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Cover art from the new book, “Madhouse Theater” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr and John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

 

Introduction

      What does it mean to be sane? 
      Perhaps it’s nothing more than a state of awareness accepted by the majority to classify what is understood; a way to separate ourselves from all that remains hidden in the dark and questionable areas of our minds. Perhaps sanity is nothing more than man’s dull flashlight beam, struggling desperately to fend off the night and make it to another dawn. Perhaps madness then, is nothing more than the sum of all our secrets kept safely locked away from the daylight where the abnormal has no place among the sane. Or maybe sanity is nothing more than a thin, straight line drawn beneath the sun to keep our bearings in a more mysterious, dark and unknown place that hides within us all.
     Whatever the case may be, just off to the left or right of our temporal life lines drawn in chalk, lie the vast lands of madness where the darkest parts of mankind stay caged, where the nightmares and stories of our youth stay fiction, and where the lie, otherwise known as sanity, acts as a flimsy cork to keep the dark recesses of our minds from escaping while we pretend that we are not mad…merely normal.
     What does it mean to be normal?
     Perhaps that is the most insane question of them all.
     Perhaps it’s possible that each of us are touched by various degrees of madness, and if so, then it’s not much of a stretch to say that each of us have the choice to explore the depths of such madness or stay at a safe distance. Either way, life is nothing more than a theater, and we- its characters, pretend to be creatures of light alone, although in all honesty, we are prone to darkness and have simply learned to resist, while others descend into the dark never to see the light of day again.
      I suspect that if all our secrets came crashing to the surface, we would discover that our worldly theater was nothing more than one big madhouse.
      Perhaps the real question is not “What is sanity?” But, “How insane am I?” For by understanding this question, we may better understand ourselves when the lights go out and we are all alone in the dark…

     We thank you for joining us on this adventure into madness, and although this is entirely a work of fiction, perhaps in some dark corner of mankind these tales take on a slight resemblance to the truth…or atleast…the dark possibilities. 
     Within the pages of this book are tales and poetry covering a wide range of subjects from the paranormal to myths and legends, from maniacs to things that simply go bump in the night. 
     We hope you enjoy these twisted offerings from our collective imagination, inspired by our own collaborative madness. 
     The following is a preview of various poems and stories from the book.

     Welcome to the Madhouse Theater… although you’ve been here all along.
     
                                                                                                      -Scott Scherr

 

 Madhouse Theater is now available for purchase at:

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2893692

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“The Blood”  Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

 

 

                                                               

 

 

 

 

“Boogeyman”  Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Flying Dutchman”  Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “The Cure”  Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“For the Love of All the Pieces” Copyright © 2010 John Ecko.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find many more of John’s visual nightmares featured In “Madhouse Theater” now available for purchase.

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2893692

 

Someone Turn a Light On

Someone turn a light on,
There’s a darkness in my head.
I’ve been acting strangely
And I always feel half-dead.

I’m sleeping more each evening,
But my dreams fill me with dread.
Someone turn a light on,
For I wake in strangers beds.

Someone turn the light off,
For my conscience saw the news.
Another woman murdered,
By her bedside were my shoes.

I woke today without them
And my clothes were bloody too.
Someone turn the light off,
Best not know the things I do.

 

 ~~~

 

Dark Room

I define helpless,
kissing death
in the
dark- I cannot rise.

My limbs are dead branches
for all they
are worth
now- I cannot run.

This mouth, void of speech
to cry out;
all hope
gone- I cannot plead.

Physical escape
has failed me
in this
place- I cannot move…at all.

Drugs work perfection,
even now
near the
end.

I possess a single eye open
to keep this
terror
real

and

ears to amplify
their footsteps
coming
soon…to my dark room.

 

~~~

 

White Noise

The multiplication of voices resounding,
Sanity’s drowning in background destroyed.
All words that once rescued from sirens surrounding,
Lost in dark frequencies, death by white noise.

I’m deaf to their footsteps now masked by tone madness,
Legions of audio demons proceed.
My senses betray me, I dance in the darkness,
Sound works in silence, infecting my dreams.

I wake in the false light, subliminal phantoms
Guide me like piper, completely deceived.
To do what they tell me, and think that I fathom
The reason my hands are now red, while you bleed.

My conscience now muted, as well as your screams,
Lost in the background, where I used to be.

 

Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved.

 

You can find many more of Scott’s poems featured In “Madhouse Theater” now available for purchase.

