Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “horror”

March Madness Flash Fiction: TALISMANS by Jessica Bloczynski

TODAY’S BREW: Bathtub Brew. That’s how much I need.

By Julie

Jessica Bloczynski is a writer like you read about. She’s the one that can’t stop. She cannot stop writing. Doesn’t know how. Does it all day and night. If you’re up, she’s writing. I love her for it. She has the rare sort of writing that I get addicted to. If she writes it, I’ll read it. You can read it here today and also on http://t.co/NOGmhoX4fm. Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/jabloczynski.

TALISMANS

By Jessica Bloczynski

The first thing they tell you about living in a haunted house is that you need salt. Little crystal shakers. Big blue boxes with yellow umbrella girls on the side. Your collection of beach-glass worn smooth and salty to the taste even decades after you collected them with grubby fingers.

They tell you salt is the trick, so you line the sills with blues and greens and browns. Dust the lintel and baseboards. Make a rectangle of umbrella-girl salt around your bed. Tuck yourself in. Cover your face. Pray.

The trouble with salt is that it spreads. Gets between your toes and crusts your eyes. It lives in your blood and tears and snot. You scream at the cat, as she bats a chip of blue-green glass across the floor. They said you would need salt, but salt is not enough.

The second thing they tell you about living in a haunted house is that you need iron. Nails will do. Also the rust-spotted wrench you found in the shed. You think about tetanus, but the salt didn’t work and you are more concerned about how all your shells and glass bits are gone and how someone swept away all your umbrella-girl salt. Tetanus is a small price to pay for safety.

You put the nails in the windows. Driving them home, a lighting crack splits up the bottom pane. The landlady will have to understand that ghosts trump security deposits. It’s a security system of sorts. You take to carrying the wrench tied to a scarf around your waist. It’s not a terribly functional way to carry something so heavy, but the wrench makes you feel safe and safety is key.

You put your wrench under your pillow, but in the morning it is gone. You suspect the cat, but she doesn’t have the strength in her jaws. The dexterity in her paws. She has none of these things.

You suspect the landlady.

She is less forgiving about the nailed windows.

Insists you pay to replace the broken windowpane.

Makes lazy circles by her ear.

Mutters,“meshuga.”

Yes, you are quite sure she has taken your wrench and nails.
The third thing they tell you about living in a haunted house is that you need chimes.

The fourth. Horsehoes.

The fifth. Garlic.

Except you’re allergic to garlic, so you keep it on the porch, giving it a wide berth when you go out. You go out seldomly, putting one Chinese slipper in front of the other. You try to remember what your life was like before you lived here. You can’t.

“That one’s bad luck.” The man at the pet store said, when you held up the ball of charcoal fluff blinking at you in wonder. You laughed at his superstitions, and named her Lucky. This was before you lived in a haunted house. Lucky is up at all hours. Animals can see ghosts, but you wish she’d be less obvious about it. It keeps you up at night.

The last thing they tell you about living in a haunted house is nothing at all. They haven’t told you anything in a week now. Perhaps it is the garlic. Perhaps they don’t believe that you are actually allergic. You would show them. Rub it on your skin and present them with the hives as evidence. You do this.

The landlady takes you to the urgent care.

Meshuga. Meshuga. Meshuga.”

“Why do you say this word?”

More circles by her ear. More muttering. But she drives you in her clanking old Buick back to the house.

You stay awake all night listening to the wind shift the panes of glass, and howl in the eaves, and give the chimes voice. You wonder if it’s worth it. New place. New life. New everything. You used to have so much hope. You used to laugh. You used to sing happy songs and not nonsense tunes set to the song of dancing chimes.

You haven’t seen Lucky for a week now. She has abandoned you. You don’t know whether to be happy that her black spectre is no longer shadowing your path, or sad that she is not there to warm your pillow at night. The horseshoe falls off the door. Someone has left garlic on the table. You wrap it in a towel and feed it to the garbage disposal. Your chimes have been stolen.

“You are late on the rent,” the landlady says. “Pay up or get out.”

