The Boy


09c94de7d1995882848a733fa8a9794ds_4My eyes flicker open slowly as I begin to come to my senses I’m sitting on a floor the ground pressing against me. The first thing I pick out is the dim light bulb above me sizzling on and off as whatever power source runs it struggles to keep it lit. I’m in a small room, the walls stained in grime, what were once white tiles like those on hospital walls or in an operating theatre are now brown and dirty shades of yellow like thick grease or tar. Some are missing or cracked and it looks as if they’ve been weathered by neglect and time.

I try to move my hands to my side but can’t. I feel a cold stabbing sensation around my wrists stabbing into me and realise I’m chained to the wall behind me by handcuffs or some type of steel bonds. I don’t panic like I normally would, for some reason I don’t seem to be worried, I slowly bring my eyes downwards and that’s when I notice the shape curled up in front of my feet. I can’t quite make it out in the dim light but I pick out clothes what looks like torn dirty jeans and a long sleeve red coloured shirt as I scan along it I can see hair. It’s a person…. no not a person a child curled up in foetal position motionless and facing away from me.

I try to open my mouth and call out but all I can hear is a strained mumble and not the words I try to say. I must be drugged I tell myself maybe that’s why I seem so calm they have me sedated maybe to keep me quiet. Suddenly the child thing in front of me twitches like the start of a seizure but not as wild. I watch as its’ back straightens and hands begin to claw outwards along the floor its’ fingers tapping the tiles like a spider scurrying off into the dark. It begins to moan, a sorrowful pained sound and it turns on its side on its stomach twitching unnaturally. Its hair covers its’ features long, black strands rubbing along the floor around its head and I can’t make out if it’s a girl or a boy. Its’ hands begin to touch along my legs and I feel its’ icy bony grip around my ankles as it pulls itself upwards and towards me.

The fear that up until now didn’t seem to exist kicks in like a shot of adrenaline directly into my veins. I feel my heart lurch forward as if trying to claw its’ way through my ribs and out of my skin to escape. I pull on my bonds and feel steel begin to cut into my skin. Suddenly I can hear my screams and I scream with all the air in my lungs. It grips harder now around my thighs and I can feel it’s skinny torso as it lies limply on top of me moving towards my face. I kick and pull and scream in complete terror, feeling warm wet liquid begin to drip from my wrists down along my forearm. I hear it gasping for air a struggled sound like the final breathes of a dying beast. It pulls itself up toward my face its’ dark hair blocking its’ features and brushing along my cheeks. The light in the room gives one last sizzle and goes out. I wake up.

I’m in my bed and can feel the sweat dripping down my forehead and my gown sticking damply to my skin. Light shines in the window to my left, a warming comforting sun and I begin to come back to reality hearing the noises of the hospital around me the beeping of the machines and pitter-patter of feet along the corridors. That’s the third time I have had dreams like that in the last week and in every one the sense of realness is terrifying, the smells, the noises, ever since the patient who had been next to me had passed away in the night.

I came here because of a major heart attack I had had while driving home from the office. My wife has always warned me of the dangers of stress from the workplace and living life on the go but I had always ignored her. After all I enjoyed it, I could never understand how people could spend time watching TV or reading a book, I always feel the need to move, to do something and when I don’t I feel anxious; that’s why I had applied to be the CEO of Aldromeda, a technology company in our city because I knew how hard the work was and how unrelenting the hours were. But nevertheless it had caught up with me and I had to be cut from my car with the jaws of life as I had fell unconscious and cut across into the dike at the edge of the motorway.

Paramedics mentioned another car crashing behind me as it tried to swerve out of the way to avoid me as we made our way towards the hospital in the ambulance. I couldn’t respond because of the excruciating pain in my chest. If you’ve ever had a cramp that forces you to move it’s like that by force multiplied by 1000, mixed with the feeling of razor blades being pushed into your heart you forget to breathe at times as all you can concentrate on in those seconds is the pain.

I had been in here a week recuperating when they wheeled in a small boy and placed him in the bed across from my own. He had his head bandaged from the crown of his skull down to just above his lips. Even his eyes were covered and I felt sorry staring at the poor guy as they positioned him in the bed attaching the drips and wires from the machine next to the bed to him. No parents came with him and I wondered where they were, shouldn’t they be with him or at least someone I thought to myself.

When the nurses left I tried to make conversation asking him what his name was and telling him that I’ll be his bed buddy for a few days hoping to comfort him or at least let him know that he wasn’t alone but he just lay there motionless, not even turning his head once the whole time or making a sound. I guessed that whatever had happened had deafened him or maybe be was still asleep due to the anesthetic they give you after an operation. I thought nothing of it and fell asleep.

When I woke up it was night and the lights were low in the room. I stretched my arms out yawning and turned to my left and gasped in fright. The boy was sitting on the edge of his bed motionless staring at me. I couldn’t see his eyes underneath the bandages but I could feel his eyes staring into mine ….if that makes any sense. I immediately jumped up out of the bed throwing my legs out and standing up I asked him if he was okay trying to keep my voice low not to startle him but he didn’t respond he just sat there not moving, God it didn’t even look like he was breathing!

I crept cautiously towards him trying not to scare or surprise him. I got close enough to reach out and touch his shoulder and as I did his hand darted up and grabbed my wrist. I yelled in shock and tried to pull my hand away but he held it in place his grip like a vice, cold and bony. I started to shout for the nurse to come and help as his head turned slowly towards me, slowly and mechanically like something from the Exorcist and at that I’m nearly sure I wet myself. His bandaged face stared directly into mine and I watched as his lips began to part curling upwards into a menacing and evil smile while simultaneously baring his teeth like a dog or a rabid animal. The nurses rushed in the door behind me and tried to loosen the boys grip all why I shouted for help trying my best to pull away but he wouldn’t let go until one of them withdrew a needle and pushed it into his neck. He loosened his grip and let go slumping lifelessly as the nurses picked him up and positioned him back onto his bed.

