A Story by Peter J. Hodgson

Death row inmates languish in cells waiting for death to call them. With knowone but each others vile murderous company until the day one mysterious new addition is escorted to his cell. Their interest spikes a new as the new inmate has a story to tell,


Peter J. Hodgson `lives in West Yorkshire, England has been writing short stories for a long time. Inspired by his favourite author of horror Howard Phillips Lovecraft as many writers do he has created horror stories how he believes they should be…unedited, no comedy and no fuzzy bunny endings. In January 2006 he discovered the self publishing site Lulu.com where he later published a collection of his own short stories bound together and entitled The Evil Season. Following this moderate success he followed this up with a second book, a collection of dark poems called Dead Letters. Now presently working on short films and a comic adaptation of what is becoming a growing saga as well as his second big anthology plus a very dark array of artwork.


Author of:


Transference: Bullet for the dead


The fall and the fallen

Kin of the moon

A devil bound

My own exodus



Dead letters


Damned (a short film)



When the opportunity of contributing to this anthology came about I was excited and a little nervous. I had co-contributed to projects with other authors in the past but for one reason or another these were either shelved or disputed. My story “Picket” felt like an ideal inclusion, it is short and to the point delivering scares and its sinister message. I hope Dillon puts this in the back pages as filler to the anthology just in case this sucks. If this turns out to be a success I will welcome the chance to come back and contribute.


-Peter J. Hodgson




A short story by Peter J. Hodgson


“You never know evil until you are trapped in a cell with It.” – William Hitch Jnr.


Death row 1978

A prison guard is walking down the hall of barred cells, each one occupied by a transgressor of some sin, mostly manslaughter. Innocence never walked these halls or occupied these cells; those that claim their innocence and wouldn’t shut up usually got a beating from the guards. Alone at night after lights out sinking deeper into their own selves and if they did utter anything no one who genuinely cared would know. The innocent had no place here for this is death row, a place where justice would wreak its vengeance. Edgar Barr was the most ruthless guard here; he beat a man so severely that they had to cover it up by staging a breakout to try and justify this, not that anyone really cared for these lack souls anyway. Jonathan Harley was in his early twenties when he murdered his girlfriend and the guy she was doing in the process of her adultery. Their bodies were stabbed so hard that their bones were broken, Harley broke his hand pretty good in the rage and fun, he shows no remorse to this day and that was two years ago. Bobbi Beatrice loved her children so much that she decided to smother them in their sleep, four-year-old Carl and her seventeen-month-old baby girl in her crib. She was found the next morning laughing hysterically whilst she was self mutilating her arms and thighs, the psychiatrist couldn’t reach her for a patient three months before she stabbed him in the eyes with the chair leg. Finally there is William Hitch Jnr. the biggest sinner of them all with a list of victims all bound and gagged and gutted, their inners were posted crudely to their relatives. Today is a new day, the sunshine beams through the tiny barred windows and there is a new edition to the row. The double doors open and two guards approach with the bound prisoner, he is average looking and scrawny, his eyes are looking straight ahead.


“Who the jolly f**k is this skinny a*****e?” sneers William licking his dry crusty lips.

The guard slams his baton on the bars of William’s cell forcing him to back away and stop hugging the bars. The scrawny looking nerd smiles out of the corner of his mouth whilst giving him the dead eye. A familiar sort of look, well it’s the sort of look that active psychotics give one another very much like a cat gawking at a mouse.

“What the f**k are you looking at boy, do you want a piece of me?” William likes to swear, it’s like the only language he understands, that and a good beating.

One of the escorting guards opens a cell for him, the one opposite William and the rest of the uncaring soon-to-be-fried rabble. The guard locks his cell and proceeds back down the corridor to his office whilst the other one heads off in the other direction through the double doors. William approaches the bars to stare at the new prey with narrow eyes as the scrawny young man just stands there in his cage and smiles whilst looking at his cellmates with amusement.

“My, my, my you are the sorriest bunch of murderers I have ever seen, I mean come on…you take a life or two claiming to be evil bread the least you could do is smile if not to uphold the illusion of, what’s the word? Ah yes…humanity,” says the scrawny young man.

Bobbi glares at him over her bible, he stares right at her seeing through the darkness of her cell and somehow knowing she was looking at him.

“Ah, a broken mother so pissed at the state of the world that she couldn’t bear her children growing up in it, to suffer just like their murderous wanting mother,” says the scrawny nameless man with glee.

