Scary stories free in the public domain

I hope those of you reading this blog also like to read other stories. Why would you follow an author if you didn’t like to read, right? 🙂

Through the years I have read quite a few books and one of my favorite genres is horror. Ever since I was a kid I loved to read scary ghost stories. I still have most of the books I had when I was younger and have been reading some of them over – still good stuff.

One of the benefits of the internet at this time in history is that quite a few of the classic stories we think of as scary are now free. Their copyright has expired and the works are now in the public domain, meaning anyone can get them to read for free. I’m not talking about illegal, pirated books.

This is absolutely wonderful, as some of these are great stories. Keep in mind that stories from 100+ years ago can be quite a bit different from today’s stories. There is more of an atmosphere about them. They seem to play on the senses or scare through subtleties in perception. Plus a lot of them aren’t scary stories so much as a statement on the day and age.

There is a site I love – The Gutenberg Project. This site has been trying to collect as many books and stories that are in the public domain as they possibly can. They want to preserve these books and stories and offer them for download on the website in various formats. If you’ve never been there, check it out.

A couple that may be of interest during Halloween time:

Frankenstein – not only is this arguably the first science fiction story it is also written by a woman, which is pretty fantastic for the time period. While you may be familiar with the various movies, the story is much more than that. Like many classic, Victorian-era stories, the true monster isn’t who we think. It is also a commentary on the new science that was evolving at this time and how man thinks they can play god. My kids have been reading and studying this in school, it really is worth a read if you never have.

Dracula – again, not what you would think. If you think you’re getting an action vampire movie of a story, think again. This is a pretty hefty book, but its very good. It is actually more of a love story than a scary ghost story, but I love the Victorian atmosphere, gothic in every sense, and how the story is so much more than we think of it today.

The Vampyre, a tale – not as well known, but may be the first vampire story. It’s short but a little harder to get through than some others. Worth reading if for no other reason than it’s the start of our modern vampire story.

And if you think Nightmare Before Christmas is part Halloween and part Christmas, check out A Christmas Carol. Yup, the classic with Scrooge and the three ghosts. Did you ever wonder about ghosts in a Christmas story? It’s really a ghost story! I have read this story every year at Christmas as a tradition, but it fits equally well in October.

There are a few to get you started. If you like to read and have said you should read some of the classics, check this site out. There are so many good books you may be there a while and suddenly find your Kindle full.

POV

One of the aspects of writing that is difficult for me is Point of View (POV).

Point of view is basically who is telling the story you are reading. The easy example is first person point of view – I walked my dog in the park when I saw a wonderous site. A UFO landed right in front of me and I couldn’t believe it. My dog, of course, went crazy.

The other one that is popular and fairly easy is third person – George walked his dog in the park and saw something wondrous. A UFO landed in front of him and he was shocked. His dog barked at it.

There are some slightly different variations and there is also 2nd point of view, but I’m not going to go into that much here.

My problem is something they call head hopping. When you right from a third person point of view, you can be omniscient or focused. When omniscient, you can see in the heads of all the characters and when focused, you usually stay with one character. The problem is, in any scene you should stay focused on one character or it gets confusing. That is something I have a hard time with and it’s hard for me to even recognize it.

Here is an example my editor gave me. It is from Martin & James vs. The Masked Moss-Trooper.

Martin’s POV is red, while James’ is blue.

Martin grabbed the ladder and climbed hurriedly. A noise below caused him to glance down and see James climbing. 

“James, do go into the car and wait for me. It is much too dangerous up here. I cannot be responsible for you and apprehend Victor at the same time.”

The little face looked up, voice whining. “But sir, I’m your partner.” Not getting the reaction he wanted, James tried again.  “Please, I won’t screw up like last time, I promise. Cross my heart, well, if I wasn’t holding a ladder I’d cross my heart.”

You can probably see fairly easily how the first part is as if we were in Martin’s head and the next part we are in James head. When I was writing it and reading it and re-writing it, that never stood out to me.

Here it is rewritten:

Martin grabbed the ladder and climbed hurriedly. A noise below caused him to glance down and see James climbing. 

“James, do go into the car and wait for me. It is much too dangerous up here. I cannot be responsible for you and apprehend Victor at the same time.”

The little face looked up, voice whining. “But sir, I’m your partner.” When Martin didn’t respond, he took another step up the rung.  “Please, I won’t screw up like last time, I promise. Cross my heart, well, if I wasn’t holding a ladder I’d cross my heart.

