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Monday, September 30, 2013

Terrible Minds Cliffhanger Challenge. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!


I've written about Chuck Wendig's blog (Terrible Minds) before, and I've taken up a few of his flash fiction challenges. Well, this is another.


Here’s what you’re going to do:
You’re going to write an unfinished story.
Around 1000 words that leads to a cliffhanger of some kind.
Then, next week, we’ll pick up in part two –
Where someone else may write the end of your story.
You’re writing, in a sense, to entice another writer to want to complete the second half of your tale. To answer the cliffhanger, to be the one who saves the day, solves the mystery.
Like I said: ~1000 words.
Post at your online space. Link back here so we can read it.

If you'd like, read the complete blog post here:

I chose the following story to add to (although I couldn't complete it within the thousand word parameter, so... I didn't.) If the author of the original would like me to carry on, I will, as I'd like to see how this story ends!

Here is "part one" READ THIS FIRST (follow this link):

I'd love to give the author credit, but all I could find was the name "Al" (maybe it's like "Cher," or "Madonna," or "Prince?").

Here is my continuation:

Julia opened her eyes. She was alone, but other than that, everything remained the same.

     Yet, she was alone. John and Katie were gone. Where were they? How long had she been out? She pushed herself off the floor and stood. The clock on the wall showed she’d only been out a minute or so. She felt fine. She wasn’t groggy or disoriented. The effect of the “drug” was in no way noticeable; nothing like she had expected or feared. Gazing at the floor, Julia noticed with some confusion that the pillow, mat, circles of copper wires, salt and oil weren’t present. That seemed impossible. She couldn’t see a grain of salt or a smear of oil on the tile floor. A chill ran up her spine.

     Julia’s mind raced, trying to rationalize the disappearance of the rings of protection, the rings which John had scoffed at as superstition. Before she could form any kind of conclusion, she heard the metallic click of a door latch; a slight sound that echoed from down the long hallway outside the door of the lab, followed by footsteps.

     She hid in the only place available, under a stainless steel table, pushing herself back into the corner as far as she could, knees drawn up against her. Her heart beat furiously. Julia could hear her own blood course through her head, feel her heartbeat against her thighs. She tried to take shallow breaths, to be as quiet as possible. The inevitable happened. The someone opened the door and walked into the room, Julia realized she’d failed to turn out the lights. He walked past the table where she hid. She heard him sit in a swivel office chair and sigh. He spoke. She almost screamed.

     “Angel of Mercy 33. Yeah. No one’s here. I know what you said. Your guy was wrong. They weren’t shooting the koolaid here. Yeah the lights are still on, just like I left them. I know. I know how dangerous it is to cross over. At least we don’t turn, like most of the ones who come our way. So, what now? Alright.”

     She realized he was on his cell. “Angel of Mercy 33” got up from the chair and walked out, turning off the lights. He closed the steel door. Julia heard the deadbolt click into place. She was locked in. She sat in the dark for what seemed like a half an hour, but when she crawled out of hiding and turned on the lights she saw that only five minutes had passed. She pulled out her own cell, only to see that she couldn’t get service.

     A lone computer sat on the desk where the guy had sat. She decided she’d try to attempt contact with John or Katie through the net. She sat and waited while the computer booted. A blue screen proclaiming “Windows 17c” was the operating system. Windows 17c? Never heard of that, she thought. A series of unknown icons filled the screen. The one most familiar was a stylized letter “e”, but orange rather than blue. She opened the browser. The home page was a news site, “MWN, MicroWare News.” The leading headline hit her psyche like a concrete bus: “More Deaths Attributed to MD Murderer.” Julia read the article in utter confusion. It read like a bad zombie novel. It seemed some type of fiend was randomly slaughtering people in a major metropolis that she didn’t recognize. Then eating part of his victims. The MD stood for “Multi-Dimensional,” she found out through the site search engine. What was going on? Katie would know. Katie followed every news site, legitimate and suspect; from CNN to the National Enquirer and beyond, looking for anything that might even be remotely connected to Ian’s disappearance/sighting. Julia would email Katie. She’d stay here as long as she could, awaiting a reply.

