La Chatelaine – The Killer Utility Belt You Need

How often do you search for your keys or your cell phone in your purse, only to find all the things you really don’t need? Or look for that pesky tool everywhere only to find it after you’ve bought a replacement already.

World, meet the chatelaine, the most useful and beautiful utility belt for Victorian women. I sincerely hope this year is the year that these come back.

According to MentalFloss and chatelaine historian Monica F. Cohen, the word “chatelaine” itself is derived from the medieval word for a castellan, or a keeper of the castle or chateau who wore at his or her waist the key to the castle’s various rooms.

The chatelaine is a decorative belt hook attached at the waist with a series of chains, that attach useful and much needed tools for Victorian women. It was normal for there to be a large variety of different things depending on the person such as: scissors, thimbles, keys, a notepad, coin purse, and even vinaigrette! Chatelaine’s are fully customization, so a nurse might have a thermometer and scissors on hers or below, pictured below left, is a sewing chatelaine from 1680, complete with a pincushion.

 

It’s reported the chatelaines were around in early forms in 1510, with the invention of the watch, but were then called equipages (referencing containers on cord and worn around you to carry important valuables).

Jewelers like Tiffany, Boucheron, and Faberge made these impressive items that exploded in 1828 when a London magazine called The World of Fashion featured the chatelaine, showcasing the chatelaine with a symbolic key (as medieval chatelaine’s had keys to the castle). Ladies took to wearing them as a symbol of their status as “The Lady Chatelaine” of their own castles (homes).

Women from all backgrounds wore this—from mistresses to maids—though as mentioned above some were more useful and some were more for status and statements.

Below is a cabinet card (popular type of photo) circa 1880 that displays a well-dressed woman wearing a needlework chatelaine.

 

This is one of the coolest chatelaines I came across below. Believed by the collector to have been a “Faith, Hope, and Charity” chatelaine for mourning. After purchasing it, a quote from Wadsworth was found on a small piece of paper inside the thimble. “Oppression, and sickness, and sorrow, and pain Shall be to our true love as links to the chain.”

On the right, as pictured from the same article (sources at the end of this article), two sporting-themed chatelaines featuring dog’s head medallions.

I found this sterling silver chatelaine (below) from George Shiebler that sold for over $2,000 at auction. It includes a notepad, dictionary, pencil, shell purse, and Tiffany perfume bottle. Isn’t it fabulous?

 

Would you wear a chatelaine? What would yours have on it? Leave me a comment below!

Love and clinking chatelaines,

 

 

 

 

Sources: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here

Let’s Watch a #Horror Movie: Annabelle: Creation

Let’s watch a horror movie! Annabelle: Creation! Doesn’t that sound like fun?

2017 film Annabelle: Creation movie poster

Of course it does. Watching scary movies with friends is the best! And what could be better than demons and dolls? Nothing.

This 2017 horror movie was directed by David F Sandburg and written by Gary Dauberman and is the prequel to the 2014 movie Annabelle and ties in nicely to that movie. We all remember that creepy possessed doll fondly and this movie shares the doll’s origin.

Because why wouldn’t you want to know?

Samuel and Esther Mullins, played by Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto, open their home to six orphan girls when their orphanage is closed. When one of the girls, Janice, played by Talitha Bateman, opens a locked door, she frees a demon, who runs amok causing havoc and fear.

It’s what demons do.

Though I had issues with the plot in places, I really enjoyed the creepiness and the images were fabulously terrifying.

The tea party. The bunk beds…

Yeah…stuff of nightmares.

I haven’t watched it since I saw it in the theater, and that needs to be remedied.

Mark your calendars! Friday, January 26th turn out the lights and have plenty of dark chocolate at hand. Press play at 9 EST! Let’s watch Annabelle: Creation!

New Year, New You

Water Hemlock

By: Fritz Flohr Reynolds

She ate the water hemlock because she knew it was poisonous.

The white blossoms were tasteless, but the leaves tasted green, like a stalk of celery. The first cramp was brutal, and that was it.

She died there on the trail, just where it got muddy as it skirted around the marsh. Her spirit drifted right up from the spot where she fell. Her body had landed in an awkward position, partway into the tall grass. So much for a graceful departure.

Her body looked wretched. She didn’t remember any of the thrashing and pain that showed on her gaping mouth and twisted limbs. She tried rearranging her face to look less horrific, but it was like trying to mold something covered in foam rubber, too fine of work for her insubstantial fingers. She rearranged her limbs so they weren’t quite so splayed and called it good enough.

She was finally free of that dead weight she’d been dragging around.

This year was simply the worst. It was exhausting, drowning out the yammering, all the pushing to improve, to become better, to fight harder for whatever she believed in.

If one more person asked her, earnestly, “Are you living your best life?”…

It was a life, a dreary, meaningless life. All those uplifting messages reminded her that she hadn’t done anything she dreamed of doing. They only reminded her how uncomfortable she was in her own skin. Some days she’d barely been able to hold back from scratching it off in strips.

That was done now.

She’d felt physically ill all month. Her stomach had clenched at the thought of eating, or drinking, or listening to one more thing that was supposed to enliven her. She’d barely eaten, and eventually the nausea had dulled, just like all other sensations.

Marsh with water hemlock

By: Kenneth Allen

The beauty of the woods had nearly been enough. If she was gone, she’d never walk through them again, never follow the trail down to where it opened to the marsh, ringed in bright green grasses. But she always had to go back. She had to go back to people and what they called real life. Once she realized it wasn’t what she wanted her real life to be, it was easy. She’d felt cleaned out at the end, scraped out, like her skin was merely a shell around her.

She looked down at her empty body again, to the husk she left behind. These transformations were becoming tiresome.

She could’ve just split her skin down the back and crawled out. She would’ve emerged gleaming. The humans would’ve thought she’d gotten a facial and highlights. They were so easy to fool with a superficial makeover. How dull.

The interior stuff took more time, but it was worth it. Even the “best life” idiots knew that. She’d felt herself sinking for months. Disconnecting. Shooing away the people who tried to drag her out of her shell. They hadn’t known what she needed.

This was what she needed.

Creatures were moving again in the marsh, now that she wasn’t making any noise. A metallic dragonfly dipped into the water. Something slithered through the grass. Small fish darted along the edge, and the wake of a larger fish cut across the water as it rushed to eat them.

Fish. Fish were caught by humans. And humans ate them. And once inside, she would be released and could become anything they carried with them. Bacteria. Dormant viruses. Small cells that would multiply into the thousands and spread outside their host.

