Five Horror Stories: Tales of Mystery, Misery, and the Macabre. A Collection

“I shouldn’t have agreed to the procedure. I shouldn’t have signed my name, but who didn’t?” from The Curse of a Heartbeat “I lived in a small, simple flat, almost devoid of life. The front of the building was as the face of one who perished. The windows were his clouded eyes, and the door his gaping mouth. Even the smell of the place seemed to remind most of a rotting corpse. The place complimented me well, as I am one who was, and is, close to Death.”from When Old Men Hang “You want this?” I held it out to him. He reached out and took it, but it dropped straight through his hand. I collapsed, shaking, to the ground, crawling backward, my hands slipping in the mud (and God knows what else).” from When Young Men Die … This book is a collection of five short stories selected by the author Michael Henderson. They were written sporadically over a span of seven years, between 2015 and 2022. The collection is composed of five stories, “When Old Men Hang,” “The Curse of a Heartbeat,” “The Lost Biologist,” “When Young Men Die,” and “The City and the Devil.”. The content in this collection is for adults. The stories contain disturbing imagery.

Meet Michael Henderson

Michael Henderson began writing at a young age. Following his passion, he went to University and studied English for several years. He didn’t graduate, but instead chose a different pursuit: drug abuse. Now, sober, and with a brain thoroughly cooked by miscellaneous substances, he has returned to his older, more tame passion–writing. Michael lives with his family in Alpine, California. He regularly publishes poetry, short stories, and nonfiction on Medium.com.

The Truth About Gretchen

Gretchen Holloway, in her final year of graduate school, is in the throes of auditioning actors for her thesis film, inspired by a murdered young football star who has haunted her dreams for two years. Gretchen believes making the movie will be cathartic. But instead of freeing her, embarking upon the film production unleashes a sequence of events that lead Gretchen to conclude that she’s the reincarnation of the young man.

Regina Wilson has always wanted to be an actress. When her agent gets her an audition for a role in Gretchen’s film, which eerily mirrors one of the worst events of her life—the unsolved murder of her older brother, Robert—she’s hard-pressed to go through with it. Upon fleeing, she leaves behind a keepsake that features Robert’s photo. Gretchen sees the picture and recognizes Robert from her dreams. She tracks down Regina, and after being rebuffed and called crazy, Gretchen’s unexplainable knowledge of events in Robert’s life eventually convinces Regina that Gretchen is Robert reincarnated.

The two decide to have his case reopened, but their significant others are dead set against it, and the police, who believe that Robert’s death was gang-related, are less than cooperative. However, Gretchen is desperate to get justice for her former self, and Regina wants justice for her brother. The women piece together the final week of Robert’s life. And the deeper they delve into his past; one shocking revelation follows another, leaving them wondering who they can trust and if they’ll live long enough to find Robert’s killer and bring him to justice.


Meet Alretha Thomas

Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, Alretha soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming. This led to plays outside of the church, including Alretha’s One Woman, Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient, Denise Dowse. The production garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

In between plays, Alretha self-published her first novel, Daughter Denied, in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her book and plays, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on CBS affiliate, KPIX. She was also interviewed by KTLA News Entertainment Reporter, Sam Rubin. In 2011, Alretha self-published her second novel, Dancing Her Dreams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, Married in the Nick of Nine, spawned a four-book series that was acquired by Soul Mate Publishing in January 2014. The series has since reverted back to her. In August 2014, Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel, Four Ladies Only. In 2016, Alretha created the Detective Rachel Storme Mystery Series: Justice for Jessica, Losing Lauren and A Penny for Her Heart. In 2018 and 2019 Alretha debuted two additional mystery books—
The Women on Retford Drive and The Truth About Gretchen, respectively.

Alretha is also an actress and can be seen in numerous commercials and television shows. She currently plays Anastasia Devereaux on Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living that airs on BET.

The end of the track

Frank Guerder, a novelist, has a gift that allows him to see the undead and other ghostly things. While at a book signing, he is asked to find three young boys who disappeared after boarding a train. The problem is there hasn’t been a train to pass by there in years and seems impossible since most of the tracks have been taken up. Frank must find a way to board this ghostly train and find the missing boys.

Meet Gary M. Martin

I am a retired electrical foreman. I have several self-published books and am currently seeking a literary agent for an unpublished manuscript.

The Mountaineer’s Painting

Kevin Frost finds an expensive looking frame at a yard sale. For some reason the glass in the frame is painted over. Upon uncovering the painting beneath he finds a haunting mountainscape. That night he begins to dream about the painter’s fatal climb. And when he wakes he finds the painting has changed. This is a ghost story, a love story, and a murder mystery. If you loved the Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze movie ‘Ghost,’ you’ll love this suspenseful book.
Winner of the 2021Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal for excellence in paranormal fiction.

