Archive for the ‘Survival’ Category

The multiplication of voices resounding,
Sanity’s drowning in background destroyed.
All words that once rescued from sirens surrounding,
Lost in dark frequencies, death by white noise.

I’m deaf to their footsteps now masked by tone madness,
Legions of audio demons proceed.
My senses betray me, I dance in the darkness,
Sound works in silence, infecting my dreams.

I wake in the false light, subliminal phantoms
Guide me like piper, completely deceived.
To do what they tell me, and think that I fathom
The reason my hands are now red, while you bleed.

My conscience now muted, as well as your screams,
Lost in the background, where I used to be.


“White Noise” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr. All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


It lingers just beyond the lie,
Distorted at the edge of eye.
Where reason fails to hush the dark,
A chill prevails, the fear is sparked.

“There’s nothing here,” such words are frail,
As goosebumps tell a different tale.
Imagination feeds the host,
Of eerie sounds that build a ghost.

And every corner hides a door,
Where shadows slide across the floor.
Footsteps creeping torment ears,
Suggestive horrors drawing near.

Then from the void a restless moan,
As panic screams, “You’re not alone!”
Betrayed by flesh now petrified,
Next day, all whisper, how you died.


“You’re Not Alone” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr. All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


Someone turn a light on,
There’s a darkness in my head.
I’ve been acting strangely
And I always feel half-dead.

I’m sleeping more each evening,
But my dreams fill me with dread.
Someone turn a light on,
For I wake in strangers’ beds.

Someone turn the light off,
For my conscience watched the news.
Another woman murdered,
By her bedside… were my shoes.

I woke today without them
And my clothes were bloody, too.
Someone turn the light off,
Best not know the things I do.


“Someone Turn a Light On” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr. All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


Note: This short horror story is unrelated to Don’t Feed The Dark.


It was a beautiful, crisp Sunday evening; going on Monday in about twenty minutes. I felt like the last man alive as I approached the ATM just outside of Hartman’s grocery store on the corner of Parker and Maple Avenue.

I’ve always been appalled by my lack of self-control. A sudden, overpowering urge for ice cream can always get me half-dressed and out the door searching for something open on a Sunday night. Yeah right, ice cream, that’s what I was getting. Who was I kidding. Certainly not my wife. No one drives to the ATM at midnight to get cash for ice cream, especially on a Sunday. Who uses cash anymore, anyway? Unless, you’re looking to hide all debit card traces highlighting shady purchases from unsuspecting wives at home, of course. Besides, there was nothing open except a couple bars, a gas station with a mini mart, and the adult movie store. Sounds almost respectable, doesn’t it? Adult movie store. I know, I’m pathetic, but the sex at home’s not what it used to be. Let’s move on, shall we.

The empty parking lot was an asphalt desert, dimly lit by three street lamps and low security lighting coming from Hartman’s store front windows. I walked over to the ATM, the light over the display flickering on and off and fighting to stay alive with a defiant buzzing sound. The cash machine was brighter than anything else around and left me feeling slightly ridiculous standing there in my boxers. I also felt very vulnerable and exposed, sensing something unfamiliar in the night. Strange thoughts run through the head when surrounded by silence and shadows.

I put my card in the machine and began to type my numerical code on the panel as some strange hindsight was urging me to make my withdrawal quickly and hurry back to my car.

Mind tricks, so I thought at first when I heard a strange sound coming from the opposite side of my vehicle and out of view. I already looked back once, feeling the fool for doing so and letting the silence get to me. There was no reason to feel afraid. This night was anything but threatening. I’ve been to this ATM hundreds of times on many nights just like this one. (Now that admission was truly pathetic).

Of course, it’s thoughts like these that lead one to complacency and that’s how “it” happens.

You can’t imagine what it feels like until you become the victim. I didn’t know which was more alarming: the feel of the gun barrel pressed into my lower back, or the low monotone voice that spoke too calmly in my right ear.

“Give me the money,” the voice demanded, pressing the gun barrel further into my back. I could swear there was absolutely no emotion in that voice.

I’ve heard amazing boasts from people claiming to have been mugged. They all make it sound somehow brave in how they handled the situation, regardless of losing their wallets. As if the exaggerations in the telling helped them save face. Others have claimed they turned the tables on their would-be assailants, and either scared them off or simply got away. I realize now that every one of them were full of shit. I was scared out of my mind. No bravado, no heroics. I froze.

