The Horror Zine
Country at night
Brian G. Murray

The January First Selected Writer is Brian G. Murray

Please feel free to email Brian at:

Brian G Murray


by Brian G. Murray

The bus winds through the parish of St John, then onwards to St Mary on the island of Jersey.  Before I know it, forty minutes have passed, my mind screams at me, and I jerk up. As usual, I nearly miss my stop. 

Quickly, I reach forward and press the bell to stop the bus. The driver pulls over and stops the vehicle sharply, causing the wheels to judder. Luckily I remain seated else I would have been thrown forward. 

I get up, try to avoid eye contact with the annoyed driver, and wait for the door to open. It doesn’t. I turn and look across at the driver. I smile, but my grin quickly fades. 

The driver, wearing a frown, is an old man with wrinkly skin, resembling weathered leather and looks like a third generation inbred local – you know, he has that goofy look. His bald head is covered in sparse tufts of wiry white hair and large, flaky patches of dried skin that snows onto the shoulders of his company jacket. He has a large bulbous nose, mapped with blue veins, thick, stout dark hairs and pores filled with black gunk. The unmistakable musky smell of the elderly clings to him, mixing with the odour of stale sweat. He smiles and his dark eyes glint with mischief as he looks me up and down. 

“Did you know that these here parts were once ruled by pagans who worshipped the Night of the Walking Dead?” the driver begins with a sly grin, revealing yellowy brown stumps, formerly teeth. Luckily, I can not smell his awful breath. “The night’s festivities celebrated the end of the ‘lighter half’ of the year and the beginning of the ‘darker half.’ Back then, costumes were worn, but it was spirits and not children who would dress up.” 

“I would like to get off the bus please,” I request politely, trying to pay no heed to his babble. 

The driver ignores me and continues his ramble. “Them pagans would leave offerings or ‘treats’ for marauding spirits and build massive campfires. If they did not leave offerings, they believed the spirits would haunt them during the ‘dark half’ of the year, bringing misery, bad luck and even death. So you be careful, young man.” 

Might as well play the old codger’s game, I think with a sigh. “Why should I be careful?” I ask aloud. 

The driver holds my stare for a long moment, then begins to laugh as he presses a button that opens the door. “Tonight be the Eve of All Hallows as it was once called,” he wheezes. “See you again.” 

Confused, I alight and wait on the road for the bus to pull away. In my mind, I can still hear the old man’s cackling laughter as he drives off. I watch the lights on the bus slowly fade as it disappears down the road, then I turn and look at the rest of my journey home, which I will complete on foot. Only then does it strike me… 

I remember what the date is, and the old man’s words start to make sense. 

I’m not the superstitious type nor easily fooled, but I do believe there’s some truth behind many myths and the old driver’s ramble sparks a distant memory. Today is the Eve of All Hallows, as the old man had said, but during the creation of Christian holy days, it became the night before All Saints’ Day. Many people had remembered the original name, but over time it changed, gaining a more sinister version, one that invokes thoughts of witches, ghosts and ghouls. It is also a night that, for some reason, always seems darker, foggier, colder and scarier than most other nights. Tonight, parents will dress their little darlings up as ghosts, witches, goblins or even skeletons then let them go out ‘trick-or-treating.’

I am a thirty-something well-educated man, but you know what, just thinking of the word – Halloween – and my bladder momentarily threatens to weaken. Here alone on a country road after dark, it seems ominous indeed.

“Stupid,” I mutter to myself as I delve into my leather satchel and pull out my metal flashlight. A torch seems just what I need to make the night less threatening. St Mary is in the northwest of Jersey and has farm land crisscrossing with narrow, twisty roads. Well lanes is probably a more accurate description, most lacking street lights. 

See what a sensible adult I am, I even carry a torch. With a smug grin, I press the ‘on’ button and a cone of light streaks from the end. With that reassurance, I check the road, looking left and right, then cross over and head down a narrow lane. 

As I step onto the lane, a gust of wind blows into my face, peppering me with dried leaves and coarse grit. I’m forced to cringe and turn my head away. I continue on, each step an effort. After a long moment, the squall dies down and the air turns still, unnervingly so. Nothing moves. I pause, look down the lane and raise my torchlight. 

Suddenly, I involuntarily shiver as the icy finger of fear runs down my spine. I hear a whoosh mixed with a cackling rustle. I lift my torchlight higher and gasp. It looks like a rolling transparent wave is flowing towards me, causing most branches to sway and the few remaining leaves stuck to them to flap like small, rigid flags. 

The invisible force moves closer and the branches all point towards me, as though I’m a target. Closer and closer it gets until the gust of wind washes over me. The sudden blast of air forces me back a step and I have to lean into the wind. Then, once more, as quickly as it started, the wind dies. And just like that...utter stillness. 

I take a deep juddering breath. “Halloween,” I whisper softly. “You’re letting it get to you.”