The littlest ones grew and changed so fast, and they wielded such power. The nimbleness was elegant. And no one would ask her if she was living her best life.

This year, she could conquer the world.

 

Photographs:

By Fritzflohrreynolds (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kenneth Allen [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Birthday Kathy!

Happy birthday Kathy! There’s no better way to bring in the New Year than to celebrate you, your birth, and the sunshine that you bring into the world. We thought for your birthday, we’d invite a few fairies to the party.

The problem is–not all of them we’re good. In fact, within minutes they started spreading their fairy dust and things around the room started to float…

*Shrug, oh well, seems like just another normal day here at the Midnight Society mansion…

 

To start off, I wanted to give you a special elixir. Could be poison…I guess you wont know until you drink it.

You can find the recipe here.

And I couldn’t help it but I found you the perfect cake to go along with it. Beautiful, mysterious, with elegant pieces of darkness, just like you!

 

Lastly, I thought you might want an enchanted dress. Here is your gown, birthday fae.

 

 

Kathy, you are a magical woman. You’re kind, thoughtful, and so creative. You’re a fantastic writer and you bring magic to everyday life. Thank you for being such a kind human and a good friend. You are one of a kind.

Happy Birthday, Kathy!!

It’s your special day today, so celebrate the only way you should:

Fairy SignPlay with fairies Sign Rustic Wood by BelleVieArtDecor

You are an amazing and talented writer that I’m thankful to call my friend. Have an amazing day!!!

Amy

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Kathy!

 

Much love,

 

The Midnight Society

The Haunting Lore of Dark Souls III–Oceiros, The Consumed King

There are several reasons I adore the Souls series of games–their punishing difficulty, their immersive worlds, and the lore that is woven into every character, location and item being just a few. In my mind, the Souls series has always been a horror series, as despair, grief, loneliness and loss are themes played out again and again. Every major enemy you face has a story, and it’s often tragic. What’s more, the game often gives you only pieces of the story, which invites the community to theorize about what it all means.

A prefect example of this Oceiros, the Consumed King.

YouTube user VaatiVidya creates amazing videos about the lore of the Souls series, and you can hear what he has to say about the story of Oceiros at the 12:15 mark of the video below.

So this former ruler of Lothric became obsessed with dragons to the point of transforming himself into a dragon-like creature. Then he fathered a child who he presumed would be an all-powerful heir to the throne, only thing didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped. By the time we find him in the game, he has gone almost completely mad, and appeared to be cradling an invisible child in one arm. There are two very different theories about what happens next.

The first theory is that Oceiros is insane, refusing to believe his child is gone. The cries of a baby you hear throughout the fight are due to Oceiros, as his magic abilities are now feeding his delusion that his child is still with him. Halfway through the fight, he realizes that his son was never there with him, and completely loses it, going into a feral rage.

The second–and much darker–theory suggests the child has the ability to become invisible. Which means Oceiros must be fighting us to protect his own child, right? He is convinced Ocelotte is a powerful being–perhaps he even expects his infant son to aid him in the battle against us, the player. But that doesn’t happen. And so, the real horror comes at the halfway point of the fight, where it appears that Oceiros crushes his own child before going feral and throwing himself at us.

The debate continues to go on about what actually happened, but what’s interesting is that it seems the entire encounter with Oceiros was altered to be less disturbing than originally designed. In the original design, a baby’s cries could be heard throughout, at one point, the audio implies Oceiros had turned on his own infant son.

Either way you look at it, the encounter with Oceiros is both horrific and tragic, and that is just one example among many in the Souls games. The ability of these games to make you think about them when you’re not playing is another reason I love them so. You can see my battle with Oceiros in the video below.

 

Artist Interview: Shannon Stamey Gets Bjork-y About His Cat

Photos courtesy of Shannon Stamey (left).

The Davis Girl (TDG): I am joined today via Google Hangouts by illustrator Shannon Stamey. He draws things. Welcome Shannon.

Shannon Stamey (SS): Thanks for having me!

TDG: You draw some pretty awesome things, Shannon.

SS: Thanks! Sometimes I draw total crap.

TDG: What do you do with the crap drawings?

SS: There’s a furnace in the basement of my apartment building.

TDG: Oooooooh.

A commission sketch of Captain Marvel.

SS: Other times, I keep them to remind myself where I’ve screwed up.

TDG: I like to burn things, too.

SS: I usually just throw them away.

TDG: What is the the last thing you drew?

SS: A small commission sketch of Captain Marvel. I also took some notes for another private commission I’m working on, which is mostly just scribbles and bullet points to the side.

TDG: What’s your favorite illustration tool-thingy?

SS: My absolute favorite is sepia pencils on parchment. I love that marriage of color and texture.

The artist’s work station.

TDG: I like permanent markers on anything.

SS: As much as I love ink and the way it looks and feels, it’s not something I’ve ever been very good at using the way I’d like to be able to.

TDG: You once said you were self-taught. How did that happen?

SS: I don’t have any kind of academic background. If I didn’t have all the illustrators that came before me to look at and learn from, I wouldn’t know anything.

TDG: Which illustrators?

SS: My first favorites were Maurice Sendak books when I was 4. I remember it vividly. My grandma got copies of “Little Bear”, “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen” at a yard sale and I fell in love with the pictures. In 3rd grade, my teacher gave me her copy of “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” and “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark”, so my first influences were a little on the dark side for a child, but I adored that sort of thing. I’d also watch the opening credits to MYSTERY! on PBS just to see the Edward Gorey intro animation. But I’d turn it off after that. I loved movies, so VHS box art and movie posters were also something I loved a lot growing up. I got caught stealing the cover boxes for Evil Dead and City of the Living Dead from a video store when I was 11. Since then my influences have varied a lot more. Norman Rockwell, Gil Elvgren, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Jon Bauer, Kay Neilsen…

“Wynken, Blynken and Nod”. 2004. oil, colored pencil and pastel on paper. 16×20.

Most any Golden Age illustrator is gonna be on this list. Basil Gogos, Bernie Wrightson, John Totleben, Moebius, Jae Lee, Travis Charest, Bill Sienkiewicz, Andy Braze, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Mead Schaeffer…This could go on for a while. They’re guys that I don’t necessarily emulate, but the quality of their work really does make me try to discipline myself to be better at what I do. Maxfield Parrish is probably the biggest influence. Not so much stylistically, though it does show through sometimes, but more from a versatility standpoint. He could do children’s books and advertising, Fine Art, murals, and all done in different mediums and style. I would like to have that kind of versatility in my work.

