Short Stories

At this point I’ve published quite a few short stories, most of which appear in three collections, the first two of which are out of print: Leaping at Thorns (2014), Peritoneum (2016), and Stains of Atrocity (2023).

For the curious, here’s a list. Except for a couple of uncollected tales, I’m listing the stories by collection, not by original publication. I have copies of Leaping at Thorns… interested? Get in touch.

Leaping at Thorns, BlackWyrm Publishing, 2014

  1. Charlie Mirren and His Mother: A sadistic killer captures a young man in order to make a point via the limits of psychological and physical torture. Adapted into an award-winning short screenplay.
  2. Bees and Bears: This twisted fantasy follows the relationship between a girl and her mother as the girl grows up wanting to learn her mother’s secret, erotic ways of bending nature to her will.
  3. Heart on a Stick: A student tries to impress his teacher with a magical tour-de-force. The story is a linguistic experiment. The main character appears in “Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion,” and his magical display gets a nod in the serialized story The Middle Reaches.
  4. Lachrymosa: Different characters in moments of family conflict are drawn to the end of a street–toward which others shuffle mindlessly–where a strange phenomenon is stripping away humanity.
  5. Tapestry: An ambitious young woman discovers that her co-workers are wasting away under what seems to be the influence of their boss–or his wife–and she might be next. Adapted into an award-winning short screenplay.
  6. Hands: A boy is abandoned by his friends in a pit during a rainstorm. As water rises, he discovers other horrors in the pit that devour his mind. My oldest published story, and still a favorite.
  7. Plague Veronica: Friends enjoying a weekend getaway contract an illness that makes them itch uncontrollably. A bizarre slasher-without-a-slasher. Written before the release of Cabin Fever!
  8. Light: An inexplicable force infects the light in and around a family’s house, causing anyone who steps out of darkness to succumb to murderous impulses.
  9. Last Move: A mother and son rent a truck to move across the U.S., but the truck may be haunted. The story experiments with formatting, using sidebars for the mother’s reflections on events.
  10. Worm Would: A maladjusted young man discovers that he can release the worms living inside him at will, which allows him to pursue unsavory goals.
  11. The Fate of Doctor Fincher: In the story that begins the “Fincherverse” behind novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines as well as the rest of the stories in this book and others in the next two collections, Harvard student Louis Jardin visits his mentor Dr. Fincher and finds him dead, an apparent suicide–but that’s only the first shock Dr. Fincher has planned for him.
  12. Carriers: In the 1950s, a lonely housewife makes contact, through her new television, with Matilda Roan and a group of people who seem to be sawing into her skull. The origin of variations on “to get out, she had to get in,” which echoes throughout my fiction.
  13. Complicity: An aging couple accepts unexplained payments from an unfamiliar source and starts noticing people who are behaving strangely–and missing parts of themselves. Adapted into an award-winning short screenplay.
  14. Zero Patients: A woman with multiple ailments, physical and mental, seeks treatment that has unconventional effects, making her a magnet for more horrific problems.
  15. The Special One: A veteran is isolated in a room with “Oscar,” who doesn’t look threatening… but the associates of Dr. Fincher observing him are far too anxious to see what happens.

Peritoneum, Seventh Star Press, 2016 [only listing stories not also included in Stains of Atrocity]

  1. The Family Pet: This story is actually the prologue to my first (at this point, intentionally) unpublished horror novel, Curiosity. I included it because it introduces Gordon and Steven Marks, who appear in later stories (as well as The Middle Reaches, though I didn’t know that yet). It’s an intense piece of work, but I don’t really want it to be public, so I’m glad it’s not anymore.
  2. Leer Reel: Committed to Whispering River, the mental institution from “Carriers,” Louis Jardin raves about movies, his unusual abilities, and the people he’s eviscerating in order to see Dr. Fincher again.
  3. Interview with “Oscar,” circa 1962: Oscar tells an FBI agent about unleashing his abilities on a corrupt Southern town during the Civil War–while not revealing what he’s doing in the present.
  4. Patrick’s Luck: A family participates in psychedelic experiments involving sex and violence at Whispering River. A surreal, disjointed, and very uncomfortable story.
  5. Juicy the Liar: Sort of a horror-comedy-fantasy, this story introduces Melia Warfield and describes the steps Matilda Roan leads her in taking toward joining Dr. Fincher’s inner circle.
  6. DNA: A man with a survivalist background wakes up in an apparently simple labyrinth populated by strange semi-human creatures. He heads toward a climax of scarily Lovecraftian or commercial proportions. Perhaps both.
  7. The Road Thief: After a traumatic childhood experience that seemed to involve the supernatural, a highly medicated young man doesn’t know what to think or do during a life-or-death situation with increasingly surreal dimensions.
  8. Rudy Haskill’s Plan: A man plans to use online dating to live out a sexually violent fantasy, but he might not be as clever as he thinks.
  9. Bubble Girl: A little girl, almost like a doll, appears in a field, floating in a bubble. First younger kids, then older kids, are drawn to her mystery, but not everyone appreciates her, and trouble erupts.
  10. The Birds of St. Francis: The Consortium–Elijah Eagleton, Matilda Roan, Melia Warfield, and Jake Warren–presumably executing Dr. Fincher’s plans, asks Oscar to join, but Oscar has his own relationship with Allen Fincher, and he has his own notions of allegiance.