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2893692

 

~~~~~~~~

Fifty-First Street

     Again, I found myself at the corner of Fifty-First Street and Main, puzzled by an unexplainable need to turn this low-lit corner bordered on both sides by abandoned apartment buildings older than God, Himself. Night after night, I’ve walked the uneven sidewalk here, long forgotten by the city, listening to the buzz of late night neon signs, the roar of passing vehicles, the clicks and chirps of street lights and crosswalk signs commanding the living, and even the distant hum of factories, all slowly fading behind me as it seems I’ve crossed into a place where sound doesn’t belong. Even the heels of my shoes sound muffled, as I pass boarded up doors and windows displaying graffiti like ancient hieroglyphics from people long departed. 
      “That’s no place for a beautiful, young woman to be walking alone at night,” I can hear Mother’s voice scolding in my head. She’s right, of course, but this place was different.
      Understanding why I know this, is the splinter in my thoughts that drives me insane, making the answer to what draws me here so elusive. 
      I stopped before the old diner at the center of Fifty-First Street, staring beyond broken glass windows and into the lifeless dark within. It was all so familiar to me; this place, this street. Why did I come back here every night, lost gazing into the remains of an old diner that held nothing nostalgic for me? What was it about this place that insisted I had to come back? 

     Answering me from the darkness across the street, a phone rang from a decrepit, old phone booth, invading the silence much too harshly and sounding foreign in this lifeless place. I wanted to ignore it and let it ring until the night itself swallowed up that desperate sound, for that is what I knew it to be. But I couldn’t turn away, that phone call was for me.
     That was why I was here, that’s why I’m always here. 
     Crossing the street, I felt my heart begin to race. The phone continued to ring like a painful cry from a mangled animal trapped within a standing coffin. As I reached the old door and opened it, the scent of something long dead escaped that musty box. I wanted to run as I reached for that receiver, believing it would strike me dead at the slightest touch. 
     I picked it up reluctantly and said, “Hello?” 
     “Oh God!…Thank God!…You have to help me!…He’s coming, and I don’t know what to do!…Please help me!” The familiar voice of a woman pleaded from across the line. 
     Her terror was infectious as I nearly dropped the receiver. “Slow down, Dear,” I began, “What’s happened to you?”
     “Are you the police? Please come and get me, he’s still in there and I’m so
frightened!” 
      “Try to calm down,” I advised, having a hard time remaining calm myself. “Are you somewhere safe, somewhere he can’t get to you?” 
      “He’s still in there…I think he’s watching from the window…Oh, God!” 
      “Can he see you, Dear?” 
      “No…no, I don’t think so,” the woman’s voice dropped to a whisper. “I’ve hidden in the phone booth. I don’t think he can see me in here, the lights are all busted and it’s dark outside.”
      “Where do you see him?” I asked, my own desperation beginning to creep through my voice. 
      “He’s still searching for me out front. I can see him through the windows…Oh, God! The lights just went out in there!” 
      “Where are you?” Without realizing it, I crouched down low within the phone booth as if he too could see me. 
      “Oh, God! He’s coming!” 
      “Where are you, Claire!” I nearly shouted. 
      “Who is this? How did you know my name?” 
      That was a good question. 
      “Can you slip out of there, Claire? Can you find somewhere to hide?” 
      “He just exited the diner and he’s looking around. He’s trying to find me. Oh, God! He’s got a knife in his hand!” 
      I turned as best I could from the phone booth to look back at the old dark diner. For a moment I saw him standing at the broken down front door. Then nothing. “Which diner, Claire? Not the one on Fifty-First Street?” 
      “Yes! Yes, are you coming? Please tell me you’re almost here!” 
      As a memory began to surface, I felt my own fear grip my throat. Tears of desperate frustration began to fall from my eyes. “You…you have to get out of there now, Claire. Do you hear me?” I said, “Get out of there now! He’s going to find you! He always finds you!” 

      “What? What are you talking about…Oh, God…I think he heard me…Oh, God, he’s coming this way!” 
      “Get out of there now!” 
      “I can’t! He’s coming right at me…He’s lifting the knife!” 
      I dropped the receiver as the sound of shattered glass and screams filled my ears. I could do nothing but weep as I heard the sounds of death dangling on an old phone cord. That poor girl was being ripped apart and I could do nothing! 
      I crawled out of the phone booth and vomited, thankful to be out of there. 
      From across the street, I heard laughter and looked up in time to see a man, dressed in a dark rain coat, standing just outside the old diner. His face was hidden within the hood of his coat. 
      “Did you really think it would be any different this time?” The man mocked. 
      “Yes!” I hissed back. “Now go away! You’re not supposed to be here!” 
      The man laughed, stepping back into the shadows, and said, “You’re not supposed to be here either, Claire.” Revealing a bloody hunting knife, he finished, “I saw to that myself.”

