Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Free story idea – Two spooky ideas

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

For this spooky month, I have two ideas: one for a movie – maybe a series of movies – and one for a … are they still TV shows if people stream them on a computer?

Horror Movie Idea

Whether this is an October or January horror movie will depend on the budget, acting, script, etc. 

A group of white college kids from, let’s say California, go camping somewhere in the southwest.  Something happens and some monster comes after them.  It tells them it is named Bugee, or something, and it will kill them off one by one each day.  Once they finish panicking, they do a search for Bugee, and find that it’s a Navajo boogey man that can only be defeated by the sound of a rattlesnake rattling.  So they go off to find a snake, one of them gets bit, but they have one when Bugee comes back.  One guy holds the snake up to rattle, but Bugee just laughs and kills the guy.

The group takes the bit one to a hospital, where the doctor turns out to be Navajo.  They ask why the rattlesnake didn’t work on Bugee, and the doctor has no clue what they are talking about.  They show them the webpage on Bugee, and the doctor reads it and goes, “This is bullshit, it has nothing to do with our culture.”

Turns out, the entity currently going by Bugee is just some demon that likes fucking with people.  Centuries ago it was terrorizing people as a giant wolf, but then someone shot it with a silver bullet, and it pretended that killed it, just so for centuries it could laugh as people tried to kill it with silver bullets which do nothing.  As to the rattlesnake, long ago it was attacking some of the first white people in the area, and there just happened to be a rattlesnake nearby, and it pretended that the sound of the rattle drove it off.  The survivors tell the tale, and after a few rounds of racist telephone, it gets written down and many years later ends up on the internet. 

All of this can either be shown in flashback, or maybe Bugee tells the last surviving woman that if she, I don’t know, has sex with her dead friend, it will explain how it can be stopped.  She, reluctantly has sex, to be scarred for the rest of her life, and Bugee explains that nothing humans can do can stop it.  It then laughs and leaves.  The End.

And this could be a franchise.  All you have to do is get a new group of people, and find fun ways for Bugee to fuck with them.  You could even have prequels of Bugee fucking with Huns, or Romans, or hell, Neanderthals.  You have to admit, that would be a fucking weird movie.  Probably the only thing to keep in mind, is there shouldn’t be any continuing characters.  Or if that last woman does run into Bugee decades later, it just kills her without hesitation. 

Horror Series Idea?

For historical reasons, I see this series set in France.  I’m sure it could easily be set in other parts of the world, but I know European history better than other parts of the world.

The first episode starts with a guy in say, 1830, riding a horse across France.  He’s trying to get to some place, but makes a wrong turn.  As the sun is about to set, he comes across a small village.  He stops at the first house to ask where he is and if he could stay the night.  A man opens the door, and starts yelling.  The wife and kids also start screaming, and then the man grabs a fire poker or something and beats the Traveler to death.

Cut to the Traveler waking up, in a crypt.  He freaks out a bit, but crawls out.  There are several other people there, including one who looks like the guy who beat him to death, only several decades older.  Some of the people greet each other like old friends, and then one asks the Traveler his name.  The guy gives it, and then wants to know what is going on.  One, maybe the Mayor, says it’s a long story, and to come with them.  They go outside, and there’s this weird, metal carriage that doesn’t need a horse. 

The Mayor takes the Traveler through the village which has several damaged and burned houses to a less damaged house, and after some food, he explains the history of the village.  Long ago, there was a Witch, who as she was being burned, cursed the village to always have the same population at sundown.  Meaning, if someone shows up right before sundown, then somebody at random in the village would have just fallen over dead.  It might be the Traveler, the wife of the house he stopped at, the two-year-old next door, all had an equal chance of just dying.  Which means, there are no guests in the village.  And if a child is born, they’ll have already worked out who will leave the village, usually to live in the smaller village just outside of the cursed area.

But the curse also works the other way.  If somebody dies, and it’s early enough in the day, they’ll bring someone from the smaller village back.  But if somebody falls down the stairs and breaks their neck just before sunset, then someone in the graveyard will come back to life, healed of whatever killed them.  At first, people would be resurrected only to die trying to dig out of their coffins, so they started just putting people in an easy to access crypt.  The reason so many came back today, is that it’s the middle of WWII, and a stray bomb killed ten members of an extended family.  Although, once the sun sets, one of them comes back.  This is Lady.

