Monthly Archives: October 2015

Rituals by author Mark Love

Halloween_Blood_Roses_WallpaperAuthor Mark Love brings us the final entry in the Halloween Event for 2015 and I am taking his advice and warning readers this is a graphic story. There are adult themes within this story and would deserve an R-Rating if a movie. Mark Love wrote the book Why 319?, which was reviewed earlier in the year by me. I think people will enjoy the story if they are not to prudish when it comes to the adult content. I will stop further commenet and on to the story


By Mark Love


It happened the first night in my new place. I’d set up the video camera and the telescope, directed at the wall of apartments across the court. I took a few minutes of footage of my new neighbors in some form of their nightly routine. One broad was sprawled on a bed, working herself over with a vibrator the size of an eggplant when I heard a voice.

“Hey, whatcha watchin’?”

Looking away from the telescope, I glanced around the room. Nothing. I turned back to the view.

“I’m talkin to you.” A grotesque face suddenly filled the lens.

I stumbled away from the scope, rubbing my eyes. “What the fuck?”

“Boo!” He floated before me, waving his tongue and making a ridiculous face.

I shook my head. “I’ve got to stop eating Thai food. Now I’m imagining things.”

“You can see me?” A look I took for surprise filled his face.

He didn’t have a body, just a crudely shaped head. The image of his face was outlined in a pale green glow, revealing a cruel slash of a mouth with jagged brown teeth, a nose squashed flat onto the cheeks and puss colored eyes. The skin covering the face was translucent. Withered veins crossed beneath the surface, little collapsed roadways no longer bearing the traffic flow of blood.

“My imagination isn’t creative enough to dream up something this ugly. Who are you?”

“Name’s Reep. Who are you, kid?” I realized his voice was audible inside my head.

“Scazzatti. What do you want with me?”

He cackled sickly. “Nothing you can provide. I’m after women.”

“What a surprise. So what are you doing here?” I still believed he was the result of a spicy dinner and too much tequila.

“Came to see Shelly. What are you doing in her place?”

“She moved out last week. What’s it to you?”

The goblin’s face shimmered and his features convulsed. I couldn’t tell if it was pain or humor. A sudden blast of vulgarities filled my head.


I howled in pain. “You’re going to shatter my eardrums!”

“Huh? Oh sorry, Man, guess I got carried away. It’s gonna be hard to replace her.”

“What’s the deal, Reep?” Involuntarily I’d put my hands around my ears, hoping to muffle the volume.

He groaned. “It’s part of my curse. Years ago, I lived in this same apartment. Used to have lotsa fun here, back in the old days. Till that bitch Cassandra royally fucked things up for me. Royally!”

Intrigued, I led him to the kitchen. I opened a beer and took a pull, then set it on the table. Reep hovered above and somehow drained part of the bottle. Probably sucked the vapors right out of the air.

“Been a long time since I had any suds. Damn Shelly never drank nothing but wine. Fucking pansies drink wine. Whatcha say your name was again, Man?”

“Scazzatti. People call me Scaz.”

“Wanna hear my story, Scaz?”

“Hell yes.” I hunched forward on my chair.

“Nothing like an anxious audience,” Reep chuckled in my brain. “Back when I was living here, it was the middle of the sixties. Lotsa wild times back then. Crazy music, booze and more gash than you could shake a wienie at. Women were dropping their drawers in search of a thrill.”

“That was thirty years ago. Sounds like the early version of sex, drugs and rock and roll. So what?”

“Well, I was right in the thick of it. Only I did things a lil’ different. I’d get the girls feeling good and then I had my ritual.”

“What did you do?” Curiosity was getting the better of me.

“Kill `em. Right over there by the window, so they could see the lights of the city.” Reep cackled with laughter. I watched a thin trail of beer rise out of the bottle and disappear in midair.


“Smotherfucked. Yep, damn near twenty of `em. Got `em all jazzed up with booze or pot, they didn’t know what was going on. All naked and sweaty, bouncing around like wild animals. I’d take a pillow and smother `em, just as they peaked during orgasm. Geez, what a time!”

“Twenty homicides. How did you get away with it?”

“I’d take the bodies out to the bay. A little wire on the ankles with a cement block, and they’d never come up. By the time the saltwater eats away the wire, the fish had a feast. Anyway, this whore Cassandra double-crossed me. Just as I’m pressing the pillow over her face, she pulls out a hunting knife she’d hid under the mattress. The bitch slashed my wienie off!”

My hands clutched my groin. Sympathy pains. “Then what?”

“We both died on the bed by the window, part of me still inside her. But Cassandra cursed me, doomed me to spend eternity here. I watch what goes on, but can’t ever get involved.” Reep’s voice grew softer in my head.

“You’ve been here imprisoned here ever since?”

“Cassandra’s spell allows me a little fun. Just enough to get me riled up, without any chance of release.” Reep was mumbling now.

“What do you mean?” I was still clutching my jewels.

“Some of `em I can control. Like Shelly. She was the best so far. Damn shame she’s gone,” the spook said with a sigh.

“What kind of control?”

“When she was sleeping, I could get her to do stuff you wouldn’t believe.”

“Like what?”

He cackled. “You’re a peeper. What would you make `em do, if you had the chance?”

I shrugged. “Dunno. Depends on how willing they were.”

The cackle turned into full-throated laughter. “Willing! I make `em do whatever I want. Get inside their dreams and get `em all worked up. Especially if they’re alone, like Shelly always was.”

“So how come I can see and hear you, but no one else could?” I didn’t like him laughing at my expense. Suddenly it stopped and his eyes glowed bright yellow.

“You like to watch. That’s all I can do. Maybe we’re meant to work together, have a little fun. How `bout it?”

For a moment I swore both of his eyes went to one side of his schnoz. I blinked and they returned. “What kind of fun?”

“Pussy pussy pussy. Blonde, red, brown, black. Right bout now, I’d kill for a lil’ fresh gash.”

“Seems to me you already did.”

“There may be a way, Scaz, we can both have our fun.”

“What are you talking about?”

His voice was showing signs of impatience. “Okay, kid. Pay attention. Upstairs at the back of the building is number 4-C. There’s two broads live there. One’s Lucy and the name fits. Frizzy haired blonde with roots black as coal. Her favorite body part is a tongue, if you get my meaning.”

“Yeah, she likes oral. So?”

Reep’s voice bellowed in my head. “So! Shut up and listen.”

“Jesus! Not so freaking loud, Reep.”

“Stop interrupting me. Lucy and her roomie always have a gathering on Thursday. Every broad in the building is invited, and some of `em always show up. They start out with wine and a little dope and they talk about cock. Shelly used to go there every week and get her big ass all worked up.”

“All they do is talk?”

Reep’s voice turned to a sneer. “No they don’t just talk. Lucy works at some bookstore over by the college. You know the kind with the dirty magazines and the peep shows.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen it.”

“Well this place also rents movies. She’s got a machine up there and she brings a couple home with her every week. You know the kind. Lotsa firm bodies with big muscles and cocks long as baseball bats. The broads get themselves worked up, watching that shit.”

“So what does this have to do with me?”

Reep’s transparent face split into a grotesque grin. Those slimy teeth reminded me of corn on the cob. Indian corn. “Wherever you go in this building, I can go. As long as you’re inside, I get to tag along.”

“You can leave this apartment?”

“Only with you, Scaz.”

“Can anyone see you?”

“Nah. Just you. There must be something special about you, Scaz. Anyway, we’ll pay a visit to Lucy’s. We’ll get there when the movies are over and the broads are all hot.”

Reep floated alongside me as we climbed the stairs. It took a conscious effort not to stare at the spot he occupied. If people saw me gazing at nothing, they’d think I was a little crazy. Like I’m not. We stopped outside of 4-C and he floated through the door. I leaned against the wall and waited. After a few minutes he came back out, wearing that grotesque grin.

“They’re just finishing up, Scaz. Now the fun begins.”

“I’m not sure about this, Reep. Being around women makes me nervous. I’ve never done anything more than watch them from a distance.”

“What are you saying, kid? Don’t you want to do more than yank your own crank? Get some hot bitch to do it for you!”

“I don’t know, Reep…”

“Fuckin A!” His head spun around in a circle and he whirled across the hall. “Gotta do it all myself.” His voice grew louder. “Fuckin A!”

Reep spun faster and faster, his distorted features blurring. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I couldn’t move. There was no way to block out Reep’s voice. He was screaming like a demon. Suddenly he broke off his revolutions and came hurtling across the gap, slamming into my chest. I let out a groan and collapsed against the wall.

“Sorry, kid. Didn’t know if it would work or not.”

He was inside me! The bastard had taken over! It was my voice speaking now, out loud for anyone to hear. But they were his words.

“Relax, Scaz, and lemme show you how it’s done. We both get our fun. I get laid and you get to watch.”

I had no control over my own limbs. He was in charge. I saw my own hand reach out and rap loudly on the door. My efforts to respond were squelched. Reep ordered my hands around my body, checking things out. He worked my hand down to my crotch and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“Just hang loose, Scaz. You’ll lose your cherry tonight.” The door swung open. Half a dozen women were inside, lounging on the floor and the sofa. A chunky woman with frizzy blonde hair stood leaning against the door. Her eyes ran over my body.

“Well, hello cowboy. I didn’t know the rodeo was in town.”

“I just moved in downstairs and was wondering if I could borrow a light bulb. All of the sockets are empty, and I didn’t bring any with me. I keep stumbling around in the dark.” Reep’s words rolled smoothly off my tongue.

She grinned and hooked her fingers on my arm. “C’mon in. I’ll have to see if we have any spares. We were having a little party.” She propelled me toward the sofa. Two bleached blondes made room for me.

“I’m Lucy.” She jerked a thumb at the far end of the room and began calling off names. “Marie, Lisa, Cassie, Josie, Carla and Bev.”

“Hope there ain’t gonna be a quiz before I leave,” Reep said. “Name’s Scazzatti. Everybody calls me Scaz.”

In unison they said, “Hi, Scaz.”

Carla and Bev were the two blondes flanking me, and they looked similar enough to be sisters. Someone pressed a glass in my hand and Reep automatically gulped it down. He made a funny noise as he swallowed.

“What I wouldn’t give for a beer,” Reep said.

“I’ve got beer at my place,” Bev cooed, rubbing a hand across my thigh. She wasn’t bad looking, with firm little tits under her blouse.

“Let’s go,” Reep said enthusiastically.

“You just got here,” Lucy protested as he stood up.

“I’ll be around.”

“What about your light bulb?” Lucy asked.

Bev was clutching my hand tightly, afraid I might change my mind. Right now I couldn’t change my socks. Reep gave her a squeeze and smiled. “Maybe I’ll come by later,” he said to Lucy.

“I’ll be up.” She held her eyes on mine. I could scarcely talk to any woman without shaking. Reep was dealing her as if he’d been born to it.

“I’ll bet you will,” Reep chuckled. He followed Bev out the door and down the hall.

She had the apartment at the front of the building, facing the courtyard. We barely got inside her room before she started grabbing at me. Reep responded in kind, tugging at her clothes and guiding her toward the bedroom. When she was naked, Bev tried to hide beneath the covers. Reep wouldn’t hear of it.

“No need to be shy. Been a long time since I’ve seen a babe like you.” Reep pulled the blankets off the bed and stared down at her.

“Turn off the light,” she pleaded.

“I want to look at you.” She wasn’t bad at all. Her boobs were taut and her stomach was almost flat. There was some extra meat on her hips, but she was maybe a hundred and ten pounds, if that. She twisted on her side in embarrassment as Reep stroked her ass. The flesh was lily white, ice cold. Bev gasped and pulled away.