You nod. All your money is gone. That is the curse of this house. It takes all your things and scatters them to the wind. You pack your bag. Three outfits. That is all that is yours. Lucky never came back.

The thing they never tell you about living in a haunted house, is that no one stays for long. Maybe they expect that if you’ve read the stories, you know that the house always wins. It takes what it can from you and sets you back on the path toward something else. They don’t tell you that you’ll catch a bus to the next town. Find a job. A husband. A life. That in ten, fifteen, twenty years time you will tell your daughter of the six weeks you spent under its roof. You will not have the words. There are no words but this. The first thing you need when living in a haunted house is salt.

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March Madness Flash Fiction Series: CLICK by Kathy Palm

TODAY’S BREW: Hawaiian Chocolate Nut from HoneyDew. My fave.

By Julie

Kathy Palm is one of those friends from Twitter that I might never have known otherwise and am so glad I found her. As if it isn’t enough that she’s hilarious and outspoken, she writes creepy shit like this and it makes me fangirl. Find her on Twitter https://twitter.com/KathleenPalm and keep an eye out for DOORS, through REUTS publishing next year.

CLICK

by Kathleen Palm

The alarm blares. My arm snaps out to silence the sound. The colors of the sunset creep through my window and paint the walls red.

My fingers curl into my pillow that smells of sweat and fear. “Will it happen again?” I whisper.

“Of course it will,” I answer.

My mind spins.

“How long? How long has it been… since it began?”

My fingers work through the knots in my long, lackluster hair, once golden. I pull my blanket around my shoulders and rock on the edge of the bed. Chipped purple polish adorns my toes, which press into the worn rug. “Don’t know. Too long.”

“Too long.” A frantic laugh shakes my belly.

My gaze flickers to the window where the sun hovers over the horizon. I gasp. Moments. Minutes before the fight, the push to survive.

I stand. The blanket falls to the floor. I kick dirty clothes out of my way as I shuffle to the door. My hurried steps interrupt the silence of the stark hallway and invade the tiny kitchen. Grime-coated dishes fill the sink. A bag with only a few slices of bread sits on the counter.

“We’ll need food.”

I throw the bread in the toaster. “Yes. We’ll get food. When the light returns… tomorrow.”

I jump when the toast pops.

My hand shakes as I crunch on my breakfast and wander to the sliding glass door, leading to the backyard. My shoulder presses against the glass. The edge of the sun dips below the horizon. Twilight, the last seconds of peace.

“How long?” I mutter. Bits of bread fly into the air.

“Since that night, the night we called—”

I slam my fist against the window. “Don’t speak of it! You’ll make it true.”

The sky darkens, and I flip on the kitchen light.

“It is true. It whispered to us.”

Two steps and I electrify the light over the stove, another step and the bulb above the sink blazes to life. I follow the path, the seven steps to the living room. The bulbs of the ceiling fan brighten.

“Whispered of the dark.”

Two steps to the end table. Six more steps to the other end table. Five steps to the hall.

The spare bedroom.

Driving the shadows away, but not forever.

The bathroom.

My room.

I stand in the hallway. Warmth spreads from every doorway.

“There.”

“How long do we have until it starts?”

My fingers dig into my thighs. “I don’t know!”

“Maybe it won’t…”

My hands twist in my shirt, my fingers finding holes worn through the fabric. I turn my head and stare out my bedroom window. Buildings become dark, reaching fingers against the last rays of the sun. The light leaves the sky as if the world sucks it away, devouring it, to keep its brightness for itself.

“It had only been a game.”

Night swallows the city skyline.

Click.

“It hadn’t been a game.” I spin toward the sound and race to the living room. Fear wraps around my mind like icy chains. I search for the extinguished light, nearly knocking over the lamp as I twist its knob and fight back the shadows.

I perch on the edge of the couch. My fingernails scrape across the leather, leaving scars, marks counting days. “They said it was a game. Not real. But we should never have gone there, never have called on the dark!”

My sob morphs into a hysterical giggle. “No.”

“We brought it back with us.”

Click.

I snap my head up.

Darkness settles in the kitchen.

