Saturday, February 25, 2017

YouTube update: new video welcome

The new video introduction for my YouTube channel. New story updates everyday!

Lopsided romantic relationships and “One-Room Schoolhouse”

You’ve no doubt seen romantic relationships in which one side of the couple equation was really feeling warm and fuzzy, and the other side…well, just wasn't that into it.

This is the setup for my short story, “One-Room Schoolhouse: a quiet tale of terror”, which is excerpted below:

Samantha rolled down the passenger window of Dan's black Audi coupe, and laughed into the inrushing flood of warm, Indian summer air.  
"I don't see why you always insist on air conditioning when we're driving," Samantha chided him. "The fresh air is so much more invigorating.” 
Dan was about to tell Samantha, as he had told her many times before, that he preferred air-conditioning because this was the season in which his hay fever and allergies went crazy. Samantha, he knew, would not listen. She had not listened all those times before. 
But that didn't bother him, not really. Nor did he overly mind that he couldn't really afford the Audi, even with his substantial income as an agent at the brokerage. He stole a glance at Samantha, as he so often did when they were together: She had long legs, and long chestnut hair, and her deep tan was beautifully accentuated by the white tank top and khaki shorts she was wearing. During his youth as the diffident son of a factory worker, Dan would never have dreamed that he might someday have a car like this, let alone a live-in girlfriend like Samantha.

As you can see, Samantha represents the fulfillment of a dream for Dan—or maybe multiple dreams. (As the story unfolds, we see that she doesn't necessarily feel the same way about him.)

The couple passes by a reputedly haunted location in the Ohio countryside, the old Lincoln Schoolhouse. Samantha wants to stop by and see it. 

The school had reportedly been abandoned sometime during the 1920s, after something unspeakable had happened there. 
The accounts varied, but the most common story held that a male teacher had killed two of his young female charges there, shortly before killing himself. After that, the Lincoln Schoolhouse was deemed unhallowed ground, and no longer appropriate as a place for educating the young. 

Dan doesn't think stopping would be a good idea. He isn't quite sure what he believes about supernatural forces. He does believe that it wouldn't be wise to tempt such forces—just in case they actually exist.

But, of course, he doesn't want to disappoint Samantha. So they stop at the Lincoln Schoolhouse.

While they are inside the schoolhouse, his resentment mounts, and he has some not very kind feelings about Samantha:

At the front of the room was an elevated platform where the teacher would have stood. Dan supposed that there would have been a blackboard over the front wall behind the platform. But there was only a blank space there now, an irregular, excessively faded patch in the old wood. The furniture that the long-ago children had once used was also long gone. 
Underneath the hole in the roof at one side of the room, Dan noticed the head of a pine tree, and some poison ivy poking up from a gap in the floorboards. He had not been wrong to warn Samantha about the reliability of the floor. 
When she took a step toward the platform, he said, “Don’t. It might be rotted. And then you’ll fall through and we’ll be in a hell of a fix.” 
She rolled her eyes at him and stepped up onto the platform, a deliberate act of defiance. She turned around and looked at him. “See, worrywart: No problem.” She added emphasis by pounding each foot on the boards.  
For a brief moment he wished that the floorboards would crack and splinter, maybe not dropping her through (he couldn't go quite that far, even in his mind) but scaring her a bit. Samantha had never been afraid of anything, so far as Dan could tell. 

There is a lot more to the story: What does Dan see inside the Lincoln Schoolhouse? Why has Samantha been sending secretive text messages on her phone?

This is a tale of “quiet terror”. There is no horde of rampaging zombies. I like to think of it as a spooky atmospheric piece. 

But beyond that, it’s a story of what happens when one half of a couple cares more than the other half.

The short story “One-Room Schoolhouse: a quiet tale of terror” is available on Amazon Kindle for $0.99. (If you are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free.)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The First Story that Really Scared Me

A reader recently asked me, "Dear Ed, do you remember the first story that ever really scared you?”

That was an easy one to answer.

In the summer of 1977, when your friendly and humble correspondent was only nine years old, I happened to come across a book full of "scary stories" written for young people.

The book (pictured below), was published by Scholastic and was edited by a woman name Freya Littledale.

I have long since forgotten the stories included in this book. I was nine then, after all, and I’m now 48.

Except for one story. One story I still remember.

The short story, "The Demon of Detroit" scared the bejesus out of me.

I talk a little bit about this short story in the video that follows. 

The collection in which I originally read the story in 1977 is long out-of-print. (The book was published in 1971, when Richard Nixon was president.) But the short story itself is still out there, and is still scaring the heck out of readers, and even listeners on YouTube.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Thanatos Postponed: a short tale of terror" Chapter 7 video reading

Then Marisol pulled a small, shiny object from the pocket of her jeans.

A key. She didn't have to tell me that this was a key to the other guesthouse. Later Marisol would tell me that in a cabinet inside the main house, there were duplicate, and even triplicate keys to most of the outbuildings and storage closets of the estate. Members of the staff were always losing them, so long ago the family had learned to keep spares. But Raul Garcia would have removed the key currently in Marisol’s possession had he remembered it. That much, no doubt, was an oversight on his part.

We left my guesthouse together. I hoped that Raul Garcia had returned to the main house after his own bout of insomnia. Then it struck me: Even if Marisol was mistaken or exaggerating in her account, the act of trespass that I was about to commit was vast, and from the perspective of a man like Raul Garcia, it would be unforgivable. 

As we approached the front door of the other guesthouse, as I looked into its darkened windows, I wondered if I ought to renege. I couldn’t: I had committed myself now. And I couldn't disappoint Marisol. I had made a commitment to her, as well.

She turned the key in the keyhole and pushed the door open. We stepped inside. I heard something acknowledge our presence with a low sigh, or perhaps a hiss. I was immediately aware of an overpowering smell, a miasma that surrounded me and permeated all my defenses. 

“No lights,” Marisol said, gesturing toward the skylight. 

This guesthouse had a skylight in its ceiling, which gave enough illumination for us to see. The moon, as I have said, was in its crescent phase that night; but the other guesthouse was near one of the estate’s big security lights. 

I could clearly see the outline of the figure in the chair. Female, diminutive. And I thought: Is that really Ana Garcia, the same girl in the photograph with Marisol? She couldn't be. It didn't seem possible. Her eyes were closed, and her skin was ashen—rather than the vibrant light brown it should have been....

More content coming for YouTube

One of my big goals for the first half of this year is to get a lot more story and bonus content posted to my YouTube channel.

I will freely admit that I am still ascending the learning curve of YouTube. I'm a writer, not a filmmaker, and that doubtless shows in my videos.

That said, I've made some investments (in both time and money) of late that should improve the production quality of of upcoming videos.

My goal is not to become the next PewDiePie or Jenna Marbles (two top YouTube stars, for those of you who aren't familiar with the site). My goal is to establish another outpost for getting my stories out into the world. 

That said, I want to make my YouTube videos as fun and engaging as possible. I'm excited about some of the video projects that I'm currently working on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On sharks, and my short story, "By the River"

From my YouTube channel, a video I made today. It contains some interesting tidbits on sharks, and a brief introduction to my short story, "By the River".