Deadly Ever After

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A Baby Book is Born! JO by Leah Rhyne!

JO COMPLETE DESIGN (1)

I mean, THAT is a cool fracking cover.

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkin’s Pumpkin Spice. Because NO STARBUCKS UNTIL MY BIRTHDAY.

By Julie

LISTEN TO HOW COOL THIS BOOK IS:

Jolene Hall is dead – sort of. She can walk, think and talk, but her heart doesn’t beat and her lungs stopped breathing ages ago. Her body’s a mosaic of jagged wounds and stapled flesh.

 

Jolene Hall has a choice: turn herself in to the authorities, led by a suspiciously handsome police officer, or team up with her roommate Lucy and her boyfriend Eli to find a way to save herself. To Jo, the choice is clear. She’d like to know who turned her into a monster, and she’d like to live to see another sunrise.

 

But that choice has drastic repercussions.

 

On a trip deep into the snowy White Mountains, to a hidden laboratory filled with danger and cadavers, Jo and Lucy find more reanimated girls. Part body, part machine, run by batteries and electricity, these girls are killers, created by a shadowy Order with a penchant for chaos…and murder.

 

To make matters worse, a photo on a wall of victims reveals Lucy is next in line to be “recruited” into this army of beautiful, walking corpses.

 

When Jo’s physical condition takes a turn for the irreparable, and the Order kidnaps those she loves most, she must sacrifice herself to save them all.

This is the kickass synopsis for my good friend Leah Rhyne’s newest novel, which you can and should buy, here. http://t.co/FHluPzNtFO

Or you could read a little more:

The next thing I knew, I woke up inside a morgue.

Of course, it took me a few minutes to figure that out. All I knew at first was that I was cold. So cold, in fact, I couldn’t feel my hands or feet. And I know people say that all the time, that they can’t feel their hands or feet, but what they really mean is that their hands and feet hurt in that bizarre way we all equate with “not feeling them.”

But me? Right then? I really couldn’t feel my hands and feet. There was an absence there that my brain couldn’t explain, an inability to move my fingers or wiggle my toes. I shivered in the cold, and I could feel my body shake, but not at all my hands or feet. They were gone.

My eyes were shut tight, the lids glued together like a kid with crusted-over pinkeye. I would have reached up a hand to pry them open, had I been able to feel even one of my hands. Since I couldn’t, I lay on my back, blind, as cold seeped upwards from whatever hard, freezing surface was beneath me. I definitely wasn’t in my dorm, nor was I on the creaky mattress at Eli’s. Like Dorothy and Toto, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. In fact, I had no idea where I was.

I tried to open my eyes. I tried so hard the muscles in my neck spasmed with the effort. But my eyes remained closed, and my hands and feet remained numb.

So then I moaned.

Really, I tried to cry out, to shout for help. But all I managed was a moan, and even that came out all wrong. It was an inhuman sound, unlike any I’d ever uttered. It became another lopsided piece to the bizarre-o puzzle my brain couldn’t fit together in those first few seconds. Because that’s all it was. Just a few seconds.

I moaned again, that creepy, guttural sound. I tried to roll to my side. I couldn’t. Groaning, I leveraged the little movement I’d managed to roll to the other side.

I was perhaps a bit too successful. I rolled over the edge of the rock-hard bed and fell with a crash to the rock-hard floor. My head hit the ground with a jolt that sent something like electricity crackling through my body.

And then I was on again. Zap. Just like that. The bang to my head was all I needed. My eyes flew open, crusties be damned, and my hands and feet sprang back to life. Sitting up, I rubbed my head with a hand that felt new and exciting. I was no longer cold, filled instead with a burning energy that flowed through my muscles with a twitching intensity. I blinked a few times to clear my eyes – they felt dust-bowl dry – and ran my hands through my hair, catching them in a few thick tangles. As my vision came into focus, I began to process my surroundings.

The ground on which I sat was as hard as the bed from which I fell. But no, I realized. Not a bed. It’s a table. It was tall and made from stainless steel, with long legs ending in dusty black wheels. The floor was white tile, flecked with gray, and it was spotless but for some splatters of green goo that surrounded my immediate location. I wrinkled my nose at the goo, afraid to look beyond it to see whatever else there was to see. From that first impression, I wondered if I was in a hospital…or a warehouse.

A warehouse? That doesn’t feel right, I thought. But a hospital. Yes. That makes sense. Something must have happened. I’m a patient somewhere. But where is everyone? Why am I alone? Why am I on the floor?

