Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “short stories”

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY!! Bones by Tammy Farrell

TODAY’S BREW: This Columbian Something or Other that benefits Save The Children. BECAUSE I AM SO KIND.

By Julie

I LIED! This post isn’t really by me, because today is FLASH FICTION FRIDAY!! And true to our roots, we have a vampire story for you, by the wonderful Tammy Farrell. We’re fans of Tammy’s on Twitter (follow her @TamzWrite), and we’re both really excited for her novel THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT to come out on January 28th!! I mean, LOOK AT THIS COVER.

The Darkness of Light (The Dia Chronicles) by Tammy Farrell (Jan. 2014)

YAAAAAAY!  (Trust me, add her on Goodreads here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18628472-the-darkness-of-light). For now, enjoy her short story, Bones!

  Bones

The scent of lilacs and orchids swept over me, but it wasn’t from her hair anymore. That surely faded some time ago. Now the aroma came from the vibrant bouquet atop her headstone, mixed with the musty odor of damp soil and a rotting corpse.

I dug deeper, using all of my immortal strength to reach the coffin. The dead were a definite six feet under in those days, sure to keep the plague from rising up. My dark trousers and white cotton shirt were torn and filthy from my frenzied digging.

There wasn’t much time left before dawn.

I swept a strand of black hair from my face, completely unaware of the wretched monster I’d become. What did it matter? No one was around to see me, not at that hour.

Two years had passed since I last saw Clara’s angelic face. She was the picture of innocence at 17, and from the first moment I saw her, I knew I wanted her. The last night of her life, was the first night I went to her. There was no need to glamour her then, for my alabaster skin and fair brown eyes were mesmerizing enough.

She made no sound when I entered her room, and she watched me with large blue eyes as I closed in on her, stepping to the rhythm of her mortal heart.

I wanted her. I wanted her blood, and I wanted her spirit.

“Be with me forever.” I whispered in her ear. “Be my bride.”

She smiled—even in the face of a night demon—she smiled.

I ran my fingers through her precious golden hair, and her perfume coiled through the air until it was all around me. Then I cupped my hand on her warm cheek, and with my sharp thumb-nail, I grazed the smooth texture of her skin.

She let me wrap my arms around her as I leaned in to bite. She was to be mine. Soon I would not only taste her sweet blood, but give it back to her and make her my immortal companion.

My immortal bride.

When I pierced her flesh she gasped, and I drew at the pulsing life that flowed over my tongue like a thick, delectable syrup. While it coursed through my veins I became entranced by the heavenly light that came with her blood.

I was lost in her.

When I finally pulled away it took several seconds before the light faded from my eyes and I was able to see my princess. She was limp on the bed, her eyes were open in a vacant stare and the swell of her bosom no longer rose and fell with each breath. I waited for her to move, but her arms hung at her sides like a fallen branches.

She was gone.

The next week I visited her grave, anguished at my ravenous attempt to make her mine, but instead, like a fool, I took her life.

I watched the freshly dug mound as if she might break through at any moment, but all was silent. Even the little bell attached to her headstone, used by those who had been buried alive, was still with death.

“My darling,” I sobbed into the ground. I was certain I was alone, but my moment of anguish was soon interrupted when I heard a gentle whisper in my ear.

“William. William,” it said in a voice like a thousand ringing bells.

I perked my ears as the voice called to me.

“William, it is Clara, I am here. I am your immortal princess, just as you desired.”

I wiped the tears of blood from my eyes and peered around the cemetery for the source of the ethereal sound. “Is that really you, darling?” I called out. “How is it I can hear you when you are buried beneath the earth?”

“You wanted me forever, and I am yours,” the voice rang out. “I will be with you now forever.”

“Yes, but I did not want a spirit,” I cried. “I wanted you whole.”

“You wanted me and now I am yours.”

I waited for her ghost to appear before me, to see her face once more, but the night was unmoved and I cursed the God that would send a formless spirit to haunt me.