TDG: Ok.

SS: Yes.

TDG: In your Twitter bio you describe yourself as a “Golden Age illustrator.” That sounds fancy.

SS: It’s mostly in reference to subject and mood more than it is about style for me, personally. I like things to look older than they are. I like old things. Things that have some history and personality to them. Things that’ve been well-loved. So, for a lot of my illustrations, I do my best to create that. Not just in subject, but in the look and feel of the illustration. It’s one thing to draw a lady in a Victorian styled dress, but it’s another thing entirely to make the paper you’re working on to appear as if it’s from a newspaper from 1910. It goes back to the color and texture thing I mentioned earlier. Sometimes, I tea-stain, sand and burn illustrations and prints to make it feel authentic. To look water damaged and faded.

TDG: How can you tell a thing is loved and not just forgotten garbage?

SS: By it’s imperfections. The nicks and scratches in wood. The creases and stains in paper. The way an old book smells. And I try to make most of my illustrations not just look that way, but feel that way. I want you to want to touch it as much as I want you to look at it. Even garbage was well-loved by someone.

The Spider and the Fly colored pencil on paper. 2015. 12×18

TDG: Last week you announced a $10 postcard deal and your Twitter feed blew up. What happened there?

SS: A client had to cancel a commission unexpectedly and I plan my budget on what I’m scheduled to make on my commissions. So, I decided to start this $10 5″x7″ postcard sketch deal in hopes to help make up for that lost work. And the response to it has been overwhelming. In the best way. I got my first request three minutes after my post. And it’s been going pretty steadily since then. People have been unfathomably supportive and kind in taking part in this with me. I’d originally only planned to do it for that week, but I kept getting orders, so I’ll just keep it an ongoing thing until further notice.

TDG: How long does it take you do to a 5×7 if someone wanted a unicorn?

SS: My 5x7s average an hour each. Some are tougher than others. Especially the ones with characters I’m not as familiar with or have no experience drawing.

TDG: How many unicorns have you drawn?

SS: I’ve only drawn one unicorn. And that was for Shannon Smith in 3rd grade.

TDG: What’s your favorite thing about unicorns?

SS: They fart rainbows.

TDG: What is your favorite snack?

SS: Salt and vinegar chips. Hands down.

TDG: Favorite cartoon character? 

Krieger from “Archer”. Courtesy of Google images.

SS: Growing up, it was Wakko Warner from Animaniacs. now, it’s a toss-up between Krieger from “Archer” or Rick Sanchez from “Rick & Morty”

TDG: So how do I give you $10 to draw a Golden Age rainbow-farting unicorn eating a Pop Tart?

SS: You can PayPal me at: shannonstamey@ymail.com for your Golden Age rainbow-farting, Pop Tart-eating unicorn.

TDG: You should be so lucky. I mean, you are. Because I just did. I sent you ten dollars. So, what happens now?

Swamp Thing ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ pt.2. Sepia pencil and pastel on parchment. 8×10.

SS: I add you to what is a much longer list than I anticipated. I change my pants from [sparkling]* myself at the response this post card deal has gotten, and I get back to work. I’m trying to do these in order as they come, but there are a few I’ll knock out early as they’re things I can do quicker while I do some research on the others that I need to study up on a bit.

[*Shannon did not say ‘sparkling’. Expletives deleted throughout.]

TDG: What does the business side of all this look like?

SS: That process is pretty simple. We talk about what you want, I tell you what I can do, we figure out what works best for the final project and I do it. For general commissions, clients pay a 50% deposit via PayPal to secure me starting the project.

TDG: Wait–

SS: Once the commission is done, they pay the balance. Everything, with the exception of prints are original pieces of illustration. I don’t do anything digitally. 

Oil, pencil and charcoal on paper, 2003.

TDG: Can you make anything?

SS: Almost. There are stipulations: I’d like to keep the sketches comic, horror/sci-fi/literature themed. No portraits of people or pets. Nothing too salacious or extreme. I have scruples. 

TDG: I think there’s a cream for that.

SS: It’s a salve, not a cream. God[sparkles]! I have to draw a rainbow-farting, Pop Tart-eating unicorn?

TDG: With Krieger. Krieger and a rainbow-farting unicorn sharing a Pop Tart.

SS: [Sparkles].

TDG: In sepia.

SS: Fine.

TDG: What’s happening in the background while you work? Music? TV? Sensory deprivation chamber?

SS: I’m currently in the cafe’ next door to my apartment that I’m in every day to do work in. I actually used to work here, but I got fired for being a [sparkle] to a customer who was a snotty [spark]hole. The playlist sucks, as it typically does–Some sad, folky [sparkles] that I can’t stand. Maybe don’t listen to something that sounds like feral cats [sparkling] in an alley! Usually, I make a playlist for every piece I do. And I listen to that playlist while I work on said piece.

TDG: What is your dream project?

SS: To work with Guillermo del Toro in any regard. I love, beyond words, that he got James Jean to paint the poster for The Shape of Water. I love that James got to paint the poster for Mother! as well.

TDG: Any pets?

This guy. 

SS: I have a cat. Her name is Pepper Potts. She is not deaf and does not [sparkle] in alleys. Or listen to [sparkly] music. She loves mayonnaise, sandwich ties, and watching “Archer.”

TDG: What do you do if you are stuck–creatively speaking? 

SS: My method of getting unstuck is a series of things: I will make a new playlist. I’ll look over the works of the people I admire. I’ll watch a movie that inspires me. I’ll go to the movies. Being in a theater is a cleansing feeling in a way. I’ll deep-clean my apartment. I’ll go back and look at my favorite things I’ve done and remember how doing that made me feel.

TDG: What is your favorite movie?

SS: Se7en. I got it for my 18th birthday from my boss at the video store. It was the first movie I watched that really struck me visually. It made me study cinematography more and more. And I’m probably the biggest Darius Khondji fan there is.

Thumbnails of the artist’s work on Instagram.

TDG: Do you have a store? 

SS: I don’t have a website or a store. That stuff, to me, is impersonal and creates a disconnect. If someone wants to see my work or ask me questions about it or buy a print or commission something, I’d much rather talk to them directly. The best place to see my work is on my Twitter feed and Instagram.

TDG: Is everything there for sale?  

SS: Most of my original works are already sold. I don’t hold onto them very long usually. I have maybe two left, I think. I do sell prints of most of my works though. All prints are made-to-order. I never do prints in bulk. Again, it goes back to that disconnect thing. I don’t want to pull a print out of a box of 50 and just hand it to someone. I don’t order a print until someone wants one.

