Halloween special: a whole horror story from this amazing new book

Wednesday is Halloween and if you are anywhere near west Northamptonshire (England) and want to share some spine-creeping stories in one of the spookiest locations you’ve ever seen the night before, on Oct 30th, read on. And if you’re thousands of miles away but love the horror genre, take a long hard look at this book. Details here.

The Second Corona Book of Horror StoriesTo give you a flavour of the event – and the anthology – here follows my own story contribution in its gory entirety. As if only to make things even more horrifying I will actually be at this event and will be reading the story to the audience…

Whatever you’re doing, have an utterly gruesome Halloween. Enjoy.

Upside Down

by Suzan St Maur

Silence.

Then a few creaking sounds.

Then some mooing. Eldred opened his eyes, but saw no cows.

Just the interior of the bus, with crazy trees and plants outside the windows growing from the top down. Rocks pointed downwards, not upwards.

Then the metallic stench of blood, of involuntary bowel motions and fresh urine, of hormone-triggered fear. The mooing became moaning, then gurgling, then crying, then screaming.

Cows don’t sound like that unless they’re dying. What the hell had happened? Creak, creak. Hot metal contracting in a cool mountain breeze.

Am I dead, thought Eldred? No, because if I’m in Heaven I wouldn’t be upside down. I’m not in Hell because I would be burning. A red wave swept over his eyes and he went back to black.
Coach tour in short horror story‘Welcome to Alpes-Maritimes,’ gushed the guide. ‘So happy to have you here for this scenic tour of our glorious mountains, just a few miles inland from the beaches and fun you enjoy at the end of the tour. But quelle difference, n’est ce pas? These beautiful scenic sights?’

Eldred thought back to his youth in rural Bedfordshire, England and chuckled. The biggest ‘mountain’ he remembered from there was the drop from Brogborough Hill in the west of the county – all of a hundred metres or so – before you got to the flat, flat never-ending pancake flatness from there to the east coast of England. No wonder so many airfields were built there during World War Two. And not just because of geographical proximity either.

Eldred smiled as he boarded the bus, having enjoyed a simple and inexpensive flight to Nice to join the tour. I need to do more of these trips now that I’m retired, he thought. Too true. He found his allocated seat, stuffed his carry-on bag under it, and sat down.

‘Hello, I’m Pete,’ said his next-door neighbour.

‘Eldred. Pleased to meet you.’

‘Unusual name.’

‘My mother loved that name and it has been the bane of my life ever since.’

‘Funny, you know. I’ve heard it before somewhere.’

The two elderly men smiled distantly at each other then buried their noses into their newspapers, a little too indifferent to start a conversation just yet.

Coach tour in short horror storyAwake now. No more mooing. No more red waves across the eyes. Much more creaking and screeching. Much more crying, but less screaming.

Can I move? thought Eldred. He tried, and did. He was very bloody. But then so was everyone else. Some were dead. Eldred could see that even from upside down. They didn’t move, didn’t breathe. Just lay there not even bleeding, because their hearts had stopped.

Over to the right was an upside down window. Broken, shattered. Out I go, thought Eldred.

Struggle, struggle. Pain, pain. But he did it. His world was right side up again. Phew.

Coach tour in short horror story‘So why did you come back to Uttersfield?’ asked Pete.

‘Oh, you know how it is. After so many years out in the wilderness often you feel you should go back to your roots.’

‘Never left Uttersfield,’ smiled Pete. ‘Got a job in a garage when I left school, ended up buying it and running it till I retired last year. Sold it for a good price, I did.’

‘Good for you,’ said Eldred, trying to mean it. ‘I left school early. Moved to America for high school and college then trained as a paramedic. Came back here and worked in the ambulance service in London for years and couldn’t stand all the drunks and the fights and the drugs, the violence…’

‘So you came back to Uttersfield to get away from the old rat race, eh?’ Pete felt self-righteous.

‘Rat race? You’re right there,’ Eldred smiled slightly. ‘Not quite what you mean, though.’

By now the bus had climbed way above the Mediterranean, which on this day matched the menacing grey of the clouds. Not your twinkling azure-blue sea today, thought Eldred. Hot, sweaty, humid flat calm. Roads a little damp and mucky from earlier rain. Evaporation’s slow in that humidity.

