FREE FRIDAY FRIGHTS – A random free read from Mark Leslie. Alternating between fiction and non-fiction, an entire short story or short non-fiction true ghostly or eerie tale will be available to read here. (Updated on random Fridays)
Historically, these were done weekly, where Mark performed a live reading of the fiction or a live discussion/storytelling of the non-fiction topic – that audio/video version remains available and was structured in the following format: Brief Intro to that day’s free fright, reading/relayed tale, a short behind-the-story/behind-the-research chat, followed by a Q&A.
Bookmark this site for your free reading fix. Follow Mark’s Author Page on Facebook for the live broadcasts.
Scroll to the bottom to see a list of the previous #FreeFridayFrights content
Also, feel free to download and read these free stories via the eBook retail platform of your choice:
Nights Cries (Nocturnal Screams series) Three tales that take place where darkness mingles with cries from the night
(Friday Sept 13, 2019)
Fiction (ALMOST) is below. If you want to read about the SUPER Superstition (Friday the 13th) click here.
THE DARK WOODS were far from still. A strong wind made the tops of the trees bow. A low howl accompanied the wind as it forced its way around the branches and through the leaves. Orange and yellow corpses fluttered from the trees to the ground, never to be buried, merely trampled upon.
Muffled by the call of the wind, Dale Garrison crunched upon the newly fallen leaves as he ran through the forest. He stumbled to a tree and leaned against it, listening, watching.
Out of breath, he looked back over his shoulder. He’d gotten this far without them picking up his trail. But he couldn’t rest long. The dogs would soon pick up his scent and they’d be on his tail again.
The horrid cost of freedom these days, Dale thought, running his left hand across his sweaty brow. He couldn’t run like this all night. He’d have to find a ride or something, get out of his Sunnyside Institution uniform and flee the state before word of his escape got out.
It had been twenty minutes since he’d been free. No doubt the local stations had broadcast his escape by now. He had to be very careful. He was an easily identifiable suspect.
The wind howled louder, and he thought that he could pick out the sounds of barking in the distance.
Still out of breath, Dale stumbled forward and broke into a lurching run. A sharp pain stabbed through his side and he tried to ignore it. The tempting smell of freedom, like a carrot held before a starving horse, guided him onward.
Just when he thought he could bear the pain no longer, Dale staggered to a clearing. And before him he found exactly what he needed.
A pale grey Chevrolet was parked in the clearing on a hill overlooking a spectacular view of the town below. Dale could detect two figures inside the car through the steamy windows.
He slowly approached the car, crouching and trying to keep his breathing quiet. He hadn’t yet figured out how he would overpower the people inside, as tired as he was, but he knew that he didn’t have much time.
Nearing the driver’s door, he remained low and peered in through the window. A glance at them would tell him if they would be much of a threat to his freedom.
Things hadn’t changed much, Dale thought as he regarded a couple of teenagers making out. The male, thin and short, had his face pressed up against a blond haired female’s face. Her hands danced up and down his back to the sound of a pop song on the radio. The male’s hands deftly worked at unbuttoning the female’s blouse.
The car had been idling. Dale could see the keys in the ignition.
Conflicting thoughts ran through Dale’s mind. He wanted to continue watching. The sudden excitement of adolescent sex brought him memories of his own youth. It had been almost a decade since he saw real live breasts. But he needed to get the teens out of the car so that he could escape.
As Dale watched, feeling a stirring in his groin, he calculated his next move. Just as the boy had the girl’s blouse open and cupped her breasts between his hands, the muffled voice of the radio announcer interrupted the song.
Dale moved to the back of the car, his plan already formed. All that he had to do was open the passenger door, pull the girl from the car and threaten to kill her if the boy didn’t get out. He could then slip into the car and speed away.
From the woods came the distinct sound of barking.
They were getting closer.
Dale moved quickly around the back of the car, and in his haste tripped over something. He landed on his left hand and it twisted beneath him. He let out a yelp.
From within the car, the girl screamed.
Shit, Dale thought, cradling his left arm to his chest. The barking dogs were louder as they echoed in through the trees. As Dale slid forward on his left side, he could hear the boy and girl arguing within the car.
By the time he reached the passenger door, the arguing seemed to be over. As Dale reached forward and grasped the door handle with his right hand, the car started moving.
Searing pain shot through Dale’s right arm as the car peeled away. He cradled the bloody stump at the end of his right arm to his chest and watched the car peel away down the dirt road, heading back to town.
Goddamn cheap doctors at the institution, Dale thought, listening as the barking dogs neared the edge of the clearing. They had the technology to provide him with a workable plastic right hand after the accident at the prison shop. But he was a criminal.
He moaned as he lay on the ground, the exhaust and dust from the car settling on his face. The dogs burst through the trees, the excited shouts of the cops not far behind.