I leap to my feet, my manic laughter matching my rapid pace. My fingers slap the light switch, chasing away the shadows.

Click.

I stumble to the hall. My bedroom door is a black hole.

“It… wants us.”

Light once again fills my room, illuminating the mess.

“It,” I mutter.

I stumble along the hall, watching, listening, waiting. Tremors of fatigue ripple through my body.

“How many nights now?” I whisper.

“How long have we chased the dark?”

“We don’t know.”

“Will it end? Will it ever end?”

My legs quiver with every step. I trip in the hall, falling to my knees.

Click.

Blackness swallows the bathroom. My chest heaves with sobs… with laughter.

“What happens if the lights go out?”

“We don’t know.”

Click.

I drag my fingers through the carpet, pulling myself to my knees. “It’s just the dark. Nothing to fear.”

Click.

“Everything to fear.”

Struggling to stand, to continue, I glance over my shoulder at the dark living room. High-pitched laughter bursts from my gut.

Tears steam down my face. My mind shatters into a million pieces.

Click.

“We can let it end.”

“We can.”

Click.

Click.

I sink to the floor, wrapping my arms around my legs. My thoughts blank as darkness overtakes the house. My hysterical giggles echo down the hall.

“Let the lights go out.”

End

March Madness Flash Fiction Series #1: EIGHT WORDS by Kennedy Thompson!

TODAY’S BREW: Trader Joe’s made it.

By Julie

I’ve mentioned that what I LOVE about this flash fiction series is that every participant is scared. They’re all feeling not good enough. They all took it super seriously and doubted themselves, and with every private message, email, text I got about how awful their stories were, I smiled, because I knew how these blog series work on Deadly Ever After. We support each other, we applaud each other’s bravery, and we kick some amazing talents out into the world in this very safe environment. Many of these writers haven’t even had their work go public before. Listen to me when I say…..

  • YOU ARE NOT THE FIRST TO PUT THEIR FIRST WORK UP HERE.
  • YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE.
  • YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE WILL NEVER DO IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.

Today I’m unbelievably, ridiculously, gushingly proud of Kennedy Thompson. This girl…yes, girl, merely 17 years old… is an amazing talent, and the most caring young woman I have ever met. I could go on all day about her, but let me tell you that my youngest calls her “his fairy,” and she makes him feel better when he needs it. I’m proud to have her put her first public piece out in the world right here, today. And it’s gorgeous. SO MAKE HER FEEL WELCOME OR ELSE.

IT BEGINS……..

EIGHT WORDS

by Kennedy Thompson

My eyes were burning and my head ached, but the book just started to get good. I rarely go to bed without finishing a book, which generally means sleep doesn’t come easy. “Hello Sarah, I’ve missed you.” I gasped, not because those five words were what I was waiting for these last seven chapters, but because “hello” was highlighted. I kept opening and closing the book and couldn’t stop blinking. The page remained highlighted. Defacing books, whether it be writing in them, folding over the pages, or even tearing the pages out, is like sinning to me. Or worse. Definitely worse than sinning.

One word couldn’t mean any harm.

I hopped off my bed and fell on the floor. As quick as possible I started throwing the books out from underneath my bed. Each of them I’d read within the last week. Searching for more highlighter, knowing I’d seen it before recently, thinking it was just a figment of my imagination. Hoping it was, at least. No one ever came in my room, I was very adamant about keeping everyone out. Just as I was unshakeable about damaging books. I was always in my own head, in my own world, not welcoming outsiders, not letting anyone past the surface. Therefore, no one would’ve had access to my personal library, no one would’ve been near my bed.

I hoped.

It felt like years went by. My long blonde hair was like a bird’s nest on top of my head, my face stained with make-up and tears. My giant purple sweatshirt weighed me down but I didn’t have enough strength or motivation to take it off. I rocked back and forth, staring at the mess in front of me. Every book was just a front and back cover with its pages strewn about, if they didn’t have anything highlighted, I crumpled it and threw it across the room. The pile was taller and wider than me. Half of the books had no letters highlighted. Others had one or two. The entire book was destroyed, I had no mercy, no patience, no sanity.

