“Please, please let it be there tonight,” Gloria said to herself.

After a few minutes, the spiked shape left the edge of the road. She couldn’t tell what exactly it was, but she knew it was one of them.

It was night; the sky was a layer of deep ink soaking the horizon. Stars winked out like kids at a carnival. The road was a long, disheveled tongue in either direction. Since the monsters had appeared the plants had broiled and growled over every surface, like jade lions waiting to strike. The entire world was dyed green by their growth. It felt like the apocalypse had given the natural world a second chance.

Gloria crept out of her hiding spot along the forest’s edge. The woods were thick and wild. It was easy to sneak beneath their eves in the darkness. A few times the monsters had drifted into the undergrowth looking for her, but she’d crawled into the vines choking the forest floor. Their forms would hang directly over her, their claws practically tickling the ground with their points. If you stayed still long enough, they’d always leave. They were guided by a restless impatience to kill whatever human had unluckily crossed their vision.

It had been almost four month since the drum had started. Gloria was in her late 40’s. She was living just south of Cloquet, Minnesota with her son and boyfriend when the monsters attacked. She managed to escape them at the onset of the slaughter by hiding in the fireplace when they tore into her home. It was hard to listen to her family be killed. Those grunts and screams punctuated her nightmares on a nightly basis. A guttural requiem stuck on repeat.

Once Gloria survived the first night, she became adept at hiding from them, despite the monsters changing their hunting methods. Gloria was tan, short, thin, and recovering from a cocaine addiction when the demon-thunder appeared. Strangely, the drum helped with her sobriety. Anyone she knew that could influence or tempt her was dead or hiding too far away to visit. It was just her wandering her two bedroom home nestled off the country road.

She was wearing a red flannel with metal buttons that her son would sometimes sleep in. It was cool at night and hot during the day, but it didn’t matter.

She wore it all the time.

Gloria had long hair, big eyes, and thick lips. She carried a rifle over her narrow shoulders. It was her boyfriend’s. He had used it to shoot squirrels, but he’d always miss. Her son was a better shot. She couldn’t think about them too much. The monsters didn’t even leave bodies for her to bury. The pictures she had of them were fading. Something was replacing them inside the images. Some hidden grime had permanently stained them.

At night, even if the drum was playing, which it was currently, Gloria would wander towards the highway outside her property. Tonight was a perfect opportunity for her little escape since there were no clouds. Down the road a little ways from where she hid between the trees was a pickup truck sitting in a shallow ditch. It was her neighbor’s. He’d been caught in the open, and was now just a red smear on the dashboard. The windows were gone, along with the tires, but the hood was intact. Gloria crawled up on it and curled her feet outwards. She was wearing a pair of rubber boots she’d bought at Fleet Farm in the cities years ago. Would she ever be back there again? Would she ever be anywhere again?

“I hope I see them tonight,” she said to herself. She sat up a little bit and looked down either side of the empty road. On the edge of the faraway gloom, light was starting to percolate upwards in faint bands of orange. Gloria knew it wasn’t real. When she first started exploring the areas surrounding her at night, she noticed the drum was summoning odd images out of the annihilated world. Streetlights, cars, signs, even planes would all return to their state of normalcy before the hoods with claws tore everything apart. They were just illusions, tricks to draw out the survivors. Gloria didn’t mind their phantom songs at first, but the more she was exposed to them the more she longed for real light. The kind that machine’s made.

Gloria closed her eyes and focused on the sky above her head. She didn’t want to get too distracted by those resurrected skyscrapers sitting on the borders of the dark sphere surrounding her. The air around her was echoing to the drum. Bugs growled and buzzed along the breeze. They’d get close to her then grumble away uninterested and bored. They didn’t know what to do with themselves when humankind was on the brink of extinction.

