Let’s Play: A 60 Seconds of Midnight Story

October 26, 2017

Kiera and Freddie stood in their front doorway, bodies intertwined for warmth, amazed that it was finally happening. The small car came to a stop in their driveway and the door opened. The couple knew that all of the final approvals were complete but had no idea until two days before when their new daughter was coming home for the first time. When Kiera received the call she was excited, but nervous since her husband was due for a business trip at the end of the week which would leave her to parent the child alone at the very start. Ms. Alice of Alice’s Angels Adoption Agency bumbled out of the car, spilling some papers unto the ground, then hastily gathering them up again before opening the back door and allowing Gentry to place one then two small boots on the pavement. Kiera could hardly hold back the tears as the girl ran toward her, her red puffer coat covering a corduroy dress of the same color. “Mommy” She yelled. Kiera hugged the girl, picking her up and swinging her around. Freddie pulled his wife and new daughter close as Kiera’s shoulders heaved and dropped with her sobs.

Over the next hour, Kiera showed her daughter around her new home and introduced her to Pinky, a pet hamster they had purchased especially for Gentry. In love with Pinky at once she could hardly keep herself from the little animal or from Doc, the family’s golden retriever. Kiera and Freddie then hosted Alice for tea and cake and they talked for an hour before Ms. Alice finally announced her departure, “I really should get going and allow you all some time to spend with Gentry, especially since you will be away for a couple of days soon, Freddie. I want to give you as much time to spend with your family this week as possible.”

“We could not be happier, Alice.” Kiera whispered as she walked the woman to the door.

“Don’t thank me. It’s what I do.” The woman said as she barreled toward her vehicle. With a quick wave she ducked in through the car door and was soon out of sight.

That night as Kiera tucked her daughter into bed for the first time, she read her a story. “Can I play with Pinky?” a sleepy Gentry asked. “Not anymore tonight, sweetie. You are tired. We can play with him in the morning.” Kiera turned off the lamp leaving the glow of the night light to cast ominous shapes on the walls.

Morning seemed to come earlier than usual with Gentry’s excessive knocking on her parents’ bedroom door. “Mommy, daddy! Can I play with Pinky?” She was asking. Kiera and Freddie looked at one another before he smiled, “So this is what being a parent is like, huh?”

Kiera adjusted the thermostat to warm the chilly house before she came up the stairs and made her way to Gentry’s room. She crossed the room to take Pinky’s cage off of the high dresser and placed it on the floor. “Pinky.” Kiera said trying to rouse the little rodent. “Perhaps he’s still sleeping. Pinky?” She called again as she swished her fingers through the dressings. She felt a cold, hard mound. Kiera jumped, pulling her finger back. Shaking the dressings away revealed Pinky’s stiff body.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” Gentry asked.

“Nothing, I just don’t think that Pinky is doing too well this morning. I’m going to have daddy look at him, ok? Wash your face and come down for breakfast.”

Freddie seemed somewhat relieved, “He was a rodent, and they die all the time. I’m kind of glad he’s gone, those things are nasty. She can play with Doc.”

“I guess. Can you get rid of him?” Kiera asked before going into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

“Sure thing.” Her husband said, disappearing with the cage.

It was Gentry’s first night in their home and her animal had died. It was Kiera’s second day having a child and she was now going to have to explain life’s biggest catch…death.

“Can I play with Pinky?” Gentry asked again over her eggs.

Kiera looked nervously over her coffee cup to her husband then back to Gentry. “I’m sorry, honey, but you can’t.”

“Why not?” She wanted to know.

“Because Pinky is…dead.” She finally said.

Gentry looked bewildered then spoke again.

“So?” Gentry asked again, her brown eyes completely blank.

Kiera stopped short and turned to face the girl.

Freddie quickly cut in. “Because when something dies, it has to be buried. It goes away.”

“Oh.” Gentry said, returning quickly to her breakfast.

All that day Kiera kept an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach that could be traced back to the breakfast conversation, but her husband was convinced that it was not strange, nothing more than a child’s simple reaction to a complex concept. Kiera wasn’t convinced, but she would not put up a fight. Still she wished that Freddie didn’t have to leave for his business trip the following day. The next morning as Kiera started to wake Gentry, the girl popped up almost as if she hadn’t been sleeping at all, “Can I play with Doc? Huh, momma? Can I?”

Instantly a dread crept up in the new mother. Doc was a good dog, but during the night Kiera would usually hear him bark at least once or twice, but she realized that the night before he had been exceptionally quiet. Scrambling down the stairs, Kiera called for her dog, “DOC!”

