You First

Check out my horror piece that was recently published by Flash Fiction Magazine.

I was fortunate enough to have a short horror piece published by Flash Fiction Magazine last week. I wrote “You First” in August.

I grew up in a somewhat isolated farmhouse, where (much to my family’s chagrin) the power and telephone frequently went out for long periods. I remember that the mildest thunderstorm often was enough to knock out our utilities. The power and telephone companies rarely had an explanation and certainly took their time restoring service to us. I had been reflecting on those childhood experiences before I started to write this story. The setting for “You First” is essentially my parents’ house, with some elements of my grandparents’ house (which was an even larger, older farmhouse that had a seriously creepy vibe on certain nights). The setting could easily be located in rural Pennsylvania or West Virginia

“You First” takes place on the remote Hetherington farm, where two local farmhands, James and Pat, are making a routine delivery of hay bales. Their early morning work is interrupted by bizarre sounds from the farmhouse. Concerned for the safety of the elderly Lawrence and Martha Hetherington, James and Pat investigate. The pair encounter a frazzled Martha, who shares that her family has been murdered by a devious entity that she has managed to trap in the basement. James suspects that the old woman has gone mad and murdered her loved ones, but Martha invites the two men to have a look in the basement for themselves. 

“You First” is just under 1,000 words. The first draft ran close to 1,500 words. Editing out a third of the content was tricky, but I am satisfied with the result.

Clicking the picture below will take you to “You First” (the picture, by the way, is the actual basement door from my parents’ house). Let me know what you think!

youfirst

Author: joshuajscully

That’s my picture up there. I’m not totally sure why I look so angry. I may be thinking about how much I hated the Crypt Keeper as a child. I grew up faithfully watching reruns of The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt. Unfortunately, I missed the boat in terms of writing for either of those programs. I do consider both to have been wildly influential when I think back to my earliest thoughts about becoming an author and I’m grateful my parents let me watch those shows as a kid (although there were probably some nights early in my childhood my mother wished she hadn’t let me watch those shows). If you’re familiar with either program, then you know what genres are my focus. I thoroughly enjoy science fiction, suspense, the twist ending, and some horror or supernatural elements as well. Honestly, when I was a kid the Crypt Keeper scared the hell out of me. As an adult, I’ve really learned to embrace the puns. Historical fiction is a favorite of mine as well, and the root of that is shared with my profession. I am an educator by trade, and I teach American History. I consider some of the best writing I’ve ever done to be within the realm of historical fiction and I really enjoy saturating my mind in the research end of those projects. I would make the argument that storytelling is in my blood. Even my sister mulled, very briefly (about 45 minutes), launching a career as a screenwriter! My last name is one of those Irish (and, apparently, formally Manx) ones with a wonderfully researched history -“the story-teller’s descendant”. On of the first day of school each year, I do share that “my name is Mr. Scully, and that rhymes with Kelly”, just so I do not hear the myriad of mispronunciations on the first day. Several years ago, I started a blog similar to this one to highlight my middle years as a teacher. If that aspect of my life is of any interest to you at all, you can still find that blog online. During my summers, I really have time to pursue my writing projects and this blog will highlight some of that work. My first attempts to sit down and write extensively occurred when I was 15, but only a few years ago did I make setting time aside to write a priority. I’ve also benefited wildly over the years from many willing readers among my family and friends. The direction and feedback from those individuals has been invaluable. Outside the world of the written word, I am an educator, basketball coach, lecturer, and (very, very occasionally) a landscaper. I have only ever known Western Pennsylvania as my home. Although I love a good novel, I am absolutely unable to resist the power of the short story. The latter is really what I hope to be remembered for one day.

4 thoughts on “You First”

      1. The road to getting anything in publication is a hard one. That fact that you made it is wuit an acheivement so never sell yourself short, you’re an amazing writer. The first story I got published was a scifi romance. At that time, I was so depressed about all the no’s I got, that I was about to give up. That night, I got to email that they accepted me and it changed my life.

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