Rob Herzog is a Chicago screenwriter who has sold twelve short scripts and won prize money in three small screenwriting competitions. His short screenplay “Creak and Shriek” was produced in 2019 by Mad Dreamer Entertainment. The other scripts he sold are in various stages of production.

Rob received his master’s degree in English Composition from Northeastern Illinois University and was an English major at Monmouth College in Illinois. His interest in horror stories began during his childhood when he freaked out about spontaneous human combustion, killer bees, and the prospect of a bathtub shark attack.

Rob lives in Chicago with his wife, Suzanne, and his daughter, Amy.


by Rob Herzog


On the morning of her wedding, Bailey Marks did not become Bailey Nash as planned. She became someone else entirely.

She didn’t show up for the ceremony, and she didn’t answer the desperate cell phone calls and texts from her maid of honor, her bridesmaids, her mother, and several guests who awaited her at the church. They all had the same question: “Bailey, where are you?”

After much debate, it was Aiden, her fiancé, who raced over to Bailey’s condo. It was bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the ceremony, but he considered that it was even worse for him to not to respond to a potential wedding day crisis, so off he went. He feared the worst, and his concern was on target: Bailey was a sobbing mess and had locked herself in the bathroom. Her tears were oddly accompanied by muffled 1980s pop music: synthesizers, chimes; all anthems of the past. Aiden wasn’t into the older music, so he couldn’t tell Adam Ant from Madness. He didn’t know Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue” or “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats.

When Aiden knocked on the bathroom door, his sweaty knuckles left a small stain. His mouth was tumbleweed dry. “Bailey? Are you okay?” He turned the doorknob, but couldn’t get in.

“Don’t come in here!”

“Please come out and talk to me.”

“I can’t.” 

“What’s wrong? You haven’t returned anyone’s calls. The ceremony’s supposed to be underway.”

“We can’t get married today,” she sobbed. “I’m sorry.”

“Why not?” Aiden rubbed his hot neck, dying for drink.

“We just can’t.”

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

Never in a million years did Aiden think that Bailey would get cold feet. To his knowledge there was no significant ex-boyfriend who might lure her away. Bailey’s planning for the wedding had been meticulous and joyful, at least from his perspective. And her background in corporate accounting didn’t lend itself to last-minute freak outs.

“Something’s happened to me,” Bailey whispered from her side of the door.

“Are you hurt? Let me see you.”

“Promise me that you won’t laugh.”

“I would never laugh at you.”

Her sobs continued for a moment before she finally agreed to show herself. After a great deal of shuffling and deep breaths, Bailey stepped out of the bathroom.

It took Aiden several moments to comprehend what he was seeing. Bailey hardly resembled the woman to whom he had proposed.

This version of Bailey was straight out of a Duran Duran or Whitesnake video from the 80s. Her hair was permed, teased, and poofed. A headband swept across her brow. The dress she wore went out of fashion forty years ago. More likely it was never stylish at all. Polka dots. Stripes. Neon. Ruffles. Leggings. Every cliché of that decade was represented in one place. It was like someone had cut out photos from a fashion magazine from that decade and reassembled them at random. 

To top it off, an old Sony Walkman was clipped to Bailey’s dress. Over her ears hung standard Walkman headphones, orange foam padding included. Old school 80s music boomed obnoxiously from each ear piece. Aiden couldn’t quite name the tune, but there were echoes of familiarity. He cycled through emotions: shock, amusement, confusion.

Aiden’s dismay was apparent when he said, “Why are you dressed like this? Where’s your wedding dress?”

“I woke up like this.” Bailey’s eyes were bloodshot from tears.

“Bailey, this is a pretty sick joke—in really bad taste. Why would you do this to me on our wedding day?”

Her expression: wild, scared, unfamiliar.

Aiden struggled for the right tone. “If you’re nervous, I get it. I’m nervous too. It’s natural to want to flip out. But to do this…”

He felt something new: apprehension. This was a side of Bailey that he had never seen. Who was she really? Was this some hint to their future?

“Look,” he said. “Everyone’s at the church waiting for us. If you don’t want to marry me, I need to know. Now.”

