Archive for horror

I love Frankenstein

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 17, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

I love Frankenstein. I first read it during my junior year of high school, though I can’t remember much from that first reading other than the fact that I liked it. It was dark and subversive.

Last month I read “On Writing Horror,” a compilation from the Horror Writer’s Association about, duh, writing horror. There is a chapter in the book that discusses the must reads in horror. Of course, Frankenstein is first on the list. Because I agreed that a good author thoroughly knows and understands the genre he is writing in, I decided to go and re-read it. I’m about half-way through.

What hits me this time around is how well Mary Shelly captures the worst of human feelings: sorrow; regret; guilt; and I think, depression.

Here’s a passage:

“Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul of both hope and fear.”

I’ve had clinical depression my whole life, but I’ve had one serious and dangerous bout of deep, utterly debilitating depression. It came a month after I graduated college. I worked full-time while going to school, often taking more credits and working more hours than any human should. To me at the time, the worst thing was to have nothing to preoccupy my mind. All I had were my thoughts and those weren’t always good company. Reading this passage sent me back to those times.

The great thing about good horror such as Frankenstein is that it reflects on what’s awful. Sometimes, as Viktor Frankenstein explains, the most awful things are inside our own heads.


Daniel and the Rats

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , on January 20, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

(Very Short Story)

Daniel had never seen so many rats before. Usually, he only saw one at a time, skulking along the subway tracks. Far away, standing on a platform, he never saw how greasy they were, how grotesque they were. He saw them differently now. Locked inside the small room with him with only a dim overhead light that hung still on a thin cord, he watched as they climbed over one another and through each other’s filth. Hundreds of them.

He was sitting on a concrete floor against a cracked wooden wall with his legs spread in front of him. He didn’t know how long he’d been there with the rats. He had no clue how he’d gotten there.

His pants were soiled and they smelled like piss, but he couldn’t tell if the piss was his or if it belonged to the rats. His lower calves burned hot like a match was rubbed against his skin. He lifted his jeans and saw bite marks, red and bloody, raw with pain.

He screamed. He tried to stand. He flung his arms against the wall. A chain was wrapped against his waist and bolted to the floor. He kicked his feet and screamed more, more than he thought he ever could.

The grimy wall across from him started to crack and swing open surprisingly. A man stood in the entryway, burly and familiar, but Daniel couldn’t place him exactly.

“You’re name reminds me of the Bible,” said the man, as he threw Daniel’s driver’s license down with the rats. Then he walked away and left the door ajar. Some of the rats scurried out, but most stayed put because they knew dinner was coming.

Daniel remembered when he saw him. It was at night on the road, on the way home after a late night at work. He cut the man off and, vividly at last, remembered the man pulling to the side of him crashing his truck into him, forcing Daniel off the road into a ditch.

The man returned holding an axe on his shoulder, gripping the bottom of the handle with both hands. “Difference is,” said the man, “God’s not gonna protect you.” He lifted the blade over his head and stepped through the piles of rats at his feet over towards Daniel. “Oh, and you’re not surrounded by lions. You’re surrounded by rats and they’re gonna eat the meat off your bones when you’re dead.” The he came down with the axe on the top of Daniel’s head.

Ah, the Power of Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 15, 2014 by stantonmccaffery

I wrote this little story on my train ride home.


Simon spent Thursday night praying to a God that he only occasionally believed in. Staring at the ceiling above his bed, he silently petitioned his deity to vanquish his enemies. He had a meeting with them in the morning and the thought of it lit his nerves with anxiety.

As he pulled out of his driveway on Friday morning, his hands shook on the steering wheel. He had to tighten his grip to make them stop. He arrived and stepped out of his car with his thoughts heavily occupied by the impending foreclosure of his home. When he looked up expecting to see his bank, he saw nothing but an empty lot. There was no rubble and there were no signs. It was like the bank had never been there at all.

He drove home and tried to call the banker that managed his account. An old lady answered and told him there had never been no fucking bank at this number. He half expected his house to vaporize around him, but it never did.

He spent Saturday in front of the TV in a daze while his wife took their children on errands. Sitting on the toilet in the afternoon, he broke out in tears. He wasn’t sure why. Was he relieved or was he scared?

On Sunday, Simon woke up early, put on his dress clothes that had been hanging untouched in his closet since he had been laid off and grabbed the car keys from the window-sill. His wife asked him where he was going and he told her he was going to church, to pray.

Machinations of the God-Like

Posted in Horror Fiction, Works Published Elsewhere with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

Excerpts. The full story was published on Schlock Webzine and can be found here:

“I’m writing from the city of Frankfurt, Kentucky, alone, far from any large body of water and far from the meddling influence of whales. I did not always despise whales. Indeed, for most of my life I wasn’t even aware of how they manipulate our free will. I considered them benign, majestic creatures. I believed the whaling traditions of 19th century New England to be excessive and barbaric. I now consider it a travesty that such whaling did not continue until every one of them was wiped from the planet.”


“Elena Peldritch, also hearing the shot, ran from her front door. When she entered the Peterson’s I heard an indescribable scream. It was a sound that belied what the poor woman saw. In that second I knew she had found the body of her dead son. I saw in my head his blood splattered on the white wall, spotted with white brain matter. A gun had accidentally gone off in his hands and sent a bullet through him.”


