Tavern of Terror Vol. 3: Short Horror Stories Anthology
Tavern of Terror Vol. 3: Short Horror Stories Anthology
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Have your fill of pure terror on the rocks…
Tragedy strikes twice when an enraged father discovers his son’s death was caused by bullying and sets out for bloody revenge. An adventurer seeking the true meaning of fear learns to be careful with what he wishes for. And a web of mystery leads a group of neighborhood children to investigate and carry the secret of their discovery well into adulthood…
Pull up a chair at Hannigan’s, the tavern of a thousand screams. Order a drink, as you enjoy the twelve magnificently macabre tales of terror in this bone-chilling new collection.
You lick your lips as another tale begins. Slamming your glass on the counter, you decide to get another. It’s addicting—this smooth, warm beverage. You peer at the crimson liquid inside… Blood.
Then you wake up, relieved it was all a dream.
Or was it?
You notice you’re not on your bed, your clothes and skin bloodstained, the previous night a blur.
You entered the Tavern of Terror a human. But left as a creature of the night.
And there’s no way back…
When you are forty-three thousand feet in the air, looking out of an open airplane door, the world is washed in blue. It looks like one of those scenes in old movies that they filmed with a blue filter on the camera. They called it day for night. It was a way of trying to make the scene look darker than it was because filming at night was much harder to do at the time. That was how the world looked when Declan Romer stepped out of the plane.
A typical skydive takes place at fourteen thousand feet. The descent lasts around sixty seconds, and it’s definitely a rush. A high-altitude skydive takes place at eighteen thousand feet. The diver gets a full twenty more seconds to experience free fall. When you’re falling at around two hundred miles per hour, that seems like a long time.
Above eighteen thousand feet is the point where commercial aircraft need to pressurize a cabin. Low oxygen makes it impossible to breathe. Diving from that height is very rare and usually only done with some kind of special arrangement. Declan made those special arrangements.
At forty-three thousand feet, Declan’s free fall would be somewhere in the neighborhood of four whole minutes. Of course, he’d have to pull his chute sometime after the three-minute mark. But it would be an experience like no other. Only a handful of people on Earth had ever jumped from such a height. Anyone else who experienced it did so because their plane broke apart.
There was no air to breathe, and the temperature when hurtling toward the ground like a comet was freezing. He wore a full-face mask with oxygen tanks strapped under his insulated suit. He looked like he’d been geared up to head to outer space. It wasn’t far off, really.
The fall was everything he had hoped it would be. Seeing the Earth from that height was like seeing eternity, he felt. Even the clouds looked minuscule and insignificant below him. He was beyond the reaches of life. He was looking down on all of Creation. Pompous, maybe. But it felt invigorating. It felt amazing.
His heart thundered in his chest as he spread his arms and simply fell. Gravity took hold of him and did what it had to do. The air rushed past as though it was a living thing, panicked to get him out of its way. There was no feeling like it.
Every second ticked past as an eternity. The surface crept closer and closer. He powered through clouds, his mask misting in the process. And then, below, the blue hue of the world faded away. He could see the networks of roads, the blocks of farmland, and the cities in the distance like a child’s plaything made from blocks.
The seconds were not truly eternal, of course. In time, his chute was deployed. The wind swept into its canopy and jerked him seemingly to a halt. His descent slowed considerably, petering out around seventeen miles per hour. He came to rest in a field, gliding in at an angle and running to a halt as the chute came to a rest behind him. The jump was a success. And then it was over.
He caught his breath as his team caught up with him. A truck branded with his name and corporate logo rolled up to the road next to the field in the distance. Living Beyond was the company he had founded, dedicated to extreme sports and outdoor enthusiasts. He produced a line of equipment ranging from parachutes to surfboards to mountain bikes and hang gliders. If it was something a person could use outdoors to feel a rush, Declan Romer made the best version of it on the market.
Declan’s own stunts served a dual purpose. They were great PR for the company. What skydiver wouldn’t be convinced of the quality of his gear after seeing him jump from a commercial plane? And they also served to help him chase that unattainable goal. To capture fear itself.
Most people assumed Declan was an adrenaline junkie. Maybe he was, but he never thought in those terms. He didn’t want the rush of adrenaline. Or he didn’t care about it. He wanted the fear. He wanted to feel like he was racing toward death. The goal, of course, was to not lose in that game of chicken. He triumphed over the fear. Every stunt he performed successfully was another notch in his belt.
Other so-called adrenaline junkies seemed to be slaves to the experience. Or that was how it appeared to Declan. They wanted the experience for the experience. They moved from one to another like dogs chasing pieces of kibble. It made no sense to him. It was not his goal.
Declan wanted to own fear. The rush from fear was like nothing else, and he understood why so many others craved it. What he did not understand was why everyone else was a slave to it. Why they let their fear rule them instead of the other way. In his mind, a person should control what they felt and when. After all, were people not expected to control their anger? To keep their egos in check? To be respectful in serious situations and so on and so forth? Why was fear the wild emotion that did as it pleased?
In his pursuits, Declan was doing more than just trying to experience fear. He was trying to learn it. If he could truly master fear, then he could experience it whenever and wherever he wanted. And that unparalleled experience, that natural high that made him feel alive like literally nothing else ever could, would be at his disposal.
His assistants packed up his gear into the truck. He did a quick interview for the company’s YouTube channel and posed for some promotional photos. When they were finished, he got in the truck, sat in the back by himself, and had a drink.
Most people understood his hobby as a part of his character. He was an extreme sports enthusiast. An athlete and entrepreneur. He liked to have fun and push the limits. All those easy-to-digest bits of public persona that sold products. In private, he pushed things much further.
He had picked up a police scanner years ago. The first night he had gone out to respond to a robbery call, he had found the suspect just fleeing the scene. The man had a gun drawn and had run into Declan on the sidewalk. He’d pushed the weapon into Declan’s face and told him to back off.
The man had run away, and Declan’s fear had reached a height he had almost never experienced in any extreme sport. The fear of dying, to come out of nowhere like that, was acute and intense. But it was so fleeting.
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