Authors: Anthony M. Strong
FIVE SHORT TALES OF
HORROR AND SUSPENSE
ANTHONY M. STRONG
West Street Publishing
My Inspiration and Muse
Published by West Street Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and events are products of the authors imagination. Any similarity to events or places, or real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 Anthony M. Strong
First Published December 30th, 2015
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission.
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Some places should be left alone.
It’s been fifteen years since Ben and his father buried the time capsule in the woods. Now Ben is returning to dig it up. But things have changed. The woods are not the happy place they once were. What starts out as a weekend camping trip to rekindle old memories and have some fun turns into a nightmare for Ben and his girlfriend, Sally. By the time they realize their mistake, it’s too late. There’s something evil at the old campground, and it doesn’t want them to leave.
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JACK FLETCHER WAS NOT A HAPPY MAN. Not happy at all. Two minutes and a toilet break, that was all it took. He was on the way back to his desk when the telephone rang. And there was Jerry, good old over ambitious Jerry, bounding from his cubical in the direction of Jack’s phone, answering it, taking the order, Jack’s big order that he’d been working on for a month, not to mention his commission. Had he been a man to handle difficult situations with a measure of fortitude Jack might have shrugged the incident off and moved on, but he was not.
That’s why, later that evening, he found himself perched on a barstool in the Laughing Barrel, a dive bar ten minutes walk from the three room apartment he’d taken not because he liked it, but because he could afford it. Sales were an up and down business, and recently things were leaning toward down.
He starred, sullen, into his Scotch as if the amber liquid might contain some deeper truth, instead of just melting ice and a black plastic stir stick. He downed the drink in one, relishing the burn as it worked its way to his stomach, and then pushed the empty glass across the bar. One drink would not cut it, not tonight.
The bartender was nowhere to be found, as usual. He glanced around the bar, his eyes resting on the chalkboard propped near the door. Darts on Tuesday, Quiz night every Wednesday, and a band called
at 9pm on Saturday. He wondered why he came here. He hated music, quiz night was lame, and as for darts… He sure would have liked something sharp to throw at Jerry though. That would be sweet.
“Same again?” The incredible disappearing bartender had emerged from wherever he’d been hiding.
“Sure. Why not. Make it a double this time.”
“You alright?” The bartender pulled a bottle from the well and filled Jack’s glass. “You look like you lost a dollar and found a penny.”
“Ain’t that the truth?” Jack ran a finger around the rim of his glass. “Except I didn’t find the penny.”
“Tough day huh?”
“The worst. Got screwed out of my biggest sale this year, twenty thousand units, and all because I needed to pee. Goddam Jerry.”
“Just some shithead at the office. Can you believe I worked on that deal for weeks only to have him answer the phone and take the goddamned order? A thousand bucks of commission, gone.”
“Well, better luck next time.”
“Yeah. Next time. Luck won’t pay the bills though that’s for sure.” Jack could feel the anger rising again. A tight knot that started in his stomach and worked it’s way up until it clumped in his throat. He swigged the whisky. It didn’t help, not yet. Maybe a few more and it would.
“So get even with the son of a bitch.” The bartender fixed him with a deadpan stare. “Give him a taste of his own medicine.”
“Sounds grand. Any ideas?”
“Yeah, I do as a matter of fact. Guy came in here just last night and showed me this killer app. Seems like it’d be just what the doctor ordered.”
“An App.” Jack finished his drink and watched the bartender refill it for the third time. “You mean one of those phone things.”
“Sure. There’s an app for everything these days.”
“Even that. Give me your phone.”
“I’m really not in the mood for games.”
“It’s not a game. You’ll like it. Come on, the phone.”
“It’s free, right?” Jack pulled his phone out and handed it to the bartender.
“Of course.” The bartender fixed his attention on the cell phone. “There.” He handed the device back.
Jack looked at the phone, at the new icon that had fixed itself to his home screen, a glowing red circle with a bright blue eye in the middle. “What now?”
“Start her up.”
“Okay then.” Jack pressed the icon. The screen flickered for a second. Four words appeared on a flame red background,
Evil Eye, The App
. The letters faded and a text box popped up. Underneath, in small type,
‘Enter a phone number.’
A green submit button pulsed, daring him to continue.
“Well go on then. Put it in.” The bartender leaned forward, watching, waiting.
Jack switched to his contacts and found the number. He typed it into the box, his finger hovering over the submit button.
“Are you going to press it or what?” The bartender urged.
“What will it do?”
“It’ll drive him crazy, that’s what. Completely screw up his phone. Fake text messages, phony calls with no one on the other end, he won’t get a lick of work done. You’ll love it. It’s hysterical.”
“Here goes nothing.” Jack pressed the button. The text box disappeared. A new message popped up.
‘Congratulations. You’ve given the evil eye.’
Jack awoke to a brass band parading inside his skull. He groaned and rolled over, wishing he’d stayed at home instead of going to the bar. The alarm clock announced that it was 8.36am. Great, he was late for work.
