Tag Archives: Halloween fiction


old truck


The sign by the highway read: “HALLOWEEN IS THE ROAD DOWN WHICH SATAN WALKS.”

The sign a half-mile down added: “BY WHICH SIN WILL YOU TURN YOUR BACK ON GOD ALMIGHTY?”

Roadside Evangelical was little more than a white clapboard shack, too small now to hold the congregation it had grown. Most sermons these days were held in the field out back, beneath a blue tarp, in folding chairs that tested your faith. Today the chairs were replaced with plastic tables loaded with food. Children and their parents ran across the grass, alternately laughing and singing hymns. Short hayrides were punctuated with scripture quoted by those in the truck bed. Children bobbed for apples and were awarded pocket Bibles.

The door was open to Reverend Howell’s office, really just a trailer parked behind the church. The lights were off, and with the growing clouds it was hard to see inside. Scattered across the carpet were crudely scribbled Bible tracts, condemning the lust of homosexuals for God’s precious children and the urges of cross-dressers to peek into women’s toilets. In the far corner, the reverend’s chair was overturned.

They’d walked to the woods at such an angle that the church blocked them from the congregants’ view. Howell didn’t try to scream anymore for fear of choking on the torn shirt Lacey had jammed into his mouth. He could feel the fabric a hair away from creeping into his throat, and while the boys held his arms and legs he had no means of pulling the gag free.

They were strong, athletic kids, so they carried him a good ways through the pine trees. An old pickup, license plate removed, was parked about a couple miles in.

They threw Howell down, then picked him up on his feet and wrapped a heavy chrome chain tight around and between his wrists. Colt fastened one end to the truck bumper while Lacey and her brother pulled down his pants. Clint tore away at the reverend’s coat and shirt, utility knife in hand to sever the threads too thick and stubborn to yield to the tugs. Lacey pulled Howell’s pants so that his ankles were snatched from under him. He felt them pull his shoes away before finally pulling his pants loose. Someone snatched away his socks.

The rag had crept a little deeper down Howell’s mouth, and coughed as he fought his urge to gag. He was barely able to mumble “What are you all doing?”

Colt shrugged. “God’s work, I guess.”

“God’s work?” And Howell gagged again as the rag crept deeper down his throat. “How could this be God’s work?” he groaned, nearly unintelligible.

But Colt seemed to hear him. “You know about how my granddaddy was a code breaker after he got drafted? He always used to tell me that the secret of any code was figuring out what it was folks was trying not to say.”

Lacey propped herself up on the pickup’s tailgate. It was late October and cloudy, but the humidity was high and the temperature was in the low eighties. She was in small denim shorts, and she wore boots that hugged her calves. Howell looked away when he caught her catching him.

“Please!” he murmured. He tried to cough some of the rag clear, and felt bile rising in his throat. “There’s nothing Godly in this action!” Then he fell on back on the standby defense: “Look to His Word!”

“Codes always say one thing and mean another. And it’s not even so obvious as just sayin’ the opposite of what ya mean.” Colt flipped a pocket Bible through the air, one of a couple thousand Howell kept in boxes in his office. “You say He’s a God of love. If that’s the case, I ain’t so sure He’s the author.”

Howell’s blood was racing hot, and he tensed to keep from voiding his bladder. The pressure began to stiffen his prick. Lacey noticed and barked a little laugh, then reached out a leg and nudged it with the toe of her boot.

“Damn, reverend,” Clint said off to the side, “you sure have timing, don’t ya?”

A blond-headed boy Howell knew as Zach came out from behind him, stuffing Howell’s clothes into a nylon bag. He threw the torn suit into the truck bed before climbing into the cab and slamming the door shut. After a couple minutes Howell could hear the tinny sounds of country music from the radio.

“When you have us testify in town, you tell folks we’re witnessing before the Lord. I remember a lot of my granddaddy’s stories. That sounded a lot like code to me.”

“What…?” And Howell had to stop and fight back a convulsion in his stomach. He bit down on the shirt to keep from swallowing it. He felt his prick spasm and leap. Lacey watched it and laughed.

