JG Faherty is a multi-award-nominated author of dark fiction, science fiction, horror, and urban fantasy. Since 2010, he has had six novels, 8 novellas, and more than 50 short stories published. His paranormal thriller, THE CURE, was a finalist for the 2015 Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a Novel and his young adult paranormal romance THE GHOSTS OF CORONADO BAY was a finalist for the coveted Bram Stoker Award® for YA Horror in 2011. IN addition, his supernatural thriller THE BURNING TIME was a finalist for the ITW Thriller Award in 2013. Both THE BURNING TIME and THE GHOSTS OF CORONADO BAY earned ReadersChoice.com 5-Star awards.

JG's works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness. A fan of horror and science fiction since he was able to change the channel on the TV, one of his earliest memories is seeing Planet of the Apes and Night of the Living Dead as a double feature at the drive-in with his parents. Already addicted to Godzilla, Star Trek, and classic sci-fi movies such as Them!, his introduction to horror on the big screen made him an instant convert and science fiction took a second seat to the thrills offered by ghosts, vampires, monsters, werewolves, and zombies.

Throughout elementary, grade school, and high school he read everything dark and scary he could get his hands on, from Poe, Shelley, and Stoker to Wellman, King, Straub, Wilson, and Koontz. He made his first real attempt at writing horror while in college, but when that experiment failed miserably he went another 15 years before trying his hand at fiction again. In the interim, he worked a variety of jobs, including lab tech, R&D scientist, lab manager, photographer, zookeeper, teacher, marketing specialist, and resume writer.

by JG Faherty


Tyler Jones only turned his back to the convenience store windows for a moment, but that was long enough for him to miss his father walking in.

“Well, ain’t this just my lucky night. You’re making things easy for me, boy.”

Tyler reacted instantly to his father’s voice, dropping his soda and dashing for the door, but he was still too slow. Henry grabbed him by the jacket and spun him into a rack of potato chips and pretzels. Snack bags flew in all directions as Tyler fell to the floor, plastic and chips crackling and snapping beneath him.

“You made a fool outta me, sonny-boy. Now be a man and take what you got comin’, and we’ll go home and put this behind us,” Henry said, clenching his hands into meaty fists.

Tyler wasn’t surprised his father had come after him, although he hadn’t expected to be found so soon. Henry Jones wasn’t the kind of man to sit back and wait when he wanted something. Especially if that something was revenge for Tyler exposing him to the whole town as a wife beater and child abuser.

“I ain’t goin’ home,” Tyler said, kicking out with both feet.

Henry grabbed him by the ankles and pulled him forward. Tyler kicked and pulled until his feet slid from Henry’s grasp, leaving the older man holding two sneakers. Henry stumbled back, and Tyler used the opportunity to get up and run out the door.

Halfway across the parking lot, he heard his father yell, “Go ahead and run. I’m still gonna beat your ass when I find you.”

Tyler glanced back. Henry stood in the doorway, his craggy features twisted in anger. Willing his legs to move faster, Tyler sprinted across the road and into the line of trees bordering the street, his only thought to put as much distance between him and his father as he could.


The rough, pitted blacktop road meandered through the landscape like a hungry blacksnake, with scattered stars and a thin sliver of moon providing just enough light to see by.

Since escaping his father at the convenience store, Tyler had spent the past two hours cutting through yards and crossing neighborhoods. He'd followed Swamp Road for a ways, hiding behind trees whenever headlights appeared, and then taken Dark Hallow Road when he came to it, making his way slowly towards the only safe place he could think of: his Aunt Cindy’s house. She lived past the Fountainville town line however, a seven-mile trek that seemed more like a hundred miles in the lonely darkness.

The soft slap of Tyler’s sock-clad feet made him aware of the curiously silent night. Where before there'd been a concert of chirps, screeches, and rasps from nocturnal insects and birds, now the wildlife seemed to have paused, while his own labored breathing followed like the panting of a great wolf pacing him just out of sight. The wisps of fog swirling across the ground added to the eeriness, and the occasional snap of branches as something dashed for safety in the woods didn’t help, either.

A bright glow appeared up ahead, and Tyler descended into the gully bordering the road, even though it didn’t look like his father’s truck. Henry’s ’79 Chevy pickup had a distinctive look, with fog lights on the roof and across the front grill, but Tyler knew he couldn’t take the chance that Henry might’ve sent some of his beer buddies out looking, too.