The following evening I was awoken, not from my nightly hunger, but from the echoing chant of my bodiless bride.

“Wake up, my love. The sun has set.”

“Leave me now, child,” I urged. “Go to the heavens where you belong. I have no need for such a being.”

“You said forever, love, and forever is what you will get.”

This was the first of many nights that her presence would stalk me. Even as I wandered the streets, she would speak for my ears alone, and anyone in my company would retreat from my constant bickering with the air. When I hunted, she spoke to me, spoiling the comfort I might find in the blood of my prey. She was vicious and relentless and would give me no peace.

I endured two years of this torment and no amount of pleading or prayer would drive her away. When I found myself back at the cemetery I was desperate, and resolved to unearth her. It was then I noticed the silence. I dug faster.

Finally, when the sharp blade of my fingernail scraped the surface of her coffin, I almost expected her to scream from within. And when I punctured the lid with my clenched fist, her voice remained unheard. Only the crickets and night owls kept me company.

Through the jagged whole of the lid I saw her skull. The large black holes where her beautiful eyes once rested looked up at me, and the wide, toothy grin seemed to mock me. I lifted her out, thinking the skeleton might come to life, but it did not.

Her body of bones was clothed in a white lace dress that had begun to yellow, and I laughed at the irony of it. Here was my bride of bones, dressed in her wedding gown.

Her remains crackled when I gathered them into my arms and for the first time in two years, I knew peace.

My strides were long and steady as I made my way out of the cemetery, cradling the dress and bones close to my chest. I now had my bride, and her voice was finally hushed. That night I went to sleep for the day as I have every day since then, with my bride of bones tucked close by my side. A small price to pay, I suppose, for my peace of mind.

http://tammyfarrell.com/the-writing-life/    Main web page is tammyfarrell.com.

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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: Touchstone by Darren Goldsmith

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Capuccino something or other.

By Julie

IT’S FLASH FICTION FRIDAY, BABIES! I’ve hand selected all of the Flash Fiction Friday writers, by the way, and one of the first on my list was today’s writer, Darren Goldsmith.

I found Darren on Twitter, of course (@DarrenGoldsmith), and instantly adored him. After reading his blog, http://t.co/QuPlnooeUb, I had reason to love him more. The refined honesty Darren gives us is simply beautiful, and I was overjoyed when he agreed to write for us. I demand you love him, too.

 

Touchstone

 

Every pebble is a lost soul, she used to say. A trillion pebbles. A trillion unremembered songs. She would pick a few up and kiss them. Hold them to her cheek. Place them carefully back. I would wrap both her hands in mine and look across the beach. Stone clack and surf hiss. Tumbled Atlantic caressing the cold gradient of backlit sky and low cloud.

I felt uneasy walking there. She looked through me. No, she looked beyond me. Seeing a finer reality I imagined. A strand of dark hair falling down from under her hat. A blink. Two blinks. Brushed away. Grey eyes and pale skin. Green sea and salt tears.

 

Every story starts somewhere. Ours was two years before, outside a bar in town. She stood framed by sleet, her boot heels reflected in the glimmering pavement. Broken neon playing the angles of her face in stutters, blue and green and back again. Shoulders hunched, hands drawn up inside jacket sleeves, two fingers scissoring a cigarette. The tip’s cherry glow. A momentary halo of smoke twisted away by the wind.

I walked over and mumbled something about it being too cold to be standing here. She offered me the cigarette. I declined. She blew some more halos while I pretended not to shiver and wondered how to get home. Then she finished, flicked it into the road. A tiny comet extinguished on contact with wet tarmac. She hooked my arm. Drew me inside. We spent an hour at a table, just sitting. Each time I opened my mouth to speak she smiled and shook her head. Smiled and took a drink.

Finally she said hello.

 

Her flat was Asian promise. And Celtic weave. And Bedouin chic. A dozen influences from around the globe. Boot sales and junk shop purchases.

‘I’ll visit one day,’ she said, tracing her finger around the rim of a small silver cup. ‘I want to walk the maps.’

