It's Friday the 13th. Obviously, we need to have a story telling...

It being mid October and Friday the 13th, I thought I'd share with you a time that I was scared.

This was a long while ago. I was still living in the house I grew up in. Something to keep in mind: this house was haunted. Ever since I was a child, me, my siblings, friends, and even my father knew it. We all saw the same ghosts, so much that we came to name them.

The Tree Man stayed upstairs, wandering between the kitchen and the back bedrooms. He had no appearance, not exactly, other than being darker than the gloom around him. It was as if he absorbed the dark and wore it as a cloak. He was easily eight feet tall, and you could hear him walking, the creaking of the old wood, before you saw him. He once spent four hours sitting next to my bed.

The Cat. Let me put it this way: I grew up in a bad area, and people are horrible, horrible creatures. A gang of them decided to shoot and kill a neighbor's cat in my backyard one day. That cat took up residence, sometimes just sitting atop a pool table or meowing at you when you weren't paying attention. Even today, it will play with Chronos and Clotho, my two cats, and they seem to get along. I am glad that it's having a good spectral life, though I will forever hate the people who killed it.

The Jester was, in a way, comical. We're fairly sure it was a teenager of some sort, based on size and demeanor. He would often throw things across the basement, sometimes at another person if the opportunity arose. He also delighted in mimicking the voices of friends and family members. His specialty was sounding like my sister was crying on just the other side of the wall. Once, as I was going to bed, he threw a snowboard at my door. I was alone in the house at the time.

But the one I want to tell you about, and the one everyone agrees on, is the Lady in the Blue Dress.

She first appeared in dreams, I think. My brother, years after the fact, told us of the time he dreamt of her running at him, arms stretched out, screaming, her broken neck causing her head to bob back and forth with each step like a terrible pendulum...

She was young, either late teens or early 20's in age. Outside of dreams, she could usually be found lying in front of a rear storage room in the basement, contorted in an unnatural position, usually in the corner of your eye as you turned to put the light out. She was usually harmless, aside from a scare or two every now and then.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I moved into a room we had built at the front of the basement. I learned to deal with the ghosts. More often than not, it turned out, if you simply asked them to leave you alone, they would. It was like they wanted to play and if you didn't have time, they certainly understood. After all, we'd known each other all my life.

One night, as I was preparing for bed, lying down, reading a book, I looked up to see The Lady standing in my doorway. I'd never seen her so clearly, nor for so long. Her dress was old fashioned and, to my eye, appeared Victorian, all ruffles and lace. She looked concerned. With her head hanging at the most disturbing angle and the vertebrae trying to press through her ghostly flesh, she spoke.

"Help me," she whispered. I lay there, dumbfounded, too terrified to speak as she looked around the room. And then she looked into my eyes and said again, "Help me."

I finally found my tongue. I asked her what she wanted, but she didn't seem to understand. I asked her name, what was wrong, how I could help, but she didn't appear to be able to hear me. She looked, as far as I could tell, confused.  Every time I stopped asking questions, she would simply repeat "Help me."

I could tell she was scared. I wanted, with every fiber of my being, to help this poor girl, even if she was beyond saving, but I couldn't.

Suddenly she cocked her shoulders as if her head were still upon her shoulders and she were listening to something, and then she seemed to panic, and I knew she was terrified. Eyes wide, she said the final words I've ever heard from her. "He's coming."

And with that, she turned and left.

After several seconds, I remembered that I had legs, and that I could chase after her. My heart in my stomach, I walked into the basement proper, turning on every light I could along the way, even going as far as her usual spot in front of the storage room, but she was gone.

I saw her a few times after that, but, it seemed to me, less often than I used to, and never again like that. Since I came back home last year to take care of my father, I've only seen her twice, usually after telling someone about her. She seems to enjoy being talked about. I wonder if I'll see her again tonight, if she'll talk to me, and if I may, finally, help her.

Happy Friday the 13th, my friends.

Until next time,

~Sean Walter

I don't always update my blog, but when I do...

...I use it to announce a new Kickstarter campaign for the production of a brand-new illustrated short horror anthology!

This project, in partnership with the always talented Drawing in Dark (who did this wonderful artwork, among others) is going to be ran through the month of October. All rewards are laid out, but we may be adding new ones as the month goes on, just to keep things interesting.

Keep in mind that there is one story that will only ever appear in this Kickstarter as a reward, and never again anywhere else. It's just our way of making this extra special.

In other news, Moribund is still progressing. I'm writing both the horror anthology (titled Tales in Somber Tones, by the way) and finishing Moribund at the same time, because I hate having free-time, evidently.

I'm incredibly excited and can't wait to share with you all these new books.

Until next time,

~Sean Walter

Oh good god, what have I done?

The worst part about starting a book more than ten years ago is that one tends to improve their skill in writing as time goes by. That's okay, though. You can always get it in editing, re-writing, changing things to fit the writer you've become. Hell, I've already changed massive story arcs for characters, destroyed others entirely, changed hangers-on into passers-by, etc. It's what happens with books. But my latest decision is a doozy...

