Halloween Extravaganza: Mr Michael Squid: STORY: The Crochet Grandpa

And here, story number three. I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am…

The Crochet Grandpa

My grandma Florence passed away last weekend, and after the service concluded, we all drove teary-eyed to her old house to pick up keepsakes. My sister Lucy got the heavy, bronze Art Deco lamp we used to marvel at, and my parents picked up her old photo albums. I headed up into the attic to look for mementos small enough for my little apartment, and I opened a chest that I’d found by the window. My heart pounded and I gasped for air, processing suppressed memories of what lay folded in that chest.

The highlights of my childhood had always been of sleeping over grandma and grandpa’s house for a week at a time during fall and winter, when my mom was out-of-state for work. My sister Lucy and I would get so excited on our way to the grandparents house, eager to watch R-rated action movies with grandpa Abe while grandma prepared a delicious dinner. I’d cozy up on the footrest of grandpa’s plush, la-z-boy recliner while Lucy bounced on the long sofa set in a sugar high. We’d eat plenty of iced cream and chocolaty cereals, and we’d live like spoiled royalty when there. When grandpa began struggling to stay awake and slowing down, he saw a doctor who explained he urgently needed a pacemaker. He went under for the surgery one day and he never woke up.

Grandma Florence was absolutely devastated. The two of them had been together since high school, and she fell into an overwhelming depression soon after his death. We’d visit every so often to try and cheer her up, but even as a child of seven, I could tell by her distant gaze that she was absolutely heartbroken. Almost half a year later, my aunt announced she was pregnant, and my grandma began crocheting little hoodies and beanies for my cousin to wear when he arrived. Her hobby became an obsession after her loss, and she began to crochet mittens, scarves and sweaters for the unborn kid, mailing them practically faster than my aunt could unwrap them.

At the end of September, my parents suggested my sister and I spend a week at grandma’s place for the first time since losing grandpa. We packed our clothes and books into the station wagon and then bounced along during the bumpy car ride through the countryside to grandma’s place with building excitement. Soon enough, that small little farmhouse with old windows and floors that creaked appeared on the horizon. As a kid, that little house seemed like a massive mansion of awaiting adventure as we’d pull into the driveway.

It was a Friday evening, the sun just beginning to sink orange on the horizon. We were greeted by our lone grandma’s glowing smile and twinkling eyes amid her silver, tied up hair. The car heaved to a stop and we rushed out the back doors and up into her open arms for hugs. My sister and I giggled as we ran in and kicked off our boots, just like old times as the parents talked. As we entered the living room, however, I stopped in my tracks and froze at the sight of that thing on grandpa’s blue, plush recliner.

Propped upright in the seat was a human-sized doll made of frizzy yarn, with crocheted pink skin and a white, tasseled mustache resembling grandpa’s. My jaw hung down as I realized it was wearing my grandpa’s khakis and striped yellow button-down shirt. My little sister looked as confused as I. Curiosity led us around the recliner and we stared into the life-sized doll’s woven yarn face. It looked somehow obscene, the tiny button eyes sat in thick, pink lids over a horrid mouth that didn’t look right. We screamed as cold, wrinkled hands slid onto our shoulders from behind us.

“Oh, don’t be frightened, he’s just a doll!” grandma sang in a chipper tone. Perhaps I might not have been so upset if she’d captured the likeness of our grandpa Abe, but that pink thing she’d woven together on that couch held only the slightest resemblance. On that minimal face was a lopsided, pink triangle nose and small, beady eyes. Under the white yarn mustache, a mouth of white, oval teeth were framed by puffy, pink lips that looked far creepier than grandpa’s warm smile she’d tried to capture.

That evening in the kitchen, I poked at a melting lump of ice cream in a bowl with my spoon as we talked about what we were going to ask Santa for, come Christmas time. I tried to just enjoy the company of my grandma, and I was truly glad she seemed happy again, but my gaze kept drifting to that stitched, pink hand on the recliner armrest, visible from my seat in the kitchen. It was freaky-looking and unsettling, yet it seemed to fill some void left by Abe’s death for her, so I just bit my tongue as the evening slipped into night.

We eventually headed back to the living room to watch some low-budget movie Lucy had picked from the shelf of VHS tapes, and I exhaled with relief when grandma picked up that large, creepy, crochet man and took it out of the room, aware I was staying clear of it. I watched the face of that doll as she walked away with it, its head staring over her shoulder as if watching me.