I grabbed permanent markers and began scribbling my unscrambled letters on the wall. “Hello, we’re all mad here.” I smiled sadly. Just like Alice in Wonderland. The freak out was for nothing. I flopped onto my bed and closed my eyes. I laughed at myself, and cried too. I loved Alice in Wonderland. Though nothing explained how everything got highlighted in the first place. My feet aimlessly traced my sheets, then I felt it. Another book. My heart stopped as I sat up.

Fourteen letters, but wait, there’s more.

I feverishly turned the pages, scanned them, and tore them out. I found “you” “will” “are” “that” “fix” “we” all highlighted. Six highlighted words. That was the most in one book. I slung the hardcover at the wall.

Fourteen letters, seven words, one last thing to do.

The back of my hand was red and tender after scratching it incessantly. Anxious. I added it all to the sentence. I sunk to my knees, reluctant to read the finished product. “Hello. We are all mad you are here. We will fix that.” “No, no, no, no, no. There has to be more books.” I whispered shakily. I scurried around my room for a pathetic fifteen seconds, knowing the rest were locked in my wardrobe. I stopped and stared at my wall. I kicked it and then collapsed. “What does that even mean?” My body shook so hard it was vibrating. “Hello. We are all mad you are here. We will fix that.” My voice grew quieter, the further I got. “I don’t unders–” The lights flickered and went out. The door slammed. I screamed at the top of my lungs.

Bright light spilled through my eyelids, burning my eyes. I struggled to open them. “Carrie, Carrie? Are you even paying attention?” My head shot up. I nodded. “Well, will you read your highlighted words on page 452?” “I… I don’t highlight words in books. That’s worse than sinning.” I replied with more sass than I meant to. My history teacher shot me a dirty look. I turned to page 452 anyway. To my surprise, one word was highlighted. “Goodbye.” I whispered. “Pardon me, Miss Marks?” The lights flickered out. My heart was in my stomach and I stopped breathing. The door slammed. Screaming filled the air, but this time, it wasn’t just mine.

Fourteen letters, eight words, there’s nothing else I can do.

THE DARK CARNIVAL IS HERE

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkin’s dark roast because FREEEEEE. HAPPY NATIONAL COFFEE DAY, PEOPLE I LOVE!

By Julie

Soooooo, you may or may not be able to get a couple of killer stories from Ye Olde Undead Duo for free in the coolest anthology ever soon. AND MBY MAY OR MAY NOT I MEAN MAY. YOU MAY. Not to mention some of the most amazing short horror pieces I’ve ever read from many of our friends. I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO GET IT.

dark_carnival-cover-banner

LOOK AT HOW EERIE AND SUBTLY HOLY HELL THIS IS.

October approaches. Autumn leaves are nearly falling. The Dark Carnival is calling, calling. Will you answer its call? Will you heed the beckon?

 The doors are opening.

 Will you leave with your life?

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It’s The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise that anyone can leave…alive.

Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian

 LOOK AT THIS LINEUP.

Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley. *Final lineup subject to change

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Add it to Goodreads here:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20495362-the-dark-carnival

Welcome to WIDOW TOWN by Joe Hart

joe hartTODAY’S BREW: Life Is Good S’mores Brew. Seethe with your jealousy.

By Julie

Joe Hart is my internet roommate. We would have a sitcom-worthy lifestyle. However, we settle for being wonderful friends and loving each other’s work, so I’m proud as a sonofabitch to introduce you to his latest, and Jesus H. Christ if this blurb isn’t fantastic.