The artist’s tea-staining in process.

TDG: What’s the best way to order a print or commission an original?

The best way to get work out of me is with a bag of salt and vinegar chips and a bottle of Laphroaig…Or, to just contact me via Twitter and we’ll take it from there. 

TDG: Have you ever been approached by a writer to team up?

SS: I’ve done some work with writers for a couple covers here and there.

TDG: But you haven’t found the Alvin Schwartz to your Stephen Gammell?

SS: I have not. Unfortunately. But I’m confident they’re out there… “Some-where, out-there…” That’s me singing in Fievel’s voice…

TDG: Fievel was a twit.

SS: This interview is over, harpy!!

TDG: Not until I say it is. What advice would you give your seven-year-old self? 

Shannon Stamey’s seven-year-old self.

SS: Not be so intimidated by the art that I loved. To not see it as something I could never do. I remember the box art for Transformers the Movie blowing my mind. And the package art for GI. Joes. I wanted to draw that stuff, but it just seemed too good to me then. I was afraid of using color and paint. The box art for Creepshow and House were things I loved, but again, they were so good to me at that time, it almost made me not want to draw. So, I’d probably just let myself know just how much I’d [sparkle] up on the way and to not let it discourage me.

TDG: Creepshow and House? Is that a thing or two things?

SS: They were great 80’s horror movies. Bernie Wrightson did the box art for Creepshow and I’m not sure who did the artwork for House, but I loved those images.

TDG: What haven’t I asked, but you want to say?

SS: Being a traditional (paint, pencils, and paper) illustrator makes it very hard to find consistent work with most companies and clients wanting digital art. And it’s frustrating. But I do feel like we’re turning a corner for kind of a Renaissance for traditional work. I hope we are. So, I’m looking forward to moving back to LA this summer and working with people I want to work with, doing what I’ve spent my entire life teaching myself how to do and sustaining myself on that work. And I get Bjork-y when people take pictures of my cat.

TDG: Well this has been a treat. A big unicorn-sharing-a-Pop-Tart-with-Krieger treat. 

SS: Thanks for listening to me rant about things. I’ll get your Unicorn/Krieger to you as soon as possible. 


Unicorn-loving illustrator Shannon Stamey welcomes connections and commission requests via Twitter or Instagram

A Very Merry Unbirthday for Faith McKay

Today is a special day. A very special day for our Ghost Faith Killah!

Why? Because it’s her unbirthday! Take a deep breath, drink a potion, and step through a tiny door to her very, merry unbirthday celebration!

 

We’ve gathered and arranged some special gifts for you to celebrate you the way you deserve!

 

 

Dear Ghost Faith Killah,

It is your Unbirthday.

My gift to you on this Unbirthday is a poem I never wrote:

Unwrote poem for Faith

I also ungot you a balloon.

Faith’s unballoon.

Gee golly wombats, I’m ready for snack time.

Snack time.

Have an excellent Unbirthday!

Love,

The Davis Girl

 

Faith, you are such an extraordinary human. I greatly admire you and your artistic nature, your love for adventure, and your can-do, go-get-em spirit! You are truly a miracle and I’m so thankful you’re a part of this team. my favorite world traveler.

For your unbirthday, I got you this elixir, that’s supposed to transport you to a distant land to a place you may have heard of…Wonderland! Chase it with this cupcake and tiny bite.

 

Once you arrive in the magical land, there will be Strawberry Peach lemonade coolers.

Click here for this delicious recipe.

Then after that, we’re going to have a Wonderland photoshoot.

 

Be very careful though, I heard not everyone is nice there. Some of them are…a little mad.

 

May your travels be safe, your new year be fruitful and merry, and may all the words flow from your fingertips.

 

Happy Undead Birthday, Faith! Have a little fun to celebrate your special day!

Play a game:

Image result for undead birthday

 

Take pictures to immortalize the day:

Halloween horror movies photo booth props

Eat cake:

Cake of horrors

And be merry:

'Bring Out the Boos!' is a fun One Pager providing horror-themed cocktails for your upcoming Halloween party. The Single Page website features clearly laid out cocktail recipes alongside good imagery of the drink on a gory background.

XOXO,

A very merry unbirthday! Always ready to offer information. Always ready to help. Always a brilliant mind thinking creative and sometimes scary thoughts…Faith! You are awesome.

I hope there was cake on your special day. I hope no zombies crashed the party. Or maybe I hope they did so you could fight them off in a flurry of steel blades and roaring chainsaws.  Because as you are exploring the world, or so you say…we all know you are secretly out destroying monsters. Make sure to take a break now and then as you save the world.

For cake..

Love,

Kathy

 

Happy Birthday Faith–or rather a very Merry Unbirthday to you!

 

Love,

 

The Midnight Society

Better Watch Out: A New Horror Christmas Movie

I love a good deal on iTunes movies, so I promptly hit the “Rent” button when Better Watch Out was on sale for $0.99.

Haven’t heard of it? Well, it’s a cross between Home Alone and Scream. This very campy holiday horror is perfect for those who love…80’s movies. That is what this reminded me of. So if you love your horror with a ton of camp, this is for you!

IMBD Summary:

When you think the suburbs, you think safety, but this holiday night the suburbs are anything but safe. Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) thought this babysitting job was going to be an easy night, but the night takes a turn when dangerous intruders break in and terrorize her and the twelve-year-old boy, Luke (Levi Miller), she’s caring for. Ashley defends her charge to the best of her ability only to discover this is no normal home invasion.

 

XOXO,

Thirteen Nights of #Frightmas: A Christmas Playlist

I like Christmas crooners like Bing Crosby as much as the next gal (thanks Dad!), but sometimes, you just have to rock around the Christmas tree, am I right?
If you’re looking for a holiday playlist that will add some extra zing to your family gatherings, check out these festive tunes!

1. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight) – Ramones
2. Silent Night – The Dickies
3. White Christmas – Bad Religion
4. 2000 Miles – The Pretenders
5. Fairytale of New York (featuring Kirsty MacColl) – The Pogues
6. Christmas )Baby Please Come Home) – Joey Ramone
7. Blue Christmas – Misfits
8. Red Water (Christmas Mourning) – Type O Negative
9. Driven Like The Snow – Sisters of Mercy
10. We Three Kings – Lycia
11. Santa Claws is Coming To Town – Alice Cooper
12. Oi to The World – The Vandals
13. O Come All Ye Faithful – Bad Religion
14. Stuff The Turkey – Alien Sex Fiend

NOTE: Bonus tracks suggested by fellow Midnighter Brian Letendre:

15. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Ronnie James Dio
16. No Presents for Christmas – King Diamond

 

 

There were a few songs I couldn’t find, like Sex Pistols singing Punk Rock Christmas…but I think this list has a good mix.