My sister conked out for the night soon after my grandma while I stayed up late, enthralled by the glow of GoldenEye on the large-screen TV in the den. As the credits eventually rolled and I was transported back to life as a small child, I pressed stop on the remote and felt small and vulnerable in the dark shadows of the house. I practically tiptoed over the carpet into the shadowy hall, trying to get that awful face of that giant doll out of my head. I climbed the soft, carpeted stairs quickly, and I ran into the guest room and dove under the covers after shutting the door completely.

I woke in the dead of night from a creaking sound from inside the bedroom. I stared at Lucy’s bed and saw she was fast asleep, balled up under the layered blankets with just a tuft of her blonde hair sticking out from under them. My eyes fought to adjust to the dim, blue light of the room, and I strained to lift my head as I noticed the door. It was cracked slightly, maybe 2 inches at the most, but in that thin sliver, I saw that beady, crochet eye, watching me. I don’t remember falling asleep that night. I just remember staring at that eye in the gap of the door for hours, filled with absolute terror. I’d prayed my mind was playing tricks as time stretched on. I eventually passed out from exhaustion.

The next day I was woken by the smell of bacon and pancakes. I was under-slept and on edge, and the clatter of dishes startled me as I meandered downstairs to the kitchen to join grandma and Lucy at the kitchen table. I thanked her for the plate of syrupy goodness and loaded my fork with a whopping, fluffy bite. Grandma tousled the hair on my sleepy head before she walked over to get the orange juice. I was about to bite in when I looked past the kitchen into the dining room and I dropped my fork with a loud clang. Seated there at the long, dining room table was that horrifying crochet man, propped upright and facing me, those little, unfeeling eyes locked onto mine.

“Grandma, it’s staring at me!” I finally blurted out and felt warm, salty tears flow down my face. “It was looking in at me in our room last night and I couldn’t sleep!” I cried, wiping my snotty nose with my sleeve. My grandmother rushed back over to hug my head in her soft, wrinkly arms.

“Oh my sweet dear, it’s just a doll! Like all those stuffed animals I made you as a kid, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” She tried to console me by walking over and picking it up from the seat and bringing it over to me. “Just touch it, you’ll see. It’s just wire, yarn and stuffing, nothing to be afraid of, honey.” She pulled my small hand over to touch the woven skin and I squeezed, feeling the soft cotton like the stuffed animals I’d owned as a child. I breathed out in relief, realizing how silly and scared I was acting, but then felt something inside that arm twitch and I screamed.

It felt like a thin, bony cat’s leg but much, much longer. Lean muscle tensed and flexed and I saw the arm bend slightly at the crook of the elbow in reaction. I screamed and scrambled back on the old linoleum kitchen floor, staring at the large, crochet grandpa doll that sat there, staring dead into my eyes with that terrible, toothy face. Grandma lifted me by the shoulders, trying to calm me down with her back to that dummy. I screamed as I watched the long, crocheted limbs bend back, as if something was wearing that mesh-work man like a costume worn the wrong way. The large doll rapidly scampered the few feet around the corner on all four, backward-bending limbs, and I blacked out.

When I woke up, I was in the guest bedroom, my mother standing over me, wiping the sweat from my head. I’d a high fever, and they attributed what I saw to my temperature and a ‘child’s imagination’, despite my insistence it was real. I drooled as I cried hysterically, telling my mom that the doll was alive, I saw it move on its own, I had felt it. My parents repeatedly told me there was a wire armature within to keep the form, and apologized extensively to my grandma. They decided to drive us back early due to my fever. My resentment for them not believing me quickly vanished after I’d gotten well, when I realized how absolutely absurd it all sounded.

I saw my grandma plenty after that weekend, but never saw that doll again. she told me she put it in storage because of my episode that day. “Nothing scares my favorite grandson and gets away with it,” she’d said with a sly smile, and with that it was gone and quickly forgotten. The years passed and I spent plenty of time with my grandmother, listening to her sage advice as I fell in and out of love and changed multiple jobs after landing in the city. I’d bring her desserts my fiancée baked years later when she became too sore from arthritis to cook. My grandma was my favorite person until her passing last week in her sleep. A week before today.

30 years after that weekend, I stared down at that folded, life-sized doll in the chest, reliving those disturbing memories that flooded back. Opening that lid had released a pungent, gamy smell that lingered in the dusty, attic air. Along the interior of the wooden chest were dozens of long claw marks, gouging splintered grooves out from the old wood. My eyes widened and my heart pounded as I looked down at the bottom right corner of the chest, which had burst outward from the inside. Old, white stuffing trailed out from the chest along the dusty planks of the attic, over to the broken glass windowpane overlooking the woods beyond.

