Regularly on the podcast I write short stories for listeners who support Ghosts in the Burbs at the $10 tier level on Patreon. These stories always appear at the end of the podcast episodes. Here’s a sample of the most recent set of stories. Listen to the podcast for more of these fun horror stories, and head over to Patreon for more information.
Welcome back to the Ghosts in the Burbs Patreon Donor stories. I’ll release these extra episodes bi-weekly until Lilith’s story is complete.
But before we get to this week’s story I’d like to offer a million thanks to: Elizabeth Smith, Not a Sheep Gal, Brian Newman, Joe Ormand, Angella Zampell, Bonnie Easley, Casey Gilly, Jess Kroner, Stefanie Gunning, Christigale Mandapat, Andrea Imbaratto, and Allison Petherick for their generous support on Patreon. Without it, this podcast wouldn’t exist. If you haven’t yet head over to check out Ghosts in the Burbs on Patreon where each patron tier carries with it a small token of my thanks. The following patrons, Jonathan Ruhe and Katie Gibbons, chose the $10 per month tier so that I might create a spooky story just for them.
Theirs is a tale of escalation and differing opinions. Here goes…
Katie Gibbons hated Starbucks coffee. That was another thing that was going to change around here, she decided. She’d out up with it all for two long. They’d learn to compromise or this just wasn’t going to work. It had been a long, dreadful night and she’d barely slept more than fifteen minutes at a time for all the racket. Her nerves were shot and she was out of ideas.
Even now, the steady thumping beneath her feet kept her jumpy, draining what little reserves she had left. She dumped the last of the bitter drink down the kitchen sink then headed upstairs for a shower. She was sure to stomp her feet as hard as she could on the floor as she did so. Her little way of showing that she wouldn’t be bullied and she couldn’t be worn down.
She dozed off for a moment in the steamy shower and dreamed of the incident. Even in her dream it brought forth a rage she could not contain. When she came to, the shower blasting her with warm water, she felt her resolve strengthen and she knew she was doing the right thing. How else would he see the error of his ways? How else would he see reason? This had to be seen through to the end. She got dressed, dried her hair, put on her makeup and left for work.
Jonathan Ruhe was as furious as he was confused. He simply couldn’t make sense of the situation, and he was becoming more and more unwilling to see it from any other angle. Who did she think she was? What they had was a difference of opinion, hers being the wrong one in his mind, and there was no way he would give an inch now. At least he’d listened while she spouted off her illogical nonsense. She could just forget that. He wouldn’t entertain her weak arguments any longer.
They lived in a free country, goddamnit, it was his god-given right to do as he saw fit. And the extent to which she had overreacted! His head ached. What he wouldn’t give for a steaming cup of Starbucks. That lunatic had convinced him to give up caffeine for New Years. And he’d even agreed to dry January. But this? This was going too damn far. He would not meet her half way. They were on two completely different sides of the field and this was one hill he was willing to die on. No matter what the cost.
In the car on her way to work, the events of the previous evening replayed over and over in her mind. The argument, his ridiculous reasons for feeling the way he did. The frying pan. How could he be so selfish? So closed minded? She should have known, there were red flags. Little comments here and there, and then when they went to visit his parents, well there was a lot there that should have sent up little flares as well. The way they talked about things, the implications, even though they never spelled it out. How could she have been so blind?
Jonathan woke from a fitful sleep. His neck was stiff and his wrists were beginning to chafe from the handcuffs. That self-important little brat, he thought. She has no idea what it’s like in the real world. She might as well flush money down the toilet. It was because of the way she was raised. That he knew for sure. Her father voted for Clinton for fuck’s sake. He could just kick himself for not seeing it sooner. They never should have moved in together without talking about something so important first.
He heard the front door open. Heard Katie walk across the kitchen floor above his head. He began banging on the metal pole to which he was handcuffed. After about fifteen minutes he heard the basement door open. Relief flooded through him, but he hardened his heart. He had to stand firm. He wouldn’t show weakness.
“Have you had enough?” Katie asked as she stepped off the final stair.
Jonathan glared at her
She turned towards the stairs.
“You’re being an irrational b-”
“I’d be very careful with the way you talk to me right now Jonathan.”
“You think I should be careful? You chained me to a pole in our basement and left me down here all night, Katie! You’re the one who’d better be careful!”
“You were acting like a lunatic,” Katie said, arms crossed.
“So you hit me over the head with a fucking frying pan, dragged me into our basement and chained me to a pole?”
“Don’t be dramatic, you’re not in chains.”
“This was completely uncalled for,” he spat.
“Just admit you’re wrong! She screamed.
Jonathan shook his head slowly. Then in a low, dangerous voice he said, “Everyone in the free world knows that the thermostat should never go above 65 degrees, it does not matter how cold it is outside. One keeps the temperature of ones home consistent. We keep air conditioning set at 65 degrees throughout the summer months, right? And then you are able to comfortably wear shorts and a t-shirt, correct? But then magically the calendar turns and in the winter months the outdoor temperature affects you inside? It is irrational. It is magical thinking.”
“You are the one being irrational!” Katie screamed. “First of all, stop talking to me like I’m a child – I pay half the rent here. Second of all, I heard all of this bullshit last night! And it is still bullshit. It is COLD outside in the winter and the cold air gets into the house so you have to turn up the heat to counteract it. That is not magical thinking, that is science.”
“Since when do you know anything about science? You literally believe in the five second rule!”
“Even children know about the five second rule!” Katie cried.
“Oh sure. The germs all just hold each other back and count down from five before attacking your food.”
Katie opened her mouth to argue but abruptly closed it. Then she turned and walked slowly back up the basement stairs, this time she flipped the light switch. Maybe some time in the dark would get him to see reason. She slammed the door and listened as the steady banging started up again.