‘I’ll go with you,’ I replied.

She lit candles. Undressed me in the soft flickering amber. Pulled me gently down to her bed.

 

 

She moved into my place. But kept her sanctuary. I didn’t mind. I understood it wasn’t about me. We slept there occasionally anyway, when we were in that part of town. When she wanted to share the cultures she intended some day to drink in.

We curled around each other, against the world. We traded privacy for intimacy. Beliefs and personal truths. Though I felt she held a part of herself back. Perhaps she feared more than I did. Perhaps she knew before I did. The end. An end to something good. Accepted it and locked that part away. There are those who are described as old heads on young shoulders. She was an old heart.

 

So we passed through this moment but forgot the seasons existed. All I knew was the honeyed grace of her limbs. The knowing delight in her face. As with all new loves every experience was fresh, like cut plant stems. Exposed nerves, wonderfully tart and acidic. Mulled wine for blood. Liquorice for bones.

 

My job tore me reluctantly away, overseas, to desert and dust. Actors, trailers and endless heat. The sharp scent of creosote bushes. I called each night and sent her panoramas of the upturned sky. A river of shimmering stars like smoke. We talked while the coyote sang, until the moon dipped and the Joshua trees became edged in gold. I wished the days away.

 

When I returned I found a lump. A small thing. It didn’t hurt. There were tests and a doctor who said it had been caught early. I had surgery and radiotherapy. Rotten cells bathed in high-energy rays. Poisoned to make me well. Weeks of pain and nausea. Of overwhelming lethargy.

Some months later I was fit enough to work again. But I knew I had lost a part of myself. Confidence, ignorance. Something not cut out by a surgeon. My mortality now exposed to the ether. It was a difficult time. She became distant. Or I withdrew, I’m not certain which.

Filming took me east after that. To blossom and snows. Temples, koi carp and salary men. I ate food I couldn’t pronounce and laughed along with jokes I didn’t understand. I sent her pictures of frozen ponds. Starlight captured in dark ice. We talked but it wasn’t the same alternating current of words.

From there I headed north. And then west again. A steel bird chasing the sun. I brought back souvenirs from each location and she would thank me and kiss my cheek but never display them.

Our orbits gently decayed. We disconnected. We stopped being us. I tried to delay the inevitable. But you can’t fight entropy. You can never return.

One night I turned up at her flat swaying from too many shots. A speech in my head, flowers behind my back and a small, velvet-lined box in my pocket. She didn’t answer the door.

 

I never saw her again.

All my friends told me that I was better off. Said she was selfish, crazy. I felt differently. I remembered the belief. The connection. A touchstone. I remembered the long days, her hand in mine, as we gazed upon a hundred landscapes and breathed the dust of other towns. The journeys on back roads, laughing when we became lost. I remembered the nights when she held me, so very tight, while I shook with pain and fear. While I sweated the unfairness.

I remembered her face, perfectly captured by nature and geometry alike. Held in time, like a single movie frame.

 

I would be lying if I said I ever understood. Why us. Why me. The fates. A roll of bones. The hand we were dealt by an expanding, cooling universe. All I know is the wind bites hard and the sea folds over and over, endlessly. I look across the beach. A trillion pebbles. A trillion lost souls. And I try to work out which one is hers and which one is mine.

Flash Fiction Friday: PLANCHETTE by Meghan Schuler

TODAY’S BREW: Caramel Apple Coffee and it is as good as it sounds

By Julie

IT’S FLASH FICTION FRIDAY! And I have to say, I’m pretty psyched out of my mind for today’s story, because Meghan is a writer in a league of her own. This girl’s imagery and jarring vision just cut me to the core, and I love it and her. Without further ado, read Planchette.
Then, completely smitten with her like I am, follow her here:

Free Reads: glitterandkerosene.com/shortstories/

Twitter: @1girlvaudeville

YouTube: glitterandkerosene

PLANCHETTE

A single printed word:

hello.

