October is finally here, and with it, one of my favorite holidays of the year: Halloween! To help celebrate this exciting and creepy holiday—and to give readers a little taste of my work—I’ll be publishing a free Halloween horror story on my website called, “Movie Night,” during the month of October.
“Movie Night” is an older story of mine that plays with and pokes fun at some of the conventions of modern horror movies. It was previously accepted for publication in an anthology about horror in the movies, but that publisher went out of business before the story could be published, so I figured I would post it here for everyone to enjoy. The story follows a girl named Jill, whose Halloween plans with her boyfriend are disrupted by an uninvited—and completely psychopathic—trick-or-treater. I’ll be publishing a new chapter each Monday throughout October, with the final one debuting on Halloween week.
So, without further ado, here it is: “Movie Night,” Chapter One.
by David Anthony
Jill Casey jumped as a long bolt of lightning sliced open the sky, turning night into day, and briefly illuminating the living room of the old, two-story farmhouse. Thunder boomed in the distance. Sinister shadows stared at her with hungry eyes as the wind howled and the rain pounded against the doors and windows, desperate to get in. Then the room fell back into darkness, lit once again only by the soft glow of the 52-inch, flat-panel television set in front of her. Uneasily, she turned her attention back to it as the credits of A Nightmare on Elm Street rolled down the screen.
“That one was pretty freaky,” she said.
“Which one?” Michael asked. “The movie or that lightning flash outside?”
She let out a nervous little laugh. “Well, both, now that you mention it. It feels like this storm is trying to tear the house down around us. But I was talking about the movie. I know I won’t be falling asleep in the bathtub again, anytime soon.”
He grinned at her. “Does that mean you liked it?”
Jill considered the question for a moment. Horror movies usually weren’t her thing—they gave her nightmares, and some of the scarier ones nearly made her pee her pants—but, strangely, she was actually enjoying herself quite a bit this evening. Maybe it was the movies, but more likely it had to do with the company she was sharing them with. Terror seemed more like excitement with Michael by her side.
“You know what?” she said. “I did kind of enjoy it. I didn’t think I would, but this is actually a lot of fun.”
“See, I told you it would be.” Michael wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer to him on the couch. “This is my favorite part about Halloween: scary movie marathons. No need to even leave the house—the horror comes right to your door!”
Jill allowed her muscles to relax, realizing that she was in no imminent danger from either the storm or the fictional Freddy Krueger. “Yeah, you’re right. Who needs to get all dressed up in slutty costumes and go to out to some stupid Halloween party, anyway? This is way more fun.” She paused, and then added, “It’s funny, though. I used to hate scary movies. My ex was so obsessed with them. It’s all he ever watched.”
Michael snorted in derision. “From what I’ve heard about the guy, he could be in one himself.”
“No kidding,” Jill mumbled. “Or better yet, in an asylum.”
She immediately regretted mentioning Patrick. Even though they’d been broken up for almost four months now, he was still unable to let go. He had become fixated on her—stalking her at home, harassing her at school, calling her cell phone in the middle of the night. When she’d changed her phone number he began calling the house phone, never speaking, hanging up if one of her parents answered. She was certain she’d seen him hiding in the dark shadows of the backyard on several sleepless evenings. She was terrified of what he else he may be capable of.
“What’s on next?” Jill said, trying to change the subject and get her mind off Patrick. “It better be a good one, now that you’ve got me hooked.”
“Let’s find out.” Michael leaned over and picked up the remote off the long oak coffee table in front of them. He pressed the “guide” button and brought up the on-screen menu. “Ah, you’re in for a treat! 30 Days of Night is coming on.”
“Hmmm…what’s that one about?”
He crinkled up his face and wiggled his fingers in a look she assumed was supposed to be scary. “Vampires!”
“Oh, cool! Is it a romance?”
Michael rolled his eyes. “NO! Vampires aren’t supposed to be romantic! They’re supposed to be scary!”
Jill giggled, snuggling up closer to him. “Well, I like the romantic ones.”
She grabbed his chin, gently turning his face toward her. “Didn’t you know? It’s the romantic ones who always get the girl.”
She leaned forward, glancing from his eyes to his lips and back again. He got the hint and leaned in to kiss her. It was slow and soft at first but quickly gained intensity, becoming deep and passionate. Before she knew it they were heavily making-out, his hands roaming all over her body. One hand went up her shirt, fondling her right breast through her bra. His mouth moved down, kissing the side of her neck.
Jill’s pulse began to race. She felt herself becoming aroused, but also a little afraid. She knew what he wanted and wasn’t sure she was ready to give it to him just yet. She needed her first time to be special, and to be certain it was with the right guy. She took a deep breath and put a hand between them, gently pushing him back.
“Whoa…slow down there, Casanova. I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet.”