I…began to freak out. Just a little. The weird thing was, even though I was terrified, even though I should have felt my heart racing and my stomach flip-flopping and my face sweating, I felt nothing. I wasn’t even panting.

Or breathing.

Okay, buy it now. Look at how adorable Leah is:

Author Image Leah Rhyne

Leah Rhyne is a Jersey girl who’s lived in the South so long she’s lost her accent…but never her attitude. After spending most of her childhood watching movies like Star Wars, Alien(s), and A Nightmare On Elm Street, and reading books like Stephen King’s The Shining or It, Leah now writes tales of horror and science fiction.  Her first novel, Undead America Volume 1: Zombie Days, Campfire Nights, released in the fall of 2012, and it’s sequel, No Angels, released in the fall of 2013. The final book in the trilogy is coming in 2014. She writes for LitReactor.com, The Charleston City Paper, and for herself at www.leahrhyne.com. Leah lives with her husband, daughter, and a small menagerie of pets. In her barely-there spare time, she loves running and yoga.

Now, go get JO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back To School Book Beatdown: How To Be Good To Yourself

TODAY’S BREW: Not Pumpkin Spice. Not yet. THAT IS FOR CELEBRATION AND IT WILL COME.

By Julie

THE GREAT DAY APPROACHES. The start of school and September 1st brings about the Back To School Book Beatdown, just a week away! (Read about it here and join us or else. http://wp.me/p2x7oj-Qs)

While this will be the friendliest, most encouraging and understanding beatdown ever, today is the day I guilt trip you.

Moms, dads, writerly parents. I know how you feel. That first day you’re going to want to do NOTHING but hang out naked, drink coffee, laugh hysterically and watch movies. It’s going to be tough to DO anything. This is my first dedicated alone time in 7 years, I get it. And while you totally deserve that time, and so do I, I deserve to write, too. It might not come easy, and it would be a lot easier to lay in bed drinking coffee, but we all know I’m going to feel a helluva lot better at the end of the day if I write that first day of September. I’m preparing myself for it now.

I’m thinking for most of you the first day of school is probably not the first day of September, and your kids will already have been back for a week or so? In your “spare” time before 9/1, do some of this stuff like me:

  • re-read what you’ve done so far. Hate it if you like, love it if you can.
  • take notes in a fancy notebook. It’s back to school time, you can get yourself a notebook.
  • make an inspiration board. Create the mood you want for writing your book, so you can look at that sucker when you sit down to write.
  • outline. ugh.
  • clean your writing area so you have no excuses that day.
  • don’t expect perfection from your surroundings to sit down and write.
  • know what you need to write to make your quota. Remember, I’ll be asking you to check in with me once a week.
  • MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: Make it an event. I’m getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte, a whole week before my birthday as is NOT customary, I’ll have my favorite sweatpants ready, my music cued up, and there’s probably going to be cake for breakfast.
  • Remember this. In the words of the great Chuck Wendig, “If you can’t write 350 words a day, you don’t want to be a writer. You don’t get to be a writer.”

So, that first day, I’m going to set my expectations low. The prep work is SO extraordinary that the event itself is almost certain to not live up to my vision. I’d be shocked if I wrote 2000 words just because I’m alone, (which I won’t be–Sam doesn’t start until the third.) I’m giving myself a No Less Than 350 Words Rule, for that first day. There will be no days off, but there will be days where it isn’t feasible to do a monstrous amount. Those days, I’ll do my 350 words, and maybe I’ll do my 350 words again later that day and end up with 700. (Math.) But if not, I’ll make it up on a day where the writing’s REALLY good. Because those days will happen too.

Moral of the story is set expectations. Hold yourself accountable before I do. Be human to yourself, but don’t be a slug. Get your shit done and love it as you do.

I’LL BE WATCHING.

CHAMPAGNE FOR EVERYBODY!

The honorary third member of The Undead Duo has NEWS, yo.

Kristen’s Las Vegas

Today’s Brew: Pumpkin Spice. Back to the grind. See what I did there? 3:30 wakeup calls will do that to a girl.

by Kristen

I had a dream about a girl trying to make her way in Las Vegas that stuck with me so much I moved there to write a book about it. No shit.  The book didn’t come until, well, now, but I thought I’d show you around my digs a bit.

We start the tour at my old apartment. This was seriously the best apartment I ever had, and it might have been because it was the first one that was mine all mine. And the washer dryer in unit. Nine miles from the strip, tons of closet space, and CHEAP.  A one bedroom like the one I had is only $675 a month.  My bank account cries hearing that.

