“The Fort”

PUBLISHED April 28, 2020
The Fort - A Short Story - Cover Art (1st Edition)


Teenage best friends Aaron and Tim have their own hideout in the woods. It’s an old reclaimed cabin nicknamed the Fort. And it just grew a new door.


eBook, Limited Linocut Edition, Audiovisual, Screenplay

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...lovely and horrifying...

– Jeremy Robert Johnson
Author of Entropy in Bloom and The Loop



– Vivian Hernandez

The Fort - Honorable Mention - Writer's Digest 89th Annual Writing Competition

Honorable Mention - Writer's Digest

“The Fort” was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 89th Annual Writing Competition.

The Fort - Official Selection - Screamwriting Festival 2021

Official Selection - Screamwriting Festival

“The Fort” short film screenplay adaptation was an Official Selection at the 2021 Screamwriting Festival.

The Fort - Official Selection - New York Screenplay Awards 2021

Quarter Finalist - New York International Screenplay Awards

“The Fort” short film screenplay adaptation was a Quarter Finalist at the 2021 New York International Screenplay Awards.

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The Fort - A Short Story - Cover Art (1st Edition)
The Fort - A Short Story - Cover Back (1st Edition)
The Fort - A Short Story - Limited Linocut Edition (1st Printing)
The Fort - A Short Story - Limited Linocut Edition (2nd Printing)

An Excerpt from “The Fort”

Tim froze in his tracks.

Aaron laughed before he turned and saw it too.

The cabin stood in a small clearing a few feet ahead of them. The Fort, with a capital F. The dilapidated wooden structure was falling apart, shouldering decades of dust, overgrowth, and neglect.

The rotted roof dipped in three different places but hadn’t broken completely through. The windows weren’t as lucky. Nature shattered the first few, strong winds blowing tree branches against and occasionally through them. The boys took care of the rest with rocks and BB guns over the years.

But the door. The door had always been a splintered wooden pallet barely clinging to the face of the cabin. Today, the old wooden door was gone, and a polished white panel stood in its place.

“Did you do that?” Aaron asked.


“Was it here yesterday?”

“No, I told you, that piece-of-shit door is what shredded my hand.”

Tim started moving again. Aaron surveyed the clearing, then followed Tim down the last of the grassy hill leading to the Fort. This was the right place, the right cabin, their cabin. They’d laid claim to it years ago, not that they’d had any competition. The cabin was half a mile deep in the woods behind Aaron’s house and looked long-abandoned when they’d stumbled upon it.

They stepped onto the creaky old porch. There was no trace left of the dry-rotted door Tim tore his hand open on the day before. The new chrome door handle shimmered in the warming sun. There wasn’t a speck of dust on it or any part of the new door.

Tim reached for the door handle.

“Wait,” Aaron said. “We don’t know who did this. What if they’re inside? What if the owner, like, came back?”

“Dude, we’ve been coming out here since third grade. No one else has ever been here.”

“Well, someone put this new door up.”

“Right, okay, and don’t you want to find out who?” Tim’s eyes were wide and pleading. As usual, Aaron relented.

Tim tried the handle, found it unlocked, and opened the new door…

“The Fort” Audiovisual Book

Watch, Read, and Listen to the Unabridged Audiovisual Book
Directed by Alan Lastufka. Read by Nicholas Jenkins.

The Fort - A Short Story - Limited Linocut Edition (1st Printing)

Limited Linocut Edition

On October 15, 2020, I published the first physical print edition of “The Fort”.

The Limited Linocut Edition features a hand-printed linocut and vellum cover. It’s 5.5″ x 7.5″, 24 pages, and saddle stitched.

The first print was limited to 25 copies with red ink covers. This first printing sold out within two days. The second printing, also limited to 25 copies, featured a forest green ink cover.

THE FORT is a poignant portrayal of friends at a crossroads and the desires that divide them when they discover something strange in the woods. By turns lovely and horrifying, this marks an excellent debut from Alan Lastufka.

Jeremy Robert Johnson

Author of Entropy in Bloom and The Loop


Lastufka’s story was a big hit for me. I couldn’t tell where it was going until I was already there… and once there I was pleasantly surprised to find the premise very unique. It’s hard to do “new” horror, and I’m impressed. I also thought the writing was excellent and the dialogue meaningful and believable.

If I had to give a down side, I’d say that the ending wasn’t also a surprise. It was more of a shock and I tend to prefer subtlety.

I’ll definitely be reading more of his writing.

April Lyn

Goodreads Review


In the spirit of Stephen King, THE FORT shines as a gem of a story. It drew me in immediately and kept me engaged and wanting more.

Cori Kesler

Amazon Review


THE FORT is a fascinating exploration of where horror meets magical realism. The dialogue makes this an easy read, while still capturing the innocence and wonder of youth. The characters and setting are both well established immediately, making this an easy and immersive story to get into.

The only problem with this fast-paced story is exactly that – its pacing. A slower build would have created a more unsettling tension making the ending feel more earned.

That being said, the shocking final image is exactly what I want out of a story like this, and I would absolutely love to read more.

Ash Miller

Amazon Review


This is a haunting story that deals with social class, friendship, and greed. It cuts in all the best ways. In this short story, the characters live vibrantly through their struggles and develop in a mere 13 pages.

The writing is very reminiscent of works by Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury. It left a stirring in the back of my head that followed me to bed. This story will sink into you and leave you wanting more.

Vivian Hernandez

Goodreads Review


I love a good spec fic thriller and this short story of two boys re-discovering a childhood fort hooked me immediately. It has a lean and pointed narrative that felt appropriately visceral to match the story’s undertones. The dynamic between the main characters felt real and layered and left me wanting more.

The ending was the only place where I felt a minor disconnection to the story. Without spoilers, there was a good amount of trepidation and that prickly awareness of foreboding that I love, but I wanted something else from it. Either way, it was still a satisfying ending well worth the quick read.

Catherine Clark

Goodreads Review


THE FORT is a fun read that keeps you locked in. If you enjoy horror, thrillers, and suspense, then you’ll definitely enjoy this short story.

Even though we only have 19 pages with them, Lastufka’s characters and relationships are well fleshed out which allows you to sink into the story from early on.

If you enjoy the work of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, and Joe Hill, Lastufka’s THE FORT is right up your alley.


Amazon Review


Review on Goodreads

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Technical Details

GENRE Horror, Magical Realism
PUBLISHER Shortwave Media
ISBN 978-1-7336919-0-1 (eBook)