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Zombies are not Always Humans by Shawn Micallef

Photo by Shawn Micallef

What is Halloween without a ghost story. I realized late this year I did not create any special content for this spookiest day of the year.  So, I take laptop outside with me and as I await the scariest of creatures I start to put fingers to keys and produce this story. Those creatures, well of course children looking for candy and the ever so “happy” parents walking along with them.

I mention the timing of this story to hope you may forgive me some grammatical errors that may appear within this story.

A bone chilling scream, one that turns the blood ice cold, sending shivers up the spine and often results in a look towards the scream. The other result is often panicked footsteps growing fast as people run in the opposite direction of the scream.

The two words that created such a scream…” ZOMBIE CATS!!!!!!”

You may find yourself going what? Zombie cats? Why would that create such terror in a man, woman or even a child?  It is simple my friend, the zombie outbreak did not find itself claiming human after human as books, and movies would have us believe. In this instance, the outbreak took hold in our four-legged friends: Cats, Dogs, squirrels, chipmunks and even the family hamster.

Sure, you may laugh at that, and even wonder what is there to fear about such an outbreak. We must forget that man domesticated many of these animals. We have let them into our homes and we trust them with our families, and often see them as one of our own.

So, it was a peaceful world till an asteroid passed within a very close 100 miles from Earth sending radiation down upon the planet. Scientists informed humanity that he radiation would be harmless to humanity, but they did not factor in the animals. This would turn out to be catastrophic to humanity as the first signs of danger came out of China and South East Asia.

I have to say that when first report of animals attacking those who ran the kennels and dog mills was first met with joy by many in the west. Those who felt that it was barbaric to eat dogs for food were thrilled and saw it as karma that this was happening. Those feelings lasted for all of twelve hours as videos started popping up all over the internet. Those cute cat videos had been replaced with snarling, foam dripping, and black eyed creatures attacking their owners. The first 5 to 10 of these seemed to be claimed to be faked but as more started to show up a few turned into hundreds, thousands, and eventually they stopped.

The videos were replaced with news stories that pushed all other concerns off the airwaves. The bi-partisan bitterness was gone, the headlines on divide gone, and replaced with the horror that was about to hit the west. You see, the trajectory of the Asteroid had it moving from East to West.  The west had time to prepare, they were advised to lock up their pets, some even stated as going so far as mercy killing them. However, remember these are family pets that are part of the family, and many said no not my pet. Sadly, if they had only headed the warnings.

Now, let me explain what happened when a human was attacked by one of these zombie critters. The whole thing would start with the pet’s eyes turning a dark black. There feral instincts returned immediately and nothing was safe from an attack if it had a heartbeat. This met children to adult were not safe from an attack. You should remember that I said heartbeat as their attacks were meant to kill.  Sure, you could hold off one or two animals, but after awhile they attacked with a pack mentality. The pacts would grow in size from small numbers to over a hundred depending on area. You then add in feral animals and even the military of great countries found it difficult to stop the packs. There was one news story on how a great army was wiped out by a pack of animals containing cats, dogs, hamsters, mice and even some larger zoo animals. The animals lost quite a few but another side effect of the virus, or whatever it was, gave the critters a near zombie like abilities. The critters, well they did not go down easy and would take quite a lot to put them down. Another problem with that military unit, they had already seen losses from their own animals as the units dogs had gotten loose and done their damage.

So, by now you can guess what that scream would cause such panic. Humanity was under attack from those creatures, big and small that we at one time considered family. Humanity finally found themselves on the lower end of the “new” food chain. It became increasingly harder and harder to escape the packs. This is one thing that the books and movies got right, and that large urban areas were first to fall. Of course, the rural areas did not fair much better as many had their share of pets.

Those on the International Space Station could only look down and see the fires from space as they lit up the planet. Eventually even those men and women on the ISS found themselves in danger and feeling the results of the event, ask supply missions suddenly stopped. They were left up in space with no support, or help.

You’d have thought that parts of the artic would have been save, but think again. Those in Alaska and other locations would use dog teams as a way to travel. They may only have them for sport purposes, but even they were turned. So, even the artic regions were not safe. In truth, were there was a pet there was bound to be death.

