Flash fiction project: one dark story per day, all the way through October, each one based on one normal thing gone wrong. More of this year’s stories here.  You can find last year’s stories here, or at Amazon as October Nights.

Normal thing:  Bookstore.


For years I lived next to a bookstore. The books were all battered and cheap and used, a lot of them with yellowed pages or marginalia, underlinings, the small and secret marks of a person who marks every book they read on page seventeen so they don’t reread the same damn book sixty times.  There was a coffee pot with syrupy burnt coffee so strong it would stunt your growth, and a bulldog that sat in square of moving sunlight in the front door, waiting for kids and customers.

The owner was a nice guy.  He was always giving us free books. He was so nice that, behind his back, we pretended he was a serial killer and the locked cased of first editions next to his desk was really full of books made out of human skin.  We loved the thrill of catching his glance: “He looked at you, Daprizio!  That means you’re next!”

Then one day the bookstore was closed.  We were sure he’d been arrested.  Three cop cars and a white SUV was parked in front of the store.  The white SUV pulled out of its parking spot and drove off as we watched.

We peeked inside, watching dark and shadowy figures moving around the front desk.  Where was the shootout?  Where was the blood? The yellow line of police tape?

A man in a suit walked over to the half-empty coffee pot, glanced at us, then touched the carafe with his fingers.  He jerked them away like he’d been burnt.  That coffee pot.  It was always too hot.  He put his fingers in his mouth and yelled at us through the door to get the hell out of there, bunch of stupid kids.

Later, like ghosts, we smashed windows and broke in through the back door. We were evil little shits. When we didn’t find what we were looking for, we smashed open the glass case full of first editions, took them out to a vacant lot, and burned them, chanting, Killer killer, you deserved what you got, you deserved what you got.

It’s all been downhill from there.

Dark, strange, twisted, and wonderful – #paranormal #horror and #mystery stories from Wonderland Press.