I am afraid because there are no sounds. No animals are crawling or running, and no birds are squawking or chirping in the trees or flying. Nothing is moving. I look up at the sky. An oppressive blackness that blots out the hoary moonlight and twinkling stars seems to press down on me, forcing me to cower slightly. 

“Oh, get real, you child,” I hiss at myself, then with a smile start to sing a children’s rhyme. “Ghosties and ghoulies and four-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night...” 

Slowly shaking my head, I stride confidently down the lane with the light from my torch leading the way. For extra security, I wave the bright beam from left to right to avoid any sudden, unforeseen surprises. 

The lane I’m walking along is wide enough for only one car to pass, and has a gentle hump. The gradient is getting steeper on the far side, where it also eases to the left.  On each side are fields, some ploughed, others left fallow, while tall banks, topped with thorny shrubs and trees covered in parasitic, climbing ivy that glistens in the moonlight, hem in the narrow road. The trees’ canopy reaches up and hangs over like lovers holding hands with fingers interlaced, so even during the day the lane feels gloomy, permanently in shadow. On a night like this, they make it look like a horror movie.

In my local pub, I have heard many stories about these lanes, including two vicious unsolved ritualistic murders, sightings of ghosts and dismembered body parts being found but never identified. I push those dark thoughts from my mind and dismiss them as urban legends.

And then something starts tugging at my subconscious. Halfway down the lane at the crest of the hump, just before it starts to bend to the left, I slow my pace. My mind starts to race and a kaleidoscope of thoughts tumble over each other in a maddening, garbled muddle.

I remember a deeply buried fact. During the Eve of All Hallows, the pagans believed spirits roamed the lands, possess corpses and, with their rotting costumes, become the undead. Not only that, unlike the children who dress up today and consume masses amounts of candy, the pagan spirits gorged on flesh...fresh, salty human flesh. 

Oh, why did I have to remember that piece of information now! I take a shuddering deep breath. 

The air turns frighteningly still and a mist starts to fill my torchlight. As I walk, the mist billows as though someone is blowing cigarette smoke directly into the beam. The brightness begins to fade and the mist swallows its intensity and shortens the cone of light’s length. 

At that moment, the artificial light flickers. 

My eyes widen. “No. No. No!” I plead aloud. 

The electrical sputtering continues. My flashing beam reflects against the ever thickening fog, creating a claustrophobic cocoon of white that closes in with every blink. 

The periods of darkness grow longer and longer.  Then… 


The touch bulb dies. Blackness swamps me with a permanence that feels palpable like the devil is crushing me in his massive fist. 

At the same moment, another gust of wind blasts down the lane, funnelled by the interlocking trees. The invisible flow of air rustles the branches and leaves around me and lifts debris high into the air. Soon, dry, fallen leaves are snatched by the intensifying wind and slap me this way and that. My clothes are whipped back and flail behind me, seeming to urge, no demand that I flee.  I lean into the wind and bow my head. Above me the gust carves through the trees’ canopy, whistling tunelessly. Every fibre in my body wants to scarper, but I’m nearly home, and anyway, what is there to be afraid of...after all, this is Jersey. 

Just then, I hear something...a deep, guttural growl. 

Did I? I’m sure I heard something...didn’t I? I cannot be sure because my nerves are already pulled taut and the blustery wind hinders my hearing. The mournful whistling increases in volume, getting louder and louder, building to a deafening crescendo that hurts my ears. I pray for the wind to stop and... 

Miraculously, as though I commanded it, the squall stops. 

The suddenness of the wind dying surprises me. I stagger forward, barely stopping myself from falling over. Frowning, I look to my left then right. Nothing. I turn round and stare back towards the main road. Again, nothing, just a backdrop of pure thick, inky darkness. 


A noise erupts from my left and, in the blackness with my senses heightened, it sounds thunderous, causing me to jump. Was that a dry twig snapping or...something else, something just as brittle, a bone? 

I pray for my eyesight to pierce the dark and I shake my torch, silently begging it to work.  My prayers go unanswered. I swallow, but my mouth is dry and a large, gelatinous lump remains lodged in my arid throat. For a long moment, I stare into the blackness. Nothing. 

I slowly turn my head away from the sound and glare to my left. At the edge of the field stands an old disused granite barn that has been left to rot. It’s one of those creepy buildings with a sagging roof, missing many terracotta tiles, but still light does not penetrate inside.  Even on the sunniest day, the interior remains utterly black, its shadows appearing almost tangible, keeping dark secrets hidden from prying eyes. Tonight, with my mind playing tricks on me, the building seems so much closer, so much bigger and its secrets feel so much more menacing and ominous. Rape, torture, murder or mutilations; what heinous crimes have been committed in there? 

I turn back to face home and step forward. My black oxford shoe heel clicks loudly on the tarmac. I pause and listen. 

Nothing. I sigh with relief. 

I take another step but my polished shoe squelches into something thick and gooey. After a belief moment, the ripe stench of rotting horse dung pollutes my nostrils. I hop around like a demented rabbit, trying to get the manure off my shoe by wiping it on the road. 


