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Ethan Cooper's picture


By Ethan Cooper in Scare Us

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Some have argued that within each of us, there is a monster.

Our hero...this man...this husband...this father. He is no different.

Except that his monster has a name.

Except that his car's odometer reads: 0000911.

And he is about to have a very bad day.


Notes: The idea for the story came from a new car I had a few years ago. One morning, I got in to go to work, and the odometer really did read 0000911. My muse started to wonder what sort of day might possibly follow an ominous omen like that...

And now I know.

For fun, I like to provide bonus elements when I can. With this in mind, there are two Easter Eggs hidden in the story. Here's a hint: they deal with the creature's name. Everything is in plain sight, so nothing you would need a decoder ring to see.

Enjoy! Thanks for reading.

Revised 8/2: All references to Mist Children removed. A few, minor grammatical changes.
Revised 8/12: Small change to clarify creature's ability. Minor sentence modifications.


ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. July 29, 2012 - 11:04am

I'm still wondering what a Mist Child is.  Very well written though I have a feeling it would flow better in a longer format.  There's great deal going on in a very small number of words.  It would be interesting to hear of other incidents involving Mym.  What else summons him?

Ian's picture
Ian from Texas is reading Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne July 29, 2012 - 1:23pm

You've done an excellent job of weaving all the pieces of the puzzle together and still keeping it unclear until the very end - challenging without being frustrating. That's hard to do. Really great use of detail to build all of this up and together. The only thing I found confusing about the story, as the above reviewer has already pointed out, is the "Mist Child" thing. 

You've created a fantastic monster with a great name. I love the way its behavior builds throughout the story from mischief to evil. Really well done.

I think my only real problem with this is that it's more shocking than scary. Maybe if you focused a bit more on what's terrifying, i.e., the lack of control, the uncertainty of what's happening, etc. Maybe if you tied a sense of guilt (you could keep it vague since his memory of it is unclear) from the first "incident" to what's going on during the day?

Still gave it a big thumbs up. Your writing is very good, and like I said above, you pulled off the ending without hammering the reader with the twist.

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep July 30, 2012 - 10:48am

I really appreciate the feedback.

And I totally agree with everything that's been said. The Mist Children was really supposed to be a random insanity thing, but it ends up being confusing, brings up too many questions and derails the narrative, so I'm going to excise those references.

Thanks for the comment about the scariness. I agree. And I like the idea of amping up the guilt. Working within the 4,000 work limit was quite a challenge, and in editing, about 500 words got cut. Because I was cramming a cacophony of bad situations in there, the emotional description is pretty restricted. And that was my biggest concern--that the emotions of the situation wouldn't come through effectively. So now, I just have to figure out which other parts aren't necessary so I can make room for more scariness in there. :)

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson July 31, 2012 - 8:49am

Well done! Like the others, my only complaint was the "Mist Children" reference, which I kind of figured was just part of the craziness, but for some reason it kept bugging me. 

I don't mind that it isn't necessarily scary; not all horror has to be scary. This is instead disturbing, which is perfectly fine for a horror piece. The revelation at the end was reminiscent of the Twin Peaks Laura Palmer/Bob mystery, and I immediately re-read the whole thing with the new information. 

You're a skilled writer. Thanks for sharing this!

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep August 12, 2012 - 6:07pm

I can see now that I'm gonna have to go watch Twin Peaks and find out what all the fuss is about.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks August 3, 2012 - 7:50am

Wow, this was great. The eyeball on the shoe was a spectacularly grisly touch, but what I REALLY liked was how psychologically real it seemed. This is especially horrifying because of how character-driven it is. Wonderful story.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 9, 2012 - 8:52pm

I like this alot. It is more shocking/disturbing than "Scary" but that's what scares me. Guilt can be the ugliest monster and you brought it to life and gave it a wonderful name and personality. The entire office scene was enthralling. You my friend are a very tallented writer. Excelent story. Would love to read more of your work.


Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 10, 2012 - 11:11am

This is a terrifically dark and uncompromising piece of mayhem.You do a good job deploying all five senses as Mym's intentions seeth darker and grow more deadly. I like the dark humor in the build-up and the concise descriptions that keep Mark moving from one ordeal to the next.

Pretty quickly it gets into pure terror though and the accounting guys play a surreal double role. When Mark/Mym atomizes the pleading "thin man's" head -- a line has been crossed. I agree with Emma here, we've gone into the David Lynch zone and I mean that as high praise.

The final action of Mym was a little unclear. Just before Yvette dispatches Mark with a bullet to the head, Mym abandons Mark's body, yet a moment later Mym is already back inside Mark and feeding.



Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep August 12, 2012 - 6:44pm

Had to drive to Dallas a couple of days ago. Gave me some time to think about the story with your comments in mind (muse stupidly was trying to tell me that a companion piece where everything goes right all day--0000777--was a good idea), and I realized that the scene where Mym manifests in the cubicle is potentially confusing in the same way. He's possessing Mark, but he's appearing under the desk. I've made a small change in the cubicle scene that basically introduces Mym's ability to be inside Mark and still manifest in Mark's vision. And at the end, I added a phrase about Mym waiting (for Mark's demise) to at least let the reader know that Mym hadn't just disappeared.

It's not ever really detailed exactly how Mym feeds, but I'd assumed he could do it from a distance. The end is probably open to a few interpretations, with the main thrust being that his death is not the end of his punishment. And whatever that punishment is, Mym is a part of it. I'm not sure I'm 100% satisfied with how clear/unclear it is.

Thank you so much for reading and for your feedback. I sincerely appreciate it.

TigersMS's picture
TigersMS from Australia is reading House of Leaves August 15, 2012 - 6:52pm

Seriously intense. Went places I didn't think it'd go but when it did it made sense and those who needed to get comeuppance got it in spades. Very satisfying ending, perhaps if the reveal of how the Mym met Mark was left a touch later (i don't know if that is possible) the ending would've been even more brutal after actually feeling sorry at the beginning of the story. Good stuff