They had the technology, but wouldn’t waste it – or the money, for that matter – on a criminal slated for death row. Goddamn cheap doctors.
He almost had gotten away. He would have been able to open the door in time, if not for that useless prosthetic hand. As the first dog reached him, he vaguely wondered when they would discover the hook stuck in the door handle.
Below is a previous recording of a reading/talk about ALMOST
ALMOST first appeared in the short story collection, One Hand Screaming.
ARCHIVE OF SOME OF THE PREVIOUS FREE FRIDAY FRIGHTS CONTENT:
Friday Sept 13, 2019 – FICTION: Almost – Click here to see a reading and talk about Almost
Friday March 22, 2019 – FICTION: Ides of March – Click here to see Mark read and talk about the story via Facebook Live Video
Friday April 6, 2018 – FICTION: That Old Silk Hat They Found (You can still read it for free in Snowman Shivers in via Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, etc) – You can also watch a recording of the reading.
Friday April 20, 2018 – FICTION: Phantom Mitch (Mark’s first published horror story) from his book One Hand Screaming – You can watch a recording of the reading, live from a haunted bar in Hamilton, Ontario (Augusta’s Winking Judge)
Friday April 27, 2018 – NON-FICTION: “Jack is Back: The Ghost of Jack Kerouac at Haslam’s Bookstore” – An article based on “Kerouac’s Favourite Haunt”, a chapter from the book Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries – You can watch a recording of this talk.
Friday May 4, 2018 – FICTION: Active Reader – a cautionary tale what happens when a bookstore loyalty program falls into the hands of a macabre collector from Mark’s digital chapbook Active Reader: And Other Cautionary Tales from the World of Books – You can watch a recording of this reading.
Friday May 11, 2018– NON-FICTION: You Are Never Alone in Sudbury. A look at the UFO activity in Sudbury over the years, as documented in several chapters of the book SPOOKY SUDBURY: True Tales of the Eerie & Unexplained. You can watch a recording of this talk.
Friday May 18, 2018 – FICTION: Browsers – a book nerd finds themselves trapped in an odd little bookstore that acts a little bit like a Venus Fly Trap for book lovers. You can watch a recording of this reading.
Friday May 25, 2018 – NON-FICTION: Ghostly and eerie tales from Century Manor, the last standing building from Hamilton’s Asylum for the Insane. You can watch a recording of this talk.
Friday June 1, 2018: FICTION: Distractions – A frustrated writer takes the advice from a self-help book on eliminating distractions to a darkly humorous and violent extreme. You can watch a recording of this reading.
Friday June 8, 2018: NON-FICTION: Haunted Level 2650 of Levack Mine – On a quiet weekend in the 1970’s a fireguard was down on Level 2650 of Levack Mine alone when he saw something that made him swear he would never go back down there again. You can watch a recording of this.
Friday June 15, 2018: You can watching a recording of this reading: FICTION: Nervous Twitching – The bizarre sight of seeing a chicken running around with its head cut off can be disturbing. So is this micro-fiction story about a man who has never overcome seeing that in his childhood.
Friday June 22, 2018: NON-FICTION: Faceless Ghosts. Tales of faceless ghosts including a couple from Mark’s book Creepy Capital.
Friday June 29, 2018: FICTION: Almost. Extremely short. A classic and popular horror tale told from a different perspective. You can watch a recording of this reading and talk.
Friday July 6, 2018: NON-FICTION: The story behind Lovers Lane in Hamilton (Ancaster), Ontario
Friday July 13, 2018: FICTION: Excerpt from opening of the novel I, DEATH. Peter O’Mallick believes he has a death curse, because everybody he gets close to or loves dies a tragic death. Blogging about his angst seems to help. At least, until the wrong person starts reading his posts and plans on using Peter’s dark power for his own nefarious purposes. (Facebook Live Video)
Friday July 20, 2018: NON-FICTION: Ghosts of The Winking Judge (Hamilton, Ontario) (Facebook Live Video)
Friday July 27, 2018: FICTION: Vengeance is a Delicacy Best Served Cold – Martin Hecht no longer possesses a human consciousness; all he knows is he can hear a woman screaming and it hurts his brain. (Facebook Live Video)
Friday Aug 3, 2018: NON-FICTION: Books Made Out of Human Flesh – In the history of publishing, there was a time when binding books with human flesh was an actual practice. There are still copies of these books available at particular libraries (Facebook Live Video)
Friday Aug 10, 2018: FICTION: (Recorded live from When Words Collide in Calgary, AB): Nocturnal Visions – When Carl was six years old he watched in horror as the Sandman strangled the Tooth Fairy. It wasn’t the first bizarre nocturnal sight he’d witnessed, and it definitely wouldn’t be his last. (Facebook Live Video)
Friday Aug 17, 2018: NON-FICTION: The Ghosts of the Albion Hotel – The Albion hotel is a Georgian-style colonial roadhouse in Bayfield, Ontario, not far from the shores of Lake Huron. A fully functioning bar and hotel with a handful of rooms, the Albion, which was built in the early 1840’s is allegedly home to more than one lost spirit. (Facebook Live Video) – YouTube Video
Friday Aug 31, 2018: NON-FICTION: The Bookstore Portal – Bob’s Beach Books, Lincoln City, OR – An eerie encounter the manager had with a couple who walked into the store and then disappeared into thin air. (Video from 2017 – Mark in front of Bob’s Beach Books) – Facebook Live Video
Friday Sept 7, 2018: FICTION: The Pizza Man – A group of students keep getting pizza deliveries that they never ordered. Is it a strange prank, or is there something more to the mysterious man who keeps showing up at their door?