It’s subtle and the rewritten part says the same thing, it’s just the way it’s said. Some people don’t find it jarring and think it sounds fine the first way. This isn’t the best example, so let me try another one. Here is an example from later in the story when Martin is facing Vincent.

The triangle shape made this blade unique and Martin knew he had to be careful or he’d receive more than a cut from it. (Martin POV) Vincent tensed, readying himself, knowing he could overtake the other man, but before he could close the distance, there was a clatter as the door behind him opened. (Vincent POV) 

That one is much more clear. The POV definitely shifts between the two characters. We head hop from one to the other.

The triangle shape made this blade unique and Martin knew he had to be careful or he’d receive more than a cut from it. Martin readied himself as he saw Vincent tense. He knew he could overtake the other man if he was careful of the blade. Before he could close the distance, there was a clatter as the door behind Vincent opened.

This is an area of writing I still struggle with and will continue to work on. I want to thank Cate Hogan for helping with the examples above. I hope that I can use the knowledge I’ve gained to be able to go through my manuscripts and fix them so that they read better, because getting people to read them is the whole point.

Case Files stories

The second Martin & James story, vs the Evil Mosquito Scientist, is out of Kindle Unlimited and the price is reduced to FREE!

Look for it in other outlets like Barnes & Noble and iBooks soon.

Check it out!

How I broke my hand

I broke my hand over the weekend. Actually, not the whole hand, it’s not shattered or anything. Just broke the pinkie on my left hand. If you had to choose a finger to break, that’s a good one to choose.

How did I break my finger? That’s a good question. Below are three stories of how I MIGHT have broken it. See if you think any are true:

 

Story 1

So there I was, standing in the alley with the smell of rotten garbage. Water dripped down my hair and into my eyes. I was soaked all the way to my converse. No way was I leaving, though. The drunk moron in front of me was going to learn some manners and I was going to defend my wife’s honor.

Was I worried? Heck no, I’m a black belt after all.

Then, just like in the movies, he lumbered unsteadily forward, throwing a roundhouse that a hippo could have avoided. I slipped by and pow, landed a good one on his nose. He rocked back, shocked.

Now I was a little giddy with the achievement, so I danced in to pop him another one. I swung my left hand, and crack. His head felt as hard as steel as my hand connected and I felt pain shoot up my arm.

Cradling my hand, all I could do was watch his fist coming right at my face.

Story 2

“Spin me.”

Little did I know that those words would be my undoing. I mean, come on, it was just a kids merry go round. I had spun my older kids on them hundreds of times when they were growing up. I couldn’t tell my stepson no, could I?

Telling him to hold tight, I grasped the rails and started to run. It’s a very weird thing to run while crouched over and grasping two rails on one side. Once I had him going I stopped to watch.

Yup, sure enough, he had that glazed look of a kid that was absolutely terrified and enjoying himself silly at the same time.

Timing it just right, I started to reach for the bars as I started running to match speeds. Therein lies my downfall. If I had just gone around the mud I wouldn’t have slipped. If I hadn’t slipped I wouldn’t have heard the loud crack as my finger was bent at a very unnatural angle.

Story 3

“Last chance, so ya’ bedder tell us, see?”

Since I was strapped to a chair, I wasn’t about to correct this neanderthal’s grammar.

“Seriously, I think you have the wrong guy. I don’t know anything about a diamond.”

I looked desperately at the two thugs hovering over me. They exchanged a glance.

“Want me ta’ loosen his tongue Tony?” the bigger one asked.

“Nah, let’s look around first. It’s gotta be here.”

What could I do but sit as they busted up the joint. Not my place, which I think may have been the problem.

“Um, fellas, I don’t want to interrupt, but this isn’t even my house. Honest, I was just trying to collect money for cancer research. See? My bag is right there.”

I bobbled my head, trying to indicate the forgotten bag by the door.

“That’s it, Sylvester. Let’s rough him up.”

I was stunned. What type of respectable mafia guy is called Sylvester. Before I could question the name, the big guy grabbed my pinkie and yanked it up. I barely heard the snap before I blacked out.

I hope they found their diamond.


There you have it. Which one do you believe?

If you are interested, I have a couple other stories to check out:

Jeff Strand “I gotta pee” fan fiction

Dr. Time

Martin & James Visit the Witch

I can send you more stories, including an exclusive Martin & James story where they battle the first vampire.