~~~ 

      Again, I found myself at the corner of Fifty-First Street and Main, puzzled by an unexplainable need to turn this low-lit corner bordered on both sides by abandoned apartment buildings older than God, Himself. Night after night, I’ve walked the uneven sidewalk here, long forgotten by the city, listening to the buzz of late night neon signs, the roar of passing vehicles, the clicks and chirps of street lights and crosswalk signs commanding the living, and even the distant hum of factories, all slowly fading behind me as it seems I’ve crossed into a place where sound doesn’t belong. Even the heels of my shoes sound muffled, as I pass boarded up doors and windows displaying graffiti like ancient hieroglyphics from people long departed…
      …Unknown to me, this will be the seven-thousand and tenth time I’ve come back here to fail at stopping my own murder twenty years ago outside a long abandoned diner down on Fifty-First Street.

“Fifty-First Street” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved. 

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You can find many more of Scott’s stories featured In “Madhouse Theater” now available for purchase.

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2893692

 ———————————————————————————-

ATM 

     It was a beautiful, crisp Sunday evening; going on Monday in about twenty minutes.  I felt like the last man alive as I approached the ATM just outside of Hartman’s grocery store on the corner of Parker and Maple Avenue.
     I’ve always been appalled by my lack of self-control.  A sudden, overpowering urge for ice cream can always get me half dressed and out the door searching for something open on a Sunday night.
     Yeah right, ice cream, that’s what I was getting. Who was I kidding. Certainly not my wife. No one drives to the ATM at midnight to get cash for ice cream, especially on a Sunday. Who uses cash anymore, anyway?  Unless, you’re looking to hide all debit card traces highlighting shady purchases from unsuspecting wives at home, of course. Besides, there was nothing open except a couple bars, a gas station with a mini mart, and the adult movie store. Sounds almost respectable, doesn’t it? Adult movie store. I know, I’m pathetic, but the sex at home’s not what it used to be. Let’s move on, shall we.     
     The empty parking lot was an asphalt desert, dimly lit by three street lamps and low security lighting coming from Hartman’s store front windows. I walked over to the ATM, the light over the display flickering on and off and fighting to stay alive with a defiant buzzing sound. The cash machine was brighter than anything else around and left me feeling slightly ridiculous standing there in my boxers.
     I also felt very vulnerable and exposed, sensing something unfamiliar in the night. Strange thoughts run through the head when surrounded by silence and shadows.
     I put my card in the machine and began to type my numerical code on the panel as some strange hindsight was urging me to make my withdrawal quickly and hurry back to my car.
     Mind tricks, so I thought at first when I heard a strange sound coming from the opposite side of my vehicle and out of view. I already looked back once, feeling the fool for doing so and letting the silence get to me. There was no reason to feel afraid. This night was anything but threatening.  I’ve been to this ATM hundreds of times on many nights just like this one.  (Now that admission was truly pathetic).
     Of course, it’s thoughts like these that lead one to complacency and that’s how “it” happens.
     You can’t imagine what it feels like until you become the victim. When someone from behind catches you unaware and violates your life in a moment. I didn’t know which was more alarming: the feel of the gun barrel pressed into my lower back, or the low monotone voice that spoke too calmly in my right ear.
   “Give me the money,” the voice demanded, pressing the gun barrel further into my back. I could swear there was absolutely no emotion in that voice.
I’ve heard amazing boasts from people claiming to have been mugged. They all make it sound somehow brave in how they handled the situation, regardless of losing their wallets. As if the exaggerations in the telling helped them save face. Others have claimed they turned the tables on their would-be assailants, and either scared them off or simply got away. I realize now that every one of them were full of shit. I was scared out of my mind. No bravado, no heroics. I froze.
     “Give me the money,” the cold voice repeated. Perhaps he was more familiar with the routine then I, and expected my sluggish response.  He was incredibly patient with me, the amateur victim.
