12/07/2022

Happy Horrordays 2022

Happy Horrordays with Santa hat

I hope you all have a great holiday! I wanted to give a brief update on my book's progress before the new year launches. So I now have 6 tales finished. The newest one is called "The Last House on Cedar Lane." This odd little tale reminds me of the classic Twilight Zone, which is cool since I'm a huge fan of that show. I've also started writing another tale that should be done by the end of this month. Anyway, see you in the new year with more updates. 🎄

11/05/2022

Beware Vermont's Bennington Triangle

girl in dark woods with monster
ILLUSTRATION SARAH CRONIN

I now have a fifth tale to join my horror tome and I'm calling it "The Goonyak". This story is slightly longer than my other short stories so far. I'll probably have a few longer ones in my upcoming book, but they're all relatively short tales. Anyway, the story takes place in southern Vermont on Glastenbury Mountain. Legend has it the mountain lies in the heart of the Bennington Triangle, which is known to be a hot zone for paranormal activity and strange disappearances. It's also known to be the home of a red-eyed, Bigfoot-type creature called the Bennington Monster. Well, I decided with this story to reinvent the monster, and that's why I renamed it The Goonyak. Let me just say, I'm thrilled with this monstrous reinvention, and I love how the tale turned out. Alright, here's an overall list of Bennington Triangle mysteries...

💀 Known for disappearances (between 1945-1950, five people vanished).

🛸 Known for UFO and Bigfoot sightings.

🗿 Legend has it there is a man-eating rock.

👻 The area is home to a cursed ghost town.

The Bennington Triangle is definitely a treasure trove of ideas and stories. I may revisit this creepy place for more tales down the road, but not in person. No way. 😱

10/31/2022

Horror on Interstate 89 (scary short story)

Every Halloween I release a free short horror story. Here's my tale for 2022. Happy Halloween!

Scary skull
ESTIMATED READ TIME: 5 minutes.
Copyright © 2022 Owen Mulligan. All Rights Reserved.

It was October 28, 2019, when it happened. Now I live in perpetual fear.


I was driving on a remote stretch of Interstate 89 heading home to Swanton, Vermont after visiting some friends in Massachusetts. It was around 2 AM and pitch dark with no moon in sight. There was no light pollution either since the next exit was at least thirteen miles away. It seemed like I was cruising through a black hole somewhere in the far reaches of outer space. I hadn’t seen another car or truck for miles. 


As I cruised along in silence, lost in my thoughts, something came into view in the headlights. Roadkill. I quickly swerved into the left lane and barely missed the bloody carcass. It looked like a young deer and a fresh kill. I switched on my high beams and sat up straight. Better stay alert or you’ll end up like that deer.


As the time passed and the miles stretched on, my eyelids grew heavy so I cracked open my window. The autumn air was brisk and carried the subtle musk of the decaying leaves and vegetation, which perked me up some. I turned on the radio. Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” played on the rock station. That perked me up even more. I turned up the volume and sped up my Chevy Malibu. Home was still at least two hours away.


Towards the end of the Ozzy song, the red glow of tail lights appeared in the distance ahead of me. I maintained my speed as the car came into sight. The interior lights were on, and the car moved at a snail’s pace. Probably only about 35 miles per hour. What are they doing? I eased up on the gas and switched off my high beams as I followed about forty feet behind. It was a Chevy Malibu like mine. Same color too. Silver ice, but it didn't have a license plate. Not even any temporary tags. Strange. I moved into the left lane to pass but the car started weaving in and out of its lane. I blared my horn and eased back. The asshole must be high or drunk. The car continued to weave so I slowed down even more and kept back at least eighty feet in the left lane. I was barely going 30. The speed limit was 65. I turned off the music and eyed my cell phone under the radio. Should I call the police? I wanted to get home and sleep. Not deal with this shit.


After a minute or so, the car stopped weaving. That was my chance. I hit the gas and grabbed the steering wheel tight with both hands. As I drove up next to the car from the left lane, I matched its sluggish speed. I needed to get a look at the driver. Better not weave into me asshole. I turned my head as far right as I could while holding my car steady. The driver’s window was down and he turned and stared at me with a wide leering grin. A chill slid down my spine, but not from his malicious expression. No, it was like looking into a mirror. The driver looked exactly like me. Caucasian with the same short black hair. Even the same face… the same eyes. Wake up! You’re sleeping at the wheel. Wake the Hell up!


That's what I thought at first, that I was dreaming and had fallen asleep at the wheel. But this was no dream. I was wide awake and somehow the driver was me. Not just a look-alike. Even under the crude interior light, I could tell. Those eyes staring back at me were mine, and they mocked me with a wicked glint. I turned away and hit the gas. Full force. 55… 65… 75… Screw the speed limit. My heart raced like the Chevy’s engine. I just wanted to get the Hell away. Get it together, you're overtired. You're seeing things. You don’t want to skid off the road and end up like that deer. 