Five tiny, whispered letters, the ghost of a lonely breath.

His hands hovered over the keys, round buttons still shining after years of use. The paper wound through the bar stared blankly white at him, clearly new, but the word felt old with an age that reached in and plucked something from his soul. The tiny slip of paper hooked to his beloved bore a price he could not pay. He turned his hand, stroking the metal carriage and let his fingers light on the keys.

hello.

He hesitated, fearing the weight of his hands, afraid to mar that delicate page, though it was hardly perfect. He gently pressed the keys, one by one.

hello.

how i have missed you.

He stared at the page, covered now in black and red, irrevocable ink spelling out nonsense. He knew which message had been left for him alone, isolated. His heart shuddered.

what is your name?

emmaline.

The name laced through his blood, instantly entwined with his heart. These absences were toxic. He longed for her so much it felt like illness, voodoo needles in his brain and limbs. Contact was the balm he craved and he reached for her, though she wasn’t there. Emmaline.

i am deeply in love with you.

where have you gone?

The words burned. His weekly pilgrimage had ceased its frequency, and now his return brought shame into his bones, rotting, corrosive. He could hear the sorrow, the anger, the pain. It seared his eyes and lungs. The words barely came, pleading.

forgive me. we shall part only once more.

His heart could not pump harder without bursting. He ran to her, finally able to take her away.

She was not there.

The fierce pace of his blood plummeted, knees suddenly unstable. In a nauseous wave he hit the floor, illness and needles breaking flesh. The lack of blood upon his clothes, upon the floor were unrealities, a wrongness he could not correct.

He scrambled up, shaking, tore through the shrinking rooms and raced over narrow flights of stairs. A flash of green in the corner of his eye, a young woman bent over a table in the darkest corner. He scrambled back.

In the shadows and dust she appeared, and he nearly collapsed again, her words printed just for him.

it is so very dark in here.

The message could hardly be seen, through gloom and more ink carelessly left on his missive. He turned the barrel, seeking a clean place for his words, no longer able to reply directly. He turned the page but found more of the same, the black and red smears that did not belong.

At last.

He rolled the page into place and gathered her things.

you will be safe now, i swear to you, my love.

He left alone, needles twisting deeper.

Someone had torn out her heart in his absence, ribbons of red and black ink left tangled against her carriage. Sorrow burrowed deep in his chest. He rewound her, fitted her together and sealed her back up. If there had been a message, it was lost, the page no longer pressed in her grasp. He gathered her things again, gently closed the black box around her. He would take her away from this darkness and dust. He lifted her, but set her down again when the page slipped free. He held it delicately between his fingers.

why have you not returned?

He stroked her shell and held her close. He carried her through the dark and forgotten rooms. He didn’t care who had abused her. She would be safe. She would be his.

He was denied.

we are forever kept apart.

He felt the burning deeper now, eating away at his bones and his sinew, stripping him down. Time poured out and he could not collect it fast enough.

this is our fate, my love. will this be enough?

The words were printed on the paper bar, barely visible.

no. i want you, always.

Choking pain. He would never have her, though still he sat beside her, longing to hold her in his lap and run his fingers across her keys.

i remain deeply in love with you, but i fear for us. they will not let you go.

A girl stood on his patch of threadbare carpet. She gazed at his beloved with a look he knew all too well; for the last of this eternity he’d worn it as his own. Her fingers pushed the bar back into place. She straightened, her hair brown and dull and cut short, bobbed above her shoulders. Her dress pulsed black, part of the gloom and in contrast with her skin. She was too white.

He watched her from the threshold, jealousy surging in his veins. She moved away. He stared at her retreating form and sought his message.

then take me by force.

A blush flared in his cheeks. She must have read his words, this beckoning meant for him alone. He sickened, removed and turn the scrap, now thoroughly saturated, their words overrun by words not theirs. Other declarations that did not belong.

He set his words atop hers.

it shall be done as you wish.