“You’re not listening!” she wailed. “I woke up in these freak-show clothes.” She tugged at her mountainous hair. “I can’t comb it out. My hair isn’t mine anymore. Somebody did this to me!”   

“You’re not making sense. Take off that awful outfit.”

“I tried!” To prove it, she clutched a dress strap and yanked, wincing from pain. “It’s fucking glued on. Attached to me.”

The music throbbed from her headphones. Aiden felt the urge to vomit. It occurred to him that something might be seriously wrong with Bailey. “Maybe you should talk to your mom about this. She’s called you a million times this morning.”

Bailey shook her head. “I can’t use my cell phone.”

“Why not?”

Bailey’s cell phone tottered on the edge of the sink. She snatched it, but dropped it to the ground with a painful cry, her fingers blistering from contact.

“It burns when I touch it.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I’m guessing that cell phones weren’t around in the 80s, so I don’t think I can use them.”

Aiden lost his patience. “Bailey, enough of this! Get those clothes off.”

“I can’t.”

Aiden’s jaw knotted. “Did you superglue your clothes on?”

She shook her head violently. “Of course not.”

“Fine. Then let’s go to church in what you’re wearing.”

“Are you insane?”

He groaned and tried to regroup. “I don’t care what shitty dress you’re wearing. I don’t give a damn about your hair. I just want to get married. Isn’t that what you want?”

“I can’t go to church like this.”

“What if I throw on a costume to go with yours? I’ll wear a suit from back in the day. Something neon. Or I’ll find a white tux. Isn’t that what they wore back then?”

“Don’t you want to marry me?” Aiden said. “Are you playing some kind of game? If you are, then I find it astoundingly cruel.”

She avoided the question. “Maybe this is voodoo. Someone cursed me. They’re jealous. Or maybe it’s a time warp. It sounds impossible, but maybe not.”

“Come on, Bailey. Tell me what you are really thinking. I deserve the truth. Let’s go sit down.”

They moved to the living room couch and she told him, “I admit I’ve felt anxious. Maybe I brought this upon myself. Either way, I sure can’t let my mom see me like this.”

The music was thumping. Aiden had enough of it. “Turn that shit off please.”

“I can’t.”

Aiden clenched his jaw. Without warning he lunged at Bailey and angrily yanked at her headphones.

A rip. A scream. Off came the headphones. And off came a chunk of Bailey’s skin and ear cartilage. The torn skin clung to the foam end of the headphone while the nonstop anthemic music blared, louder than ever before. The peeled flap of skin quivered to the beat.

Bailey convulsed in shock and Aiden flung the headphones back at her in revulsion. In a panic, he clutched dumbly at Bailey’s dress. It was the first thing that popped into his brain. He grabbed and didn’t let go. And the tugging inadvertently pulled back the dress, ripping off another layer of Bailey’s skin, making her howl. He saw her eyes roll back in her head.

He gagged and jumped up off the couch in panic. “Oh my god!” he shouted, covering his mouth. “I’m sorry!”

He couldn’t breathe. His mouth felt full of grit and his breakfast was coming up fast. He vomited on the living room rug and didn’t care. He barely finished emptying his stomach before he raced for the front door and threw it open. He ran from Bailey and from any idea of marriage.


Bailey struggled to hold on as she made her way into the bathroom. The toilet, sink, and shower shifted into a spin-cycle around her, and strange splotches throbbed in her vision. She blacked out, regained her bearings, and fell unconscious again.

While she was out, the torn part of her dress attached back onto her skin, and her headphones somehow reattached to her ears. The songs booming from her headphones fused illogically: Kenny Loggins turned into Cyndi Lauper which continued into Billy Idol and Pat Benatar and David Lee Roth and Night Ranger and Foreigner. It seemed like this would never stop, but suddenly it did. No more songs blared from the headphones.

Something else was on the way. The ancient mechanisms of the Walkman creaked to life. The reels on the cassette player began to spin on their own and tape slithered for the first time in forty years. The beginning of the tape was blank: a soft whirr of nothingness. Then came a woman’s timorous voice, her vocal cords shredded and seemingly coated with black mold.

“You need to get out of here,” the voice commanded via the Walkman. 

Bailey nodded. “Yes.” She wobbled to her feet. That was reasonable advice.

