Monday, May 3, 2010

Flash Challenge Day

Today is Patti Abbott's "Sweet Dreams" flash challenge and here's my entry. You will find links to all the stories on Patti's blog Happy Reading!

By Sandra Seamans

Toby Evans plunked down on a bar stool next to one of the regulars. “Hey, man, did you see that? This whole damn place just sprung up out of the ground like a bunch of dandelions. Them folks in Heritage told me the place was haunted, but hey, this is beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

The bartender walked over and set a beer down in front of Toby. “And what would a kid like you know about haunted?”

“Cause I’m a ghost hunter. Toby Evans: Ghost Hunter Extraordinaire. I’ve got the number one show on cable.”

“Never heard of you, Mr. Ghost Hunter,” said the bartender, “But I suppose that will be remedied after tonight. Ain’t that right, Ralston?”

The man next to Toby said, “Yeah, Tink, don’t nobody ever leave The Half Way House.”

“What do you mean, nobody ever leaves?” asked Toby.

“Hey, Tink, you wanna get me beer? This kid wants to hear about Ruby Sullivan and that ain’t something I can talk about completely sober.”

Tink drew Ralston another draft then wiped his way down the bar to serve his other customers.

“Ruby Sullivan? Is she the babe who haunts this place? Them folks in Heritage were pretty tight-lipped about the ghost I’d be hunting. Kind of odd, what with them paying me twice my fee.”

“Hold onto your britches, kid, I’ll tell you. I just gotta get myself in a telling mood. Oh, yeah, and you can put all them ghost hunting gadgets away. I guarantee you this place is full of ghosts tonight. You might even say it’s ghost hell here at The Half Way House.”

“What’s so special about tonight?”

“Its Ruby’s night.”

“Girl’s got her own special night? I suppose some dude promised to marry her and she keeps coming back looking for him. Damn brokenhearted ghosts are a dime a dozen.”

“I wish it were something as simple as a broken heart that keeps bringing her back,” said Ralston, draining his glass and pushing it forward for another refill.

“You know, there are some things in this world that a man should never have to witness. Things burned into his brain that even a wire brush to the eyeballs won’t erase.” Ralston shook his head.

“You’re saying something awful happened to this Ruby?”

“Awful doesn’t come near describing what goes on here. You see, Ruby was more woman than any man in Heritage could handle. I guess that’s probably why they done what they did. How could they know the kind of curse they’d conjure up? Which ain’t no excuse, mind you.”

“What’d they do?”

“They stretched her out on that pool table and took turns. When she tried to press charges, the Sheriff told her whores get what they deserve. She hung herself from that beam up there,” said Ralston, nodding toward a noose that was swinging from the beam above the pool table. “The first year she came back, Tink burned the bar down. It didn’t help.”

“She still comes back?”

“Yup, bar and all.”

“What’s she do when she comes back?”

Ralston watched Tink step out from behind the bar. He walked over to the jukebox, dropped a dime in the slot and pushed a button. The sounds of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” came pouring into the room.

“You feel it, kid?”

“Feel what?”

“That tightening in your crotch. Your pecker pushing hard against the zipper.”

The kid gulped and nodded. They both jumped when the door blew open. Ruby had arrived.

Her red hair and electric blue dress ignited the room with a sexual fire. Every man in the bar tossed back another beer and tried not to look at her seductive figure. But the fire was there and the flames couldn’t be doused with beer or closed eyes.

Her hips swayed to the music as she danced toward the bar, her skirts riding up, showing a milky white thigh.

“How about a lemonade for your darling daughter, Tink?”

Tink picked up a sweaty pitcher and poured her a tall, cool glass of pink lemonade.

“Maybe you’d best go upstairs, girl, away from the customers. You’re not a child anymore.”

“But, Daddy, I’m the reason they come here. Hell, this old bar would be dead if it weren’t for me. Ain’t that what you said?”

Tears welled up in Tink’s eyes, “To my ever-loving shame, that’s what I said, Ruby, darling.”

Ruby spun away from the bar, a smile on her face. She started swaying to the music until every man in the room was feeling an uncomfortable pressure between his legs. She turned towards Toby, and grabbed his hand.

“I’ve got me a real cutey this year. What’s your name, darlin’?”


“Well, T..T..Toby, welcome to The Half Way House. My name’s Ruby and you’re all mine”


“Ummm…you get to climb on me and…well, you know.” She smiled and slid her body up on the pool table, her skirt pulled up around her waist. “Your turn to ride the wild whore, T..T..Toby.”

Toby looked at Ralston, but Ralston just shook his head. “Your decision, boy.”

Toby licked his lips, dropped his jeans and climbed on. He rode her hard and fast, until he glanced toward the bar. The look of horror spreading across Ralston and Tink’s faces made him pause and look down at Ruby. He was riding a pile of milky white maggots. As he tried to push away, they drown him in a wiggling white wave, consuming his flesh until there was nothing left but bones.

“Pour me another, Tink, before we’re drop back into eternity,” said Ralston. “Maybe next year Heritage will send a man with enough balls to stand up to her and we can get free of this place.”

“Don’t matter who they send, you can’t kill the dead. We’re trapped in this hell because I didn’t stop you. And she ain’t never going to forgive her Daddy for that.”


pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, I kept thinking of that Jodie Foster movie. Really nice one, Sandra. You nailed the atmosphere and I like the idea of a ghost hunter.

Keith Rawson said...

The maggot Imagery is going to stick with me for awhile today. Creepy as hell, Sandra.

Fleur Bradley: said...

Loved this! Nasty and creepy--will be thinking of those maggots all day...

Charles Gramlich said...

wicked. What a nasty cool ending. ;)

Conda V. Douglas said...

Ooh, just my type of story--although I read first thing this morning...

Evan Lewis said...

Wow. Wildly imaginative and packs a hell of a punch.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I'm blown away, Sandra! What a powerful story. It's amazing that a red head in a blue dress & "Sweet Dreams," inspired this masterpiece. So well done! Bravo!

Naomi Johnson said...

Whoa! Yes indeedy. Highly original and has that great "ewww" factor.

Cormac Brown said...

Wow, that's one that "Night Gallery" and "Tales From The Crypt" didn't cover. Great horror, though I am throughly skeeved.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Quite a story. I'm glad I don't have to analyze it. With only four components you gave us a novel. That's what it felt like to me. Brava!

sandra seamans said...

Thanks so much, everyone!! And Patti, I flashed on that movie when I read the prompt - couldn't shake it out of my head.

G said...

Gross, nasty and leaves an image burned into my brain for days to come.

I like that.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Fantastic. Really chilling with an edge to it.

Zipper said...

Maggots, yuck! Very creepy. You put me right there in the bar. Great dimension to the characters.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Be careful what you wish for Toby! Maggots. I hate maggots. Great story.

Kassandra said...

I felt that one for sure! Wicked story, delicious read. Thanks!

Loren Eaton said...

You know, I don't think I've ever read a ghost story where the entire setting was a poltergeist. Fascinating idea. Yeah, and the ending -- brrrrr ...

sandra seamans said...

Thanks, everyone! And Loren, I didn't plan on having the bar being a poltergeist. In one version of the story I burned it down so I thought, why not?

David Barber said...

A super story Sandra. Everything that could be said about it had been said above. Great work.