There’s a lot of stuff that can be done with this.  Like, maybe the Mayor’s “grandmother” is actually his so many times great-grandmother.  Maybe, she died back in 1720, but was resurrected in 1845 and lived another thirty years, only to die and be resurrected a second time.  The cancer or whatever killed her has been cured, but she’s still someone with a 120 year-old-body. 

What the town is really waiting for is some specific person to be resurrected because they’re the one who buried the Witch – outside the village – but never told anyone where.  The villagers assume the only way to break the curse is to find her body, hope she is resurrected, and then lift the curse. 

The Traveler is very confused by all of this, meaning we the audience can follow along as he slowly comes to grips with everything.  Like maybe the next day some Nazi soldiers show up to check out the bomb damage, and the Traveler has to be hidden because he doesn’t have any papers, and all the villagers know to keep the secret, but can they trust this outsider? 

If they don’t trust him, then why did they bury him in the village to be resurrected?  Well, maybe there was some disagreement about it at the time, but the guy who killed him felt bad.  And since they were both resurrected, he and the Traveler build an odd friendship.  Like, maybe the Traveler was a poet, and the guy found his book of poems and really enjoyed them, and started writing poetry himself.  So they end up with stuff to talk about.

Another storyline could be the slow building of a relationship between the Traveler and Lady.  Maybe the Mayor is putting her and Traveler up in his house since so many houses have been damaged.  And she’s teaching him all that’s happened in the past century.  At first, he’s put off by this “modern” woman, but he slowly comes around.  Hopefully, whoever ends up writing this doesn’t do some cliched bullshit of “she looks just like the woman he was going to marry back in 1830.” One … I don’t know if it’s an issue, but it’s a thing, about Lady is that she’s secretly happy her husband and his family are dead, because he abused her and they treated her like shit.  Death parted them, and she might not see any of them in her new, second life. 

As I see it, there are basically three ways the series could go.  The first is it just keeps going.  Once you get all the weird stuff out of the way, it just becomes what happens in a small French village for the last few years of WWII.  And on occasion someone dead comes back to life.  The second would have the one who buried the Witch finally resurrect, like that’s how they end the first season.  And season two is trying to find where he buried her.  Like, “I buried her under that really big tree,” doesn’t mean much after three or four hundred years.  And then the third season would be they find the Witch, and cart all the bodies out of the crypt and someone stands outside the village, so she has to be the one who resurrects.  And then they try to convince her to lift the curse. 

The second way would be okay, except that’s a pretty standard way to do such a series.  The first way could be fine, except we know network executives would want to add more, like, what if there are now werewolves, or something.  They’d take an interesting idea, but so much crap would be added to it to keep it going, it would become mostly crap.  So my preference would be a third way, which is basically just two, maybe three seasons of exploring the weirdness of this situation, and then ending.  Nothing is resolved, but we’re left knowing the weirdness just continues.  Maybe, it could end with the Traveler and Lady getting married, so there’s a bit of a happy note.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Short story – “Procrastination”

I just published The Uncapped Pen, a collection of fifty short stories dealing with writing in some way.  I got the idea for this story about a month ago, long after I had the fifty stories selected for the collection.  So I’m just posting it here as a bonus.


With a fresh cup of coffee, John sat down at his desk and opened his laptop.  He put the cursor over the file for his novel, but hesitated.  “I think I’ll play some solitaire first.”

He was quickly at Solitaire Universe, a site where one could play hundreds of versions of solitaire.  His current favorite version to play was Lady of Devoke, where you had to organize three decks of cards out of a random pile.  One hand usually took about fifteen minutes to play, with only a 10% chance of winning.  But something about using simple, basic rules to turn chaos into order just appealed to John’s sense of the world. 

Starting a new game, he said, “I’ll play until I win a hand, then I’ll work on my novel.”

For the first five minutes or so, the outcome of the game didn’t look good.  But then came a lucky break, and as each new card was revealed, it just came more and more likely that he’d win.  And he did.

As the cards started their animated victory dance, John said, “I guess even the universe is telling me to write.”

But like most people, John didn’t like being told what to do.  And while he’d promised to write after winning a game, he decided it wouldn’t hurt to play one more.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Short story – “It’s a Fine Line”

I just published The Uncapped Pen, a collection of fifty short stories dealing with writing in some way.  Most were previously published – on my website or blog – but the rest are brand new stories.  This previously published story was in my “If I need it pile,” but in the end I didn’t need it.  So I’m just posting it here as a bonus.