Free Stories

Good news readers!

Right now, Martin & James vs The Evil Mosquito Scientist is FREE on Amazon!

Even better, The Crazed Weatherman and The Witch are also free, and those will stay free! If you would really like to help a new author, go check those out, click to buy them for free. Just doing that would be immensely helpful.

The other book, Masked Moss-Trooper, should be free soon. How soon? Not sure, Amazon doesn’t move fast on these things.

Also, if you like to read on other platforms, you are in luck, because you can get these all elsewhere. Check out the book pages for the link that works for you. Note – Evil Mosquito Scientist is not currently free on Amazon nor available elsewhere. As soon as it is out of Kindle Unlimited, I will be able to make it available all over.

Martin & James vs the Masked Moss-Trooper

Martin & James vs The Evil Mosquito Scientist

Martin & James vs The Crazed Weatherman

Martin & James Visit the Witch

 

Dr. Time

This was a short story I submitted on Reddit for a writing prompt I found on the Reedsy writing prompts:

https://reedsy.com/writing

The prompt was:

The doctor gave you six months. You lived through it, one year has passed. Not surprised, he then gave you one year; after that time you are still alive. You’re starting to think he’s actually GIVING you time to live, instead of making predictions.

 

This is what I came up with:

(you can download a PDF of this story here)

“Good morning, dear. Time to wake up.”
I groan or try to groan, at the sound of my wife’s voice. I love her dearly, but why does her voice sound like nails on a chalkboard in the morning. Maybe it’s just me. Probably just me.
I hear her starting to stride down the hall, her brisk steps seeming to pound into my head, and I valiantly sit up. There, hope she’s happy.
“Oh, good, you’re up. All right dear, I’ve laid out your clothes, do you need help dressing?” she asks this sweetly, but do I detect a hint of malice, maybe loathing, in that tone? Could just be me. Probably not just me.
“No dear, thanks,” I croak. She gives me a smile as she leaves. I don’t smile back. I think she’s starting to hate me, not that I could blame her, right?
Once I struggle the clothes on, I shuffle to the door, glancing at the clock as I pass it on the stand. Really? Is that just one more mockery, that it takes me over 20 minutes to get dressed. Just to get dressed?
As I continue shuffling down the hall, I hear her light steps from below and then her voice floats up.
“Dear, are you at the top of the steps yet? Should I start breakfast? I just don’t want it to get cold.”
Yeah, it would suck to have cold eggs, life’s tragedies. Ok, maybe I’m feeling a bit of self-pity this morning. Yeah, probably.
I gather my strength and roar, “No,” and then cough for half an eternity.
“What was that dear? I couldn’t quite hear you,” she says. “It’s ok, I’ll wait a bit.”
All right, all right, so it was more little a kitten whine than a roar, leave me my fantasies.
Hearing my plodding feet on the creaky stairs, she says she’ll start breakfast. At least it’s something to look forward to. My stomach growls and I grimace. Damn. Even that hurts. When your stomach says it’s hungry and it hurts, that’s when life really starts sucking, right? Forget the ‘my hair hurts’ stuff, if you can’t enjoy eating, why bother? Sorry, maybe it’s just me.
She’s already sitting and almost done eating by the time I clomp into the kitchen. Rising to help me, she stops and sits back down after my glare catches her eye. I haven’t lived this long, and with this pain, just to be treated like an invalid. Is that what I am? Yeah, ok, so what. I don’t want to be treated like one and I won’t be. I’ll die first. Maybe.

