Have a short attention span?
Well, you have clicked to the right place.
Just in time for Halloween, I have a giveaway of Half-Minute Horrors, a compilation of spooktacularly short stories written by a constellation of bestselling authors (Neil Gaiman, M.T. Anderson, Arthur Slade, Jerry Spinelli, Avi, Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, the list goes on and on…). Plus, I have a scrumptious recipe for time-crunched choco-holics.
Yes, you can have your book and eat cake, too. All in less than five minutes.
To win this fabulous anthology, all you have to do is read the following super short story and add one sentence to twist the ending. In a comment to this post, type your scary, sensational, or silly sentence into the comments section by midnight on October 31th.
Then a panel of impartial (but insanely witty) judges will choose a winner. After the winner is announced, he or she can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to leave a mailing address to receive Half-Minute Horrors. That’s it.
I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday, November 3rd.
And now…for the story. (BTW, the story is dark, twisted, and creepy. Also, it is FICTION and in no way resembles any person I know, alive, dead, or undead.)
Read, set, read…
Let’s play a game. I’ll tell you about the people in my family and you guess which one of them is the real crazy. I know what you’re thinking. There’s all kinds of crazy, but I mean the real kind. I’m talking about the kind of nutter who needs to be locked away in a dark place.
C’mon. It’ll be fun.
For starters, there’s my mom. She’s a real piece of work. Depressed. Not bi-polar at all. Just depressed. There ain’t a pharmaceutical or clinical remedy known to mankind that can get her out of bed in daylight hours on a regular basis. I hear she used to be happy, and beautiful, and alive. Now, she just curls up in bed and stares at the wall. If you ask her why, she’ll tell you her eyes are burning.
Every once in a while, my dad would get fed up with the dishes and the smell, and he’d toss her out of bed. He didn’t let up until she’d get up and shower. She’d do a little laundry, and then rake up the trash. She might even make him dinner afterwards. She’d lie on the sofa and stare at him until he fell asleep. Mom stared, but she never cried. As soon as he was asleep, it was back to bed for her.
My aunt once told me that my Grandma Irene used to lock my mother in the cellar because she was afraid of the dark. It must have worked. She likes the dark now.
My aunt? She’s not depressed. She’s OK. Only, she hears voices sometimes.
Well, really just one voice.
She had a little girl. Amy. Amy bought it when she was five years old. She had meningitis. It was so bad they had to amputate Amy’s arms before the end. Aunt Carol still talks to Amy. Amy tells her…things. Things no one could know. Like one time, Amy told my Aunt not to let my cousin Robert get on a plane for his senior trip to Washington, D.C. Auntie Carol got so hysterical about it that Robbie missed his departure. He didn’t even make it to the gate.
The spooky thing is, the plane crashed. No one survived. So, I don’t know if you can call Aunt Carol crazy or not. She can’t see Amy or anything, she just hears her talking. Sometimes, at night, in the dark, I lie in bed and think about it. I wonder if Amy’s ghost has arms.
Now this is going to sound kinda sick, but some days I think it would’ve been better if Robbie had gotten on that plane. Like, the world might be a better place. I hate to say it, but Robbie wasn’t a very good little boy. A real bad seed.
He was a mean little son of a gun when we were kids. He used to catch stray cats and take them out to the woods behind our subdivision. He did stuff to them. I saw it once. He took a pregnant cat and stuffed her into a duffel bag. He swung an aluminum baseball bat and hit the bag. He beat the poor cat to death. The sound of that cat! It still makes me want to throw up when I hear a cat crying. I closed my eyes when I heard him unzip the bag. Ran home after that. Never went with Robbie to the woods again.
I still dream about the woods. The ground is littered with pine needles and kitty bones.
Know what you’re thinking. It’s gotta be Robbie, right? I mean, what’s worse than some kid murdering animals in the woods? He must be some kind of serial killer. I bet that’s what you’re thinking. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Robbie lives in Florida now, with his wife and three kids. I think he beats the missus. They don’t have any cats.
I’m not finished, though. I haven’t even gotten to my brother or my dad. My brother. Geez. He’s a different kind of sick puppy altogether. I say that, and I feel bad. It seems cruel. But it’s true. Somebody touched him. Somebody hurt him in the worst way. See, my cousin Robbie didn’t ever feel anything. He was numb inside. That’s why he beat those poor old cats to death. But my brother Curt, now he’s different. I know he feels bad when he hurts somebody. He can’t be around little kids. He knows it’s wrong, and he takes medicine and goes to a therapist, but he still wants to do things. I don’t want to know what he’s done.
It’s better if I don’t know. Besides, it’s really my dad’s fault, anyway.
My dad. Mr. Big Tough Man. I blame my dad for most of what happened to my mom and my brother. I can still see him sitting in his lazy boy in front of the Curtis Mathis console TV, drinking Old Milwaukee until the cans piled up like a tin sea under his feet. Some people think you’re not a real alcoholic unless you drink hard liquor. Those people never met my dad.
It’s not like he needed to drink to get angry. He was more violent when he was sober, anyway. All full of righteous indignation at how life screwed him over and saddled him with a sorry wife and witless kids. We all took turns getting a beating. He liked to kick and slap mom. He liked to hit me. With Curt, he’d close the door and use his belt. I don’t want to know what happened behind that door.
Afterwards, dad would come out and sit in the easy chair and watch reruns. He was always good and relaxed after he’d come back out of Curt’s room. He’d be dripping with sweat. He kept a towel hanging over the headrest of the Lazyboy. There was a permanent sweat stain on it. Geez, that thing stunk. He’d watch cop shows and drink until he passed out.
When I think about it now, I wished we’d just handed him a beer when he walked in the door. Would’ve saved us all a lot of misery.
Dear Old Dad. Here’s his picture. I still carry it in my wallet. I like to take it out and look at it. Then I can spit in his sorry face. But you know what’s even better? I like to go down in the basement and stare at his head. I keep it in a jar. His face is all pruny and pickled. It makes me laugh just to think about it. Mr. Big Tough Man.
Well, that’s it, pretty much. So, what do you think? Can you guess who’s the real crazy?
Twist this ending and/or add to it in one sentence. Leave your entry in the comments below to win Half-Minute Horrors.
Hungry for more?
Then fire up your microwave and cook yourself a mugful of my Minute Chocolate Cake!
Minute Mug Chocolate Cake
1 large coffee mug (latte or soup mugs are great for this)
4 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa
3 tbsp. milk
3 tbsp. oil
3 tbsp. chocolate chips (optional)
Dash (or two) of salt
Splash of vanilla
Add dry ingredients to mug. Add egg. Mix well. Pour in milk and egg. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
Microwave your mug for one and a half to three minutes on high. The cake will rise over the top of the mug. No worries. It’s supposed to.
Allow cake to cool. Tip out of the mug if desired. Or just gorge straight from the mug.