“It’s a Fine Line”

Joan returned home from work on Monday to see her husband Ben sitting on the couch watching a movie.  She walked over to him and asked, “Are you rewarding yourself for finishing your novel?”

Pausing the movie, Ben said, “I didn’t actually get any writing done today.”

“But weren’t you going to spend all day writing?”

“Oh, that had been the plan.” After a moment he added, “But didn’t I tell you I decided to take it easy this week?”

Joan frowned.  “How is that different from what you did last week?”

Ben shrugged.  “Last week I was just being lazy.”

After a few moments of silence, Joan asked, “The difference being ….”

Ben thought for a bit.  “This week I’m at least trying to make it sound like I’m not just being lazy.” He then gave a weak smile.

Joan stood looking at him for several long seconds.  She then turned and went up the stairs.

After he heard their bedroom door slam shut, Ben unpaused the movie.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Short story – “It’s Harder than it Looks”

I just published The Uncapped Pen, a collection of fifty short stories dealing with writing in some way.  Most were previously published – on my website or blog – but the rest are brand new stories.  This previously published story was in my “If I need it pile,” but in the end I didn’t need it.  So I’m just posting it here as a bonus.

“It’s Harder than it Looks”

As Renee juggled the schedule to make sure the store would be fully staffed all of next week, someone knocked on her open door.  She looked up to see “The new” Dave standing in the doorway.  “There’s a … problem in Scifi/Fantasy,” he said.

“What sort of problem?”

“Ah … the kind you need to see,” he said with a weak smile.

Renee began to reply, but then realization hit her.  “Dammit.” She stood and rushed out her office, through the staff room, and into the store. 

The Scifi/Fantasy section was only a few yards from the staff room, so it didn’t take long for Renee to see the problem.  Dozens of books littered the floor.  One shelf of books had been knocked to the floor, and a few were missing from a second.  “Not again,” Renee groaned.

“This has happened before?” Dave asked from behind her.

Before Renee could answer, another book floated off the shelf.  It hung in midair for a moment, then sped to the floor as if someone had thrown it down.  Dave took a step forward, pointing at where the book had hung.  “Did you … did you see that?”

Renee stepped around him and muttered, “Yes.” She then looked to the empty aisle and with a firm voice asked, “Harold, how many times have I told you, you can’t do that?” After a few seconds she added, “If you put them back, I won’t make an issue of it, but this has to be the last time.”

For several heartbeats nothing happened.  Then, one by one, the books floated up off the floor and returned to the shelves.

Renee nodded.  “That’s better.” She turned around and began pushing Dave back towards the staff room.

“What the hell was that?”

“Just go to my office and I’ll explain.”

Dave glanced between the books levitating off the floor and Renee a few times, then turned and walked into her office.  Renee followed and closed the door behind her.  Before she could say anything, Dave said, “That was a ghost.”

“I believe if a ghost can move physical objects, then they’re called a poltergeist, but yes.  That was the spirit of Harold Bute.  He was a local retiree who was a huge scifi fan.”

Renee walked around her desk and sat down.  Setting her palms on the desktop, she continued, “A former employee used to run a Scifi/Fantasy book group, and Harold was one of the regulars.  He was very critical and would show up to each meeting with page after page of reasons why the book they had read sucked.  It became very aggravating and annoying to the other group members.  At one point the group leader said, ‘If you think everything we read sucks, why don’t you write a good novel for us to read?’

“I don’t know if he had ever thought of writing a novel or not, but apparently he wouldn’t back down from the challenge.  For months he would show up early in the morning and sit in the cafĂ© all day with his coffee and write in a notebook.  Then one day about a year ago, he went to the Scifi/Fantasy section and started ripping the books off the shelves screaming, ‘How is this crap published?’ He then clutched his chest and died of a heart attack.”

“Really?” Dave asked.