I can’t stop replaying the horrifying events of that weekend, that now seem unquestionably real, over and over again. I can’t tell whether something somehow grew to adulthood inside of that cotton to fill out the shape, or whether something had slipped inside it at some point. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know the answer. What I do know is I haven’t yet found a keepsake from grandma’s possessions.

Just something I desperately need to burn.

Mr. Michael Squid will drag you deep into a well of unfiltered nightmares. Horror without seatbelts or breaks that will make you think and make you terrified.

The First Cryogenically Frozen Person Has Been Revived

A breakthrough in cryonics unfolds in a horrific tale of unexpected chaos. A discovery of unaired television shows reveals an sinister plot to cover up the existence of dangerous artifacts. This is a collection of chilling tales of nightmarish worlds hidden just below the surface.

Where the Light Stops Dead

A collection of 50 creeping horror stories that dig deep into your mind and won’t let go. 50 unconnected tales that will unsettle and horrify, reaching beyond common tropes as different narrators pull you into their nightmarish situations and malevolent minds.

Halloween Extravaganza: Mr Michael Squid: STORY: The Gristmill Cyclops

Here is Mr Michael Squid’s second offering…

The Gristmill Cyclops

Cancer is the first thing I learned to truly hate at the age of 9. I’d curse its name and punch the bark of trees in the woods next to my home until my red knuckles split and bruised. My mother tried to tell me about foster families that would love me and care for me, but each time I’d storm out into those woods, suffocated by the thought of losing her. I’d sit and lean on the trees feeling so small.

I spent every day after school getting lost in those woods, eager to escape my frustrations. The babbling waters of the creek would whisper comfort and the trees would sway like welcoming arms. Fantasy wore thin with the onset of hunger, however, and I’d eventually trudge back home through the fallen leaves to my sick mother.

One day she came back from the hospital with glassy eyes. That evening she told me it had spread throughout her body. She presented a will for me to look at, her face looking paper-thin over her skull. I bolted out the door and ran farther into those trees than I’d ever gone.

That was the day I found the mill.

The trees thickened yet I struggled on, running from a pain no nine-year-old should face. The dappling of sun scattered sparingly on the forest floor as I pushed through dense clusters of trees. Eventually I stumbled upon a derelict stone building, overgrown with ivy and dark, twisted branches. Ancient stonework crumbled under the sagging wooden roof, and a splintered waterwheel sat warped and rotten in a dried up creek. It was an old grain mill, abandoned for decades and overrun with trees. The beauty of nature reclaiming the stone building was timeless and almost magical, but as I looked closer at the cracked door, I saw a wide, staring eye.

My blood chilled and I began to run, but then a deep, creaky voice called out to me “Wait.” I froze in my worn out boots then turned to face the doorway.

“Why are you here, boy?” asked the gravelly voice.

I watched the door with a pattering heart as it creaked open slightly, revealing a tall silhouette; only the sliver of his yellow eye and a filthy grey beard were illuminated in the shadows.

“You look sad” the voice spoke low and soft, “I am sad too. My animals are hungry and I’m too weak to reach their feed. I’m afraid I’ll lose them.” His voice was tender, tinged with the bitter pain, but his reply only angered me. I lashed out, unable to hold my tongue.

“My mother is dying, I don’t care about your stupid animals!” I screamed and collapsed to my knees weeping as snot and tears swirled salty streams down my chin.

“I’m sorry,” the voice continued, “I lost my parents in a fire when I was around your age, I lost my place in society as well because of the scars from those flames. I know what loss is.”

The door opened fully, and I saw a deformed, hideous face. His left side was missing an eye, and a gaping wound cut through his skull to his jaw as if half of his face had been eaten away around the shiny, pink skin. I was shocked at the twisted appearance of the one-eyed man, but I didn’t run.

“I’ve been unable to find a job or a friend all these cold and lonesome years. Only the animals stay with me, regardless of what I look like. That’s why they are so important to me.”

My heart opened in empathy, his animals were all he had since he was nine, my age. My problems seemed smaller and I walked up a few paces, embarrassed for snapping so coldly.

“I-I’m sorry. I’m sorry your life has been so hard,” I stuttered.