Freddie emerged from the bedroom. “You can’t find Doc? Did you let him in last night?”

“Of course, I let him in.” she snapped. They both searched the house but no Doc. In the backyard Kiera noticed that the gate was flapping open, “Doc” she called as she crossed the yard. Her husband was close behind her. She closed the gate and then turned back to the house and that was when she saw something brown on the side of the air conditioning unit. “Doc.” Kiera called nervously as she ran up and touched her dog’s rigid body. His head was a mess of wounds and gashes. “Jesus.” Freddie said, pulling his sobbing wife away from the animal into the house, passing Gentry who watched with a dull expression.

That evening Kiera lay in bed, sipping tea. The television was on and her eyes were trained on it, but she wasn’t watching.

“I really wish that I didn’t have to go, but my mother is coming in the morning to stay until I return, ok.” Freddie informed her. “I made sure to lock the gate so that whatever came out of those woods and attacked Doc can’t get back in.”

Kiera’s eyes darted toward her husband. “The woods…” She said.

“Sure, what else could it have been?” He asked. Kiera’s eyes rolled up into her head.

Before leaving for the airport, Freddie put his daughter to bed and Kiera was so exhausted from the emotional stress, she was sleeping no later than he was gone. Something in the dark house woke Kiera in the middle of the night. The hallway light flicked on and she heard massive footsteps crashing down the hall until the shadow stood right outside of her door.

“Mommy, can we play?” A deep, guttural voice asked.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

Guilt

October 19, 2017

Jolted awake by something she forgot no sooner than she opened her eyes, Makayla studied the shadows of the darkened room. At once, she moved her hands to her stomach. Its flatness confused her. She thought for a moment, but with her head racing even more quickly than her heart, nothing materialized. She searched the covers for the tv remote.

After hours of the watching comedic shenanigans, she flipped off the television. Someone was in the hall; she could hear their whispers. She slipped out of bed and made her way to the door. It glided open as she turned the knob and there at the end of the hall she saw them, the little boy in the same ratty old sweater and the teenage girl in her silken, punch-covered dress. Their backs were to Makayla, but still they shuffled hurriedly towards her in reverse. Screaming, she slammed the door and turned, colliding with the boy’s dangling legs. The putrid smell of his death wafting off his purple toes filled her mouth with sickness.

Lurching up in bed, Makayla was promptly met with blinding sunlight that poured in through the shades. She launched into a frantic search for her ringing cell phone, “Hello.”

“Are we still on for lunch or what? I’ve been calling you for an hour.” On the other end of the line, her sister, Kamia, sounded restless.

“Ye-” Makayla stopped short, noticing her protruding belly. Placing her hand on it, she studied it strangely.

“Makayla?”

“Yes, yes. I’ll be there at noon.” She stated calmly before hanging up the phone, never taking her eyes from her stomach.

At lunch, Makayla picked over her salad. After eating only some chips and salsa, Kamia was on her second margarita.

“So what is up with you, Makayla? You’ve been a little weird ever since you found out you were pregnant, but it seems to be getting worse.”

“Am I pregnant?” Makayla asked forcefully.

Kamia appeared genuinely intrigued. “What do you mean? Have you seen yourself? Of course, you’re pregnant.”

“But that’s the thing, Kamia, sometimes I wake up and I’m not. I can’t even tell whether I am asleep or awake anymore.”

“What do you mean?” Kamia asked.

“Do you remember that kid that killed himself when I was in third grade?”

Kamia thought for a moment, “Uh, yeah, Dan…danny…”

“Daniel! His name was Daniel Ramos. He hung himself.”

“Ok, yeah, Daniel, I remember him. So what?”

“Do you remember what happened? What I said about him after he died?”

Kamia giggled, “Yeah, you got in big trouble once it spread. Dad had to come up to the school and everything.”

Makayla was verging on tears.

“Jesus, Makayla, you said, ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead.’ It was stupid and silly but you were in third grade, you were just a kid. You didn’t mean anything by it. Is that what this is about?”

“Yes, that’s what this is about. It’s about Daniel Ramos and it’s about Jessie Conical.”

“Oh my God, Makayla, this is ancient history.” Kamia argued.

“It started with Daniel, but that’s only where it started. From that point on, it never stopped. From Daniel Ramos right on up to Jessie Conical. We thought it was funny. We-”

Kamia interrupted, “Jessie Conical threw herself from the roof of our high school because she was a weird, brooding, all black wearing introvert! How in the hell is that our fault?”