Standing on one foot, I freeze. 

The bushes next to me start to shake. I think something is in the shrubs next to me. I can not be certain. There’s no wind blowing so that means...something is out there...

I quickly forget about the horse dung covering my shoe but nearly lose my footing as I step down and slide through the thick excrement. I silently curse then look to my left. Just darkness. My breathing shortens and my heart begins to pound in my chest. My imagination begins to take over. Are there shapes moving? 

Without warning, a throaty howl reverberates around me, tainting the night air, reaching a shrilling climax and then silence once more swamps me, like a heavy, sodden woollen cloak, weighing me down. 

I set off towards home, my gait quick. The lane begins to gently fall away from me, one shoe clicking on the tarmac, the other squelching. I’ve walked along this lane so many times in the past, but tonight it seems so alien, like it is somewhere completely different. I actually feel lost.

A drop in temperature sharpens the air and inhaling becomes painful. I tremble from the cold and the icy air pricks my skin. I can just imagine my breath misting around me, thickening in the still, frigid air. My heart is thumping inside my chest and my blood is roaring in my ears, sounding like a stormy sea crashing onto a shingle beach. My rising panic turns my breaths into gasping, high pitched squeals. 

I quicken my pace, now jogging. 

Suddenly, I slam into the right-hand bank, having forgotten to ease round to the left with the turning of the lane. My legs, arms and torso strike the sodden, moss covered muddy bank, and sharp thorn-covered branches slash at my face, neck and shoulders. Almost instantly blood oozes from many small lacerations. I quickly lurch back then yelp as barbed thorns tug and tear at my skin and clothes. 

Something clatters on the road next to me, causing me to jump. My senses quickly return and I can only groan when I hear my torch roll away, skittering along the tarmac. I cursed myself for dropping it. It may have been dead, but it could still have been useful as a weapon. 

Just then I hear footsteps pound along the lane. I can not tell if there is only one person, or more than one. I break into a run.

Blindly, I start to sprint down the lane but, in my haste, I forget how steep the slope becomes.  Soon, I am battling my own feet, trying not to lose my footing as the leather soles of my shoes skate and slither along the tarmac. Then my legs slide out from underneath me and I dive forward. 

I land heavily, my hands and face slamming against the cold tarmac. My momentum causes me to skid down the gradient and the coarse surface scrapes away my skin as grit grinds into fresh cuts and grazes. I tumble over and over before coming to an ungainly stop on my back, panting heavily. 

I can still hear the footsteps behind me, and now they are getting faster; closing in. 

I try to sit up, but my body protests at the sudden movement. I persist, daring my body to defy me. I manage to struggle to my feet but feel giddy and sway badly. I feel pain so badly that tears begin to well up and sting my eyes. 

Silence. Where did my pursuer go?

Then...I hear breathing. Wheezing breathes rhythmically inhaling then exhaling, slowly and steadily, in then out, in then out.   

I turn to run but something is wrong with my left leg; what did I do to it? It hurts so badly and I am unable to make it function. I reach down to touch my calf and I realize that not only are my trousers torn but I can feel a bone protruding, pressing against the fabric. I cannot run; I am trapped.

“Don’t move,” he tells me.

I recognise the voice. A breeze picks up and the clouds momentarily break. A streak of hoary light illuminates the lane. 

It’s the bus driver. And I can see a gun glistening in the silvery moonlight.

“I loved them pagans, and do you want to know why?” 

“I think my leg is broken,” I hiss between clenched teeth.

The old man ignores that and starts talking. “They knew. How does the saying go again? Ah yes, they knew which side their bread was buttered on. They honoured and worshipped my kind, giving us wonderful treats and paying homage by lighting great fires. Unlike you ‘civilised people’ dressing up and sending your little brats out trick-or-treating, disrespecting us. So now I turn the tables and disrespect you by dressing up like you humans.” 

The old man begins to laugh, a scratchy, cackling sound full of malevolence. After taking a wheezing deep breath, he continues, “I need to change my costume. I’ve had my current costume too long. This one is starting to smell and decay.” 

Large, icy-cold leathery hands point the gun at me.

“And, in order for me to get a new costume,” the old man adds, “I need a corpse.” 

I watch his finger slowly tighten on the trigger as the clouds smother the moonlight. 

Brian G Murray was born and educated in London, where he fell into the rat-race trap and became an accountant. Although this pays the bills, like all aspiring authors, his ultimate ambition is to escape the hum-drum of the routine. In the long term, he hopes to write full time and put his creative talents to better use. His genre of choice is fantasy, but he enjoys testing his writing prowess by delving farther into a darker side. 

His book Siege Warriors is a collection of 12 stories released and available through Kerlak Publishing. He has had other short stories published and a catalogue of manuscripts that he hopes will see the light of day in the not so distant future. 

He now lives in Jersey (in the English Channel), with his family and a large collection of comics. 

You can keep up to date with his writing endeavors at

Siege Warriors


























































































































Seige Warriors