Editorial Review

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!

Reviewed By Natalie Soine for Readers’ Favorite

The Mountaineer’s Painting: A Ghost Story by David Francis Curran tells the story of Kevin Frost, who feels compelled to drop everything that he is currently working on to go in search of the artist and anybody who may know something about a painting that he purchased from a yard sale. Kevin hangs the scenic painting in his bedroom and, as he sleeps, he starts to have dreams about a group of mountain climbers and a tragic accident that may not have been an accident at all. Kevin investigates the untimely death of a climber and in the process learns everything he can about mountain climbing, the rest of the climbers who were part of the group when the accident occurred, and the deceased climber’s widow.

What a delightful, enjoyable story. David Francis Curran includes images of basic equipment and there is a key to their purpose at the end of the book. The Mountaineer’s Painting is well written with many lively characters that we can all relate to, an exciting story, and a compelling plot that is well thought out. This novel is a quick, easy read filled with intrigue and anticipation, all keeping the reader interested from beginning to end. I enjoyed this unusual story and the pictures make a nice change. The author introduces the main character in the beginning so that the reader can create a mental picture of what he would look like. The interwoven twists, turns, and intrigue of people’s lives make for a thrilling novel. There are no negative aspects to this story, and with no bad language or erotic scenes, it is suitable for all ages. A well-earned five out of five!


Meet David Francis Curran

David Curran–David Curran IV on imdb.com, lives in the Montana wilderness with his wife of 51 years, his daughter, four cats, two dogs and until recently one chicken.

Escaping This World: Departing The Shores of Their Fathers (Escaping This World: A Modern Crime Thriller Book 1)

Instead of going home directly after a tough week at work, Giles Greenwood and his brother Michael arrive at their favourite pub with their friends Phillip and Francis. Unbeknownst to them, two crime gangs planned to meet at that location to conclude an illicit transaction involving international terrorism plans. Phillip is fatally shot during a brawl that accidentally consumes all the gathered groups. The two criminal gangs quickly disperse, leaving Giles wrongfully implicated in Phillip’s murder. The three agree they must pursue the man who killed Phillip and bring him to justice to absolve Giles. Many elements of their pursuit are unforeseen. They use clandestine crime routes to head out to sea, where dangers quickly surround them. There is much at stake for Giles. He is torn to protect his fragile brother Michael, exonerate himself, and find the elusive happiness he yearns for. However, the quest seems to have a life of its own. The threesome feels they are not in control, and events sweep them further away into an uncertain world. The companions now learn the world’s hard truths and must rely upon each other only. They steer towards Brazil, deeper into a perilous criminal underworld of dark conspiracy which they are unprepared for. A broader international conflagration is about to begin due to their pursuit. A shadowy Illuminati-like organisation is revealed at the centre of all matters as Giles, Michael, and Francis have unknowingly become active players in a more expansive and dangerous struggle by the world’s dark forces.

Meet Mark Ashmore

Born in Canada, Mark now lives in London, UK. Mark is currently working on books four and five of the series. Mark lists his literary influences as: Joseph Conrad Thomas Hardy JRR Tolkien Stendhal John le Carré Upcoming Works: 1) The Duel: The Story of Sergei and Maria-Due July 2023 2) Vasily: Prequel to Escaping This World-The story of Vasily (Part 2)

Alpha Killer

Victoria Cross moved to Spirits Cove to take over her grandfather’s antique bookshop, much to her mother’s displeasure. The mystery-loving Vicky quickly sees herself involved in solving the murders of farmers she barely knows. Those deaths seem accidental or related to rabies-infected wolf attacks at first, but that is not the case. In the midst of this, she quickly becomes friends with the town’s police chief, her grandfather’s best friend, triggering gossip. Vicky is unaware of her heritage and her relevance to that town. She has no idea of either that town’s history or of its surrounding towns. Vicky will have to find out what she is dealing with and who she really is. Discover it with Vicky and dive into this adventure-packed cozy mystery, full of sweet treats and sarcasm.

Meet Lillian J. Walker

The Coupling

A bloodthirsty demon couples to a budding sociopath. They learn they share an addiction to spilling blood. What could go wrong? Shasha Harrings is tasked with leading a federal paranormal crimes unit. With paranormal activity on the rise around the country, her team is charged with stopping the violence. Coming from different federal agencies, each of the four members brings a unique gift with them. As the murder spree moves west, will our team be able to identify the culprits and stop the murders from spreading through the whole country? The Coupling is book 1 in the Shasha’s Team paranormal horror series. If you like fast paced action, page turning stories of the paranormal, powerful demons and soulless murderers, you will love this first installment of M.J. Fitzmaurice’s “hard to put down” series. Buy The Coupling to read Shasha’s first investigation today.

