Horror Funny

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The house slept whilst the other abodes awoke for the day.

Stuart Weste squinted at the home, one hand resting on the rusty iron gate. He tried and failed to shake the feeling that the house was watching him with half-lidded eyes. ‘All right,’ he said to himself. His voice shook more than he’d ever admit. ‘Let’s do this.’

The closed curtain of one of the upstairs windows flickered only for the briefest of moments.

His breath caught in his throat. There was somebody home. Well, of course, there was. Otherwise, this would have been a pointless endeavour. But Stuart had expected it – them? – to be asleep. It could be they were getting ready to go to bed. It made sense if what people said about these types was true. But what he couldn’t do was stand on the pavement outside the house for too long because he ought to be on his way to school. If somebody collared him, they’d make him attend, and he’d have to leave this mission behind. And, if he didn’t do this today, he might never find the nerve to do it again. Stuart pushed the gate open, which squalled on its hinges, and approached the house.

The house remained motionless. Overhead, a bird flew past. Nearby, some younger kids yelled and laughed with high-pitched voices. A car’s engine rumbled one street over. A light breeze stirred the overgrown grass of the front garden.

His heart thudded, low and slow. All moisture seemed to have left his mouth and moved to the palms of his hands. One photo, Stuart told himself – one photo. Get in, get out. Post about it online and become an internet celebrity. A few steps later, the riches would come flooding in. There were a few question marks between, but he figured the pieces would slot together when the time came. People would want to know about what he had uncovered. Stuart reached for the door handle.

There was a flicker of movement behind the door’s glass pane as the curtain pulled to the side.

Stuart gasped. What was a vampire doing leaving the house during the day? He threw himself to the side and pressed up against the wall behind the door, flattening himself.

The door swung open, and a middle-aged woman in jeans and a t-shirt emerged. She dragged several stuffed bin bags to the curb, where the other bins awaited collection. One of them dribbled tiny droplets of a rusty brown liquid. The woman grunted as she carried them along, a light sweat on her brow. She’d pulled her hair back in an oily ponytail and wore yellow gloves that went up to the elbows. She didn’t check behind her in her struggles with the overfilled bags.

Stuart’s heart throbbed behind his Adam’s apple. It was a human, a familiar. He hadn’t thought about that. Of course, it made sense. Vampires needed a non-vampire to watch over them as they slept during the day. Otherwise, people could break in, find them – much as Stuart was trying to do right now – and stake them as they dreamt. He ducked into the house through the open door before the familiar returned.

Inside, the musty air closed in on him. Motes of dust drifted through beams of light. It was a typical house in an average neighbourhood, except for a few key details. Heavy curtains covered every daylight source, so only a few cracks broke through. Even the front door had a curtain – now pulled aside – to block the sun. And on the wooden floorboards, red drag marks delineated the way from the open basement door. Cold, dank air whispered from that black doorway, carrying the stink of rot and decay.

Stuart checked that the familiar was still busy with the bins and then slipped into the basement. He flicked his phone’s torch on and lit the way so he didn’t trip and break his neck on the steps.

The stairs creaked under his weight.

Feeling like a character in a cartoon, he adopted an exaggerated creeping motion.

The further he descended, the more the light dimmed, except for the slice of light afforded by Stuart’s phone. And the further he descended, the bigger the red puddles became. The red looked black in the gloom.

His stomach knotted. Stuart was sure he knew what that crimson liquid was. If he weren’t careful, the stuff in his veins would soon add to that volume. ‘Easy does it,’ he whispered, tongue stuck to the corner of his mouth.

Down on the basement floor, bits of gore lay strewn. Between the blood, guts, and – was that a foot? – other bits were cleaning supplies: an axe, a saw, a mop, a broom, and a roll of bin bags.

Stuart whimpered, and his gorge rose. The woman looked like an ordinary woman – a person his mum would have jogged with. But he now knew different. He ought to get his prized photo and then get the hell out of here before he became a midnight snack. After all, he was but walking meat in the vampire’s eyes. He panned his phone’s light around the human abattoir and found what he’d come here to see.

The coffin sat upon a catafalque covered with black velvet. Around the edges, carvings of some lost language spiralled away in confusing directions. Between the dead words were horrific pictographs – skulls, blood, teeth, rats, bats, victims—

Stuart fought to hold on to his breakfast. Get the picture, get out – that was a good plan. He stepped through the gore, approached the coffin, and ran his fingers along the edge.

Nothing stirred. Even the motes of dust had ceased to fall. The cold snaked up from the concrete floor and into Stuart’s legs like creeping vines. When he breathed, a cloud of vapour escaped his mouth.

His bowels and bladder wanted, more than anything, to let go. Stuart fought every fibre of his being, which screamed at him to stop this madness. Turn and run away, and do so screaming. Instead, he lifted the coffin’s lid – heavier than it looked, and it looked heavy – and shined his light inside.

