A little while ago I wrote a short story for the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future Contest". I did not win, and I know why, my story is really more horror than Science Fiction or Fantasy. But I decided that I will post each chapter here on my blog. There are 37 very short chapters, for a total of 15,000 words, about a fifth of a modern novel. Here is the start.
“Max,” a voice moved through the darkness from behind Maxwell and caused him to form rigidly in his position, looking down on the scene of clowns piling over his comrade. The voice was familiar.
“Clair,” Maxwell responded. He turned and was greeted by his friend, her visage twisted, pale and distended, a funhouse mirror of his coworker. “You've looked better.”
“Careful Max,” Wilton’s twisted form crept up out of the shadows. His back was hunched and bent at numerous points and angles, his legs seemingly having far too many joints. His face was crushed on one side but still smiling. “I don’t think you should be kidding my girl so playfully, it is unprofessional to draw attention to how good she looks.”
Maxwell cringed at the sight of them and realized how useless the weight of his gun felt, how cornered he was between his two friends and the unbreakable window. With a ghost by his side and the madness all around, the world was as crooked as the house he stood in. “Wil, Clair, I want to ask you: do you know how I can get back to the normal world?”
“Why would you want to go back?” Clair asked back.
“I suppose you don’t get why seeing the world crooked like this is better,” Wilton chimed in. “Everyone smiles, everything shines. It is all as it should be. Honestly insane. Rather than secretly, like the rest of the world is.”
“But do you know?” asked Maxwell.
“Max, baby, you’re already there,” said Clair.
“Just try and see it our way.” At that phrase the world changed briefly for Maxwell. It was darker, less animate, and just for a moment he saw something different.
“See things your way?” Maxwell squinted and focused his eyes again, and again the world got darker. He heard Allison say something but it was a whisper. He heard the clowns of his friends say something, but it was distorted.
Crooked House straightened all out… things got a lot easier to see.