Still the views were jaw-dropping and they could smell a whiff of lavender and jasmine from the fields of nearby Grasse. It reminded Eldred of his late mum’s scent. She always wore it, even to walk him to the school bus stop.

Coach tour in short horror storyHe was badly cut, but nearly all were just deep scratches.

Thank God my tetanus shots are up to date, thought Eldred. He almost smiled; tetanus was the least of his problems now.

A wave of vertigo hit him like a baseball bat. Flashes of dark London nights. Knife gashes the size of small rift valleys, gaping gunshot wounds made by souped-up starter pistols using home-made bullets. A drunk throwing up a dozen pints of beer and a couple of Vindaloos all over his paramedic partner while trying to fondle her breasts.

Sirens, sirens, sirens. Blue flashing lights. Shouts of orders. People screaming and crying to call more police.

But no. Those were old flashbacks.

This wasn’t even a flashback yet.

I can’t help any more victims, thought Eldred.

Shame on you, thought Eldred. You’ve treated thousands. What’s another 36, and several will be beyond help anyway?

Eldred vomited, then passed out.
Coach tour in short horror story‘Nice scenery, eh?’ Pete was beginning to get into a more touristy mood. ‘Road’s a bit narrow, but I expect the driver knows the place like the back of his hand.’

‘I hope so,’ said Eldred.

‘Yeah, as long as the brakes work proper there shouldn’t be any trouble getting this bus around the corners.’ Pete smiled broadly. ‘Glad it’s him driving though, not me, eh?’

‘Reminds me of a very tight bend just before you got to my old school in Uttersfield,’ said Eldred, almost to himself. ‘School bus used to take two goes at getting around it.’

Pete sat up straight. ‘Marstonway Secondary Modern?’

‘Yes, why?’

‘You went to Marstonway?’

‘Yes. Did you?’

‘Well, of all the… I certainly did. 1961 to 1965. You?’

Eldred hesitated. ‘1961 to, er, 1963.’

‘Hang on a minute,’ Pete bristled and sat up even straighter. ‘Did you used to call yourself Ed?’

‘Yes, until someone in assembly called out my full name.’

Pete was triumphant. ‘I knew I’d heard that name before. Of course! You were Ellie the Eldred! Well, I never!’

Pete laughed cacophonously, for a long time. Eldred didn’t join in.

‘I mean, it was such a funny name to us back then, wasn’t it?’ Pete spluttered. ‘We thought it were hilarious, like. Kids. Honestly. Weren’t we terrible?’

Pete was still chuckling.

Eldred looked out of the window. It was that Pete, after all.

Coach tour in short horror storyFlashbacks. Hideous flashbacks. Terror of the gang of sniffling, gurning boys that followed him around the football field at break, sing-songing ‘Ellie the Eldred’ over and over until his eardrums threatened to implode.

Writing ‘Ellie the Eldred’ on his notebooks, his textbooks, even an exam paper once.

Snickering with some of the girls, who would sidle up to him and say, ‘Want us to show you how to use make-up, Ellie?’

Even raising a smile from a middle-aged teacher who observed the sing-songing and told the boys to be quiet and stop being stupid.

Nobody cared about bullying back then. Not even Mum. Just tell them where to get off, she’d say.

Until, in 1963, Eldred tied himself with a rope to the bannister on the upstairs landing and jumped.

Much to his disappointment, the knot didn’t hold. He broke his arm.

And Mum took him to America soon afterwards.

Coach tour in short horror story‘No hard feelings, then, Eldred?’ Pete still had a half-leer on his ruddy face.

‘It was years ago.’

‘Yeah, right. You know how kids are. Take the piss out of anything that’s a bit different, like. Kids don’t understand that you need to be nice to people with funny names or wooden legs or any of that stuff. Or even if they’re a bit simple. Eh?’

‘So, when did you stop laughing at people’s funny names and wooden legs?’

‘Oh, you still have to laugh at some of those jokes, don’t you? I mean where’s everyone’s sense of humour gone?’