“Give me the money,” the cold voice repeated. Perhaps he was more familiar with the routine than I and expected my sluggish response. He was incredibly patient with me, the amateur victim.

I then found my line, “I’ll give you anything you want, just don’t shoot me, okay?” I immediately expected to hear a gun shot, or perhaps the butt end of the gun striking the back of my head. I became aware of a sudden dampness in my boxers. That’s right, I pissed myself. That’s what being a “victim” really means. No heroics here, unless needing a diaper was considered brave in another part of the universe. I felt faint with fear and then the voice brought me back.

“Give me the money, now.”

I found myself staring blankly at the ATM screen. I still hadn’t made my withdrawal selection. This mugger knew what he was doing. He couldn’t have timed this any better. All I needed to do was type in whatever amount he wanted. Dear God, how much did he want?

“Anything you say, Buddy… just tell me how much?” I managed to get out. (Did I really just call him, Buddy?)

The pause in his response was worse than anything I have ever gone through my entire life. It seemed like an eternity before the mugger finally answered me. “Give me twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents,” he answered, and said no more.

“Say again?” I almost made a foolish mistake right then, turning to look at the mugger, but caught myself in time. I’d seen enough movies to know that if I didn’t see his face, my chances of being released would improve. He would know that I couldn’t identify him. Good God, I couldn’t believe I was actually relying on fucking late night crime flicks to get me out of this situation.

“Twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents,” the mugger repeated with emphasis. For the first time I could hear a slight agitation in his voice.

I was puzzled by his peculiar request, but thankful that I wasn’t dead yet, so I overlooked it. “Sure thing, I’ll just pull out forty dollars and you can have it all, no problem… more if you want… whatever you want.” I was a blubbering idiot now. What next, tears?

“NO!” he barked.

I nearly threw up.

The mugger shoved the gun barrel into my back more sharply than before. I heard him making strange noises with his breathing. He sounded like a man on the verge of snapping. I then knew anything could go wrong.

However, as fast as the mugger’s temper flared, he returned just as quickly to that emotionless, cold voice and reclaimed himself.

“Let me make this crystal clear,” the mugger began. “I did not tell you to give me forty dollars. If I wanted forty dollars I would have said, ‘forty dollars’. I told you what I want now give me what I asked for. Do you understand me yet?”

For the first time, I didn’t think there would be a way out of this. This man was obviously fucking crazy.

“Do you understand yet?” the mugger repeated, the agitation in his voice returning much quicker this time.

“Yes, I understand… twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents… anything you want.” I was frantic now. Before realizing what I was doing, I began typing in that exact amount on the number pad. A message soon appeared telling me that I could not withdrawal that amount. It had to be in multiples of twenty! What the fuck was I going to do now? He almost shot me at forty dollars, how was I going to get away with pulling out a twenty!

Your wallet! Check your wallet! The thought came and I prayed that there was still some bills left in there.

I looked in my wallet and saw five one dollar bills. I might make it out of this one after all.

I withdrew a twenty, combined it with the five singles, and held it up in my trembling hands without looking back. “Here you go… take it… please, just take it and I’m sorry for the mix up.”

I felt a gloved hand reach into mine and take the bills.

Suddenly, I was on the ground, my face hitting the asphalt hard. The mugger had a hand around the back of my neck, and one knee inflicting pain in the small of my back. I could feel him shaking with anger as he spoke. “YOU FUCKING LIE! YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!”

I didn’t know what else to do, I closed my eyes and began to weep. That’s right, I cried. But pathetic is still better than dead. Somehow I got out, “What did I do wrong? Is it not enough? Do you want-”

“WHAT DID I SAY?” he interrupted.

I was bordering complete shutdown. I just didn’t understand his language and no one ever taught me how to speak ‘Crazy’.

I felt the gun barrel at the back of my head as he demanded, “WHAT DID I TELL YOU TO GIVE ME? TELL ME RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW! NOW! NOW!”

I waited for the sound that would end this nightmare, but it just would not come. I blurted out, “Twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents!”

And just like that, the mugger eased up. He removed the gun from my head and I could feel him lifting the pressure off my neck and back. Again, with the calm voice of a true killer, he said, “Very good. Now one more time, will you give me what I want? Do you understand yet?”

I had a revelation from the land of insanity. For whatever reason, this man wanted exactly twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents. Not forty, not twenty-five. I could have given him a million dollars and he still would have shot me.