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve seen the flowers bloom in the spring and the trees shift hue in spectacles of beauty. I’ve heard birds sing ballads so divine they’ve made me weep. I’ve watched a doe teach her fawn to walk on the frozen creek when it still ran, and they have all since become my family. For every moment of pain and loss there has been one of happiness and tranquility. Sometimes we need to shed tears in order to water new seeds.”

The old man opened the door and walked slowly inside to fetch a cup from the counter as he continued speaking. I kept my distance but walked closer to hear, watching him as he hunkered down into a creaking chair and sipped from a dirty old cup.

“This mill was the one job I could keep, looking the way I do. I would work alone with the animals and leave sacks of grain for the pickup each week in this gristmill. But once the river ran dry, the work was gone. I expected to die soon after, but look at me.”

I nearly jumped back as he threw something towards me, thumping the ground then rolling to my feet, only to realize it was a round apple. I picked it up, turning the small green apple streaked with red blush in my fingers. I looked up to see the apple tree twisting up through the old mill’s cracking roof.

“Some things burn brightly to help others grow,” he said solemnly, looking up at the sun.

I knew he wasn’t talking about the apple tree that had overtaken the decrepit mill. He was talking about my sick mom and me. I tried to squeeze my eyes shut but the tears trickled down regardless. As much as it hurt to face the truth, I knew his words were needed. I wiped my snotty nose with my tattered sleeve. The man walked further in and I heard a weak animal’s cry, and curiosity pulled my feet up to the door of the worn-out structure as he kept talking.

“Please come in, don’t be afraid. I’ve been screamed at, attacked, insulted and called a monster. I’ve shed many tears from this one eye. Sometimes monsters look like the ordinary people. Beautiful women with makeup and jewelry signing deals to bulldoze the trees and blacken the air. Handsome, rich men in shiny suits that take everything from the people who work hard.”

The air was musty and thick in the old mill and as I peeked in the door. I saw a large, open chamber with hay on the ground, and heard weak animal cries. I no longer feared the old man, I felt bad for him, and I spotted the large feed bags high on a shelf, dusty and out of reach. I walked a bit inside towards the forms of the animals lying on the hay in shadow, whimpering. Once inside, I was startled by his low voice just behind me at the door. I spun around.

The tall man stood over me, his wide, glaring eye next to the hole eaten into his scarred face over a horrible, wide grin. The padlock in his wrinkled, knobby fingers slipped into metal loops on the door as he continued.

“And sometimes they look like me.”


The padlock snapped shut on the metal latch screwed into the wooden door. I tripped backwards into the hay, towards what I thought were animals. I saw the split flesh and gagged mouths and pleading, horrified eyes. They were people, naked, filthy and hog-tied with chunks of the flesh from their calves and forearms hacked away. The bloody white of bone sat exposed in pits of crusted blood and oozing infection. I screamed as the tall old man wheezed a phlegm-filled, raspy laugh, damaged by decades of grain dust.

The man’s sinewy arms reached for me as he approached, and I ran from him, among the butchered victims squirming in the filthy hay. The smell of death was unbearable, and I saw a few burned, blackened bodies crawling with maggots in a corner near a high open window, likely there to vent the pungent stench.

The one-eyed man charged at me with a wide grin of rotted, yellow teeth, and I squeezed the small apple in my hand that he’d rolled to me earlier. My heart thundered in my small chest as I threw the apple hard and true. A loud thuck accompanied an angry howl as it slammed the man’s one eye, and he shrieked in pain, clawing up at his face with gnarled fingers. I ran to the pile of bruised, decaying corpses under the window, knowing it was the only way out.

My fight-or-flight response drove as I scampered up the slippery skin, crunching the bones within and I vomited from the smell of the soft, ripping flesh between my desperate fingers. I found footholds in exposed ribs and cracking spines in the charred, mushy meat as I climbed. My fingernails bent back in excruciating pain as I clawed up the stone wall from the shaky stack of rotted bodies. He was almost on me.

Adrenaline pumped through me as I pulled myself up and over the sill, falling out the high window. A painful thud knocked the air out of me and I hit the ground and rolled on the dry leaves before rising in pain. I ran, covered in rancid fluids, screaming through the woods like a madman. I finally made it back home and into the arms of my worried mother.

We called the police, but he was already gone by the time they’d reached the mill. The decomposing remains of twelve adults and two children were discovered, but the two women and a man who were found alive were expected to recover, though in need of partial amputation of their butchered limbs.

