The Endless Hallway is a novella about a young mother’s struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety (PPDA). It is my story.
Well, a fictionalized version of my reality.
While in therapy to recover from PPDA, I spoke with my therapist about the story I was writing. I tend to start everything as a short story – that keeps the pressure off. I was dealing with so much internal pressure already; I didn’t want to add lofty ambitions like novella or novel. We brainstormed and troubleshot the ideas I had. I was stuck on the ending – or, rather, I didn’t know where the story should go. At the time, I wanted Molly to conquer the monster because I desperately needed to conquer my own mental illnesses.
“What would be the benefits of having this monster captive?” my therapist asked me.
The Endless Hallway features a creature that has haunted me since I was a teenager. This vile thing, with disgusting claws, rows of teeth, and black, void-like eyes, has featured in my writings for two decades. As the years go by, its appearance gets worse and worse: a monstrous evolution that personifies my mental illnesses.
My senior year of high school, I went with my parents to spend the weekend at my grandparents’ house. They lived in a small town about 75 minutes away from us. On the drive down, I listened to music, daydreaming as I watched miles of hills and highway pass by. Suddenly it appeared to me: an emaciated human-like creature, completely bald with shiny, slimy skin, no nose, two gaping voids for eyes, mangled claws, and vicious teeth. I imagined the creature standing in front of me, opening its mouth to inhuman levels, and swallowing my head. I didn’t know if this was my depression consuming me or setting me free.
This image stuck with me, and I immediately wrote about it in the composition notebook I always carried with me. Over the next several months I wrote a story featuring this creature, but more in link with a vampire – think of a play on Nosferatu. In this iteration, the monster’s main features were rows of fangs and knotted, gnarly hands with claws, along with the bald head and void-like eyes. Later, I wrote a short story featuring the creature that was a meditation on how depression shapes a person’s growth from adolescence to adulthood. In both stories, the ending was more finite: in the first, the monster is burned to death; in the latter, it swallows the protagonist.
A decade on, I got married and had my daughter. Postpartum depression and anxiety hit me hard. Again, I imagined the creature looming over me, ready to strike. This time it was more disgusting and vicious: now its teeth dripped black ooze and its mangled, jagged claws were ready to take everything from me. As I rocked my daughter to sleep, I vowed I would not let it.
Instead, I wrote it all down. I owned the monster and made it do my bidding. On the page, it couldn’t hurt me. The depression could threaten us, it could lurk around every corner of the life I always wanted, but it would never touch us.
Yet, as I finished The Endless Hallway, I found the ending was more ambiguous. Age had taught me that the depression never really goes away. Instead, we would live with it, like a haunting; deal with it whenever it decided to show its monstrous face. There’s a comfort in that, a comfort in knowing that while we can’t always defeat our demons, we can always overcome them.
Even if we still check the baby monitor for claws creeping through the bars of the crib, and double-check the corners of the baby’s room for dark figures.
Molly has it all – a good job, a handsome husband, a beautiful new baby, and a supportive family. Her life is everything she once prayed it would be. But something sinister is lurking within the walls of her tiny townhouse. A strange voice comes from the darkness as Molly rocks her infant to sleep. Lights that were left on are suddenly turned off. Molly has nightmares in which her husband’s throat is slit. In the middle of the night, a thin, pale arm reaches over the rails of the crib and lunges for the baby with fierce, jagged claws. The voice in the darkness soon seems to be coming from inside Molly’s head.
Are the visions Molly has been haunted by a subconscious warning or something more vicious?
Mary Parker is a horror author and journalist from Southern Illinois. She has worked for examiner.com and horrornews.net. A collection of short stories, Predilection, was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in the anthologies “Vampires Aren’t Pretty” and “Slaughter House: The Serial Killer Edition, Vol. 2.” Her story “Sweet Nightmares” placed in the Top 100 of Wattpad’s Horror Contest sponsored by TNT. She is a proud contributor to, supporter of, and past ambassador of Women in Horror Month.
The 58th issue of The Sirens Call comes in at whopping 239 pages containing 166 pieces of dark fiction and horror in the form of short stories, flash fiction, micro fiction, and dark poetry with an optional sub-theme of summer horror! This issue also features a new addition -Mike Lera’s Corridor of Horror- which will be an on-going column spotlighting those in the film industry.
