The Storm Within — Part Six

From the beginning…. Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

“Has it been five months?” Karen asks. “Time drags when the nightmares—no—when the madness consumes all logical thought.”

She sits alone on the bed of her hotel room, gazing into the steady pulse of the tiny red dot on the top of the camcorder placed atop the room’s only dresser.

“It feels like an eternity since Allen was taken. I almost wish that it took me, too. Maybe my suffering would have eased; that would’ve been too easy, though. That would’ve been too easy indeed. The fact that I have enough sanity left to record this is beyond my grasp of understanding… all I have known lately is the darkness of sleepless nights and the constant stalker that is this invisible storm. It ends tonight—oh it ends tonight indeed.”

Karen looks above and around, taking in the room as if she was first arriving with a morbid distaste for the cheap bedding and hideous art hanging from the walls of the tenth-floor room.

“I know you can’t see it, but trust me when I say that it never stopped snowing since then,” she looks to the camera with eyes darkened with sorrowful acceptance. “And it’s only getting worse and I know there is nothing that can be done.”

Her hands reach upwards, grasping at snowfall only she can touch. She clenches her hand and releases, revealing a pale palm to the camera. Karen blows a powerful spurt of air over her hand and laughs.

“I always thought that the snow was soooo pretty. Even in Florida—on the other-damned-side-of-the-country—it is here. You don’t see it, and let us all pray that you never will. I wonder… I wonder if I didn’t go back for Allen if I would be driven by madness. Maybe I would’ve been fine? Or maybe the torment would’ve been bearable enough to make sense of this all. But all was not for loss—no, no, no—all was not for loss. You see, and mind that you will be able to see what I am going to show the world.

“It won’t be the notebook. I burned most of that evil-fucking-bound tomb of scribbles long ago. I just wish I could erase what I learned. But the video caught it,” she holds up the camera Allen dropped when the shadow dragged him away. “The video caught it indeed.”

The camera shakes with a frantic clamor of dangling plastic parts and she spikes it on the carpet, smashing it with a pronounced crack.

“He told me to run away. I only made it to the bottom of the stairs. Call it a crush—call it respect for my fellow journalist—call it whatever you want but know I went back for him and he was gone. I tried the attic trapdoor. Oh yes, oh yes I did,” she crawls to an awkward stance on the bed and jumps to the ceiling, feigning a pantomime of reaching for an imagery trapdoor and pulling it down. “It vanished! As if it was never there to begin with. And his screams. I still hear them even now and I sometimes think that they’re worse than this storm ever could be.”

Karen composes herself the best she can by brushing the frayed strands of hair from her face and wiping her fingers across darkened pits under her eyes. She wears a loose sleeveless sheath that is red with a beige V-shaped neck. Her body, mostly skin and bones, creaks as she sits down. breath dribbles between cracked, bloodless lips and floats to the air and the camera catches every wisp.

“Fear is primal. Fear is engineered into our brains and we only know it. Fear doesn’t feel or think or even second guess; fear just knows and Bobby Parish gained the knowledge to transform fear into something terrible. Was he insane, too? Nah—I think the little shit was just seeking for attention. And he sure got it, didn’t he? He got his desire to be important—to be loved and adored—and he got it indeed.”

She leans over and retrieves a handful of torn pages from the notebook.

“I won’t bore you with the whining emotions of a pubescent boy; I’ll just skip to the relevant bits.”

The paper folds and she traces with her forefinger over the messy handwriting and begins to read.

I can’t believe I was answered. I’ve been praying and praying to anyone who would listen and he came to me as a shadow in the night and he answered. He asked me my deepest desires and I told him… I told him what I’ve wanted and what I’ve needed,” she flips the page. “My sisters have all the attention now and I just need validation. I need to be loved like I was before they came into my life and I want my Dad to treat me like a human being again. Mr. Goodhue—that’s what he wants me to call him—tells me I don’t need their love anymore. He tells me that I can have the power to make anyone love me and all I have to do is let him show the way.”

Karen places the page down and reads from the next.

“Mr. Goodhue took me on another trip. It wasn’t as bad as the last one. The fires were easier to appreciate and the monsters don’t seem as scary when you get to know them. He taught me how to harness fear and how to turn it into love. He also told me that soon I won’t want their love, that I will have the… what does he call it? The endless jubilation of many. I tried explaining that I don’t want anyone else’s love but my parents—really, my dad’s—but I don’t know, I think he is right. Maybe once my sisters are gone he will love me again. I see how miserable they make my father and how fake my mother has become. Soon Mr. Goodhue says, soon.

Dad lost his job today and he said it was because I put that little bastard Nathan Armstrong in the hospital. Mr. Armstrong is—or was, I guess—my dad’s boss. I tried to explain to Dad that Mr. Goodhue said it was okay to exploit the fear to make a point, especially from those who instill it in the first place. Dad never believed me. He didn’t believe me then, either, when I was in the fifth grade and Nathan and his friends use to beat me up day-after-day. I had a hard time when my sisters were born and my parents never did anything to help. Dad tried as much as mom would let him, but she always needed help. She’ll be the first to go and I hope Nathan dies in there.”

Her hands quiver as she pulls the last page closer to her face.

“He told me how to do it. Clear the attic, line the candles just right and light the wicks. Say the words and just like that—silence and stillness. He won’t tell me how he slowed time to a crawl, but he did. The blizzard started from that circle drawn on the floor a day before the weatherman reported it as a Nor’easter. Then Mr. Goodhue helped me with the rest. And you know what? He was right. I learned to hate my sisters and my mother for making my dad the way he was. It was so easy to dismembered them. I just… I still wish that I could’ve brought dad with me. Mr. Goodhue was right… he was attached to the point that the power wouldn’t fully take hold. I’ll miss you Dad and if what Mr. Goodhue says is right, I’ll never see you again. He goes up and I go down. Mr. Goodhue and I went on another trip and he finally introduced me to my new family; the ones that will love me for all eternity. But he said I wasn’t done yet, that I needed one more soul to make—as he put it—everything the way it’s meant to be, son. He knew when and how; all I had to do was wait.”  

