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For this Halloween I've unearthed two zombie-themed short stories and I'm publishing them as an e-book titled Undead. One of these stories, A Case Study of the Side Effects of Nauseamin and their Possible Treatment, was published over a year ago in Mad Scientist Journal. The other one, The Girl Next Door, was written over 5 years ago but never published. It was one of those stories written on a dare. I was discussing story ideas with one of my friends and she said "I'm even willing to read a story about a geeky vampire, as long as it's explained why he's a geek in a way that makes sense." It was meant to be an example of what story not to write, but I loved the idea of a geeky vampire, so I started writing the story as a character piece, with an uncharacteristic vampire and an equally uncharacteristic zombie. It's gone through several revisions since then, but most of the dialogues date back to the first version and hold a sense of humor that I seem to have lost in later years.

To celebrate the launch of Undead and to give you something fun to read for Halloween, I'm offering you a discount coupon for Smashwords. From now until November 10th, use the code VC99Y when buying Undead from Smashwords to get it for free. I'll naturally be grateful for any reviews of the book.

I hope you enjoy my stories and have fun this Halloween.

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Mr. Maurice Pinkerton was on his way home on a cold November afternoon, walking fast, with his head down and his hands in his pockets to keep them warm. His mind was busy going over the day's transactions, as usual, when a gust of wind attacked him, hitting him in the face with a sheet of paper. Before he could defend himself, the paper flew away, leaving an unpleasant paper cut on his cheek, and another sheet of paper hit him in its place. This time he caught the projectile, and, as flying papers were a rare and unusual occurrence in London, he studied it carefully.

The paper was evidently part of a letter, a rather passionate one too, and ending in the unmistakably sentimental words, "Yours forever, James." It was evidently the last sheet of a long love letter, and Mr. Pinkerton found himself blushing at the indelicacy of having read it, firstly because he had read someone's love letter, and secondly because he recognised the handwriting as that of his business associate, Mr. James Appleby.

Mr. Pinkerton pondered over what to do. To leave the paper out into the street, where it could be found by indiscreet eyes, was unthinkable. To keep it, and appropriate a letter intended for another, was equally unthinkable. To take it to its recipient was impossible, as the recipient's name had evidently been written on another sheet, perhaps on the one that had hit him in the face earlier, and which was now nowhere to be found. Mr. Pinkerton decided he had to face the embarrassment of taking the paper back to the sender and explaining how he'd got to have it.

Mr. Appleby lived in a small house, not far from the office. It was a snug bachelor's den, furnished with exquisite taste and kept in impeccable order by an elderly housekeeper with white hair tied in a strict bun and round glasses perched on her sharp nose. Mr. Pinkerton was admitted to the salon and was left to wait for an unpardonable five minutes while Mr. Appleby made himself ready to receive him. However, on this occasion, Mr. Appleby's excuses had to be followed by those of his guest, for Mr. Pinkerton had to confess to the unpardonable indiscretion of having read a particularly sensitive piece of personal correspondence. Mr. Appleby listened gravely to his story and took the letter with trembling hands.

"I remember this," he said, looking over the paper. "It's the last love letter I wrote to her, two years ago."

Mr. Pinkerton might have wished to find out who "her" was, but he refrained from asking.

"No doubt, she has thrown it away," Mr. Appleby added.

"You cannot be sure of it," Mr. Pinkerton interposed. "It's been terribly windy today, perhaps she was just reading it and the wind tore it out of her hand."

"That seems highly unlikely. It was because of her indifference that we have stopped seeing each other. It only surprises me that she's kept it for this long."

Mr. Pinkerton would have liked to ask what exactly had happened, but he feared he had committed enough of an indiscretion already. Fortunately, Mr. Appleby seemed in the mood to reminisce, for he said, "Since you've read it already, I suppose I can tell you the whole story. We met at a picnic, some two and a half years ago. Miss Rosegood was the loveliest girl I'd ever seen, in the loveliest summer dress and with the loveliest little bonnet. It was love at first sight, for me, at least. For a while, I entertained hopes that she might like me. We saw each other frequently, and she was always perfectly nice to me, always smiling a perfectly charming little smile when she saw me. I thought myself the happiest man in the world. I was prepared to propose to her. I was a fool."

Mr. Appleby stopped and looked out of the window into the dreary afternoon.

"She's marrying Lord Ashgrave next spring," he finally said.

Mr. Pinkerton found that he had to push his indiscretion further.

"What happened?" he asked. "Why‒?"

"I'd been mistaken in taking her kindness for a more tender feeling. Every time I asked her to join me for a walk in the park, she found some excuse not to go. It took me a whole week before I understood she simply did not wish to see me."

"A week?"

"Seven full days, seven polite rejections. I was mortified when I realised I'd been troubling her with my persistence. Naturally, I made sure never to trouble her again."

Mr. Pinkerton thought he would not have given up so easily. Indeed, he decided he would not let his friend give up either, and demanded to know Miss Rosegood's address so he could return the letter to her.

Miss Ada Rosegood lived close to Kensington Gardens, and Mr. Pinkerton decided to call on her the next day. She was surprised to receive a visit from a gentleman she had never met, but the mystery was cleared when he handed her the letter and introduced himself as Mr. Appleby's business associate. Her beautiful face saddened as she took back the paper.

"I have been trying to throw it away," she confessed. "It brings back too many painful memories."

Mr. Pinkerton was intrigued, and he felt he had intruded upon Miss Rosegood's personal life too much to stop now. He pressed her for an explanation.