“Yes, she threw herself from a roof after we had been torturing her the entire year and the same night we humiliated her at the winter formal by pouring red punch down her dress or don’t you remember? Not much of a coincidence, if you ask me. I told her the dress looked better after the punch. She was trying and we threw it in her face. We were horrible people.”

“We were kids! Blame it on our rough childhood. We barely survived growing up with mom, one of us didn’t survive.”

“That doesn’t make it ok, Kamia.” Makayla argued.

“What the hell? Why are you bringing all of this stuff up now?” Kamia wanted to know as she was tiring of her sister’s grossly belated sentiments.

“Have you ever heard that saying about the sins of the father being visited upon the son?”

“What?” Kamia huffed.

“I…we…we bullied people relentlessly until we finally took someone’s child away from them.” Makayla started.

“We didn’t take anyone.” Kamia interrupted.

“And now they’re after me.”

“Who?” Kamia asked.

Makayla trembled with a fear that hardly let her speak.

“Jessie?” Kamia seemed to be praying that her sister would not agree.

“And Daniel. They are trying to take my baby.” Makayla added.

“You’re shitting me, right?” Kamia began to smile just a bit but it quickly dampened. “Tell me you’re joking.”

Makayla stared at her sister without a word.

With a sigh, Kamia spoke the words that she had been trying to hold back for so long, “Makayla, I think that you need to see someone.”

A loud bang outside the window commanded Makayla’s attention; she stiffened at the sight of Jessie, the girl had fallen from the sky her dead body pressed firmly into the hot cement with a pool of blood growing around her. Kamia turned to follow Makayla’s gaze through the window and saw only cars dragging through the lazy intersection. Before Kamia could return her attention to her sister, Makayla had fled.

“Makayla?” Kamia called, but her sister was already halfway to her car.

That evening Makayla woke on the couch, where she found herself clutching a knife. The second thing she noticed was that her baby was gone, leaving her and her stomach deflated.

“No.” She cried quietly. The phone rang. It was Kamia.

“Kamia?” Makayla spoke as soon as she answered.

“Makayla, are you ok? I just wanted to check on you. You seemed a little distant at lunch today.”

“I need to ask you a weird question, but just give me an answer, please. Am I pregnant?”

“Pregnant? If you are, you haven’t told me. You were skinny as a rail today at lunch.”

“Kamia, I have to go.” Makayla laid her head on the arm of the couch, clutching her knife in one hand and her empty belly in the other.

The next time Makayla woke the living room was completely dark. In the kitchen, she heard them. As she tried to jump from the couch, her pregnant belly hindered her. Makayla rubbed her stomach gratefully and held her knife out fiercely in protection of it. She turned to face the whispers behind her and all that she could make out were shadows dipping and twirling in the darkness.

“What do you want?” Makayla asked and in response, the whispers rose to frightening clarity.

            Ding, dong, the witch is dead.

            Jessie, your dress looks better now than it did before. The words assaulted her repeatedly and suddenly the room was spinning and the moment it stopped, she was face to face with Jessie, the girl’s bloody hands pressed tightly to her belly.

Makayla screamed before running into the room and locking the door behind her. Looking down she saw that her belly was flat once again, her child stolen. “Please stop. Please give my baby back.”

Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Jessie, your dress looks better now than it did before.

            Something grabbed at her toes and she looked down to see tiny fingers protruding from under the door. She ran into the bathroom, locked the door, crouched down in the tub, pulling the shower curtain to a close and clasping the knife close to her. Once again, her swollen stomach bulged and she had trouble sitting comfortably.

Makayla. Makayla. Makayla. Makayla. Makayla. The voices called.

On the other side of the curtain, the shadows rose and she groaned a deep cry as the black water came pouring into the tub.

“I’m sorry.” Makayla croaked just as the shower curtain jerked back and the hands of the dead reached down toward the life inside of her.

Kamia’s skin glowed under the early morning sunlight and she rocked slightly on her feet as she and the officer waited for the landlady to unlock Makayla’s door. Kamia had not been feeling well that morning and had been nauseous the whole way over. “We had lunch a couple of days ago and she was acting strange. I haven’t heard from her since. I never go more than a day without talking to her.”

As soon as the landlady opened the door, they all took a step back from the overwhelming stench.

“Makayla.” Kamia called hopelessly. Leaving the landlady behind Kamia followed the officer through the house into the bathroom where he immediately tried to hold her back, but she pushed passed him and went to her little sister, who lay in a pool of blood, her once bright brown eyes glazed over to a silvery hue.

