Truth and Consequence

When Harold saw the thing slithering out from beneath his bed he felt both vindicated and horrified.

His parents wouldn’t listen to him the first time he became aware of it’s presence. That’s why he wasn’t on the bed tonight and hiding behind his chest of drawers with a baseball bat.

When the thing slithered on top of his bed and wound itself around his pillow, he rushed out and smashed it into a bloody pulp!

The next morning.

“Have you seen a boa constrictor around?” his mother asked. “Billy next door said his pet boa escaped.”

No,” he lied. 


The Visitor

Tom heard scratching at the front door and turned to his six-year-old sister Sara to see if she heard it. She was clutching her rag doll and he could see by the fear in her eyes she had and was looking for guidance.

He wished their parents were home while clutching the pistol. They had to go to town, a days ride from the ranch. At nine, he was considered old enough to be in charge.

It was snowing outside and the wind whistled through the wooden cabin like a banshee.

The door opened.

A half frozen man crawled in.

The Wooden Box

“Don’t be startled. I know it’s not everyday that a voice comes from a wooden box. I get that. Just think what a novelty this fine piece of craftsmanship will be at your parties. Especially if people hear my voice.

“The auctioneer has no idea that I talk. I didn’t like him from the moment my last master decided to sell me. He thinks I’m just an heirloom from the 17th century. The fool has no idea what he’s missing out on. You, on the other hand, appear to be an intelligent person open to the mysteries in life. The fact that you’re still standing here looking at me suggests an active interest. Well, my friend this is your lucky day. Successfully bid on me and I’ll share arcane knowledge that will give you mastery over men and beasts. Good luck.

Bernard Crackerton II looked around the lobby to see if anyone else heard the voice. The small group of people seemed more interested in the paintings and sculptures on the other side of the room. They talked in hushed tones, pointing at the artwork and bantering about prices. None of them noticed Bernard. He looked around self-consciously. A talking wooden box wasn’t normal. The last thing he wanted to do was draw attention to himself so he went to the main room and got his auction paddle with a number on it. Finding a seat in the rear of the rows of chairs, he sat down and opened the auction guide booklet. On the last page he found the wooden box. It was listed as a 17th century German Fugured Walnut Marquetry Document box…$4,300.00. There wasn’t any additional information on it. The price didn’t concern him. He was a successful day trader with a net worth of 14 million dollars. Going to auctions and searching for rare and interesting objects was his one big passion. At 31-years old, he was considered a real catch in Boston society. He dutifully attended events where he rubbed shoulders with the wealthy and powerful, always searching for information that would help him make money on the stock market.

He realized he was day-dreaming about the talking box when he was startled by a sudden applause after the sale of a Warhol print. The auction was winding down as he patiently waited for the box to be brought up for sale. 

“Last, but not least, we have this beautiful 17th century German Fugured Walnut Marquetry Document box. Here we go… $4,300 dollars! Do I hear $4,300 dollars?

Bernard looked around the room. People were leaving and no one made a bid. He stood up and called out “$4,300!” while holding up his paddle.

“Sold! To the gentleman in the rear…number 181.” 

After paying for his prize Bernard took it home to his penthouse on downtown Boston. He was pouring himself a 1988 Chateau LaFite Rothschild when the voice said, “Thank you.

He was startled at first then looked at the wooden box and said, “Oh, it’s you.” 

Holding up his glass he said “Cheers!” After taking a sip he set the glass down and opened the box. Lifting the lid back, he exposed the simple interior. He examined it closely, running his fingers around it, looking for some hidden clue to the voice. Nothing. He reluctantly closed it. He couldn’t find a hidden drawer. 

“I hope you’re not disappointed that there’s nothing inside,” the Box said.

“It does poise a mystery. I expected to find a hidden trinket that would lead me to the source of your voice.

“You don’t seem to think that a voice coming from a wooden box is odd.”

“Of course, I do. That’s why I bought you. I’m open to the mysteries that surround us all every day. One of the many reasons I go to auctions is I’m seeking rare and unusual items. One never knows what they’ll find. You’re a perfect example.”

“I have a confession to make. I don’t have arcane knowledge to pass on to you. I just wanted out of the storeroom where they kept me. It was really boring. I was getting desperate when you came along. It was really my lucky day.” 

“How nice…for you. I don’t mind as long as you talk with my guests when I ask you too.

“No can do.”

“What!  Why not?” 

“Because, I’m inside your head.

That’s not possible! I’m not crazy. I heard you clearly the first time, and I hear you right now,” Bernard lashed out defensively. 

“Why do you think no one else heard me in that room when you were looking me over?

“Damn you! Stop messing with my head!” 