Karen rises from the bed and pivots the camera, so that it faces a circular table with a laptop shining its screen away from the recording. She takes the torn pages from the notebook, folds them, and seals them away in an envelope.

Her throat clears and she mimics holding a microphone level to her protruding clavicle. The light from the laptop shines a ghastly luminesce over her body as she begins.

“This is Karen Blane, reporting to you with a conclusion of sorts to the murder-suicide at Perry Lane that occurred close to six months back in the small town of Folsom Valley, Maine. Startling—and absolutely unnerving—evidence has been unearthed and I am uploading them now as we speak,” she walks to the laptop and presses a few keys on the keyboard before returning to her stance. “What you will see in the video is disturbing and there will be a short pause before it plays.”

The footage starts of when they entered the house, and if Allen had ever paid attention, he would have noticed that Bobby Parish was watching them from the shadows the entire time.

“What I have in my hands are torn pages from a notebook that contains the confession of Bobby Parish, who was at first thought to be missing, but in the end, was in hiding with an unidentified accomplice known only as Mr. Goodhue. Three nights after the murders, myself and Allen Viera, who you will see being dragged away by Bobby Parish, entered the house to search for the truth. I doubt that the police will ever find Allen’s body, and if this circulates as well as we first hoped, his family may have some closure. Karen Blane, signing off.”

She opens the sliding doors to the balcony of her hotel room and the storm follows as she plummets to the lighted streets below.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016-2017

What is writing?

That’s a deep-fucking question, so I will spare you with a long-winded response that will certainly turn my face blue.

Writing is (to me, anyways) a progression of storytelling that derives from within.

… and that’s all I have.

Heh. What, did you think there was more to it?

Alright, alright—I’ll spread some more of my thoughts on this.

Writing is a form of expression that the storyteller knows and the writer accepts as a gift of malleable perception to formulate an array of conclusions that can be deducted to a logical ending. We instill emotions both raw and subtle to the readers and we ask questions in search for answers that may trouble us all, or, we reveal truths that bring along those warm-and-fuzzy feelings pretending to keep us warm at night. The range of intention is large and we polarize our emotions to push boundaries with words and we unite our readers in some form or another. Writers create worlds and destroy them in the means of necessity.

It’s all in the means of necessity.

But progression is there, none the less.

And speaking of progression….

I want to shine a light on another Word-Presser—no—another writer you should be reading.

His name is Jim, and I give you a glimpse into his universe.

I first met Jim (and when I mean met I mean in the sense of chatting online) when he commented on a post I did awhile back with multiple exclamation points, and I thought to myself,

“Holy shit this guy has a lot of enthusiasm,”

So I said to myself, says I,

“Self, I should go read some of what he is writing because for anyone to slap on seventy-two (exaggeration) exclamation points on a comment then they have to be serious.”

I am now confident that serious was an understatement.

Jim is dedicated to the craft. His work ethic leaves me at a loss for words and his drive is indominable. Jim is currently working on a few projects right now, with “James Grey and The Song of Fear” being is focus.

If you’re a fan of new-age fantasy with a hint of horror, then you must read this from the beginning. And when I say beginning, I mean all the way to part 1 of 21. They’re free on his website, and from what he told me earlier, he is currently ranked 312th on WattPad for Fantasy. Good job man! It’s pretty sweet, and for me, a joy to read as I personally struggle with anything outside of horror.

Writers should read broadly, and if you falter with this as I often do, then Jim’s writing will be a clear indicator that transitioning out of your shell is a delightful experience.  

He has come a long way with his writing in the short period he has been posting the installments on his site. And to be frank, there was nothing really wrong with it begin with. We all make little boo-boos here and there, but Jim is an Indie Writer; he does everything himself! I am blown-away with his progression, and the shear fact that he finds time to polish his work as he goes is baffling. Jim is as enthusiastic as they come and that fervor extends to his retention on what he reads and how he writes. It’s staggeringly impressive.

Oh, that’s right, how could I forget: He also squeezes in time for his mini-series “Shadows in the Darkness” and “The Crimson Chronicles”.  Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi—Jim can and is hitting the heavy genres out-of-the-gates.

Go and read some of what Jim is throwing down. I would be hard-pressed to hear that your experience was anything but enjoyable. — that’s his site in case you missed the breadcrumb above.

I am going to try and convert “The Storm Within” as a free! Yes, I said FREE!!! Ebook in a few days. I’ve done my reading and I believe I can take this content and put it on the amazon store for no charge. If I am wrong, then hey, I am wrong, it’ll still be available here at no charge as well. Even though I am looking to become published in the traditional sense, I also want to practice self-publishing as well, and I think being able to take this and give it out for FREEE-OMG!!!! Would be good practice for me. So possibly look for that in the coming days.


What should you expect next from me…. Hrmmmm….

Probably another excerpt for a near-finished (editing is a pain, I tell ‘ya, but it’ll be done tomorrow and sent out the same day) short story that I want to get published, and then, probably some flash fiction pieces and stand-alone stories; one-shots and such. I like writing serial-pieces but it’s hard on my attention span and I have other stories take precedent.

Have a good one,

John Potts Jr


The Storm Within — Part Five

Parts One, Two, Three, and Four are yours to read… only if you want them to be.

Allen feels his throat strain as he shouts above the unexplained snow squall.

“We need to leave,” he holds the camera to her light as Karen searches the ceiling for the origin of the storm. “Karen—did you hear me?”