I whispered, “Yes, I understand now.”

“Good,” the mugger said, and just like that I was back on my feet and standing once more before the hellish ATM. I could see my ghastly reflection in that little blue square and a masked individual looming behind me. I looked terrible and wished I could hide within that square until this psycho was long gone.

The mugger even had the courtesy of reaching around and placing my failed monetary offering back on the flat portion of the cash machine. I immediately placed the bills back in my wallet, feeling absurd for doing so. What was I supposed to say? Thank you?

I opted to remain silent, understanding very clearly that I only had one chance left; two strikes against me and there wouldn’t be a third. My remaining hope now rested on the small change compartment in my vehicle. If I was one penny shy of ninety-five fucking cents, I was a dead man.

“Sir,” I said, “I’ll need to go to my vehicle to get the exact change you want. Is that alright?”

There was a pause as the mugger considered my request. He then replied, “Yes, that’s acceptable.” Soon he had me walking back toward my car, the gun still pressed against my back.

As we approached my little, tan Corolla, I watched it transform into something foreign in my mind. My car was now a coffin with wheels. I had to shake these grim thoughts and try to become a survivor. Somehow.

The mugger was no fool. He led me very deliberately to the passenger side of my car, not allowing me easy access to simply get in and drive away. Even if he didn’t, my hands were shaking too much to ever get the key in the ignition.

I opened the door and went to the center compartment between the seats and began to count the change… fifty-five cents… sixty… seventy… (now would be a horrible time to fail math) eighty… ninety… ninety-five cents.

There was a God after all!

Once again, without looking back, never looking back, I combined my new, crisp twenty dollar bill from the cash machine with four singles from my wallet and added in the change. I reached behind and submitted my offering to the mugger. “Here you go, twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents, exactly what you wanted.”

Again, a gloved hand reached for mine, the hand of death or the hand of chance, I did not know yet.

I was still half-in, half-out of my Corolla when I heard that cold voice say, “Thank you.” Nothing
more. I no longer felt the barrel of that gun at my back.

Several minutes passed and the mugger said nothing. I was actually starting to believe that if I turned around, he would simply be gone.

Was that it? Did I pass the fucking test?

I achieved enough boldness to back out of the car and stand up. My legs felt like Jell-O beneath me.

Do I dare look behind?

Glancing across the top of my car and into the asphalt lot, a stray cat started in my direction. Something about that cat seemed to help my fear drift. Perhaps this small creature represented the return of something, anything, resembling my former normal life. As odd as this was, I took comfort in that cat as it came closer.

When it stopped in the middle of the lot, the cat began cleaning itself, then stopped as it noticed me for the first time.

“I’ll never do it again, I promise. No more porn, no more bad living, no more fucking ATM’s.” My confession to the cat continued, understanding that it wasn’t the cat I was speaking to at all.

Several more minutes of silence followed and I took a deep breath. Watching that cat, I asked it in a whisper as if it were a prophet from God, “Is it over then?”

In response, the prophetic cat looked beyond me and hissed.

I felt something heavy strike the back of my head and my world went black.


Several days later, the officer who discovered the abandoned tan Toyota Corolla in an unpopulated wooded area, would remember the blood in the trunk more than anything else. He would have nightmares about that trunk, wondering how so much blood could come from a single human body.

There was no body found, of course. Just a bloody trunk with some odds and ends typical of what one may expect to find in a trunk, along with a receipt from Wal-Mart for a large shovel, a painter’s tarp, some rope, and a gas can all purchased two days prior for exactly twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents.


“ATM” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr. All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


“The Blood” Copyright © 2010 John Ecko. All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


“For the Love of All the Pieces” Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


“The Cure” Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night


Note: This short horror story is unrelated to Don’t Feed The Dark.


Nature’s psychopath raised its voice, letting loose another chorus of thunder, promising terror and destruction with each boisterous note, while slashing at the sky with bolts of razor-sharp light.

Jonathan Sanders, age ten, retreated into the cavern of blankets, as the madman roared by.  The murdered moon offered no comfort; its corpse allowing shifting shadows to linger in the unfamiliar darkness consuming his bedroom.  Jonathan was well aware of what to expect–the man in the closet loved to visit him on nights such as these.

Was that a scratching sound at the closet door?

