Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction.
HorrorAddicts.net is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.
Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.
“Circe’s Music Shop”
by A. Craig Newman
A music store owner, who won’t be bullied into submission, teaches two hitmen the meaning of pain.
“Check me,” Johnny said. “Do you see it?”
After a cursory inspection of Johnny’s waist, Fats replied, “No, boss. You look fine.”
Johnny made a mental to note to pay a visit to his tailor later. For a $1000 suit, he ought to look better than fine.
Fats opened his leather jacket enough for Johnny to see the silver .38 revolver in his shoulder holster.
“You really expecting trouble here, boss?”
“Two weeks ago, two of my top earners came in here and disappeared. A week ago, two more do the same. Let’s just say I want to be ready for anything.” Johnny took out a handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Fats led the way down the stairs from street level to the basement store. Above the door was a small lit sign displaying, “Circe’s Music Shop.” There was no storefront window or neon lights or signs with posted hours. Just a small sign over a solid oak door in the basement of a brownstone.
When Fats opened the door, it struck a bell, announcing their presence. The young black lady behind the glass counter to their left looked up at the two men, and then went back to her reading. They closed the door, striking the bell again. Fats walked deeper into the store. Johnny stayed at the front and looked around.
The store was small, but functional. Musical instruments of all types were mounted on the walls, grouped into functional sections—guitars, basses, and violins; trumpets, saxophones, and flutes; clarinets, oboes, and pipes; and all kinds of drums. There were tables against the walls lined with sheets of music, books, tapes, and CDs. If it weren’t for the open central space to the shop, the place would have seemed impossibly cluttered. As it was, there was only a path through all the ordered chaos to a beaded curtain on the back wall.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” The lady didn’t look up from her book.
“Are you Circe?” Johnny laid his hat on the counter.
“No, I’m Tamisha. There is no Circe.”
“You’re the only one that works here?”
“Owner, proprietor, and sole employee.”
Johnny nodded and wiped his eyes again as he noticed Fats walk through the door at the back of the showroom.
“What is your friend doing?” She turned a page.
“Just checking to make sure we’re alone.”
“We need to be alone?”
Johnny leaned on the glass counter. “Well, we’ve got some important and urgent business to discuss with you and we want to be sure we aren’t disturbed.”
“Ah. Well, he needn’t bother. There’s no one else here.”
“We just wanna make sure. Say, whatcha readin’ there?”
“It’s been around for more than two thousand years. Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty good.”
Fats reemerged from the backroom and nodded. Johnny crooked his thumb toward the door.
“Now, we can talk,” Johnny said as Fats locked the front door.
“So, talk,” Tamisha said without looking up.
Johnny reached over and grabbed her book.
“I would like your undivided attention.” He closed the book with a loud clap and tossed it onto the glass counter.
Tamisha sighed and rose from behind the counter. Green and purple flowers on her floor-length dress rippled as she walked to the front of the counter and sat cross-legged on the glass.
“And now you have that. What are you names, sirs?”
“I’m Johnny Teardrop.”
“‘Teardrop’? Sounds like a nickname. Why do they call you that?”
Johnny wiped his eyes again. “Because I kiss the girls and make them cry.”
Tamisha smiled. “Right. Ok. And your name, sir?”
Fats made no effort to answer.
“His name isn’t important. If I like the answers to the questions I have to ask, you’ll never have to deal with him.”
Tamisha nodded. “I’m all ears. Ask away.”
“Four of my boys paid you visits to talk business. I was wondering if you remember them.”
“What kind of instruments did they need?”
“Not that kind of business. They wanted to discuss our insurance policy with you. A policy that all your fellow business men and women in the area have purchased.”
“Insurance? Hmmm…this is starting to sound familiar. Do you have pictures of these men?”
Johnny snapped his fingers and Fats produced a picture of four men on a boat holding up an enormous bluefish. Tamisha smiled and nodded instantly.
“Yes, yes. They didn’t all come together. But the guitar, the mandolin, the kettle drum, and the recorder—I remember these men well.”
To read the rest of this story and thirteen
other horror music shorts, check out:
Crescendo of Darkness
Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Let music unlock your fear within.