Sky Court Harbors at The Lakes, Las Vegas

Next stop: work!  I wasn’t a makeup artist yet when I lived in Vegas. I was a retail manager. But don’t worry, I wasn’t boring. I was a manager at Frederick’s of Hollywood.  This was my favorite retail job ever.

Most of the bars I hung out at when I lived in Vegas are long gone now.  But every Tuesday night, my friends and I would go see Metal Skool, which you probably know better now as Steel Panther, play at the Suncoast. For free. Then we’d have dollar breakfast at midnight and then go upstairs for buck a string bowling. All in the same building. The best part about the world’s cheapest night out was that you could BYOB since they never knew which bar you bought from. And they didn’t care.

This is Steel Panther, mofos.

Can you remind me why I came back to Massachusetts, please?

Because the Night Character Expo: Callie

Today’s Brew: I’m praying for Starbucks. I’m coming to you from the Independent Author Symposium in Warwick, RI today. I wrote this post in advance.

by Kristen

I’ve seen so much through Callie’s eyes in the last two years, it’s almost as hard to tell you about her as it would be to tell you about myself. You know when someone asks you that question and you hem and haw and can’t come up with anything because to you, it’s all so obvious?

"The Muse" SO Callie. SO. Callie.

This picture came with the “muse” caption already on it. And this is EXACTLY what I picture Callie to look like. The coincidence is almost eerie.

Simply put, Callie is a hopeless romantic.  It’s love that brings her to Las Vegas, love that keeps her there, and love that does her in. She thinks with her heart rather than her head sometimes, and it always gets her into trouble. It’s something that can be frustrating to watch, but hindsight is 20/20. We hate her decisions, but we’d all do the same exact things in her shoes.

Callie marches to the beat of her own drummer in all aspects of life. A homeschooled kid from a hippie family, she doesn’t have the pretense of celebrity and fashioned obsessed girls. Callie takes chances and trusts too easily. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, but don’t think for a minute that makes her a pushover. She loves to create things, from her own clothes to food that won’t kill you. She doesn’t fit into the stereotypical groupie mold. She wears tie dyed skirts, peasant shirts, and china doll slippers.

It was truly a coincidence that I named her Calliope, after the muse of lyric poetry. Some girls just have something that makes the boys in bands stop and notice, and Callie’s got that thing. It’s not a tangible quality. It’s the sum of many parts.  There’s nothing sexy than inspiring someone else to create art, and that’s what the muse does.

Callie will always have a special place in my heart. We learned a lot about writing books together. We got knocked down, then stood up, dusted ourselves off and said “eff you” together.” It makes my heart swell when readers say they sympathize with her actions or that she seems “real.”  I’m not sure what the future has in store for Callie (I’m currently working on We Own the Night), or the books, but so far, it’s been a hell of a ride.

Flash Fiction Friday Favorites

TODAY’S BREW: In light of my Trick or Treating hangover (because yes, my neighbors do serve drinks), I shall have inappropriate relations with vast amounts of coffee.

By Julie

This Halloween was a blast. So much amazing flash fiction flying around out there. I loved Joe Hart’s 31 Days of Flash Fiction (http://t.co/Y0U66xfRMP), and The Dark Carnival on Pen and Muse was incredible. (My favorite was Mark Matthew’s http://t.co/6lVaxoROWQ.)  Here’s a link to my very own story there that went up last night, featuring the Tunnel of Love. LOVE CONSUMES US. http://t.co/Y0U66xfRMP, and if you missed it, Kristen’s incredible story, HEAVEN’S ON FIRE is here http://t.co/oxJeu1l85f, and it’s the perfect thing to gear us up for release of BECAUSE THE NIGHT in just four short days!

For our special Halloween treat, however, Kristen and I put our fiendish minds together to bring our vampires that you love to hate into the same bloody room. See what happens when our worlds collide. Chris Lynch, my serial killing attorney turned vamp, and Tristan, Kristen’s rock star bad boy make interesting company.

BLOOD STAKES

The Clash of the Vampires

Her skin was so tan, it begged to be cracked and broken open like a tropical fruit, to let me taste the sweetness inside until it was gone.

Not here. I threw the dice again, willing myself not to look at the tan one, or even to feel the slowly lapping tongue of the chubby blonde in my ear on the other side as she crawled up and down my suit, wrinkling it. There would be a busty maid waiting to pick up my suit no matter what time I got back to the room, and when that busty maid quietly disappeared, another would replace her. Just like magic. This was Vegas, and magic happened all the time.

