The Phantom in the Pit – A New Short Story

While searching for the title of my first novel, I have taken to stretching my writing legs on a regular basis. With two screenplays finished and another in the early development stages, I decided to write a short story that I outlined way back when I was in high school.

A little background, I am a huge fan of The Twilight Zone.

Even at the age of fifteen, this black and white golden oldie with its clever social parables and morality tales wrapped up in the guise of fantasy always intrigued me, keeping me on edge waiting for every twist and turn it promised from the opening credits. Of course it inspired me to throw together several stories of my own. All told, I conceptualized about 78 of them for a proposed television series I dubbed The Darkest Corners.

Of course, being in high school and having not heard of three act structure, character arcs and other such niceties to be found in literature, most of them were clumsy, forgettable, or downright preachy.

One tale told of an abusive man who beats his girlfriend, but soon mysteriously begins to take on her injuries. Another told a group of friends who are promised millions if they spend one night in an abandoned house, only to find they are intended as food for a monster hiding in the woods. Looking over them now, they were not nearly as interesting as I had once thought.

Except one. One that was originally entitled Two, but has since been re-named The Phantom in the Pit.

This horror story is the bizarre little tale of Phillip, a man with multiple personality disorder, and Joshua, one of Phillip’s delusions. One night, Phillip goes on a crime spree, killing several people after a perceived rejection at work. Ironically it is Joshua, not Phillip, who has a conscience and desires for Phillip to stop. The bitter conflict escalates into a war where the winner will control Phillip’s body.

The Phantom in the Pit does have some cerebral elements that rekindled my interest. The story is told from Joshua’s point of view, where he is confined to a section of Phillip’s mind that he calls The Pit, a prison of sorts within which he can only communicate with Phillip, not control him. Joshua recalls for the reader his sad existence as Phillip’s delusion, telling how he watched his vessel slowly throw his life away and drag him down right along with him. Joshua even contemplates if he truly exists, or if he is just a product of Phillip’s own internal battle.

I have been working on this story off and on for the past few weeks. I have so far written 7000 words for the story, bringing it to about 20 pages, so I am a little over halfway done with it. Once this draft is completed, I will let it sit for a spell, then go over it a second time to polish it before posting it here.

Working on it has been quite fun, and oddly energizing. Writing is a lot of hard work, and sometimes it is easy to forget just how fun it is when you really get in that state where the words just leap from your mind to the page.

Expect to be reading The Phantom in the Pit very soon.


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