     I then found my line, “I’ll give you anything you want, just don’t shoot me ok?” I immediately expected to hear a gun shot, or perhaps the butt end of the gun striking the back of my head. I became aware of a sudden dampness in my boxers. That’s right, I pissed myself.  That’s what being a “victim” really means. No heroics here, unless needing a diaper was considered brave in another part of the universe. I felt faint with fear and then the voice brought me back.
     “Give me the money, now.”
     I found myself staring blankly at the ATM screen. I still hadn’t made my withdrawal selection. This mugger knew what he was doing. He couldn’t have timed this any better. All I needed to do was type in whatever amount he wanted. Dear God, how much did he want?
     “Anything you say, Buddy…just tell me how much?” I managed to get out. (Did I really just call him, Buddy?)
     The pause in his response was worse than anything I have ever gone through my entire life. It seemed like an eternity before the mugger finally answered me, “Give me twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents,” He answered, and said no more.
     “Say again?” I asked and almost made a foolish mistake right then, turning to look at the mugger, but caught myself in time. I’d seen enough movies to know that if I didn’t look and see his face, my chances of being released would improve. He would know I couldn’t Identify him.  Good God, I couldn’t believe I was actually relying on fucking late night crime flicks to get me out of this situation.
     “Twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents,” the mugger repeated with emphasis. For the first time I could hear slight agitation in his voice.
     I was puzzled by his peculiar request, but thankful that I wasn’t dead yet, so I overlooked it. “Sure thing, I’ll just pull out forty dollars and you can have it all, no problem…more if you want…whatever you want.” I was a blubbering idiot now.  What next, tears?  
     “NO!” He barked.
     I nearly threw up right then.
     The mugger shoved the gun barrel into my back more sharply than before. I heard him making strange noises with his breathing. He sounded like a man on the verge of snapping. I then knew anything could go wrong.
However, as fast as the mugger’s demeanor changed, he returned just as fast to that emotionless, cold voice and reclaimed himself.
     “Let me make this crystal clear,” the mugger began, “I did not tell you to give me forty dollars. If I wanted forty dollars I would have said, ‘forty dollars’. I told you what I want now give me what I asked for. Do you understand me yet?”
     For the first time, I didn’t think there would be a way out of this. This man was obviously fucking crazy.
     “Do you understand yet?” The mugger repeated, the agitation in his voice returning much quicker this time.
     “Yes, I understand…$24.95…anything you want.” I was frantic now.  Before realizing what I was doing, I began typing in that exact amount on the number pad. A message soon appeared telling me that I could not withdrawal that amount. It had to be in multiples of twenty! What the fuck was I going to do now? He almost shot me at forty dollars, how was I going to get away with pulling out a twenty!
     Your wallet! Check your wallet! The thought came and I prayed that there was still some bills left in there.
     I looked in my wallet and saw five one dollar bills. I might make it out of this one after all.
     I withdrew a twenty, combined it with the five singles I had and held it up in my trembling hands without looking back. “Here you go…take it…please, just take it and I’m sorry for the mix up.”
     I felt a gloved hand reach into mine and take the bills.
     Suddenly, I was on the ground, my face hitting the asphalt hard. The mugger had a hand around the back of my neck, and one knee inflicting pain in the small of my back. I could feel him shaking with anger as he spoke, “YOU FUCKING LIE! YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!” He roared at me.
     I didn’t know what else to do, I closed my eyes and began to weep.  That’s right, I cried.  But pathetic is still better than dead. Somehow I got out, “What did I do wrong?  Is it not enough?  Do you want-“
     “WHAT DID I SAY?” He interrupted.
     I was bordering complete shutdown. I just didn’t understand his language and no one ever taught me how to speak ‘Crazy’.
     I felt the gun barrel at the back of my head as he demanded, “WHAT DID I TELL YOU TO GIVE ME? TELL ME RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW! NOW! NOW!”
     I waited for the sound that would end this nightmare and it just would not come. I blurted out, “$24.95! $24.95!”
     And just like that, the mugger eased up. He removed the gun from my head and I could feel him lifting the pressure off my neck and back. Again, with the calm voice of a true killer, he said, “Very good. Now one more time, will you give me what I want? Do you understand yet?”