Fear secures the reigns of his consciousness and he pulls at her arm, turning her to him. She looks up in startled wonderment.

“We have to leave,” he pleads.

She reads his lips and shakes her head.

“Not yet. We’re so close, Allen… we need to finish this.”

Karen opens the door of the room on their right.

“Must be the girls room,” she yells without turning her head.

Separate beds with a dusting of snow scattered atop pink comforters are on opposite walls, leaving a large gap in the middle of the room. Allen thinks to himself that they must’ve been twins; even the dressers and bedside stands are identical. He steps to Karen’s side and notices her eyes beginning to swell. Her flashlight caresses posters that hang over the headboards of the beds. One is Snow White, and the other is Belle.

“How old do you think they were?” Allen asks.

“Does it matter?” She snaps to him and Allen could hear the anguish and see the pain on her face. “They should’ve been princesses… now they’re nothing but ash.”

She leaves the room without a further word and Allen gladly joins. Ice forms on the inside of the window at the top of the stairs, concealing the outside world. Allen feels the temperature drop and he shivers. He rubs his bare hands together and they brush up against his coat. He feels the outline of the notebook.

“Look at this,” he reaches into his jacket and stops when Karen brings her hands to her shocked mouth in the doorway of the room opposite the girl’s. “What is it? What do you see?”

The bathroom is small for a family of five and Allen squeezes beside her and pivots to what Karen’s shaky hand is pointing to. The camera captures the sight and Allen references what he sees on the tiny flat-screen to the ghastly splatter across the sink and mirror with his own eyes.

“It can’t be blood,” says Allen.

“Then what is it?”

Allen leans forward and touches the unknown substance with his forefinger. He rubs the substance between his thumb. The viscosity is coarse and grainy.

“Too thick to be blood,” he brings his finger to his nose and takes a quick whiff. “Christ that stinks like something… rotting.”

He wipes the substance off on a stiff towel hanging from the rack adjacent to the sink. Karen jumps when she glances through her peripherals the door of the girl’s bedroom shutting with a forced haste.

“Can we please leave now?” Allen begs.

Karen doesn’t hear him and goes against his intuition, following her down the hallway. Their boots sink into the fresh accumulation of powder and Allen looks overhead, searching for any logical evidence of why the Parish Home was experiencing a blizzard within. A vague outline of pull-down access to the ceiling is spotted. His fingertips are just out of reach and he hops, scraping across a patch of ice that burns.

None of this makes any sense and we are going to die in here if we don’t leave he thinks to himself.

Allen hurries to Karen, who is now in the master bedroom.

Her light bounces from one corner to the next, revealing a similar sight as the one in the girl’s room.

“Why does everything look so neat?” Karen turns to Allen. “It’s as if nothing ever happened.”

Even with the snowfall intensifying, Allen can understand what her faint voice identifies. He shoves a heavy pile of snow from the corner of the bed and sees that it is tightly made. The laundry basket by the closet is empty and the bureau is void of any clutter. A vanity is at the far end of the room with bulges underneath the snow. Allen guesses these to be jewelry boxes. Karen follows as he grabs the one closest to them. The jewelry box slips from his hands as he shakes off the snow. The top pops open when it hits the floor and the contents spill out.

“What is that?”

Allen reaches down and brings the box level to his chest. His fingers reach inside and pull out a Polaroid. In the picture is the family, and something that brings a chill down his spine.

“That must be Bobby.”

Mr. Parish is beaming in the picture with his arms wrapped around the shoulder of his wife, and the girls stand in front. Away from the family is Bobby Parish, who is dressed in nothing but black and has a look of hatred on his face as his eyes are slanted towards the rest of his family.

“You need to keep this,” Allen places the jewelry box on the vanity and folds the picture, sticking it into Karen’s pocket. “And we seriously need to leave.”

“Okay… I am ready to go.”

Allen’s relief was dismantled with a merciless blow as the door opposite of the master bedroom is wide open.  The snow drifts roll from within, crashing into their shins. Karen inches forward, possessed by her curiosity and Allen is forced to oblige.

A full-sized mattress, a stout desk, and a slim dresser is all that awaits in the simplicity of Bobby Parish’s room. The walls are void of any pictures and the snow palpitates from the ceiling with an unseen rage. Karen opens the top desk draw and Allen finds his moment.

“I found a notebook like this one downstairs,” he removes it from his coat and Karen shines her light to the hunter green cover and Allen can now see the smudge of writing in the top corner. “That is definitely his initials, but what do you think the symbol is?”

“I have no idea.”

Allen pauses before returning it to his jacket.

“You should hold onto this.”

The notebook is rolled at the metal spiral and Karen reluctantly grabs it from his outstretched hand. She begins to protest, but it is too late. A shadow appears behind Allen and takes him from the room. The camera drops from his hands and Karen is frozen in place. Allen fights back, kicking at the darkness dragging him up the attic stairs of the pull-down door.

His last words echo through the deafening blizzard before the attic closes.

“Run away.”

And she does just that.


© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017


Has anyone seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe?

Yeah, we’re going to talk about that for a moment.

I just want to say that personally, I have never seen a horror movie as clever as this. The progression and sequencing is phenomenal, the relation between our two main characters is superb (Brian Cox is an outstanding actor and Emile Hirsch does wonderful work in this film) and the storyline! Holy shit everyone, this is as original as you get.

This is modern horror at its best.

I can guess that there was minimal—if none at all—CGI effects utilized. Everything is natural and raw. And real. I am not as educated as I’d like to be with the operations of family run morgues, but it doesn’t require an experienced eye to understand that this concept had been researched to the point that every little detail was given the once-over with a fine-toothed comb multiple times.

And talk about scary.