"Mr. Appleby has always been kind to me," she said. "We saw each other a great deal at the beginning of our acquaintance. I quite dared hope – you understand, having seen this letter – I dared hope that he was not indifferent to me. Then, one day, he just stopped writing. We were to go for a walk in the park and my dog, Polly, had just died and I was too bereaved to bare the thought of taking a walk through all her favourite places. I'd already put off our walk for several days throughout her illness. And then, the day she died, I didn't think I could pass by her favourite tree and not burst into tears, so I sent him a note excusing myself and telling him I'd love to take a walk with him another time. I waited for him to answer the next day, but he never did. I waited for two years."

She stopped and seemed deep in thought. Mr. Pinkerton didn't dare disturb her. Only when he rose from his seat to leave, he said, "I think he thought you didn't wish to see him."

***

About a week after this incident, Mr. Pinkerton heard that Miss Rosegood had called off her engagement to Lord Ashgrave. Several months later, in May, Mr. Appleby informed him that he would not be at the office the next day. When pressed for a reason, Mr. Appleby said simply, "I'll be having a picnic with Miss Rosegood. And an engagement ring."
The Letter
My entry for ezradeacon's Love Letters Contest

Word count: 1,179 words
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Thomas had been good until now. He knew the stories about the goat-man who kidnapped naughty children and carried them away in his sack. Every year, the terrifying Krampus came to their house to scare him into faithful obedience of his parents. Every year he got a quick glimpse of the terrifying red face and monstrous horns before he ran upstairs to his room, crying and promising to be good. And every year he'd kept his promise... mostly. Enough for Santa to think him good and bring him gifts every year. But when he turned six, Thomas decided he was too old to believe in Krampus anymore. The Christmas before, he'd spied on his father through the keyhole and he'd seen him put on a Santa suit. He was certain now that the Krampus who visited their home was also just a man in a suit, with a silly mask and fake horns. He'd pondered over this for several months and, on his sixth birthday, he decided he was certain Krampus, just like Santa, was not real.

From this day on, he felt he was not just older, but also wiser, and he would no longer be scared into being nice. It started with small things, like not wiping his feet when he came in, but soon he stopped doing anything that his parents were telling him to do. His mother would scold him and she would have lectured him for hours if she could have, but soon he learned to run away when he saw her and then she'd just shout vain threats that the Krampus would come and take him away. The threats didn't work anymore, though, and he'd stay away from home, playing on the mountain till dinner time. His mother would send him to bed without his dinner, but soon he learned to steal food from the pantry when she wasn't looking, and whenever she noticed something was missing, which was usually when he was already out of the house, she'd shout after him, "I hope Krampus takes you away this year!"

This Krampus business wasn't a problem at first, in summer, convinced as he was that Krampus wasn't real. But in winter, something about it became unnerving. As soon as the first snow settled on the mountain, he noticed something strange. There were prints all over the mountain, following his footprints everywhere, prints of a goat's hooves. He didn't see the goat. And as Christmas drew near, superstition began to take hold of him. For all he knew, the goat might not have been a goat at all, but a nightmarish creature, part man, part goat, a creature that was out to get him. He told himself such a creature didn't exist, couldn't exist, but every time he returned home, he saw the prints of hooves deep in the snow, following him.

Christmas was drawing near and the snow was piling up. In some places it was as tall as a man, and Thomas, careful not to sink too deeply when he went out to play, couldn't help thinking that if the goat-man wanted to kidnap him, there were places where he could have waited for him, hidden in the snow.

On Christmas Eve, he was coming home at dusk, when he saw the Krampus. The goat's hooves had been following him all day again. When he got close to home, he heard children crying, then he saw the creature walk out of the house next to his. He was as tall as a man, with a red, monstrous face and big goat's horns on his head, and he was carrying a big, heavy sack. It could have been just a man in a Krampus costume. It could have been. But it could have been the real Krampus, and Thomas didn't want to stick around and find out. He ran back, out of town and up the mountain. When he thought he was far enough to be safe, he turned to see if the creature was following him. Then he heard something moving behind him and the coarse fabric of a sack fell over his eyes.
The Krampus
My entry for :icondeviant-writing: 's First Contest!

Word count: 692 words
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:iconblizzardblitzer:
BlizzardBlitzer Featured By Owner 5 days ago   Writer
Howdy partner, like Sil said, welcome to D-W.  I'm one of the Advisors.  Though you seem to have a handle on your writing, feel free to message me if you ever want some input or just want to bounce ideas around.
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:icondparparita:
dparparita Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for welcoming me to the group.
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:iconblizzardblitzer:
BlizzardBlitzer Featured By Owner 4 days ago   Writer
You're welcome.
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:iconsilhouettedrider:
SilhouettedRider Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Professional Writer

Hi! On behalf of Deviant-Writing, I would like to welcome you to our group and thank you for joining! :)

We are currently hosting our first literature contest (with prizes in place, including points and art requests), so if you would like to participate in the fun, check out our group journal
here!

 

Also, find out how to gain more comments quickly and easily on your deviations with our ‘Feedback Loop’, join in on our Writing Collaborations project, or feel free to chat with one of our Group Advisors if you ever have any questions or problems regarding your writing.

 

Check out our home-page for details on all of the above and more!

 

One last thing: If you would like to find out how to get featured, in addition to helping us out as a group, please check out our support account, Deviant-Writing-Aid. Thank you!


If you have any suggestions, queries or need help with anything, feel free to drop me a note! :D

I look forward to reading your deviations. :huggle:
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:icondparparita:
dparparita Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the warm welcome. :heart:
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