Brian Keene is being killed off today in a number of blogs throughout the world. After reading some great stories, I wanted to participate. If you are enjoying the stories, hopefully you'll consider making a donation to the Shirley Jackson Awards in memory of Brian.
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Check out Brian Keene's website for other great stories.
Brian Keene Must Die
Brian Keene placed the sweating tumbler of Knob Creek on his desk and drew on the half-smoked Partagas. “This novel is going to be the death of me,” he said, exhaling leathery smoke. His eyes dried from staring too long at the computer screen, producing tears.
The monitor flickered, warped. “What the hell?” Brian ground thick knuckles into his eye sockets. “I’ve only had one bottle today.”
Coldness moved around his legs and crept up his spine.
“You know what the story needs, Brian.” The disembodied voice was gruff, as if its speaker had smoked unfiltered Camels for decades.
Brian pushed away from the desk, his gaze scanning for movement. “Who’s there?”
The Word document on his monitor rippled as though liquid. “I mean seriously, what kind of shit is this?” The voice seemed to originate from the computer speakers.
Brian rose to his feet. “Look, I don’t know who you think you—”
“Sit down, Brian.”
Warmth spread from Brian’s neck to his face. “I don’t have to do—”
“Sit down, Brian!”
The chill moved up his body, writhing around his neck, tightening. Brian clawed at his throat for breath, finally taking in the sharp air. He eased into his chair and stared at the floating words on the screen. “Who are you?”
“I would have thought you’d recognize me by now.” The voice sounded offended.
“Are you sure you’re not confusing me for Tomo or Dickie?”
Laughter came from the speakers. “I’m your muse.”
“Great,” Brian said, rolling his eyes. “Where the hell have you been?”
“Do you want my help or not?”
Brian rubbed his forehead. “I just want to finish this story so I can go to bed.”
“Well, that’s just the problem—the story doesn’t like the direction you are taking it.”
“What?” Brian’s eyebrows furrowed. “That’s ridiculous.”
“This story is dangerous, Brian. You’d better let it move where and how it wants.”
“Is that right?” Brian wanted to say something harsher but feared the cold grip would return. “Well, it’s my story.”
“Actually, you’re only the story’s author, Brian. It chose you.”
Brian chuckled. “Well the story has good taste, at least.”
“I would agree,” the voice said. “It first chose Joe Lansdale but he wasn’t interested.”
Brian cocked his head. “Are you saying I am its second choice?”
“Well,” the voice said, hesitantly. “I wouldn’t say you were the second choice.”
Brian folded his arms across his chest. “Oh, really?”
“Ramsey Campbell turned it down, too.”
“So, I was the third choice?”
What sounded like a sigh came from the speakers. “Let’s get back to the matter at hand, shall we? The story is unhappy with your direction and wants a rewrite.”
Brian picked up the tumbler and finished off the Knob Creek. “You can tell the story the only rewrites made will be over my dead body!”
“Don’t say that, Brian.”
“Fuck you, Muse!” Brian poured more Knob Creek into his glass. “I can eat an entire can of Alphabet soup and shit a better story than you any day of the week.”
“Just consider what the story is asking, Brian.”
“All right.” Brian emptied the tumbler again. “What does the story want?”
“Get out,” Brian said in a low tone.
“Get out! And don’t you ever come back!”
“Brian, if you would just consider—”
The silence was creepier than the disembodied voice.
Brian scanned the room before pulling up to his desk. “Now let’s finish this story.”
Just as his fingers touched the keyboard, Brian noticed a crack spider-webbing across the monitor, with the sounds of glass chinking and crunching. He pushed back from the desk. “Now what?”
The letters from the Word document moved toward the widening cracks in the screen as if trying to escape. A whirring sound came from the monitor, high pressure building like the cracked fuel pump of an ‘84 Oldsmobile.
The air pounded against Brian, forcing him to his feet—the pressure building, making it difficult to remain standing. Brian watched as the letters moved to the edge of the crack.
An upper case V shot from the crack, striking Brian squarely in the chest. The trajectory sounded like a bullet fired from a Glock nine millimeter, digging deep into Brian’s chest.
He stumbled, touching the entry wound. “Jesus—” He brought back bloodied fingertips. “I can’t believe this!”
The letters came in quick succession as if fired from an Uzi, each penetrating Brian’s body with thuds and pings.
Brian fell to the floor, blood pooling from his motionless body.
The pressure from the computer screen faded to nothing. All was quiet except for the squishing sounds of the letters pushing through flesh, exiting Brian’s body.
Now to choose another author.
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