I don’t frighten easy. I don’t know if it’s because I have a graveyard in my back yard, or that I grew up with classics such as “Halloween”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Hellraiser”, and “Wax Works”, but there were moments where I felt the fear.

Do yourself a favor and go watch it. Do it alone and in the dark, too.

I will be releasing one final issue of this story. It’s more of an epilogue… but you’ll see what I mean in the coming days.

Not much of an afterthought today. I guess I really just want to get back to writing. A quick update, though:

  • I am still 0-2 on “Daily Visits” (excerpt is here if you’re interested), and I have yet to hear back from the last magazine I sent it to. Maybe that is a good thing?
  • I am working my ass-off on other stories for publication and will probably release another excerpt in a few days for a short story called “Under the Window”. It’s wicked sweet, bub! That’s Maine speak for awesome, by the way.
  • Did you enjoy the Word Press spotlight after my last afterthought? I sure did. Expect another one of those soon, which will touch base on a comedy horror you should be reading. I’d do my own site—Ghoul Flash Fiction—but Ghoul and I have decided that I am shameless enough. Heh… go check it out if you enjoy horror humor. I think this week he will be doing some ice fishing. Last week he struggled to understand memes, but I think he gets the gist. My goal with Ghoul is to turn it into a comic at some point, so if you haven’t read any Ghoul (shame on you!), you should…. Ah hell! I did it again with the shameless self-promotion. Just don’t tell Ghoul.
  • I am also thinking of adding a resource page to this site with links to tools that I reference as a writer and publication companies I have been trying to get my work to.


Until next time,

John Potts Jr.

The Storm Within — Part Four

In case you missed it (shame on you):

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Karen’s Explorer inched to a stop in front of the Parish home.

“Do you believe officer Emmert’s voicemail?” Asked Allen.

“Not really,” returned Karen.

“You don’t sound so sure.”

“Because I am not. Think of it: a time lapse of three hours is less believable than everything else we have heard.”

“It would explain why emergency services arrived hours after he did.”

She turned to him and scoffed.

“That is fictional at best. He was—and probably still is—in shock from what happened and it is logical that he is exaggerating that fact. I mean, you don’t go into a home for less than ten minutes and come out and have it be hours later. It just doesn’t make sense,” Karen opened the door and stepped out into the frigid twilight. “Are you ready?”

“Always,” said Allen.

A cloudless sky filled with a gibbous moon and dazzling stars offered adequate brightness and Allen and Karen took care regardless as they navigated the slick driveway adjacent to the dark, two-story home. The yellow tape that once partitioned the yard from the rest of Perry Lane was taken down. It was still regarded as an active crime scene and they knew the consequences of breaking and entering under these circumstances.

“It just seems vacant,” said Karen.

“I know. Almost as if nothing ever happened.”

Their boots fell through the firm, calf-deep snow with a crunch as they circled around the attached single-bay garage and to the rear of the home. A set of deep imprints described by officer Emmert remained. Allen pushed the button on his flashlight and scanned to the tree line that began on their left.

“Look,” he said.

“They stop as he said they did,” she paused. “We should check it out when we leave.”

Yellow tape crisscrossed over the back door and a thick overhang of ice threatened off the simple awning.

“Hold this,” said Allen as he produced a knife. “Let me get the door.”

Karen took the flashlight and shined it on the door. Allen flicked open his clip point and sliced at the seam. He tried the knob. Nothing. Allen then rammed his shoulder into the solid wood. Twice.

“We’re going to have to break the window.”

“Wouldn’t someone hear us?”

“Probably. Getting cold feet? That’s not like you.”

“You’re enjoying this a little too much, huh?”

“Caught me red-handed.”

“Just make sure we don’t get caught red-handed.”

Allen smirked before pivoting his body. He drove his elbow into the single square pane closest to the knob and the glass shattered on the first blow.

“I’ll start recording once we’re in… ladies first,” he said.

Karen cautiously lead with anxious steps and over-zealous swipes of the flashlight that cut through the darkness of the Parish home, and Allen followed. Winter coats hung on either side of the spacious mudroom and below them were a line of boots flush against the baseboards.

“I count five. And look,” Karen lowered to the second largest pair. “What do you make of this?”

He pointed the video camera to her light.

“I don’t know. It could be snow from earlier in the day. I’d guess there is a lot of traffic in-and-out as they continue to investigate.”

The door leading to the kitchen was ajar and Karen pushed it open with her free hand. It opened with a shrill whine that reverberated off dormant appliances and disused cabinets. Her breath escaped with drastic bursts that matched the cadence of her lungs. Allen steadied the camera forward and made a point to leave the door open. Her light was now fixed on the table centered atop the kitchen’s laminate flooring.

“This must be where the police found the note,” she said.

“Look at that,” Allen tapped her shoulder and shot a finger to the corner opposite of them. “Do you think that is a bloodstain?”

She nodded in quiet affirmation.

A sudden chill crept underneath Allen’s clothes and penetrated his skin. Karen felt it too as her shudder is apparent. “This must be where they found the rest of the family,” she said.

The beam of the flashlight traces across the carpet, revealing several spots of removed carpet. Allen guessed this was the forensic team’s doing. What laid below was stained plywood that wept in crimson sorrow. He averts his eyes in a futile attempt to banish the spontaneous influx of horrific images that seared his mind from Officer Emmert’s vague recollection during their interview earlier that day.

“Why do you think there are no pictures?” Karen asked as she inspected the walls. “Allen? Did you hear me?”

“Huh? Sorry, what was that?”

He couldn’t confess that he had difficulty discerning her waning voice.

“Check out the walls. You can tell that there where pictures here for a long time, but now they’re all gone.”

