A short story Collection

Claus Holm




a short story collection


Claus Holm


Foreword                                 5

The app                                  11

A weekend at the lake                                     19

They’ll Run Forever                                          33

A window to the past                    39

Trash                                    47

Because you told me to                  55

Is he the one?                            63

The big mistake                          69

The burglar                              77

Like-minded people                                         85

A heart to heart                                     97

Alone in a fortress                                          103

The voice of nature                     115

Do you believe in magic?               125

Just a face in the crowd                 139

My friend Jack                          149

An unexpected visitor                                   159

Comparing notes                       167

Having the talk                         173

Thank God it’s Friday                                   179

The fifth of November                  189

All part of the service                   203

Movie night                                                       211

Just in case avi                                                  225

Whether you like it or not              233

The cabin in the woods                 239

The Children’s Street                   257

Fun ‘n’ Games                           269

To share like brothers                   281



I never watched The twilight Zone as a child 

It seems to me that whenever you read an interview with, 

or a foreword by, a writer who writes in the borderland of 

the slightly supernatural or fantastic – that person will always 

come back to The Twilight Zone, and the old EC horror com-

ic books  This makes sense, since both contain short and dark 

stories, where the protagonist doesn’t always come out on top  

Being from Denmark, none of these things were available to 

me growing up  I did, however, have access to the people who 

were INSPIRED by them  What modern writer, who writes 

in the horror or fantasy genre, hasn’t at some point been in-

spired by people like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive 

Barker? I would guess very few  

When I was growing up, my chief scares came from classic 

“ghost stories” of the folktale variant – or from classic stories 

by Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr  Jekyll and Mr  Hyde), Bram 

Stoker (Dracula) and M R  James, whose “Ghost stories of 

an antiquarian” were never published (to my knowledge) in 

one volume in Danish, but spread over many different books 

of spooky stories  Finding each of those was like finding a 

diamond lying in the grass when you walk on your bare feet: 

Painful, but at the same time enriching 

Eventually I got older and, most likely to my parent’s great 

annoyance- began reading more advanced stories  You see – I 

suffer from nightmares  I always have  It’s an unusual week 

in which I don’t wake up at least 2 times from a dream, heart 

pounding, skin wet with sweat and feeling, for a few moments, 

that the covers are a horrible alien thing clinging to me  I 

spent many a night on the floor of my parent’s bedroom, sim-


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ply because I did not want to be alone in my room after such 

a nightmare  Often, the dreams were inspired by things I had 

seen, read or heard about – but it was never (like my brother’s 

fears) rooted in reality  It was never a burglar, a car crash or 

mom or dad leaving us that I was afraid of  It was the crea-

tures that lived in the basement, in the dark closets, under the 

car when you came home at night and in the darkest corners 

of your mind: the vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts and 

aliens  And at the same time that these creatures terrified me, 

they also intrigued me greatly 

I still remember going to the library when I was a boy (a 

large building where the actual library was on the upstairs 

floors, and the ground floor was used for meeting rooms and 

art shows) and sitting in the reading room, listening to horror 

stories on tape as audio dramas  The very worst one of these 

was “The werewolf ” – essentially a Danish reworking of the 

movie “An American Werewolf in London”  I would listen 

with my hands squeezed into fists while the narrator changed 

shape from a normal twelve year old boy to a werewolf, his 

voice gradually changing as his wolf snout and teeth appeared, 

growling and snarling  Later, when I  went home, I had to 

walk through the empty downstairs gallery to get to my bus 

and I knew – simply KNEW – that the werewolf I had heard 

on the tape, even though it was simply a story, would now be 

sitting in the dark corner of the empty gallery, waiting for me  

I would run through, with my heart in my throat, and after-

wards swear that I wouldn’t listen to the tapes again… which 

of course, I did 

What was it about this dark side of the world that attracted 

me? For this I have no answer, I just know that even though 

I was afraid of such things, they were the most exciting thing 

in the world to me 

As I grew older, I discovered modern horror  Dean Koontz’s 

“Phantoms” was probably the first real adult horror book I 

ever read, and I loved it, swallowing it in big greedy gulps  


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“Phantoms” is about a large, shapeless and evil creature that 