Julia couldn’t find her email account. She searched desperately. She found an email site that looked in every way like her gmail account, but was titled “Goggles.” She felt she was just wasting time. She shut down the computer.

     She tried the door. It was locked, just as she had expected. How was she going to get out of this room? She was below ground. No windows. No window out into the hall way. Her only chance was a key. She knew the lock on the door served one purpose only, to keep people out. The use of a deadbolt was the best way to achieve that. So, would there be a key available, in case someone was locked in? She found it in the top desk drawer and escaped the building.

     Julia found herself on the street, illuminated by the yellow glare of sodium lights, the sky black beyond the rectangles of light cast from the skyscrapers surrounding her. A patrol car slowly rolled by, emblazoned with reflective lettering: “New Jorvik Police.” She walked briskly, her sneakers making little sound. She pulled her gray hoodie over her short cropped hair, bleached blond. She didn’t hail a cab. She was afraid to. The drug had taken effect after all, she surmised. It was confusing her. She’d been unable to make sense of her internet browsing. Couldn’t find her email account. And what about New Jorvik Police? This was New York.

     The cool September air seemed to help clear her mind. She passed all the same apartment buildings and stores she had always passed on this nine block stretch of the city. She buzzed herself in to her apartment building, took the elevator to her floor, and made her way towards her door without incident. Julia stopped when she saw that something was wrong. Very wrong. A dark stain, like chocolate syrup, pooled from under her door. As she came closer, she realized it for what it was. Blood.
As I said, I'd like to complete this, but would rather do so only with the original author's approval.
If you're a writer, or a lover of edgy, dark fiction, you really need to check out Mr. Wendig's blog. And by "need" I mean like you "need" to breathe.
- Timothy Whitcher

Check out my two short stories, now published on Amazon Kindle:








Check out my new book, TEN LITTLE TERRORS, now on Amazon:


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Berini Haunting, New England, Poltergeist or demonic?

One of the most shocking Poltergeist cases of recent times, a family was disturbed and terrified by a series of apparitions. The poltergeist activity took place in the late 1970's and early 1980's, and became known as the Berini Haunting.
What began as a benign but remarkable haunting, escalated into terrifying poltergeist activity, makes this one of the most remarkable cases of paranormal activity in recent American history. The real name of the family involved has been kept secret to protect their privacy. The Psychical Research Foundation investigators provided them with the pseudonym of Berini.
A photo of the ghost caught  in the window
A photo of the ghost caught in the window

