RED CLOUDS is a story born of a nightmare. In my dream, the Daughter and I were watching a horror movie, the subject of which inspired this novelette. I've lived alone and experienced, strange, things before. So my dream movie's context struck a cord, the nightmare stuck with me, and driving home one night seeing clouds at dusk set my mind to working.

Fortunately, I have time to multitask at work, doing my job (scanning files) and writing (horror stories). What I thought would be a short story demanded more development and I found myself capping off at over nine thousand words. Here's a preview:

Days passed and Millie’s job occupied most of her time.  With no more eerie incidents and plenty of restful sleep, her typical routine set in.  She went out with her sister, Leland came over another night, she had a company funded dinner and pretended to be social long enough to figure out she didn’t want to know any of her coworkers outside of work.  Life was normal and the paranoia she had so worried over that first night felt childish.  Except, she thought about it every day.
The other tenants she encountered seemed aloof to her presence; frankly, as it should be.  If they had any concern, they weren’t showing it.  Equal parts laziness, embarrassment, and fear of the answer kept her from digging into that night’s events with the Super or the police.  At least once a day that sound in the middle of the night would float to the forefront of her thoughts. How come no one else acknowledged it?
Already nursing a beer and staring at red clouds in the east as the sun set, Millie waited for Leland to arrive.  Playing his Lovecraftian role playing game had become something she craved.  It was a wonderful distraction and something she could bond with someone over.  Leland grew on her and as he became accustomed to her quirks, he relaxed around her as well.  It was a good friendship she was glad to have opened up to.
Looking at her phone, he was now getting close to half an hour late.  She sent a text chastising him.  Setting her phone down, she turned on the lamp next to her bed, took a long drink, and picked up the book she was currently reading to while away the time until he arrived.  When it felt like ten minutes had passed, she looked and found it had only been three.  It was troubling enough she was worried, but not late enough that she should really be worried.
“At least respond to my text, prick.”  She said to her phone.
Finishing her beer, she decided to grab one more.  If she was already buzzed she could tear into him with little inhibition.  Hand reached out for the refrigerator door, she paused.  In the hall there was a rustling.  Something heavy was being moved about against the carpet, right outside her door.
“There you are.” Millie sighed.
Flinging open the door, ready to give Leland a stern talking to, her voice caught in her throat.  Her right hand trembled.  Her breath was held, though she made no conscious effort to silence herself so.  Stricken with despair, every fiber of her being cried to flee in too many directions to make a decision.  She was left planted as what she saw defied reason.


I hope you enjoyed this snippet and I hope you'll consider picking it up for your favorite reading device over at Amazon. If you find yourself willing, leave it a review or talk about it here. If you share it, make sure to tag me and let me know!

Also, a very special thanks to my friend and fellow writer Kristen Scheer for being my test audience and for the insightful input.

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