     Somehow, I had a revelation come to me from the land of insanity. For whatever reason, this man wanted exactly $24.95. Not forty, not twenty-five. I could have given him a million dollars and he still would have shot me.
     I whispered, “Yes, I understand now. $24.95.”
     “Good!” The mugger said and just like that I was back on my feet and standing once more before the ATM from hell.  I could see my ghastly reflection in that little blue square and a masked individual looming behind me. I looked terrible and wished I could hide within that square until this psycho was long gone.
     I understood very clearly now that I only had once chance left; two strikes against me and there wouldn’t be a third. My remaining hope now rested on the small change compartment in my vehicle. If I was one penny shy of ninety-five fucking cents, I was a dead man.
     “Sir,” I said, “I’ll need to go to my vehicle to get the exact change you want. Is that alright?”
     There was a pause as the mugger considered my request. He then replied, “Yes, that’s acceptable.” Soon he had me walking back toward my car, the gun still pressed against my back.
     As we approached my little, tan Corolla, I watched it transform into something foreign in my mind. My car was now a coffin with wheels. I had to shake these grim thoughts and try to become a survivor. Somehow.
     Again, the mugger was no fool, he led me very deliberately to the passenger side of my car, not allowing me easy access to simply get in and drive away. Even if he didn’t, my hands were shaking too much to ever get the key in the ignition.
     I opened the door and went to the center compartment between the seats and began to count the change…fifty-five cents…sixty…seventy…(now would be a horrible time to fail math)…eighty…ninety…ninety-five cents.
     There was a God after all!
     Once again, without looking back, never looking back, I combined my new, crisp twenty dollar bill from the cash machine with the four from my wallet and added in the change as I  reached behind and submitted my offering to the mugger. “Here you go, twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents, exactly what you wanted.”
     Again, a gloved hand reached for mine, the hand of death or the hand of chance, I did not know yet.
     I was still half in, half out of my Corolla when I heard that cold voice say, “Thank you.” Nothing more. I no longer felt the barrel of that gun at my back.
     Several minutes passed and the mugger said nothing. I was actually starting to believe that if I turned around, he would simply be gone.
     Was that it? Did I pass the fucking test?
     I achieved enough boldness to back out of the car and stand up.  My legs felt like Jell-O beneath me.
     Do I dare look behind?
     Glancing across the top of my car and into the asphalt lot, a stray cat started in my direction. Something about that cat seemed to help my fear drift. Perhaps this small creature represented the return of something, anything, resembling my former normal life. As odd as this was, I took comfort in that cat as it came closer.
     When it stopped in the middle of the lot, the cat began cleaning itself, then stopped as it noticed me for the first time.
     “I’ll never do it again, I promise. No more porn, no more bad living, no more fucking ATM’s.” My confession to the cat continued, understanding that it wasn’t the cat I was speaking to at all.
     Several more minutes of silence followed and I took a deep breath. Watching that cat I asked it in a whisper as if it were a prophet from God, “Is it over then?”
     In response, the prophetic cat looked beyond me and hissed.
     I felt something heavy strike the back of my head and my world went black.

~~~

     Several days later, the officer that discovered the abandoned tan Toyota Corolla in an unpopulated wooded area, would remember the blood in the trunk more than anything else. He would have nightmares about that trunk, wondering how so much blood could come from a single human body.
There was no body found, of course. Just a bloody trunk with some odds and ends typical of what one may expect to find in a trunk, along with a receipt from Wal-Mart for a large shovel, a painter’s tarp, some rope and a gas can all purchased two days prior for twenty-four dollars and ninety-five cents.

“ATM”  Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved.  

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You can find many more of Scott’s stories featured In “Madhouse Theater” now available for purchase.

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2893692

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All You Can Eat