Stains of Atrocity, Kindle Direct Publishing (self), 2023

  1. Silence: After a roadside mishap, a woman visits a strange house to seek help. Later, the people around her disappear inexplicably. This version differs from previously published versions: it includes expansions from the award-winning screenplay adaptation.
  2. House of Butterflies: Two sisters meet at their uncle’s house to prepare for their mother’s funeral and discover that their family is the target of a supernatural phenomenon involving… butterflies.
  3. Your Neighbor: An entity called The Grizzle Man tells a woman she will kill her neighbor, and she becomes obsessed with the idea of doing it.
  4. David Langley and the Burglar: A burglar fantasizes about hurting the people he robs while his latest mark tries to comprehend the supernatural force that ensnares him.
  5. Highway Romance: A truck driver feels drawn to a boy he sees in a car on the highway, and the boy seems just as drawn to him—but their attractions take a violent turn.
  6. Lizard Chrome: Supernatural lizards descend upon a popular nightspot in downtown Louisville and cause a frenzy of murder and mayhem.
  7. The Long Flight of Charlotte Radcliffe: A young woman falls back into the clutches of her abusive uncle.
  8. Jar of Evil: A scientist of sorts captures the essence of evil in a jar, drops the jar, and chases it, hoping to catch it before it starts the apocalypse.
  9. Dinner for Two: A young man obsessed with online exposure decides to commit and stream a mass shooting, and one of his followers, enchanted, decides she’ll join him. I developed the lead characters first in two short scripts (one award-winning, one kept private). Terrifying people.
  10. Undying Support: A group representing different minorities decides to strike back at the white supremacist terrorizing their neighborhood, but the murderous bigot refuses to die. Adapted into Undying, a feature-length, award-winning screenplay.
  11. Around Your Neck: A psychic gets pulled into a plot involving murder, human trafficking, and a supernatural “familiar” with a taste for slaughter. This story is a prequel to Familiar, an award-winning feature-length screenplay.
  12. Food for Flies: A white couple with racist tendencies accidentally (?) kills a brown young man, and after they dispose of the body, swarms of flies appear with a gruesome agenda.
  13. Blood and Feathers: At the dawn of the 20th century, Dr. Allen Fincher confronts Dean Elijah Eagleton at Harvard about nefarious activities. After a display of power, Allen lays out a plan for cooperation and human sacrifice.
  14. Kindertotenlieder (Songs for Dead Children): In a reimagining of “Pied Piper” tales, a town ends up with a glut of babies that couldn’t belong to their mothers’ husbands, who are off fighting World War Two, so they turn to a woman with mystical powers, Matilda Roan, for help, unaware of the price they’ll pay.
  15. Year of the Wolf: Louis Jardin lets Matilda Roan kill him so that his essence can travel back to the 1943 Pacific Battle of Tarawa, where he takes the form of a monster that hunts both sides.
  16. The Broom Closet Where Everything Dies: A boy with access to arcane powers summons creatures from fiction and catches the attention of a mentor, Elijah Eagleton, who leads him toward more destructive goals. This story connects to a lot of other fiction, my own and others’, and links the Fincherverse with the worlds of TR4B (see below).
  17. Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion: A young woman travels to a house notorious for the crimes committed there, the murders of Chris and Annie Ledbetter by Gordon and Steven Marks, in order to have a medical procedure. She ends up on a surreal journey between life and death. The… surgeon?… is from “Heart on a Stick.” Extensive connections with The Middle Reaches should be clear if you read both.
  18. TR4B: Jessica Marks, Gordon and Steven’s mother, takes a transformative, hallucinatory walk through the basement (known as “TR4B” online) where her sons committed their crimes. Doesn’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t read “Eternal Recurrence.” Might not make a lot of sense anyway.
  19. Door Poison: A young man and woman who met on the internet visit TR4B and find themselves trapped in a bizarre and deadly game.
  20. Mandy Schneider Makes Friends: A budding psychopath meets Gordon and Steven Marks, and after a bizarre initiation, the three turn their attention to a group of campers and their chaperones. Likely to trigger everyone.


  1. Perfect White (Man-Made Troubles: The Five-Minute Frankenstein, BlackWyrm Publishing, 2012): This super-short story riffs on the final pages of Frankenstein and connects the Creature’s Arctic fate to the Antarctic fantasies of Poe and Lovecraft.
  2. The Knowing Wind (The Leo Weekly, October 26, 2016): After a traumatic encounter, a young couple must brave a journey across Louisville on a windy night when no one should be out because “the knowing wind makes you die.”