“What d’ya like, baby?” Reep asked.

“I like anything. Just go easy with me,” Bev whispered.

“Whatever you say.” Reep lowered me down and began to ride.

I was helpless to stop him. Reep was in total control. Not only of Bev, but of me too. All I could do was watch as he used my body to screw her. Bev slowly responded as Reep began to thrust away, her body bouncing in the rhythm of mine.

Reep was insatiable. After he’d brought her off once, he hardly slowed down, shifting positions and pumping away. My body felt huge, as if every muscle and ligament were going to burst through the skin. Bev began to moan as she climaxed again.

“God, you’re wonderful!” she cried.

“I’m just getting warmed up,” Reep laughed, “Want me to stop?”

“Hell no!”

Reep dropped one hand to where my jeans were laying on the floor. Deftly he pulled the leather belt out of the loops and brought it up to the bed.

“Time for something new.” He slipped the belt around Bev’s wrists and quickly made it fast to the headboard.

“Oh bondage,” Bev gasped. “Just like in the movies.”

Reep arranged the pillows beside Bev and lifted her legs up to my shoulders. She hadn’t shaved in a while and the stubble pricked my skin. Reep didn’t seem to mind. He just kept banging away, holding her ankles in the air while grinding my crotch against hers.

Groans and grunts continued as Bev rocked along. She didn’t care that he was knocking her head into the ornamental brass rails. Remotely, I felt part of my body shudder as an orgasm began to swell. Reep let out a low howl and released her ankles.

“Make a wish baby,” he cackled sadistically as her legs fell apart. My body collapsed on top of her as I peaked. Reep kept the momentum going with my hips as Bev came again. She was groaning in delight, her eyes clenched shut. Reep grabbed a pillow and pressed it over her face.

“Smotherfuckin’ time!” he cackled.

“No, Reep! You’ll kill her.” My voice echoed in my own head.

“Shut up, Scaz. This is what it’s all about.”

Bev struggled beneath me, trying to push the pillow off. Her hands remained strapped on the headboard, her body slick with sweat. She arched her back, trying to throw me off. But I outweighed her by a good sixty pounds. After a while, she stopped moving all together. I lay there gasping for breath as his disgusting features appeared before me.

“You didn’t have to kill her, Reep. She wouldn’t have bothered us.”

“Sorry, kid. But it’s the only way I get off. You’re the same as me.” Reep’s voice was gentle inside my head.

“What do you mean?”

His eyes flicked down my body and I followed them. My erection was gigantic, straining the flesh to the extreme.

“Same as me, Scaz. I always got hard as hell after I’d smotherfucked one. No sense letting it go to waste.”

“Forget it, Reep. I’m not into necrophilia.” I climbed off the bed and pulled on my clothes. “What are we going to do now? Everyone at that party knows I left with Bev. When they find her body, they’ll come looking for me.”

Reep’s voice was calm, relaxed. Thirty years of anticipation had finally found a release.

“It’s all part of the ritual. You wait until about four in the morning. Then load her ass in the trunk of your car. Two miles away is a cement plant. Jump the wall and grab a couple of concrete blocks, the kind with the three big holes in `em. You wire her ankles to the blocks and dump her in the bay.”

“And how do I get her out into the bay?”

His head bobbed knowingly. “Go down to the wharf, but away from the commercial fishing rigs. Those guys will be heading out at first light. There’s always some rowboats down there. Nobody ever locks `em up. Snag one and row her ass out a few miles from shore. Dump her over and let the block pull her down.”

“I don’t know, Reep.”

“Do it kid! None of mine ever floated back up. If it hadn’t been for that bitch Cassandra, I’d still be alive. Together we can keep going.”

I went into the kitchen and dug a beer from the fridge. Reep was drooling as I popped the top and drank down half of it. I left the rest on the counter for him to finish. There was a garment bag in Bev’s closet, big enough to hold her. I stuffed her inside and zipped it up. She was lying on the bed, vacant eyes staring up at me, pleading. Would I ever forget that look?

A knock at the door brought me back.

“Who’s there?” I called.

“It’s Carla. I want to talk to Bev.”

“Shit,” I whispered to Reep, “now what do I do?”

“Let her in,” Reep said

“Are you nuts?”

This time he slammed into me without the preliminary spin. I was beginning to hate the son of a bitch. I watched as he opened the door and smiled at Carla. She smiled coyly and slipped inside, trying to see past me.

“Bev’s resting,” Reep said with a grin. I could see my reflection in the mirror on the wall. I never smiled like that. It was eerie, seeing my body do strange things. Reep made my hand reach out and stroke Carla’s ass.

“Hey, Scaz. Don’t get carried away. I just want to make sure Bev’s alright.” Carla tried to get past, but Reep held his ground.

“Bev’s fine. Just a little tired. She had a beer with me and decided to go to bed early. I was just going to finish mine and go back to my place.” Reep pressed closer. Carla backed up against the wall. She was skinny, with bony arms and legs. Her eyes were pale green. I liked them.

“C’mon, Scaz. Maybe you should just go home.” Carla inched toward the door.

“Why don’t you come with me? Or better yet, I could walk you to your place,” Reep said. He was close enough to stir her hair with his breath.

“Guess we could do that,” Carla gasped.

“Let’s go,” Reep said. I could only hang in the background, watching it play out before me.

Carla’s apartment was on the same floor as mine. She reluctantly let Reep inside and turned on all the lights.

“Don’t you like the dark?” Reep asked, standing in front of the window.

“Not particularly.” Carla stood beyond his reach.

“Why’d you invite me down here?”

“I just wanted you to get out of Bev’s apartment. If she’s sleeping, you should leave her alone. It wouldn’t be nice to disturb her.”

Reep grinned. “Nobody will bother her. You’re real pretty, Carla. I love your eyes.” He reached out to caress her cheek. She blushed and lowered her gaze.

“You’re just saying that. I’ve got no figure at all,” she whispered.

“There’s nothing wrong with your body. I think you’re very attractive.” Reep moved closer and bent to kiss her.


“You’ve got great legs.” He kissed her cheek lightly. “And a nice smile.” Another kiss. “Kind of warm and friendly.” One more. “But your eyes – – – I’d kill for those eyes.”

I could see her melting before me. My body and his charms. We were making quite a team. Reep was at the controls, like some miniature astronaut aboard a robot. Move the arms, bend the head, kiss the girl.

Reep stopped talking, held her tenderly and kissed her, softly on the mouth. No tongue. Just my lips, pressing against hers. Then he moved around to the neck, kissing from the ear down to the collarbone. Carla’s defenses were faltering.

“Oh yeah,” she moaned.

My hands had been on her waist. Now the right one slid down to the hem of her skirt. Slowly it inched the fabric up, until it could stroke her ass. Her legs were bare, no stockings. Reep guided my hand to the edge of her panties and slid my finger between her legs.

“Touchdown,” Reep whispered.

“Oh baby.” Carla pressed against me and wrapped her arms around my neck. She was six inches taller than Bev, damn near as tall as me. She clung to me, my face buried in her neck, my hand exploring her crotch.

“Maybe I should go,” Reep said, but he made no attempt to halt his movements.

“No,” Carla said quickly. “Don’t leave.”

“But this is all happening so fast. I mean, we just met.” Reep somehow kept his voice serious.

“Sometimes it’s meant to be fast.” Carla took one arm from my neck and led me into the bedroom.

Because this one didn’t like the dark, Reep insisted on keeping the lights off. I was amazed at how readily she agreed. A couple of quick tugs and she was naked. Reep peeled my jeans off and flopped beside her on the bed. Carla started to pull him on top of her, but Reep refused.

“I’ll be on the bottom,” he said.

She hesitated. “I’ve never done it that way.”

“Like riding a horse. Just straddle me and hold on.”

“There’s no reins,” Carla giggled as he guided her into position.

“Squeeze with your thighs. You can do it.” Reep extended my hands until they were clutching hers. Together they began to rock back and forth. Carla closed her eyes and shuddered as he thrust deeper inside her.

“Wow. This is better than I expected,” she gasped.

“This is only the appetizer. Wait `til the main course.”

I couldn’t believe this. One flight up a girl was dead, sealed in a plastic bag and waiting to be buried at sea. Down here Reep was humping away at another, no doubt heading for the same end. I was powerless. I was his vessel, his pulsating organ.

After Carla came on top of him, Reep rolled her onto her stomach. He stood at the foot of the bed and pulled on her legs until she was close enough for him to enter. She cried out as he forced his way in.

“Sorry, lover. Guess I got carried away.” Reep said tenderly. Even I thought he was sincere.

He rocked away, making her into a human wishbone. Carla kept groaning, trying to push herself back to meet each thrust. At length she crawled forward, gasping for breath. Reep was still rigid, ready to go. Carla rolled onto her back and propped her head on the pillows.

“Got to take a break,” she said.

Reep moved up onto the bed, picking up where he left off. I tried to close my eyes and blot out the scene but it was no use. I sensed him pressing the pillow down on her face, forcing the life from her body.

“You did it again!”

“Don’t sound so surprised, Scaz. I told you I have my rituals.”

“Damn you!”

My body was shaking as I struggled back into my clothes. There was no garment bag in the closet, so I wrapped her up in the sheets from the bed. I checked the time. Eleven o’clock. An eternity until four, when I could carry them out to my car and haul them away. Reep floated over to the window, turning a series of slow circles.

“You’re in luck, kid. Fog is rolling in already. You can go dump these two now.”

“Thought you said I had to wait.”

“I did. But with weather like this, ain’t nobody gonna see you. Most of the tenants will be getting to bed now, so they can work in the morning. Just do like I told you.”

I went outside and moved my car closer to the door. There was a single exterior light by the entrance and I unscrewed the bulb. I made a hurried trip to the fourth floor to retrieve Bev. Between the second and first floor, she slipped from my grasp and thumped to the ground. I froze, waiting for someone to come rushing out to investigate. Nothing. After folding her into the car and racing back for Carla, I was glad neither one of them were heavy. At this stage, bulkiness would have been too much for me.

With both of them stashed in the trunk, I stole a glance at my apartment. Reep’s hideous face glowed from the bedroom window. He’d suggested using the cords from their phones to secure their ankles to the cement blocks. Reep was my efficient homicidal mentor.

Three hours later I made it back home, functioning on auto pilot.

Without thinking, I returned to the apartment. Common sense would have driven anyone sane away. Says a lot for me, doesn’t it?

“How’d it go, Scaz?” Reep’s voice throbbed in my head as I came through the door.

“It’s over. But I damn near ended up in the bay with them.”

“What happened?”

“When I dumped Bev in, I almost tipped the boat over. Then I rowed to a different spot and pushed Carla over. My foot got tangled in the cord and I started going down with her.”

“Great,” Reep cackled.

I went into the bedroom to get some sleep, but Reep had other ideas.

“C’mon, kid. We can’t keep the ladies waiting.”

“Go away, Reep. I’m not doing your shit anymore. In the morning, I’m leaving.”

But there was no denying the spook. In a blur he came charging into my head. Escape was out of the question. Despite the exhaustion, my body came alive when he entered.

“I’ve been waiting forever for another chance, Scaz. And I’m not letting you out easy. Now move, you bastard. We have women waiting.”

“Screw you, Reep.” But there was nothing I could do to stop him. He guided my body out of the apartment and up the stairs to 4-C. Gently he tapped the door, grazing my knuckles across the surface. It opened almost immediately.