70c946e3bcf7825329e929574aa90b33s_24I tried to stay awake that night not wanting to sleep for fear that I would wake with him next to me but I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open and eventually nodded off in the early hours of the morning the noises of the machines around me getting lower as I slipped away into sleep.

When I woke the next morning I turned to see where the boy was and found the bed next to me empty. At first I panicked scanning the room around to see if he was standing somewhere and embarrassingly enough I checked under my bed to see if he was lurking there but he wasn’t. The nurse came in an hour later with breakfast and I took the opportunity to ask her about the boy. She told me that he had went into cardiac arrest early in the morning and had died on the operating table, apparently there was no one to break the news to afterwards and they had had to phone relatives as his parents died after they crashed their car with the boy in the back seat the week before. I felt terrible for him and promised to try and find some information about him when I was well enough to leave. I thanked the nurse and ate my breakfast.

I have had horrible dreams since, one where I open my eyes and he’s at the bed below me but without his bandages and facing away from me, his head turns slowly but not his body and i hear the strain and snap of his neck as it rotates backwards and again I try to move but cant. I always wake before I see his face.

I hope to god this was the last , I might even request that the nurse gives me something to keep me awake tonight or try to pull an all-nighter watching DVDs on the TV in the ward. I feel my gown still clinging to me and try to pull it out from underneath me when I spot something. It looks like a small bruise underneath the gown. I slowly lift it up and my heart drops into my stomach. There are more bruises all purple and fresh along my legs from my ankle upwards and all are in the shape of small hands like a child’s. I scramble as I pull the robe up further finding them along my sides as well.

As I lift my head to call for help the lights around me dim and the noises of the hospital fade away I try to scream but I can’t. A shape appears in the doorway in front of my bed; small with black hair standing motionless. This time I can see part of his face. His lips curl upwards slowly into a menacing smile and he bares his teeth now sharp like those of a beast and the lights go out.

Book Review: Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe

Naomi's Room
I love the thrill of being scared and feeling the tiny hairs at the top of my neck sticking out but this is the only book I’ve ever read that I’ve actually had to put down for a full week before returning to finish it!
I discovered Jonathan Aycliffe in my favourite place in the world, my local library! Jonathan’s novel A Silence of Ghosts was the first gem of his that I discovered. I practically skipped out of the library with the find. Set during the blitz in London an injured soldier and his deaf ten year old sister are sent to the lake district to a family house for safety. This is essentially a haunted house story with a romance and mystery at the heart of the story. The most unsettling feature for that story was the dead children in the house communicating with the profoundly deaf Octavia, leaving an unsettling feeling with the reader long after the book is finished. Ghosts of children have always left me with this feeling and are the only theme which can truly scare me in any media, be it film or book.
When I finished a Silence of Ghosts I felt lost and was hungry for more of his material. I managed to grab a copy of Naomi’s Room the very next day at the library. I can’t believe I’d never heard of his books before up to a couple of months ago. Naomi’s Room is considered among one of the finest English ghost stories, in the realms of Susan Hill and The Woman in Black (which is another excellent ghost story).
The novel starts with Charles Hillebrand reflecting back on his life, marriage to Laura and the birth of their daughter Naomi. The book quickly reveals that Naomi is no longer alive and was murdered at four years of age on Christmas Eve on a trip to London with Charles in 1970. This in itself is the stuff of nightmares and sets the tone for more terror to come. It is at this point of the story that that it becomes apparent that Charles is not only grief stricken but is also a terrified prisoner in his own home. It was at this point that the supernatural and psychological terror of the book took over and that I had to stop reading the book for a while. I couldn’t get the unsettling image of his visits from the ghosts of his past out of my head. Again it was the aspect of a vulnerable child featured in a horrific ghostly tale that scared the crap out of me. With the tiny hairs raised on the back of my neck I put down my book and quickly turned to some light-hearted television to distract myself. That didn’t stop the images running through my brain – books are so much more effective than film at delivering gruesome imagery to our brains.
After a week I felt I was ready to pick up the book again and continue with the story. The book gripped me until the very end and the twist at the end of the tale shocked me. This is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read and the prose is excellent. I can’t wait to read more of Aycliffe’s books and highly recommend both of them.

My journey into special effects

My first ever special effects work!
My first ever special effects work!

Some little girls dream of princesses and weddings fairies – but not me! Even as a child I was never into Barbie dolls or anything else girlie. I’m not sure exactly when my obsession with horror started but my love of horror films definitely took hold when I made my first visit to Universal Studios in Orlando when I was eleven years of age.

The highlight of the trip was a behind the scenes look at the making of Psycho, I was enthralled! The real Bates motel model was onsite (be still my beating heart)! Hitchcock films were a large part of the theme park in the early 90’s.

One of the shows was to show us how the infamous shower scene was filmed. I couldn’t believe my luck to see some secrets of the trade! The blood was actually chocolate syrup – the consistency was perfect and in black and white film looked exactly like the real thing! That and the sound of a knife stabbing a melon are my main memories from the making of Psycho!

The other highlights were the shark from Jaws and seeing scenes from Hitchcock’s The Birds in 3D! That might explain my fear of birds! Since then I’ve devoured every scary story, book and film I can get my hands on! The gorier and creeper the better!

When a course came up in Tiger Training Academy (Find their website here) in Cork I couldn’t believe my luck! I might be able to learn some more tricks of the trade! The course was being taught by Dave Darko, his amazing work speaks for itself below:

Dave Darko as the Joker, edits by Victor Kurzweil
Dave Darko as the Joker, edits by Victor Kurzweil

Dave has an impressive career on both sides of the camera as can be seen here: Dave Darko’s IMDB profile.

To say I was nervous and hesitant to sign up for the course is an understatement! It’s scary putting yourself out there into something totally outside your comfort zone. The co-owner of Tiger Training Academy gave me the little push I needed to sign up for the course even though I was only going to be able to go to two days of the three day course.