“My leg feels a lot better,” she told him then. “Nurse at school says I just strained it a little. Should be running track again in no time. I palmed one of them relaxers you said would help me and gave it to my sister. Put that little girl right to sleep.” She smirked and tossed her honey blond hair over one shoulder. “Just how relaxed were you wanting me to be that day, reverend?”

“They…they’re gonna find you!” Howell gagged.

“Maybe.” Colt shrugged. “Maybe not. If they do I guess that’s His will. Or, you know, somebody’s anyway.

Clint slapped the side of the truck. There was a clang from under the hood, and it lurched as Zach shifted gears. He opened the door and stuck a foot out, his boot digging into the dirt.

Colt clapped Howell’s shoulder. The sound of flesh smacking against flesh was intimate, violating.

“We’re just doing the best we can with what we can figure out.” He squeezed the pale skin of the man’s shoulder in an obscene gesture of comfort. “Plenty of snakes out here. You get a chance, let ’em tell ya a story.”

Zach stepped out, and the truck began to roll. It hit a sharp drop in the soil, and just as it began its descent its tires met an exposed oak root. The truck bucked and lurched, and Howell’s slow march turned to flight. He was slung through the air like the tip of a bullwhip. For a second the kids could hear his screams through the shirt, but he was quickly drowned out by the screeching of smashed steel and shattered glass.

When it was quiet they looked over the edge, and saw Howell lying fifty feet down. The truck he was still chained to stood on its nose, its roof propped against a pine sporting fresh scars. The old bald tires in back were still spinning.

Howell’s body jerked. None of them could tell if he was fighting to breathe or if it was just a muscle spasm. It wouldn’t matter soon.

“You all best get back to where you ought to be,” Colt told the others. “I’ll stick around to make sure it’s finished.”

They disappeared to the crunch of green twigs and the rustling of dry pine needles. Colt dipped some chew, and for good measure lit a cigarette. He sat on the edge of the drop-off, kicking down loose dirt with his boot heels. There was a faint pulse of light, and the distant growl of thunder. A few cool drops of water hit the back of Colt’s neck. He sat waiting until the rain came in force. Once he was cleansed, he would start the work again.


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Filed under Fiction, Horror, Miscellaneous

Halloween Twitter Serial – Reflections

It’s both weird and a relief that I’m not trying to do #thenightshift anymore. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the experience handily, and even though the finished project was a bit Roland Emmerich-y of me, I honestly came away with a little growth as a writer. So maybe it was worth it.

I never had much use for Twitter beforehand; most of my acquaintances weren’t on it, and any creative impulses I felt were either channeled into attempts at professional-level writing efforts, or through postings here on WordPress. However, I was drawn to what I perceived Twitter to fundamentally be: a collection of stories, pieced together through flickering glimpses into minds and events. I liked that a lot, and wanted somehow to indulge myself in this perception.

With October, and thus Halloween, approaching, I wanted to do something that would properly honor my favorite holiday, while also stimulating me creatively. And even though I had no idea what it would be about, one week before the month actually began, I announced I would start telling a story through a series of rushed, half-assed tweets. The announcement was small: to the few who followed me on WordPress, and to the acquaintances I keep in contact with on Facebook.

Luckily I was starting to gain an understanding of the importance of tags and hashtags on here and Twitter, respectively, and some fortunate combination of terms drew the attention of Emma Audsley from the Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. Emma was kind enough to reblog my little update, and though I’ve hardly swept the online world, the increased exposure certainly encouraged me to keep up with the effort, even though for a good week I had no idea where the fuck I was going with it.

Ultimately, I’m glad I did it. There may be many things I’m disappointed with about it, such as

– the lack of thorough characterization

– an over-emphasis on action when I should have realized the format lent itself more to mood and atmosphere

– the transparently off-the-cuff style

…but there were also several things I took away that I think will help me as a writer, like

– recognizing that every line needs to count

– realizing every sentence can tell its own story

– understanding that a truly massive amount of information can be shared with surprisingly few words.

I value #thenightshift for what it is: as both a simple-minded little story about giant bugs, and as an experiment from which other, richer efforts can grow. I’m already considering another serial, tentatively called #novembernightmares, which will be a much shorter but hopefully much richer effort. Whether it’s wanted, or even if it’s rejected, is irrelevant. I liked what #thenightshift gave me, and if there’s more to learn from the effort, I want to know it. We’ll see how things go.

