Twisted Tales For Troubled Grown-ups

Step into a twisted realm where the lines between reality and the bizarre blur, and prepare to be captivated by A Funhouse of Nightmares.

Five kafkaesque supernatural short stories.

In this macabre anthology, five tales transport you to surreal landscapes of the mind, where the strange, supernatural, and occult intertwine with a touch of humor and absurdity.

In “Static,” a troubled young man discovers that the static on his radio holds prescient advice, leading him on a dark and unpredictable path. “Toad” introduces us to a lovely young woman possessed by the spirit of an Inca priest, as she plots to destroy her unfaithful spouse in a spine-chilling quest for vengeance.

Witness the fall and redemption of Beelzebub in “The Book of Fallen Angels,” a haunting exploration of divine rebellion and the pursuit of redemption. Prepare for a poignant tale in “Tears For Topsy,” where a circus clown makes a fateful exchange, sacrificing his soul for happiness in a world consumed by darkness.

Finally, embark on a mind-altering journey with “Mould,” as a hallucinogenic truffle transports a young woman into a mesmerizing realm inhabited by anthropomorphized woodland creatures.

These stories weave together elements of the supernatural, occult, and the absurd, delivering a captivating experience that oscillates between unease and laughter. Described as modern Kafkaesque, A Funhouse of Nightmares promises to entertain, thrill, and leave you questioning the boundaries of reality. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the bizarre and delightful, where nothing is quite as it seems, nor should it be…

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Excerpt from A Funhouse of Nightmares © Copyright 2023 Robert L Appleton

Excerpt from the Book of Fallen Angels.

Beelzebub’s arduous journey back from hell to the heavens proceeded in spite of himself. As Lucifer’s right-hand man, he admitted to himself that being an underling in hell was no better than playing second or third fiddle in heaven. He shrugged himself out of his mope, looked up at the choking, swirling ash and smoke in the sky, and went about his weekly roundup; looking for stragglers. Mopping up the odd lost soul that had slipped out of a cauldron, or seeing to those who lacked the requisite number of weeping sores. Then there was the shepherding of the damned who may have dropped through the worlds outside of the usual channels.

On today’s trek across the abysmal eternity of the underworld, he was delighted to stumble upon a majestic, yet wretched angel, languishing on a scorched, salt-encrusted outcrop. Her wings were broken like those of a disfigured moth. Shards of her dull and broken halo punctured her fragile body. He couldn’t help it, and there was no mistaking it. Before he could stop it, a single ice crystal in Beelzebub’s cold heart melted. He scooped up the wounded angel and threw her onto an infernal bonfire before she could fully experience her proscribed suffering upon the salty plain.

However she was but one amongst many of the sinners he strode amongst, and as recompence he cursed like a hell-born sergeant major at the damned as he pushed their faces deeper into the stench of rotting flesh, forcing a weeping harmony with the screams of others. This was no game he played, but if it was, he was champion and would take second place to no one.

The landscape of eternal darkness flickered, lit only by the fires of burning sinners – a jabbering kindling thrown into the flames. Blind thieves and leprous tinkers jumped and trampled any tree or plant foolish enough to poke its head above ground, seeking a sun that had never penetrated the choaking sulphur of hell.

Then came more trouble: Beelzebub accidentally trod on an insignificant beetle, but the insect still lived and tried to drag itself away. Its suffering brought joy to the Fallen One’s heart – but in one of life’s incomprehensible blunders, and seemingly for no reason, Beelzebub stomped the beetle underfoot, ending its torment. The alien feeling that accosted him may have been shame, and it rode him like a burr on a hair shirt. He attacked a weeping woman on her knees, tearing the eyes from her head. They lay there, insolent, on the salty plain. Staring back at him, throwing jibes.

“That bug could have endured another hour or two of woe,” the eyes laughed. Then they squawked as Beelzebub stamped them out of existence. But something sank deep into him, like a poisonous needle-thorn. Had he just done it again? Had he shortened a creature’s suffering for a second… no, a third time? Had he just had an attack of… mercy? He retched.

Did the cruel rage in my heart abate an iota, just for a moment? Beelzebub’s head swiveled. He glanced around, doing his best to look nonchalant, concerned Lucifer would have seen something that looked like compassion. But the old guy was oblivious to Beelzebub; he was busy interviewing a new arrival, a wayward rabbi, born with a deformed foot.

“The children teased me, Lucifer, it really wasn’t my fault.”

“I see that when you were thirteen…” – Lucifer was peering down at a small book – “… on the day of your Jewish bar mitzvah, no less, you saw a dead body for the first time, did you not?” he looked up from the ledger, that was written in the blood of the sparrow that had watched from a sapling above the scene. The rabbi hung his head guiltily and then looked up, hoping for a sign of approval from his interrogator. “I see it was… wait… wait… a young woman! Lying in a pool of blood!” The Devil pushed up his spectacles onto his deeply-furrowed brow. Wearied by the small print, he rubbed his bloodshot eyes. “Anyway, let’s go on. It says here that the sight fascinated you and caused a stirring in your loins. Well, you were thirteen and had become a man…! Why not, for hell’s sake!? Tell me what happened next.” He licked his pencil lead and turned to a fresh page to continue his notes.

“I… I removed my shoe and dragged my crippled foot through her blood, Mister Lucifer.”


“I did it because I overheard my drunk father telling my sister that the blood of virgin females fixed any ailment, and so I dipped my foot in it to mend my crippledness. I knew he’d lied when he raped her, later, because if it were true he’d have kept her pure and sold her blood instead. So I joined a religious order to escape my family and my own thoughts and sadness.

“And then a pretty young girl demeaned and mocked me during Saturday worship. So I trapped her in the temple basement. I cut off her toes and made her limp, and then crawl on all fours, and bark like a dog while I excavated the temple basement wall.”

“It really must have been backbreaking toil, I do sympathize,” said Lucifer.

Encouraged, the rabbi continued, “I still clearly remember arching my back to relieve my aching spine when it was all said and done.”

“Doing evil does take its toll,” commiserated his inquisitor.

“I felt a peace come over me as her yaps died away when I fitted in the last stone. And later, it felt so right consoling the grieving family after we sent out search parties to look for her in vain.”

Lucifer wrote in his diary:

Note to self –

Blinded rabbi – bad foot:

His sins are no big deal, but these so-called men of God always come in handy. So let’s save this one for a rainy day.

He put the notebook in his pocket, disappeared the pencil and nodded to his aid who, with purposely clumsy thrusts, skewered the rabbi’s eyes out with a burning, red-hot stick.

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