“I knew you’d come back. I could see it in your eyes,” Lucy said as she pulled me into the room.

“Thanks for waiting up,” Reep said softly. He was giving her the look, running my eyes over her form. She was plump, with a roll of fat on her stomach and big, mushy boobs. Her ass was surprisingly small, offsetting the rest of her bulk. Lucy was wearing a loose nightgown of black mesh, leaving nothing to the imagination. Reep didn’t seem to care.

“Want a drink?” Lucy asked.

“Only if you got a beer.”

“Sorry, Scaz. I’ll buy some tomorrow.”

Reep took a seat on the sofa and patted the cushion beside him. Lucy curled up like an obedient puppy.

`Get out.’ I yelled. But my voice only echoed inside my own skull. There was no way she’d hear me.

“Where you from, Scaz?” Lucy asked.

“Denver. Used to live right by the stadium. But that was years ago.” Reep extended a finger to play with her frizzy curls. “How about you?”

“Cleveland. I came out here after high school on a vacation and I haven’t been back since.” Lucy paused and looked at my face closely. “What’s your sign?”

“Huh?” Reep sat back as if he’d been bitten.

“Astrological sign. You know Sagittarius, Cancer, Virgo. What’s yours?”

Reep hesitated. “I dunno.”

“When were you born, Scaz?”

I’d been hanging back, trying to think of some way to stop Reep. Only now did I pay attention to the conversation.

“February 29th.” Reep mumbled uncomfortably.

“A leap year baby!” Lucy exclaimed. Then she stared at him closely. “A Pisces. God, that’s hot. We’re very compatible.”

Reep moved a little closer to Lucy. She pressed against me, soft flabby flesh meeting my touch. Reep didn’t mind at all. He began kissing her arm, sliding his way up to her neck.

“We must be quiet. I don’t want to wake up my roommate.” Lucy whispered, pulling my head down between her breasts.

“Doesn’t she have her own room?” Reep asked.

“These are all one bedroom apartments. We usually sleep together. But I like a little variety. Don’t you?” Lucy was fumbling with my belt buckle, trying to get it undone.

“I’d die without it.” Reep undid the ribbons on her gown and pushed it off her shoulders.

“Were you really born on February 29th?”

“Yeah, I really was,” Reep answered.

That was what we had in common. Different years but the same day. The same birth day. What were the odds of that?

Lucy and Reep began grinding together wildly on the sofa, knocking pillows everywhere. There was no stopping Reep. He was determined to continue his murderous attacks until he ran out of women.

Despite Lucy’s warnings about noise, Reep began to cry out with pleasure as he pounded away at her. She was on her knees, clutching the edge of the sofa for support. Reep knelt behind her, arms wrapped around her back, hands fondling her large breasts. I sensed movement in the hall.

“Reep – – -” My voice reverberated in my head.

“Not now,” Reep hissed.

“Yes, now,” Lucy cried. “I’m ready! Give it to me now!”

There was movement in the hallway. I could definitely see it. I tried again. “Reep. Something’s wrong- – -”

“I said not now!” He grunted, trying to brush me away.

“Yes, now! Right now!” Lucy screamed, throwing herself backwards to meet him.

I turned my attention away from them and focused on the hallway. Cassie stood there. Her face, a ghastly white in the dim light, was devoid of any expression.

“Now! Yes now!” Lucy was going wild, her frizzy hair bouncing everywhere.

Reep shifted my hands from her tits up her sweating body to her neck. My hands clutched her throat and squeezed, waiting for the voice box to pop. She reached up to hold my hands. Lucy let out one final shriek and tried vainly to draw a breath. Reep shook her like a doll, making sure she was gone.

“Bastard!” Cassie leaped from the shadows, raising her right arm as she charged.

“Reep!” My voice thundered inside my own head.

“What the – – -” He began to turn toward the hall, distracted by my shout. Too late, he realized what was happening.

There was a flickering instant when Reep left my body and I wasn’t in control. Cassie was upon me before I could move. My hands were still clutching Lucy’s throat.

She drove a straight razor into my back, slashing me open. Lucy’s hands hindered mine, locking me in place.

“Murderous bastard! Two timing bitch.” Cassie


“Sorry, Scaz. I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

With one last push, I broke Lucy’s grip and scrambled to my feet. Cassie stood there panting, sweat and blood dripping off her body.

“Had to have some cock. She couldn’t be satisfied. Why wasn’t I enough?” she whispered.

“I don’t know. But I didn’t do it. There’s this ghost who lives in my apartment- – -”

“She wanted your meat so bad, she died for it,” Cassie hissed.

“But it wasn’t me!”

“Lucy should get to keep it, don’t you think?” She stepped over her friend and advanced toward me.

“Oh shit, no! It wasn’t me. You’ve got to understand- – -” I backed up as far as I could. The rough plaster of the wall bit into my ass. “Cassie, don’t do this.”

“Cassie?” Reep’s voice filled my head. “Cassie! What a fucking circle. That’s Cassandra.”

She stepped closer, holding the razor low and close to her leg. Blood trickled from the edge, but I could still see how sharp the blade was.

“Strangle her, Scaz,” Reep ordered. “You’ve got to do it,”

“I can’t,” I whispered. She was almost within reach.

“Oh fuckin A!” Reep slammed into me.

This time I was grateful for his intrusion. He ran the controls once more. My hands lashed out and closed around Cassie’s throat. She whipped the razor across my arms, but I couldn’t feel the pain. Reep was blocking everything out.

“Time to die, bitch,” Reep spat as he choked her.

“Cut it off,” Cassie gasped.


She clutched the razor with both hands and slashed it across my stomach, twisting against my grip on her throat. I could see her eyes bulging as we struggled, feel her warm breath on my face. Her left hand slid down through the blood and clenched my cock. Cassie pulled it toward her like a deranged lover.

“No. Not that.” My voice was unheard by anyone else.

“Tell it good-bye,” Cassie snarled.

“Time to die.” Reep increased the pressure on her neck.

She cut it quickly, a psychotic surgeon on a deadly mission. Reep and I screamed together as he twisted her neck in my hands. A loud snap filled the room as our screams faded. Cassie stumbled back and tripped over Lucy’s prone body. We fell on top of her, amid the blood and gore.

“Sorry, kid,” Reep said softly. I felt him shimmer out of my body and hover above me. As I watched, another shape appeared beside him. Its features were equally revolting.

“You’re still the same, Reep,” a feminine voice said.

Reep’s voice began to fade. “Some people ain’t never going to change, Cassandra. See you in hell, baby.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

The voices were gone.

I looked down at the carnage they had wreaked. My body was dead, a lifeless lump amid the tangled limbs of the women. A weak glimmer of light floated by the mirror near the door. I moved toward it for a closer look. The light grew brighter, and then split in half. Two hideous yellow orbs hovered before the glass at shoulder height. The light was coming from inside them. I turned to the right and saw the reflection in the mirror twist as well.

“You killed me,” she whispered.

“You cut off my wienie.”


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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Short Stories


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The Costume by Shawn Micallef

jack-olanternSome readers will remember my past two Halloween entries which featured a man with no fear, and a gluttonous candy loving computer geek. This year the little girl in the past two stories re-appears and she gets a title of, Dark Princess. She will be dealing with a very vain woman who is into the world of Cosplay. If you have not heard of Cosplay, well you are not alone. It wasn’t until somethings came up on my Facebook feed and a TV show on SyFy that I really understood what it was. To help the readers who are uninformed such as I am its where people dress as TV, movie, video game, Japanese Animation or other characters. They go to great lengths to get the perfect costume and is growing part of fan conventions. So with that stated lets get to the story.


The Costume

By Shawn Micallef

Mackenzie was not well liked around the cosplay circuit. She was one of those women that many disliked not because of her costume work but for her attitude. She was pretentious, rude and full of herself, and many labeled her a vain bitch. She would not take photos with others due to the fear of things like red eye, or a chance her costume would get messed up. There was one convention where she nearly got walked out of the building after someone took her picture, without her permission, so the lighting wasn’t perfect. Her outrage at the photographer came out clear through a tirade that was swear word filled. The photographer by the way was a 5 year old little girl who was actually taking a photo of woman to Mackenzie’s left.

Mackenzie was one of those women who made it clear what she thought of you, and how you should think of her. She was perfect and if she had her way humanity would be walking in front of her with a gold carpet as red was for the “little” people. Yes she was one of those people and one had to ask why she was so popular in the cosplay culture. It was simple; she had a great figure but more importantly her costumes where outstanding. If she chose to take a character on you’d be sure that she would nail every aspect of the costume.

Accompany that was her ability to manipulate her voice and do great impersonations. This helped so much more when it came to the character she was playing. It was thus no surprise that she was so popular on the circuit even if she was a very vain individual as people will overlook that when you are famous. I mean all you got to do is look at some of the so called “celebrity” families with reality shows, am I right?

It was then that to no surprise to Mackenzie that she would get invitations for all types of conventions. They would often offer to pay for her travel and hotel accommodations to have her attend. She was looking over invitations on three such conventions when a new one came, not by email but by postal mail. It was in written in a script she did not recognize, but read as follows:

Ms. Mackenzie,

Your presence is being requested at the upcoming inaugural Halloween Ball scheduled for October 31st of this year. The location of said event will be forwarded to you if you RSVP back stating your intention to attend the event.

All travel and hotel accommodations will be covered for you in the event you wish to attend along with an appearance award of Five Thousand Dollars if your likeness can be used in our press release.

We understand there is concern of other featured Cosplayers having the same costume as you and is why you are the only one being invited to the event.

The focus will be around all things Halloween from the History of the holiday to its modern day popularity.

Please use the enclosed pre-addressed stamped envelope to respond with your intentions on if you will be attending by July 31st.


It would be a lie to say she was not excited at getting such an invitation as this would be the first type of convention where she’d be the only featured cosplayer. She’d normally have to share the floor with other popular women, but to be the only one was hard to let go. Yes, it was true she wanted to know costumes in advance not to have two in the same. She knew she’d be the best but in no way wanted the other person to feel awkward wearing the same costume and being so bad in it. I did mention she is a very vain person, I hope.

The fact that there was also a five thousand dollar payout was just another sign to her that finally someone understood she could be the only feature needed. She automatically responded with a yes she will be attending and dropped the envelope in the mail that very same evening. It’s somewhat sad that she did not take time to check out the address as the fact it was going to a street address of 66 6th street may have given her some alarm. It was no matter to her as she was finally getting her place as the feature and went right to social media to share the news with her fans.

She didn’t respond or even read any of the comments as she was too busy searching for an inspiration for her next costume. She did only have a few months to decide what to construct for this convention. It was too bad she did not read some of the comments as many stated they had heard of such a convention. The things a person will miss when their focus on the one thing that is most important to them, and that being Mackenzie.

The internet had always been a great source for her inspiration but after a few hours she had not found something she could easily construct in those few months before Halloween. She had looked through thousands of Japanese Animation, TV and movie characters not finding anything she liked. It was only after 2am she decided to call it a night and went to bed, she did have a day job to get to the next day.

It was during those few fitful hours of sleep that saw her tossing and turning all night that it came to her. She dreamt of the twisted costume she would wear for Halloween. She imagined a darkened princess dress that was a bit frilly. A wig would be needed to give her large pony tails, and dark red, no bright red lipstick against a pale face. This meant no tanning for her prior to the event and she’d do all she could to avoid the sun to let her copper colored skin go pale. She would do all she had too to look perfect. The horns, oh yes horns would be needed on her head as well.

