Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WEP Blogfest Entry - Haunting

This is my entry for this month's WEP Blogfest (Write...Edit...Publish), run by Denise Covey. I wanted to aim a little more for Halloween, so I'm posting it late this evening instead of as part of my usual [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday. After all, it's more fun to read this kind of story at night, and the theme is Haunting.

No critique necessary. I just threw this together to have a little Halloween fun. :) 1040 words.

The Tourist

The sound of his own breaths puffed into his ears. He needed to calm down, but he always got so excited when he was out sightseeing.

Leaves rattled above him, their yellowed flesh dry and withering in the autumn night. Those that had fallen to the ground already skittered across the pavement like nails raking down the inside of a coffin. The smell of wood smoke reached his nose, a hearty fall scent.

He knelt at the base of the tree, hidden amongst the evergreen bushes that managed to always smell like cat urine. His trench coat kept them from scraping at his skin, along with the leather gloves and knit mask he wore.  He was toasty, all bundled up, only his eyes watering at the brisk air around him.

Before him stood a quaint little house on the outskirts of downtown, its Victorian-style roots apparent. A rounded tower ran up the east side of the building, the light on in the uppermost window. Though the curtains were pulled, The Curator seemed not to know they were see-through, at least to a point. He watched as her shadow moved about in the room. She wasn't doing anything dirty, no. This was her office. His many sightseeing trips this month had shown him that.

Three voluptuous pumpkins stood on her front porch, battery-powered candles flickering within. They were carved into cutesy shapes, no gruesome maws for this gal. One was a cat, its little triangle nose flocked by thin strips of missing orange. One was a cartoon character, obviously carved with some sort of blueprint. The third was just a happy cliched little pumpkin face with elementary shapes forming the triangular eyes, circular mouth and slim rectangular nose.

He set his gaze back on that uppermost window, though, waiting until that light would go out and the next one burn into the night. Lucky for him, it was only a matter of minutes. Right on schedule. Keeping steady hours was an important aspect of a tourist destination.

As the first light died, he pulled his leather briefcase closer to his leg. As he often found happening, almost without his will, his right hand slid inside, pressing deeper into its depths to feel the materials the bag hid. The leather of his gloves slid smoothly over the metal of the blades, the polished surface of the hilts. Next to these larger blades, he inventoried, by sensation, the small cloth pouch that held his surgical instruments, then the firm roll of tape, scissors, a tie, a cord from an old phone, rough rope, a hammer, a screwdriver, and more. He knew the items in this bag better than the back of his own hand, more than the sight of his eyes in a mirror, more than his own hair-covered toes.

He liked to have options.

A deep exhalation left his body, and he felt his entire being relax. The lights had progressed in her usual bedtime routine, finally ending up in another top floor window. The bedroom. The room he'd been waiting for all evening. This was the last stop on the tour.

He stood, brushed off the leaves and grass that had gathered on his coat, and stepped from beneath the tree. To anyone who might see him, he would simply look like any professional walking home from work a bit later than usual. This proximity to downtown meant plenty of businesses and restaurants were within walking distance. A nicely dressed man with a briefcase wouldn't raise an alarm.

As he waited, watching for that final light to disappear, he grew increasingly excited. Already he could hear the sounds she would make. It was always fun to try to predict whether they'd be a screamer or a whimperer. Some simply passed out, ruining all his fun. Most combined screams with whimpers, shrieks with sobs. 

His hand tightened on the bag's handle, his muscle memory filling in the sensation of a scalpel cutting through human skin, scissors cutting with that wonderful crisp snip so reminiscent of the sound his mother's scissors had made as she helped them to glide across fabric of various thicknesses. He delighted in the smells, even the tastes, all sensations rich and warm.

The light snicked out. He stepped into the street, started to cross it, his gaze fixed upon the now darkened window.

He was fairly certain she'd be a screamer.

Just as he neared the center of the street, lights washed over him. He turned his head, saw a car coming his way, picked up his pace. Hopping up onto the sidewalk, he started to walk in the direction the car was coming from, not wanting to be seen in front of this house. Remembered. The car would pass quickly and he'd be able to double back easily.

But the car didn't pass. It slowed then pulled to the curb, rolling past him to come to a stop in front of the very house he was visiting.


He continued to walk until he reached a corner, where he turned left, moving quickly out of sight. He pressed himself against the house on the corner, peeked around, and watched as a man got out of the car, shut the door, and proceeded up the steps, past the still flickering jack-o-lanterns.

Unaware that someone watched in horror, the stranger knocked on the door. A moment later, it opened, so quickly that she must have been waiting.

