Crescendo of Darkness Excerpt

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction. is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.


Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.

“Become the Music” by H.E. Roulo

A cellist would do anything for her child, even give up music, but that might not be enough to stop a curse from consuming her baby.


I’ve done everything—everything, that’s possible—but I’m terrified it won’t be enough. I’ve run to the ends of the earth to hide us, but what if there’s no hiding?

The cabin is dark, so I’m writing this by feel. It might not even be readable tomorrow. That doesn’t matter, because it keeps the fear at bay. We arrived this afternoon, but with no electricity, and the nights so long, I’ve gone through more wood than I expected, and I’ve let the fear take hold of me. It should be peaceful. There’s nothing out here. No people, certainly. Just trees and the creatures living in them. So why am I still convinced I haven’t escaped?

Tilly is lying in the crib beside me. Such a peaceful baby.

I curl my fingers on themselves, rather than touch her. I might disturb her.

The first time the curse took hold was in a moment like this, quiet and peaceful. I’d finished nursing her, and was about to put her into her crib, but I made the mistake. I patted her back and started to hum, then sang. It was something foolish, a nursery song like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Just something to quiet her nights. Wasn’t that how I was supposed to do it?

I can’t remember now. I’m pretty sure other parents sing to their children but it’s so foreign I might be wrong.

Here in the cabin, the quiet soothes her. The rashes and scales on the back of her neck are fading. I might even be able to take her in public without anyone suspecting she is cursed. Of course, no one believes in curses. I certainly hadn’t, before her birth. I still slip up. It’s exhausting to always be on alert

Two days ago, I was tired, distracted, and hungry. We needed supplies. I can’t go in supermarkets, of course, because of the curse. There’s always music playing there. And live bands like to play at farmer’s markets. So, I stopped at a gas station for groceries.

It was too hot to leave Tilly in the car, even for a second. I bundled her up, poor thing, consoling myself there’d be air conditioning inside. I carried Tilly in her baby seat into the gas station convenience store. Refrigerators lined the walls, humming and dripping.

I relaxed and threw drinks and diapers into my grocery basket on the floor. I reached into a cooler case for milk and someone screamed. I jumped, heart pounding. A horrified woman, hand still gripping the baby blanket, stared at what she’d uncovered.

Tilly had spikes running up over her plump cheeks. Her nails were sharp as claws. I’d wrapped them in mittens, but one had slipped off.

Tilly swiped, cutting deep into the nosy woman’s soft arm. The woman shouted, scaring me and making Tilly cry, high and clear.

Ignoring the gasping, bleeding woman, I gripped the handle of Tilly’s baby seat tighter and ran for the glass doors. The outside air smacked me with heat, sun, and worst of all, music from an idling car.

Just like that, Tilly’s screams became roars. She writhed beneath her blankets, transforming. The curse swelled within her, activated by the thump and grumble of some beat-laden club song. I carried her baby seat to my car’s passenger door and swung it open. I’d left it unlocked, just in case, since music hid everywhere, ready to pounce on the unwary.

The baby carrier banged unevenly against the base fastened in the back seat. Sweat dripped off my face. I bared my teeth at the delay, counting fractions of seconds as my child became more monstrous.

Tentacles squirmed out from under her blanket, smacking the sides of my legs. My jeans prevented the sharp scales edging the tentacle from slicing into my thighs. I bent down to finish the latch, turning my head away. The tentacles stung my neck, but it was more than that. I was afraid to look at her and see what new accursed transformation had taken her. Were her eyes still baby blue, clear and laughing? Beneath the blows and blanket and screaming, I couldn’t tell.

The screaming was mine. I knew it didn’t stop the music. It wasn’t about her hearing it, or I’d have gladly stuffed her ears or even cut them off—shoved hot metal down her ear canals. But that would do no good. The music itself touched her, like a vibration lifting away her humanity and opening a passage to somewhere terrible, where poisons oozed into her bloodstream and rose to the surface to bloom like filmy oil flowers in the parking lot puddle I stood in.



To read the rest of this story and thirteen other horror music shorts, check out:

 Crescendo of Darkness

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Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press


Let music unlock your fear within.


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