Bobbi gets up from her steel hard bed throwing her book to the floor and walking up to the bars, she wants to hurt him. The scrawny man who has been on this block not ten minutes and he’s managed to piss people off.

“What the hell would you know f****t, I saved them from a society loaded with scum like you murdering b*****d males, I wont justify nothing to you.”

The scrawny young man sits on his chair in the cell; crossing his leg over the other he has everyone’s curiosity.

“My name is Joe Flannigan, and I am a mass murderer would you all like to know my story?”

William narrows his eyes almost shut his pure contempt for this Joe isn’t going to dwindle anytime soon.

“Story, what does this look like to you boy? A f*****g nursery we don’t want to hear it boy so crawl under your bed and wait for the bell to ring like the rest of us,” William advises without even swearing.

Joe looks at the round brass bell on the ceiling and smiles then looks back at William.

“Death bell! Indulge me William think of it as a bedtime story for each of you before you fall asleep…permanently.”


Is everybody paying attention? Then I shall begin my fellow death mates. It began three months ago in a town called Curious Rock. Curious Rock was a great town it was perfect in mostly everyway except maybe for the shoddy cars and noisy seagulls otherwise everything was perfect. The families, the families were like the town sunny and cloudy in appearance and mind this is why I came here. Beginning my journey as a mere drifter walking or hitching from place to place, trying to find work was a real b***h but I managed, just like a pilgrim. Curious Rock café was hiring that day, that warm spring day, the same day I hopped from the train I landed myself a job under the false identity of Harold Mashade. In my employ at the café I came to know the majority of the town, they liked me and included me in their community, I got a place of my own and even fell in love. That should be the end of my story but I am not here to tell fairy tales.


156 Oak Drive

Harold is lying in bed with a young brunette woman the sun is shining through the curtains onto them. He wakes up one eye after the other and with one hand rubs the crust out of his eyes and reaches for the clock on the bedside. 11:37am his eyes widen and he jolts, the sudden motion of the bed springs wakes up the woman, she wakes with a smile, a welcome if somewhat seductive smile at Harold.

“Morning baby,” she says.

He reaches over and kisses her on the lips before brushing the stray strands of hair away from her face then kisses her more passionately.

“Good morning Molly,” says Harold.

They embrace, nakedness ensues with a passionate writhing of moist sweat and hot skin all in unison and rhythm.


After breakfast and the much enjoyed morning activity! Harold kisses his girlfriend as she is clearing the breakfast bar of the two plates, tumblers and a litre of Orange juice. He sets out in his tracksuit for a morning run around the town waving at neighbours as he passes walking their dogs, jogging with their dogs or simply coming out of their homes to collect the morning paper. Harold is smiling through the sweaty experience of the first mile, he feels exhilarated upon reaching a fifth which would bring him back around to where he started. There is something wrong, his legs give way and he goes down, face hitting the concrete knocking him out for a few seconds nothing more. A little boy come to his aid, this little boy seems unfamiliar to Harold but then this could be the onset of some concussion. The boy has long brown hair and is wearing dungarees with Velcro fasten sports shoes, most of the kids on the block wore similar fashions but still he was unfamiliar.

“I’m okay little man, just forgot how to use my legs for a minute there.”

The little boy touches the abrasion on Harold’s face, there is a small and narrow stream of blood coming from the cut and dripping from his jaw line. Harold looks at the little boy oddly as he seems to be more interested in the blood.

“I am okay, little man so you can run on home now,” he reiterates feeling that perhaps the little boy may suffer from some autism.

The boy has a scared expression like he had just seen a monster or had some extremely cold water poured on him, he doesn’t flee but he does come closer to Harold.

“You can see them Harold, their everywhere, in your town, in your home, in your mind…and in your blood,” says the scared little boy as he dips his tiny finger into the blood on Harold’s face.

The blood on the little boys finger appears black, he looks at it for a moment then looks back at Harold with a sense of urgency in his eyes.

“Kill them…KILL THEM ALL!” says the little boy.

The little boys eyes are streaming with tears, Harold is non the wiser even when the little boy hands him a rusty axe.

“What the hell is this, a sick joke are you one of Harrison’s kids?”

The Harrison’s were the worst family ever to grace Curious Rock, foul mouthed and totally disrespectful to everyone whether they knew them or not.

“Kill them or they will reign here and spread,” says the boy.

