's.
"Dinner time, dear," said the woman’s face. "Then you can come back and play with your town. And please flush that nasty bloody body down the toilet, then wash your hands. Didn't Daddy tell you not to kill your playthings, or he won't get you any more toys from another dimension?"