Tag Archives: Free

Short Story: THE BAD COP

I wrote this story for a contest back in September of 1996, and found it in my archives a few days ago.  I did a very minimal amount of rewriting but didn’t change too much.  I’d write it differently today, probably, but I don’t think it’s terrible for flash fiction from my earliest days of attempting to write.  So here’s THE BAD COP:

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THE BAD COP

“If you open your mouth again, I’ll have to shut it for you.”  The man in the police uniform spoke in a low voice, intending to intimidate Joe, and the rest of us were too cowed by the badge to interfere.  We all watched silently as Joe backed down.

It wasn’t every day that a cop showed up at a party and started hitting on our female friends.  No one knew what to make of it.  So we had ignored him, for the most part.  After all, cops are the good guys.  We’d just partied on, like he wasn’t there, or like his presence was a normal thing.

But that was before he’d started hitting on Joe’s girlfriend.  And Joe, who had already drank his share of beer by that point in the party, was just reckless enough to confront the officer.

“Just what the hell you think you’re doing?” Joe had asked belligerently  “She’s with me.”  Terri, his steady girl, had backed away as the cop spun to face him.  She saw the look in the cop’s eyes first.  When he turned, though, the rest of us saw what she must have seen.  They say the eyes are windows to the soul.  If that’s true, this guy’s soul was full of mayhem.

Joe hadn’t noticed, I guess, or else he just didn’t care.  “You think you can just crash in here and hit on our women, you better think again.”

The cop spoke those words about shutting Joe’s mouth for him, and I think that’s when he noticed the look in the guy’s eyes.  Joe backed away.  But the cop’s gaze still held him.

“Outside, asshole,” said the cop, pointing at the door.

Joe was blinking his eyes a lot, as if something blurred his vision.  “I ain’t goin’ anywhere,” he finally said.  “You go right on outside by yourself.”

“Wimp,” the cop retorted.  “Gutless.”

I could see Joe getting angrier and angrier, as the cop kept up the verbal abuse.  But he was afraid.  Heck, we all felt for  him.  We were all just glad it wasn’t us that the cop was goading.  Finally, Joe turned and headed for the door.  Evidently, he decided that he couldn’t take getting dissed like that in front of all his friends, especially in front of his lady.

I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but when the cop moved to follow him, he reached down and unsnapped the leather strap which held his gun in place.  It took a minute for the action to register with me, but when it did, I turned to Rich, who was standing next to me, watching the scene as intently as I was.

“He’s gonna kill him,” I said.  Rich looked at me like I had just told him that aliens were landing out back by the swimming pool.  “I’m serious,” I said.  “He’s going for his gun.”  I started toward the door, following them, and when I moved, it was as if the spell was broken and everyone
at the party followed.

I was almost to the door when the shot rang out.  “Oh, God,” I said.  “Joe…”

What I saw when I got outside appalled me.  The cop was bent over Joe’s prone form, and  he was fitting Joe’s fingers around a gun.  He looked up, and he knew that I knew what he was doing, somehow.  He raised his gun up, pointed it at me, and said, “Get back inside.”  I just stood there.

Terri had by now come outside, and she screamed as she saw Joe’s lifeless form sprawled on the lawn, gun clearly visible in his hand, just as the cop had placed it.

“You shut up with that screaming,” the cop said, “or I’ll have to shut you up too.”  Terri’s shrieks had degenerated into sobs, by now, and the cop looked at all of us, waving the gun.  “Everyone,” he said, standing.  “Back inside.”

“Joe didn’t have a gun,” said Terri.  “Where did he get a gun?”  She was not quite hysterical; the obvious flaw with the picture had cut right through to the thinking parts of her brain.

“It’s a plant,” I whispered.  We allowed ourselves to be herded back inside.  When we all got inside, the cop announced, “You’re all under arrest.”

“For what?” someone, I think it was Marie, asked.

“Illicit drugs,” he answered.  There were, of course, no illegal drugs on the premises.  Nothing but alcohol, unless you count the caffeine in the coffee and the cokes, and Rich pointed it out.