I’m so glad I took a chance and signed up and didn’t let nerves and worry get the better of me. Walking into the course was one of the scariest things I’d done in years. All the other students were sure to have more experience than me and already had the first day down, I was petrified!

Again Sinead Egan stepped into help,personally welcoming me to the Training Academy and introducing me to Dave and his partner in crime the gorgeous Megan Biffin (For Megan’s IMBD profile click here

Megan Biffin Darkworkz Studios, edits by Victor Kurzweil
Megan Biffin Darkworkz Studios, edits by Victor Kurzweil

Even though I jumped in on day two of the course the other students and both tutors made me feel unbelievably welcome and my nerves vanished in no time.

Within a couple of hours I’d managed to create a special effects piece on the lovely Kate’s arm (Kate is the owner of Blink by Kate Lewis).  The realistic wounds were created from cheap materials and I was so proud that I’d managed to make something gory and bloody, obviously nowhere near the standard of Dave Darko but impressive all the same!

First attempt!
First attempt!

By the end of day two I’d already made firm friends with the tutors and the other students! All three other students are amazing MUA’S in their own rights –

Niamh – MUA and blogger at Makeupology by Niamh

Kate – MUA and owner of Blink by Kate Lewis

Aimee -MUA and owner at Deadly Divas

They made me so welcome despite the fact that I had no previous makeup experience whatsoever. We were all so excited for the next and final day of the course.

Day three of the course was the creation of a full character and a photoshoot. Everyone had completely different ideas and plenty of help came from Dave and Megan on our group chat that night.

Sunday arrived as did our models. The nerves kicked in again. Doubts raced through my mind – What if my character was rubbish? What if I couldn’t produce anything? What if I hurt my model?!

We got to work on our models and the hours flew by! My model Katie was so patient and encouraging. I started the gorier parts of my Corpse Bride character but then it came to making her beautiful also! I had a mini-meltdown but Dave, Megan and Sinead came to my rescue! I might love gore but creating prettiness was not my forte, despite a fantastic model!

By the time our final characters were ready for the photoshoot we were all delighted with the final outcome – we even appeared on the Evening Echo!

Evening Echo coverage of the course
Evening Echo coverage of the course

After only two days we’d all managed to make our individual creatures!! Epic as Dave himself would say! To top this all Victor Kurzweil did amazing edits of all our creatures!!! Amazing!

That was only the start of my journey and already have course 2 with Dave under my belt!!

My orc/ fiancé from Fantasy special Effects course in Jan 16

This time I had gained confidence and there were no meltdowns! At the end of our second three day course our characters took part in a fashion show organised by Sinead from Tiger Training Academy and made the newspapers again!!!

Our models in Evening Echo Jan 16
Our models in Evening Echo Jan 16

An amazing end to a fantasy FX makeup course with Dave and Megan helping every step of the way!!

The guys will return in June 16 for a movie zombie makeup course!! This Corpse Bride may have to dig into the wedding fund!

24 Hours Later

Dirty Gertie


This a foray into a specific character for me. This story isn’t horrific but Gertie is one of my favourite characters so I decided to throw it up!

Gertie Myers plodded into work that Monday in her black flowing skirt and sensible shoes – her head slightly bowed and with her limp blonde hair falling over her pale makeup free face. She looked at the floor all the way into the office and avoided eye contact and slipped ungracefully on to her chair in the office. She had no friends as such in work. She had nothing in common with her colleagues. For one thing they were all obsessed with fitness – they talked of nothing but triathlons, Zumba, cross fit, Tabata and some other names of things that sounded like torture to Gertie even though she didn’t know what they were! Then there were the shakes – green and gloopy and full of god knows what! She was sure that some of them had Orthorexia! An unhealthy obsession with diet and exercise for sure anyway!

That morning a sense of excitement buzzed throughout the flimsy office cubicles with walls as thing as cardboard. One of the noisiest and most annoying people in the office flitted from one cubicle to another signing people up to the Miss and Mr. Toughathlon competitions. She stopped at every cubicle and rounded up people for the event like lambs to the slaughter! They were no match for her enthusiasm and forceful personality. Their skinny-limbed, weedy Team Lead was even persuaded to sign up for the event which would happen in two months’ time. But she never stopped at Gertie’s cubicle! Gertie slumped even lower in the chair than before.

At lunchtime they chattered incessantly of nothing but the competition. No-one wanted to discuss the nightly soaps with Gertie and at this stage she never even tried to initiate lunchtime conversation. She sat there looking downwards, quickly ate her ham sandwich every day and then plodded back to her desk trying to avoid her colleagues as much as she could. That day she felt more downtrodden than usual and like an outcast from the others in the office.

That night Gertie had the most vivid and colourful dream since her childhood when she had allowed her imagination to run riot, before she had let disappointments stop her from truly living her life. She was Gertie, but not Gertie as she knew her. She looked confident and slimmer than in real life. She could feel the determination and excitement pumping through her veins. She completed the race, in her dream she was confident and energetic in her brightly coloured leggings and tank top. She outran all of her colleagues bounding over the obstacles – two defiant streaks of mud on her face. Her alarm clock sounded just as she was crowned Miss Toughathlon

She still had a smile on her face when she was about the house dressing in her usual black outfit – black cardigan, black top, black skirt and black shoes no matter what the Season! She took one look at herself in the mirror and ripped off her black top putting on a vibrant purple top in its favour. She still put on the black cardigan over it but it was a start! The euphoria feeling from her dream stuck with her all the way to work. She had never felt this way (well not she remembered) and she was determined to try to keep the feeling.
She was going to sign up for Miss Toughathlon!! She would do it even if she had to walk the 10km and walk around all the obstacles. She started walking every evening for a couple of weeks. Then she broke it up with jogging. She had really started to enjoy her ‘wogging’ as she liked to call it.

