The Dying House

Getty9Every town has at least one… the house at the end of the deserted street with the malevolent, off-kilter window eyes; the dark side of the lake where the air feels just a little colder, the wind a little meaner; the lonely lane or gravel path that makes you quicken your step on a moonless night…

In River Town, that place is The Dying House–as dark and deadly as it is necessary, folks come to this ancient plot of land to die… that is, until the continuing begins…

Read an excerpt from my short story “The Dying House,” included in ANTHOLOGY Year Two: Inner Demons Out, A Celebration of Speculative Fiction and Art, a collection showcasing the combined talents of the authors, poets and artists of AnthoCon, Northern New England’s only Multi-Genre Literature and Arts Convention:

Cross the bridge and walk toward the east edge of town until you reach the overgrown railroad tracks. Nothing but weeds and creeper vines travel along those rails now, but sometimes they still get the chance to take folks where they need to go—at least folks headed for the Dying House, that is.

Follow the tracks past the abandoned mine and you’ll notice the houses getting leaner. Not run-down, exactly, but forced to prioritize. You might see a place with broken rain spouting or boards nailed over the windows and yet there won’t be a single weed growing in the immaculate patch of grass out front. You see that little trailer down by the toppled billboard sign? The green moss and mildew stains are about the only paint job left to speak of, yet just last summer the owner added on a brand new redwood porch with hand carved railings and everything. You’d be mistaken to think the residents of River Town don’t take pride in their neighborhood. They’ve just got to handle that pride a little more carefully than most folks.

There’s always lots of dogs lying around in the dust or chasing each other through the backwoods—no shortage of cats, either, though you see less of them. You sure do hear them, though, wailing in the lonesome moonlight for some demon accomplice that may or may not ever show up. If you cross in at night you might see open fires burning on the road. Sometimes men and women gather around them in haphazard clusters, sometimes they just burn alone.

Probably wiser to go during the day, though. It’s not that the folks of River Town aren’t friendly—they’d be the first to invite you in for a cold drink on a hot day, or take a look under the hood of your car to see where that smoke may be coming from, or direct you back toward the highway if you strayed a little too far off your tourist map. But they don’t like strangers coming around concerning themselves with things that don’t concern them, especially when it comes to the Dying House.

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510fyO3nDWL._SY300_Praise for Inner Demons Out from author and contributor Errick A. Nunnally:

“For the disturbing mysterious force genre, a few standouts would be John Goodrich’s “A Poor Sinner’s Hands” which puts a fresh spin on the Old Gods mythos, and G. Elmer Munson’s “Cooking With Kate” lets us know just how horribly wrong a reality cooking show can get. Craig D.B. Patton’s “Unknown Caller” is about the creepiest thing a phone booth could ever do. Psychological or “secular” horror, as one of my friends puts it, has a strong showing here. Holly Newstein’s “Eight Minutes” will break your heart three ways under the Big Top, Bracken MacLeod’s “Mine, Not Yours” is another emotional roller-coaster ride featuring the kind of demented horror house that only a church could come up with, and T.G. Arsenault’s “My Aching Black Heart” is sadness transferred right from heart to ink. We’ve got science fiction in the form of advanced science with David North-Martino’s “The Interloper” demonstrating how far a scientist would go for love, Scott Christian Carr’s “M.A.D.D.” is largely a human interest story set in a damaged future where jealousy and mechanized armor collide, and “Dead Letter Office” by Robert Davies takes us into queasy bizarro territory when a man has an illicit relationship with an obviously powerful man’s wife. Ghost stories of multiple sorts are featured here as well with T.T. Zuma’s “The Soldier’s Wife” which is as much a tribute to the military and honor as it is horrific, “The Dying House” by B.E. Scully wherein a town learns how steep a price it has to pay for a cursed piece of real estate, and many more standouts from weird western to creepy dolls and subversive demons to hidden devils. All in all, a pleasing read, touching with nuance on multiple genres that are made all the more entertaining by great writers. I enjoyed the vast majority of the original work in this anthology, feeling not one bit out of place moving through this diverse group of stories.”

Click here to purchase AnthoCon Year Two Anthology: Inner Demons Out from Amazon.com

Edited by jOhnny Morse; preface by Mark Wholley; design/artwork by Danny Evarts

Featuring Works From: Meghan Arcuri; T. G. Arsenault; Michael Bailey; David Bernstein; Tracy L. Carbone; Scott Christian Carr; Victorya Chase; Robert Davies; Mandy DeGeit; Timothy P. Flynn; John Goodrich; Scott T. Goudsward; Marianne Halbert; Stacey Longo; Kevin Lucia; Bracken MacLeod; Michelle Mixell; G. Elmer Munson; Holly Newstein; David North-Martino; Errick A. Nunnally; Craig D. B. Patton; Susan Scofield; B. E. Scully; Julie Stipes; Andrew Wolter; K. Allen Wood; Richard Wright; Candace Yost; T. T. Zuma