kills every man, woman and child in a small village in the 

first chapter, and the rest of the book concerns itself with the 

heroes coming in to stop it  The creature is gigantic, far more 

intelligent than the protagonists and can take any shape it 

wants  It was one of the most terrifying ideas I had ever been 

confronted with  Shortly after reading this book, I got a hold 

of Stephen King’s short story collection “Night Shift”, which 

contains (in my opinion) some of his most terrifying stories  

That was when I understood the difference between some-

thing that was simply scary – like a ghost story – and actual 

Horror fiction with a capital H, for the first time  The most 

interesting thing about Horror is that it most often involves 

ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circum-

stances  Not because of choice, quite often it’s exactly the op-

posite  Horror is essentially the story of the man who one day 

accidentally opens the door to the right instead of the door to 

the left, to enter a building he has been into a thousand times 

before…and suddenly discovers that the whole building is a 

stage set, and behind the wall there are dark things stirring, 

dark things who have been watching him for years 

This does not mean that all the stories in this collection are 

Horror stories, by far  But they all have ordinary people in ex-

traordinary circumstances, people who suddenly find out that 

the world is so much bigger and often more terrible than they 

thought  They all involve people who suddenly open their eyes 

just a little wider and awaken to a slightly different world  

Some of those awakenings are positive, and others are not  In 

my experience, that is how life usually is 

Many of the stories started their life as dreams or night-

mares that I remembered in the morning and put into words  

Others were written as a writing exercise with two friends, 

where we would give each other a sentence and write a sto-

ry from it  Then we would read and comment on each oth-

er’s stories, marveling over how different ideas could develop 


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from the same words  My sentences all came from the book 

“Blood Games” by Richard Laymon (which I have never ac-

tually read), simply because it was the first book I grabbed off 

the shelf when I had to find my first sentence  I won’t tell you 

which stories came from lines in this book, but I can tell you 

that a few of the sentences I used were “She found the others 

down by the lake”, “I have been receiving messages like this 

for the past two weeks” and “What if she woke up just a while 

ago”, which should give you some idea 

To return to The Twilight Zone, I was twenty-eight years old 

when I saw my first episode  It never (to my knowledge) aired 

on Danish television during my childhood  Today it would 

probably seem outdated  A show in black and white, with 

smartly written stories that actually encourage the viewer to 

think, cannot compete with the instant gratification provided 

by reality shows, where the contestants have sex in a hotel in 

Mexico  But when I first watched The Twilight Zone, I was as-

tounded  It felt like this show could have been an inspiration 

for me, because in so many ways, my stories are like them  

However, I can honestly say that I found my way of telling 

stories without it 

Short stories are a strange medium  They are too brief to 

give you much of a character to relate to, too short for the 

great epic love stories or extended “pursuit” stories, which 

have become so popular in the fiction category  Short stores 

are, however, a wonderful chance to tell a story where the 

reader is not hurt by a main character’s death after getting to 

know them for hundreds of pages (I sometimes wonder what 

would have happened if Dan Brown had simply let the bad 

guys kill Robert Langdon off in the last few pages of “The 

Da Vinci Code”)  Readers want the heroes whom they have 

rooted for over the course of a novel or a movie, to emerge 

triumphant and reap the spoils in the end  In a short story, 

the gloves are off, and you as a writer can do exactly what you 

want with the characters  The best part is that none of the 


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stories have to go together  Have three different ideas about 

how the world could end? Great – write them! Chances are, 

people won’t read them right after each other, and will still get 

3 good experiences  Another great thing about the short story 

is how they can be just like the ghost stories I read as a child – 

The story is a short and sweet pleasure, which hopefully makes 

you think about the things in the story that the writer doesn’t 

tell you 

The catch of writing short stories is the increasing difficulty 

of getting them published  In Denmark there is little, if any, 

chance of getting a single short story published in a magazine 

– and the number of people who have written a collection of 

short stories as their first book can be counted on one hand  

In English speaking countries, the statistics are slightly better, 

but currently the best place to reach readers is the internet  

There are hundreds of websites for aspiring writers, giving ev-

eryone a chance to post short stories, poetry or even novels  

I have put some of my writing on these sites in the past, but 

they have two distinct disadvantages: The author has much 

less of a claim on copyright (cyberspace is a very shaky place 

to claim you did something first!), but most importantly, the 

writer becomes simply a “poster” of stories  One is not a real, 

true, full-blooded AUTHOR  You only get that title from 

publishing a book you can hold, feel and smell  (Despite the 

fact that this book will undoubtedly be available as an Ebook, 

I still maintain that a printed book is the real thing!)  Creating 

such a book has been my dream for a long time 

I’ve been writing stories since I was sixteen years old  At first 

I wrote them by hand, and later on my grandfather’s ancient 

typewriter  He was my first critic, the first to encourage me to 

write if I wanted to, and the first to ever read a piece of fiction 

I put on paper  I doubt he understood my attraction to the 

Loch Ness monster, which played a big part in that first story 

– but he still read it and gave his honest opinion  I dedicate 


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this book to him, and I know he would have been proud to 

hold a copy in his hand 

I should end this foreword by thanking a few people who 

have been essential to its creation  Kristina Borgen and Jolene 

Jensen for being my writing club partners, my editors Me-

linda Bowman and Ellen Taylor for encouraging me to write 

all these years  Finally I’d like to thank my wife, Lara Waters 

Holm, for giving me her time, encouragement and love 

The dreams begin on the next page  I invite you to dive into 

the world I usually inhabit while I sleep, and see if some of 

the things waiting there might even be things you recognize 

Claus Holm

Taastrup 2013