Our features this month include artist Jeanette Andromeda who has shared 11 pieces of her artwork along with her beautifully crafted tale,Alice and the Toy Maker; a spotlight feature for the charity anthology,Dancing in the Shadows: A tribute to Anne Rice, which focuses on the team behind the project; we’ve also been given the opportunity to showcase Rebecca Rowland as our featured author who discussesThe Question of Gender in Horror, and also…
We saw it drifting… just a dust cloud at sunset and we looked away. We were busy playing games… dodgeball and tag, racing with nightfall and impending parental calls for dinner, baths and bedtime. We had no time for dust clouds. But when night time fell and our parents never called we paid attention. The cloud was already on us—a twisting fog tainted green, illuminated and glowing from somewhere within. We stopped our games to listen and heard our parents screaming. A writhing tempest obscuring twilight breezes with hot, acrid stench filled our familiar suburban streets. There was no running. We were already home with nowhere to go on a school night. Helpless, stunned and overwhelmed, we joined our parents without protest.
Vile Nights Lee Andrew Forman
As the light of day begins to hide below the horizon, its final glow casts fleeting…
The eunuchs parade for rights, today. Legions of dour men marching in clipped unison on a cold November afternoon with neither bands nor majorettes, nor clowns in little wagons. Their leader is out in front astride a white ox.
You turn to me, a question in your eyes, but I put a finger on your lips. Silently, we watch them proceed down Broadway until they diminish from view. Onlookers unify in a mighty sigh and return to go about their business.
Later we discuss this in bed, my arms embracing your shoulders, your legs twined in mine.
“Was it to make a statement, to gain recognition, acceptance?”
“I suppose it was,” I reply. “We started all this, didn’t we, Flora, decades ago? Why do you frown?”
“I guess they expect equal rights, too. It won’t happen in our lifetime, love!” I say, pulling your hands to encircle my breasts. We…
One arm lay in a pool of blood. My blood. The other grasps for it, reaches with needing fingers. They want to keep what is part of them. Part of me.
I know I’m in shock. The ping in my ears and lack of pain brings a strange clarity. Time slows. I see the carnage around me and watch, not in awe or disgust, but indifference. With calm I walk to the first person I see and beat him to death with my own severed arm. I whip his bruising face with the bloodied stump. I shove my radial bone down his throat and break his ribs with my boots.
I know I’ll bleed out if I don’t do something. That knowledge sits at the forefront of my mind, but emotion refuses to connect, urgency has been halted by whatever has changed inside. I know things weren’t always this way…
“You should have your nametag in clear view where we can see it. “
Captain Rick untucked his nametag knowingly. He understood that this type of passenger liked to collect names for complaints. The fan on the airboat was not quite loud enough to cover the women’s conversation, which was an obnoxious combination of denigration of the local culture and denigration of him.
To drown them out—and the idea of drowning them was appealing—Captain Rick began his speech. As he discussed his native Florida, the women continued to speak to each other, acting as if his words did not matter. As if he did not matter.
These two were absolutely perfect.
As he knew his speech by rote, he was able to observe the invasive species in front of him. Both women were wearing dresses and shoes that were impractical and incompatible with an airboat ride. Their arms were…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — The author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021) and other works, E.F. Schraeder usually writes about not quite real worlds. Schraeder is also an avid gardener and hot pepper enthusiast who believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs. Say hello online at efschraeder.com.
Like any book that ends up in the hands of readers (thank you!), As Fast as She Can went through many iterations and is the loving product of many people’s unique contributions. From late night conversations about the characters and storyline, cover design work, to hours of edits and revisions, a lot of wonderful folks influence the eventual final product. But while working on Fast, one of the characters themselves played a role in the outcome, too.
I usually begin stories with at least two things: a general plot outline and main character bios. Those basic sketches aren’t rules, but they give me a baseline to work with while I start writing. Sometimes when you’re working on a project you get lucky and write a character who develop quirks and a mind of their own— that kind of character voice can inform the…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — The author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021) and other works, E.F. Schraeder usually writes about not quite real worlds. Schraeder is also an avid gardener and hot pepper enthusiast who believes in ghosts…