He hid. The back door would be his best bet and he crouched in the confines of an old chifferobe. The wood creaked as he stepped out, the building dark, and stole her away.

The messages stopped. He paced, waiting, longing, but no reply came. New sheets stayed blank, the old one bore no new marks. His heart shattered at every misheard click of keys.

He turned away, eyes burning with tears. The typewriter’s bell chimed. He turned again.

A girl, head tilted, hair a curtain brushing her shoulder, looked over at him. He felt a stirring in his soul. Old and familiar. Aged and ageless as the ghost at his machine. His blood flowed, painfully slow.

A single word, a whisper, a click.

hello.

Click.

emmaline.

Flash Fiction Friday: Tony the Bear by Brian LeTendre

TODAY’S BREW: Celebratory Pumpkin Spice Latte, a rarely enjoyed treat. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, BABIES!

By Julie

It’s my 38th birthday today! In honor of this, most blessed day, I bring to you a short story by our friend Brian LeTendre. This story is so cool, partly because it’s based in truth, and partly because it reminds me of the kind of horror I read and watched growing up. Because yeah, I watched and read horror growing up.

Also, now announcing FLASH FICTION FRIDAYS! Every Friday we’ll be hosting a chosen writer’s flash fiction piece. And when we pick you, we’ll say YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN.

Now read!

Tony the Bear

by Brian LeTendre

“How in the world did your room get to be such a mess, buddy?” I asked my four-year old son as I got him dressed for daycare a few weeks earlier. It was hard to believe that a three-foot tall, 28 pound kid could have created such disorder. We had picked up his room together the night before, just like his mother or I did with him every night before he went to bed.

Toys were scattered everywhere, board game pieces all over the place—it looked like someone threw dynamite in his toy box, and what I was witnessing was the aftermath of the explosion.

My son looked up at me annoyed, his blue eyes almost hidden behind his tousled hair. “Dad,” he replied exasperated, “it wasn’t me, it was Tony.”

“Tony who?” I asked, thinking he was just throwing out the name of one of his daycare friends.

“Tony the bear dad,” he replied. “He lives in my closet.”

“You mean like one of your stuffed animals?” I said, pointing to one of several plush bears, wolves dinosaurs and superheroes he had lying around.

He rolled his eyes as if he was explaining something to a baby. “No, dad. A bear. A big, brown bear. Like the ones that live in the woods.”

I smiled, remembering that I too had an imaginary friend when I was a kid. Of course, I grew up in the 80’s, so my imaginary friend was a ninja named Whisperkill. He showed up right about the time I started getting my ass kicked by the neighborhood bullies on my way home from Catholic school every day. I wanted him to teach me martial arts, but he was more into stealth. Mostly, he just taught me how to avoid the bullies. Come to think of it, he kind of sucked at being a ninja.

“Tony the bear, huh?” I mused. “Well you tell Tony that next time he comes over to play he needs to help pick up, too. Just because he’s a wild animal doesn’t mean he can be a slob, too.”

“All right, Dad, I’ll tell him,” he conceded, and then bolted out of the room, arms spread like an airplane and making jet noises all the way.

***

“We need to get out of this neighborhood,” my wife sighed as she flipped through the local section of the Sunday paper the other day. “Seven break-ins over the last three months in our neighborhood. Ridiculous. In this his latest one they even killed an old lady!”

I took a long sip from my cartoonishly huge coffee cup so she wouldn’t see me roll my eyes. She had wanted to move out of the city for years, but I loved it. More importantly, I loved our house. Compared to the duplex I grew up in, the place was a castle. Sure, the crime rate was terrible–it was the city, for crying out loud.

But there was no arguing with her, and wasn’t taking the bait. I stood up. “I’m going to go see if the boy wants to come grocery shopping with me.”

That answer seemed to satisfy her, so I made my escape and headed upstairs. As I rounded the corner of the landing, I could hear my son’s voice coming from his room.

Smiling to myself, I tiptoed over to his door, which was only open an inch.