– The Awful Writer


Filed under Halloween Twitter Serial, The Book

A Few Things I Wanted to Mention

The Halloween Twitter Serial continues, though now I’m pulling it off by the seat of my pants. It suits my slacker disposition.

Also, I guess I’ll do Write-On-Demand Day, since my actual lack of renown is probably advantageous for what I’m planning. I’ll set up a post for the event this Saturday, a little before midnight, Central Time, and any suggestions I receive in the comments will get a horror story come Halloween. Feel free to suggest tone, theme, characters, subject…anything your lusty heart desires.

Speaking of Halloween, I ran something last year I called an orgy of horrorgasms last Halloween, if anyone’s interested. I liked it, even if the rushed nature of the experiment shows pretty strongly.

While I’m on the subject of self-promotion, I used to do something called The Midnight Special. The idea was that I could only post material written in one go late at night. Again, the fact that it’s basically a bunch of rushed rough drafts is pretty apparent, but whatever. Should I start up on this again?

Anyway, I gotta do some Halloween planning. Nashville likes to do Halloween big, and I haven’t even decorated yet. Ugh, I’m so lame.

Remember to follow @SeanGanus or #thenightshift to figure out what’s plaguing that damnable hotel!

– The Awful Writer


Filed under Miscellaneous

Halloween Twitter Serial – Quota

This “five tweets per day” business is trickier than it really should be. I had five tweets prepared and ready to go…and then I used up my battery power watching Salad Fingers and left myself with a dead phone for the rest of the work day. GOD I’M BRILLIANT.

So I think “Eh, I’ll just play catch up when I get home.” This goes smoothly until I get a call from a female friend of mine to hit a couple bars. I managed one more tweet before the alcohol kicked in. Wait, no, that’s not true. I managed one more tweet before we started pawing each other. There we go. And in the ensuing struggle between sex and artistic integrity, um, sex won by a mile.

If it sounds like I’m gloating, I am, sorry ’bout that. (I HAD SEX, BWAHAHAHA!) I’m two months out of what was a pretty serious relationship, so I can’t bring myself to apologize for any unattached sexy times had on my part. Hopefully Liz thinks my lack of sexual prowess is a result of my then-somewhat-inebriated state.

Anyhoo, unless the gods smile on me again today, expect five tweets as promised. Things are gonna get a little splattery now that the bodies are piling up, plus the language may get mildly foul. So if either scenario is taboo for you, be warned: I’m gonna write what comes to me. If it feels natural, it’s going in. Self-censorship is a post-modern plague.

Follow @SeanGanus or #thenightshift to follow the plight of a hellish hotel’s overnight staff!

– The Awful Writer

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Halloween Twitter Serial – A Few Things

First off, I’m back on track, meeting my five tweet quota, mortal sickness be damned. Though to be honest, being temporarily bedridden is actually probably why I’m making my quota today, but whatever.

If there’s any concern over the story’s pace, the narrative’s official body count begins soon, I promise. Gore to follow soon. (See what I did there? Hoho, chortle chortle!)

Follow @SeanGanus or #thenightshift to track my eventual implosion of creative failure!

– The Awful Writer

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Halloween Twitter Serial – Status Report

Day Three, and already I’ve failed to meet my quota. I submit that it’s not entirely my fault, but only because I’m a millenial and we don’t take criticism well.

So because I suck at dependability, Day Two had only three tweets (I think), so the best way I can figure to restore balance is to give Day Three seven, and hope nobody beats me for my failure (in a non-sexy-time way, I mean).


– The Awful Writer

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Halloween Twitter Serial – Launch

Sean Ganus (@SeanGanus) tweeted at 9:02 AM on Mon, Oct 01, 2012:

Standing silent in the cold, crystalline night, the hotel seemed coiled, and ready to spring. #thenightshift

Launched #thenightshift this morning. We’ll see how far this goes before I abandon the effort in favor of watching Mad Men in my underpants.

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Filed under Halloween Twitter Serial