“Oh yes, I was there.” Renee gave the slightest of shivers, before continuing, “Anyway, a few weeks later, his niece – his closest kin – came in to talk to us.  They hadn’t been close, but his death had shocked her and she needed to see where he died and talk to the people that were there.  In the course of talking with her, I asked what had happened with his novel.  She said she found his notebooks and had looked through them.  The first few were full of his neat, precise handwriting discussing various plots and what books had used them and how they had screwed them up.  But with each notebook the handwriting became more and more frantic until the last was just filled with rambling gibberish.  She asked what it was all for, and I told her about the book group leader challenging him to write a novel.  I was afraid she would sue us for causing his death, but she seemed happy to just finally understand what his notebooks were about.

“So things were going back to normal, when about a month after his death they came in one morning to see all the scifi books on the floor.  Gwen, the manager at the time, already believed in ghosts, so instead of calling the police, she checked the security tapes and saw the books floating off the shelves and dropping to the floor.  She had them cleaned up and went on as if nothing had happened.  Then a week later it happened again.

“I was closing that night, and I was about ready to leave when I heard something.  I went to the section and saw a couple of books on the floor.  I picked them up and returned them when another book floated off.  I had heard about the previous incident, but that still scared the crap out of me.”

“What did you do?”

Renee shrugged.  “I ran to the Cookbook Section.”

Dave snorted a laugh.

Renee ignored him and continued, “I stopped myself and went back.  I watched for a minute or so, then I … stepped forward and talked to Harold.  Or what’s left of him.  It’s my guess his spirit is stuck here because he couldn’t come to grips with the fact that all these – what he considered crappy – authors can get published while he couldn’t write anything.  He shows up every now and then and rips the books off the shelves.  If you yell at him, he puts them back.  Usually.”

Dave shook his head.  “And you don’t tell new employees this happens on a regular basis?”

“I have enough trouble keeping the store staffed without telling everyone it’s haunted.  And it’s been three months since the last time he was here.  I had hoped he had ‘crossed over’ or whatever.”

Renee stopped and took a deep breath.  “Anyway, you’re now an official member of the Harold Club.  To steal a line, the first rule of the Harold Club is, you do not talk about the Harold Club.  And if you think you can use this to blackmail me into a weekend off, just remember, you’ll be the one claiming there’s a ghost in the store while I will have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Dave stared at her for a moment, but before he could say anything, Renee said, “Now go make sure he put everything back.”

Monday, October 9, 2023

Short story – “The Honeymoon’s Over”

I just published The Uncapped Pen, a collection of fifty short stories dealing with writing in some way.  Most were previously published – on my website or blog – but the rest are brand new stories.  This previously published story was in my “If I need it pile,” but in the end I didn’t need it.  So I’m just posting it here as a bonus.

“The Honeymoon’s Over”

“What do you think you’re doing?”

Joe shrugged.  “I’m watching a movie.”

His muse tried to grab the remote from his hand, but Joe kept it out of her reach.  “You should be writing,” she said.

“I’ll write tomorrow.”

With her hands on her hips, she replied, “I’ve heard that one before.”

Joe sighed.  “Hey, I’ve had a long day, I just want to relax.  And I’ve been wanting to see this movie for months, but you haven’t let me.”

“Well excuse me.  Do you think the Great American Novel will just fall into your lap without you having to work for it?”

“Of course not.  But do you think my novel will be finished if I blow my brains out because I’m so stressed out?”

The two glared at each other for several moments.  Then Joe said, “I’m watching a movie.  Either join me, or leave.”

Without waiting for her answer, he started the movie.

After looking at Joe, the TV, and the door several times, his muse sighed and sat on the couch next to him.  Joe held the bowl of popcorn out to her.  She glanced at it, and without taking any said, “I hate you.”

Taking the bowl back, Joe replied, “The feelings mutual.  Now shut up.”


This story reminds me a bit of these two Oglaf comics, The Blank Page and Muse.  Warning, they contain profanity, cartoon nudity, and violence. 

Friday, October 6, 2023

The Uncapped Pen, at last!


Over a decade ago, I had the idea of putting together a collection of stories dealing with writing: authors arguing with their muse, or struggling with having too many ideas, or too few, or whatever.  But for reasons, I set it aside, until a few years ago when I figured I’d finish it.  Well, it took longer than expected, and just as I was about to put the final polish on, there was a writer’s strike.  While I’m not a member of the Writers Guild of America, it felt wrong to publish a book about writing during their strike.  But since the strike is over, I’ve now published The Uncapped Pen.  You can find it on Kindle for $3.99, or equivalent.