What are your fave Christmas/wintry covers and tunes with a bit of an edge? Share them below and I’ll add them to the playlist!

 

Thirteen Nights of #Frightmas: DRIFT (A Short Story)

Drift

by Brian LeTendre

Snow will continue to be heavy through the overnight hours, and we are expecting up to an additional seven to eight inches on top of the foot most of the Pioneer Valley has received from storm Howard so far. Wind gusts will mean snow drifts of several feet in certain areas, and visibility will continue to be poor for the next several hours. We’re now going live to Andrew Sanders in downtown

Amber clicked back over to the crime procedural she’d been watching and pulled the quilt tighter around herself as she lay cocooned on the couch. “I can’t believe you’re going out there right now,” she said in disbelief. “It’s ten-thirty at night.”

“You think I want to go out there?” John asked, a tinge of annoyance in his voice. “The stupid snowblower’s broken and if I don’t hit the driveway at least once before tomorrow, we’ll never dig out.” He glanced over at her as he pulled a large snow boot over the two pairs of socks on his foot. “You’re welcome to join me.”

Amber’s response began with a long, slow sip of the hot tea she was relaxing with. “You’re crazy,” she said, leaving no doubt she would not be joining John outside. “I told you I’d help you in the morning, but there is no way I’m going out there tonight. The wind gusts are forty miles an hour! You’ll be lucky if you don’t get frostbite.”

“If it gets that bad, I’m coming back in,” John promised as he stood up from the couch. “Besides, I’ve got three layers on, and that with that giant scarf your mom gave me, I’ll be wrapped up tighter than the kid brother from that Christmas movie.”

He leaned down and kissed Amber, tasting the Raspberry tea on her lips. “Any more of that left?” he asked, nodding toward her half empty cup.

“Tell you what Yukon Jack,” she replied smiling, “When you get done stumbling around outside in the freezing cold, I’ll make you some, and then you can warm up with me on the couch.”

John was tempted to just forget about shoveling right then and there, but he knew he’d regret it in the morning, especially is the forecast was accurate. “Deal,” he replied. He went into the kitchen and grabbed his smartphone and earbuds off the table. “Tonight I’ll be shoveling to the sweet sounds of 80’s metal,” he said to himself. He tapped on the internet radio app and selected one of the preset stations he listened to all the time, and the chugging rhythm of hair metal filled his ears. I should still pick up the house’s Wi-Fi, even in this crap, he thought.

Earbuds firmly positioned, John tucked the phone in his inside pocket, pulled on his hat and wrapped the large brown scarf around his neck and lower face. As he turned to head out the side door to the driveway, he glanced back at Amber, who was saying something. He pointed to his ears and shook his head, and she rolled her eyes and then blew him a kiss. Smiling, he turned and pulled open the back door.

The blast of cold air that hit him almost made John forget he was still standing in the house. The scene before him looked like something from a documentary about Antarctica. The wind was howling, snow was blowing sideways, and he couldn’t see more than five feet in front of him. He took one glance over his shoulder at the warm confines of the house before pulling the door shut behind him and stepped out into the storm. He immediately noticed how deep the snow was–approaching a foot, and covering the top of his snow boots already.

First things first, he thought, where the hell did I put the shovel? He was hoping it would be laying against the steps by the door, but no such luck. “Probably in the stupid garage,” he muttered, and began taking large, deliberate steps toward the opening that was no more than twenty feet away. Luckily, he had left the large door up when he parked Amber’s SUV in there before the storm, as he would have had no hope of getting it open now with all the show. Their garage had the old style door that swung outward and then up, so it needed a couple feet of clearance in front, which the snow had already erased.

John kept his head down and trudged forward, until he felt his right foot break the barrier of the snow and find the floor of the garage. Just as he suspected, the shovel was tucked just inside the garage opening against the wall, right next to the bucket of rock salt and the extra-long snowbrush that he used for Amber’s SUV. Grabbing the shovel, he turned to face the storm again. Standing in the garage, the scene was even more imposing. Their driveway was about eighty feet long, running along the backyard and the side of the house to the street out front. A stockade fence ran down the left side of the driveway, and with the house on the right, the only places to put snow were in the front and back yards, which meant extra work when shoveling the middle. With most of the curtains in the house closed, the only real light outside was coming from the lone streetlight, and that was barely visible from where he was standing.

Times like these were when John had fleeting thoughts of moving somewhere else, like maybe a condo community, where someone else would take care of all the yard work and snow removal for him. The thought fled quickly as he looked back over at the house though, as he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

A searing guitar riff shook him out of his reverie, and John tightened his grip on the shovel. “Sooner I get started, sooner I can go in and warm up,” he said aloud.

He dug into the wall of snow in front of the garage and smiled. At least it’s light, he thought as he threw the snow toward the backyard. With the temperature hovering around the low 20’s, the snow was coming down in small flakes, making it a lot easier to shovel than the heavy, wet snow that often characterized New England storms.

His plan was to shovel a path alongside the house out to where his car was parked at the end of the driveway. Once he had a clean path to stand on, he’d then start clearing off the rest of the driveway, until he made his way back up to the garage. John’s pace was quick for the first ten minutes or so, the music in his ears fueling each heave of the shovel, and the thought of his wife on the couch under that big quilt still fresh in his mind.

As he got past the garage opening, the wind blasted John once again, almost staggering him sideways. He doubled his efforts to make it to the side of the house, where he had some reprieve from the gusts. He dared not look over his shoulder, for fear that all the snow he’d just cleared would have been filled right back in. After reaching the halfway mark of the driveway, John took a break, leaning against the side of the house and fumbling in his coat pocket for his phone.

“Eleven o’clock, on the nose,” he mumbled into his scarf. He’d been at it for a half hour now, and managed to carve his shovel-wide path only about forty feet. As tempted as he was to quit, He knew that he’d hate himself in the morning when he was shoveling a pile twice as high as what he was currently dealing with. He resolved to get the rest done by midnight, and tucked the phone back inside his jacket. “No more breaks,” he said, zipping his coat again and taking up the shovel.

