Sunday, March 25, 2012

9 Days of Madness Presents: Extinguished, by Laurita Miller

The first time I saw Laurita Miller's name, we were sharing a table of contents in the "Elements of Horror" anthology. Laurita's story was one of the best of the bunch, and she's graciously allowed me to share it with you here today.

Since that first anthology, I've followed Laurita's writing, and found it to be the very definition of professionalism. She can relay a travelogue of her recent adventures with such colour that the reader is almost literally thrown into the shotgun seat and taken along for the ride.

In the next turn, she'll give you a slice of life that is equally believable in every detail and then, without warning, guide you lovingly into a haunted house full of foreboding and terror. When she sets her sights on telling a chilling tale from start to finish, though, it is truly something to behold.

She's a fellow Canadian, she contributed a phenomenal story to last year's "Eight Days of Madness", and she has another story  to tell you.

Here is "Extinguished."

~~ 9DOM ~~

Extinguished


He stood silhouetted in the red glow, the smoke from his cigarette mimicking the dark plumes rising from the house.  I stopped beside him and stood near the fence, watched flames flicker and climb with increasing hostility.  His expression was completely blank.  He may have been just another passer-by drawn by the acrid smell and morbid curiosity.

Several minutes passed before he spoke, his eyes never straying from the flames that now flicked through holes in the roof. 

“Lived here for twenty-three years,” he muttered.

I could tell that the old farm house and been pretty once, before neglect set in.  Even through the black soot and flames the peeling paint and broken railings were noticeable.

“Twenty-three years is a long time,” I said.

 He grunted.  “Too long.”

Sirens sounded in the distance, too far to make any difference now.  

“My wife picked out this house,” he said, then was silent once more. 

“Where is your wife?” I asked.

He stubbed the cigarette out on the sole of his boot, threw it on the ground, and looked back toward the house.

“She’s still inside.” 



~~ 9DOM ~~

Laurita Miller sits in the dark, spies on the neighbours, and writes what she thinks she sees. Her stories are scattered across the web and jotted on scraps of paper. She has trapped some of them on her blog Calling Shotgun.

9 comments:

  1. Wonderful story, Laurita. This could be read so many ways - as a tale of horror, or as a terrible tragedy and the man is numb with grief. Either way, it's fabulous. No wonder you loved it, Chris!

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  2. I agree. This could be read from different points of view, but it's the unknown factors that make it so unsettling. Thank you for not spelling it all out for us. The imagined is far worse.

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  3. A classic flash from a very versatile writer! I think it's the calm manner of the protag that gets me in this one, where you first confuse it with loss if belongings.
    Cheers Laurita!

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  4. As usual, Laurita, you manage to unnverve the reader in such a short period of time. The kind of story that will haunt you the rest of the day...

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  5. It's the matter of fact delivery that made this story so powerful to me, and the ending resonates long after this ends.

    So glad to have this as part of the 9DOM.

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  6. Its the blazing colors amongst the blank expressions and mutterings that get me. Your word choice is so precise. Yeah, call me a sicko, I think he's guilty. ;-) Love this Laurita. Fits perfectly in the 9 DOM.

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  7. I am left with the uncomfortable notion that those twenty three years were not happy ones,there is a deep aching sadness about this short encounter. Well done Laurita.

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  8. He finally had enough. You can tell he'd probably rehearsed this scenario hundreds of times before. Great job showing us the inner workings of his mind by presenting us with such mundane physical actions. Definitely unsettling.

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  9. Thanks all, and thank you Chris for once again throwing such a great party. :)

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