She began to feel more and more confident and even started to look her work colleagues in the way into her desk. She still kept her plan to herself. She couldn’t bear if someone ridiculed her idea. So she built up to a jog on her evenings and began to do some home workouts. Everyone in work noticed a change in Gertie but due to her black shirts her physical change wasn’t visible to the naked eye! She wasn’t skinny by any means but she no longer felt her tummy and buttocks wobble when she walked!

The day of the toughathlon finally came and Gertie grew nervous. As she registered near the start line she once again silently cursed her mother for giving her such an old-fashioned matronly name! No baby girl should ever be called Gertrude!! She felt slightly uncomfortable in her new fitted navy and fluorescent green sports top and matching leggings. As she went near the Starting point she saw Catherine. She shouted hello to her ‘Hey Gertie!! Jesus there’s actually a fine pair of legs underneath those black skirts of yours! I never knew you were doing this! Do you want to join us for the race?’ This is probably the point in the story that Gertie should have said yes but after years of saying no to everyone and everything she couldn’t quite force it out of her mouth. She shook her head to motion No and looked downwards. She could definitely manage the muddy run and obstacle course alone she tried to convince herself.

The start whistle blew and people screamed and cheered as they ran off in giant groups. She couldn’t be the only one doing it alone surely? She jogged along towards the first obstacle. She managed the tyre swing easily and with only minimal mud cover! She took some of the smelly mud and smeared two streaks on each of her cheeks just like the dream. Next was a muddy hill to traverse. Gertie had plodded along her whole life so she slowly plodded her way up bypassing many others who slid back as they tried to run up the obstacle. She felt a small swell of pride when she stood at the top of the hill and then slid down the other side with a squeal of delight.

She completed obstacle after obstacle. Some caused her more difficulty than others, like the swim through the thick mud that felt like quicksand! She now neared the 7k mark! Crowds of spectators lined the sides of the course clapping and screaming words of encouragement. She was actually going to do this!!
Even though her legs started to feel slightly shaky and her arms ached she jogged onwards.
She felt her heart sink as she approached the second last obstacle. A giant ten foot wood structure rose in front of her. For the first time in the race she regretted her decision not to join her colleagues. She felt her old self-deprecating feelings flooding back over with all the force of a powerful flood. She couldn’t do this, why has she ever thought she could. Taunts from earlier years from her bullying popular classmates echoed now in her brain. “Dirty Gertie” they had called her.

She pushed the thoughts aside as best she could and decided she would just have to walk this one obstacle although she felt and looked deflated. Suddenly at the top of the wooden wall a face popped over the top. It was Catherine. Oh God, now she’s seen me fail she thought!! Gertie she shouted as loud as ever!! Jump up and we’ll try to pull you over!! Two more faces appeared and hands. She’s never spoken to the other girl and boy but their faces looked genuine. Praying this wasn’t a trick she ran and least at the wall narrowly missing their hands. She slid back to the end of the muddy wooden wall. The old Gertie would have walked away at this point but ever since the dream something deep inside Gertie had awakened!

She paced back from the wall and took a deep breath; she ran and jumped as high as she could. Thankfully her foot had caught on a tiny piece of wood and with their help she had mounted the wall!! They clapped her on the back and cheered!! They all went to the last obstacle as a group. By this stage Gertie was exhausted and every day part of her hurt but she tried to jog to keep up with the others. They waited for her to finish the race together and even though Gertie was the last to cross the line they looked happier than the winners!!

Gertie had crossed more than the finish line of Toughathlon that day! She had crossed the invisible line she’d created for herself as a barrier to people to protect herself. Gertie knew now that she had taken the easy way out and shut herself off from all the bad things that people could do to her but she’d also shut herself off from the good things. Gertie looked head on at her colleagues and smiled. She vowed never to look down again and would face life head on. It wouldn’t always be good but now she could face that. They looked at her mud-streaked happy face and wondered why they’d never seen her smile before. Even through the mud her happiness shone out of her whole face, her bright blue eyes brought to life against the brown streaks and of mud and in that moment Gertie was beautiful. Though she hadn’t won the crown she was the most deserving of the title of Miss Toughathlon 2016!

The Corpse Bride,

The Corpse Bride

If You Go Down to the Woods Today


If You Go Down to the Woods Today


bear mask


They say that truth is stranger than fiction and real life is often more terrible than anything that can be imagined. This story is inspired by real life events that occurred in haunted house attractions. In October of this year in Austin Texas at the Fright Night Haunted Dreams attraction the horrors turned into reality for a teenage boy. Onlookers came across a scene of a crazy looking man biting into a boy’s arm, the boy was howling in pain and then the realisation that this was not part of the attraction hit the crowd. One of the visitors in the crowd shot the man 28-year-old Philip Harris and emergency services arrived to the scene but it was too late for the boy who was dead by the time they arrived. Despite this case and other similar cases every year hundreds of thousands of people are still searching for the ultimate Halloween scare.


Rosie was one of those many people. She loved the exhilarating feeling of being scared and gorged on horror films. The goriest films were her favourites, she enjoyed the bloody carnage in a slightly perverse way. She watched so many horrors that she was almost desensitised to the horror and was looking for something to truly scare the crap out of her this Halloween. She researched online and searched out the best scare houses in Europe. There was one scare house rumoured to be in a different European country every year and only the few lucky people who applied online would get to go this event. This year the website said that the scare house would visit Ireland and were looking for applicants! She couldn’t believe that she might actually have a chance of being one of the few people to be petrified this year! She loaded her picture and answered the questions about her favourite horror film and where she lived and sent off the message into cyberspace. All she could do was sit and wait now (and watch some more horror films of course).


It was now two days before Halloween and she had still heard nothing, feeling despondent she guessed she had missed out on this one. Just as she was nodding off to sleep an email popped up on her phone. It was an invite to the scare house “Slaughter Forest” the next day. She was instructed that the invite was only for her and to share the event with no one. A bus would pick the “victims” up on Patrick’s Quay in Cork City at 9.00 pm and drop the back at Midnight. There was no other information in the email. She was so excited that she found it hard to get to sleep that night and was in and out of nightmares all night long and she got up for work feeling tired and frazzled yet also excited. She was dying to tell someone in work but managed to keep the event to herself.


