The Soul Collector (Hot Head Series)

Submitted into Contest #78 in response to: Set your story at a convention for a hobby most people have never heard of.... view prompt

20 comments

Horror

Harvey had just finished eating his breakfast and it was his normal routine to read the morning paper. He read down the classified ads and noticed something that caught his eye. It was an ad for a hobby convention called “The Soul of Collecting”. Harvey was an avid collector of many things from old sports cards to action figures. 

He looked over at his wife Jen who was sipping her morning coffee. “Hey honey, I found something that I think we should go and check out.” She looked at him from the brim of her coffee cup and asked, “Oh yea, what’s that?”  Harvey put the paper down on the table, and slid it over to her. He pointed to the ad and said, “It’s a collection showcase. I think we should go.” 

Jen put her coffee cup down on the table, and read over the ad. She looked back up at Harvey who now had a child-like expression on his face. She thought to herself, how can I possibly tell him no with a face like that. He looks like a kid who knows he’s going to get a toy from the store. “It says one night only. If you don’t mind me asking, why do you wanna go to this? Don’t you have enough collecting hobbies?”

Harvey smiled at her and said, “Well...you never know what you could find there. Maybe they sell some things I can add to my collection. Or...maybe I might learn a thing or two about how to make my collection better.” Jen was obviously annoyed by the notion of Harvey getting more stuff. He had already filled their entire garage and attic space full of things she thought he didn’t need. 

“What do you hope to pick up, a new action figure that you don’t have yet? You’re such a man child, you know that?” Harvey looked at her with judgmental eyes and asked, “Why do you always throw my action figure collection in my face? You know that a lot of my figures are worth more than this house is worth.” Jen just gave him a look, and not just any look. It was “The Look”, and he knew whenever he saw that, she meant business. 

Harvey shrank down in his chair like some kid who just got caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar. In a last ditch effort he looked at Jen with his go-to-move, the puppy dog face. Jen fell for it every time, and he knew he had to try something. Jen looked at him and her face transformed right in front of him. Her stern looking face turned into a heartfelt peaceful one. Now I got her...ha, ha. Harvey thought.

“Alright, alright...go get ready,” Jen said. Harvey was so excited he stood up from the table and started to jump up and down with joy. A few hours later, Harvey and Jen arrived at the convention center, where the event was going to take place. They had a hard time finding a parking place, because the place was full. They walked over to the entrance and found a huge group of people waiting to get in. 

Harvey asked the person in front of them, “It’s pretty busy today, huh?” The old man turned to regard him and said, “Yes...I don’t even know what this convention has in store for us. I just had this strange feeling that I had to come here to check it out.” The man turned back around, and Harvey looked over at his wife. “This had better not be a waste of my time Harvey,” Jen said with an apprehensive look. 

Waiting in line, Harvey started to jump up and down to see how many people were ahead of them. “There must be five, maybe six hundred people here. I think we might be in for a pleasant surprise,” Harvey said smiling over at Jen. She said, piercing her lips together, “It better be good, because you're wasting my day, sweetie.” 

The line started moving quicker as people were being let into the building. Harvey could hear other people talking about how excited they were to see the event. Harvey turned to ask a young lady who was behind him, “What is this convention? I mean what sort of things do they have here?” The young lady replied, “I heard a rumor it was a place where collectors go to pick up new ideas on how to collect better.” Harvey smiled at her and asked, “What sort of things do you collect, if you don’t mind me asking?” She looked at him with a puzzled expression and said, “That’s the thing...I don’t collect anything. I saw the ad this morning and I felt compelled to come here.”

Jen gave Harvey a weird look, and they started to move forward in line. It took about fifteen minutes to get inside the building. When they stepped through the doors they were greeted by thousands of paintings that hung on the walls, and statues that were set up all over. People seemed transfixed by them. Jen noticed that all of the paintings had unique scenes filled with people doing all sorts of things. The statues were all people as well, and they all had a look that unsettled her. These are really creepy, she thought. 

The long hallway they were in led down to a huge set of double doors. Through those doors was a huge open area filled to the brim with chairs facing a stage. The stage had four enormous blank canvases with exquisite frames spread out so that everyone could see them. Everyone took their seats awaiting the presentation. 

Jen looked over at Harvey, who had a big stupid smile on his face and said, “This looks like an art show. Not a collectors convention.” Harvey didn’t say a word. He looked like he was focused on what was to come. Jen looked back towards the stage and noticed the lights were growing dim. Finally, the show is about to start. I can’t wait to get this over with and go back home, she thought to herself.

A tall man, wearing white dress pants, with a red jacket, black boots and a big top hat, stepped out on stage. He looked like a circus announcer, mustache and all. He stepped up to the microphone and began his monologue. “Welcome one and all to this glorious showcase. Here we specialize in the art of collecting.” He pointed at the empty canvases that stood around him and continued. “If I may draw your attention to these wonderful blank canvases, you all will notice something a little different. You need to focus with all of your being. Each one of you will see something different, and all will be clear in a moment or two.” 

The announcer stood smiling, as he watched everyone stare into the paintings. He looked all around the room and noticed that everyone was transfixed on the empty canvases, except for one. He noticed Jen was looking at her cell phone. He looked at the ushers who were standing by the double doors, and made a motion with his hands. The ushers seemed to know what this meant, because they began to chain up the doors. 

Jen heard the racket of the chains, and looked back to see that the doors were chained shut. She looked all around her and everyone looked like they were in a trance staring at the empty canvases. What the hell is going on here? Just then one of the ushers approached her and snatched the phone from her hands. “What the hell are you doing? That’s my phone you can’t do that!!” She then turned her attention to the announcer. 