The world as we humans knew it had been turned upside down. There was death and destruction all over the world. A simple bit often leads to massive infections, but if the critters got you down on the ground, a hold of your throat, and well please I’d rather you use your imagination than describe. Plus, at some point children could find this record.

Oh who am I, why am I writing this? I was lucky to a point. You see I am a prepper and had a bomb silo buried in a secret location about a mile into the woods from my home. I been able to keep up on what has been happening in the world through short wave radio. I was in touch with a group in Montana when I heard the scream come over the mic. I have not heard a word from that group since. My electricity is off a generator in another room and that is going to be the cause of my death.

I say my death as I can here mice trying to dig thru the walls. The exhaust for the gas generator was not sealed properly and the critter have found their way down to the generator room. I will not attempt to refill the generator as that means sure death. However, air circulation is also powered so again if the critters do not get in, when the air flow stops, well, yeah, I’m gone. I’m kicking myself as I did not get time to put in the solar panels and batteries that were next in the planning of my “bunker”.  So, I’m using what time I have left to put at least some type of general down for anyone who may some day come across my location. You may ask how would they find it, well when I know the time is getting close I’ll turn on the emergency beacon I have that is battery powered. It will at least last longer than I will.

It is time for me to save this, close this laptop and let those who may come, if anyone does find it.  I feel the air getting stagnant, breathing getting harder, and I’m getting light headed. It’s only time now. To think, the creatures and critters we called our pets would…………………………………………………………………….

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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Short Stories

 

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Strangeways by Robert J Brunner

I have to admit that when I received the request to do an honest review of the book Strangeways by Robert J Brunner, I looked the book up. I found out first that Brunner was a police 911 dispatcher. This was intriguing as it could add some realism to the book. As I further checked into the book I found it dealt with a prison, an FBI agent, death and an ancient god. Alright I would say I was hooked at this point, but that would not be truthful as I after I started reading the book I did get hooked.

Strangeways opens with a prologue that in itself is a bit of an enigma. The book introduces to a period in the early 1900s in which we find a man, Charles Hobart, in a small town staying in a boarding house. The Hobart is first seen as another potential traveling salesman of the period, a Bible salesman. It isn’t till an evening dinner with the residents of the boarding house things finally come out. The reason is in the town, well he wants to buy himself some property.  The property will be used not for a home, but for a prison.

The reader now “time jumps” to more of a current period in time. We find a prison guard out for rounds of a darken prison just at lights out. The guard will stop to talk to an inmate and take another one out of his cell and down to the showers, the inmate stinks. The guard will soon become first in some mysterious deaths that will begin to plague the prison. As the klaxon rang members of a response team come rushing into the shower area where the guard is screaming. Officer Peter Coyle’s incident report will be found not long after the death has transpired and will help setup what is to come.

It’s not long after that we find special agent Tom Griffin of the FBI on his way to the prison as he will be sticking his nose into what is happening at Strangeways Prison.  He was called by an old colleague who is now the prison’s warden. Griffin will not even make it inside the prison before a strange event will meet him.  He gets out of his car to see a large wolf eyeing him down like could be dinner. Things move on from this point and Griffin will keep his open mind. He may be expecting many different possibilities that may have been the cause of the prison guard’s death. The problem is, Griffin will not want to believe what is actually going on. He is a logical man, what is happening around him, regardless of the signs is something he is not prepared for.

Strangeways will take the reader in to the world of the prison, named the same as the book. As you read you will find that the prison is on Native American land. The area has been known for strange phenomenon and in truth may be the reasoning for the name of the prison. However, what transpires within the walls of the prison is far more than any would expect. The big change in this book is that it is not related to Native Americans but instead a Norse God.  This God has become popular within the pages of comic books, and super hero movies. His name is Odin, The All Father, and many will be shocked by the portrayal of the character. I for one was at first, but I then did some research on Odin and will just point out he is the God of not just of wisdom and poetry, but that of WAR and DEATH.