I needed to get the hell out of New Hampshire for a while, to somewhere with some refinery that appreciated a man with taste, and with taste for a special kind of sin. Looking around the high roller room, I thought I’d found it. Until my eyes landed on him.

Surrounded by a swarm of bimbos that made my dates look like choir girls, hair and leather sprawled out from the chair at the table.  He didn’t have a glass in front of him, but a bottle, that he lifted to his lips in between sucking on the necks of the girls closest to him.  He didn’t even look at them, how could he, his eyes open little more than slits.

“Young lady,” I said quietly to the waitress, a pristine thing in black and white, an old movie waiting to be colored red. She came to me quickly, smiling shyly.

“Yes, Mr. Lynch?” she said, a melodious voice that I wanted to hear scream.

“Can we please,” I glanced to the over-active corner, “tidy up a bit?”

Her eyes widened, her lips moving with a childlike uncertainty. “Oh, sir,” she said. “That is Tristan Trevosier.”

I ran a finger down her arm, feeling the goosebumps rise under my cool touch. “Why should that matter to me, darling girl?”

“He’s famous, you know?  He’s in Immortal Dilemma.”  Her eyes widened and she jerked her head back to the spectacle at the table in the corner.

“Still doesn’t matter.” My words were little more than breath against her skin.  She shivered as I spoke. “Why would that make him special?”

“I’ve heard he’s a…” She turned back again, looking nervous and lowering her voice.  “Vampire.”

“Do you know what vampires do?”

She was trembling, and it hurt to look at it. I would crush her butterfly wings to stop them from shaking. “Are you saying you think they’re real?”

“I don’t have to think it.” My shield was a fluttering thing around us, but still strong enough to keep the women I escorted from seeing as I leaned in, sniffing deeply her hot pink aroma.

“Mr. Lynch?” she squeaked, eyes darting to the shimmering air around us.

“Sssshhh.” And I plunged my fangs into the warm pulsing vein in her throat, my hand over her mouth so I could feel the scream. I’d been drinking, and my shield was a near failure. I would never be the strongest vampire. The thought of that made me drink deeper, squeeze her cheeks harder, want to consume and obliterate all at once.

“Hey! Hey, man. What the fuck are you doing?” The famous vampire approached me, snapping me out of my thrall.  There was delicious suction when I pulled my mouth from the waitress, her blood salty and thick.  She whimpered softly against my hand, now wet with her tears.  Gasps and murmurs swirled around us.  “We don’t do that shit in public.”

“You…you saw that?” It was my turn to be surprised.

The rockstar already slid his hands around the waist of my waitress, again making the swarm of on lookers and hangers-on cry out with objection or envy. He pressed her against his body, concealing her open wound.  “Yeah.  That’s not how you do it.  You do it like this. Are you ready, sweetheart?”

Drowsy, the waitress nodded as Tristan ran his tongue along her neck then laid her down over the lip of the craps table, so her legs were up above her head.  He ran his hands along her thighs, pushing up her already barely there uniform skirt and biting into the tender flesh of her inner thigh.

“What are you doing over here?” the chubby blonde bitched at the rock star. “Lynch, what is he doing?” she said, turning to me as I wiped a smear of blood off my chin. She noticed, and came quickly to look at it. “Are you okay?”

So she hadn’t seen me take the waitress’s blood. Only he had. He actually was a vampire.

I tapped him on the shoulder as he ravaged the waitress’s thigh. “I think you should go back to your hole in the earth, little boy, before I take your harem away from you.”

He raised his head just enough for me to see the blood glisten against his chin.  His eyes burned black and he bared his fangs to me.  “Try it.” He growled.

Faster than he could think, I took him by the mane of hair, wishing I didn’t have to touch it all the same, and slammed his face hard into the table next to the waitress. She screamed, a tinkling sound in this place, but only had the life left to curl in a ball on top of the game.

Tristan sprung from the table, but swayed when he stood. And I was the undisciplined one? He was a raging mess of a boy, with bloodshot eyes and a drug-thinned body. He ran at me, and I hit him, sending him back against the table. The girls were all screaming, mine and his alike. It made my teeth gnash and my heart pound.

My interests were no longer on him.

“Alright, man, I get it, you’re strong,” the rock star said.