“Gradually, Abraham’s ideas and thoughts about the Cetaceans – as whales are called by experts – became more fantastic and bizarre. He said they were God-like. He’d read blogs claiming whales came from outer-space to inhabit the earth. God abandoned the earth, leaving it to them, not to mankind. There was a precedent for God trusting man to whales: the story of Jonah and the Whale in the Old Testament of the Bible.”


“When we came to Queequeg’s address, we found the door ajar. Abraham shouted hello, but since no answer was given, we entered uninvited. Inside, we found a dead man lying on the kitchen floor. His face was covered in fake tattoos that had been drawn on with black permanent marker. An old- fashioned harpoon was plunged through his chest. On the counter was a severed and shrunken human head.”


Into Hell

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

“I told you, I ain’t sellin’ and I ain’t movin’,” said Joe-John Watley, as he chewed on a scraggily piece of his unkempt grey beard. He sat on a rickety chair at his rickety kitchen table in his rickety shot-gun house. Across from him was the uneasy and uncomfortable Eugene Zansky, a mid-level representative from Walton Natural Gas.

“I ain’t gone sue ya neither, I ain’t like that,” Joe-John went on. “Way I see it is Lucifer got hisself thrown outta Heaven and inta Hell and now it’s you businessmen and lawyers that let him out to dwell on earth with us, and I ain’t dealing with neither of you no matter how much money you wave in frona me. You understand?”

As they spoke another tree not far from them was sucked into the earth. The dirt underneath fell away as well, into the abyss. Into Hell.

“Mr. Watley,” said Eugene, trying to sound polite, with one eye on his watch. “We will compensate you handsomely.” He paused and looked around at the four cracked walls surrounding him. “You can get yourself a new place to live.”

“Now you listen here,” said Joe-John as he slapped the table. His hand hit so hard some of the dirt crumbled out from under his finger nails. “This house has been in my family for generations and that means something to me. I worked off that river just as my father and grandfather did before you went and ruined it with your drillin’ and brought about that damn hole. I got nothing left, no livelihood, nothing but these walls and the ground underneath em’. And I ain’t leavin’. No sir Mr. Zansky. I am not.”

“Mr. Watley,” said Eugene. “I am going to leave my card with you. You think on it and give me a call.”

He pulled a business card out of his shirt pocket and put it face up across from Joe-John who picked it up without hesitation, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it over his shoulder onto the floor.

“Nothing to think on,” he said. “Now nothin’ personal Mr. Zansky, but I’m done talkin’ with you so I believe you can show yourself out.”

“Okay,” said Eugene, with a sigh. He stood and walked a few feet to the front door. He didn’t even know why the hell the company had sent him here in the first place. The land would come out from underneath the old bastard anyway. They’d just drill into the remaining land from an angle , like the Iraqis did in Kuwait, back in ’91.

When he walked outside and closed the door behind him he teetered on the edge of the earth. The sinkhole must have grown another few miles wide while he was inside. He quickly took a step back. He’d have to walk around the little shack of a house to make his way back to his office.

When he turned around, with his foot in mid-step, a grey hand reached out from under the earth. It was dry and cracked and had dirty bone-looking finger nails. The hand grabbed the bottom of his pant leg and pulled so quickly Eugene didn’t even have time to scream. Once he was below ground, the demons, the ones unleashed by the gas drilling and the sinkhole that resulted, began to devour him alive, starting with his face.

© Stanton McCaffery, October 2013

Don’t Trust Words of Encouragement from a Giant Squid

Posted in Horror Fiction with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2013 by stantonmccaffery


When Bobby told his Mom there was a voice coming from under his bed, she interpreted it as a normal childhood fear; certainly there wasn’t really something under his bed. She never even checked. When Bobby told his Mom the voice was encouraging, nice even, she interpreted it as a sign of a healthy, normal imagination; nothing to be concerned about.

When Bobby insisted on wearing a towel draped around his neck to school, like a super-hero’s cape, his Mom was a little embarrassed, but she let it slide; let him be himself, she thought. When the school principal saw Bobby in his towel-cape, he smiled; another kid being creative, nothing to be concerned about.

In art class, when Bobby drew a picture of a giant squid under his bed, talking to him, its sharp beak bleeding, his art teacher was disturbed. She talked to Bobby about it. Sensing her concern, Bobby lied. No, he didn’t think it was real. Yes, it was just make believe. The kid was weird, beyond a doubt, thought the art teacher, but ultimately he was harmless; nothing to be concerned about.

When the school janitor saw Bobby go up the stairs, towards the roof, he was tired and angry. He’d spent his whole life putting saw dust on vomit and cleaning snot off of desks. He didn’t give a shit what the kid was doing on the roof. He soon regretted feeling that way, especially when he had to scrape Bobby’s dead body off the sidewalk.

When the media caught wind of the story, they condemned the school and his mother. How could they have missed the signs? Clearly they should have been concerned.

When the giant squid learned of Bobby’s death, it laughed. It never thought the kid would actually believe he could fly.

(c) Stanton McCaffery, September, 2013

The Tongue

Posted in Works Published Elsewhere with tags , , , , , on August 30, 2013 by stantonmccaffery

– Published on available here.