After considerable debate, I’ve decided to put out some short stories in electronic form (with plans to eventually put out a collection, as well). I won’t go into all the details of this decision (however, I’d love any feedback from writers who have experimented with this idea), but I did want to show you a working copy of a potential image in the hopes that you might offer your two cents. If it helps form your opinion, here is the basic description of the story:
The Interview. A short story by Paul D. Dail.
Reporter Jay Kipp gets more than he expected from his interview with an old, blind homeless man calling himself simply “Phineus.”
What does the future hold?
I have a couple ideas that I’m batting around for next Friday, so for the first time since the beginning of this blog, I’ll just say that you’ll need to check back then.
But without further ado…
As some of you have seen from my post “10 movies that scared the bejeezus out of me” (and which has caused considerable debate), one movie that got me pretty spooked when it came out in theatres was The Blair Witch Project.
*shields self from rotten vegetables being thrown by the crowd*
I won’t go into all of my justifications here (although, if you’re curious, you can certainly check out the post), but what bears repeating for the sake of this story is that the marketing for this movie, back in the early days of the internet when rumors weren’t so easily disproved, was brilliant, leaving just enough question early on in its release to make the public wonder if this was actually a true story.
Now by the time I finally went to see it, I had figured out that it was not a real story. Could it have been possible, in my opinion? Sure. Even probable? Why not. But before you shake your head, you should know that this is coming from the same person who would say that quite a few bits of folklore and superstition (along with various things going bump in the night) are possible. And I’d even say some are probable.
However, when I went to see “The Blair Witch Project” with a good friend and his girlfriend, I knew that this particular story wasn’t true, even though I still had those dark smudges on my viewing perception from previously wondering. And by the time I got to the end of the movie, I had been, as I said, pretty well spooked.
As the three of us sat in the theatre, all a little stunned by the ending, my friend’s girlfriend spoke up. “So that really happened?”
I’ll be honest; I was actually jealous of her. There had been freaky enough moments knowing that it was just fiction, but I remember wishing that I could’ve gone back and watched with her eyes, believing it was all real.
But again, I give fair credence to many things others dismiss as fiction. I believe this is how many horror writers think. To give you an example, I just recently wrote a flash fiction piece entitled The Death He Expected, and in doing so, there was actually a little irrational part of me that hoped writing the story would remove what that same little part of me believed might actually be an Indian curse.
I can’t help it.
So I wasn’t lying when I told my friend Mike (also the name of one of the characters in the movie, by the way) as he drove me back to my house that if he made good on his joking threat to mess with me later that night, I would probably have a heart attack.
Before continuing, we should step back. It’s important that you know that at the time, I was living at the rural edges of Missoula, Montana, in an old barn that had been converted to a house. The house was surrounded on three sides by fields, and on the fourth side it was about twenty yards from the original house on the property, now mostly in ruin. And probably haunted as far as I was concerned.
The one nice thing about being more removed from town was the fact that we never had to lock our door. I had literally only locked it two other times in three years (and I think it was in the early days when I left town on a trip, back when I still thought I needed to).
This particular night would be the third time. I knew that it would probably surprise my roommate, but I figured that she could just use her key. And again, you have to remember that any other day, my logical side could’ve probably ruled out this other side of my personality. But when we’re in fearful situations (or just sat through almost two hours of someone else’s), we don’t think rationally. I mean honestly, what was I hoping to lock out? Well, probably my friend Mike, even though I suspected he would be too preoccupied with his girlfriend to seriously consider playing a prank on me.
So after staying up a little later to watch whatever sit-com I could find, I went to bed, still somewhat shaken, and refusing to look out the window right over my bed into the darkness of the field outside my bedroom, but relatively confident that I just needed to sleep it off.
Such would not be the case.
Midway through the night, I was awoken by a banging that seemed to be coming from every part of the house (reminiscent of the terrifying scene in the movie of the violent rattling of the main characters’ tent… except on a rickety house that used to be a barn). My eyes shot open, but I didn’t move.
This was no practical joke. It was too loud, too violent. I didn’t think it was Mike. If it was, I’d kill him. But this was too much to be a joke.
The banging continued. And it seemed to be coming from everywhere on the house at once. From my frozen position in bed, I could see just a sliver of the window over my bed, but I didn’t sit up. Because then my head would be right by that window. And I didn’t want to think about what might be right outside that window… what might be grinning at me, probably with a mouth full of jagged teeth, as it smashed through and attacked me.
Basically, I was paralyzed by my fear. And in the middle of the night, even though I was fully awake, I was still muddled, and I had no idea what to do.
Now, as my wife will tell you, I’m a pretty good sleeper, even if I’ve just woken myself up with one of my frequent night terrors. I’m capable of dropping back off pretty easily.
It was with this in mind that I came to the only decision that seemed to make any sense. I would force myself to go back to sleep. I knew that if the banging was just a joke, it would have to end at some point. The idea that was harder to accept, but which I ultimately did, was that if it wasn’t a joke, there was a good possibility I wouldn’t survive the night anyway.
So I forced myself to go back to sleep. I must have been tired enough, because I remember that the banging on the house blended into a restless sleep.
What I hadn’t counted on in the midst of my mid-night terror, but which I discovered the next morning, was a roommate who had lost her key months ago.
What do I want from you?
How about you? Have you ever convinced yourself that something supernatural was happening to you that turned out to be completely explainable (this has actually happened to me a few times)? Or maybe something unexplained?
Also, I would love any of your two cents on the short story cover. I already have a few ideas in mind for some changes, but curious what you think.
Finally, don’t forget to check back next week. Again, not sure what I have on tap yet, but I hope you’ll check back anyway.
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