“Follow me,” the voice on the tape told her.

Bailey felt something guide her to the bedroom. Her wedding dress was set out on the bedspread in anticipation of the ceremony: white, crisp, and elegant. It would have felt so good to put it on—so comforting against her skin. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life.

“Turn out the lights,” the voice instructed. Bailey did as she was told. The thick curtains held back most of the light. She had never realized how dark this room could get.

“Open the closet door.”

The floorboards creaked under Bailey’s weight as she approached the door. She reached for the doorknob but hesitated. What awaited her inside? She didn’t want to see. Maybe it wasn’t too late to find Aiden and get married after all. Would he come back to the condo to check on her, or was he gone for good?

Bailey didn’t have to open the door. She didn’t have to obey this voice. She could run off now and live a new life. Jacksonville, Florida, for God’s sakes, was just a six-hour drive.  

“Open the door!”

She followed the order. The hinges cried out, but nothing sinister or deadly awaited Bailey in the closet. She saw only hanging dresses, shoes, boxes, and benign darkness. The voice ordered her to step inside, and she did so, tingling with dread. Her closet felt like a coffin.

“Farther,” the voice snarled, and Bailey took small steps to the back wall of the closet. The door didn’t slam, but Bailey knew that it had become sealed off. If she went back, she wouldn’t be able to get through. She groaned, but the voice flowing from the headphones reassured her: “Keep going.”

Bailey reached out for the back wall and was surprised that it wasn’t there. The end of her closet had become a corridor, black as a mineshaft.

She inched along for several minutes, her absurd dress rustling the whole way. She wanted to rip the fucking thing off. If only she had her cell phone to light the way. She missed it dearly. She needed to text someone, to grasp modern technology. Maybe the internet could explain what was happening. She needed answers and illumination, but none of that appeared possible.

The corridor didn’t seem like it would ever end, but eventually it did. Bailey found herself in a panelled party room decorated with a banner: “Happy New Year, 1986.” Overly cheerful music from that year boomed from some speakers, and a dozen partygoers danced like castoffs from a Sixteen Candles outtake. Their clothing was pure 1986, which made Bailey’s heart drop. She had hoped that following the voice would solve her problems, not drive her deeper into the time portal rut.

It took a moment for the partygoers to notice Bailey, but soon all heads were turned her way. They sneered like hyenas, stretching their lips back, secreting thick drool. A few snorted and spit.

On the surface they looked like Breakfast Club wannabes and Solid Gold Dancers, but underneath was pure savagery. Bailey might have blended with them based on her outfit, but she had wandered into the wrong party.

She tried to turn back, but it was too late. A partygoer with feathered blond hair flung her onto the dance floor. Her companion, a dude with a mullet, spun her around. In a flash, Bailey was surrounded. The partiers resumed their dancing, whirling past her, gashing her with their chewed-up fingernails whenever they got close.

She tried to run but got shoved back. The partiers pushed their faces close—ravenous spittle quivered on their cheeks and chins. They stunk like raw meat left in the August sun. She screamed, but the music drowned her out. A hand reached out, grasped her crunchy, permed hair, and pulled her through the circle of fanatics.

Bailey twisted out of the partygoer’s grasp and stumbled backwards. She twirled and caught herself so he didn’t fall. That gave her the momentum she needed to run.

Bailey was never very athletic, but she pumped her arms and kicked her legs and kept just ahead of the wild horde that pursued her. It seemed that something was pulling her along, helping her to stay just ahead of the nasty pseudo-Molly Ringwalds and Judd Nelsons. She could hear their Reeboks and Doc Martens clomping behind her. If they caught her, they would certainly stomp down upon her with full force. Bailey could imagine the blood squirting through her teeth.

She raced down one paneled hallway and then another, looking for an exit but finding none. She flung herself into an open bathroom, slamming the door behind her. The partiers pounded on the door for just a moment before giving up. Their sudden silence made it clear that Bailey had taken the ultimate wrong turn.

The bathroom was hideously out of date, with an olive-colored toilet, a flimsy vanity, and a plastic shower curtain blackened with mold. Something moved behind it—a small, dangerous shuffling. Bailey’s instinct was to run out, but that would put her right back with the dancing fiends.