This was what she needed and after a few hours of sleep she awoke refreshed and ready for the day. It was like a fast forwarded movie the next few months for her. She would go to work, shop for costume items, and spend hours behind her sewing machine working on the costume. She took photos along the way showing her fans what she had purchased, how dye tests worked out and the progress in making the costume. Her fans gave her compliments on the work she was doing but many still asked what convention what are the details, where is it but she felt why read the comments. Their thoughts would not change her work as she knew what looked perfect and she’d be perfect as always. Even those questioning her changing skin tone from her beautiful copper toned, thank you tanning booths, to the pale white she had become went unnoticed. Those comments went just as unnoticed as the time that was flying buy. Her routine had become so mechanical she nearly did not realize it was now late October and there was no follow up letter on where she was to go for the convention.

It was just this way when on October 30th a letter did finally arrive and Mackenzie finally realized the date. The letter was simple and in the same odd script as the first and held just a few sentences.

Ms. Mackenzie,

The Halloween Ball is being held in your local town. A stretch limousine will be at your home at precisely 10pm on the 31st to pick you up and bring you to the event.

She read the simple note and finally realized what the date was, and instantly went to social media and posted the day was almost here. This lead to hundreds of instant likes, loves, and any other positive button that could be pressed for a posting. There again was the problem of comments that continued to ask where, what time, how much and other questions that went unanswered. She was ready and the small people that felt their life was better for following her did not matter. Mackenzie was all that mattered and she was going to make five thousand dollars and get a ride in a stretch limo. She was in heaven.

The thirty-first arrived and at precisely 6pm she began the long chore of putting her costume on, checking her hair, using the perfect red lipstick and using some glue to stick the horns on her head. She was thrilled how real the horns looked and the fact that online store was true in the advertisement of them and how easily they’d stick to the head with the right glue. It was 9:55pm and she was finally ready and at exactly 10pm as promised a stretch limo pulled up outside of her home.

She wasn’t sure if it was a man, or a woman, but someone came to her door and knocked. She stood there and let the person knock a second time before she answered the door. She was not going to let whomever it was think that she was waiting for them. She opened the door to find a person in a black suit, white shirt, black tie and a dark hood over their face and head. There was a light yellow showing through the hood at where the eyes would be and this caused a slight raise of the hair at the back of Mackenzie’s neck. She quickly throw the thought of slamming the door and saying “hell no” away and instead just asked why are we waiting here lets go.

The driver did not speak but instead gave a slight bow and crossed the right arm across their waist as in gesturing to say after you. She clip clacked, in her heels, all the way to the back door of the limo and waited for the silent driver to open the door. She looked inside and seeing no one else climbed in back of the limo and marveled how spacious it was. All this room for just her, yep she had finally gotten the admiration she had deserved.

She sat down showing off some leg to the driver hoping to see him do a second take but no luck as it just nodded and closed the door. She shrugged that off thinking to herself what did that matter that was just the driver. She knew she looked gorgeous in this costume and those at the convention would love the look. She had the perfect princess dress that when standing went just below the knees with a nice frill around the bottom.

The dress was dyed a dark black and had simple straps over the shoulder with an offset short sleeve that ran from top of shoulder to an inch above the elbow. The wig was perfect for the dark dual ponytails coming off just above her ears. The horns where placed perfectly at the top of the forehead just even with the outer edge of her eye brows. Yes, she knew it people would want to copy this look for next year. The red high heels where the perfect match to her bright red lipstick and she was lost in her small compact mirror when the car stopped.

The door opened and she thought they had arrived at their destination but no someone else was coming in. This got her a little upset till she saw the small red tennis shoe coming thru the door. They obviously belonged to little feet but that did not make her to angry, it was when the little girl sat across the limo from her that things, well, she’d yelled at children before.

“Who the hell do you think you are,” she questioned and after the only response being a small grin she continued raising her voice.

“DID YOUR MOMMY THINK IT WOULD BE FUNNY TO HAVE HER LITTLE GIRL DRESS LIKE THE GORGEOUS MACKENZIE, AND WHY ARE YOU IN MY… (She drew that word out) LIMO,” and before you could on further the little girl gave a toothy grin.

The problem was that this grin showed interlocked perfectly white fanged teeth between those red lips. There was a chill in Mackenzie as she’d never seen such teeth except in online photos of deadly creatures on the internet. This left her speechless for a moment and due to the situation she hadn’t noticed the black limo had not moved since the little girl got inside. It was only a small humming that got her to bring her back to the moment.

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU HUMMING” she screamed out the question not caring about the language.

The smile deepened to a frown and then what could only be called an angelic voice a response came from the little girl. As she spoke Mackenzie eyed the costume realizing it was a perfect, to perfect copy of what she was wearing and the only difference was that it was on a small girl.

“One, Two, Three it is you who look like me,” the girl sang.


“Four, Five, Six, it was in your dreams I fix.”


“Seven, Eight, Nine, soon I shall dine.”

Hearing the word dine Mackenzie stopped herself at another loud outburst. She instead looked over and that little girl was again smiling all toothy again. She did not like where this could be going, so she sucked things in a bit and stopped yelling and decided to try something she had never tried, some tact.

“Ok, I get it so we have the same costume. We can call you the Mackenzie mini-me and I’m sure the fans will love this. As for dining I did not know they’d be feeding us so why don’t we sit here quietly and let the driver get me, I mean us to the event.”

She smiled at the little girl being sure not to show her own teeth as last thing she wanted to do was to make this little girl think she got to her. It was only then that another of her little songs filled the limo.

“One, Two, Three, someone should be praying for thee”

“Four, Five,….”


The gleeful smile and look on the little girls face disappeared within an instant. Mackenzie felt every hair on her body stand up as she felt a wave of anger fill the limo and knew she crossed a line. She went to apologize but the words never came from her mouth. The little girl just said a few words, “ten, you are at your end”.

There was a slight shake of the limo at that point and after standing near the back door the entire time the driver finally moved. His face still covered he opened the door and those little red shoes came out of the back seat and hit the pavement. She waved the driver off and he climbed back into the front seat, and little girl just skipped down the road away from the scene. If anyone had seen, or heard, her they would have heard humming.

The limo was found two days later at the side of a deserted road. There was no sign of a driver and the black paint had something reddish brown rubbed across the paint. The police officer finding the car then went to the back and knocked to see if anyone was in side. He heard no response so opened the back door. In a flash he was at the bumper of the car throwing up the donut and coffee had head for lunch.

The crime scene technicians flipped a coin to see who’d just take the evidence photos as no one wanted to go inside that limo. It was later determined the reddish brown color was dried blood that had been painted around the limo. The interior was unimaginable and the type of thing you’d only see in a horror film. There was no body but enough blood that no one could be alive after losing that much. Ever spot of the car was splattered with droplets, or pools, of the dried substance. The only sign that anyone had been in the vehicle was the only blank space that showed where someone had been seating. It was only after request for help went outline that fans of Mackenzie realized that it had to be her.

There was one final comment on Mackenzie’s social media page that drew attention from her hundreds of followers. It was simple and the name used was DarkPrincess6x3. It stated…..

“One, two, three I warned you of me,

Four, Five, Six, your heart no longer ticks,

Seven, Eight, Nine, you are now mine.”

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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Short Stories


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Behind the Painted Face by John Collings

halloween-scary-faceJohn Colings is the author behind the submission, Behind the Painted Face. He is also the author of the book, Hell, and God, and Nuns with Rulers. Those who take time to visit his website will find a featured post that explains what he hopes to have with his site. It’s an interesting site and he does have some great content. I will say not as good as mine, I could not resist (Sorry John just kidding), but it’s worth the check to get into the mind of the man who brings us the below story.



Behind the Painted Face

(An Envouter’s Traveling Carnival Story)

By John Collings

            Amelia stood in the middle of the circle of boys with tears carving canyons into the thick white makeup she used to paint on her clown face. The tears created a strong contrast to the big red smile painted around her mouth. Amelia wanted to be a happy clown, but interaction with other people her age always caused her to become a sad one. Quinn didn’t care though. The tears just made him feel more powerful as if he joined Amelia in the center of the circle of his friends and continued to barrage her with one of his favorite insults, “Carney!”

The rest of the boys laughed at Quinn’s taunt. “Good one, bro. She never saw that one coming.”

The word wasn’t the thing that hurt Amelia the most. It was the sentiment behind it. The boys, especially Quinn, were correct that she was a carney, but it was the negative connotation they applied to the word that hurt her the most.

Quinn reveled in the attention from the other boys. “When they told you about kids who ran away from home to join the circus, they didn’t mean for you to actually do it.” The boys in the circle laughed even harder at the insult.

Once again, there was truth in the boy’s statement, but if he had to go through what Amelia went through, he might have considered running away from his family and find a new one with this traveling band of brothers she now called her family. They had given her a chance to be herself, and she found joy putting on the makeup every evening, making the little boys and girls laugh at her antic on stage. It was always the boys her age that always found her after a performance and made fun of the choices she made in her young life. It caused more pain swell up even more in her heart.

Quinn could see the effect he was having as new tears started to well up in Amelia’s eyes. It gave Quinn the courage to take it take to the next level. He started to ruffle the folds of Amelia’s rainbow tutu. “Who decided to dress you? You know they have real clothes that you can wear.” He snapped the shoulder strap of her purple polka dot dress to emphasize his point. “Only a freak would feel comfortable wearing this getup.”

The word freak had been thrown in her direction before, and it hurt every time. Even with the derogatory remark, she still felt more comfortable in her clown costume than she did in the clothes her parents bought for her to wear.

Quinn yanked at the bright red curly hair that stuck out from the top of Amelia’s head. “Oh my God, that’s really your hair. I thought it was just a wig you were wearing.” This brought the most laughter from Quinn’s audience. It gave Quinn the incentive to pluck the rubber red ball that acted as Amelia’s nose and throw it against the oversized shoes she wore. It squeaked as it rolled down the pathway underneath a nearby canvas tent she called home. “You are the biggest freak I have ever met.”

There was that word again. No matter where she went that word stuck to her like a badge she was ashamed to wear. It stung more this time because she had to bear the brunt of that word now that she was no longer able to hide behind the comfort of her clown disguise. She had no way to defend herself, so she just stood there taking the abuse as tears rolled more liberally down her cheek. The effect was priceless to the boys, especially Quinn, who just pointed at the injured creature and laughed.

“What is going on out here?” The booming voice stood at the entrance of the tent, asserting itself over the situation. Amelia looked up to see her savior, Madam Envouter. Her large black eyes pierced through the boys’ souls and they immediately stopped their taunting to stare down at their feet. This wasn’t the first time Madam Envouter had saved Amelia. When Amelia had escaped the tortures of her biological family’s screams and bruises, she had hid herself in a culvert in a large field thinking that the end of existence would be better than all the pain she endured over the past few years. Unknown to the little girl, Envouter’s Traveling Carnival had selected the same spot to set up for their next extravaganza. As the workers were unloading the rides, and setting up the spectacles, the kindly woman noticed the girl crouched by herself trying to look inconspicuous. It didn’t take too many encouraging words to coax Amelia out of her hiding spot, and she soon found comfort in Madam Envouter’s tent. Amelia soon found security in her savior’s protection, and even though she never told Madam Envouter about her problems about her father, the woman who took her in ensured her that she would never have to worry about that man again. Though it went against all logic because Amelia knew her father would never let her run away from home so easily, she had faith that what she was being told was the truth. She never looked back and joined the carnival. There she found herself among the people like herself. It was only moments like these where boys like those from her past would come to torment her that she felt that Madam Envouter wouldn’t be able to solve all her problems. But then there she was, and the boys had quit taunting her just at the mere sight of this mysterious woman.