The cop walked over to the sofa, where he reached his hand under the cushions and pulled out a baggie of something.  I couldn’t tell what from where I stood.  “What’s this, smart guy?”

“He just put it there!” exclaimed Brian Cleary, who was closest to the scene.  “I saw him!”

“Shut up,” ordered the cop, “unless you want me to shut you up as well, and find some illicit drugs on you, too.”  Brian paled, and said nothing.

“There’s more in the bathroom, I think,” mused the cop.  “And you have some on you, too,” he said.  He was looking at me.

I backed away.  I saw him plant the gun.  He was going to make me come out dirty, so my word wouldn’t mean much against his.   He started toward me.

“You killed him,” I said.  He laughed at me.

My reactions took over.  I turned and bolted through the kitchen, but the shot froze me in my tracks.  The bullet thunked into the wall in front of me.  The roar of the gunshot reverberated through my head.  I looked around.  My friends, the party guests, were totally motionless.

“Freeze or you’re dead,” the cop shouted.  He again began to advance on me.

“Why are you trying to railroad us?” I yelled back, panic-stricken.  “Who invited you anyway?”

“I invited myself,” he said quietly.  “And I decided I don’t like any of you.”

Behind him I saw Terri move.  Quietly she picked up a big chunk of glass or quartz or something that adorned the mantel.  She moved quickly, and suddenly brought the heavy clear object down on the cop’s head from behind him.  He never noticed her.

He went down like a tree struck by lightning.  Fibroid material seeped from the wound on the back of his skull.  It was deep.

Terri looked at what she had wrought.  “Is he…”

I finally was able to move.  I checked his pulse.  It was weak.  “Not yet.”

She sighed, though I couldn’t tell if it was with relief or disappointment.

Rich finally came alive.  “Call the police!” he said, and then picked up the phone himself, poking at the buttons.  “Line’s dead,” he informed us.

I picked up the walkie talkie that the cop carried, and looked at instructions on how to operate it, or what megahertz the police broadcasted upon.  It didn’t take long for me to figure it out.  I turned it on and it whirred to life, spewing cop-jargon.  I pushed in the talk button and sent out our SOS.

More cops showed up pretty quickly.  They looked suspiciously at the two bodies, but our party-crasher still had drugs on him, and we all told the same story.  Meanwhile, an ambulance took the still-unconscious cop to the hospital and Joe to wherever they take dead bodies.  Terri had
broken down and was still sobbing as they loaded her boyfriend’s body into the other vehicle.

We spent the next three hours being questioned, one by one, by police officers.  But everyone stuck to their stories, which was easy to do since the stories were true.  I wondered what the bad cop would say if and when he regained consciousness.  I thought that it would likely center on me as the scapegoat.

I hoped that it wouldn’t come back to haunt me.  But I was almost certain that it would.

All of my friends were stunned, the pleasant buzz from alcohol consumption a distant memory.  It’s funny how being shot at and terrorized will do that to a person.  We left the party, one by one, as the investigating officers dismissed us.

I guess we all learned that monsters can come out in darkness or in sunshine.  And they sometimes hide behind that which we trust and depend upon.  I guess the blue of the policeman’s uniform did a good job of masking the black of his heart.

We all will remember that for a long time.

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I hope you found that story mildly entertaining and just a touch disturbing.  I wrote it a long time ago, but the subject matter makes it seem like it’s more recent, I think.  I’ll leave it up here for a week or so, then will put it under the FREE STORIES tab above.  Thanks for reading!

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Short Story: GRANDPA

This is the first short story in my collection 14 DARK WINDOWS. You can get it in its entirety if you download the free sample for Kindle, but I thought that maybe some people who don’t do Amazon or have a Kindle might want to read it.  I wrote it a long time ago as a contest entry where the first sentence and six additional words were given and you constructed a story around them.  Enjoy!