John put his head down, focused on the few feet in front of him and began shoveling with renewed vigor. He blocked everything out except the sounds of the music in his ears and the shovel scraping against the asphalt of the driveway. He mindlessly repeated the same motion over and over, making his way forward at a methodical pace. He continued this way for an undetermined period of time, almost mesmerized by seemingly endless path of snow in front of him. It was only when he realized that something had changed that John paused.

For a moment he couldn’t figure out what it was, and he stood there, bent over his shovel and staring at the ground. Then it finally hit him–the metal music that was previously pumping in his ears had suddenly stopped. He pulled his glove off with his teeth, fumbled in his jacket and pulled out his phone.

“No signal?” he questioned aloud, seeing there were no bars lit up on the Wi-Fi icon. “But I’m right next to the freaking–”

John stopped short as he turned to his right to look over at his house–his house that was no longer there. He stood there, staring at the spot not ten feet away, where he knew his house should be. But it wasn’t there.

Still staring in bewilderment, John absently tucked the phone back into his pocket and began walking toward where the house should be. He got about two steps in that direction before the ground gave way under him. He let out a yelp, the glove flew out of his mouth, and the shovel in his other hand embedded itself in the snow, which was suddenly up to John’s neck. It was as if he’d fallen into a pit, and widespread arms were the only things stopping him from falling in completely. He desperately tried to find some kind of handhold, throwing up plumes of snow in the process. The more he struggled, the more he could feel himself sinking deeper into the snow.

As panic threatened to overtake him, John stopped squirming for a moment. His shoulders were starting to burn as he held himself aloft, and his ungloved hand was throbbing. He slowed down his breathing and took stock of the situation. The shovel was within inches of his left hand. He tried to lean in that direction, still using his arms to brace himself, but extending his fingers to try and pull the shovel toward him. On his first attempt, his other hand slipped, and he almost fell into the hole completely. On his second careful attempt, John managed to hook the handle of the shovel and began pulling it toward him. He was eventually able to turn the shovel toward his body and angle it over the area that he was stuck in.

Just need to use the shovel to help pull myself out, he thought. He slowly moved his ungloved hand (which had stopped throbbing and was starting to get numb) over to the shovel. He mustered his strength, counted to three in his head and then pulled himself up far enough so that his upper body was out of the hole. He then scrambled and got his legs over the side, rolling onto his back and gasping for air.

Afraid to move, he lay there in the snow and stared up at the sky, his heartbeat pounding in his ears. The snow was stilling falling a fast rate, but the wind had died down considerably, allowing John to getter a clearer look at his surroundings. The first thing he really noticed was the purplish color of the night sky, and the fact that the light was not being provided by the streetlight where his driveway used to be, but from a bluish moon in the sky above.

John rolled onto his side and got up on his knees, his mind searching for an explanation to what was happening. The only plausible explanation he could think of was that he’s somehow slipped while shoveling and smacked his head. The idea that this was some sort of hallucination was not as troubling as the idea he might be laying unconscious in the snow and freezing cod temperatures. Maybe finding a way out of here will wake me up, he theorized, and he stood up, brushing the excess snow off himself.

Before he took a step in any direction, John took the shovel and started poking into the snow, making sure there was solid ground underneath it. A couple minutes of exploration in the immediate area didn’t reveal any more sinkholes, and he actually managed to find his other glove. His hand had gone numb a few minutes earlier, and he tried to warm it up by shoving it under his armpit, but the most feeling he could get back into it was the pins and needles sensation of a limb that had fallen asleep. He pulled his glove back on and hoped there wouldn’t be any permanent damage. “That’s the least of my worries right now,” he mumbled.

No sooner had those words escaped John’s lips than a loud noise came from somewhere in the distance that made his heart leap with terror.

“Woo-uut!”

The animal-like bark or roar was not one John had ever heard before, and it felt wrong in his ears. As his mind raced to try and picture what could be making it, the only thing that came close was a hyena’s call. But this wasn’t a hyena. This was something bigger.

He spun around, trying to pinpoint where the sound came from. About thirty seconds later, he heard it again–“Woo-uut!”

That sound, while still off in the distance, was definitely closer than the first. John decided quickly that he didn’t want to find out what was making it, and he started off in the opposite direction, trudging through the almost knee-high snow, using the shovel to prod the ground and pull him forward like the oar of a canoe. He still had no idea where he was going, but he had eliminated one direction, at least.

“Woo-uut!” came the call again. Definitely from behind him.

Less than ten seconds later, a second call rang out, this one off to his left. “Woo-uut!” Same basic sound, but different inflection. There were two of them out there now.

John plowed ahead, refusing to look over his shoulder. He didn’t know what was following him. But he’d seen enough animal documentaries to know what was happening. Whatever those things were out there, they were hunting him.

He tried to quicken his pace, but it was slow going. He could barely feel his right hand, despite seeing he had a firm grip on top of the shovel. Frostbite for sure, he thought as he plunged the shovel down in front of himself. He almost pitched forward, as the shovel sunk straight down–another hole.

“Damn it!” John barked as he turned slightly to his right and headed in that direction, away from whatever those two things were behind him. With the snow coming down, he could only see a little ways ahead, but there was still no sign of his house, his street, or anything else that told him he was still in the real world as he knew it.

“Keep moving forward, John,” he said to himself, plodding ahead. He had to alter his course three more times over the next several minutes, as the entire area he was stumbling around in seemed to be pockmarked with pits and sinkholes that were invisible under the powdery snow.

“Woo-uut!” came another call. “Woo-uut!” the second responded almost immediately. One to the rear and one to the left. Closer than before.

“Wake up, wake up wake up–WAKE UP!” he shouted to himself as he took one difficult step after another. The measured pace at which he endeavored to make his escape from this place and those things that were out there threatened to break the veneer of sanity that John had built up in his mind.

“Woo-uut!” Closer this time, from behind him. “Woo-uut!” the second one answered. They were closing in on John, and he knew it. He wanted to scream, but he knew every noise he made would just bring them to him faster.

John desperately scanned the landscape for someplace he could hide. Although he couldn’t make out what it was, there appeared to be an elevated mass not too far off in the direction he was already heading. John put his head down and doubled his efforts to progress in that direction shifting to the left or right to avoid pitfalls, but keeping the same large mass ahead of him in his field of sight.

The closer John got to the mass in front of him, the more the snow and wind began to let up. By the time he was about fifty feet away, he noticed two things. First, the mass wasn’t just in front of him–it stretched out in both directions as far as he could see. Second, it looked like some kind of a wall, stretching up at least three stories.

