We’re hosting an excerpt from horror short story collection “Talking Walls and Cigarettes”. Have fun reading!
From “Cough Syrup” by Kelli Beck
Sitting atop a low brick barrier that separated the bus stop from the small community park behind it, Phillip watched the smoke from his last cigarette roll from his mouth and get carried away by the breeze. A small group of people huddled nearby, their voices breaking the silence of the morning. Birds chirped in the trees and Phillip was mildly aware of a pair of squirrels fighting in the branches. He had drank from his bottle of cough syrup before leaving the house to quell his ever present headache, but already a dull throb was beginning at his temples. He reached his hand into his jacket pocket, pulled out four cough suppressants, and popped them into his mouth. He punctured the gel caps with his teeth, allowing the bitter liquid to ooze onto his tongue. He let the taste linger for a moment while he waited for his headache to abate. He took a swig of soda, found its warmth nauseating, and let it fall behind into the bushes below.
“You shouldn’t litter,” came a voice to his left.
Startled, he turned to the source of disturbance. A young woman stood there. His eyes took in the plump cleavage that threatened to spill from her tank top and followed her curves down to her slender waist and wide hips. Shades covered her eyes but he could still make out the dark chocolate of her irises. Her hair was tied with a ribbon and fell in tight curls over her shoulder. Her white shirt contrasted nicely with her dark skin and both the shirt and her jeans clung to her tight young body. When Phillip was finished looking her over, he shrugged her off.
“Mind your business.” he said.
Undeterred, she leaned against the brick, took out a pack of cigarettes, and pulled one out. She held the pack out to him and he took one. After she lit hers, she turned to light his. She cupped her hand around his cigarette, touching her skin against his. Her small body pressed against his knees. A gentle morning breeze caught the flame and she leaned in closer and he caught the light scent of her perfume. She turned back and gestured to the trash can, “There’s a garbage can right there, by the way.”
He frowned, “Thought I told you to mind your business.”
She looked at him, bent her head to the side and narrowed her eyes at him, “That’s no way to talk to someone who just gave you a cigarette.”
“Didn’t ask for one.”
About the Book
Author: Erin Beck and Kelli Beck
Genre: Horror, Short Story Anthology
Talking Walls and Cigarettes is a collection of seven dark short stories that deals with both real life monsters and those that dwell within us. A bartender still grieving the tragic death of her brother, shunning from her family, and the whispers in the street is visited by a man who appears out of thin air to offer her a way out of her own personal hell in The Salesman. A poor family is cursed by a mysterious old man in the woods and the children are at risk for falling victim to their parent’s unspeakable acts in Porcelain. The title story follows a man as he is tormented by demons in his own mind. In Homecoming, can a young woman find what she’s looking for years after her father’s abduction by other-worldly beings?
Erin Beck was born and raised on the mean streets of Chatsworth Illinois. Every day was a struggle to survive, to overcome, to persevere. At the age of twelve, she took up writing. This passion for the written word saved her from such fates as teen pregnancy and tooth decay, that which have befallen many other great Chastworthians. Erin is also the author of The Pursuit of Hair and co-author of Grabappleberry Punch: The Adventures of Mister Tennison Volumes One and Two. Her influences include Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Christopher Moore. Erin spends her leisure time tossing a ball around with her dogs and parasailing, and has on more than one occasion been caught napping in a box full of packing peanuts. She is a drop-out of Hogwarts where she majored in English and minored in the contortion arts. She has scaled the dark tower; she has trekked through middle earth; and she thinks cannibalism is a real hoot. Erin now lives in the woods with her boyfriend and survives off of insects and pine needles. She wrote portions of this short fiction collection on homemade paper and her own blood.
When she is not gold mining or globetrotting with her husband, Kelli spends her time writing, reading, and playing with her two dogs. Often described as “worldly” and “well-traveled,” Kelli is envied amongst co-workers and friends alike. She has a knack for reading minds and can often predict the future. Many people worldwide come to her for financial advice and money as she is the sole proprietor of the only money tree in existence. Her heroes include her father, Stephen King, and Albus Dumbledore. She has read the Harry Potter series many times over and is proud to share her birthday with The Chosen One. She has been described as a fearless leader, charismatic, even bulletproof.