Tavern of Terror vol. 11: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Tavern of Terror vol. 11: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Tavern of Terror vol. 11: Short Horror Stories Anthology

Tavern of Terror vol. 11: Short Horror Stories Anthology

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Death comes in many flavors…

A childhood tragedy unleashes an even greater evil, when a group of friends reunite for homecoming. Sinister dolls terrorize an elderly woman’s young caregiver. And an abandoned building holds a spine-tingling secret and a prisoner with a strange tale to tell…

Welcome to Hannigan’s, the tavern of a thousand screams. Here in this shadowy local haunt, every cocktail is a unique blend of fear, death, and darkness.

There’s no end to the diabolical delights that stock our shelves. So pick your poison and take your chances. Because at Hannigan’s, when we say last call, we really mean it.

And there’s just enough time left for one last scream…

233 pages

Nightmare Weaver

Alan Parker was dead once. For four minutes and thirty-five seconds, his heart had stopped beating. His head had smashed through the passenger side window of his friend Paul’s SUV after a city bus lost control and blew a red light, plowing into the vehicle. Paul died. Alan fractured several ribs and his pelvis, and he sustained numerous lacerations, including a punctured liver and kidney. One nurse had told him it was a miracle he’d been revived.

The accident had been years ago. Physically, Alan had recovered completely, although his shoulder never had the same range of motion again, and he tended to get more frequent headaches. But he could walk again and do things normal people did.

For some time after the accident, people would hound him with questions about what had happened. They had profiled him in the local news, and they always insisted on using the word “miracle” in the headline. That word got stuck in people’s heads. He was the miracle man who had been to the other side. Soon strangers sought him out to ask if he had seen heaven and what it was like. The guys at Hannigan’s were a little more tactful, after the first wave of interest. But Alan always felt that, whenever he went for a beer, there was a non-zero chance somebody would bring up the accident. And that was always a problem because he couldn’t tell them a damn thing. Eventually he stopped going to the bar.

The blunt-force trauma he had experienced during the accident had ensured he remembered exactly nothing. He remembered getting into the SUV with his friend and then waking up in a hospital four days later. He had no memory of the events in between. And if he was being honest, he didn’t want to remember any of it anyway.

While his body got better with time, his mind was slower to follow suit. Though he could not remember his own death, he constantly dreamt of his friend dying in a hundred different ways. In his dreams, Paul didn’t always die in a car crash. He would see Paul die in a fire or sometimes of a horrible disease. He watched Paul fall from buildings or be stabbed by unseen assailants.

In time, Paul’s face faded from his memories. The dreams of death remained, but his friend was swapped for someone else. Sometimes he would dream of his mother being attacked by a pack of wolves. Or the cute girl who worked at the gas station drowning alone at sea.

There was no rhyme or reason for the deaths in his dreams. It could be any person and by any means. Some got terribly elaborate, like power lines falling into a swimming pool during a storm or someone being locked in an industrial freezer for days. Others were as simple as an unexpected heart attack.

He saw a doctor who told him dreams of death were to be expected after the physical and emotional trauma he experienced. There had been a physical injury to his brain. There was no telling how that would affect him in both the short term and the long term. How he dealt with it was more important than the fact it was happening at all.

The doctor prescribed some medication and gave him some exercises, like meditation and breathing techniques that could help him if the nightmares began to stress him out too much.

When the accident had been some years behind him and the nightmares had become manageable, there was a time when he felt like he might be really getting over everything. He still didn’t recall any pleasant dreams, but the nightmares had become less frequent. A night might pass without one, and then two. Eventually, he could get through an entire week. He had escaped the nightmares at long last.

That was what he had thought at the time. Until it happened again.

Alan recognized the street. It was Market Way, right next to the park downtown. He had walked down the road countless times in his life, he was sure. But now it was night. The lamps in the park hummed and produced a soft, yellow glow. One of the streetlights was out, and a large section of the street was in darkness. There were only a few cars and a man walking alone.

If Alan had ever met the man before, he didn’t remember it. His face was not familiar. He was younger than Alan, and he was tall. He wore expensive sneakers and had AirPods in his ears while he walked with his head down. He didn’t see the other man slip out of the park behind him.

The tall man kept walking, while the other man crept along in the shadows. Then he jumped the tall man and stabbed him.

When the blade punctured the tall man’s back, he tried to scream. But the killer’s hand covered his mouth as they fell to the ground together. The man stabbed again and again in quick, firm movements. The tall man had no chance at all.

The man with the blade watched as the other man died. He watched as blood pooled around him on the ground and the last ragged breath escaped his lips. Neither one said a word the entire time. When his victim was dead, the killer walked away as if nothing happened.

Alan opened his eyes. The fan on his nightstand hummed. His doctor had told him white noise could aid in his sleep, and he found it did help. He didn’t like silence. It made him conjure too many images he didn’t wish to see.

The dream was different than others had been. He did not recognize either of the men. He usually dreamt of people he knew. Friends, family, and even actors from movies he’d seen recently.

Alan sighed. His mind was now manufacturing victims for him. He did some of his breathing exercises, calming himself down and relaxing his body. Often, when he awoke from nightmares, his muscles were tense and his pulse racing. His sleep was not restful as a result, and the toll on his energy during the day was noticeable.

He breathed in and out, slow and steady. He tried to concentrate on a single point, the light fixture on the ceiling. No thoughts, no feelings, just his breathing and the fixture in his dark room. He pushed away the entire world until it was only him and the light.

He dreamed of nothing when he fell asleep. In the morning he could only remember the nightmare. The tall man and the shadowy killer.

Alan went to work. He stood at his station and sorted parts on a conveyor belt alongside a dozen others in the factory. He ate his lunch in the cafeteria and returned to finish his shift. It was a day like every other before it for years. He liked to stick to a routine. Whenever he changed things up, the nightmares got worse. New people and new events often got tangled in the nightmares, and for a few days, they would become more vivid and more gruesome. He liked to keep things mundane.

He drove down Market Way to get home after work. It was a detour, but he felt like checking it out. As he passed the park, he slowed. Police tape had roped off a section of the sidewalk. There was a single cruiser at the scene, and the officer was seated in the driver’s seat. Alan could see no one else there, but it didn’t matter. The cordoned-off section of the sidewalk was the one from his dream.

Alan pulled his car over and turned on his phone, heading to the website of the local newspaper. A picture of the exact section of the street where he was parked topped the page. “POLICE SEARCH FOR SUSPECT AFTER FATAL STABBING,” read the headline.

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