She managed to get through the days’ work and walked from her apartment at the outskirts of the city to the pickup location arriving ten minutes early. She was feeling slightly jittery after just finishing a strong coffee. There was about twenty other people waiting there already. Everyone seemed to be alone and were eying each other up nervously. The bus arrived and this was when the fun started. The driver was wearing what looked like a vintage pig mask. He said nothing just opened the bus doors and motioned for them to get on. Not wanting to look like a coward Rosie strutted onto the bus first, closely followed by the others.


They drove towards west but with the curtains closed and the darkness of the night she has no idea where they were headed when she peeked her head out through the curtain. After about 40 minutes the bus ground to an abrupt halt and the driver grunted and opened the front door motioning them to get off. They could hear the sounds of a slow version of the Teddy Bears Picnic mingled with squeals. They were in a forest next to a large wooden building – the sounds of pigs being slaughtered streamed from the building as did the smell of rancid meat. They were putting huge effort into the whole unsettling scene Rosie thought to herself. They started towards what must be the start of the event where a group of people in vintage animal masks were stood. They all held very realistic looking slash hooks or gleaming knives.


She was starting to feel that slightly hysterical and alive feeling of being scared. She noticed one of them staring straight at her intensely. She stared back, she was headstrong and determined that they weren’t going to make her be the first one to scream. They slowly approached the group and saw an obstacle course laid out before them lit by huge red floodlights. She wondered what other terrors awaited them. She was feeling quite nervous now but was enjoying the feeling.


He stood in his vintage bear mask surveying this year’s participants. He spotted the girl right up the front of the pack with a headstrong look on her face. She was quite attractive and curvy. She didn’t look the fittest girl in the bunch so the disgusting obstacle course should tire her out and take some of the fight of her so he could play with her. There was one every year, she looked very similar to his first love all those years ago. He squealed with excitement and they ran towards the group of nervous participants driving them towards the obstacle course. They scattered in different directions screaming and giggling. Each of the obstacles had a different scare, the hands that grabbed ankles through the tyre run. The bloody river that seemed to contain body parts and something slimy grazed their ankles. Somebody should have told them to bring a change of clothes she thought as she fought her way through a muddy enclosed tunnel closely followed by one of the squealing animal tormentors.


By the time she hit the fourth obstacle she realised that everyone else was gone way ahead. It was just her and the creepy guy in the bear mask left behind. She started to run, slipping on the wet ground and was soon out of breath and feeling really scared for the first time in years. She had gotten exactly what she wanted and now she was regretting her decision to come here and keeping it a secret. She stopped for a break and heard heavy breathing right behind her. She was nearly at the end of the course and spotted the group about 10 feet away. She felt a hand grab her from behind and dragged her by the hair towards the slaughter house. She screamed, terrified and tried to stay in one spot but it was useless. Her energy was spent after tackling the obstacles. The group looked on, assuming this was part of the scare. No-one realised this was not a stunt.


He dragged her through the door and barricaded it after hurtling her towards the wall. She felt something wet leaking through her jeans, she’d wet herself she realised. She tried to get up but the bear man ran for her smacking her head back against the wall. She knew now that he wasn’t messing with her, this was not part of the scare. This guy was a psycho and no-one even knew she was here. She heard the bus engine start outside and screamed hoping that someone would come back for her. He stood there squealing and laughing and dancing to the Teddy Bear’s picnic tune. She heard the group chatting away and laughing as they got on the bus full of praise for the scary attraction that had lived up to expectations. Nobody even noticed that there was one less person than when they had left the city.


He approached her now and swung a slash hook at her, catching in her soft slightly flabby tummy. She felt a searing pain and collapsed to the ground trying to clutch it and stop the pain. He stood above her grunting and squealing, he now held a mallet. He swung it at the side of her head and she felt her cheekbone smash and her head spun with dizziness trying to stay conscious. He whacked her once more with the mallet this time straight at her temple. This was the final death blow and the life drained out of Rosie.


He dragged her lifeless and heavy body towards a butchering table and proceeded to hack her body into pieces which he would freeze and feast on for the next year. Next year he would find a new love to savour who would die for the opportunity to enter Europe’s greatest traveling scare show.




The Corpse Bride,


The Corpse Bride
The Corpse Bride




First Date Jitters


Charlie O’Neill was going on his first date in almost two years. He felt a mixture of excitement and nerves swirling around in his stomach like the ingredients of a dodgy cocktail mixture. The audible noises coming from him were similar to a washing machine. He hoped this would calm down when his date Martine arrived.

Martine and Charlie had met at the Octoberfest beer festival in a local brewery through Charlie’s sister. On the night conversation had flowed seamlessly between them as did the kisses at the end of the night,  but that didn’t come as a surprise considering the potent beers they’d both gorged themselves on. They swapped numbers and he text her the next morning forgetting all the rules his friends told him existed after first meeting someone. She was happy to see he wasn’t playing silly games with her and accepted his gentle suggestion of lunch on Sunday afternoon.

So today was their proper first date. Charlie had a hazy memory of what Martine looked like but all he knew for definite that she was Spanish. He couldn’t remember exactly what they had discussed on the night and he regretted once again trying a pint of 12% beer towards the end of the night. Martine had actually been a bit less drunk than Charlie but had noticed that even in his drunken state that he was a perfect gentleman and that even though slightly scrawny he was quite attractive.

Charlie was waiting for five minutes outside the little gastropub on Sunday’s Well Avenue when a brown-eyed girl with even tanned skin and a beaming smile approached him. Now the memories of the first meeting flooded back to him. She smelt exactly like the first time they’d met; of coconut shampoo, coffee and toothpaste. She smelt wonderful to him even from a distance and he beamed back at her, more relaxed now. His stomach stopped its spin cycle and he felt the nerves ease away after a couple of minutes chat.