GRANDPA

“All the King’s Horses, and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again!” Grandpa finished the rhyme and closed the book. “Well, Billy, what else would you like to do?”

Billy loved his grandfather. Grandpa always had time for a story, a game, or to simply talk. “I’ll do whatever you want to do, Grandpa.”

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You can read the rest of this story by clicking this link or by going to “Stories” on the menu above and choosing “Grandpa.”

You can buy 14 DARK WINDOWS at Amazon by clicking this link:  14 DARK WINDOWS

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Giveaway results

It isn’t the first time I’ve given JACK’O’LANTERN (and other stories) away.  But it’s a Halloween story, and I think it’s pretty good.   The title story was published on a magazine/blog site called “Friendly Fiction” a few years back, and the site’s editor had a go at it, suggesting changes.  I made several at that time, and ignored a few that I disagreed with.  The result was a fairly tight story.  I connected it with two other Holiday stories, THE MOMENT (about a junior high student who finally finds the courage to ask his crush to dance at the school Halloween mixer, through the anonymity of a costume) and SARAH’S PUPPY (where a little girl hears the barking of a puppy that she’s hoping she’ll get for Christmas and meets a bearded stranger by the tree in her living room), because all of them feature younger children and holidays, even though only the title story is horror.

So, for Halloween, I decided to give it away again.  What the heck? I thought.  Maybe someone will like the stories enough to buy the collection that it’s also a part of, 14 DARK WINDOWS(No one did.)  But I also put in sample chapters of both of my $0.99 novellas, THE INN and THE CAVE.  My hope is that someone will read the three short stories, read the sample chapters and be interested enough to check out the novellas.  Maybe realize that they’re bargain basement priced at $0.99, and will buy one or both.

As it turns out, I did sell one copy of THE INN during the giveaway.  Whether it was because of the short story giveaway, who knows?

All in all, I gave away something like 33 copies of the collection, which is back up to $0.99 today.  Would I buy it myself for $0.99?  No.  I’d spend that same $0.99 and buy the collection mentioned above.  I clearly state as the first line in the story trio’s description that it is part of that collection and that the collection also costs only $0.99.

The pattern was something like this:  Thursday, 8 free copies were downloaded, with virtually no promotion besides mentioning it on Facebook.  And I think the downloads occurred before I even made the Facebook post.  On Friday, 6 free copies.  Saturday, only 1 copy was downloaded.  I posted pictures later on Friday of my own pumpkin carvings on my Scott Dyson page, with another link to the giveaway title.  On Sunday the number went back up to 5 free downloads.

Then on Monday, I thought to mention it on Goodreads, in a group I lurk within called Horror Afficionados.  As a direct result of that mention, 13 more copies were downloaded.  More to the point, they were downloaded by people who like horror, if I can safely assume that those who read the post in the promotion topic on the bulletin board.  I can only hope that they get around to reading them and like the sample chapters enough to try my novellas.

So the promotion is done for now.

I’ve been thinking about a topic for a post soon about how I personally rank the elements of a novel when I’m reading it.  Still thinking about how to organize it.

Till then, have a great day.

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JACK’O’LANTERN (and THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY) free on 10/29!

In honor of Halloween, I’ve made my short story trio containing JACK’O’LANTERN, THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY free for five days, starting Thursday, 10/29/15, till Monday, 11/2/15.  It’s been free before, but this time it contains sample chapters from my novellas THE INN and THE CAVE.

Jackolantern updated cover

All three stories are also found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS, which is priced at only $0.99 and will continue to be priced there for the foreseeable future.

Grab it while it’s free! If you like it, grab something else as well! Thanks for reading!

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ODD MAN OUT Promotion

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision – I decided to give away ODD MAN OUT, a short story pair that featured the title tale (about 1600 words) and a second short story called THE HOUSE AT THE BEND IN THE ROAD (about 1800 words).