###

“Hello Mr. Sanders, let me help you.”
I can’t summon to strength to glare or tell the nurse no as she grabs my elbow, guiding me through the door. The trip here has taken most of the day and I’m done in. I feel my arm trembling as I try to lift the cane for the next step. The nurse is on one side of me with my wife on the other, holding my sagging body from hitting the floor unceremoniously. All right, let’s be honest, they are carrying me with my feet dragging.
Once I’m in the room waiting for the doctor, I recover some of my strength.
“I’m getting pretty darn tired of this,” I wheeze out.
My wife, my lovely, supportive wife, looks at me and for an instant, I see some anger and loathing before the all too common pity settles on her features. I want to yell at her, I want to scream. I sit catching my breath.
“I know dear, it has been hard. But try to remember the good side, you are still here, we are still together. Originally the doctor didn’t think you would make it six months, and here you are, two years later and still with me.”
Was that a bit of sarcasm and resentment I hear in her voice. Could be. Probably is. Not that I blame her. Yay me, I beat dying only to end up so miserable I think it would be preferable to be dead. I’m pretty sure my wife would agree with that assessment. Probably.
“This isn’t living. This is dying alive,” I mumble. I don’t care if she hears me or not.
“Dear, the doctor will figure this out and you’ll get better.”
“Will he?” I make an effort and glare at her. “I mean, he thought I was going to die and was wrong about that, huh? Wasn’t he?”
She looks at me, serenely, but I know I see some anger seething beneath the surface. Not that I blame her. Not really.
“We must have faith, dear. You’re alive, that’s the important part.”
I don’t bother arguing with her, it would take too much strength. But she’s wrong. She doesn’t have to live like I do, live like I’m dead but just can’t stop breathing. Except I wish I could stop breathing, it hurts so badly.
The door opens and there is the doctor, a bright sunny smile plastered on his face. I hate him. Thanks for telling me I was dying, doc, only to be wrong and then tell me you have no idea why I’m in such pain anymore. Thanks.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Sanders? Still alive I see.”
I’m going to punch him right in the nose, pow. I want to punch him. At least I’m thinking of punching him, I’m too tired to actually raise my arms.
“I think he’s doing better, Doctor. Yesterday he had more energy, didn’t you dear? I think the pain has been less on someday, too, right dear?”
I nod my head, more like a bit of a jiggle. What the hell? It doesn’t really matter anyway, the doctor hasn’t been able to do anything for me.
He examines me while asking more questions, which my wife answers. I just sit, I don’t care any longer. I do wish he had been right about that original diagnosis and I had died, believe me, that would be better than this existence I’ve been living.
“Well, Mr. Sanders,” the doc starts, sitting on his stupid little stool while looking at my wife as much as me. “The good news is, you are still alive. You seem to be a true miracle of science. I am glad to have been wrong in this case.”
He smiles. Maybe it’s the pain of continuing to stay sitting, but that smile looks malicious to me. I turn my eyes to see if my wife has caught that, but she’s just beaming looking at me and then back at the doctor.
“It is wonderful, Doctor. But he is still in such pain, more pain than he ever had before your diagnosis. Isn’t there anything we can do now?”
“Well, Mrs. Sanders, I’m not sure. I mean, just being alive should be considered a gift. Yes, a great gift.”
He pauses and again I think I catch a hint of something almost sinister in his smile. Maybe it’s just me. Probably it’s just me.
“Mr. Sanders, I’ll send the nurse in to take some blood. There are some new treatments I’ve been trying with some patients that may help you. We’ll talk after your blood is analyzed.”
He rises, shakes my wife’s hand then lifts mine to shake it. It hurts moving, even when it’s not me causing the movement. Then he’s gone. Gee, thanks doc, big help.
I need to pee, and if I don’t start to the restroom now, I will likely pee my pants before I get there. After some fussing, my wife just holds the door for me as I glide out, slowly, like a snail. Luckily, the restrooms aren’t far and I think I can make it.
After just a few steps, I’m tuckered out and my left knee is screaming in pain. I can’t help it, I need to rest. Will I be back on the ball court with the guys shooting layups soon? Doubt it, I can’t even get up the strength to turn the game on TV. I angle towards the wall, no a door, falling into it more than a controlled lean. To my surprise, I don’t stop. The door isn’t latched and I fall into the room. Just great, now I’ll probably pee my pants before I can get up. Then, I pee my pants anyway.
What I see is the most horrific thing I’ve ever witnessed. Is it just me? Am I hallucinating? Could be, but I don’t think so.
On the patient table is a man, similar in age to me. Standing in front of him is the doctor. But that is where the normalcy ends. The doctors head is split and folded open, the top half of his head laying back like someone cut open a ball. His mouth, where the split occurs, has a hose, no, a tube, projecting out of it and attached to this other patients head. There are what look like balls of glowing light flowing in the tube, not out of the patient as you’d expect in some cheesy horror movie, but from the doctor to the patient.
Before I can comprehend any of this or call for help, the doctor, half his head still lolling back, jumps and the tube snaps back from the patient and down the doctor’s throat. Crazily, it reminds me of a measuring tape when you flip that little switch to drag it all back in. Once the tube has disappeared, he turns as his head rights itself back together.
“Oh, Mr. Sanders, that was a bad thing, a very bad thing. You should not have seen that, no you shouldn’t. And here, I’ve done so much for you. I mean, look at you, still alive even when you would have been dead with any other doctor.”
He looks at me sadly, slight shake to his head. What insanity is this? I must be really insane. Am I insane? Probably. Feebly, I strain to pull myself back, away from this monster, to the door and safety. Casually, he steps over me and shuts the door. Well crap.
“Mr. Sanders, I’m afraid we may have to change our deal. I have had such a wonderful track record. So many patients that have gotten to live. Me, that was me, giving that to them. And you, I might add. And I was close, really close, to fixing the problems – the aches and pains your body experiences when it knows it should be dead. The pains of the dead on the living, you might say.”
The doctor steps closer, way too close, like right up next to me.
“I am sorry to say, Mr. Sanders, that you won’t get the chance to experience that. I truly am sorry, I thought you might be one of the first. You really shouldn’t have come in here. It makes the suffering you’ve had mean nothing.”
I think he may have said I’m sorry once more, I’m not sure. I was too busy focusing on his head splitting again and that tube stretching out right towards my …

