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A Horror Story ~ a Dramatic Poem

John loves to read, especially crime, fantasy, psychological thrillers, and sci-fi novels. He also writes poetry and short fiction.

A Special Request

Now and then I write a special edition of my Poems From the Porch if I feel the topic deserves to stand alone or if one poem has turned out to be longer than the norm. This one isn't short and I think the message is important but probably the main reason for this poem to stand alone is that I just don't have time at the moment to do justice to more than one.

My friends' requests and suggestions are important to me, and I don't want to just churn out sub-standard poems for the sake of it. At he moment, during this virus pandemic when people have been ordered to stay at home, businesses closed, and jobs lost, demand for freelance writing is busier than ever. So, to get a Poems From the Porch published this week I had to restrict it to just one poem, "A Horror Story."

Apart from that everything's the same. This poem is for Chris Mills and was written as I sat relaxing on my porch at home, enjoying the fine and pleasant days as the weather starts to cool just slightly. I'd like to thank everyone for sending me suggestions for new poems too. I now have enough to keep the series going strong for at least another four weeks.

Gothic Horror: Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Gothic Horror: Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Chris Mills' (cam8510) Request/Challenge

"Okay, John, you asked for it. These poems are so good, you need more of a challenge. By the way, I loved The Special Assignment and the Four Seasons.

Now for your challenge. A ghost story in a poem. It must include an old house or a mansion, or a dilapidated building. There is an upstairs window with backlight. Someone enters the building. They are not alone. That's it. You take it from there.

Oh, my. What did I just do?

It looks like your schedule of poem writing may give you a couple of weeks for mine. Relax, no pressure, but I'll be waiting, and watching."

Thank you for the challenge Chris. It took me awhile to figure out how I would approach this, and it may not be exactly what you had in mind but I think I met most of your guidelines. I hope you approve.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

A Horror Story

The house was old and crumbling,

The rafters cracked and bowed.

The furniture would be antique

If it ever got to show.

Some said the house was haunted,

And you know how rumours spread.

The eerie house upon the hill

Filled with the ghosts of dead.

Scroll to Continue

The old man hunkered on the floor,

Trapped in an upstairs room.

Not anybody’s prisoner,

But it pained him just to move.

The house was big but mostly dark.

The only light shone from this room

And through an upper window

To light the outside gloom.

Ghosts: Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Ghosts: Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

A figure passing on the road

On this dark and stormy night

Stared up at the rundown house

And saw the window’s light.

He crept up to the carved wood door,

Rapped upon it with the knocker.

No answer was there from within..

.. what follows is a shocker!

The brass knob turned, it wasn’t locked,

The door, creaking, opened wide.

He whispered, “Anybody home?”

Then slowly stepped inside.

He shrugged his sodden jacket off

Then walked around the room,

As his eyes adjusted to the dark

And the atmosphere of doom.

Creepy Staircase

Creepy Staircase

The old man heard the creaking door,

He cried out, “Who goes there?”

But the only answer that he got -

Heavy footsteps on the stairs.

The bedroom door swung open,

The old man’s eyes grew wide.

In a wheezing voice, he croaked,

“What are you doing here?”

Then there was a wracking cough

And a fever-induced moan.

“It’s me, Papa,” soothed the younger man,

“You don’t have to die alone!”

Coronavirus: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Coronavirus: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

The Horror of Our Times

Sometimes, real-life events can overshadow any attempt at fictional horror. That takes a lot because the mind is capable of conjuring up some pretty scary and freaky stuff. However, there has seldom been a time that so many countries and people have been as concerned and fearful of a situation as that we currently find ourselves in.

There have been some serious viruses and diseases that have attacked the world before e.g. The Spanish Flu, The Black Plague, Ebola, SARS etc. but, in my lifetime at least, there has been nothing to rival this current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Countries closing their border, grounding flights and cruise ships, closing businesses, restricting gatherings to two people, and confining people to their homes just boggles the mind.

I just hope this real-life horror story has an ending where the "monster, demon, evil" is defeated.