Of all my works, I like this cover the best.  It looks professionally done, because it was.  I have a good friend, Rich Siegle, who did the cover for me (gratis), and he does book covers for small publisher Poison Pen Press in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I paired these two stories because, well, they seemed to go together.  Originally I had paired SOLE OCCUPANT and ODD MAN OUT because I liked them about the best of all my short stories, but I ended up using this pairing because it kept the word counts between the two ebooks about the same.

ODD MAN OUT is also found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  The short story pair costs $0.99 on Amazon, because that is the lowest price Amazon will let you set for something.  I lowered the collection to $0.99 also, because I hoped to move some titles.

I decided to give this short story away because I thought if someone liked enough, they might be inspired to buy the collection which contains both of these and twelve other stories (including the aforementioned SOLE OCCUPANT).

I also started to expand this short story into a longer work.  Hoping that I can get 20 or 30 thousand words out of it.  It struck me as I read it that there was a lot more story to tell.  So we’ll see what comes out of that project.  I haven’t been putting much time into writing on this story recently; there’s been a LOT going on with my family, but I think things might start to wind down now.

The other reason I haven’t been writing it is because I spent some time finishing up the collaboration between my son Kevin and me.  It’s part of a series, and we completed Book 1 and got a fair start on Book 2.  Book 1 is about 77000 words, so it’s a full length novel.  Believe it or not, it started life as Harry Potter/SwordArt Online crossover fan fiction written by my son.  I saw some potential in it and decided to write it with a more original slant.

So, maybe I will get some things written before summer runs out of time.  We’ll see.

Oh, yeah.  The point of this post was that I did a giveaway with ODD MAN OUT.  The giveaway ran three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).  I only announced it on Facebook.  I gave away 35 copies of the short story in that time frame.  (Well, 36, but one was downloaded by me for free in an attempt to boost the number by one.)

I guess that’s 35 people who never heard of me before, because I doubt I had anyone from my Facebook announcement get it.  Okay, perhaps there were four or five downloads because of that announcement.  I can’t say for sure.  We’ll see if anyone grabs the collection in the next week or so.  Even one or two downloads would be great!

So, did it do what I hoped?  No…it made it to #10 on a “Ghosts and Haunted Houses” list on Amazon, but it certainly didn’t amount to much in the sense of sheer downloads.  But it’s just one of those things.

Have a great week.

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My second free promotion results…

So my promotion ended yesterday.  It ended with a slight uptick on the downloaded copies of my two short story trios but it still was unimpressive.  Thank you to everyone who DID download the stories.  Hope you find something you like.  Even more, I hope you’ll maybe try something else I’ve written.  DIE 6 has some pretty good stories in it….I think…

So how did it compare to my first giveaway, where I promoted my titles SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE?  Well, that time I gave away 144 copies of the two titles.  The first of them did better.  I don’t think it’s surprising.  The cover for SOLE OCCUPANT was done by a professional, while the cover for DEAD OR ALIVE was done by…well, by me.

This time I gave away 71 copies in total.  Forty nine copies of JACK’O’LANTERN and 32 copies of THE GATEWAY were given away (by zombies…no, not really…by me).  Half the number of copies, though almost as many copies of JACK’O’LANTERN were given away as of DEAD OR ALIVE.  Anyway, why so few this time?  I have a few theories.

First, I did not have the opportunity to tag my giveaway with another giveaway.  In that case it was QUANTUM ZOO, with the giveaway promoted by all twelve authors (to some degree) and D.J. Gelner shared my status update, where I plugged both my own stories’ free status as well as that of QUANTUM ZOO.  This time, no shares from any authors.  (One offered but didn’t follow through, far as I could tell.)  I did have two friends share it with their own friends, and there is not much overlap between our groups of friends.  Anyway, when D.J. shared it on FB, my post views approached 300.  This time my post views were around 150 (maybe a bit more).  Half the page views, half the downloads.  Plus, people who were downloading QZ might have theoretically searched out works by the other authors in the collection and found a couple of mine on promotion, and grabbed them that way.  I’ll never know.