Moribund, as it stands, is entirely written in the present-tense. For example: "Mary walks to the cupboard, careful to avoid the praying mantis standing motionless on the floorboards." And present tense is great. It was the perfect choice when Moribund was a short story. It still worked when it was a very long short story. It started to sound a bit rough when it became the length of a novella. And now, standing at several hundred pages in a paperback, it simply isn't working anymore.

That being said, I've decided to change the tense for an entire novel – from present tense to past.

It's also highly possible that I'll change my opinion on this once again. It's a story. It may end up mixed-tense. In the end, though, I can only promise that I will release something worth your time. Chances are that all of the little things I keep stressing about will go completely un-noticed by 90% of you, which means I will have done something right.


If you're a $5 and above patron, you'll have a new story to read in rough-draft form soon, and you have a second draft of A San Francisco Story already waiting for you. Let me know what you think of them.

Until next time, expect me to be drinking far more coffee than is healthy.

A Birthday Gift

It is, once again, my birthday. And, in the oldest traditions of birthdays, I am going to give you all a gift.

Not only is the sale still going in the store ("Birthday2016" without the quotes during checkout, if you'd like to save 31% on your orders), but I also have a brand new short story for all of you. It's a Christmas story, of a sort. Santa, or something similar, takes a very active roll in it, in any event.

I do hope you enjoy it.


The Last Day of Winter


            They huddled together, the families and friends of the valley in their small huts and rough cabins. The winter had been building in the mountains for months, blocking all access to the valley, stranding them to their own devices until spring came and melted the snow and ice in the mountain pass. It wasn't running out of food or fuel that worried the people in that little village, nor the cold driving local wildlife to acts of violence against them and their livestock. It was something else – something far older, and far more inevitable.

            In one of those rough cabins, just as unimportant as any other, the children slumbered in a large bed covered in furs nearest the fire. Their parents were in conversation with a group of other adults at the other end of the single room, their breath steaming with each word. "You can't be serious. Aldo is almost too old for it," the father said to the gathered group.

            "It can't be helped. You knew the risks and your chances, the same as everyone in the village. It's his turn," one of the men responded, not unkindly. Aldo's mother said nothing. She simply stared, unblinking, into the fire across the room.


            Aldo, asleep next to his sisters, was awoken to the sound of something scratching at the doorway. He rubbed his eyes and looked around the gloomy room by the flickering firelight. Long shadows grew from the few mean sticks of furniture the cabin contained, but his parents were nowhere to be found. The scratching persisted. The door on its leather hinges rattled with each successive scrape. Aldo, thinking for the safety of his siblings, grabbed a dagger from beside the fire and approached the door.

            As his hand brushed the latch, the racket stopped. The howling of the wind, the crackling of the fire in the hearth, and the beating of Aldo's heart were the only things that dared to break the silence. Aldo swallowed in a dry throat. He turned to go back to bed, but caught sight of his sisters, still asleep, oblivious to the dangers in the darkness. Making up his mind, he quickly got dressed in his thickest clothes, went to the door, licked his lips, took a breath, and let in the night.


             The air was crisp and clear. The snow was undisturbed, sparkling and spreading out on the hill before him in the moonlight. The wind grew suddenly still. Out among the trees, movement attracted his attention. A wolf, great and powerful, wandered between the pines. As Aldo watched, it paused, turned to him, and seemed to smile.

            Then it charged.


            Aldo fell back from the door, the latch falling back into place. The wind bellowed against the doorway, blowing in through the cracks, numbing his face. The hillside he had seen was not what was supposed to be outside of his cabin. The rest of the village, peaceful, pocked among the valley, should have been there. He shook his head, wondering what had just happened.

            Something slammed into the other side of the door. Aldo jumped backward, gripping his dagger tightly. Again and again something large and dangerous collided with the door, trying to gain entry. Aldo watched the wooden latch bend and flex with each hit.

            He ran to the bed. Grabbing at his slumbering sisters, he screamed, "Wake up!" but neither of them stirred. He shook them bodily, but they didn't resist. They lolled, limp, back to the bed. The latch shattered behind him. A stiff, cold wind met his back. He grasped the dagger firmly in his hand, and turned.


            The wolf watched him from the distance, sitting on the hillside, a quizzical look on it's long face. Aldo's breath came in great gulps, his body slick with sweat despite the cold. He still held the dagger in his shaking hand, but again he found himself in that unknown place. The wolf stood and trotted directly at Aldo, its tongue swaying back and forth in the still night air. "Get back!" Aldo shouted, slashing the dagger toward the beast.

            The wolf paused and then sat in the snow. It narrowed its eyes at Aldo, then nudged itself forward, causing the snow to fall away from its paws and roll down the hillside. It stood, took a few steps more, then sat once again and tilted its head at him, completely calm. Aldo locked eyes with the great wolf, trying to keep his heartbeat from betraying him. The beast stood, then leaned forward, its hind end in the air. It winked at Aldo, and then leapt. Aldo jumped to the side...