“Sister” Kamia spoke softly as she knelt to hold her sister’s icy hand. Kamia lifted Makayla’s arm to study the long slice that went from her wrist almost up to her elbow, she glanced over and spotted the matching scar on her other arm. The knife lay close to Makayla’s hand, hidden behind her large, pregnant belly.

“What in the hell happened here?” The officer whispered, more to himself than to Kamia.

“She wasn’t doing well with this pregnancy, but I never thought she would do something like this.” Kamia laid her head down on the side of the tub and cried as the officer disappeared to call for help.

For a moment, Kamia thought she was hearing things. She lifted her head slowly and studied her sister’s tight gray skin and the purple veins that marked clear trails across her face. Closer, Kamia looked and saw the slightest of movements in her sister’s sunken eyes.

“Makayla” Kamia called as she lifted herself to her knees.

Something lurched in Makayla’s belly and her gray eyes shifted and sat coldly upon her sister. Jerking forward, the blackened tips of her fingers swept Kamia’s stomach through her thin t-shirt. “They’re coming for you.” The corpse whistled before her blackened tongue went limp.

Kamia fell back into a plastic bin, which toppled over, spilling rollers, brushes and bobby pins across the tile floor. When she looked up again her sister was there, still dead and Kamia had to throw up.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

 

The Soul Seeker By: Jean Nicole Rivers

October 5, 2017

As the wind picked up, Arlene tightened her ill-fitting coat around her and then knocked on the door again, harder this time. Over the last few days, since her husband’s unexpected death, her eyes had dulled, her hair grew unkempt and her body had taken to inconspicuous but constant trembling.

An older man finally pulled the heavy wooden door open without a word of greeting. The silent man with the lines of worry cut deep into his face already knew why she was here, same reason as the others before her. The pair eyed one another solemnly until Arlene managed to swallow the lump in her throat.

“Th..the Soul Seeker…is that here?” She asked, her voice shuddering.

The man’s body deflated immediately expressing more sadness and even a hint of anger, anger at himself for still having hope that for once someone at the door would be a regular visitor, a jovial family member or loyal friend, the type they had not received since Betty was able to walk and talk. While he still refused to speak, he stepped aside and allowed her into the home. He started down the hall and Arlene followed. As they made their way to the belly of the old home they passed an opening into a parlor area where a woman whose appearance told a story of such pain that her eyes never had a chance to dry spoke to a priest in murmurs that ended snappishly when they saw Arlene pass.

At the end of the hall the man opened a door and allowed Arlene to step inside of a room filled with as much sunlight as the dim day offered. He closed the door behind her without ever speaking a word and for a moment she listened to his footsteps disappear in the distance. Arlene searched the room and in the corner spotted a little girl draped in a colorful frock.

“You? You’re the soul seeker?” Arlene spoke, her confusion obvious.

“No, of course not silly, I’m just a little girl…but, I am the vessel for her, she speaks through me.”

Arlene suddenly felt as if all of the terror in the world had been bottled up and was now being pumped directly into her veins, she turned and twisted frantically at the unmoving knob on the door.

“You found my information in your husband’s things, right? He came a few weeks ago with his desires and I told him what needed to be done as no dream comes to fruition without sacrifice. He had ten days to deliver the blood of an innocent.”

Arlene was quaking now. “He tried to kill a man and was shot and killed himself in the process.”

“His failure is a pity as now the responsibility falls to you. His debt to the soul seeker must be paid by you, his next of kin. If you do not deliver the blood she will take yours and your debt will be passed on to your next of kin.”

“My son? No! There has to be some other way. Please, I am begging you! My son is just a child.” Arlene said throwing herself to her knees.

Betty stood over the kneeling woman as a dark figure grew out of her, towering over both humans covering them in shadow. “10 days.” It growled.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

Train To Busan: Easily a Top 10 Zombie Film

October 4, 2017

Train To Busan is a South Korean zombie film that is currently on Netflix and you cannot in good conscience call yourself a horror fan let alone a zombie fan unless you have seen it. It is easily a top 10 zombie flick and here is why.