Amelia ran to her side, hugging tightly to the folds of Madam Envouter’s thick skirts. She hid her face into her savior’s hip, and muttered the words, “Madam Envouter, the boys, they were being so cruel.”

The imposing figure patted Amelia’s curly red hair as she continued to stare at the boys. Even Quinn couldn’t face the accusation. “It is okay dear. There is always somebody out there that won’t understand who you truly are.” The boys started to cluster together as they made their way to the exit of the carnival. Madam Envouter turned away from them as well. She led Amelia into her tent with her. Amelia turned back to look at the boys one last time and caught the eyes of her worst tormentor, Quinn. He noticed the connection that had been made and mouthed the word, Freak, before he also turned around to chase after his friends. The moment was made even more painful by the fact that Madam Envouter didn’t seem to notice the slight.

Inside the tent was more inviting than the coldness that could be felt outside of it. Silvia, Madam Envouter’s cat, turned her black head to see who was disturbing her sleep from high up on a shelf containing bottle, vials, and boxes filled with various spices and powders. Other odds and ends littered the side tables and desks that occupied the room. Amelia was always surprised at how much furniture, and space could exist in Madam Envouter’s tent. It looked so small from the outside, but looks could be deceiving. Something much larger could come out of something so small.

Madam Envouter took Amelia to the large comfy chair sitting in the middle of the room next to a well-lit floor lamp. As the girl sat in the chair, she wondered where the electricity came to light the lamp because she was sure to have heard the generator used to supply the room with light, but couldn’t hear the presence of one anywhere. Madam Envouter didn’t seem to mind the irregularity. Instead, she was busy picking up a large book from beside her bed and flipping through it. “How old are you, Amelia?”

The question took Amelia by surprise. “I’m sorry Madam.”

Madam Envouter continued to flip through the pages with the delicate whisk of her fingers. “You are approaching the age of ten, are you not?”

Amelia knew Madam Envouter knew exactly how old she was. “I turned ten last month, Madam.”

The questioner found the page she was looking for and started to look around the room. “Do you believe that being ten years old is an important age?”

The directness of the question bothered Amelia, “I do believe it indicates I am getting closer to adulthood.”

Madam Envouter started to sweep about the room picking up a brown burlap bag and stuffing it with various objects. “And what would you think it means to be an adult?”

The true meaning of the conversation became clear to Amelia. “I guess I should be able to take care of myself.”

The head of the carnival picked up a roll of thread, some discarded clown clothes, face paint, and red dye while stuffing all of these contents into her bag. “I would tend to agree with you. There comes a time in every young lady’s life where she should be able to stand up for herself, and bullying like I saw this evening should not be allowed to continue.”

Amelia bent her head in shame. What she thought would be a moment of comfort turned into a lecture she wasn’t prepared for.

Madam Envouter could sense the disappointment in her pupil as she picked out various vials from the shelf that Silvia rested on. “Don’t worry, honey, I am not mad at you. It is not your fault that these boys are vindictive and cruel, but it is time that you learned how to handle them.”

The encouragement made Amelia look up from her disgrace. “Would you be willing to teach me how to do that?”

The teacher came over to the coffee table in the middle of the room and spread out a map of the surrounding area on to it. “It would be my pleasure, dear.” With a kind smile in Amelia’s direction, Madam Envouter picked up some dirt from the ground and started to rub it her hands together as she looked up into the sky and started to mutter some words in an incomprehensible language Amelia had never heard before. She could care less about the language though because she looked down at where the dirt collected on the map below her. It seemed to glow lightly on the ratted page as it swirled around in search of something specific. The spectacle amazed Amelia causing her to wonder if there wasn’t something more to Madam Envouter than what she was led to believe. All of the dirt ended up on the map covering up the lines and markings. Madam Envouter looked down at her handiwork. The light glow from the dirt was even more perceptible as it illuminated the edges of Madam Envouter’s delicate face. She bent down closer to it and blew on the dirt. It all scattered away except for one larger piece of gravel that lazily plodded its way down one of the roads. It took a sharp right, followed by another one before stopping at a spot right at the corner of an intersection.

Madam Envouter watched the piece of gravel to see if it was going to move again, but after a while it remained rooted to the spot where it stopped. “He appears to live very close. Come along Amelia. Tonight could be one of the most important lessons you ever learn.”

Amelia was enthralled with the piece of gravel, but she tore her eyes away and followed Madam Envouter to the exit. Right before they left, Madam Envouter stopped. She stooped down and picked up something that had found a place on the edge of the tent wall. Amelia looked up to see her red rubber ball on the tips of her mentor’s fingernails. “I think I have a very special for you,” she said to the ball. Madam Envouter snatched it tightly in her grip and threw it into the brown burlap bag. The two ladies walked out into the night air as the full moon rose over the horizon.


Quinn’s mom had cooked his favorite dinner, spaghetti with meatballs covered in a spicy marinara. He finished it quickly, forgot about his homework that was assigned before the start of the weekend, and instead settled down to his favorite video game. Barely a thought was given to the girl who he had taunted earlier in the evening. There had been so many kids he had left in his wake after crushing their egos that every new victim he taunted would blend in with the others. It wasn’t the girl he thought about. It was the woman that had come out of that tent to save the girl that haunted Quinn’s thoughts. Her gaze seemed to be able to see every secret he held in his heart, even the dark ones he kept hidden from his friends and his own mother. Just thinking that this woman could look into his inner thoughts made him face them again, and that was the most disturbing part of the encounter. It wasn’t disturbing enough for him that a few hours of blasting away zombies couldn’t quiet the troubling thoughts within him.

He went to bed without a worry on his mind, and was able to experience the sleep only gifted to those who could claim to be free from sin. But those who have sinned will hear the voice of the oppressed whisper in their ears to wake them from their slumber. Quinn heard such a voice around the time the clock struck three. It whispered clearly in his ear the accusing word he dreaded to hear, “Freak.” The word, yet only whispered, rang clearly in his sleeping mind, and he jolted from his pillow to see who had dared to disturb his slumber. Before his eyes could fully open to take in the dim outline of his bedroom, a fine powder, blown in his face, invaded his eyes and was sucked up through his nostrils deeply into the thick folds of his brain.

Quinn reflexively closed his eyes in a hope to avoid the foreign powder, but was unable to. A burning sensation saturated his lungs, and he tried to cough out the foreign substance. No matter how much he tried to help it escape his body, it wouldn’t and his eyes bulged open as he his throat tightened up. He moved his hands up hoping to tear a hole in his neck to allow precious oxygen to return to his body, but when they were parallel with his chest, he felt his muscles freeze up on him allowing him no movement except for the curling of his toes and fingers inward.

Quinn was unable to move. He wasn’t dead, but he was paralyzed in the horrific position of sitting up in his own bed. Even his eyes were not able to move in their sockets even though he could see everything in the dim moonlight penetrating through his blinds. Reflecting off the glow of the full moon was that woman’s dark eyes. They were inches from Quinn’s face, and he could feel his essence being invaded once again. This time he couldn’t turn away. He had to stare back and let those eyes poke and prod in any place they wanted to go. When they found everything there was to know they left, and another person much smaller jumped on the bed behind him and started to pull his pajama shirt off and replace them with other clothes over his stationary torso.

While this other person performed her task, Quinn could see the other woman sit in his desk chair in the periphery of his vision. “Good evening Quinn. You might think that during the next couple of hours, you will be subjected to some form of witchcraft, but I am here to tell you that this is not witchcraft but little bits and pieces I have picked up from various places during my extensive travels.”

Quinn tried to hear what the woman was saying to him but he was more concerned about what the other person was doing to him as she pulled a hoop of some kind over his head and position it around his hips.

“You are probably thinking that if you are not subjected to some form of witchcraft, then how come you can’t move right now.”

When the offending piece of clothing was in place, he could fell the tiniest pinprick in the small of his back right where the fluffy article rested on his skin. Another pinprick popped out of his skin a centimeter above it, and he could feel a thread entering his body and exiting through the two pinpricks.

The woman paid no attention to the activity going on around Quinn but instead continued on with her lecture. “But I didn’t cast some spell on you. Instead, you have been exposed to a fine powder from a tiny island in the Caribbean near the Dominican Republic.”

Quinn could feel similar pinpricks follow along the line of the article of clothing he now wore as the woman’s musical voice continued to tell its story.

“The locals there call it the zombie drug. Don’t worry, it doesn’t turn you into a zombie. It is just called that because those who inhale it lose control of their muscles, much like rigor mortis, and their heart slows down so much that it can only be detected by the most sensitive of equipment. To those who come across these exposed people, they often believe these people to be dead.”

The person doing her work around his waist had made it to the front and he could feel her pokes popping in and out below his stomach.

“But they weren’t dead. In fact, just like you, they could still hear, see, smell, and feel everything that they came into contact with.”

The girl was making her way to the other side of his stomach.

“The reason it is called zombie powder is because the folks that came upon these supposed dead people would bury them. Of course, this powder would wear off eventually and the person exposed to it would claw his or her way out of the grave and revisit the town that buried them.”

The girl took out another piece of clothing and was pulling that over Quinn’s head. He couldn’t quite see it, but it felt tight around his chest and was only held up by puffy sleeves on his shoulders. The girl zipped it up in the back, and Quinn could feel his stomach being pulled in as a belt like structure was being tied in a bow behind him.

“Of course, these were small towns, and they would remember who was buried and who wasn’t. So when these people that had buried previously in the week returned to town wide-eyed and dirty, the community would think they were zombies.”

The methodical pinpricks started up again but this time on the sleeve on his left shoulder.

“Hence the name, zombie powder.”

Quinn could feel the pinpricks continue to attach the fabric that stretched between his shoulder blades as the lady moved her position to the edge of Quinn’s bed.

“Now the material that my assistant is using is a different kind of material. This is a very expensive thread that can only be found in the marketplaces of Egypt, and of course, you need to know where to look. I’ve been told that they found the thread in the dark tombs of the pharaohs underneath the pyramids. It is made with a special kind of gold.”

The boy could start to suspect what was happening to him as he felt the pinpricks pop in and out of the sleeve that was on his right shoulder.

“The strange thing about this thread is that when it comes in contact with human blood it bonds to the organic material. The union becomes so strong that not even scissors can cut through it.”

The girl had moved to his chest and was starting to go through the same process there.

“The Egyptian pharaohs would use it to decorate their bodies for all eternity. We of course are using it for a different purpose but I think you’ll agree that it is for a worthy cause.”

Quinn wished he could cry as he realized what was happening to him but even his tear ducts wouldn’t obey his will as the pinpricks started to plunge methodically in and out of the belt that was tied around his waist. The girl who was working on this chore made sure that each pull of the thread dug into his skin to bond with the organic material held there.

“Of course it will take my assistant a little more time to finish the task of making sure the thread goes all around your waist, but that just gives me some time to show you this neat little bottle that I picked up in Thailand.”

The lady held up the bottle close to Quinn’s face. Even through the dim light in the room, he could still see a thick liquid swishing around in it. There was a label on it, but he couldn’t make out what it said because the letters looked foreign to him. It looked like a bunch of different ways to write the letter n lined up together. He could only guess what horror this bottle held. Before the lady even told him, she opened it up and dumped all of the contents into his hair.

