Ordinary horror in the mundane

The chair sits awkwardly in the shallow corner between the fireplace and the patio door (it’s a small apartment), shrouded under an ugly brown, queen-sized blanket I bought years ago on my way to a meditation retreat.

That year we had a bitterly cold winter, and the retreat center was old and drafty. Without the extra blanket, I would do more shivering than sleeping. The blanket is ratty where the material has been distressed; the fabric pinched together.

The chair sits perched on its wooden wheel-shaped base, annoyingly canted slightly to the left, like some shamed visitor hiding behind curtains…


An older man helping lost souls in his town

The older man in the green Volvo smiles at the woman turning left in the Subaru. It was his smile, he thinks, not for the first time, that finally led to his success in his liberation ministry. He had been unaware that as a young man, he scowled constantly. His face always projected a smug look of condescension; he rubbed people the wrong way, and he had to resort to less than ethical methods to practice his ministry in those days. He remembers his first efforts with shame.

All of that is behind him now. Now he smiles at everyone…


For my sister on her 51st birthday

The afternoon sun was high and hot overhead. The two of them, the mother and her favorite child, the sweetest by a country mile, her daughter, walked along the road. They intended to spend a few simple minutes engaged in retail therapy, shopping at the dime store that sat less than a mile from their tiny home.

This trip wasn’t something that they had done before.

Wait. Was that right? Kathy thinks.

She decides it must be so. She remembers walking this stretch once with Mark at some point in time.

The first days of August are like an oppressive…


Psst! Do you want to know a secret? I know why you feel so bad. Physically and mentally. You think you have lingering effects from your bout of COVID-19, and you likely do, but perhaps there’s something else at play here.

When you remember it, you recall two phases. The first part, the worst bit of it, you laid in bed for three weeks, sleeping day and night. Leaving the bed for only minutes to eat some small thing you’d asked your friend to bring you or to visit the bathroom.

For days, you didn’t brush your teeth, shower, or…


Immigrants, ice-men, and a poignant spelling competition

She gets the twirling feeling in her stomach again as she waits for the boy next to her to finish his turn. She is so excited and nervous she doesn’t even hear what word he got.

Part of her nerves is from her papa. He takes the building jobs in the city. Sometimes he is gone for a week. But not once in her three years here, has he been gone this long.

Juan Carlo, her brother wakes up crying in the nighttime. When she asks him what is wrong, he is in an awful state. …


In the end, the most surprising thing about the video was how no two people ever remembered it the same; it was a modern-day Rorschach test.

It was only three minutes twelve seconds long, but people saw different things when they recounted what they had watched.

One thing almost everyone agreed upon was the video wasn’t right. For one, it made you sleepy. People felt a heavy invisible influence. Some said it felt like hypnosis.

I can confirm that this is true. My eyes went where I didn’t want them to go and didn’t go where I willed them.

Everyone…


A Terryn and Shawn Story

2:10 PM

I’m trying to put it out of my mind. At first, I didn’t believe the front desk was calling my clients. So on number three, I made Tobias make the call on speakerphone. Sure enough, it rolled to voicemail just like the other two. Weird.

A lot of massage therapists get excited by no-shows. Once in a while, I don’t mind them. But in the corporate chain of spas, the gratuity can be nearly as much as what the owners pay us.

As a taller therapist, my low back is often tender. At those times, I consider the…


Horror flash fiction

The neighborhood was quieter now. Folks felt guilty when they accidentally found themselves enjoying the calm.

Eleven in three weeks. That’s how many children had disappeared.

The inflatable Santa, magically moving from yard to yard, each morning in a different place. A prank. One that Larry or possibly Eileen had started years ago. No one ever knew who moved the life-size Saint Nick around the neighborhood.

Frank considers the prop with surprise. It had appeared on his lawn yesterday morning; he thought it would be gone this morning. He stares at it, chewing. …


How I write short stories.

Whenever anyone tells me they’ve been married longer than 10 years, I tell them they are qualified to write a book on “how-to-stay-married.” There’s a similar idea for anyone who’s written over 200 short stories. Now, I’m nowhere near ready to tell anyone how they should write their stories, I do feel equipped to tell you how I write mine.

Step 1: Come up with a basic idea for the story.

There are numerous ways I can stimulate my creative energies and create a basic idea for a story. …

Shawn Ingram

Just a guy telling stories. One silver lining of the 2020 pandemic was I started writing!

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