In the future there is no such thing as a serial killer.
A breakthrough research project has detected an active gene present in all known psychopaths and developed a vaccine to make it completely dormant. People are inoculated at birth. Society has rejoiced the extinction of the sociopathic mind. 
There hasn’t been a serial killing in America in over forty years. 
Sheriff MacArthur Gray resides in the future but lives in the past. His world views have chased him from a large metropolis to his home town, but there is no sanctuary to be found after he arrives. 
Because people are dying and only he can see the truth. 
A sociopath has somehow survived and is thriving in the new world. Soon Gray is thrust into a nightmarish race against the killer where no one is safe, and everyone is a suspect.
Get yourself a copy of WIDOW TOWN here. http://t.co/q5NOsVfgfc and then love me for what I’ve told you to do.
Then go follow him on Twitter @AuthorJoeHart and check out his blog for some of the best flash fiction you’ll ever read http://t.co/Y0U66xfRMP. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Joe Hart Tells Us Stuff & An Excerpt From THE WAITING.

TODAY’S BREW: Columbian Something On Sale

By Julie

I’m a big Joe Hart fan. I’m a fan of him, personally, as exemplified by our status as roommates on Twitter. I’m as big a fan of his work. (He just tweeted this line from his new work in progress: “He lived a life of seldoms, of almosts, and mostly nevers.” UGH. I want this on a tombstone, but not mine.) The man can write horror the way I want it; classic, all but gore-free, and scaring me to the bone with its chilling implications, imagery and language. More The Shining than Nightmare on Elm Street, you know? His flash fiction is the best in the business, if you ask me, and so when he offered up THE WAITING, his latest novel, for me to read, I put on my little winged shoes and flew to his side of the apartment and grabbed it, slobbering and clawing when he tried to pull it away saying I could only have it if I said please.

Follow Joe’s blog where you can read his brilliant work. http://authorjoehart.blogspot.com/

I asked Joe to tell me where he comes up with this stuff. And he just goes on and on  and on. I had to slap him to get him to stop, but it was the funny kind of slap, not the insulting kind.

HERE’S WHAT HE SAID.

I get asked a lot of the time, ‘where do you come up with this stuff?’ or ‘how did you think of that?’ Sometimes people ask with wonder, and others tentatively, like I might leap toward them and bite their face off if they say something wrong. (Note to self: Quit wearing Hannibal Lecter mask when speaking to readers.)

Ahem.

Anyways, it’s the most common question authors get asked, and sometimes the most infuriating.

What do you mean, ‘where do I come up with this stuff?’ It’s just there, all right? Okay?! Now leave me alone! Jeez!

 

I’m kidding, of course, but I do think these questions test us as writers because it points the mirror at us and forces introspection about creativity in general. Personally I love getting asked those questions because it makes me really slow down and figure out exactly where the ideas do come from.

I guess the simple answer is, I think about things. A lot. I’m always telling a story to myself in my head, always wondering, asking questions- what if? Or, what would this character do? Out of the questions come answers. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes not so good, but that seems to be the process.

In my case, I make up creepy things. And since my genre is the one designed to scare people, my ideas can actually be tracked in a fairly clear way.

I ask myself, what am I afraid of?

This works pretty well because I’m somewhat jaded when it comes to horror. I watched Predator when I was six. I started reading King and Koontz when I was eleven. I used to dare my cousin and get dared in return to walk out in the middle of the night and do a lap around our old barn.

It takes quite a bit to scare me. So if an idea comes to my mind that does give me a shiver, I write it down and make a scene out of it. Sometimes I collect these scenes for months without knowing how they’re going to fit together, or if there’s a story at all. But usually if they start stacking up, I can arrange them in a narrative. Joe Hill once said to start small and write one good scene, then another after that, and just keep going. My process is close to the same. If I can scare myself silly by playing out a scene in my head, I run with it and weave it into the story. I did this several times in my latest novel, The Waiting, which in my opinion is the creepiest thing I’ve written to date.

But even before you can scare readers, you have to make them care. There is no fear if a person has nothing to lose. I’ve asked myself this question over the years: who is the most dangerous person, someone who has nothing to lose, or everything? I would have to side with everything, and for me this correlates directly with a reader’s engagement. A reader has to care about the characters. They have to care about the plot. They have to be emotionally involved in the story, and then you can flip the lights off on them and scream at the top of your lungs. If they don’t care, you can sling blood and guts at them continuously and they won’t move, except to shut the cover.

