Sweet Ophelia

Ghost stories are best when they haunt the mind. “Sweet Ophelia” by A. F. Stewart, does just that. Anita digs relentlessly with chilling realism and exceptional pacing. I’m a parent, one that honestly loses sleep over stories like this. Come, embrace the Damned. Free horror, restless nights, all brought to you by today’s best in modern horror.

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

Daddy, Daddy! Look! It’s snowing. Can we go out and play?”

Ophelia giggled and pressed her face close to the windowpane, staring at the flakes descending from the sky. She traced her chubby finger along the frost touched glass, waiting for an answer.

It never came.

Her silent father only sat in his high-backed chair and gulped another mouthful of Scotch. He stared into the flames crackling in the fireplace, ignoring anything else. When he drained the glass, he poured himself another drink.

Impatient, Ophelia sighed and climbed down from her window ledge perch. She glided out of the room in search of her mother. She found her in the kitchen washing dishes.

“It’s snowing, Mummy. Can we go play in the snow?”

Her mother never looked at her, simply kept at her task, and Ophelia sighed again. “No one pays attention to me anymore.” She tried stamping her…

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Waves

Nina has an ability to summon a wide range of emotions from a reader with her elegant horror, and in this weeks Pen of the Damned, she strikes awe in my eyes with her piece “Waves”. I look up to writers likes this, who can keep it short and vivid and vast and longing for more. Her prose, illustrious skills with words, paints the mind so well. Enjoy, friends!

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

Trapped within this bubble, I feel nothing of the arid landscape that surrounds me. I sit in subjugation, offered scraps to feed upon; amuse-bouche for the soul, or so I imagine. Apportioned morsels to sustain me, but never more than your callous ego will allow. Yes, I have licked the plate and the tang has seared my tongue, left a residue of shame that will forever taint my palate. I once soared with as much grace and majesty as the prey that circles overhead – a dangerous companion to adopt, folly perhaps, as I know what it awaits.

Freedom, such a simple thing, stolen from me by destiny’s choice; a truth mourned beyond measure. I was vibrant once, as vibrant as the now desiccated tree before me. I see its brittle limbs, its exposed bones; the crack that foretells of the next fractured moment. I live that moment with…

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Serpentine Willow

Lee Andrew Forman crafts macabre splendors in “Serpentine Willow,” a tale of one mother’s dedication, deep in the heart of terror. Lee’s impresses with slick transitions, ghastly details and horrific monsters. Read this and reread it and tell others to follow suit because this story is everything a horror fan wants in a quick read.

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

Rebecca’s toes curled in her boots when her feet touched the unholy earth. Ancient trees populated the forest ahead, pale fog twisting between their trunks with serpentine grace. Gnarled limbs formed an impenetrable canopy above, coloring all with a nocturnal hue. Tendrils of mist slithered around her legs, and her knees ached to buckle, but she forced herself on; she knew fear would bring demise.

She thought of Oliver. His shining face cast iron rods into her bones. It kept her from succumbing to the black moss which grabbed at her feet. His smile, the way he always wanted his sandwiches without the crust, his unending questions—memories that powered her will.

Movement in the brush clenched her jaw. But her eyes never averted the path; they stared forward, glazed with determination, intent only on reaching the end. After that it wouldn’t matter.

A clearing opened ahead. Rebecca stopped and…

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The Box

Mark Steinwachs delivers a gripping tale on last weeks Pen of the Damned. This, this story right here, is fantastic. Mark weaves modern horror with his straightforward narrative and quick tension. Delve into the realism of his terror.

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

The buzzing invades your brain. Why is the alarm clock going off? You begin to open your eyes and realize it’s not the alarm, but the doorbell. Who the hell is at my door at— rolling over, the clock finishes your thought by flashing 3:10 a.m.

You slide out of bed. As your feet touch the floor, the buzzing stops. You get up anyway and walk through the empty house to the front door to see if someone is there. There’s no one on the porch when you look through the peephole. You unlock the door, open it. On the ground in front of you is a small cardboard box. Stepping over it, you look around the front yard and glance up and down the street. Everything is quiet. You scoop the package up and walk into the house, kicking the door shut behind you.

Something solid moves…

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Crying

Jon Olson drops the hammer on this weeks Pen of the Damned! It’s a brutal sort of tale with a suspenseful tempo and a horrific finale. The details are vivid, the ghosts are eerie, and the tone is blunt. This is twisted modern horror, friends, and I hope you enjoy. Well done Jon!

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

The house was silent.

James’ wife Kate was in bed, no longer nagging him while his son slept quietly in his room. His cries had a way of penetrating deep into James’ head.

Sitting on the shitty brown couch his in-laws had given them as a wedding present, James enjoyed the silence.

Then his father spoke.

“Is that kid of yours going to cry tonight?”

James talked to his father every night, whether he wanted to or not; he always told James how to live his life.

The old man was more overbearing now than when he was alive.

“No, he’s not,” James replied.

“Yes, he will.”

Ignoring his father, he tried to find something decent to watch until Kate called from their bedroom.

“Honey, the air conditioner cut out again! Can you come take a look at it?”

“Tell her to suck it up,” the old man…

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Cleaning House

Written by me! Embrace the Unraveling of Your Fears, or in this case, one man’s answer to the incompetency of Today’s workforce! And stop by to check out my Afterthought as to why I wrote something so brutal and twisted. Enjoy!

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

The blinds were shut, and that meant it was Thursday.

It was the only day of the week when Brent would remove himself from the floor. He’d lock his door, turn off the fluorescent lights, and play seventies rock; usually Zeppelin or Sabbath. This was his office time, the time he dedicated to monotonous managerial duties that ate away at him, bit by bit, and Brent would eventually get to them before he went home. But he’d first lean back in his chair, close his eyes, and spend hours daydreaming. He never cast lustful strings of fantasies nor did he muse over troves of impossible wealth. What Brent wanted was simple, and at the very least, fair.

In his haze was Jimmy Nelson, tall and amiable, complimenting the residents of his sober living home while he passed their medication, and he’d notice Selma Ashton, who finally forced a smile…

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Devil Is In The Details

Wrenching, beautiful, and vengeful. Joseph Pinto (author of “Flowers for Evelene”, “Dusk and Summer”, and “Memorial”), paints the canvas with haunting imagery and smooth prose that pulls you in from the first word. Come, and revel with the Damned.

A group of horror writers sworn to their eternal suffering...

Her eyes speak volumes, assuring him it will be as it was; it will be alright. He knows it won’t be—it can’t be.

Nothing escapes the scrutiny of the incandescent lighting above their heads. No dark space exists for him in which to hide. He scrubs the stubble along his chin. “It’s coming out amazing, honey.”

He watches the artist deliver life to his daughter with thoughtful strokes, imbuing pallid skin with a fresh blush. He pushes a smile to his lips, watching his little girl watch him. She knows his nuances; the flutter of his lashes gives him away every time. She is his blood, after all.

Statuesque, she sits quietly for her portrait. It crushes his heart. Her beautiful lips, once so full like those of her mother, stretch like crinkled strips of weathered jerky now, the music silenced from her dancing eyes. She is tired, so…

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