His mouth felt like the inside of a carpet showroom. He tried to remember how many shots of whisky he’d downed. The last thing he remembered was sending some stupid app to Jerry, who, no doubt would be stealing more of his sales right now.
He swung his legs from the bed, stumbled to the bathroom and found a bottle of Advil. He downed two pills and put his mouth under the faucet, gulping down the cold water, before pulling on yesterday’s shirt and pants and heading to the car.
By the time he arrived at work the parade in his head started to quiet down. The drive across town had been hell. Traffic was backed up thanks to an unseasonal rainstorm, and then he’d been forced to park two blocks away and walk through the downpour. Worse, his umbrella seemed to have wedged itself under the seat and refused to budge. He didn’t have time to mess with it. When he reached the office he was wet and humorless. He slipped behind his desk and logged on to the computer, hoping his tardy arrival had not been spotted.
“Huh?” Jack looked up to find Jerry grinning down at him. He hadn’t seen it before, but Jerry’s round face, ginger hair, and freckled, pale skin made him look like a naughty schoolboy.
“You look like crap, and you’re forty minutes late.”
“Thanks for noticing.” What he really wanted to say was
screw you and the horse you rode in on
, but he didn’t.
“Don’t worry. I’ve got your back old buddy.” Jerry winked at him, a grin plastered on his smug face.
God, I hate you, thought Jack. “Thanks.”
“Oh, by the way, I took the Jackson Hardware order a few minutes ago. You weren’t here. Hope you don’t mind.”
“It’s fine.” Why would he care, after all, it was only money.
“Like I said, I got your back.”
And my commission, Jack mused. “What would I do without you?”
“I know, right? Hang on.” He rummaged in his pocket and pulled out his phone. “Damn. Not again.”
“Some idiot’s been texting me all morning. Same thing over and over.”
ARE YOU SORRY?
” Jerry scowled. “Don’t people have anything better to do with their lives?”
“So text them back.”
“I did. I told them it was a wrong number. Didn’t help. It’s getting a little annoying to tell the truth.”
“I bet.” Jack grinned.
“It’s not funny.”
“No, it’s not, you’re right.”
“They’ve been calling too, ever since last night. Woke me up four times before I put the damn thing on silent. When I got up this morning there were sixteen messages. Sixteen.”
“Did you listen to them?”
“Same thing, some weird voice asking if I’m sorry. Guy sounded drunk or high or something. Still, to dial the wrong number that many times…” Jerry’s phone sprang to life. The screen lit up even though it was still set on silent. “See. There they are again. Over and over.”
“So answer it.”
“I did already. Again with the
‘am I sorry’
crap, then they hang up.” He hit ignore. “I even tried returning the call, but the number’s disconnected. Not in service. How can that be?”
“Beats me.” Jack could barely contain his mirth. The app was working like a charm. He’d have to buy the bartender a drink.
“Anyway. I can’t stand here chatting all day.”
“Maybe. Got a meeting downtown. Should be a good one if I can land it.”
“Well I’d better not keep you,” Jack said.
“Right.” Jerry turned to leave, then glanced back. “Oh, by the way, I told accounting to credit you with commission for that order yesterday. Seemed only fair since you worked on it for so long. Like I said, I got your back.”
Jack opened his mouth but no words came out. Shit, now he felt like a total ass. Maybe he should tell Jerry about the app, own up to the prank. But Jerry was already striding across the room toward the front door, pulling his coat on as he went. Through the plate glass windows lining the front of the building Jack could see the street. Pedestrians sauntered along the sidewalk, Cars and trucks raced by on their way to destinations unknown. Jerry reached the door and pulled it open.
Jack looked down at his computer screen. It was too late to do anything now. He’d wait until Jerry got back and tell him everything. He wondered if he could cancel the app, shut if off. At least he could save the poor guy any more aggravation.
When he glanced up again Jerry was on the sidewalk. He was about to cross the street, but then he hesitated. He pulled his phone out, lifted it to his ear, and stepped from the curb.
The bus didn’t have time to stop. The thud could be heard even through the windows and over the hubbub of office noise. Jerry flew into the air, his coat billowing. He seemed to hang there for a second as the bus screeched to a halt, and then he cut a graceful arc into the traffic moving in the other direction. The second thud was dull, like a hammer hitting a bag of broken sticks.
Jack leapt to his feet and raced to the door, oblivious to the screams of the receptionist. He ran out into the street to the spot where Jerry had taken flight.
To his left and right he heard hushed voices.
“He didn’t even look.” Said a young woman, her face a picture of shock.
“It was the phone, he was shouting something at the phone.” An older man in a dark suit lectured his wife. “See, I told you cell phones are a distraction.”
Jack took a step into the road. He rounded the bus and there was Jerry, good old over ambitious Jerry, lying on his back next to a green SUV. His arms and legs were flailed as if he was making snow angels on the concrete. A pool of blood circled his head.
Jack bent over and fought the urge to throw up. His phone buzzed. He pulled it from his pocket. The screen flashed on, bright with a backlit glow. The Evil Eye icon pulsed red. Two words flashed across it. App Complete.