© 2020 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 25, 2021:

Thank you for reading this Brenda. I am pleased the ending was a surprise. This virus is the worst horror story I have experienced and I honestly don’t know what the future holds. We have to stay optimistic though. Have a good week.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 25, 2021:


You had me with this one.

I was all geared up expecting something horrible to happen.

Finding out it was his son was a welcome relief.

This virus is a horror story & I hope it can be defeated.

Just when we thought we'd turned the has come back again.

The doctors offices, the hospitals are all are hurting with not enough people to work.

Some restaurants have went back to drive thru's only, but yet I hold out a glimmer of hope.

I don't want to go back to the way it was or worse.

Great write.

Misbah Sheikh from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on October 25, 2021:

John, I love your Poems from the Porch series and am sad to hear that HubPages believes it is not suitable for LetterPile. You always put a huge amount of effort to write these poems. :) God bless you!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 25, 2021:

Hello Misbah, thank you for the very encouraging comment. I agree with you that this poem should have been suitable for LetterPile or Discover, and in fact I submitted it to LetterPile previously but they said it wasn’t suitable as it was part of Poems From the Porch which involved readers’ requests. Funny thing is that most other editions of Poems From the Porch are now on Discover.

One good thing about it still being in HubPages is that you were able to comment. Glad you found it creepy and liked the ending. I am well, and hope you are also. Blessings.

Misbah Sheikh from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on October 25, 2021:

John, This horror poem kept me on the edge of my seat till the very end. A creepy story with a good ending! I liked how you progressively built up the story. All the way around, this is a superb poem!

Don't you think it should go back on discover or LetterPile. ;)

I hope you are doing well. Have a great day, my friend.

Blessings always!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 02, 2020:

Thank you for reading this Peg. Fact is scarier than fiction at the present time. Take care.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2020:

Your poem blends a fictional tale with the horrors of reality during this pandemic. There will sadly be many more deaths. At least in this story, the older man will not die alone.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 26, 2020:

Anupam, although we need to uplift and try to take people‘s minds off this difficult situation with our poetry, at times we need to also express the reality that’s occurring as well. Thank you for your generous comment.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on June 26, 2020:

Excellent expression of the pandemic in your fictional poem which is actually the shadow of reality. Amazing poet you are!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 11, 2020:

Jo, I am sorry you came here for a break from the news and came across this. But I do think you for reading and your kind comment. stay safe.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 11, 2020:

I've not been very active here in a while, John, but just took a break from the horror of tv news and came here to escape for a bit. But it all hit me again. You have touched on the horror of the pandemic that haunts so many of us.

Great job.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on April 08, 2020:

Thank you John. I just reread the poem. Now tears are streaming. You've really done an outstanding job here. Maybe part of it is the moment we are in. I wear a face mask everywhere but in the house. I work in a hospital where covid-19 patients are being treated. We practice social distancing constantly. Wash hands, hope for the best. This is not NYC or any of the main centers of the disease, but Chicago is just south about an hour. If I caught this virus, I would not do well. Thank you again, John. You have entertained us with a gripping poem once again. I think this is a special point in your poem writing. It is different. It is powerful. Well done.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 08, 2020:

Chris, I knew how busy you must have been at the height of this crisis in your country. So I understand there are more pressing issues for you than reading here at the moment. That said, thank you for finding the time and I am more than happy with your response to this poem. It started out as your average stock standard “alone in old house and evil intruder” story, but my focus changed as I wrote.

Presently there are 6000 cases of the virus in Australia and fortunately only 50 deaths. The growth curve seems to have flattened but that will only continue if people obey the social distancing and travel restrictions etc.

I hope things start to improve there before they get any worse. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on April 08, 2020:

John, First I want to apologize for taking so long to read this story. I requested it before our current crisis became such an ordeal. Yes, I have been distracted from HubPages. In fact, I forgot I requested this story. I am sincerely sorry for that. But We are nearing the apex here in America. New York may soon be moving slowly toward the final stages. For now though, they are in the heat of the battle. Others are only now approaching the toughest days. At this point, 14,668 Americans have died. Nearly half a million people have tested positive. I fear for the people of Spain, Italy, and France.

How you were able to craft this poem in the midst of this catastrophe is beyond me. I asked for a horror story poem. You delivered marvelously. I am sincere, John. This is a fantastic poem. I love it. And you end it with this present horror. That took courage to even go that direction. But it was effective and you harnassed the terror we all feel. Thank you. This is a memorable poem. Again, I am sorry it took me so long to read it. Blessings on you and your family.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 08, 2020:

Cheers Benda. I am pleased that you think I nailed it, and I hope Chris does too. I may have to give him a bit of a prod if he doesn't come to check it out soon.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 07, 2020:


I think you nailed it.

This is really good. It has me at every detail.

So Chris Mills...what do you think?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 07, 2020:

Thank you Nell. I appreciate your comment. That was the effect I was hoping to achieve. Cheers.

Nell Rose from England on April 07, 2020:

Such a creepy atmospheric poem, with a burst of reality at the end, which makes it all the more horrifying! Great stuff!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 07, 2020:

Mitara, thank you for reading this poem and for your touching and kind comment. The emotions that you felt are exactly what I wanted readers to feel. I am glad you found it inspirational.

Mitara N from South Africa on April 07, 2020:

The picture itself is so brilliant, it is scary times, filled with suspense but such a detailed and generous message being sent out to the world.

It may be cruel, but there will always be someone to love, support and get you through trying times.

The ending had me tear, so beautiful inspirational and well written.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 07, 2020:

Thank you for that generous and heart felt comment, Umesh. I greatly appreciate it.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 07, 2020:

John, it is so lucid and flowing like a small rivulet on a flat surface. Beautiful. Horror is there but beneath the rivulet. Liked much.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 06, 2020:

Yes, MsDora, it is a sad reality of the present time that people are having to die alone. I felt compelled to address that in this poem.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 06, 2020:

Happy that the man is really not alone. Especially hearing of the many who are suffering that plight, it makes me sigh with relief that at least one person may have a hand to hold.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 06, 2020:

Thank you Tiyasha, I appreciate your comment. Yes we are well thank you.

Tiyasha Maitra from Gurgaon on April 06, 2020:

Very nicely arranged with a suspenseful beginning and tapered down to a touchy end. I enjoyed reading it very much. Hope you are doing ok. Take care.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 06, 2020:

Great to see you here Bill. I am sure the current situation (and my poem) sparked memories of what it was like during the air raids of World War II. Thanks for reading and your encouraging comment. Stay safe.

Bill Russo on April 06, 2020:

A ray of hope at the end of an eerie walk! A well blended, topical, and reassuring take on a frightening time, that brings me back to memories of my childhood, huddled in the blackout room with my Mom and my brother during the air raid drills of World War Two. We got through that and as the Queen so beautifully said, "We'll Meet Again".

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 06, 2020:

I am touched by your comment, Rinita. I am happy you found this enjoyable. Thank you.

Rinita Sen on April 06, 2020:

Brilliantly set up, eerie in the beginning, emotional in the end. Your words are woven as if by magic.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Yes he does. We shall see. Stay tuned.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Kyler, thanks for reading and for you questions in regard to the backstory. You’ve brought up some good points.

I had intended the poem to be a typical ghost/horror story, just a reclusive old man with no family living alone in an old house which was either invaded by some spirit or visitor with evil intensions. I was mainly trying to meet Chris’s set guidelines and work them in.

As I got into the poem I decided not to have a ghost, but a passing stranger or psychopath up to no good.

That changed again due to all the fear about the current pandemic and news of people dying alone with families not allowed to be with them....I thought what could be scarier than that?

When I decided the visitor would actually turn out to be the man’s son I hadn’t really considered the back story of why he was living, and dying, alone. I do like to write stories that make readers ponder and use there own imagination to fill the gaps though.

So, thank you for asking those questions and there probably is enough fodder there to write another story poem explaining it all. Glad you liked it though.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Hi Shauna, I agree the world has seen other pandemics, and viruses over the years but I never expected anything to this extent in my lifetime. It like a real life horror movie and too pray we don’t lose anyone close to us.

I am glad you think I met Chris’s challenge. He said he’d be waiting and watching but he hasn’t seen it yet. Working in a hospital he is probably too busy and under stress at the moment. Thanks for reading.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 05, 2020:

John, Kyler makes a great point. You should write a short story about this.

Kyler J Falk from California on April 05, 2020:

Perhaps this is a different take on the poem than what was intended because of the guidelines, but I sit here after reading this wondering what it was the old man did in the first place to end up so alone? Why did no one but his son come to visit as he died? Was he a total A-Hole before being stuck in isolation? Was he such a recluse that only his son knew he lived there, causing rumors to run rampant? What brought the son to the house now, and why did he let his father go alone for so long?

A story of its own could be made exploring the dying father and how he got there to begin with. A very great poem, John, I envy your skill here.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 05, 2020:

John, you did a fine job of Chris's challenge, in my opinion. Although bleak, your poem had somewhat of a happy ending: the poor man didn't have to die alone.

I still can't wrap my head around this pandemic. I know the world has suffered such medical atrocities in the past, but none like this. At least not in my lifetime.

I hope and pray that we get thru this without losing anyone we know and/or love. I wish I could fold my arms, blink my eyes and make it all go away.

Stay safe, my Aussie friend.



John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Farah, thank you for the wonderful comment. I commend you and the other health professionals in the wonderful work you are doing during this time. If we all do our bit hopefully it will be controlled sooner rather than later.

Farah N Huq from Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 05, 2020:

Absolutely amazing ending! Loved how you gradually built up the story. A beautiful poem all the way! Yes, we are passing through a very challanging time but it's good to see how so many people are engaging in positive work even from a distance. Hopefully we will see an end to this crisis soon.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Hi Linda, I like it when a planned surprise ending works out. I’m glad the images helped set the mood too.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on April 05, 2020:

John, I thought I knew where you were headed with this one, and then a surprise ending. And you found just the right illustrations to add to the mood. Good job!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Thank you so much, Devika. I always appreciate your kind comments.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

You are never too late, Genna. Yes, that current sad situation is what inspired the ending of this poem. You are fortunate that you can work from home. You stay safe also.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 05, 2020:

Great stuff here you always surprise me with your new talent in writing poetry.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 05, 2020:

(Sorry I'm late, but have been working from home 10-12 hours each day. Too many layoffs at my company.) Excellent poem, John. What struck me about this was not only the surprise ending, but "You don't have to die alone," which is part of what breaks my heart about so many people who lose their lives to this terrible disease...they die alone. Stay safe my friend.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 05, 2020:

Hi Lora. Glad you liked this poem, willies and all haha. Yes, Stephen King once said he dreamt most of his stories. I wonder if somehow this pandemic is one of those that somehow came true. I never imagined actually experiencing a situation like this. Wishing you well.

Lora Hollings on April 04, 2020:

I really liked your poem, John! Gave me the willies. Great job at crafting this poem and the surprise ending. But, you are so right. Fact can be stranger and scarier than fiction as this virus is. I feel like I'm one of the characters in a Stephen King novel and I'm hoping that it will have a good ending! That we will conquer this microscopic villain. Take care and stay well.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Thank you Flourish. That is a great suggestion. Let's don those masks.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 04, 2020:

Extremely good! We should all replace our HP headshot photos with photos of us wearing masks during this pandemic!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Thank you so much Ashley. I like your OOOOHHH too, lol.

Ashly Christen from Illinois on April 04, 2020:

OOOOOOHHHH! I like! Good job John

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

I am glad I built up enough suspense in this poem, MizB. Sometimes the length of poetry restricts that slightly as you have to try to condense it to fit the shorter format. I tossed a few alternate endings over in my head, but I think I am satisfied I chose this one.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 04, 2020:

Beautiful, John. I love a mystery (there used to be an old radio show by that name here in the states when I was a child. Gee, that dates me.) Anyway the suspense as the unknown man enters the house could have gone in any direction, but you ended it so sweetly. Brought tears. I think of all these people dying alone and their grieving families not able to be with them.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Diana, thank you both for reading and the prayers. You stay safe.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on April 04, 2020:

Good poem. When the world can relax and stop looking like a piece of fiction in itself, there will be plenty of horror stories to be told. Sending prayers for everyone.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Thank you for the kind comment Lorna. I tried hard to evoke a creepy tension through the poem, and glad both that and the ending worked for you. I always appreciate you reading and commenting on my work. All the best to you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

I hope I met Chris’s criteria, Pamela. I am pleased that I managed to build the scary tension until the surprise ending. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Thank you Liz. It is difficult to write anything at the moment that doesn’t refer in some way to the current situation the world is facing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

What can I say, Fam, our reaction and emotions you felt reading this s exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you for reading this poem and stay safe.

Lorna Lamon on April 04, 2020:

You conjure up lots of images in this poem John - a creepy tale with a moral ending. You are so good at creating the right atmosphere and the ending made my heart glad. Take care and stay safe.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 04, 2020:

I imagine that you met Chris's criteria for this very scary poem. This horror poem was scary until the very end and I think it is probably a job well done. I think the poem is excellent, John.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 04, 2020:

Congratulations, John. You certainly rose to Chris's challenge as well as the situation that the world is currently facing.

Fam on April 04, 2020:

Creepy at the beginning but heart-touching in the end.

The actual horror and the actual ghost that is lingering street to street and wall to wall, painting it as terrific, is that pandemic.

Heart-wrenching that the olders are left into the dark cells of isolation.

I've got emotional Hensen! Your ghost story poem challenge has gone great leaving a thought-provoking message to the generations.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

It is a truly heart-wrenching situation, Ruby. Loved ones dying alone with them families helpless and unable to be by their side. This challenge by Chris enabled me to write about that in some way. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 04, 2020:

This was a true horror story until the end. A father dying alone needed his son. I loved this. People are dying alone here because hospitals, nursing homes won't allow visitors. How much more can we stand?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Thanks for your kind comment Rosina. I am glad the ending surprised you. Take care my friend.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Your comment is always most welcome Li-Jen. I am glad you enjoyed this, even late at night. I hope it didn’t keep you awake! You take care and stay safe also.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

I considered a creepier ending manatita, but I thought I’d go for more of a surprise twist especially in “this current climate” as you say. Thanks.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Thank you Ann. I hope Chris likes this one, even if it isn’t quite what he may expect. It is hard not to dread this virus. Take care.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

I know where you are coming from Bill. Other people losing their livelihood and we, freelance writers getting increased work. Pray we remain untouched by it. Thanks for reading and stay well.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2020:

Hi Cheryl. It is great that this captivated and inspired you. Thank you for reading.

Rosina S Khan on April 04, 2020:

Great piece of poetry. I was plesantly surprised with the ending as I didn't expect it to turn that way. Thanks for sharing, John.

Li-Jen Hew on April 04, 2020:

Hello Jodah. Thank you for this night time gift for me! Just kidding because it's night time here and it's thrilling to receive this poem at this time. And funny thing you added Chris' comment because his words were "but I'll be watching and waiting", adding to the scary effect. I like how the poem ended in a light hearted way. It's actually also cool to imagine the sound effects like the creaking and heavy footsteps. True, the current real life story is like a horror movie. Thanks for sharing and stay safe!

manatita44 from london on April 04, 2020:

Excellent poem and yes, a welcome change too. You did a great job. You could have been a bit more scary with the ending, but I guess you wanted to be kind to use in this current climate

Ann Carr from SW England on April 04, 2020:

Creepy! I think you've done Chris proud with this one, John.

This virus certainly fills us with dread. I'm trying not to let my imagination run riot but that's gone out the window now!


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 04, 2020:

Great challenge and a great response.

I feel almost guilty. My life hasn't changed all that much under the latest crisis. My freelance writing business has increased. It's a bit strange,being surrounded by misery and being untouched by it.

Anyway, wishing you a fantastic weekend of good health and happiness.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on April 04, 2020:

Very interesting and captivating. You have inspired me to try something new.

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