The car went past without slowing down. Deciding he needed to take a rest, Tyler found a spot where he could sit down out of sight. Closing his eyes, he leaned back and took several deep breaths, trying to relax. The damp soil soaked through his pants, adding to the chill of the spring night, but it felt good against his sore leg muscles. His feet, which had gone numb a long time back, came back to life, screaming their agony at him. He didn’t have to look to know his socks were torn to shreds and his feet covered in cuts and blisters.

A quick glance at his watch showed there were still several hours of darkness left. He figured it would take all night to reach Aunt Cindy’s. That meant he couldn’t waste time sitting on his butt. He sighed and slowly got to his feet, wincing as they made contact with the rough gravel.

“Are you okay, son?”

Tyler jumped at the voice, his body reacting even as he realized it wasn’t his father. A short, thin man stood at the top of the embankment, looking down at him with a sad expression. He wore dark pants and a long, shapeless coat that seemed too warm for the night.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Tyler climbed back up to the road. “I’m Tyler. What’s your name?”

The man, who looked about fifty or so, stared at him and then shook his head. “It doesn’t matter anymore. Can I walk with you?”

“I guess. Where you goin’?” They started down the road, the man's dark clothes blending with the night so well that at times he almost seemed nothing more than a disembodied head floating down the highway. Despite the oddity of coming across someone on an empty road, Tyler's relief at having company outweighed his natural suspicion of strangers. Besides, he had the old man by a couple of inches and twenty pounds, should the guy turn out to be a weirdo.

“Nowhere in particular. Just walking,” the man said.

Ahead of them, the road rose up in a long, steep hill. Tyler’s legs protested at the added work, and a small moan escaped him.

“Are you sure you're all right?” the man asked again.

“I told you, I’m fine. Just tired, that’s all.”

“What did he do to you?”

Tyler glanced over at the stranger. The man's head was down, but his voice carried the bitter sorrow of shared experience.

Maybe he's some kind of counselor or shrink.

“Nothin’ he ain’t done a hundred times before. I came home from school and found him hittin’ my little sister. I tossed my basketball in his face and took off. Called the police from a payphone. Now I’m headin’ to my Aunt’s, gonna stay there a while ‘til things cool down.”

The dark-haired man didn’t say anything, just kept walking, his pale face still aimed at the ground.

“What's your deal?" Tyler asked. "You in trouble or something?”

The man nodded. “I did something wrong. Something bad. Since then I've been all alone."

Tyler opened his mouth to respond but had no words. The man's voice dripped with so much pain it made Tyler feel like crying. He tried to imagine what the man could have done that was so awful it cost him his family and friends. Did he cheat on his wife? Murder someone?

What if he's got a gun?

It came to Tyler that maybe walking with the man wasn't such a good idea after all. Keeping an eye on the man's hands, he moved towards the edge of the road as they reached the top of a long rise, putting several yards between him and the stranger. If the man noticed, he didn't say anything.

Tyler was trying to decide if he should duck into the woods when heard something behind them, a low growl like a wild beast, only he recognized the sound as something much worse.

The sound of an idling engine.

Tyler turned around, then threw his arms over his face as bright headlights burst to life a hundred feet down the hill.

Oh, hell.

He started running, all thoughts of the stranger forgotten. He had no idea how long Henry’d been following him, creeping closer, seeing how near he could get to his prey. A mechanical roar shattered the night as his father hit the gas, the 350-horse power engine propelling the truck forward.

Tyler veered to the left, thinking he could jump into the ditch, climb the other side, and head into the woods. However, somewhere along the way the gully had disappeared; now the edge of the road ended at sharp drop-off that went down at least twenty feet to the jumbled rocks of a dry stream bed.
Henry’s truck drew closer as the road flattened out and Tyler knew he had only seconds to make a decision.

If I can get over to the other lane, maybe I can make it into the woods on that side before he turns the truck around.

Putting all he had into a last burst of speed, he cut across the road. Everything stood out in clear detail as the truck’s headlights and roof lights turned the road bright as day.

With less than ten feet to go, and the sound of the Chevy louder than anything he’d ever heard, Tyler did something he hadn’t done in years.

He prayed.

Please God, let me make this. Please—

Something heavy hit him in the side and the world exploded around him. The ground fell away from his feet and then rose up again batter his chest and shoulder, dirt and gravel slicing him like a thousand tiny knives. He fought to regain his breath, dimly aware of the truck skidding to a stop nearby and then backing up, the twin high beams pinning him like spotlights.

Colored spots danced in his vision as he rose to his knees. The left side of his body felt numb and painful all at once, like the time he’d hit the water wrong after jumping from the high board.

Something moved towards him, a blurred image that resolved into his father’s blocky form.

“Boy, you better hope you didn’t dent my door.” Henry laughed once, low and mean, and then snorted through his broken nose, a wet, nasty sound that ended with him spitting a bloody gob of snot and mucous onto the road next to Tyler. "That'd be another beatin' on top of the ones I'm already gonna give ya."

Tyler's gaze rose up from his father’s heavy work boots, up and up. Henry seemed to have grown ten feet tall. In the harsh light of the headlamps, Henry’s face resembled a primitive, angry stone god come to life.

Henry prodded at Tyler’s leg with one foot. “Get yer ass moving, boy. ‘Less you want me to kick you like a dog.”

Tyler hauled himself up on shaky legs, prepared for the inevitable.

“Leave him alone,” a quiet, serious voice said.

The man in the black clothes emerged from the darkness. In the stark glow of the truck’s lights, his skin was the same pale white as a fish’s belly.

“And just who the hell might you be?” Henry asked. Next to him, the stranger looked more like a child than Tyler did.

“You won’t hurt him anymore,” the man said, his voice barely audible over the rumbling motor of Henry’s truck.

For a moment, Tyler thought the stranger had said I won’t hurt him anymore, but that didn’t make sense. Tyler rubbed his head, wondering if he’d hit it harder than he’d thought.

“Got yourself a friend, Tyler? Maybe I’ll just teach the both of you a lesson.” Henry took a might swing, grunting from the effort.

The stranger remained motionless while Henry's fist passed right though him.

“Jesus-H-Christ.” Henry stepped back, his eyes wide.

That’s when Tyler realized who the man was. Growing up, he’d heard the tales of the ghostly figure who roamed Dark Hallow Road, a teacher who'd abused his students a century ago and now haunted the area where the schoolhouse used to be, his spirit doomed to never move on until he atoned for his sins. Everyone knew someone who said they knew someone who’d seen the ghost walking the roads at night, and over the years more than one accident on Dark Hallow Road had been attributed to cars swerving to avoid the man with the haunted eyes.

The apparition took a step towards Henry, who backed up again in response.

“Ain’t no escape,” the man said. "Not for me, not for you."

“Get away.” Henry retreated two more steps.

The ghost continued walking forward, forcing Henry into the center of the road and back towards the Chevy.

He was halfway there when the delivery truck came over the rise, a big one loaded with beer and soda and already accelerating into the flat. The driver had time to blow his horn once and then the tortured screams of twisting steel, air brakes, and skidding tires filled the night with a prehistoric-sounding cacophony.

Tyler dove to the ground and covered his head with his arms as the truck plowed into the Chevy, sending tons of steel crashing into Henry. Glass and metal rained across the highway, stinging Tyler's exposed flesh like angry bees. Only when the noise of the crash disappeared, replaced by the tick of cooling metal and the hissing of escaping steam, did Tyler get to his feet and cautiously approach the smoking wreckage.

The two vehicles had ended up a hundred feet down the road. The driver of the delivery truck hung halfway out his windshield, unmoving. The Chevy was a crumpled mess, its twisted body wedged in the truck's grill as if being consumed. One of Henry’s denim-clad legs, still wearing its boot, lay by itself in the middle of the road; an arm peeked out from beneath the Chevy.

Something moved in the dim glow of the rig’s one remaining headlight. The ghost stepped forward, passing through groaning steel easy as wind through empty branches, the somber look still on his face.

“Thank you,” Tyler said, no longer afraid.

The man raised his hand, and then turned away. The winded picked up out of nowhere, peppering Tyler's face with dirt and flapping the ghost's coat as he walked towards the far side of the road. When he reached the gully, his body dissolved into a swirling gray mist that quickly turned into a ball of hazy blue light and floated away into the woods.

Tyler blinked sand and grit and tears from his eyes. When he looked again, he stood alone.

A feeling of release washed over him, and he wondered if maybe he wasn't the only person who'd been set free.

He sat down and waited for help to arrive.

For the first time in years, Tyler Jones was looking forward to going home.

(Originally appeared in Dreamscapes into Darkness, 2014)