"The Catalyst"—my very first "published" short story (circa 1982)

I dug this out of my basement last night. Wow, does it bring back memories. I wrote "The Catalyst" for my high school literary magazine, Nebula. I was fifteen, and (quite obviously) reading a lot of Stephen King at the time.

The graveyard in the story is based upon a small family plot that I often frequented as a kid. It was less than a quarter of a mile from my house, in a patch of woods. The graves marked the resting place of the Stewart family—Joseph B., Rebecca, and others I can't remember, including children. Having a creepy graveyard over a century old near my house definitely shaped my evolving morbid psyche—and "The Catalyst" is a good snapshot of my warped adolescent imagination.

The names in the story are drawn from real names on the tombstones, though I took the creative liberty of making up an epitaph. And yes, a Freudian would have a field day with the text.

Here it is: The Catalyst by Mike Hughes (1982) (PDF file, 4.1MB)