If he said anything else, I didn’t care.  The plump blonde cried out, pushed away from the table by Tristan.  She somehow made her way into a chair, her arms wrapped loosely around her body in a hug. Nothing was going to bring her comfort tonight. I walked to her, going down on one knee and smiling into her tear brimmed eyes. I pulled her arms away from her stomach, pulling her body to mine, to taste the sweet nectar she held inside.

“Stop screaming,” I said through a smile. “It makes me crazy.”

But all the screaming around me, a cacophony of songbirds, had my teeth roaring to sink in to any one of them and all of them.

Her soft belly was in front of me and I pinned her to the chair, ripping my teeth into the flesh of it while she writhed like she loved it. The wound was wide, and she wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy me finishing her blood.

When I drained her, I moved to the next one, and the next one, wondering how long I had before the cameras caught on through the shield. I saw Tristan flash by as he did the same, laboring over the sucking of each girls’ thighs and chests, while I relished the distress of the others. It was a beautiful tragedy, perfection of destruction.

All too soon, the bystanders were reduced to bodies strewn on the carpet like emptied drink cups.  The rock star sat back down at his game table and ran his fingers through his hair.  He raised his bottle to me. “Cheers.”

Invigorated from our little competition, I couldn’t help but ask. “So what else is there to do around here on a Friday night?”

***You can find more Lynch in Running Home and more Tristan in Because The Night.***

TRUE TERROR: Live Giveaways on Radio Shows

TODAY’S BREW: A bunch of coffee and champagne!

By Julie

I got to do a radio interview today! On WATD FM! It was COOOOOOL. WATD has all these old record players and a ton of awards all over their reception area. There’s posters and a big statue of Elvis, and records and while waiting there I heard myself be announced over the loudspeaker!

“WE’LL BE TALKING WITH LOCAL AUTHOR, JULIE HUTCHINGS ABOUT HER FIRST NOVEL, RUNNING HOME, A VAMPIRE STORY…..”

And then I passed out, so I don’t know if they said anything else. No, not really, but so cool. My husband came along, and that was a real treat for me, actually.

The last time I was in a radio booth was in college many years ago, and I was drunk, visiting a friend. That was cool, too. Dave ran a radio show in the middle of the night, and me and my friend Karen got to dig through all the old records. A ton of ska and punk. But that’s beside the point. THIS time, I was a grownup, and sober, and talking about making my dream come true.

I’ve told the story a lot about how Running Home came to life, and why, but for some reason, doing it on a radio show, with my husband there, holding the book in my hand, made it feel so much more real.

How’s this for scary? “We have two signed copies of Julie’s book right here to give away to callers  6 and 8 right now!” The hosts, Lisa Azizan and Rob Hakkila just put it out there, like that.

OH SHIT, WE’RE DOING IT NOW? ON THE AIR? LIKE WHEN YOU WAIT FOR THE BITCHY LITTLE SPOILED KID AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY TO OPEN YOUR HUMBLE PRESENT AND SAY IT SUCKS??? LIKE THAT? FUCK, NO! NO, NO, NO, TAKE THAT SHIT SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Waiting for that radio silence was HORRIFYING, for about 4 secons. Then people called! And the lovely Lisa  had to answer all the calls, and people who didn’t win were disappointed! Yay, sadness! I REVELED IN THEIR SADNESS AND WANTED TO GIVE THEM ALL BOOKS! A lovely gentleman named Stephen and another young lady named Veronica won signed books. It was the first time I’d signed a book for someone I didn’t know, and it was amazing. The thought that this thing I made up was good enough to have a press want it, that it got made into a real thing, that it was just an idea I had, and now here I was, giving it to people that WANTED it. And that there was that poor caller 7 who didn’t win, and she said “OOOOHH!” And that there was a caller afterward who missed the boat. The boat was full! There was a full boat of people who wanted to read my book!

Because no matter what, no matter how hard I work on my writing, no matter how good people say it is, no matter how proud I am, or how cool I am, or funny, one feeling will never go away:

IT’S STILL JUST ME.

It’s just me, Julie who once asked a blind kid what his friend looked like. Me who got caught chasing a wild pig in my pajamas by the CEO of Victoria’s Secret. Me, who loves office supplies more than shoes, who still wants Dunkin Donuts more than Starbucks. Me, who still feels weird about my face in pictures and bites my cuticles. Me, who came home to a raccoon on my porch with Grandpa thinking he should feed it, and me who’s wearing a fire hat and eating yogurt.  It’s just me, but I’m good enough to be that person, too. I did it. I’m that person and this person, still.