Michael pulled back, giving her a sly grin. “It’s cool, babe. I understand. You can’t blame a guy for trying, though, right?”
She took both of his hands into hers, giving him an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, Michael. You’re being so patient, and I’m sure you’re used to girls who are a lot…faster than I am. It’ll be soon, though. I promise. Okay?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Sure. Whenever you’re ready. No pressure.”
She smiled and snuggled back up next to him on the couch as the next movie began. She was glad he’d come over tonight. Michael didn’t go to her school, and he couldn’t come around when her parents were home—after Patrick, they no longer trusted her choice in boys—so she didn’t get to spend much time with him. Usually she had to sneak off in the middle of the night to meet him at some party or at a movie. She was glad to finally have a night to just relax and hang out with him at home.
It was funny, she thought, how different he was from Patrick. Michael seemed to have an endless supply of patience, never putting pressure on her, like he had all the time in the world. Patrick, on the other hand, had done nothing but pressure her. He had a one-track mind and that track went straight down her pants. When she had refused to give in he become angry, accusing her of seeing other guys, giving it up to them. He was jealous and controlling and…dangerous. She was certain if she hadn’t broken up with him he would have become violent, and taken her by force.
The phone rang, snapping Jill out of her dark ruminations. She starred down at portable handset on the coffee table like it was a snake about to bite her. The caller ID read “blocked call.”
Michael hit the pause button on the remote and turned to her, eyebrows raised. “Well? Are you gonna get it?”
Jill looked up at him and cringed. “What if it’s him?”
“Want me to get it? I’ll set that asshole straight.”
She shook her head. “No. If it’s my parents they’ll be pissed you’re here. I’m not supposed to have boys over when they’re out of town…or, technically, ever.”
The phone continued to ring, insistent on its need to be answered. If it was her parents and she didn’t answer they’d become suspicious. But if it was Patrick…she didn’t want to think about that right now. But she needed to make a decision.
“Well,” Michael said. “What are you gonna do?”
She frowned at the ringing handset. “Nothing. The machine can get it.”
The phone stopped ringing. The answering machine clicked on and her mom’s voice drifted in from the other room, telling the mystery caller to leave a message and someone would call them back. The machine beeped loudly and then went silent.
Michael shrugged. “Guess it wasn’t that important.”
“Guess not,” Jill said, but she was still staring down at the phone. The uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach refused to leave.
“Great,” Michael said. “Well, now that that’s over, let’s get back to our—”
The face of Jill’s cell phone lit up. The phone began vibrating loudly on the coffee table in front of them.
“What the hell?” She picked up the phone and looked at the screen. The ID read “unknown.” “It can’t be him. He doesn’t know my new cell number.”
But even as the words left her mouth she realized she wasn’t so sure. Could someone have given it to him? No, that couldn’t be. Only a handful of people even had the number, and none of them would betray her by giving it out to him. Even so, something about the situation didn’t feel quite right.
“So go ahead and answer it,” Michael said. “It’s probably just Tina again, trying to get us to go to that stupid party with her.”
“Probably,” she said, but she didn’t sound convinced, even to herself. Hesitantly, she hit the “answer” button on the screen and put the phone up to her ear. “Hello?”
There was no reply. No one seemed to be on the line. There was just a haunting silence that caused a cold feeling of dread to begin climbing its way up her back, like eight hairy legs upon her spine. She stood from the couch and walked around behind it, the phone pressed tightly to her ear.
“Hello?” she said again. “Is someone there? Tina, is that you?”
“Who is it?” Michael asked. He sounded concerned.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s the storm. I can’t hear any…” Her voice trailed off as she realized that it wasn’t just silence on the other end of the phone. There was a sound: a faint, rhythmic, familiar sound…breathing.
The hairs on the back of Jill’s neck stood up. “Patrick, is that you?” she said, her voice coming out a rush of fear and anger. “Goddamn it, Patrick. I told you to stop—”
A scream exploded through the phone! It was loud and harsh and clearly feminine. Jill’s heart began to pound in her chest. Her left hand gripped the phone like a vice. She felt a warm, wet trickle run down her inner thigh.
The line suddenly went dead.
Michael stood from the couch, coming around towards her. “Jill, are you okay? What the hell was that noise?”
She just stood there, gripping the phone in shocked silence. The only sounds were the angry rumble of thunder outside, the rain pounding against the windows, and the frantic beating of her own heart. Numbly, she pried the phone away from her ear and stared down at it, unblinking, that hellish scream still ringing in her ears. Slowly, she raised her eyes to meet his.
“I think something happened to Tina,” she said. “Something terrible.”
END OF CHAPTER
Thanks for reading! Stop by next week for the next chapter, and feel free to comment about the story here on the site!