 

So there you are. Hope you like it. I will be posting other short stories, so if you like this one, come back for more.

 

Ramblings like Stephen King

One of the writers I have read a lot of is Stephen King. Starting about age 10, I have read almost everything he has written. The Shining is one of my favorite books of all time.

One reason for Mr. King’s popularity may be his comfortable, aw-shucks tone at times. He especially brings this out in the bits he writes before the stories. I remember this in Night Shift, the bit of insight into the actual author. Who they are, how they think, and why the hell are you writing this weird stuff?!

I decided to do this also. I want to get to know my readers – or constant reader as Mr. King affectionately refers to them. Even with my short stories, I’ve started doing this. While they might not be up to Mr. King’s standards, I hope they provide some insight and let us be a bit closer.

Below is what I wrote for my first Martin & James story:

Hello and welcome one and all,

I am truly humbled and grateful that you are reading this story, the third one in the Martin & James series. I am glad the stories have brought some enjoyment and pleasure.
When I originally got it through my head that I really did want to write, I had an idea. Then, I sat on it and let the idea ‘evolve’ in my mind. Looking back now, I think it was more a matter of being afraid – afraid I couldn’t actually write and afraid that no one would want to read it. The fact that you are reading the third Martin & James story tells me that someone enjoys this. That’s totally mind blowing to me. Boom. Again, I am completely humbled and grateful.
I hope, that as you read through this story, that you enjoy it and find a bit of an escape from whatever your stresses are for the day. I hope that you want to read more, to learn more about the masked man they chased or learn more about the agency and other agents. Maybe you are questioning why they have a kid with a field agent – which is totally weird.
Well, the story you are about to read, does not answer all of those questions. That is the other thing that originally popped into my head when I wanted to write. I had never written a full length novel and didn’t have the confidence that I could do that. I did want to write, but if I got discouraged while writing my first novel, I would stop and never know if I really could do it. I’m probably not the only one that has ever felt that way.
To solve that dilemma, I decided to write short stories. This thought came from my love of the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. Not that he consciously thought about writing short stories that just captured a slice, or an adventure, in Conan’s life. He was writing for what he had at the time – magazine’s that would publish short stories. The way Howard did it was to just write various stories about Conan in different stages of his life. There wasn’t really a thought to make a full life history or to even connect them, it was just stories. I loved that.
So that’s where I was, wanting to write stories but not sure I could. I decided to write a series of adventures about my main character and idea for the world. I did a couple, talked with some people, wrote some more, etc. Finally, I found someone that helped me out and encouraged me to stop with the individual stories and write a book. By that time, I felt that maybe I could.
OK, that’s not the whole story, but I will regale you with more at some other time. Since I took my main idea and went the full novel route, I still wanted to get some action adventure stories that were a bunch of stories loosely connected. My stepson, who is a very active dreamer, started telling me about some of his dreams, and that’s the final piece I needed.
So here we are. Action stories about a duo fighting the forces that want to destroy the world. They have some connection, and more of that will come out in time, but they are just fun reads. That’s my hope and desire.
With that said, I won’t hold you up any longer from finding out about this crazed weatherman and how Martin and James, maybe, defeat him.
Enjoy!