Lisa Morton

Author, Screenwriter, Halloween Expert…what's next?

darkscreamsOver the last few years, I’ve been involved with the care of several elderly relatives (in January, I became the live-in caregiver to my 82-year-old mother). I’ve been to dozens of doctors, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. The latter in particular can be little trips through Hell, hidden beneath the polite moniker of “skilled nursing facility.” I’ve had my senior kin beg me to get them out before the person they shared their room with (comatose, couldn’t weigh more than 90 pounds) tried to kill them. I’ve heard elaborate fantasies about staff members, and tried to explain the passage of time. I’ve tried to carry on conversations with relatives who didn’t know who I was while some other patient down the hall screamed.

Visit a couple of these places that smell like something rotting buried beneath layers of chemicals, listen to a loved one mutter about seeing people who’ve been dead for thirty years, and you’ll start to think there could surely be no better setting for a horror story.

That’s how “The New War” came about.

The protagonist in the story, Mike, isn’t based on any of my kin, but many of his experiences are taken from real life (or whatever you call it when someone thinks they have to get out of bed to write a book about a trip around the world they never took). I hope I found a structure and plot that serve him well.

I’m happy with how “The New War” came out, and I’m very happy that the story found such a fine home in Dark Screams 4, available now. Here’s the beginning of the story. If you’re intrigued, I hope you’ll consider picking up the e-book for the rest (and you also get great stories by Clive Barker, Ray Garton, Ed Gorman, and Heather Graham). Thank you.


Pain became panic and drowning, clawing up for air, eyes opening to numbers and dates that swam, half-shadowed faces barely remembered, thoughts and images clashing, then finally coalescing, melting away until one sensation remained: Pressure.

Mike tried to inflate his lungs for one more breath, a simple act that took all of his focus. He closed his eyes, forced the air out, in, out…

When he could open his eyes, he saw it there, crouched on his rib cage, as he’d known it would be: The black, shapeless thing. It came every night with Maria, the Filipino nurse who took care of him from ten p.m. to six a.m.

Mike sucked in breath, struggled to dislodge the thing, but he was weak, so god damn weak…

“Mr. Carson, what’s the matter?” Maria stood at the foot of the bed, gazing down at him with concern that he knew was feigned. She was trying to kill him.

“Go away,” he said, his voice a hoarse croak he barely recognized.

A patronizing smile creased Maria’s broad face, and she bent down to busy herself with tucking in his sheets. “I think maybe you just have a bad dream.”

Mike hated her. He hated her fake care and her accent and her efficient bustling about that never really accomplished anything. Yes, his sheets were clean and his pain managed, but he was still here, two weeks after hip surgery, in a third-rate nursing home that was the best his veteran’s benefits had been able to cover. He shared his room with a silent, immobile shell of flesh whose breathing apparatus pumped and hissed, the halls echoed with cries and electronic tones, the whole place stank of disinfectant barely covering…what? The smell of age? Of death?

Mike finally identified it: The stench of rot.

“I’m living a bad dream.” He peered at what squatted on him; it was a black hole in the dimly-lit room, but somehow he could see Maria through it. It wasn’t substantial, but it had weight; it did nothing, but he could feel it trying to suck life from him. “Take your pet and go away.”

“Now, Mr. Carson, you know they don’t let pets in here.” She checked the railings that enclosed his bed, then asked, “Do you need to use the bathroom?”

“No. I’m fine. Just go away.”

She shrugged and left.

Mike had lied – he did need to urinate – but he’d rather use the bedpan than feel her hands on him, stripping the last of his dignity as he was led to a shared toilet.

The black vanished and he gasped in air. Despite the disinfectant, it was cool and good and restored him.

You won’t get me so easy. Not like the others.

Because in the two weeks that he’d been here, five patients had died.

You can download Dark Screams 4 instantly at any of the following:

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