I checked the rearview mirror. His headlights shrank into the darkness and out of sight so fast it was like I blasted off in a rocket ship. 85… 95… Slow down, he’s not chasing after you. I focused back ahead on the road and eased off the gas. Am I imagining all this or hallucinating? I’m too young to be going senile. I’m only 32 for Christ's sake. Maybe it was just a trick of light and shadow. My mind raced with my pulse. Take a deep breath. There’s gotta be an explanation. I breathed in the cold draft from my open window and slowly exhaled as I eased down to the speed limit. 


Good thing I slowed down. A state trooper was parked next to a no U-turn sign in the median strip between the two sides of the interstate. The cruiser’s lights were off. I slowed to 55 just to be safe. Sorry officer, I’m speeding to get away from myself. It’s an emergency. Surely you understand? I checked the rearview mirror as I passed the trooper on my left. Shit. The glow of headlights appeared in the distance. Is that him? My dead ringer? He must’ve sped up. Maybe the trooper will pull him over. If he sees the car has no plates or tags he will. Please, please pull him over. Just keep him away from me. I kept an eye on the rearview mirror and prayed for the blue lights to flash. The headlights grew closer. The highway was mostly straight and level from this point so I could see way back into the distance. I slowed my speed to 40 to keep him in sight. The blue lights flashed. Thank God. The car pulled over into the shoulder with the blue lights close behind. I turned my focus back on the road ahead and hit the gas. If only the trooper could lock him up and throw away the key. At least he'll probably get a ticket with a hefty fine.


***

Later that night, I sat like a vegetable on my couch with a TV dinner and some beers. I just wanted to forget what had happened. I clicked through the TV channels with my remote. Nothing really piqued my interest until I came upon the evening news.


“...a Vermont state trooper was dragged and run over during a traffic stop early this morning,” announced the blonde anchorwoman. “We have the dashcam footage but I warn you, it is disturbing…” 


I sat completely still as I watched the video from the trooper’s dashcam come up on screen.


Sgt. Henry Morris pulled over the driver on Interstate 89 at 2:41 AM…” The anchorwoman's narration faded from my mind as my stomach tightened up in a knot. 


It was the same silver ice Chevy Malibu with no plates parked on the shoulder of the highway. The trooper stood at the driver’s window. It looked like they were arguing. The Chevy then took off with the trooper caught on the door. It dragged him down the highway for what looked like 40 yards before he broke free. The car stopped as the trooper started to get up. I shouted at the TV, “Hurry! Get out of the road!” Too late. The car backed up full speed and ran over the trooper. You sick bastard. The car sat idle for a moment, then bolted forward and drove over the mangled trooper again as it sped away.


“...the unidentified driver is still on the run and is wanted for murder,” the anchorwoman continued.


My hands trembled as I switched off the TV with my remote. What if they identify the driver? If he’s me then I could be held accountable… couldn't I? But it’s not me, not really. I could never do something like that. Jesus. How many people has this imposter thing killed? Am I next?


I decided that night it was time to buy a gun. And so now I wait. Always armed. Always vigilant.



Copyright Notice: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on this blog are the property of (and under copyright to) Owen Mulligan, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform (this includes YouTube and TikTok), or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of the author.

10/13/2022

My New Halloween Tradition

Jack-o'-lantern Halloween pumpkin

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. It's been that way since I was a kid. I have fond memories of dressing up in spooky costumes, and trick-or-treating with my family, and later on with my friends as I grew into my teen years. I actually went trick-or-treating up until I was about 18 or so, which some people considered too old. Maybe for them, but not for me. Halloween traditions should be for all ages, whether it's trick-or-treating, telling scary stories, watching horror movies, carving jack-o'-lanterns, or visiting haunted houses. You're never too old for some spooky fun. Anyway, that leads me to my new Halloween tradition. Starting this year, I'll be releasing a new short horror story for free every Halloween. This October, the tale is "Horror on Interstate 89". See you on 10-31!

9/13/2022

Book Update: The Crow Joins the Tome

I can't believe it's September already, and the summer is fading away. It always seems to go by so fast. At least for me. Summer is my favorite time of year. Anyway, I'm thrilled to announce I have a new short story finished called "The Crow". So now I have 4 completed stories for my upcoming book. I plan on starting another story this month but I'm not sure what it will be called yet. The goal is 16 terrifying tales overall. I think that's a good amount of stories for a collection. Some collections only have 10 or 13 tales, and some over 30. What do you think? 🐦💀

8/13/2022

Book Update: 3 Short Horror Stories in the Can

I started writing my horror book the last day of June. It's now one month and 13 days later and I have three short stories completed. I'm actually surprised I've written this many this fast because I'm usually a slow writer. At least with screenplays, which I've been writing since 2008. 

