The Book Gazette is hosting an excerpt from horror short story anthology “Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales). Hope you enjoy it.
From “Homecoming” by Erin Beck
The afternoon grew late; dusk approached. The setting sun cast bits of light in through the open blinds reflecting the dust particles that swirled around Doctor Mason’s office. Kyla took her usual seat on the couch opposite the doctor’s leather chair and watched as he clicked on his desk lamp. He grabbed a note pad from his desk then turned to the filing cabinet rummaging through it until he found what he needed.
“Sorry for the delay.” Dr. Mason said. “Last client ran a little late.”
“No problem.” Kyla said and thought sure, no problem, I’m only paying a hundred dollars a session.
Sixteen years of therapy and Kyla was no closer to a “cure” then the day she began. She didn’t know why she bothered other than it was her mother’s dying wish that she continue. Dr. Mason finally took his seat and readied himself with last week’s notes. He flashed her a smile—the ever hopeful doctor—naïve because he was still new. New, as in she had only been seeing him for about a year.
“So, how’s Michael?” Doctor Mason said. He always began this way, asking about her job or her relationships rather than prodding her for the real reason she continued to seek therapy. She had to admit she liked him for it. She didn’t particularly like talking about the things that plagued her, which is why she sought out a new therapist every time things got a little too heavy.
“We broke up.” Kyla said.
“I’m sorry to hear that, was there a particular reason?”
“He couldn’t handle me anymore.”
“The nightmares?” The doctor said.
“That, among other things.”
“Like your reluctance to grow close and truly connect with another human being?”
“I guess.” Kyla said turning from the doctor’s gaze and watching the dust particles make their journey. She tried to focus on just one speck, watching it swirl and swirl, lost and perhaps looking for a home, among millions of others of its kind and still somehow so alone. She felt like that speck of dust.
“And why do you think that is?” Dr. Mason said breaking her from her thoughts.
“Why what is?”
“Why you shield yourself from others, build a wall around yourself and block out the love others desperately want to give you?”
“I don’t know.” She said.
“You didn’t even cry when your mother died.”
“Excuse me?” Kyla said completely thrown off guard. “How do you know about my mother?”
Dr. Mason set down his notepad on the table beside him and leaned forward in his seat. “Kyla, you’ve been in therapy sixteen years, been through seven other doctors. Files and notes have been passed down from one to the next. When you told Dr. Shevly that you wanted a new doctor, she referred you to me and filled me in on your case. She wouldn’t have done that if she didn’t think I could help. Now I know you were very close to your father, and that his leaving you and your mother devastated you.”
“He didn’t leave, he was taken.” She said before she could stop herself.
“Taken? Well, let’s talk about that.”
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.