“What the hell?” he mumbled as he pushed forward the final few feet and prodded the structure with his shovel. It looked and felt like stone, but it was smooth, almost shimmering. Whatever it was, it wasn’t part of the natural scenery.

Someone built this thing, John thought to himself, and that notion provided some comfort to him. He was still half-convinced that he was asleep, but if this wasn’t a dream, then this wall that someone had put there was the first tangible thing John had encountered since he found himself here.

“Woo-uut!” came the first call from not far behind him. “Woo-uut!” answered the second, from off to his left.

And that’s when the brief smile faded under John’s scarf. Because he had nowhere else to run now. With a sigh, he turned around, holding the shovel in front of him. His right hand was pretty much useless to him now,

“Well?” he shouted into the night.

Slowly, a figure stepped into his field of view, not more than twenty yards away. It seemed to come out of nowhere, almost materializing from the snowflakes themselves. As the form moved closer and became clearer, John had to fight the urge to turn around and try to claw his way through the wall behind him.

The creature walked on four legs, and was the size of a small horse. It appeared to be cover in fur (or perhaps feathers) that was white with streaks of gray running through it. Its hind legs were longer than its front, similar to those of a rabbit. The creature’s head looked like a cross between an owl and a dog, featuring large yellow eyes and a long beak that resembled a snout.

As it stepped slowly toward John, the creature cocked its head to one side, sizing him up just as he was doing to it. John stuck the shovel out in front of himself, and braced himself against the wall behind him. His mind was scrambling both to understand what he was looking at, and to come up with a plan to get away from it.

The creature didn’t wait for John to come up with that plan. When it got within fifteen feet of him, it leapt into the air, letting out a shriek. John barely had time to get the shovel up as the creature landed on him and pinned him to the ground. The handle of the shovel dug into the ground, and the creature’s weight drove the blade into its chest.

The creature gave a squeal of surprise and pain, rearing backward. The blade of the shovel broke off at the handle, and the creature staggered backwards, its dark blood spewing forth from the wound.

But John hadn’t seen any of that. When the creature had pounced, one of its forelegs had landed on John’s right shoulder, shattering both his shoulder and collar bones. The burst of pain was so intense that it gave him a momentary reprieve from being terrified, and because his eyes had been closed, he never saw how close the creature came to taking his head off.

The creature’s squawking kept John from passing out, as it flailed rolled in the snow, which was now stained with splashes of its thick blood.

John looked up to see that the second creature had approached, and was mesmerized by the distress its partner was currently in. The injured creature took a shaky step toward the other, but disappeared in a plume of snow, as it fell into one of the many holes that littered the area. The other creature stared into the hole, as the shrieks of the first continued to sound farther and farther away.

The second creature called out to its partner, but it wasn’t the same “Woo-uut!” noise it made when tracking John. This was a pained, almost howling noise. An anguished noise.

As the second creature stood there and stared into the hole, John thought of when he almost fell into one of those moments ago, and whether he’d still be falling if he had.

He didn’t have long to get lost in that thought, as the other creature eventually turned its attention back to him. It was making another new noise now–a low, constant growling noise that sounded like nails on a chalkboard.

“That wasn’t my fault,” John said as he tried to stand. He gave out a howl of his own as a bolt of pain shot through his right arm. He stumbled, but righted himself with the long piece of the shovel’s handle he still clutched in his other hand.

“Your buddy came at me,” he said through gritted teeth as he got back to his feet. “Self-defense,” he explained, backpedaling until he could once again feel the stone wall at his back.

The creature was moving toward John now, continuing to growl as it tested the ground before it, careful not to suffer the same fate as its partner. John was surprised at this, his assumption having been that the creatures knew this area well, and that’s why they had driven him this way.

As the creature advanced, John moved along the wall, searching for any signs of an opening or handhold, and wielding the broken shovel handle out in front of him. The two did this dance for several minutes, and John took the chance to study his adversary more closely. In addition to the creature seeming tentative on the terrain, it was constantly stealing glances in every direction, as if trying to gauge its surroundings the same way John was. He also noticed the creature seemed to be trembling slightly.

No, not trembling, he thought. Shivering.

“You’re not from around her either, are you?” John said with a forced laugh.

“Scraw!” the creature spat back at him.

“Yeah, well screw you too,” John replied. “I’m finding a way out of this place, and if you stand in my way, you’ll end up just like your buddy.” He had no idea if the creature understood him, and he didn’t know how he would follow through with that threat in light of his busted arm. Still, embracing the situation was the only thing keeping him from going mad with the pain, cold and sheer absurdity of what was happening.

John continued to move along the wall, and the creature continued to follow him. Every couple of minutes, the creature would feint toward him, John would swing the shovel handle in a wild arc, and then they’d both reset and continue along.

John could barely feel anything in his right arm anymore as it dragged along the wall. But a shot of pain up in through his shoulder signaled that something had changed. Keeping one eye on the creature that followed him, John turned slightly and examined the wall behind him. There was a seam running up the wall, as far as he could see. It was the only seam he’d encountered as he followed the wall, and he figured he’d gone at least a quarter mile along it by now. That led him to only one conclusion–it had to be a door.

He turned to the creature. “Listen,” he said as he pointed the jagged shovel handle toward it. “This here’s gotta be a way out, and I need to figure out how to get it open. You can either try to kill me while I do that, or you can let me help the both of us. It’s up to you.”

The creature tilted its head and seemed to contemplate the offer for a moment. When it didn’t immediately attack him, John turned his back and began to examine the seam in the wall. It was a little wider than his gloved finger. Putting the shovel handle down, he used his right hand to try and pull the seam open. He wasn’t surprised when there was no give whatsoever. Also unsurprising was the fact that the fingers on his left hand were starting to go numb now as well.

He stole a glance back at the creature, who was watching him closely. “Nothing,” he said to it. “I can try one more thing.”

John grabbed the shovel handle, wedged it into the seam in the wall, and leaned on it heavily. The wall still wasn’t giving at all, and John could feel the handle starting to snap. If he broke the handle, he knew he’d have nothing to defend himself should the creature turn on him. On the other hand, this was the only thing he could think to do, and he knew he wouldn’t last much longer in the cold, even if the creature left him alone.

As he was about to throw all his weight behind the handle for one last push, a booming voice filled the air. “FINISH THE MATCH,” it said in a deep, almost metallic voice.

John dropped the shovel handle and turned to look at the creature behind him. It was looking toward the night sky, searching for the source of the voice.