Various splotches of faded rectangles and squares sat below tacks and finishing nails on the walls above the living room’s furniture. “Maybe the State Police took them? I don’t see any other answer than—

The rear doors shut with a faint crash and a phantom gust fills the room.

“Jesus that jumped me,” said Allen. “Are you almost ready to go?”

“What, are you now getting cold feet?”

“Let’s just check the other rooms and get out of here.”

Karen heard something within Allen’s irritated tone. It was subtle and she now felt the urgency of her primal brain pleading for them not to linger. They hurried through the foyer and to the room that Officer Emmert stated was closed when he arrived four nights past. A sitting area awaited behind that door and leather couches and chairs sandwiched between bookcases.

Unexpected icy winds temporarily seized the air from their lungs.

“There has to be a window opened somewhere.”

“But where? These ones are closed and even if they were open it isn’t windy,” said Allen as her light touched upon drawn curtains.

Karen didn’t respond. She only steps around a stout coffee table and makes for the bottom of the staircase at the opposite corner.

“Wait, do you hear that?” Karen asked.

“I don’t hear anything.”

“That’s just it! I am even having a hard time hearing you.”

Her voice trails off as she ascends to the second floor and Allen stops. It was barely noticeable, but his eyes caught a spiral-bound notebook below a chair below the opened stairwell. He crouches low to retrieve it. At the top corner was a dark smudge of writing that he could not decipher. Allen folded the notebook at the seam and stuck it inside his coat. He runs up the stairs as his curiosity is piqued and he knows Karen will want to know what lays within the pages.

Allen runs up the stairs.

The weak glow of her flashlight flits through the rails of the second floor banister, and to Allen’s disbelief, so does the snow.


©  Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017

I took a break for a few days from writing and reading anything other than world events and fellow word-pressers. It was necessary. Writing is taxing on the mind and it is nice to take a short reprieve for my sanity.


I am a father and husband, so I need to give due attention to my family, too.

I do want to take a moment to spotlight a site that I follow, or rather, an undying respect and admiration I have towards modern horror.

I want to talk about Pen of the Damned.

Launched by co-founders Joseph A. Pinto (author of “Dusk and Summer” and “Flowers for Evelen”) and Nina D’Arcangela (co-owner of Sirens Call Publications and Phrenic Press), Pen of the Damned offers horror and angst prose and short stories that are written by one of their elite members of published authors.  The archives span back to April of 2012 and their stories are only of the highest quality.  

I personally put whatever I am reading—be it Joe Hill, Jack Ketchum, or Robert Louis Stevenson (I read more than that, but you get it)—on the back burner whenever a story is posted there because frankly, they’re just that good. Above the gripping imagery of macabre pieces or the realism in a suspenseful tale of murderers doing what they do best, Pen of the Damn delivers every single time without failure.

I have never been disappointed, I have never walked away unsatisfied, and I have never questioned my time spent during this terrifying and wonderful experience.

You can find such authors as Lee Andrew Forman, Veronica Magenta Nero, Jon Olson—I mean hell! The list goes on and the talent runs deep.

Go read Pen of the Damned.

You’ll thank yourself later and you’ll also realize that modern horror radiates from dark epicenters such as this.

Now let’s talk about editing….

It is hard. Sometimes harder than writing itself. It is especially a mother fucker if you have a scatter-brain like I do. I find myself working overtime when I reintroduce my thoughts to a story that I haven’t touched in days or months. As I strive to have my glass-half-full mentality with any situation that I create for myself, I look at the pros:

  • I can polish and rethink some concepts.
  • I can tie aspects of character and story development together in an advantageous matter.
  • I can reflect on my progression as a writer.

I think the last point is paramount to my evolution. Everything published on this site is “a work in progress”. Sometimes I go back and edit a single line, sometimes I take out a comma or add a semicolon here and there. Editing is a labor of love that must be taken with a positive outlook—be it on a story written in a single session or in multiple releases such as this—to be implemented with effectiveness.

I have gone 0-2 on my first publication attempt “Daily Visits” and I want to paraphrase something said earlier to me about rejections:

“Rejection means only that that a few people didn’t agree with your tale or thought that it simply didn’t fit.”

These are uplifting words that are certainly genuine. I think we need more of these nowadays, and I feel that every writer should take the time to ponder that rejection is just another attempt to find the right platform for you—the writer—to showcase the story the way you intended it to be.

I’ll be back much sooner with this stories conclusion and of course, Ghoul will be doing something ridiculous tomorrow. Last week he became a big brother, now he may make a snowman. Or he’ll try to understand what the hell a meme is. Maybe he will sing in a choir.

Possibilities are endless with him, ‘ya know?

I am focusing on publication attempts and an anthology of short stories that I have originally wanted to self-publish from the beginning. My father was a self-employed, self-sustaining artist and I want to continue that trend in the family. But then again, it has always been an aspiration of mine to become published first in the traditional sense.

Take it easy,

John Potts Jr

The Storm Within — Part Three

In case you missed Parts One and Two….


“I hope he doesn’t back out,” said Karen Blane.

“That makes two of us.”

She sat with her former boss and producer at WPLQ, Allen Viera. They sipped nervously at their second round of coffee as they waited for Officer Paul Emmert to arrive.

“Listen, Allen, I can’t say how sorry I am that you lost your job over my stubbornness.”

“Don’t be. We’re in this together,” he said.

They sat across from one another under the poor lighting of Morning Glory Café. Karen reached out and squeezed his hand. “But thank you none the less. I wasn’t always a producer, you know? I was out in the field once and believe it or not I was more tenacious than you would think.”

“I’d like to hear about that sometime.”

Karen smiled and Allen blushed.

Wait staff bustled about around them, cleaning spots of mixed wintery mess off from the floors and wiping down the tall tables and bar stools in preparation for the next wave of customers.