It’s terrifying to chase your dreams when you have to give up your reality to do it. But not giving up anything is scarier. Wondering if I should have taken the risk is a fear I wasn’t willing to live with. Even more so, I didn’t want to raise kids who were too afraid of failing not to try. Every day I’m thankful to be afraid, because it means I’m trying, and that the world sees it. And I’ll never stop.

Flash Fiction Friday: ABIGAIL by Callie Armstrong

TODAY’S BREW: Vampire Wine! It’s almost time for Dracula, dawg! (sorry about the “dawg.”)

By Julie

For our Flash Fiction Friday double header, I’m pleased to bring you a Scream/ Paranormal Activity mindfucker of a story from the beautiful and very funny Callie Armstrong. I love this chick from Twitter, and begged her to write me a story because I wanted her on NOW. So enjoy!

You can read more of  Callie’s short stories here http://t.co/TBNMVK07zF and prepare for hilarity on Twitter at https://twitter.com/calliearmstrong.

ABIGAIL

Abigal had been nervous to to tell her three best friends that she wasn’t going to Georgia State with them, more nervous than when she’d asked her father to pay for Georgia Tech, but Emily, Grace and Ashlee had taken the news well. They told Abigail to quit worrying about nothing. “We can still live together.” Emily reassured her “The schools are basically on top of one another.”

The girls spent the summer before their freshmen year looking for the perfect apartment and jobs that would help pay for it. On the day they moved in, they spent the night drinking wine they’d stolen from their parents before they moved out, eating pizza, reminiscing about the 15 years they’d known one another, and making plans for how much better the next 15 would be. When they finally drifted off to sleep that night Abigail was woken up by crying. When she got out of bed and went into the living room Grace was sitting with her back against the sliding glass door that led to their deck. Her eyes were wet and swollen almost shut, snot was coming out of her nose and she was heaving. Abigail ran to her, knelt down, and tried to hug her, but Grace pushed her away.

She screamed, “Get off of me! Get off of me!”

Abigail tried to talk to her, to find out what was wrong, but all Grace would say was, “My blood, my blood. Get it out!”

Terrified, Abigail ran to the room Emily and Ashlee shared, but neither would wake up. Abigail shook them and yelled at them, frantic, not wanting to go back into the living room alone where Grace was ripping off her clothes and tearing at her skin, but they wouldn’t wake up. They wouldn’t flinch.

Abigail spent the night next to Grace, trying to hold her and comfort her, trying to keep her from scratching herself as she screamed. Someone has to hear this, Abigail told herself, someone has to come help me. She prayed to no one, for someone. She tried to dial the police but her cell phone’s reception was bad and she couldn’t find any other phone. She was too distracted by Grace’s screaming and moaning to look for long before going back to her.  

At some point she must have fallen asleep, because she woke up on the living room floor, the right side of her face imprinted from the carpet. Grace was eating cereal with the other two girls in the kitchen. Before Abigail sat up and saw them, she heard their laughter.

The three girls continued to laugh when they saw her stand and joked about how drunk Abigail must have gotten to fall asleep in such an uncomfortable way. She was too distracted and confused, to respond to them. She sat down without speaking in the chair across from Grace and began eating an apple. She knew it hadn’t been a dream.

Grace looked at her and mouthed, “Are you ok?” while the other two were talking about Emily’s new job. Abigail nodded then went to her room to change and shower, wanting to pull Grace aside but thinking that she must be embarrassed or not remember.

“Maybe she was sleepwalking.” Abigail said aloud to herself, turning the shower handle to hot and stepping underneath the water. She felt the bruise forming on her shoulder where Grace had hit her while she thrashed.

Grace didn’t remember. She didn’t remember crying or screaming. She didn’t remember being naked. “I woke up with the same pajamas on that I was wearing when I went to bed.” She told Abigail later that day on a walk to the grocery store. She acted offended when Abigail pressed her about it so she dropped it, settling on the fact that Grace was most definitely embarrassed.

The next night it happened again, and again three times a week later. Not wanting to be alone in her confusion, Abigail told Emily and Ashlee who didn’t believe her until she showed them the scratch marks on her neck and arms when Grace attacked her while she tried to restrain her from jumping off the balcony.

“Your blood is bad too,” Grace screamed into the night, one leg hanging over the rail, “Come with me! Doesn’t it burn? It burns.” She had ranted.