  1. Unique Setting
    1. A train! It’s extremely difficult to make a zombie film work in such a small space because how long can you run from hordes of zombies in a confined space? Not long, but Train to Busan somehow manages to keep us entertained in this narrow space. There is a point where the action moves into the train station but only for a short period of time then it’s back to the train. The closest that we’ve come is Quarantine 2: Terminal where the action starts in a plane, but quickly moves to an airplane terminal which gives them much more space to run and hide from the undead.
  2. Unlikely Hero
    1. How often is the funny, quirky guy also the film’s action hero? Whelp, that’s exactly what we get with Sang-hwa who makes saving his pregnant wife his number 1 priority. He is smart, strategic and kicks zombie butt which gives him a special place in the true zombie lover’s heart.
  3. Constant Action
    1. The action is fast-paced, hard hitting and almost nonstop once it gets started which takes about 20 mins. The film is a little slow at first as they set the story, but once we get on the train, things pick up fast and rarely slow down. Zombie films have a tendency to lull strategically in order to give the viewer a false sense of security and the survivors time to bond and set up rules and routine of the new world as they know it, but Train To Busan gives us NO time to breathe.

Good zombie films are the rare gems of the horror industry and we definitely found one with Train to Busan.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

Favorite Banned Books: Lolita

September 25, 2017

It’s officially banned books week and that makes me smile as most of my favorite books are ones that were banned at one time or another. This week, I’ll be talking about some of my preferred banned books. After much thought I have determined that my favorite banned book is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. According to Wikipedia (yes, I know it isn’t the best source, but…) Nabokov’s 1955 novel was banned in multiple locations all over the world, “French officials banned it for being ‘obscene,’ as did the United Kingdom, New Zealand (uncensored 1964), and South Africa.”

Lolita, for me, was a horror novel because it humanized a deviant pedophile and almost made me believe that his was not a story of an opportunistic monster, but a man finding love. While I hated Humbert for being the manipulative and sick predator that he was, his narrative allowed the reader an intriguing three-dimensional understanding that we often (and rightfully so) avoid with pedophiles in real life.

If you haven’t read Lolita, it’s a great tale for fall reading.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

He Was A Good Boy

October 27, 2016
Creepy Sammy

Drenched, Timmy 2007 (Marla McGinley) From Pinterest.

By Jean Nicole Rivers

Avery sat in the dark, stone silent room waiting patiently for her boy, Sammy. He was a good boy. Sure, growing up, he had been a little mischievous, wild and adventurous at times but nothing so different from any other boys at similar ages. Boys will be boys was her motto.

By age 6 he no longer had many play dates with his cousins. Many of them, he had quarreled with over a toy or something similar and while Avery did not make excuses for her son, the toys often times were rightfully his. On occasion, yes, he would yell at them but he was so spirited that it was difficult for him to hold back his passion. Soon he was playing all alone as the last cousin that played well with Sammy had stopped coming over when Sammy blacked his eye but regardless of what the family said, he was a good boy.

When he was a little older the neighbors’ small animals would come up missing and of course they would all always try to blame Sammy and sure he had hurt Mrs. Lucille’s cat that one time, but his curiosity had gotten the better of him, you see he wanted to be a doctor, he was SO smart. No matter what the neighbors said, he was a good boy.

His junior year in high school he made the basketball team and I was so proud of him but it wasn’t long before he was targeted by those callous coaches and other boys who wanted nothing more than to bring him down and when he broke the head coaches’ nose by throwing the basketball in his face, why yes, he could have found a better way to deal with it, but, he was just a child and I hate to say it, but that Coach Melbourne kind of deserved it. And I made sure to try to have that nasty coach fired because, despite what Sammy did to him, he never liked my boy, never treated him right and should have never been allowed around children like my Sammy.

Accepted to the state university, I could not have been more pleased with Sammy and I shed tears when we packed up his truck but I knew it would not be long before those college transients took issue with my baby, they were jealous of him, of his intelligence and style and that little tramp wanted him, she had been making eyes at him for weeks, Sammy told me so and what did she think would happen, allowing him to come over to her dorm for an evening “study date”, give me a break. He is a man and men have needs, even my good boy and she knew that.

And now this. I told Sammy that Carol, that wife of his, would be his downfall. Everyone said that he beat her up for years, lies of course, but even if it were true, Carol was no angel. That woman nagged him so, always wanting him to help with things around the house. He went to work and made the money and she should have been satisfied, but she wasn’t, she wasn’t ever satisfied. He didn’t mean for her to break her neck when she fell down the stairs, Sammy would never do anything like that. And I told the police and I told the judge and I told everyone that he was a good boy but they didn’t listen.

Avery perked as the black curtain opened. She watched quietly as her shackled son was led into the room and strapped to the gurney. It was over now for the boy that the world had shunned and tried to make feel less than human. Avery had made her peace with the fact that her son was too good for this world.

“Goodbye, my good boy.” She whispered as they plunged the needle into his arm.

Jeannicolerivers.com

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