“I think that may be him.”

Allen pointed to a man standing in the doorway. He was disheveled from top to bottom and scanned around the seating area with darting eyes. Karen stood and pivoted. She had a face that was impossible to forget; perfect for television as Allen pointed out on several occasions under past circumstances. Blonde hair bounced with minimal effort on slender shoulders and her aqua eyes always welcomed a conversation. Officer Paul nodded and sighed before approaching with an outstretched hand. It was an awkward approach and Allen thought to himself there was an eerie tremble in his fingers as Karen grasped ahold.

“Thank you for meeting with us, Officer Emmert,” she said. “May I buy you a drink?”

“No, thank you. I’ve had one too many cups already and please, call me Paul,” he said.

“Very good. And this is Allen. He was my boss at WPLQ.”

“You didn’t say anything about doing an interview for the station,” said Paul.

“I was fired, too.”

“Oh. Jesus, I am sorry to hear that. I guess everyone lost something that night, huh?”

Their silence concurred his rhetoric. Paul didn’t sit until Karen had, and when he did, it was next to Allen.

Fear has a particular odor only an otherworldly sense can pinpoint. It’s acrid, sweet, and Paul reeked of it.

“So I have to ask, if you two don’t work for the station anymore, then why are you interested in what happened?”

“It’s journalistic integrity at this point. I took an oath—just as Allen did—to uncover the truth and we plan to do just that. Or we will at least exhaust all possible sources of information that are available. And honestly, if anything could help find the eldest Parish son, I think this will.”

“Not only that, I feel that WPLQ is hiding something,” Allen said. “Between you and I and this weak cup of joe here, the interview Karen took with the neighbor was never meant to be aired. If we can come to a… I guess logical conclusion, then we will air this online.”

“I take that airing that interview was how you lost your job.”

Allen rolled his eyes. “Yup, that is. But it’s for the best. I’m only bitter because this is incomplete… and fresh. I worked there for better part of a decade. So please, don’t mind me.”

“I understand. And my name will be kept anonymous? I still plan on going back to work once my psych-leave is over.”

“Of course,” said Karen.

Allen noticed that Paul wasn’t reassured.

“What we will do when we have the audio completed is add a voice modulator to your parts. I promise you that you’ll have a hard time discerning if it is you or not. And I’ll edit out any parts that indicate your role as first responder.”

“Alright. I just want to say before we start that I am only doing this because there is no other way to bring that Parish boy home. I don’t even know if this will help but what else can I do. Silence is acceptance.”

“How do you mean by that?” asked Karen.

“Well… if I was to say or do nothing, then I would accept that what little effort is being put in by the FBI and State Police is fine. It’s like the case is closed already and we’ve accepted that the boy is lost. That’s not right… and it isn’t what I signed up for. I want to protect and serve, and I feel that this is the only way to get some answers. So no, I will not sit back in silence when I know I can do something.”

They found their common ground and Karen pushed record.

“Tell us how the call came in that night? And more importantly, at what time?”

“I was on the roads at the beginning of the storm. I came in early, actually. I wasn’t due for work until midnight.”

“Graveyard shift?” Karen asked.

“Like all rookies to this department, yes. And I was the nearest to Perry Lane when it came over the radio as a domestic dispute at… I want to say seven on-the-dot. My sergeant… do I have to say his name?”

“No, no. What you said is fine.”

“My sergeant for that evening was ten or so minutes out and he arrived before I did. I wasn’t surprised. I’m not local to here and he knows the back roads better than I ever could. Plus, the storm wasn’t nearly as bad as it was made out to be. I’m originally from Aroostook County so I am use to a pounding.”

Allen now understood the accent. A Maine tongue sounds almost identical from county-to-county, coast to inland. There was a certain laid-back hum in Paul’s speech overshadowed by a tormented shrivel that Allen guessed was never present before that night.

“Was he already inside or did he wait for you?”

“No, he was inside. I pulled in behind his squad car and when I got out I just… I knew something wasn’t right. It’s hard to describe.”

“All I ask is that you try your best for us.”

He sighed and looked to the ceiling. Even in the dismal lighting it was apparent that the color was slowly receding from him as he recalled further into the depths of some abhorrent memory that prodded with nefarious intent from the darkened corners of his mind.

“It was the streetlights… and the noise.”

“How do you mean?”

“The silence was deafening and I remember turning before I ran inside to see a plow truck pass by. I saw it, but I couldn’t hear it. And it crept by at a speed that seemed something out of a movie. Like it was in slow-mo. When it went under the streetlights—which were on, I swear they were—it vanished and appeared on the other side. It was as if something was keeping the world away from Perry Lane that night. And the storm. I always forget this and I don’t know how ‘cause I have dreams of it every night since… but the storm seemed to come from that house.

“Snow whipped around me and I felt like I was sprinting through a blizzard. The winds gnawed at my face and there was this horrid blast of cold pelting my body from the opened doorway. There must’ve been a two-inch difference in accumulation on the Parish yard than anywhere else in town. I rushed in and hollered for my sergeant, but he couldn’t hear me and worse, I couldn’t hear my own voice. This all must sound crazy.”

Paul brought his pale hands to his pale face and began to breathe. It was shallow and strained.

“It’s okay, you’re doing fine,” said Karen as she reached out and squeezed his hand as she did Allen’s. “What happened next?”

“There was a foyer and to the left the door was closed. On the right was the first victim. I guessed it was the mother’s body parts that I saw.”

“Wait, did you say body parts? The official statement by FBI only said beheading,” said Karen.

“That is what we’re all supposed to say if anyone asks. Her limbs were severed and just piled haphazardly. It must’ve been the living room—or one of them—see the house was bigger than it looked on the outside and I didn’t get much further than that. I saw my sergeant in the next room with his weapon drawn and he turned with it raised. He didn’t fire and I remember he chewed my ass out something fierce for coming in quiet. I knew he couldn’t hear me… he won’t admit it but I know he didn’t.”