The haunting started shortly after Joe Berini moved his wife Rose and two of her children from a former marriage into his ancestral New England home in the late 1970s. The first ghost was that of a little girl whose voice was heard one evening in May, 1979. The girls apparition spoke to his wife Rose "Mama, mama, this is Serena." Neither Joe nor Rose knew of any girl in the family's past by the name of Serena at that time.
After Serena's first visit, their daughter Daisy went to the doctors to have her tonsils taken out, during the operation there were complications, which resulted in her heart stopping, and she nearly perished. The timing of Serena's visit and Daisy's near death experience did not go unnoticed by the Berinis.
Serena's visit to the family also coincided with the stroke of Joe's grandmother and a night in November before the elderly woman passed away. Her connection to the family seemed strong as Joe remembers waking up hearing Serena's voice to find his wife choking next to him in her sleep. After shaking her awake, she shares with him that her ex-husband was choking her in her dream.
From Christmas 1979 to February 1981, the paranormal activity in the house had decreased, and then in March Rose was startled by the ghost of a small boy, dressed completely in white, walking along the upstairs landing. . "It was almost like looking through a milk bottle," Rose later told researchers. "It was a very peaceful experience. It stayed for about two hours on and off, coming and going." The boy's spirit appeared again a week and a half later, and this time spoke to Rose asking, "Where do all the lonely people go? Where do I belong?"
The boy's ghost, was witnessed by Joe, he watched the apparition enter each bedroom then settled on the floor of the hallway in search of something. Curious, Joe later pulled up the floorboards and found a medallion of the Virgin Mary.
On one occasion when Joe saw the boy's apparition he heard the little boy say to him, "My oldest brother is the only one who can help me." Joe did not know what this meant but that very sentence was the beginning of the terror. It was shortly after this statement that objects started to move in unpredictable fashion with phones flying, doors slamming open and shut and objects being yanked from Rose's hands.
The Berinis upset sought the advice of a local priest who said they should ignore the spirit if it should appear again. The next time the boy in white appeared to Rose, she did as she was advised and paid it no attention. Immediately, the closet door began to slam opening and shutting repeatedly. On some occasions unexplained footsteps were heard in the house, and box of macaroni was yanked from Rose's hands and thrown to the floor.
Joe and Rose returned to the Church for help, two of the priests agreed to visit the house. The priest's came and they blessed the house, and said mass. Initially there was a quiet spell after the rituals, but it did not last long.
In June 1981 a new entity descended upon their home this one according to the family was straight from hell. The apparition of a sinister hunchbacked male figure clad in a black cape. Throughout that summer, the hunchback, which the Berinis described as having large feet and a gruff voice, appeared regularly in the house. The Berinis tried to question the entity, but the only thing it only told them was "I a minister of God."
Though it proclaimed itself "A minister of God" it brought with him only fury and intimidation. Rose took the brunt of the figure's attacks on one occasion Rose was struck by an opened freezer door. One day when Rose was praying with her rosary, the dark figure tried to distract her with various obscenities. The poltergeist activity increased in frequency and intensity. Joe, Rose and 15-year-old John reported that they had been struck by thrown objects. The bedroom telephone continued to fly off the table. A bedside lamp "fell," striking Rose on the head. Furniture in several rooms was on occasion found overturned or moved. Daisy's bedroom desk was somehow transported down the stairs. The retractable attic stairs were open and shut repeatedly and with such violence that it cracked the hall ceiling. Several religious objects were removed from walls or broken.
During an evening meal, Rose's arm was twisted behind her back and her head pulled to one side with such force that she began to choke. On more than one occasion, Joe testified, that he saw Rose pulled out of bed at night, levitated into the air and then dropped to the floor. After one of these attacks, bruises were found on her arms and legs, as if from a powerful grip.
Two months after it first appeared, the dark, hunchbacked entity became its most violent. Not long after Joe left the house to work the night shift at his factory job, a loud banging shook the bedroom walls. "The bed was rising off the floor," Rose said. "I tried to scream and the door slammed so I could not get out of the room. The dog was growling and the door opened." Rose struggled to get to the children's bedrooms, but their doors slammed shut and she was dragged by the unseen force back into her room. Invisible hands began to choke and scratch her. She managed to phone Joe. He rushed home and ran upstairs to the bedroom where he saw the bed jumping as high as two feet into the air, and found Rose crouching in a corner clutching a crucifix.
Remarkably, the Berinis still refused to abandon their home. Their minds were changed, when one morning they awoke to find a heavy carving knife stabbed into the kitchen table. Fearing that their lives could truly be in danger, the Berinis moved out of the house for a month, putting most of their belongings into storage. Once again they sought help from a priest, who went to the house and performed an exorcism. When the Berinis returned to their home, the evil seemed to have been vanquished. They no longer saw apparitions of any kind or suffered any more poltergeist activity.
Ironically, it was only after the haunting activity stopped that Joe Berini invited an investigation by the Psychical Research Foundation, based in Durham, North Carolina. The organization is now the American Institute of Parapsychology, based in Gainesville, Florida. The investigators were able to corroborate some of the Berini's claims through friends, neighbours and their priest, all of whom testified that they witnessed poltergeist phenomena in the Berini home.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Help Finish This Story!