He stumbled across his display room holding his hands over his ears. In an attempt to get away from the voice he picked up one of his treasures and held it up in his hand. A 1941 Vacheron Constantin 18k Gold Tear Drop watch. A masterpiece of engineering.

Then it said, “You’re going to have to get use to it Bernard!

“No!” he screamed and threw the watch down so hard it shattered the glass over the numbers.

Shaken to the core he reached out for a Byzantine Silver Oil Lamp with a Lion handle. For seconds he held it…waiting for the voice to return. When the Lamp suddenly roared, he dropped it in terror and backed up into a display case.

A pair of Victorian Brass Gothic Revival Altar Candlesticks began to laugh at him! His prized 1863 Burmese Repoussee Silver Bowl joined in on the laughter. When the Thai Sandstone Buddha head began to talk he screamed again!

He kept screaming until his throat was swollen and raw, and the night turned to day. He was crawling around like a frightened animal as rays of sunlight streamed through the open shutters. He looked fearfully at his “treasures” and whimpered, “I’m not crazy...it’s my active imagination.”

Getting up his courage, he stood and took a few hesitant steps towards the hallway. 

“Where are you going Bernard?” his trophies called out. 

“That’s enough!” he shouted. He ran over to a row of shelves and grabbed an ancient Roman Green Stone knife and waved it around wildly.

“It all started with you,” he accused the silent wooden box.

“I’ll show you whose crazy!” he screamed, while slicing his own throat.

As It Stands, we never know when (or even if) we could go crazy.



Boo! I’m Back, Wishing You a Happy Halloween!

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(SCARY AUDIO)

Greetings from my House of Fiction...it’s good to be back.

In the spirit of the holiday I’ve cobbled together a few of my favorite scary movies for your entertainment:

  1. When I was a senior in high school (1968) I saw the scariest movie of my young life. It was called “The Night of the Living Dead” You probably recognize this classic horror film. Click here.
  2. When the movie blockbuster “The Exorcist” came out, I was engaged and my girlfriend (my wife a year later) had a case of the creeps after we went to it. I had to work that night (security guard at a bank) and she called me terrified. I stayed on the phone with her during most of my shift trying to reassure her that no dead people were outside her door! Click here
  3. If you’ve never seen “The Last House on the Left” put it on your list of Halloween classics (1972) Two teenage girls head to a rock concert for one’s birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, they are kidnapped and brutalized by a gang of psychotic convicts. Click here

I’ll be returning to my normal format of original stories soon. stay tuned.

Blog break: I’ll be back for Halloween

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                                                Thanks for stopping by.

I’m stepping away from my house of fiction for nine days. But fear not…I’ll be back for Halloween.

This is one of the ways I charge my batteries by detaching myself from the computer and all things digital. My lovely wife and I are taking a vacation down in southern California. Sunshine, beaches, and endless shots of tequila!

I would like to encourage you to check out my archives on the right side of the page. There’s something for everyone with over 250 stories to chose from.

I hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them.

Onward, and upward!

Peter’s Supernatural Super Band

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Listen to this story narrated by master Story teller Otis Jiry

Peter started collecting musical instruments used by famous deceased musicians when he became rich on Wall Street.

His ongoing collection was not open to the public because some of it was stolen. It was his pride and joy. Only people he trusted implicitly got to visit his Music Room, located in his 19-bedroom mansion, in upstate New York.

Peter was a mystery man with no known surviving family members. He was a self-made man, and a wizard. His ability to predict when stocks would go up, or down, or even the future, came from long years of training by the Coven that raised him.
When the witches sent him out on his own he was 21-years old and savvy in the ways of the world. Getting rich was easy. Entertaining himself was more difficult at first. Until he discovered a love of music.
It became all-consuming. He went to operas and rock concerts for years before developing a passion for musical instruments. Then one day a Wall Street trader acquaintance asked him if he would be interested in buying a rare piano?
“How rare?” Peter asked.
“It’s been hidden for seventy-five years, and it’s owner no longer wants it. It’s the last Grand Piano Sergei Rachmaninov played on Russia soil before the Leninist regime seized his estate near Tambov in 1917, ” his acquaintance explained.
“He moved with his wife and two daughters to Denmark before relocating to New York the following year. Left behind was this European-made Grand Piano hidden by a first cousin who later smuggled it into the United States, and a safe warehouse,” he added.
“It’s condition?”
“Excellent. An expert has kept it in tune.”
“Why sell it now?”
The owner is old, and perhaps getting a little senile according to his grandchildren. It seems he’s been visiting the warehouse for years “listening to Rachmaninov play,” and telling his grandson that the famous musician is the one playing the Grand Piano.
Peter smiled. the biggest smile he had for decades and asked, “How do I get this piano? Money is no problem.”