Harold wakes up in his bed with his girlfriend, waking up fast and without waiting a few seconds to adjust to the waking state he gets out of bed and runs down the stairs. Looking out of the kitchen window watching the neighbourhood’s residents and families going about their business. Molly quickly follows, she had something far more tender and equally pleasing in mind for the morning.

“Baby what is wrong? Its not garbage day so what’s with the urgency?” says Molly.

“Sorry honey I just had a very vivid and bizarre dream, a bad dream I think.”

She locks her arms around his waste from behind him and peers over his shoulder to watch also.


A voice breaks the story Joe is telling the death row prisoners.

“So you had a life, big f*****g deal…do you think we didn’t have that in the beginning?” says William.

“Molly was so beautiful, I began my life echoing it with petty crime and a fluxing idea of what my destination was to be…drifting from place to place I eventually found my one true love in my one true place of belonging,” says Joe.

“Touching, but I am curious to see where you are going with this,” says Bobbi.

“Where I am going is where we all must go, to the end so without further interruption I will continue unless anyone here has something to contribute?” says Joe


Molly and Harold are staring out of the window she kisses his bare shoulder and rests her head there, he turns around and kisses her on the forehead.

“I am such a lucky man to have met you, flipping waffles in that tight little apron covered in coffee stains,” he smiles.

She smiles, this is the charm that won her heart, one that she awards with a lengthy classic smooch. When they are done kissing she looks up at him, her hand meets his face. Molly then kisses him on the lips. There is curiosity in her face one that she meets with a very mother like brushing of his hair over his brow.

“What did you dream about?”

Harold is put off the tender moment and pulls away from the embrace, away from the window, the moment worked briefly in getting his mind ticking over the bad dream.

“I woke up we had our usual excitement, you cleared the table and I went out running on my second or so mile I fell and it hurt! There was a little boy who I never saw before he came up to me and said some really off things.”

“What kind of things?”

“Kill them all! They’re evil! I couldn’t fathom the reason for why he whoever he was would say that but he looked upset and afraid.”

Harold turns on the tap to get some water to drink, the water is black and thick he looks at it thinking that there maybe something wrong with the pipes.

“What the hell is this?”

Harold bangs the tap, maybe knocking it would shock the clean water free or something, not likely. He turns around to ask Molly if she would get a tool from the basement but he sees Molly, her face is sagging unnaturally off its muscle structure. Harold’s first instinct is to go to her to check if she is okay, he grabs her shoulders ignoring his second instinctive reaction which would be to stumble backwards in fright. She is smiling at him still, her eyes are red with blood, completely in fact.

“This is hell my love, don’t you know that?” she says as long claws split open her existing nails.

He backs away this cannot be a dream within a dream. Backing away from her to the front door in nothing but his shorts and fear.

“What is this? Am I asleep or awake? This cant be real I don’t buy it.”

“Doesn’t say much for your state of mind does it honey? Can you not decide for yourself what is real and what is fiction…I suppose I wouldn’t either if I was about to be eviscerated.”

Harold opens the door and runs out of the house leaving what was his girlfriend at the doorway. He notices that the usual routines of the neighbours arent so, there is nobody here anymore. The little boy is holding a rusty axe and standing at the end of the street which is four houses away. He runs to the little boy and kneels to his level, his heart racing in his chest.

“You, who are you and what is going on where is everyone?” he says panting from all the shocking realisation that this isn’t a dream, his knees hurt from yesterdays jogging and there is no fear to be felt in dreams.

The little boy holds up the axe for Harold to take which he reluctantly does. Harold takes the axe, stands up and doesn’t notice the entire towns population is standing behind him, each one is terribly disfigured including Molly. Even the neighbourhood cats and dogs had deformities, missing eyes, large claws and skin sinking off there facial structures.

“Kill them, kill the monsters,” says the child.

“Who are you?”

“A drifter. A victim. They got me once,” says the child before walking away.

Harold holds the axe close to his chest then slowly turns around to the way he came, to his house only four doors away to see the towns people just standing watching him. Some old lady’s face is so badly sagging that her face is slapping against her chest, her clawed hand reaches up and rips off the sagging face. Underneath the now freshly torn off face is another face, the nose is just two nostril slits running at an angle meeting the eyes which are all red. The skin is heavily littered with nerves and a network of veins where the teeth are pointed and narrow. These are not human nor are their intentions, they begin to slowly walk with each sagging face either falling off or simply being ripped off. The children do the same and smile through their narrow mouthful of demonic teeth.