The next night Grace slept without waking. Abigail stayed up late studying and fell asleep at her desk. At 4 she was woken by familiar screams from an unfamiliar voice. It was Emily screaming about her blood, naked and crying. The night after was Ashlee. Abigail no longer got nights of reprieve. When Grace and Emily slept, Ashlee was afflicted. When she slept it was one of the other two. When Abigail tried to talk to them about it in the mornings they looked at her as if she had lost her mind. When she showed them her scratches and bruises they berated her.

“I wasn’t here last night” Emily yelled at her one morning. “How did I fucking attack you if I wasn’t here?”

Abigail had no answer.

When the police found the bodies, Emily, Ashlee and Grace had been bled of every drop of their blood. They lay stacked like dolls put away on Abigail’s closet floor, rid of the toxic blood that haunted her dreams. Abigail was found 5 floors down, broken open like a pumpkin, blood and brains pouring out of her. It was declared a triple murder/suicide, and the case was closed with condolences to each family but Abigail’s.

The families paid a service to clean out the girls’ apartment and to donate their things to charity. If they had done it themselves, one of them might have taken the time to look at the video in the camcorder that Abigail set up the night before her death. It would have shown three girls screaming in the living room and one trying to help them.

Flash Fiction Friday: SCARECROW by Joe Hart

TODAY’S BREW: An ulcerative amount of coffee.

By Julie

This Flash Fiction Friday needed to be cool as hell because Dracula starts tonight and so AWESOME DAY FOREVER, ALL DAY LONG. We have a double header today! Later, you’ll get to read something a little different for us, a very cool story from Callie Armstrong, who I think is just fantastic. Right now, I’m PSYCHED to give you a piece by Joe Hart, author of Lineage, Singularity, and The River Is Dark. He’s doing 31 Days of Flash Fiction on his own blog, and EVERY SINGLE ONE is amazing, not to mention done in the sparest amount of words I’ve ever seen, and he is doing ALL of them. Imagination for days. Go check them out, you’ll be shocked and amazed.  http://t.co/Y0U66xfRMP

Joe and I are internet roommates based on our mutual love of fall, hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, writing as kind of a living, and staring out the window. Critical in my Twitter feed, and just a fantastic friend, I present to you, Joe Hart.

Kick ass author of LINEAGE, THE SINGULARITY, and THE RIVER IS DARK.

Scarecrow

“Scarecrow’s comin’ tonight, Jonesy.”

Jones looked at his older brother, his profile a shadow against the failing light of the sky.

“That’s bull and you know it.”

“Tough talk from a little fatty,” Bobby said, pinching several inches of the blubber that hung around Jones’s waist.

“Stop it, Bobby!” Jones said, slapping his hand away. He hitched his dirty overalls a little higher, adjusting them on his rotund body.

“You gonna cry?”

“No.” Jones kicked a rock on the dirt road. It rolled and bounced into the solid darkness of the ditch. Rows of corn waved in the night, a field of whispering leaves. Their pointed heads nodded in the waning light, an agreement with his brother’s words.

“It’s comin’, daddy even said so,” Bobby said, spitting at the side of the road as they walked.

“How come he lets you call him daddy? He always makes me call him reverend.”

“Because I don’t eat as much as you, chunky ass. I work hard and only take enough to get by. Mom and daddy appreciate that.”

“I don’t take more’n my share, I’m just so hungry after chores.”

“Well, daddy ain’t got the money to be feedin’ your gut, so he called the scarecrow to come take you away.”

Jones stopped dead in the road, the gravel crunched beneath Bobby’s feet and then stopped.

“You’re lyin’, Bobby.”

“Am not.”

“You are!”

“Nope. I knew it was comin’ too, ever since them rows of corn came up and didn’t have no ears on ‘em, I knew.”

“Bull Bobby!” Jones felt warm tears glide down his face and he was thankful of the darkness.

Bobby walked toward him, his footsteps scratching the dirt. “It comes when there’s someone that needs takin’ care of, Jonesy, when a family’s goin’ hungry. It comes through the corn. Its arms are long and so are its fingers. It has a mouthful of sharp straw like needles and if it wants you, all it has to do is reach out, and GRAB YOU!”

Bobby punctuated his last words by jumping toward Jones and latching onto his upper arms. Jones tried not to cry out but failed, a pathetic whimper wheezing out between his teeth. Warm urine squirted once into his pants before he could clench it off.

Bobby released him and howled with laughter before falling silent.

“I hate you, Bobby.”