And so the ritual resumed:  “Mom!  Dad!” As if their names were verbal talismans keeping the monster in check, he called out again.  “Mom!  Dad!  Come in here, quick.”

Footsteps from down the hall. Would they make it this time?

Lightning flashed.  The eyes of his Buzz Lightyear action figure shifted his direction; the coat on the chair grew taller, closer; objects scattered on the floor had moved since the last flash; the doorknob on the closet door–turning ever so slightly–was the only time he trusted his eyes.  Imagination was a liar in the dark.  Jonathan knew this as surely as he knew that the man in the closet was real.

The air felt heavy, oppressive.  Shadows congregated around his bed like vultures predicting their next meal, like pedestrians at the scene of a crime that hasn’t happened yet.

Like a dreadful pause before a predator struck, the silence was unnerving and amplified the guttural, inhuman demand that came from the closet:

Johnny come.  Open door.

He couldn’t tell if the man spoke from the closet or was whispering in his head.  Either way, it always sounded close. 


The bedroom door swung open.  Light from the hallway chased off the shadows as his father filled the doorway, the annoyance on his face evident.  “What is it, Son?  The storm?”

No answer.

His father’s shoulders sagged.  “Oh, him again.”

Jonathan nodded.  He’d hoped his mother would follow.  Not tonight.  It was the unbeliever’s turn to placate his son’s fears.  And that was always dangerous.

His mother never concerned herself with the man in the closet.  She understood, in a way only mothers do, how to fight monsters, or at least, how to starve them.  She would come and sing songs, tell stories, make him laugh; and like a magician, she somehow made the fear disappear.  And without the fear, the man in the closet could not stay.

His father played with fire, often challenging the man by threatening to open the closet door.  If his father chose that route again, Jonathan would have to talk him out of it.

“Ok, Johnny, let’s settle this once and for all, okay?”

Oh, that didn’t sound good at all.

“Let’s start with the bed.”  His father bent down to examine the one-foot space beneath the bed.

That was silly.  What monster could fit under there?  Maybe a small one, at best, and nothing to be concerned about.

“Nope.  Nothing under here.”

The lights.  Why does he always forget to turn on the lights?

His father walked the perimeter of the small room, yawning while rubbing sleep from his eyes.

I wonder how much he didn’t see on his “sleepy” patrol.

“Okay, all’s clear.  Just one more place to check.”  His father always ended up at the closet last.  This would seem cruel if Jonathan thought it was deliberate.  Dramatic, maybe, but not deliberate.  His father moved toward the door.

“Don’t do it, Dad,” Jonathan warned.

Even with his back turned, his father’s heavy sigh spoke volumes.  “Come on, Johnny.  There’s nothing in there.  Let me show you and-”

“If there’s nothing in there, then that’s great.  But what’s opening that closet going to prove if you’re wrong?”

“What a strange question, Son.  Isn’t the answer obvious?”


“If the closet’s empty and you see that it’s empty, then you’ll know there’s nothing to fear.”

“You said ‘if’.”

His father’s impatience was growing.  “I didn’t mean ‘if’.  ‘When’, Son, that’s what I meant.  Your old dad’s just tired.”

Tired of dealing with his chicken son’s irrational fears.

“It’s still an unnecessary risk,” Jonathan said.

“What the heck are you talking about?”

“If the closet’s empty, than we’re fine.  But if it’s not-”

“If it’s not then your old man’s gonna kick some Boogeyman butt!”

Jonathan gasped.  “Don’t say that!  Don’t ever call him that.  It makes him stronger. Makes him more… monster-like.  He’s just the man in the closet.”

“Son, you’re being silly.  I’m gonna show you how silly, right now.”  His father reached for the door knob.

“He’s way bigger than you, Dad.  So don’t open that door!”

“Keep your voice down!  What’s the matter with you?”

Jonathan couldn’t stop.  “You’re the matter with me.  I call you in to help and you want to let the man out.  How does that make any sense?”

“Son, there’s nothing in there.”

“Then leave nothing alone.”

“Don’t get smart.”

“Then stop being stupid.”

“What did you just say to me?”

“Dad, you want to fight the man, but your tactics suck.  He’s big, powerful, scary-as-hell, and you’re wearing striped pajamas.  Who would you bet on?”

His father looked down at himself and laughed.  “Well, your mom thinks I look pretty scary in these.”

Jonathan giggled.  “That’s the way, Dad.  That’s how you make him go.”