            ...and landed amongst the cooking pots in the corner of the cabin. The fire had gone out, leaving the room black save for the moonlight coming through the broken entryway. The door hung limp on one leather hinge. The bed lay shattered, blankets and furs strewn about the room, but Aldo saw no sign of his sisters.

            He crawled from the corner and found the dagger laying next to him. He picked it up just as the light in the doorway was covered by the shadow of a man.

            "Oh, ho! What have we here?" the man's deep voice echoed through the cabin and in Aldo's ears. "A small scrap of child – a morsel – nothing more. No grand oxen, well fed and feted? No prized boar, hunted and corralled, sent to me as my just due?"

            Aldo shook, his breath billowing around him. The stranger, his long, grey beard hung with icicles, had nothing so obvious emanating from his cold, blue lips. He shook his head at Aldo. "You're hardly worth the effort, boy."

            "Where are my sisters?" Aldo found his mouth speaking the words without having asked his permission.

            "Sisters? I've seen no women, nor girls. No, boy, only you and myself are here." The man struck a match against the door, illuminating his face in a sudden, dancing glare. Scars showed on the parts of his face that weren't covered in ice and hair, and his sharpened teeth glowed as he inhaled from a ragged pipe. "Run, boy," he said, stepping aside from the door. He blew out a dark blue plume of smoke and smiled.

            Aldo ran.


            The Wolf bit, hard, into Aldo's leg, causing him to shriek and flail. The wolf let go and backed away. It licked the blood from the fur around its mouth and sat down, seemingly content to have a slight taste. Aldo scrambled back in the snow, flashes of agony stabbing at his mind every time he moved his wounded leg. The wolf growled, but didn't stand. It simply lurched forward – not raising its paws, not bending its legs – as if in warning. Aldo grasped at his leg to stifle the blood.

            A voice came on the wind, whispering as if snowfall on a lake, "You are in danger, Aldo."

            Aldo looked up at the wolf, but it hadn't moved. It simply sat there, eyeing him conspicuously. Aldo looked deep into the wolf's eyes, and the voice came again. "Run, Aldo."


            Aldo ran through the cabin door like a bolt of lightning, but stopped to get his bearings. The village lay abandoned, all chimneys empty of smoke, all doors ripped from their frames. An enormous, scarred hand engulfed Aldo's shoulder. The stranger's voice came from behind him. "You're alone, boy. Nobody will save you."

            Aldo spun around, sweeping the dagger through the air, narrowly missing the stranger. "Oh-ho-ho-ho! He's got spirit!" the stranger laughed. Aldo crumpled to the ground, suddenly unable to catch his breath.  Pain blossomed as the stranger withdrew his fist from Aldo's stomach, slowly, taking Aldo's dagger from an un-resisting hand. "Spirit won't get you very far with me, child," he growled.

            Aldo, unable to stand, began to crawl away, grasping his stomach with one hand and clutching at the snow ahead of him with the other. The man casually stepped in front of him, placing a boot upon his neck, pressing him into the snow. Pain erupted in Aldo's side. The stranger's boot sent him rolling into a snowdrift. Aldo opened his eyes to see his attacker standing in the moonlight, dressed in a blood-soaked fur coat and sailor's cap, marching toward him. He was cleaning his nails with Aldo's dagger, gloating in his victory. Aldo closed his eyes.


            "Aldo!" the voice came again like ice to the brain. Aldo sat bolt-upright, eyes-wide, staring at the wolf who sat inches from his face. It was growling at him ferociously, biting at the air. "Aldo," came the voice once more, calmly, "don't be afraid. I've got you."

            The wolf lunged at him, its great mouth gripping Aldo's throat. Aldo closed his eyes as its teeth began to pierce his skin...

            And for the first time in what felt like hours, Aldo felt warmth.

            He opened his eyes.

            The wolf lay before him, bleeding from a wound in its side. Aldo saw the dagger, quivering with the violent force of the throw, protruding from the crimson wound. Aldo was bathed in blood, steaming gently in the cold. With a shrill whimper, the wolf ceased breathing.

            Footsteps crunched in the snow behind Aldo, and the blood-covered stranger walked past him, kneeling next to the wolf. "Oh-ho-ho, yes. She'll do." He turned to Aldo and winked.

            Without knowing why, Aldo began to cry.


            The fire crackled nearby, warming his side far beyond the point of pleasure. Aldo rolled away from it. A moment passed before he suddenly sprang to life, looking about the room. His father sat in a chair on the other side of the hearth. "Aldo? You're awake. We were beginning to lose hope." There was no joy in his father's voice, just a cold acknowledgment of fact.

            "What happened, father?" Aldo asked, looking around. "Where is everyone?"

            His father looked at him, sadly, for a moment. "Your sisters are with the neighbors," he said, finally.

            Aldo tried to stand, but his leg was swollen and useless. He rubbed at the spot the wolf had bitten him, but found that the wound wasn't of the flesh. It ached nonetheless. "And mother? What of mother?"

            His father's face fell. He looked at a spot on the floor for some moments before shaking his head, slowly.

            Outside the door, the first birds of spring began to sing, picking through the melting snow.