Martine was living in Blarney Street and Charlie in Shanakiel so lunch in the quaint little gastropub within walking distance was a spark of genius out of Charlie. They ordered a delicious bottle of white wine – which they agreed on immediately, a good early sign of compatibility. Nobody would have guessed by their easy comfortable way that they were practically strangers. Their main courses were as delicious as the wine but the highlight of the meal was dessert. A moist orange and cardamom cake served with homemade chocolate ice cream which they both ordered left them satiated. They sat for another hour and polished off the bottle of wine chattering animatedly with each other. At 6.30 pm they were politely asked to leave by the last-standing waiter waiting to close up for Sunday and enjoy his only evening off. They were oblivious to his annoyance so on all accounts the afternoon was a success.

Charlie was out to impress and after paying the bill asked her if she’d like to take a stroll up Shanakiel and make the most of the dry and crisp Autumn evening. Also being the first date,  he was likely to agree to anything to impress her! When Martine asked him could they investigate the old convent building he said yes nonchalantly despite a slightly sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He hoped it didn’t start swirling again and make some gruesome noises that might disgust her.

His earliest memory of the convent was when his mother had threatened to send him there and he would be forced to stay with all the other unwanted children and spend his days scrubbing the floors of the convent with a toothbrush. What Charlie only found out in later years was that this was very close to reality for the women who’d been sent there. Their torture had only ended 20 years ago, by which time a lot of the women remembered it as their only home.

Martine had only been in Ireland a couple of months and didn’t know the harrowing history of the old building,  which was not only an old convent but also a Magdalene laundry. Martine needed to write a story for her weekly writing class, which she’d told him all about during their late lunch. Charlie hid his apprehension at investigating the same building that had caused many sleepless nights as a child, all for the sake of impressing Martine.

He took a few deep breaths as they walked up the steep hill towards the entrance to the convent. There was a huge steel gate there ever since someone had set fire to the old laundry building last Winter. So many people wanted to rid the area of the horrible memories and feelings the now derelict building held that finding the culprit was impossible. Charlie was hopeful that they wouldn’t get past the massive gate and get on with what had been a great evening so far.

Fate threw Charlie a curveball that evening however because the gate swung open a slight bit as they approached it as if the property was welcoming them. He was instantly suspicious, wary that a security guard or even worse a gang of hooligans might be responsible for this. Yet he ploughed on, the sick feeling growing in his stomach. He desperately tried to appear manly despite his gut feelings of slight dread.

Martine was ecstatic that the gate was open. “Yes we can get in!” At that point Charlie smiled inwardly feeling pleased. He did think it slightly strange however that her level of excitement was growing the closer they got to the house. “Who knows what other things excited her?” he pondered. By now they had reached the front door of the oppressing convent. He felt a sense of depression and anxiety building within him. There was no turning back now or he’d lose all her respect so they pushed in the heavy wooden door, despite the rot.

Now that they had entered the building a smell of talc, rot and damp accosted his nostrils. Martine didn’t seem to even notice. His hand brushed the corridor wall and he shuddered. It was dark in the hallway but he could feel a sticky substance on his hand. He wiped it off his pants grimacing. He was starting to think that maybe this making a first impression wasn’t worth it. Martine led them into the first room, her face barely visible except for her shiny white teeth. She still sounded visibly excited and happy, apparently oblivious to the depressing atmosphere and sickly smells.

The room they’d entered had dirty stained glass windows and ornate stone carvings on the walls of religious icons. “Got enough inspiration for your writing now?” he asked her. “This place is so atmospheric and ornate , it must have been really something in its day” she replied with a look of awe on her sweet tanned face. She was right of course , it had – a thing of true horror and secrecy. The room they’d entered had stained glass windows and ornate holy stone carvings on the walls; this must have been the prayer room.

They heard a huge bang come from one of the rooms down the hall. They jumped, slightly spooked and looked around them all the while staying silent to try to decipher the cause of the bang. They strained their ears and heard nothing for a few seconds. Was there a distant sound of music? They were both totally freaked out by this stage yet held to the spot in shock. The music got slightly louder. “Swan Lake?” Martine whispered. He had a vague memory of an old jewellery box belonging to his sister playing the same tune. It had the same stilted tinny sound as the music box had all those years ago.

“Martine, I think we should get out of here, there’s somebody else in here” he hissed, every thought of impressing her had long left him. They crept to the door of the musty room trying to make as little noise as possible. They were only a few steps from the door when the door creaked slightly inward and through the gap slowly rolled a filthy red ball. The both shrieked and grabbed for each other; beads of sweat broke out on Charlie’s forehead. Suddenly cries of laughter broke out in the hallway and Charlie raced out just in time to see three hooded teenagers racing out the main door. “Jesus! I knew there was somebody in there!” Charlie thought to himself.

He turned back to Martine and they both laughed slightly hysterically. He pulled her close to him for the first time since their drunken smooch at the beer festival and they shared a giddy nervous kiss.

“Plenty of inspiration here. Ready to explore a little more?” he joked. Martine however didn’t pick up his joking tone and gave a determined little smile back at him nodding in agreement. Although every fibre of his being struggled with staying in the house he didn’t want to disappoint her. Hoping to enjoy another intimate moment with her he tried to calm his quick-beating heart and took tight grip of her hand in his slightly sweaty one.

They headed towards the second room both slightly more relaxed knowing the cause of the disturbances. The next room was very dark, the large bay window covered by heavy dusty red velvet curtains with an overlay of cobwebs. There was a brown streak all along the side and Charlie thought he could smell a slight stench of faeces. They both wrinkled their noses in disgust. The room was empty except for an old style abacus on the grubby wooden floor.