As she pulled on some plastic gloves she explained to Quinn the history of the contents of the bottle. “You see the Thai people have only one genetic color for their hair, black. It doesn’t mean that some people desire to have a different hair color, and so they developed this hair dye.”

Quinn could feel the liquid seep into his scalp.

“Of course, in order to dye hair that is so thick and dark takes a special blend of ingredients. In the hills outside of Chiang Mai grows a flower that when crushed gives them the perfect potency they can use in the development of this hair dye.”

A sensation started to tingle in Quinn’s head all the way to the roots of his hair follicles. The lady moved behind him on the bed and started to rub the dye further into his scalp.

“The people of Thailand use only a couple drops mixed with a fine oil to give them a soft red hue to their hair. It lasts for almost a year. I decided to use a little more on you. In fact, I used a whole bottle and didn’t mix it with anything.”

The tingling sensation that Quinn was feeling started to burn. He wanted to reach up and swat away the lady’s hands because he was sure her deep massage was the cause of the burning sensation.

“The people of Thailand don’t recommend ever using that much especially on hair as fine as yours. When you do that, the dye actually causes so much damage to the hair the color becomes permanent.”

The pain became unendurable, but Quinn couldn’t do anything about it. He wondered if it had seeped so far into his scalp that it had reached through his skull and into his brain. He thought he felt something snap in there as he sat in that helpless frozen position.

“Apparently it also causes the hair to curl. That is an interesting side effect.”

The girl had finished with her sewing and had brought out another jar with a pasty goop in it that she started to slather on Quinn’s face as the lady behind him continued to massage the burning liquid into his head.

“Now the makeup that my assistant is putting on your face is another rare item. It comes from the labs in South Korea.”

The place where the cream was applied on his face left a different cooling sensation unlike the one that the dye on his scalp had left. The contrast was an odd mixture.

“You see the people of South Korea value a pale complexion so much that they have developed a cream to bleach their skin. They have developed a cream so powerful that not even the ultraviolet rays from the sun will allow a person who uses it to become tan.”

The cooling sensation started to become so cold that Quinn started to feel his checks go numb. The girl continued to apply it all over his face.

“Of course, being pale isn’t as valued in other parts of the world so I’ve done some tweaking to the cream in order to come up with other colors. I’m still working on green, but I have perfected white, red, and black.”

Quinn could see the girl as she carefully drew lines all over his face with the cream, and then fill those lines in with more of the substance from a different jar.

“My mixture is a little more powerful than the Koreans unfortunately. No matter how much you scrub, it never seems to come out, and as far as I know it is permanent. There is a friend of mine that used it ten years ago and the color hasn’t faded even a little bit.”

The girl continued to paint her masterpiece as the lady got off the bed and pulled off the gloves she was wearing and threw them on the ground. She grabbed a stand up mirror and placed it as the edge of the bed in front of Quinn. He could see his silhouette reflected in the dim light in it.

“Now Quinn, I know you are thinking why I would waste such rare and expensive items on such a worthless boy as you.”

Quinn was thinking about the pain he felt in his scalp, face, and all over his body and worried what light would reveal in the mirror planted in front of him.

“But I think it is important that you learn from this experience, so I wasn’t about to spare any expense.”

The girl finished with her creams as she got off the bed to leave room for Quinn to see the full effect in the mirror.

“I am going to turn on the light so you can see the product of my little lesson.”

Quinn wanted to shake his head no because he knew that the pain he was feeling now would be nothing compared to the sight that awaited, but once again his stiff body couldn’t respond to any of his commands.

The lady walked to the light switch and flipped it on. What would have been a light so blinding it would have caused anybody to quickly shut their eyes enveloped the room, but Quinn couldn’t close his eyes. Instead he had to stare at the horror in the mirror.

The clothing that had been sewn to his body was a dress that resembled one he would see his sister’s toy dolls. It went down to just barely cover the top of his thighs and he could see a rainbow tutu sticking out of the edge of the skirt. It was sparkling white in color except for the pink belt around his waist which was tied into a huge bow that stuck out of either side of his body. The puffy sleeves were also pink and popped out from his shoulders like huge balloons. The worst part was right below the low cut chest. The word Princess was written in bright glittery letters, each one a different color.

His hair was now a bright red and it had curled up so bad that it had gathered into a massive beehive on top of his head. It drastically contrasted his white face. Two perfect red circles highlighted each of his cheeks, and big red mouth was drawn around his lips so it looked like he was permanently smiling. Thick black lines were drawn around his new mouth. It also started at each corner of both of his eyes to highlight a half circle that now hid his eyebrows. These half circles were also filled in bright red.

Quinn looked at himself in horror and was unable to turn away. In the reflection in the mirror he could see the woman lean into his ear so she could whisper. “I’m glad I could clear away the makeup that hid the freak you really are.”

Quinn wondered how he would be able to live the rest of his life like this.

“I told you that you wouldn’t be subjected to hours of witchcraft,” the whisper continued, “but I do have tiny moment of it for you.”

The red rubber ball magically appeared in her hand and she clamped it down on Quinn’s nose. With her other hand, she gave it a squeeze so it squeaked and at the same time she muttered the words, “Fas sron.” As soon as she released her fingers from the ball, it started to glow. The shiny sheen started to slip off of the ball and wrap itself around Quinn’s nose. He could feel cartilage extend out and fuse with the rubber part of the ball. His nose melded with it as he witnessed the bulbous monstrosity become the centerpiece of his face. The woman reached down and gave the ball a squeeze. Air escaped through Quinn’s nostrils as it gave a high pitched squeak.

The lady backed away and looked down at her handiwork. She said, “Enjoy your new look, Quinn.” Then she and the other girl quietly left the room. Quinn sat stiff in the light of his bedroom staring at the horror that he always knew was in him.


Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Short Stories


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Rose Petal Haunt by Author Connie Chappell


Author Connie Chappell was kind enough to share her story “Rose Petal Haunt” for the Halloween event this year. She is a the author of the Wild Raspberries. If you want to find out more about her I welcome you to check out her website. I could go on as there is a lot of information on her site but lets get to that story.

Rose Petal Haunt

            Newt Randall grumbled, but his long strides took him Wrenn Grayson’s way, toward the old Baxter Opera House, closed now for years. It was nearly eight o’clock and already dark as dread on this late October evening in the downtown neighborhood of Havens, Ohio.

Newt remembered Wrenn’s initial explanation when he answered her call, just a few minutes earlier, in his condominium at the other end of the block. Her professor approved her senior project: a historic retelling of the opera house’s glory days. That would include the forty years around the turn of the twentieth century when it thrived. In 1906, it also played host to the mysterious death of Lillian Garrison Bethune, a popular diva.

He met the journalism major two weeks ago when he, a retired newspaper reporter, appeared as guest lecturer before her class. The calling card he handed her as a polite gesture, when she corralled him afterwards with questions, facilitated her ease of contact tonight.

No good deed, he thought.

Newt and Wrenn met up in front of the library. She told him about spending her evening reading Priscilla Baxter’s journals until the library closed.

He knew Mrs. Baxter’s journals documented daily life in the opera house. What Wrenn couldn’t possibly know was that mention of the journals sparked an unpleasant memory about a story he wrote early in his career, one that his publisher refused to print.

“Until today,” Wrenn said, “you were the last person to sign the journals out from the library’s historical archives. I signed my name beneath yours on the checkout registry card.”

“You signed a registry card? That’s old school.”

“Sure is, but, you know, in the archives section, it’s their nature to stick with the old ways.”

Back in 1966, he, like she, sat at a library table under the librarian’s watchful eye and devoured those journals. Sixty years prior, Mrs. Baxter sat to write her account of Lillian’s untimely death while performing at the opera house.

“Why did you read Mrs. B’s journals back then? Were you working on a story?”

“Before we launch into that,” he said, “let’s stick to the subject of what couldn’t wait until morning.” Apparently, there was a symbol etched in the opera house’s stone façade she wanted him to see.

“Sure,” she said, passing him her flashlight, so she could manipulate the fancy tablet taken from a coat pocket. “Look at this.”

Stored there were images of page after page of Mrs. Baxter’s journal. The journal itself couldn’t be checked out. Snapping images with her electronic doodad was the next best thing. At her touch, photos of Mrs. Baxter’s cursive slid across the screen. Wrenn paused in the chronology for Mrs. Baxter’s drawings. He gave little credence to the sketches years ago, thinking they were connected to a particular opera, like her drawings of costumes and settings for scenes.

“I did some research online, and I think Mrs. B believed these symbols have some power over spirits in the paranormal world.”

She hooked him quite smoothly with the word spirits. Mrs. Baxter claimed Lillian’s ghost haunted the opera house, the building they now faced. “What kind of power?” he asked.

“The kind that wards off spirits.” Wrenn enlarged one of the tablet’s images, took back her flashlight, and handed him the device.

From the lotus blossom image on the screen, his eyes jumped to a duplicate image caught in Wrenn’s flashlight beam. A lotus blossom was carved into the opera house’s dark stonework beside the entrance door.

“You saw the lotus blossom in the journal, then came down here and, by chance, in the dark, found it engraved?” His question dripped with skepticism for the wannabe investigative reporter.

“No. I took a careful walk around the building before dark, then I went to the library. My thought is, Mrs. B had this lotus blossom engraved after Lillian’s death.”

Newt’s heart ached and his stomach with it. Back in ’66, he thumbed past the symbols recorded in the journal. Christ, he hadn’t even noticed the carvings. If he made the same argument to his editor Wrenn now made with some research behind it, his story probably would have seen print.

While he fumed with himself, Wrenn went on about the lotus blossom’s meaning in the preternatural world. How she thought Mrs. Baxter used it to keep Lillian’s ghost inside the theater, grounded and centered.

The obvious question was, why would anyone work this hard to keep a ghost captured? Newt challenged the opinionated woman with a variation on that theme. “Oh, you think you know what was in Mrs. Baxter’s mind, do you?”

“You read the journals. It’s easy to get a sense of her. She was phenomenal. She followed the leads, spoke to people. She had an investigator’s instinct. The fact that the crime was murder didn’t stop her.”

“She didn’t solve the murder,” he said, still terse over his rookie mistake.

“We don’t know that. No one was arrested, tried, or convicted, but she may have solved it. The best part is, she wrote it all down.”

He still held the tablet. With his middle finger, he pushed through the pages. He remembered the evidence Mrs. Baxter laid out. Her version supported murder while Police Detective Winkler concluded that Lillian’s fall from the opera house balcony was suicide. The diva had, the day of her death, been ousted from her starring role in the Italian opera, Lucia di Lammermoor. The opera’s director called her temperamental, unusually nervous. Her distractions ruined one particular rehearsal when she saw a shadow at the back of the house and cried out in fear. The director reported to Mrs. Baxter that no one stood there, but still, the diva stamped out of rehearsal.

When an ear was needed, Mrs. Baxter lent hers to young Lillian. It seemed a handsome man named Oswald Stiller entered Lillian’s life in Havens. He charmed her with constant attention. Dozens and dozens of red roses were delivered to her dressing room throughout her first few days in town. By then, Lillian reported seeing a certain glint in Oswald’s eye and sensing a growing possessiveness. Her decision to withdraw from his company was met with ungentlemanly behavior. That was proven by bruises on Lillian’s wrist the next day. While the stripes of discoloration faded from purple to puce, the red roses continued in their delivery.

“So what’s your take on Oswald Stiller? Resident of Havens? Traveling businessman? Or asylum escapee?”

“Stalker,” Wrenn said.

“You believe the women’s version?”

