Tavern of Terror vol. 2: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Tavern of Terror vol. 2: Short Horror Stories Anthology
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Pull up a chair. And prepare for a scare…
An artist struggles to hold on to her soul as she feverishly completes a deadly masterpiece. The death of a movie producer unleashes an ancient reel of film with a dark secret worth killing for. And a woman gets the scare of her life as strange intruders break into her home...
Welcome back to Hannigan’s, the tavern of a thousand tales. In this cozy neighborhood pub, everyone has a story to tell. But those stories don’t always have a happy ending.
As you sip your drink and listen to another nightmarish tale, you slowly realize the crowd around you has changed.
Their whispers and murmurs become growls and snorts. And as the room grows darker, their eyes start to glow.
Claws and fangs gnash in the shadows, hungry for blood.
It’s closing time.
And it looks like the last drink is on you…
Lightning forked low over the storm-tossed sea, glistening against the dark water. It illuminated a wave an instant before it struck the rocks surrounding the lighthouse. Lucy braced her feet, ready to endure another onslaught of frigid water and seafoam. It was stronger than she had expected and almost threw her off her feet. She staggered to keep her balance. The safety line pulled taut, making the harness pinch.
The Grand Historical Museum hadn’t let the safety standards slip. The lighthouse had been built in 1884. When it was made obsolete, the small but respectable museum turned the lighthouse into a historical site.
The lighthouse was originally built without plumbing and electricity, and the museum had changed relatively little. Perched atop a rocky reef in the middle of the harbor, updates were impractical and expensive, though they had outfitted a closet with a camping toilet, mostly for the comfort of the tourists. Bottled water and wood-fed stoves handled the rest. But the museum had put in a generator for ‘luxury’ electricity. Functioning lightbulbs, a bar fridge, and the like.
It had become its own headache, though. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning meant the generator had to be kept outside. They had placed it a small shelter, but it was still at the mercy of the weather. It had to be turned off whenever a storm threatened to consume the small island. Other modern updates were the battery-operated safety measures. The radars and radios could last for days without the generator. The rest of the museum’s funding went into keeping the lighthouse functional for demonstration purposes.
Lucy was the lighthouse live-in tour guide, so turning the generator off during extreme weather conditions was part of her job. But she had left it too long to turn the generator off, and the storm had rolled in faster and harder than anticipated.
Not going out there in this storm untethered. Was dumb enough to wait too long, but not too dumb to venture out there without this, she thought as she attached herself to her harness, pulling it taut for good measure.
The crashing waves threatened to sweep her into the turbulent ocean as she went about the task. Grabbing the rope with one hand, she staggered to the generator box and reached inside. The raging sea surged towards her in frothing peaks as she flicked the switch. The generator gave a final jolt and fell silent. Darkness instantly engulfed the small bone-white lighthouse. Lucy’s eyes stung from the salt water, and she choked on the rain. Waves flooded the lighthouse’s concrete base. Seafoam gripped her ankles like icy hands.
At first, Lucy struggled to put back the hatch, but the lock finally slid into place. Straightening, she turned just as a wave crashed down upon her. Her knees buckled under the weight, and the surge dragged her to the edge. Her feet slipped under the safety rail. The harness jerked her to a stop with her legs dangling over the water. She grabbed the railing and pulled herself into a sitting position as the water drained away.
Over the heaving waves, Lucy spotted the city lights. They seemed farther away than they should have been. Another wave smacked her chest against the bars. And the howling wind slapped her raincoat’s hood painfully against her cheeks.
Then she heard a scream.
Lucy spun around. Wiping saltwater from her eyes, she blinked into the storm. She could barely tell the sky from the sea. Everything was just twisting shades of gray. Then a bolt of lightning snapped against the undulating waves. The instant it lit up the sky, she spotted something afloat far out to sea, but she lost track of it just as fast. Hearing the scream again, Lucy finally realized what she was seeing.
A boat! What idiot would be out in this storm?
Lucy grabbed her safety cord and lurched to her feet. Hand over hand, she fought the crashing waves, dragging herself back into the lighthouse. Misjudging her steps and suddenly without the force of the wind to fight against, she fell flat on her face.
“We were just about to drag you back in!” Kingsley’s normally light British accent flared up as he snapped. “Bloody stupid idea, Lucy.”
“Why didn’t you tell us you were going out there?” Brian asked.
“Brian, help me get this door sorted,” Kingsley said.
Cordelia crouched down and brushed back Lucy’s hood before helping her to her feet. “What you did out there looked needlessly dangerous.”
“I’m okay. I’m fine.” Coughing up water, Lucy scrambled onto all fours.
“Remember that talk we had?” Cordelia kept her voice soft and sweet. “You know, the one about how you maybe shouldn’t be so impulsive?”
“I wasn’t being impulsive. It’s my job to do it. Besides, I had the harness—look, forget it, okay? We have more a pressing matter to worry about. There’s a boat out there. We have to tell someone.”
“A boat?” Brian gripped the doorframe and leaned out into the storm. “Where?”
Kingsley had calmed down enough to switch back to his ‘professor’ tone. The one he used when giving lectures about the museum. “What exactly did you see?”
Lucy struggled to get out of her harness. “There were lights out there. It has to be a boat.”
“Are you saying you’re supposed to turn the lighthouse power off?” Cordelia asked. “I swear I’ve seen it on a few times.”
“The government asks us to leave it on for celebrations and the like,” Kingsley said.
“I still can’t see any boats out there.” Brian pulled back in, his long hair dripping with water.
Lucy tugged frantically on her harness, forcing the latches open with slick fingers. “I swear something was out there. Plus, I heard a scream.”
“If there is a boat out there, they would have shown up on the Coast Guard’s radar,” Kingsley pointed out. He pushed aside Lucy’s hands and worked the latches open. “Maybe the light you saw was the rescue team.”
“Or maybe it was the ghost ship,” Cordelia grinned.
Panic gave way to a small tendril of excitement. Belief in the paranormal was the cornerstone of their friendship.
It had started while having drinks at Hannigan’s. Chatting about monsters over beers. Gradually, they had started ghost hunting together. Now they just brought each other along when anything caught their interest. The ghost ship was something they had all heard about but never seen.
“I thought it only came in with the fog,” Brian said. “I’ve never heard of it being in a storm.”
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