I haven't posted  lately. I've been suffering a bout of writer's block the last couple of months. I have four short stories that I have started, but I've been unable to finish them. I even know how each should progress, but for some reason I'm having a hard time pushing forward.

So, I had an idea. Probably not the best idea. If nothing else, it may contain a little entertainment value for you, the reader.

Below I've posted one of the four incomplete stories. It is up to you, dear reader, to give me your take on how the story should progress. Take this seriously. Or not. A snarky comment may be as valuable to dispelling my writer's block as a sincere, thought out reply. Who knows.

Here goes:


Not many people really believe in the paranormal, right? I never really believed or disbelieved. I just pretty much ignored the concept altogether. I was raised to be pragmatic. I’ve never strayed from what my mind accepted as purely logical. I see now that that has been to my detriment.

I’m not going to try and convert anyone here, but merely attempt, as best I can, to explain my feelings on the matter. I no longer ignore the possibility of things paranormal. Or should I say, the fact of the paranormal. I think most of us go through life in ignorant bliss of our true surroundings; of our natural, or as some may say, supernatural environment. But what is supernatural? If it exists, it’s a natural phenomenon, as far as I’m concerned. Even the purest of evil.

Look around. Truly look. Step outside of yourself. Open your mind. Become the animal you truly are; the animal you were at birth, or even before birth. You may see, might comprehend, that there is darkness where you have never noticed it before. Anomalies where light and shadow cross. In the shade of oaks. In deep waters. In your child’s thick head of hair. Believe me, it’s there. The thing that eats at us. Terrifies us. That itch, an itch that has tormented mankind from creation.


My son was pretty much like any other thirteen year old boy. Loved his Mother more than me (something that I knew from day one, and was fine with), had a best bud in Jerry Orwell, played Little League ball, hated math and loved video games. Brady, my boy, was a good kid. It was the day he came home and announced that he was joining the Boy Scouts that everything changed. Forever. God help me.

His buddy Jerry had convinced Brady that being a Boy Scout was “rad,” and that Jerry had even been allowed by his Scout Master to build and light the campfire as well as lead the hike on their last camping trip. Brady told his Mother and me about all the cool things Jerry and his troop did, from swimming in the ice cold waters of Devils Lake to baking a cake in a Dutch oven over hot coals.

Tabitha was a little underwhelmed by it all. Although she listened politely to her Brady’s pleas, she had fallen back on the old stand-by, “We’ll see.” The two of us later discussed it in bed, the room illuminated by one weak lamp on my night stand.

The anemic light cast shadows that revealed more than I could ever have imagined.

I gave my argument in that sanguine light. I’d thought hard on the subject. Even though I’d never been a Scout, my Grandfather had been and even became a Scout Master. I’d attended some events. I had friends that were Scouts. It all seemed pretty innocuous to me. Even though we weren’t church goers, it gave me some comfort that the Troop was sponsored by the nearby Methodist Church, where most of the activities were held. They even had a private Scout Camp on the lake. She voiced her fears of poor supervision; exposing our son for extended periods of time to children we didn’t know, even about being injured. It was at that point that Tabitha realized she was being over protective, and she relented. Had she somehow seen the darkness, the blotch that lay just beneath our reality? Then possibly shrugged it off, like shrugging off the winter chill without a second thought while stepping into the fire light? That’s what I think. No. That’s what I know. Now.

And so it was done. Every Thursday evening, Brady, dressed in khaki shirt and neckerchief, would meet with Troop 649 in the Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church. I would drop him off, watching from the warmth of our minivan until he made it inside, a quick wave back, passing from the cold, dark November night into the bright, warm light of the church.

