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Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Wanna See Something Really Scary?"

Since we're on the topic of things that are scary, I think this is a perfect time to introduce the side project that's been filling my brain of late. (Well, one of them, anyway.) It's one of my current writing projects: Scary Things.


Scary Things is about a bunch of kids from different cliques who, upon hitting adolescence, find that they suddenly have supernatural abilities. It's as much about discovering the full extents of these abilities (not to mention their origin) and the new reality they open up for the kids as it is about them having to transcend their social boundaries and biases to learn how to work together - which they'll have to do to survive in their strange, scary, new world.

And before we get to the meat of this article, let me head off something at the pass: the title, "Scary Things," is not in any way inspired or influenced by NetFlix's (awesome!) series, Stranger Things. Nor is its concept.

Scary Things actually began its life as the title of a set of miniatures skirmish game rules I was working on, shortly after I released New World Disorder. (In my former life as an indie game designer.) It was to be a horror-themed variant of the NWD rules, but it never got beyond the play-testing stage. The name later found new life as the title of a rules-lite, horror-themed role playing game concept I very briefly tinkered with.

Then, a few years ago, I awoke in the middle of the night and - as so often happens when I'm laying in the inky blackness, wide awake - ideas started pouring into my head for a story about a bunch of teens who are endowed with supernatural powers. It was an off-shoot of my quarter-century long horror RPG campaign, which I've considered turning into a series of books for almost as long. (Which, as of last year, I've finally begun to do, with my Fred Carter adventures.)

I knew immediately what the title of this story would be.

Thus, Scary Things, in its true form - the form that feels like the name deserved all along - was born.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, allow me to introduce to you: Scary Things.

. . . . .

Scary Things, Part One: "Endings and Beginnings"

Prologue

Maria had just finished her rounds of the nursery when the hospital lights went down for the night.

She stood in the doorway of the nurse's station and took one more moment to scan the room, thinking to herself how pleasantly quiet it had fallen. With the lights down and the half-dozen infants sleeping like, for lack of a better word, babies, the nursery was blissfully - and uncommonly - tranquil for this time of the evening.

She turned and went to set her clipboard on the desk at the station. As she did, she bumped the large orange and white cup of coffee she'd set there at the start of her shift. For half a heartbeat, she wondered how it had gotten so close to the edge of the desk. Then, it toppled over and, as she dove to catch it, hit the arm of the chair and seemed to explode - some into her face and the rest all over the front of her lime green scrubs.

She opened her mouth to curse but caught herself in time - realizing that the current tranquility of her evening shift was a fragile thing, susceptible to breakage by such things as a loud torrent of expletives. No spilled cup of coffee was worth the risk of filling the rest her shift with six screaming infants.

"Madre de Dios," she muttered under her breath, snatching up a nearby towel and wiping in futility at the cold coffee that was rapidly saturating her pants from the knees down.

It only took a few wipes to become clear to her that this wasn't going to be an easy cleanup. She glanced again over her shoulder at the nursery, as if something there might have changed in the few moments that had passed. She thought for a moment - a very brief moment - about calling someone from Maternity to come down the hall and watch over her charges while she went to clean up her mess. It's what she would normally have done - she took her responsibility as the infants' caregiver and protector with utmost seriousness.

But tonight the peacefulness of the sleeping babes seemed to fill her with a sense of security. She felt they would be all right. Just lock the door, her inner voice - the one that hardly ever led her astray - told her. They're sound asleep. They'll be fine.

She didn't give it a second thought - she went into the hall, closed the door behind her, and locked it with the key dangling from the rubber bracelet on her right wrist. Then, whistling a half-forgotten lullaby her grammy used to sing to her, she went up the hall to go get some fresh scrubs.

She didn't notice the human-like figure that moved up the hall behind her, cloaked deep in shadows that none of the hall lights were casting. Nor did she hear the same lullaby being softly whistled from the figure's lips, the bottom of which was swollen and split, causing blood to well up but not to run.

The shadowy intruder stopped at the locked nursery door and watched Maria as she continued down the hall, remaining still until she turned the corner and was out of sight. Then, it turned to the door, still cloaked in unnatural shadow. Its head, covered by a blood-stained silk scarf, bowed as it focused on the door handle. Its hands - also smeared with still-damp blood - reached toward the handle, but instead of grasping it, simply waved over it as a few words softly issued from its bloody lips.

A strange light played across the door handle and it turned easily. The figure raised its head and hands as if to push the door, which opened without being touched. The figure took one glance up and down the hall before it slipped into the nursery. The door swung silently shut behind it.

[Continue Reading...]

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