Harold covers his eyes trying not to see what is clearly happening, trying not to hear the slapping sounds of unwanted skin and flesh dropping to the concrete. They are getting closer, the sound of the creatures mocking him and laughing gets closer, the denial technique isn’t working so he tries running. Running past the café and past the town line to the rural train station where he had originally got off the train car to start a life in this town. Harold stumbles over a decommissioned railroad track and hits his head, knocked clean out.


Hours had passed maybe even a whole day until Harold wakes up, dried bloods is on the side of his head. He unsteadily gets up and notices that he didn’t wake up from a dream and if he did then why was he out cold on the tracks, his fear and anxiety resume.

“Where are they?” he says rubbing his head again.

Harold notices that he didn’t even let go of the axe the whole time, in fact he was clutching it very firmly so firmly that his knuckles are white. There is a choice either escape this town on the next train or go back. The little boys words are repeating in his mind as he inches towards the town line just steps away from tracks.


The heat from the sun baked the blood on his face, some crumbles off as he raises his eyebrow slightly. Crossing the town line now, past the café of Curious Rock and into the neighbourhood, holding the axe even closer to his chest. Something makes a squishing sound under his foot, the moistness seeps in between his toes but Harold doesn’t rush to look at whatever it is. Hoping that maybe this is dog s**t or a child’s fallen ice cream, it stops him dead still and eyes closed. Looking down now slowly and eyes closed still, axe clutched white-knuckle tight, opening eyes slowly the vision blurred and opening gradually. His toes are deliberately closed to stop whatever the cold moistness underneath from spurting upward. His eyes are open fully and wide as he bites his bottom lip and wincing, even his toes open then suddenly the red substance squelches upward. He removes his foot from the mass; if he bit his lip any harder it would bleed profusely. The pink and mostly covered fleshy mass jiggles back into place after Harold removes his foot, it is a face, too small to be an adult. Vacant and distorted eyeholes folded over the nose but staring up all the same.

“God help me, it wasn’t a nightmare!”

He begins to walk faster with fear and hatred in his eyes, walking in the direction of home yet still remaining cautious as there was no one around. He arrives and sees Molly in the kitchen sipping tea and watching him with a welcome glare, yet shocked to see her boyfriend standing there in the doorway with a rusty axe and a maddened look in his eye.

“Honey, your home I got so worried I almost called the police…why do you have an axe?” says Molly.

“Your not human, your one of them...a f*****g monster,” his voice all unsteady.

Molly puts down her cup of tea and gets up from the breakfast bar to approach him, with a worried look on her face.

“Baby its okay honey your home now, there are no monsters here,” she says reassuringly.

For a moment Harold holds out the axe for Molly to take away so he can hug her and be comforted that this was all some random dream, momentary insanity…it happens to the best of us. Sometimes hallucinations can be all too realistic; maybe he did stand in something unpleasantly tactile that wasn’t a child’s discarded face. He toys with the welcome thoughts of this, the possible explanations and even the notion of insanity sinking in. Whatever the reason he hands the axe to Molly, she gently takes it and places near the basement door then she welcomes Harold into her arms. Harold is in her arms now his eyes closed tightly but the tears are there, he sighs with relief.

“Why is the town empty?” says Harold.

“It’s the fourth of July baby they are preparing the festivities! As usual,” says Molly.

Harold shakes off the questions just to hold Molly close but there are hands riding his back, claws dug in and scratching north. He tries to back away, to shake free of her embrace, the claws dig in tearing through the skin down to the bone. Harold yells out in pain, hoping that someone near by would hear and help but then he catches a glimpse of her eye. Big and red and staring as a predator would to its prey, caught in a clawed embrace and not letting go without seriously injuring its intended. Harold yells again, none of it was a nightmare this was all real, all monsters, all need to die by his hand. The axe sits vacantly and resting up against the basement door, he grabs Molly by the hair tearing it like wet toilet paper from her scalp in an effort to get her off him.


Her screams are almost like a Hyena, mocking and loud at his feeble attempt to shake free. The claws are at least three inches in length, one inch at least for every nail is jammed in his back. Blood is seeping out as she jiggles the nails violently cutting deeper up and down he slams his forehead into her head knocking her backwards and stumbling into the living room and crashing through the crystal coffee table. First instinct takes hold, the survival instinct quickly nudges him over to the axe and as Molly is getting up with bits of broken crystal sticking out of her body he quickly approaches with the axe above his head and ready to swing. Black blood is pissing out of her wounds; she doesn’t react to this pain though even as her face is sagging off.

