Monster Mayhem – Now Available!

This collection of horror short stories and dark poetry was recently re-edited and re-released. It is available for purchase at $6.99 on Smashwords.

About this title: Monsters and more, monsters galore! What hides in the shadows or lurks in the night? What reaches out for your throat to provoke a scream that curdles your blood, to violently tear the life from your body? Could this be your answer? This full-length collection of dark prose, short stories and novellas will surely appease your palate for all things beastly and ghastly. Rating: HIGH controversy.

This title’s page on Smashwords

A short story from the collection.

Bus Stop Curiosity

Ten year-old Leshawn Mayes grumbled his way towards the bus stop. He hadn’t quite finished the previous night’s homework, and he hoped the school bus would hurry up and get there so he could rush through the sheet and a half of fractions in the brief twenty-minute ride. It was a slim hope, however, as this year’s bus driver was always late. Even worse, the woman made up for her tardiness by driving like one of those guys the police chased on TV.

To his right, a wide tangle of ice-plants ran from the inside edge of the sidewalk and all the way to the tall and grainy brown brick wall that ran around the perimeter of the residences. To the left, lay a wide, four-lane boulevard that was deserted at this time of the morning, save for the rare long distance commuter that blurred by. Directly in front of him, and near the corner, was the metro bus stop, which doubled as the school bus stop.

The Asian kid, Han Dong Lee, had beat him to the location, as usual. What wasn’t routine was that Han was a good thirty feet away from the sturdy city bench where they usually waited. Shrugging, Leshawn walked up beside his buddy.

“’Sup, Ding-Dong?”

The boy whirled in his direction, squinting repeatedly through his bottle cap glasses and babbling excitedly. “Leshawn, Leshawn, I’m so glad you’re here!” He pointed at the bus stop bench, where a lone figure in a wide brimmed hat and dark gray raincoat sat. “That guy’s been sitting there all morning! He took our seats!”

Leshawn frowned, as the stranger was indeed sitting right smack dab in the middle of the bench. Not courteously on one end, so someone else could take a seat beside him, but right in the middle, like a jerk. “So what? It’s just some dummy going to work.”

Han Dong leaned over close to whisper in his ear, something that Leshawn found uncomfortable. “That guy smells funny.”

Leshawn shrugged. “Lots of people smell funny. Maybe he didn’t have time to take a shower this morning.”

“No, not like that!” Han exclaimed, glancing sharply towards the bus stop as if the stranger might have heard him. “One time, Tabby had some kittens under the house, and we didn’t know about it ‘til a few weeks later. One of them crawled behind a grate, and it died and we didn’t find it until like a month later. That’s what that guy smells like.”

Leshawn glanced over at the sedentary man with growing curiosity.

“And you know what else?” Han stepped in front of him expectantly. “Bully James isn’t here!”

Leshawn turned all the way around and gazed in every direction. Bully James was like a curse, always showing off about everything his dad bought him and punching them hard on the shoulder whenever they didn’t cling to his every word. “I thought it was kind of quiet around here. Hope he got the swine flu or something.”

“When is the last time Bully James missed a day?”

The school year had just begun, but Leshawn understood what his friend was getting at. “Bully James is always here. He lives to torture us.” His attention drifted back to the stranger. “Let’s go over by the bus stop.”

“No! That guy is scary!”

“Well, I’ll stand between you and the bench, okay?”

Once Han nodded, the two junior sleuths crept closer to the bus stop. Sure enough, their two noses wrinkled at the approach, as the smell of decay invaded their nostrils. Just as stealthily, they crept several feet back.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Leshawn said.

Han looked at him inquisitively. “What does that mean?”

“I dunno.” Leshawn shrugged. “I heard it somewhere, and I just thought it kind of fit the moment.”

“Oh.”

Leshawn noticed a dash of color among the ice-plants. “Hey, Ding-Dong, you see that over there?”

“Where?”

“In those pickle-weeds.” He gestured with his head. “Back there. Don’t that look like Bully James’ backpack?”

Han leaned over to get a better look. “Oh, my gosh! That is James’ backpack! But where’s James? I haven’t seen him since I got here!”

Leshawn had a feeling the stranger might know. Bravely, the youth stepped towards the bench, willing himself past the stink. “Hey, man, did you see another kid out here? He’s got a flat-top haircut and wears a shiny Yankee jacket.” Leshawn asked of the stranger. “He’s always talking trash.”

The stranger seemed to be ignoring him.

“He’s a real ugly kid, too.” Leshawn finished, hearing Han snicker from a few feet behind him.

Finally, he got a reaction from the silent form. The stranger’s head swiveled mechanically in his direction, giving the two boys their first clear look at him.

The man had no facial hair, and from what they could see, he had no hair whatsoever. His countenance was full of wrinkles, around the usual places like the eyes and mouth, but also around more unusual parts like the nose and ears. As the wide brimmed hat raised to reveal the man’s eyes, the boys saw only a cold, grayish gleam where eyeballs should have been, and this gleam perfectly matched the clammy pallor of the man’s skin.

“You know, on second thought, just forget it.” A nervous Leshawn withdrew from the bus stop.

The man’s mouth jarred open, lips and teeth sliding apart to reveal a great maw. Sickly, grotesquely, the mouth kept yawning, threatening to keep enlarging until the vast black void within swallowed up the bench, the street, and maybe the entire block before it was satiated.

A great burp bellowed from this dark chasm, spewing a wave of noxious fumes and a slimy white object that trickled down the front of the stranger’s dreary-looking raincoat. At once, both boys recognized one of Bully James’ fancy new sneakers that the bully always bragged about.

A sudden blare shocked the boys a couple of inches off the ground. They turned to find the school bus nestled against the curb, and the late bus driver impatiently waving them onboard.

Leshawn and Han turned back to the bench, but the stranger had resumed his previous pose, hat covering his eyes, body propped up against the bench and hands crossed over his lap.

Like two little twisters, the boys rushed aboard and took seats on the far side of the school bus. It wasn’t until the bus had traveled ahead by several blocks that they finally relaxed their harried breathing and stopped looking behind them for any sign of the stranger on the bench, just in case he might be coming after them.

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