I started writing The Bad Place in 2007 or 2008. I don’t remember what I initially intended the piece to be, but I set it aside right around the point where Joey disappeared. I picked it up again in 2009 and re-imagined it as a time-travel piece. It didn’t make the final cut for the anthology I submitted it to, but I don’t feel bad, because several years later, there’s still no anthology or word from the editor, either. This story, however, became a well-received standalone short on Amazon.
You can get it for free today on Amazon, and for .99 anytime thereafter. Here’s a little taste:
Daddy slammed into Joey, nearly driving him to the ground. The knife fell from his hand, but he managed to stay on his feet.
“Judy—“ he choked as Daddy wrapped his large, thick fingers around his neck and squeezed. Joey managed the couple feet separating himself from Judy, pushed her into the Bad Place and slammed the door.
“Joey!” It was dark inside and Judy couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t hear any noise from the kitchen, either. When she reached for the doorknob, it was stuck.
“Joey!” She pounded on the door in frustration, kicked at it until her feet hurt and finally sank to the floor.
Suddenly, she felt something shift, like she was on a carousel. She felt dizzy and nauseous, and crawled to the far corner of the closet to vomit up her breakfast. The sensation passed as fast as it came. When it did, she opened her eyes to discover the back wall of the closet was gone.
She stared out across the side yard at her neighbor’s house. The intervening stretch of lawn was littered with scraps of metal, and a deep trench had been plowed into several feet of earth, terminating a few inches into the closet. It occurred to her to try the door again, and she did. This time it opened.
“Joey? Daddy?” No one answered. There was no noise, no sign that the two men had even been there, or that there had been a fight. The kitchen was dim; the only light streamed through the window over the sink. The countertops were chipped, one corner even broken off, exposing worn-smooth particle board. There were rust stains in the dingy porcelain sink basin and a mishmash of pots and dishes littered the work areas.
Judy crept to the living room. The furniture was all there, pretty much just like she’d remembered it, but the carpet was faded and torn in places, as was the upholstery of the couches and Daddy’s big recliner. The television sat in the corner, coated in dust, and piles of books and papers littered one corner of the room. As she looked around, trying to figure out what was going on, she heard a loud hum. It sounded like it was coming from the back of the house.