“Shhh, you hear that?”

“Quit it.”

“No, I mean it, be quiet.”

A gentle breeze eased down the deserted country road. The corn spoke in malicious whispers. The moon rose above the field, a rotting yellow eye.

“There it was again,” Bobby said, his voice low.

“I didn’t hear nothin’,” Jones said, peering past his brother, cursing the dying light of the sun while he willed the sick moon to rise faster.

Without another word, Bobby ran away from him, off the dirt road and down into the ditch. The first stalks of corn swayed with his brother’s passage and Jones stood rooted to the gravel, his mouth open in a silent cry.

“Bobby?”

Nothing. Jones’s eyes watered and he glanced up the dirt road.

Something stood in its center on the next rise, a humped shape darker than the rest of the night.

Jones sidled off the road and stumbled down into the ditch, his eyes never leaving the figure. When the reaching touch of a cornstalk grazed his arm, he moaned but dove headfirst into the tight rows.

The slim stalks brushed by him, their earless bodies looking like overgrown weeds. Jones half walked, half ran down the row, tripping and thrashing while his heart became the loudest sound in the world.

“Bobby?” Jones asked the night, praying for a response. When none came he moved further into the field and stepped into a large clearing completely devoid of corn.

It looked like a square, its corners definable even in the night. The moon’s yellow light slanted into the clearing and sprayed shadows across the soil, dark as motor oil. Jones waited, stunned by the existence of the opening. He took a tentative step forward.

A hand grabbed his wrist.

Jones began to cry out, terror scrambling his thoughts like a snapping livewire, but another hand, one he recognized now, clamped down over his mouth.

“Shhh, dummy, he’ll hear you.”

Jones turned around to face his brother who looked taller in the dark. He always wanted to be tall like Bobby, not heavy like he was.

“Bobby, what-”

“He’s back there,” Bobby whispered, throwing a thumb over his shoulder. “The scarecrow. He’s following us. We gotta cut across the clearing to the other side. Old man Carrol’s field is a half-mile away. We make it to that we can cut through his yard and into ours.”

“Bobby, I’m scared.”

“Don’t be, just run toward that other side when I tell you.”

Jones nodded, hoping his brother couldn’t see the fear that pulled his face tight. Bobby’s hand squeezed his shoulder once.

“Go.”

Jones ran. He ran faster than he ever had before. The ground sped by him and his belly jounced while his legs began to burn. The night air coursed past and his breath heaved in and out. He kept his eyes trained on the other side of the clearing, praying nothing would follow them through the corn once they reached it.

When he was three steps away from the wall of stalks, they parted, a figure materializing where none had been before. Jones slid to a stop and tried to run the other way, but fell in the dirt, a short mewl coming from his chest. The figure wore a brimmed hat and its shoulders were wide. Straw poked from its tattered clothing and when it stepped into the clearing, Jones saw that it carried something in its long-fingered hands.

The axe blade caught the moon’s light as it swung.

Bobby watched from across the field, hearing the wet chop that cut off his brother’s screams, and then the harder thunk of bone breaking beneath sharp steel.

“I told you you ate too much,” Bobby said.

After some time the sounds stopped and the scarecrow came closer, a dripping potato sack slung over its back. It stopped beside Bobby and placed a hand on his shoulder. Bobby stared up into its face and smiled.

“Can we go home now daddy?”

 

NOW GO BUY A BOOK, DAMMIT. GIVE IT TO SOMEONE FOR ALL HALLOW’S READ. http://www.amazon.com/Joe-Hart/e/B005YPWXX8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

To Make Us Even More Halloweeny: Jewelry I Need

Gothic Vampire Earrings Halloween Bats in Antiqued Pewter Gothic Jewelry

http://t.co/16BRjjjwJ4 Bat earrings

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Spice like everyone else.

By Julie

TODAY LOOK AT THE JEWELRY ITEMS I WANT FOR REGULAR LIFE BUT YOU MAY WANT FOR SAY, HALLOWEEN. PREPARE TO SALIVATE.

 

Beautiful Blood Jewelry

Bloody Halloween Jewelry blood stains Earrings by MADEbyMADA

Bloody Halloween Jewelry blood stains Earrings by MADEbyMADA http://etsy.me/V5yP4d via @Etsy

Saw necklace  blood splatter horror jewelry by TocsinDesigns, $18.90

Saw necklace  blood splatter horror jewelry by TocsinDesigns http://etsy.me/1h1Losx via @Etsy

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