HEY THERE, IT’S ME, JULIE AND I DECIDED YOU DESERVED AN EXCERPT FROM THE WAITING. I love this because it takes place in a creepy ass basement. I love the idea of finding weird shit in basements, and bet you do, too. So, read:

Evan searched blindly until his fingers met a switch box. Knowing full well if this switch produced no light he would retreat up the stairs, he flipped it up. Three dim bulbsblinked on in a line across the basement, casting everything in a sick glow. He was about
to step onto the basement floor when he looked down—
—and saw a small child standing less than a foot away.
Evan’s feet tried to backpedal, and a strangled moan fell from his mouth as he tripped and landed hard on the stairs behind him. The treads bit into his ass and lower back, but he barely noticed, his gaping eyes locked on the child facing away from him.
Just as he was about to spin and flee up the stairs, already forming a plan to grab Shaun from the couch and haul him to the pontoon, Evan realized that the child hadn’t moved.
He waited, his breath too large for his lungs. His eyes traveled down the back of a little girl with dark hair wearing a purple dress, except something was wrong. Several dark slits were cut into the back of her knees.
Evan sighed and placed his sweating face into one palm.
A doll.
“Shit.”
His voice sounded hollow, but speaking gave him the strength to stand and wince at the throbbing ache settling into his back. Evan moved down the last two treads, his heart returning into the realm of normality as the doll’s face came into view. Its eyes stared across the basement, its mouth covered in duct tape.
The bubbling dread within his stomach that had receded only moments ago began to build again, the hairs rising on the back of his neck. Evan didn’t move any farther into the basement, his eyes fixed on the doll’s face. Visions of its head slowly turning toward him corkscrewed through his mind. If that happened, he wouldn’t just cry out, he would become a scream embodied.
Trying to shove aside the blaring fear within, he bent and grasped the doll’s miniature arm. Its plastic flesh felt cold to the touch, as if it had been soaking in ice water. Evan shuddered, waiting for the frigid limb to writhe in his palm. Even as the rational part of his mind tried to quell the stampeding fear, Evan noticed his hands shaking. He turned the doll over once, studying it. It didn’t look very old or used. In fact, it appeared almost new. When he flipped it over again, he started as its bright blue eyes blinked shut, but realized it was designed to do that when lying flat. He studied the gray tape covering the doll’s mouth, it chubby cheeks visible above its gag. Evan set the doll on the floor beside a stack of cardboard boxes, giving it another sidelong glance before stepping fully into the room.
The basement ran the full length and width of the house, and even with its low ceiling, it felt like a cavernous space. To his right he saw what must have been Jason’s grandmother’s sewing area; a dust-covered sewing machine sat amidst a field of threaded bobbins atop a desk. Beside it, several baskets of yarn lay in bundles, their wrapping sealed and new.
Evan moved forward, running his hand along a workbench that ran along the wall.
A pegboard of hanging tools glinted in the soft light, and numerous drawers lined the front of the bench. A few support beams studded the floor in random places, furthering the feeling of being in a cave.
As he approached the opposite end of the room, Evan saw a wide worktable covered with a white sheet and littered with several stacks of papers held down by oblong brass paperweights. A few sprockets and thin chains were coiled within trails of oil.
Beyond the table stood a massive shape partially concealed by another sheet, this one dark and splotched.
Evan moved closer to the hidden shape, noting the electrical panel in one corner as well as a hulking furnace and water heater. Several cobwebs danced in the rafters above, and gradually the silhouette beneath the makeshift tarp became apparent.
A grandfather clock.
But it was the biggest Evan had ever seen. Rounding the table, he tugged once at the sheet covering its bulk. It fell to the floor, and he stepped back.
The clock didn’t have a single pendulum encasement, but three. The two towers to either side of the center lacked actual pendulums and sat lower, like the shoulders of a crouching giant. The wood frame was dark, stained a deep obsidian, with elaborate molding that swirled and curved on the outside of the frame. Three glass doors covered the pendulum encasements, their handles and hinges cast iron, with the center door being the widest, almost big enough for a man to walk through comfortably. The clock’s shining face was the size of a large dinner plate and had four separate sets of timing hands. Instead of numbers around the outer edges, bunches of delicate, curving lines were etched into the silver plating. The slicing brink of a moon dial peeked over the top of the clock’s face; the crescent moon carved into the steel bore an uncanny malevolent smile, with two empty sockets for eyes. Above the face, the molding came together in two pointed horns that nearly met in the middle.
That’s the scariest fucking clock I’ve ever seen.
Evan frowned. How could a timepiece be scary? He chided himself but couldn’t deny the aura the clock gave off. It hadn’t been engineered to be beautiful. As far as he could see, it was quite the opposite.
Evan’s hip bumped the worktable, and one of the paperweights rolled off the pile it held down. He reached out and stopped it before it plummeted to the floor, marveling at its weight. Only after lifting it close to his face did he realize that’s exactly what it was—
a weight for the clock. Its brass casing shone beneath the light, and a small pulley grew from its top.
Evan spun the little wheel a few times before placing the weight back on the table.
A diagram on one of the pieces of paper drew his attention. Evan picked the paper up and spent a few seconds squinting before realizing it was an inner illustration of the clock’s face, “the bonnet,” as it was apparently called.
“On it like a bonnet,” Evan said to the empty room, as he placed the paper back on the pile. He turned toward the clock, wondering whether or not he should replace the sheet. The soulless eyes of the moon at the clock’s peak gazed at him, almost imploring
him to come closer.
“No thanks,” Evan said, and crossed the basement to the stairway, shooting only a cursory glance at the doll as he passed.
He paused at the light switch, running through different options before sighing and flipping off the power to the lights. The basement plunged into darkness, and with all the restraint he held in his body, he managed not to pelt up the stairs into the welcoming light of the kitchen.