“I think there’s some pizza left in the fridgerator,” I heard him say. “I’ll try and sneak some when I go to bed tonight.”

I peeked through the crack of the door. My son was sitting on his floor, action figure in hand. He was staring toward his closet, head tilted slightly. Like he was listening to something.

“Okay,” he finally said, and then looked directly at me. Hi Dad!”

I actually jumped a bit. Had he known I was there along?

“Hey pal,” I said tentatively as I opened the door. Scanning the room for who knows what, I found it completely empty, except for my son.

“What’s going on, dad?” he asked. “Do you want to play?”

“Who were you talking to, buddy?” I asked.

“Tony,” he replied casually.

I strolled over to the closet, which was wide open, and peered inside. Nothing.

“The bear?”

“Yeah dad,” he said, smiling. “Tony visits me all the time. He’s even been helping me keep my room clean, just like you told me.”

There was a part of me that was starting to get a little concerned, but the kid did have a point. His room had been spotless since that morning a few weeks ago.

There are worse things than imaginary bears who help kids pick up their toys, I decided.

“Come on pal,” I said as I scooped the little guy off the floor and threw him over my shoulder. “We’re going to the grocery store. Maybe we’ll even grab some snacks for Tony.”

“Awesome!” he exclaimed.

***

Last night at about 2am, I was awoken from a dead sleep by a loud THUMP.

The noise came from upstairs, and in my half-conscious state, I assumed my son had either fallen out of bed or had a nightmare. I looked over at my wife and she was dead to the world, the foam plugs she wore to drown out my snoring tucked into her ears.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get this one,” I murmured as I threw off my covers and stumbled toward the hallway. A bolt of pain shot through my foot as I smashed my toe on the side of the nightstand. “Son of a bitch,” I said through gritted teeth.

I hobbled up the stairs and made my way to his bedroom. The door was open, and by the greenish glow of the night light next to his bed, I saw him stirring but still apparently asleep.

I figured he either put himself back in bed after falling out, or I dreamt whatever noise I thought I heard. I lingered in his doorway for a few more minutes, just to be sure he was actually asleep, and then I shuffled back to bed.

***

Upon waking in the morning, I went up to check on my son and was dismayed once again to find his room a complete disaster.

“I thought we talked about this, pal,” I said exasperated. “Why is this room such a mess again?”

“It wasn’t me, dad! It was Tony!” he replied sincerely. “He knocked all my stuff over last night when he took the bad man out of here.”

Those last few words me stopped me in my tracks—took the bad man out of here.

“What do you mean, ‘the bad man’?” I asked cautiously.

“Last night,” he replied matter-of-factly.“I waked up and saw a man in the hallway. He looked at me and came in my room. I was gonna yell for you and mommy, but then Tony came and took him into my closet.”

I remembered the noise that woke me up the night before, but immediately dismissed the thought of someone actually being in the house. I was now more concerned that my four year old could come up with something so disturbing. This imaginary friend thing was getting out of hand.

I knelt down near the closet and put my hand on the door, looking at my son. “Buddy, I know that Tony the bear is your friend, but he’s just pretend. There’s really not a bear living in your closet.”

I opened the door so he could see inside. “See, pal? No bear.”

“Tony is real, Dad!” he insisted, tears starting to well in his eyes. I stood up and faced the closet. “He’s not, pal,” I said as soothingly as I could. “Tony—”

And then I saw them.

Five quarter-inch wide scratch marks, about six inches long, a little more than halfway up the inside of the closet door.

I looked closer. The marks weren’t deep, but they were definitely made by something sharp. I didn’t remember ever seeing them before, but truth be told, I never really examined my son’s closet that closely.

I started moving the clothes on the rack out of the way, feeling around the space of the closet. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but the walls were all still there. I stood back up, feeling kind of silly.

That is, until I saw the blood on my hand.