Second, these two covers are probably my worst covers.  I did them myself, and they were the first and second covers I ever did.  I’ll probably try to redo them sometime when I have the time.  But I don’t want to spend any actual money on them.  At $0.99 per download (which means $0.35 to me) it just does not make sense to spend the money on them.

It’s a shame, really.  I’ve had really good feedback on some of the stories.  Annetta Ribken once said of JACK’O’LANTERN (seen in a less edited form on the Friendly Fiction forum on Journalscape) that she could totally see it in a YA Halloween themed collection.  J. Michael Major listed AMERICA’S PASTIME (part of THE GATEWAY trio) as one of his favorites of the 14 DARK WINDOWS collection.  THE MOMENT also received good comments when I posted it on a blog a few years back.  And SARAH’S PUPPY won a contest on The Book and Candle Pub several years ago.  I think they’re decent stories.

Here’s Annetta’s quote (about JACK’O’LANTERN):

I can so see this in a YA Halloween anthology.
Cute and interesting premise. nicely done!

Author Eric Mayer (of the John the Lord Chamberlain mysteries) said this about THE MOMENT:

I enjoyed the story. From what I recall of eighth grade it seems true to life. Although I only wish I could’ve been bright enough to ever come up with a ruse like that. I’m surprised you could concoct this from six words not of your own choosing. Out of curiosity, do you recall what the words were?

I couldn’t, by the way.  I remembered “pirate” and “tommy gun” and “black cat” once I read it and looked for them.

And J. Michael Major’s Amazon review of 14 DARK WINDOWS:

It’s always fun to discover a new, talented author, and Scott Dyson is my latest find. The fourteen creepy tales here range from wistful and romantic (“The Moment” and “Ghost of Love”) to the horrific (“Hot Spot” and “The House at the Bend in the Road”). My personal favorites are “The Only Solution” and “America’s Pastime,” but all are wonderfully written and there is something here for everyone — just don’t read these hair-raising stories when you are alone at night! I look forward to reading more by Dyson. Buy a copy today and tell your friends about this exciting new author!

So there you have it. The results of the giveaway.

I had been debating whether to put ODD MAN OUT on promotion next month.  It’s my best cover, and I like both stories.  But I don’t know if it’s worth it.  Maybe I’ll just schedule it for a two day giveaway or something like that.

Better get something new written and published.  And soon.

Take care!  Thanks if you downloaded them.  Heck, thanks if you’re reading my blog!

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Free Promotion is here!

Started today, January 29th.  For five days only, ending February 2nd (Monday).

Two of my titles are free for Kindle on Amazon via KDP promotion.

Here are the links:

The Gateway Coverand

Jackolantern Cover

Please download them, read them, if you like them, consider leaving a review.  There are SIX (!!!) short stories contained in the two titles.  See the previous post for a description, or check out the Amazon book page for that same description.  They’re more or less flash fiction pieces.  The longest clocks in at something around 1800 words, if I recall correctly.

Thanks for grabbing them!

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Successful giveaway?

Just a quick post to update the KDP Select promotion for two of my titles.

I’ve given away 114 ebooks in 3 1/2 days (today being the 1/2).  It’s scheduled to run through tomorrow.  (12/14/14)

Here’s the links:  SOLE OCCUPANT

DEAD OR ALIVE

It will be interesting to see if getting these two stories in the hands of readers results in any reviews of the stories or better still, any increase in sales from them.  Crossing my fingers…

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Two titles free for download from Amazon!

My short stories SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE are both available for download for free as of today, December 10th, through Sunday, December 14th.

SOLE OCCUPANT is a 14 page, two story combination that features the short story SOLE OCCUPANT (about 2400 words) and THE ONLY SOLUTION (about 700 words).  It’s short, to be certain, but it’s also free!

DEAD OR ALIVE is a 32 page short story and is the first story of THE STRIKER FILES, a combo-volume featuring all three stories of the series plus a bonus story (priced at $2.99 at Amazon).  DEAD OR ALIVE is free today through Sunday.

QUANTUM ZOO remains free as well, until Friday!

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