Meet M.J. Fitzmaurice

Born in New Hampshire, teen years spent in Alaska, went to college in Spokane WA, and raised a family in Lodi CA. MJ has done a variety of jobs and lived in a variety of places. The constants have always been family, forests, and fiction. Contact MJ at website www.mjfitzmaurice.com or email [email protected]

Requiem for Miriam

Sidney and Miriam seem to be the perfect, successful New York couple, but their marriage is a tragic sham. When Sidney’s glamorous mistress, Tori, urges him to get rid of his troublesome wife, a murderous series of events ensues. Sidney kills Miriam in a fit of rage, and with her last breath, she curses him. Tori dies horribly at the hands of a vengeful ghost and Sidney goes on the run.
Maria, an ambitious young detective with a hidden psychic gift, is on the case. With the help of her Haitian lover, Raphaella, a striking, rum-drinking voodoo expert, she tracks Sidney down and goes undercover to entrap him. But Maria soon finds herself in mortal danger from the man she is hunting.
Will Maria and Raphaella get their man? And will Miriam find the justice – and revenge – she seeks from beyond the grave?


Meet Len Handeland

Len Handeland’s creativity took him from attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in Manhattan to hair. He studied fashion illustration, then years later to a long and successful 27-year career in the hair industry as a sought-after hairstylist, hair colorist, and salon owner. Len owned a salon in San Francisco’s Union Square for nine years and two salons in the town of Sonoma, Wine Country; for a total of 8 years; now fully retired from hair, Len became a full-time writer in the spring of 2021.
Len is a dynamic writer specializing in fiction, specifically horror, paranormal, and crime drama novels. Len has enjoyed writing as far back as middle school. To further enhance and better his writing, Len has taken many creative writing classes and, in 2017, attended The San Francisco International Writer’s Conference, which inspired him to write his first book, “The Darkest Gift,” based on his love of vampires. He credits the late Anne Rice for being the author that inspired him the most to write his own dark vampire story. His first book earned him 5-star reviews from readers and professional book reviewers. His first novel became a finalist in the American book fest contest in the fall of 2021. This spring, Len’s novel “The Darkest Gift” was awarded first place in the Bookfest 2022 awards in the category of Fiction/Horror. In addition, Len’s book and author interview were featured in the fall literature issue of “DeMode” magazine, with Len’s book named one of 10 must-read books of 2021. With the completion of Len’s second novel “Requiem for Miriam,” and his third based on his 27 years in the hair industry, “Tales from the Chair,” he’s planning on starting his fourth book (“Transplant”) in late summer, early fall of 2022.
When Len isn’t writing, some of his hobbies include hiking, biking, playing billiards, and vegetarian cooking. Len has trained in various forms of Martial Arts for over 20 years and appeared in several plays in Sonoma’s Community Theater. In addition, Len is also a singer who performed at numerous Wineries in the North Bay and Rotary events. The writer lives full-time in Palm Springs with his husband Byron Hancock and their two cats, siblings (Felix and Felicia)

The Body in the Bed

In a plot as timely as today’s newspaper, Roger and Suzanne return to Montevideo, Uruguay to attend a festive dinner in honor of their friend’s promotion to police captain. There’s a surprise guest waiting for them when they arrive in their hotel room. Who killed the body they find in the bed? Roger and Suzanne are the lead suspects in a murder, their allies on the police forces of Uruguay and Paraguay may be the targets of a conspiracy, and nobody can be trusted. Readers new to the series will enjoy this fast paced, action filled international mystery as a stand-alone introduction to the region and the series characters.

Meet Jerold Last

The author is a Professor at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. Jerry writes fast paced “tweener” mystery books (tough mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no bad words), published on Amazon Kindle. He and his wife Elaine lived previously in Salta, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay, which provide the settings for several of the earlier Roger and Suzanne mysteries including this one. Jerry and Elaine also breed prize-winning German shorthaired pointer dogs.

I Can Be Your Friend

Natalie Smith’s obsession with saving Mandy Wright from her ‘fake’ friends leads to betrayal, dark motivation, and the desperate need to kill. Sprinkled with twists and turns at every corner, ‘I Can Be Your Friend’ will keep you at the edge of your seat until the final reveal.

Meet Jessica Blade

I write young adult twisted psycho thrillers with a sprinkling of horror. All of my stories are clean of foul language and sexual situations.
I wrote my first complete novel when I was a young adult and have been writing ever since.
Suspense novels and suspense-filled movies have always been my favorite genres. My novels are meant to evoke intrigue and a memorable sense of thrill.