Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Building Bare-Naked Suspense

Think about your favorite thriller. 
What was it that made you catch your breath? What was it that kept you awake at night, nervously peeking over your pillow at the slightest creak in the floorboards? Was it a monster, a ghost, a serial killer? Or was it the writing style?

I’d like to think that one could create a suspenseful situation without a dark entity or supernatural element.

But what fun would that be? We like being scared because it gets our heart rate up, saving us from sweaty, labor-intensive exercise; a completely unnecessary activity for one who keeps a titillating, suspense-filled book handy at all times. Besides, ghosts have always done a great job of stimulating our fears because you never really know if there’s one residing in your house, roaming the halls late at night.

But you know, if we grew dependent on ghosts, specters, phantoms and evil spirits, we’d miss out on the pure, literary art in creating suspense out of thin air; what I call, bare-naked suspense.

Therefore, out of respect for the many ways one can scare, frighten, petrify, terrorize and otherwise put the fear of God into one’s heart, I would like to invite you to join me in the process of titillation, by creating a brief moment of suspense in this snippet of flash fiction.

I wrote this for you; a bare-naked suspense. I hope you enjoy it…

Murdoch’s Eyes

Sand filtered through Gina’s toes as she sprinted across the powdery granules. Her dress danced across her thighs and her heart beat rapidly. The crash of the waves, the tidal winds and salty air confused her mind. These were supposed to be the sounds of relaxation, not distress.

Murdoch had acted rather awkward, she thought. No, freaky was a better word. She had to get out of there. He went to the kitchen to get her a drink and she didn’t waste a minute. Gina darted out of the condo, leaving the party without saying a word to anyone. She slipped out the back door, onto the deck and down the spiral staircase.

When her heels hit the sand, she pulled her shoes off and started running. She could feel his anger brewing, burning like red-hot coals. He’d sensed her rejection and she knew it.

When he returned, she was gone. He sat Gina’s sex-on-the-beach on the coffee table and began searching through the crowd of partiers.

Gina could feel Murdoch’s eyes seeking her, heating up, fists clenching. 

She could see her car through the beach grass, parked on the side of the road. Her legs strained up the sandy hill. Her breath grew heavy, her hair disheveled, curls straightening.

She gripped the handle. Pull. Locked. “No!”

“The damn thing’s locked-not now-not today!”

Mudoch’s eyes burned into her brain-green maniacal things staring into her subconscious, transcendentally finding her with his metaphysical GPS system. He squinted, working his thoughts into hers, breathing methodically like an artificial respirator. He blocked out the music and voices and clanging glasses, focusing only on Gina-his Gina.

Panic filled every cell of her body.

Laughter shot from his brain to hers.

She knew he had found her; the shiver down her spine had told her so. Sweat beaded on her forehead. A blonde strand of hair stuck to her lips. She called out, hands trembling, whispering her fears to no one but herself.

“My God, who is this guy? What’s he doing to me?”

She could see him staring. She could hear him breathing.

“My keys!”

 She dug through her purse. Nothing. She dumped the contents on the side of the road, rummaging through receipts and lipsticks, but the keys were not there. Did I leave them at the house, she wondered? Her shoulders sank as a feeling of hopelessness fell heavy upon her. 

Murdoch reached into his pants pocket, grabbed her keychain and began twirling it between his fingers. He watched the keys dance, delighted, smirking as the green windows to his soul led Gina back.

The End

 Jeff Bennington
Author of Reunion

Please subscribe by email and then go to My “Free Stuff” page and get a free copy of The Rumblin’, my short suspense!


  1. Great piece, Jeff. :-) All I can really say is poor Gina.

  2. Excellent post, Jeff. You make a really great point. Just wish you didn't have to scare me in the process. Yipes!

  3. Aaah! What happened to poor Gina?

  4. Jason, Laurel, and Kisbydog, Thanks for reading. As far a Gina's future, I'll have to figure that out later...short story...novel? Who knows.

  5. Fantastic post and anxiety inducing story, Jeff! Loved it and please put me on the 'to notify' list if Gina's story sees more daylight, okay?

  6. Great story, Jeff! See this is the kind of thriller I like. One that I know can happen to anyone. That's the scary part!

  7. Gah! How to leave a reader in suspense? Jeff will tell you tomorrow! Def. put me on he notify list, don't let Gina get away!

  8. Great post, Jeff. You do a good job with the suspense. Can't wait to read more. Thanks for visiting my blog:)

  9. Hi Stacy. Hi Sandra. Glad you ladies liked the suspense. Unfortunately, Murdoch's Eyes is on my list of works to write, but I have more pressing prose to publish. But I'll try to add scenes as often as I can, because I aim to please. Ahoy! I'm a pleaser.

  10. Wonderful scene filled with vivid images and emotions. Thanks for sharing it with us!


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