(Coming of Age, Historical)
I’d been wanting to write another ghost story for some time and when an idea finally took form, I realized it’d be ten times better in a pioneer setting. So I had to spend a good hour or more researching Canadian pioneer life and history for each scene written.
For this short story, I wanted to write a “Black Mirror” style sci-fi based on a news article I’d read about a real doll on the market that was recalled for collecting private intel on the children who interacted with it. The idea quickly morphed into a creepy allegory about smartphone addiction.
Years ago I watched a movie called, “The Others” starring Nicole Kidman: a mother and her small children are being haunted by ghosts in a large old house. But there’s a twist at the end. We discover that it’s the mother and her children who are the ghosts, and the so-called ghosts are actually a living family being haunted by THEM. So with that movie in mind, I was inspired to write this short story, with a different twist of my own. (By the way, the name Garrin is German for “guardian.”)
With this short story, I wanted to tell a Beauty & the Beast kind of tale but didn’t want the meaning to be obvious. One of my favorite quotes/mantras is by Emily Dickinson (“Tell all the truth but tell it slant … The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind”), so I cloaked my characters in the past, in the Viking age and Norse mythology, with a Christ-type hero.
For more than a decade I researched the plight of LGBTQ Christians in the church; perusing countless testimonies, the efficacy stats of several decades’ worth of reparative therapy, and the Biblical texts known as “clobber passages.” One verse kept coming to mind again and again: “Can a leopard change his spots?” (Jeremiah 13:23a)
While visiting the zoo one year, I noticed that if the sun hits a panther just right, you can see the faint outline of hidden spots beneath its black coat. So, I did some research on panthers, leopards, and jaguars and made a fascinating discovery: panthers are melanistic leopards and jaguars. Therefore, a panther can give birth to both black and spotted cubs. With this information, the idea for a fable quickly took shape . . .
SHORT Short Stories
It seemed to me death was much like traveling to the moon…
My red-brick elementary school sat nestled against a forest on the edge of town, with a road in front and a soccer field on either side. Though we had swing sets and jungle gyms, many of the kids preferred playing in the woods, and we were allowed to do so as long as we kept the schoolyard in sight. But last Thursday night an accident took place on school property when no adults were around, and one of the students had gotten killed. Read More…
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard about him (I took it for granted that the Antichrist was male) and thus pictured him as I always did: A tall sinister figure wearing a black cape or robe, facial features blurry (though his eyes were glaring) and distinctly human. Basically a mash-up of all the Disney villains I’d absorbed over the years. And because they always referred to him as “the rise of,” I tended to picture him a little hunched down and then rising up to full height. I knew it meant something about gaining power over the world but I didn’t know much about government systems yet and still tended to imagine ruling powers as being kings and queens and knights. As for the Beast, well he was to rise out of “the sea” specifically, so naturally that’s exactly what I pictured. A monstrous gorilla-like thing slowly coming up out of the ocean as if standing on a platform, beads of water rolling down his coarse fur, head tilted back and ready to roar. I knew this wasn’t correct though as the Beast was supposed to have several heads (a lion, an eagle, a man), hair like a woman, the tail of a scorpion, and the arms and claws of a bear. Or was it the Antichrist who looked like that? Read more…
An excerpt from the novel, “A White Rose,” by Bekah Ferguson.
Dakota Reilly hadn’t really noticed Ryan Hill when he first started showing up for her father’s poker games, but one night she’d bumped into him in the kitchen when she went to grab a soda.
Most of her dad’s friends were older, middle age, but this guy was much younger; like one of those hotties from Beverly Hills, 90210. She’d seen him from a distance before; he lived down the road in an old farmhouse.
Having thus seen him up close for the first time, she was star-eyed. From then on, she made a point of going to the kitchen for a glass of water or soda whenever she saw him head in that direction. She also stopped wearing shorts to bed with her over-sized T-shirt. She didn’t really know what she was doing, but she’d seen this in movies before and understood that long bare legs were sexy.
After one month of obsessing over him, daydreaming about him constantly and writing his name on every page of her diary, he asked her how old she was. For a moment she panicked, fearing he would think her a stupid kid, and blurted out that she was seventeen. His pleased grin indicated that he actually believed her and she almost giggled with excitement when he nicked her chin with his knuckle and gave her a wink. Read more…
An excerpt from “The Attic” by Bekah Ferguson & Rachel Xu.
The lower jaw of the inky eel jutted out beneath him in a grotesque underbite with dozens of needle-thin teeth.
Attempting to toss Ian aside, the slick body thrashed to and fro, sending waves of swamp water in every direction.
Ian dropped down and wrapped his legs around the throat. He pulled a knife from his belt and thrust it into the gills. The eel let out a screech as yellow blood oozed from the wound.
Hissing, it dove under the water and took him with it. With no chance to grab a breath of air, he got a mouthful of rancid water instead and lost his grip. He tried in vain to grab hold again as he slid down the eel’s back and slipped off the end of the doll-face tail. Read more…
A blindsided young man can suddenly see the Other.
On impulse he grabbed his phone, donned his outdoor gear, and pushed into the snowfall. Tears froze on his cheekbones and he ducked his face down against the chill. He didn’t yet know where he was going but he walked with determination, boots crunching on the lamp-lit sidewalk.
After a few minutes he stopped at the end of a driveway and turned to face the shadowy bungalow. A faint inner light suffused one window, the rest of the house dark. His anger fading with a newfound resolve, he went to the front door and knocked, hoping his eyes weren’t red. It took awhile but eventually came the sound of shuffling footsteps, the thump of a cane, and the sound of a latch turning.
The door creaked open. Read more…