Long ago, I worked as an usher at a Boston movie theater. One of the movies playing was Poltergeist. Very popular, it stayed there for almost a year. I got to watch that movie over and over and over. I’d seen it all. And also the reactions of people in the audience: jolted out of their seats, involuntary screams, covering their eyes, reaching out to hold their partner’s or friend’s hands…
I saw one thing at a late-night show that has stayed with me.
A guy was helping his distraught friend leave the Poltergeist theater. Let’s call them Guy and Friend.
Friend collapsed onto the red carpeted floor with a long, low moan. Guy asked for someone to call an ambulance. One of my coworkers ran off to tell management.
Foamy spit bubbled from the corners of Friend’s mouth. His whole body was trembling. Not something I’d ever seen from a body builder type. Friend went into a fetal position, rocking his head back and forth slightly, sobbing softly. This wasn’t convulsions or a seizure. Something else was going on. This man was terrified.
My manager showed up – the frothy behavior went on for a while – we all felt helpless.
Two Boston policemen appeared, quietly, surprising everyone. Unlike any other experiences I’ve ever had with cops, before or since, these guys were oddly detached, cold, and menacing.
One of them prodded the shoulder of the prostate Friend with his shiny black shoe tip. That policeman laughed, then said, “Soft as a grape.”
In a disgusted voice, the other asked, “What happened to him?”
The Guy said, “We were watching the movie and he started saying no, no, no, not again.”
“Whaddya mean?” the disgusted cop asked.
The Guy answered, “Something about the ghosts scared him.”
The paramedics arrived on scene. The policemen reluctantly helped lift Friend’s limp body onto the gurney. He was taken away.
It makes me wonder what caused him to react that way?
In addition to his two short story books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, Jeff Parsons is published in The Horror Zine, The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories, Aphelion Webzine, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, SNM Horror Magazine, and Bonded by Blood IV/ V.
The Captivating Flames of Madness —
This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever.
What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?
If you dare, why not find out?
Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…