Many of those screenplays I made into short films, and one of them was made into a feature-length film. It's clear to me now that the change to prose is a better fit for me. I don't have to worry about all the hassles and limitations of an independent film production, and I can let my imagination run free. I think that's why I'm writing so quick. 

Anyway, the stories so far are "Horror on Interstate 89", "In the Walls", and "Someone at the Door". I'm aiming for 16 scary stories overall. The book (currently untitled) should be out next Halloween. That is the goal. More updates to come as things creep along. 📕🖋💀

8/01/2022

8 Tips For Writing Short Horror Stories

Have you been writing short horror stories for a few years or maybe only a few days? These tips will help improve your short stories and even longer stories too. Keep in mind: there are no rules. These are only guidelines.

Giant spider creeping up on a child.
💀 Make your prose scary!

1. Start with what scares you. 

Heights? Losing your teeth? Spiders? Clowns? Are there situations or places that scare you? Explore your fears.

2. Limit the number of characters.  

Readers connect with your story through your characters. Too many and your readers will fail to identify with them and may even have trouble telling them apart. For flash fiction and super short stories, no more than three characters are probably best.

3. Limit the time frame of the story. 

You don't want your plot going slack so it's best to compress the action into the briefest time period possible. Having the story take place over several days or hours or "real-time" in most cases is going to be more effective than spreading a short story out over weeks or months or years. There are always exceptions of course.

4. Establish the Setup.

The setup should be established right away, especially in a short story. This should include:

✔ The setting/backdrop: time period (when), location (where), is it day or night?

The tone (atmospheric/creepy).

The viewpoint character (your main character who the story is being told through).

The viewpoint character's story goal/motivation (which may change as the story progresses).

The inciting incident that jump-starts the story into action. 

You can delay the inciting incident a bit by foreshadowing or hinting at the conflict to come. Basically, get this stuff established and out of the way so your reader is grounded in the story and then you can pull the rug out from under them and slowly scare their pants off.

5. Choose your POV wisely.  

POV (point of view) is the perspective from which your story is told. For horror, a close POV with your main character is key. This puts you right there with them and even inside their head so you know what they're thinking and feeling. That's why I recommend writing in a first person POV or a close third person POV. Here's a great article on POVs.

6. Use the 5 senses.  

Once again this is why a first person or close third person POV is key. We can SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TASTE, and TOUCH along with the main character. Although, don't try to force all of these into your story. Use them where they would naturally fit so you can enhance what the reader is experiencing... fear.

7. Use internal dialogue.

Basically, internal dialogue is what your character is thinking. It's the conversation they have with themselves. This is why first person or a close third person POV are key. We can get inside their head and eavesdrop. This is one of your most powerful tools as a writer but you also don't want to overuse it. Here's a great article on using internal dialogue.

8. Avoid cliches.

If you're writing horror, I'm assuming you're a horror fan. Take note of all the genre cliches. The things you've seen or read a million times or the plot points you can sense coming from a mile away. My advice is to avoid them or twist them up so your readers have no idea what's going to happen next. Don't be predictable! Here's a list of 44 horror cliches.

7/19/2022

5 Classic Short Horror Stories You Can Read Online For Free

Are you in the mood for some creepy old tales? Delve into these classic short stories by some of the greatest masters of horror and suspense. All 5 of these famous tales are available to read online for free...

A cursed monkey's paw that grants three wishes.

1. The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs

Three wishes are granted to the owner of the Monkey's Paw, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate. The story was first published in 1902 in the collection The Lady of the Barge.

2. The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood

A man accompanies his adventurous aunt to a notorious house where, a century ago, a servant was murdered by her jealous suitor. The story was first published in 1906 in the collection The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories.

3. The Scythe by Ray Bradbury

A man and his starving family discover a dead wheat farmer who is grasping a single blade of wheat and leaves his farm to who ever discovers him. The story was first published in the July 1943 issue of Weird Tales.

4. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

A small American town prepares for its annual tradition—a lottery in which every family must participate, and no one wants to win. The story was first published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker.

5. The Outsider by H. P. Lovecraft

A mysterious individual who has been living alone in a castle for as long as he can remember decides to break free in search of human contact and light. The story was first published in the April 1926 issue of Weird Tales.

7/13/2022

Welcome to the Scares

Greeting ghouls! My name is Owen Mulligan, and I started this blog to share my book-writing adventures. My focus is horror and sometimes a bit of science fiction. The first book I'm working on will be a collection of short scary stories, probably 16 tales overall. So feel free to comment on my blog posts with the kind of stories you like or any questions you may have. l love to hear from readers and horror fans. Oh, and by the way, I'm releasing one of my short stories for free this Halloween so you can get a taste of my prose. It's called "Horror on Interstate 89". See you on 10-31 for a creepy treat! 💀🍬