“There, there it is!” Gloria said, pointing to the sky. A black, metal shape glided over her for a single second. It had long, thin wings with a round body. It was clearly an aircraft, but it was silent against the heavens. It didn’t want to wake up the devils lurking below. Four blue lights beamed out of its belly down to the ground. They illuminated the world for a single aqua breath, and then dashed away into the dark.

“Light, there is still real light out there,” Gloria said, blinking back a few tears.

Like this universe and story? You can learn more about the Greenland Diaries by clicking here. If you’re interested in purchasing books from this world please visit my store. If you want a little bit more free fiction click HERE. Thank you for reading. More stories to come. I need to write. It de-crazifies me. 


My Five Favorite Monsters

I wanted to do something different for Thanksgiving week. I thought I would list my five favorite monsters from all of media. This is a tough one for me. I have so many. I’ll probably end up doing this list again in the next few years because it is fun. These aren’t in order from worst to best, they’re just part of a general category of awesomeness. They have all inspired my abominations in some way or another. I wrote smaller paragraphs, but really each monster could be an entire blog post.

  1. Xenomorph: This one shouldn’t be a surprise. I love Alien and Aliens. The sequels and the expansion of the universe are just okay for me. I think the original Alien design by HR Giger are fantastic. They epitomize what a slimy, space creature would look like in reality. Xenomorphs are designed to survive the vacuum by being vicious and mysterious, like they were almost an extension of it. They’re formidable physically, organic looking, and animalistic. Not only can they not be reasoned with in any human fashion, but they act on instinct and predatory behavior. As the android eluded to in Alien; they’re pure in their actions and unfettered by morals.
  2. Velociraptor: Dinosaurs were never so scary. Steven Spielberg’s raptors from Jurassic Park were fantastic. Not only were they foreign, yet relatable looking, but they exhibited human gestures and intelligence through their physical actions. You could tell they were figuring things out or problem solving. Also, they made everyone look at the lizards and birds surrounding our daily life a little bit differently. Their gestures and sounds were unique, but echoing evolutionary detail. They were original and relatable, like you could see the easy connection between birds and dinosaurs.
  3. Monsters from the Village: A strange selection no doubt. SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched the movie, but there are no monsters surrounding the nearly Amish town located in Philadelphia. They’re a bunch of hippies from a commune using fear to control their populace through monster suits. The design of the “monsters” are what I loved and was inspired by. They’re giant, covered in cloaks with claws and pointed snouts, which bears resemblance to a modern goblin or fairy creature that could’ve existed in a magical realism universe that his stories inhabit. The presence of cloth with a monster is special because it shows intelligence and utility. This elevates the danger level for me over the mindless Xenomorph. A mediocre movie, but a potentially excellent monster. Clearly inspired my Unnamed from the Greenland Diaries.
  4. Licker from Resident Evil: I wanted to throw in a video game monster, because I’m not an aficionado when it comes to horror gaming, but I did play Resident Evil 2 growing up on the original PlayStation, and the scene where you see the first Licker appear from the rafters in that police station is burned into my memory. Basically, the Licker is an inside-out zombie with claws and ape-like agility, the Licker is formidable and fast, but it also echoes our own anatomy. You’re literally staring at your own organs being manipulated into a homicidal entity bent on rendering your flesh. Gruesome.
  5. Grendel: My great literary influence that first started my obsession with monsters. I was introduced to Grendel in 8th grade while reading a dumbed-down version of Beowulf in my English class. I remember being completely interested in his backstory versus the hero. It turns out in most translations that Grendel was the offspring of Cain’s family from the bible. He was human-like, but with hair, super-strength, and an iron hide. He torments Rothgar’s hall close to his cave because they party too loud. A metaphor for the natural world? He lives in isolation with his mother, which might have served as inspiration for Psycho. He is credited as being one of the first literary monsters. If you want to explore a book about his perspective read Grendel by John Gardner. One of my favorite novels, and a clear inspiration for my book Beware the Ills.

Thank you for reading. Have a safe Thanksgiving! Monsters, monsters, everywhere.