First published back in 1998 for the anthology ‘More Monsters From Memphis’ (1998), then later reprinted in 2000 for ‘Electric Wine’ (2000) and again in 2003 for ‘Mystery In Mind’ (2003); American author Scott Nicholson’s short story ‘Haunted’ eventually found itself forming the principal tale to a February 2009 Ghostwriter Publications chapbook, released under the short story’s title and limited to just 250 copies. Also included in the nineteen page publication is another one of Nicholson’s shorts, this one entitled ‘Bleeding Ink’.
Haunted – 10 Pages
Sitting quietly in their family home together, Darrell and Rita watch over their daughter Janie as she continues with her colouring book. Once again the girl reaches for the grey crayon. Greys and blacks are all she ever uses these days. Opening a can of beer, Darrell finds its contents are once again flat. Their mood of perpetual frustration clogs the air. For the unexplainable noises are back; haunting their every waking hour. Why won’t these ghostly beings just leave them alone? Why again and again must they put up with their constant torments?
Nicholson dives straight into the eerie short, setting down a puzzling undertone to this quietly unsettling family scene. With the reader’s senses tingling with anticipation of the haunting at hand, Nicholson builds on the suspense until the very air of the tale is thick with the tension escalating from the persistent noises that torment the poor family. With the unavoidable confrontation upon us, Nicholson dons his Ambrose Bierce inspired hat and delivers a slightly predictable, but well executed twist to end the short on. This is a creepy tale that flows with the ease of a well written and carefully crafted short. Its only shortcoming is the somewhat dated and uninspired twist ending (although this doesn’t shadow the rest of the tale too much).
Bleeding Ink – 7 Pages
Stan Richter is a burned-out reporter, struggling to keep himself afloat within the dog-eat-dog world of journalism. Following a bizarre press release from the Sons of Lazarus, claiming that “the dead will soon rise”, Richter is sent out by the newspaper’s editor to report back on a series of deaths in the local area. After all, there may well be a tasty story in it. However, before Richter has had chance to leave the newsroom grounds, Marla (the sexy reporter who gets all the good jobs), is on her way to once again swoop in on the action. A slip of the clutch as she passes in front of his vehicle is all it takes to see the buxom reporter off his back forever. But with the dead now rising all around, Marla’s unlikely to stay down. Hell...what a story to get back on top of the game with...
With tongue firmly wedged in his cheek, Nicholson scoops out a fair old helping of zombie fiction to set the short on a course of mindless bloodshed and chaotic panic. Richter is such a gloriously broken individual, that his utter desperation for this one big story becomes the overwhelming thrust of the whole tale. No amount of earth-shattering horror or accidental death will deter him from his goal. Fast paced and grotesquely sudden; this is utter black-comedy with a passionate lacing of the undead to boot.
The chapbook runs for a total of 19 pages.
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