“Don’t you love me anymore?” she laughs in that horrible Hyena way.

Molly’s face slaps to the laminate floor, it steams fresh from the hot blood that pumped through it seconds ago. He hesitates to swing hoping that this is all some bad fever dream but the pain from the wounds in his back are real.

“What are you?” he says stuttering.

Molly is barely recognisable to her shocked boyfriend as he looks on in horror watching the skin slithering off her muscle structure. There are jagged horn like bones growing out of the muscles, without further delay Harold decides that enough is quite enough and swings the axe cutting her head off. The head is laughing, as he approaches it.

“What are you?” he says again this time his voice is colder with more intent to inflict.

The head doesn’t answer him, its eyes stare at him and its lip curls upward as the life finally leaves it. Harold leaves the mess on the floor and walks outside his glare is distant, vacant, like he isn’t really grasping reality as he came to know it. Through this visceral act he isn’t pleased nor is he sad at beheading his once beautiful Molly.


“That’s it?” says Bobbi peering through the bars of her cell.

Joe looks at her smiling, he did grasp their interest, this block of murderers awaiting either a call from the governor or their death call from the chair. Even William is sat upright with enthusiasm and wanting to hear more of the story.

“That’s one hell of a horror story my friend, its too bad that almost every psycho killer has a similar one to tell,” says William.

“Maybe it is my story or perhaps it is a story I came across in Psycho Digest,” says Joe with a smile so frequent now and utterly empty.

The silent Jonathan Harley perks up and approaches the bars of his cell to look over at Joe with a confused expression.

“So what happened?” says Jonathan.

Joe gets up from his seat and approaches the bars both hands grasping the bars very tightly.

“Well Johnny boy, I will tell you,” says Joe.

The little old sweet postman is walking on the sidewalk whistling a jaunty tune. Delivering his mail as usual then he stops, his face drip white and his whistle fizzles to nothing. The picket fence surrounding Harold’s house is spattered with blood, red blood, not only that but on each white picket there is a severed head. Each severed head has a terrified expression, no sagging or demonic faces and no black blood. Every neighbour in Curious Rock was killed, beheaded by Harold, every man, woman and child and pet beheaded and stuck on a picket. Since there wasn’t enough pickets on his fence Harold used the fence next door too. In the middle of this madness Harold is sitting in the garden surrounded by severed heads all looking away from him, the postman collapses.


“So that is the story my sweet’s, I hope it was entertaining enough for you,” says Joe.

The death row murderers are in awe where some especially Bobbi is shocked. Joe smiles and sits back down on his chair.

“Why did you tell us that story?” says Bobbi.

Joe cracks out laughing very much like an insane person, not that he wasn’t. Finally he stops laughing, the death bell as he called it starts to bleed.

“The point to the story my sweet murderer is up to you, it has a meaning for each of you, some would say that killers and victims can be one and the same…others would say that a killer is a killer and that’s it,” says Joe.

William gets pissed off and kicks the bars causing them to shake.

“What the f**k are you talking about man?” says William.

“I didn’t get caught, I gave myself up willingly so that I would end up here with the worst scum ever to be granted a soul and it worked…its feeding time boys and girl and there is nowhere to run!” says Joe.

His eyes turn blood red as he rips open the bars, Bobbi scream loudly backing further into a corner away from his reach. William does the same, the devil has come for them and there is no where to run.





© 2008 Peter J. Hodgson

My Review

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This is OK. not the best by far.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Saw the comment you left on my friend Chrissie's profile (which I loved BTW, it really made me smile) and felt sorry for you (No offence intended, just my attempt at humour) so thought I would come show some love for someone I don't yet know and review a piece of your writing.

Ok, I know why I came over here, but I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed that story, and I haven't really read a a story I liked in a while. I love your style of writing too, it's almost like a story teller in an arm chair sat by a fire. Of course the story is far from being a fairy tale, but I did enjoy it. It took me up from the beginning and carried me along with it. I even found myself biting my lip as he did his so involved in the story was I. You are a very talented writer and your story should not be stuck at the back of a book to fill in the pages, but at the front. Because once you have read this story, it brings out a thirst in the reader for more. Which is where I am going to go now. XX

Posted 15 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on July 13, 2008


Peter J. Hodgson
Peter J. Hodgson

Bradford, West Yorkshire, England

The following is a trailer spot for the new anthology availble from Lulu.com now. My art is availble to buy at:- The following film is the final cut of the above complete with soundtrack, enjoy .. more..