Long before (19th century) the TV series, Penny dreadfuls were cheap serial stories popular in the UK. The stories were published in weekly parts, each costing one penny.
The tales were short, sensational, and dreadful focusing on the exploits of detectives, criminals, or supernatural entities. Penny dreadfuls were printed on cheap wood pulp paper and were aimed at young working class British men.
This is my penny’s worth Penny Dreadful supernatural story. It’s about 500 words.
It happened on a three-day trip to British Columbia. Hal was on top of the world having just sold a two million dollar commercial building. The trip was a prize– salesman of the year.
He and Penelope stayed at The Empress Hotel– a magnificent estate with a grand view of Inner Harbour.
The room was exquisite, the view dazzling. That night, dinner was seared halibut and rainbow chard with scallop and shrimp dumplings. Penelope was in high spirits, and the conversation was unusually brisk and cordial.
Despite the gaiety and full belly, sleep evaded Hal. Not even a bourbon neat brought slumber, so he went for a stroll along the harbour. Returning to the hotel, he saw something hopping with impossible agility on the steeply-pitched roof, ducking madly behind the towers, weaving around the spires. With the city lights, it was bright as day and Hal saw the thing’s face. Good God, it was a peculiar pointy-man.
Clearly unhinged, he rushed into the hotel and gave a detailed description to the girl at the front desk. “He’s oddly agile with thick arms, long pointy features, and Spock ears. What? Yes Star Trek, damn it.”
Hal insisted the police be summoned, and he repeated his story. “Yes, you heard correctly. On the bloody roof.”
At some point, they’d buzzed Penelope and together all assured him a man on the roof was not possible. By then, he was unnerved enough to believe them.
The next morning, Penelope was in the shower when the pointy-man peeked in their window. Hal hurried to take photos with his mobile; something he’d forgotten the night before, but it was too late. Still, he was sure of what he’d seen and rushed through the lobby in his pajamas, out the front door, barefoot across the lawn, clicking his mobile manically at the vacant roof.
When he returned, the hotel manager wanted to chat. By the time Penelope dressed, the bellman was hauling their bags to a waiting taxi. Hal was relieved, Penelope less so but surprisingly pleasant.
They went to the Rialto where Hal was asked to leave due to intoxication. It was true but purely medicinal: the pointy-man had followed them.
The last day of their trip was holed up at the Beaconsfield Inn. Hal pouted and refused to leave their room. Penelope doted in ways not previously known.
When she left to retrieve lunch, he fell into a deep sleep that was soon interrupted by an odor of warm, regurgitated fish. His eyes sprung open to stare straight up the hairy, wind-tunnel nostrils of the pointy-man. Filament fingers curled around Hal’s throat. Pulsating panic was the only thing keeping his heart beating.
Then there, behind the man crept Penelope, dagger overhead. Thank heavens. Saved, and at last, vindicated!
The pointy-man turned, releasing his grip. Hal sprung into action. As he leaped, Penelope swept her dagger across Hal’s belly, freeing intestines and their sewage.
“My, my,” the pointy-man said. “Darling Penny, how dreadful.”