The house swallowed this interloper up as The Tourist watched. Disappointment colored his emotions. He sank to the ground, bag at his side, the slight sound of metal tinkling against metal inside it.

But disappointment couldn't last. No, he always had a backup in case a sightseeing destination was closed. A good tourist is always prepared.

The Tourist picked up the pace as he crossed yet another street, heading for a destination just two short blocks up the way. There'd still be a light on there for another half an hour. That Curator stayed open a bit later. He'd always liked that one motel's slogan. His sightseeing destinations always kept a light on for him so he'd know they were waiting.

He could already hear it. This one was surely a whimperer.

© Shannon Lawrence, The Warrior Muse


Happy Halloween! And thanks for the fun theme, Denise.

May you find your Muse.


  1. Ooh, ooh, The Tourist, huh? Preying on lone Curators. A screamer or a whimperer...cold fish. I was on the edge of my seat, Shannon. How coldly calculating was he! I wasn't sure where it was leading and was so glad when a visitor spoiled his first relief was short lived when he fell back to plan B.

    A creepy, chilly tale for HAUNTING. Thank you so much for participating and offering up this cold dish.


  2. I really enjoyed this and just like Denise was so glad he was foiled and then... But what a great sense of place - your description of the bags contents, wow! Great job!
    Such fun, this Halloween blog hop!

    Trick or Treat and Happy Halloween.

    Such wonderful treats to be found all around this Halloween!

  3. OMG, that was awesome. My heart is still pounding with his adrenaline. I was so deep in his head I nearly felt the metal. You are definitely the master of the creep factor.

    I need to go watch something cute and fuzzy to keep away from my knife drawer now. Tomorrow, I'm changing up my normal routine :)


  4. Chilling!
    Curator 1, saved by the other late night visitor... but Curator 2, ooops her moments are numbered...

  5. Excellent post, enjoyable to read.


  6. Creepy! I loved the voice of this character, very well done :)

  7. Greetings human, Shannon,

    What an eerie visual has been depicted in my doggy brain. Such a curator creative and a Tourist to boot.

    Happy "Howloween!"

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

  8. Now that was a bit creepy. Great description and details.

  9. Your descriptions are amazing. I was relieved when his plans were ruined, but you didn't let me stay relieved for long. lol Great ending!

  10. Oh Ugh, in a good way! This was bloody scary in a way I can't do in movies. I won't see slasher movies, so this was really good because it was so visual that I almost didn't read to the end. I didn't want to "see" what happened to her. Thank you for saving, at least her, in the end!!! Good job!

  11. A psychological killer, the ones we should really fear. Very much in the Hitchcock vein, Shannon.
    Well done.

  12. This was so creepy and sinister. I loved it. The creepiest stories are always the ones where what happens is implied. So much scarier than the actual hack and slash. Well done. I just hope he doesn't come "sightseeing" around here any time soon.

  13. Oh, my! Goosebumps all the way !This title is Ripper!

  14. Wow, this is so good! I'm with Kelly, I totally have goosebumps.

    Happy Halloween!

  15. This reminds me of "Mortal Fear" by Greg Iles. Your creepy gut-wrenching killer narration works well! Great read.

  16. This reminds me of "Mortal Fear" by Greg Iles. Your creepy gut-wrenching killer narration works well! Great read.

  17. I was also thinking of Hitchcock. And I like your motel slogan reference... "we'll leave the light on". Indeed.

  18. Spine tingling - I'm glad she was saved but feel sorry for the next one.

  19. Oh my! Yup, definitely creepy. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Close call for the would-be victim, not so lucky for another. Good read!
    dream... write... publish

  21. Dear Shannon,
    Lots of tension here! You really got me worried and then relieved and then worried again, but the story had ended.
    Well done!
    Best wishes,

    Anna's WEP-Challenge for October: Haunting

  22. Hi Shannon
    Well written. I'm glad the serial killer didn't get this lady but sad for the other. Clever to have someone show up.

    We are neighbors. I live in Lakewood.

  23. Shannon, I love your fabulous descriptors (and I so agree about burning wood being a hearty fall scent - love that!). Your have a lovely, lyrical, way with words. The story may not let me sleep, but it was wonderfully executed. to speak. ;-)
    Check Out Mina's Resurrection Blogfest II!

  24. Hi Shannon, I've just come by for another read as I try to pick my winner! Difficult decision!

  25. Shannon, I was breathless reading you story… This was so well done, with all the details building up the suspense. Excellent!

  26. *shiver* This was wonderful! I love the names you give to the prowler and the residents. The man clearly sees life as a museum and humans as specimens. Well done!

    Thanks for stopping by and reading my entry. Sorry it took so long to stop by!