“Was every victim like that?”

Allen sat in awe as Karen’s resolve remained stoic through the details.

“Yes… even the little girls. Chopped up in fucking piles. My sergeant was pale as a ghost and I could tell he was going to be sick. I was in shock. I couldn’t move or speak, let alone process what I saw come from behind him. It was the husband.”

“Mr. Parish?”

“I knew him right off. I mean—I didn’t know him personally, I just remember being briefed a few weeks back that he was the cause of several minor disturbances. But he was different than you or I.”

“How do you mean?”

“My sergeant isn’t a small man by any means. He must be six-three on a good day and weighs close to two-forty. But Mr. Parish was easily seven feet and he came from those shadows quicker than anything I’ve ever seen and he was screaming over and over ‘He’s coming back. Oh yes, oh yes. He isn’t done and he isn’t happy.’ He took us both off guard. My sergeant was knocked out cold with a single blow and he grabbed his gun and shot me, twice.

“I was ridiculed for wearing my vest since I started as a deputy and I am glad I just ignored it. I know it’s small town Maine, but you never know what you’ll face. Complacency is a killer worse than murder. I am glad that I drew my gun and shot him dead where he stood. Would you be surprised to hear it took the entire clip to drop Mr. Parish? Every single bullet hit him square in the chest and in the arms and in the face. I am quite the shot and I know I dumped four rounds into the kill zone.”

Paul made a circle with his index finger that started above the eyebrows and went around to the bottom of his nose.

“That also wasn’t in the report and yes, I am very surprised,” said Karen. “What happened next?”

“First there was this sensation and a popping sound. I can only describe it as a tremendous amount of pressure being relieved from every inch of my body and I could finally hear. Then I called it in. Triple murder, suspect down and one officer injured. My sergeant roused easily. When he came to he ran through the kitchen and out the back door. I yelled out to him and he only said that the oldest—Bobby Parish—was not here. I still don’t know how he knew but I guess he searched the house prior. He has never said. Some say he is friends with the mother and maybe more at one point years back.”

“And what did you do?”

“I went out the front door and I hurled. I don’t think I have vomited more in my life. Once I composed myself I went around the house and out back to find my sergeant scanning the ground with his flashlight. He found tracks and ran into the woods. He was only gone for a few minutes and said the tracks just stopped, but they had to be Bobby’s. By now the rest of the department showed and I never stepped foot back in that house.”

“But why was it called a murder-suicide when you shot him in self-defense?”

“Because of the note,” said Paul.

“What note?”

“They didn’t share that, huh?” His scoff was filled with disgust. “Course they didn’t. There was a suicide note found on the kitchen table. I haven’t read it nor will I ever, but from what little I heard is that Mr. Parish aimed to off himself one way or the other after he killed his family. Police Chief Sandborn took that as enough to call it a Police Assisted Suicide, even though he believed that I shot him in self-defense. I asked him why and he said that I would thank him later. I already have, to be honest.”

“What do you think he meant by that?”

“I think that he didn’t want me—the rookie—to be labeled a hot-head and ready to shoot at the first sign of trouble, even though I have been branded a hero from my fellow officers and the FBI, but I know where he is coming from. He is not only protecting me but the town. And his force. He isn’t a bad man or a liar, he just wants to make sure we stay small-town-Maine for as long as we can.”

“Thank you, Paul. I think that will do. Can we contact you if there are any other questions?”

He never gave them a direct answer. Paul only stood and applauded them for trying to uncover the truth, and left. Allen spoke for the first time since Karen started recording when the door of Morning Glory Café shut behind him.

“We’re getting into that house and we’re doing it tonight.”


©  Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017

Sorry for being a day late on this friends.

I am honestly having a fucking blast writing this piece and I didn’t expect it to run this long, so look for Part Four at some point in the coming week. 

Right now I am reading some Joe Hill. I was first introduced to Lock and Key a few years ago. I am sadden to say that I am only up to book three in the phenomenal graphic novel series and the exquisite illustrating of Gabriel Rodriguez is second to none. I want to buy them all in hardcover and I will not read it unless it is in hardcover. I’m weird like that but I do have an extensive graphic novel collection and dammit, I am going to do this one justice.

Right now I am on 20th Century Ghosts, an anthology of short stories that is just….


Once I am done with that I will move onto The Fireman and will probably reread Heart Shaped Box. Well, let me correct that. I listened to the audio version narrated by Stephen Lang. What an adventure. 

If you haven’t heard of Joe Hill or read any of his stories then I have to say that you’re doing it wrong. Doing what wrong, John? You may ask.


Stop what you’re doing and go read anything of his. You won’t be disappointed. If you are, then I don’t know what to tell you. I can only lead a horse to water.

I think a new “King” has come forward in horror, and his name is Joe.

See what I did there? If anyone doesn’t know, Joe is Stephen King’s son. Writing must run in the family. 

Speaking of audio reads… Psudopod or Wayne June reading Lovecraft is usually how I end my nights. I am working on my own audio reads for the stories posted here. I have a decent setup at the moment and–most importantly–I have overcome this awful sore throat that lingered something fierce, so I hope (no guarantees for a timeline or schedule) to roll-out some narrations done by yours truly. 


That is my setup right now. Vault boy approves. I use the Necronomicon to elevate the microphone so that my mouth is slightly above the pop filter. I know, it’s probably a sin to use that book in this manner, but it helps with body positioning and it does catch some of the mush-mouth and denture-click noises. I don’t have dentures (or do I?), that is just the term used. 