“Mrs. B marched in and out of hotels, rooming houses, and the town’s half dozen greenhouses with the man’s description.”

The idea of marching took them on a tour around the opera house so Wrenn could show him the other engravings.

“As I recall,” Newt said, “she had no luck finding an address for Oswald, but she did find the greenhouse where he purchased the roses. Philpot’s.” It went out of business forty years ago. “No address for him there, either.”

“Which means Oswald wanted to go suspiciously undetected.”

“Philpot also told Mrs. Baxter he thought Oswald seemed sane.”

“Of course. Oswald’s mind was sick, but practiced. He knew how to fit into society. Then, after his sickness was fed, he knew how to vanish.”

She drew up to the building’s side door and trained the flashlight on an etching consisting of symmetrically curved lines, the circumference of which was oval-shaped and filled the large stone’s face.

“I researched this. It’s called a shou.” She spelled it. “I couldn’t find it in Webster’s or in an online dictionary, but I found the word was the name of a county in China. Not quite related, but interesting, because I believe all these ancient understandings have the same connection from an earlier day. Shou in Chinese means longevity. Longevity is one of the Five Blessings in Chinese teachings. The fifth blessing is a peaceful death. That seemed to link what Mrs. B tried to achieve for Lillian. Peace throughout eternity.”

Their walk around the building concluded at the alley door, beside which Newt saw another lotus blossom and gave in to curiosity. “Okay. What’s your theory?”

“I think Mrs. B had these symbols engraved at each door to keep Lillian’s spirit trapped inside.”

“Wouldn’t their placement outside the opera house keep spirits from entering?”

“But couldn’t the reverse be true? If the symbols keep spirits from moving past them, then Lillian wouldn’t be able to leave, keeping her spirit trapped. And who knows, maybe there are other engravings inside.”

“And you think spirits are limited to using doors?”

“Several how-to websites on exorcisms tell the layperson to open all the doors to the—” She waved her hand, searching for words.

“Haunted house,” he supplied.

“Okay. Haunted house, so the spirit can be flushed out. Again, why couldn’t it work in reverse?”

“I don’t know. I’m neither an expert nor a spiritual adviser.”

“But don’t you consider Mrs. B’s logic flawless? She thought it would work, and she ventured to try. Take the order of Mrs. B’s entries.” She swapped the flashlight for the tablet, then scrolled through the pages. “She talks about Lillian, their growing friendship, Lillian’s giddiness over her new suitor, then her fear. After Mrs. B’s investigation, after she argued with the detective that it was murder, not suicide, then the symbols come up in the journal.”

Newt felt his jaw clench at his inattentiveness to essential information when he pored over the journals years ago.

“I don’t think she paid for engravings on the oft-chance Lillian might become a ghost, might show herself. I think Mrs. B knew Lillian’s spirit existed inside the opera house. Mrs. B didn’t avenge her murder, so Lillian’s spirit couldn’t cross over.”

He cocked his head toward the building. “Do you think Lillian’s spirit is still in there?”

“That’s what I intended to ask you.”

As Wrenn circumvented his question, he stepped around hers. “I’ll answer that, but not until tomorrow.”

“Aw, come on. Please,” she begged.

“I’m what they call spry for being past seventy. Even at that, spry needs sleep. Meet me right here at two tomorrow.” He left her at her car, then traipsed on to his condo.

The next morning, he made a phone call to the man he happened to know owned the dilapidated opera house. That call produced a key. Wrenn already waited when he arrived at the alleyway door. This time, he brought the flashlights since the opera house boasted no electricity. Few windows would provide little daylight of their own accord.

Wrenn carried her unbridled excitement over the sill plate and into a dingy hallway behind the stage. The air inside was stale. Dust lived in every breath. He kicked something, then put the wooden doorstop to use, propping the outside door open for the wanted fresh air and sunlight.

“This way,” he said and led her around two stacks of boxes blocking the corridor. “I think these are the perfect surroundings to tell what I know about Lillian’s ghost.” Wrenn’s attention was rapt. “In 1966, I’d been on the paper two years. I worked late one night and stepped out to the street for a breather. It was around eleven. And the date was,” he paused dramatically, “March twenty-fifth.”

Wrenn gasped. “The same date Lillian was murdered.”

“Exactly sixty years later. While I used the night air to clear my head—I could go a little longer without sleep back then—a strange woman walked by. Her hair stuck out from beneath a knit cap. Her coat was tattered and dirty. But it was the small black iron cauldron she carried that prompted me to strike up a conversation.” From memory, he spoke the opening sentences from the article he wrote that was never pressed onto newsprint. “Maisie Sewell performed an incantation inside the historic opera house to free the spirit of Lillian Garrison Bethune from its entrapment between worlds. Why is unknown.”

When he realized Wrenn no longer walked beside him, he turned. From two steps back, she shone her flashlight’s beam directly into his eyes. He raised a deflective hand.

“You are a despicable man.”

“Here it comes.”

“How could you just walk off last night and not tell me this?”

“I told you I needed sleep. I also need whatever’s left of my eyesight. Would you, please?”

She lowered the light. “Who’s Maisie Sewell?”

They walked on. “After that night, I made some inquiries. The general consensus said she was the town’s eccentric hermit and a bit off-center.” He used his flashlight to pull down a cobweb. “I followed her down here to the opera house. Along the way, she mumbled something about ‘Miss Bethune’s death’ and said she came to perform an exorcism.”

“An exorcism,” Wrenn said, enthralled. “Excellent.”

They stopped just outside the open balcony door.

“Most of the downtown workers I talked to heard stories about the opera house’s ghostly diva. It had been years since the unexplained death, but the stories didn’t fade away.” He shone his flashlight beam on the carpeted staircase. “Well, let’s go up.”

At the top, he led her down the main aisle to the front row. It would have been ludicrous to speak of Maisie now when they stood on the very floorboards where Lillian went over the balcony’s wide half-wall. As if choreographed, they shone their lights down to the auditorium. Lillian’s neck snapped when she struck the center aisle below. Newt already scanned the area around his and Wrenn’s feet and the wall’s edge. No rose petals, fresh or petrified.

Mrs. Baxter claimed Oswald Stiller somehow lured Lillian to the balcony, then “flung her over” the stone railing. Velvety red rose petals, Oswald’s trademark, were found along the top edge of the balcony’s wall. She insisted to Detective Winkler that the petals were scattered by Oswald after Lillian was pushed. Otherwise, how could two petals have ended up in Lillian’s hair? Mrs. Baxter discovered Lillian’s cold body the next morning. Detective Winkler asserted that a depressed Lillian could have scattered the petals herself. The two petals could have gone over with Lillian, whose greater weight found the floor first.

“Where did Oswald go?” Wrenn asked. “None of Mrs. Baxter’s entries spoke of confronting him, nor of Detective Winkler relaying the results of any contact.”

“I wouldn’t assume he disappeared from town. If he lived here and was never charged, his life would simply go on.” He led her back downstairs. As they honed in on the light leaking through the alley door, Wrenn’s beam searched the wall on either side of the opening. They stopped short when the faded outline of a lotus blossom appeared in her cone of light.

“Mrs. B hung an amulet there.”

“Your theory is proving itself true, young lady.” While the hair on his neck stood up, he laid out another piece of Maisie’s story. “Things grew extremely weird when I followed Maisie around to this door. She muttered things like, ‘Bewitch the spirit. Cast it out.’ She let her hand hover over the door handle, like she summoned some magical power. The door should’ve been locked when she grabbed the handle, but it turned easily. Just inside, she pulled a leather pouch and a thin strip of what appeared to be animal fur out of her coat pocket. She hung the animal fur around her neck. She got a homemade candle lit and walked off into the dark corridor. I watched, trying to decide if I had nerve enough to follow.”

“You were scared?”

“Hell, yes! There was something unearthly about the whole thing. But before I made a decision, the door slammed shut and locked.” Wrenn’s eyes bulged. “No one,” he said, “that I saw…was there.”

Her shoulders hunched with what he assumed was a shiver.

“I waited around. Then, precisely at midnight, a blinding light shot through every window and door. It could only have taken seconds. After that, everything went dark.”

“I read about bright lights like that in some of my research books.”

He walked her outside. “I stood right here when the light and that pane of glass exploded.” He pointed up to an attic window. “Shards rained down. Cut me right here.” He turned his head to show her the scar that sat high on his cheek.

“What did you do?”

“I tried the door, and it opened. I searched thoroughly. Maisie was nowhere.”

Wrenn stared at him for a long moment. “But the place is big. She could have left while you were in another part of the building.”

He shrugged. “Back then, with blood on my cheek, I wasn’t convinced.”

Wrenn tilted her head up to the window, long ago repaired. “That’s how Lillian’s spirit got around the engravings at the doors.”

“I guess I thought Lillian crossed over. Somehow, Maisie got caught in the updraft and evaporated by her own dark magic.” He shook his head. “I don’t know. It was a weird night.” Newt used the borrowed key to relock the door. “I wrote the story and took it to my editor. He deemed it sensationalism and wouldn’t print it. That didn’t sit well since I was an eye-witness. A day or two later, I realized I hadn’t really witnessed the main event. I was outside.”

“You saw the light, the shards, an empty opera house.”

“None of that added up to a story the paper would print. All I had was a ghost no one at the paper believed in, in the first place. How do you prove an opera house is no longer haunted?” Back out on the main street, Newt sighed. “A couple of weeks later, my editor told me he saw Maisie out south of town, heading down a lane into Compton Woods.” The old foolishness Newt felt reared again. A cub reporter’s folly made real by an editor’s grin. “The word was she lived in a cabin in the woods.”

“You went looking for her!” Wrenn’s green eyes shone.

“Sure. I wanted the rest of the story.”

She grabbed his arm. “So you know where the cabin is! What did she tell you?”

“I swear, I saw intelligence in her eyes.” His reflective tone calmed Wrenn’s ardor.

“You thought she faked madness?”

“Let’s just say, I expected to hear the echoes of an unwell mind. The woman literally came out of the dark to exorcise a ghost!”

“Why did she take up this cause? Because it feels like a cause.”

He considered the young woman. “You’re the expert on women’s feelings. Why?”

Quite poised, Wrenn said, “Given the fact she probably kept her own company for years, she built her confidence and convinced herself to do it. She heard and believed the stories about a ghost. She wanted to help, not unlike Mrs. B, whose sanity was never called into question. We don’t know Maisie’s upbringing, but it doesn’t sound like the white-picket-fence variety. I mean, the real question is, did it work?” In the same breath, she shifted gears. “Newt, let’s go out to the cabin. You know where it is. Please, take me to see it.”

He complied. Arguing would equal both a second folly and a losing proposition.

Newt and Wrenn emerged though tall evergreens into a small clearing. Maisie’s lifeless gray shack sat fifty yards away. In the late afternoon, the flashlights they carried remained off, although much of autumn’s light was filtered and failing.

“Are we working on the probability that she’s dead?” Wrenn asked.

“Long dead.”

Underbrush crept from the woods toward the cabin. Newt’s and Wrenn’s progress proceeded at the same pace. Wrenn kept her eyes on the prize: a glimpse into Maisie’s life. Hearing about the cauldron, animal fur, and incantations were not enough. Wrenn joked about the leather pouch containing eye of Newt. When they first walked down the muddy lane into the woods, he found levity in the quip. Now, it felt like an inescapable premonition as his eyes constantly searched the sidelines for predators.

“It was right here,” Newt said, stopping, pointing toward a tree on his left. “The day I spoke with Maisie, I never got any closer to the cabin than this scraggly cypress.”