Martine bent to pick it up to inspect it more closely. She hadn’t seen one of these since she was a little child, even then it had been an old toy of her mother’s. While Martine was still enthralled with the abacus, Charlie had gone to the corner of the room and was staring straight at the wall as if stuck in a trance. He muttered something unintelligible to Martine so she put the abacus back on the ground and called his name softly. He didn’t respond at all, perfectly still. She heard a noise from the ground of wood on metal and looked to see where the noise was coming from. One of the wooden beads on the abacus moved slowly and deliberate from one side to the other. She gasped in disbelief, stumbling across the room towards Charlie.

Charlie had moved slightly now and she saw something held in his hands. A faded black and white picture of a young plain woman grasping a toddler; neither were smiling. Charlie snapped out of his trance staring at Martine’s shocked and terrified visage. He felt groggy and stiff and was unsure how he’d made his way to the corner of the room.

“Charlie, are you ok?” she cried desperately. He nodded silently and looked at the picture in his hand confused. His hand was slightly shaking as he turned on his phone flashlight to look at the photo. Martine stood staring uncomfortably at him. He felt a wave of misery and desperation rolling over him. He flipped it over to show light rushed writing in pencil on the back. “Come and get us as soon as you can. After next week he’ll be taken from m” he read lowly aloud. It looked unfinished but even those few words sounded desperate and unhappy. Martine bit her lip trying not to cry. “Charlie, what happened here? This wasn’t a holy place?” she quizzed him slightly. She was clearly upset, her voice slightly angry and her native accent stronger suddenly.

Charlie stared at her face, she didn’t look half as pretty as earlier and he felt like he was staring at a complete stranger now, all  memories fading rapidly from his frazzled mind. He barely remembered their exit from the house and or the walk to her house on Blarney Street. Martine knew immediately he’d lost all interest in her. He didn’t attempt to hold her hand again and answered all her questions with one word answers so she’d stopped trying entirely. At her door he stepped back as if he were afraid to come near her so she ran inside and didn’t wait to wish him goodnight.

She went inside to the cosy living room where her housemates sat watching a silly reality TV show. She felt herself calm slightly and curled up on the couch with a sigh. “Another one bites the dust” she moaned to them, “and this one seemed so normal”. They comforted her with chocolate, wine and laughter like any good friends. She told them of the lovely time they’d had in the restaurant followed by a small stroll and exploring of a creepy old convent. She didn’t mention the abacus or the picture, trying to blank it out of her own mind completely. She regaled them with the tale of Charlie and his unorthodox behaviour. After two bottles of wine they’d decided that had Charlie obviously wanted more than a simple kiss in the dark convent and she was better off rid of him!

She woke up the next morning with a slightly pounding head and completely soaked in sweat. She’d been tossing and turning all night long but didn’t remember any of her dreams. She thought about Charlie on the odd occasion over the next couple of weeks and avoided his sister in work.  He never contacted her again so she assumed he was most likely seeing someone else and  tried to forget their brief encounter. Over three weeks after their Sunday date she arrived late as usual into the office on Monday morning looking slightly dishevelled and tired after a weekend spent partying. There was a very sombre air in the office. Something was very wrong. She slid into her chair and leant in to her work colleague at the next desk and whispered to her “What’s going on? Was somebody fired?” Judy whispered back to her, looking slightly ill.

“Cara O’Neill’s brother died last night.  They’re saying he was found starved to death and holding some old toy or something…. ” stuttering, “it’s just awful.”

Martine felt her stomach heave. She turned to her desk and projectile vomited all her over her computer keyboard. Bits of stinking half digested bagel flooded the keys. Her vision swam before her and she vomited again, she felt thick lumpy hot liquid drowning her shirt and she collapsed to the ground.  Judy bent down to help her up. She managed to drag her on her office chair but didn’t escape blotches of vomit on her own clothes.

Her vision cleared and she felt slightly better. Judy leaned over her looking very anxious. “I’m ok. I just need a minute” she managed to get out. She looked forward her and noticed something new pinned on to her little pink noticeboard. She leant closer; ignorant now of Judy and her desecrated rancid smelling desk. She pulled the sheet off the noticeboard. Except it wasn’t a note it was the photo from the convent. She slowly turned it over in her shaking hand. Now the plain woman in the picture and the toddler were smiling and a familiar man stood by their side – even in faded black and white she recognised Charlie’s face.

Martine dropped the picture as if it were on fire and fled out of the office. She booked a flight home that afternoon and packed as much as she could carry into her suitcase. She rang a taxi to the airport and tried to numb all thoughts with three glasses of wine in close succession in the airport bar. She never returned to Ireland and it was many months before she even gave another man a chance. She never wrote again – afraid that she might unleash the dark memories which she locked away in a dark crevice of her mind like the women who’d been left to rot in the convent by their families and loved ones.

The Corpse Bride,

Gothic bride

Amazing Special FX workshop in Cork this Halloween!!


This amazing workshop is taking place in Cork! A horror film addict’s dream 😉

Posted by The Corpse Bride on Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Speed of Lightning

I’ve always loved thunderstorms; as a child my father and I would stand out on the second story balcony of our farmhouse and watch as the night sky would come alive with the crack of fluorescent lightning appearing as veins and arteries coming alive in the darkness. The calming pitter-patter of the rain stopped suddenly by thunder shaking the ground around us and the foundations of our house like the cries of some phantom colossus.

During these times I would watch in delight as my father, a man who rarely showed emotion would become like a child, the blue reflections of the night sky in his eyes unknowingly exposing the delight he felt as he watched. We had never been very close as he brought me up with strict rules and a stern hand, showing his love by preparing me for what he saw life to be, a struggle against the current in a world where only the strong survived. I cherished those nights because in those moments we connected sharing a love for the chaos around us.

That’s why a week ago when the thunderstorm of the century was forecasted by all the major weather stations, I decided to bring my own son Cailum out to the farmhouse to stand out on the balcony and watch the storm with me just as I did with my father all those years ago.