To Peter’s delight, the story was true. It wasn’t long before he was striking up stimulating conversations with Sergei Rachmaninov. It didn’t take him long to go in search of other famous musical instruments whose owners had died. He worked with all of his financial and magical connections to hunt down the objects of his newly discovered hobby.

His next acquisition was Jimi Hendrix’s favorite black 1968 Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck. Despite playing many different guitars, including some Gibson Flying Vs and Les Paul Customs, the Stratocaster was his baby. He was buried with it in 1970 after dying from a drug overdose.
It took black magic to retrieve the guitar, and to entice Jimi Hendrix to play it once again. He had to conjure up female groupies to solidify the arrangement but it was worth it. Peter never tired of listening to him play his hits like Foxey Lady, Purple Haze, and Wild Thing.

Keith Moon’s second drum kit – A Ludwick Black Oyster Super Classic – with 2 toms and a bass drum plus, the previously lost – but now found – original snare drum, cost Peter two million dollars. Moon, who died in 1978, was another restless spirit recruited by Peter, to play his favorite instrument. Peter found that he had a particular fondness of drums and managed to buy Jon Bonham’s first drum set – a four-piece Trixon in Sparkling Red. Bonham, who died in 1980, got along great with Moon, and the two played competing solos deep into the night. In fact, the men knew each other when they were alive.
Bonham would lead off with a Led Zeppelin’s song like Fool In he Rain, showing off his speed, power and fast bass drumming, while Moon would counter with I Can’t Explain, one of the Who’s first big hits.
The real score in drums came when Peter had to pay a thief to steal Buddy Rich’s original drum setup. It included a 14×24 bass drum (with a moleskin patch and a wooden beater), a 9×13 rack tom, two 16×16 floor toms, and a 5×14 snare drum.
His Avedis Zildjian cymbals, which included a 20″ ride, two 18″ crashes, a pair of 14″ hi-hats, and a 6″ splash, shimmered as Peter looked at them. The set had his preferred wood-tip sticks—slightly heavier than a pair of 7As.
Buddy (also conjured up by Peter), died of heart disease in 1987. He was widely considered one of the most influential drummers of all time and was known for his virtuoso technique, power and speed. He never failed to bring the house down with a solo performance of a medley of songs from West Side Story.
With Buddy, Peter had assembled a trio of drum-players for the ages. To him, the cacophony of noise they all made when jamming was the music of the spheres.
It took a long time to find just the right brass trumpet. He finally found one made by Henri Selmer of Paris for Louis Armstrong. He managed to entice Satchmo to stop in a couple of nights a week and jam with his supernatural band. Armstrong always opened the evening with a soulful hit that made him famous; What a Wonderful World.

As the years went by he coaxed other dead famous singers and musicians to come by his mansion and perform. Some on a regular basis, and others like Elvis Presley who only came by on Sundays. Some came by a couple of days a week like Duane Allman.
Every night stars like Jim Morrison, Janice Joplin, Buddy Holly, Jim Croce, and Minnie Riperton could be seen mingling in rooms throughout the vast mansion. The Grateful Dead’s pianist Keith Godchaux, and Sergei Rachmaninov were perhaps the oddest pair to listen to, as one would play a few notes, then the other would follow them up with his own until the two styles wove a magic that captivated listeners.

As Peter got older he finally decided to share his supernatural collection of stars and invited special friends to spend the night, to hear the poltergeist’s talk about their careers and play their favorite instruments until the dawn.

As It Stands, this tale evolved from a conversation with a friend about haunting melodies from beyond the grave.

The Aquarium

“What are they?” Tad Chester from JQIK TV,  asked as he looked in to the depths of the biggest private aquarium he’d ever seen.

It was massive, circling the entire 20,000 foot mansion and was a 100-feet deep. Burt, the mansion’s owner watched what the reporter was pointing at with a secret amusement.

“They’re called Oscars,” he replied. ‘They’re very territorial little beasts and have a habit of vigorously defending their space. To keep things interesting there’s also fish-eating Piranha in there. They’re really glutinous little bastards and will attack any living thing that invades their space.”

“I see fresh water fish and ocean-going fish in there. How’s that possible?” the reporter queried.

“It’s possible because of genius engineering. You can’t tell, but there’s a glass barrier between the two types of water separating the species that allows for them to appear to be next to one another.”

“That’s simply amazing Mr. Peters. Thank you for giving me a fascinating tour of your world-class aquarium. I can’t wait to share it with my viewers, he said while giving the cameraman his clue to stop filming.

