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The Black River Chapbook Competition Winner

25 Trumbulls Road

Publication Date: February 2020


Winner of the Fall 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition

This house has seen things it won’t let you forget.

When a new family moves in to the house at 25 Trumbulls Road, the narrator’s vivid dreams of a teary-eyed, raw-smelling woman who lives beneath the floor turn chillingly real. Five years later, the house’s new set of inhabitants are visited by the spectral presence of the little girl they lost. In these five tales linked by a single haunted house, the characters move through a world suspended between nightmare and loss, where the unexplainable and disquieting are fueled by ordinary grief and longing. Christopher Locke explores the ways in which our unspoken fears and everyday regrets sustain the darker heart of a home-its doorways and windows, its basements and lights-until it fills those corners of our lives with something close to terror. His stories ask: how does a home feed on this energy, growing stronger with each new, sinister end? As compulsively readable as it is unsettling, 25 Trumbulls Road takes us to the places we’re afraid to go, then leaves us at a destination where we are our most human.


EXHIBIT #1 The first night in our new house, I had a dream about a woman who lived under the floor. She smelled raw and cried as she pulled her body between the wide pine planks. I wanted to help her but felt that would be rude somehow. She quieted when she took me outside the house, which miraculously looked exactly like the one we just moved into; our real cars were in the driveway, my real cat was silhouetted in the upstairs window, licking its paw. She brought me into the nearby woods and seated me atop a stump. I watched as she shuffled around a great, gnarled apple tree, humming, dragging her damaged feet. She stopped abruptly and turned toward me, opening her mouth wide. When I woke up, I felt unusual, almost heartsick. The morning was glorious, and my daughter Sophie asked me to join her outside after breakfast to explore our new neighborhood. We went into the woods, discovered an abandoned doll house with three little beds, each bed holding only the head of a doll, nothing more. We kept going, pushing at brambles and dead pine, until we happened upon an apple tree. Around the base of the tree was a muddy, worn path. I felt the blood leave my face, and I could hear music not far off.

Listen to Christopher Locke read from 25 TRUMBULLS ROAD // Watch the captioned video on the BLP YouTube Channel


A haunting, surreal, visceral collection of tales that is lyrical and poetic, while not losing its bite. Christopher Locke has channeled the ghosts of Matt Bell, Denis Johnson, and Jac Jemc, while retaining his own unique voice.

-Richard Thomas, author of DISINTEGRATION and BREAKER, an ITW Thriller Award finalist

Locke is a master of the slow burn. The events at 25 Trumbulls Road will stick and cycle back through your head for weeks.

-Richard Peabody, editor of GARGOYLE MAGAZINE

In 25 TRUMBULLS ROAD, Christopher Locke weaves together a series of eerily gorgeous narratives in which fathers, mothers, children, and dogs stumble into waking nightmares. Each ghostly flash glows with damage, mystery, and inevitability. This enchanting chapbook of tiny horror stories chills and entertains from beginning to end.


About the Author

© Sophie Locke

Christopher Locke

Christopher Locke’s writing has appeared in such magazines as The North American Review, The RumpusSmokeLong Quarterly, The SunPoetry EastVerse DailySouthwest ReviewSlice, The Literary ReviewWest BranchGargoyle, The Nervous BreakdownSaranac Review, and NPR’s Morning Edition and Ireland’s Radio One, among others. Locke’s most recent book is Ordinary Gods, (Salmon Poetry, 2017), a collection of poems & essays detailing his 25 years of travel throughout Latin America. His first post-punk/spoken word album, Late Lights, was recently released by Burst & Bloom Records, and a book for children, Heart-Flight, (Cedar Grove Publishing), is forthcoming in 2019. Locke has received over a dozen grants, fellowships, and awards for his writing including the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award, state grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and Poetry Fellowships from Fundacion Valparaiso, (Spain) and PARMA (Mexico). He teaches creative writing online at The Poetry Barn and in person at North Country Community College in the Adirondacks.

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