Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Joe Hart”

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.
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Julie’s Bookie Gifty Recommendations

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Spice. Because I will love it forever.

By Julie

CHRISTMAS IS COMING! IT’S PRACTICALLY HERE!

Today I shall give you my book recommendations for when you inevitably screech “OH SHIT I NEED TO GET AUNT TRUDIE A PRESENT AND SHE’S SO RACIST AND SO MEAN AND SHE COOKS LIKE SHIT! WHAT DO I GET A PERSON LIKE THAT?!”

You’ll get that bitch what I get everyone on earth, or wish everyone would get for me. BOOKS. I give books that I like. Period. Don’t be afraid to get someone a book they might not get themselves, but that you love. Fucking discovery and shit. It’s science. I shall give you both paperback and eBooks. Commence reading!

These books, in particular:

  1. Oh yeah, it’s happening. RUNNING HOME. Seriously, it has snow, and Christmas, and romance, but weird romance, and betrayal and blood. And more Christmas, and even Christmas ornaments. And it smells like peppermint brownies. http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX. And the cover is so pretty!
  2. SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve read this series over and over. Again, beautiful snowy feel to it, but with a dynamic cast of characters and a fantastic, intriguing storyline, written by a true poet. Gorgeous. http://www.amazon.com/Shiver-Wolves-Mercy-Maggie-Stiefvater-ebook/dp/B002JWD6AS/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1
  3. THE SHINING, Stephen King. It’s a classic holiday horror, and even if they’ve read it before, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. This book is worth reading every year. http://www.amazon.com/The-Shining-Stephen-King/dp/0307743659/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387466695&sr=8-1&keywords=the+shining
  4. SHADOW AND BONE, Leigh Bardugo. This book took me completely by surprise with its stunning imagery, complex relationships, incredibly original plotlines and worldbuilding. One of my favorite books of the year by far. http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Bone-Grisha-Trilogy/dp/1250027438
  5. NEVERWHERE, Neil Gaiman. You can’t go wrong giving someone who’s never read Gaiman this book. If they don’t like it, they don’t get any present next year at all. http://www.amazon.com/Neverwhere-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0380789019
  6. BLACKBIRDS, Chuck Wendig. I’m in love with Miriam Black, her story, her mouth, her abilities, and I’m in love with the attention Chuck gives to making sure there is a complexity to this story. Holes Black gets herself into that you pray she can find her way out of. An incredible read with endless possibility. http://www.amazon.com/Blackbirds-Chuck-Wendig/dp/0857662309/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387467578&sr=1-4&keywords=chuck+wendig
  7. DISCOREDIA, J.C. Michael. Brand new author who’s been poring over this novel for a long time. I have waited over a year for the paperback of this book to come out to hold in my grubby little mitts, and now I can have it. And it’s set at New Year’s, so winning. http://www.amazon.com/Discoredia-J-C-Michael/dp/1927112214
  8. AGENTS OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS, Simon R. Green. I’ve given this book to so many people, I might be on Green’s PR staff now. He’s my favorite author and this is my favorite work of his. I can’t say enough. http://www.amazon.com/Agents-Light-Darkness-Nightside-Book/dp/0441011136
  9. HOLIDAYS ON ICE, David Sedaris. I read this book years ago, and it never left me. Perfect for this time of year, and it’s a sure winner with any reader. http://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Ice-David-Sedaris/dp/0316078913
  10. DEEP KISS OF WINTER, Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter. I’m reading this right now, and really enjoying it. I wanted something with bite, but light enough to feel like an escape at the end of the day. This is it. It would be a great gift. http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Kiss-Winter-Kresley-Cole/dp/1451600054

AND FOR THE PEOPLE YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND MORE THAN 5 BUCKS ON, E-BOOKS.

  1. BECAUSE THE NIGHT, by our very own Kristen Strassel will be under everyone’s E-tree this year. http://www.amazon.com/Because-Night-The-Songs-Collection-ebook/dp/B00GFCRJRO
  2. ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN, by my brother at Books of the Dead Press, Mark Matthews is only 99 cents right now, and wow, what a goddamn read. I love this book so hard. http://www.amazon.com/On-Lips-Children-Mark-Matthews-ebook/dp/B00D71FE0Kv
  3. BOUND, by J. Liz Hill. For Chrissakes, the cover is so goddamn pretty. http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Mirrors-Bershan-Elizabeth-Hill-ebook/dp/B00A92CWOQ
  4. SINGULARITY, by Joe Hart. I love the way the man writes, and impatiently await my copy of his new book in the mail. http://www.amazon.com/Singularity-Joe-Hart-ebook/dp/B00B7CI62Y
  5. UNTETHERED, by Katie Hayoz. “Sylvie isn’t comfortable in her own skin.  In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it.” That’s all I need to hear. http://www.amazon.com/Untethered-YA-paranormal-ebook/dp/B00C7A8YW2/

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: 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

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