Author Robert J. Brunner puts together a book that will leave many readers struggling to put it down after they start reading the book. His characters are well developed from those of the prisoners within the prison to those on the side of Law and Order. There are characters you will find yourself miss reading and others that will be evident by their actions. The scenes within the book are well painted through his word play and are properly descriptive without going to intense during the violence. I found the book to be well worth my time to read and provide this review.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Seven for the Slab by Doug Lamoreux

There where comic books, radio programs and television shows that would give their audience short scary stories. These would often wrap up quickly and would allow the presenter to do an anthology of sorts as they could have several stories within the same production. These of course helped give birth to the numerous anthologies that can be found out there.  We can also get a sense of this style from the 20007 Horror film “Trick ‘r Treat”.

Author Doug Lamoreux takes this idea and does two better than the before mentioned film as he places seven stories within the pages of his novella. This novella is aptly titled, “Seven for the Slab”.  I’m sure many who see the title will draw the conclusion that the slab must be in reference to a funeral home. I will say that assumption would be very correct, but do not go thinking these stories take place in one.  In the contrary a funeral home does have some of the main story thread but it’s not all the reader will get out of the pages of the novella.

Seven for the Slab starts out with the one thing so many of dislike, and that is being awoken by a ringing telephone. If you ask me that in itself is a nightmare as you never know why someone is calling you so late and if you are about to get heartbreaking news. This phone call is one that brings good news for one Herb Flay, it would mean he had his job back and that the Fengriffen Funeral Home and Crematorium needed his services. It was a call he had been waiting on for what seemed like a month and with some odd glee he went out into the thunderstorm ready to do his job.

This is the setup to the novella as Flay heads out in the night to meet his boss at a home of not one but two deceased individuals, a brother and a sister. The scene is a small neighboring town and as Flay heads out to the scene we are introduced to a group of characters from firemen, EMTS, local police and a home owner.

The rain along with what is found at the home of the deceased brother and sister are what send many of the first responders to a home owner’s garage. The place becomes the official staging area for those involved to wait out the rain and their potential next assignment if something comes up. This is a welcoming option for those who had been in the home, as the bodies, well it’s amazing what can happen after a period of time. I’m leaving the details for the story itself as for some it could be slightly disturbing, but sadly it is part of life.

I’ve provided a bit of the background on why there are so many within this garage as this is where a push from one of those individuals will get the stories moving. One must realize that when you have so many first responders together they may have stories to share with each other. In this instance it is just that, they are all challenged to share a story that will fit their current settings. It is a chance for each of them to out-do the other as they tell their stores.

I could go into each story but as this is a novella I do not want to take away a readers opportunity to really enjoy them. I just will say that with each one they get a bit more thought provoking and there is a bit of everything involved. The reader will find aliens, ghosts, zombie like creatures, and the worse of all humanity. I say this as what man can do to their fellow man can be just as gruesome as the creatures that we see in our dreams.

Seven for the Slab shows off the creative mind of author Doug Lamoreux as his characters tell their stories. They are well crafted stories that will have you wondering not just about the character writing the stories but that of the author who wrote the novella. I must say that you can tell he was a fan of those old series like Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt. The thing is we hear some great stories from the first responders but the back ground story is just as traumatic. I’ll close by saying that it is amazing what some will do to keep a job.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Reviews

 

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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.

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, THIS IS MY COSTUME IDEA!!”

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

“SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU LITTLE BITCH.”

“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,….”

“WILL YOU STOP THAT STUPID SINGING!”

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.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Short Stories

 

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Open Call for Ghost, Horror or Creepy Stories

Halloween I tried this last year and although not a huge success I’m going to try it again. As so many of us know Halloween is quickly approaching. It is a holiday that is becoming more and more popular every year. Scary movies are often set to release in the period, decorations, costumes and candy are already for sale.

To me what makes Halloween great is the ability to use the imagination to create that stand out costume or decorations. Even more important the ability to give a jolt or scare to others as it’s the time of year all expect to be scared, no want to be scared. So, I want to give readers of the blog a chance to share something that could give someone that feeling of creepiness like bugs traveling down their body. The feeling of was there something they just saw out of the corner of their eye or was it a shadow. The sense of foreboding like there is someone right behind them about to attack. Those feelings that drive every hair on the body to quiver in nervous energy and is about to activate the flight or fight reaction.