      I’ve been a waitress here at Mickey’s Diner for the last twenty years, and I’ve seen them all come and go. The place is usually crawling with an assortment of unsavory flavors after 3 am, but not tonight. The winter storm is keeping them all indoors or below their rocks or on their far-away home worlds; wherever they come from. At one time I was convinced that I worked at the only place on the planet build above a colossal creep magnet that attracted them from all over. But not tonight.
      Aside from the locals, even the freeway traffic was at a minimum. No drifter delights for this girl this evening. What a shame that would be. Guess I might have to simply enjoy my shift for once, then go home to my family without any stories about obnoxious patrons or strung out truck drivers sucking down the coffee faster than I could brew it.
      Must have been my karma. Just as I was nearing the home stretch to a one-of-a-kind quiet evenings on third shift, in comes perhaps the strangest customer I have ever had the misfortune to serve.
      He startled me real good. I was just wiping down table six, which had just hosted four teenagers who used the tabletop condiments for their own amusements (gross little fuckers), and turned around just in time to see a man standing just inside the front doorway. He was bundled up in foul weather clothes, looking tattered and torn with use, and a dirty hood pulled half way down his face. He was apparently fascinated with a piece of Mickey’s Diner food artifact left by the lazy day crew or the lights were hurting his eyes. Either way, his mere presence standing silently in the darkest side of the diner had me thinking he was up to no good.
      Just great, we hadn’t had a robbery in months. Why now, and on my shift? I’d like to find that fellow who invented karma and punch him in the face!
      “Howdy, stranger,” I began, “Where’d you come from? I don’t want to sound rude but if you’re looking to make a score you’ve come to the wrong place. You probably have more money in your wallet than we got in the register.” I was trying to sound part funny and part serious. Whatever it took to make light of what could quickly be a bad scene. I also spoke just loud enough to let Hal, the cook, know to go grab the shotgun from Mickey’s office. It was never loaded, but it sure looked intimidating when you pulled it out. Hopefully, that would be enough.
      “Now that we’ve taken care of that, can I get you a table?” I asked hopefully.
      The stranger lifted his head and gave me the chills when I saw his glazed eyes. He looked like he was on something, and that wasn’t good.
      Where the hell was Hal? He should’ve come out by now.
      “Table, please,” the stranger almost whispered.
      “Well alright then,” I said and grabbed a menu, motioning him to follow me toward the table I’d just cleaned off.
      The man only increased my suspicions as he limped in my direction. He was either high on something, or very drunk. I backed off a good five feet to let him sit down. If he tried anything, I had my hand close enough to the half full coffee pot to give him a good spray, before running into the kitchen.
      As it turned out, Hal never heard me and the stranger wasn’t interested in foul play of any kind. I started to feel a little foolish as he scooted in to the booth and merely stared at the menu I placed before him.
     What can I say, I’ve been on this shift long enough to know that “a little foolish” was okay in my line of work. The stranger obviously took no offense to my initial comments.
      “What can I get you?” I asked.
      The stranger wouldn’t look at me. I was a little bothered when he showed me his filthy hands and began wiping something resembling dried up blood off his face. But that was probably me being foolish again.
      “Something raw,” was what he said.
      I couldn’t help myself. That made me laugh uncontrollably. Maybe it was just the way he said it in that whisper-like voice, or perhaps my nerves were just shot from this whole bizarre experience.
      When I regained control, my sarcasm took over, “Let me guess, you’re a zombie that just wandered in out of the cold and now you want me to serve you up live manwich on a bun, does that about cover it?”
      “Exactly,” the stranger said. I thought I caught a hint of a smile beneath that hood.
      Sensing his amusement and the fact that it had been a boring night up until now, I played along, “I see, let me write that down. One live human… All-you-can-eat then? Would you like a to-go box for what you don’t finish?”
      The stranger laughed. He then pretended to examine the menu and said, “That sounds great. How about some fingers- chicken fingers to go along with that as well. And a cup of coffee stripped from the hand of a dead man.”
      Oh, this was getting fun now.
      I pretended to write this all down. “Fingers we can do, but I’m afraid the manwich will take a bit. I can get you the coffee for starters.”