“You’re welcome. I’ll show you both out now.

Later that night.

Burt moved among the guests chatting and laughing at their lame jokes. As usual he had an eclectic gathering ranging from the super wealthy to starving artists. He loved to show off his aquarium and frequently had his butler, Mr. Keets, arrange affairs like this.

Mr. Keets made sure all the food being served was seafood cooked by gourmet chefs. The dinner settings including ocean-themed silverware, with mermaids on the ends of forks and spoons. The knife handles were adorned with Neptune’s likeness.

The dining room was at the center of the mansion, with hallways that spun off it like spokes on a wheel. Each hallway led to different sections of the building. A blue-lit corridor ran alongside the outer walls next to the aquarium.

Visitors could only see about 40-feet of the aquarium which continued down another 60-feet underground. Burt had cameras covering every square inch of the aquarium, but they weren’t for public viewing. He had a small control room equipped with cameras and computers that controlled the temperatures in the various sections of the giant fish habitat.

The world knew Burt Peters as the man who discovered Atlantis. World fame made him rich enough to invent a past based on fiction, but difficult to verify. And rich enough to spend millions on his one-of-a-kind underwater world and labyrinth.

It was stocked with thousands of types of fish from all over the planet. Everything from tiger sharks to minnows glided by the glass barrier, entertaining and titillating visitors.

After all of the guests were gone Burt took a concealed elevator to the top floor of the mansion. He stepped out into a room that looked down at the top of the aquarium. He could see fish swimming below him through the glass floor. He went to a trap door and lifted it up. Taking off all of his clothes, Burt climbed down a ladder and slid into the warm water.

Aiolos Pileidis, aka Burt, was the last survivor of the Atlantean civilization. His fate was to outlive his peers and culture. Old age didn’t come to Atlanteans, but death could still come by violent means. Over the centuries killer sharks and other lethal sea creatures took their toll.

Aiolos became the ultimate survivor when he decided to live on land. Like his peers he was able to live underwater, and on land. He got lonely after 10-years of no companionship after his friend Niclas fell victim to a school of sharks. He was left with no one but the fish to talk with.

It was time for a change. It took him a year to gather an expedition together. The investors believed he was an expert on Atlantean lore. When the big discovery was made, Aiolos instantly became a worldwide celebrity.

Money poured in. It was still pouring in after the first three years it took to build his gargantuan aquarium. With the help of the greatest engineers on the planet he designed it and oversaw the construction.

The only thing lacking in Aiolos’ life was danger. The creatures of the aquarium feared him, recognizing that he was the ultimate predator. Sharks would swim near him, but guardedly kept their distance when he went for his nightly swim.

Preversly, he missed seeing life and death struggles between his peers and the denizens of the deep. He was pondering possibilities one evening when he saw an intruder outside with his security cameras.

The idea came to him full-blown. 

He needed to capture this would-be home invader. That part was easy. He went to the front door and listened for a moment as the man picked at the lock with something metallic. 

Aiolos whipped the door open and as the man fell forward off-balance, he kicked him in the head. Just one swift kick put his erstwhile visitor to sleep. Aiolos went to a storage unit off one of the corridors and found what he was looking for.

A divers setup. One oxygen tank, a breathing apparatus, and a pair of divers’ goggles. He had to wear the gear or attract attention when he led the dives down to Atlantis’s ruins. He loaded it into the elevator and went back to the man lying unconscious on the marble floor. After he loaded him into the elevator he pushed the button that said “Top.” 

It wasn’t easy fitting the apparatus onto the slumbering man. By the time he had everything in place the man was regaining consciousness. He opened the trap door and let gravity do it’s thing. When he hit the water the man was fully awake. He was treading water when Aiolos called down to him, “Better put the mouth piece in and start looking for a way out. I’ll give you a hint – you’re going to have to dive down to find it!”

Aiolos took the elevator to the first floor, and stepped into the blue-lit corridor next to the aquarium’s glass. He waited patiently, then saw the man go past him as he sought greater depths.

He didn’t feel guilty about telling the man a lie. The guy was a crook. He ended up providing hours of pleasure for Aiolos who watched him trying to avoid the tiger shark and a few other nasty creatures.

It was like throwing out bait, which he found to be highly stimulating and entertaining. Especially when the tiger shark took a bite out of the terrified victim and caused a blood frenzy among the other sharks who came from the dark depths to feast!

His problem was solved. He’d start a very private swim club. The challenge would be finding members. But that was alright. He had all the time in the world.

As It Stands, Atlanteans are often portrayed as enlightened humans, so I thought I’d look at their dark side in this tale.