I checked my hand quickly for cuts (there were none), then ran over to my son’s toy box and grabbed his tiger-headed flashlight. I ran back to the closet and started poking around, and gasped at what the small beam of the flashlight had just illuminated—a slightly smeared, adult-sized bloody handprint on the side wall of the closet. It almost looked like someone had tried to grip the wall itself and failed. The print trailed off as it met the seam of the back wall.

As I stood there frozen, a wave of horror starting to wash over me. I’d forgotten my son was still there, until he came over and put his hand on my arm.

“See, Dad,” he said. “Tony took the bad man away.”

 

COOL, RIGHT? Now go check out Brian at http://t.co/VN2npjQuvp, and follow him on Twitter @BrianLeTendre.

New Anthology Available Now!

Today’s Brew: Back to coffee.  I’m calming back down after this morning’s rant.

by Kristen

My morning had started off well, with Disco The Parakeet telling me I made his day (OK, it was his person. He can talk but birds can’t type.) and an awesome zumba class.  I hit a temporary speed bump from my good friends at the state, as you have all heard about.  Now, I am happy to announce that the second Giant Tales anthology is available for your reading pleasure!

 

Click here to pick up a copy for your very own!  You can also get the first book in this series, in either digital or print form.  I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

My First Publication Goes Live! by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: This delectable S’mores flavored coffee.

MY FIRST PUBLISHED THING EXISTS NOW IN A PURCHASEABLE BOOK!

Irreplaceable is a story that was inspired by a photo a friend of mine tweeted of her creepy-ass neighbor’s house. It was a picture of their back yard, which looked pretty normal, if not a little sloppy, but there was a coffin in it. A COFFIN IN IT. Glistening in the sun, a coffin, for no reason.

With the theme of short term relationships, I was overjoyed to put this story into action and submit it to Elephant Press.

Check it out! I promise not to disappoint. I promise you won’t see the end coming. And I promise you’ll find some other new writers who have come up with great stories, too.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/336661

http://t.co/0h8MyVPksb

https://www.createspace.com/4362861

A Present from the Past: Part of The Memory Project

I took the liberty of reblogging-ish from Carey Torgensen’s blog, as I am very proud of Kristen for doing this story for The Memory Project. This was really difficult for her, had a lot of truth to it, and I commend her for facing it and seeing it through.

(From Carey’s blog)

I am not sure exactly when I met Kristen, except to say it was not long after being introduced to Julie Hutchings. The two go together like cookies and milk, chocolate and sex. And sex and sex. What I am saying is that these two are inseparable.

I first read some of Kristen’s work on the Undead Duo blog. Check it out here. Then I read her words on Josh’s #WorldsEnd series. And I knew then, not only was she hilarious, supportive, and kind, but a fantastic writer.

She is seriously one of the best friend’s a girl can ask for and does everything she can for the people she loves. She’s beautiful, intelligent, wonderful and a powerhouse. To say she is talented is an understatement. And it seems only fitting that she started out the stories in #worldsend and she starts out the stories here.

Meet Kristen Strassel. She is woman. Hear her roar. And kick ass.

###

The Memory Project (continued)

I picked up a small box on the bottom of the suitcase. Worn velvet. Any woman who was worth her salt knew what one of these boxes held. Promises. Words of love. Tradition. It was a lot to be held in such a small container.

I cracked it open, hinges popping. Inside the case, a beautiful silver antique ring, set with a large blue stone. The beveled edges gleamed and sparkled in the soft sunlight. Small beams of light sparkled upon the walls. Light danced in the room. For a second, the room, dark and dank with secrets became a ballroom, lit up brilliantly by tiny stars.

“It’s beautiful.” My eyes locked on the gem. “I wonder who wore it.”

(to be continued)
A Present From The Past
By Kristen Strassel

Julie Depresses the Crap Out of You: A Short Story

TODAY’S BREW: So much of this chocolate cappuccino stuff that my heart will stop when I hit the bottom of the cup.