I lost my mother just two months later, but we had profound, deep talks about love and life before then. We shared dreams, secrets and smiles, and I promised her I’d be safe, and she promised she’d always be with me. I stopped running away from the emotions and started listening to her wisdom and advice. She had wanted to prepare me for life without her as best as she could in the limited time she had left, and I treasured each moment with her until she died.

The body of that murderer, dubbed “The Gristmill Cyclops” by the local papers, was discovered by a hiker soon after. He was found to be the same 9-year-old child who had gone missing after killing and eating pieces of his parents back in 1953. The fire that took half his face was accidental, a result of him attempting to cook their bodies. His only recorded words before escaping the paramedics in ’57 were included in the article. My hair stood on end as I read the familiar quote in that vile context. “Some things burn brightly to help others grow.

Mr. Michael Squid will drag you deep into a well of unfiltered nightmares. Horror without seatbelts or breaks that will make you think and make you terrified.

The First Cryogenically Frozen Person Has Been Revived

A breakthrough in cryonics unfolds in a horrific tale of unexpected chaos. A discovery of unaired television shows reveals an sinister plot to cover up the existence of dangerous artifacts. This is a collection of chilling tales of nightmarish worlds hidden just below the surface.

Where the Light Stops Dead

A collection of 50 creeping horror stories that dig deep into your mind and won’t let go. 50 unconnected tales that will unsettle and horrify, reaching beyond common tropes as different narrators pull you into their nightmarish situations and malevolent minds.

Halloween Extravaganza: Mr Michael Squid: STORY: The Place Where Reality Broke

Mr. Michael Squid has honored us with three stories to wet our taste buds on his work. Sit back and enjoy the first of the three…

The Place Where Reality Broke

It started with a strange text from Bill, my good friend and fellow Gunnison, Colorado native. Every Sunday, he’d send me a text reading “Pool?” and we’d meet up at a little dive bar to shoot a few games. It was essentially just an excuse to get loaded and gripe about our jobs, but I was fine with that. This Sunday he texted me as per usual, but something was clearly up.

“Can I stop by?” the text read. This was odd. He’d only ever been by my place a few times to give me a ride when my car was being fixed.

“I guess, what for?” I responded, but he didn’t reply back. About five minutes later I heard my gravel driveway crunch under the tires of his truck. He’s a ten-minute drive down Owl Creek from me, so it was clear he must’ve been either idling nearby or driving over when he’d texted. I slipped on my boots and flannel and headed out into the fresh mountain air to greet him.

Bill is a 30-year-old with a barrel chest and a frizzy, copper beard. He’s a burly guy who never backs down in an argument and I never saw him scared. Not until he stepped out of his vehicle and watched me with round, nervous eyes.

“Took your sweet time driving over here,” I tried to joke, but it fell flat. Bill approached with an intense, distracted gaze I’d never before seen on his usually jovial face. I only then noticed his tattooed hands were trembling at his sides, shaking like he was wrought with Parkinson’s.

“I need you to see something. Something in the woods. I feel like I’m losing my goddamn mind.” Bill’s face was pale and creased with worry behind that burly beard.

My stomach squirmed. Had he done something bad? Had he hurt someone?

“Bill, what’s going on. Talk to me.”

“Just… come with me and tell me you see what I see when we get there?” He rubbed his jacketed elbows as if it was cold, but it was a sunny 68°. Only a few streaked clouds trailed across the sprawling Colorado sky.

“Sure thing, I can do that Bill. Are you in some kind of trouble?” I had to ask.

“No, nothing like that. Just come and take a look at something. Please.” Bill turned back to his truck. I begrudgingly followed over and climbed in, smelling the bitter stink of cigarettes and spilled whiskey. Bill pulled a Winston from the pack and lit up. I’d never seen him smoke before, not once. As soon as I shut the heavy door with a clunk, he put the truck in drive.

The pines sped by in a blur as he drove, his gaze fixed ahead. The cigarette was clamped tightly in his lips, burning down as he gazed ahead with a thousand-yard stare. I expected him to tell me what this was all about, but he just drove silently as anxiety bubbled up in my gut. Before long, he turned on to 133 and kept driving deeper into the middle of nowhere.

“Where are we going man?” I was nervous by that point, a little scared even.

“Just up ahead.” The scrub gave way to spruces which grew in dense clusters. Soon, Bill turned off the road and we jostled around like rag dolls within the shaking vehicle. Bill parked on the shoulder, switched the car off and yanked up the e-brake. He hopped out of the truck and I followed, compelled by the curiosity of what this was all about.

“Follow me.” His voice was atonal and cold.