“Oh!! My, my, my...There is always one of you who never pays attention,” he said looking directly at her. Jen looked at him and yelled, “What the hell are you talking about? What’s wrong with all these people, and why are we locked in here?”  The announcer threw his arms in the air, and screamed out, “You will soon find out my dear!!!”

The lights in the room started to pulse on and off in different colors of red, and suddenly before Jen’s eyes the announcer had transformed into a hideous demon with black skin and red eyes. The demon started laughing maniacally. He made a strange motion with his hands to the transfixed crowd. Suddenly, everyone in the crowd looked like they were having seizures, and all at once their souls were ripped from their bodies and transported into the blank canvases. They became one with the paintings. 

Each painting was different and was showcased with each and every person who was sitting in the audience. In a demonic voice, the demon said, “Behold...The Soul of Collecting!!!” Jen screamed in utter horror as she noticed Harvey in one of the paintings holding an action figure. She ran towards the double doors screaming. Just then, the demon snapped his fingers and Jen was transformed into a statue. She was forever trapped with an expression of pure terror emblazoned upon her face. Then, all was dark.

The End

Daniel R. Hayes

January 27, 2021 01:04

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20 comments

Drew Lane
20:29 Feb 03, 2021

Hi Daniel, I really liked the story. I think the idea of the statue vs canvas was very interesting and it had a mythology element to it - with the wife of the protagonist who is the only one who doesn't follow the rules. The dialogues were smooth and very well written. And I think we managed to get a good sense of the characters' personalities without much info about them. Which I think is really well done. Now, I wonder if we would benefit from more description - not necessarily in terms of quantity but rather in terms of precision / visu...

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Daniel R. Hayes
23:22 Feb 03, 2021

Hi Drew, thank you for reading my story. I like your suggestions and any feedback I can get only adds to my learning. I like to think that with each story I write, I get a little better each time. I will check out more of your stories as well, thanks again.

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Kelly Dennison
16:33 Mar 24, 2021

An interesting read! I really like the way you build the plot and the world around it!

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Daniel R. Hayes
16:50 Mar 24, 2021

Thank you Kelly! This story was fun to write. The Soul Collector makes a return in Hot Head Returns :) These stories were original meant to stand on their own, then I got the idea to combine them into one crazy world in Hot Head Returns. I wrote these horror stories to explore the dark side of the human psyche. I try to make them fun to read, because I like reading fun stories that thrill the imagination :)

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Kelly Dennison
18:07 Mar 24, 2021

It certainly was thrilling! Thanks so much for sharing these :)

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Vibes Blossom
20:54 Feb 12, 2021

Impressive. I, for one, like the name of this story. Secondly, it was anything but cliché. It was a satisfying read.

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Daniel R. Hayes
23:34 Feb 12, 2021

Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked it. I try to write fun stories that I hope people will like.

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Vibes Blossom
07:36 Feb 13, 2021

Your welcome!

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07:05 Jan 29, 2021

I loved the story, but i have to say that the end was a bit predictable from this "Jen noticed that all of the paintings had unique scenes filled with people doing all sorts of things. The statues were all people as well, and they all had a look that unsettled her." part. But enjoyed the story whatsoever. It had a good mysterious allure Looking forward for reading more of your stories.

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Daniel R. Hayes
07:09 Jan 29, 2021

Thanks for reading the story. I'm glad you noticed that part because while it was a prelude to the evil to come, I felt like I had to put that in there. Thanks again.

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A. S.
22:02 Jan 27, 2021

I loved the twist you put on the prompt. I thought the relationship between Jen and Harvey was really interesting, I really enjoyed how they balanced each other out. I really enjoyed the twist too. One thing I would suggest is to create a little bit more of a sense of foreboding in the beginning; at first it seemed very playful, so it was hard for me to switch over for the ending. Great job!

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Daniel R. Hayes
22:50 Jan 27, 2021

Thank you for the great feedback. I'm glad you liked the story. I think from the beginning to the end, that was my way to throw the twist in there. Thanks again.

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A. S.
00:28 Jan 28, 2021

You’re welcome. I hope what I was saying makes sense. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

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Daniel R. Hayes
01:04 Jan 28, 2021

I completely understand, and I look forward to reading more of your stories as well.

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Carrie O'keefe
19:52 Jan 27, 2021

I loved it! Collecting is so much fun. You put a nice twist to it.

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Daniel R. Hayes
22:52 Jan 27, 2021

I'm so glad you liked the story. I like collecting, so I thought this was a cool way to put a unique twist on it. If you liked this one, then I think you might like my other story The Unique Collection. Thanks again.

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Nancy Drayce
13:01 Jan 27, 2021

Wow!! Such a cool story!! I love the twist, I love the concept... everything about it! My attention was immediately grabbed when the girl in the line said that she is not a collector but still came not knowing the real reason! Amazing!! 💜🌟

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Daniel R. Hayes
16:43 Jan 27, 2021

Thank you so much :) I'm really glad you liked my story. I'll have more to come soon.

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Emma Taylor
01:37 Jan 27, 2021

Oh wow, what an awesome story. I did not read the prompt until I finished the story so this was a huge twist. This could be a great novel!! I love the story so much and the characters are so believable. Well done.

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Daniel R. Hayes
03:13 Jan 27, 2021

Thank you so much:) I'm really glad you liked it. It means the world to me to know that people like my stories. You're really good too, and I look forward to reading more of your stories.

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