By Julie

snow white blog (2)

And she kept biting. Poison seared every inch of her insides, filling her with darkness, stripping her of innocence with each second. She cried for herself, and kept biting. The apple red seeped off like fingerpaint, revealing an unhealthy green underneath, not the color of growing grass, but the color of mold and sickness. And she kept biting, sobbing with every puncture of the skin, fingers gripping the putrid apple as it withered away.

This was what her soul ached for; anything to end the beauty on the outside. Her fairy tale ended with his life.

Her throat constricted, as much from the thought of him as from the poison. Her prince wasn’t coming back. She bit again. She prayed her heart would stop beating if he couldn’t be in it.

Bluebirds flitted around her even now, as her sky darkened as much as her heart had. All she could think, breathe, be was that he was gone. The birds chirped, mocking her with life as hers dripped away.

Fire red poppies burst to life around her as she fell to the ground.

Life may have flocked to her, but she couldn’t always make it stay.

If You Love Someone

Today’s Brew:  Butter Toffee.

by Kristen

She told him to get the fuck out.  But she didn’t mean it.

She wanted him to beg her to let her stay.  She wanted to feel wanted.  She wanted to believe he couldn’t live without her. But instead, she thought he looked so sad as he turned away from her, his shoulders slumped as he shoved his hands in his pockets.

No words. He closed the door quietly behind him.

Her heart broke into a thousand pieces.  She ran to the window, but hid behind the curtain, watching him walk down the dark street, bumping into revelers spilling on to the sidewalks from the bars.  Last call.

His silhouette grew smaller as he made his way through the crowd.  Rain drops fell on the shoulders of his beloved vintage blazer that he wore with everything.  How many times had she begged him to get rid of it?  It was a piece of him, he argued.  He wore it with everything. It was comfortable. Just like him.

The musty scent of the old jacket filled her nostrils, even though he was turning the corner, out of sight.

She stared out the window until all the bar patrons disappeared.  The traffic lights blurred with raindrops. Or teardrops.  When was he going to come back?  This wasn’t what she wanted.

She loved him.  She just didn’t know how to tell him.  She wondered if he felt the same way.  If he felt anything at all. How could she be so wrong about things?  How could this man who so many times made her laugh make her cry like this?

She slid down the wall in the corner of the apartment, her head tipped back, trying to capture her frustration and stupidity before it splashed on the floor and exploded.  Her roommate came in from a night out.  She ignored her.  Or tried to.  She stiffened as the girl put her arms around her.  She didn’t want comfort right now.  She wanted to feel like shit.  She ruined everything.

Once her roommate gave up trying to save the night, she dimmed the lights in the living room and left her in the ball she found her in.  The darkness covered her like a blanket.

He still wasn’t there.

She could barely move.  Her muscles felt so heavy. They ached like she hadn’t used them before. Somehow, she made it to her room, still steamy.  She sat on the very edge of the bed, still unmade.

She’d never be able to sleep.

She stared at the pretty bottle that sat untouched on her dresser. Adorned with a brown cord, it held oil, spices, and flower petals. A cork held everything inside the purple vessel.  She reached for the bottle, examining its contents, beauty forever suspended behind glass.

She had nothing else to lose.

Uncorking the bottle, she dabbed some of the oil on her neck, and on the insides of her wrists.  The vanilla and cardamom warmed her skin.  She breathed deep, erasing the musty smell of his jacket once and for all.

She laid back on the bed and closed her eyes.  His eyes twinkled in the sunlight, laughing at her attempt to be funny. How she loved his smile.

Herbal potion, cauldron brew, now be charged with magick true. With intent I speak this charm, all be blessed and none be harmed. Ever minding the law of three, This is my will, so mote it be.

She repeated it over and over.  Her voice became more and more desperate, but she had to be careful not to wake her roommate. All they could afford was a crappy apartment with thin walls. She didn’t want her roommate to worry about her anymore.

The creaking door startled her from her chant.  Her heart raced.  Someone was in the room.

He crawled beside her on the bed and kissed her. No words needed.

He came back to her.

Love Spell courtesy www.spellsofmagic.com

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