I KNOW, RIGHT?? Go buy THE WAITING right this second. http://t.co/P3IvkebeMa

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.***

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.

My Infection by Mark Matthews for Flash Fiction Friday

TODAY’S BREW: Hazelnut times a zillion

By Julie

At Books of the Dead Press, I met some great people. Mark Matthews and I hit it off fast and have become really good friends. He also happens to be a fantastic author, and the world is finally figuring it out. His latest creation, On the Lips of Children just hit the top 100 in horror on Amazon. If you haven’t read this uniquely disturbing novel, trust me, do so. You won’t be the same after. Get this book. NOW. http://t.co/mFzbjq8rNL.

NOW GET EXCITED BECAUSE I MADE MARK WRITE THIS CREEPY ASS STORY FOR FLASH FICTION FRDAY. Enjoy.

MY INFECTION

By Mark Matthews

Puddles of mud.
After she confessed her eyes became puddles of mud, like tears had fallen upon dirty eye sockets and left a muddy mess. “Okay, yes, we had sex,” she squeaked. “Three times only. I didn’t meant to. Will you still take care of us?”
Latrice only confessed because she was caught. The paternity test showed 99 percent chance I wasn’t the father. She held the child of Puckett in her womb.
“Will you take care of us?” she asked again. It wasn’t a question, she was giving me a challenge.
“I will take care of things,” I answered, but I didn’t say the rest that I wanted to, which was “because the day I fucked you I caught an infection and now I have it for life.”
“What about Puckett? Will you take care of him like you usually do?”
“Yes, I will.”
I had to. Because now Puckeet has the infection too, and I can’t have him talking smack about me taking care of his baby.
Puckeett spent 3 more days alive before I found him. Suffocation by choking has always been my choice when I want others to think for a moment on whose hands is killing them. Later, they shall swim deep. The Detroit River doesn’t give up its dead easy. And my Latrice loved it when I killed for her.
The birthing room was lit like a spaceship and reminded me of Vegas. No windows. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night only that that hours passed. New kinds of liquid flowed from between Latrice’s propped up legs. She sweat and spasmed, and when the head crowned, I felt both nauseous bile and warm shivers of hope.
There was a one percent chance that the baby would have my ebony flesh. But she did not. In fact, her flesh was so white it was see through. Nearly blue and fucking see through.
A heart condition kept the child in intensive care for days, in an incubater, looking like a frog ready to be dissected. I peeked at her, tried to make eye contact, did make eye contact. This infant seemed to be my very own heart beating in front of me, shriveled with doctors prodding it to keep her alive.
“She’s going to die,” Latrice repeated again and again. “I can’t take this, I can’t see her. You do it, you take care of her.”
I did, and stayed in the hospital and put my finger in the sterile glove and touched an index finger to her forehead.
Where’s my mother? she asked with tiny motions of her incubated arms.
“Soon you will see her. I am here. This is how it is,” I answered.
Days later I brought the child home to Latrice. Life had grown stronger in the nameless infant, but she was still barely bigger than the palm of my hand. At home the child shrieked and wailed as if she held the pain from a thousands past lives.
“This is not how it’s supposed to be,” Latrice said, watching me hold the child at 3:36 a:m: in the rocker on a Tuesday.
“This is how its going to be.”