She waited. A drip escaped from the faucet. The shower curtain swayed. Two gray fingers extended from behind it. The voice rasped in her headphones: “You’ve finally made it.”

Bailey didn’t wait for the dramatic reveal. She was through playing games. She swiped the shower curtain to the side, the rusty hooks screeching against the rod. Time to see what this was all about.

To say Bailey came face-to-face with her tormentor would be inaccurate because there was no face to confront. The demon behind the curtain, Fiona Elbow, had red mist where her head should have been. It was like someone sprayed an aerosol can and the droplets remained suspended in the air.

A few strands of wet, hanging flesh served as Fiona’s hair. Her arms and legs were intact, but they were burned red, black, and gray. Wrapped around her appendages were some bandages wet with ooze. The demon-woman was dressed in the same outlandish 80s outfit as Bailey, down to the last stripe and polka dot. Although the dress was out of date, there was something even more ancient about Fiona—an entity from the darkest recesses of time.

Fiona didn’t pounce. She set her ashen index finger upon Bailey’s cheek and gave a gentle downward stroke. Instantly, the red mist of Fiona’s face pooled together like sludge and interweaved into the shape of a face. Bones, veins, and skin formed. Hair sprouted.

Fiona’s burned flesh flaked off and was replaced with dewy new skin. The wild dress she wore fell to pieces and in its place sprouted a wedding gown—the exact one that Bailey was going to be married in. In an instant, Bailey was staring at herself—the bride to be. Modern hairstyle. Radiant skin. Elegant dress. Bailey’s mind reeled. Fiona was going to take her place.

Fiona’s jaw wavered as she got the hang of her new form. After a few sputters, her voice sounded exactly like Bailey’s. “Time to get married,” she said cheerily.

Bailey lunged at her, but Fiona swiped her feet from under her, and Bailey crashed to the cracked linoleum floor. Fiona placed her foot on Bailey’s neck.

“You have to stay here,” she told Bailey, “for as long as I say there.”

The old fire and brimstone paintings of hell flashed into Bailey’s mind, but she realized now that it didn’t have to be like that. Hell could be like this: Flashdance, “99-Luftbaloons,” Pretty in Pink, Bananarama, Walkman tape players. Ivan Drago, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Possibly this wasn’t hell, but a holding place. This is where she would stay while demonic Fiona took possession of her body.

“Aiden won’t marry you!” Bailey called out as she lay on the bathroom floor. “He changed his mind about getting married at all.”

“I’ll change his mind back.” Fiona ran her hands over the dress, feeling her new form, weighing her words. “Every woman deserves a wedding. All I needed was a host, and I landed on you.”

Bailey screamed for help, but nobody could rescue her in this place. Fiona pressed her foot down upon Bailey’s arm. “I’ll say hello to your mother for you.” She laughed cheerfully.

A tear streaked down Bailey’s face, and she whimpered for her mother to come find her. But she knew there was no chance for that. She was in too deep. She felt like a submerged vessel, fathoms deep, never again to see daylight.   

Fiona grinned with Bailey’s flawless teeth. “Let me at least give you a wedding day present.”

The demon woman reached into her ear. Out came a blue caterpillar with oversized yellow eyeballs. Fiona dropped it onto the floor, and Bailey cried out as it writhed—ogling, unnatural; unable to blink. The creature lumbered to where Bailey lay. She tried to scoot backwards, but the caterpillar suddenly lunged for her. It landed on her face, and she felt multiple tiny feet scrabble across her cheek.

She was horrified when the creature reached the headphone over Bailey’s left ear. She screamed when she could feel it start to snuggle beneath the padded earpiece. The sensation was that of something pulsating as the caterpillar pushed its way into her ear canal.

Panicked, Bailey managed to get to her feet just in time to see Fiona swing the bathroom door open and strut, full of wedding day glory. Bailey stumbled after her, but the zealous dancers were upon her, dragging her to the dance floor, setting her underneath the “Happy New Year:1986” banner. They nipped at her and forced her to dance clumsily.

Bailey searched for Fiona, but she was already gone to the modern world. What would Bailey do now? No answers came…only the sound of synthesizers and chimes—strange, outdated, and never ending.