We were glad that we’d let Brady join. It would be good for him. You see, although his Mother and I thought of him as normal in every way, he did have a dark side; something… compartmentalized, hidden in his psyche. I’m not sure that’s the right thing to call it, ‘a dark side,’ but I can’t think of any other way to say it. He drew dark things; ever since he could hold a pencil. They weren’t monsters, per say. Otherwise, I could’ve gotten a handle on it, realized his motivation. I could’ve rationalized that the images were of childhood fears; bogey men, vampires, witches; fascinated by creatures derivative of fairy tales or television programs. But the images were not really recognizable as such. No fangs, claws or clich├ęd bug-eyed monsters. No knives, blood or viscera. But dark, none the less.

At the age of two, black Crayon was scribbled in concentration. It was as if Brady was trying to obliterate all light from a certain area of the page. As he grew, his drawings became more defined. Head, arms and legs appeared. The head, always large and white with a lantern jaw; the body, tall, broad shouldered yet gaunt, legs and arms long and thin, filled in, in black, as black as Brady could make it. He’d be in a near trance when he drew these images. Once completed, he’d destroy them. Then it was over. Brady would start another drawing, the typical child’s rendering; yellow sun, brown tree with a green mop top of leaves, v-shaped black birds darting in a blue flurry of sky. A dog. A friend. His Mom and Dad.

We didn’t always see him create these images, otherwise I think we’d have been more concerned. In hindsight, I realize he must have been obsessed with making and destroying these drawings. I do remember asking him at the age of five who he was drawing. Brady whispered, “Clenchjaw.” Clenchjaw. Such an odd name. It meant nothing to me.


As hard as I tried, it wasn’t long before I was drawn into Scouting. I’m not what you’d call the outdoors type. My idea of roughing it is the Holiday Inn. But Brady was a priority. Maybe it was guilt. Had he been a priority up to this point? I’d given him a good home, but then I worked sixty hours, sometimes more, a week. I worked nearly every weekend. At two he cried when I left. At eight, he looked forlorn as I playfully messed his hair and told him to be “good for Mommy.” At eleven, he was nowhere in sight when I headed out to work. Neither was Tabitha. It all happened so gradually; so yes, guilt. Regret brought me to the Fellowship Hall on July 17th. How little I knew then about regret.

I pulled into the church parking lot, parking alongside Ted Sanders’ big Ford pick up. Ted Sanders was the Scout Master. Small and thin, nearly the size of the boys he supervised, Ted seemed to keep them in line with his authoritatively stern baritone voice. A Chevy Suburban was being loaded with camping gear by two Scouts, the oldest with rust red hair looking to be no more than fifteen. Brady looked to me, then without a word, bolted over to the boys, eager to help. I hesitantly walked over to Scout Master Sanders. I stood mute, like a shy thirteen year-old boy, waiting for Sanders to acknowledge my presence. He seemed not to realize I was standing there as he directed the boys on loading the gear into the back of the SUV.

“Gentlemen, this is serious business. If a bedroll is unaccounted for, there’ll be a cold, uncomfortable weekend for one of you. If you miss a box of provisions, we’re all going to go hungry. Let’s step it up. We’ve got a four drive ahead of us.” Sanders sounded overly brusk to me, but the boys settled down and took to the task without question.

Sanders folded his arms across his thin chest and stepped back, feet apart, concentrating on the boys. Now standing next to me, he spoke without looking at me.

“Your Brady’s Dad. Glad you’re here. Don’t get too many fathers willing to volunteer.”

“Well, I’m happy to do it. Brady…”

He cut me off.

“You’ll be driving the church club van. Just follow me, in the Suburban. Tom, our Assistant Scout Master, will ride with me. You’ll have the rest.”

Within the hour the remaining four Scouts arrived in various modes of transportation.
That's it. That's as far as I've gotten. Bring it on! Bring it on like the plague!

Check out my two short stories, now published on Amazon Kindle: