Stocking Stuffer: “Cool Ride” by Dale W. Glaser

As a holiday treat, the folks at WFQ stuffed into your stocking the scary tale of "Cool Ride" by Dale W. Glaser. Happy holidays!

Stocking Stuffer: “Cool Ride” by Dale W. Glaser
Dale W. Glaser, author of "Cool Ride”

I’m going to dispense with the incessant nattering and bloviating and get straight to the point: all of us at Weird Fiction Quarterly wish you and yours a Merry Christmas (or suitable equivalent should you celebrate differently).

We had one remaining tale submitted to our 13 Days of Weird Flash that we’ve been holding onto for today: “Cool Ride” by frequent contributor Dale W. Glaser from the inaugural Winter '22 edition.

Dale is a lifelong collector, re-teller and occasional inventor of fantasy tales. He grew up right on the line between suburban cul-de-sacs and unspoiled wilderness, and has been known to get up to mischief in the woods late at night from time to time. He attended the College of William & Mary, where he majored in English, worked on the campus humor and satire magazine, The Pillory, and completed a senior thesis on urban legends. He needs air, food, water and stories in order to survive, not necessarily in that order. He currently lives in Virginia with his wife, their three children, and a rotating roster of pets.


(And stick around after the story to hear more from Dale.)

Cool Ride

By Dale W. Glaser

The morning was bitterly cold, leaching warmth out of Michael Krause’s body despite his extra winter layers. Glassy silence held the world still, broken randomly by bone-chilling slashes of arctic wind. The return after Christmas break was the most miserable walk to school Michael had yet endured.

Still beats the bus, he told himself. Michael detested school buses, always had, for as long as he could remember. He hated the clinging miasma of diesel fumes, how it jolted over bumpy roads, and especially the other laugh-braying, shout-singing, ceaselessly mindlessly noisy kids. For years Michael had terrorized his parents over the bus, throwing violent tantrums on a near-daily basis, until they had promised he could walk to school once he turned twelve. The end of sixth grade and beginning of seventh had been blissful.

But the cold snap that had accompanied January made walking a nightmare. Michael’s toes were ice cubes inside his shoes, the tops of his thighs raw. His eyes stung, squeezing out tears, every time the frigid wind howled.

He slipped, and his backpack threw off his balance and his gloved hands were shoved deep in his pockets, so his shoulder and hip awkwardly hit the ground. He forced himself upright, feeling a shooting pain in the ankle that had buckled on the sidewalk’s icy patch. He could walk, but at a brisk pace his ankle throbbed, while slow-walking would expose him to the freezing pre-dawn even longer.

Michael heard a familiar, loathsome hiss and squeal behind him. He turned to see a school bus’s blinding lights. Setting out that morning, he’d never once considered taking the bus, now that he was finally free. But with a turned ankle and subzero gales hounding him, he begrudgingly surrendered. The bus driver had stopped for him, after all.

Michael climbed the steps and slunk into a green vinyl bench seat. The bus lurched and rattled forward. Michael pulled his scarf down and sighed heavily, his breath a frosty plume. It was hardly warmer inside the bus than it had been outside, and almost as quiet.

Impulsively, Michael looked across the aisle. He didn’t recognize the student seated there. All that Michael could make out in the ghostly glow of receding streetlights was an emaciated corpse in a fur-lined coat, pale leathery flesh overlaid with frost.

He turned back to his window, opaque with condensation, and swiped it with the forearm of his jacket. Polar fog enveloped the bus, separating it from the world. Michael stood, ignoring the fresh jolt of ankle pain. He looked to the front of the bus, past the other riders, each one utterly stiff with cold, to the driver.

The mirror above the windshield reflected the driver’s visage back to Michael, a snow-white skull, eye sockets full of gelid blue flame. It held a single finger’s bare bones up to its lipless grin.

Michael slid back down into his seat. Chill numbness climbed up his arms and legs. At least his ankle hardly hurt any more.

Thanks again to Dale for something to look forward to once school’s back in session. Now onto the interrogation!

WFQ: Why do you write weird fiction and when did you start?

DG: Ask anybody who knows me - I am pretty weird. I love escapism and all things unreal, which is why I've always gravitated toward weird fiction and other genre stories. I always say I started writing when I was seven or eight years old, penning my own crude version of a sword-and-sorcery monster slaying tale, so I started with weird fiction from the very beginning!

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your WFQ contributions?

DG: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Gary Gygax, and Stephen King

WFQ: What do you like most about the 500-word format we use? What do you find most challenging with it?

DG: I like that it is, in fact, quite a challenge. The most challenging aspect is that I tend to prefer stories with a twist at the end, be it a perfect inversion upending expectations or just a wild left turn into bonkersville. And it's especially hard to set up a premise that leads the reader one way AND then pull off the magic-trick redirect, all in 500 words.

WFQ: If you were made editor for an issue, which theme would you choose to guide a whole WFQ installment?

DG: Pretty much everything I've written for WFQ so far has been fantasy-inflected, either full-on secondary medieval-level worlds or just demons and undead infiltrating our everyday lives. I'd probably try to push into more sci-fi areas with a theme like "technology" or "robots" or "the Weird Wide Web".

WFQ: Where else can we read more of your work?

DG: I've published many short stories over the years in various anthologies and magazines, in print and online. You can look me up on Amazon or just check out the full list in the Works section of my writing blog.

You can find me online at where lately I've mainly been hyping my debut solo collection of short horror fiction, ASSORTED MALIGNANCIES. The book came out this past summer, I'm insanely proud of it, and it's available from the publisher Lycan Valley Press and many other online retailers including, Thriftbooks, Nowhere Bookshop, B&N, Amazon, and more!

Thanks to all of you readers for sticking around with us during this holiday season and stay tuned into the New Year for more updates and weird fiction from our motley crew.

Stay safe and happy holidays!

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