Unlike the relationship between my father and me, Cailum and I were extremely close. I took pleasure in the times we had to bond maybe in some way to make up for what I lost as a child. Only 12 years of age he had always loved the outdoors and nature, travelling with me on trips up some of the low mountain ranges in our state or into the forests and woods in the countryside. This night watching the sky’s bleed light would be a moment I felt we both would cherish.

As we drove up the long muddy path to the farmhouse the sky began to flash far in the distance and an unmerciful downpour began to fall on the land and the worn house in front of us. “Dad! Dad! Look!” Cailum shouted in excitement pointing at the lightning far over the fields. “I know, I see it! It’s only starting, wait until it really begins, the whole sky will light up” I replied; excited myself at the spectacle we were about to see.

We parked up next to the house and grabbed our yellow raincoats from the back seat. We had both joked that we would look like a pair bunch of soaking bananas standing out over the fields when we bought them in the department store. “These will do the trick, it’s supposed to be the worst thunderstorm in the last hundred years” I said as I opened the door of the car stepping into the rain “You do realise you’ve said that four times to me already” Cailum replied sarcastically, “I know I’m just looking forward to it, that’s all”

As we stepped out on the balcony the house shook as thunder erupted in the distance. “Whoa do you feel that?” cried Cailum. “Sure did” I said, filled with that childish excitement I had felt all those years ago. The thunder was like nothing I had ever felt before; we could hear the rafters of the balcony shake and furniture inside the house move each time it bellowed in the air around us and the lighting, my God the lighting! Giant strikes of it like that of an angry God shot up around the night sky crackling across the dark ominous clouds looming over the horizon. “This is awesome Dad!” Shouted Cailum over the noise of the rain now crashing down on the balcony dulling the sounds of our voices.

Something strange happened when the next flash of lighting came. In the short couple of seconds it took for the lighting to appear and disappear it looked as if a huge shape erupted from the clouds, something dark and winged twisting in the air. “Did you see that?” I said without thinking, not paying attention to the fact I might scare my young son. “Yeah, what was that?” he replied a slight tinge of fear in his voice. “Probably just the wind cutting through the clouds, don’t worry” I said trying to calm him down. As the thunder started a terrifying sound now appeared nestled within it, like the noise of huge metal pillars bending under the weight, a cacophony of shredded steal. Again another flash of lighting and this time the shape appeared even clearer and closer. It was winged an unrelenting ebony in colour and the size of a jumbo jet perhaps larger. I conjured up the childhood image of a dragon in my mind but this appeared to be almost fluid its head seemed to be writhing with what I can only describe as tentacles or some form of appendages. Just before the lighting vanished it twisted its long skinny body around towards us churning the massive thunderclouds and a cold chill ran up my spine accompanied by a sickly weight in the pit of my stomach, something I have never felt since that day something other worldly and wrong.

“Cailum we need to go inside …..We need to go inside now. Go!” I shouted over the unending crash of the rain as the sound came again now just before the thunder. The unearthly things roar vibrating the whole house, the sound of glass breaking in the downstairs windows. Cailum began to scream in terror as I pushed him through the door and down the stairs both of us almost falling as we descended the steps until we reached the first floor. “Dad what is that!” He screamed tears now rolling down his face. I didn’t take the time to answer I grabbed him and dropped to my knees pulling him underneath the kitchen table with me.

As the lighting flashed a shadow engulfed the house blocking out all light from the windows. It became so dark I struggled to see Cailum’s luminous yellow jacket as he huddled up between my arms screaming in terror, a sound I still hear in my nightmares. The sounds of the windows smashing in and the door being blown from the hinges and crashing against the front room wall echoed through the house, followed by the sound of the creature hissing if it could be described as that. Even by the noise I could hear how immense it was surely much larger than the farmhouse.

I began to shake violently tremors of complete fear and dread as I heard a wet thud from where the windows and front door once were. A slithering sickly noise came next as if sliding up the walls and floors getting closer and closer to where we were huddled beneath the table. I pushed my hands over my son’s mouth trying to quite him. He began to whimper beneath my palms his quivering making me feel guilt for the action. The sound now appeared all around us and I could hear something moving towards me in the darkness searching for us like a predator stalking its prey. I heard Cailum cry in terror as he was jerked out of my grip his arms flailing to hold on to me. I scrambled on my knees grabbing for his collar as it began to slip from my hands  pleading cries rang in my ears as my grip became slack and I pulled his empty raincoat towards me feeling out aimlessly for his body and crying out his name as the noise began to fade and I slipped out of consciousness.

I woke up lying on my face Cailum’s yellow rain jacket beneath my arms. The wind blowing through the empty space where the windows and door were, furniture smashed and scattered around the floor a vail of deathly silence hanging over the house, no screams, no thunder or lighting and no roar of the ungodly thing that had been here, just silence.

The investigators would claim that a freak hurricane had struck the house and that I had been knocked unconscious by the flying furniture in the ensuing chaos. Cailum in such shock and fear of this had bolted out the door and into the forest around the farm or had been lifted and carried away by the force of the hurricane as he ran. No body was ever found or a trace of him apart from a shoe which was found in the field at the back or the house covered in thick inky residue which was never identified.

A once cherished and loved experience, now when I hear thunder or see lighting flash through my apartment window a horrible deathly chill goes up my spine, and a feeling of a loneliness and emptiness in my stomach like nothing I can describe. I do not hear the sound of that creature that attacked us that night in the thunder but I hear the harrowing cries of Cailum pleading for me to help him.

Welcome to Banshee Irish Horror Blog!!

This is my first blog post so go easy on me! 🙂

My brother and I are massive fans of anything to do with horror and the paranormal so we decided to start this blog. We are also avid writers and wanted to share our stories with you and want you to share your scariest and weirdest stories with us!

As an enormous fan of the weird and horrific I’m always seeking out events in Ireland to go to and want to post details of upcoming events.

I hope you enjoy the blog and feel free to say hi!


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