His father sighed again.  “Come on, Johnny, enough is enough.”

Nuts, we almost got out of that one.  Think fast.  “You say the closet’s empty.  How do you know?”


“Prove it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do, Son.  Just let me open the door and you’ll have all the proof needed.”

“No, that’s not a good idea.  Proof is what you show to convince me that he’s not there.  Opening the closet just proves that either you or me is right.  And I know I’m right.”

“You’re letting your fears get the best of you.”

“What if I told you there was a burglar in the house?  Would you go chasing after him or call the police?”

“Well, I would call the police, of course.”

“So I tell you there’s something worse than a burglar in the closet and you want to let him out.  How does that make sense?”

“Okay, Johnny, prove to me then, that your man is in the closet.  Have you seen him?”

Johnny paused.  “No.”

“So he hasn’t stormed out of this closet and say… tried to eat you, or anything like that?”

“That’s not funny, Dad.”

“Come on, Son.  I’m just trying to get you to see how silly this all is.”

Jonathan paused again, his face growing pale.  “Death.  He looks like death.”

His father stared at him for a long moment.  “So, you think that Death is behind this door?”


“How would you know what Death looks like if you haven’t seen it?”

“I don’t.  That’s what he told me.”

“The man in the closet speaks to you?”


“Johnny, how can you possibly expect me to believe that?”

Jonathan’s eyes lit up.  “I can prove it.”

His father folded his arms.  “Can you now?  Well, please go ahead and tell me.  I’m all ears.”

“He told me about you and Uncle Jim.”

“Okay, explain?”

“He told me that he remembers you; he remembers the game you and Uncle Jim used to play to scare each other when you were both my age.”

Jonathan’s father remained silent.

“He said that you and Uncle Jim would dare each other to go and open the closet door and call his name when you both did something bad.  But neither of you ever opened the door.  You were both too scared.  The man was always disappointed that you didn’t.  He said he would’ve swallowed both of you up if you had because you tortured Mrs. Henderson’s cat and tossed it in a garbage can and lit fireworks-”

“Johnny, you’re beginning to scare me a little.  Who’s been telling you stories.  Your mom?”

“He also said he tried to get you and Uncle Jim years later when you were at some party.  Said that after you got some girl drunk and had sex with her, he was right there with you both.  Waiting in the dark.  Said he took the girl instead.”

“Johnny, that’s enough!” His father was visibly disturbed.  He and his brother Jim had never told anyone that story.  To this day, the whereabouts of the girl, Samantha Jones, are still unknown.  It was believed she left the party drunk, tried to hitch a ride home and someone picked her up.  His brother swore him to secrecy about that night and said the cops would blame them for her disappearance if they knew what they’d done to her while she slept.

“Johnny, I’m very tired,” his father nearly whispered. “I’m going to open this door now and put an end to all this nonsense.”

“Dad, don’t!  I’m not strong enough.  Let’s just go to your room tonight.  I promise I’ll go right to sleep.  After the storm’s over, the man will just leave.  He always does.”

“Son, you’re getting far too old to be afraid of the Boogeyman.”


“Oh, stop it!” his father shouted.  “I said it:  Boogeyman, Boogeyman, Boogeyman!  So there!”

“You don’t know what you’ve done!  I’m not strong enough anymore, Dad.”

“Strong enough for what?  To look into an empty closet and get over your irrational fears?  Enough talk.”  His father reached for the door knob, surprised at seeing his own hand shaking, and opened the closet door.

“No, Dad!  You don’t understand. It doesn’t want me… I’m not strong enough to protect you anymore!”

Jonathan’s father looked back from the mouth of the open closet, stared into the face of his son, and saw the truth at last.  Johnny’s terror-filled eyes staring beyond him and into the darkness was all the proof he needed to realize his tragic mistake.

Something groaned from behind him.  Johnny’s father turned slowly, returning instantly to his youth, as a presence within the closet reminded him of every bad thing he’d ever done–reminded him instantly that he had been there, watching, waiting, and now finally, the man in the closet welcomed him home.


Several hours passed before the police finally departed.  There was still no trace of Jonathan’s father who’d apparently fled the house after scaring the daylights out of his son.  Possible abuse was suspected but quickly ruled out upon examination of the boy.

Jonathan hadn’t spoken a word since his mother found him screaming at the foot of his closet door.  The paramedics had to sedate him in route to the hospital.