“Look, you’re just kind of worrying me,” I responded, but Bill just hiked down into the swaying trees. I followed close behind through the thicket, crunching pine cones with my boots, and I listened. It was ominously quiet, not a bird chirped. Then Bill spoke.

“I was out here hunting. Tagged an eight-point buck, right? I followed it down here,” he said, leading me through low-hanging branches that clawed at my flannel. I began to worry that he’d accidentally shot someone. Still, I held that thought inside as I followed his steady march down through the slope of trees.

“It starts here” Bill raised his eyebrows as he turned to face me.

“What does?” I asked, but then noticed it. The tangy smell of ozone filled my nostrils and I felt a subtle vibration in my bones. With each step, green pine needles on the trees seemed denser and more oddly patterned.

Bill reached a calloused hand down to the forest floor, picking up a pine cone from the scattered debris of dead leaves and coiling pine needles. He locked eyes with me to make sure I was watching, and then he lobbed the pine cone underhand across the clearing.

It coasted and slowed in mid-air to a complete stop. Four and a half feet off the ground.

I tilted my head as if it might help to process the impossible sight. It didn’t.

“You see that too?” Bill’s voice was dripping with eagerness. “Tell me you see it too.”

“I see it. How—” I asked in a whisper. I walked towards the pine cone that hovered effortlessly in the air as if reality itself had been paused. It was impossible, beautiful and surreal. It scared the hell out of me. I lifted a hand up and felt the hairs on my arm stand up. It was a lovely day in an Aspen forest clearing, but the air was cold and dense.

I reached my index finger slowly out to the pine cone, feeling a tingle in my nerves and a bassy rumble from within my bones. With a tiny tap of my finger, the woody thing skidded through the air, coasting a few inches forward before slowing once again to a stop.

“I thought I was going crazy,” Bill explained, and he smiled the unnerving grin of a madman. His smile dropped instantly, however, once the agonized cry burst out of the shadows ahead. It sounded like an animal’s scream. Pained and bleating, the cry echoed from the spears of pines that led further down into the ravine.

“The buck. Jesus, it’s still alive.” Bill’s head shook slowly from side to side as he continued carefully down into the shadows of the path. I followed, but couldn’t help but stop to marvel at the levitating pine cone as I walked past. My mind scrambled to understand how gravity didn’t apply to it. It was magical, unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. I tapped it with my finger once again, watching it coast impossibly through the air before slowing once again to a complete stop. When I looked back up to Bill, he’d vanished into the trees ahead.

“Bill?” I called out, carefully stepping down the slope into the shadowy copse of trees. With each step deeper within, things seemed to change.

That sharp ozone smell grew in intensity and the temperature dropped. Goosebumps covered my arms and my breaths manifested in visible puffs of vapor.

“Bill!” I shouted into the darkness and took another step down the hill. The green pine needles shifted in color ahead to a brilliant tint. With each steady footfall of my boots, that color intensified and the branches of needles seemed to warp and shift in shape. Branches furled into themselves like fiddlehead ferns, rolling into themselves in a spiraling fractal pattern. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Then I tried to call out to Bill, but my voice came out wrong.

The sound was rearranged and minced into some strange string of vowels and consonants that were alien, like a sample stretched, looped and divided into itself via computer software. Then, in the void of black shadows dividing the twisted masses that no longer looked like trees, I saw movement. A single shaft of light pierced the canopy of spiralled leaves, giving a glimpse of something within the darkness ahead.

Its body was a dense cluster of pink, fractalized limbs. Arms sprouted smaller arms and jittery fingers which searched blindly. It was a collage of parts growing from each other ad infinitum, sprouting smaller and smaller versions of themselves. Arms, feet, fingers, toes in clustered coils of flesh. In the center of the sculptural horror of parts was that awful face.

A meaty tentacle of quivering mouths filled with twisting patterns of teeth spilled forth from vulgar slices in the meat of the head. Then the toothy spirals of mouths screamed an awful sound. It was that same choppy squall from before, but it was more apparent then, seeing the shapes of human features that grew endless smaller echoes of themselves. My racing mind finally grasped what exactly I was looking at. It was Bill.

I watched in horror, stumbling back on my heels away from the area that had warped my friend into that thing. Then time itself seemed to step backwards. Bill and I were meters back, and I was once again following him inside the cluster of pines.

That howl—Bill’s howl— rang out from deeper within the trees once again. Bill turned slightly to face me as he repeated those words once again.

“The buck. Jesus, it’s still alive.” Bill’s head shook slowly from side to side as he continued down into the shadows of the path down.