This is why I’m opening the blog up to ALL and EVERYONE who wishes to submit a story. The story can be from your real life, or completely fiction. My only requirements that it activates the imagination and creates imagery in the mind that will shock the reader. It can be something simple from a ghost sighting or dark like demonic possession.

If interested all you need to do is write the story and submit it to me at knightmist72@gmail.com with a subject line of: Halloween 2014.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Short Stories

 

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The Carvings Collection by Author Drake Vaughn

Carvings CollectionDrake Vaughn is the author of the book The Zombie Generation which took the reader into a unique look at the Zombie genre. It was a book that had readers wanting to “sink their teeth” into other books by the author.

Vaughn has come out with another full book called The Carvings Collection but this book is different. It’s not a full tale but instead a collection of short stories you could believe were “carved” out of the man’s mind. Stories that go deep into different genres of horror from real life to the paranormal can be found within the pages.

The book has ten different and distinct stories that will surely find an audience for the genre covered. It is more impressive that the stories are done in such a manner that they will appeal to different readers and some may have you asking for more.

The book starts with the story, “Dolls”, which fittingly talks about a young girl and her dolls. The story introduces the reader to a girl who has an interesting life. She lives with her father, his grandmother and her father’s new girl.  A seemingly innocent arrangement till you read how the young girl has been treated. So is it any wonder that suddenly a doll starts speaking to her? The fact the doll has seemed to learn some of the things the young girl has seen cannot be too healthy and well the story will have to tell the rest.

The reader then can read a story about a woman afraid of cars in the story, “Driver’s Seat”. You learn why she’s afraid of cars and the problems that came from that event. The reader then finds out about the dangers of skipping class to get high and running from authority in, “Master Key”.

The story, “In the Chair”, will be the next entry into the book. This one tells the story of a man persecuted for fulfilling the dying wishes of his mother. Those wishes are to help her dye after treatment for her cancer seems to have not worked. The problem after the news breaks of what he has allowed, and the court is done with him, someone else feels justice needs to be done. This person will take, what seems to be pleasure, in distributing his own justice. This involves tying the “killer” to a chair and slowly starving him much as his mother must have felt.  Does he escape, or does justice get done?

The book follows with “Carvings”, where a man’s dreams may be coming to life as those who have harmed him begin dying around him.

Sales” is the sixth entry in the collection and deals with a salesman who may have bit on more than he can chew.  He is hired to break into a penthouse apartment and may find out he may have under estimated the owner and is going to be, well read to find out.

The Garden” tells of how it’s not nice to destroy and vandalize a man’s garden. You never know what could be hidden within all those plants, and how the owner will react.  You could find out that some take their “gardens” very seriously.

The Test” is one story that seems to be perfect for today’s world. It could almost be said it was somewhat ripped from the headlines. A prank goes very bad and someone ends up dead after the prank.

The reader will then get to “Trip to V-Town” which is a story of how the poor kids want to visit the upscale tracks of town. The problem this cities other side is that which belongs to Vampires. Those involved in evading V-town will create some just horrific acts on those who live there. Some of these are not safe for little children, just as they children are not safe in V-Town.

The final story is one called “Flatheads” and has nothing to do with a screwdriver or a haircut. The story instead talks about the flathead worm. The worm can get up to 4 to 10 inches in length depending on the type of flathead. In this story they get to be a bit longer in size. No they don’t get to 2 feet in length, you got to think BIGGER. Try imagining so large they are now the dominant life form. They are so dominant that in this new world they use humans as hosts for their infants. This of course does not look well for humanity and this story takes you into a small group who is trying to survive. The problem they share their home with the flatheads and this cannot be a good thing.

Just as the titles of the stories the subjects are just as diverse. The stories range from the scary to the just down right creepy. They are not always safe for children so I suggest parents take a moment to read the stories before giving them out to their children. They are not overly to dangerous for a young mind, but enough it could bring up some uncomfortable questions.

The simple truth is that The Carvings Collection is a book of tales that will keep any reader interested.  You may find yourself skipping a story to jump to another but you must make sure to read them all. I say that as this is a carved collection from Drake Vaughn that no matter how you fell is a great full meal for the mind.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Reviews

 

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