Tavern of Terror vol. 12: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Tavern of Terror vol. 12: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Tavern of Terror vol. 12: Short Horror Stories Anthology

Tavern of Terror vol. 12: Short Horror Stories Anthology

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The Tavern of Terror welcomes you back for more…

An ancient grudge leads to bloodshed, when crime and the paranormal cross paths. A pair of siblings attend a church service they’ll never forget, led by a priest who is not what he seems. And a couple’s trip into the countryside ends in horror, when they discover a blood-curdling secret at the local pie shop.

Welcome to Hannigan’s, the tavern of a thousand screams. We specialize in a delightful blend of cocktails and nightmares, fine spirits, and exquisite screams. But we don’t need to tell you how delicious the taste of fear can be. After all, you’re a regular.

Perhaps it’s the perfectly chilled touch of skeletal fingers that sends shivers down your spine. Or the frantic beating of a terrified heart. Or maybe the hungry howl of wolves, echoing outside our doors.

We know you are hooked. That craving, that all-consuming desire to be frightened, needs to be quenched.

The good news is, we’ve got your next shot of terror waiting for you…

Ghost Kill
By David Longhorn

Craig has never been beaten senseless before.

He wakes into a hot maelstrom of pain as he is dragged out of the car. He sees a fractured world, smeared with blood seeping into one eye. They are in the open air, maybe near the docks. There is a warehouse. The door is opened and then closed behind them. A chair waits for Craig, and the big man ties him to it. Sokolov brings another chair and sits facing Craig, almost close enough to touch. There is a bottle of mineral water on the floor next to the Russian.

“Now, Craig,” the Russian says, “we try again. I wish to meet… Peregrine Stark.”

The name does not roll easily off the gangster’s tongue, and he frowns.

“I do not like what this man does. A friend of mine—he was in this town looking for business opportunities. You know how it is with business, Craig, yes? Like shark, you keep moving or you die. So, we expand. Always grow bigger, do more. But there are little fish in this town who do not like sharks, and some who fear sharks. And my friend, he is told that one of these little fish, these scared little fish, wants to meet him. To make a deal. That is good. So, my friend gets an invite to a little tour given by a nice young man. All about history. And ghosts.” Craig’s memory, despite the pain and terror, dredges up that encounter. The big, scary-looking Russian guy. The word passed on from Stark. The sudden stiffening of the man as Billy reached into him to stop his heart. The cops had a lot more questions than usual about that one. He should have known there’d be pushback. But the money was good.

“I see it in your face,” Sokolov purrs. “I see through all the bruises Vassily gave you. You remember my friend Dmitry. You saw him die. Do you know what killed him? Poison, maybe? You can tell me. How did this Stark kill my friend?”

Craig tries to speak, can’t make an articulate sound, and spits out a gob of congealed blood. It lands on the toe of Sokolov’s right shoe. The Russian looks down, then leans back, shaking his head. Craig wants to protest that he didn’t mean any disrespect; that it was an accident. But even as he starts to speak, the henchman’s blow stuns him into agonized silence.

“You are brave or foolish. It does not matter.”

He hears Sokolov talking from a vast distance, the words barely audible through a humming noise that grows louder. Craig is fainting and feels sick and relieved at the same time. But just as the blackness starts to claim him, there’s a shocking impact—cold water thrown in his face. He is wide awake again, his face and torso throbbing in a dozen places.

“No, Craig,” Sokolov says, “you do not go to sleep until we are done.”

He snaps out a few words in Russian and Vassily moves out of sight behind Craig. The big man returns carrying a pair of heavy bolt cutters and places them on the stained concrete floor. Then Vassily asks a question, also in Russian.

Sokolov laughs.

“What is it to be, Craig? That is what he wants to know. Toes or fingers?”

Craig whimpers. He starts to jabber in panic, telling them he knows nothing about Stark except that he sometimes hangs out at an Irish pub. He gives as much detail as he can, describing Stark, Hannigan’s, everything except the ghosts. He can’t say ghosts kill Stark’s targets because Craig knows that will be seen as ridiculous, an outlandish lie. They might kill him straight away.

Sokolov shakes his head and Craig falls silent.

“You tell me nothing I don’t already know, Craig. I think you know nothing. But I must make sure. Since you will not choose, I choose for you.”

He snaps out another order. Vassily crouches awkwardly and takes off Craig’s right sneaker, then his sock. He ties Craig’s right ankle to the leg of the chair. Craig starts screaming and the big man slaps him to silence then inserts a dirty rag in his mouth.

“One last chance, my friend.”

Sokolov pauses as Craig makes pleading noises. Then he kneels to steady Craig’s pinioned foot, separating the toes. Craig throws his head back as the metal jaws close on him. This time, he does faint.

When he is brought around with another splash of water, Vassily is holding up Craig’s little toe. He puts it into a baggie as Craig watches, moaning.

A fourth person had joined the group. This one is in the corner by the warehouse door, a slightly odd-looking figure. Craig can’t focus on him at first; the pain is too severe. Sokolov is talking about toes, fingers, sharks. The newcomer moves forward so he is in the light, and Craig sees that the man is dressed in out-of-date clothes. And that he has a black circle about the size of a dime just above his left eyebrow.

Vassily pulls the gag out of Craig’s mouth and Sokolov offers him a drink from the water bottle. Craig accepts it, trying to think through the pain. The dead man is closer now, standing just behind and to the left of Sokolov. The ghost’s expression is curious, slightly amused.

“Now, my young friend,” Sokolov says, placing the bottle back on the ground. “You want to keep the rest of your toes, yes? So, you tell me where I can find this Stark.”

Craig responds with a flood of words, speaking rapidly.

“I don’t know where he is, but I know how he killed your friend.”

Sokolov looks surprised and slightly suspicious. But he gives a little shrug.

“Okay, this is progress. Tell me, how did he do this thing?”

Craig tells the truth.


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