To make matters worse, another missing persons report flagged red in the police database matching Mr. Sanders’ name.   An hour earlier, prior to Jonathan’s father disappearing, James Sanders, Jonathan’s uncle, had also mysteriously vanished in the dead of night from three states away.


“Boogeyman”  Copyright © 2012 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night



Hello Everyone,

Just a quick update from behind the scenes.

I’m slowly working on the first chapter for DFTD Book 5 (currently untitled), while enjoying some much needed rest. I’m also planning on editing Book 4 over the summer, time permitting.

If you haven’t found out already, I’ve removed the “Updates” tab on the top of the main page and replaced it with the “Other Short Works” tab. This will now be the place where I post links to additional short stories I’ve written that aren’t DFTD related, as well as some dark poetry, etc., that I will update as I post more material.

Also, the newest episode of After The Dark is now available, titled: The Killer Cut (Part One). This is part one of a two part episode featuring our latest special guest, Marcus Dempsey (a.k.a. Russell Bower). I’ll be posting the second part of this intriguing interview as soon as it becomes available.

In case you missed it on the main sticky page, a special thanks goes out to author, Michael Fitzgerald (Rev. Fitz), for featuring Don’t Feed The Dark on his, 31 Days of First Impressions Challenge, which he has now completed. I encourage you all to come on over to Michael’s website and read all about it. Also, Michael is currently writing a fascinating serial novel, titled, Existential Terror and Breakfast. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and it’s definitely worth a read.

Lastly, the latest update link, as well as any additional news, will be posted on the bottom of the sticky post on the main page from now on.

That’s all for now. I’ll check back in a little later.



Note: This short horror story is unrelated to Don’t Feed The Dark.


The 2002 SL1 Saturn wasn’t pretty, but with just under a hundred thousand miles, a minor crack along the bottom of the windshield, and some minor rust beneath, she was a steal for $1500.  Frank Hamilton could care less about appearances.  With a two hour drive to and from work each day, he needed reliability and a way to save on outrageous gas prices that drained his paychecks.

“Now if I could just trade that bitch in for a junker, I’d be set,” Frank confessed out loud, bemused at the differences between his new-used car and his old, nagging wife, Mary.  Appearances certainly weren’t everything. Fifteen years in a run-down marriage had taught him that much.  Reliability?  Only when it came time for her to remind him again what an asshole he was for choosing a job half-a-state away and with long twelve hour shifts.  Paycheck Drainage?  When Mary was unhappy she spent money. Check that block for sure.

As Frank began his long drive home along Interstate 90, he continued to ponder on the depreciating value of his tired marriage, as well as many other exhausted 2am thoughts.  “Well, at least I have you to depend on, my ancient friend,” he reassured the car.

The Saturn hummed its steady appreciation.

It’s funny what happens when we turn that ignition key and embark with our four-wheeled partners of the road. There’s a sense of unspoken trust between man and machine as both become “one” on those long missions called, The Drive Home.  Sometimes, it is our confessional, as we bear all within the confines of manufactured parts; our mobile sanctuary.  At other times, they become fellow collaborators in our need to temporarily dump emotions through fits of rebellion, performing acts of law-breaking speed with just one foot to the gas pedal, or rolling that window down to yell obscenities to passing drivers we will never see again.  There’s an illusion of power behind that steering wheel, and a taste of momentary freedom before returning to the doldrums of our tired routines.   If you doubt this “oneness” I speak of, consider how many times you’ve driven home, dead-tired, arrived in your driveway, and have had no recollection how you got there.  Is this “automatic” mode, or is it really a kind of “auto-magic”?

Frank fell under the spell of such magic as time slipped into oblivion, his favorite rock station blaring the sounds of Led Zeppelin.  For a moment, he was Robert Plant, singing loudly, boldly and proudly the worst rendition of Black Dog imaginable.  But within the car, both stage and audience, he was a legendary rock god.  Auto-magic!

Thirty minutes later, Frank’s blight on vocal stardom came to a crashing halt as the caffeine betrayed him.  The rocks above his eyes began to fall, his vision slipping in and out of focus.  Frank rolled down his window to let the cool night air stimulate his senses, but the hypnotic blur of yellow dashes on dull, unchanging highway continued to lull him to sleep.  The music only distracted from his concentration as did staring out into the meaningless void of shadowed scenery reserved for daylight use.