      “That would be gor-ious,” the man chided.
      I got the stranger a cup of coffee and reminded myself to smack Hal later and command him to buy a hearing aid.
      “Seriously, fellow,” I asked, “What can I get you to eat?”
      The stranger removed his hood for the first time and I noticed that the back of his head was covered in blood. In fact, a good portion of his skull was missing. He looked up at me with those dead eyes and smiled. “I’ll just have a salad…for now.”
      It should have registered that there was something dreadfully wrong at this point.   Clearly, this stranger was indeed, a zombie,  yet my tired and overworked mind could not grasp this fully, so I continued with the jokes, “So does that make you a vegetarian then? Bit odd don’t you think?”
      Again, the stranger/zombie laughed and responded, “I consider myself a humanitarian.”
      Now that was funny, zombie or not. I was rolling with laughter.
      The stranger was laughing as well. Again, he grabbed some napkins and began wiping the traces of blood from his face.
      “A bit dead tonight?” The stranger asked.
      “Yeah, but I won’t hold it against you,” I said. Man, I was on a roll.
      The stranger laughed again and said, “My, you are a live one. It will almost be a shame to eat you. I’ve enjoyed our company.”
      Not understanding that the stranger was no longer joking, I continued, “Eat me, pal, and you’ll be doing this girl a favor. You’ll save me the trouble of finishing this lousy shift.”
      “Anything for you, sweetheart,” the stranger said.
      We were having so much fun I never made the connection between all that blood and Hal never showing up with the shotgun.

“All You Can Eat” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this small preview and if you would like to find out more about “Madhouse Theater” or just have some general questions, please feel free to contact us via the comment section or by visiting John’s site at ECKOVISION linked in the sidebar.  

If you would like to purchase a copy of “Madhouse Theater” in time for Halloween, please click the link below, also located in the sidebar.

The following is a list of various titles from this collection of thirty short stories as well as numerous dark poems from traditional to non-traditional verse, prose, as well as John’s visual pieces for 220 pages of total madness for your perverse pleasure.

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you enjoy the show.

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=2893692

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THEATER PROGRAM:

  Introduction        
  
PART ONE:  MANIACS AND MADNESS

  “Madhouse Theater”
  “For the Love of All the Pieces”
  “Someone Turn a Light On”

 ATM      
  “The Mermaid”    
  “Dark Room”     

 THE LIFEGUARD
  “Snip, Snip”
  “Cereal Killer”

 THE LONG WAY HOME
  “Ajar”
  “Pedestrian”
  “Sinister“

 BLOOD VERSUS GREED
  “From My Window”
  “TheWindow”

 THE TRANSITION
  “The Red Brick Road”
  “Old Crazy Bill”

 THE PROPOSAL
  “Hands”
  “A Torturer’s Conscience”
  “Mental Ghost”

 FLAVOR OF THE MONTH
  “Answering Machine”
  “Hostages”
  “Advice From Behind You”

 THE BLOOD AND THE BADGE
  “The Bitch”
  “Drum”

 UNREMEMBERED
  “Invasion”
  “Reluctant Reunion With Rachel Riley”
  “Dark Clown”

 MR. THOMPSON’S OBSESSION
  “Not Quite Dead”
  “Piper”

PART TWO:  DARK CORNERS

  “They Come“
  “Cellular Zombies”

 THE CABIN
  “The Cure”
  “Dark Pilgrimage”

 A BELL IN THE MIST
  “The Flying Dutchman”
  “The Ghosts of the Mary Celeste”
  “Sirens”

 THE FUNERAL
  “Last Ride”
  “The Bridge of Harlow County”

 THE LONG WINTER
  “Beast of Winter”
  “Bigfoot”
  
 LAST HAYRIDE
  “No Fishing”
  “Predator Unknown”

 THE THIRTEENTH PUMPKIN
  “Obnoxious Pumpkin”
  “Double Creature Feature”

 REHABILITATION
  “The Blood”
  “Shadows”
  “Someone Outside in Darkness”

 ALL YOU CAN EAT
  “Common Process”
  “Come Sit With Me Down Here”
  “The Community”

 DUSK ‘TILL DAWN SALE
  “Melonheads”
  “Decrepit Lane”
  “Midnight”

 THE PARANOIA OF SUSAN PARKER
  “Boogeyman”
  “Scarecrow”

PART THREE:  STRANGE TRANSMISSIONS

  “A Haunted Mile”
  “Terrified Moon“

 FIFTY-FIRST STREET
  “He Gnomes When You’re Alone”
  “White Noise”
 
 THE EDEN CLINIC
  “Sphere”
  “Ascending”

 SURVIVAL INSTINCTS
  “The Faceless Ones”
  “Nightmares”

 SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE OF FREELANCE
  “Even Death Gets Tired of Death”
  “You May Not Die in Longyear”

 NINE-FIFTEEN
  “Strange Lights”
  “Fear”

 REDEMPTION
  “Into the Mist”
  “Ferryman”

 OTTERMAN’S QUARRY
  “The Angry Ones”
  “Comforted By the Living”
  “Lessons From an Unlocked Room”

 SNOW ANGEL
  “The Ghouls of Cyberspace”
  “No One‘s There”

 DARKNESS
  “The Other Me”
  “Mirror”
 
 DANDELIONS
  “Front Porch”
  “Black Cat Tactics”
  

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