‘Good question.’

‘What d’you mean?’

‘Do you think people with funny names or wooden legs need to have a sense of humour and laugh at their own funny names or wooden legs because you still think all that’s funny?’

‘Lost you there, mate. I mean, it’s all in good sport, right? Even when we was kids, we didn’t mean no harm. It was all just a good laugh. Surely you understand that?’

‘Not really, Pete. When kids are that age they don’t have the maturity to understand whether people are joking or just being horrible. You and your pals were being, well, horrible.’

‘Oh, come on, Elli-Eldred. It was only a bit of fun.’

‘Drop the ‘Elli’ crap, Pete.’

‘Surely that doesn’t bother you anymore?’

‘Not down to you to ask. None of your business. Just don’t do it.’ Eldred’s focus swerved. He listened and looked out of the window. ‘By the way, the bus is feeling strange…’

The back of the bus began to slide outwards to the right. On a sharp left-hand bend with a 40-foot drop to its right. The driver braked hard, which was a mistake. The brakes worked too well, because the rear wheels of the bus locked solid.

The bus began to spin, very slowly, and slide. Then, tumble. Spin. Roll over. Roll some more.

There was noise. The high-pitched caterwauling of metal grating metal. The shouts, then screams. The thuds as a 20-ton lump of metal, fibreglass, textiles and humans hit trees and rocks.

Then a few seconds of stillness, silence.

Before the mooing began.
Coach tour in short horror storyEldred wiped the vomit away from his face with what was left of his sleeve. He got up and clambered back to the wreckage, making his way past bodies, stopping to check for pulses and breathing.

A few other walking wounded wandered with him, trying fruitlessly to help.

The driver was dead in his seat, upside down.

A passenger was shouting in bad French down a mobile phone. Finding out where the emergency services where, Eldred hoped.

As many helicopters as you’ve got, with winches and operators. IVs. Morphine. Saline. Oxygen. Defibrillators. Dressings. Eldred was back in the London Ambulance Service 20 years earlier.

‘Elli… Eldred?’

Oh God.

‘Eldred, please help me?’

He’s still alive.

‘I think my leg’s bleeding a lot.’

‘Can you move it?’

‘Yes, only just, though.’

Pete’s leg had been impaled by a shaft of twisted metal that had originally been some part of the bus, but which now stuck out from his thigh. A bluish sludge of blood was trying to spurt from it. Cut into the femoral artery, thought Eldred. Got to contain it or he could bleed to death. Can’t pull out the metal or he will bleed to death.

Eldred ripped the remaining rags of his other sleeve off his shirt, bundled them and applied them next to the protruding metal to block the gash further. He pressed the rags enough to slow the flow.

‘Will I make it, Ell… Eldred?’

‘Don’t know. Depends how soon help arrives and how good their emergency services are here in the mountains.’

‘When will help be here?’

‘Soon, I expect. Someone was on the phone just now calling.’

‘And will you stay with me until help arrives?’

Eldred turned to another walking wounded, who was helping someone to sit up. ‘Leave her lying down, for Chrissakes,’ he shouted with authority. ‘She may have a spinal injury. Just make her comfortable, as flat as possible.’

‘You’re not pissed off at me about that bullying all those years ago, are you?’

Eldred turned back to Pete and squatted down beside him, still applying pressure to the rags against the metal sticking out from his leg. ‘Why do you ask?’

‘I need your help now.’

‘There’s a surprise.’

They could hear the raucous clatter of a helicopter approaching. ‘I really didn’t mean it all those years ago. We was just being snotty little kids.’

‘F*ck you, Pete.’

Eldred reached over and yanked at Pete’s leg, pulling it free of the metal shaft impaling it. Arterial blood spurted and gushed like a brownish-bluish-red chocolate fountain.

It was over in seconds.

2nd Corona Book of Horror Stories

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The helicopter with its team was almost on top of them. At last.

Eldred smiled, and walked away.

If you can’t make it to help us launch this creepy, crawly book …

Check it out on your local Amazon. Print or Kindle.

17 stories to make you shudder in broad daylight – and to give any friends who love horror the spookiest Holiday Season in a long time.

 

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