Frank looked down at the odometer: 99,989.  His new-used Saturn would become a senior citizen in just eleven short miles.  He tried to keep himself busy by counting down the mileage.  Unfortunately, the demon of fatigue had other plans as Frank fell asleep before the next mile and…


…jerked his head up violently as the bright afternoon assaulted him through the windshield.  “Shit!” He was almost convinced he’d driven off the planet and into the sun as he quickly lowered his visor and slammed on the breaks.  He nearly lost control of the Saturn before coming to a screeching stop, sliding sideways in the center of a two-lane road surrounded by farmland.

A nearby cow behind an old wooden fence turned to look at the strange man, dismissed him, then continued to chew on the grass.

“I’m dreaming,” he declared to the cow.  Frank looked at the illuminated liar on his dashboard.   It continued to defy all reason:  3:15 pm.

“No way in hell is that right.”  But the sunny afternoon supported the lie.

“Think, Frank, think.  There’s a reasonable explanation for this.”  But no matter how hard he tried, Frank could not remember anything beyond falling asleep at the wheel shortly after his Zeppelin concert last night.

“Someone drove me here after I fell asleep.”  He wanted desperately to believe this, but it didn’t explain how he woke up driving, alone, in his car.  Frank could not commit to the fact that somehow, he’d fallen asleep last night around 2:30 am and managed to continue driving unconscious for nearly twelve hours.

Besides, he was no longer on Interstate 90.  Frank had no idea where here was, or if he was even in the same state.  Nothing looked familiar.

“Okay, think back to last night, Frank.  Retrace your steps.  Maybe you just don’t remember the drive, as strange as that sounds.  Maybe you’re suffering a delusion brought on by sleep deprivation.  Maybe-”

Maybe you’ve gone fucking nuts.

As Frank tried to reclaim a thread of sanity, he happened to notice the windshield.  The crack that ran along the base was gone.  He ran his hand along the glass, his eyes needing confirmation from another sense.  It was definitely gone.  He noticed other irregularities as well.  The car smelled different.


Yes, that’s what it was.  The Saturn reeked of bleach.  Also there was an industrial-sized roll of plastic wrap lying on the passenger side floor. Also, a red and white cooler, not his, rested on the seat beside him and-

“Oh, shit… no way!”

Frank stared in shock at the odometer: 55,682.

That’s not right.  None of this is fucking right.  

“I’ve got to get out of here,” he decided, not willing to consider this madness any longer.

He needed to regain his bearings; find out where he was for starters, then, try to piece together the missing fragments between last night and now.  He started the Saturn and turned the car around, hoping to back track along his route and stir up any memories.

“Just keep driving, Frank, until you find a gas station, restaurant–anywhere with people–and find out where you are.”  It felt good to have a logical course of action even if trapped inside an automotive madhouse.  Frank continued to take sideway glances at the cooler, unwilling to stare at it too long and acknowledge its existence.  But he couldn’t help noticing another detail.  A blood-smeared handle continued to draw his attention.

“Not my fucking car!”  The admission, sounding like a defense, finally made his situation real.  “I’m just going to find somewhere to ditch this thing and get home.”

Get as far away from this car as I can before…

Like a well-timed portent of impending doom, Frank heard the police sirens from behind him.  He checked the speedometer:  70 miles per hour.  Shit!  He immediately slowed down, pulling over into the shoulder lane, hoping the state police cruiser simply needed the right of way.  No such luck, the cruiser pulled in behind him.

“Fuck!” Frank shouted.  “This can’t be happening.  Not now.”

He suddenly wished he were Dorothy and could tap his muddy work boots together and magically return to Kansas, or at the very least, back to last night when he was still just a sane man driving home from a long day of work.

But now, he was here, in this car, and by the looks of things… that wasn’t good.

Frank, there’s fucking blood on the lunchbox!  his mind screamed.

A tall state trooper wearing sunglasses began to approach the car.

“Shit!” Frank reached over with shaking hands and knocked the lunch box off the seat.  The lid fell open as something with blood-matted hair rolled half-way out the top and took a peek at him with dead eyes.

Frank jerked back violently, reaching for the door handle and trying not to vomit.

“Problem, Sir?”  the state trooper asked, looking down through the window at a safe distance.  His hand rested uneasy along the top of his gun holster.

Frank looked desperately at the officer, using his hands to gesture something he hoped was universal sign language for, “I’ve gotta vomit…now!”