Thanks for coming back. Keep warm and stay true to what you feel is right. Even if it is summoning dark forces to better your advancement in life.

Just make sure the bargain is advantageous.

John Potts Jr 

The Storm Within — Part Two

Part One is here, waiting to be loved once more.

“Did you already do the interview?” Karen’s producer held the cellphone close. “Uh huh. Alright, send it over. Just—hey, listen; you’re doing the right thing and I appreciate everything you’ve done. I mean it, Karen. I’ll see you soon.”

It wasn’t right to tell her over the phone. He knows that even if he did, Karen wouldn’t listen. She’d stick it out till all the horrid facts of the tragedy were unearthed. Then she’d empty her desk.

And that was all he could ever ask for in a journalist.

“I got the interview,” said one of the technicians.

“Load it up.”

He rolled his chair down the carpeted slope and inched to the technician as the video played on the monitor.

“Thank you so much for talking with us tonight.”

“Not a problem, young lady.”

Karen stood atop a snow-covered stoop, holding her microphone to an older man who leaned out of an opened doorway. Only his upper body showed. A red and black flannel wrapped around slim limbs and his face was starched with grey stubble. Tempered green eyes told much.

“Now, and this is for our viewers,” the camera panned to the crime scene. Officials meandered through the lulled remnants of the Nor’Easter that never was. State Police and unmarked SUV’s replaced the local authorities and canines trotted through the fresh snow, sniffing high and low for the unseen.  “You are obviously very close to what happened here, and you’re telling me what you said to 911 doesn’t add up with what the police allowed us to quote?”

“Very far from it. I watched the report on the television and had to get you folks over here to talk to in person.”

“What prompted you to call 911 this evening?”

“A lot of unfortunate happenings been going on with the Parish family before tonight. Particularly with the husband. He lost his job and started to drink heavily; seemed to come out of nowhere, too. Cops been over few times for noise complaints. Lot of fighting and yelling going on, but nothing more than that. Not until tonight, anyhow.”

“Did you suspect there to be more than what you just described of recent police involvement?”

“Not at first, no. I watched most of it unfold from this room.” The man points to the window closest to the crime scene. “And it seemed that it was more of the same; loud words. But then… then I saw people run from that front door.”

“How do you mean?”

“It looked like the children and the mother. Smaller framed, not like the husbands. I am not certain, though. Then a … a darkness came from that door.”

“A darkness?”

This is going to sound crazy. I mean—hell—I feel crazy just thinking of it, but it’s what I saw. Everything just went black when the husband ran from that doorway. It… what’s the word… came from within himself. Radiated, I suppose. It was something fierce. I’ve known that family for a few years now and I hate to even talk like this, but there was something evil inside that house tonight… inside him.”

Karen’s breath hovered with a specter’s curiosity.

“What did the husband—or the person you suspect to be the husband—do when he came out?”

“It was hard to tell. Any light from their house or from the street vanished when he ran out but I saw him still. He just… grew. Every part of his body did. Mr. Parish had been a little bigger than average, but he seemed awful menacing now. And that darkness! The children and Mrs. Parish were all dragged back into that house. Wasn’t one-by-one, either. I can’t explain it well, but it seemed like that darkness took them. And you know something? I never once heard them scream, either. Not even from the three little ones.”

It was the first time in the interview that the rugged features of the older man wavered.

Karen pressed on.

“And did you tell dispatchers this?”

“Most of it, yes. They didn’t really believe me. I told them that I wouldn’t make it up. Haven’t drank in years and never been in trouble. They just kept saying they’d get on it and that it might take a while cause of the storm.” The older man snorts and shakes his head. “But they were worrying about the wrong storm.”

Karen thanked him for his time, shook his hand and started to leave.

“Wait, sir? One more question,” she turned on the bottom step and offered the microphone once more. “How many members to the Parish family?”



©  Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017

I have a double-edged sword, and it’s named ADHD.

It is with me everywhere I go. Unsheathed and always slicing. 

Sometimes I just bleed out.  

It affects how I manage writing. It can be good and obviously, bad. I try to look at whatever situation that is presented in some gainful perspective. 

I don’t like writing a story in segments or installments. I just want to get that clear right now. But that damned blade dictates with sharp impunity my end goals of completing a story. It is what it is, I guess. I just have to roll with it

do like the constant flow of creative thought. I am working on multiple projects (trying to, at least) and being able to bounce around without an idea turning stale is a relief. I am tinkering around with audio reads and writing a shit-load of short stories for publishing; either by myself or by traditional means. 

One thing that is tricky with this forced (somewhat) process is that I work a little harder than needed on catching up. A pot can simmer too long and I sometimes start the dish over from scratch. Everything happens for a reason.

Or so the folks in the white lab coats keep telling me. Kindness tags along to that dripping syringe and those coats! Always pressed with a delicate iron. Creased and pristine. They’re not that bad, I guess.

I realized that I don’t talk about what I am reading in these afterthoughts. Shame on me.

And shame on you, too. I don’t know why, but I am sure your meddling caused this blunder in some way.

You know who you are.

I am currently reading Jack Ketchum’s Hide and Seek. There is something about telling a ghost story in raw, unquestionable vernacular that excites me. His mastery for no-bullshit narrative and character development is second to none. One of the best in horror, suspense, thriller–shit, I bet he’d even crush erotica if he wanted. 

Jack doesn’t waste time on letting his readers know what they’re in for. I think back to the first few paragraphs in Red. I won’t spoil it much if you haven’t read it. And if you haven’t, you need to. Let’s just say Avery Ludlow doesn’t scare none, even with guns pointed to his head. All he wanted was the truth, and for those who owed it to pay up. 

Thanks for reading, everyone. The conclusion to this story will be out soon. No specific date yet. It comes when it comes, I guess. 

John Potts Jr