“She came out to meet me. She dabbled in divination, crystal balls, fortunetelling, and such.”

“She knew you were coming?”

“Yeah.” He cocked a mischievous eyebrow. “I guess you didn’t get a look at the name signed in above mine on the library’s registry card? It was a scrawl.”

“Whose was it?” Instantly, her mouth gaped. She reasoned the answer. “Maisie’s? You’re just telling me now?” Her questions came in a loud whisper.

“Timing in journalism is everything, my dear. Yes, we were standing right here when she put me on to the journals. She was not the nutcase everyone thought.” Suddenly, a yellow light caught in his peripheral vision.

He turned toward the cabin. A porch light he hadn’t noticed before hung next to the door on a cabin isolated from electrical service. The cabin door either unlatched itself, or someone inside stood in shadow. Newt felt inexplicably drawn toward the tumbledown shack. He took a step, but Wrenn held his arm.

“Did you see that?”

“I think it’s an invitation.”

“But from whom? Lillian, I’d guess, wouldn’t you? By the time you found Maisie, did she let on that Lillian was with her?” Her tone said she figured he kept another fact under wraps.

“No, and I didn’t think to ask.” He layered his reply with sass.

“After you read the journals, did you come back to ask Maisie if she got the story from Lillian? Did Oswald push her? Was Mrs. B correct?”

He knocked lightly on her head. “Hello, Wrenn. I didn’t know Lillian was here to relay the story, if it is, in fact, Lillian enticing us to visit.”

“Someone or something is in there.”

“So, do you want to go talk with a ghost?” he said, better defining their host.

Their elbows bumped as they eased toward the cabin. The door creaked open another few inches at the hand of a wispy breeze. They stepped up to the planked porch. Wrenn and a baffled Newt froze.

There, sprinkled where a welcome mat might lay, were fresh rose petals, one of them seemed to rock on a current of air. Newt read it as a warning.

Oswald Stiller. A possibility he hadn’t considered. By now, Oswald would be a half-century past spry, so he must be dead. But he had not intended to be forgotten.

Newt raised an eyebrow to Wrenn. She answered his question with a serious expression and a quiet nod. He swung the door open further and went inside. Wrenn followed, close on his heels.

When his pupils adjusted, it surprised him to find a distinct lack of clutter. Furnishings were sparse. A chair angled toward the cold hearth. A cot against the wall. A planked table. A stool beside it.

Wrenn sidled toward the cauldron on the drain board and looked inside. Her footprints trailed behind her in the dirt on the floor.

On one wall, a long shelf held apothecary and canning jars. He couldn’t even hazard a guess as to the odd assortment of contents. Some held powders. It felt more like Maisie practiced medicine, not a dark art, then he spotted the crystal ball on the ledge. A small burlap bag leaned against it.

He made his first move toward the heart of the cabin. Behind him, the door moaned. He watched. It seemed to waver, undecided. He thought back to alleyway door, so long ago, that slammed shut on its hinges. Across the cabin, Wrenn whispered his name. He saw a look of awe on her face. She raised a tentative hand. It pointed toward the opposite corner. Even as he turned, rotisserie slow, he sensed the chill of a presence. That sensation presented itself as a sphere lit from within and hanging in the shadows about shoulder height.

Over the eerie course of several breathless seconds, the bubble of light stretched. It formed a woman wearing a gown that met the floor. Long curls draped her shoulders.

Newt’s heart jumped and he muffled a shout when something touched his arm. “Christ, Wrenn!” She stood beside him now, having made the trip with uncanny stealth.

“Sorry,” she breathed. “It’s Lillian. Do you see—?”

“Yes, I see the rose petals.” Dried rose petals appeared to be caught in her hair. The crimson was visible against the spirit’s iridescence.

Newt stepped away from Wrenn. “Lillian, this is Wrenn, and I’m Newt. Do you remember me? Maisie and I talked outside, shortly after you came here. We’re not here to frighten you.”

That was a switch. He thought about his words. The humans scaring the ghost. But it seemed to him, the essence of Lillian cowered. In death, she feared the same thing she feared in life: Oswald Stiller.

Realizing that, Newt became the man very few people knew. Rarely in his career, and only when facing a most trembling of victims, did the gravelly reporter soften to the caring person who spoke to Lillian.

“We know Oswald’s been here,” he said. “We saw the rose petals. We can only imagine how long this stalking has gone on. But you don’t need to stay here. You’re making it too easy for him. I can only hope that Maisie shielded you for as long as she could. Lillian, you can fight back. At least, leave the cabin. Locate another place for yourself. Dig deep. Find your strength. Promise me.”

Throughout Newt’s pep talk, he observed Lillian closely. When he nicked comments about Oswald, rose petals, and stalking, Lillian’s translucence dulled. His strummed words of encouragement caused the being’s embodiment to brighten.

By this method of gauging her translucence, he thought they could distinguish an answer to the age’s-old question: Was she pushed, or had she jumped over the balcony wall? But that was no longer the issue, not in his mind. The issue was the terror this woman suffered for decades at the hands of a stalker. That crime deserved a fitting punishment. If Newt ventured a guess, he’d deduce that Lillian jumped, though. Oswald would never have pushed her. He’d want her alive. For around her, he could harness his vile sociopathic power.

A long moment passed. There was no change in the spirit’s aura by which to discern her feelings and, therefore, her willingness to adopt his plan. He urged Lillian again. “Promise me.”

Newt stared hard. Still, her illumination remained steady. Two pulse beats later, the door hinges groaned. “I guess we’re leaving,” he said.

“Do you think you got through?”

“Don’t know.”

They both gave Lillian one last look, then stepped through the portal.

Once outside, Wrenn rushed to grab an ancient broom that leaned against the porch railing, its wooden handle bleached a weathered grayish white. Each brushing motion that swept the rose petals out of sight intensified more than Wrenn’s last; so did her contempt for Oswald Stiller. “It’s a sickness. A sickness that doesn’t die with death. How did that man escape hell?”

Newt agreed wholeheartedly with her sentiment.

Her task complete, they stepped down to the forest’s floor and out into the clearing. Suddenly, the most beautifully melodic voice bade them farewell.

They spun to see a figure framed in the cabin’s doorway. More human than ghost for her performance, Lillian appeared composed of a thin pearly layer. Newt, not a patron of the arts, suspected she sang a scene from Lucia.

Wrenn and he stood as still as statues while the image bowed deeply, then crystalized into something resembling digital pixels, and dissolved.

“Where did she go?” Wrenn said, inching forward.

Newt held her back. In front of them, he saw a rippling current of air coming. It hit him. His arms billowed out.

“What happened?” Wrenn spoke with sober concern.

“She passed right through me.”

“It doesn’t feel like she’s inside you? Permanent like?”

He didn’t believe that was the case. “No. She stayed just long enough to make a promise.”

Up at the cabin, the ghostly porch light went out, but his heart was charged with the epic the storyteller within would write.


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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Short Stories


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Halloween Poetry by Jo Ann Gilbert Stover


The first of the 2015 Halloween Week posts is a unique submission, as this is poetry. The two poems below will be sure to engage the reader and are a great start to this week. Please enjoy, and thank you to author Jo Ann Gilbert Stover.


If I Was

‘Cause it’s HALLOWEEN! A Halloween Poem

By Jo Ann Gilbert Stover

If I was a ghost

Would I cause you great fright

If I crept up behind you

And yelled BOO! In the night?

If I was a black cat

Back arched and teeth bared

Would my loud YEOWW!

Cause you to be scared?

If I was a witch

Flying moonlit nights on my broom

Would my cackling laugh

Bring you horrible gloom?

Would a vampire bat

With teeth bared and bloody

Scare you to death

Or at least frighten your body?

Do Jack O’ Lanterns

Grinning on a fence post

Make you shiver and quiver

Thinking it might be a ghost?


Whenever October 31st

Comes on the scene

Do you revel like the devil


Bored to Death

By Jo Ann Gilbert Stover

The walking dead

Werewolves and ghosts

Vampires and witches

Jack O’ Lanterns on posts

Weird scary music

Filling the air

Blood on the moon

Giving everyone a scare

But here I sit bored

In front of my TV screen

Watching everyone else having fun

On this Halloween

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Short Stories


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Halloween Week Order 2015

The 2015 Open Call for Halloween Submissions saw some amazing submissions. There are the required short stories, but as well this year I received some poems. I thus read everything and think fans of horror, suspense and great reads will enjoy this week. So without further comment here is the listing of when things will appear.

I of course will be bringing a third story that features that mysterious little “girl” from the past two events. I am not really playing any favorites here is that listing.


  • Monday: Two Poems by Jo Ann Gilbert Stover
  • Tuesday: Rose Petal Haunt by Connie Chappell
  • Wednesday: The Costume by Shawn Micallef
  • Thursday: Behind the Painted Face by John Collings
  • Friday: Rituals by Mark Love
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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Short Stories


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When The Tik-Tik Sings by Doug Lamoreux

Tik-TikThere are book titles that when you see them you are not sure what you are going to get when you start to read. I have to say that the book, “When The Tik-Tik Sings”, is just such a title. I was thinking is this about some sort of demented coo-coo clock? There’s a chance that Tik-Tik could be a title of a singer or a band. I had no idea what I was getting into when I first saw the title. Author Doug Lamoreux has written some great books so I tossed away my guesses on potential subject and began to read.

The book opens with veteran police woman, Erin, talking her morning run. As she runs through the area and near the peak of Eagle Point Park she is startled by a big black shape. The shape jumps out and goes up scaring the officer so that she falls and lands rather undignified in the wet grass. Whatever the thing was she had heard this odd noise, “tik-tik, tik-tik, tik…” just before it appeared. She was rightfully nervous after being startled and her imagination start to run wild but she was able to re-focus and finish her run.

It’s not long after the run that she is in her patrol car and on her way to work. It’s here that she comes across a speeding car and a very reckless driver in an expensive sports car. She does her job and begins pursuit of the driver, and it’s not long before the chase ends. It’s at the moment that she is about to confront this driver that something unexpected happens. There is a loud scream and it’s followed not long after by an explosion.

The book takes off from this point like the big bang that startled many in this small tourist town in Iowa near the Mississippi River. The next few chapters are filled with action as we are introduced to firefighters and other local police. There are mixes of great sarcastic comments from one character to another. Firefighters Ben and Nestor are some of those characters that fill the reader with some of that great laughter that will be found as the fight those in authority.

Those upcoming chapters also will introduce everyone to what is going to become the scourge of the local police. This being multiple murders that make no real sense. A woman’s body found way up in the air on the top of an old theater. There will be a common thread for most of the murders, but to find out what those are you must read the book.

There is another item in the book I found fascinating and even spoke to some I know who live in the Philippines about. The fact is that Filipino myth and lore will play a large part of what is happening within the pages of the book. Those who live in the country will tell you that the country has many myths and stories and some of those come to live within the pages of the book. In my checks it is clear that author Doug Lamoreux did his homework as he is spot on with how he uses that lore within the book.

When The Tik-Tik Sings has nothing to do with a clock as I originally thought could be possible. The part that a bird may be involved is “somewhat” right but it wasn’t something I was thinking about. The book has non-stop turns of action and with the point of view form used within the pages it is hard to put down. There is a lot of violence but the great thing is that Lamoreux does not do anything to gratuitous. The violence fits the situation and the descriptions do make the imagination work a little as you read. The book will make fans of mystery, suspense and thrillers very happy and is worth the read and is published by Creativia Publishing.

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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in Reviews


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