Upon a bed of red satin lay a man with skin whiter than fresh-fallen snow. The only colour on his face belonged to his lips, which were full, red, and somewhat delicate. Two fangs protruded over his bottom lip. His lush black hair swept back from his head in a style that had gone out of fashion over a hundred years ago. His hands lay across his breast, with fingernails almost as long as Stuart’s fingers. Several rings and rubies sparkled on his knuckles. The creature wore a fine, if out-of-date, suit.

He tried not to be too disappointed that the vampire wasn’t wearing a cape. The creature fit the stereotypical bill in almost every other way. Stuart turned his phone around because he needed the flash, and his front camera didn’t have one. He pulled his trademark TM selfie grin despite never feeling less like smiling in his life. Unable to see the screen, Stuart clicked the volume button several times. He took many pictures from a couple of different angles.

Overhead, footsteps clomped down the stairs.

Adrenaline surged into his veins. Stuart pocketed his phone – containing his millions-making evidence – and brought down the lid. It thumped when he let it close the last centimetre, so he didn’t catch his fingers. He ducked behind the catafalque and peered around the side, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dark.

The familiar entered the basement, tired and done for the day, even though it wasn’t yet nine o’clock. She stood there for a second, turning to survey the gore and the gloom.

Stuart trembled. Had she made him? Ought he come out with his hands up and admit his mistake? She might let him go for his honesty. But deep down, Stuart knew that was a lie.

The woman bent, sweeping more guts into a fresh black bin bag. She repeated this process thrice until she had four bags stuffed with bits of person. Then, she groaned and trudged back up the stairs again.

He sighed, the tension bleeding out from his body. The life of a familiar looked hard. Was eternal life worth being lower than used chewing gum for a few years? Stuart didn’t know. He counted to ten, then followed her up the stairs, creeping like the criminal he was.

Upstairs, the familiar was again fighting with the bags and bins. A trail of something that wasn’t red wine traced the woman’s many journeys to the curbside.

Stuart took his opportunity with her back turned and broke free from the house. At first, he crept so as not to disturb the woman’s peripheral vision. Once a good enough distance away, he glanced over his shoulder – she was still doing the bins – and broke out into a run.

The clean air rushed past him. Somewhere, the children screamed and laughed once more. A car passed him and slowed down. ‘Better get your skates on, mate! You’re gonna need to run faster than that to not be late for school!’

Stuart couldn’t stop grinning. He realized he’d figured life out. It took some people decades to do so, but he’d managed before he’d even hit sixteen.

If you had courage and tenacity, you could do anything.

He slowed to a walk and checked his phone, sure that hours had passed and he’d missed most of the day. His eyebrows rose when he saw that only seven minutes had elapsed – if he hurried, he’d only be a bit late for school. Stuart unlocked his phone and tapped on the camera app. His jaw dropped.

A picture of Stuart pulling his trademark TM selfie grin was on the screen. Next to him was the vampire’s coffin, lined with red satin. But inside the coffin, there lay nobody. It was empty.

He swiped to the next photo. And the next. And the next. And the next ten.

Empty, empty, empty.

Stuart frowned. He’d learned his lesson – to overcome his fears and chase after his dreams. That sort of thing always worked in the movies and, as his teachers told him, in books. So why hadn’t the picture turned out the way he wanted? He stared at the screen for a full minute.

His mirror image grinned at the camera in front of the backdrop of the creepy room and the empty coffin.

At long last, the ball dropped. Vampires don’t appear in photographs for the precise reason they don’t appear in mirrors. They have no souls. What he’d attempted to do this afternoon was not achievable.

It was true that if you had courage and tenacity, you could do anything.

That is unless the thing you wanted to do was impossible.

Stuart facepalmed with an audible slap.

And then he shuffled his way to school, shoulders slumped.

March 30, 2024 17:22

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Mazie Maris
14:40 Apr 11, 2024

What a fun story!! You have such a wonderful way of allowing the reader to visualize the scene. This line - "Feeling like a character in a cartoon, he adopted an exaggerated creeping motion." - made me laugh out loud. Bravo!


05:59 Apr 30, 2024

Thank you, Mazie! I'm really happy to hear about the visualisation. When you're the one writing the things, it's hard to imagine how they'd come across to first time readers!


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Jeremy Burgess
07:00 Apr 08, 2024

I'll say this for Stuart, he's got guts! Good fun, I wondered if that was going to be the reveal. :)


05:58 Apr 30, 2024

Thanks, Jeremy! Yeah, I know I defintely wouldn't dare do that. The bravery of youth, eh?


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Alexis Araneta
15:04 Mar 31, 2024

As usual, a riot to read ! Hahahaha ! Great one again, Joshua !


07:11 Apr 01, 2024

Thanks for the kind words, Stella!


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Trudy Jas
23:43 Mar 30, 2024

At long last, one lives to tell us about it. :-) Missed you.


09:17 Mar 31, 2024

Thanks, Trudy! I kept this one alive just for you, haha. Yes, I had minor nose surgery to help me breathe, so I was off for a bit, but now I'm back!


Trudy Jas
10:31 Mar 31, 2024

Glad you're getting more O2. Better sleep too, I bet.


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