I slept with the week old flesh on mine. It was skin so thin you could see her insides, like she was made of rubbery glass. I put her on my chest, rocked her until 4:25 a:m: and she beat with my heart.
The rocker was to be where the baby fed, yet it refused to take the breast of her mother.
Medications the baby did take. I injected them into an IV port in her neck. Warnings from doctors rang in my ears. Too large of an injection can lead to affixiation. Failure to administer will do the same.
Latrice curled up into a ball much of the time, like a fetus afraid to be born into her new life. Her hair, unwashed for days, became stringy like a broom. Pill bottles with the prescription label rubbed off sat on the counter. Oxy’s or Xanax or both.
The infant tears came at night, sometimes causing trips to the hospital wrapping ourselves in jackets gainst the cold, only to be sent back home again. Sleeplessness weighed us down like soaking wet clothes.
“This isn’t how its supposed to be,” she said.
“This is how it is,” I answered.
“No. You can take care of this. Take care of her like you do. Make it like it was before. She’s not meant to be alive.” Her eyes become the muddy puddles of tears and dirt. They pleaded to me. The infection bubbled in my veins.
Killing again would be easy. The pillow held down with my weight covered her whole face. Things were fragile, and it was just tiny breaths to take away this time.
The body fit easily in the trunk. The night felt cold. The car seats were frigid leather. Soon the car would heat up, and things would be better. I whispered my middle of the night words to my passenger in the back seat.
“We’re taking mommy to the river. Then we’ll be home, and I will give you a name, and I will take care of you”.
My infection was gone.

The Sin of American Horror Story Returns in COVEN.

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Shandy. Drop dead, you can’t have any.

By Julie

AMERICAN HORROR STORY, YOU HAVE RETURNED TO ME, JUST LIKE YOU SAID YOU WOULD!

This one is about witches, and frankly, it could probably be about a summer camp and I would think it was original. I cannot wait to get that seedy, a little too dirty feeling I entirely plan on getting from watching this season. That’s my favorite part about this anthology-type series, is that you just feel like you need a shower afterwards. Partly from visions of Zachary Quinto and Dylan McDermott, but mostly because of the intensely psychological, just the right amount out of the box while still being classic horror. The imagery is debilitatingly vivid and sticks with you forever. FOREVER.

This season features the absolutely incomparable Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode, the supreme witch headmistress in an Academy/coven for teenage witches. While this sounds like a plot that’s been done, you then get images like THIS:

I

So, as expected, it promises to be a visual nightmare. GOODY. But the beauty of this show, for me, is that it mixes horror with an undeniable sexuality that makes you squirm just a little more than usual. This season will be no different, in a good way.

What I love about horror…..good horror…..is the sin of it all. Really evocative horror for me, like American Horror Story, is equal parts terrifying and jarring as well as decadently, disturbingly sensual. Forbidden. That’s the beauty of this show, and no matter what any difficult to please critics say, American Horror Story will surely deliver with originality and a grit that no other show on television can match. The filming of it alone gives it a gritty, under the stairs, hidden feel that makes it seem like something you shouldn’t be seeing. I love it. And I cannot wait to see what Coven brings us tonight at 10 on FX.

Tell me what you think.

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