“STOP! Bill, don’t move!” I shouted, and Bill turned to face me, worry and sadness twisting his anguished face. “Come here, hurry” I pleaded, but it was no use.

Faster than I could blink, I was staring at the melange of flailing limbs clustered together in that abstract horror. I scrambled backwards, my feet staggering and tripping as the incline seemed to shift and warp with every rapid jump back and forth in time.

My legs struggled to keep up with each new position they’d find themselves in, causing me to stumble and nearly fall. I knew I would tumble deeper into that anomaly if I lost my footing, so I used my arms to help stabilize myself, digging my fingers into the loose topsoil. I realized Bill had likely fallen deeper within that anomalous area sometime before that first jump in time occurred. My heart raced as that horrible pained howl gurgled from within. Another jump backwards. Bill’s voice repeated.

“The buck. Jesus, it’s still—”

His voice was quickly cut off by that shrill screaming as everything leaped forward. I stared at the hideous thing and scrambled away. The jumps were getting exponentially quicker. Everything was collapsing into a tightening pattern of smaller moments. Time itself was dividing into a repeating fractal.

“The buck. Je—”


“The b—”



Soon there was only that shrill, pained screaming. I ran back, stumbling as I fled, eager to escape a similar fate, but not before getting a look at what had become of him.

Fingers sprouted smaller nubs that spiralled out ad infinitum. Fleshy fern-like coils sprouted from his shoulders, knuckles and jaw. His wide eyes pleaded for mercy: his flesh was bent and jagged, and his skull erupted with smaller bulging formations that streamed glistening red trails. Snapped bones jutted through his skin in web-like patterns that curled inward, and his muscles spasmed from the pain, unable to function. The grisly, surreal form of my mutilated friend then screamed a sound I will struggle to forget as long as I live. I ran. I abandoned him and I ran.

I eventually made it back to Bill’s truck and scrambled inside. I cried into his steering wheel, trying to figure out a way to get him out of there, but I knew he was beyond saving. Bill was gone.

Bill always kept a key in the sun visor. I fumbled around and found it, plunging it into the ignition with a shaky hand as tears blurred my vision. I cursed and punched the wheel, but nothing could be done. “I’m sorry,” I said aloud to my helpless friend, then I drove away from that godforsaken place.

I spent the next few days replaying those nightmarish events in my head and scouring the web for anything to help me understand them. I only found articles referencing a mild earthquake and subsequent landslides we experienced a few years back, something I’d thought little about at the time. One such article read as follows:

Posted: 5:51 AM, Nov 11, 2016 Updated: 8:10 AM, Nov 11, 2016

MONTROSE, Colo. — An earthquake hit on the north side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison area early Friday morning. The earthquake hit between the gorge and Green Mountain NW, directly east of Olathe, according to coordinates released by the United State Geological Survey. The earthquake struck at 1:28 a.m. The quake was centered about 2.1 km underground.

Something long-buried was unearthed in that earthquake. Something that was buried deep for a reason.

Mr. Michael Squid will drag you deep into a well of unfiltered nightmares. Horror without seatbelts or breaks that will make you think and make you terrified.

The First Cryogenically Frozen Person Has Been Revived

A breakthrough in cryonics unfolds in a horrific tale of unexpected chaos. A discovery of unaired television shows reveals an sinister plot to cover up the existence of dangerous artifacts. This is a collection of chilling tales of nightmarish worlds hidden just below the surface.

Where the Light Stops Dead

A collection of 50 creeping horror stories that dig deep into your mind and won’t let go. 50 unconnected tales that will unsettle and horrify, reaching beyond common tropes as different narrators pull you into their nightmarish situations and malevolent minds.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Mr. Michael Squid

Meghan: Hi, Michael. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mr. Michael Squid: I’m a visual artist and an avid horror reader and writer. I’ve been travelling a lot and was most recently in Bulgaria.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Mr. Michael Squid:

  • I sleep using my arm as a pillow.
  • I don’t believe in the supernatural.
  • I’m terrified of death.
  • I have a very bizarre sense of humor.
  • I hate nothing more than mosquitoes.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Mr. Michael Squid: The Twits by Roald Dahl

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Mr. Michael Squid: Songs of a Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Mr. Michael Squid: The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Mr. Michael Squid: I discovered Stephen King at the age of 10 and soon after H.P. Lovecraft. I think I was inspired to write after getting into Lovecraft, but King sparked my initial interest in reading horror.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Mr. Michael Squid: A desk whenever possible. I need to be sitting in one place and forced to write otherwise I get distracted.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Mr. Michael Squid: I often play ominous ambient songs and sip coffee, but nothing aisde from getting it down and editing.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Mr. Michael Squid: Editing. I have serious ADD so reading something I already know the plot to is hard. I also struggle with repeating adjectives and thinking of new ways to word things.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Mr. Michael Squid: I found a Secret Lab from the 70’s, it was extremely fun to create the underground scenes of horrors in this online series.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Mr. Michael Squid: Lovecraft‘s At The Mountains of Madness, Clive Barker‘s The Great & Secret Show, and Stephen King‘s The Stand were all inspiring in terms of the world-building and horror with adventuresome elements. It’s something I aspire to do more of. In terms of writing style, I can’t say, but reading a lot of Philip K. Dick‘s workin my formative years had some influence.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Mr. Michael Squid: Sweeping the reader away from their current location and transporting them in the situation and location they are reading about. They can smell the crisp fall, feel the rain on their skin and reel from a deep-cutting insult just as much as the protagonist they are reading. That’s the magic of a good story.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Mr. Michael Squid: A lovable character needs quirks and flaws, but they still need to be receptive and aware. They need a sore tooth or some sympathetic situation in order to root for them. In very short fiction, They just need to be relatable and likable. Any time I write a loathsome protagonist I lose the reader.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Mr. Michael Squid: Tough one, I rarely write characters like myself, but possibly Jeremy, the cousin in A Beginner’s Guide to Blood Portals.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Mr. Michael Squid: Yes, I am always turned off by covers with poor design or an ineffective image. I’m an illustrator and designer by trade, so I may be more sensitive to them than most. I do my own covers, but spend far more time crafting covers for other authors than working on my own.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Mr. Michael Squid: Edit first, then publish. I published a collection only to realize later just how many typos there were I hadn’t caught due to a few negative reviews. I fixed them after hiring an editor, but those reviews pulled my book’s rating down. They are fixed now.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Mr. Michael Squid: I worked on a collaborative story with a few fellow authors and had some extremely specific and outlandish constraints, writing a behind-the-scenes explanation for a stranger’s story. It was a learning experience, but very difficult.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Mr. Michael Squid: I hope to keep them varied enough in terms of subject and style to keep the stories interesting. I do a ton of research in order to mention actual science, places and venues to keep the realism there as well. Most of all, 98% of the time I’m aiming to scare the wits out of the reader, and I often get feedback to reflect that.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Mr. Michael Squid: I think something that stands out and gives a hint to the book’s contents is the best. I chose mine partly inspired by Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, I always thought it sounded profound and horrific, so I tried to touch on that but a much more sinister direction.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Mr. Michael Squid: I’ve started two novels and finished neither, so I have to say a short story. I do hope to finish the novels someday when time allows it, however.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Mr. Michael Squid: They are collections of serious horror stories, and I want to leave you with some resounding nightmare fuel you can’t quite ever shake.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Mr. Michael Squid: I had a few stories that were a bit too abstract to be effective, and maybe they will resurface in a more appropriate collection.

Meghan: What’s in your “trunk”?

Mr. Michael Squid: I’m actually starting to get ready to film some horror tales, and hope to have some big things to show next Halloween.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Mr. Michael Squid: More horror, both in story format and on the screen. I’ve also co-written a screenplay, and hope to begin the next steps on that in the upcoming months.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Mr. Michael Squid: Amazon ** Facebook ** Website ** Reddit

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Mr. Michael Squid: I want to first say thank you so much for the interview, it was a pleasure and an honor! To my readers, you give me life by reading my stories and I hope to bring you what you crave. Feel free at any time to ask me questions or requests through my Facebook page. Thank you!

Mr. Michael Squid will drag you deep into a well of unfiltered nightmares. Horror without seatbelts or breaks that will make you think and make you terrified.

The First Cryogenically Frozen Person Has Been Revived

A breakthrough in cryonics unfolds in a horrific tale of unexpected chaos. A discovery of unaired television shows reveals an sinister plot to cover up the existence of dangerous artifacts. This is a collection of chilling tales of nightmarish worlds hidden just below the surface.

Where the Light Stops Dead

A collection of 50 creeping horror stories that dig deep into your mind and won’t let go. 50 unconnected tales that will unsettle and horrify, reaching beyond common tropes as different narrators pull you into their nightmarish situations and malevolent minds.