Friday Sept 14, 2018: NON-FICTION: Ghosts of the Old Ottawa Carleton Jail – Have you ever slept in a prison by choice? How about a haunted prison? There is a hostel in the Nation’s Capital that was originally home to the Carleton County Jail, a maximum security institution with more than its fair share of ghostly tales. Facebook Video – YouTube Video
Friday Sept 21, 2018: FICTION: The Bogeyman Can – “Who can take a garbage bag? (Garbage Bag) And stuff it full of kids (Stuff it full of kids). Who can murder anyone he wants to and get away with it? (The Bogeyman) The Bogeyman can because he stays right out of sight until the lights go down!” (Facebook Live Video)
Friday Sept 27, 2018 NON-FICTION: The Ghosts of Haslam’s Bookstore – a return to St Pete Florida to visit the bookstore that is allegedly haunted by Jack Kerouac, and learning tales about another restless spirit that might also lurk there. (YouTube Video – shot at Haslam’s in Sept 2018)
Friday Oct 5, 2018: FICTION: But Once A Year – Once a year, on All Hallow’s Eve, the dead can rise from their graves and walk around and are forbidden from leaving the graveyard. But what happens when one corpse sneaks away and tries to escape? (Facebook Live Video of a reading of the story)
Friday Oct 12, 2018: NON-FICTION: The Mystery of the Ghost Boy at Indigo Montreal – An eerie experience that Mark had related to the book signing at the downtown Indigo. A creepy ghost boy image appeared in a mirror in more than one of the photos taken of the authors that night. (The Video this week is a collection of clips about ghostly occurences from Montreal)
Friday Oct 19, 2018: FICTION: Treats – Old man Percy sits in the dark in his house on Halloween ignoring the knocks from the neighborhood children as well as their taunting chants about the perverted recluse who keeps the body of his dead wife in the bedroom upstairs. (Facebook Live Video of reading)
Friday Oct 26, 2018: NON-FICTION: Halloween / All Hallows Eve – a look at the origin of and some trivia associated with this most awesome celebration. (Watch the video)
Friday Nov 2, 2018: FICTION: The Shadow Men – The bogeymen of the New Hampshire wilderness known as “The Shadow Men” lurk in the shadows of the trees and only come out at night in order to lure and trick children into their clutches. (Facebook Live Video) – (YouTube Video)
Friday Nov 16, 2018: FICTION: Three Short Poems. Mark reads “There Is A Low and Fearful Cry,” “Blood Dreams,” and “Wailin’ Jenny” – two dark and moody poems and one dark humor poem. (Facebook Live Video)
Friday Nov 23, 2018: NON-FICTION: “That’s How Houdini Died!” A look at the details that led to the common believe that Harry Houdini died due to a series of blows to the stomach. (YouTube Video)
Friday, Nov 30, 2018: FICTION: “Little Things” – Strange little creatures appear in the middle of the night, but Daniel is the only one who can see them. His wife, Joy, becomes distraught at the bizarre way her husband is acting, but, more horrifying is what the tiny little things are doing to her body. (Facebook Live Video of the reading)
Friday, Dec 7, 2018: NON-FICTION: “Old Town Pizza & Brewing” – The ghost of Nina, a murdered prostitute who allegedly haunts the back area of the restaurant and brewery near the old elevator shaft where she was shoved down when the building was a hotel.
[The format has been updated to a monthly rather than a weekly schedule]
Friday, Jan 18, 2019: FICTION: “I, Death” – The original short story that was eventually adapted into the novel of the same name. Peter O’Mallick has a death curse. Everyone he knows and loves seems to be dying because of this curse. How can he stop it? (FacebookLive Reading)
Friday, Feb 22, 2019: NON-FICTION: “A Woman Possessed” – Ponoko Hospital, Calgary. Based on a chapter from the book HAUNTED HOSPITALS. (Facebook Live Reading)
Friday, March 22, 2019: FICTION: “Ides of March” – Taxes are due soon. But what has my attention right now is a pair of odd strangers who show up to kidnap