“Scraw?” the creature croaked.

The response that came was short, and in the same squawks and howls that was clearly the language of the creature.

John was stunned silent. Finish the match. The words played again and again in his mind. Finish the match.

And then John thought about what had happened since he arrived here, the pitfall-ridden terrain, the creatures hunting him, the stone wall that seemed to go on forever. In all of the insanity that he had experienced to that point, one thing finally made sense to him–he was in an arena.

“That’s what this is?!” he yelled into the open air. “Some kind of fucking game?! You just take people, or things, and you make them kill each other in here?!”

“FINISH THE MATCH,” was the only response he received, in the same booming metallic voice.

“Fuck your match!” John screamed back, angry now. His rage was starting to warm him back up, giving him a new burst of energy. “Send me home!”

“ONLY ONE GOES HOME,” was the response, and it was repeated in the language of the creature immediately afterward.

The creature lowered its head for a moment, and then looked at John.

“So there it is,” John said, and while the creature couldn’t understand him, John could tell from the look of resignation in its eyes that it understood, and like him, resigned itself to what needed to be done. He reached down and tried to grab hold of the shovel handle, but his fingers were too cold to even grasp it anymore.

The creature held John’s gaze as it took a step toward him. Here it comes, he thought to himself, I’m going to freaking die out here. He thought about Amber, sitting on the couch in their cozy little home, waiting for him to come inside. The idea that he would never see her again was too much to bear, and he started to break down.

The creature continued to look into John’s eyes as it slowly moved in for the kill. Or at least, that’s what John thought the creature was doing.

But then something unexpected happened. The creature stopped. It turned its head slightly, as if trying to communicate something to John. And then the creature took one large step to its right, and disappeared in a splash of snow. It did not make a sound as it plummeted down the large hole that John could not see was buried under that snow.

For the second time in the past five minutes, John was too stunned to speak. There was no doubt in his mind that the creature had known exactly what it was doing when it stepped into that hole. It had just sacrificed itself so that he would be the winner.

“Why?” was all John could get out, but he didn’t have time to dwell on that question long, as a strange, blue light started to glow from behind him. He scramble around, and saw that it was the seam in the wall that was glowing, and it was getting brighter each second.

“WINNER,” came the booming metallic voice from nowhere, startling John. He had forgotten all about his mysterious captors.

“Winner?” John mumbled to himself, and as the word turned over in his head, the absurdity of his situation washed over him once again. “Winner of what?” he yelled out, and he could feel the anger and madness rising up within him.

“What the hell is this?” he continued. “You just take someone from their life and make them fight another living thing to the death? Who are you? Where am I? What were those things? Where did they come from?”

The only response he received was from the blue light in the wall, which began to pulsate at a steady, slow rate. John stumbled backward, shielding his eyes from the increasingly blinding light. Slowly, the light from the seam began to extend out from the stone wall, in a ten-foot high rectangular shape. A blue, shimmering block unfolded like a giant movie screen in front of him, and it kept expanding, until it was protruding almost ten feet out from the stone wall.

“STEP INTO THE LIGHT,” commanded the emotionless, metallic voice.

“Get bent,” John blurted out without really even thinking. “I’m not stepping anywhere until you tell me j–”

Before he could even finish his sentence, the wall of light moved forward and enveloped him. He was blinded and couldn’t see anything, and it felt like he was falling, turning over and over in a sort of weightless state. No sooner had he started to get his bearings, than he landed hard, and everything was shrouded in darkness.

The next sensation John felt was a cold wetness, and as he blinked the haze away, he quickly realized he was face down in snow. His first instinct was to pull his arms in and try to push himself up, but the explosion of pain in his right shoulder caused him to fall flat on his face, huffing in pain. He rolled over onto his back, and saw what he thought was the most beautiful thing he’d ever laid eyes on.

A street light. His street light. The one at the end of the driveway at his house. Tears began to well up in his eyes as John rolled around like a wounded snow angel, trying to right himself. He finally mustered enough strength to stand up, and raised his fist to the sky, giving cry of joy, which was drowned out by the swirling winds of the snowstorm that was still going on around him.

“How long have I been gone?” he thought. Looking around, it was still clearly nighttime, and John could see through the crack in the curtains of the front window that the light in the living room was still on inside.

He decided he didn’t care, as the tears in his eyes had started to freeze as they rolled down his face, and he couldn’t feel either of hands anymore. He began stumbling through the deep snow toward the back door of his house. As he went back up the driveway, he found the path he’d started shoveling earlier, and it had not yet been filled in by the blowing snow. What had felt like hours in that other place had seemingly only been a matter of minutes here.

John was so ecstatic that he fell down a couple of times as he rushed to get to the back door. Each time it was harder to pull himself back up, but he knew Amber would be waiting for him inside, and he just wanted to be with her in the warmth of his own home, where he could forget about the insanity of what happened out there in that place.

John made it up the back steps and tumbled through the door, spilling onto the floor. “Amber!” he called out. “Come help me! You’re not gonna believe this!”

But Amber didn’t answer. When John looked up, he saw why.

He wasn’t in his house. In fact, he was in a room with a polished metal floor, a metal ceiling, and a metal walls. When he turned to look at the door he had just come through, it was gone. It had been replaced with a field of blue light, exactly like the one that had enveloped him out in the snowy arena several minutes earlier.

“No,” was all that John could muster, as his mind raced to put the events of the past few hours into some sort of logical order. Hadn’t they just sent him home? Why would they just take him again?

“Why?!” John screamed. “Why would you send me home and then just take me back?”

“YOU ARE HOME NOW,” came the same booming metallic voice that he’s heard out in the snow. “PHYSICAL TESTS WILL RESUME TOMORROW. PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS RESUMING.”

The metallic wall in front of him faded to reveal something resembling a giant monitor. A video feed began to stream in front of him. It was the inside of his house. The living room, in fact. Amber was sitting on the couch, sipping her tea and watching her show, with her favorite quilt wrapped around her. He could hear the theme music of the crime procedural in the background, and even the small sipping noises Amber made when she drank her tea.

Words failed John. He began to cry, as he watched Amber stand up from the couch, walk over to the window, and peek outside.

“It’s really coming down,” she said to herself. “Looks like a whole other world out there.” She padded back over to couch and took up her tea.

“I can’t imagine he’ll be out there much longer,” she muttered, taking a sip of her tea.

You can read Drift and a handful of my other short horror stories in the collection Intrusive Thoughts: Volume One, which you can grab on Amazon for $.99.