Straight or Left

lake-pontchartrain-ksbrooks-creditedBy M.P. Witwer

Taking a deep breath and pursing her lips, Tanya depressed the accelerator. Straight it would be.

Straight away from her lifetime home. Straight into the unknown. Straight onto the longest bridge in the world — ironic for someone panicky about crossing bridges, but that was how desperate her situation had become.

After discovering his great-grandmother’s “collection,” Jesse had immersed himself in the dark arts, over time morphing into a scary and paranoid Doppelganger, the very opposite of the man she had married.

When Tanya confronted him, he claimed it was all in fun, that the bizarre rituals he performed didn’t really do anything. But she knew better, on both counts. The last straw came when she found him, trance-like, mumbling an incantation over their wedding photo. Tanya waited until he’d left, then packed the car and headed for the bridge.

Her fear lifted as she drove. She felt ready to start over, comfortable facing the unfamiliar.

All too soon, however, the “other side” began to seem familiar. Frighteningly familiar. Spotting a Piggly Wiggly store just like the one at home didn’t unsettle her, but seeing the identical twin of their local diner next to it did. An exact replica of Pontchartrain Elementary three blocks away sent her into a cold sweat. Tanya haltingly followed her usual route, dread growing with each well-known landmark. She parked and sat in terrified silence, staring at her house — and Jesse out front, expecting her.

“Welcome home, darlin’,” he drawled, his eyes gleaming red. “Welcome home.

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© 2015 by M.P. Witwer • All rights reserved

Originally published at www.indiesunlimited.com on April 10, 2015. Photo of Lake Pontchartrain © K.S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Even Prosaic Things Cast Disquieting Shadows

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fearFear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.

And this time of year is best for a haunting, as even the most prosaic things cast the most disquieting shadows.

~ Neil Gaiman

The Raven

the-ravenBy Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Click here to read Poe’s classic poem in its entirety

Why We Read Scary Stories

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scary-stories“We read scary stories so we can experience artificial situations of ‘fight or flight.’ These scenarios, whether real or imagined, get your body ready for action by giving you an extra dose of adrenaline. Your heart beat speeds up, your breathing increases and your blood pressure increases—in other words, it’s like an instant dose of caffeine combined with heavy exercise. You’re ready to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, although you may be screaming ‘Mommy!’ all the way.”
~ Merrie Destefano

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) by John Quidor

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) by John Quidor

Get into the Halloween spirit by revisiting Washington Irving’s 1820 story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This chilling tale is one of our favorite classic short stories. At nearly 12,000 words, it is longer than many short stories; set aside 40 minutes or so to enjoy it in one sitting.

Click here to read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow