The White Wolf (Intro)–Alabama Horror Collection

Do you remember the blizzard of 1993? The “Storm of the Century”? Unless you were in a coma or hadn’t been born yet, everyone in the state of Alabama remembers where they were when Snowmaggedon hit. Two feet of snow, eight foot snow-drifts, power outages, bread and milk sandwiches for days, and James Spann losing his fucking mind trying to keep everyone updated as the snow just kept on falling. It was like nothing we had ever seen. While most people remember this storm as the time they truly came to respect Mother Nature’s wrath, I remember it for being the week I came to realize that some of the monsters that lived beneath our beds as children were actually real.

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Dear Mamma (a short from the Alabama Horror Collection)

[The following handwritten “letter” was dated October 4, 1991. Handwriting experts have confirmed that the author of the letter is Tony “Red Dog” Durst, formerly of Cordova, Alabama.]

Dear Mamma,

We buried Jimmy today. I still can’t believe he’s dead. We had been friends since grade school and now he’s just… gone. It’s like a bad fucking dream I can’t wake up from. It was a closed casket funeral—I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him. What’s worse… I know I’m the next to die.

I know you won’t believe me. I can’t say I really blame you either. It’s my own fault. I’ve spent my whole life being a liar and a thief. I’ll admit it. I stole that money from your purse when I was fifteen. I knew you knew. You could always read me like a book. No matter who I bullshitted I could never bullshit you. That’s why I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you what really happened that night to Jimmy. I’ve got to write this down before I either go mad or something happens to me. I don’t feel safe anymore. They know who I am. I’m as good as dead and I know it.

I know everyone says Jimmy was drunk and fell off that cliff but that’s bullshit. Nobody knows this but I was there when he died. Me and him had scored some pot and a few beers from a couple guys we know down by the river. Our plan was to sneak off to the strip pits and tie on a good one. I mean, why not? There’s nothing else in this God-forsaken town to do but get high or go to church and the church folk haven’t cared much for me since word got out I had a drug problem. Maybe you were right. Maybe I should have gone to rehab last year. If I had things would have turned out way different.

I’m really not sure what part of the strip pits we ended up in. Jimmy was driving and he took me down a bunch of roads I’d never seen before. He said he’d found this really cool spot at the foot of a cliff with a waterfall nearby. I had no reason to question where we were going. Hell, all I wanted to do was to get high as fuck and forget that I live in this piece of shit town for a little while. We nearly got stuck in the mud four times as we bounced down the rutted out dirt road. I should have taken that as a sign to turn back but I was too eager to get high to think about it.

At first everything was fine. We were smoking and talking about Cordova’s football team. Jimmy thought they really had a good shot in the state playoffs. He went on and on about them and about Missy Watts, the new girl in town that he had a crush on. But that was just Jimmy being Jimmy. He could go on and on forever about that girl but before he could really get started we noticed something funny happening at the top of the hill.

It sounded like a bunch of people moving around and we saw what looked like a bonfire burning up there. I thought it was funny because we hadn’t seen or heard any vehicles approaching but when we started hearing voices it was clear that somebody had snuck up almost on top of us. I wanted to get the fuck out of there but Jimmy just had to go check it out. He thought maybe they were partying like we were. I think he was hoping to score some pills or maybe some whiskey. I’m not really sure to be honest, but he was determined to check it out. Jimmy was always looking for a good party. The more the merrier, ya know.

We crept up the side of the cliff and when we got close enough to see I thought we had stumbled upon a Klan rally or something. Everyone there was wearing robes but they were solid black instead of white and instead of hoods everyone was wearing these weird plastic masks. It was creepy as fuck, like something out of a bad B-horror movie. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The bad feeling in my gut started screaming at me. I begged Jimmy to just come the fuck on and leave but being the curious fucker that he was, he just had to stick around and see what the hell was going on.

The people were standing in a circle, chanting in some kind of weird language. Maybe it was Latin. I honestly don’t know, but whatever they were chanting, they seemed quite obsessed with what they were doing. They kept getting louder and louder. With every word they said I just wanted to run but I couldn’t leave Jimmy by himself. Friends don’t do that. So I stayed by his side until their chanting reached a fever pitch. That’s when they brought this girl out.

She was completely naked accept for a black hood covering her face. Even from where I was standing I could tell the girl had been beaten and abused, maybe raped too, but I can’t honestly say that for a fact. Four men carried the girl and held her down before ripping the hood off of her. The way she screamed and cried… it was horrible. She struggled to get free but the largest of the men kicked her in the head and knocked her almost unconscious. That’s when I saw her face. I don’t know her name but I had seen her face on a missing person’s poster at the Jasper Wal-Mart.

Another one of the cloaked figures pulled a dagger from his cloak and that’s when I knew it was fucking time to get out of there. I elbowed Jimmy and told him we had to get the fuck out of there. For once, he actually listened to me. He had seen enough and from the look in his eyes he was as scared out of his mind as I was.

We started back down the hill and that’s when Jimmy stepped on a tree branch. The damn thing snapped so loud it could have woke up the dead. I had prayed no one at the bonfire had heard but before I could move two of the robed men were coming down the hillside after us. The larger of the two grabbed me. I’ll never forget it because the guy had this crazy dragon tattoo on his right forearm. I punched him as hard as I could and took off running for the truck.

I never knew what happened to Jimmy. I was running like the Devil was on my heels. Maybe he was, but I figured Jimmy was right behind me. He was one of the best fighters I’ve ever seen. I figured if I got free, he did too. I didn’t realize how wrong I was until I made it to the bottom of the hill and Jimmy’s body landed right beside me. His head smashed against a rock and cracked his skull open. I actually saw his brain there as the blood pooled all around him. I knew he was dead. I didn’t have to check. Seeing that, I did the only thing I knew to do. I ran and I never looked back.

I ran like I’ve never run in my entire life. I ran until I had battery acid pumping through my veins and then I ran some more. I didn’t even stop at the truck. Not that it would have done me any good. Jimmy had the keys in his pocket and I’d be damned if I was going back the direction I had just come. I ran all the way back to the main road and was lucky enough to be picked up some some teenagers who had been out doing the same thing me and Jimmy were doing. I didn’t dare tell them what I had seen but when they offered me a joint I sure as fuck smoked it. My nerves had never been so bad. I could hardly keep my hands from trembling as I smoked half the thing by myself.

After much debate, I called the police first thing in the morning. To my astonishment there was a police officer at my door within five minutes. Five fucking minutes! It was like he was waiting on me to call. The officer introduced himself to me and when he offered me his hand I noticed the exact same dragon tattoo from the night before. I then noticed he had a black eye in the exact spot I had punched the man who had tried to grab me the night before. It was him! He was one of them! I knew I was fucked so I refused to talk to him.

Officer [name omitted for legal reasons] just smiled at me and told me “to be careful.” I may be a dumb drug addict but I know a threat when I hear it. They’re coming for me and there’s no one who will even believe me. Yea, I admit I’m a pothead and I’ve smoked crack a few times and I’ve been a thief in and out of trouble with the law for years but I swear to fucking Christ I’m telling the truth this time! But who the fuck is gonna take my word over a police officer’s? Nobody. In this town I ain’t nothin’ but white trash and that’s about all my word is worth. Jesus himself could descend from Heaven and tell people I was telling the truth and people would still think I was lying!

That’s why I’m writing this letter, mamma. If something happens to me, don’t you believe what they tell you. I love you, mamma. I’m so fucking sorry I’ve been such a pain in the ass over the years. I never meant to be so much trouble. It’s not your fault, mamma. You raised me good. I was just a fuck-up from the day I was born.

Oh shit! I think I hear something outside. Someone’s trying to break in! I love you mamma! Please forgive me for all I ever put you through! Pray for me…

[editor’s note: On October 5, 1991, Tony Durst, the author of this note was found hanging by the neck in his bedroom closet. Despite severe bruising on his face, broken ribs, and a fractured wrist, Tony’s death was declared a suicide by the Walker County Coroner’s office. Upon cleaning out his trailer a week later Tony’s mother (Ruth Durst) discovered a notebook shoved underneath the couch. Inside the notebook was the above message. Ruth Durst has petitioned three times for a new investigation into her son’s death and the activities he witnessed seeing. All three requests have been denied. The officer named in the letter was sought out to be interviewed. It was later discovered that he to was deceased. His body was found on April 4, 1993. His official cause of death: suicide by hanging. Both cases remain closed and there are no plans to investigate either death any further.]

The Raven’s Last Flight Ch 1

Victoria had seen more then her fair share of dead bodies. It was part of her job—an occupational hazard, if you will. She had come to face the facts: if you put on a mask, go by the name The Raven, and start fighting crime, you’re going to cross the occasional dead body or two. She had come to accept it, but this… this was something else. This was something straight out of a nightmare. There is murder and then there’s sadistic mutilation. The body on the bed was most definitely the latter.

Kneeling by the bed, she tried to block out the sounds of the dozen or so police officers and forensic scientists collecting clues and snapping pictures of the crime scene. The three room apartment had been turned into a three-ring circus. You could hardly take a step without bumping into someone carrying an evidence bag. Still, she tried to focus her mind and search for clues. It didn’t help that she had taken almost a year off for personal reasons, but even at the height of her crime fighting days to concentrate in this mad house would have been a challenge.

The apartment’s air was thick and stale and filled with the putrid aroma of decaying flesh. It took all she had not to vomit as she swatted at the flies that were swarming what used to be the body of Larry Poole. She had known the victim well enough to not be mourning his demise. He was better known by his alias “Dr. Feelgood.” He was a mid-tier drug dealer who fancied himself the next Pablo Escobar. He was the first super criminal Victoria had taken down as The Raven along with her partner Blue Bird. In that way, the three of them would forever be linked.

Seeing the maggots eating away at Feelgood’s rotting flesh made Victoria sick to her stomach. From the look of things, the corpse had been here at least a week. With every breath she felt like she was going to gag. It was like inhaling death itself. Keep it together, girl. Don’t go tossing your cookies in front of the police detectives. This is part of your job. Just deal with it.

Getting lost in her memories, she reminisced about her old partner Blue Bird. Together hey had double teamed criminals in the places the police wouldn’t dare to tread. She quickly fought back tears and tried to get back to the task at hand. It had been almost a year since Blue Bird (Tony) had been killed and she still wasn’t over it. She sincerely doubted she ever would be. He had been more than her partner in fighting crime. He had been her best friend, her lover, and eventually, he became her husband. They were supposed to hang up their capes one day and ride off into the sunset together. Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Finding nothing under the bed but a pool of blood, she stood up and carefully examined the body—or what was left of it. Feelgood has been completely gutted. Stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, even the heard had been removed and carefully laid out on the bed in what looked like some kind of strange ritualistic manner.

My God, Feelgood! What did you do to make someone go all Jack the Ripper on you? Sure, you were a piece of shit in life and you probably had it coming, but this… this is fucking overkill.

“Hey, Raven!” Detective Thomas Murray screamed from the other room. “I’ve got something you might want to see.”

Murray was Raven’s connection to the Stone City police department and one of the few people she trusted enough to reveal her true identity to. In 2008, when Mayor Killings had called her and Blue Bird dangerous vigilantes, Murray was the only one to stand up and publicly defend them. If it wasn’t for him, they probably would have wound up in prison or worse… dead. Of course, this was back in the days before putting on a cape and fighting crime had become all the vogue. Now almost every single major city had at least one super hero and some cities have entire super hero teams based in them. Along with Blue Bird, she had helped pave the way for all the others. She never started this journey to be a ground-breaker. All she had wanted to do was clean up her city but somehow she had been chosen to be the poster-girl for capes everywhere. It was a role she still felt uncomfortable accepting.

Weaving her way through the crowd, Raven entered the living room. “What did you find, detective?” she asked in a solemn tone.

Looking up at the stone-faced detective she marveled at how much he had changed over the past decade. His black hair had steadily turned increasingly white. The lines in his forehead had deepened and his eyes, once so full of life, had started fading to dull and listless. Cleaning up the streets of Stone City takes it toll on everyone, even the best of us. Raven wondered how he had made it this long.

Handing over a photo album, Detective Murray remarked, “Take a look at this.”

Flipping through the pages, Raven noticed something quite disturbing. Someone had taken the time to scratch out the eyes of every picture Dr. Feelgood had been in. “What the hell?!” Raven gasped.

Taking a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, Murray casually took one out and lit up. “Yea, that was pretty much my reaction, too. What do you think it means?”

Biting her bottom lip, Raven pondered the question. “I’m not quite sure. Maybe Feelgood saw something he wasn’t supposed to see. Maybe that’s why someone killed him. Maybe it’s a mob hit.”

Taking a long draw from his cigarette, Murray blew out a cloud of smoke and thumped his ashes in the floor. “I don’t know. Maybe. I mean, anything’s possible, but according to my sources Feelgood has been walking the straight and narrow path since he got out of prison. He hasn’t even so much as gotten a jay-walking ticket in two years. Just seems funny someone would take him out now. If I had to guess I’d say someone from his past came back to even up an old score. None of this makes sense. Something stinks about this whole deal—and I’m not talking about that rotting corpse in the other room either.”

Moving towards the bedroom, the detective propped against the door-frame and slowly shook his head. “When I got the call, I almost couldn’t believe it. I haven’t heard the name Dr. Feelgood since you and Blue Bird brought him down to the precinct. Remember how you had him tied up like a pretzel with his mouth duct-taped shut? That has to be on of the funniest things I’ve ever fucking seen.”

Bowing her head, Raven whispered somberly, “Yea, good times…”

Leaning in close, so none of the other people working the scene could hear, the detective whispered in Raven’s ear, “As shit! I’m sorry, Victoria. I didn’t mean to bring up…”

Cutting him off, Raven blurted out, “It’s okay! But please, can we talk about something else? I didn’t come here to talk about Blue Bird. I came here to do my job.”

Nodding his head, Murray said, “Alright, I understand, but I’m here if you ever need to talk. I have to tell you, though—I was really surprised when I saw you show up for this. I thought you were officially retired.”

“I am. I mean… I was. I felt like I needed a distraction. I needed to come back. Sitting around with nothing but time to think was driving me crazy—and you know what they say about idle hands being the devil’s playthings. I thought getting back to work would be good for me. I think it’s what Tony would have wanted.”

Nodding his head, Murray replied, “It probably will be good for you, but seriously, if you ever need to talk to someone, I’m here.”

Taking the detective by the hand, Raven graciously bowed her head. “Thank you, Thomas. You’re a good friend.”

Suddenly something caught Raven’s eye. Walking over to the bed, she gently forced Dr. Feelgood’s jaw open and her eyes lit up. “Detective! I need an evidence bag! And a pair of tweezers!”

“What have you…”

“Get them!” Raven screamed. “Now!”

Running into the other room, Murray shouted, “I need an evidence bag and a pair of tweezers!” Returning with the said items, the detective handed them over to Raven.

Being extremely cautious, Raven forced Feelgood’s jaw open just enough to slide the tweezers into his mouth. It took three attempts but she finally retrieved what she had seen: a bright blue feather. Dropping the feather into the evidence bag, she stared at her discovery with awe.

“What the fuck was that doing there?” Murray asked. “What does this mean?”

Shaking her head, Raven replied, “I have no fucking clue.”

“Do you think this was a message for you?! One of your oldest enemies killed, a blue feather shoved in his mouth. It’s like someone is calling you out.”

“But how could they know tonight was the night I was putting the mask back on?”

“Maybe the didn’t. Everyone knows you and I are connected. Maybe the perp knew I’d find the evidence and reach out to you. The fact you actually showed up tonight might be inconsequential.”

Sighing heavily, Raven felt confused. “But why would someone want to send me a message?”

“Who knows? But looking back at your career you’ve made more than a few enemies. Or maybe it’s some new hotshot in town trying to make a name off a local legend. Who knows? But let me get all this evidence down to the lab for tests. Maybe they’ll give us some answers. I’ll call you as soon as I hear anything.”

“You do that!” Raven said, walking towards the open window.

“And just where are you going?”

Looking over her shoulder, Raven smiled, “I’m leaving.”

“Well, I can see that, but why go down the fire escape when you can just take the elevator?”

Chuckling softly, Raven smirked. “Old habits die hard. Don’t forget to call me, detective.”

Rolling his eyes, Murray replied, “I won’t.”

Disappearing out the window, Raven was scaling the fire escape like a monkey. With a few gracious flips and leaps she was in the alleyway and headed home. Still, something about that feather bothered her. Who is trying to get her attention? And why does that feather seem so damned familiar?

The Raven’s Last Flight, Chapter 2.1

Victoria spent the rest of the night in her basement, basking in the pale blue light of her 52” computer screen. She stared for hours at the glass cabinets which contained her and Blue Bird’s costumes. She studied each obsessively. Hers was black with a dark gray trim. His was a bright blue with a canary yellow trim, almost identical to hers, except for the fact that his cape had a hood which helped hide his eyes. Raven’s costume was designed more for stealth while Blue Bird was never the stealthy type of guy. He was more the “kick the door open and kick everyone’s ass inside” type. Together they were virtually unstoppable. A perfect blending of ying and yang.

With a bottle of Scotch in one hand and a heavily perspiring glass in the other, Victoria drank to her heart’s content and then drank some more. With every gulp the memories came rushing back. Love, despair, regret—they all overwhelmed her like the darkest nightmares of her subconscious taking on a life of their own.

Standing up, she walked up to the case containing Blue Bird’s costume and placed her hand flat against the glass. Slowly she slid down to her knees as tears flowed down her cheeks like never-ending rivers of sorrow. Lifting the bottle in a salute to her late husband’s outfit, she took a sip and poured a small amount of the Scotch on the floor. Raising her fist, she shouted out, “For you Tony! To Blue Bird! Gone, but never ever forgotten!”

Crawling back to her chair, she stumbled as she tried to stand and retake her seat. Crashing back down in her chair, Victoria took another swig of Scotch. She was as lost as a person could be and she had no aspirations to pull herself out of this downward spiral anytime soon.

The basement door opened, letting in a light so bright it felt like a knife carving through her brain. Shielding her eyes, she took another gulp of Scotch and waited for the door to close. The sound of heavy footsteps coming down the stairs sounded like claps of thunder to her intoxicated mind. She knew exactly who it was and she wondered what Nigel wanted with her.

When the fluorescent lights flickered on, Victoria thought her head might explode. “Ugh, Nigel, please, turn those back off.”

“Lady Victoria, it’s almost noon. Time for lunch and… have you been drinking?! It is far too early to be getting sloshed, m’lady.”

Filling her glass back up, Victoria smiled and laughed. “Well, technically I’ve not been to bed so I’m not getting drunk early. I’m still getting drunk from very very late last night.” Raising her glass, she downed the whole thing in a matter of seconds, doubling over in laughter when she was done.

Setting the silver platter down with Victoria’s lunch on it down on the table, Nigel looked on with a disapproving glare. “I have tolerated this behavior for months. I’ve given you your time to grieve but it’s been over a year, madam! Enough is enough! What would Master Tony say if he could see you now?”

Tossing her head back, Victoria let her onyx colored hair dangle behind the chair as she laughed heartily. “What would Tony say?” she said playfully before here tone turned dark and hateful. “He wouldn’t say a God damned thing! Tony’s dead! And there’s no amount of your coddling which can change that!” Pulling her right arm back, she sent her glass hurling at Nigel’s head. He quickly ducked and the glass shattered against the wall, sending broken shards flying everywhere. “Now get me another glass!” she barked.

Straightening his butler’s uniform, Nigel stood up straight and responded in his normal calm British demeanor. “Respectfully, madam, I will do no such thing. If you want to toss your life away at the bottom of a bottle I will have no part in it.”

His words only fueled her desire to drink that much more. “That’s fine!” she said angrily. “I don’t need a glass! I can drink right from the bottle like a proper fucking lady!”

Hanging his head, the gray-haired Nigel sighed. His voice was little more than a whisper. “As you wish, madam.”

As he headed up the basement stairs, Victoria bellowed one last order at him. “And turn off the fucking lights! Tony’s in the ground! I want to be in the dark just like he is!”

Flipping the light switch off, Nigel dredged up the stairs slowly. “If you need me, I’ll be upstairs, Lady Victoria.”

After the door shut, Victoria began crying. She whimpered softly, “And if you need me, I’ll be here—in Hell.”

 

From an upcoming TDR charity anthology

Victoria had seen more then her fair share of dead bodies. It was part of her job—an occupational hazard, if you will. She had come to face the facts: if you put on a mask, go by the name The Raven, and start fighting crime, you’re going to cross the occasional dead body or two. She had come to accept it, but this… this was something else. This was something straight out of a nightmare. There is murder and then there’s sadistic mutilation. The body on the bed was most definitely the latter.

Excerpt from “The Alabama Star”–a Dante’s Inferno story

Having seen enough, Tommy said, “Let’s go, Lucy, while we still can.” Letting the girl descend the ladder first, Tommy watched as the man on the bed had his head severed with one final great slash from the scythe. As he started down the ladder himself, he watched the guardian pick up the man’s head and admire it as if it were some kind of trophy. The sight of it sent chills down his spine and sickened his stomach. If I get out of here alive I think it may be time to get back into church…