The officer seemed to catch the hint as he backed away while moving to the left, allowing Frank to open the car door and unload.

“Better?” the trooper asked.

Frank waved dismissively and tried to smile.  “Thanks,” he managed to say when some of the blood returned to his face.

“Have you been drinking today, Sir?”

The question seemed to come at him from a million miles away.  Frank needed out of that car before he lost it completely.  He began to get out.

“Now, hold it!”  the trooper barked.  “I need you to stay right where you are.”

Frank heard what he believed was the sound of the trooper’s gun being drawn.  He didn’t care.  Nothing was worse than returning to that hellish car.  Frank managed to get half-way out as the trooper helped him to the ground.  Next thing he knew, Frank’s hands were behind his back, the sound of clicking hand cuffs registering before he realized he couldn’t move his arms.

“Now, just stay where you are.  Keep your head facing away from me, you hear?  I’m going to check your vehicle for anything unsafe.  Is there anything you’d like to tell me, before I start?”

“Not my car!” Frank spat through tears.  Overwhelmed, he began to laugh hysterically.  “Watch out for that head in the lunchbox… scared me shitless…”

“What was that?”

Frank continued to laugh.  “The rest of… whoever that is… probably in the damn trunk.  I haven’t checked yet.”

The officer retrieved his portable radio and was calling for assistance.  Frank heard the trunk pop open.

The dispatcher came back over the radio.  Frank made out bits and pieces, “…Warrant for arrest… car matching description… considered armed and dangerous… registered to Scott Warren, wanted for suspected homicide…”

“Well, there you have it, Officer,” Frank said.  “There’s your man!  It’s his fucking car, not mine!  Not mine!”

“Oh, dear Jesus!” the officer said after a squeaky hood was raised.  “What the fuck have you done?”

“What is it?  What’s back there?”  Frank had to know.

The officer was over him in an instant, his knee pressed firmly into his back while he began to search his pockets.  “You have the right to remain silent…” His voice sounded strained.

“What’s back there?” Frank whispered. 

“You know damn well what’s back there,” the officer hissed.  “They’re all cut to shreds.  How the hell could you… looks like you butchered four people… and one’s just a child, a fucking child!”  The knee dug into his back.

“It wasn’t me!”  Frank cried.  “I’m telling you, I did nothing wrong!” 

“Tell it to your executioner, Asshole!”

Frank turned his head to look into the officer’s face.  “It’s not even my car!  It’s his!  My name’s Frank, not Scott!  Just check my damn I.D.”

In the reflection of the state trooper’s sunglasses, Frank caught a glimpse of himself, or rather, a glimpse of Scott Warren.

“No!  No!  No!”

“Shut up, killer!  I’ll break your arm if you don’t stop moving!  Damned if I don’t.”

Frank continued to protest as the sounds of multiple approaching sirens drowned him out…


…He bolted upright as the Saturn struck a guard rail creating fireworks outside his window.

“Shit!” he yelled, turning sharply to the right.  The Saturn fishtailed as he slowly regained control.  The night air mixed with adrenaline woke him up in a hurry.

“What the hell?” he asked the night.

The night had no response.

The radio was blaring what sounded like the end of a Led Zeppelin concert.  He hated that Rock crap.  He noticed the crack along the windshield.

“When did I do that?”

He checked to see if the lunchbox was alright.  It was gone.

“Not again,” he whispered.

The illuminated odometer caught his attention and made him laugh: 99,989.

He tried to remember how he got here.  Everything was a blur… again.  He took a quick glance at himself in the rearview mirror and gasped. Blue eyes this time?

What he wasn’t surprised about was that he knew where he was going.  He knew who was waiting for him when he got there, too.

“Mary?” he asked the night.  Yes, that felt right.  That would have to be enough for now.  Maybe she would have answers. He honestly didn’t believe she would know anything… none of them ever did. He would enjoy the interrogation regardless.  

He turned off the radio. He was not a man who bothered himself with trivial things.  He was a man of strange purpose and was often dictated by stranger compulsions.  As bizarre as these situations he found himself in, he always dismissed them and focused on each new opportunity. He gently caressed his Saturn’s steering wheel and laughed at an old inside joke shared between man and machine:

You’ve always been the perfect get-a-way vehicle.

“Mary,” he repeated again as he drove automatically toward the Hamilton house.  Scott Warren was smiling like the devil.


“Previous Owner”  Copyright © 2012, 2017 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night